Friday, October 31, 2014

92nd District Candidate Responds Addendum

We've previously posted several positions that Mike Duffy, Candidate for the 92nd Assembly District had made to ABG. Here is one more that he wished to add to what he had already given us:

How I would handle tax incentives:

I've already been instrumental in obtaining tax incentives. I am a member of the Mount Pleasant Industrial Development Agency. Recently, we approved the Regeneron project in Eastview, which provided for tax incentives for Regeneron to stay in the Greenburgh-Mount Pleasant area, and greatly expand their facilities. There was a strong possibility that they would relocate out of the area.

Greenburgh, Mount Pleasant, Elmsford and Tarrytown, which are within the 92nd Assembly District, will benefit directly from the project. Approximately 400 additional jobs will be created with the expansion. Local businesses will benefit from the new employees who patronize those businesses, in addition to increased sales tax revenue.

Click the link to see the lohud article on the Regeneron project:

http://polhudson.lohudblogs.com/2013/04/04/regeneron-to-expand-create-400-jobs-in-mount-pleasant/

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

92nd District Candidate Responds

In a previous post, we discussed some of 92nd District Candidate Mike Duffy's Campaign platform. A reader posed a few questions and Mr Duffy's response is below:

Unfunded Mandates
With regards to unfunded mandates in general, I will propose legislation that mandates if the state passes the law mandating local and/or county compliance, the state pays for it. It would not be allowed to pass the costs down to county or local governments.

Medicaid
Medicaid is a federal program foisted on the states. The states' issue with Medicaid is that the 62 counties administer the program - this is unnecessary! The state should administer the program, allowing for uniform administration and a freeing up of county resources. A secondary major issue regarding Medicaid is that there is a tremendous amount of fraud in the system. Fraud raises the cost of Medicaid exponentially. Again, if the state administered the program, it would be in a better position to investigate and combat fraud. Most counties in NY have relatively small governments and the administration of Medicaid is a costly burden that needs to end.

Pensions
Public pensions are tied to collective bargaining agreements. However, often the high cost of pensions occurs due to the padding of overtime. Legislation could be enacted that would comport with the cba's (collective bargaining agreements), and fight overtime abuse.

Valhalla & the Kensico Dam
The roadway to the Kensico Dam is administered by the county, and the dam infrastructure belongs to the NYC DEP. You also have the towns of Mount Pleasant and North Castle involved. Having said all that, I would contact all the parties involved and work towards opening the dam by being persistent with all necessary individuals. I'm not saying it would be easy. What I am saying is that sitting back and nothing will accomplish nothing. I believe that intelligent persistence will result in the roadway bring opened, thus allowing a quicker commute, and relief to the traffic choked village of Valhalla.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Overdoing Ebola Reporting

Much has been said recently about the Ebola virus, the spread of it, as well as the containment of it, how it's contracted, what to do if you do contract it and so on. The reality for most of us is we will never be near the disease, someone infected with it or ever have to worry about contracting it. Or will we? Please keep in mind that this is not a medical column nor are we medical experts. This is just some common-sense information.

Years ago, when the first reports of the AIDS virus was becoming "mainstream", there was a similar hysteria in the media as we are seeing now with the Ebola virus. No longer relegated to the private discussions within the homosexual population, fear from a lack of knowledge seemed to be more prevalent than ever. Now that the hysteria and media "over-coverage" of AIDS has lessened, we've benefitted from rational, medical discussions. Many involved with the disease were able to supply correct and valuable information as to the do's and don'ts when dealing with an AIDS patient. In fact, when transporting my first AIDS patient via the ambulance I ride on, the police officer who responded to the call refused to enter the motel room from which we were picking the patient up from. We, as attendants were required to wear a protective suit, eye and face protection and a double layer of medical gloves. Thinking about it now, we each looked like the Michelin Man. We now know better and handle these calls a bit more easily and confidently. Hopefully, we'll get there with Ebola related issues sooner rather than later.

From an average citizen's perspective, you should certainly remain vigilant and cautious when meeting or interacting with people, especially ones you do not know. While profiling may be illegal, not cool and something people say they won't do, it may also be your best weapon to remain uninfected and Ebola-free. Interestingly, many of Ebola's symptoms can be interchanged with other illnesses. An ABG staffer recently came down with bronchitis. When he called his physician, whom he's known for years, the doctor laughed and asked if he'd been traveling to any other nations such as Liberia recently. After they got past the kidding around, he asked for symptoms. Ironically, many of the symptoms coincided with the Ebola virus symptoms: headache, vomiting (from coughing so hard), stomach discomfort (from coughing), decreased appetite, sore throat, breathing difficulty and some minor chest pain (from coughing). The doctor laughed and said he qualified and to stay away from everybody and don't travel anymore. Fortunately, he also prescribed the Z-Pack of antibiotics and a cure was forthcoming.

While we're half-joking about the symptomatology, the symptoms of the Ebola virus are very similar to the flu. As such, it would be difficult for a lay person to be able to tell if someone has the Ebola virus or simply the flu. Ebola is usually detected in blood and many body fluids, such as saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen. The obvious abstention of kissing, sex, breast feeding and so on requires a diligence on behalf of those who are sick and the ones they live with. In fact, they may not even realize they are infected but simply have the flu as the symptoms are fever, headache, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain - how you feel when you get the flu.

Unlike respiratory illnesses like measles or chickenpox, which can be transmitted by virus particles that remain suspended in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who has symptoms of Ebola disease. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola, if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person’s eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

Any surface the virus has dried upon such as doorknobs and countertops can see the virus survive for several hours; however, the virus in bodily fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature. Ebola can be killed with hospital-grade disinfectants and even household bleach. Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and a patient’s immune system's response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that can last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. The medical community doesn't fully know if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.

Another question that's been raised is if someone survives Ebola, can they still spread the virus? According to the doctor we spoke with, once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. According to the CDC and others, standard treatment for Ebola is still limited to supportive therapy. Supportive therapy is balancing the patient's fluid and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating such patients for any complicating infections. Any patients suspected of having Ebola hemorrhagic fever should be isolated, and caregivers should wear protective garments. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

There's so much more that could be discussed but eventually would begin to cloud the issue even more. We hope that this article has added a small bit of clarity to the confusion and hype created mostly by the media. It seems that by practicing some common-sense routines, the average person can be relatively assured of remaining Ebola-free. For emergency service workers, first responders and the medical community, its obvious that more precautions must be taken to ensure their safety while performing their respective jobs. Stay vigilant and if something doesn't add up in your mind, reach out to a local hospital, your physician , the Center for Disease Control or the NYS Department of Health. In the end, simply paying attention might just be our best weapon against Ebola.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Candidate Mike Duffy for 92nd Assembly Seat Receives Governor Pataki’s Endorsement

In a statement just released by former New York State Governor George Pataki, he had these comments to say of 92nd Assembly District candidate Mike Duffy:


“I am pleased to endorse Mike Duffy for the 92nd Assembly district in Westchester County. 

Now more than ever, New Yorkers need a representative who has the courage and integrity to take a stand against the business-as-usual Albany cronies and their failed policies. 

For three decades, Mike has served the people of Westchester County in a distinguished career in law enforcement.  

From a police officer in White Plains to Chief Investigator for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Mike has protected the rights and lives of New Yorkers.

As Chief Investigator for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Mike Duffy and his investigators worked shoulder-to-shoulder with NYPD to keep New Yorkers safe and secure in the aftermath of terrorist attack of 9/11. 

Mike will protect our rights, ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in pursuit of improving the lives of all New Yorkers, not just a select few, and demand integrity and transparency. 

As Assemblyman, Mike will continue his public service. He will make sure that New York is working for its people, and that all voices are heard.

I endorse Mike Duffy for 92nd Assembly and I urge you to vote for him.

George E. Pataki”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

“Like Mike” Duffy for 92nd Assembly District

ABG staffers recently had an opportunity to sit down with New York Assembly Candidate for the 92th District, Mike Duffy, to discuss some of the issues and reasons he is running for office against 24-year-long professional politician, Tom Abinanti.

The 92nd NYS Assembly District, which is comprised of the Towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant, also includes the villages contained within those two towns. Currently, the only time you'll see current representative Abinanti is when he is hopping from one event dinner to the next, dishing out NYS Proclamations worth the paper they’re printed on. In fact, Abinanti has done this during his entire 24 years as a legislator and even garnered the nickname Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti.

Mike Duffy is a life-long resident of Westchester County, growing up in White Plains and attending St. John the Evangelist School on Hamilton Avenue and Archbishop Stepinac High School. Following high school he went on to graduate from the City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Soon after that he joined the White Plains Police Department, as a member of the Patrol and Detective Divisions, being assigned to the Street Crime Unit and Vice Control Unit. He has received 33 awards for excellent and meritorious police work, including lifesaving. Respectfully, we restrained from asking him if Abinanti ever presented him with a Proclamation.

Mike then went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law. He retired from the DA’s office in 2004, and went to work as an associate attorney in a White Plains. In 2006, Mike began a private practice, focusing on criminal defense and general litigation. He donates his time doing work as a pro bono arbitrator for the City Court of White Plains.

There are numerous points Mike discussed with ABG as to his platform, and we’ll highlight just a few. First is about our Infrastructure. Mike favors opening the top roadway on the Kensico Dam to passenger vehicles. The Village of Vahalla is being choked to death by the excessive traffic that this long-time closure is causing. It is having a negative affect on the small businesses in town and contributing to empty storefronts. Why hasn’t 24-year politician Tom Abinanti done something about this? Obviously, because he doesn’t care.

Mike Duffy is looking to maintain and/or reduce property taxes by addressing unfunded mandates from Albany. Tom Abinanti has penned several laws that have increased our taxes! Mike Duffy says he knows its easy to spend other people’s money but he will spend our money like its his own. Mike Duffy will look to give small businesses tax incentives to allow them to prosper. Mr Abinanti has not done anything to help small business but has partnered with big business. In fact, Mr Abinanti has moved out of Greenburgh probably because of the illegal and costly actions taken by the Town administration. When things get difficult it seems Mr Abinanti runs away. Is this the kind of leaders we want in Albany? Of course not. Elect Mike Duffy in the upcoming election and send a message to our overpaid, ineffective incumbent politicos. Tell them we’ve had enough! Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It Never Ends

While ABG believes Mr Feiner rarely offers cogent and/or thought out proposals, his one about mulching our grass and leaves rang hollow when it was introduced and continues to ring hollow now. He kept insisting the Town would save money if residents mulched their trimming and leaves instead of bagging or creating piles to be vacuumed away by the Town. But in typical fashion he didn't offer tangible figures as to what we could expect to save by doing away with the vacuum trucks or personnel to run them. He didn’t need to. He enlisted several operatives from the Greenburgh Nature Center to beat the mulching drum for him. One question still looms: did we pay the GNC for the propaganda assistance?

Our Town vacuum trucks were in need of repair for several years in a row. It’s one of the reasons we were told leaves placed curbside weren’t being picked up. Another was that the Town leaders didn’t know when the leaves would, ahem, fall to the ground, creating a scheduling nightmare for these leaders. Incredulously, it’s why the season is aptly named “fall”. More importantly, you may be excused the first time around for not knowing when the leaves will need to be picked up, but not every year. In fact, the employees working for sanitation could probably clue them in if asked after one day’s pickup.

We’re more inclined to think this was another initiated deflection because he had cut the repair budget for the Town's vehicles and there was no money available to fix the vacuum truck or simply deflection from the Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict ($6.5M), the WestHelp lease revenue termination ($1.2M/yr), the failed Frank’s Nursery illegal lease/missed sale/ever-delayed auction ($3.5M), the Dromore Road debacle, the automatic granting of property to Brightview Assisted Living, Deli Delicious and others. The list is almost endless.

While the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations, individual civic groups and others complained about the added expense to the homeowners and their landscapers, their input fell on deaf ears at Town Hall. One Edgemont resident even performed a cost analysis and found it might cost him upwards of $600 per year to now change over to bagging his trimmings through his landscaping company. With tangible information, Mr Feiner and crew simply ignored the facts and pushed ahead. Then when unavoidable, the claim was changed for safety reasons, to -wait for it - protect the children. Ahh, there you go. You can’t be against the safety of the children. Mr Feiner knew by using the “do it for the children card”, not to be confused with the oft-used “race card” or “handicapped card”, or the ever-popular “2% Tax Cap card” nothing could get in his way. Surprise, surprise, it was voted through. We still would like to know how much money has been saved by the Town by not utilizing the vacuum trucks?

So often in government we see bad ideas implemented even though rational, intelligent and thought out information proves it will be a failure. Such is the case with Mr Feiner’s leaf vacuuming elimination. We’re not against mulching, however it should be a voluntary act and since our taxes have included the vacuuming service, cutting something we pay for should yield results that are tangible and forwarded to the residents. This is not happening from Town Hall. We also understand why it got pushed through in Greenburgh. There are several Town Board members who are dependent on Mr Feiner for re-election and must tow his line or be “Sonya’d”*. They’ve played by their own set of rules for so long that they can’t even realize what they are doing anymore is wrong.

To bolster his costly decision without proof of any tangible savings, Mr Feiner just sent out another email blast utilizing the Town email list he refuses to share with anyone, trying to solidify this mulching move. Apparently he simply wishes to paint more lipstick onto this pig in hopes it will change the facts. One resident told an ABG staffer that he followed Mr Feiner’s suggestion to mulch and claims that his weeds have been strengthened by the composting and re-germination of the weeds back into his dandelion and crab grass farm. He also asked if Mr Feiner had a plan to address the weeds and would it be chemically free from carcinogens or actually something that would work? It’s not that tough a question but it still will not get an answer from Mr Feiner as he never follows through with ideas.

Coincidentally, in the Village of Scarsdale administration has jumped on the mulching bandwagon, they claim they spend about $800,000 annually (really only from October 15 to December 31) on leaf removal. They also claim this will raise the Village's environmental credibility while saving money. Environmental credibility? This is certainly is not an issue in Greenburgh as Mr Feiner doesn't have any environmental credibility. Unfazed, he continues to make irresponsible choices and decisions without regard to environmental anything. The mishandlings of the former Frank's Nursery property is a perfect example of his lack of environmental credibility!

Scarsdale is said to have contracted with the Greenburgh Nature Center to have the GNC teach about and demonstrate mulching to the Scarsdale residents. The fee or donation for this service was just over $9,398. Did the Town of Greenburgh pay this same fee? ABG staffers are inclined to believe we did, whether overtly or through some other mechanism that has yet to be exposed. According to the Scarsdale Mayor, “Putting leaves out in the road is selfish, and is the highest form of sin as far as I'm concerned... It is an unnecessary disregard for your neighbor and the health of the community.” Clearly this mayor hasn’t spent any time in the Town of Greenburgh. Otherwise, he would have a better idea of what the highest form of sin really is and what a real unnecessary disregard for his neighbors is. This mentality is perpetuated with a one-party system that must change. We need a better balance of ideas and actions in out Town. Once it does we may see A Better Greenburgh.

* "Sonya'd" - Referring to former Councilwoman Sonya Brown who decided to publicly stand up to Supervisor Feiner, and subsequently found pertinent information withheld from her and inaccessible, as she was slowly nudged to the outside of his inner circle, no longer able to effectively represent her constituents. When election time rolled around, his newly endorsed choice was now-elected Councilman Ken Jones.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

All Quiet On the Real Estate Front, Just Don’t Get Fooled Again

The property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road has been condemned by Mr Feiner and his Town Board. They have decided to let it languish, contamination and all, and continue to help his favored “paper” company, GameOn 365. As you have read here previously, Mr Feiner has been trying to create a new zoning classification called Recreational. Mr Feiner’s plan, not the plan of the community, especially the surrounding neighborhoods, of both residential and business taxpayers, ignores the wants and desires of everyone but he and his friends from GameOn 365.

Throughout this ordeal that Mr Feiner has manufactured by unethically, although not illegally, acting behind closed doors, Mr Feiner had secret meetings and communications with GameOn 365, well before the Town acquired the contaminated property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery. Almost immediately thereafter, when Mr Feiner announced the Town would (illegally) lease the property to GameOn 365, he began fabricating stories about other possible developers who protested the proposed lease and land usage. But the bully pulpit has always worked for Mr Feiner, his complicit Board and others.

The G10 exposed to the public that the property was contaminated from numerous sources throughout the years while it had been owned by several companies. The back end of the property was used as a dump for construction debris from the White Plains Urban Renewal projects when the original Macy’s and surrounding White Plains area was demolished. Then there were numerous nurseries on the property, with the last two being FlowerTime and then Frank’s. Almost immediately, Mr Lewis started the litany of lies that the remediation would cost under $100k. Mr Lewis is not a noted expert in hazardous material contamination, remediation, litigation and/or related issues. Nor does he have a level of expertise in environmental anything. Mr Feiner continued to claim the Town had a AAA Bond rating. But alas, the two points would never meet and the Town would not remediate the property so as to sell it at a true and fair Westchester piece of property. Rather, Mr Feiner would try to finagle a way to have the new owner/lessee/mark/sap to pay for it.

Since the Town has engaged in an illicit relationship to consistently assist GameOn 365, a for-profit company, we were not really surprised when the venue for their oversized proposal was moved to the Golf Driving Range next door and Mr Feiner supported it. The property, owned by the Vizioli family for years, has a few homes on the property, the driving range office and is flanked on two sides by homes. The Vizioli family had not paid their taxes from approximately 2008 until several months ago. And, they only recently made a down payment and entered a schedule to pay of the rest over several years with the Town. Even though they were known tax cheats, the Town never initiated foreclosure proceedings against them - which is the case with many others as well. It’s interesting that when they didn't have the money to pay their taxes, Mr Feiner and the Town didn’t pursue them for payment and as soon as a buck could be made by them by either selling or leasing the land, they hastily “found” money to start paying the bill. ABG wonders how many other properties have had this preferential treatment?

They say Yonkers is the City of Hills - where nothing is on the level. If that’s the case, Greenburgh is a close second, mostly because of the shenanigans executed with impunity by Mr Feiner and his Board. Mr Feiner and the Town passed a resolution about two months ago promising to sell the former Frank’s Nursery property only to prospective bidders who agreed to comply with existing residential zoning for the property. Now he simply has decided to change the parameters and accept bids instead from anyone, regardless of intended use.

Mr. Feiner said the decision to reverse course was prompted by “legal issues” raised by the Town Attorney that might have interfered with the property’s sale. ABG understands this is all a scam to ensure his friends from GameOn 365 are the (intended) winners of the bid process.  Mr Feiner had naturally declined to say what the legal issues were or why they were not raised before. Previously, he had enlisted the assistance and cooperation of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association promising “complete transparency” in the upcoming sale. As he is usually wont to do, he changed the "game" in the eleventh hour, changing course and doing so at a work session which ensures no public comment, feedback or repercussions.

After this last rope-a-dope by the leaders, residents are left wondering what is going on behind the scenes and no one has heard anything. Typically, when there is a quiet before the storm, maneuvering by Mr Feiner is taking place behind the scenes. Why does ABG believe this is the case? Like the ads say, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Except in Greenburgh. Something is afoot. The auction has been pushed farther back into November as each month finds a new change that mysteriously “must be made”, typically in a non-resistant Work Session.

The Town is continuing down a slippery slope of poor or non-existent ethical behavior by several elected officials in the Town. While their behavior has intended outcomes for some, it has unintended outcomes for the rest of us. Its time for Mr Feiner to practice what he preaches and start operating openly and without favor to his developer friends and others. Only then will we begin to see A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Board Condones Secret $1 Million Deal With Semantics

Wondering if this Town's administration will ever follow the law, practice true open government of any sort or simply do the right thing is rarely, if ever, in flux. Business as usual in Greenburgh for the select few in Mr Feiner’s “inner circle” seems to be more the norm as Mr Feiner continues to get more and more brazen with his decisions and actions. Case in point is last Tuesday night’s special Town Board meeting specifically held to accept a $1 Million donation from the Robert Martin Corporation. The donated money can only be used for the purchase of an undevelopable twenty-eight acres strip of land currently owned by the Unification Church in Tarrytown and near I-287. The excuse this time is to preserve open space – a common contradiction with this administration.

The “deal” was struck by then-appointed Deputy Town Supervisor Danny Gold. At the time of the secret proposal, he was and currently is, the President of the East Irvington Civic Association. It is well known that Mr Gold is also friends with Mr Feiner and has usually aligned himself with Mr Feiner’s actions and policies. However, his friendship with the Supervisor simply adds to the potential conflict of interest Mr Gold had as the now-former Deputy Town Supervisor and this secret land deal donation with a developer operating in Greenburgh.

Tuesday night’s Town Board meeting was held in the cafeteria as the main hall was previously booked. There were two groups of people in attendance. One group, favoring Mr Gold’s secret deal “sold” as an open space bonanza, were there and spoke in support of it. It is unknown if they were aware of the specifics surrounding the secret deal. The other group, primarily consisting of the G10, were there in hopes of at least postponing this secret deal. Their feeling was the deal was struck in secret in 2009 by Mr Gold, so why the rush to act on this without first vetting the deal?


Also unclear was since the property is actually in Tarrytown, why was Tarrytown left out of the proceedings? Why was the Town only told of this expiring deal when the clock was ticking toward the end of this five-year secret agreement? Why did Robert Martin offer $1 Million and what was the true cost to the Unincorporated Greenburgh taxpayer and to the Tarrytown taxpayer. In fact, why would the Town entertain this secret deal at all?

Before the meeting began, a rewritten Town Resolution accepting this deal was distributed to the attendees. The reworked wording made the proposal appear less controversial for the Town Board as they moved forward, as they always intended, to adopt the resolution accepting the $1 million deal created by Mr Gold. The Town Board Work Session earlier in the day even found Mr Sheehan questioning many aspects of this deal and the possible improprieties of it. However, rewording the resolution apparently quelled any and all reservations he may have had and he voted “aye” with the rest of the Board. Done deal. Or is it?

The Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations had requested legal help to send this information to the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, seeking an investigation into wrong-doing. Information regarding the secret deal as well as the parties to it were included. Anyone seeking to read more can do so by going to this link: https://www.facebook.com/greenburghupdate. There, you can download and/or read the documents online. Regardless, more came out at this meeting that was hastily convened to accept the $1 million on the last day.

The first speaker during the Public Comment session was Tarrytown resident, Linda Viertel. ABG staffers and others sat during her opening comments, where she listed some of her credentials, stating that she didn’t have a blog and could not counter statements made about her and may go a bit beyond her allotted three minutes. Even though she spoke in favor of the donation, she stated after the meeting that she was shocked to learn, unbeknownst to her, that Mr. Gold had named her in this secret 2009 agreement! Another Tarrytown resident, Dr. Stanley Friedlander, was also included in the agreement. ABG wonders if she had no knowledge of her inclusion in the deal, what of Dr Friedlander?

Another question is the timing of this proposal as well as the additional applications before the Town to expand the Avalon Green property. Wikipedia defines “Quid Pro Quo as ("something for something" in Latin)[1] means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other. English speakers often use the term to mean "a favour for a favour"; phrases with similar meaning include: "give and take", "tit for tat", and "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours." ” So why would Robert Martin offer this money to East Irvington’s Danny Gold? They bought his and his Civic Association’s silence when they were expanding Avalon Green back in its heyday. The payoff/payback has finally come full circle. Sadly, as many developers know, its the cost of doing business in Greenburgh.

Anytime anything is done in secret in government many people pay attention. Such is the case here. A secret agreement made by a Deputy Supervisor with a developer with applications before the Town at the time to remain quiet for a finite number of years is wrong. In Greenburgh, however, its business as usual. This type of behavior must cease immediately. Only then can we have A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Your Vote Is Your Voice

Election Day. It evokes a plethora of emotions for many people. Newly ordained citizens understandably can't wait to partake of the process. Natural born citizens' emotions range from "its my right and duty as a citizen" to "why bother?" to "it makes no difference/its a waste of time". Wherever your sentiments might lie, your vote is your voice. This November promises to be an exciting election in most places except Greenburgh. It won't be exciting here because the result is forgone.

ABG writes often about Greenburgh's "willfully ignorant" taxpayer/resident/voter/OIMBY. Mr Feiner counts on their reticence. OIMBY is a phrase we developed after witnessing a normally apathetic constituency only get riled up when something is happening to their neighborhood. OIMBY, or Only In My Back Yard is a turn of the phrase NIMBY, Not In My Back Yard. ABG has often written about individuals and neighborhoods that have been ignored by the Town and lumbered like a sleeping giant until Mr Feiner and his minions decide to practice their own form of social experimentation where it doesn't belong, favoring developers over residents and existing businesses. Of course, by then, Mr Feiner has already forged the project as a done deal and the neighborhood is left broken. As Mr Feiner attempts to extort "gifts" from developers to ensure application approvals, our Town is held hostage to the highest bidder. And even though he has been cited numerous times for campaign practices, he remains unrepentant and continues his illegal, questionable and despicable behavior. Disappointingly, he has enlisted the help of his Town Board as his political power ensures their re-election as long as they comply with his mandates.

As we enter October, just one month before the November elections, we will be inundated with campaign mailings, garish and an overabundance of yard signs littering our landscape, robotic phone calls (robocalls), some with the candidates voice and some not. All of the candidates and the respective political machines behind them will have loyal volunteers and paid personnel staffing the phone banks in hopes of getting their candidate elected. Sometimes it might even work. Most times promise a hang-up by an angry constituent in the middle of life, preparing, eating or finishing dinner or helping the kids with homework or getting them ready for bed. Our vote is our voice. But our voices need to be respected by those seeking to get elected.

The political climate in Greenburgh is heavily one-sided as 22 years of singular leadership has proven why change is good. The overall atmosphere is one of distrust of our political leadership, a one sidedness that is rarely seen anymore in American politics. The closest thing reminding us of how it used to be is Chicago's Tammany Hall politics. That is unless you maintain an inside view of the Greenburgh/Feiner political machine. But that requires countless hours at meetings, reading documentation, discussions, and the backbone to question what is said. A few brave soles have attempted to run against Mr Feiner in numerous elections. Each time Mr Feiner has his foot soldiers go after their ballot signatures, residency or anything else to get them disqualified to guarantee another win. To quote a Mel Brooks movie line, "It's good to be the king."

Many residents in Town are tired. They're tired of not being respected because their opinions and beliefs differ from the elected elite's agenda. They're tired of double-digit tax increases while being told we're limited to a phony NYS 2% Tax Cap. They're tired of watching their hard-earned money be urinated away on giveaways and phony projects designed for a select few while being touted for all. They're tired of inappropriate subsidized housing in saturated neighborhoods, supermarkets in underpopulated areas that require an automobile to get to and lack a mass-transit option. They're tired of assisted living that segregates and will not allow low-income Greenburgh residents to live there. They're tired of having inequity within the Town championed by Mr Feiner and his Board while having services cut only to be told its helping the Town's bottom line. Their tired of phony issues manufactured to deflect attention away from the real issues or illegal actions of he and his Board.

The real bottom line is costly under Mr Feiner and his Town Board. Lawsuits and verdicts such as the $6.5 million against the Town by Fortress Bible Church are costing us much more than money. The weary, beleaguered taxpayer in Greenburgh expects and deserves more from their government. Its unfortunate that many will vote for the status quo without studying what is really going on. These are the headline readers, content to listen to Mr Feiner say something and because a complicit media publishes it, they assume its true. These are the willfully ignorant. The G10 know better, ABG readers know better. It's time that others throughout the Town know better. Help us to get the word out. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Greenburgh School Superintendent Finally Terminated

After earning a salary of $235,266 per year, the Greenburgh Board of Education has finally voted to fire School Superintendent Ronald O. Ross immediately. He had been on administrative leave for approximately four months after accusations were made by the school administrators and staff of discrimination and creating a hostile work environment. Interestingly, Mr Feiner never complained that Mr Ross' salary was more than his as he will do when he goes after someone he doesn't like.

Accused of discrimination and creating a hostile work environment
in a lawsuit in May 2014, the lawsuit finally forced the school board to place an interim school superintendent in the position during the investigation. As reported by ABG in our article posted on Friday, May 9, 2014, Hypocritical Supervisor – Anti-Jewish: Bad, Racist: Best of The Best
Ross was sidelined in May. 


The lawsuit allegations indicated he was verbally abusive to employees, called them names, humiliating them in public and made it impossible to do their jobs. Our original article detailed some of what he was alleged to have said to employees. We also posted two photographs of Ross. The one that is used as part of the "publicity package" and more current one of him. Both are seen here:

Below is a copy of two emails sent by Mr Feiner to select School Board members when this began, asking the School Board members to not seek to replace Superintendent Ross. He closes the email with the sentence, “If I did not think that Ron was the best of the best – I would not write this note.” The second email (bottom) again finds Mr Feiner is disappointed to learn of an effort to replace Superintendent Ronald Ross, claiming Ross is hard working, and he really cares about “our” children. Mr Feiner does not have children who attend the Greenburgh schools, so “our children” seems a bit contrived. In closing with the second email, he says, “I would be happy to meet with you to discuss why I think it’s important to keep Ron Ross working for our community.” Mr Feiner has a knack of turning opinions when going one-on-one with people.
 

 

On September 19th another lawsuit was filed alleging similar unacceptable behavior by Mr Ross by a teacher formerly working in the Middle School. ABG finds it sad that Mr Feiner, who himself was found guilty of discrimination in Federal Court against the Fortress Bible Church, would endorse Mr Ross and his discriminatory behavior. Ironically, ABG also posted an article discussing discrimination complaints made by a Town Hall employee who was in a meeting and forced during this meeting to listen to a rant by Greenburgh Town Assessor Edye McCarthy. A complaint was filedand subsequently ignored by Mr Feiner and the Town Board, ultimately being swept under the rug by them, even after it was repeatedly brought up at Town Board meetings by the public.
Here’s an excerpt of those comments from that letter:





This letter was submitted and cc’d to Mr Feiner. But instead of addressing Ms McCarthy’s racist comments at Town Hall, Mr Feiner probably felt if he ignored it, he could sweep it away. His previous statement was proven hollow and obviously nothing more than posturing based on the inaction we've witnessed. He previously said, “We cannot, as elected officials, allow discrimination to rear its ugly head” is not only disingenuous, but self-serving and insulting to those who do the right thing on a daily basis. Again, why wasn’t Ms McCarthy disciplined or terminated from her position? 

Greenburgh is a widely diverse Town - its part of what makes our Town so rich. Why has Mr Feiner not addressed the racism within his own administration and with his appointed Department Head? Why has he personally practiced and been found guilty of racism during his 22 years in office and not been disbarred and removed from office? We need honest leadership in Greenburgh. We need change in Greenburgh and a fresh start from what has become a stale and unwelcome status quo. Mr Ross' departure is a fitting start. We need more. Only then can we have A Better Greenburgh.