Saturday, June 29, 2013

Supervisor Campaigns to Girl Scouts

In a YouTube video link of Girl Scout Troop #2670, Supervisor Feiner and the Town Clerk participated in a video campaign where the girls were requesting traffic improvements for the cars and buses daily approach to drop off fellow students at their school. ABG applauds the Girl Scout Troop for their Community Service activism, although it is disappointing that it took a group of kids to recognize and highlight this issue! The fact that Paul Feiner and the Town Clerk are here proves this is just another campaign video for him at the expense of these admirable young spirits. They are unaware that they are being used.

Seeking to persuade our Police Department to make safety improvements at the Greenville School, Girl Scout Troop #2670 apparently contacted the GPD and requested a few changes be made to the drop-off area and the roadway leading to their school.They were successful in achieving their goal. ABG offers a well-deserved congratulations to the Girl Scout Troop #2670 - well done ladies! Watch their video:

This Girl Scout Troop aside, ABG is once again troubled by the fact that we have a Supervisor who is blissfully unaware a dangerous situation involving children routinely exists at the Greenville School, and continues ignoring young lives in daily jeopardy. How many other children and seniors, as well as the public in general, are being put in harms way because our Supervisor is more intent on being re-elected than actually serving and representing the public? Why did it take so long for this troubling situation to be recognized by kids and half-heartedly addressed by adults? Are there other groups of children attending other schools facing traffic peril as well? We know there are.

Where were the parents of the school children and why weren’t they complaining to the Police Department? Why weren’t they pushing the “problem solver” to address the safety of their children? More importantly, after listening to the behavior of the drivers delivering their kids to school on this video, why are their own parents violating the law and increasing the safety risk to their children while dropping their kids off to school? And where is the school’s PTA? Why is the school administration silent? With all the reports we read, these administrators are very handsomely paid and are supposed to have the best interest of the students at heart – apparently only after they step foot into the school.

At every Town Board meeting it seems our Supervisor makes a motion to become the lead agency (read: wholesaler) for yet another developers oversized proposal only to have it hastily seconded by one of his cohorts. You can almost hear the train bell approaching, roaring through the station and exiting as the Board donates their votes in favor. The phony hearing process proceeds and approvals are cavalierly dished out, numerous traffic consultant experts routinely “qualify” the project neighborhood’s increase in traffic, and the Board giddily accepts it without hesitation. But as residents consistently prove the increased traffic is slowly making it more and more difficult for them to cope, their pleas go unheeded as this Board doesn’t care*. Yet, these slow doses of increased traffic are affecting all residents throughout the Town. These Board-sanctioned increases are finally showing their impact throughout the Town. The Greenville School is only one example. Safety issues are becoming more and more prevalent as this Board ignores increases in traffic, overdevelopment, flooding, crumbling infrastructures and a planning department strictly seeking job security, all routinely blessed by Mr Feiner.

This video found the Town Clerk making a campaign statement for Mr Feiner. She told the girls he had recently met with students from Westchester Community College who wanted sidewalks for their safety when walking to the train station. “Mr Campaign” had then shown the requisite interest while the cameras rolled and the reporters wrote. He made a statement and then invited them to speak at the Town Board meeting. As Mr Feiner leads this Town Board toward shutting out the public from speaking at Board meetings, this young man’s education continues. He will quickly learn that Mr Feiner is typical of most politicians and that politicians lie. Mr Feiner is not interested in sidewalks, these students safety or whether or not this situation changes or improves. He’s only interested in one thing: himself and his re-election. If they want to stay safe, they should get off the streets as soon as they see him coming!

ABG recognizes the girls of Troop 2670 acted with purity and honesty. And again, ABG offers a well-deserved congratulations to the Girl Scout Troop #2670. Mr Feiner could learn some important things from them. Our best wishes to these young ladies.

* The one difference is the City of Yonkers approved plans to expand the property by Stew Leonards, Costco and Home Depot with more construction. Since this is literally in Mr Feiner’s backyard, he and his Board vociferously protested. Interesting how things change when the shoe is on the other foot, isn’t it?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supervisor Won’t Cease or Desist

The abandoned WestHelp affordable housing property on the Westchester Community College campus continues to degrade as Mr Feiner instructed the property be left exposed as part of his plan. Even though its gate is still padlocked, we’re told pipes have been removed as well as sinks, faucets and the like. Mr Feiner wanted to eliminate the facility in Valhalla to secure votes for himself and co-conspirators in the upcoming election. His plan began over two years ago. Ever the phony, yet scheming politician, he kept his plan mute. When the G10 residents realized what happened, they went public. Things have gotten so uncomfortable for Mr Feiner with this latest fiasco, that he and his Board have taken drastic steps to limit the public from speaking out at Town Board meetings.

After NYS ruled against Mr Feiner’s plan to tear down the facility and allow his choice of the Ferncliff School of Yonkers, for the developmentally disabled to build a new school at the location, Mr Feiner faked concern again and insisted an RFP for affordable housing be posted soliciting from developers a plan to renovate and use the site for affordable housing. An RFP should be good. There were a number of viable proposals promising renovation and rental of the units within a short period of time. Mr Feiner has learned from the GameOn 365 debacle that he can say anything but do what he pleases with little or no legal, moral or ethical repercussions. He learned to use the new “buzz” phrases of “due diligence” and “fiduciary responsibility to the Town”. And yet, he continues to argue about his flawed decisions with these proposals with wanton disregard for legalities.

After a new Request For Proposal (RFP) was requested by Mr Feiner and the Town Board, a number of affordable housing-oriented specialists submitted their proposal for the WestHelp property. One company called Group MRH, submitted the bid paperwork with falsified statements and documents to enhance their chance of being awarded the bid. The ruse almost worked. The problem was that this vendor, handpicked by Mr Feiner, not only falsified documents to get the bid, but his bid was too low when compared to the others. Undeterred, ABG believes Mr Feiner quietly worked with MRH until his bid was the highest one. No matter that their bid and its related information was lie. He asked for a new bid and amazingly, Group MRH had the high bid. ABG can imagine Mr Feiner saying, “I can’t tell you what the highest bid is but yours needs be more.” “How about now?” as MRH slipped a piece of paper toward Mr Feiner with a new, larger number. “Not yet.” Another piece of paper. “Now?” “Nope.” Again. “Now?” “Yes, write it up and resubmit it!”

In the submission for the last bid was a seemingly innocuous statement that claimed Group MRH had maintained a 10-year working relationship with the Richman Group. Richman is a well-known and respected affordable housing management company with a range of affordable housing involvement throughout the country. Everyone was impressed by the bid and the related stature of who would be involved.

Then people began to dig a bit and slowly uncovered more and more discrepancies with the Group MRH bid. Once statements provided couldn’t be corroborated and documents were falsified to gain the bid, Mr Bernstein and others challenged Mr Feiner and the Boards decision to continue with Group MRH. But Mr Feiner remained adamant to stay with his choice even after verifying that they lied to get the bid!

Robert Bernstein, a Town Supervisor primary candidate against Mr Feiner, successfully showed that Group MRH had lied to get the housing contract. He proved that the Richman Group had no involvement with Group MRH. That alone should have forfeited the entire process for Group MRH. But not in “Bizzaro Greenburgh”. Mr Feiner began the campaign blitz to announce the bid he awarded to Group MRH. He also mentioned the involvement with the Richman Group. He held press conferences, put out press releases announcing the same thing over and over. Suddenly, a letter was sent to Mr Feiner from the Richman Corporation’s legal representatives requesting Mr Feiner to Cease and Desist using their name and associating them with Group MRH. Mr Feiner didn’t stop. It was uncovered by Mr Bernstein and when presented to the Town Board at a Town Board meeting, most claimed they were unaware of the letter, insisting Mr Feiner didn’t share it with them. Ignorance is bliss.

In Mr Feiner’s June 10, 2013 newsletter/campaign document, Mr Feiner is happily violating the Cease and Desist order from the Richman Group. In his document under the information about WestHelp, he says, “MRH has asked the Richman Group Affordable Housing Corporation to provide property management and tenant compliance oversight for the affordable housing units at 1 West Help Drive.” Regardless of what Group MRH is doing, planning to do, has done or not done, Mr Feiner should not be writing about the Richman Group based on the Cease and Desist request. Secondarily, whenever a resident would ask him what the criteria he was looking for in a vendor was or what progress was being made searching for a vendor for this property, he or Town Attorney Tim Lewis would say they couldn’t speak about it because it is a private matter or they cannot divulge contractual information during negotiations. Mr Feiner continues to selectively release information, which ABG finds a reprehensible way to treat Town residents.

Mr Feiner should respect the Cease and Desist request from the Richman Group. But he didn’t. Mr Feiner should also respect all the residents in the Town, not just the ones who vote for him or agree with him. But he doesn’t. Mr Feiner should also provide a better example for his Board to follow. But he can’t. Unfortunately, they have all operated this way for so long, ABG is convinced we’ll need to “clean house” to begin leading by a better example.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Eliminating Competition!

During the entirely unnecessary GameOn 365 debacle, which is still underway, Mr Feiner has insisted the only serious offer is from his buddies, GameOn 365. Both Donald Scherer and Irin Israel, who operate the successful House of Sports business in Ardsley, have said numerous times their offer of double the amount GameOn 365 offered for the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road is a serious one. Mr Scherer is also on record as saying when it comes to money, he’s always serious, as is their offer. Mr Feiner uses the age-old strategy that if you say something often enough it will eventually become the truth. Yet even though every representative for House of Sports has said the offer is serious, Mr Feiner continues his ploy.

To that end, Mr Feiner has maintained at every opportunity that House of Sports’ offer is strictly about eliminating competition. Every representative from House of Sports emphatically stated it is not about competition. The G10 residents, acting as the conscience that is absent with Mr Feiner and his Town Board, decided to state at numerous meetings that Mr Feiner and his Board have a fiduciary responsibility to the Town and its residents to accept the highest amount of money for the property offered. They said it so often that even Mr Feiner began to use the phrase. And, you already know how that goes. Once Mr Feiner uses it, the Board has carte blanche to jump on board and use it as well. Before you could say collusion, they were in a fiduciary chorus rivaling the TV show Glee! The only noticeable difference is with Glee, their sound system works.

Even if the House of Sports were only looking to purchase the former and still-contaminated Frank’s Nursery property to squash their supposed competitors, so what? House of Sports has offered the Town twice the money for the property, which the Town needs because of Mr Feiner’s guilty verdict judgements, bad business “strategies”, mismanagement, wholesaling the Town to developers and more. Mr Feiner and his Board should abandon the schemes and the charade of “doing the right thing” by trying to finagle a way to gift the property to Game On 365. The Board should genuinely “do the right thing” and sell the 6+ acres to highest offering company, in this case the House of Sports for $3.5M in cash. We’ve lost count how many times the Town has rejected this lucrative offer because Mr Feiner wants the deal to go to GameOn 365. The administration should forget trying to land some mythical deal that once again tips the advantage to a developer friend and not the residents that Mr Feiner swore to represent. 

It has been said by many that the latest iteration of Mr Feiner’s gifting of 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to GameOn 365 through a new RFP is nothing more than another sham in hopes of skirting the finest edge of the law while Mr Feiner again gets his way and does what he’s wanted all along. He has claimed often that the residents of Greenburgh voted for a referendum to approve the use of the property for a sports venue. It was based on a vaguely crafted referendum, for a specific and mostly unethical outcome, that approximately 5k voters out of about 9k voters approved. It is hardly the residents speaking. It is a small, small percentage of the 90k residents who spoke. But since they spoke the way Mr Feiner aimed for, that phrase continues to be bandied about like free candy on Halloween. Mr Hewitt, a principal of GameOn 365 has taken that page from Mr Feiner’s playbook and repeats it at every opportunity. The only major issue with his overused statement is it still isn’t true.

If we adhere to Mr Feiner’s flawed rationale, Mr Robert Bernstein is running against him for the Democratic endorsement to eliminate him as the competition. Or, is there some other devious scheme behind his campaign? It’s no secret that Mr Bernstein and many others have openly disagreed with Mr Feiner’s policies, actions, creation of laws, service cuts, budget numbers, and more. Mr Bernstein had gone to court several times against Mr Feiner and the Town and been both successful and unsuccessful. Mr Bernstein has offered to look into hiring a Town Administrator if elected. We are not here to campaign for Mr Bernstein, but it could put an end to the questionable actions that have happened covertly throughout the Town. Another change we would like is to remove the Town Board from the zoning process and have an independent zoning commission objectively address the zoning for the Town. It would stop the spot-zoning endorsed by Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden and routinely performed to benefit developers by the Board.

In the end, this really isn’t about eliminating the competition. It’s about doing what is best for the private and business residents of the Town. It’s long overdue.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Open Letter from Former Justice Rosenberg

The letter below, written by former Court Justice Herb Rosenberg of Dobbs Ferry, was a response to an email sent out by Mr Feiner using the Town’s email list. Illegal? No. Ethical? No. Another weapon in Mr Feiner’s campaign arsenal? Absolutely! Mr Feiner has been in a collusive relationship with GameOn 365 to give the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former-Frank’s Nursery, to them for “a song” and then carry the mortgage for 13-years. He now wants to delay the sale with a phony RFP until after the Town’s proposed Comprehensive Plan is approved. ABG is not convinced this will ever happen under this administration.

The Town of Greenburgh acquired the former Frank’s Nursery property through tax foreclosure in 2011, Mr Feiner has battled concerned residents for over two years to illegally lease, and then sell the property to a startup venture named GameOn.

Refusing to publicly disclosed who they are, Mr. Feiner insists he has spoken about the property with potential bidders, offering more money for the property than House of Sports. Why he refuses to inform the Town residents who these people are adds to the shroud of secrecy and back room deals Mr Feiner is so anxious to do.

Here is Justice Rosenberg’s unedited letter:

As with your earlier referendum, your letter misstates facts and omits important facts.  While that doesn't seem to bother you, I will comment for the sake of others.
1.  You have said several times that both GameOn and House of Sports have threatened lawsuits.  You know perfectly well that GameOn isn't going to sue because, as the lower bidder, they have no claim, and if they did sue that would be sanctioned by the court for a frivolous lawsuit as part of the quick dismissal of their case.
2.  You say, in your questions, that the site "is currently appraised at $1.6 million but would be worth more if it is rezoned for other uses."  You omit the fact that the property was appraised with GameOn's recreation proposal before the appraiser, including the need to rezone.   Your misleading point seems to be that the property would be worth more if it is rezoned for recreational uses.  In fact, it is worth  more, as House of Sports has shown.  It is the appraisal that was "cooked" so that GameOn could bid $1.7 million and make it seem like a fair price.
3.  Although you state the appraised value, you fail to state the amounts already offered -- $3.5 million from House of Sports and $1.7 million (with a highly contingent additional $1.3 million) from GameOn, which you touted as a fair price.  That kind of information is important for purposes of asking residents for an opinion.
4.  You say that people have been calling you.  You always say that people have been calling you, but of course you can't prove it and nobody can disprove it.  But if true, so what?  People, in general, don't have the financial, legal, or planning knowledge that is required for such decisions, and so you are just using the words "people have been calling" you to justify whatever actions that you want to do, because there is no way to prove that anyone called you.  However, I doubt that this will ever stop you.
4.  Most of the questions -- especially the last eight -- should not be asked of the general public.  The Town Board has been elected to study, consider, research, etc., so that intelligent decisions can be made by responsible elected officials who are expected to understand legal, financial, budgetary, planning and environmental issues -- things that the general public is not trained to understand and does not have the information to understand.  In other words, your questionnaire is unserious.
You are now talking about selling the site in the winter of 2014.  If yours were an honest approach, it would mean a further delay of almost two years.  But you have not shown yourself to be honest.  It is fairly clear that your real purpose -- or strategy -- is to prevent the House of Sports from acquiring the property, probably to enable the GameOn people to get financing.  Or maybe it is just to spite House of Sports.  The public good has been secondary in your actions in recent years.
You have turned a golden opportunity into a mess, and as usual, the Town will suffer.
Herb Rosenberg

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Residents Are At Fault for Town Board’s Incompetence

If it wasn’t so sad, it would almost be comical. Every meeting finds Mr Feiner and his Board stretching, reaching and desperately seeking to place blame for their bad, immoral, unethical and perhaps illegal behavior. Interesting too, is that Mr Feiner is incapable of keeping from inserting his foot into his mouth, and has enlisted the Town Attorney and Town Clerk to keep him out of trouble. Their silence during the meetings would be appreciated and should be required. However, Mr Lewis always feels the need to go farther and routinely berate resident taxpayers who speak, as well as pay his salary, and insist on treating and speaking to them as one might to a misbehaving child. He believes this is appropriate. It is not.

The Town Board members, with Mr Feiner leading the pack, has complained about the residents in attendance and that they sit in the rear of the hall, creating disturbances and feedback for the microphone system. This is the reason they claim the audio for the broadcasts of televised meetings is so bad! The G10 has sat there because the chairs in the rear are free-standing, allowing movement to gain more legroom, elbow room and simply space. Those seats also have a reclining backs which allows these abused residents to sit longer and more comfortably. The rest of the seating chairs are fixed on a base rail and are immovable and uncomfortable.

ABG knows the reason these residents sit where they do is purely for a modicum of comfort. In fact, the real offenders disrupting the meetings are the Commissioners, Police Chief, Building Inspector(s), Recreation Commissioner(s) and the like attending the meeting. They are also seated in the rear for the same comfort reason. However, their behavior is disruptive, annoying and frankly, disrespectful to everyone in attendance. Nothing is ever said to them, however.

During the last Town Board meeting, Mr Lewis claimed it was the residents in attendance who were creating the disturbances and feedback to the audio system which was another convoluted explanation as to why the audio at home was so poor.  During the race to renew the Cablevision contract, when Mr Feiner and his Board rapidly, anxiously and without reservation okayed the deal with Cablevision, the Board claimed to have been promised cutting edge, state-of-the-art new equipment to replace the existing, outdated and faulty equipment. Some equipment was changed, but not enough of it.

Another ploy ABG believes the Board was instructed to use by Mr Feiner was to keep their microphones off while they spoke during the Town Board meeting. This would cause everyone to not be able to hear much if anything of what was said while still being able to maintain they were doing nothing wrong. Many audience members shouted up to the Board from the comfort of their reclining seats that the Board was not being heard. Sometimes they simply repositioned the microphones feigning a solution. It was only after the audience continued to inform the Board they still couldn’t be heard that they switched the microphones on. Despicable behavior from this elitist group.

The other weapon the Board uses is to not start the Town business until after doing about an hour or so worth of presentations, poetry readings, musical interludes and so on. This very effectively delays the start of the normal 7:30PM meetings, reducing the real business of the Town as well has limiting the public comments sessions. The newest part of this is that they are now ending the meetings at 11PM. So by starting later and ending earlier, they have quietly done away with the second, 5-minute public comment session. So now you have the 3-minute public comment session, to which you won’t get answers to any questions raised, and a comment session for Hearings. This no longer seems like the open government Mr Feiner used to believe in.

The issue is not settled. Two work sessions ago the Board desperately sought ways to silence the residents. This was just another skirmish in the residents’ quest for truth, honesty and a truly open government. What we are getting is quite the opposite. If you watch these meetings on TV or the internet and you have difficulty hearing what is being said, let the Board know. If you come to the Board meetings and watch them live, sign up to speak and then let them know. Although, beware. They are slowly finding more and more ways to silence the public.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Village Recognizes Life-Saving Efforts

In a private ceremony before the regular Elmsford Village Board, Elmsford Department leaders and a small audience on Tuesday night, Mayor Robert Williams and Village Board recognized the heroic efforts made by several police and fire department members toward saving an infant’s life.

On November 8, 2012, Elmsford Police Sergeant Erik Marvin (left) and Fire Department EMS Lieutenant Alex Camacho (right), along with Valesia Henriques (not pictured), saved the life of a three month old infant who was choking and not breathing. Flanked by Marvin and Camacho is former Parking Enforcement Officer Theodore “Ted” Thomas who was recognized for his service as the Village Parking Enforcement officer, now retired.

ABG would also like to acknowledge the fine work of these individuals and congratulate them not only for receiving the awards, but for saving a young life. Their dedication, training and positive actions had an outcome everyone enjoys. Thank you for your service.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Open Government

Most recall learning in grammar and high school that elected leaders are representatives for us, the people, the residents, the tax-payers, the constituents. And more importantly, they are supposed to be honest and conduct themselves ethically. During the 22 years Mr Feiner has been in office, he has increasingly been met with resistance from the critical side of the public, no longer enamored by his Gomer Pyle-ish “ah-shucks”, goofy and disheveled act. Certainly, his opponents are an well-informed, unintimidated and sadly, a very vocal minority. They show up religiously at meeting after meeting, illuminating the viewers at home of Mr Feiner and his hand-picked Town Board’s actions. Mr Feiner and his Board have tried subtly and elusively to devise ways of stopping the public from interfering with their blatantly substandard and often illegal actions.

ABG has written previously how the Town Board, following Mr Feiner’s well-honed lead, will adopt his “saying” du jour, such as, “There’s a group of people who are against everything the Board (feel free to substitute “I”, “We”, “Us”) is trying to do. He’s right. The residents in attendance will typically resist is actions on reasonable, legal and ethical grounds. He’s lied so many times about so many issues that they are scrupulously attentive to his words and actions. He’s even lied to cover the lies. Several Town Board meetings ago, the Board engaged in several back-and-forth conversations with residents at the podium, “burning” valuable public comment time. Ultimately, as they tried to end the meeting before their now, self-imposed 11PM ending time, Ken Jones shouted at a resident to, “Sit down! Sit the F*** down!” Classy move. That was the excuse this night to end the meeting. Again, classy.

It was at this point that the Board members, tired of being beaten up for their costly and bad decisions, finally found the excuse to end the meeting, truncating the public comment session of the “open government” Mr Feiner used to tout. And where was the press for all of this? Probably covering the opening of a new restaurant in Nyack somewhere.

At the following Work Session meeting, usually ended prematurely into Executive Session to shield the public from the truth, this same “open government” administration discussed in detail how they could stop or at least limit public comment and keep the naysayers at bay. It was an interesting exercise in resurrecting the Society of St. Tammany right here in Greenburgh! With a lack of checks and balances in a single party Town, we are reaping what we have sowed. This blatant abuse of power by this administration is disturbing. What Mr Feiner has gotten used to is the wholesaling at his will of the Town of Greenburgh for what he and Thomas Madden want – not what the residents want. And when someone questions him, his Norm Crosby-like double-talking obfuscates and essentially obliterates any real answer, leaving the taxpayer shaking their heads, stunned by what just happened.

As this administration moves toward limiting input from any residents and taxpayer, they risk alienating a constituency that is finally opening their eyes and seeing what is really going on in our Town. The limits being placed on the public are increasing. The administration has mandated an 11PM end to the Town Board meetings. This would be okay if the meeting began on time, didn’t have Mr Feiner’s blathering and worked on the substance of the agenda. But that isn’t happening. The Board will spend a minimum of one to sometimes two hours doing presentations, giving awards, watching student produced movies, acknowledging Town personnel promotions, music recitals, poetry readings and more. Everything except dealing with Town business. This is a form of subtle campaigning by Mr Feiner, a smart ruse employed to not only purchase votes, but to delay the amount of public speaking portion of the meetings. Why? It’s really quite simple really. They allow the 3-minute session and curtail the later 5-minute session. It’s a “legitimate” way, in his mind, of controlling his critic’s time at the microphone and their broadcasting verifiable information against him. Three minutes doesn’t give enough time to establish much for the speaker. Most will typically say they will be back to finish at the 5-minute session. By the way, no other local area government operates this way.

So what can the public do? We need more people attending Town Board meetings. We need more people writing letters to the editors of area newspapers whether dailies or weeklies, to highlight what’s going on. We need more candidates to run against the current Board. While Mr Feiner is being challenged in a Democratic primary for endorsement by fellow Democrat Mr Robert “Bob” Bernstein, the incumbent council members are running unopposed. Why are the Republican, Conservatives or Independence party’s not putting up candidates? Westchester Republican Chair Douglas Colety says he’s written off Greenburgh. Greenburgh Republican Chair and Village of Hastings resident Tim Hays says the same thing but for a different reason. He likes Mr Feiner. 

And what of the voters? Mr Feiner ran unopposed in the last election and got almost 7k votes – running unopposed! Certainly there must be more voters unwilling to blindly pull the party line and strike a change for the better. Let’s hope Mr Bernstein can stimulate them to come out and vote in the primary. We need real open government in Greenburgh and not Tammany Hall politics. As Ghandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wake The Sleeping Giant

Meeting after meeting systematically finds The Paul, whom I’ve dubbed “The Paul” because he acts as though he is the “King” of Greenburgh, brazenly and openly lying to the public for his own goals. Unfortunately, he is  supported by an equally inept and complicit media. I’ve dubbed the Town Board the “Stepford” Board because they show up like automatons and vote ‘yes’ to anything The Paul tells them to. A recent statement at a Town Board meeting by Councilman Sheehan where he says the Board members were independent thinkers was almost laughable. 

I’ve developed nicknames for all the Board members too. Kevin Morgan, a former Greenburgh police officer, who held real promise when first elected has probably been the biggest disappointment. He has been dubbed “The Henchman” because it seems he does all of The Paul’s dirtiest work. One example I was told of by a resident was that he made an alleged private phone call one evening to have some buddies on the Greenburgh Police force arrive at Town Hall parking lot to intimidate former Councilwoman Sonya Brown and another resident. As the two stood under the canopy and talked, a police SUV positioned itself in the parking lot’s north side and watched them from a distance. When the resident approached the police car to see who was driving, the car took off. As Brown and the resident left in separate cars to Brown’s home, stopping for gas first, there were two other Greenburgh police cars following them the entire way. Another was recently publicized by former Councilwoman Sonya Brown, that he “went after” her and had his daughter challenge Brown’s petition signatures, ultimately disqualifying her petitions.

Diana Juettner, recently convicted of complicity of the same charges as The Paul in the Fortress Bible discrimination case, sits on the Board for almost as long as The Paul and hardly says “Boo!” Another attorney/academic, she comes from Ardsley and apparently has the support of that village’s voters as she is always reelected. She may actually spend most of her evenings on the dais without saying any more than, “Yes” to The Paul’s every motion. 

I’ve dubbed professor Francis Sheehan, “Back Pocket” because we believe he is in The Paul’s back pocket, penning most of the Boards ridiculous bills into the laws The Paul requests. I believe most of them are sloppily written and are nothing more than a form of taxation disguised as fees and registrations. 

Ken “Newbie” Jones was a breathe of fresh air that we have quickly begun choking on. Another attorney, Jones neglected to inform his Parkway Homes neighborhood that The Paul was giving up 88 North Road for a group home when the area is saturated with them The Wyndover Woods apartments is a veritable enclave of group home residents. 

During a recent Town Board meeting, Jones told a resident to “Sit down! Sit the f*** down!” He has also accused the resident of being dangerous and out of control. While this resident’s only danger to the Board is the information he wields against them, he deserves two apologies. One for being spoken to like that and the other for the comments about him Jones irresponsibly made to the Journal News.  

As a life-long democrat, I’ve never been more disappointed. I was hopeful when Suzanne Berger ran against him and even when Bill Greenawalt ran against him twice that the Town might see an elevation in integrity. I was saddened too when The Paul, who knows how to keep his hands clean, had “his people” go after Patricia Weems’ ballot signatures when she was trying to run against The Paul. Weems, a small business owner didn’t have the resources to fight back. After all, incumbents have stacked the system in their favor.

I’ve dubbed a group of concerned citizens the G10, which originally started out as the G8, a loosely based of ten or so people that faithfully show up to Town Board meetings and are critical of The Paul’s actions, illegal or otherwise. Yet, he continues to win re-election with a core group of voters who vote for him regardless of his performance. And as a shrewd politician, he knows how to say what people will (mis)interpret as his being concerned about them. We also hear him repeatedly lie to residents to appear as though he cares but in realty he’s going to do what he pleases. He did just this with at Mazzaro Park, promising to install security cameras that will never materialize.

It’s time the residents of Greenburgh wake up! It’s time they stop ignoring The Paul’s illegal actions, the guilty verdicts rendered against him by the courts, the wholesaling of every available piece of undeveloped property in the Unincorporated Town and after 22 years initiate a change. We need a Greenburgh Republican Party not chaired by a RINO, insulated from The Paul by a Village, and offer other candidates to challenge the machine The Paul has crafted for his benefit, not ours. It’s time for the voters to make a change for the better. If the Democrat’s Robert Bernstein, cannot win the endorsement in their upcoming primary, the Democrats will have little choice but to award their endorsement to The Paul. ABG hopes the voting democrats will rally behind Bernstein and somehow wake the sleeping giant for a positive change in Greenburgh.

Note: Bill is the founder of ABG and now a contributing writer from afar.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Purchase Option Agreement

Parsing words. Wordsmith. Semantics. Grammarian. These are the voyages of the starship Greenburgh, where no man (or woman) working for the Town or with an arrangement with the Town can ever be accused of giving a simple and direct answer. Lest you not believe ABG, simply ask Mr Feiner or any of his Board a simple and direct question and then listen to their answer. Their operative buzzword will be heavily dependent on obfuscation. The 2013 re-election promises more activity and involvement from them but rarely of substance. They’ll be speaking but are they saying anything?

Speaking of substance, the last several Town Board meeting found Mr Feiner and his cohorts being relentlessly challenged and berated by angry residents for numerous misdeeds undertaken by the administration. The “boom” is poised to cascade upon the Town with a resounding, “Gotchya!” once the courts determine the compensatory damages Mr Feiner and the Board incurred upon us after discriminating against, lying under oath about, and destroying evidence proven with the Fortress Bible Church lawsuit, for which the afore mentioned were found guilty! Another hot-topic was the illegal lease and subsidizing of property for GameOn 365. They have been referred to as a “paper company” and/or “shell corporation” who held secret meetings with Paul Feiner before the Town acquired the foreclosed upon property! His Board condoned the brokered (done) deal, ratifying it every step of the way with the only beneficiary being GameOn 365.

Martin Hewitt, a principal of GameOn 365, attended the Town Board meeting and was the first speaker during the 3-minute public comment session. He said he would be brief and not use his entire time. He was only 21 minutes shy but who’s counting? He began his statement by saying, “GameOn has entered into a purchase option agreement to purchase the land known as the Westchester Golf Range. The Westchester Golf Range encompasses the golf range you see and the surrounding acreage around it. We intend to build the Westchester Field House as we intended to build on the Frank’s property and keep the golf range in tact.”

The rest of what he said doesn’t amount to all that much. But the key to his bluff this time is again in the details of what he said, and the specificity of his words. ABG doesn’t maintain a Board of Directors of lawyers, such as the Greenburgh Town Board, so our legalese may be disputable. Let’s examine what Mr Hewitt said this night. “GameOn has entered into a purchase option agreement to purchase the land...” The key as we’ve examined this is that all it really means, beyond the parsing of words, is they may have said to the owners of the Westchester Golf Range, “We’d like to go on record that we are interested in purchasing your Golf Range.” Hence, a purchase option agreement. We also imagine the response being, “Yeah, that’s nice. Listen, money talks. Who do I look like, Paul Feiner? Come back and talk to me when you have the money!”

Hewitt also claimed that he would be keeping the Westchester Golf Range as it is and simply add the Westchester Field House. This starts to make Mr Hewitt’s “plans” a bit sketchier and ABG more skeptical. What he is alluding is that he will be purchasing both properties and creating a mega-sports complex. But how can he do this? He didn’t have enough money to purchase the Frank’s Nursery property unless the Town financed the deal for him by offering an unsecured loan. One way would be for GameOn 365 to actually purchase the Westchester Golf Range with a minimal down payment and have the current own carry the mortgage as Mr Feiner offered to do for 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Although, Mr Hewitt claims to want a mega-sports complex, it appears what he would be doing is creating is his original proposal for the Westchester Field House on 715 Dobbs Ferry Road – the former Frank’s Nursery property.

ABG can think of several considerations with this taking place. First, perhaps GameOn 365 found their sugar-daddy investor and can actually purchase
, albeit limited, a property now. Second, everyone has failed to comment on the hazardous contamination and remediation that must be addressed at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Third, if GameOn 365 were able to purchase the Westchester Golf Range, the Town could still undermine everything Mr Feiner claimed with doing an RFP at the Town Board meeting and still do a private sale of the property to GameOn 365. Fourth, as such, House of Sports might not want to be next door to GameOn 365, which has always been Mr Feiner’s ultimate goal to gift 715 to GameOn 365. Fifth, if House of Sports is interested in developing the property at both locations, what’s to stop them from continuing to “trump” any offer GameOn 365 might choose to make? Having a profitable and operational sports business certainly make it easier for them to do this. Sixth, Mr Feiner has pulled so many stunts during this entire scam, it’s hard to believe anything he tells us any more. Could this simply be another ploy by a previously resistant Mr Feiner to the House of Sports’ offer with the end-game of getting House of Sports out of the picture? 

What’s it going to be? Nobody really knows. ABG believes the RFP proffered by Mr Feiner at the last Town Board meeting is not sincere. Like his bogus referendum to help GameOn 365, we still believe he is trying to find a way to give the gift of real estate to GameOn 365. GameOn 365 is threatening to purchase the Westchester Golf Range, which seems like another illusion and maneuver for appearances sake, using semantics to purport their case. By seeming to want the entire entity of two properties, ABG believes they are trying to scare away Elm Street Sports from participating by parsing words. 

ABG disappointingly knows, as does everyone else that Mr Feiner met secretly with GameOn 365 to strike a sweetheart deal before the Town acquired the Frank’s Nursery property through foreclosure. As such, we are suspect that the same type of meeting may have taken place again with new ground rules drawn and a new strategy in play. Let’s see where this new voyage takes us. Wherever it is, keep your phasers on stun, computers on and reset your B.S Meters to allow them to set off alarms when the peak!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Public Forces Feiner To Capitulate

In an “its about time” moment before the public comment section was about to begin, Mr Feiner finally closed the barn door now that all the animals are out and announced that he and the Town Board have decided to put the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road out for an RFP (Request For Proposal). For about three years now, the G10 specifically, and others, had been asking, telling, cajoling and pleading with the Town Board members and Mr Feiner to put the property up for an RFP. The good news for the Town residents is that the G10 were relentless first about the illegal lease and then the below market value sale of the property, inadvertently keeping the process on hold until now. What is so important about now? Mr Feiner has opposition for his job in the 2013 Democratic Primary elections. 

Faced now with an impending election, Mr Feiner must have recognized the futility of trying to continue his “gift” deal to GameOn 365 for the property. Forget the illegal nature of everything he was trying to do by offering the property for lease. Forget that he created a slanted referendum to push his agenda of gifted property to GameOn 365. Forget that he prolonged three years of wasting our time, losing money and revenue through his actions. He claimed at last night’s Town Board meeting that if he sold the property to one business, the other would sue the Town - and vise versa. He purported to be concerned about litigation and delays. Interestingly, litigation and delays have never been a concern for Mr Feiner in his 22 years in office as lawsuits abound. The most significant would be the guilty verdict in the Fortress Bible Church lawsuit.

So what changed? Getting honest answers from this Town Board has always proven incredibly elusive, especially with our double-talking Supervisor. While the Town indicated it would accept an offer last week for the property from the Ardsley-based Elm Street Sports for $3.5 million but preferred a lower bid of $1.7 million from the Feiner-annointed GameOn 365. What happened to those offers and why has Mr Feiner offered to do an RFP? Was it the culmination of the onslaught of information from rational, intelligent residents able to prove that Mr Feiner’s actions were nothing short of illegal? Was it the threat from numerous attorneys that they would sue the Town if Mr Feiner proceeded the reason? Was it the fact that his customer of choice didn’t have enough money to do the deal unless the Town carried the paper? Could it be all of the above?

GameOn 365 representative Martin Hewitt spoke at last night’s Town Board meeting and then bolted like he saw his car being towed. He said that GameOn 365 is looking to purchase the Golf Driving Range property next door, which is about the same size as the former Frank’s Nursery property and probably more expensive. Then he added he planned to be involved in the RFP for the former Frank’s Nursery as well as the Driving Range. Hardly believable. Unless he won the lottery, he has been unsuccessful in raising the required funds to offer more than a deposit on the former Frank’s Nursery property – even with the Town underwriting him. Secret meetings aside, how will he be able to purchase the second property let alone both. But he can dream. We also question how enthusiastic the homeowners will now be on Westchester View and the surrounding area toward GameOn 365 after learning they will be moving directly next to them? And since this will be a private sale, the only gift Mr Feiner can offer Mr Hewitt now is carte blanche spot zoning – a hallmark of the Feiner administration.

ABG has also pushed for an RFP for this property. Regardless of the purchaser, remediation and contamination is still an issue. It hasn’t been used for something as serious as Indian Point’s spent fuel rods, but the site is contaminated and needs significant remediation. We have learned all too often, all too clearly and all too easily how deceitful Mr Feiner and his Board has been at every juncture of this debacle as well as others. As such, we and others are naturally suspect of his motives and what other back room deals may have already taken place with Mr Hewitt and what promises have been made – legal or otherwise. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bernstein On WestHelp

We are publishing Mr Bernsteins Press Release as a courtesy as other media sources will only focus on Mr Feiner. This is in the effort of fair play and not an admission of agreement or endorsement with what is said.

Democratic candidate for Greenburgh town supervisor Bob Bernstein said today Supervisor Paul Feiner's proposed 18-year lease of the 108 county-owned apartments at WestHELP – once the Town's largest non-tax source of revenue – is a “complete mess that can't be fixed and won't guarantee affordable housing or revenue to the Town.”

According to its lease with the county, the town is required to use the 108 apartments for low or moderate income rental housing. Mr. Feiner twice failed to respond to a county request to extend the WestHELP lease for an additional 10-year period through 2021 and has kept the premises vacant and deteriorating for the past 21 months with no revenue to the Town.

With the County Board of Legislators threatening to place the town in default for not maintaining the property or using it as required, Mr. Feiner has proposed entering a lease with Group MRH, a start-up company with no affordable housing experience, that previously proposed $2 million in repairs, which it offered to allow the Town to hold in escrow, and a $500,000 a year rent payment to the Town.

The proposed lease makes no mention of the $2 million in renovations or any escrow and provides no protection at all to taxpayers the property will be maintained, properly managed, or even used for affordable housing. Furthermore, even though no school-age children are expected to live there, the lease gives the town the right to divert a substantial portion of the rent to the Valhalla School District in “property taxes” which the Town says it will levy and pay for itself, thus giving the Valhalla School District revenues a court had previously ruled were illegal.

Under Mr. Feiner's proposed lease, all the Town can do in the event MRH fails to pay rent, to use the property for affordable housing, or maintain the property, is demand MRH “cause the Premises to be vacated” and “deliver vacant possession” to the Town.

“This makes no sense,” Mr. Bernstein said. “It means if there's ever a default, the town would have to force MRH to put innocent tenants on the street in order to get a new company to come in and make things right. No municipality would ever do that.”

Under the terms of the county's lease with the Town, no subleasing is permitted without the county's express written consent. Mr. Bernstein said Mr. Feiner's proposed lease is “such a non-starter that the WestHELP apartments will now probably remain vacant and deteriorating for the foreseeable future – much to the delight of the Tea Party Republicans who never wanted this housing built in the first place.”

The town-wide Democratic Primary for Town Supervisor will be held Tuesday, September 10. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Issues Updated

At a recent Civic Association meeting, it was suggested that most residents are unaware of issues affecting the taxpayers in Greenburgh and the differences between the two candidates.
Here’s a list of topics affecting the Town based on the actions of our current Supervisor and his Town Board.  We had compiled this list but hadn’t posted it as it continued to grow and grow. Rather than wait to post this, we thought we would post it and add to it with more topics as they come to light.

Here is most of the issues we have so far:

The Edgemont Community Council has been dealing with the Dromore Road zoning and building issues where a developer intends to add a multi-family apartment building on a small piece of property.

Mr Feiner and the Board are racing through any and all building applications and projects, Spot-zoning (illegally) parcels to accelerate developer growth before the Town’s Comprehensive Plan can be proposed and adopted.

Fulton Park’s Civic Association is dealing with Westhab’s building construction and possible violations to no avail.

Fulton Park will next be addressing the Deli Delicious drive-through proposal again.

The Parkway Homes Civic Association found themselves surprised with Mr Feiner’s “slipping” another group home into an already saturated area at 88 North Road. Low and behold, Councilman Ken Jones is a member of their Board and said nothing to his neighborhood.

The Glenview Civic Association has had its issues with the very large Brightview Assisted Living facility that asked for a zoning change from the Town Board to increase the size of their building and any others built throughout the Town in the future. Brightview’s attorneys wrote and the Board approved and subsequently received the approval the wanted.

Glenville had just finished with all the Stop and Shop issuess and violations only for Mr Feiner to find a speck of undeveloped property in their neighborhood he would “gift” to this developer. See above.

The Broadview Civic Association has wrestled with multiple issues with the New Mt. Vernon Neighborhood Health Center (dba Greenburgh Health Center) on Knollwood Road. The medical clinic is not suitably screened from adjoining residential districts, lacks an ADA compliant pedestrian sidewalk, mandated by the Town, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals. Excessive exterior lighting on the health center building impinges on residential area property.

The Building Inspector must obtain a current “as built survey” for the site and compare this “as built survey” to the plans as originally approved by the Town Board, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Any variances between the as built structure and the site plan as originally approved, must be individually evaluated by each approving Board, and any additional necessary variances granted or denied by the original approving Greenburgh Boards.

The “mountable pedestrian traffic island” installed at the intersection of Knollwood and Tarrytown Roads is a serious public safety hazard to both pedestrians and motor vehicles.

The Village of Ardsley will be getting at least half a million dollars from the sale of the Town-owned, foreclosed upon former-Water Wheel property while other Villages and the Unincorporated Town watch helplessly in disbelief.

Of course, the Cumberland Farms deception on Central Avenue gave the Town Board a warped view on how the Town could charge all Central Avenue Service Stations a several thousand-dollar fee (read: tax).

Let’s not forget the Worthington-Woodlands Civic Association’s recent request to meet with the Town Board to discuss the GameOn 365 propos...oh, wait a minute, Mr Feiner and his Board just pushed that through without a public meeting after promising to propose a few dates for them all to sit down together to discuss it.  Now it seems after many have pointed out the Board members are individually liable if the Town sells to a low-bidder, they are finally talking to House of Sports.

The guilty verdict against the Town for the illegal sewer district billing by the Southern Greenville Civic Association area keeps those people occupied, as the Town still hasn’t followed the court-ordered restorations and refunds.

While we’re in that neighborhood, lets not ignore the Toll Brothers development that has constantly and continually violates many of the Town’s building regulations. Apparently, Mr Feiner and the Board are happy to look the other way.

Of course in Valhalla, Mr Feiner led the charge to break the lease stipulations with the County for the WestHelp facility, allowed it to deteriorate and try to add a new tenant that he did not have authority to do. Fortunately, NYS shot down this bad idea and insisted the affordable housing remain just that. And while we would love to see legal action taken against him for doing this, it would be counterproductive and only cost us more money in guilty verdict judgments.

In the Payne Street area of Mazzaro Park, Mr Feiner has promised security cameras by the end of the year to assist increased security. There doesn’t appear to be any money in the proposed capital budget for this. Another empty promise.

The north Elmsford-area Civic Association of the Town will now be trying to reign in Mr Feiner with the 100 acres (50 in Greenburgh and 50 in Mt Pleasant) of construction near and on the old Union Carbide property, increasing car and truck traffic to an already impossible traffic situation on Rt 9A and other area roads. Record setting flooding will continue to hammer anything south of the area during a “regular” rainfall.

 In fact, flooding throughout the Town has now become the norm with a Supervisor and Town Board uninterested in helping flooded residents but willing to sell off Town parcels to the developer du jour. Plans include multiple big-box stores, more office space, 400+ condominiums and smaller retail stores. No plans for increasing roadways or addressing flooding.

On Taxter Road we’ll see 400 more condominiums being built. White water rafting to Ardsley may be a new sport from Elmsford with each rainfall.

On the Bronx River side of the Town, Mr Feiner has done nothing to help those residents and businesses with any type of flood relief maintenance.

There remains the Fortress Bible Church decision* where Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner, and the Town Board were found guilty of seven counts against them, including discrimination, destruction of evidence and lying under oath. The cost of this decision has yet to be announced but has been estimated to be as high as $8M.

* U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Robinson ruled on Aug. 12 that the town impermissibly prevented the church from building a new place of worship and school on Pomander Drive. In a unanimous three-judge panel decision, Judge John Walker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote that the Town Board violated the church's rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bubble Floats Next Door, Feiner’s Deal Undone

The lamestream media is reveling in the news that the Town of Greenburgh has decided to sell the former Frank’s Nursery at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to the Ardsley-based Elm Street Sports, owner of the successful House of Sports in Ardsley. Their current facility is located in a light industrial neighborhood near the NYS Thruway. What the media is not doing is asking Mr Feiner direct questions as to why he changed his position?

This agonizing ordeal was spread out over about three years. With an illegal lease, a bogus referendum and countless wasted hours, money, unsubstantiated claims of due diligence, repeated bad move after bad move, his Town Board has only now had a change of position. ABG can only wonder if this move was made strictly to remove this issue as a talking point with Town Supervisor candidate Robert Bernstein?

You’ll recall that Mr Feiner met with GameOn 365 representatives before the Town acquired the foreclosed Frank’s Nursery property. By first meeting with representatives of GameOn 365 before the Town had the property, claims of collusion were made. Representatives of the Westchester County District Attorney have maintained there were no laws broken by Mr Feiner by doing this. While that may certainly be the case, and there were no laws broken, public trust and an ethical violation are no doubt in play. Since Mr Feiner controls who is a member of the Town’s Ethics Board, an obvious and ethical contradiction, he effectively remains defiantly unchallengable. This seems to be the modus operandi of Mr Feiner and his Board: skirt the law and ethics be damned!

ABG reached out to Elm Street Sports to get their side of this story to no avail. ABG wonders what else changed and why suddenly everyone on the Town Board acquiesced to this new position? Could it be the damning 3-minute comment that the Elms Street Sports attorney* made at the last Town Board meeting where he detailed how the Town Board members would be individually culpable for their decision to sell to GameOn 365? Could it be that same comment period when he said that every individual taxpayer throughout the Town could be co-litigants as co-owners of the former Frank’s Nursery property in a group action lawsuit against the Town and its Board ? Could it be Councilman Ken Jones’ eccrine suduriferus glandular exhibition each time the subject is broached that has coerced his change of opinion? Regardless of the reason, we await for the “spin” from the Board with baited breath. This would be fun if it weren’t so sad!

Another misstep by our Town Board and Mr Feiner, who continued to play games in hopes of salvaging his original done-deal with GameOn 365 is he is no longer dealing from a position of strength. GameOn 365 has informed the Town they are no longer interested in the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. They are hoping to purchase the golf driving range just adjacent to the old Frank’s Nursery. Mr Feiner can no longer leverage the property now that there is no longer two competing bidders. Another Feiner fiasco that is sure to go the wrong way for the Town. Since House of Sports knows how little Mr Feiner is willing to accept for the property, House of Sports is now in the drivers seat.

One concern for residents after the sale of the golf driving range to GameOn 365 will be the zoning of the property. Or, perhaps the re-zoning. Since it is already zoned for a commercial (and perhaps sports) usage, there may be little anyone can do to stop this 8-story behemoth from being erected. Residents of Westchester View Lane, who vehemently and rather vociferously supported this venture, will no doubt be even happier welcoming GameOn 365, now that it promises to be built literally in their backyards! Ah, summer evenings will never be the same with compressors, air conditioning units and of course, mood lighting in their backyards. Will this cause flocks of people to seek purchasing homes here at record prices? We’ll just have to wait and see.

As we, and others, have mentioned previously, GameOn 365 is little more than a “hopeful” venture by several stock brokers apparently tiring of the depressed economy in hopes of making a quick buck. Or, perhaps they’re seeking what they believe would be a “fun” job. Work is work guys, and anytime you begin to think it is something else, you’re in for a rude awakening. Regardless of their motivation, their execution is still suspect. This time, however, the residents won’t be on the hook for a bad deal, a private enterprise will be. Let’s see how much they sell their property for and whether or not it goes as cheaply as Mr Feiner was willing to sell comparable property. All of this could have been avoided had Mr Feiner not struck a back room deal and just followed the law!

* Attorney and law firm who successfully won the Fortress Bible Church case against the Town.

Forgiven, But Not Forgotten

Two Town Board meetings ago Former Councilwoman Sonya Brown signed up for the 3-minute public comment portion of the meeting. Many were surprised that she would even show up. But she did sign up and did speak during the 3-minute public session. We applaud her for doing so. As she took to the podium, there was a collective holding of everyone’s breath as the crowd wondered what she would say. As expected, she was critical of the administration, Mr Feiner and in particular, Mr Morgan.

She recounted how she made a promise to govern for the people and never for herself and serve at the pleasure of our residents, recognizing that they were her employers. She smiled often, looking directly at Councilman Morgan and Supervisor Feiner, alluding that the current Board seems to have forgotten who they work for. She would always remain the Honorable Sonya Brown. She suggested they should recall when she disagreed with something improper they were doing and that she felt the need to go against them. Then she dropped the bombshell – not to be confused with Mr Jones’ “Sit the F*** down!” bombshell. She stated that they all knew she had information about their wrongdoings. Essentially, in not so many words, she told them that she knew where the bodies are buried!

She also strongly admonished the Board and specifically Mr Morgan for using his (Morgan’s) daughter to challenge her ballot signatures in the last election which she participated. Mr Morgan became beet-red. It must have taken all the self-control he could muster to not yell at her to, “Sit down! Sit the f*** down!” She continued on, saying that she felt sorry for them and forgives them. She explained her faith in God has helped her get through the ordeal with them. She also admonished them for trying to go after her and her two daughters.

We know from past conversations that she was ostracized once she publicly went against Mr Feiner. That was during a March meeting during her last year in office. We also published an account she related to ABG, that was confirmed by another resident where it was alleged that Mr Morgan made a phone call or two and almost instantly two GPD patrol cars arrived, parked at the far end of the lot, watched and then followed Ms Brown and the resident as they left Town Hall after a Board meeting.

We’re not going to indict Mr Morgan for his behavior. Ms Brown already did that publicly. The proverbial gasps after what she had said was followed by a few “fist pumps” and exclamations of, “Wow” or “Yes!” It means nothing if the voters continue to vote the party line or ignore the compelling case for change. Right now there is no threat of change. Ironically, that too must change.

Flooding The Town

The intentional title could be about the flood of emails slowly picking up from a nervous Mr Feiner whose monarchy is being threatened. It could be from the water cascading down the 9A and Bronx River corridors like a spring thaw in upstate NY’s Ausable Chasm. It could be from the soon-to-be-normal campaign blitz to re-elect the current and failed Town administration. Indirectly, its about all of them. ABG was begun and has flourished because of issues facing our Town and caused internally. It is because of this that we felt this post is warranted.

Every election cycle seems to find every politician promising the world and delivering only invoices. There are two candidates embroiled in the race for the Democratic endorsement for Town Supervisor in this election cycle. Those two people are the well-honed, incumbent Paul Feiner and his opponent Robert Bernstein. The similarities and differences offered voters is a starkly wide one based on the issues needed to be discerned. This will only further muddy the decision making choices one must make if they plan to vote in the Democratic primary. On the one hand, Mr Feiner has cultivated the appearance of “problem solver” to the unknowing and uninformed public. Mr Bernstein has pointed out that the “problems”, beyond filling a pot hole or trimming a tree, are usually created by Mr Feiner so he can “solve” them.

Incumbents Diana Juettner and Francis Sheehan, also seeking re-election, continue to try to distance themselves from Mr Feiner’s unscrupulous dealings with GameOn 365. Yet, they can’t stray too far from Mr Feiner’s campaign war chest lest they be forced to pay for their campaign themselves. Mr Feiner has always financially sponsored candidates seeking office with him. Since he must run every two years, its that leash that allows him to easily “pull their strings”. Go against him, as Sonya Brown quickly learned, and be jettisoned with a new puppet on his knee. In this post, we won’t even get into the Fortress Bible Church debacle.

Here’s just a few points that can help distinguish the differences and similarities between the candidates. First, the similarities. Please keep in mind that these are not meant to be disrespectful, insulting or accusatory. Both men are near in age, white, Jewish, lawyers–one practicing, one non-practicing, live in upscale homes, are married with children and have been involved with various social issues in different capacities.

Now a few of the differences.

Mr Feiner illegally paid the Valhalla School District millions of dollars as a payoff for accepting WestHelp’s 108 affordable housing units while offering nothing to other Villages or neighborhoods. Mr Bernstein (with retired Justice Herb Rosenberg) recouped some of that money for the Town residents proving in court that Mr Feiner’s actions were illegal.

Mr Feiner chose to let the WestHelp apartments decay in hopes of tearing them down. Mr Bernstein worked independently as well as in concert with the local NAACP to thwart Mr Feiner’s efforts, halting the ruination of these apartments while the County turned a blind eye. That saga is still unfolding.

Mr Feiner insisted the Town Board do their “due diligence” in choosing a management team to oversee the former WestHelp property. Their choice was a non-experienced, new entrant into the mix, Group MRH, ignoring other qualified applicants simply because he promised a higher monthly fee. After doing his own substantive research and “due diligence”, Mr Bernstein conclusively proved that the Feiner-blessed choice, Group MRH, had misrepresented themselves and essentially lied to gain the contract. Mr Bernstein has repeatedly asked the Town Board to disqualify this firm.

Probably the most important aspect of the entire WestHelp debacle is that Mr Feiner arbitrarily took it upon himself to allow the largest income-producing, non-tax revenue funding and allowed it to expire! The County had “gifted” Greenburgh a most lucrative $1.2M per year lease for the WestHelp facility and Mr Feiner chose to allow it to lapse. Mr Bernstein has often stated that this was one of the largest and most costly blunders of this administration affecting the finances of the Town.

Mr Feiner’s most recent tax that he and his Board imposed was onto existing gas stations on the Central Avenue corridor. Mr Bernstein pleaded with Mr Feiner and the Board not to initiate the fee but they would not heed the advice of Mr Bernstein and proceeded anyway. At the last Town Board meeting several service station owners attended the Town Board meeting and lashed out at the Board and Mr Feiner for hurting their businesses while he catered to Cumberland Farms and a few other stations of choice.

Mr Feiner has focused on non-Town issues, such as turning the Tappan Zee Bridge into a park, similar to NYC’s “High-line Park” created from an old elevated train line. Mr Bernstein may be interested in the Tappan Zee project, but it doesn’t affect the Town. Mr Feiner should be focusing on Town issues, such as lowering taxes, reducing waste, and sitting down with the employees of the Town and working out a contract he let go unratified for 4 years. Mr Bernstein remained focused on Town issues. But since Mr Bernstein is not the Town Supervisor, he can focus on whatever he pleases. Focus seems to be an issue with Mr Feiner. Don’t believe us? Ask him a question and see if you get an answer.

Mr Feiner has a grand plan to overdevelop the Rt 119 and 9A corridors with larger, more “city-like” buildings. Mr Feiner’s Board goes along with everything proffered by job-security-seeking Town Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden. There is currently a move on Central Avenue to build a dance studio that was a little bit of everything: business on the bottom, offices on the top and possibly apartments as well. The push was for a 4 to 6-story building. This would be on one of the corners on Central Avenue near the 7-11 and Hess gas station. Mr Bernstein believes in development within reason and adhering to existing zoning. This project is simply too large for the location. But this is the vision Mr Feiner and Mr Madden have for our Town.

Mr Feiner’s administration has perfected their own “cloaking devices”. One such device is the intentionally curtailed development and lethargic implementation of a Town Comprehensive Plan. A town-wide comprehensive plan would severely restrict Mr Feiner and his Board’s ability to spot-zone properties for developers. While spot zoning is illegal, Mr Feiner has perfected the ability to not be held back by zoning laws. Mr Feiner has had 22 years to appoint members of the Planning and Zoning (among others) Boards, virtually assuring agreement and passage of any plan that comes for review. Mr Bernstein may want to consider removing zoning capabilities from the Town Board.

Finally (for now anyway), Mr Feiner has never worked in the private sector. As such, he has no management experience and terms such as Return On Investment (ROI), evaluation metrics, and performance reviews are abstracts to him. Most unqualified people in a significant position would invariably learn while on the job. Yet reviewing numerous projects throughout the Town, morale of our workers (our greatest asset), flooding throughout, spot-zoning, illegal leases, illegal referendums, over-saturation of group homes, developer-centric decisions, over-sized buildings throughout the unincorporated Town, WestHelp, GameOn 365, out-of-control Board members (“Sit down! Sit the F*** down”) keeping the public from speaking and more has proven this is not the case with Mr Feiner. Mr Bernstein brings management experience to the Town and a level-headed sense of what is in the best interest of the Town. Mr Feiner abandoned this quite some time ago. Mr Bernstein has also suggested he would investigate the benefits of hiring a Town Manager/Administrator as that seems to have worked well for the Villages.

There is clearly a difference between the candidates and we look forward to hearing them at several forums prior to the Primary election.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It’s Time

Westhab silently purchased property with funding provided by Westchester County and others in Fulton Park. Mr Feiner apparently assured them that spot-zoning (not in so many words) would not be a problem. But he and his Board spot zone almost at will. Rather than continue to allow the property to be the buffer from light commercial into the residential neighborhood, Mr Feiner offered them the worst zoning the Town has on record, sanctioning a skyscraper that ultimately was reduced from it’s original size to a more logical one, taking the design cue from a nearby and outdated 1960’s building. Mr Bernstein fought the zoning change because what happens in one neighborhood will soon happen in others.

In that same neighborhood, the Town just paved Old Kensico Road, referred to as Old Kensico Speedway, to assist in minor flooding control. Previously, layers of blacktop upon blacktop raised the road so much that rainwater on the street would funnel into the east-side homes’ yards and basements. While repaving the street was helpful, that’s all the Town has done to address the massive flooding this neighborhood’s had for years, highlighted by Hurricane Irene. 

As we once again approach Hurricane season, with Tropical Storm Andrea bearing down, residents are in no better shape now than they were before. Once the homes are flooded, we’re sure Mr Feiner will call the media to bemoan how terrible this flooding is and the County, State and Federal governments “need to do something.” He’ll invariably offer to reach out to FEMA again to see about purchasing homes in the flooded area, knowing they don’t qualify for it. He will do what he always does, simply nothing, all the while pointing fingers at others.

The Brightview Assisted Living Center in Glenville needed the ever-coveted (spot) zoning change to build their oversized building on too-small a parcel of land. The Town had them write the change for the Town, which Mr Feiner and his Board unhesitatingly adopted, sanctioning another monstrosity on the hill and overshadowing the tiny neighborhood. All the homeowners of the properties below the site will suffer with water runoff, flooding and other problems including a loss of power. This will affect more than just the Glenville section of the Town. It’s time.

The latest issue is at the Eastview area of northern Greenburgh and Mt Pleasant. It’s where the old Union Carbide, ConEd and Home Depot are. Now that Mr Feiner has “bought into” the proposal to (over) develop 50 acres in the Town and 50 acres in Mt Pleasant to build what is otherwise porous space that now absorbs the rain. Where will all of the runoff go once this 100 acres is developed? Obviously, the water will travel downhill and add to the already over-saturated 9A corridor. While Mr Feiner is blinded by all the tax dollars this new development promises, he neglects to address the elephant in the room that comes at a cost for this development: flooding. We hope Mr Bernstein will address flooding if elected. It’s time.

Mr Feiner is seeking re-election. He’s been in office for 22 years. When he started, he seemed to actually help constituents. Now, however, he only seems to help developers and his inner circle! Because of all of his bad deals, judgements against him and the Town, etc., he is desperate to try to get money for the Town anyway possible. You can’t continue to balance the Town budget with the Fund Balance money as he is doing. Those funds are being depleted yearly in Mr Feiner’s ruse to appear to be keeping the budget in control. And his saying we are mandated to limit ourselves to a 2% Tax Cap by NYS is also disingenuous. The Town can easily override the 2% Tax Cap. It’s time.

Mr Bernstein has worked toward helping the Town get out from under some of the Town’s and Mr Feiner’s bad deals and decisions. Other residents have worked hard to help this administration do the right thing. Mr Feiner berates them at Town Board meetings while hiding behind the agenda notice which says there will be no personal attacks during the meeting. Mr Feiner has repeatedly attacked Mr Bernstein in his blog and in newspaper Letters to the Editor, Community Views and so on. We can only assume Mr Bernstein must be doing something right to warrant these personal attacks by Mr Feiner. It’s time.