The Rye Board of Ethics will meet Wednesday and revisit an employee’s claim that he was forced hide the fact that a city council workshop had been videotaped.
Andrew Dapolite, Rye’s television production coordinator, told the city council in a letter Feb. 13 that his supervisor and the city manager made him lie to the public – “placing expectations on me that challenge good ethics and morals” – when he was asked whether there was a tape of the workshop. The meeting concerned fire department restructuring, a sensitive and complex issue. After the video was finally posted to the Rye website, Dapolite says he could tell from computer files that Nicole Levitsky, his supervisor, had lowered the audio levels. He gave a detailed written account to the council.
Less than a month later, on March 8, Dapolite received a reprimand and warning from Pickup, saying he had used digital equipment for non-city business. Dapolite sued Pickup over “illegal retaliation,” saying he and other staff members had not been restricted from such use of the equipment.
The lawsuit was settled this month, and the city council authorized $15,000 for Pickup’s legal representation in the suit. Under the terms, both Pickup’s disciplinary letter and Dapolite’s response to it have been withdrawn.
That apparently clears the way for the matter to go back to the Ethics Board, which suspended its inquiry during the lawsuit. In a letter to the city council May 31, Dapolite made clear that he hopes the ethics board resumes its work.
“The actions I had witnessed and described to you cried out for investigation and correction,” he wrote to the city council. “After numerous conversations, phone calls, and emails with City staff, I turned to you as the Rye City agency of last resort. … I have done all I could do as a citizen and have no intention of taking any further action about the situation, which has at least been referred to the Rye Board of Ethics.”
Though the accusations have lingered for months, Pickup declined to speak in detail about the matter until he talks to the board. “Both myself and Nicole Levitsky … we’ve never done anything to, in any way, shape or form, restrict the public’s access to information,” he said.