Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence is suing his Democratic primary opponent Bruce Levine over accusations that Town Hall is a corrupt patronage mill. St. Lawrence’s lawsuit also names Levine’s Town Board running mates, Veronica Boesch and Rodrigue Lustin, for exposing him to “public contempt, ridicule, aversion and disgrace.” The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in New City on June 16, also objected to a May 31 speech by Levine when he announced his candidacy in the September primary.
In part, Levine accused St. Lawrence of giving builders “free reign to make windfall profits, while leaving us to suffer from excessive traffic, insufficient drainage, bloated sewers and higher taxes.”
St. Lawrence charged that the statements were false and aimed at injuring his reputation.
“I stand behind my statements 100 percent,” said Levine, who is Spring Valley’s village attorney.
No dollar amount of damages was cited in the lawsuit.
“I’m willing to discuss the issues with Bruce Levine at any time,” St. Lawrence said yesterday. “But it’s deplorable and despicable of him to put out slanderous statements of corruption.”
St. Lawrence said his opponents “insulted all Ramapo residents.”
Levine’s campaign fliers have been mailed and distributed at places including a Town Board meeting on the proposed development of Patrick Farm. His speech was made outside Town Hall to a gathering of about 200 people.
Levine, Boesch and Lustin said in separate interviews that St. Lawrence was attempting to intimidate their campaign.
“We will not be silenced from telling the public our views of what’s wrong with the town and the supervisor,” Levine said.
Lustin, a Spring Valley resident who has served on the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, said: “I think this lawsuit represents his version of cracking down on his opponents’ constitutional rights.”
St. Lawrence is seeking his fifth two-year term, a race beginning with the primary in September, the first for the office in 26 years.
Boesch and Lustin are opposing Councilmen David Stein and Yitzchok Ullman.
An anti-St. Lawrence movement that came to be known as Ramapo Democrats for Change won a majority of vacant Town Committee seats last year under the leadership of Joseph Meyers, a county legislator from Airmont.
St. Lawrence supporters, though, have held on to the committee’s leadership positions.
Both the town and county Republican committees endorsed St. Lawrence this month.
“It just shows how desperate St. Lawrence is,” Boesch, an Airmont village trustee, said of the supervisor’s lawsuit. “We have a tremendous number of issues in this town, and St. Lawrence is not addressing them. He’s exacerbating them.”
The supervisor’s lawsuit, filed by New City attorney Donald Tracy, also cited what it said were false statements on Levineforchange.com.
On June 6, according to the lawsuit, the Web site posted a transcript of Levine’s candidacy statement, in which St. Lawrence was characterized as being “in the pocket of developers.”
Ramapo officials, including St. Lawrence, have long been criticized by some residents for approving increased housing density in the form of multifamily construction in the Monsey area, and for establishing zones for multifamily housing connected to religious schools in other locations.
Ramapo officials responded that allowing apartments to replace single-family houses recognized the Monsey area’s need for housing.
They also said that the town had conformed to federal anti-discrimination legislation by zoning for apartments connected to religious schools.