Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire Monitors "Facts" Faulty

There’s a deflective move to consolidate services in Greenburgh. In ABG’s opinion it is a disingenuous scheme that was proven out during a meeting held the night of July 16th. According to their email blast, the Fire Monitors were holding an “important meeting” with Fire Chiefs Howard Reiss and Edward Rush of the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Departments, respectively. Both Chiefs have been meeting often with community organizations, various groups and residents to explain their side of the consolidation debate. Ironically, Mr Feiner has started this phony debate as a means of focusing attention away from himself and the poor job he is doing managing the Town’s finances.

First, ABG supports consolidation of services, purchasing, equipment, and expertise whenever and wherever possible. Second, the Villages in the Town of Greenburgh long ago formed a purchasing consortium back in the early 2000’s. In fact, while the Villages were all trying to control costs and expenses for their residents, the Town, under the now-22 year stewardship of Mr Feiner, simply refused to participate. Why is no one monitoring how the Town is spending money and only targeting one portion of our taxes? Third, a Town-wide consolidation, instead of cherry-picking districts within the Town to possibly consolidate, makes more sense and might produce much more savings and rewards for taxpayers. But since this was a scam to begin with, it isn’t being offered. Politically, Mr Feiner cannot gain as much traction as he can with a few buzzwords and the help of the media so hence, the fire consolidation hysteria.

What was noticeably missing at this meeting were the Fairview Fire Commissioners and the Hartsdale Fire Commissioners. There was one Hartsdale Fire Commissioner present who remained silent in the back of the room listening to what was being said. Why would this group of self-appointed “monitors” only invite the Chiefs and not the Commissioners to this “important meeting”? The Commissioners are the decision makers for anything and everything budgetary for these districts. Plus, the Chiefs work for them and can certainly discuss much, but not everything. They simply cannot answer every question raised. Could it be because these monitors are not interested in gaining real and accurate answers and only propagating their own – vis-à-vie Mr Feiner’s – agenda? How can we be so sure? Any evidence presented was met with resistance.

During the meeting, the group’s leader Milt Hoffman, repeatedly maintained that each Chief could do away with their own secretary/assistant and both could share just one. This would save one of the districts an assistant’s salary. While his statement sounded plausible, Chief Rush sternly interrupted him, stating he does not, nor has he or the Chief before him, ever had an administrative assistant, noting he has told Mr Hoffman this before. Chief Rush emphatically stated if and when he needs administrative help, he turns to his firefighter dispatcher for that assistance when there are no alarms, a position Mr Hoffman also seeks to eliminate. Chief Rush then detailed a number of reasons to keep the dispatching system in place as is and why it works well. Mr Hoffman, like Mr Feiner, threw an unsubstantiated dollar amount out, saying the department could save $400,000 a year by moving dispatching from within the department(s) to Westchester County’s Department of Emergency Service’s Dispatch Center, known in the fire service as 60 Control. Chief Rush, also a Certified Public Accountant dismissed the number as just plain wrong.

Chief Reiss stated that he does not have an assistant and so far does a lot of the administrative work himself. Regardless, Mr Hoffman refused to back down insisting they both had secretaries. Both Chiefs reiterated he was wrong. ABG isn’t sure how many in the room were from this ad hoc Consolidation Committee, but even audience members were correcting Mr Hoffman each time he volunteered incorrect information. It just seemed as though Mr Hoffman had made up his mind, probably with coaching from Mr Feiner, and regardless of any facts that may be presented, would be unwilling to concede on any points.

One resident, a former police officer-turned-firefighter in Town stated to Mr Hoffman and the group that once you put this consolidation referendum out for a vote, it will be a fait accompli. Explaining further, he said if after the referendum passes, we later determine it is too costly, don’t like it, are not saving enough money, whatever it is, we are stuck with it and there’s no going back! Mr Hoffman disagreed at which point almost everyone in the room beyond his two or three steadfast supporters, shouted out that he was wrong. He stammered. Then, he said it can be undone. Again the crowd reacted vociferously against him. Clearly shaken, he began back-pedaling. Then he said, “That’s why we need a study.” A study? That’s never been part of this agenda push.

This was the first mention of a study by Mr Hoffman or anyone else from this committee. The reality however, is that he isn’t interested in any study, which was confirmed by Mr Feiner at the last Town Board meeting when Mr Feiner said there will be a meeting (meaning this one) and then the public will decide, meaning referendum. Mr Feiner is the master at parsing words. Keep in mind that Mr Feiner is not affected by this consolidation because his gated community home is protected by an all-volunteer fire department.

Fire taxes are based on a number of factors, such as the valuation of your home, its location and whether you have a fire hydrant nearby, an installed sprinkler system, a paid or volunteer fire department to name a few of those factors. All of these contribute to how much money per thousand dollars of valuation on your home you will pay in fire taxes. Mr Feiner lives in an area protected by a volunteer fire department. His fire taxes are about $15/thousand versus our $150/thousand. Do the math and you’ll see that with or without consolidation, he loses nothing while he forces the rest of us to pay dearly.

Mr Hoffman made several outlandish statements regarding the fire departments and their assumed largess. Both Chiefs were quick to respectfully point out Mr Hoffman’s inaccuracies as well as his referencing of outdated information from the 2010 fire consolidation study he participated in – which concluded that a consolidation would not generate savings for the taxpayers! Mr Hoffman also tried to describe the inner workings of 60 Control and the dispatch system they use and the service they provide to the fire community. Chief Rush certainly understands how 60 Control works, as his father Chief Raymond Rush, helped create the facility and was the first County Fire Coordinator to run the Valhalla facility when it opened in 1973.

A resident asked how the committee plans to pay for this consolidation study. Mr Hoffman insisted the two fire departments would be getting grants for the study. Chief Reiss deferred to Chief Rush who explained he had looked into grant monies from the state for consolidation studies. And, even though there may be grant money available next year, it would require matching funds and numerous conditional concessions from the Fire Districts. The resident asked what the cost was for the matching funds per district and the answer provided was about $25,000 per district. Several audience members protested. Mr Hoffman again stated the Fire Districts can surely find $25,000 in their bloated budgets. Both Chiefs emphatically stated they didn’t have the money Mr Hoffman believes they have, adding the numbers don't lie. Mr Hoffman denied what they said. Why? Because he’s not interested in facts! They also pointed out that the union contracts, redistricting and more will consume and generate mammoth legal fees for the taxpayers and not yield the results being touted by Mr Hoffman, Mr Feiner and this committee.

The illogical and incorrect information being propagated to the public continues to go unchallenged by most in the media and Town. As this meeting began to devolve with Mr Hoffman babbling nonsense to try to make his ill-conceived and erroneous points, he began alienating portions of his crowd who had come to this meeting sympathetic toward consolidation. They began to leave, effectively ending the meeting lacking cohesion to move their consolidation agenda forward. Interestingly, when Mr Hoffman was the Opinion editor for a daily newspaper, he was always espousing the unions and their cause, especially within the paid fire departments, such as Yonkers, New Rochelle and Mt Vernon. He met with them regularly and unabashedly wrote of their meritorious points. Why now has he changed his tune and why is he going after the Fairview and Hartsdale union firefighters?

This is not over. We’re pretty sure Mr Hoffman will meet or talk with Mr Feiner asking for tips as to how to proceed. If, and its a very big if, there is genuine interest in consolidation, the fire districts can announce they will perform the study next year, put in for grant money and take charge over this debacle. Mr Feiner has stirred another pot of deflection to remove himself from the firing line already poised by his critics. The Fire Districts need to slow down this reckless and costly imposition onto the willfully ignorant before any irrevocable damage has been done. Will the Town kick in any greenbacks since they are the ones forcing this ill-fated fiasco? Probably not. So how can we stop this steamroller from crushing the taxpayers? By getting involved and changing the leadership within the Town. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Feiner Admits To Altering Official Town Recording

Many residents have a love/hate relationship with Greenburgh. On the one hand, we love being proven right. On the other hand, we hate being proven right. Mr Feiner has openly admitted on the website called "Greenburgh Update" that he "just posted an unedited tape" of the Town Board meeting recording. You'll recall we exposed and published what we believed to be was a doctored recording after discovering the deletion of the negative comments made about Mr Feiner by former Town Supervisor candidate and opponent, Robert Bernstein. As seen in the screen capture admission of his post below, Mr Feiner states:

Note: Whenever we catch Mr Feiner in a lie, he'll routinely say what we've uncovered and exposed is not true.

Numerous individuals contacted ABG after we first broke the story about the edited version of Mr Bernstein's public comments. They were wondering if this could be a technical "glitch" or was actually done on purpose? Our rationale was since this has happened before, we were not as forgiving and believed it to be on purpose. By whom? That's the million dollar question. It certainly could have been a glitch. But with our Town Board openly lying to residents, routinely doing back room deals with developers and keeping residents in the dark on so many issues, is it any wonder we're skeptical?

You'll recall a short time back that approximately fifteen or so minutes of Commissioner William Carter's discussion of the Theodore Young Community Center (TYCC) budget were deleted after Mr Carter made an unintended comment about the Lanza Foundation being Mr Feiner's "Golden Goose". While the comment wasn't that derogatory or intended as an insult, deleting the Carter portion of the recording was worse than leaving it uncensored and risk the Lanza's viewing it. After the G10 created an uproar about it, the Town replaced the edited recording with the unedited version. We believe the same thing is happening here.

During the last Town Board meeting, held on a Tuesday instead of the normal Wednesday night, much was said by the public about the altering of Mr Bernstein's public comments in the Town's official video record of the meeting. ABG staffers continued the debate that if the recording was edited, what were those who authorized or did the editing thought the benefit might be? Town Clerk Judith Beville insisted an internal investigation by SwagIt proved that the error had been on their part. ABG has FOILed the report from SwagIt. But from what we heard Ms Beville read at the Town Board meeting, it seems far from over. 

The Town Board meeting seemed contentious as the public wasn't buying what Ms Beville was feeding them. She insisted that the investigation and the matter is considered closed, reading excerpts from the report as Mr Feiner hastily moved to adjourn the meeting while she spoke. As we have all witnessed before with our government officials, they deny everything when caught and as more information is uncovered and the truth eventually surfaces, they begin to change their tune. Will the truth win out? Is Ms Beville hiding something? It'll be hard to find out the truth, after all, this is Greenburgh. We'll forge on and hope to uncover what happened. Until then, resident/taxpayers must remain diligent, involved and critical of what is taking place in our Town. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lies Fueled Media Blitz at Work Session

This was no ordinary Work Session for the Town Board. Quite the contrary. The front of the Town Hall auditorium was jammed with reporters and camera crews. Mr Feiner wanted to take advantage of what would be his media event and he did just that. Normally, Town Board work sessions take place at the floor level but because of today’s circus event atmosphere, the Town Board members present (only three) sat in their usual elevated seats on the dais. When ABG asked several of the other speakers if they had alerted the media, they all said they did not.

Mr Feiner opened the meeting saying the first order would be the proposed legislation known as the Proposed Shooting Range Ordinance. The ordinance was penned by Edgemont Resident and civic leader Robert Bernstein. What was later uncovered by Mr Bernstein when he was questioned about a specific section by Mr Sheehan, was the audience was not given the latest version of the bill nor did the Town Board have the latest copy. When you shoot from the hip too often, you can get used to working in a sloppy manner. This seems to be a common occurrence with our Town officials more and more.

Mr Feiner postured several times and stumbled to exhort a coherent thought that the media might be able to use “on air”. However he seemed quite pellucid after he openly lied, saying he had no desire to close down the Ardsley Road Shooting Range. At the Town Board meeting held on June 26th, he pandered to the residents from Ardsley Chase and said numerous times that he would like to see this shooting range closed! The audience, not knowing how Mr Feiner will say whatever he needs to get by unscathed, or out of a jam applauded voluminously – several times.

At the Work Session, more closely resembling a press conference, media savvy Mr Feiner got his sound byte. He stated that he didn't want to close the shooting rangeand he is only concerned about is “Safety, safety, safety.” That was a lie! Mr Feiner would later capitulate after openly lying to everyone and say both sides need to work together. Actually, that is the one factual piece of truth. Councilman Kevin Morgan said at the meeting that the request to study other areas if the Town came from the Town. Again, not true. ABG is in possession of emails showing the information had been requested of the Town Board, the Town Attorney and Mr Feiner by Mr Bernstein before the draft legislation was to be officially proposed! 

Mr Sheehan raised numerous questions about the draft legislation and was the only Town Board member present to do so. There were only three Town Board members present as Council members Jones and Juettner were absent. Mr Sheehan’s comments also alluded that Mr Bernstein statements were untrue and the emails ABG has indicate this was quite the opposite of what happened. ABG believes it was premature to introduce any legislation before the investigation was concluded, but maintain Mr Bernstein was acting in good faith in spite of being unable to get accurate and truthful information from the Town Board. 

This never should have been allowed to escalate the way it did and become an issue before  this politically challenged Town Board. The residents of Ardsley Chase (and surrounding area), the Range owners, Con Ed and Toll Brothers should have been the only ones holding any meetings and discussions.

Mr Feiner is in Deflection Mode once again and has another hot-button topic that ensures he will get more media coverage and more importantly, media coverage away from the Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict that is costing taxpayers $6.5 million, $5.5 which is not covered by insurance because Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner and the Town were found guilty of discrimination in federal court! This debacle is no where near seeing any light at the end of any tunnel. At the last Town Board meeting, the Board approved spending roughly $17 million dollars through bonds. Light of day? Hah! Darkness is all that can be seen for the beleaguered taxpayers of Greenburgh. Once the shooting range has been forgotten, Mr Feiner will start anew. Its time for the taxpayers to start anew by changing who is chosen to represent us. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Con Ed To Close Outdoor Shooting Range By Terminating Lease

Without facts, without cause and without regard to the livelihoods of those employed at the Westchester County Police Revolver & Rifle Range in Ardsley, Consolidated Edison capitulated to public hysteria and has decided to terminate their lease with the shooting range located on Ardsley Road. In an email alert just sent to constituents, but not the ABG offices, we’ve learned that Mr Feiner has been in secret communications with the Vice President of ConEd. Although, he doesn’t identify this VP by name – a standard ploy used often by Mr Feiner, Mr Feiner claims the following: 

“I received a call from the Vice President of Con Ed a short time ago advising me that Con Ed plans to terminate the lease with the gun range on Ardsley Road, effective in 30 days. They will continue to communicate with local law enforcement and officials during this transition.”

You’ll recall a woman who lives in the new Ardsley Chase development, where home costs range from $1.2M and up, was hit by a fragment of what is alleged to be a bullet. Town Board speculation, as well as some home owners, believe it came from the range. The range is in the bottom portion of what used to be a rock quarry. Anti-gun and anti-shooting activists have not entertained other causes for this yet-to-be-identified piece of metal. Was it fired from the range or somewhere else? A logical supposition could be someone with a small handgun from the nearby ConEd power lines discharged their weapon. Or, could something have landed on this woman’s leg and she bent down and unknowingly picked up a piece of metal instead of what hit her? Possibly. We don’t doubt she was struck by something nor do we believe she is making this up or is not credible.

While the police are investigating this matter, other residents have notified the police that bullet fragments have been found on their property. When were these found? Were complaints or reports filed with the police department? Our point is simple, while we believe the woman in question felt something strike her, Mr Feiner found another political deflection to garner attention away from him and his administration for his failings in Town leadership.

The Town’s budget will have a $3.4% tax increase – under the NYS 2% Tax Cap. The residents are being forced to pay the balance of $5.5 million not covered by insurance for the guilty verdict fine of $6.5 million in the Fortress Bible Church Discrimination lawsuit. The Town has lost $1.2 million per year while Mr Feiner lets the Westhelp property languish in ruin to garner a few more votes from Ardsley. The list is endless.

The Town should not have gotten involved in this case until all the parties had sat down and were unable to iron out the issues. Mr Feiner lied at yesterdays meeting when he said he didn’t want to shut the shooting range down. Not only did he say he wanted it shut down at a previous Town Board meeting, to thunderous applause from the Ardsley Chase residents, but he said it at subsequent meetings as well. In fact, he sent letters out to residents suggesting how they could have it shut down. This way he can continue to say he didn’t want it closed. Lies from our elected officials, guilty verdicts from our elected officials and fines that taxpayers are forced to pay for from our elected officials must end! Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Staples Shuttered; CVS to Move In

Shuttered Staples store as of July 5th at
Tarrytown Rd & Old Kensico Road.

After announcing several months ago of the impending closure of the Staples store at the corner of Rt 119 and Old Kensico Roads, the Staples organization finally put the key in the lock and turned it one final time. The nearest Staples store for the neighborhood is in Elmsford or all the way down Central Avenue in the same shopping center as Racconelli's (formerly Pizza & Brew) and TGI Fridays. Food establishments seem to fair better than other types of retail ones in Greenburgh.

You may recall the property was a restaurant called The Ground Round which succumbed to a fire and was subsequently torn down. Then, an upscale store named Conran's moved into the space, similar to what we have now with Crate and Barrel or Pier One. After that was CompUSA, the computer superstore, who signed a twenty-year lease - only they didn't make it that long. When Staples moved in, the property was cleaned up and added a nice touch to the neighborhood. Soon, CVS, will renovate and open another one of their stores here. CVS is a chain of pharmacy/convenience stores that originated in Rhode Island as the Consumer Value Store.

ABG spoke to a Staples executive under the promise of anonymity to find out why this store was closing. Simply, they weren't bringing in the revenue that was expected or comparable to other Staples stores. Retail sales were suffering as residents from the area also purchased more supplies online, usually with free shipping/delivery. Another complaint was there were numerous obstacles and fees in place from the Town of Greenburgh, making it more difficult than other areas to operate a retail store. He added closing or moving the operation was the path of least resistance for them.

In anticipation of closing numerous stores, Staples also shut down their distribution center in Port Chester and laid off their delivery drivers. They switched to the latest fad which is to offer them their old job, at less money, and work as independent contractors to the company. The problem with that, he said, was most of those workers were not highly paid to the point where they could afford to purchase and operate their own trucks, doing per diem deliveries.

Sadly, we've said this before about businesses in our Town, but once again another one bites the dust. Once our Town Board begins to understand what it takes to run a business and stops the incessant taxation through fees, fines and regulations, maybe then we can start to see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Town To Spend Over $12+ Million Tuesday Night

Tuesday night promises to be a bonanza of spending of taxpayers money beyond their control and worst nightmares. It promises to also be a gravy train to contractors based on the agenda that is posted on the Town's website.

First up under Decision heading, shown below, is the Town's increase in taxes through rate increases for Water and Sewers. Of course the Town budget promises another tax increase when they pass the budget. Mr Feiner will posture that the Board stayed under the 2% NYS tax cap at 3.4%. The mainstream media will validate whatever he says. We hope the Town Comptroller attends this meeting, but this time comes prepared to actually provide answers to the public’s questions and doesn’t say, ”I don’t know and will have to get back to you.” 

- To consider the Proposed 2014 Capital Budget and the 2015-2016 Capital Plan of the Town of Greenburgh. The capital budget was released to the public on May 28th.
- To consider a proposed increase and improvement of the facilities of the Town's Consolidated Water District
- To consider a proposed increase and improvement of the facilities of the Town's Consolidated Sewer District.

Next up under the heading of Supervisor is an ongoing and pending controversy coming from the Town Board, where the Town Board plans to condone anti-trust actions in Greenburgh by approving a request of the remaining three automotive dealerships left in Greenburgh on Central Avenue to block any competition from coming in through the adoption of this law(below). Many have fought to stop this debacle but since the attorneys for the three car dealerships have made the case, Mr Feiner wants this passed and so it will be. These attorneys also represent numerous developers friends of Mr Feiner in the Town. What passing this change does is keep any other auto dealer from gaining access or participating in selling or repairing automobiles on Central Avenue. Here's what it says on the agenda:

Introduction of Local Law amending Section 285-29.1 of Chapter 285 of the Code of the Town of Greenburgh entitled “Zoning,” to allow owners of pre-existing motor vehicle sales uses, motor vehicle sales lots and accessory motor vehicle repair facilities in the Central Avenue Mixed-Use Impact District to apply for a special use permit from the Town Board to alter and/or expand existing facilities.

Of course, the "mother lode" on the agenda of what taxpayers will be forced to pay for is a plethora of bond issues that total 25 expenditures by our count. This doesn't include the three-quarters of a million dollars in certiorari refunds to also be voted upon Tuesday night. The certiorari refunds are due to (mostly) businesses challenging their tax assessments. Since revaluation has never been done for the 22 years Mr Feiner has been in office, the Town, schools, fire districts, sewer districts, etc., are compelled to refund the money. So when Mr Feiner complains about the high salaries of other employees, whether they are Town employees or not, he is disingenuously trying to deflect attention away from what he is costing the taxpayers.

Here's a list of what will be presented, ultimately voted upon and wonder what this is going to cost us:
COMPTROLLER – 993-1528

- CO 1 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $5,100,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Increase and Improvements of the Facilities of the Town's Consolidated Water District in said Town

- CO 2 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuances of $500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Increase and Improvement of the Facilities of the Town's Consolidated Sewer District in said Town

- CO 3 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $1,000,000 bond of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Employment of Experts to Assist in a Program of Revaluation of Real Property, in and for said Town

- CO 4 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $100,000 bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of a Comprehensive Engineering Study to Replace the Falling Timber Retaining Wall at the Highway Garage, in and for said Town

- CO 5 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of LED Street Lighting at Various Locations in the Town

- CO 6 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $154,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay cost of the Acquisition of Computer Servers, Routers and other Equipment and Software for various Town Administrative Purposes, in and for said Town

- CO 7 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $250,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Construction or Reconstruction of Various Sidewalks or Curbs, in and for said Town

- CO 8 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $223,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition and Installation of Communication or Transmission Systems Improvements, in and for said Town

- CO 9 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $64,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Equipment and Vehicles for use by Various Town Departments, in and for said Town

- CO 10 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $45,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of a Fire Suppression System for the Ammunition Room at Police Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 11 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $80,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of Guide Rails at Various Locations Along Town Roads, in and for said Town

- CO 12 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $50,367 Bonds for the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Various Equipment for Installation or Use in Town Buildings, in and for said Town

- CO 13 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $134,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition of Various Replacement Passenger Vehicles to Replace Similar Vehicles in Service for Three Years or More, or in the Case of Police or Fire Vehicles, One Year or More, in and for said Town

- CO 14 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $350,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition and Installation of Drain Pipe and Related Drainage Improvements Along Old Saw Mill River Road, in and for said Town

- CO 15 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $350,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition of an Automated Refuse Collection Vehicle, in and for said Town

- CO 16 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $175.000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Construction of a Retaining Wall at the Police Department Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 17 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $870,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Equipment and Vehicles for Use by Various Town Departments, in and for said Town

- CO 18 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $130,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Improvements to the Town of Greenburgh Library, Including Installation of a Supplemental Boiler and Modification of the Circular Flower Bed, in and for said Town

- CO 19 - 7/08/14
A Resolution authorizing the issuance of $92,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of improvements to the Police Department Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 20 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $155,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Improvements to the Town Court House, in and for said Town

- CO 21 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $25,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Traffic Signal Transfer Switches, in and for said Town

- CO 22 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $50,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Replacement of Doors and Related Reconstruction Work at the Lois Bronz Facility, in and for said Town

- CO 23 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $1,500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Resurfacing of Various Town Roads, in and for said Town

- CO 24 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $45,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Security Enhancements and Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Improvements to the Department of Public Works Facility, in and for said Town

- CO 25 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $162,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Various Improvements for the Greenburgh Nature Center, in and for said Town

The fact that Mr Feiner has lumped all of these expenses into one summertime meeting for a total bond expenditure of $12+ million is wrong. Keep in mind this doesn’t include the money for paying the fine for the $6.5M* Fortress Bible Church discrimination guilty verdict! With it, the total is $17.5+ million! It's a clever ploy to ensure the path of least resistance for himself and the Board by scheduling all of this during the summer months and after a big holiday weekend.

ABG hopes to see more than the G10 and many more residents come out and speak against this. Without having enough time to evaluate all of these, and knowing Mr Feiner has at least a three-to-two vote to move these forward, all we can think about is the military term BOHICA**. It’s a shame taxpayers must be treated this way by their elected officials. But, as the willfully ignorant, they allow it. It’s time for them to go. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

* $1M is covered by Town insurance. However, since Mr Feiner was found guilty of discrimination, destroying evidence and lying under oath in Federal Court, the insurance policy does not have to pay the remainder of the guilty verdict fine of $5.5M – the Unincorporated taxpayers must.
** Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Town Continues Video Cover-Up!

In our post on Thursday, June 26, 2014, entitled Town Edits-Out Incriminating News From Official Town Board Video Record, we detailed what transpired with the official video recording of the Town Board meeting. During Edgemont resident Robert Bernstein's time at the podium, the former candidate for Supervisor against Mr Feiner shared information about the Toll Brothers high-end development called Ardsley Chase, the known shooting range adjacent to it and donations to Mr Feiner's campaign war chest while Toll Brothers had applications before the Town. To the uninitiated, this is business as usual in the 80th Best Place To Live. To the regulars and developers, its just another day in Gotham.

If you listen carefully to the video on our previous post of Mr Bernstein, what he said in the live meeting was deleted in the officially posted video. On the officially posted Town video you can only hear him say, “...was one of the largest financial con...Toll Brothers application was pending.” The gap in the video was created to remove the reference that Mr Bernstein made about Mr Feiner receiving campaign contributions from Toll Brothers while they had applications before the Town! Faces in the audience showed shock and dismay. Many of those residents were "first-timers" to the Town Board meeting and were unaware of Mr Feiner's unethical behavior. They were stunned as they learned Mr Feiner accepted money from a developer while they had applications pending with the Town.

During his 3-minute time at the microphone, Mr Bernstein actually stated that, “Toll Brothers knew they were building adjacent to a gun range. And, what many might not be aware of is that Toll Brothers was one the largest campaign contributors to Mr Feiner while their application was pending.” Those in attendance heard Mr Bernstein loud and clear. In fact, since most developers working in the Town knew this was acceptable and possibly even encouraged, it got so bad that the Ethics Committee was tasked to address it. Watching the video tape afterwards provided an unsettling realization that our elected leaders could not be trusted. Did "they" doctor the video again? Once might be a mistake, but twice is more than a coincidence.

You may recall the meeting with the Town Board and Theodore Young Community Center Commissioner William Young, where he detailed the TYCC's budgetary needs. During the course of discussion he made a comment about the Lanza Foundation and how the Town would not want to upset the Golden Goose. A day later that fifteen-minute section of the video tape mysteriously disappeared from the official video record of the meeting. How could that be? Upon questioning at the following Town Board meeting, Town Clerk Judith Beville said they would investigate what might have happened. The final excuse offered was that an intern deleted that section of the video. That lie was provided as they could not, or would not, disclose the real cause for the deleted section. The video is streamed over the internet live and during the live stream, the signal is sent/picked up by SwagIt, the video company that segments the video and supplies it online for the Town. An intern would be unable to alter the streaming video SwagIt receives.

Much speculation was made at that time as to what might have happened. Could the Town videographer, George Malone, have made the change? No, he was out of town on vacation. Could it have been the intern? Doubtful, as they cannot edit the streaming video that goes to SwagIt. Could Judith Beville, who is the overseer and manager of the video department have made the changes? Possibly, but no one was able to confirm her knowledge of the software used by the video department. Ultimately, something happened to cause Mr Carter's portion of the official video recording of the meeting to be deleted and now Mr Bernstein's portion has been deleted. The Town contacted SwagIt who was able to supply the Town a corrected version for the Bill Carter incident. Will they be able to do the same thing again and replace Mr Bernstein's deleted comments? As of this posting, the deleted official Town video record of the meeting is still missing from the Town's website. Why?

There are many critics of the Town. In fact, the G10 are suspect of many of Mr Feiner and his Town Board's actions based on their past history of "skirting" the fine line between right and wrong. They have also blatantly fallen on the wrong side of many issues. The Fortress Bible Church decision is one that originates from 2007 and is costing Unincorporated Greenburgh $6.5M - money we simply don't have. How much money has the Town lost through the actions, inactions and questionable actions of this group of elected officials? Its time for a change. It's time to get elected officials willing to clearly and steadfastly act on behalf of the taxpayers first and everyone else second. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate this 4th of July, we hope everyone will 
give pause and thanks to reflect on the sacrifices made 
by the few to provide us with so much throughout the years. 
God bless America!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Evaluating Consolidation: Is Bigger Better?

Several months ago, before Mr Feiner might have begun editing or authorizing the editing of the official Town Board meeting video records to hide what was being said about him, he needed to deflect attention away from the reckless and costly expenses he was incurring for Town residents. He began a rant against the Fairview Fire Chief and enlisted the help of his fellow progressive big government proponents where they carried the rally cry of his deflection under the guise of consolidation. But like Mr Feiner’s flawed and disingenuous referendum for the illegal sports bubble lease on Dobbs Ferry Road, the information they espoused was intentionally misleading, misrepresenting and invalid. They didn't care. This wasn't about truth, helping taxpayers or improving services. No. Once Mr Feiner gets caught in one lie, he shifts gears and deflects to the next issue du jour. That’s what is happening here.

Every consideration must be on the table when discussing consolidation, including what the real, ultimate and agreed upon goals are? For Mr Feiner and crew, the real goal is an elusive one, at least to the uninitiated. He claims its about saving money but his “facts and figures” are outdated and his models are incomplete. Without a fair and honest assessment, the committee he tasked to investigate a fire department consolidation option expended energy towards futility. And, the dissenting point of view, compiled through the eyes and experience of actual firematic personnel, offered a starkly different vision of a consolidation. Frankly, if we are going to expend the effort to study all of this, shouldn’t it be genuine and factor in all the variables? Of course it should. In fact, it must!

Putting these variables aside momentarily, this is about growing government and wielding the power of a new, singular, town-wide fire department under Mr Feiner’s authority. It has nothing to do with saving money. For Mr Feiner, it is about getting press, creating controversy and getting what he wants. But the uninitiated won’t see this. Consolidation increases Mr Feiner’s power base and extends his political reach, giving him control over the fire department budgets. Ah yes, control. Currently the paid fire departments in Greenburgh fall under the authority of their respective fire districts. Each fire district is its own taxing entity and must raise whatever funds they need for all of their costs. This includes everything from personnel pay checks, fuel for apparatus, equipment, right on down to toilet paper and pens. Yes, this all about control.

One significant variable that has changed is the number of departments to be included in the consolidation. Mr Feiner's 2010 commissioned study was to provide a predetermined outcome and conclusion based on three fire departments consolidating. They were the Fairview, Hartsdale and Greenville Fire Departments. But now he’s only talking about consolidating Fairview and Hartsdale. What changed? Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Greenville Fire Department protects the Edgemont section of Town and Mr Feiner knows going after the Greenville Fire Department would be like throwing gasoline onto the fire with an already strained relationship with Edgemont. No, he’s decided to focus on where the voters won’t pay attention or be able to negatively impact him by focusing on doing his deflection in Fairview and Hartsdale.

The 2010 study proved that a lot of money, time and effort would be wasted to disband the three fire districts, and shutter three fire departments with little or no savings to the taxpayers. A new larger,  more costly and ultimately unwieldy fire district would need to be created and voted into existence. This is not going to be a quick fix. There's also the possibility a new fire district might not be approved by voters. Hmm, what happens then? More importantly, the three fire districts’ union's contracts would become null and void. If the goal is to break the union and its costs to the taxpayers, this is one way to do it. But will Mr Feiner discuss that? No. He stays focused on the sensationalism of eliminating one non-union fire chief's roughly $200k position, claiming those huge savings will help the taxpayer. What would help the taxpayer the most you ask? Honesty, true open government, some town-wide consolidation and an engaged electorate. Most importantly, we would save tens of millions of dollars every year if Mr Feiner would simply stop breaking the law!

Consolidation is a popular catch-phrase bandied about by those with the belief that government is the cure. We're reminded of the oxymoron from Ronald Reagan's speech saying, “I'm from the government and I’m here to help.” He also said government is part of the problem. As any government gets bigger, more and more people become dependent upon it as politicians lure dependency from the constituency. As those who have become more dependent upon government, politicians such as Mr Feiner and others continue to mete out crumbs to those who can’t or won’t rely on themselves for what they need. There is a place for government to help people, just not with Paul Feiner at the helm. His goal is to grow local government and his power base at whatever cost - taxpayers be damned!

What you never hear about is what happens when he and his select follower’s superficial fire consolidation plan fails? He also never discusses the reduction in services for the Fairview residents of the Town. Nor, does he really care. Conversely, costs will increase by making sure Hartsdale’s Fire Department members are trained to provide the same services the Fairview Fire Department already does. What will it really cost us for the public to be served equally throughout the Town? How much is that additional training expense going to be as well as the never-discussed maintenance or update training afterwards? What about the additional personnel that must be added to comply with the National Fire Protection Agency’s recommended fire department staffing, Section 1710 for paid staffing & Section 1720 for volunteer staffing? Most fire departments follow the NFPA guidelines. Also, what will happen to the previously pensioned employees, their medical benefits and other contractual agreements? Are we to assume the many questions not even skimmed-over in the consolidation talks will magically resolve themselves? Hardly.

Several years ago the Town received grant money (that we pay for but was told was “free”) to study consolidating the Greenburgh and Dobbs Ferry police departments. The only reason Greenburgh Police Chief Kapica and Dobbs Ferry Police Chief Longworth agreed to the study was because it didn't cost them any money from either of their budgets along with minimal effort. In fact, because he is a political gadfly, when Dobbs Ferry Police Chief Longworth retired from Dobbs Ferry PD, he was appointed as Westchester County Commissioner of Public Safety, a misnomer of a new name for the Westchester County Police. There’s an entity with a $35 million budget that we could probably stand to do away with.

Westchester County Police offer taxi cab regulation for the County - the only profit generating division of this group, new police officer recruit training, guards at the County facilities and parkway patrols. They also offer a bomb squad that is similar to what the state police offer if requested. How many bombs do we get in Westchester? They go to an occasional “old ordinance keepsake” found in a home of a soldier from the WWII, Korea or Vietnam era when someone passes away or the home is sold and they are cleaning it out. Mostly we see them “blowing up” abandoned backpacks.

The County Police offer a hazardous materials response team (re: overtime/backfill funding/personnel/cash cow - pick one) made up of County Police officers seeking overtime. Backfill funding is the term used when someone is pulled from the job they are performing, say as a patrol officer to go to a “bomb call”, and someone else has to be called back (to) fill in to cover that position for them. There is usually a guaranteed number of hours for the individual coming in when backfill funding is utilized. 

The Westchester County Department of Emergency Services, which is the fire branch of the County's emergency services with an $8M operating budget, offers a Special Operations Team comprised of two all-volunteer response teams for hazardous materials and technical rescue responses, led by one paid Chief. There are no overtime costs, backfill funding, no pension costs except one (Chief), and these teams are made up of industry leaders, responders and instructors who deal with these types of calls daily. Mr Feiner hasn’t addressed any of this because he knows he doesn’t have to. The willfully ignorant electorate only hear him say “consolidation equals savings”.

Can money be saved without consolidating. Frankly, yes. But the return on investment must be weighed fairly and intelligently. That hasn’t happened. One example is the Town operates a SWAT Team. How many incidents involving SWAT does the Town have per year? The ongoing training for these officers and the increased pay for participating on the SWAT Team is an expense that could be eliminated if we used the County or State teams. Another example where money can be saved is with the Greenburgh Police Department and their Technical Rescue Team. It is comprised of police officers and firefighters from the three paid fire departments. They provide the bulk of the manpower for this team. The fire districts pays for their members' training, not the Town or the police budget. The fire district is never reimbursed by the Town for the money spent to participate, for the backfill funding when they are called away from firefighting duty or training.

As mentioned earlier, the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services operates a Technical Rescue Team available to all communities at no cost if requested. Plus, anytime the Special Operations Team for the County responds, the County seeks reimbursement for any expended supplies from the insurance companies involved in the alarm. So there are no out-of-pocket cost to the municipalities.

We have the best responders in the Town and these examples aren’t an attack on them. Rather, the examples are intended to highlight information that is lacking from the consolidation activists. They’re not wrong to want to look into consolidation. But, Mr Feiner’s goal and those of our taxpayers don’t match. Mr Feiner is merely adding another ball into his juggling act to deflect attention from his poor and often illegal actions with consolidation talk. The real damage is what he is doing to the Greenburgh taxpayers if the consolidation referendum carries to disband the fire districts only to find minimal savings in the short term and increased spending in the long term. Mr Feiner and his Town Board have cost us millions upon millions of dollars with decisions against him and the Town with Fortress Bible Church discrimination loss, Frank’s Nursery, WestHelp, Dromore Road, Veteran Park, Brightview, NextG, the list is endless. When Mr Feiner ceases his illegal behavior, we will begin to have a more cost-effective, a lower taxed and A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Town Edits-Out Incriminating News From Official Town Board Video Record

The schedule had been changed from the traditional Wednesday night Town Board meeting to Monday night. Yet, this Town Board meeting was uncharacteristically filled with residents from Unincorporated Greenburgh. In fact, the Town Board, fearing a loss of votes from the same residents, decided to change the agenda and jump right into the 3-minute public comment portion to placate them. ABG staffers had watched the meeting online while it was underway as well as conferred with attendees. Imagine our surprise when we went to the Town website to review the video – which is the official record of the Town’s meeting – only to find it had been altered and then removed! Why? Read on.

The first portion of the meeting was solely outraged resident after outraged resident complaining about a shooting range next to the new Toll Brothers’ Ardsley Chase development, which consists of about two dozen million dollar-plus new homes. In fact, there is a police investigation currently underway because a resident was apparently “hit” by a stray bullet fragment that is alleged to have originated from the firing range. The police investigation is underway and should provide all of the facts.

Frankly, as lifelong residents, no one in the ABG offices were even aware that there was a shooting range in Westchester beyond the Yonkers shooting range on McLean Avenue and at the Westchester County Police facility in Hawthorne. Ironically, one shooting range that has existed for years was mentioned under the chapel at Archbishop Stepinac HS. It has been dormant for years.

These residents were at the Town Board meeting to complain that this shooting range, supposedly a mile away, according to the Toll Brothers prospectus, was is in fact much closer. Back before the project was moving forward at full steam, Toll Brothers illegally removed the forest of poplar trees on their site for their project. They were fined, subsequently paid the fine, and then sold the same trees to a lumber mill for a significant profit, much more than the fines cost them. Those trees, along with other forest and shrubbery, provided a natural barrier between the shooting range and the rest of the then-uninterested world. Consolidated Edison, the property owner and landlord of the shooting range, also removed many trees in the area from their property. This reduced the sound and protective barrier that had existed for years.

During the Town Board Public Comment session, after many of the residents had spoken, former Town Supervisor candidate Robert Bernstein took to the podium. During his 3-minute time at the microphone, he stated that, “Toll Brothers knew they were building adjacent to a gun range. And, what many might not be aware of is that Toll Brothers was one the largest campaign contributors to Mr Feiner while their application was pending.” If you listen to the video below of Mr Bernstein, what he said in the live meeting was changed when he says, “...was one of the largest financial con...Toll Brothers application was pending.” The gap in the video was altered to remove the reference that Mr Bernstein made about Mr Feiner receiving campaign contributions from Toll Brothers while having applications before the Town!


Some might consider Mr Feiner’s financial acceptance of money from a developer to be a bribe or at the very least an unethical way to purchase approvals for various requests for their multi-million dollar development. They would be considered wrong, because this is Greenburgh, and its just part of “doing business” in our Town. Most developers know this. Most residents do not. Mr Feiner taking Toll Brother money while their application was pending is a matter of public record. Ironically, this is not the first time the Town’s public record has been altered for to cover up bad information. A fifteen-minute section of video with Theodore Young Community Center leader Bill Carter was removed and later restored after the G10 went on the offensive with the Town.

Mr Feiner accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Toll Brothers when the developer sought approval to build ttwo dozen luxury homes in what is now called Ardsley Chase. Its a subdivision next door to a live outdoor shooting range on Ardsley Road. Sadly, Mr Feiner pandered to this crowd and told him he would contact everyone ELSE and do everything he could to close or at least regulate this gun range, which has been here for about 41 years. He has just done about everything he will do for them. And, Toll Brothers got their approvals, Mr Feiner got his contributions for his campaign fund and the text of what Mr Bernstein said has not seen the light of day.

It’s a long time overdue for this Town Board and Supervisor to go. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.