Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Two Years Too Late: WestHelp Decision Finally Made

There were three RFP’s presented to the Town Board for the WestHelp property. As previously posted, The Paul and his former schoolmate’s deal parted company supposedly after a resident had a conversation with one of this bidders partner. Either The Paul’s deal was incredibly flimsy or the conversation was incredibly powerful. ABG honestly believes it was a combination of both. In a failed and illegal attempt to vacate the property and install the Ferncliff School into the facility, The Paul literally cost the Town millions of dollars in lost revenue that will never be made back and caused viable apartments to unnecessarily fall into disrepair.

At the Town Board Work Session, a record forty-five minutes or so transpired before the Board adjourned to Executive Session. During the public portion of the meeting, they accepted the bid from a new partnership made up of the Richman Organization and Group MRH. Their partnership proposal promises to pay Greenburgh $1.5M up front and almost $500,000 annually. These payments will continue through the year 2032. They must also spend approximately $2M in renovations. This unnecessary expense is because The Paul/Greenburgh left the apartments exposed to the elements, causing them to fall into into unnecessary disrepair since October of 2011, when the Town took over the property!

While the Town has lost $1.2M per year and will never recoup those losses, ABG is happy to see the property finally be used for what it was intended - housing. We’re also glad that the housing will be focused on providing homes for people from age 55yrs and older. It’s a shame that the hijinks from The Paul and his complicit Town Board were allowed to get this far. Let’s hope a decision for the former Frank’s Nursery is soon to come as it’s another property that has fallen into The Paul’s mischievous hands. We can only hope.

No Smoke, No Mirrors, No Breaks

We’ve been treated poorly. Yet, we’ve waited. We’ve hoped. We’ve cajoled, complained and practically begged – all to no avail. We’ve hoped to learn what the criteria was as the Town Board routinely stated they were doing the “due diligence” regarding the WestHelp property that had provided a $1.2M annual “gift” to the Town. The Paul made a non-public decision to not renew the lease. Then he insisted it was the former Westchester County Executive’s decision, not his. Several phony emails later, it was shown to be The Paul who in fact refused to renew the lease, not the County Executive.

The implementation of the covert WestHelp plan from The Paul, aka “Mr. Open Government” with his media buddies, was underway. He had “someone” leave doors and windows of the facility kept open to allow the site to be pillaged of appliances, piping and other components. It also increased the likelihood that mold, animal infestation and weather would further degrade the facility. But for what reason? Once WestHelp ceased to use the facility, The Paul lost the  $1.2M annual golden goose and knew he needed to replace it. Money woes in the Town continue spiraling out of control for The Paul. On top of the lost WestHelp $1.2M annual payments, there was the Fortress Bible Church guilty decision, reaffirmed by an appeals court that could cost The Town upwards of $8M. There was the $4M water department deficit, the “windfall” of returned monies from the Valhalla School District for illegal payments The Paul and his Board made yearly are a drop in the proverbial bucket. And where was his complicit Stepford Board? Nowhere to be found unless they were rubber-stamping all of The Paul’s actions!

The latest move by The Paul and his Board is during almost every meeting, someone will make a motion to adjourn to “Executive Session” so they can collude unimpeded and get out from under the scrutiny of the public eye. The G10 performs the watchdog function long ago abandoned by the media as its members attend various meetings held at different times and locations throughout each day. As they report back we can’t always learn of the misaligned decisions the Board has made due to secrecy. They seemingly violate laws as well as the public trust, and we’re made aware only after it appears on a Town agenda. For a Town administration that espouses open government, there surely seems to be an inordinate amount of secret meetings and decisions taking place.

One decision that was asked about over and over again was the criteria being used in seeking investors for the former Frank’s Nursery property, the WestHelp property, the Brightview Assisted Living property, the Eastview (former Union Carbide) property and others. We’ve received shrugged shoulders and silence to our questions. Franks’s Nursery’s property is contaminated with numerous pollutants, oil and debris (underground). The Paul tried to illegally lease the property to GameOn 365. When the project met resistance from residents, he “offered” it for a referendum at the upcoming election. The referendum passed. A lawsuit followed because the referendum was illegal and he withdrew the lease. Legally, the Town must sell the property. To bolster his desire to give the property to his favored vendor, GameOn 365, he had an appraisal done by a firm that does other work for the Town. The appraisal came in at the exact amount of money GameOn 365 had proposed to pay for the property! Ironically, Elm Street Sports, which operates the House of Sports in Ardsley, has offered roughly double for the property. The Paul is doing whatever he can to stall the higher bid as it does not include GameOn 365.

The property at Eastview has been undergoing constant expansion in the last several years. During all of this expansion there has been no attention paid to the flooding this will cause south of the site. The Rt 9A corridor floods with any steady or significant rain storms now as the Saw Mill River quickly overflows it’s boundaries. It wreaks havoc on the residents and businesses that parallel the river. The Paul made a big deal of cleaning out the river once a Village of Elmsford trustee mades arrangements to do so. The Paul has been asked to do the same thing for the Greenburgh residents along the Bronx River. As with most Fairview needs and no news crews present, The Paul does nothing.

The WestHelp income of $1.2M annually is forever gone for the Town. The Paul had a plan to buy the votes of the Valhalla people by removing those pesky low-income, single, female parents with children that lived there, endearing himself with those voters. He proposed putting a self-contained developmentally disabled school in the space. Funded by New York State, the state said, “No!” A side benefit for The Paul would be to charm the county’s Republicans Rob Astorino, Michael Smith, Ned McCormack and others. This would be a win-win for The Paul. Shady operations? Racism? Sure, but The Paul knows he’s guaranteed to win re-election as there are no democrats strong enough to challenge him from within the party and the republicans have written off the Town of Greenburgh as forever blue!

This morning’s work session promises to raise the Town-wide use of Tums for many residents. Slated to begin at 9:30AM, we’re sure a 10AM start is more realistic. Today is the day The Paul has promised to pick a developer for the WestHelp property. There are several deals being offered and what we don’t know are the deals being made behind closed doors. Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis has claimed it wasn’t fair for the Board to disclose information to the public because these were sensitive negotiations that required secrecy. There were no contracts signed, just proposals. So they could have shared information but chose to remain silent – again. The Paul said they would keep information from the public because a resident spoke with one of the developers, a childhood friend of The Paul. His company subsequently withdrew their offer. Was The Paul’s “deal” so fragile that one conversation would cause its collapse? ABG thinks a more likely scenario was that once the bidder learned of all the misplays, misdirection and illegal activities that The Paul and his Board were doing with this property, they thought it better to exit post haste!

ABG is not convinced a decision will be made this morning. If one is, it will be interesting to see which one they accept. ABG also believes the Board will jump into executive session after exhausting themselves with one decision to hide the rest of their meeting from the public. ABG has also predicted that The Paul will award the sale of Frank’s Nursery to GameOn 365 with some babbling excuse as to why they should get it. Fortress Bible’s financial determination is about to land in the Town’s lap. The Saw Mill River and Bronx River neighborhoods are still flooding. Aging infrastructure collapses can’t keep up with the speed of The Paul’s decisions. More and more bad decisions seems to be the norm from this Town Board. The Paul’s further insulating the public from a truly open government through Executive Sessions and closed door meetings with developers. It has to end. We can only hope.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Residents To Lose To Outside Developers

There was a new organized proposal about two Town Board meetings ago that had an immediate buy-in from The Paul from Homes for Westchester, a consortium of six affordable housing groups that work toward “streamlining” the affordable housing projects process in Westchester. Their aim is to speed up the approval process and get their affordable housing projects sped through the system. Their claim is that it takes much too long for them. They cite not-for-profit as well as for-profit companies having to spend so much time time for approvals that it can make affordable housing unaffordable. Really?

The process in the Town is extremely convoluted sometimes but more complicated than other communities. In Greenburgh for instance, to re-roof your home doesn’t require a permit. But if you use more than one sheet of plywood during the renovation, a permit is required. Approvals for homeowners require plans and their submission, attendance at zoning and planning board meetings, etc. The process can go for as long as a year and may be more. And, there’s no guarantee that your project will get the green light from the Town. There are some good things that come from this process from a safety perspective.

Tony Hoeltzel, the “front man” for this consortium, along with Joan Arnold, gave examples of the supposedly difficult process he’s been a part of in numerous communities. In Greenburgh, The Paul and his go-along Stepford Board will rush affordable housing projects through the system in the blink of an eye. Planning Commissioner Thomas “Can’t Say No” Madden will even meet with and assist developers with their planning. Residents don’t get this same hand-holding. In fact, if they miss something on their submission applications, they are denied, told the application is not correct and sent to the back of the line to start all over again. This doesn’t often happen with affordable housing proponents. Residents are seeking changes to their largest investments while the outside developers are simply coming in to make a buck!

Hoeltzel claimed of one project that took thirty three meetings to get approved, thus his comment about the unaffordability of affordable housing. ABG is sure this project was not in Greenburgh. Perhaps he should seek another line of work if he doesn’t like having to participate in the same processes the residents and taxpayers must to protect and cultivate their Towns and Villages. In particular, in our Town where The Paul will rubber stamp all projects from a select group of developers as affordable, ABG doubts this service really needed? The Paul with his complicit Board, along with Thomas “Can’t Say No” Madden and in concert with Building Inspector John Locido, approve every project, no matter how inappropriate, as long as the developer mentions a few buzzwords: affordable, low-income, workforce, municipal workers and of course veterans and senior citizens.

This effort is nothing more than a special interest group seeking to circumvent the rules and regulations of the Town for their own gain. They are playing the “not for profit” card like its some sort of panacea for housing. Its not. These “not for profit” owners garner extremely attractive salaries. Many of their more senior employees, such as their attorneys, engineers and designers also make very enviable salaries while living under the “not for profit” moniker. So, at the end of the year, when their well-paid accountants are preparing their books to show “no profit”, their balance sheets may not show a profit but everyone was handsomely compensated. That is the only significant difference between them and a “for profit” developer. Well, that and the various tax breaks afforded to them that the “for profit” developer doesn’t receive, increasing the playing field to be even more disproportionate.

The Paul favors this action. Why wouldn’t he? Its right in line with his continued “ghettoization” of the Fairview section of Greenburgh which is currently running on all cylinders. While the Town did not have to participate in the Westchester County HUD Housing Settlement because there was, to quote The Paul, “An over abundance of affordable housing in Greenburgh,” the reality is he’s over-saturated this one area while protecting votes in others. It’s time for the residents to be heard! We do not need special interest groups with their own agendas having a special line that allows them to get their own dispensation for their projects while the owners of the Town, the resident taxpayers, are forced to wait on longer and slower moving lines. This must be stopped! We can only hope.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Under The Circus’ Big Tent

The April 24th Town Board meeting took over two hours to get underway after those in attendance endured presentation after presentation by The Paul. No matter how self-serving these may be, ABG endorses starting the meetings on time and focusing on Town business, not campaigning by The Paul. Seeking cans of Red Bull or just needing a break, people were in and out of the hall repeatedly. If this continues, perhaps The Paul should install easy chair recliners with beverage holders.

Once the public hearings began, speaker after speaker hammered home the fact that The Paul and his Board are being asked the same questions again and again, meeting after meeting and still not sharing information with the public. ABG concurs. Apparently, The Paul’s “Open Government” is only open when it is convenient for him or he has information he wishes to get out. It appears his and the Board’s every move are secretly guarded. The sadder commentary here is that the media in Westchester could be doing their job by investigating his claims, uncovering his deceit and exposing it. Instead, they choose to be his lapdogs and reprint his press releases verbatim or put a positive spin on issues that would be crippling to any other politician.

During the Town Board meetings, the Board has a habit of waiting for a speaker to finish their comments or asking all of their questions and then take their seat before they will address any queries that were made. That is, if they choose to address them. Most times they will remain silent and offer the public no information! One speaker asked about numerous issues in the Town, with his final question being what was the information the Board was seeking regarding the RFP’s for the Frank’s Nursery property and the WestHelp property? As he was returning to his seat, The Paul commented, “I just want to say that somebody was interfering with the process. This is not a game. This is not entertainment. This is not a circus. This is a business. We have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Greenburgh to get the best possible deal for the Town. And if people in the community are abusing it, we’re not going to stand for that.We’ll have to keep more things to ourselves if we are legally able to do. And that’s the reason we’re not giving people as much up to date information as the neg [sic]. I don’t want people making phone calls discouraging some of the better bidders not to deal with the Town.” This is a business? Really? The Paul and this Board have yet to run anything as if it were a business. More importantly, if one resident has a conversation with a bidder and the bidder chooses to withdraw, what does that say about the quality and strength of The Paul’s “business sense” and dealings? A deal shouldn’t be so weak as to collapse because of one conversation.

What The Paul failed to mention was that the resident spoke to a partner of the company biding on the project that was a school friend of The Paul! Ironically, the next person called to the podium to speak was in fact the same resident. He took about four of his five alloted minutes to counter what The Paul had said. It’s interesting that when it’s something The Paul or his Board wants, they will insult and denigrate whomever they please. Yet they state on each meeting’s agenda that personal attacks will not be tolerated. While their common place hypocritical behavior is disgusting, they do control the microphone and get away with the same bad behavior they so desperately try to keep away from themselves. It pathetic.

Other speakers asked about the amount of money the Ardsley Water Wheel property for affordable housing was going to “net” for the Village of Ardsley? Were the other Villages and most importantly the Unincorporated portion of the Town going to get any money as well? No answer. As usual, The Paul was playing with his phone during this speakers limited time. The speaker challenged him to pay attention to what she was saying. The Paul had the audacity to say he had posed her question to a Town forum he participates with and was reading their response. When she requested he read their response, he refused, claiming he wanted to discuss it with the Board privately before sharing it. So why even bring it up? She promised to fax a FOIL request for the information upon her return home.

The Town Board meetings go along like this meeting after meeting. The Town is run more poorly day after day. Undeserving politicians seeking reelection unopposed is not good for the public or the Town. Alluding to the old saying about how power corrupts, it has absolutely corrupted our Town leadership. Morale of our employees is at its lowest of all time. Salaries for the top level of our Town are disproportionately high. The Town is keeling and going to capsize soon. We need a change in Town leadership and fast! We can only hope.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coalition To Protect Their Jobs

A recent meeting hosted by The Paul at his personal meeting room (Town Hall) found numerous politicians assembled in a move to preserve their jobs and limit any competition from challengers, regardless of their party affiliation. ABG is reminded of the recent changes in Albany by the democrats to increase their span of control. Here, however, is a move under the guise of campaign reform that promises to increase the incumbents’ chances of never being voted out of office.

Former 20-year Westchester County Legislator and current NYS Assemblyman Thomas “Proclamation” Abinanti rarely spends his own money on a campaign. He prefers to use mailings from his elected office instead. It’s his personal Golden Goose. As a “news” or “informational” mailing, he as well as other elected politicians, are able to mail his entire constituency repeatedly and use duplicate and/or unique mailings at no cost. The cost is shifted to the electorate through our taxes. No doubt you’ve seen the mailings. They may come in the form of a letter or more often as a glossy array of photos showing proclamations being presented, checks exchanged, and ribbon cutting ceremonies to preserve a tree in someone’s name. It really doesn’t matter what the event as long as the politician has a photo of it.

Abinanti’s plan is to introduce a state bill that would have villages, towns, cities and counties fund elections with public money. Municipalities that participate in the program would provide candidates with $6 for every $1 that the candidates might raise. He claims that his bill, which would put a strain on municipalities that are struggling with tight budgets already, would reduce the influence that big donors have on campaigns and politicians. This move seems like something Abinanti would create to save a buck. Any money that he may have raised and is in his campaign war chest would not be used and go directly to him at some point. What it really does is aid the incumbents as they maintain a donar list and benefactors who continue to purchase what they want by greasing a politicians campaign.
During this meeting at our Town Hall, Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick, known in Yonkers as “Lesnick the Liar”, said, “Opting into the program would cost Yonkers. They hold elections every other year and our costs are about $500,000 each election. He added “You can’t judge everything in terms of dollars and cents. What is a clean government worth?” What indeed? The Yonkers Inspector General seems to constantly work in hyperdrive doing investigations of political wrong-doings in the City of Hills, where nothing is on the level.

Finally The Paul added his two-cents worth saying, “Campaigns should not be about raising dollars but should be about issues.” It should always be about issues but never is. The Paul has over $100K in his campaign war-chest that will continue to grow and remain untouched. The Paul will once again be running unopposed with his two Stepford Board members Francis “Back Pocket” Sheehan and Diana “Sleepy” Juettner. Apparently, the Greenburgh Republican leadership prefers to remain in the shadows rather than do the work required to mount a campaign against them. For a change, The Paul is right that it should be about the issues. Issues such as: Fortress Bible guilty verdict, Dromore Road zoning, increased Service Station taxation on Central Avenue, WestHelp contract violations, WestHab spot-zoning and zoning violations, Rt 119 over-development, Assisted Living facilities zoning on undersized parcels of land, and more. But in Greenburgh, where it should be about the issues, it won’t. If our politicians never leave office, we’ll never get better representation. This bill should be killed and one for term limits should be offered instead. We can only hope. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fortress Bible Delay Helps Racists

A delay in the financial restitution for the Fortress Bible Church decision as it relates to the Town and its residents will only help The Paul and his co-racist conspirators breeze through their unchallenged election in November. For those unfamiliar (how can that be?) with the Fortress Bible case, we’ll recap.

Fortress Bible Church, a growing evangelical Christian church in Mt. Vernon purchased property in Greenburgh to build and move to a 500-seat chapel and a school for kindergarten through 12th grade in Greenburgh. The location can be identified by two concrete posts set against the trees at the north side of Dobbs Ferry Road by the entrance to the Sprain Brook Parkway north. You know the spot, it’s where former County Legislator and now State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, used to live. You may also recall he is a good friend of The Paul, but has since moved to Tarrytown with everything that’s been going on. Could it be The Paul tried to stop the church’s growth plans from the inside to help preserve his good friend’s neighborhood?

The Fortress Bible case, specifically the lawsuit where a federal judge determined the Town of Greenburgh (Feiner & Town Board) violated the Fortress Bible church’s constitutional religious rights by rejecting its building plans, was confirmed after an appeal and subsequent loss by The Paul and current Town Councilwoman Diana “Sleepy” Juettner. The decision and subsequent appeal decision was upheld in a federal court of appeals! Clearly there is no doubt here. This interprets into a financial, as well as moral victory, for the Church while bringing shame to our Town leaders. It also means they will be able to proceed and use money won from the Town to fund their expansion! The estimates as to an amount of the decision range from $4 million to $8 million dollars. Thankfully for The Paul and Diana “Sleepy” Juettner, they will be running unopposed and easily get re-elected – even though they should immediately resign! Naturally, the Town will be footing the bill for their racist actions and they will not be forced to pay one cent. Sadly, the residents of the Unincorporated Town will be “on the hook” for the money required to pay this off – again.

The Paul has arrogantly been quoted as saying, “This is not going to be doom and gloom for the town. I don’t think the number will be nearly as high as (church attorneys) are estimating. No matter what the damages are, I don’t anticipate Greenburgh going over the tax cap. The town will still be very financially healthy after all this is resolved.” Of course it won’t be doom and gloom for him, he has a handsome salary as supervisor and has long stopped giving back portions of his salary for non-delivery of services. You’ll recall that old publicity stunt where he would give back what amounted to pocket change if he didn’t deliver on projects during the course of the year? It was an effective media tool but delivered little else. Worthy media coverage would be if he gave a portion of his salary back for every guilty court verdict and/or certiorari adjustments the Town has had to pay out!

The Town residents continue to scrape by with a failing infrastructure, guilty verdicts, storms, floods, 4-year contract negotiatons, increased taxes from every side and all The Paul can do is try to do is deflect by saying it’s not going to be “doom and gloom” and he “doesn’t anticipate going over the tax cap”. Adherence to the NYS tax cap is a joke just as not going over it means nothing with all the exemptions included in it. The Paul is not worried because he is running for re-election unopposed and his track record of calling the “right shots” is so stellar.

He called it when he said “No!” to the Fortress Bible Church moving to Greenburgh ($8M). He called it when he said ignore doing town-wide revaluations ($1M /yr & approx.$4M to date). He called it when he decided to not renew the WestHelp contract with the County ($1.2M/yr). He called it when he and Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis guaranteed that remediation costs will go no higher than $100K for 715 Dobbs Ferry Road at the former Frank’s Nursery. He called it with Dromore Road. He called it with the water filtration “cap” on Ardsley Road. He called it when he tried to enter into an illegal lease with GameOn 365 instead of selling the property as required by both County and State law after foreclosure acquisition. He called it when he told The Fercliff School of Yonkers to cease their search for a new location and move into the WestHelp facility. The list goes on...

ABG has predicted The Paul and his Stepfords will ultimately sell the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to GameOn 365. Nearby House of Sports’ owners have offered $3.5M – twice what GameOn 365 insists they can scrape together given more time. The Paul and his Stepfords new mantra is they must do their due diligence before making a decision on the property. This is “code” to delay, giving GameOn 365 time to try to raise enough money for at least a deposit for the purchase. For any private sector businessman, this transaction would be a no-brainer and would be an easy decision. But The Paul promised GameOn 365 the property in closed door dealings with the owners before acquiring the property through foreclosure. We’re also sure if GameOn 365 can scrape together the deposit, The Paul will offer to “carry” the mortgage. Can anyone say Barney Frank?
Read more: Media Complicity or Just a Lie? at :

Then there’s the issue of illegal spot-zoning throughout the Town, enhancing The Paul’s ability to serve up a builder’s “delight” for his developer friends while residents must struggle with bureaucratic red tape, confusing forms and attitudes from departmental employees. Residential applicants are routinely submerged into numerous mazes of building requirements just to make changes to their property. This highlights a portion of what is wrong with this administration. The average permit process in the Town for a resident can take a minimum of one year and that doesn’t mean your project will even begin as the inspections, changes and costs might drag the process out even longer. Note: we invite ABG readers to share their experiences with us.

Contributing to The Paul’s ability to spot-zone are faulty zoning maps that developers often use to make their case in front of the complicit Town Board. These outdated and incorrect maps are what is allowing The Paul the ability to change zoning ad hoc. His Stepford Board votes “Yes” to whatever is placed before them. Although, a great risk to her political future, co-racist Councilwoman Diana “Sleepy” Juettner voted nay to a recent motion for a change. It must have been her turn to publicly go against The Paul – with his blessing of course. Thankfully, the Comprehensive Planning Committee has submitted new and improved zoning maps that may slow some of these occurances.

We have numerous properties throughout the Town that have seen spot-zoning changes. More importantly, ABG knows that developers, contractors and builders continually float in and out of Town Hall and will stop to discuss their Town business with The Paul. The proverbial kiss of his ring aside, we’re sure they’re there to test the waters and once they get the official nod, they know its okay to proceed. Obviously, we cannot prove what goes on behind closed doors. But ABG can review the decisions and projects the Town moves through at abnormally record pace and can tell something is very wrong in Gotham. Too bad we don’t have a Batman to rescue us. We can only hope.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Community Prayer Vigil Held

As dusk set upon the small crowd at the White Plains fountain at the intersection of Main Street and Mamaroneck Avenue, News 12’s camera crew filmed and reporters queried the attendees as to why they were there. The theme seemed to be one of unity and spiritual remembrance for lives lost in the bombing that just took place in Massachusetts during the final stages of the Boston Marathon.

Organized by former Greenburgh Councilwoman Sonya Brown, she read from a prepared prayer for several minutes as the group bowed their heads. With the temperature dropping and the sun setting, the prayer seemed to warm those participating as well as watching from the groups perimeter. Some held lit candles. Several people walking by stopped to participate. Once the prayer was concluded, Ms. Brown asked if anyone would like to add anything. No one did. Her prayer said enough.

Our hearts and continued prayers go out to the victims of the bombings as well as the attackers. We must remain vigilant and while we cannot be ready for every scenario, we will remain alert, involved and ready. God bless us all.

Greenburgh To Pay for Initial Remediation at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road

An admission was made in an email (shown below) to the Worthington-Woodlands Civic Association President, indicating the Town of Greenburgh will probably pay for the remediation of the oil spill at the former Frank’s Nursery site at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. The contaminated property has languished  since before the Town acquired the property years ago. ABG has maintained throughout this boondoggle that ultimately it will be the Unincorporated portion of the Town, The Paul’s “whipping boy”, that will foot the bill for cleaning up this property. This letter from the New York State DEC’s Todd Ghiosay confirms what ABG has said all along.

Todd Ghiosay
Division of Environmental Remediation
Spill Prevention and Response
100 Hillside Avenue - Suite 1W
White Plains, NY  10603-2860
Phone (914) 428-2505 ext. 361
Fax (914) 428-0323>>> 4/19/2013 4:15 PM >>>
Dear Todd,

Thank you for meeting with us on Wednesday, April 17th.

Do you have any information for us regarding the property we discussed?


Dorrine Livson

Mrs Livson
Victor Carosi returned my call and informed me that his consultant did have an informal meeting with someone at DEC but he did have a name.  He also said that the town is evaluating whether the property will be sold "as is", leaving it up to the buyer to do the remediation or whether the Town should do the cleanup.
Victor did say the he believes that the town will be handling the oil spill cleanup to clear the spill number. 

The last line of his letter is the real indicator of the Town’s intent. ABG is not sure whose decision it was for the Town to pay for the cleanup but doubt it was Mr. Carosi’s. ABG wants to know when this decision made? There’ve been no open discussions about this at any public meetings that ABG is aware of. Was it made during another one of the now-routine Executive Sessions the Board has become so desperate of utilizing? The Paul and his Stepfords have no difficulty shoving their hands down our pants to get at our hard-earned money every time they get more proverbial egg hurled onto their faces due to an impending financial penalty, fine or judgement headed their way. Hold onto your wallets.

If you’ve watched any Town Board meetings within the last six months, you’ve noticed anytime a difficult question is asked or an embarrassing judgement/decision by the Board may be exposed, the secret signal (think The Sting) is given. The designated Board member makes the motion to adjourn to Executive Session, the others stumble over themselves to offer a second to the motion and keep the public from knowing what The Paul (Mr. Open Government) and his Stepford Board will soon discuss behind closed doors.

There are several issues at play here for the Town residents (and several Attorney Generals) that our loyal followers already know. First, The Paul entered into secret negotiations with GameOn 365’s principals long before the Town acquired this property through foreclosure. Can you say collusion? Second, after the Town had acquired the property, a discussion ensued about how the library construction would impede the public’s use of the library facility and the former Frank’s Nursery was proposed as a temporary library site. That suggestion quickly screeched to a halt once it was learned that carcinogens, a fuel oil leak, and the earlier use of the property was uncovered as a dump for White Plains’ Urban Renewal waste. Ironically, the overhead high tensions wires bordering the property seemed to be of little concern.

Third, collusion with GameOn 365 began the illegal scenario but was by no means the only misplay by The Paul and his Stepfords. Once GameOn 365 finalized their Sports Bubble plan, they needed investors to pull this pyramid-like scheme off as their organization is made up of a bunch of stock brokers without the funds to proceed. GameOn 365 needed the lease to promote the offering to potential investors. They winked and explained to The Paul of their plan to erect a gigantic, 8-story (83ft tall) inflatable bubble on the site, make a few outdoor fields and pay the Town $5M. They had him hooked once The Paul heard he could make $5M dollars. The Paul had lost so much money with his screw up of the WestHelp deal, Fortress Bible guilty verdict (and others) that he began salivating like a vampire at a blood bank. GameOn 365 went in front of the Town Board as a formality and officially pitched the plan. The Paul told them to love it, so they did! Shrewdly, The Paul offered to lease the property to them for 15 years for a total of $5M. That breaks down to about $300k per year – an amount The Paul was unwilling to accept for the WestHelp property that the Town doesn’t even own.

The Paul has been pushing sports bubbles in the Town for years but could not proceed because of a restriction through the Finneran law. What to do? Wait a minute... The Paul asked his buddies Tom “Proclamation” Abinanti, now a NYS Assemblyman and NYS Senator Andrea “Platitudes” Stewart-Cousins to railroad an amendment to the Finneran Law allowing bubbles through their respective chambers during the “it’s getting late and we have to hit the road” final minutes of their respective legislatures. Done (deal)! The Paul could proceed with his promises to illegally offer the lease.

The Paul even had one of our Recreation Commissioners (there are two – just like our magic tax-cap number), Gerry Bryne, speak to Greenburgh’s need for more sports fields. Rather than remediate the property and develop it as a sports field if we truly need more sports fields, The Paul sought this illegal lease. Then The Paul decided to add insult to injury and hold a referendum for the illegal lease deal, trying to validate his illegal deal. Knowing the public is clueless, he knew if he worded the referendum “properly”, adding in yard signs and newspaper ads, voters would read it for the first time at the voting “booth” and it would pass – which it did. But illegal is still illegal even though he successfully duped the majority of voters into approving it.

ABG readers also know that anytime someone disagrees with what The Paul is doing, his classic response, “If you don’t like what I’m doing, you can sue me.” So they did – again. Another sports-oriented company with a different clientele and business model, House of Sports of Ardsley, NY, initiated a lawsuit along with several others, to block the illegal lease. The premise for their lawsuit was that NY State and Westchester County law mandates any property acquired by a municipality must be sold or utilized by that municipality. GameOn 365 littered the landscape with yard signs claiming this deal would bring $5M to the Town. How could this be bad for the Town?

The saga continues, but is now on hold as The Paul claims the Town is doing its “due diligence” regarding the two offerings. Read: stalling. The Town Board members have been instructed to say the same thing, so they do. As they parrot what The Paul tells them to say, the property sits unremediated and unused. The site is about the size and scope of the WestHelp property that The Paul insisted should be used for the Ferncliff School for the Developmentally Disabled. And mysteriously, he has never suggested using 715 Dobbs Ferry Road for the Ferncliff School. Why not? ABG continues to insist the Town do the right thing and ask for a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the site and see what else we might get?

ABG has previously predicted the Town’s decision will be to sell the property to GameOn 365 – even though House of Sports has offered double the amount of what GameOn 365 has for the site and promised to pay for the remediation. The Paul and the Stepfords will site all kinds of excuses but they will be irrelevant. GameOn 365 can’t “up the ante” because they have no “ante”. House of Sports has cash in hand. ABG continues to predict the Town will wind up paying for remediation of the property either directly or through credits of some sort once GameOn 365 gets the property. ABG doesn’t really care what is built on the property but acknowledges it is zoned for residential housing and should remain that way. We can only hope.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why No Decision?

With the WestHelp fiasco finally behind us after New York State’s representatives stated they would not endorse demolishing existing, albeit decaying, affordable housing, we continue to watch The Paul and his Board sit on their proverbial hands as the lessee of this facility. The Paul had requested proposals for the property some time back. ABG is convinced this was nothing more than his typical stall tactic while he waited for the circling wagons of support to make their final decision his way. Ever the shrewd politician, he began this debacle over two years ago when he hatched yet another lawsuit-worthy scheme!

If you follow ABG, we had been against what The Paul was doing with the WestHelp property all along. Others had been against him as well and we have all prevailed on the side on logic, common sense, societal decency, and by a rudimentary understanding of the contractual agreement the town maintained with the county! It was no surprise to many of us that this proposed WestHelp destruction for the benefit of the Ferncliff School of Yonkers would never materialize. Being proved right does not make us feel like the victor. ABG and others feel terrible that the Ferncliff School was duped and set back by The Paul’s maneuvering and manipulation of them. ABG has written about this sort of behavior from The Paul. It’s a shame that Ferncliff lost two valuable years in their search for a new location because of his lying and scheming!

But what of the property now? While this two-year long saga dragged on, the property was intentionally left abandoned by The Paul and the Town. Open to the elements, stripped of piping and appliances, vandalism, and animal destruction, it’s estimated to cost about $3M to renovate the facility before it can be used again. That’s about the same amount of money the Town could have made, not lost, had the Town simply secured the facility. The Greenburgh Housing Authority has people in need of housing which could have satisfied about half of their list of people had The Paul and his Board elected to simply put them in the facility once the County ceased to utilize it. Everybody lost by the Town not resigning the contract with the County, especially it’s own residents in need of a home. Its a shame the we continued to lose the $1.2M per year in rent by The Paul and not house people in need of existing affordable housing.

Again, what of the property now? The last Town Board work session had a few of the bidders for the property “re-present” their RFP, with one company increasing their cash offering by doubling it. Then, shortly thereafter, they withdrew from the bidding. ABG believes if The Paul and his Board operated in ernest, and did a legitimate RFP process each time there was Town involvement in a property for sale, we would see higher amounts offered. But there appears to be nothing but collusive actions every way we turn, so it’s difficult to know how successful the Town might actually be in a process of true “open government” was practiced.

There are two properties in the Town languishing under The Paul’s distorted view of what our Town needs. First is the obvious degradation and proposed ruining of the WestHelp facility for him to garner favor with County Executive Rob Astorino, County Legislator Michael Smith and County Communications Director Ned McCormack. Of course, the gain for The Paul is a recouping of lost Valhalla votes after having his illegal payments to the school board stopped in court! The second property is at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. It’s the old Frank’s Nursery property that The Paul tried to illegal lease to GameOn 365 with another back room deal. There are numerous issues here as well but a much simpler solution from which several might be offered. The Town should do the site remediation that is required to make the property “whole” and then offer it for sale instead of trying to finagle a way to get someone else to pay for the cleanup. If The Paul’s concern for the Ferncliff School were genuine, he and the Board would sell the property to Ferncliff School and kill two birds with one stone. If not, ask for an RFP for the property instead of making another illegal back room deal for it. Assume the land, remediate it and make it another ball field/park within the Town. One of the two recreation commissioners (duplicate positions) said we need more fields for the Town. ABG believes this was a dishonest plea, sought and paid for by The Paul as an endorsement of the GameOn 365 deal he brokered prior to the Town acquiring the foreclosed upon property. 

The Town had RFP’s submitted a month ago. Now The Paul is playing more games and re-interviewing the companies’ and their submissions. Why has no decision been rendered when they’ve had enough time to proceed? ABG doesn’t buy their constant reply of doing their due diligence. Their operational incompetence will not matter how much due diligence is done. Regardless of the lies, back room dealings and promises made, the Town has the ability to right this extremely wrong position - twice - and get the Town back on track. We can only hope.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Elmsford Little League Has Another Major League Grand Marshall!

Yankee great Paul O’Neil with Brenden Quinn (driving)
and an unidentified Little Leaguer
Clouds moved in overheard after an early morning tease by the sun quickly disappeared. With spring taking much too long to arrive, one tried and true sign of an impending spring happens without fail: the Elmsford Little League's Annual Parade. 

Kicking off this year’s baseball season was none other than New York Yankee legend and World Series player, outfielder Paul O’Neil!  Previously, Darryl Strawberry had been a grand marshall. This year would be no different as the kids lined up on North Stone Avenue sporting brand new team hats and jerseys. We even saw one team running their kids through calisthenics before the parade began. That’s dedication! 

More players and parents than ever before would be participating in the parade. The fire department with it's personnel on board and the shiny fire trucks would be at the end of the parade. The fire trucks were sporting signs looking for volunteers. We found out that it is part of a NY State-wide recruitment program entitled “Is There A Fire In You”? The fire department is holding open houses at both fire companies on April 27th (at Live Oak Engine) and April 28th (at Elmsford Fire Company) with events happening on the half hour from 10AM until 2PM. 

Yes, the Grand Marshall, NY Yankee Paul O’Neil would smile and continue waving and greet fans and players along the way. Today, everybody was a Paul O’Neil fan. In fact, everybody was a baseball fan today as they smiled and encouraged the young baseball players marching past them. So it’s official, spring has finally sprung! 

This was a nice day, albeit cool, where everything fell into place. The police, fire and highway departments along with parents, coaches, families and friends made sure of it. Thanks to everyone who helped make this years opening season parade a success, especially to Paul O’Neil, who is now an honorary Elmsford Little Leaguer. Let’s “Play ball!”

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ferncliff Deal Rejected – Everyone Loses!

In a stunning, yet expected, upset, The Paul, the Town Board, County Executive Rob Astorino, County Legislator Michael Smith, CE Advisor Ned McCormack and a few lesser players, have failed with their bid to remove the WestHelp affordable housing from the Westchester Community College Campus – again! They fought it when it was proposed and even tried to secede from the Town and incorporate as a Village just to fight the Town’s acceptance of it! ABG will state that we honestly believe the Ferncliff School does great work, serves a vital community service and was most likely duped into believing The Paul with another of his convoluted schemes.

A letter posted below from the State, details the state’s rejection of Ferncliff’s request to proceed with the WestHelp project.

Over a year has gone by with The Paul-induced and Town Board supporting, the failure to live up to its contract with the County. You may recall the contract stipulated that the Town be paid $1.2M per year to house low/no income individuals and to maintain the facility. ABG believes The Paul ordered the facility to remain left abandoned and exposed to facilitate its rapid deterioration. ABG also believes there was a deal made between The Paul, Rob Astorino and Michael Smith for some return favor to be determined at a later date. Ultimately, ABG has maintained this has always been about The Paul acquiring votes in the next election. But The Paul’s intentional ruining of these apartments while the Greenburgh Housing Authority maintains a list of some 250 or so families in need of housing is the real  crime.

Only last week Legislator Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining said, “What happened between the end of the WestHELP lease and today? And why is Greenburgh still involved when provisions are not being met?” ABG wants to know why the all the county legislators weren’t demanding the answer to this same question for over a year? And, will the County be pursuing restitution for The Paul’s wrongdoings or are they going to let it just “disappear”? Could it be that everyone’s blind party affiliations and the partisan need to sit with one side or the other is more at play here than anything else? Were the democrats who favored the Ferncliff School deal simply representing their Yonkers-based constituents or trying to support The Paul – or both? Were the republicans siding with Astorino for similar partisan reasons? You decide.

In the end, nobody won. The Paul failed to buy his votes from Valhalla. Rob Astorino and Mike Smith haven’t endeared themselves any more or less with their neighbors but have proven they are still racist. The Ferncliff School loses because they are still no closer to relocating to a newer facility. The no/low income people and the Greenburgh Housing Authority’s families and individual members in need of housing are still in need of housing. The Town of Greenburgh loses to the tune of $1.2M each year (or $100K each month) because of The Paul’s corrupt and reprehensible decisions. The County loses because their facility was left vacant and forced to deteriorate and will require repairs to be utilized again.

Several RFP’s indicated that this $20M facility would require approximately $3M in renovations to make it habitable again. Let’s hope the County appropriates the necessary emergency funding to do these repairs immediately and get the housing back to it’s required condition for use. ABG doubts the County will decide to bring an action against the Town, as that may have been the deal made for The Paul’s participation in helping the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood. The Paul is no stranger to lawsuits against him. While the Town maintains a AAA Bond Rating it has never taken advantage of, the time for it’s unfortunate need is approaching. ABG doesn’t wish to see more lawsuits against the Town. What ABG would like to see is The Paul and his Board resign in an admission of their dereliction and illegal actions. We can only hope.

It’s About Time

ABG has maintained along with others that the Town is in violation of the County-Town contract regarding the WestHelp Housing Facility property on the Westchester Community College Campus. The intentional (mis)direction by The Paul to cause the 108 Apartment Facility to fall into a aggravated state of disrepair is nothing short of criminal. To that end, the Westchester County Legislators began finally talking about taking action against the Town and removing the Town as the lessee for the WestHelp property! The shame of this entire catastrophe is that people in need of housing are being pitted against the developmentally disabled by The Paul and his Town Board, all without any of our legislators exhibiting any moral conscience.

ABG asserts that the root of The Paul’s actions against maintaining the WestHelp Facility has nothing to do with his desire to help the developmentally disabled. If he did want to help them, he would have offered the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road as a credible site for them. They need six acres of relatively flat land and 715 Dobbs Ferry Road is about seven acres. But he didn’t offer it, proving his insincerity. ABG believes this was always about The Paul buying votes from Valhalla’s Mayfair-Knollwood School District residents. His illegal payments to the Valhalla School Board was reversed via a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Town against the Valhalla school district. ABG also believes there is complicity on the part of Republican County Executive Rob Astorino, his Communications Director Ned McCormack, Republican County Legislator Michael Smith and Matt Richter, who also is employed by the County Executive.

After fighting a growing tide of resistance from other politicians, three County Legislators have maintained their position of contractual violation against The Paul, the Town of Greenburgh and the County Legislators. While the tide might have been finally shifting to favor what ABG believes is the only correct stance they have taken, it had appeared to be an uphill battle. The Paul’s media outlet confidantes continue to not only drink, but distribute The Paul’s Kool-Aid. They also endorse and condone his corrupt viewpoint of destroying existing and viable housing to gradually force the need to tear it down and offer the property to the Ferncliff School.

Now that it’s safe to change her position, County Legislator Judy Meyers has decided she is against tearing down the WestHelp housing and wants to continue it’s use for housing homeless and low income people. How nice. Why the shift in position? Why didn’t she easily recognize the violation by The Paul and the Town? We need legislators willing to stand up for what is right and not simply ride the wave of their respective party. Meyers jumped on the Democratic surf board to “hang ten”. That’s all happened here. And when it looked like The Paul and Ferncliff might be the wrong side, she headed for the other shore. Is this the best we can do or will can we someday get better representation? We can only hope.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Media Complicity or Just a Lie?

Similar to the never-ending “games” The Paul likes to play for his own skewed reasons, GameOn 365 decided to take a page out of his play-book and issue a misleading press release that was printed by a weekly newspaper. It was a small, under-the-radar press release that went unnoticed by many but was caught by our vigilant Christina, an ABG researcher who was startled to read the incredulous title, “Greenburgh Sports Bubble Is a Go”. This small and misleading press release was from Martin Hewitt of GameOn 365, which stated the Greenburgh Sports Bubble project is back “on”. The reason it’s back on? He states the reason is because the lawsuit by Elms Street Sports, owners of the House of Sports facility in Ardsley, and other petitioners has been dropped due to the unmentioned counter-suit GameOn 365 launched. This “article” seems more like an example of the media being complicit with The Paul and another of his pet projects.

He continues his claim that the lawsuit was dropped due to GameOn 365’s motion receiving sanctions and a dismissal of the suit. This is simply a lie. ABG has detailed quite extensively how and why we believe Hewitt has distorted the truth in the past while maintaining an arrogance when speaking with or to residents. But for him to say he, GameOn 365, or their attorneys caused the lawsuit to be dismissed is altogether not accurate! The lawsuit was maintained by the petitioners even after The Paul announced he was withdrawing the lease “deal” (he had concocted) with Hewitt long before the Town ever acquired the foreclosed upon Frank’s Nursery property. Once his Stepford Board officially voted upon the withdrawal, the petitioner’s dropped their lawsuit. The issue with the lawsuit was that the Town and The Paul were in violation of County and State laws that said a municipality that acquires property through foreclosure may sell it in a public or private sale.

 GameOn 365’s motion claimed that Elm Street Sports had several contradictory statements in it and that Simon of HelpBurstTheBubble.com, had a financial arrangement with Elm Street Sports and it’s owners. While these points may or may not be true, the fact of the matter was that the Elm Street Sports lawsuit was dropped after the Town decided to drop the lease proposal with GameOn 365 – the only reason the suit was initiated in the first place! In reading the GameOn 365 petition, it sounded like the best response they could muster was the old playground ditty, “Nah, nah, na-nah nah!”

Hewitt was quoted as saying, “We are glad that the frivolous litigation is now behind us, and we look forward to making our indoor sports facility a reality for everyone to enjoy.” We wonder why the article’s author never asked even a few pertinent questions? Those might be: 1) Many have stated that GameOn 365 is a “paper” company with no financial resources, is that true? 2) Are you ready to purchase the property right now? 3) Elm Street Sports has an operational facility in Ardsley with financial resources and claims to be prepared to purchase immediately, how does this affect your decision to continue? 4) Claims have been made that you need investors to proceed, have you been able to gain any investors to date? 5) The remediation costs made by Town Attorney Tim “Remediation” Lewis were capped at $100k but persist going higher. The escalating remediation costs and a lack of investors from GameOn 365 point to an inability for you to proceed. Is this is not the case, would you explain why not?

The list of questions could continue on, but ABG believes it is pointless. All indicators have pointed to a cold reality for the GameOn 365 organization. They cannot get investors, funding or enough money to proceed. The Paul and the Town Board have dragged their feet with every aspect of this parcel of land with every excuse they could muster. At one Town Board meeting, Francis “Back Pocket” Sheehan stated he wasn’t looking for the highest bidder for the property. Why not? The fiduciary responsibility of the Town representatives to the taxpayer is to pay the back taxes on this parcel and sell it for as much money as the market can bear. That amount seems to be lost on this Board. We have previously predicted the Board will give this deal to GameOn 365 after all the excuses against doing so are dismissed. Elms Street Sports has offered the Town double the amount of money and full remediation cost coverage to what GameOn 365 has offered. How can they justify taking $1.6M over $3.5M for the property? This would be a no-brainer for any Town Board, except ours.

If the Town cannot see the forest for the trees or cannot figure out which way to go, we agree with the solution many have offered numerous times. Put the property up for a Request For Proposals (RFP) and see not only what offers comes in, but how much others, beyond GameOn 365 and House of Sports might be willing to pay. Those offers may bring something else to the table that everyone wants. We can only hope.