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Update Martin, Opponents Unfair Campaign Complaint

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.  -- Update : The The Westchester Fair Campaign Practice Committee released its decision Friday morning, which found that Republican candidates' advertisement pamphlets were "unfair" for suggesting that a "one party rule" completely spent down budgetary reserves because the Republicans did not offer evidence that all reserve funds were spent.

The committee also found that Republican literature was "unfair" in suggesting a "one party rule" had increased property taxes by 61 percent since 2002, because during much of that period a Republican mayor provided bipartisan support for budgets. Similarly, Republican ads claiming a "one party rule" gave second-term council members health care coverage for life were deemed "unfair" because there was bipartisan support for that initiative. Finally, the committee ruled Republican flyers were "unfair" for implying all parking fines in White Plains increased by 400 percent when only one fine did.

On Wednesday the committee began investigating Democratic Council Member John Martin's charges that pamphlets distributed by his Republican competitors made false claims.

Martin said promotional material falsely characterized who was leading city hall when property taxes rose, reserve funds were spent and council members received health care coverage.

“The gist of it is that a number of the items alleged have been caused by what the documents call a one party rule. And White Plains has had all seven members of its Common Council, which includes the mayor, as Democrats only since Jan. 1 2010," said Martin, who unofficial tallies suggest has been re-elected. "But previously there had been a Republican mayor for the 12 years prior to that and at least one Republican council member over that same time period.”

Martin told the seven Fair Campaign Practice Committee members that since the mayor and council have been fully staffed by Democrats, property taxes have increased approximately 11.7 percent, making Republican advertisements reading “under one party rule we have seen” a “61 percent increase in property taxes since 2002” inaccurate. He also argued the city’s reserve funds were never completely spent down, as his challenger's advertisements read.

The council member also took issue with Republican literature stating that a 1990’s decision to give White Plains lawmakers health care coverage for life didn’t occur under an all-Democratic city hall.

“It was alleged that Common Council members serve part time and that health care benefits for council members are another waste of tax payer dollars brought to you by a one party rule,” said Martin. “Since 1991, council members have had to prove their time to the state. And the state pension system and the city of White Plains consider council members to be serving in full time capacity.”

Tim Sheehan, the vice chair of the White Plains Republican Party, spoke on behalf of Terence Guerriere, Michael Donnelly, Richard Cirulli and James Arndt, saying all of the advertisements referred to times when the Democrats had a majority of the council seats.

“A simple check of the dictionary could have prevented a good portion of the complainant’s complaints," said Sheehan. “I have one here: the So we all look it up. The term one party refers to one party control. Since 1993, there is no dispute, that the council in White Plains has been controlled by a majority of Democrats."

Martin failed to consider the “colloquial” meaning behind much of Republicans campaign materials, according to Sheehan.

“Everyone knows they’re not full time. It looks like a duck. It quacks like a duck, acts like a duck. It is a duck. They have jobs. They work in the city,” Sheehan said of Martin’s statement that council members are full-time employees. “You only have to work one full day to get into the pension system. That’s it. Under health care benefits, you have to work 20 hours a week.”

The Westchester Fair Campaign Practice Committee intends to come to a decision on the complaints by Friday.

Do you think Martin's complaint is valid? Join the conversation below.

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