2020 Cedarhurst Sidewalk Sale: I Was Fired for Seeking the Truth

Yes, this blog post headline is sadly real.

I was fired on July 21, 2020, for seeking the truth about whether or not holding this year’s Cedarhurst New York sidewalk sale would be legal.

At least I think I was fired. I never received a termination letter or anything in writing.

Nevertheless, I’m definitely out of a job.

For over ten years, I was the Executive Director of The Cedarhurst Business Improvement District, and the centerpiece of my position was the annual Cedarhurst summer sidewalk sale.

Last year, close to 85 merchants participated in the four-day event, every parking lot in the village was packed, and thousands of shoppers participated.

Year after year, it was an event I had always been proud of organizing, promoting, and running.

But to bring thousands of people to Cedarhurst smack in the middle of a pandemic and an array of emergency laws and executive orders established as a result?

Not so much.

And unless the event was legal and permitted, I wanted no part of it.

Do I need to explain why?

One of my favorite quotes (by F. Scott Fitzgerald):

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.”

Yeah, I have something to say.

To be fired for doing my job legally and responsibly?  Well, that’s just flat out WRONG.

To be fired for seeking the truth? WRONG.

To be fired for wanting to ensure that the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District and the Village of Cedarhurst didn’t sponsor an illegal public gathering? WRONG.

And get this one:

I get fired, and the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District and the Village of Cedarhurst then decide NOT to move ahead with the August Sidewalk Sale?

So WRONG. But based on the questionable character of some of the players, not surprising.

We are fighting against a deadly virus.

I mean seriously, do I need to remind anybody of that?

Health officials have warned against large gatherings. The larger the crowd, the greater the chance that someone in it will have the virus. As the size of the crowd increases, so do the chances of COVID-19 exposure.

Duh.

When I was instructed to start work on the annual sidewalk sale in early July, I didn’t know whether the event was legal or not.

Under the present circumstances, it sure didn’t seem like inviting thousands of people to descend upon a quarter-mile shopping area was the safest idea.

So, I got permission from my boss to make some calls to New York State and Nassau County to get a written statement as to the legality of the sidewalk sale.

Seemed like a no-brainer, right?

Call your state and local government during a PANDEMIC and get the go-ahead. Or not.

Well, so much for a no-brainer.

Over two weeks, I made at least twenty attempts to get someone in the State or County government to put something in writing.

No one wanted to put anything in written form.

Heck, no one wanted to give me their last names.

I had plenty of people willing to tell me verbally that the event was not allowed, would be reported, and a fine would be issued.

But not one of those government officials would put it in writing.

Why not? I didn’t get it. Were they afraid of certain Cedarhurst Village officials? And if so, what were they afraid the officials would accuse them of?

It seemed that the only one who had the guts to put anything in writing was me.

And once I sent a written report to Deputy Mayor Ari Brown about my findings, things got u-g-l-y.

Heartbreakingly ugly.

I heard a lot of nasty stuff about me. My mental health, my unwillingness to do my job, finger-pointing as to my allegedly redacting and tampering with my workplace databases.

As if that weren’t enough, there were false claims about my being fired from my Executive Director position years earlier, as well as accusations that I lied about what state and county representatives recently told me.

Seriously?

BTW: ALL UNTRUE. And all of which I can prove to be untrue.

And as incredible as it may sound, there were also accusations about my daughter (yes, my daughter) concerning what I will refer to as Zoomgate.

There’s even supposed to be a taped conversation by a Cedarhurst store owner proving that despicable and untrue things were indeed said about me by the Deputy Mayor of Cedarhurst.

Unseemly, right?

I didn’t see anywhere in my Executive Director job description that said it was okay to kill people.

Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. Or maybe it’s not.

Because it’s no stretch that increases in new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in 43 states this past week. And hospitalizations from the disease also increased. And COVID-19 deaths rose for the second straight week.

So why wouldn’t I question whether throwing a sidewalk sale party was legal or not?

Apparently, questioning the legality of the event was not allowed.

And refusing to work on the sale event unless I knew it was legal, was also impermissible.

And that’s why I lost my job.

Honestly, I really didn’t want to write this blog post.

But I felt compelled because I have something to say.

The character assassination by the Village of Cedarhurst Deputy Mayor Ari Brown against me was devastatingly vicious and wholly untrue.

To be clear, I would have been willing to let the false accusations go if Ari Brown would have apologized.

Anyway, it’s too late to apologize.

Because Ari Brown went out of his way to engineer my removal as Executive Director with untruths and false accusations.

For certain men, their actions aren’t a matter of principle. Their actions are a matter of power, and of winning—at any cost.

Even if it means trying to ruin someone’s reputation; in this case—mine.

My grandmother would always say that the only thing you have is your reputation and your good name, and to never let anyone take that away from you.

That, my dear deceased grandmother, is easier said than done.

But I’m working on it.

All I can do at this point is to feel pride in having done my due diligence.

And I can tell my grandkids that during the pandemic, I sought the truth in order to protect a village, the merchants, the shoppers, and the community at large.

And for that, I was fired.

I’ll take it.

I’ll proudly wear that badge of honor.

Bullies Are Cowards and Why I Refuse To Turn the Other Cheek

I have been working on this bully post for a few days now, and maybe the “bully tome” has gotten the better of me—because lately everything I watch on television, read in The New York Times, or witness while I’m out and about, comes back to a bully or a bully tactic.

Watching the knockout round of The Voice the other night, I found it hard to comprehend that Team Levine’s church singer Deanna Johnson was bullied in school. The Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine has been tirelessly working with this shy 18-year old beauty, who has been crippled with stage fright and low self-esteem for years — the devastating result of bullying.

Take a look at Deanna Johnson’s incredible Voice performance from this past Tuesday.

It is believed that bullying is aggressive behavior that occurs between school-aged children until they eventually grow up and out of their vicious behavior.

But bullying goes well beyond adolescence—it’s a rampant problem that extends to all walks of life.

Because many schoolyard bullies, who are long past their school days, never grow up and out and morph into adult bullies.

And adults can be some of the worst aggressors, who use their cowardly and downright manipulative bullying tactics day in and day out.

According to Vital Smarts, a corporate training company, 96% of people have experienced bullying at the office. And 79% of bullying involves emotional attacks, such as biting sarcasm or spreading malicious gossip.

Bullying is so commonplace, and so destructive, that it may possibly be the single most important social issue of today.

I’m not a big fan of the “ignore it” school of thought. I think ignoring bullies gives them way too much power and reinforces a sense of powerlessness in the target.

If someone is belittling, humiliating, or insulting me in a work setting, in my “friend” zone, at the Motor Vehicle department, when trying to make a doctor’s appointment, etc., etc., etc., I deal with the situation head-on.

Bullying cuts deep, but I try to remind myself that whether in a school lunchroom, the nursing home, or anywhere in between, the bully is the one with the problem.

And I let them know it.

The message I verbally convey to a bully is: Don’t mess with me, because I am not going to accept or ignore your bad behavior. While I try not to escalate a situation, more times than not, when I have responded to a bully by calmly but assertively explaining that I won’t tolerate their uncalled for cruelty, it doesn’t go well. But that doesn’t stop me from putting them in their place. (Note: I never put the police in their place. Just saying.)

I have to admit that on occasion a bully will arouse intense feelings of displeasure in me. And even though I know that fighting back gives the bully exactly what he/she wants, which is to get to me—I simply can’t turn the other cheek.

These miscreants feed on the putting of other people down because it masks their own inferior and insecure feelings about themselves. It’s only by making others feel less than whole, that they can raise their own self-esteem.

And as recently as a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that reacting to a workplace bully only further encourages and worsens their unwanted behavior towards me.

And I have made some nasty bully enemies, with the distinct possibility that they will escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation against me and will up the ante when it comes time to serve out a cold dish of revenge.

But I don’t care. I refuse to be subservient.  I can take it.  Bring it on, you cowards.

I am so tired and fed up by bullies thinking they can say and do anything they want, with no repercussions at all. And I have learned from years of being bullied, that their snarky, cutting comments, insulting innuendos and malicious rumors won’t stop until you make them stop.

I have a recurring shut-down-the bully scenario that I play over and over in my head: I contact a lawyer to write to the bully, with a threat of legal action, pointing out that he or she is subject to the laws of slander, libel, and defamation of character. I take down the bully and I win!

And if you ever witness someone being bullied, speak up and say something. Most people don’t want to get involved and want to stay out of the fray. But please consider the consequences of not getting involved and allowing a bully to keep on trucking. You are unintentionally sending a message to them that their abhorrent behavior is acceptable.

How many times have I heard from witnesses to bullying, as well as friends, business colleagues and family members that know the bully personally, who say “yeah, so and so is a real jerk.” But there is nothing they will do about it (and later, when you ask for their support, they deny having agreed with you at all).

Here is my shortlist of bully categories in no particular order of offense, although I find children who bully other children to be the worst bully offense of them all. Please feel free to comment on other categories.

White House Bullies

Children Who Bully

Airline/Flight Attendant Bully

Airline Passenger Bully

Business Colleague Bully

Boss Bully

Ex-Spouse Bully

Medical Receptionist Bully

Motor Vehicle Worker Bully

Nursing Home Bully

Cyber Bully

Family Member Bully

PTA Bully

Restaurant Customer Bully

Government Worker Bully

Anti-Abortion Bully

The Christian Conservative Bully

Sorority and Fraternity Bully

Police Bully

The Sports Fan Bully

 The Axis of Evil Bully

 Racist Bully

 The Wanna Be in Organized Crime Bully

 The Rich and Famous Bully