Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It’s Been Said Before

The G8 has said it before. Other residents have gotten up at Town Board meetings and said it before. Town employees, with and without contracts have said it before. The lamestream media has quietly said it albeit in a muted voice. And of course, ABG has said it before. The King of Greenburgh, aka The Paul, lies and treats those not in his close circle of giving, with distain, deceit, and duplicity. Of course, very simply, he lies to those he doesn’t like or care about: his constituents.

We continually refer to The Paul and his Stepford’s spot zoning debacles in most neighborhoods. There are numerous examples and more awaiting the sweep of his crippling hand. He has routinely spot zoned throughout the Town as lead agency for so many projects, developers recognize it as their “norm”. He made sure that those trains don’t even slow down as it approached the Planning, Zoning, Building and Codes Department stations.

When Westhab purchased the former transitional housing property in Fulton Park from “Z” that had been used by the County to house the homeless, The Paul openly lied to the neighborhood in private meetings, along with his Stepfords, saying they (meaning Westhab) would need to find another location for the proposed seven story apartment building. Did they? No! He rezoned the .7 acre property from M-22 (22 units per acre) to match Hartsdale’s worst zoning nightmare of M-174 (174 units per acre).  He maintained the value of the location because of the “walking distance” of area supermarkets, even though those supermarkets are now gone.

Next, The Paul and his Stepford’s leveled crippling demands of the Fulton Park Garden Apartments, when they applied to the Town to rezone their property from it’s current zoning to match the newly spot-zoned Westhab neighbor next door. They informed the Board that they were requesting the change so they could remove the existing buildings, rebuild in the same footprint, with no ground level apartments or utilities as they currently flood with most rain storms. The utilities would be on the roof, away from flood conditions and the apartments would be up higher. They were looking to increase their buildings by six stories to match the Westhab height. The Paul mandated they develop flood mitigation plans, offer flood control solutions throughout the neighborhood and so on. It was clear that The Paul sought to discourage this project by overburdening them with untenable demands. When Deli Delicious sought to pave almost the entire property for a flawed drive-thru window, no similar demands were made of him. Another lawsuit seems imminent. 

The Paul has tried to systematically fine many of our already beleaguered businesses with more “fees” if they put products for sale on the sidewalk in front of their establishment. One such victim was The Apple Farm on Rt 119. The Board wrestled with wording and dollar amounts continually entertaining more fees and fines for the Town to utilize for financial collections. The temporary situation for the Apple Farm is that they store their produce (and sometimes other) deliveries on their private sidewalk until their staff can bring it inside. We hope the Stepfords see the light and do what they can to help maintain this store without additional taxes through fines - just for doing business. 

Stop and Shop recently closed in Tarrytown at the intersection of Routes 9 an 119, to reincarnate into a CVS. We need more CVS stores like we need Alan Hochberg chairing another useless committee. Having been there as a supermarket for years as First National, Finast and then Stop and Shop, the corporate decision was made to close this branch and relocate to a new space on Rt 119 near several hotels close to Benedict Avenue. This is all part of The Paul’s, Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden and Westchester County’s grand plan to transform the entire Rt 119 corridor into an industrial, mega apartment building and thoroughfare like many of the “Central Avenue”-like corridors in New Jersey.

The Glenville area protested with complaints of increased traffic, flood mitigation and congestion as well as other concerns. These all fell on deaf ears. The Paul had decided along with his Planning Commissioner Thomas “Let Me Help You Build It (for my job security)” Madden, that Stop and Shop’s new megastore would be built, regardless of the objections. But the zoning wasn’t correct for this store to be built. No matter, The Paul waved his hand over the plans, the soft watercolor presentation and it was a done-deal. Interestingly, according to Councilman Kevin “Henchman” Morgan, who recently said when the Dobbs Ferry Road residents (no real count or names provided) protested the police department’s proposed move to 715 Dobbs Ferry Road (the former Frank’s Nursery), The Paul and the Stepford’s acquiesced and withdrew the plans. Given the GameOn 365 debacle currently underway, it now makes more sense than it did then. 

The old Union Carbide property in North Elmsford has continued to quietly be (over)developed in recent years. The Eastview property houses a now expanded corporate park to the west of Old Saw Mill River Road, with several huge new buildings and the requisite parking capability, increasing and adding to the impervious surfaces there. They have gotten approval from The Paul and his Stepford’s to build 400+ condominiums on the property as well. Water that would previously be absorbed into the ground will increase and head south toward the Fairview Park area, which itself has been increasingly developed.

This section of the Town no longer has the previous water absorption capability and forces its runoff south. Sam’s Club, at the sight of the old Drive-In Theatre, knew about the flooding and built their property up five to ten feet to be above the flooding problem. It worked for a while, but the over-development north of them has caused so much water flow to come south, it became the new marker for where flooding begins as water encompasses the businesses and residences south of it, culminating at Babbitt Court lake. The Paul and his Stepford’s authorized all this development with the blessing of  Commissioner Madden. They just won’t say no to any developer.

On the opposite side of the Town, in the Fulton Park lake region along the Bronx River, The Paul searches out the tiniest parcels of land and offers them up to not the highest bidder, but the most connected bidder. And while residents wrestle with the Planning Department employees, rules and high fees for even the simplest fixes, changes and additions to their homes, the developers are hand-held and walked over to the express lane for their projects. Of course, the Westhab seven-story project mentioned above is but one glaring example of this. Right next door the “former” Deli Delicious, which illegally installed signs stating he was closed for business and for lease has not been fined for illegal signage or not paying the sign permits and fees. This move was not only blessed by The Paul, but probably suggested to him by The Paul. The owner continues to work from the basement office.

While no change in taxes is an impossibility in this Town, The Paul has mastered the double-digit tax increases for property, sewer, water, building fees and so on for our residents, all while managing to drive out struggling businesses, seniors and our young couples looking to spend their twilight years and/or start their lives together in something other than the Greenburgh mecca of public housing. His tax and spend policies, along with guilty lawsuit verdicts, have driven out two key and strategically located supermarkets forcing many residents to shop for their staple food items at various dollar stores and occasional farmers markets. This just in: SanMar Laboratories in north Greenburgh, which benefitted with a $750k grant from the Empire State Development, the real Bank of New York, to stay in NY, and then an additional $250k, will be relocating to Pennsylvania. Well played.

The list of issues being pummeled by The Paul continues with other locations and neighborhoods. One project that appeared successfully “discouraged” was that of the Fortress Bible Church. Until Fortress Bible Church went to court for help. The Paul thought he had succeeded in helping out his buddy, Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti, to keep the church out of his neighborhood. When Abinanti realized The Paul would lose the case, he moved to Tarrytown! Then the Federal Courts found The Paul and the Board guilty of discrimination, perjury, willfully destroying evidence and more. The Appellate Division Court upheld the verdict. It will soon cost the Town’s Unincorporated residents millions of dollars because The Paul feels he’s exempt from laws only others must follow. We may finally be able to take advantage of the AAA Bond Rating that The Paul feels obliged to brag about at the most inopportune times. We can borrow the money to pay his fines and try to not be assaulted with his high tax increases while claiming fiscal restraint due to the NYS 2% Tax Cap. That is a sham in itself. We need a change at the top, in the middle and throughout the Town. We can only hope.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Glad To See Sandy Leave

Hurricane Sandy, downgraded to a tropical storm approximately mid-evening on Monday, eventually lost her steam after having her last hurrah between 6PM and about 10PM. Compared to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, what ABG staffers witnessed and our dedicated readers reported to us, the Town faired better than expected. Of course there was damage, but the rain and flooding that so many dreaded and prepared for, skirted our area with a minimal impact.

First responders stood by at their respective quarters at the ready to assist anyone impacted by the storm or put in harms way. County Executive Astorino asked that “thrill-seekers” stay home. Last year, during the end of Irene, seven men decided to go white-water rafting on the Croton River not only putting themselves in harm’s way and caused the unnecessary death of one of them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they put hundreds of first responders in a dangerous, life-threatening position when they needed to be rescued from the river. The rescuers did an admirable job and even received Congressional recognition for their efforts. We salute them. Yet, it was all unnecessary had these idiots made the smarter decision and stayed home. This time, all of the various communities’ leadership stated the severe risk to first responders and to evacuate or stay indoors or relocate to a friend or relatives home for the duration for the safety of everyone. Thankfully, most did.

Listening to our scanner in our offices high atop the Town near a well-known school, we were “entertained” with all the activity of various emergency services agencies. Each time we heard a fire or police unit be dispatched, we knew someone was in need of help and in some type of distress. Most emergency personnel are content to not have to respond to any calls. They love what they do, but would just as readily be happy to never respond. There seemed to be fewer aided calls with this storm and the majority of the calls that did get broadcast were for downed wires, transformer fires, trees down (mostly blocking roadways) and the like. There seemed to be more structure fire calls toward the tail end of the storm and those were up north toward the Yorktown, Bedford and Chappaqua areas.

Overall, Greenburgh faired pretty well. First responders did their usual best. We’re sure our Town employees, unfortunately working without a contract for four years, will also do their usual best. We are unaware of any deaths or serious injuries and are thankful we did not get hammered as in the past. Utility and cleanup crews will be busy for quite some time. That’s okay. Like the family guest who has outlived their welcome, we’re glad to see Sandy leave. We hope that all roadways will be reopened soon, power restored and people’s lives return to normal. We can only hope.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Will Money Buy Your Vote?

GameOn 365 has been doing a lot of advertising supporting an illegal referendum to allow them to illegally rent property from the Town of Greenburgh. They are placing half page ads in all the weekly newspapers from the area hoping the people of Greenburgh will read them. They haven’t advertised in the Journal News, yet. The major issue with advertising in Greenburgh is there isn’t any real coverage and/or reporting for Greenburgh. There certainly are the reprinted verbatim press releases from The Paul talking about discounts for riders on the MTA or Highline Parks for the old Tappan Zee Bridge – if an when a new one is built. But there is no challenge by the press of The Paul’s illegal actions, decisions or policies only continual, blatant endorsement. Additionally, the New York State Attorney General’s office maintains a hands-off policy for familial reasons. As the saying goes, “nice work if you can get it.”

In the previous “articles” appearing in the weekly rags, the focus of all the articles has been on maintaining The Paul’s position of moving forward with the illegal GameOn 365 proposal as well as voting yes for the Proposition #1 Referendum on this November’s ballot, approval the proposal. The ads, reinforced with a yard sign campaign throughout the Town utilizing the same layout and design, boasts a $5 million payday for the Town and that the bubble is “good for Greenburgh’s kids”. A lie? If The Paul is saying it, it most likely is. But regardless of who is lying, the payday is not only inaccurate, but remains inaccurate for the duration of the fifteen-year lease for this “temporary” structure (can you see the hypocrisy of fifteen years and temporary?). It appears the blitz is on and GameOn 365 is hoping spending scads of their money will buy your vote.

In an article in the October 23-29 issue of the White Plains Examiner, which has several other Examiner monikers in other locations, there is a half-page ad to “vote yes” for Town Proposition #1 on page 9. ABG is not sure what a half a page ad sells for, but they’ve been running them every week. That’s certainly a nice investment for the Examiner. On the next page, there is an “article” with the headline, “Town of Greenburgh Residents Encouraged to Vote on Sports Facility.” The subsequent information “reported” is strictly everything Martin Hewitt, the GameOn 365 project manager has been saying all along. This “article” is nothing more than an advertisement under the guise of an article, probably written by GameOn 365. It is not only a distasteful use of journalism, compromising any integrity the paper used to have, but also it doesn’t “report” anything with accuracy. It’s easy to compromise your journalistic integrity for a few bucks.

ABG is sure they will be advertising in the Journal News shortly before the November 6th election. Their insurmountable problem in Greenburgh is that the Town usually gets so little or no coverage from the print media and little coverage when something “big” happens, such as a shooting, death, etc., and even then it’s reported once or twice and they’re gone. It’s one reason The Paul is able to get the coverage he does – they’ll swallow everything he offers hook, line and sinker. The Journal News, a paper with an agenda, has been reduced in size to that of the weekly newspapers. Their subscriptions have been steadily declining as more and more people resist their agenda-drive by cancelling their subscriptions and not buying newsstand copies. In fact, the Monday and Tuesday papers are the smallest of the week with maybe a page or two of local information. When the Gannett Corporation took over the individual papers, morphed them into one, homogenized, bland edition, they began saying goodbye to their base, the area they covered and the region as a whole. It’s apparent their bad management policies and strategies have not only had a negative affect to the bottom line of the Gannett conglomerate, but for the people who would purchase their products and rely on it for information.

In the end, ABG hopes the Town Proposition #1 is defeated. We’re not against a sports bubble if it is truly good for an area. What we’re against is the illegal methodology and apparent collusion between The Paul, the Town Board and GameOn 365. It’s illegal, it should not have gotten this far and must stop. We can only hope.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

They Should Resign

Rain, rain, go away, come back another day. Everyone should recognize the lyrics from this old nursery rhyme. The Paul sings a somewhat different tune, “Residents, residents, go away, come back another day.” It seems The Paul repeatedly takes the proverbial wrong courses of action at every turn and every venue regarding the Town’s involvement, finances and now tenuous future. According to him, it’s the residents that continually get in his way of doing what he wants. Although the residents are probably singing, “Paul, Paul go away, don’t come back on any day.”

The weather experts claim we are scheduled to be hit with another 100-year storm two months after the one year anniversary of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. It defeats the purpose of calling it a 100-Year Storm if it’s happening every year, doesn’t it? Speaking of experts, one year ago, The Paul hired Jonathan Raser, an engineer and expert specializing in flood mitigation to review the conditions in the Town and seek assistance for the flooded residents. After collecting his somewhat substantial fee, and securing absolutely no funds for the residents or the Town, Mr. Raser hi-tailed it back to New Jersey whence he came, offering no resulting help, funds, or hope! The sum of his efforts? A letter to the flood-prone residents of the Town that they do not qualify for any aid and basically they are on their own. As he was leaving, he might have been overheard saying, “My bill is on The Paul’s desk, see ya suckers!” 

This once again imbues the well-known deflection tactic of The Paul seeming to care. When the flooding from Hurricane Irene hit the region and Greenburgh in particular, it took The Paul quite some time to leave the stately Boulder Ridge gated community to visit his serfdom. But once he received word that the news cameras, reporters and crews were out covering the effects of the storm in Greenburgh, he sniffed them out like a bloodhound that caught a scent. He visited Hartsdale, Fulton Park and Babbitt Court, offering any affected and suffering flood victims another false hope, this time of FEMA home buyouts. He corralled numerous Town employees, working for four years without a contract, to receive a little overtime picking up debris. These dedicated workers came through as usual and then The Paul did what he does best, deflect, ignore, babble on and disappear.

In spite of The Paul intruding with the victims’ cleanups spewing vague ideas that accumulated no traction, his next best idea was to request every other politician do something to help these beleaguered and beaten residents. After all, he’s done everything he can, which in reality was nothing. In fact, he wrote, talked and postured about how many other politicians he contacted deluging various residents with daily mailings stating as much. After the media left, so did The Paul - back to his sanctuary of the secure confines of Boulder Ridge, where flooding, traffic, homeless people, sports bubbles, over-sized stores, concerned citizens, environmental studies, and projects that devalue our residential areas are not an issue.

But why do these areas have such frequent flooding where there never was any? Overdevelopment! The state renovated I-287 and the Bronx River Parkway, routing their water runoff into Fulton Park. The Town has done nothing to address this. Nothing! The Paul helped develop the 9A corridor with more to come, routing that water into Babbitt Court. You might ask, “Don’t we have a Planning Department to oversee and control the development throughout the Town?” We used to. Most projects they “touch” mysteriously become bigger and bigger with the Commissioners involvement. They have even helped developers to find ways around zoning and planning limitations. Quietly, without fanfare they changed the departments name. It’s now known as the Department of Community Development and Conservation. The name change, slightly sexier and more encompassing with political correctness sudden makes things all better. The cost in damage to residents: MILLIONS.

When the County leased the WestHelp facility to the Town, it was a financially secure and rewarding deal for the Town. People in need of housing had a brand new, extremely nice place to live and the Town was earning $1.2 million a year in income. It was a sweetheart deal for then School Board President Michael Smith, now a Republican County Legislator representing the same area. Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association former President, Ned McCormack, who is now Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s Communications Director, was also against the WestHelp deal. You see, they were both on the Valhalla School Board and protested putting those horrible homeless people on the campus of Westchester Community College and into the Valhalla School System without “something in return” for them. Did you know that County Executive Rob Astorino has now endorsed The Paul’s convoluted and illegal plan to tear down the facility to lease the property to a school for fifty years? Why? Why would Rob Astorino do that when all of the County Legislators are against it and trying to optimize housing for the low income and homeless population throughout the county? Partisan politics? Hardly. The County Executive is trying to help his Director of Communications and one of only a few minority legislative allies he has in the County Legislature get along with this neighborhood and get votes through a payback. Payback? Why? 

Not to be outdone, or to lose a vote, The Paul reached a financial arrangement with the Town Board, with no checks, balances or scrutiny to pay off the Valhalla School District. Essentially, he provided them a bribe, under the guise of an “educational grant” to accept these kids. There’s your reason. How they would use the money would be up to the school board for the school district - in essence for the children. So, what did they do with the money? They took a cruise and forced the taxpayers to foot the bill! You can read more at: Fortunately, the Town of Greenburgh had two residents that pursued legal action to overturn this illegal deal in court and won! Now the Valhalla School District will have to return a portion of the monies to the Town in an agreed upon settlement. Something is better than nothing. The cost for this screw-up: $1.2 MILLION per year.

Referendum/Sports Bubble
Before Frank’s Nursery defaulted on their taxes and before the property was foreclosed upon with ownership assumed by the Town, The Paul met with several people representing themselves as a company called GameOn 365. Knowing of The Paul’s non-existent business acumen, they salivated over the possibility of acquiring that property from the Town for a song. These are stockbrokers apparently tired of competing with Charles Schwab and web-based competitors for peanuts and saw this as their big jump onto “Easy Street”. Knowing how to manipulate people into buying worthless stocks, they must have thought it easy to convince a bunch of their stockbroker-jock friends to invest in this deal. The Paul met secretly and communicated with them to position them to be the preferred recipient of The Paul’s good graces when it became time to unload said property.

Immediately after the Town assumed ownership, the public cried for the property to be used as a temporary library. Unassuming as most people in the Town are about what motivates The Paul, many decried foul knowing the history of this property as contaminated. What to do? If The Paul pushed for the library to relocate, they would be exposing “the children” (as well as adults) to toxic chemicals and who knows what else. The Paul quickly needed to deflect; so the talk turned to using the land for a new and larger police station and court. At the last Town Board meeting, Councilman Morgan stated to a resident that the neighborhood overwhelmingly was against this. When did the Town Board start listening to it’s residents? You may recall at about the same time, The Paul announced his newest no/low cost plan to financially save the Town by having interns process millions of dollars worth of back-logged traffic tickets. Deflection at it’s best? You decide. The cost for this illegal deal: MILLIONS.

Fortress Bible
Back when Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti was a mere 20-year career County Legislator, he enjoyed a relative safe haven where he resided. Then an African American church from Mount Vernon, the Fortress Bible Church, purchased property nearby. Ever the close friend of The Paul, he may have mentioned to him his concern of their nearby move. What did The Paul do? He put up road blocks, delays, fees and requirements for them to have to meet in order to proceed ahead with their plans. What were their plans? They simply wanted to build a church and a school on the property they purchased.

Tim “Remediation” Lewis, not wanting to publicize his strategy for fighting the Fortress Bible case in court, remained silent. We’re sure this was mostly on the marching orders of The Paul. But silent he remained; and, so did the others in The Paul’s administration. Perhaps if they had shared their strategy, the residents might have been able to help them. Unfortunately for the Unincorporated residents of the Town, they LOST the court case and were found guilty of discrimination, perjury, willfully destroying evidence and more! The cost for this debacle: upwards of $8 MILLION.

The Paul’s entire administration is a model for mismanagement, misjudgment, misdirection, misspending and missed opportunities. The Paul has exhausted most normal routes to help the residents of the Town preserve what little is left of it. He and Town Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden are on a track to overdevelop what little areas of green is left in Greenburgh. Not sure about this? There is much more about The Paul’s and his Stepford Board’s actions that are crippling our Town. ABG has written repeatedly about it. The Paul and the Board should help the Town. They will do this when they resign. It has to end. We can only hope.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Concerned Citizen Objects

Mr. Hal Samis, a concerned and involved Town of Greenburgh resident, has commented on a recent article that appeared in The Daily Voice. His was a good summary of events and issues surrounding the GameOn 365 proposal and the referendum being touted by The Paul for the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. This is his unedited response, printed with permission and numbered by post:

1) How should I review this article; 'let me count the ways': tolerant, timid, lifeless, anemic, dyspeptic. Clearly the one thing it is not is what it should be: dynamite!

Imagine if you will a community where a hot house has already erupted over the mad rush to force a sweetheart lease upon a mostly unwary population who have been tempted by the notion that this will bring soccer fields and other goodies to Greenburgh's neglected children who have no play to pursue competitive sports because the Town's Parks Department has failed to accurately gauge what is the flavor of the day. Lulled by the Town Supervisor that these "needs" are in reach, he plays to their greed and presents a fable that not only can these dreams be fulfilled by their saying yes to the lease at the coming referendum but also the entire will be served the equivalent of "free lunch" by being paid so-called "rent" as the frosting on the cake.

And, not by design but by the efforts of concerned citizens who, unlike the Town Board, are not paid to see what's behind the curtain but do so in their free time and do so despite the Town Supervisor's efforts to make it difficult to part the curtain. In fact, these citizens get criticized by the Town Board for not rushing the stage earlier in the process and the Board attempts to shift the blame for the underlying problem to the concerned citizens because they didn't discover who killed cock robin sooner. This is what happened last night. And I shall detail this in my next post coming your way in just a few minutes. So come back and it'll be there. But before I depart let me leave this wake-up call ringing in your eyes(ears): there is an appraisal of the property which the Town has had all along and what it reveals is mind-numbing. Remember all those activists claims that Feiner had sought a RFP before even obtaining one and Feiner did not respond that there was one. He had good reason to take the beating and remain silent. But first let me return with more about the Town Board meeting. Why am I doing it in parts? Because I compose online and you get "timed out" after an uncertain time and your post vanishes often in mid-sentence. So I always try to write with full exposition and get in under the clock.

2) There is a problem that reporters working for the Daily Voice share, perhaps one common to online Journalism. Their marching orders seem to be getting there fastest with the "leastest". And to try to appear balanced in presenting content.

Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. Here it doesn't. Let me give an example.
"Many who commented also referenced 10 former students of Briarcliff High School and Middle School who claim contaminated school fields there caused cancer."
This could be an entry into the understatement of the year contest. "10 former students" might have something to do with 3 of them dying from cancer and the other 7 dealing with its effects.
This lack of passion, which like cancer, infects the balance of the article.
Here's what happened.

Citizens got wise to the game(on) that Feiner is playing with his promised and required by law second step which involves obtaining a Phase ll environmental study which picks up where the Phase l study left off. Phase ll is intended to learn more, not less. Phase l had been obtained some years back when the Town looked into the possibility of using the Frank's site (with vacant building) as a temporary location for the Library to use during the expansion incurred construction forcing its closing while underway. Everyone was interested in solving the then imminent problem but were wary knowing how the property had been used (storing and using toxic chemicals, contaminants...otherwise known as fertilizer, weed killers, growth hormones and the like and also an oil spill). And just for laughs, throw in the presence of overhead high voltage electric lines. What the Phase l revealed was sufficient to convince the then Town Board to pass and the Library ended up using Town Hall and the multipurpose center.

Oh, you see at the time, the Town Board cared about the town's child population thinking that their visits to a temporary library might be dangerous to their health and perhaps remove an entire generation of future voters.

So, asking Sherman and Peabody to set the dial of the time machine back to 2012, we see a different Town Board faced with sanctioning what they view as "the inalienable right of private business" to harm the Town's next generation of youth, they under Town Supervisor Feiner's direction ok'd the ordering of the Phase ll study. Since the Town Council members lead such busy lives, it turns out that at least two of the Town Council's PAID members have confessed that they relied on Feiner and allowed the requisition of the study without even reading what was called for.
Unfortunately, the concerned and unpaid public also have personal life distractions and they were not on top of this immediately' thus risking the censure given them by Francis Sheehan who lectured the public on not realizing the problem sooner: the problem being one created by... the Town Board.

So what is the problem? The Phase ll Study can be many things, wear many hats but primarily its function is to be complete and relentless in finding, recognizing and listing the problem areas so that their cure can be effected and provide an estimate of the cost to secure this cure. However, the way Feiner viewed it was to seek to cure only the one danger identified in Phase l (the oil spill) and ignore everything else that might be found on the entire site. Fine if those coming to the site remember to only occupy just the one location "cured".

But the goodies and amenities promised by the tenant extend over the entire site and not only under the bubble but outdoors on its large playing field(s). And oddly enough, like the Library countenanced in its Referendum, the expansion and cost be damned was needed for the good and welfare of Greenburgh children. While not exactly similar, (GameOn will be attending to the "needs" of all children from anywhere) the underlying message sent by Feiner to the voting moms and dads and Seniors (free but limited use of the indoor walking track) that here is the opportunity for your kids to remain competitive in the increasingly important area of learning soccer skills -- yours for a song if only you vote "yes" in the referendum. What he did not mention is that the song would be a funeral dirge and young kids may not live long enough to make use of their acquired soccer skills inherited from the sage instruction of "world-class instructors" (yes, the Town Supervisor is the spokesperson for a private company and uses the Town's resources as soapbox). This not only raises the question of whether he is being secretly compensated by the GameOn backers but also whether he has "taken leave of his senses" however few he has remaining.

3) For in his inexplicable fervor to get GameOn into his parrish, Feiner has broken laws, lied, deceived, and used disproportionate amounts of his time on the clock all for the benefit of one entity: GameOn. What is the attraction that this beckons this fly toward the fire? Residents may never know but some of us do know what he has done toward attaining his "vision" of sports capital of the world.

As is clearly stated in the documents now being the object of last night's Town Board Meeting grilling -- an explosive and passionate overdue public lynching/flaying of Feiner and his compliant Town Board -- is not the take away feeling experienced from reading the Daily Voice account. Feiner clearly directed those hired to do the Phase ll to avoid any search and discovery of contamination in areas on the site other than what was named in their commissioning. Like should a kid chase an errant out-of-bounds soccer ball out of the safety zone and into a contaminated area? Does this sound like cause for alarm? Knowing that the Library steered clear of the site for good reason, now Feiner is willing to throw Greenburgh lambs into the slaughter because: this will bring $5 million to Greenburgh. But even this poor excuse no excuse is a lie and will be explained shortly. No one should forget that Feiner in his previous emails to residents said that this represents an opportunity for the Town to clean up the site and for once and for all get rid of the problem so that when the lease expires in 15 years (more accurately 15 years plus 2-3 years of $0 revenue while other requirements are met to include SEQRA, zoning change, height variance etc) that the Town can either use a broom clean site or sell it a higher price (his hope based on nothing tangible and unreliable crystal ball) but now residents have learned that he is practicing more of the same old same old that we have gotten used to BUT this time around the gameon is being played with higher stakes: gambling for our childrens' lives. I don't attribute this new direction to the principals of GameOn but rather I lay it squarely at the feet of Feiner while allowing that GameOn has identified a willing politician whom they can "work with".

So how is the game played? What was all along observable but unconnected (perhaps mere residents with scruples are unfit to connect curious events to a darker cause) was the Town Attorney, Tim Lewis (of all people) suddenly the Town's voice in relation to environmental stigma. Left at the roadside (on purpose? or by default?) were the more knowledgeable Town department heads, Madden of Community Development and Carosi of DPW who claim ignorance but suddenly we have Tim Lewis spouting that the remediation cost would only be around $100,000. This was mentioned and repeated last Spring well before the Phase ll study was even ordered. Interesting that appearing in the Lease is GameOn's enticement: they'll contribute $125,000 toward making it happen, $43,500 to pay for the Study and the balance, $81,500 toward the remedy. Wow, they were willing to contribute the lion's share of the $100,000. Chalk it up to good neighbors. What was not so apparent at the time (forgive us for thinking pure thoughts) or even conceivable to Town Hall watchers that Feiner would try to rig the study so as to conceal or even stumbling upon contamination unknown at the time of the Phase l. Clearly the less studied, the lower the cost of the study and ultimately the lower stated cost to cure the site -- in its entirety. And what does that say about 15+ years from now when the site may be put to another use when perhaps the parking lot is torn up by the new use? Thus by limiting the reach of the study the fruit of this fraud is picked before reaching maturity: reducing the study cost; reducing the menu of problems to be cured but also reducing the potentially burdensome cost of effecting a total cure means that dealing with a problem no longer is in the crosshairs and Feiner can breathe easier with the possibilty that it could be the next guy's problem should he still be in office 15+ years from now and retirement beckons. But dealing with today, let's note that the Lease offers a get out of jail free card to GameOn should they elect to use it: if the cost of remediation exceeds a set amount (the higher the cost may also infer a longer passage of time to effect the cure), GameOn can walk. Indeed GameOn has a number of these cards in its wallet; the Town, by design, has but GameOn default and the Court's veto.
(One of benefit of these bite-sized comments is that you don't have to "eat the whole thing" in one sitting).

4) The result of all this recidivism really requires the talents of a professional script supervisor (a DGA title), not town supervisor, to keep track of the various story changes. Last night's Town Board meeting was the nadir of Town Board/town resident interaction. Having to confront such animus at the last Town Board meeting before the Referendum, Feiner did what he does best: lie, obfuscate and bloviate.

Despite appearing in black & white (and appearing on the Town website if you knew where to look) Feiner refused on MULTIPLE occasions to admit that he had instructed the Consultants (hired to do the Phase ll) to limit the scope of their investigation to just the afore mentioned oil spill and not to look elsewhere on the site. That there was proof in hand of this was enough to cause the anger of those that took the trouble to show up.

So starting from the lie (first base), Feiner then moved up to saying that 'not to worry, if we missed anything I'm sure that various government authorities will oversee and insure correctness (stealing second base) followed by "Town Supervisor Paul Feiner assured those attending that he and the board had no intention of putting anyone in harm's way." (third base on bunt by Councilman Ken Jones who put on his concerned mask) and then the public was blamed for not being sharper sooner (rbi by Sheehan at bat).

The bottom line is that the Town Board has sanctioned the Phase ll study which when released will confirm what Tim Lewis predicted last Spring. And the voting public will be no wiser because few watch the Town Board meetings, few bother to ready even the tepid and contented media which prizes harmony over controversy and that leaves the smaller windows for concerned residents like myself to air their grievances in the hope that there is someone out there equipped to ride and spread the alarm. Instead of the blind faith in "to be honest" Paul Feiner, Greenburgh needs a willing Paul Revere, ready, willing and able to ride to every middlesex village (A Budget) and farm (B Budget) and say that even the touted $5 million is a lie; the reality is that we've already established who the whore is while even negotiating over the price is futile.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Brightview Requests Zoning Change For Entire Town

So many issues in the Town of Greenburgh under The Paul’s tenure go without inspection, but the tide may be changing as his actions continue to routinely be proven illegal, immoral or lacking any business acumen that will benefit the Town. Examples you ask? The largest one would be the recent Appellate Court decision upholding the guilty verdict of The Paul and the Town for discrimination, destruction of evidence and lying under oath/perjury – to mention several. We’ve maintained that The Paul and his Stepford Board collectively and independently lie to us all the time.  This Appellate Court decision vindicates ABG and others.

You want more? There’s a $4 million deficit for the Town’s Water Department that remained after two successive water rate increases by The Paul and his Stepford’s to the tune of 102%. Still more? There’s the WestHelp abandoned lease debacle that is costing Greenburgh $1.2 million per year. August was the one-year anniversary of The Paul’s flawed and expensive decision refusing to renew the WestHelp lease which would guaranteed the Town $1.2 million per year for ten years!

Another project which has slowly been gaining traction in the west end of Greenburgh is the Brightview Assisted Living proposal. Residents of the Glenville Unincorporated section of Greenburgh, in the area of Benedict Avenue near Rt 119 were provided a meeting with the developers of the proposed Brightview Assisted Living Corporation to review plans for the sight and get feedback from the neighborhood. Not many others were aware of this meeting. Subsequently, Glenville residents were offered a walk-through of the property to see what the layout of the property was like. After discussing many of the proposed ideas for the main building and listening to some of the concerns of the residents, the developers went back to the original drawings to “massage” what they had proposed and try to accommodate the residents’ input. The result was a changed footprint and an additional floor from three to four stories.

On October 18 they scheduled a meeting at the Tarrytown Marriott in one of the small conference rooms on the second floor, ostensibly “hidden” from all but the “driven” residents seeking to attend. When we arrived, we were pleasantly greeted by Marriott staff whom also had to look on their televised display to find the event location and help us navigate to it. So it wasn’t really hidden, but it was a challenge to find. Arriving at 6:30PM, we found the meeting had started at 5PM, not 6PM as we had been told. We noticed Town Council members Diana Juettner and Ken Jones were in attendance. There were about twenty or so residents in attendance, including Jon Flores, the Glenville Civic Center President.

There was the successfully proven and ever-present obligatory soft pastel artist’s rendition of the three-story, 90 room residence standing on an easel at the front of the room. Next to it was the architect’s drawing showing an aerial view of the footprint of the buildings, parking areas, grassy areas and just the smallest bits of area properties. With the ever-so-soft-spoken presenters, at times almost in a whisper, they made their case, using lush and friendly words, entertaining the residents at the meeting’s benign, almost useless questions, as the developers spoon-fed their pablum to the unsuspecting few, gently dabbing the edge of the mouths with expensive linen napkins after each hand-off. One gentleman queried about residents storing their vehicles on site and was told that most of their residents are about 85 years old and no longer own a vehicle. Then the same man asked if the facility would drive them wherever they wanted to go? Of course the company van would be happy to take them out periodically. Hmm. Does that mean they can get a ride to Detmers or Pete’s  for a drink or dinner or will they have to walk if it’s not on Brightview’s schedule? And what about visits from their kids (in their 60’s) and grandkids (in their 50’s) who show up for a birthday or anniversary party? Will there be enough parking for them?

One woman questioned what the developers were going to do for the surrounding residents if the blasting and other other construction activities cause damage to their homes? They were assured that they will be taking before and after pictures of every room in every house in the immediate area. But they didn’t say what would constitute the immediate area or what happens to the resident that is away when their photographer is contracted to take pictures? Then one gentlemen commented that construction in his neighborhood, blocks away from the blasting, caused cracks, popped nails and shifting in their homes, also causing pipe damage underground and in their homes. The developers again stated they would address it. ABG’s suggestion is that each resident take their own pictures before any construction, have them notarized and store them in a safe place. These other residents with the cracks, popped nails and pipe damage were all refused their insurance claims and told by the developer that there was no way to prove it was natural settling causing the damage or if their work did. It’s sounds like you’ll be on your own.

 Another gentleman asked if they would be working around the clock or 8AM to 4PM on Monday through Friday? The Brightview developer responded that Greenburgh has the most stringent zoning and building code laws around and that he has worked in the Town for most of his career and can assure everyone they will follow the laws. This statement tells us that he either knows how to get around some of the laws or simply ignores the ones no one really monitors. Everyone knows it’s cheaper to pay a fine than stop a multi-million dollar project because time is money. He mentioned the noise regulations, the need to provide a staging area, hours they can work and so on and they would follow the Town’s stringent codes and laws.

In Fulton Park, where The Paul and his Stepford Board “green-lighted” the oversized Westhab project, the workers routinely work from about 7AM until 8 or 9PM seven days a week. Trucks line the single lane roads (staged?), idling their diesel engines sometimes for hours even with the three minute idle law restricting vehicle idling. Stop and Shop had the same conditions. When residents call the police department for relief, they are told there is nothing the police department can do. While a staging area is required, it has not been enforced. Noise violations are also difficult enforce. Idling? It’s easily ignored as well. “Caveat Emptor”, Glenville.

Brightview finally dropped their bombshell during this meeting. They are requesting a zoning change from the Town for their property’s project to allow their building to increase to four stories instead of being limited to three. This change will affect the entire Town as an Assisted Living classification. One gentleman asked what will happen to their project if the zoning change is not passed? There was a pregnant silence until he piped in again and asked would they leave or revert back to their original design? Their response was they might abandon the project or they might revert. ABG sincerely doubts that and believes, as do others, that The Paul has probably winked toward their project saying not to worry. The Town Board will become the lead agency and before you can say collusion, seniors will be moving in.

Another point was brought up about LEED certification and if the buildings in this project would conform to LEED standards? The dance really began with the develop how they are very concerned about the environment, one even said he himself was LEED certified and they are all very much about the environment. The gentleman asking the question said that was nice but it didn't answer his question. “Is this building a LEED certified building?” “No,” was the whispered response. Then he challenged Councilwoman Juettner to find out exactly when the law was enacted. It was either in 2009 or 2010 he told her. She said she would have to look into it. Then Ken Jones offered his input on the subject and she said that wasn’t what was being asked and in a blink they both left the meeting. ABG isn’t holding our breath for an answer.

There are other issues that need to be addressed by the Town, the developer, and others. One such issue needing to be addressed is the emergency services departments with access and egress. There is currently only one way in or out of the facility. Why? Because they are trying to build as many units as inhumanly possible to maximize their profits. This facility will be covered by the Town of Greenburgh Police Department and the Tarrytown Fire Department. The PD should have little difficulty responding to any call requiring their intervention. The fire department is another story.

During this same meeting the size of several of the fire departments’ apparatus will not have any, let alone enough, room to turn around anywhere on the property. What are they supposed to do, back all the way out? The developer’s response was that they would be arranging a meeting with the fire personnel sometime soon to work on those logistics. That is a staggering omission for a design that is being pitched to the surrounding area. ABG sees this as a slap in the Fire Department’s face and a true failure of planning by the developer. Before you design anything, one of the first things that should be accommodated is emergency response and access, especially given the relative ages of the senior residents retired at this location. Since this isn’t the Fairview Fire Department, The Paul couldn’t get the developer to agree to “donating” another new rescue truck or fire engine for unimpeded approvals during the construction phases. Consequently, no one was thinking emergency anything. Ironically, the Tarrytown FD built their new firehouse farther down on Rt 119 in anticipation of all the future development of Rt 119.

This project is loaded with negative ramifications. The flooding/water flow designs supposedly meet the 50-Year Storm regulations. That’s nice. Tell that to the Fulton Park or Babbitt Court neighborhoods each time it rains and they flood. This project will negatively affect this community’s well-being and the quality of life for everyone in the area. 

This project also promises to affect the entire Town if their zoning change request goes forward, basically allowing oversized buildings to be built where they wouldn’t normally be allowed. Limited access and egress allowing a larger footprint will not and cannot be undone once the structure has been erected. There is a reason they want a four-story, 90 unit facility. So, we ask a simple question we didn’t hear at this meeting. What is the real, lowest number of units that can be built? Just because they want a bigger profit doesn’t mean the Town is required to provide it. This entire project needs to be tabled so the Comprehensive Committee can effectively study this topic of Assisted Living developments, make an informed decision and recommendation to the Town and help everyone in the Town, not just another one of The Paul’s developer friends. We can only hope.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

“Developeropoly”: Another Slight of Hand

The Paul is at it again. On his blog as well as a mailing he just did in the Town, he is touting his latest deflection, the referendum to have the voters approve the GameOn 365 sports bubble deal. Notice ABG didn’t say, “vote for the fate of the property?” That’s because through The Paul’s slight of hand, he has posted and mailed another (read: different) version of the referendum to the e-mailed version of the referendum that he has had Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis distributing to all of the civic associations, residents and others asking for a copy of the referendum. Plus, the embarrassingly poor wording of the referendum virtually assures passage as well as indicts our failing school system’s negligence.

Now exposed, we’re sure the response from The Paul will be the classic backpedaling we’ve come to expect from this administration. “We didn’t know there were two versions” or “Tim sent out the wrong version”, “This is so complicated I'm not surprised the wrong version went out.” The excuses will flow like beer at a frat party or a TYC field trip. The lamestream media will gobble this up and print his sad tale along with his “woe-is-me” spin as to why this will help the Town. We’re pretty sure the media will then RE-print his mea culpa and reiterate his endorsement of this loss-leader for the Town.

We know that this is a bad deal for the Town on many different levels. Many have proven the requisite illegalities performed by The Paul have been nothing short of stupefying. ABG and others have posted the reasons this referendum should not be passed and will do so again.

This lease violates County law which mandates a municipality sell property acquired through foreclosure. There is a lawsuit already underway against the Town specific to this. Greenburgh zoning laws and height restrictions are also being violated. This “circus event” does not provide a fair RFP process while we witness The Paul offering two versions of the referendum for distribution. Could The Paul intentionally be obfuscating already murky waters to deflect attention farther away from the truth? Absolutely! 

The SEQRA process has been practically discarded and the contaminated property is cavalierly discounted by the administration as only in need of a simple fix. Increased traffic to the area roadways will be worsened by Fortress Bible’s church and school traffic. If the property remained for residential use, as it’s zoning has defaulted to, traffic concerns would not be much worse. The purported $5 million the Town will make from this fifteen-year, temporary structure, is a sham and nothing more than another number thrown out by The Paul to divert your attention and deflect focus away from yet another of his illegal and failed projects. It provides little relief to Greenburgh while providing a financial coup for GameON 365, it’s owners and investors! The low rent and the undervalued taxes for this property are a godsend of free money and discounts for GameOn 365 that the Greenburgh taxpayer will be forced to subsidize while being excluded from using the facility! Once this passes and there is finally a certificate of occupancy, we’re sure certiorari adjustment applications will be on the tax assessor’s counter as soon as they flip on the light switch at 8AM.

Since his Stepford Board ratified signing the lease, and The Paul has already signed this lease, it cannot be voided by a referendum as it is a signed contract. In the end, this lease and referendum is not about the kids, soccer, or any other sports except The Paul’s favorite sport playing with other people’s property. It’s called “Developeropoly.” This is nothing more than the expected and ignored illegal behavior from The Paul and his Stepfords. It has to stop. We can only hope.

Monday, October 15, 2012

“Yellow Advertising” or Out and Out Lying?

In the “old days”, America experienced what was know as “yellow journalism”. It was a term first coined during the famous newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer II.
It seems that Pulitzer’s paper, the New York World, and Hearst’s own New York Journal changed the content of their newspapers by adding more sensationalized stories and increasing the use of drawings and cartoons. With it came the “Yellow Kid” cartoon series in 1896 by R.F. Outcalt. Hearst hired Outcalt from Pulitzer just to get the popular cartoon for his newspaper and keep Pulitzer from having it, paying Outcalt a ridiculous salary for the time. They often utilized the “Yellow Kid” to sensationalize their own stories and discredit the stories of other newspapers. The “Yellow Kid” was also used to sway public opinion on important issues such as the Spanish-American war. Newspapers of the era did not practice objectivity and in time the “Yellow Kid” morphed into being known as “Yellow Journalism”.

Apparently, objectivity is not being practiced here in Greenburgh by The Paul and his Stepford Board. They seem to have colluded with the GameOn 365 developers even before the Town acquired the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, formerly Frank’s Nursery. The Paul desperately pushed to have the Finneran Law changed once he realized he could not get it repealed. The Finneran Law offered a modicum of protection for the Unincorporated Greenburgh residents from actions by a politician who sought to, say, add a bubble in a Town recreation facility, like, say, at Veteran Park. But once Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti was elected to the NY State Assembly, he was able to help The Paul, his good friend, with his scheming hijinks of renting public park space to a private company. Thus, the saga of having Sportime build a tennis bubble over the Town’s tennis courts on Town property and charging admission to the public for profit came to pass.

The Finneran Law change, orchestrated by The Paul and executed by Abinanti for, as some say, payback for keeping Fortress Bible out of his old neighborhood, didn’t only allow The Paul and his Stepford Board the ability to “gift” the Town’s tennis courts to Sportime, it allowed The Paul to practically give away just under seven acres of contaminated land, the former Frank’s Nursery, this time for a massive eight-story high sports bubble, for the proverbial “song”. Done deal complete, many complained openly and often. In fact, one area resident started a campaign called (www) and even went so far as to do mailings throughout many parts of the Town to fight the project.

The bottom line with this referendum trickery is that The Paul understands politics and knows there is a contingency that will vote in favor of any project on the ballot - thinking it must be good for the Town. This is one time it’s not! There is another problem here either way. If the referendum passes The Paul will rejoice, sing hallelujah, the people have spoken. If it gets voted down, he’s simple say so sad, too bad, I already signed a contract, this deal is done. At the last Town Board meeting, when a resident mentioned to The Paul that the referendum is a sham as he already signed the contract for the GameOn 365 project, he claimed to not remember if he signed it or not. A lie? Perhaps. But then Town Councilman Francis Sheehan quipped, “You signed the contract Paul.” Uh-oh! That’s going to be another demerit for Sheehan.

Now GameOn 365, which supposedly doesn’t have a contract, a piece of property, or a good chance of winning a lawsuit initiated to stop this chicanery, has taken to advertising for a “Yes” vote for the referendum The Paul has sought to put on the November ballot. It, along with almost everything coming out of everybody’s mouth that is in favor of this project, is a disingenuous ad. Out and out lie? Not quite. Here’s the ad as it appeared in the White Plains Examiner and you can be the judge as to it’s truthfulness.
ABG’s not upset that GameOn 365 has chosen to place the ad in the Examiner newspaper. It is their prerogative. But by saying $5 million dollars for Greenburgh, without including that it’s over a fifteen year contract, and this is assuming they stay at the site for 15 years, it purposely distorts reality and alludes to a dollar amount that many will read and see as a one time, $5 million infusion of money to the Town. Not so! The ad says Good for Kids, Good for Greenburgh. What it doesn’t say is it’s not good for the poor kids in Greenburgh because the only kids allowed and that will be using GameOn 365’s facility are the kids from the families that can afford to pay the membership and other associated fees. “Yellow journalism” or “yellow advertising”? You be the judge.

Is the ad a lie? Legally it is not. Ethically and morally it is an aberration of the truth. Is this the kind of company we want in Greenburgh? ABG doesn’t think so. Are The Paul and his Stepford Board the kind of representatives we want doing business with people like GameOn 365. Not if this is how they chose to represent themselves. Greenburgh deserves better and desperately needs to improve itself. The public should vote “NO” to Proposition #1, and force everyone to take a breath, return to the law and break out their moral compass to get their bearings. If the property should be sold, as required by law, let it be sold. If not, let’s cautiously look at alternatives. Will our “representatives” represent us instead of developers? We can only hope.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Flawed Referendum Designed To Benefit GameOn 365

ABG has been in the forefront about the subterfuge taken by The Paul and his Stepford Board regarding the wholesale gifting of the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the old Frank’s Nursery location.  In a political move to be rivaled by lesser politicians, The Paul decided to put the decision to the people. Well, not really. First, he had his Stepford’s vote in favor of the contract with GameOn 365 so GameOn 365’s principals could actively pursue investors for their temporary, 15-year, 8-story sports bubble on what has now reverted back to residential property.

Here’s a copy of the referendum we received from the Town:

¨Shall a unanimously approved Town Board resolution authorizing the town to enter into a lease with Game On 365 for the construction of a sports bubble and accessories to operate a private multi-purpose, year round sports facility with access for children, adults and seniors; working closely with both town Departments of Parks & Recreation and Community Resources at the Theodore D. Young Community Center, when needed as space and schedules allow; to be located at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, Town of Greenburgh; generating over a fifteen year period, a minimum of five million dollars in property taxes and revenue; providing for a one-time payment of up to one hundred twenty five thousand dollars for an environmental study and cleanup, be approved?¨

ABG has numerous points with the way this is written as it is vague and misleading as it stands. ABG is sure that’s intentional and is reasonably sure members of the G8 will have more issues with it.

1) Councilman Jones was absent for this “unanimous” vote. So while technically correct, we had heard he was not in favor if it and might have actually voted to not enter into the agreement. Could we also presume that his absence was intentional to not have to vote and earn a demerit with The Paul?

2) It says, “access for children, adults and seniors”. Who’s left after adults, children and this extraneous group, seniors? Are seniors not adults? Does this leave the door open for The Paul to create another dog park? Of course they will have access, but they will be forced to pay a membership fee to participate to use the facility when they wish to or subjugated to the sidelines until convenient to GameOn 365 referees? 

3) Next is, “working closely with both town Departments of Parks & Recreation and Community Resources at the Theodore D. Young Community Center, when needed as space and schedules allow”. How close? This says the Recreation department and the TYC can call and request use a field or space like everyone else, but are on the outside looking in even after Gerry Byrne, one of the two Recreation Commissioners, endorsed the bubble for them. As a for-profit business, we anticipate little space with reasonable times ever being available for Town residents, who already pay recreation taxes and fees to the Town. Incidentally, if Gerry Byrne, felt a soccer or any other field was needed, why didn’t he actively pursue getting this property developed as a Town field? 

4) As for, “generating over a fifteen year period, a minimum of five million dollars in property taxes and revenue”, these are made-up numbers by The Paul with no facts or substantive numbers to back this off-the-cuff statement. The fifteen year aspect of this bubble is very dubious as a “temporary” structure. Temporary is usually considered for structures such as this when you might be installing a bubble to accommodate an outdoor event that is too costly to leave to chance that the weather might cooperate, like an outdoor wedding or Bar Mitzvah. This is not a temporary structure simply because it is a bubble material. And, Town Assessor McCarthy also said the $60k figure The Paul keeps using for taxes is not accurate. How can we believe any of them?

5) Finally, although by no means really finished, is, “providing for a one-time payment of up to one hundred twenty five thousand dollars for an environmental study and cleanup”. This sounds impressive but the devil is in the details. They principals and investors may be promising to put forth $125k. But, if the cost for cleanup for the property exceeds a certain amount, which in spite of Tim “Remediation” Lewis’ predictions, they can walk away without losing anything and in fact be reimbursed for any money they did outlay. 

The bottom line with this referendum trickery is that The Paul understands politics and knows there is a contingency of people whom will vote for any project on the ballot - thinking it must be good for the Town. This is one time it’s not! There is another problem here either way. If the referendum passes The Paul will rejoice, sing hallelujah, the people have spoken. If it gets voted down, he’s simple say too bad so sad, we already signed a contract. 

Just because it’s another of The Paul’s seemingly done-deals, don’t believe it has to be so. Greenburgh deserves better than these types of games, slights of hand as well as underhanded trickery of giving away our Town parcel by parcel to developers and investors. It needs to change! The residents of Greenburgh must change and stop ignoring what’s been going on for too long. We can only hope.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Our Residents Need Relief

A Sunday story ran about Industrial Development Agencies in New York and the “positive” affect they are having on business. While ABG doesn’t agree with IDA’s for numerous reasons, the article highlighted one company in particular, noting that they are the “Poster Child” for IDAs. That company is Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical developer at the Eastview campus of the former Union Carbide site on Old Saw Mill River Road. It has the hidden beauty of a Tarrytown (mailing) address while being in the less glamorous Town of Greenburgh.

Back in the heyday of Union Carbide, the site had several mansions on it, a holdover from the Rockefeller days when many parcels of land were owned and utilized by the Rockefeller Empire. But as we’ve previously posted, the site has been a hot bed of building activity with the projected blessing from The Paul and his Stepford Board to increase the traffic and flooding by encouraging 400-plus new condominiums be built at the location, in addition to the newly erected office buildings to the west of the “spine” that links the two sides together. Additionally, there will be another 400-plus condominiums built as part of Avalon 2 on Taxter Road. Across and farther down Rt 119 near Benedict Avenue will also see the 90 unit Brightview Senior Living Center* begin construction.

Do the prospective tenants of these condos realize the site was a chemical development and testing site many years earlier? It was replaced with the MSG training facility, occupying a larger footprint than the previous building. One of the biggest fires the area has seen was when the automotive products testing building ignited and exploded in the early evening in the late 1970’s – early 1980’s. Can you hear the gasps and outrage after the new condo owners find out they may be exposed to toxic automotive chemicals? They can query Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis as to how much testing and cleanup may cost based on his SuperFund knowledge.

One of the tenants across the street from the projected condos is Regeneron, a medical testing and creation laboratory. They have been touted as “one of the most successful IDA-backed projects in the region with nearly 1,000 employees in Greenburgh and annual revenue of $446 million,” said former Entergy Public Relations Officer and current Westchester Economic Development Director, Laurence Gottlieb. He went so far as to say Regeneron is “the poster child for a great IDA project”. Maybe it’s great for everyone at the IDA and at Regeneron, but what about the Greenburgh residents? Gottlieb claims they “just keeping adding employees left and right.”

Are the employees working at the Regeneron location in Tarrytown, actually Greenburgh residents or are they people relocated from Regeneron’s other locations in Basking Ridge, NJ, or Rensselaer, NY? If they are transferring from these other two locations, do they really “count” as adding jobs “left and right” and do they know about The Paul and how he is slowly reducing Greenburgh to nothing but affordable housing without any supermarkets near the populace? The question remains are Greenburgh residents being hired by Regeneron?

There is always an economic upside when businesses move to an area, bringing increased purchasing and property tax income to those communities. Tax income is a hot topic in the Town because of the misguided actions of The Paul. But doesn’t the IDA bring jobs and spending to an area? Sure – at the expense of the existing residents through property tax abatements, reductions and other tax incentives! In the case of Regeneron, their pharmaceutical failures frequently found them at the brink of and even in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. So are we to marvel at a company that seems to often be at the edge of insolvency that finally scored big with their macular degeneration drug or just shrug our shoulders? ABG is glad they’ve survived. Can Greenburgh?

There are millions of dollars shelled out every year by Westchester, Rockland and Putnam’s ten IDA’s that many believe could be better used to rebuild crumbling infrastructure or invest in our schools. Even with the artificial 2% Tax Cap the State passed this past year, practically every municipality has seen increases in their school taxes. Not to be outdone, County Executive Astorino recently created his own Westchester IDA because apparently his rhetoric of cut, cut, cut, is catching up to him politically as he cannot dole out money to various special interest groups in hopes of maintaining existing voters and “purchasing” new ones. Could The Paul be far behind?

Critics of IDA’s say IDA tax exemptions often temporarily lower the sales and property taxes those companies will pay, reducing revenue to the localities, county and state. This creates shortfalls that must continually be offset by residents. It’s also argued that IDA’s are said to help New York state compete with lower-costing states, as New York has a recognizably higher cost of doing business. Could it be that New York’s massive taxes (and regulations) are overburdening business in general, any of which politicians are quick to bail out, make concessions for, and promise a virtually rent-free existence? Of course they are! These same politicians do nothing of substance for the existing businesses who may find themselves silently struggling. Yet they turn their collective backs on the rest of us who could use a break but continue to pay our mortgages, rent and taxes as well as all their other bills on time! It’s disingenuous and needs to change! 

We want to see our Greenburgh companies succeed as well as our residents. We are happy that Regeneron was finally able to turn things around through the IDA’s help. The Paul, his Stepford Board and his administration continue to help his developer friends. And, IDA recipients are doing very well for themselves while Greenburgh constituents are suffering through some of the worst economic decisions made in the last twenty years. Regeneron and others continue to receive lower sales and property taxes, forcing the Town and it’s residents to pick up the difference of the reduced revenue to the Town and school districts. It’s time for companies who we have helped for so long to step up and make it on their own. We don’t want them to be abandoned, but stop dipping into the residents’ pockets that have been carrying them for years and then rubbing it in our faces. The residents need an IDA to help them! Vote; and vote differently for a better outcome. Our residents need relief. We can only hope.

* A meeting for this will take place at the Marriott Hotel, Thursday, Oct. 18th, at 6PM.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Paragon of Virtue

ABG posted our first discoveries of The Paul’s illegal sanctioning of Town Hall for a group of democrats making phone calls for Obama, and quite naturally assumed The Paul guilty. Then we read a post by one of the G8 which brought up a good point. Perhaps The Paul didn’t know of this usage as others in Town Hall routinely schedule rooms for meetings by various organizations, not the supervisor? A valid question to say the least. But, just like the kid who cries wolf one too many times, The Paul has had in hands in more dark, Town-wide “done-deals“ than an army proctologist with a new wave of recruits. As a result of his past behavior, we quite naturally placed the blame with him. We still do. Only after constituents and the media exposed the misuse of the Town Hall did the Obama campaign offer to reimburse taxpayers for the theft of public space. 

All one must do to arrange a meeting room for your organization at Town Hall is call the Town Clerks Office. There, Town Clerk Judith Beville, too busy planning the next concert, poetry reading or student film for the next Board meeting, will have one of her able assistants talk to you and book your room. How much vetting takes place during the process is unknown? Is it possible that one of the employees made the decision to provide the Obama Phone Bank the use of Town Hall? Did they clear it with, or was it Belville herself, that made the decision? Either way, it was Belville, who is responsible for all of the actions of that office. It’s immaterial whether she either assumed The Paul would be uninterested or consciously did not bother to tell him. Perhaps she was being intentionally deceptive, following in the footsteps of her boss? It doesn’t matter. The Paul is responsible for the actions of all of his departments.

ABG doesn’t believe The Paul will just let anything go and demand everyone throughout his administration keep him informed of their respective departments actions. If Belville alone made the decision, ABG is pretty sure she still “ran it by” her exalted leader. ABG would like to know if there are any written rules of usage to dictate what qualifies or not for booking or refusing a room? How thorough a vetting process exists for room usage? Would they simply book a room to a hate group if requested? ABG hopes not, but now we’re not so sure. This isn’t like pulling up to the Alexander Hotel and checking in for a couple of hours of fun in the sheets and leaving before anyone is the wiser. This happened every week on Tuesday nights for many weeks in a row! It would be hard to convince ABG that The Paul or Clerk Beville didn’t know who and for what reason this room was being used. This is a serious enough breach of ethics (contradiction of terms in Greenburgh) that The Paul should demand Town Clerk Beville’s immediate resignation!

Next we’ve learned that Douglas Colety, 
Chairman for the Westchester Republican Party and another paragon of virtue, has requested an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for the possible illegal use of Greenburgh Town Hall by the Democratic Obama campaign group. Colety issued a press release stating, “Taxpayers have a right to know that public facilities are not being used for partisan political campaigns and no municipal building should ever be converted into campaign headquarters for any party. It is critical that the Attorney General step in to answer important questions, including whether any town employees were used to keep Town Hall open for the evening phonebank and whether any laws were broken in the process.”

It’s kind of funny that the “pot” is asking for the “kettle” to be investigated. Colety has attracted quite a bit of his own scrutiny in the recent past with his paid position as a Commissioner at the Board of Elections, the Chairman for the Westchester Republican Party, the New Rochelle GOP leader and owner of the Executive Star Mailing Services. ESMS is the million dollar printing company Colety owns and operates printing most, if not all of the Republican Party and candidates’ literature and campaign mailings. A printer we know told us he tried to work with Republican candidates but it was “suggested” they utilize Colety’s printing and mailing services or risk the consequences. What consequences you wonder? ABG was told by two candidates (promised anonymity) that Colety, who was joined at the hip with 
Westchester Independence Party Chairman Dr. Giulio Cavallo, can practically guarantee the Independence line if Colety asks him for it for a candidate. Colety is also known to donate money to the campaigns of those candidates he “likes”. 

By the way, Colety’s “lieutenant” at the Westchester Republican Party is John Cerino, Westchester County Executive Astorino’s “Scheduler”. There’s a terrific “title” for another hundred-thousand dollar payback position. Colety’s Deputy Chairperson for the Westchester Republican Party is Christine Sculty, who also works for Astorino at an annual hundred-thousand-plus dollars. Former Mt. Pleasant Supervisor and now Astorino-appointed Westchester County Attorney Robert Meehan along with his wife are both heavily involved in the Westchester GOP, as well as employed by Westchester County and the Westchester County Board of Elections (under Colety) respectively. Who doesn’t work for them, democrats? Nope, their side has numerous positions doled out by the Democratic Commissioner Reginald Lafayette.   

Regardless of Colety’s conflict of interests and improprieties, he has made a point that ultimately will get a headline for a few days and go nowhere. We agree that The Paul’s administration should be taken to task for this latest abuse of power. We know the Attorney General will leave The Paul alone for familial reasons. We do need someone to go after The Paul, his Stepford Board, the Town Clerk and the rest of his rancid administration to clean up the Town after this latest violation of trust from The Paul. We can only hope.