To: Editor Rockland Voice
From: Jim Flynn, Nanuet
Thank You, Melissa Reimer – You are a Modern Day Hero!
What is courage?
Some heroes are described as individuals who fearlessly face danger. There are few if any like that, most true heroes are ordinary people who were scared and frightened and still went ahead and did what needed to be done. Sadly we know too many of them recently, firemen, policemen, ordinary citizens who responded to the 9-11 attack of the the World Center Tower by running into the buildings – not away. The many individuals who spent days searching the wreckage for survivors, they knew it was not safe but they did it anyway.
Here in Rockland we have a new HERO – Melissa Reimer. Her story is rather simple – in 2009 Melissa worked in the finance department of the Town of Ramapo and she began to notice what she believed were improper financial activities involving transfers of funds from account to account, and financial numbers that did not add up etc.
Melissa started asking questions of her employer, the Town of Ramapo, making complaints; all was ignored.
Now unlike other heroes who only had seconds or minutes to think about what they were going to do, Ms Reimer had days, weeks, maybe months. During this time she probably spent a lot time questioning herself, she was risking her job, putting her family in risk of financial ruin, losing her reputation, perhaps even her CPA license.
Maybe she should just keep quiet, go along, “make the Supervisor happy” as one person told her. That appeared to be what worked for others who received $20-50,000 dollar raises by “making the Supervisor happy“.
She refused to sign off on the shenanigans, stepped down as the Department Head to a lower position and kept on telling anyone she could what was wrong. Luckily for the citizens of Ramapo Ms Reimer, who is a CPA, is a very bright individual who knew when the financial numbers looked wrong she was right when she said that they were wrong.
Nevertheless Ms Reimer was acutely aware that in a battle of the truth versus the Supervisor’s mis truth she would probably lose professionally and personally. The facts would not matter – “making the Supervisor happy“ was what mattered.
Thus Ms Reimer did the correct thing – she started to tape all of her conversations with those not seeing or claiming they could not see what was right before their eyes especially when what was being observed was clearly illegal actions by government officials.
She reported her observations to Christopher St. Lawrence, the Town of Ramapo’s supervisor, to the Town board, to the Town attorney, to most of the asst Town attorneys, to the Town’s auditors and to many of the Town’s Department heads, but all to no avail.
And so in 2012 Reimer began shining a light for the FBI into the dark corridors of the Town of Ramapo. Once her flashlight was noticed shining in the Town of Ramapo’s dimly lit corners, the town’s character assassination lights were switched on as the Town Supervisor tried every bulb in his electrifying arsenal to justify firing her and failing that to diminish her.
Reimer was suspended with pay then without pay; brought up on ‘charges’ not once but twice while the Supervisor used a spotlight to find a hearing officer dim enough to go along with his request to have her fired. She was slandered, libeled, charged with incompetence and suffered over two years suspension fortunately with pay. Put through the Town of Ramapo’s version of purgatory she suffered emotional abuse wondering if and when she would be terminated and would there be a cloud on her reputation that would deny her future employment. This abuse was not for a couple of days, weeks or months but for the better part of six years. Now her courage has borne fruit when the FBI arrested Supervisor Christopher St Lawrence under a thirty page indictment with twenty-two separate charges.
Melissa Reimer is a HERO who stood tall throughout all of this for the citizens of Ramapo and for Rockland County’s citizens as a whole. I thank Melissa and her family.
In her ongoing lawsuit against the Town and those charged by the Federal government I hope the jury finds in her favor and that the government will obtain guilty verdicts against the perpetrators.
MELISSA REIMER YOU ARE A HERO