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Release Date: June 27, 2013

Earlier this year the Greenburgh Town Board selected MRH Group to lease the 108 units at WESTHELP for affordable housing. The company offered the town 9 million dollars over the life of the 18 year contract --millions more than the second highest bidder. Some critics started smearing the reputation of the investor Richard Harris-wrongly claiming that he had made misrepresentations to the town prior to obtaining approvals.   I believe that the critics goal was to  to prevent the town from signing a lease with the highest bidder. One man even showed up at the investors house (out of state) early in the morning, took photo's of him in an undershirt and posted it on a blog. They tried to do everything possible to encourage him to back out of the deal.  One of the critics went to the District Attorney, trying to stop the deal.
The Public Integrity Unit of the District Attorney's office met with town officials, reviewed e mails and conducted an investigation. They concluded that no wrong doing occurred.  

“Please be advised the Westchester County District Attorney’s office has completed its inquiry into the above referred matter,” wrote Brian Conway, deputy chief of the Public Integrity Unit. “Based upon witness interviews, as well as review of numerous documents, including town of Greenburgh records related to the project, relevant emails, and letters, it is our conclusion that no further action in warranted. As such, you may consider this matter closed, and thank you for your cooperation in this inquiry.” 
Prior to the town awarding the bid to Mr. Harris there was another high bid. That bidder withdrew his offer after a town critic called him up and discouraged him from pursuing the offer. On May 9,2013 I received a letter from that bidder stating "WE are going to retract our offer to lease the WESTHELP property. That coupled with the intense negative attention and ridiculous infighting between various protest groups and the town of Greenburgh is just too distasteful and a total waste of time and energies. There are other places and properties we could spend our time and capital pursuing."
I have a major concern: If mudslinging becomes the norm against contractors, bidders (who have done no  previous work with the town and have not contributed campaign donations to anyone), most businesses won't want to deal with the town. The same people will always get the contracts. Fewer bidders mean that the town will get worst deals. What happened with WESTHELP has a very chilling impact on the bidding process.

This was one of the worst experiences I have had as an elected official.  Harris (the successful bidder) has had no previous relationship with the town or any town officials. He didn't know anyone in the town prior to submitting his bid.   Made no contributions to anyone.
Mr. Harris will contracting with an affordable housing management team to manage the WESTHELP affordable housing complex in greenburgh - which must be reviewed by county officials.

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