NEW ROCHELLE, NY — New York State Senator George Latimer failed to vote on the New York State Budget this past spring because he departed for Europe the day before the vote was held in the Senate to go on a week long vacation in the United Kingdom with his girlfriend, New Rochelle City Court Judge Susan Kettner, Talk of the Sound has learned.
Latimer is the Democratic Party Candidate for Westchester County Executive and challenger to the incumbent Rob Astorino in one of the most widely watched races in New York State, with implications for the next race for Governor.
The New York State Legislature had already missed a budget deadline of April 1st, then spent eight days horse trading in an attempt to get to an agreement, when Latimer put out the word through his staff that he was taking “his family” to London and needed to be excused before key budget votes were taken including “the big ugly” budget bill.
As Latimer headed out to the airport on Saturday, April 8th, the New York State Assembly passed the budget package. Latimer and Kettner were in the UK when the State Senate passed the budget package and remained in England until the following weekend.
State Senate voting records obtained by Talk of the Sound show AB 3000 (State Operations Budget – Approp) passed on April 9, 2017 with 57 Ayes, 0 Nos and George Latimer “excused”, AB 3004 (Capital Projects – Approp) passed on April 9, 2017 with 57 Ayes, 0 Nos and George Latimer “excused”, AB 3009 (Revenue Art. VII – 2017 (Big Ugly) passed on April 9, 2017 with 53 Ayes, 4 Nos and George Latimer “excused”.
Latimer did not vote on School Funding, Raise-the-age, extending the Millionaire tax, renewing the Affordable New York tax abatement, Excelsior Scholarships to fund college expenses for middle-class families at CUNY and SUNY schools, workers compensation reform, all so he could stroll the River Thames with his girlfriend.
On April 15, Kettner posted “we are at Heathrow, heading home”. She identifies her traveling companion, in a nod to the Harry Potter books, as “he who will be neither tagged nor photographed”. George Latimer as Lord Voldemort elicited a knowing online chuckle among Kettner’s friends.
As Latimer and Kettner traveled around England, Kettner shared photos and updates from her “amazing journey” with her many Facebook friends. She posted Facebook updates from London and Liverpool between Saturday April 8th and Saturday April 15th.
Among those Facebook friends are Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni, New Rochelle Council Member Jared Rice, New Rochelle Council Member Ivar Hyden, Former Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick, Meredith Adler Hilton (New Rochelle Council Member Barry Fertel’s Campaign Treasurer who Kettner asked to return her illegal campaign contribution), Yonkers City Court Judge Ed Gaffney, Former Latimer Senate Campaign Volunteer Suzanne Queener Arena, Former Employee of the City Court of New Rochelle Victoria Kane, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court Fran Connolly, David McKay Wilson of the Journal News, and Shoreline Publications owned by Howard Sturman and hundreds more.
Kettner was openly posting about a trip to the UK with George Latimer and sharing that information with elected officials, judges, court employees, journalists, and friends throughout Westchester County. In other words, as we reported Monday, “everyone” knew and there was no attempt to hide it – until yesterday.
The incriminating posts were on Susan Kettner’s Facebook page over the weekend but shortly after our “Curious/Dog Walker” story was published, describing the long-standing relationship between Latimer and Kettner, her Facebook page was scrubbed of these photos, posts and comments (fortunately, we have copies from before the “Curious/Dog Walker” story ran).
Only one photo from the trip with Latimer to the UK remains on Kettner’s Facebook page; a photo of her, presumably taken by Latimer, standing before the entrance to “Strawberry Field” a former Salvation Army children’s home just outside Liverpool near where former Beatle John Lennon lived as a young boy. Lennon immortalized the home in his 1967 classic, “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
The date of the “Strawberry Fields” photo online today is not from April but “May 15”. We are checking into that; Talk of the Sound has filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain payroll records pertaining to Kettner’s vacation in April.
While in England, Latimer made several posts to Facebook and Twitter commenting on the 2018 Budget: on April 9 at 5:51 p.m., Latimer links to a news item on “the Big Ugly”, on April 10 at 2:32 a.m., Latimer comments on school aid in the budget, promising to go through the it on a district-by-district basis, on April 10 at 2:34 a.m., Latimer comments on STAR rebate checks in the budget, on April 10, Latimer is asked about Excelsior Scholarships, he tells the person to call his Albany office, on April 14 at 9:09 a.m., Latimer comments on Uber/Lyft in the budget.
While in London, on April 8 at 8:29 a.m., Latimer posts remarks on the “best way to judge candidates” which, he says, is “Ask ‘em questions and see how he responds” (Latimer declined to comment for this article).
On April April 10 at 4:02 p.m., Latimer posts an essay on “Policy v Personal Ego” in which he remarks that an analysis of the Adopted Budget would show examples of “individuals more concerned with personal ego than strong public policy”. He goes on to talk about this budget experiences and how “ego gets in the way of policy” and that “egos of the players can be a distraction, or worse, counterproductive to the mission”. He promises to run a “positive campaign” about “we” not “me” and admonishes supporters not to talk about “ourselves” and “our own ambitions”. His supporters comment on the essay, describing it as “words of wisdom”, one goes so far as to quote scripture, another calls Latimer a “thoughtful man of principals:
Latimer likes to post links to YouTube music videos on social media. While in England he posted two: Chelsea Morning on April 12 at 2:27 a.m. and Here Comes the Sun on April 12 at 2:29 a.m. He comments revealingly on The Beatles video, “Four lads from Liverpool” while on a trip the includes a stop in Liverpool. The lyrics of the song Chelsea Morning by Judy Collins refer to New York City but there is also a Chelsea (the original) section of London, where Latimer and Kettner were that same week.
Many of the social media posts are time-stamped in the middle of the night in New York, reflecting the time difference with London and Liverpool.