Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

   Please join ABetterGreenburgh as we share our thoughts and prayers for our past, present and future service members and their families. We salute the many who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy our freedoms, liberties and way of life. God bless our troops and God bless America!
One Way You Can Help Our Veterans:
   The Special Operations Warrior Foundation has been supporting the families of fallen and wounded Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel for over 31 years. The foundation provides two primary programs: full college scholarships and educational counseling to the children of fallen special operations personnel. Scholarships include tuition, books, fees, room & board, laptop and printer. The SOWF also provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel so their family ones could be bedside during their loved one’s recovery.
Please consider making a donation to this very worthy charity through their website:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pulling Back The Curtain

The Paul is sitting in his office after writing yet another release on the Town’s AAA bond rating, hitting the email send button and wondering outloud, “Why can’t I get anyone to to focus on this crap? It’s one of my best deflections ever! Every time I bring it up someone else says ‘so what?’ ” The Paul is experiencing what the Wizard of Oz went through as the curtain was pulled back, exposing the little man pulling the levels with fire and smoke. What to do?

The Paul sits again in his office wondering if there is a way to jump-start the great Tappan Zee debate and how to be out in front of it yet again? He was the lone political voice the public would see and hear when the talk of converting the old TZ was all the rage. It was crazy – until others jumped in, stealing his thunder. Once other politicians stepped into the spotlight, he was pushed aside. “It’s not fair,” he would mutter privately. “This deflection was working.” More and more people were getting wise to his game. “C’mon, think! I need something else!” 

Then the lightbulb went off in his head! “I need two issues at once!” he thought, “I need to do bigger deflections. And bullying. That’s hot right now, everybody hates a bully. I need to get on that anti-bullying, personal attacks bandwagon.” So he began to plot a plan. First, “Who is usually the most vocal against me? Second, I can use Councilman Kevin “The Henchman” Morgan to help me. He’ll do anything I say. Third, I need another topic, AAA Bond rating isn’t working. I can’t let that die, it’s too good and there’s not much they can say against it, is there?” Fourth, I need that bridge in the picture again. Wait a minute... bridges. Someone said, somewhere, somehow that bridges could be built faster than usual with accelerated bridge construction techniques. I'll be known as the bridge expert! I can use that crap all day long. Yes! I need to say something, anything, about bridges. I need to get Belville on that. Fifth, Indian Point. Yup, I need to get louder against Entergy - the papers will eat it up. So will my hundred-year old hippy tree-huggers. I gotta stop these community meetings. Man, if only Edgemont would secede! This is good, it’s all starting to come together! If only I didn’t have to go to those stupid supermarkets!”

The Paul picked up the Green-phone hotline to his Town Board. “Kevin, it’s me. Here’s what I’m going to need you to do. Go after Samis like you did with the cops and Sonya.” There’s a pause while Kevin explains the obvious to him. “I know he rides a bicycle. Yeah, I ride a bike too, what’s your point. No tickets, huh? Gotchya, okay, then forget the cops for him. I’m going to go after Bernstein, the ECC and Fulton Park. You know what? We can discuss WestHelp and some issues up there. These’s no one about to come out to any WestHelp meetings and nobody will make us look incompetent. In fact, I need you to talk about safety and the lack of sidewalks on Knollwood Road up by Westchester Community college and WestHelp. Kevin, this is good stuff! Just make sure you don’t mention the lack of sidewalks at the Greenburgh Health Center construction site. Those people are really paying attention and my deflections there are getting tougher to pull off. We don’t need them realizing we want sidewalks at WestHelp but the other end doesn’t need them. There’s so many illegal things going on with the Health Center construction it could really burn us if it gets out. Huh? C’mon, how many times do I have to explain this to you – what are you, Diana? They have the wrong easements, the wrong base fill, no sidewalks, c’mon, it’s all illegal! I don’t have all day for this. I haven’t figured out what to do about the G8, but I beat down what’s-her-name and the others with the missing money at the Theodore Young Center. We don’t have to worry about them anymore!”

“Listen, I had another brainstorm. I’m going to start a new mantra: the complainers. I need you guys on board to do the usual. There are only a few hardcore that show up so I’ll knock them indirectly by saying they are a small group of complainers against anything we want. And I’ll then comment on their personal attacks on me and the Board. You know if I say it enough, the papers will pick it up. This is going to really turn things around for us. Then I’ll focus on the good things in Greenburgh.” There’s a pause. “Yeah Kevin, I know it’s brilliant! So, instead of twenty years of failures, I can actually turn this around with positives. What? Such as?” More silence. “Yes Kevin! I’m still here... Um, I’m thinking. There really isn’t much good stuff to talk about, is there?” Thinking out loud, holding his head with both hands, elbows on his desk while dangling the Green-phone against his ear, The Paul mumbled, “I’m thinking we need interns somewhere. Can’t do much more with the 80k parking tickets. Those useless interns didn’t do what they were supposed to; need to stay away from churches, what with the Fortress Bible decision - geez $8 million; I’m ignoring the flooding in Fulton Park and and the Saw Mill as much as I can; went to the ECC meeting and Loftus ripped me a new one. Hey Kev, good thing you didn’t go to Edgemont. Can’t go back there. Hmmm. Kev, I’ll get back to you. I need to talk to Francis.”

“Francis, it’s me. Listen, too many people are hammering us. The deflections aren’t working. We need something else. What can I do, I need something? Anything!” asked The Paul once Francis took his call. “Edgemont’s killing me on the stupid Dromore Road suit. Lewis really screwed this one up! Did you hear him the other night. He’s not going to discuss his strategy. Hah! He doesn’t even have a strategy! Indian Point isn’t working, the Tappan Zee bridge issue has died, I need something else. Even the AAA Bond rating isn’t working that much – and that should have been so good. We have a gazillion certiorari claims and we’re losing money like beer flows on St. Patrick’s Day. Get it?” Back Pocket tried to inject a few thoughts but The Paul was relentless, “Even the “free” charging station at the Library is getting all kinds of resistance. What’s up with these people. It’s free and only going to cost us $10k! Idiots.” Silence on the line while “Back Pocket” spoke. “I don’t need you to tell me it’s not free, but these residents need to get out of my way,” The Paul retorted. Another pause. “No, I can’t use the Sewer District lawsuit because we lost that one too! Lewis and McCarthy! Damn them for screwing this up.” Forget it, Francis, you’re not giving me anything. Click!

“C’mon Diana, pick it up!” said The Paul out loud but under his breath. “Argh! The machine.” Pause. “Um yeah, Diana, it’s me. I need some deflection ideas. Call me back as soon as you wake up. Hey, what do you think about renting Frank’s Nursery to the National Guard or Disneyworld. I can get Abinanti to write a bill to authorize New York state to rent property from us. If Disney agrees we’ll buy the golf range next to it. It’ll be great and Unincorporated will pay for it. This could work. Then I can let this stupid bubble idea burst on it’s own. That’s not bad. Hey Diana, think about what else I can use. How about water rates. On second thought, forget that. It’s bad enough I’m raising the rates again, but now people know that we supply water to Mt Pleasant without charging anything to some and others are less than residents. Hey Diana, Diana, guess what? Did you know Antun’s Caterers in Elmsford is closing? Can they blame me for that too? It’s not my fault! Where are you, Diana?” Are you okay? Wake up! Wake up!

“Bill, Bill. Are you okay? Wake up! Wake up!”
“Uh? Yeah I’m okay, why?”
“You must have dozed off and were dreaming at your desk. You were yelling ‘It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault.’ ” Bad dream?
“I don’t think so, it seemed so real. Seedy, lifelike, but very real.”
“C’mon, let’s go. You need to go home and get some rest.
“Yeah, I’ll try. Could it have been a dream? I don’t think so... so real, so real!”
“Maybe it wasn’t a dream after all and you just dozed off.”
We can only hope.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can’t Win For Losing

Billed under the heading of “Town Officials Respond to ECC Questions at Open Forum”, the Edgemont Community Council tried. ECC president Geoff Loftus grilled The Paul and the other members of the Town’s administration at an open forum at the Edgemont High School campus for two hours, seeking answers to specific issues that plague the Town and The Paul’s administration.

There were many issues touched upon during the evening. To Loftus’ detriment, he started the meeting about fifteen minutes late, claiming some of his officers were missing. The residents would have benefitted from the lost time. To his credit, he detailed what he believed a personal attack would consist of and that it would not be allowed. ABG believes this is directly a result of the slanderous comments The Paul and his Stepford Board have made toward ECC’s Past President Robert Bernstein as well as the administration’s consistent critic, Hal Samis. Loftus added he would interrupt any “speech making” during the course of an answer, which he did numerous times to The Paul during the event.

Loftus, working from pre-screened questions began the questioning with the Dromore Road decision. The Dromore Road zoning issue was shuffled about with Town Attorney Tim Lewis doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, giving The Paul a momentary respite. As in the past, Lewis insisted on not divulging the Town’s strategy to be used in appealing the same verdict that four Edgemont attorneys have challenged in court. ABG finds that tact a bit preposterous as we're sure they are going with, “Uh, because we didn’t know what we were doing when Paul told us to do it.” Loftus followed up with The Paul seeking an admission of whom the mysterious author of posts on the Town website supporting the Dromore developer was? The Paul continued to deny knowing who wrote the post in his name. ABG is relatively sure it was The Paul. After all, it was a developer, his favorite kind of people. But now caught with his cookie hand in the jar, he is feigning ignorance. That's no surprise.

Because of the Dromore case, correcting the zoning maps has now been foisted upon the Comprehensive Planning Committee’s shoulders, absolving The Paul, his administration the Zoning Board, Building Department and the Town of any responsibility (for errors). The unanswered question remains, why them? The projected date from The Paul for this latest delay is to be completed and presented to the Board for approval is June. Arriving late, Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden would state it was underway but would be some time before it is completed. Didn’t he study the script? Another contradiction to The Paul from within.

The Fortress Bible settlement was brought up and again Town Attorney Tim Lewis did the heavy lifting. This is the most activity we’ve ever witnessed from him! He stated the Town did not plan to settle the lawsuit it lost for violating this church’s constitutional rights. ABG has posted about this issue previously. Greenburgh stands to be fined upwards of $8 million. Many question the logic of not settling?

The ever-present tennis bubble on Town property was again met by The Paul with the statement, “This will generate millions of dollars for the Town.” However, it’s a number that The Paul pulled from his favorite dark place and still cannot substantiate. He actually managed to twist this piece of fiction into part of his web-weaving to say that with all the revaluations, infrastructure renovations, salaries, and expenses, the Town must find ways to increase income for the Town by making tough decisions. He didn’t comment on the assorted guilty verdicts and fines levied against them and how damaging they had been toward the finances of the Town. He also didn’t mention that his choice of discontinuing of the Westhelp contract, which brought in $1.2 million dollars a year and the subsequent corresponding payoff to the Mayfair Civic Association, is hammering the Town’s finances!

When Loftus brought up the NextG cell tower installations, The Paul insisted that the Town was trying to get the “best deal” it could and why they hired outside council. Raising his voice, Loftus exclaimed they don’t want a deal at all with NextG! Let the Antenna Review Board and the laws already in place address these issues. When Town Attorney Tim Lewis attempted to fall on the sword again for The Paul, claiming there wasn't enough substantial evidence to prove the Towns case, attorney and former ECC President Bob Bernstein politely, but forcefully ripped apart Lewis’ argument, finishing by saying it was the same evidence the Edgemont attorneys used to file their case against the Town!

Loftus asked about the 90% water rate increases and the audience was told Town officials are addressing the $4 million debt and that millions of dollars were still needed for capital improvements. That's called infrastructure. The Paul has blatantly ignored the Town’s infrastructure during his entire 20+ years he has been in office. Here is where a AAA Bond rating might be helpful if the Town were to work toward upgrading and improving the infrastructure. But since we never issue bonds, the AAA rating is worthless! Translation: another water tax increase!

Loftus asked if and when revaluation in Greenburgh would happen? The Paul said the Town was moving forward with revaluation, and would defer to Edye McCarthy, Town Assessor, for specifics - and then proceeded to discuss it for at least two more minutes while McCarthy had to bite her tongue. It's no secret ABG is not a fan of McCarthy and weren't surprised when she claimed Greenburgh couldn't do a revaluation because they are still inputting the information into “the system”. County Legislator Ken Jenkins had said the County has provided 75% of the information necessary to perform a revaluation and McCarthy shrugged and said it just wasn't true. It was much less. Even so, since the information is in digital format, the Town cannot utilize it. She added that they are extremely busy just dealing with tax certiorari adjustments and complaints. No surprise there. McCarthy also stated that she has college interns helping her office input into the system. ABG must have missed that press release. She didn't say anything about their summer vacation, the need to work and earn money or what progress they’ve made.

The Paul added he and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano had agreed to look into the possibility of the two municipalities sharing the cost of any reassessment. Why? The Paul stated the Town had not yet decided how much it would to spend on revaluation while Yonkers has pledged $6 million toward their reassessment. The Paul then said he was seeking participation from other municipalities to bring the costs down. Again, why? Not surprisingly, The Paul said one thing, McCarthy another and we're no closer to a reval than before. ABG’s translation: revaluations will not be happening anytime soon in Greenburgh and certiorari claims will continue to rise. Hence our taxes will continue to rise as well!

The newest elimination of services to taxpayers was the leaf pickup, which The Paul defended as a money-saver for the Town. Loftus twice asked The Paul for the corroborating information he had promised after an Edgemont resident had done a bit of math and proven the increased costs shifted onto the residents would be as high as $600 per year. The Paul danced around the subject as only he can do, exasperating the crowd and Loftus, who finally said in frustration you are obviously not going to answer the question or supply the numbers you promised, so lets move on!

A major concern to Edgemont residents specifically was the apparent increase of home burglaries happening in their neighborhoods. Chief DeCarlo began by stating that the crime statistics, specifically robberies in Edgemont have not increased from the previous years. He detailed some of the arrests that have been made as well as answering a question as to why a police officer was patrolling in an ambulance? Chief DeCarlo stated it was being driven by a civilian. ABG would like to know why an ambulance is on patrol at all, regardless of where it is happening and who is driving it?

When Loftus questioned the running of two recreation departments, The Paul defended the duplication of two commissioners, two staffs, two day camps, two programs for adults and separate but equal facilities. It has been said publicly at Town Board meetings that these are racially divided and motivated. The Paul then touted the money donated by the Lanza Foundation, which seems to continually bail out The Paul’s horrific administrative mismanagement. There are after school programs that the Town pays for that are run at no charge in other communities. And, if not paid for one way, they are usually funded by the Unincorporated portion of the Town. ABG agains questions why?

In the end, while the meeting was a good attempt to get answers, it was another futile night of listening to The Paul drone on and say very little. His attempts at humor fell flat as the crowd was not there for a stand-up routine. The impressive looking dais of dutiful commissioners sat silent, with looks of boredom or distain on their faces throughout the two hour session. We came hoping for real answers and got solid doses of The Paul’s deflection, misdirection and rambling. The ECC tried, but we left still seeking answers to the questions we have. Maybe we’ll get answers at some point. We can only hope.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Votes Send Message

ABG was not sure how the school votes would turn out yesterday, but hoped to at least see an increase in the number of voters. Sadly, we didn’t. The disappointing fact of school budget votes, school board members’ elections and school bond votes is that not enough people participate in the process. They’ll come out as a special interest group when a cut or a change directly affects them or their children. Otherwise, they leave the Board with a free hand to operate as they please. For example, every year the Board disingenuously threatens to reduce, eliminate or alter the private school busing for students attending private schools within the district. The parents flood the Board with phone calls and letters, and will even attend Board meetings to protest. The Board always relents and magically “finds” funds to leave things as is. It’s a shell game whose time has past.

ABG believes that yesterday’s vote emphasizes two issues.

First, the New York State tax cap that Governor Cuomo instituted, while flawed, provided a modicum of relief for taxpayers. Consequently, the beleaguered Greenburgh tax paying residents passed the proposed Greenburgh School budget of $58.6 million, with a total vote of 734 in favor to 452 against. We believe it passed because there was finally a limit as to how much our taxes could be increased. While ABG has long tired of the phony “for the children” pleas that has been the yearly mantra of the teachers, administrators and Board, the reality is most of the increases to the budget are to pay salaries, salary increases, pensions, medical benefits, as well as increased fuel costs, etc., all of which are not impacting “the children’s” learning! The tax cap allows taxpayers the knowledge that the Board will not be on any huge spending sprees, limiting the increase to 2.5%.

Second, the community has once again voiced their discontent with the Board by shaking it up a bit. This time, incumbent Terry Williams remained, receiving the highest number of votes at 607. Eric Bitterman and Sonya Brown came in second and third with 464 and 457 votes respectively. While unfamiliar with Bitterman, we have high hopes for both he and Brown, a former Town Board member. The other incumbents, Cora Carey with three terms and Charles Bronz with multiple terms during two “stretches” were voted out. ABG appreciates the move to oust the incumbents as residents repeatedly received hefty tax increases and bloated spending, even after forcing austerity budgets. In fact, under Bronz’s leadership last year, the budget was defeated and he arrogantly stated the Board would not change the budget when it was resubmitted for another vote! It was subsequently defeated a second time.

In fact, many residents have found fault with Central 7’s priorities, including a decision to spend $45,000 to hire an advanced mathematics tutor by Superintendent Ronald Ross. ABG finds hiring a tutor extremely troubling as it highlights the failure of the existing math department. But therein is part of the problem that is not being addressed. If students cannot learn math, they should not be advancing until they do. If it happens year after year, it’s either systemic, teacher-related or both. We admit that the exception might sometimes be the child, but to make a decision to hire a tutor is distressing and requires critical parent, teacher and Board involvement. Tutors aren’t the answer, better teachers are! After all, isn’t it about “the children”? Of course it is!

ABG applauds the voters that did respond even though they are just the tip of the iceberg.  With only 1186 voters turning out to vote, out of Greenburgh’s 90k+ residents, it’s a distressing commentary for Greenburgh that so many choose to not vote and blindly accept whatever the School Board decides. Perhaps this new crop of Board members will change the course our previous Boards have been following. We can only hope.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From All of Us at ABG

Happy Mother’s Day!
to all of our Moms out there.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another Accident on Old Kensico Speedway!

Police cars, fire trucks and ambulances racing down a street always grab everyone’s attention. Old Kensico Road, also know as Old Kensico Speedway, sees numerous emergency vehicles responding down Old Kensico Road often, responding to police, medical and fire emergencies. This Saturday morning would be no different as responses from our own Greenburgh police and fire departments, Elmsford Fire Department’s ambulance and the Westchester County’s all-volunteer Hazardous Materials Response Team would deal with this mornings serious accident, where, amazingly, the outcome was better than it might have turned out.

Residents throughout the length of Old Kensico Road proper and the adjunct roads that intersect with it, have consistently complained to the Town Board, The Paul, the media and each other about the speeding that routinely takes place on the road. At all times of the day and night one can hear the ninja style motorcycles screaming up and down the street, even racing each other down the road as well.

The “pocket rockets”, typically tricked out Honda Civics, will “gun-it” as they come through the non-existent traffic circle at the south end of Old Kensico where County Center roads intersects it and hammer-down the straight-away at speeds up to 60+ mph until the curve before the I-287 overpass, with no guarantee they’ll slow down there. There's nothing like sleeping with your bedroom windows open on a crisp evening only to be awaken by these vehicles. There was an accident several SuperBowls ago where a girl flipped her mothers’ SUV at Old Kensico and Randolph Roads, taking out two front yard fences and totaling several cars. She was speeding as well as driving while intoxicated! Two people went to the hospital.

What about our resident’s safety and other motorists? Numerous complaints to The Paul, his Stepford Board and the Police Departments have yielded no results or relief for the residents of Old Kensico Road and the streets that intersect with it from the speeding. Residents on Hillside Avenue tell us of similar experiences there. The police representatives even had the audacity to tell residents that when they do pull over speeders, they are usually residents and hesitate to ticket them. Why? If they are speeding, give them a ticket(s). This unsafe condition must be stopped!

Back to this morning’s event. 

The police and fire departments responded to a motor vehicle accident on Old Kensico Road and Stone Avenue, which is toward the northern end of Old Kensico Road. Apparently, a black Nissan headed north on Old Kensico Road ignored the full stop sign. At the same time, a FedEx delivery truck making Mothers Day floral delivers was traveling west, up Stone Avenue after delivering flowers to a house near the corner. There is no full stop on Stone Avenue at Old Kensico Road. The driver of the Nissan who blew through the stop sign was traveling so fast that he hit the truck just behind the drivers door, rupturing the fuel tank, spinning the truck around to a stop, across Stone Avenue and parallel to Old Kensico Road.

Immediately after the accident, the driver of the black Nissan jumped from the car and ran up Stone Avenue, abandoning the car. His car was also turned, facing upwards on Stone Avenue westbound and because he left it running and in gear, it free-rolled down Stone Avenue backwards on to a neighbors lawn, ruining several bushes along the way. Bushes are minor. What about kids playing or homeowners doing yardwork?

Neighbors and then police checked the car and turned it off. During the free roll down Stone Avenue, the car amazingly missed the children playing nearby on Appletree Close, a cul-de-sac the car went past before coming to a stop. 

This picture above highlights some of the distance this car travelled before coming to rest on the lawn at Stone Avenue and Appletree Close. So much could have happened between where the accident took place and where the vehicles wound up. Thankfully, the Fed-Ex driver only sustained a cut on his wrist and was shaken up, but went to the hospital to get checked out. The driver of the black Nissan had not yet been found. Anybody who forgot to purchase a Mothers Day gift for their mom and thought to say their Mother’s Day gift was on this truck as a good excuse, is in trouble. This Fed-Ex truck was off-loaded to another Fed-Ex truck and resumed deliveries within a half hour of the accident happening!

With the Westchester County Hazardous Materials truck in the background, you’ll notice in this final picture the damage to the area where the Fed-Ex truck wound up. The driver said the impact was so hard it raised his truck off the ground. He thought the truck was going to flip when he got hit. Fortunately, it didn’t. Notice the black plastic flower trays near the curb? Beyond view of this photo are more plantings to the left. Again, thankfully, no one was out on this otherwise gorgeous day planting more flowers or the scene may have been more devastating than it already was.

The residents are tired of getting lip service from The Paul and his Stepford Board when they ask for solutions. The residents of Old Kensico Road want and need action taken to slow the traffic, stop speeders and to make Old Kensico Road safer. A sidewalk would also be a tremendous help toward making it a safer street. Let’s at least get the speeding taken care of and then we can worry about other improvements. We can only hope.

Windmills On The Tappan Zee!

Continually billed as “the problem solver”, The Paul learned early on that appearing dim-witted and slightly “off” would garner affection and ultimately support. As a non-practicing attorney, he mastered his game while the saps in the media gobbled it up. Quickly learning he was on the outside looking in when the good old boys network was still in play, he began to say he believed in open government. It became his mantra if there was a reporter within earshot. Although now, as an older man, the supposed charm that worked for so many years on the old ladies is wearing thin and open government is now what others practice, least of all him. And, more educated residents are realizing The Paul is operating illegally more and more and confronting him on it.

Image courtesy of GameOn 365

Greenburgh is rife with bad decisions from The Paul. Witness the newest disappointment from The Paul with the former Frank’s nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road. We’ve posted about this previously but feel it warrants another visit. Why? Because he has now formally received help from his buddy, now Assemblyman, Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti and Andrea “Platitudes” Stewart-Cousins both of whom should be representing the majority of constituents, not just the supervisor. Quick, let’s deflect this and talk about making a bridge into a park and let the Unincorporated residents pay for it. Forget about the contaminated soil, the overheard high tension power wires and a host of other issues. The Town stands to make thousands with a poorly executed plan and contract with a private corporation. Can anyone say, “Conflict of interests?”

The latest campaign letter from the Office of The Supervisor provides the proposed state law amendment to the Finneran Law that only The Paul and his Stepford Board desire. All of the Town’s Village Mayors have publicly and unanimously stated they are against this legal change. Unfortunately, their opinion doesn’t matter since this is what The Paul wants! The Board wants it also. Their rationale is even more pathetic: The Paul told them it’s what they want! So voila - they’re on board! Think re-election with The Paul footing the bill. We know that once The Paul locks onto an idea, no matter how much it defies logic, cost effectiveness or just plain common sense, he goes forward with it regardless of what others say or do. It’s like his proposal to install windmills on the current Tappan Zee bridge; even though bridge experts detailed why it couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t be done.

It’s long-past time to put a stop to this bad tennis bubble idea on Dobbs Ferry Road, illegal actions of same, spot zoning as deemed advisable by The Paul and bad legal amendments to laws designed to do what The Paul won’t do: protect it’s residents! Write, email or call Abinanti and Stewart-Cousins and others and tell them to stop this before we take it all to court -AGAIN! This must be stopped! We can only hope.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Absentee Representation

There was a political race several elections ago for the County Legislative District 8, primarily Greenburgh territory, between Democrat Alfreda Williams and Republican Thomas Bock. ABG staffer Christina, attended their two “forums”, and commented in an office water cooler discussion that she is still waiting to hear of solutions from the winner, Ms. Williams. When pushed a bit (our discussions are known to become spirited), she said the people in Williams’ district are getting “a double, even triple-whammy*” with a lack of representation. Everyone that is supposed to be representing Greenburgh’s constituents are absent, missing in action or conspicuously silent.

We no longer hold debates between candidates during most of today’s campaigns and elections. Now, we have forums, which appears to be the warm and fuzzy version where no one goes home without a trophy or getting hurt. At the two forums mentioned above, it was then-candidate Bock whom offered real solutions to issues now plaguing our communities. A plan he put forth was a Housing Initiative solution for Section 8 and low income DSS housing. His plan utilized vacant and existing neighborhood housing in lieu of constructing massive apartment buildings that become nothing more than DSS dumping grounds for their clients. Another component of that plan allowed the residents in those homes to have help with a down payment (program) leading them toward purchasing the home they resided in, offering  true home ownership and neighborhood integration. It was radical plan that never caught on; probably because he lost the election and it would do away with much of the homeless housing models that campaign contributor/developers rely heavily upon. Coming from the private sector, Bock offered proven private sector solutions for purchasing consolidations, savings, a streamlined bidding process, and apples-to-apples departmental consolidations. While these were repeatedly rebuked by Williams, she offered nothing but platitudes.

These past several years has produced more mayhem and damage ever previously witnessed throughout Greenburgh. We’ve observed more and more flooding, increased traffic, diminished green space, overdevelopment and infrastructure failures. At every juncture The Paul has leapt at media exposure feigning ownership and declaring the Town will do everything in its power to have other politicians address these failures! And what has it gotten us? Virtually nothing of substance has been offered from The Paul or Williams. The one shining star throughout the flooding issue has been Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti’s replacement County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky. Since Greenburgh has been abandoned by it’s other representatives, Shimsky has stepped up and is the most involved!

ABG is impressed that Shimsky is treating her part-time legislative position more like a full-time job. The retired Williams on the other hand, will rarely make appearances, shows up for her obligatory committee meetings to ensure stipend collection and attends the once monthly evening county legislative meetings. Shimsky took walking tours of the Saw Mill River after learning of the horrific damage to that areas business and residential constituents. Williams stayed home. Then Shimsky took a tour of the Bronx River flooded areas, which is not part of her representative district, but Williams’. Williams stayed home. It was then Shimsky determined that the situation is worse at the Bronx River than the Saw Mill area! She pointed out the County owns most of the space and the related problems in question. Having been a part of The Paul’s earlier administration and voted out, Williams earned a failing reputation as the Greenburgh Town Clerk. Former colleagues explain she often stayed home and many days ambled into work mid-afternoon. We haven’t seen much change since her departure.

If the Unincorporated residents felt abandoned by The Paul and Williams before, imagine their additional dismay when they seek assistance from the Town Board representatives, aka the Stepford Board. They routinely express a “Feiner-like” interest in conversations with residents and then do as instructed by The Paul. They know where their bread is buttered. If they stray, and stop drinking the Feiner Kool-Aid, as did former Councilwoman Sonya Brown, they will soon find themselves on the outside looking in. It was her tirade against The Paul at a March, Town Board meeting that sealed her fate. She stated on the record that The Paul instructed the candidates not to waste their time campaigning in the Fairview section of the Town because those voters are unintelligent! Sayonara Sonya!

It was also alleged at a Town Board meeting that Councilman Kevin “The Henchman” Morgan didn’t raise or spend any money on campaigning or even have a campaign finance account, with The Paul funding all campaign expenses for all the Stepford candidates. Diana “Sleepy” Juettner, rarely contributes anything at any meeting other than to kiss The Paul’s ring. Francis “Back Pocket” Sheehan does the same while being more long-winded and preachy about it. Our newest addition, Ken Jones has immediately shrunk to “yes man” status and at this earliest of junctures, seems to be on the same “go along to get along” path as the other Stepfords.

In the end, Greenburgh hungers for real, honest representation. The career politicians holding office have been there too long, are ineffective and are allowing The Paul to treat Unincorporated Greenburgh as his private little playground. It’s time for the democratic faithful to stop routinely voting the party line and expand their horizons. They need to look for creativity, integrity and a business acumen that we haven’t had for over twenty years. We can only hope.

* The whammy participants: The Paul, Williams, Abinanti

Thursday, May 3, 2012

This Is Greenburgh - Anything Goes!

The Stepford Board has done it again. This time they decided to hire an attorney to negotiate a contract with NextG, the wireless company seeking to install antennas in various locations throughout the Town. NextG, recently acquired by Crown Castle International Corporation, has a history of suing municipalities whenever they have been refused access to the locations they wish to utilize for their antennas.

The Town’s legal department is rarely utilized for legal purposes. Their greatest challenge is to have Town Attorney Tim Lewis keep The Paul from saying or doing something that will get the Town in hot water. Obviously, he’s not doing this very well when we examine the amount of guilty verdicts from lawsuits the Town has lost during The Paul’s administration.

The Town is moving forward to hire Andrew Rau, a Pennsylvania attorney whose specialty is zoning and land-use law. He will lead Greenburgh's negotiations with Crown Castle International Corp., the company seeking to place wireless antennas on top of 20 utility poles in Greenburgh. We’ve posted before some of the concerns with this plan ( It’s difficult to comprehend with all the attorney’s residing and/or working in the Town, even the tri-state area, why choose an attorney from Pennsylvania to represent us? Why maintain and fund a legal department that is apparently unable to represent us at every juncture, especially when we must go to court? In fact, given The Paul’s rampant illegal actions, why not disband the legal department and absolve the Town of any legal responsibilities from The Paul’s comments and actions?

Attorney Rau will be paid $350 per hour. His total compensation will be capped at $25,000. But as pseudo-attorney Francis “The Pocket” Sheehan has stated, the Board can authorize him more money if necessary. No surprise there. If he’s a specialist for these types of cases, he should be cloning the information from similar cases and be able to phone this in. ABG doesn’t believe the Town should pay any more than the $25k. If they do, what will the new cap be? Remember, this is Greenburgh - anything goes!

The Paul has stated, “We are concerned about aesthetics and believe that local governments should have the right to regulate the locations of these cell sites,” Really? Most of the residents speaking against these installations spoke of their safety concerns and not aesthetics. The Paul apparently heard nothing they said and continues to show just how out of touch he is with the communities.

It has repeatedly been stated that the Town provides locations throughout the Town for antenna installations. NextG claimed they did not have access to these locations. Undaunted, NextG's attorney, Mark Weingarten, claimed the company was entitled to proceed after this lengthy application process and threatened legal action if the application was delayed further. No surprise here - its their business model.

The town's Antenna Review Board signed off on NextG’s plan after the company said it did not have access to these right-of-way properties in Greenburgh’s non-residential areas. The review board later refuted this. While NextG doesn’t have access to these locations, Crown Castle does. The premise for Crown Castle’s case is that as the parent company maintaining access, that access should automatically apply for their newest acquisition, NextG. Not being attorney’s, ABG believes the original applicant, at the time of the original application, is what should stand, regardless of the application.

Many have suggested the Town’s Antenna Review Board should have the last word. With The Paul and the Stepford Board hiring an attorney to negotiate for them, they’ve already admitted defeat! ABG believes several things need to happen. First, the Antenna Review Board needs to grow a set, stand by their decision or disband. Second, the Town Legal Department needs to clean house and hire attorney’s that will actually represent the Town. Third, NextG/Crown Castle needs to follow the Town’s procedures. Fourth, we shouldn’t be hiring attorneys to represent us from Pennsylvania. The Paul and his Stepford Board have to go. We can only hope.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rejected - County Stops The Madness!

The County’s legislative committee for Community Services had a meeting in White Plains that produced some unexpected behavior as well as a public dress-down for The Paul. It must not have been a pleasant event for him, even touchy at times, as his insistant disregard for the county contract he signed on behalf of the Town, the law in general and the need for affordable housing in the county, placed his antics and desires in an extremely poor light. ABG is not really surprised.

The Paul has been promoting to level the former WestHelp housing facility on the Westchester Community College campus in Valhalla, from an existing low-income housing facility to full-time, live-in school for disabled children. We are not against helping the disabled or the school where they would reside. More importantly, the federal housing settlement has certainly left a bad taste in almost everyone’s mouth, although the County has made laudable progress toward fulfilling the mandate to create affordable housing per the settlement throughout the County. Greenburgh, specifically the Fairview and north Elmsford Unincorporated areas, has an abundant amount of low-income housing, exempting Greenburgh from participating in creating more. So, while it’s not necessary to create any more, The Paul virtually gave WestHab the “keys to the farm” in Fulton Park anyway. Then in Valhalla, after losing another $1.2 lawsuit, The Paul is finding votes from that area more and more difficult to acquire.

The Westchester Board of Legislators’ Community Services Committee is comprised of several legislators, including Greenburgh’s Alfreda Williams and MaryJane Shimsky. They told The Paul that the board would not amend a lease for the 108-unit former WestHELP property and to produce a plan that complies with the lease agreement between the County and the Town. The lease The Paul signed with them mandates usage for low and moderate income housing and does not allow for changes.

The Paul’s contention was that a school would generate more income for the Town if it were repurposed from housing to a school. Nice try. The contract does not allow a change of venue. ABG believes it would invariably cast an unfavorable light on the County to take an existing housing facility that could fulfill half of Greenburgh’s housing requests in one fell swoop and convert it to a school. Why wouldn’t The Paul want low income housing? Doesn’t he constantly bemoan the need for it?

Truth be told, Feiner had the audacity to tell the legislators that the Ferncliff proposal would generate drastically more revenue for the town than adding more units to the town’s plentiful affordable housing stock. Whoa! Did he say that out loud? Then why did he allow Westhab to defecate on Fulton Park? When The Paul said the County should seek to sell the property and split the proceeds in half with Greenburgh, his suggestion was met with laughter!
When the meeting ended, Feiner yelled at Legislator Shimsky, ranting for the abolition of county government, saying the county won’t help local governments. Shimsky responded, “You were planning this behind our back, something in clear violation of your lease. To now try to put a gun to the head of the county legislature is... unfair.” Indeed. But the rule of law doesn’t apply to The Paul in Greenburgh – that’s where he made his big mistake. He left the sanctity of his little fiefdom.
We’re not sure why, but the committee agreed to meet with The Paul again on May 15. While this is a victory for housing proponents, it’s a moral victory to those Greenburgh residents who’ve said all along this plan should be abandoned and the County and the Town should continue to use the facility for housing. It reminds us as to why it’s a good reason to not let your crazy uncle out of the closet. You never know what he might do. ABG believes the County did the right thing. If only our Town Board would do the right thing and keep The Paul more in check, Greenburgh might be better off. We can only hope.

$2,000 Mailings or AAA Rating?

The Paul enjoys using the media to his advantage. You’ll see the weekly opinion papers, along with the Journal News “reporting” something The Paul did or didn’t do, thinks is necessary or not, all while solving someone else’s problems. Rarely does he do something that truly merits the paper his press release is written on. And, now with email, the sky is literally the limit.

His latest tact is to do individual mailings to constituents via snail mail, his obvious one-man effort to save the United States Postal Service. The postage is at a reduced bulk rate of .22¢ each. The amount of residents in the Town is roughly 90k. Doing some simple math and you’ll see it’s approximately $2,000 per mailing! We imagine the printing, done in an unmarked room in Town Hall that most won’t have access to, is completed and given to unsuspecting interns or artwork-hanging patronage job holders at $60k per year, to stuff the envelopes on the taxpayer “dime”. If a taxpaying resident requested anything printed from Town Hall, they would be charged .25¢ per page! As an aside, ABG believes the first copy of anything requested by a resident from the Town should be a no charge! The taxes we pay should go toward more than salaries, pet programs and special interests. While The Paul may not like it, we pay for that copier, it’s related supplies, paper and the people operating it. It’s not there for his personal no cost campaigning.

Dated April 20, 2012, The Paul sent out his latest campaign letter, under the guise of a Town update, announcing that Standard and Poor has assigned the Town the highest bond rating – AAA. Ironic that the rating comes from Standard and Poor, which is how most Unincorporated residents in the Town feel. Lower standard of living and poorer. Regardless, the rating is something that gets attention. What doesn’t get attention is that the Town’s rating is noted as “... Greenburgh’s management practices are considered good under the S&P Financial Management Assessment”. So, what does this mean?

The AAA rating as defined by S&P is “an obligation rated ‘AAA’ has the highest rating assigned by Standard and Poor’s. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is extremely strong.” It doesn’t say the obligor is a good manager or member of good management or that the yearly double-digit tax increases pummeling it’s residents is good management. It doesn’t discuss the exodus of over-taxed businesses that cannot afford the relentless tax increases for programs they can’t take advantage of. Nor that it’s residents are selling their lifelong homes because the taxes that had been so affordable thirty and even twenty years ago, attracting them to the Town, are causing residential and business bankruptcies at alarming rates.

What it does mean is the Town can borrow money at a lower interest rate and quoting The Paul, “...saving you money.” But what if you don’t borrow money? What then? This is the crux of the issue. With all the guilty verdicts from lawsuits against The Paul and his Boards, we will soon be needing a lot more money to pay off his illegal actions. But to date, the Town’s borrowing has been minimal and easily repaid. What hasn’t happened is major borrowing to address issues that are eroding our Town from within, such as infrastructure upgrades, flooding, traffic congestion, over development, back room deals and the like.According to The Paul, we’ll be saving scads of money by taking away leaf pickups and requiring residents to bag their leaves. If you don’t borrow money, you can’t hurt your credit rating. That’s what’s going on here.

Having an S&P, AAA rating is only good up to a point. Here, with the routinely mandated double-digit tax increases, it’s easy to pay your bills. Hence, the rating. Dipping into the reserve funds to limit those same tax increases can only last for so long. Balancing the budget with layoffs and subsequent suicides doesn't corroborate good management. Having a Town Board rubber-stamp inane, ludicrous and unsustainable ideas doesn’t indicate good management. Espousing the saving of a bridge, closing a nuclear power plant, eliminating a branch of government without a plan to support it’s responsibilities isn’t indicating good management. Likewise, repeatedly creating “commissions and committees comprised of cronies, and being found guilty in various level of courts doesn’t indicate good management, leadership or stewardship. What it indicates is the need for a change.

The smokescreen The Paul is trying to obscure his poor actions with are not working as well for him anymore. More and more people are starting to pay attention to everything he is doing. Frankly, we’re glad to finally see it. As more and more people get involved, perhaps we can see Greenburgh turn around. ABG believes in Greenburgh! Let’s bag The Paul and change things for the better. We can only hope.