Monday, November 28, 2011

Greenburgh: Die Another Day

We recognize The Paul is the media darling of the leftist media to the point of disbelief and disgust. ABG made contact with a past candidate who was quoted as an anti-Feiner resident in an online post by on another (Gannett) site. The entire slant of the article was that Feiner was bulletproof and unbeatable. The former candidate didn’t think so nor does ABG. Greenburgh Republicans and Conservatives have been adrift in the sea of Westchester politics without real leadership.

So what’s the answer? We’ve seen several good candidates rise to the challenge of running for office in Greenburgh to no avail. It’s not that they’re unqualified, they are. Greenburgh will certainly not get better under their new stewardship . The Democratic faithful routinely come out and vote the party line, which is about six thousand or so votes. That means Paul Feiner, running unopposed, will get some six thousand votes - it is so sad.

In the last County Board election, Democrat Alfreda Williams won the County Legislative seat. Listening to her at forums has proven the democratic faithfuls put the lesser candidate in office. Williams offers little except to follow in lock-step her democratic handler’s instructions voting against anything republican and for everything democrat. That’s not the kind of representation the Town needs. There are no benefits for Greenburgh residents. Can anybody break this “Gimme more” mindset and help Greenburgh get good representation? While we can only hope, we’re not confident that Greenburgh will see any change from the Republican Party.

At the county level, Astorino’s talking heads are continuing the “poor-me” whipping boy facade. That performance would be masterfully played out in tandem with Westchester Republic Chairman Douglas Colety. His Democratic counterpart, Reginald Lafayette, has little need to flex his democratic muscles as the democrats, for the most part, are in control of the County, and especially the County Legislature. We’re not convinced campaigning as a fiscal conservative worked for Astorino, as much as Westchester may have simply been tired of the Spano tenure.

The Westchester County Association was backing Astorino and his efforts. Who are they, really? Well, they are backed by the ├╝ber-connected lawfirm DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise & Wiederkehr LLP, based in White Plains, New York. They tout themselves as “a highly successful law firm with a strong regional presence”. Their “regional presence” has produced the appointment of fellow attorney/employee Kevin Plunkett as Westchester County’s Deputy County Executive. Talk about the ability to influence the County Executive from the inside. And to ensure nothing inappropriate is going on, let’s have William Mooney, a Republican and former Democratic County Executive Alfred DelBello, a Democrat, be the figureheads. Mooney does the public appearances but DelBello is the behind the curtain wizard, occasionally out front, making sure his agenda plays out the way he wants.

The Republican Convention this year was a lot of rah, rah, rah, we’re going to take back the County, the State and the Federal seats in government everywhere. Douglas Colety will go to the microphone and start his Republican banter in front of the republican faithful of lower taxes, breaking the stronghold in the legislature, great candidates, yada yada yada, rule the world! But he won’t be doing any of it for Greenburgh. At the after-election “celebration”, there will be a lot of back-slapping of Chairman Colety, with the same old rhetoric of taking control in the next election, ousting the democrats and putting up great candidates. Most importantly to us, the cost to Greenburgh is immeasurable, but until the Republicans get off their butts and get in the game, Greenburgh loses. 

It’s time not only for new blood, but new thinking. The Republican Party continues to operate from a playbook that hasn’t been updated in decades. Part of the political game needs to include new players and jettisoning some of the existing ones. Only then can we expect to see better balance in government. Greenburgh, as well as we, can only hope.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The staff of ABG would like to wish our readers, 
residents, family and friends a very

Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving Holiday

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Crisp Fall Air - Not in Greenburgh

Go outside during sunrise and you may encounter a few animals foraging for food or seeking cover as their nocturnal safety slowly ebbs. Inhale. The crisp fall air will thrill your olfactory senses and offer you the cleansed air of a new day. Except, that is, in the Town of Greenburgh, where we’re under constant assault by The Paul and his merry ‘Stepford’ Board. Whatever and whenever he wants them to do something, he snaps his fingers, they genuflect, bow their heads and loudly say, “Yes-sir!” It’s sad that these Board members are so desperate to stay in office they’ll sell their souls to the devil. The foul stench of wrong-doing just won’t end.

The Scarsdale Inquirer, a respectable newspaper that actually covers stories in-person, recently wrote about Paul Feiner’s hand-picked and anointed Greenburgh Zoning Board member Jordan Glass, who has finally stepped down after it was proven that he had violated the Town’s ethics code (yes, a contradiction of terms). ABG has maintained that Glass was “dirty” and his posturing was nothing more than an attempt to deflect attention away from his wrong doings. We’re glad to see the ‘Piper’ has finally gotten to the right neighborhood to get paid. Another disgraced Zoning Board member is Nicholas DeCicco, also found guilty of ethics violations. When someone The Paul has appointed gets caught violating the law, it becomes time to spin as much and as quickly as possible. Feiner is nothing if not spin. As a note, DeCicco stepped down and was recently appointed to the Planning Board. A fox in the henhouse is okay in Greenburgh.

We’ve also found Feiner’s politicization of the events with Glass as a campaign against Glass equally distasteful, saying that Glass was a victim of personal attacks and caused many to not volunteer for the Town. This reminded one staffer of Hillary’s “right-wing conspiracy” cries during former President Clinton’s philandering accusations. We think many people don’t volunteer for the Town because there is so much nepotism, back-room deals, secret handshakes and political back scratching, that they don’t want to be mired in the morass of undergrowth in Feinerville. After all, some of them have families and teach their children by example – good examples.

Feiner has always said what was expedient for the moment. We witnessed this recently as he offered flood victims relief by claiming the federal government’s FEMA would buy their flooded homes. After some basic research, we found, as we’re sure did others, that there are numerous steps that must be implemented by the Town, then by the County, and then the state and finally the feds before anyone’s home will be bought out by FEMA. It was a good sound-bite that got Feiner publicity. The Paul is the media-darling of the Journal News, which doesn’t actually fact check the blather he spews for accuracy, they just print it. Regardless, Feiner said he didn’t know Glass when he appointed him to the Zoning Board. And yet, in several correspondences and emails, he’s says he’s been receiving feedback from Glass for years! Next he’ll say that he misspoke. Get ready, it’s coming.

Some of the Zoning Board members do a credible job and make the effort to do the right thing for the residents and businesses. Unfortunately, a minority sullies the good work of the others. Greenburgh makes Chicago politics look like preschool. What The Town needs is people on committees, boards and related positions who practice honesty, integrity and values beyond a party-line, or simply, who do the right thing. Just telling the truth for a change could be infectious. Maybe if Feiner told the truth, it might be the start something completely different. It might, but this is Greenburgh. We won’t hold our breath.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Killing Greenburgh’s Businesses

The Town has continued on a markedly deceptive practice of tax increases beyond the normal yearly increases our incompetent Supervisor normally invokes with each year’s budget. Our Town has increased and established new and more business-punishing fees meeting after meeting. And the Stepford Board’s logic for this is that it would increase revenue for the Town. It is this type of parochial mindset that causes many businesses as well as residents to leave the Town.

One needn’t travel to any unique location to see that our Town’s business community is in decline. This is especially true of our small businesses. The “too big to fail” businesses continue to receive subsidies, grants and bailouts. On the other hand, our small businesses receive more of our Supervisors attention by being taxed, albeit with more and/or higher fees (hidden taxation). How does this help Greenburgh be attractive to business? It doesn’t.  Westchester and New York State aren’t known for being business friendly. They have their own taxes and fees. According to The Paul, we don’t need to do anything for business because our corporate tax rates are low. Given that sentiment, why do we see so many vacancies throughout the Town?

Westchester County, Greenburgh and other communities are continually offering “incentives” to new businesses to come to the area by reducing or waiving taxes. And, they continue to offer incentives to established businesses once they get wise and simply threaten to relocate. That’s what recently took place with Pepsi, when they threatened to leave, the County leaders fell all over themselves to offer tax concessions and tax discounts for them to remain in Somers. Then all the politicians stood in line at the press conferences waiting for their turn at the open-mike event, claiming they have miraculously saved local jobs, that they brokered the deal, that they have the Midas touch and without them Westchester would crumble. The reality is they increased our residents’ taxes, whom are now forced to make up the difference. ABG must have missed that press conference.

If the local, county, state and federal governments leaders are making tax concessions to businesses not to leave for greener pastures such as North Carolina, it highlights that our taxes are too high. As we see in Greenburgh, The Paul may not raise taxes specifically on business as a tax, but with all the permits, inspections, fees, etc., that must be met just to hold, say, a sidewalk sale, its understandable why businesses are leaving. It also explains why we have a “gray economy”. That’s where people operate a business with little or no overhead, such as out of the basement or garage, working in a cash only environment. They pay little, if any taxes; don’t pay into Social Security, FICA and/or the other normal (read: crippling) taxes at every level. Can you blame them?

What can we do to make business survive, even flourish in Greenburgh? Avoid the big box stores whenever possible when there is a smaller, locally owned business that can provide you with the goods and services you need. Usually, the small businesses will have lower prices to be as competitive as possible. Shopping locally will work. These businesses contribute to the local parades, put posters and flyers up in their businesses for your schools’ bake sales and donate to different school, charitable and social organizations that we all work with. Unfortunately, you may have to pay to park. This is a no-brainer. Its too bad it’s not that simple for The Paul.

When local small businesses succeed, our communities succeed. Our storefronts represent “Main Street USA”. They show outsiders why they need to come to our local events, shop in our communities and perhaps even move into them. The Paul, however, is nickel and diming them to death with more and more fees. When we have businesses that are thriving, they will be joined by other businesses that want to ride that wave. It helps increase our tax revenue, which makes taxes less of a burden for everyone. More businesses translates to residents paying less taxes. And then we can waive the fees that are hindering our growth. Perhaps we can even offer free parking.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It’s About Reelection

In our previous post ABG mentioned how the Republican Party, has abandoned the Republican electorate in Greenburgh. Many republicans of old have recounted how Greenburgh had been a very republican-oriented stronghold back in the day. My, how things change. Now, with The Paul, his Stepford Board, void of any original ideas, meekly follow along for fear of incurring his wrath and ultimately being dismissed from his Board and their “elected” position. Things in Greenburgh must change, but not until the “gimme more” electorate realizes how much better off they’d be without him and his payoff policies.

The County race seemingly had no change with the Democratic vs Republican ratio in the County Legislature immediately after the polls closed. Now, we see that challenger Republican Michael Smith may have moved ahead of incumbent Democrat John Nonna in District 3 and incumbent Republican Sheila Marcotte may have pulled ahead of challenger Democrat John Fitzpatrick in District 10. If these numbers remain intact, what does it mean for the electorate? Not much, really. While the democratic legislature loses their supermajority status, they still have the power and ability to thwart County Executive Astorino.

During the campaign cycle, Astorino and crew took a page out of the Westchester County Association and formed the Candidates For A Healthy Westchester initiative, stating “...where an affordable Westchester is a healthy Westchester”. But, only the republican candidates signed on! ABG believes it’s nothing more than a “gimmicky” catch-phrase akin to the old “Contract With America”. From a marketing perspective it could be a good idea but a) it has no teeth; b) only the republican candidates signed onto it; c) its more proof of the Astorino administration inability to do much as he and the party continues faltering; d) people are starting to tire of his poor-little-victim positioning. Because the Healthy Westchester initiative only had the Republican candidates sign on to it, it fosters more of the partisan “us vs them” mentality - only from the top down. The electorate hears it everyday with the Republican primary debates and frankly, are exhausted from it. And still, no one does anything about it. Astorino needs to be a leader. He must stop following the Republican Party’s stale and antiquated advice and offer real, creative solutions. ABG believes he has none. Prove us wrong. Please.

Greenburgh witnesses The Paul touting answers to questions and issues that are not his own, garnering the media exposure incumbents always seek. Astorino is doing the same thing. The talk of renovating or replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge is a simple example of this. Both are posturing about the fast-tracking plans but cannot do anything about them. Feiner favors the use of imminent domain in Tarrytown, Greenburgh, Elmsford and White Plains to get a new bridge. Build it with a bus and/or rail and/or dog park, with windmills, solar panels and probably a ferris wheel while keeping the old bridge as a park (never needing maintenance). 

While incorporating wind turbines may be interesting, he’s strictly seeking more publicity for himself. Astorino is complaining that building a new bridge is not enough, that Westchester needs a total transportation solution. Maybe we do. Why doesn’t he propose one? ABG believes the bridge is merely an Obama campaign purchase, void of substance in time for the national elections. Make a note: after the elections, the Tappan Zee might be on track, but there will be nothing fast, except rust, happening anywhere with it.

It’s easier to talk about something than to stick your neck out and offer a solution. It’s evident this is not about a bridge or our communities or affordability or a Healthy Westchester. It’s about reelection.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Greenburgh - Abandoned!

Finally, the elections are over. Very little has changed. Routes 119, 9 and 9A are still littered with campaign signs and Greenburgh is still wanting for real leadership. Yet, Greenburgh Republicans have been abandoned by the Westchester Republican Party and it’s Chairman, Douglas Colety. Directly, and even indirectly, he helped seal the Town’s fate with substandard leaders with his wholesale writing off of the Town. His and the Westchester Republican Party's rationale is that the Democrats have a stranglehold on the Town and it is not worth expending any money on any races there. We know it’s ridiculous but doubt the Greenburgh Republican leader will want to rock that boat.

If this wholesale disregard for election areas were carried over toward any other locale, Colety and the Westchester Republicans would not have sponsored Dr. Iris Pagan for County Legislator or the other White Plains Republican races for Common Council or Susan Konig of Peekskill for that matter. Each time the Westchester Republicans (ultimately Colety) pick a race they want to win, they dump most of their resources into it without regard to other candidates. By focusing on one or two races and ignoring the others, they limit their chances of success. But what do we know? Colety obviously knows what he’s doing.

In the last Westchester County legislative race, the Republicans financially backed several candidates while casting the rest aside. As a matter of course, Robert ‘Bob’ Hyland, somewhat a local celebrity, was on the receiving end of the Republican machine's help twice - first as a County Legislative candidate against incumbent Bill Ryan and then a year later as the Mayoral candidate for White Plains. Hyland put all his (lack of) political knowledge and faith in the Westchester Republican Party and the White Plains Republican Party for his campaigns. He claims he followed their instructions and management to the letter. He later recounted how he had to wait until almost the last month of the campaign cycle for his County Legislative campaign literature he was promised from the machine. As he went from event to event, he had nothing to hand out or leave behind. Bob Hyland is a class act and we admire what he tried to do. In the end, he didn’t lose by much, but like the saying says, close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.

A few seats here and there were picked up by the Republicans throughout the County at different levels of government. And, depending on the recount for the race in Westchester County’s District #3 between John Nonna and Michael Smith, the balance in the legislature of Republicans to Democrats may stay the same. We’re told County Executive Astorino was overheard in the Westchester Republican Party Headquarters complaining to Colety and other leaders that he can’t get anything accomplished in the legislature because there aren’t enough Republicans in it. We reached out to four former candidates, who lost, that ran when Astorino ran and won, three of whom talked to us and one who had no comment. The three who did speak to us confirmed Astorino’s reluctance to work with them and probably the other candidates when he ran for office. They claim Astorino didn’t want to include them in his issues as that was his race and their race was unrelated to his. It just didn’t make sense to him. That’s too bad because in the end, these other candidates were able to foresee exactly what is playing out now and had he helped them, he might have had some allies in the legislature. Live and learn, Rob, live and learn.

What kind of future support can we expect from the Westchester Republican Party in Greenburgh? Probably very little, but we’d at least like to see a punch or two thrown at Colety and try to get us some help. Their last nominee was Nicholas DeCicco, from Hartsdale, who was found guilty of ethics violations when he was a member of the Greenburgh Zoning Board and a candidate for County Legislator. We wrote extensively about that and don’t need to rehash old news. However, we will mention DeCicco’s was another selective campaign financed and run by the Westchester Republican Party, alas to no avail as DeCicco lost to MaryJane Shimsky, a Democrat from Hastings. As an aside, DeCicco left the Zoning Board and was recently appointed to the Planning Board.

We’ve seen some good Republican candidates rise to the occasion at each election, however this shouldn’t be a Republican vs Democratic issue. Rather, it’s a lack of good governance issue. Not having Boards anywhere with contrary opinions, different values and unique perspectives doesn’t allow us, the supposed “representees”, the best of anything. There lacks a well-rounded, comprehensive outlook as to what will improve and ultimately, sustain our Town. If all we have are the same opinions, we’ll wind up with the Stepford Town. Oops, wait a minute, we already have that with our Stepford Town Board. Fall in step and check your personality at the door. We have some agendas to get through.