You never know who you’ll tick off while on the Tax Watch.
Three weeks ago, I wrote about Carmel developer Mike Barile’s tax consultant, former Carmel Assessor Paul Jonke, as I looked into the Carmel Board of Ethics’ finding that Jonke had violated the town’s ethics code.
I came to the conclusion that Jonke had a good point: he may have gotten around the code’s prohibition of appearing before a town agency, within two years of his departure from town service, on any “case, proceeding or application” in which he’d been involved or which had been under his active consideration.
I used the example of Jonke’s representation of Barile to show how the complainant, attorney Bart Lansky, has appeared to misfire because Barile’s assessment was set by Jonke’s successor, Glenn Droese. It turned out that Jonke hadn’t been involved in setting the assessment that he grieved a year later.
But Barile took great umbrage at the column, and demanded a retraction.
“The insinuations evident in this article are patently false offensive, and a sanctionable (sic) example of the careless journalism that has come to define The Journal News,” he wrote.
In a letter to the editor, to which I was cc’d, and have included below, Barile also let us know that he was licensed to carry a handgun. The letter never appeared.
Barile, who identifies himself as “among the largest individual taxpayers in the Town of Carmel,” was upset that I’d spoken to his tax consultant, and not him, when I researched the column about his tax consultant. With that in mind, I reached out to Barile soon after receiving the letter. But when he answered my call, Barile showed no interest in a dialogue.
“Go **** yourself,” he declared, and promptly hung up the phone.
What irked Barile so was that I hadn’t delved enough into his history with Lansky in one of those Carmel fights over development and taxation.
Here’s what I wrote:
“Lansky was peeved that Jonke had challenged the assessment at 888 Route 6, an office building erected by one of Carmel’s leading developers, Michael Barile.
“Jonke set the assessment, and now he’s grieving it,” Lansky said. “It’s not right.”
I stopped by Town Hall on Wednesday to review the records. It turns out Barile’s assessment had been raised in 2012 by Droese, Jonke’s successor. In fact, all of the assessments from 2012 that Jonke challenged were set by Droese.”
Barile did not challenge the veracity of what I printed. What he wanted me to know was the back story about Lansky, and his questioning of the assessments Jonke had placed on Barile’s property during his tenure in Carmel.
According to Barile, after his partner and legal counsel, Harold Stockfield had passed away, Lansky approached him to see if he needed help to grieve the tax assessments on his various holdings. Barile said he declined Lansky’s pitch. Lansky did not return phone messages Monday to verify this exchange.
Lansky, a Mahopac attorney and developer, told me how he had complained about the assessment Jonke had given to Barile’s building at 888 Route 6, just across the street from the now-shuttered Hacienda Tres Amigos, with professional offices located there. That’s where Barile’s company, Lynlil Associates, is headquartered.
Town records show that the building, with 9,920 square feet of space, was assessed for $166,300 from 2004 to 2007. It rose to $300,000 in 2008, and went to $450,000 from 2009 to 2011. It was set by Droese at $866,000 in 2012.
It was during this time that Lansky built a building in downtown Mahopac at 947 South Lake Boulevard, where a laundry and the restaurant, Dish, is tucked behind KeyBank on Route 6N. His building, with 6,308 square feet of office space, was assessed for $510,000 during the time of his complaints. Lansky found it unfair that Barile’s building, which was 57 percent larger, had been assessed for 41 percent less in 2008, and 13 percent less, from 2009 to 2011.
“I had a building that was much smaller, and was just as empty,” said Lansky. “I had a higher assessment. It didn’t make any sense.”
Barile explained it in his letter, saying that he had told Lansky that he’d received a “partial assessment” from Jonke. They even went to Town Hall to discuss it with Droese.
“As Mr. Lansky seemed to be unfamiliar with the concept of partial assessments in new construction, we went to see Glen Droese, who explained the matter to Mr. Lansky,” Barile wrote. “Therefore he was well aware that Jonke did not set the final assessment on 888 Route Six, yet your article permits Lansky to make this false statement.”
My article showed that Lansky’s position, on which he based his ethics complaint, was inaccurate. It seemed to prove the point of Jonke, Barile’s tax consultant.
Barile, however, was more concerned about how this reflected on his relationship with Jonke.
“The clear implication here is to suggest that my assessment increased after Jonke’s tenure because I was not being properly assessed during his stewardship as Assessor. As stated earlier, my assessment increased in 2012 because full assessment came into place. As your author pens himself “The Tax Watchdog,” and claims to have personally gone to Town Hall on Wednesday, it should be well within his capacity to see that the previous assessment was due to only being partially assessed, yet he conspicuously omits this fact from the article.”
My article made no such suggestion. Town records did not mention the property’s partial assessment. It only showed the increases, with no explanation. I didn’t have a clue about what had happened in previous years.
I called Jonke to relate the concerns of his disgruntled client. Jonke said he recalled that Barile’s building was not fully built-out on the interior when he granted the partial assessment.
“If you had ventured in that building, you would have seen that it was in no way near fully usable,” he said. “It was incomplete.”
As for Barile’s handgun, he wanted The Journal News to know that he has been a licensed firearms carrier in Putnam County for 38 years. He was referring to the criticism heaped upon our newspaper in late December after we published an interactive map on lohud.com that showed the addresses of all 33,000 permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. Putnam county refused to release its list.
“Feel free to include me on your map,” Barile wrote.
The state’s new gun law, with restricts the number of bullets in gun magazines and tightens regulations on gun ownership by those suffering from mental illness, gave counties 120 days to hear from gun owners who wanted to keep their names from public view.
While we await Putnam County’s response later this spring, voting records show that Barile since March, 1988 has been registered to vote at 336 West Lake Blvd., Mahopac.
Photo: Michael Barile’s building at 888 Route 6, Mahopac. The entrance to Lynlil Associates is the first door on the left. /David McKay Wilson
Here’s Barile’s letter to CynDee Royle, editor of The Journal News.
Dear Ms. Royle,
I am compelled to write this letter to express my outrage in being named in the above referenced article without having received the professionalism of a phone call to properly verify facts. Since David McKay Wilson refers to me in the article as, “one of Carmel’s leading developers,” my whereabouts are well known to him and I am easily accessible.
It is also well known to your author that I am among the largest individual taxpayers in the Town of Carmel. Accordingly, tax grievances for one parcel or another have occurred annually in the course of my business for as long as I have been operating. My late partner Howard Stockfield, a well respected attorney and retired Carmel Town Justice, handled the grievances on a routine basis for our various business holdings. Upon Howard’s passing, I was left with a need to hire someone to continue handling grievances, when and if needed, and I hired Paul Jonke.
A point which your author might have included in the article had he chosen to verify information, is the interesting fact that Bart Lansky approached me to handle grievance work for my company and I declined to hire him. Lansky also FOILed all properties owned by me, and my partners, and actually came to my office to discuss same. When he questioned my assessment relative to 888 Route Six, I explained to him that the building was at that point only partially assessed. As Mr. Lansky seemed to be unfamiliar with the concept of partial assessments in new construction, we went to see Glen Droese, who explained the matter to Mr. Lansky. Therefore he was well aware that Jonke did not set the final assessment on 888 Route Six, yet, your article permits Lansky to make this false statement.
The libelous point in the article, written by David McKay Wilson, which I take particular issue with is when he states: “I stopped by Town Hall on Wednesday to review the records. It turns out Barile’s assessment had been raised in 2012 by Droese, Jonke’s successor.”
The clear implication here is to suggest that my assessment increased after Jonke’s tenure because I was not being properly assessed during his stewardship as Assessor. As stated earlier, my assessment increased in 2012 because full assessment came into place. As your author pens himself “The Tax Watchdog,” and claims to have personally gone to Town Hall on Wednesday, it should be well within his capacity to see that the previous assessment was due to only being partially assessed, yet he conspicuously omits this fact from the article.
The insinuations evident in this article are patently false, offensive and a sanctionable example of the careless journalism that has come to define the Journal News. I demand a retraction. Incidentally, if the journal news is interested, I am a licensed firearm carrier in Putnam County for 38 years. Feel free to include me on your map.
Very truly yours,
Michael A. Barile
cc: David McKay Wilson