Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thomas Paine Museum: another sleeper awakens

Statement from Mayor Noam Bramson, regarding the Thomas Paine Museum artifacts:

"Generations of New Rochelleans have grown up knowing and caring about Thomas Paine's prominent place in our history. The items and artifacts stored and displayed at the Thomas Paine Museum are much beloved and have helped establish a tangible, physical connection to our past. The relocation of this collection is a tremendous loss to our community, and I am deeply concerned that the process employed to select a permanent site has been flawed, incomplete, and indifferent to the concerns of our residents. In this spirit, I will vigorously support efforts to establish a permanent home and a lending policy that keeps these priceless items as accessible as possible to the people of New Rochelle and our region." – Mayor Noam Bramson

Comment: now go back to sleep, mayor ... damage done: another player a "day late and a dollar short."

Link at:


  1. Mr. Burchell, assuming you have failed attempts to your credit, how have you attempted to keep Thomas Paine's possessions in New Rochelle, or, at least, Westchester county, please? Thank you. JH VanBeuren

  2. Thanks for your comment, JH. My involvement with the museum dates back to 1982 and I served for quite a few years as trustee and officer of the museum and its board. I and other board members resigned back in 2002 over a set of issues that involved this same group of people. The issues included: misappropriation of NY State education grants, failure to report disbursement of those grants to the board over a period of many months, multiple violations of the bylaws of the association including conflict-of-interest, abusive treatment of board members, coercive manipulation of the Nominating Committee by then president Gary Berton, board-stacking with untrained and incompetent cronies of the president and Brian McCartin,the unlawful designation of an employee -- Brian McCartin -- as a "sub-contractor" -- in an admitted effort to tax evasion, improper and physically destructive display of artifacts and holdings in violation of board policy and museum standards, failure to provide insurance for holdings per board policy, failure to distribute election ballots, failure to hold an Annual Meeting, manufacture of false minutes and the generally rancorous and foul treatment dealt to conscientious board members who tried to rein in these activities. Upon resignation, I and other board members wrote letters and made phone calls to the mayor's office, the Journal News, the Attorney General of the State of New York, the Secretary of State of New York (under whose authority the corporate charter was administered at that time), and the IRS. At that time, we didn't received almost no response from anyone. Then when the sell-off story emerged around 2005 (the sell off of the core of the museum's holdings to remodel a building in which the janitor-turned-president lived for free) I tried again to raise the issue through the local New Rochelle Journal News and the New York Times. Shortly thereafter the NY Attorney General's office started to respond. Since that time I have worked actively with their office to provide evidentiary and other materials that would help to right the many wrongs that have transpired. While I make no claim to perfection, I have made an honest-hearted effort all along to do the right thing. Thanks again for your post.

  3. Mr. Burchell, I'm stunned by your response. The outrageous conduct you've summarized in your reply is appalling. And, assuming your claims are fair and accurate, I find the seeming indifference with which your reports to the Mayor's office, the Journal News, the NY Attorney General, the Secretary of State of NY, and the IRS were met, even more despicable than the offenses, themselves.

    Although I have no experience dealing with most of the sources you've cited as contacts, I have had a few interactions with Mayor Noah Bramson (the nature of which were I, a resident of New Rochelle, contacting Mayor Bramson, to voice concerns or complaints). In each encounter, I was truly taken aback and humbled by the interest with which he met each occasion, as well as the positive results of his tenacious efforts.

    In your answer to my question on this blog, you wrote that you contacted the Mayor's office -- is there a chance that your words may not have actually reached Mayor Bramson, personally? Otherwise, is it possible that he has a very different point of view concerning this situation, based on additional or
    conflicting information to which others may not be privy?

    Whatever the case may be, it would be greatly appreciated if any of the aforementioned contacts, including Mayor Bramson, would enlighten us as to why these long-standing issues have been allowed to progress this far, in spite of your apparently fruitless labors.

    If folks aren't informed as to why such corruption is allowed to continue after being made public, a breeding ground for low morale, bitterness, mistrust, and indifference is created.

    While politics are often complicated and multi-layered, I believe in a case such as this, any response or attempt to explain is considerably better than no response at all.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    JH VanBeuren

  4. JH, I'm not at all certain that Bramson was mayor at the time. I can't recall truthfully, but I do recall that the former janitor-turned-board-president Brian McCartin had a very buddy-buddy relationship (or thought he did and bragged of it) with the mayor at the time. This may have been the source of conflicting information that you refer to.


Keep it courteous and respectful, please.

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