Monday, March 28, 2011

Cablevision Revised Proposal Is Disappointing

Is entering into a contractual relationship with a vendor difficult to do? It would seem so based on the amount of time the Town Board requires for what is ultimately a poor decision/outcome for the taxpayers. Yet, we sense they don't act as much for the taxpayers, but for the developers, vendors, and other campaign donor agencies. This is not to allude to, infer or blatantly condemn many of our vendors of fraud. It's the Town Board, led by The Paul, who are the frauds!

Let's touch specifically upon the Cablevision contract that has been languishing for almost three years. Could the strategy at Town Hall be one where the current gatekeepers see their castle crumbling and have decided to throw caution to the wind and approve something? Anything? Town Board member Francis Sheehan stated publicly, about the Cablevision contract, “We thought the day would never come.” We wondered as well but were dismayed once it was publicized. 

Both Greenburgh residents, Edgemont's Bob Bernstein, and Fairview's Tom Bock, stated similar concerns regarding a fifteen year contract, with different reasoning as to why a fifteen year contract for any services assumes too much risk on the Town's part. 

Bernstein was critical to the Public Access Education Grants (PEG) portion of the contract as being inadequate as the Town can easily lose this grant money based on actions of the vendors. The Town agreed to a provision in the Cablevision contract which says that if at any time Verizon is able to charge less than 61 cents per subscriber for its PEG fee, then Cablevision gets to suspend all further PEG payments for the duration of the contract.  And if Cablevision gets to avoid its PEG fee, then Verizon, under its contract, gets to be treated the same and can avoid its PEG fee too.  Greenburgh not only loses money but the ability to upgrade equipment down the line.

Bock criticized the lengthy deal as electronic equipment becomes outdated almost as soon as it's purchased and contractually handicapping us for fifteen years is absurd. He also pointed out the equipment used at public meetings and Public Access Broadcasts was woefully inadequate. Now would be the time to negotiate new equipment and factor in yearly updates for new or improved equipment.

Another resident, Ella Preiser, commented on the lack of quality with the transmissions of town meetings and wondered if the quality of the equipment was at fault? The Town Clerk, who has no part of the process, stated that Cablevision acknowledged the equipment needs upgrading. Duh! If it's been acknowledged by Cablevision, why isn't this and yearly upgrades in the contract? 

As one of many stake-holders, ABG wonders where the expertise of Town Attorney Tim Lewis is hiding. Any attorney worth his salt should have been able to catch something this elementary. And yet all we seem to get from Lewis is interruptions during the public's limited time to speak. We get the same Feiner-blessed behavior from Town Clerk Belville, which is becoming more and more often and distracting. ABG believes she's not paid to speak at Board meetings and look forward to her following Vanna's lead. Point, don't speak.

Ed Kraus, was also critical of the sophomoric offering from our Board. He stated that the board should entertain utilizing a professional negotiator as they are apparently unequipped to handle this project as well as others, stating, “It took so long. We should have gotten a better contract.” 

After the self-flatulatory congratulations of a job well-done, Councilman Sheehan asked the representative from PEG to say a few words about the contract. Why? Clearly to bloviate as to how great the Town Board was, Cablevision's representatives were and even Verizon's representative were. He added this was a difficult time throughout the entire ordeal. What ordeal? This is what the Board gets paid very well to do. ABG doesn't believe they give us an equal return for our money. Hey Paul, that's called return on investment, or ROI. We're not getting any. The Verizon representative, by the way, may have raised more flaws throughout the contract in the public forum than even Mr. Lewis would have caught, had he been engaged.

To the The Paul and the Town Board, we say try again. When you think you're close to a real contract, ask for the public's help before you enact anything. Apparently, we know more than you and the Board about contracts. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lower Income Housing Thoughts

In a post from the North Castle Citizens for Change, the Town Board voted by a 3 to 2 vote in favor to support the construction of Lower Income Public Housing on Old Route 22. The site is also known as the Corkoran Property, which was originally designated to be used as 10 middle income housing as part of a arrangement known as the Cider Mill Development Deal, which goes back to about 2004. The area's affected residents sought additional parking for the usage of the space. The property was originally offered to the Town at no charge, which would now be helping to satisfy the County’s Housing Desegregation Settlement with the Federal government during the waning months of Andy Spanos’ tenure as County Executive.  See the photo below for the proposed project. It is nice and while it will not fit in with the area neighborhood, it is not garish or unsightly. We'll concede that all pastel watercolor renderings have a charm to them - which is why they are proposed this way.

In Scarsdale, we find the developer, Frederick S. Fish Investment Company, has returned with an alternate proposal for a property near the five-corners on Weaver Street that was originally to be used as a 14-unit age-restricted condominium apartment building on the parking lot of the current restaurant Massa, which was the former Heathcote Tavern. But the new development promises larger units, higher price tags and more luxurious appointments. What’s the downside to the community? There are no senior-friendly units planned. Yet the new ten–unit parking is coupled with 20 parking spaces utilizing the current restaurant parking. Crunch. The feeling touted by Steven Oder, a Fish principal, said to the Board, “If this is simple, okay. If not, no. We already use the land; it has been a long journey.” After quite a bit of opposition for the project, the architect Rich Behr added, “We’ve always taken you’re your comments seriously. But if it leads to another four or five years, we don’t have the energy for it.” Basically, they’re saying approve our plan or we walk. We couldn’t find an image for this project. But we believe they should walk. No Town or Village should be held hostage over any project in any community.

This scenario sounds familiar. We've had this same situation, almost verbatim, in the Town of Greenburgh, from Westhab. Their representatives had stated on several occasions, at Town Board Lead Agency hearings, Zoning hearings, Planning B…, well you get the idea, that the Town approve their plan or they might walk. Former Vice President of Properties, Robert Sanborn, went in front of the assorted Town Boards, public and neighborhood and repeatedly stated that if they didn’t receive approval, they might withdraw the project. As frustrations mounted at Westhab, with all of Paul Feiner’s back room deals, winks and nods, handshake deals and unscrupulous cooperation from the Town Board not yielding the results they were promised, it would ultimately be the undoing of Robert Sanborn. He was terminated for not delivering the project on time. Perhaps he shouldn't have lied to everyone.

With the economy now at bottom, and funding dried up, the rumor mill is awash with speculation for that property. Having lost his own deal with Westhab, which the neighborhood found out about. ABG believes Ernest Tartaglione tried to renovate the property to quickly “flip it”, now that Westhab has been stalled. He's subsequently boarded up the glass portions of the deli and posted ‘For Lease’ and ‘Closed’ signs on it. ABG believes as the landlord, Tartaglione should be summonsed by the Town for erecting illegal signage. 

Below is an image of the Westhab proposal with the current building superimposed over it. It’s no wonder that everyone except The Paul, was against it.

Our Cities, Town and Villages need to have politicians who are not out for the own gain and can remember why they were elected: to represent the people; not developers, campaign donors, friends and family, or someone who bows to the coercive pressures to donate something to the Town for various departmental approvals. At ABG, it was always our goal to try to make the Town of Greenburgh a better place to live, hence our name. We wouldn’t have so much to write about if our representatives were representing us. It's time Paul Feiner and “his” Town Board retire.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Town Board in Triage; A&P Outreach By Brown

Despite the trouncing the Town Board received in Edgemont’s meeting the other night, we give kudos to Councilwoman Sonya Brown for holding another meeting a day later in Fairview, at the Union Baptist Church, at Manhattan Avenue and Rt 119, regarding the announced closing of the A&P across the street in the Crossroads Shopping Center (with KMart). Supervisor Feiner and the rest of the Board members,  noticeable absent, could learn a thing or two from Ms. Brown!

Since the announced supermarket closings in two Greenburgh neighborhoods under Supervisor Feiner's bloated tenure, Supervisor Feiner has pretended to be concerned, written letters and claims to have reached out to KMart, requesting they carry more food and staples to accommodate the neighborhood because of this difficult loss of a supermarket. It's ridiculous and reinforces his lack of business acumen. As a note, we're reminded of the temporary arrangement Stop and Shop agreed to with the supervisor as a tradeoff for fast-tracking their super Stop and Shop project on Rt 119 to provide a shuttle from the old Stop and Shop for one year for the senior citizens and non-car owners to be shuttled to the new super Stop and Shop on Rt 119. You'll start reading it on his blog.

In our previous post about the Edgemont meeting where the exposed tax increase that Feiner hid from everyone came out, ABG wonders how long Feiner knew about the A&P and Pathmark closings and what kind of “strategerizing” took place with him and the “Stepford” Board. It was contended by speakers at the last Town Board meeting, that Feiner and his Board's negative treatment of the Fairview portion of the town has led to to the area’s decline and the reason why stores and businesses are leaving. Now he wants to spread his Midas touch to Morton Williams, posting on his blog that he has approached them about accepting WICs coupons. Nice try, Paul. First, they already accept them. Second, they are higher priced with many items and WICs users won't get as much purchasing power for their “money”. Third, it's not located within walking distance for many of the Fairview area nor the people located in and around the Manhattan Avenue area.

As a note, last year Supervisor Feiner and the Town Board as well as Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden, were desperately seeking ways to implement new taxes and fines. One of the businesses that was a projected target for fines, was The Apple Farm in the White Plains Bowl/Lohmanns Shopping Center. Their crime? They were blocking the private sidewalk with crates of food. Alert the SWAT team! If they were deliveries, they should be removed. If they were storing them there, they should be moved - period. Speaking with the store manager would seem to be a more reasonable solution to a simple issue as opposed to writing a law to fine them. Does the supervisor enjoy antagonizing businesses, especially food stores? It would appear so. I guess we won't be seeing an Apple Farm II in the Crossroads Shopping Center anytime soon.

 ABG didn't know that this meeting would also involve discussing other community issues until we arrived. Councilwoman Brown introduced a representative from The Hayman Realty Group, the properties landlord at the Crossroads Shopping Center. She explained that most supermarkets seek a minimum of 60,000 square feet and the existing store was only 40,000 square feet. She further claimed that all of the landlord's attempts to secure another tenant once they learned of the bankruptcy produced no results. Several names were suggested to her such as C-Town, Gristedes, Morton Williams, Trader Joe's, which yielded a look of amazement from the representative. She claimed they tried numerous methodologies to seek renters: flyers, phone calls, ads, to name a few. Flyers? ABG could see if they were trying to rent a studio apartment, but flyers for a 40,000 square foot space seems rather lame.

Up until this point, Ms. Brown had no insight, the realtor offered nothing that we didn't already know except that this came to light some time in December. Resident Hal Samis stated the date of December 10th. The bright spot was when a gentleman named John stood up and announced he was the manager of the A&P and the former assistant manager of the also doomed Pathmark on Central Aveune. He stated that he was surprised at the Pathmark closing and thought they were profitable. He said apparently he was wrong. As to the A&P, he stated they had been losing money for years, and were being “carried” by the organization. He did say that his store's sales were mostly basics, not extras; had not been updated in years, with inefficient freezers and other equipment; and generally too small for the products the A&P wanted to have the store carry. This would increase their profits and margins.

At some point in the middle of the meeting there was a fight outside of the church which required a police response. It's unfortunate but this is also some of what a new store will look at when they evaluate the area to see if they would want to move in. The space has many things against it that potential retailers must address financially. First, a modernization of the facility for aesthetics, new equipment to gain an energy edge, the size of the space, and needs of the neighborhood and what the landlord will charge in rent. Mr. Samis also suggested several ideas to help make the space more financially attractive as well as reducing the other tenants rents now that one of the anchors is leaving. By the way, they will be gone on April 16. Pathmark is slated to close a day earlier.

Supervisor Paul Feiner's reign is showing it's age and the infrastructure he has tried to mask from us is crumbling. It's time for us to have him retire, whether voluntarily or by mandate from the people and bring in some new ideas, new people and a true open government.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edgemont Outreach Meeting: Feiner Shows Incompetence

Paul Feiner and his handpicked Town Board held another of their outreach/feel-good meetings with the Edgemont Community Council, which is an umbrella group of eight separate Edgemont civic associations representing 8500 people. They do this so he can tout his pseudo-open government shtick. Unlike the newspapers from White Plains and Yonkers, these constituents went to school, graduated, were informed, and stumped him and his “Stepford” Board, proving they couldn't answer any questions from the public.

At one point, it was uncovered/leaked/exposed that the Town has for the past five weeks been sitting on the news that the state has ordered the town to add an additional 2% hike to this year's 4.5% tax hike on the grounds that utilities had been over-assessed. Neither the actual facts nor the actual numbers were made available. Simply, nobody from the Board would give the group any specific information.

Board member Francis Sheehan, broke the bad news, ultimately getting them off the hook as to how to find a way to own up to The Paul’s secrecy blunder. Edye McCarthy, yet to impress us, couldn't say how much the hike would actually be. Feiner, true-to-form, stated the school and fire districts would be impacted as much as the town -- but neglected to mention that he nor the Board hadn't told the school or fire districts. So, the public wasn’t told, school districts boards weren’t told and fire district boards weren’t told. The school and fire district board members in the room were shocked and stunned reeling in disbelief! Is it any wonder Feiner might have had Sheehan “accidentally on purpose”, say something about it?

We imagine a conversation between the Board members prior to the Edgemont meeting going something like this:

Sheehan: Paul, what do you mean the state is hitting us with another 2%? Why didn’t you say something to us about this? What are we going to do if it comes up in Edgemont?
Feiner: Umm, uh, I uh don’t think it will really um, matter. Do you think it will?
Morgan: Huh?
Feiner: I’ll just talk about that downed fighter jet and that the pilot was saved. People will think I’m really concerned for our troops and forget about it. It's Edgemont, they can't do anything about it.
Brown: What is going on? Will someone please explain to me what happened?
Feiner: Tell her, Francis. You know I don’t talk to her after the March meeting last year.
Morgan: Is Diana coming with us or meeting us there?
Brown: Ask her, Kevin . She’s asleep on the other side of Francis. Will somebody please explain to me what Paul did this time? Paul, what did you do now?
Feiner: I don’t, um, uh, have to uh, talk to you.
Sheehan: We got a notice from the state over five weeks ago about an additional 2% hike to this year's 4.5% tax hike. And Paul never did anything with the information or told anyone.
Morgan: What? Another tax increase? It’s a good thing I’m double-dipping or I'd have to move.
Feiner: Kevin, why don’t you hold a press conference announcing this and maybe it will go away. I’ll just be me and play dumb.
Morgan: Whuh? Nooo, not me. I’m tired of jumping for you, even if you do pay for my campaign materials. Besides, I’m busy pretending to be interested in Town flooding.
Sheehan: Paul, maybe I can let the cat out of the bag at tonight’s meeting. It’s only the same Edgemont people who are against everything we do anyway.
Feiner: I think, um, our ploy about them being against everything we do is working. I need you all to say it more often. Hey, you know what, you know what, I’ll get Judith to say it too. She does anything I tell her. This could all work out. The voters are the dumbest ever. Don’t worry; we’ll all get reelected with no problem. The democrats hate me but they all keep voting for me. Don’t you just love Greenburgh? Let's go inside, this will be a piece of ... hey, somebody wake Diana up and bring her in.

Sonya Brown, the most lucid and concerned one of the group, was given little opportunity to speak. Edgemont residents were disgusted with the town board's poor performance. Robert Bernstein, the President of the Association, ended the embarrassment and declared the meeting over.

For those who don’t believe their Town is imploding or work for a newspaper, you are living in a dream world and need to come out to more Town Board meetings. We must hold these politicians feet to the fire. Come election time, we must start to clean house!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A&P Closing; Brown Holds Neighborhood Meeting

ABG just received notice that there will be a community meeting at the Union Baptist Church at 31 Manhattan Avenue (cross street Rt 119) at 7 PM tonight, March 22. The event is being hosted/sponsored by Town of Greenburgh Councilwoman Sonya Brown. She has been on the “outs” with Supervisor Feiner after criticizing him at the first March 2010 meeting. See our earlier blog post for that. Where she isn't on the “outs”, is with the people, for whom we believe she holds their bests interests.

ABG will try to be at the meeting so we can report on what transpires. Given the short notice, we are not sure who else will be attending this meeting. We do know that an A&P representative will be there. This will certainly be worth attending if you have the ability to do so.

We also believe future Town of Greenburgh candidates will be in attendance. Names we've heard as possible Supervisor candidates are Councilman Kevin Morgan (WP), Thomas Bock (R) and Patricia Weems (D). You may recall Weems, she was the last election's Democratic candidate before Feiner, Morgan, et al, got her disqualified on a petition technicality. Frankly, ABG believes Morgan is part of the problem with the Town and Brown is showing real leadership. He's in lock-step with Feiner and she's not. He knows all too well how to get along and plays along as much as necessary - he's mastered it. As a candidate, why wouldn't Morgan be proactive and put a meeting such as this together? Or, better still, why not offer a solution by meeting with executives from the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company? Because he doesn't have to. He stopped caring when Paul stopped caring. They all do it by rote.

ABG likes Bock, who failed in his bid for County Legislator and NYS Assembly. He's a an administrator who knows how to run a business as well as a volunteer firefighter. ABG understands why Bock can't do anything about the A&P as a citizen, but we have watched him fault Feiner at the Town Board meetings and Feiner's impotency regarding the A&P and Pathmark closings. As he rightfully pointed out, Feiner has no clue about running a business, especially a retail one, nor does Feiner understand how devastating his policies toward devaluing Fairview is to the entire retail environment, in effect forcing them to leave the area. We also like Weems, who runs her own business and may have some ideas. We look forward to her attending this event to see what she may have to say.

We believe while Brown's efforts are a promising step in the right direction, anything she accomplishes with the A&P executives will invariably be co-opted by Feiner in his effort to demonstrate how effective he is. That's okay Sonya, we know the truth.

Do What You Say, Say What You Mean

This post is an example of waste. While this time it's about the County and not the Town of Greenburgh (can you all hear Paul Feiner saying, "Phew, thank god it's not about me!"), it's problem is systemic to government in general. On June 10th, 2011, under the poorly veiled event entitled Westchester Educational Safety Training, the County will host the annual Fleet and Equipment Demo Day, typically referred to by County employees as Fleet Day. How many years has this waste of our County employees time been going on?

A Gift
This is basically a paid half-day off for our County employees between 10 A.M. until 2 P.M. Is it another CSEA contractual gift, agree to by all parties when times were good and money was rolling in to the County? Perhaps. But what is the benefit to an excuse such as this? If it is to show new and cutting-edge equipment, isn't that what trade shows are for? It is. Isn't that why taxpayers pay dearly for junkets and trips under the guise of research and evaluation? It is. If a city, town or village wanted to know about a particular piece of equipment, they have several options available to them.

A Better Way
The internet is constantly being touted to the public by our government officials as the information source for all things governmental. Why is it not good enough for the Fleet, Maintenance and Equipment people in law enforcement, emergency services and public works? It is. Yet, once you are taught to "work" the system, it's tallyho, off we go! What's good for the goose must be good for the gander. This is not to say there are never reasons to travel. There are. But they should be scrutinized and used judiciously. You can also contact the manufacturer and they will have a sales rep visit you. Or, they will direct you to the nearest dealer location for you to visit. In this day and age, everybody is hungry, in fact starving to make a sale. Our county employees should not have a difficult time getting information, demos, and hands-on usage of prospective and cutting edge equipment.

What Will Happen at Rye, Playland
The County Executive continually claims we must jettison Playland because the County shouldn't be running an amusement park. They aren't. That's why it loses money every year with it's safety issues, patronage jobs and limited hours. But that's another blog on management. All the County departments will drive a few of their vehicles to Playland's parking lot, park, have breakfast and basically "hang-out" for several hours. The public really won't be there unless its because they walk in that area for exercise and stumble upon it. There is no ROI here. That's Return On Investment, not Rob Oughta Investigate. There may or may not even be a vendor or two who will drive this years suped-up police car with a new LED light rack and radar mounted to it or a new snow plow design that will plow the road itself. 

Fix the Waste in Our County Government
Is this what the County Executive means when he says he has a mandate from the people to lower taxes, reign in spending and streamline County government? We hope not. If this type of business as usual is how he plans to reduce the constituents tax burden, he's got some answering to do. We recently posted about doing the right thing. Mr. County Executive, please do the right thing here and cancel this wasteful event.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"You're Late!"; “But I Drove..."

In the March 21st edition of the Journal News, an article by Ken Valenti appeared about local buses getting global positioning systems (GPS) technology installed initially on the No. 20-Bus-line, to help them run on time. How could a GPS help the bus run on time? In reality, it's not the GPS that will help it run on time, but rather a County project to the tune of $2.4 million that will change the traffic lights to green or extend a green light for an approaching bus, if they are behind schedule. This will enable them to continue on their way, avoiding red lights, allowing some bean counter to say a) the buses are running on schedule and b) rider-ship is up and happy about something or other relating to the operation of the bus system.

According to Valenti's article, County transportation officials picked the global positioning technology to signal traffic lights when a bus is off schedule, it will change a green light "automatically", according to Naomi Mein, of the county Department of Public Works and Transportation. "If a bus is behind schedule, it will give it that extra green time that it needs to meet that schedule," she said. By changing to a green light, or extending a green light for an approaching bus, the system could "easily" shave six to 10 minutes or more off a 14-mile trip that now takes an hour to an hour and a half from White Plains to the Bronx, Mein said.

What's the flip side of this scenario?

First, any bus making a 14-mile trip is certainly out for a long hall. Is saving six to ten minutes that critical? More importantly, is it worth $2.4 million? Second, how often do the buses run? Isn't there usually another bus behind it? Third, once the motoring public realizes what's going on, how many cars will "draft" behind a bus to run what would otherwise be a red light? Or, how many people driving on Central Avenue, already running late, will be driving alongside a bus as well to get through a red light? Third, how many accidents will this cause as people who were already planning to turn, for instance, are now unsafely in an intersection because the bus tripped the light. Fourth, when a bus is out of service, will the other buses have the requisite equipment? Fifth, will they be looking to expand this to other routes? Eventually, there won't be a place for cars, just buses. Sixth, urban planners, not suburban planners, want everyone to use mass transit. Forget that they don't want the bus ridership to run late, what are they doing to make car ridership run on time? Nothing! Eighth, once the Tappan Zee Bridge/Rail/Bus/Bike/Pedestrian/Dog Park/Sun Panel/Wind Turbine project is underway, what kind of traffic light accommodations will those buses get? Will cars be able to move at all? Ninth, what about the bus that's late because of the riders taking too long to get on or off, fumbling for their money, dropping their fair, struggling with packages, crutches, walkers, etc.? Finally, how many people will get in trouble at work because they were late due to the buses changing green lights to red? "You're late!" yells your boss. Your timid reply, "But I didn't take the bus, I treated myself and I drove in." It's out of control!

Our local traffic planners are not doing anything to alleviate traffic. Rather, they are making it more difficult for those of us with cars, almost treating us as second class citizens. We live in the suburbs. Simply, we need cars. ABG understands that large municipalities/cities must have public transportation systems. But outside of the cities, planners for the Towns and Villages planned inadequately for the growth and use of automobiles, biking and walking. While they are now unable to create thoughtful solutions to our traffic woes, they revert to the hollow arguments of increased public transportation as the solution. It won't work. Not because there's anything wrong with public transportation, but because our infrastructure is already too overloaded for the space we're in. Stop building! Stop.

Planning takes time, thinking, adjusting and compromise. We aren't seeing this lately and while recent events have proven just how fragile our world is, ABG believes there must be a better way to approach and deal with buses running on schedule. Here a suggestion that costs nothing: leave earlier.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

If You Do What's Right, The Right Thing Happens!

Growing up teaches us many lessons, some are easy and some are difficult. But a good moral grounding assists in formulating and executing thought-out decisions that have a positive outcome. Let's be clear, we're not discussing playing the stock market or betting on a race. That's why we were not surprised at the outcome and decisions against Ernest Tartaglione's Deli Delicious' multiple zoning variance applications to the Town of Greenburgh's Zoning Board. He, his contractor and confidant Chuck Pateman, and their attorney Mark Constantine presented their request and once it was reviewed, were turned down.

ABG reviewed the proposed plans for the deli's changes. It was being touted as a drive-through window with a circular driveway to be added around the perimeter of the building. The building itself, with the exception of adding the drive-through window, would remain unchanged. ABG's asked someone well-versed in plans and blueprints to review these plans and give an unbiased report of same. The reviewer claimed that with the exception of the increased parking on what is currently state owned property, the set-backs being reduced, easements which may be a factor and the significant increase in impervious space, the plans appeared to be technically correct. The reviewer did not believe however, that the project and the increased traffic was warranted for such a small amount of space.

After being turned down for the initial application of the Deli Delicious' zoning variances by a straw vote, Tartaglione tried to regroup. Playing dirty can be explained numerous ways. ABG is sure that Tartaglione believes he's just being a shrewd businessman by putting plywood over the deli's windows and diagonally  spray painting the word CLOSED on each board. We've commented before that he has several FOR LEASE signs posted also. If he was really going out of business, there would be a FOR SALE sign, not a FOR LEASE sign. ABG believes he's scamming everyone. He wants to retain ownership of the property and lease either the deli or the building to someone else, maintaining both ownership and an income stream. The other option would be to flip the building to a fast food chain. Burger King and Dunkin Donuts' are just two names echoing through Town Hall.

This week's Zoning Board meeting had several elements to it that made it more entertaining than usual. One fact was that Nick DeCicco recused himself from voting. He did the right thing. Another fact was that Jordan Glass, a recent Feiner-appointed Board member and attorney, “disappeared” for the vote. That's right, he disappeared. He said he would not recuse himself, even though he has a relationship with Tartaglione. We're not talking about a relationship such as one neighbor waving to another on their way to work in the morning. Nooo, it's a bit more than that.

Here's an excerpt from the Ethics Complaint (highlighting by ABG for effect):

“ As shown below, Mr. Glass , a recent appointee to the Zoning Board of Appeals, has a business relationship, other than the ordinary retail purchase of goods and services, with Ernest Tartaglione, the owner of Deli Delicious, which has an application pending before the Zoning Board.  Mr.  Tartaglione owns the building in which Mr. Glass has his law office,  Mr. Glass represents Mr. Tartaglione’s brother Raymond, and Mr. Glass reviewed and approved Mr. Tartaglione’s ZBA application at the request of Mr. Tartaglione’s representative before the ZBA, Mr. Charles Pateman.  Moreover, fully aware of these disqualifying relationships, Mr. Glass failed to disclose to the ZBA his relationship with Mr. Tartaglione as he was required to do, and failed to withdraw from the decisionmaking process on his application, as he was also required to do, both in violation of Town Code 570-4L(1) and (2) which requires such disclosure and withdrawal.”

Paul's done it again. His circle of trusted allies is repeatedly being proven terrible. No matter how hard he tries to coerce, cajole and co-opt the process, this time the game just can't be fixed. The Zoning Board gave a straw vote which indicated future failure on behalf of the applicants. They should have seen and read the writing on the wall. Their plan was, is, and will be, flawed to the point of being doomed to fail each time it is proposed. That's why the Zoning Board struck it down on March 17th. AND, when Pateman requested to add a statement into the official record, he was told, "No." If they had done the right thing, for the right reasons, the outcome would have been right. 

ABG believes one of the Supervisor's critics got it right, it's time for Paul to resign.

Friday, March 18, 2011

NY Schools for the Deaf Need Our Help

There was a rally held this past Tuesday at the NY School for the Deaf on Knollwood Road to protest the cuts in the NYS proposed Cuomo budget, effectively forcing the closure of this and other schools for deaf children. ABG realizes there must be room in education for trimming costs, expenditures, maintenance, pensions, etc. But we also realize the impossible burden placing deaf students into our hearing classrooms would place on all school districts, not just the Greenburgh Central 7 district.

Supervisor Feiner is usually on the wrong side of most issues, unless it has to do with increasing taxes and buying more votes through doling out more money to special interest groups, the TYC, or developers. That's why we'll acknowledge those too-few instances when he gets something right. Finally, he is protesting the budget cuts from one of his own, future presidential candidate, Governor Cuomo.

ABG queried a school board candidate at the last election using only one school as an example, the Maria Regina High School, on Hartsdale Road. There are state and federal monies that go to the Greenburgh school district based on attendance taken at MR. The district gets this money to spend as they choose, with a few exceptions. The most obvious one is the district must provide busing for the students that go to MR. The ABG question to the candidate was, "What happens to the rest of the money you get for each student who's parents are paying tuition?" Her answer was succinct. "We spend it," was her honest response. "Then how can they always be in need of more money for the students they do have to teach?" No answer.

The schools for the deaf have teachers that know and teach utilizing sign language. If these schools are closed, they will not necessarily be hired by the school districts to teach. More important is that the schools will need to hire translators for every classroom with deaf students. Teaching, explanations and clarification of information, sometimes difficult to explain to youths as it is, will take longer. We all know that when things slow down in a classroom, disruption slowly creeps in. The deaf students may wind up feeling and/or being isolated as there will not be many in each classroom. With bullying being such a big issue nowadays, at least based on the 17 minute film the supervisor insisted on showing at the last Town Board meeting, we're sure there will be bullying to deal with. ABG is sure there are many more issues.

With the difficulty learning presents to all involved, we should be taking steps forward, not backwards, when it come to the education of special needs students. This is moving backwards. ABG believes Cuomo is posturing for his presidential bid and should open his eyes, listen to what people are saying and do as he promised during his campaign: stop funding the special interests. That's where he can safely cut and save money, not with our students.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paul, You Have Some Explaining To Do!

Below is the Journal News' White Plains Express. It has a lead article about the Town of Greenburgh and the two ethics violations against Zoning Board members Nicholas DeCicco and Jordan Glass.

We've previously posted about DeCicco and were putting together a post about Glass when it rained. It wasn't really that much rain. It's just that we can't turn in any direction in Greenburgh without seeing construction, thereby offering little absorption of any rainwater in many neighborhoods. Talk about impervious surfaces! Couple that with an unqualified Town Board, making building and land use decisions as the lead agency for Feiner pet projects du jour, and we get flooding. Previous posts discussed his NOT applying for flood relief monies from the County, causing us to have more flooding on a “regular” basis each time it rains than ever before.

Back to zoning. If we take Nicholas DeCicco at his word that he didn't know the characters in the Deli Delicious Debacle until meeting them at a fund raising held in his name, which is plausible given the rapid nature of his jumping into the slimed arena of Greenburgh politics, he only had about a month to campaign for the County Legislative seat against MaryJane Shimsky. DeCicco, if he plans to seek any office in the future, is now tainted and should step down from the Zoning Board to show his sincerity toward doing the right thing.

As an aside, the winner of the County Legislative seat was Shimsky. Her first official act, for which she has no say, involvement or sway as a County Legislator, just like our supervisor repeatedly does, was to attend the 4201 protest event at the NY School for the Deaf., fighting the proposed closure of same as well as others. For a state that revels in helping every oddball, kook, pseudo and eventually real illnesses, it's unfathomable that the new Presidential (or Vice-Presidential) candidate, Cuomo would want to close the dozen or so schools for the deaf community.

Back to Jordan Glass. Both ethics-challenged Zoning Board members were appointed to their positions by the supervisor. The committee to review the flawed and failed fire protection study, led by a convicted criminal, were hand picked and appointed by the supervisor. We're not saying the supervisor shouldn't be able to do this, but obviously the supervisor's pool of talent needs to be cleaned out. The web of deceit spun by not only Glass, but Tartaglione, Pateman and Constantine, in concert with the supervisor, does not allow us to ignore the ethical improprieties. We wonder what part Republican Chairman Doug Colety played in all this?

Several changes are needed and should happen quickly. First, Jordan Glass, no longer trustworthy, should step down from the Zoning Board immediately. This also goes for DeCicco. Second, Paul Feiner should admit his mistake and withdraw any support for all and any projects in Greenburgh, ceasing his campaigning for developers, their clients, businesses and residents. Third, Tartaglione should withdraw his applications with any and all departments he has applied to. Fourth, ABG believes the boarding up of the deli is a ploy to elicit sympathy from an abandoning public as well as the zoning members to sway their votes in his favor. As such, once The Paul's magic is performed behind the scenes, and Tartaglione gets his variances or waivers from the lead agency/town board, the deli will be un-boarded and go back to business as usual. Tartaglione will then sell to Burger King, Dunkin Donuts or some other fast food group for the quick buck, before the Rt 119 renovation takes place for the bus routes. Another little known fact is the basement office of the deli is being used daily, even though the deli is not open for regular deli business.

The supervisor and Planning Commissioner Madden have a (warped) vision of redeveloping Rt 119 and Central Avenue. For Madden, it's about job security. For Feiner, it about donations to his campaign war chest. They hope to build it up even more than it currently is. And, the state wants to add the new bus platform roadway along the 287 corridor, ending at exit 5, increasing the bus traffic by one bus every five minutes  - which might really increase Tartagliones business. This will be adding to our traffic congestion, flooding and a lessening of our quality of life. It's time for The Paul to resign and get a leader that knows how to lead.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Greenburgh: A Barrel of Issues

If the Town “Bored” meetings were an indication of the efficiency of the operations of the Town, we’d be in even more trouble than we’re currently in. Each Board meeting is predicated on what group(s) or individual(s) Supervisor Feiner wants to recognize, give an award to, or single out, in effect padding his campaign strategy with yet another prospective vote at the expense of Town and the public’s time. It’s a seemingly innocuous gesture that he’s concocted and mastered during his twenty-year tenure. 

In the beginning of our time in Greenburgh, ABG recalls Greenburgh Supervisor Anthony Veteran, guiding the Town through its formative years as a growing and evolving town. But eventually, as we are currently witnessing with Supervisor Feiner, the proverbial absolute power corrupted him, opening the door for the then-young Feiner. But those who don’t study history, as another saying goes, are doomed to repeat it.

His pet projects aside, various iterations of his Town Boards have slowly increased his monarchy, foisting him to an elevated position where he believes he can get away with whatever he wants. He is so detached at Board meetings that he reads his emails, text-messages, and occasionally even doses off. In the March 2010 Town Board meeting, he was certainly paying attention while Councilwoman Sonya Brown “ripped him a new one”.  You should go back to that early March meeting and watch the archive. Her tirade is just after the two-hour mark.

The revelation by Councilwoman Brown was an eye-opening event for some. It wasn’t a surprise to those who regularly follow our Town government, but because the Town has been imploding for some time now, with Councilwoman Brown becoming the first public “chink in the armor” of the previously impenetrable Feiner Fiefdom. ABG's sure she won't last long with that bulls-eye now on her back. And that's too bad because the public might do better now that she's seen the light.

Each yearly budget release for which there are two different budgets referred to as the “A and B” budgets, apply to the unincorporated areas of the Town and the incorporated areas. Simply, the incorporated areas are the Villages within the Town. The Villages have individual mayors and boards, elected independently without including the residents of the unincorporated areas. Their mayors and boards serve as the administrators of the Villages, looking out for the best interests of their respective Villages. The unincorporated areas have the supervisor and his board, who seem to only be looking out for themselves, and the developers who fund them.

Witness the debacle that the supervisor and his last two boards created with the guilty verdict from Federal court over their discrimination toward the Fortress Bible Church property and their illegal unwillingness to allow them to build on the property they purchased. After following the rules, regulations, and hoops the Church was required to, the supervisor and his previous board killed the church's proposal. A board member from the previous board that was found guilty, presently sit on the current board: Diana Juettner. Coincidence? We don’t think so. Learn how to stare at the tabletop when things get uncomfortable with the public and let “The Paul” handle it. The alternative if they take initiative? They’ll be jettisoned, as were their predecessors and as he's now plotting against Brown. Are you wondering what the cost of these guilty judgments to us is? A cool $8m. That’s a lot of church. Maybe we should light a candle and hope for divine intervention.

Witness another gem with Fulton Park, and the ill-fated Westhab project that shouldn’t have gotten off the ground except for the “done-deal” by the supervisor. With a handshake and a wink, Westhab, “leaders” in managing facilities with homeless, transient and transitional peoples purchased the property they had previously managed. The problems that perverted this project were evident to all once the residents of Fulton Park, their civic association and others got wind of it. The project moved steadily behind the scenes with the maneuverings of the supervisor. Then the board jumped on the bandwagon. After all, its The Paul’s hottest pet project.

Witness yet again the questionable operations of the Theodore Young Community Center (TYC). For a while, swim coaches from one of the two swim teams that operate there were paying different rates and being slighted by what appeared to us in the bleachers as preferential treatment. After an exhaustive attempt to have the Board get to the bottom of this, the coaches were told that once the new director was hired, they could be sure this issue would be addressed. As far as ABG knows, it has not be addressed or remedied.  And the swim coach has ceased participating in Town Board meetings.

Witness a further Theodore Young Center issue with sponsoring field trips for a range of groups. One was for our Senior Citizens and a cruise to the Bahamas. While the price is important and a factor, the ticket price isn’t the primary point of discussion. According to a regular critic of the Board, there were hidden costs being paid for by the taxpayers, mysterious fees being charged to the participants, some questionable participation by TYC staffers and a less expensive price available by not participating through the TYC. There should be oversight for the TYC, but there is none provided by the Board.

There are about ten legal actions currently pending against the Town. This is an unacceptable amount. It’s lower now because several suits were either settled or the litigants have passed away from old age. The Town is well known to be fraught with rules, mazes of regulations, paperwork. Applicants with seemingly endless endurance never really know when they’ve succeeded because there is always one more "gotchya". It is one reason many contractors refuse to work in the Town. It’s also why many homeowners don’t do additions, renovations and improvements to their homes. They leave. That costs the Town in lost revenue over an extended period of time. It also forces our better citizens to relocate and add to other communities. Ouch! We need to have better people involved. We can start with having the supervisor retire. 

Retired Fairview Fire Chief Robert Mauro Passes

GREENBURGH — Former longtime Fairview Fire Chief Robert Mauro, who retired last month after 45-years in the fire service, died Sunday at White Plains Hospital Center, at the age of 76.

Succeeding him, newly sworn in Fire Chief Anthony LoGiudice, had described the longtime chief as a mentor.
"He just retired and he didn't get a chance to enjoy any of it," LoGiudice explained.

Mauro began his firefighting career as a volunteer in Thornwood, while he was working at the General Precision Laboratory there. After working at the lab for 12 years, he decided to take the civil service exam for firefighters. He joined the Fairview department in 1965 and never looked back.

He would become the town's Chief in our largest fire district serving for 33 years. During the 1980s he helped draft state law that requires hotels and motels to furnish each room with smoke detectors for the hearing impaired. He worked exhaustively on the County’s E-911 telephone system implementation, concerned that the plan neglected to identify unpaved streets and unnumbered homes.  He also served as vice chairman of the Greenburgh Health Center and as an aide at the White Plains Phobia Clinic, helping people manage panic and anxieties.

During the latter portion of his fire career, he joined the Elmsford Fire Company No. 1 on East Main Street, in Elmsford, to recapture some of the volunteer spirit he longed for from his Thornwood Fire Department days. He served as Vice President for the Fire Company.

He's survived by his wife, Terre; a daughter, Lisa Dodaro; and a son, Martine Mauro, all of Greenburgh.

Rest in Peace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

We Told You So...

We recently wrote about flooding that takes place in many areas of the Town of Greenburgh and how the Supervisor chose to ignore funding money available to address it in all the neighborhoods but Hartsdale. ABG wonders why Hartsdale was so deserving and the other neighborhoods were not? We can only assume a prejudice on behalf or the supervisor and his town board, previously referred to as the "Stepford" Board. Below are a few pictures of the devastation caused by the three and a half inches of rain that fell this Sunday night/Monday morning.

Pictured here, while difficult to see, are four pictures made into a panoramic view to show how much water is visible from behind the Bridge Auto Parts store on Rt 9A, looking west.

The next picture is about two blocks north of the BP gas station (formerly Amoco), with the giant, on 9A by I-287, looking north.

This area has so typically flooded that the police will even leave the barricades nearby. It's not that we don't expect flooding throughout the Town, we do. We do because the Town has a moratorium on preserving green space, a former hallmark of the Town of GREENburgh, and a wholesale gifting by the Supervisor and his Board to any developer who promises the Town something (read: payoff). 

The upcoming election for Town Supervisor promises a litany of hopefuls. In the last election, Supervisor Feiner, our own “paragon” of ethics, had his only democratic challenger's ballot signatures disqualified and then said he was upset because competition is good. C'mon Paul. It's getting old.

We brought up flooding prior to knowing about the impending storm. ABG is a touch soggy in our own underground headquarters due to the flooding we've all been suffering through. Our offices requires our attention now that we've been able to turn off our pumps. It would be nice to see the Town officials flex a little brain-power and go after the money we need to fix this issue throughout the Town, not just in one community.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

KEEPING Homeless Shelter Would Prove a Costly Mistake

In the Saturday edition of the Journal News, the Paul Feiner media machine allowed him his monthly rant about something he has no control, jurisdiction or involvement. It was entitled, Closing Homeless Shelter Would Prove a Costly Mistake. This time it was the WestHelp facility in Valhalla, on the Westchester Community College campus. According to this op-ed, Feiner hopes the County Executive and the County Board of Legislators will reconsider their decision to close the unnecessary facility, calling their decision penny-wise and dollar-foolish. Talk about the pot calling the kettle anything. ABG is reasonably sure that the entire County decision-making group didn't just come in to work one day and say, “What can we close today? How about the WestHelp facility?” We're sure this was not a lightly made decision.

He goes on to quote costs for housing the homeless in hotels and motels, as well as housing them in a facility such as WestHelp. He continues to say he was against using hotels in the 1980s when he was a county legislator. But he never tried to change it. It's easy to fault someone else as well as a past you can conveniently recall as needed. He's bludgeoned the Fulton Park neighborhood with a Westhab project even though homelessness is down everywhere and a building of this nature is no longer viable. 

The supervisor continued to quote statistics regarding the amount of applicants and recipients of food stamps in Westchester County. He cites the increase in food pantry requests, saying the requests have increased, but cites no data or numbers. He discusses foreclosures, evictions, unemployment and the ripple effect the closing will have on the community. This statement reminds ABG of the comment he made at a January Town Board meeting that if the Theodore Young Center were to close, crime would increase in the neighborhood. What!? This is a racist thing to say and unfortunately, everyone on the Board condoned the statement as they stared at the table before them. Its sad.

The County pays $1.2 million a year, an amount Feiner withheld one year until he got caught, and is concerned that Greenburgh will lose this source of income if the facility is closed. Poor management will do that to a politician more concerned with his future than his constituents. At the end of his piece, he states, “A loss of $1.2 million in revenue translates into a significant tax hike in our townwide budget.”

It’s interesting the supervisor would automatically think to raise taxes even more. Isn't a 7% increase in overall spending, drawing down on the fund balance and borrowing, along with tax increases of 4.5% for the unincorporated areas of the Town, which includes an almost incredible 87% increase for the entire town a bit much? How about applying these concepts in reverse and offering residents a tax break instead?

The supervisor and his previous board, ousted by him for daring to disagree with his agenda, has failed to put money aside for the guilty verdict in the Fortress Bible judgement, which when rendered, promises to spend more money to the tune of $8 million! The pools at Veteran Park, with repairs postponed yet again, will eventually have to be made. Where is the money?

At each Town Board meeting, we see about $100 thousand in tax certiorari challenges and adjustments. Since the Town hasn't had a revaluation in years, any business that challenges their tax bill must automatically be granted the reduction. Homeowners should be doing the same thing, but those applicants are few and far between. 

In the end, the mismanaged Town of Greenburgh is imploding under the failed leadership of Paul Feiner and all he continues to do is wax eloquent on hot button topics that don't concern him. He should stop his silly comments and articles about things that don't concern him and focus on reducing taxes in Greenburgh while maintaining services and increasing the declining quality of life. We need to see leadership from our leaders and jettison incompetence. It's time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Greenburgh Flooding: Our Residents Are Drowning

There are numerous areas in the Town that flood. Two neighborhoods that are heavily populated residential areas are the Fulton Park and Parkway Homes areas in Fairview. On the opposite side of Town is the Rt. 9A corridor, primarily an industrial area that seems to flood when it gets cloudy. On his way to the Town Hall during any heavy storm, Councilman Morgan, exiting via Beaver Hill Road, would probably make it through the high waters with his SUV. One could certainly head north on Rt. 9A, and by-pass the flooded area completely. In the Hartsdale area, flooding is a serious issue as well. Wait a second, Ardsley has flooding from the thruway area all the way north, regularly ravaging the homes of the Babbitt Court neighborhood and vicinity. They're all part of the 9A corridor as well.

The County had flood monies available for all communities to apply for about a year or so ago. Supervisor Feiner chose to only apply for the monies for use in Hartsdale. When ABG asked then County Legislator Tom Abinanti why it only went to Hartsdale, he said that was the only community Supervisor Feiner applied for. Why apply to only help one community in town when they could have applied to help many? He claimed to not know. We at ABG believe it's because Supervisor Feiner doesn't want to solve a problem, but be available to fake concern and gain publicity.

A former colleague had an expression that was befitting the organization we worked for until they succumbed to  cheaper labor, lesser benefits and a general lowering of our quality of life. Any time there was problem, someone would suggest a meeting to discuss the issue. Our colleague would always say, "Why fix it when we can talk about it?" How appropriate this is to the Town. Once the mainstream media began discussing consolidations in government, the supervisor decided to have his deputy supervisor hold fire department consolidation meetings for the Town. This consolidation issue requires three fire protection districts to be abolished (not easy), a new all-inclusive fire district to be created (not easy or inexpensive), personnel positions to be changed (not easy or inexpensive) and equipment standardized (not easy or inexpensive). Plus, since the supervisor has no control over the fire districts, this was a futile ploy for the publicity bandwagon that the supervisor has mastered in his twenty years  on this job. And, the lamestream media sucks it right up. 

Another faux-concern post on behalf of the supervisor on his blog is a letter from Aaron Schmidt, our Town Environmental Planner. 

This letter was recently posted on the Supervisors Blog. We've italicized the text of the letter for clarity & highlighted portions we take issue with:

Supervisor Feiner:
   As part of the requirements under the MS4 - Phase II Stormwater Education and Outreach Program, I will be asking that you send out an email to all persons on the g-list 4 times per year.
   Below is a link to an erosion and sediment control factsheet which provides information pertaining to vegetated buffers:
   In summary, Vegetated buffers are areas of either natural or established vegetation that are maintained to protect the water quality of neighboring areas. Buffers slow storm water runoff, thereby helping to prevent soil erosion; provide an area for the runoff to permeate the soil; contribute to ground water recharge; and filter sediment and nutrients. They also have long-term environmental and social values, such as: reserving space for trails and greenways; reducing impervious area; preserving wildlife habitat and corridors for wildlife migration; and preventing warming of water resources by shading such areas. Vegetated buffers can be used in any area able to support vegetation. They are most effective and beneficial on floodplains, near wetlands, along streambanks, and on unstable slopes.
   Please consult the attached factsheet for more information (note: not available through the supervisor's blog). Any questions or comments may be directed to Aaron Schmidt, Environmental Planner, Town of Greenburgh, at
Thank you,
Aaron Schmidt

With regards to the parts we take issue with:
send out an email to all persons on the g-list 4 times per year: Why is the Town Supervisor the one doing the communications for our Environmental Planner? Could it be because Aaron Schmidt isn't running for anything and not in need of a campaign, oops!, we meant informational, mailing? Enough with the self-posturing promotions.

Buffers slow storm water runoff: The areas that flood in Greenburgh are not worried about slow storm water runoff. The areas that flood are heavily flooded and in need of real flood control, not these types of measures that address the water pooling near a homeowners downspout.

social values: Please stop insulting our intelligence by claiming flooding is a social issue. It's a quality of life issue and the quality of life in Greenburgh is on the decline.

reducing impervious area: The only way to reduce impervious space is to stop paving and developing our green areas. Our supervisor is on a development kick, giving away our green space at a rediculous pace. It has to stop.

(Vegetative buffers) effective and beneficial on floodplains, near wetlands, along streambanks, and on unstable slopes: This would only apply to a miniscule percentage of the flood zones areas and not offer significant positive impact for those mentioned earlier.

There are many Town areas that flood - heavily. The supervisor should address flooding throughout the Town as a Town-wide issue and stop pandering to areas where he specifically seeks their vote. Help all the residents and you'll get the votes.