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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pending Another Law Suit...

The Hits Just Keep On Coming
How many "hits" can one Supervisor take before the electorate sees through the fa├žade and votes him out of office? Apparently, in Greenburgh, the scorekeepers follow our current society's soccer game mentality, where no one keeps score to protect tender egos. But, how about our tender backsides, raw from the gripping tentacles of the Town's tax collectors persistently assaulting our wallets for more of our hard-earned money? And what of the developers who seem to be impervious to these same tentacles as they grease the wheels of progress, ensuring an unimpeded application process for their projects?

Certs and the 2% Tax Cap
Once the developer's applications are complete, they begin building. When their building is finished, replete with variances and concessions du jour by the Town, they apply for their requisite certiorari adjustments. After the certiorari application is submitted, the Town automatically grants their request. The cradle-to-the-grave-cycle has been completed. The residents? They are forced to subsidize these certiorari refunds with their own taxes being increased, usually by double-digits, all while Mr Feiner touts the Town's adherence to the NYS 2% Tax Cap. The reality is far from Mr Feiner's warped perspective.

What's In It For Greenburgh?
Another tale of woe for Greenburgh residents has been unfolding under the guise of generosity and benevolence of a former developer, Robert Martin toward a civic association leader, Danny Gold, and of course, Mr Feiner. The "deal" was supposedly brokered by Mr Gold with the Robert Martin Corporation, who are well-known for developing corporate parks throughout the region and beyond. They created the template for corporate parks when there weren't any and became one of the largest landlords of commercial property in Westchester, one of the most powerful developers in the state and donated to numerous political campaigns - including Mr Feiner's and possibly others on his various Boards.

The property in question is a tract of land of 28+ acres in the East Irvington/Tarrytown section of the Town, a mile away from the Avalon Green and Avalon Green II apartments and condominiums off of Taxter Road. It turns out the land being considered is actually in Tarrytown and not Greenburgh "proper". It is part of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon Unification Church's 200 acre estate. But this secret land deal, struck in 2009 didn't include Tarrytown. Why not? What's in it for Robert Martin? What's in it for Danny Gold? Most importantly, what's in it for Greenburgh? The Unification Church is already challenging their taxes so regardless of what transpires, they'll win.

Keep Your Mouth Shut
ABG has learned that this secret deal was struck between Mr Gold, the President of the East Irvington Civic Association back in 2009 and Robert Martin before the construction took place for Avalon Green II. The supposed justification for this deal was to mitigate the future impact of the hundreds of apartments built near the East Irvington neighborhood. In fact, the only stipulation for Mr Gold to be able to proceed with this deal was if he kept his civic association's proverbial mouths shut while applications were made for the Avalon Green development. He did and they did. Why, you ask?

Because after he successfully had Mr Feiner declare Mr Gold's "backyard" a park, purchased with State, County and Town monies, it assured him that there would be no affordable housing built anywhere near his home, maintaining his segregated neighborhood. No one has been able to explain how the private land donation scheme mitigates anything for Mr Gold's neighborhood as the Avalon Green complex is over a mile away from their neighborhood. Its a stretch to say this steep sloped piece of undevelopable property is of any real benefit to other residents in the Town, while being "sacrificed" by the Unification Church for a paltry one million dollars.

October 1st Deadline
Knowing he had this secret deal in his back pocket, Mr Gold played nice with everyone at Avalon Green for years while remaining silent. Now that Mr Gold has put his home on the market, it was time for his silence to pay off and expose his deal to the Town, having his good friend Mr Feiner go to bat for him. He did, with Mr Feiner telling the Board and anyone who would listen that this is a terrific benefit for the Town. But, when pressed, he couldn't actually say why - just that it was. We fully expected him to blurt out how great the Town's Bond rating was.

Feigning forgetfulness of the October 1st deadline, Mr Gold stated he simply realized, albeit a bit late, that for the deal to be consummated, he needed the Town to accept a $1million donation from Robert Martin Corporation post haste. Once the million dollars was received, the Town would then need to turn around and purchase the 28+acres of land from the Unification Estate with the donation, ensuring the property be made into a park in perpetuity by the Town. Not advertised as part of this extraordinary deal was the small fact that East Irvington President Danny Gold had previously been the Town of Greenburgh Deputy Supervisor under Mr Feiner! The deal he brokered for himself and his association was performed while he was still a sitting official for the Town! Collusion? Quid pro quo? Unethical? You decide.

To decree any potential appearance of wrongdoing, Mr Feiner suggested at the Town Board meeting that the issue be submitted to the Town Ethics Board for review and a decision reached quickly to ensure meeting the October 1st deadline. What wasn't submitted to the Ethics Board was all of the pertinent information they would need to make an informed decision. However, given that Mr Feiner has appointed all of the members of this Board, ABG is suspect that any finding might be tainted from the start. That said, with the limited information that was supplied, the Ethics Board rendered the decision Mr Feiner knew they would. Seemingly more concerned about ethics was Mr Sheehan, who said he would not vote for the donation/purchase if the Ethics Board came back with a negative decision. That was never going to happen and Mr Feiner knew it. Whether Mr Sheehan was going to vote for or against this is unknown. Perhaps he was posturing, perhaps not.

What's Next?
Mr Feiner's Ethics Board may have waved their magic wand to grant the absolution his Board  desperately sought, but this is far from over. While Mr Feiner has again attacked individual residents for being against this, violating his own tenets listed on the Town Board Agenda to not make disparaging comments about others, it is apparently okay for him to lash out at residents. The reality however is that there is an ethical violation with this entire scheme, covertly hatched by a select few Town officials and a developer who continues to have applications before the Town in the process of seeking approvals.

How did the Ethics Board get this one wrong? They didn't actually get it wrong based on the information they were presented. Mr Feiner knew that controlling the flow of information to the Ethics Board, as he so often does, would garner the outcome he desired. While its possible to still get this "done deal" undone, Mr Feiner's warped perspective may be quite different from our reality. We'll have to see what's next. ABG hopes the Civic Associations along with others will petition the County and State to investigate. Maybe they won't be as ethically challenged and do the right thing. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What Can Be Done?

The residents of Greenburgh as well as Westchester County are suffering from political incompetence and malfeasance. We have elected politicians pandering to developers and campaign donors giving money to incumbents like beer flows at an Oktoberfest. We have more specks of Unincorporated land being approved for development, in fact, over development, at an alarming rate. These projects are validated by producing bendable traffic studies, yet incremental increases result in heavier traffic, flooding when we have simple rain storms, increased illegal housing, increased infrastructure abuse and ultimately town-wide failures and over-worked public employees (not the elected ones). More importantly are the beleaguered tax payers who are beaten down year after year. When they turn to their elected politicians, they are "yessed" to death and then ignored as the project of their concern is green-lighted. What can be done?

Job Growth
Too many people in Greenburgh have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Putting people back to work should be all elected politician's top priority. Unfortunately, it's not. Mr Feiner and his Town Board cater to developers and donors. All this while we teeter toward the verge of prosperity that could be unmatched in Greenburgh's history. Yet our biggest obstacle is our own local government officials as they continue to place roadblocks in the way of businesses with new regulations, fees and requirements, These are nothing more than taxes stifling entrepreneurs and businesses under the guise of what, safety? In fact, at the last Town Board meeting, Mr Feiner tried to make one of the larger businesses in town out as the bad guy. Aren't these same businesses the ones that employ our residents? Of course they are. And of course, they are not the bad guys Mr Feiner wants to make them out to be.

Medical diagnostic technology, R&D, gene-therapy, information technology, 3-D printing, new energy methods, transportation advances and more will all impart upon us and our children a standard of living our forefathers could not have even dreamt about. The Landmark at Eastview grand plan was originally designated by the Town Board to be developed as a research, development and technology mecca within the Town. Now that the favored developer for that location promised $5 million dollars per year in taxes to the Town, Mr Feiner is agreeing to truncate the original plan for increased construction of more of the same type of buildings currently vacant throughout our Town with no hope of occupancy. The developer claims there is no market for R&D but rather a big box store (i.e. Target, Costco), some retail stores, a motel and a movie theatre. Apparently we don't have a motel, big box store or movie theatre in the vicinity. Immediately and directly across the street, Regeneron, a pharmaceutical company, can't seem to build R&D facilities fast enough. Somebody's lying to us. Hint: he was found guilty of lying in Federal court.

The responsible development of Greenburgh’s energy resources could produce high-quality engineering, environmental, management and service-oriented jobs that will revitalize the Town's economy for generations. But who will work to ensure that the citizens of Greenburgh have a say in their economic and energy development future and that the federal bureaucracy down to the local levels provides guidance and not more roadblocks? Certainly, this won't happen with this Town Board. They have gone out of their way to be anti-business, all the while professing to be business friendly. Actions have certainly spoken louder than their empty words, but Mr Feiner has taught them well: just say it and the media will quote them, ultimately making it so.

Next, we must fix the paralyzing road-congestion and flooding issues which are discouraging both people and business from locating to Greenburgh and Westchester County. The I-287, Rt 119, Central Avenue and 9A corridors will continue to grow and so will the traffic congestion. Phony bypass lanes along each of the corridors will further congest traffic conditions during construction and already be outdated if and when they are ever finished. We must prioritize road projects which reduce commuting times for residents and even guests who tire of being stuck in the daily crawl. This does nothing but harm any local attractiveness, regional competitiveness and job growth for our Town and region.

Finally, we must reorient our regulatory and fee structures to not be taxing our residents to death! We must have tax policies that encourage job growth rather than encourage tax growth. It is a false argument to state that pro-growth tax policies and a steady, predictable stream of tax revenue are conflicting priorities. As both Presidents Kennedy and Reagan demonstrated, growth-oriented tax policies can provide for vibrant job growth and the necessary revenue to fund the services provided for in our Constitution.

Tax Reform and Cronyism
A simpler and fairer tax code might incentivize both domestic and international businesses to make investments here in Greenburgh, which will lead to job growth. But that's a state and/or federal issue. Locally, however, we must have our Town officials seeking to work with our homeowners and business owners to stimulate growth and most importantly, reinvesting back into their businesses and homes which will ultimately benefit us all. Lowering everyone's taxes would be helpful as opposed to giving tax breaks to the big guys.

This might even increase some workers take-home-pay while eliminating some big-business cronyism here in Greenburgh. Cronyism you say? In Greenburgh? Really? Here's one example. There's a supposed "land donation" happening in East Irvington at the behest of one or two residents under the cloak of their civic association*. Danny Gold, President of the East Irvington Civic Association finagled a deal with the old Robert Martin (Construction) Corporation, who has pledged a donation of one million dollars to Greenburgh to purchase some 28 or so steep slope acres of land from the Reverend Moon estate in Tarrytown. The stipulation is that it be used in perpetuity as parkland. Why choose to do this in Greenburgh instead of Tarrytown? Because Mr Gold has his house on the market and this covert operation through his friend Mr Feiner can only happen because of Mr Feiner's past relationship with Robert Martin, et al. The Mayor of Tarrytown doesn't have this "special relationship that Mr Gold needed to guarantee this deal be consummated. Again, why? Because the value of Mr Gold's home will increase in value even more if the purchaser can be assured no development will take place nearby.

Still don't believe in cronyism in Greenburgh? Well, this same property is also up for a certiorari challenge as well a tax discount if this convoluted deal does not go through. How does it need to proceed for the deal to be done? Mr Feiner and his Town Board must simply accept the donation of the one million dollars from Robert Martin, who has previously donated to Mr Feiner and possibly his Board members and then sign a check for the property in Mr Gold's backyard. Can you say done deal?

Once we see an adjustment to taxation in the Town, it will provide predictability for families and businesses alike. Families will be able to budget more effectively while businesses will be able to map out long term goals and expansion. If the federal government were to initiate a fair tax or flat tax, it would allow the less-fortunate to keep more of what they earn as well as eliminate the proverbial gray and black markets that deal solely in cash. It would seem like a win-win regardless of what your political leanings might be.

Immigration Reform
Immigrants can enrich our lives by bringing their culture and skills to our country, state and our Town. They also add wealth to our nation through human capital and occasionally innovation. However, breaking the law is unacceptable. That is why securing the border on a national level to stop trespassing and narco-trafficking should be a national priority. At the same time, we must cease Mr Feiner's broad-brush "sanctuary town" mentality that puts these same residents in peril by turning a blind eye toward illegal housing throughout our many neighborhoods in our Town. This is a safety issue that has proven to be a killer time and time again. It must stop! And yet we seek to encourage immigration done through an orderly and legal process. We are a country of laws and providing incentives to circumvent those laws will do irreparable damage to our system of governance.

Prioritizing Education
We must commit to education reform and school-choice. Our schools must inspire the next generation of doctors, engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. Email propaganda from Mr Feiner via a Town email list doesn't correct issues or improve our student's educational ability. To be equipped with the knowledge and skills our kids need to thrive in the new economy, we have to ensure that every child, regardless of their neighborhood, has access to quality education. We can provide educational opportunity by expanding parental choice in education and maintaining local control over local schools. Teachers are the bedrock of our education system and they should be rewarded on a merit based system. They should be given the freedom and flexibility to work in an environment that is not stifled by bureaucracy and archaic work rules. Our teachers are the solution, not the problem. Our kids are our future, not a commodity!

The need to reduce our prices at the pump and regain our independence from foreign oil is not just an economic issue, it is a national security issue. While we can increase our domestic sources of energy through environmentally responsible energy production, this is a much bigger scale than we can tackle alone. Domestic energy production will not only help reduce gas prices, it will also lead to an increase in job creation. Renewable energy sources such as wind, and solar should be allowed to compete in the free market without government involvement or interference. If and when that is allowed to happen, and government subsidies are no longer involved, the market will dictate price and demand. In the meantime, we can assist manufacturers by waiving some fees and bureaucracy issues to make their start up a bit easier.

Mr Feiner has used Town Hall for his own rallies (without paying the rental fees) against nuclear power without providing alternatives beyond the stereotyped suggestions we always hear from the environmentalists. They may be worthwhile additions, but can they replace what we already have? Has he installed solar panels on his home? Does he drive a battery operated or flex-fueled car? Of course not. What's good for you and I never seems to apply to him.

 He claimed to be putting in an electric car charging station at the Greenburgh library at no cost to the taxpayer. Scrutiny of the details proved that not only did it not make sense to put it there, but there would be costs and the Town taxpayer would be stuck paying for them again. When he proposed spending $500,000 to replace all of our current light fixtures with LED fixtures and bulbs, he never studied or completed a Return On Investment or qualified his desires with facts and figures. If he had a more structured and cost effective methodology, his "pitch" might have been substantiated. In fact, if all of this is so good, why hasn't he begun to convert the Town fleet of cars and trucks to battery operated vehicles, with charging stations at Town Hall?

Greenburgh's economic condition could dramatically improve for our Town and revitalize our infrastructure, schools and public services by cohesively addressing all of our energy requirements, budgeting, growth and development as a comprehensive strategy such as in our oft-delayed Comprehensive Plan. But that would require a genuine ability for our elected politicians to stop pandering for votes, parceling out gifts or certificates to the willfully ignorant and propose decisions that may be controversial but able to be validated and stand up to the scrutiny of the residents. Their validation must not fall under the aegis of Mr Feiner. Mr Feiner and his Board have no problem making decisions against less affluent neighborhoods for his donors and friends and leaving the affluent ones undisturbed. Perhaps its time for all the neighborhoods to unite for a common goal and stop this madness!

Getting our fiscal house in order by reducing overall spending levels must be a top priority. Having double-digit tax increases one year and then claim to stay within the state 2% tax cap is not a fiscal plan. It is not only fiscally irresponsible, it is immoral! Offering various pieces of property to chosen recipients violates the tenets of trust voters have placed in our officials. Jumping from one issue to another because you can get free publicity is an abuse of the position that should only be regarded as a privilege to hold. That privilege has been abused. In fact it has been over-abused! It must change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

*

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Consolidation Deflection Plus

Recently there was a private meeting with the self-appointed Fairview Fire Monitors and the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Chiefs along with Mr Feiner. Why would Mr Feiner be participating? Because they aren't really self-appointed, he is the catalyst behind the Fire Monitor group, pulling their strings, if you will, and making sure all the headlines and faux issues deflect attention away from his mismanagement of the Town. This isn't the first time the Master Deflector has done this.

More scrutiny of the Town and actions of its employees is not only necessary, but imperative given the constant illegal actions of Mr Feiner. The change of venue with the former news website, the Greenburgh Daily Voice has given Mr Feiner carte blanche to write anything he wants directly onto the site with little or no fact checking. So, in spite of an outdated and cumbersome Town website where Mr Feiner has free reign, he now has the ability to amplify his mantra, usually poised to benefit someone other than the taxpayers.

The Fire Monitor group is just another example of his control of the issues behind the scenes and ultimately the media. Case in point, when it was time for the Town Board to vote on the budget, he kicked up the high fire taxes as his deflection to hide the almost $17 million dollars in bonds that passed through the Town Board faster than a bullet fired from an outdoor shooting range. With the exception of the G10, there was no outrage with the budget passage. Nor was there even a mention about the Town's oft-touted superior AAA Bond Rating which Mr Feiner always boasts. This would have been a perfect opportunity to mention it, finally in the correct context. Instead, we get more duplicity from Town Hall.

Mr Feiner "kicked off" the fire tax issue when his own contaminated land sale debacle blew up after being brought to the public's attention by us and others with the former Frank's Nursery property. Mr Feiner desperately tried to gift the contaminated land to his friends from GameOn 365 with an illegal lease. When that illegal action was publicized and a lawsuit threatened, Mr Feiner backed down. When he tried to manipulate the sale to GameOn 365 for half the amount that was offered by Ardsley's House of Sports ($3.5M), an established and full functioning business, he incredulously blamed the public of bid rigging and it was their fault that the land sale fell through. Through it all, Mr Feiner knowingly withheld the fact that the Town never had clear title for the property he was trying to gift to his friends. The Town couldn't sell the contaminated property even if they had followed part of the law!
More recently, he has reneged on his offer with the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, as well as the public, to enforce the conditions for an auction of the former Frank's Nursery property to only qualified bidders who intend to use the property as residentially zoned. The Civic Association fought vehemently for this one provision. And, while Mr Feiner had actually insisted on Civic Association inclusion, at the eleventh hour Mr Feiner changed the bidding structure.

This latest twist means bidders will no longer be required to comply with existing residential zoning for the property allowing bids from any bidder, regardless of intended use and totally disregarding the neighborhood and its civic association's request for zoning adherence. According to Mr Feiner, it was a legal necessity. ABG believes the real reason is the structure he had originally put in place would have virtually guaranteed GameOn 365 not be a contender or even the winning bidder. More importantly, he wouldn't be able to control the outcome as a favorable one for GameOn 365. And Mr Feiner's end-game, no pun intended, is to deliver the contaminated property to GameOn 365, one way or another.

All of this is nothing more than deflection - period - taking attention away from the Town's budget fiasco(s). A financial source extremely close to Mr Feiner admitted that the next couple of Town budgets promise to be very painful for the Unincorporated taxpaying residents because of impending increases which will border on obscene. This tells us we should expect more deflection, whether it's a high-line park in Hudson River with the Tappan Zee Bridge, regulating gun ranges, developing and delaying adoption of Comprehensive Plans, withholding tax revenues collected by the Town for the fire department fom the fire department, collapsing park pools, or anti-Semitic charges against other Town employees. We're sure there will always be more to come from Mr Feiner to muddy the facts until he gets what he wants.

One final comment about the Fire Monitors sans Mr Feiner. They are in agreement with several civic association leaders and the fire chiefs that it is not necessary to push for a referendum to consolidate the two "cherry-picked" departments. Numerous residents and the Fire Commissioners, the Chiefs and their members proved with facts and figures that any savings that might be had initially would be short lived and ultimately more costly to the taxpaying public. Since both the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Chiefs have been openly discussing the issues surrounding consolidation, and their efforts to control costs and expenses, the Monitors agree that the dialog is improved and a pause may be warranted. Perhaps a study about consolidation in the future will be requested and even done. ABG hopes it won't be a knee jerk reaction to another one of Mr Feiner's unqualified comments. We'll discuss this more in another post as necessary.

Greenburgh taxpayers take everything Mr Feiner does "on the chin" and more importantly, with their wallets. This must change. It requires a public that is not content to accept the meager bribes from the Town, or with phony certificates at Town Board meetings. It requires the residents to abandon their willfully ignorant status and become involved. It requires a certain amount of paying attention which our current crop of politicians count on the public to not do. Again, this needs to change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Greenburgh Isn't Russia?

A recent article in the New York Times described a fuel shortage is happening in North Korea. Apparently, they are suffering from a burgeoning class of new drivers, elevated from mere bicycles, which had been a staple of transportation for many years, to motorbikes of all sizes and styles. Compared to North Korea, South Korea is light years (pun intended) ahead of them. In fact, looking at the two Koreas via satellite, separated by the infamous "39th parallel", the stark differences between the two countries are readily obvious. In fact, above the 39th parallel, the north is mostly dark at night and the south is well-lit, unmistakenly enjoying their "bout" with capitalism.

While the north cracks down on this somewhat important status symbol of private motorcycle usage to conserve fuel, military and government officials are free to enjoy its usage at will. As government, even communist government is wont to do, it appears the average person suffers the most. These new restrictions, similar to what had taken place previously and not really "new" to anyone with half a memory of the Cold War, highlight their stunted economy and further highlights the pitfalls of government control.

One workaround for those who use their motorcycles, motorized bikes, and scooters for deliveries is to utilize the political bosses as "passengers". Hired to be passengers, allowing the purchase of fuel by the otherwise non-qualifying owner, it's a crafty, gray market-ish economy that has the politicos looking the other way. That is, unless they need fuel, at which point the North Korean Police will stop bikers to extort their fuel while pocketing extra cash.

In Russia, embargos and sanctions from around the world are beginning to be felt by their proletariat, or average person, who was already used to waiting on line for basic items and then some. I'm sure when Vladimir Putin needs a "joy roll", there's plenty waiting for him in the bathroom vanity wherever he choses to "cop a squat." His body guards must finally be happy there's an unintented benefit to putting up with all of his crappola. Who knows, there might even be a waiting list to get on his security detail just for the access to the essentials. Regardless of the select few with unfettered access, there's now a "Buy Russian" campaign for everyone else. ABG is sure many will be harkening back to the Cold War days when plentiful was not something for many in the eastern block. We even have the same thing going on with the New York State’s Empire Zone (EZ) program provides a variety of tax incentives to businesses expanding and creating jobs in targeted areas (known as Empire Zones) throughout New York State.

Our point in discussing this and specifically to government control over anything is how it relates to the average person, not the political elite. In the Town of Greenburgh, Mr Feiner and his Town Board pretty much pull all the strings, apply the grease to the wheels they want to see turn or keep the developers' motors running on all cylinders without regard to what the neighborhoods want. In the meantime, taxpaying residents must spend close to a year just trying to get approvals, permits, etc., to make small to medium changes to the homes they own and pay taxes on. Then their work process is drawn out awaiting approvals from the appropriate division (i.e. plumbing, electrical) within the building department. Its so bad for residents that many contractors refuse to do work in the Town, adding to an escalating cost and frustration for those who persevere. When questioned about this Mr Feiner falls back to his old standby claiming that residents are the perpetrators of bid rigging in the Town. When pushed and asked how residents could do this, he changes the subject, just doesn't answer or rambles on until you forget what the topic even was. he's quite adept at it.

For those who are enamored with our new healthcare system forced upon us by the President and a complicit Congress, we suggest watching what happens around us to see what's in store. One example that always comes to mind in the Veterans Administration that maintains hospitals, health care, and aid for our military veterans and how well the government doesn't do with it. We are constantly hearing of nightmare scenarios playing out for this relatively small portion of our population. Sadly, this is a microcosm of what we have decided to do to our health care system. Still not convinced?

The government runs many programs, most of which typically operate in the red. The Post Office, which was "privatized" in the 1980's, is an abject failure of glaring proportions. So much so that last year there was talk of them going "belly up". Why wouldn't they try to learn from FedEx before they imploded? We're not saying the people are bad, but there is no incentive to improve the service or process once you don the light blue shirt. How many times have you waiting on line to purchase stamps or ship something thinking, "Why is this taking so long? They're only selling stamps for crying out loud."

ABG staffers were in our lobby when the mail carriers arrived with the day's delivery. They opened the doors to the mailbox banks and proceeded to divvy out the mail. Upon finishing, they locked it all up and proceeded to leave without emptying the outgoing mail slot/box. Once might certainly be a coincidence - it happens. A quick query to the front desk personnel verified that not only is it a common occurrence, but they have to request the special key the building owns to open the mailbox!

Social Security, along with the infamous lock box that Vice President Al Gore promised us as the panacea to soothe our aging seniors trepidations as they got close to retirement. While the conversational box may have had a lock, its been raided yearly by politicians on both sides of the isle. And how about the classic example of the infamous Motor Vehicle Department and its lack of efficiency? Have you ever gone just to get an e-z pass? Its amazing the paperwork and identification you need to participate. Any of these agencies require it but some politicians want to allow illegal aliens the ability to vote, drive a motor vehicle, get DSS benefits and so on. Its out of control.

The Town of Greenburgh has a lot of issues. Some of them are important ones although not to the same scale as the federal government. Mr Feiner has made Greenburgh a "Sanctuary Town", meaning our police and fire personnel are not allowed to report multiple dwellers in single family homes, increase water usage, garbage and trash pickup, police services and more. He's turning our once vibrant Town into a mini third-world nation where rules and laws mean nothing to the chosen few. For real change to happen, the uninformed, willfully ignorant and apathetic resident must begin paying attention, attend meetings and be vociferous. The time is now! Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Comedian Robin Williams Dead at 63

Today, August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Emergency Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The resident, actor/comedian Robin Williams, was pronounced dead at 12:02 pm.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at home, where he lived with his wife, at about10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. He was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

When It Rains We Flood

A few months ago, the Fulton Park Civic Association met with our new Police Chief Chris McNerney and County Legislator Alfreda Williams about projected increases in parking and traffic from County Center events in this tiny and already heavily traffic-congested neighborhood. The Chief said he would meet with residents to find an acceptable method to control parking and try to keep the streets as open as possible for the neighbors. He sent a traffic officer to survey the area and discuss what could be done to help alleviate the congested neighborhoods already horrendus traffic congestion by limiting parking. Suggested temporary "No Parking" signs by the Chief were dismissed by the traffic officer as they can be ripped down by those parking their cars with the claim there was no signage there when the parked. So what does a neighborhood do?

In a subsequent conversation with the police chief, he said he would discuss this matter with the officer to attempt a resolution. Since the NY Knicks basketball team's minor league franchise is playing out of the County Center this coming basketball season, in addition to other events held each weekend at the same location, Fulton Park needs real relief. The Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board and Building Departments continue to approve and encourage increased development in the surrounding area, choking these residents off from access and egress from their own neighborhood. Let's hope the Police Chief truly can help them. You may also recall at several Town Board meetings during the Westhab debacle Mr Feiner repeatedly professed that he was going to prove to Fulton Park just how much he cared about them and that they were going to change their opinion of him. Not only has he proved how much he cares about Fulton Park, but the residents there anticipate more abandonment from Town Hall and specifically The Problem Solver.

Questions posed to Ms Williams were regarding any progress that might be made on the flooding issue by the County, specific to the Fulton Park neighborhood, but more importantly throughout the length of the Bronx River? She said that major progress had been made cleaning out the Saw Mill River on the other side of Town, but the Stormwater Advisory Committee appointed to address flooding had not even met during the last year. In fact, in a recent article published in the Journal News by Legislators George Latimer and Shelley Mayer, they're quoted as saying, "Unfortunately, to date, little has materialized." Its obvious.

No politician will get much news "cred" holding a press conference saying they were proactive about a problem that is plaguing more and more neighborhoods. Nope. But they will get a lot of press when they are out during and after a storm providing sound bytes, saying what's happening is terrible and we must reach out to blah, blah, blah. It sounds like Mr Feiner writes their press releases. The reality is that all of the Fulton Parks, mostly lower income and commonly ignored communities can forget about getting much help from local, county and state government officials.

This past winter found us experiencing some pretty severe cold and quite a bit of snow. Through it all however, most homes that typically flood made out well with minimum amounts of water in their basements and crawlspaces. So, while the weather has been most cooperative, our elected officials have not. Now would be the time for them to push for remediation throughout the lengths of both the Saw Mill and especially the Bronx River regions. One suggestion furnished to Ms Williams was for the County to begin dredging and clearing the Bronx River of debris, whether man-made or natural, from the south and work north. That way when the river is actually "opened up" at the north end, it won't overwhelm the southern parts as they await the same work. Good suggestion or not, it doesn't really matter. Nothing is happening. Why fix it when we can talk about it? Why fix it when they can ask you to vote for them (again?) so they can help you?

It is incumbent on our Town officials to push for remediation of the river areas since they continue to approve all kinds of developments throughout the Town, paving or filling what had been open space that would normally absorb rain and storm runoff. All of that formerly absorbed water is only being directed into these two overburdened rivers on each side of Town. It's also incumbent on our local representatives, such as our Town Board, to ensure that County, State and Federal representatives stop using member item funds for small-pet-project-vote-getting-purchases and devote their time, energy and resources toward fixing the problems they've help to create. Only then will be see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Town Hall Suspected of Bid Rigging - Updated!

In a stunning and yet typical closed door, about-face move, our Town Board is unceremoniously moving swiftly albeit effortlessly toward scrapping the entire proposal constructed for the former Frank's Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road! The multi-million dollar question is why? In particular with this previously passed  proposal was the fact that the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association had participated with significant input into the proposal, actually correcting numerous mistakes pre-final draft. Could the explanation for this move be that Mr Feiner realized he was losing control to gift the property to GameOn 365 and felt he/they needed to move before the "auction" began? Remember, past performance doesn't guarantee future results, but it sure does provide an extremely accurate indicator.

On the Agenda as TB-1 in this Special Town Board Meeting to be held on August 5th at 10:30AM, the Town plans to rescind TB-8, adopted on July 15, 2014 which authorized the marketing plan/budget of GA Keen Realty Advisors related to the sale of the former Frank's Nursery property located at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Why?

With the second agenda item, TB-2, the Town Board plans to turn right around and approve the marketing plan/budget, information sheet, information memorandum, non-disclosure agreement and bidding procedures document for the auction of 715 Dobbs Ferry Road (Formerly Frank's Nursery) and authorizing a marketing plan/budget appropriation amount not to exceed $27,000 to GA Keen Realty Advisors, the Town's Real Estate Advisor. What changed and why?

What the Town Board is doing is removing the unanimously agreed upon stipulation that any bids on the property strictly utilize the R-30 zoning requirements to develop the property! Translation: Bid rigging. For example, GameOn 365 would have to follow the permitted uses of R-30 zoning such as residential housing, assisted living facilities, private clubs, etc., if they were to bid on the Frank's Nursery property. Similarly, this would apply to anyone else as well. And, we all know that what Mr Feiner wants is what will happen, regardless of the hoops he or others must jump through to accomplish it.

Mr Feiner's allegations of citizen bid rigging during the lease/sale/auction debacle with GameOn 365 still rings hollow as the Town Board again tries to change the playing field to benefit GameOn 365. They are still only a paper company with a small handful of investors relying on Mr Feiner's back room agreement for them to purchase the property while more significant offers are ignored. Is this just another ploy in Mr Feiner's bag of tricks? Will we see something added into the new proposal that removes the definition of a qualified bidder, or removal of the adherence to the R-30 Zoning?

You'll recall Mr Feiner tried to illegally lease the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to GameOn 365 about four years ago. Only after residents and civic associations threatened to sue the Town ala, "If you don't like what I'm doing, sue me," to stop his illegal actions did he back down. Fortunately, their threats to sue was enough to stop the runaway Mr Feiner and his Board from breaking yet another law.

Mr Feiner recently reached out to the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association claiming the owners of the Apple Farm, located in the shopping center on Rt 119, expressed interested in purchasing the Frank's Nursery property after the decision to rescind the proposal. The reply from neighborhood's Civic Association was firm: the only way they would agree to the sale of the property is if any bidder adheres to the R-30 zoning codes for the property. Mr Feiner wasn't happy and needed a way to push the Civic Association aside. In fact, ABG believes this could be why there is a special meeting with new proposals being introduced. By the way, given the amount of items on the Special Meeting Agenda, these should have all warranted a regular meeting. However, it would also have warranted the requisite public comments and slowed down the process Mr Feiner seeks to control, exposing their real motivation.

UPDATE, Sunday August 3rd:
In an email forwarded to the ABG offices, Mr Feiner replied to the query as to why the change. His answer below, is vague enough to appear legitimate but is really Mr Feiner thumbing his nose at the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association and their involvement with the entire process that HE insisted they participate in. Here's his email quote:

"RE: Resolution TB-1  08/05/14

we were advised that this requirement would not be legal and could jeopardize the sale of the property.  My understanding is that the town has more leeway re: decision as to who we're going to sell the property to, after the auction take place.  PAUL"

"We were advised" means that Mr Feiner made a decision and is not providing specifics because by remaining vague, his feet won't be anywhere near the fire, let alone held to it. The "more leeway" dumps the ball he temporarily "lost hold of" back in his lap, allowing him to cherry-pick to whom the Town sells the property after the auction. This will allow him to say no to bidders he wants out of the way until he gets to, for instance, the GameOn 365 bid. Since he can't control the bid, he needs to control the awarding of it. This rescinding of the proposal will allow that control to be his. 

Also on the agenda worth mentioning is AT-1, a resolution authorizing tax certiorari settlement with Westhab, Inc./22 Tarrytown Road Housing Development Fund Corporation for a total of $28,901. It's sad that a) the Town granted everything on Westhab's wish list when they sought to build; b) they utilize the police, fire and sanitation services while being a not-for-profit-but-very-well-paid organization; c) they don't have to contract with a carting company for garbage, recycle and trash removal while all other businesses must and are seeking a refund while utilizing Town services. Is this their idea of being a good neighbor, forcing the other residents to pay their share? And where are the financially concerned Fire Monitor participants and why aren't they looking at these expenses and/or behavior?

Having community involvement is critical for the success of the Town. Open government, real open government should be the cornerstone of how government works. Sadly, while Mr Feiner knows how to say and use the buzzwords about open government, he doesn't practice what he preaches. We'll have to wait and see what the changes are in the auction proposal contracts and learn why after the change takes place. Hardly open government. But in Greenburgh, it is our goverment. Only when the willfully ignorant become involved will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Honest Answers Welcome But Deflection Triumphs

Whenever Mr Feiner's latest guilty verdict is highlighted, he goes into what we've tagged as "deflection mode". You've seen this time and time again and we've written about it as often. The difference between us and the mainstream media is that we see it exactly for what it is. They, on the other hand, will reprint what he says without question or challenge. ABG believes they've abdicated their role as the fourth estate. Knowing he will get them "to play" by simply saying a few media-friendly buzz-words, he stated the Town's fire districts should consolidate. He began his rant to consolidate the Fairview and Hartsdale paid fire departments and deflected attention away from his failing budget, guilty verdict judgements and the general financial distress the Town of Greenburgh has been delivered. His ploy worked, his schemes have worked but his actions are failing. His policies are failing. HE is failing.

Mr Feiner has a small cadre of die hard loyalists who will do his bidding for him, allowing his appearance of being hands-off any hot button topic - such as fire district consolidation. In fact, when a Town Board meeting is not going his way, he will get on his mobile device and rally his troops via text messaging for help. As he stalls the meeting with his ramblings, awaiting his serfs arrival, they are given quick and unfettered access to the microphone. Their standard response might be an iteration of, "I was watching this at home and was so upset I had to come in to speak..." Others, in particular the G10, must sign up early and wait until called, usually after these troops have had their privileged say. Mr Feiner has perfected this routine and utilizes it often.

When Mr Feiner's guilty verdict was announced, the victorious Fortress Bible Church Discrimination lawsuit was almost put to bed. The judge had given ample opportunity to Mr Feiner and the Town to settle the case outside of the courts, but Mr Feiner, a non-practicing attorney, did not take advantage of the golden opportunity before he and the Town Board. His being obstinate, based on how many times Mr Feiner acted against the law and found guilty by the courts, keeps costing us more and more money we just don't have. One question we have been posing for years is why Mr Feiner can be found guilty in Federal Court on seven counts of discrimination, lying under oath, destroying evidence and still not be disbarred? It's business as usual in Greenburgh and for that matter, New York. Chicago has nothing on us.

Mr Feiner knows the taxpayers have deep pockets and brags they're only being zapped with a 3.4% tax increase, well under the NYS 2% Tax Cap, to pay for his illegal actions. We were under the (mistaken?) assumption that Mr Feiner had been personally found guilty and required to pay the penalties associated with the verdict and be forced to personally pay toward the verdict levied.

His latest deflection is to appear supportive of a 9A Bypass to reduce congestion on the 9A corridor. Naturally, like most of his follies, the "best chance of making this happen is now," a statement often made by Mr Feiner for projects he is interested in. This was the recent article in the once-critical and now-friendly White Plains Examiner. Under his hand, he had the Town Board adopt a resolution supporting New York State's pursuing of a 9A Bypass. This is like kissing your aunt on her cheek - it's nice but just doesn't mean anything. Its interesting that now that our Town Planning Commissioner has resigned to go wreak havoc in Stamford, CT., that Mr Feiner comes up with this exercise in futility. Next up? A press conference with his state representative buddies providing them more air time/publicity but producing little more than the promise to draft legislation to investigate the possibility and funding feasibility to study the need to see if there is a traffic congestion problem on 9A. It will go nowhere because there is no funding available for any of this.

Mr Feiner has included the Villages of Ardsley and Elmsford into the fray. Both of these villages are suffering because of the building that has taken place throughout the Town. What he doesn't address is the already congested traffic throughout the Town and the two mega-proposals in the north-end of the Unincorporated Town north of Elmsford at the old Union Carbide property. His press release, dutifully reprinted by the Examiner, says that the Town has $4.3 million dollars in a 9A Bypass Fund collected from new real estate taxes from new developments, but doesn't say what its availability of designated uses might be. We're back to that Aunt you kissed earlier. Its like her telling you she has put money aside for you when she dies, and then doesn't die anytime soon. Its nice but doesn't do you any good.

Saying you're for something is okay. Unfortunately, Mr Feiner is for everything with little action toward anything except providing for his developer friends and donors. Now that the shooting range has been closed, the bloated budget is done, the 10% salary increases for all elected officials complete, the verdict for Fortress Bible Church rendered, WestHelp still unoccupied costing us $1.2M/year, the Frank's Nursery property languishing, Brightview Assisted Living underway, Dromore Road dragging on, the Ferncliff School relocation gone, the Finneran Law changed with no sports bubbles, Midway Shopping Center expansion before the Town, the Trader Joe's expansion painfully lumbering on, the Landmark at Eastview 100+acres proposal starting to see the light of day, the fire consolidation scheme doing its damage, flooding in low lying areas still not addressed, racism at Town Hall unchecked, paving of Deli Delicious' entire property approved, and the Greenburgh Daily Voice turned over to Mr Feiner for his unfettered use, why shouldn't Mr Feiner do what he does best and add to the obsfuscation with a 9A Corridor Bypass to the mix?

 It's time for real leadership in Greenburgh. The stranglehold of political leverage is slowly proving why one-party rule, lack of ideas, and one voice is not good for our Town. The willfully ignorant must change and become involved. Our Town must change. Only then will we start to see A Better Greenburgh.