Yes, this blog post headline is sadly real.
I was fired on Tuesday, July 21, 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 this summer, smack in the middle of an epidemic 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? 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 now decides NOT to move ahead with the possibly illegal August Sidewalk Sale?
We are in the midst of a pandemic.
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.
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 something?
It seemed that the only one who had the guts to put anything in writing was me.
And once I sent a written report about my findings, things got u-g-l-y.
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 me 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.
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 proving that despicable and untrue things were indeed said about me.
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 a certain village official against me was devastatingly vicious and wholly untrue.
To be clear, I would have been willing to let the false accusations go if this village official would have apologized.
Anyway, too late for apologies.
Because that certain village official was the one who engineered my removal as Executive Director, so now the stakes are a whole lot higher, don’t you think?
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.
But 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 at 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.