Sunday, September 29, 2013

Move This Forward

Each series of meetings finds new catch phrases germinating from our Supervisor. ABG believes Mr Feiner hopes that others on the Board will grab them and use them in tandem with him, providing an appearance of faux-diligence. But since throwing Mr Sheehan under the bus by challenging his ballot petition signatures, challenging his character, and accusing him of lying about where he resides, the Board members appeared a bit chilly toward him at the first work session after the Democratic Primary election. It was at that Work Session that his newest catch phrase was concocted, “I just want to move this forward.” and, “I just want to appear to be moving forward.”

Even though his latest challenger for Town Supervisor lost the Democratic Primary election, Bob Bernstein appears to have damaged Mr Feiner’s thought-to-be-bulletproof armor, showing how many missteps, screw-ups and mistakes Mr Feiner has made while the two were out campaigning. Mr Feiner made multiple character attacks against Mr Bernstein that were out and out lies. Conversely, Mr Bernstein cited project after project and the illegal actions Mr Feiner perpetrated against the Town and the media let it lie dormant because they are “in the tank” for their fellow progressive.

Previous catch phrases from Mr Feiner that would be cast about were ones such as, “This is nothing more than bid rigging.” And, “We want to do our due diligence.”  Or how about, “ Um, you know, this is just my opinion, it’s only my personal opinion.” As ABG has stated previously, Mr Feiner is always the Supervisor and when he sits on the Town dais it is as the Supervisor. He should never state that any of his comments are a “personal” one. By saying its his personal opinion and believing that that absolves him of responsibility as Supervisor is ludicrous. This behavior simply reinforces why term limits would be a good thing. ABG knows it will never happen, but Mr Feiner and this Board should offer a referendum for term limits.

Another interesting issue that arose at this meeting is that Mr Harris of Group MRH (we don’t believe there really is a “group”) was at this same work session requesting to renegotiate their/his contract with the Town, which has still yet to be signed, because of increased costs that weren’t anticipated by them in their original bid. At roughly the 47:00 minute-point of the meeting, Mr Feiner’s handpicked, questionably chosen, inexperienced choice and favored bidder for the WestHelp property management, bemoaned his plight of staying within the bid. Mr Feiner responded, “I understand you didn’t anticipate these additional costs during the bidding”. Really? He understands? How nice. He caused the problems and created the deal with Group MRH. Now, bidders benefitting from Mr Feiner’s bid rigging, similar in nature to the GameOn 365 sweetheart deal are saying they cannot adhere to the bid because they didn’t really know how bad the property was. Perhaps they should have toured the property with the Journal News’ Dave McKay Wilson – oh, wait a minute, he was denied access to the site.

The other bidders all bid more realistic amounts because they have the experience necessary to participate in these types of projects. Group MRH does not. What should happen now is the Town should dismiss Group MRH as the high bidder for the property management and award the bid to the next highest bidder on the list. But this is “Bizarro” Greenburgh where bad deals just get swept under the carpet. The whole idea of a bid is to get the lowest fixed price for a set amount of money and work, designed to eliminate any collusion between the parties (bid rigging). It’s one of the glaring things wrong with this administration. We’re reminded of Mr Feiner’s repeated statement that the Town must, “Do our due diligence.” Apparently, Group MRH and he should have done a bit more due diligence.

Now that the Democratic Primary election is over and Mr Feiner is the official “candidate” even though he is running unopposed and no longer a “real” candidate, he again got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. About three weeks ago, a resident found paperwork left in the Town Hall auditorium that indicated the Town has approximately $22M dollars outstanding in unpaid taxes. When ABG first learned of the revelation, we asked if we could get a copy but were unable to do so. At the September 17th Work Session, several outside accountants were presenting a report on the Town’s financial condition. Mr Feiner asked about tax amnesty and what was their experience in doing a tax amnesty program? They told him they had none. When Mr Feiner pushed them to find out if he could do a tax amnesty program, they refused to offer an opinion. Smart move as Mr Feiner must have realized the slip up.

Mr Feiner has stated he’s willing to give up the interest in exchange for the cold cash that would come in by the time the amnesty program ends on Dec. 31. That’s assuming people have the money to pay the back taxes regardless of amnesty or not. The problem with an amnesty program is that it’s a crapshoot and if people haven’t paid their taxes it’s mostly because they cannot. As Mr Feiner brags about the Town’s AAA Bond rating, he neglects to discuss the $22M outstanding, unpaid, owed back taxes throughout the Town that has been increasing yearly under his administration!

Another issue slowly percolating because of the back tax issue is that the Town stands to acquire a windfall of properties through foreclosure. We’ve witnessed for the last two years how incapable this administration is with one property they acquired through foreclosure, the former Frank’s Nursery at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Mr Feiner and his Board tried to illegally lease the property to another upstart, GameOn 365. When the neighbors intervened with a lawsuit, he proposed an ill-conceived Referendum in the last election. That easily passed with a majority of the voters who voted, but was left languishing, as the Democratic nominations for the upcoming elections got nearer and nearer and his opponent, Bob Bernstein, was slowly pulling the curtain back, exposing more and more of Mr Feiner’s dirty closet.

At the same time, details of Mr Feiner’s “gift” to GameOn 365, along with the property’s contamination and a surprise offer by Ardsley’s House of Sports for double the amount threw a monkey wrench into Mr Feiner’s schemes. Now instead of doing their, “Due diligence,” Mr Feiner accused the public of, “Bid rigging the process to where nobody will want to bid on Town projects.” ABG doesn’t believe it’s possible for the public to rig the bid, only the elected officials and participants of the bids can do that. If people choose to not bid on Greenburgh projects, they would do well to look elsewhere unless their has been a pre-anointed “nod” from Mr Feiner.

So while Mr Feiner has said, “It’s more important for us to get as much money in the bank,” he said. “We’ll be better off financially if we are able to collect back taxes.” He’s right. We have roughly the same amount of money being lost for the Town by Mr Feiner with bad decisions, cronyism, lost lawsuits and guilty verdicts. Greenburgh’s house of cards can no longer be sustained with his “Aw-shucks” demeanor. 400 Greenburgh property owners are delinquent on their taxes. The foreclosure process will begin for those property owners who haven’t paid their property taxes. It is estimated that at least 320 property owners will receive foreclosure notices. Can we really afford to go through 320 Frank’s Nursery scenarios?

Greenburgh needs help. ABG believes its why Bob Bernstein brought up hiring an outside Town Administrator who is not beholden to political paybacks, the politics of Mr Feiner and his complicit Board and a willfully ignorant populace. A Town Administrator is the right thing now that there is little hope for any change at Town Hall. Greenburgh residents and businesses deserve more. We deserve a better Greenburgh.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ardsley’s House of Sports and Business Council of Westchester Form Corporate Athletic Leagues

House of Sports, the region’s premier indoor sports complex, and the Business Council of Westchester have partnered to form the Business Council of Westchester Corporate Athletic Leagues with the goal of encouraging fun and competitive athletic games with the opportunity for industry professionals to socialize with coworkers and network with peers.

“This is the perfect opportunity for business professionals from all industry backgrounds to roll up their sleeves and have fun, while networking and enhancing their team-building skills,” said Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the council. “We are pleased to partner with the House of Sports to provide this wonderful opportunity for the business community in our county.”

Leagues are being formed for basketball and soccer, and games will take place on Thursday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings at the House of Sports. Basketball will feature a men’s open league and a 30-plus league. Soccer will be offered in a co-ed, open-league format.

Discounts are available for Business Council members and non-for-profit companies.

Players are encouraged to form teams with co-workers, but individual player registration is also welcome. Leagues will start at the end of September or early October. All registrations will be taken by the House of Sports staff and can be done by contacting League Director Nick Arbab at 914-715-5173.

For more information, visit or email 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ethical Challenge Dismissed By Ethical Challenge

A verified citizen’s complaint against Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul J. Feiner (“Feiner”) and Judith Beville, Greenburgh Town Clerk, (“Beville”) alleging violations of the Greenburgh Code of Ethics in connection with their having solicited or accepted services in aid of their political campaigns for reelection from Town Attorney Timothy Lewis was/is in violation of Chapter 570-7(A)  thereof, and against each of them for aiding each other in the violation of such section of the Ethics Code in violation of Chapter 570-13 therein. There’s a mouthful of the party of the first part and the party of the second part and so on. Simply, Greenburgh resident Thomas Bock lodged an Ethics Complaint against Town Attorney Timothy Lewis because of the actions he took for getting signatures for and swearing to their legitimacy as Town Attorney. And, never fearing being found guilty of an ethics violation by an Ethics Board he appointed, the preordained outcome was no surprise.

Listed below are the points highlighted in Mr Bock’s complaint:
1. Complaintant is a citizen of the Town of Greenburgh
2. Feiner is the Town Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, a position he has held for the past 22 years.
3. Beville is the Town Clerk of the Town of Greenburgh, a position she has held since 2008.
4. Chapter 570-7 of the Greenburgh Code of Ethics is entitled, “Prohibited Political Activities” and subsection A thereof is entitled, “Contributions.” Subsection 1 thereof states in pertinent part that “No Public Officer . . . shall directly, or indirectly, solicit or accept any contribution or money or services or thing of value for any political party, campaign committee or any Candidate from any Appointed Officer or Employee. . . .”
5. As Town Supervisor, Feiner is a “Public Officer” within the meaning of Section 570-7(A)(1). As Town Clerk, Beville is likewise a “Public Officer” within the meaning of that same section.
6. Section 570-3(A) of the Code defines “Appointed Officer” as any “person who is appointed as an official of the Town, including a person appointed as a department head or deputy department had of a Town department. . . .”
7. As Town Attorney, Timothy Lewis is an Appointed Officer within the meaning of the Greenburgh Ethics Code.
8. Earlier this year, Feiner and Beville each asked for the endorsement of the Greenburgh Town Democratic Committee to run for reelection to his position as Town Supervisor. However, at its annual convention on May 24, 2013, neither Feiner nor Beville received the party committee’s endorsement.
9. Because neither Feiner or Beville received the party’s endorsement, in order for them to obtain the Democratic Party’s nomination for their respective town positions, Feiner and Beville had to create their own petition, obtain at least 1,000 signatures from Democrats registered to vote in the Town of Greenburgh, file such petition with the Westchester County Board of Elections, and win a majority of Democratic votes cast in the Democratic Primary to be held on September 10, 2013.
10. Obtaining the required number of signatures to get on the ballot requires many hours of work to make sure that the persons whose signatures are obtained are in fact registered to vote as Democrats in the Town and reside therein.
11. The petitioning period this year ran from June 1, 2013 to July 8, 2013.
12. During that period of time, and specifically between June 6, 2013 and July 7, 2013, Town Attorney Timothy Lewis carried petitions for Feiner and Beville, obtaining a total of 58 signatures on five separate sheets. A copies of these signatures, each of each was signed and verified by Lewis, is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
13. By accepting signatures obtained by Lewis to put them on the ballot for the Democratic Primary, Respondents Feiner and Beville each violated Chapter 570-7(A)(1) of the Greenburgh Ethics Code, which bars public officers of the Town from directly or indirectly soliciting or accepting contributions of services for a political campaign from an appointed official of the Town.
14. Chapter 570-13 of the Town’s Code of Ethics is entitled, “Inducement of Violation.” It states in pertinent part that “[n]o Public Officer . . . shall induce any other person to violate, attempt to induce any other person to violate, or aid any other person in violating, any provision of this chapter.
15. The term “Public Officer” is defined in Chapter 570-3 of the Code of Ethics to include “both elected and appointed officers as herein defined.”
16. Town Attorney Timothy Lewis is a Public Officer for purposes of Chapter 570-13 of the Code of Ethics. Respondents Feiner and Beville are also Public Officers for purposes of that section.
17. By obtaining and delivering to Respondents Feiner and Beville signatures to get them on the ballot, in violation of Chapter 570-7(A)(1), which prohibits the solicitation or acceptance of such services or things of value to a political campaign from an appointed official of the Town, Respondent Lewis violated Chapter 570-13 by aiding Feiner and Beville in violating Chapter 570-7(A)(1) of the Code.
18. Similarly, by accepting signatures to get them on the ballot from Respondent Lewis, Respondents Feiner and Beville violated Chapter 570-13 by aiding Lewis in violating Chapter 570-13.

The Ethics Committee, having previously visited with Mr Feiner while they were coming into Town Hall, was followed by Mr Bock. Once in the F. Lee Jackson conference room, they continued discussing whatever they might have been discussing outside, with a sitting member making a few disparaging comments about several religions with a tasteless joke. How ironic. Ethics, anyone? Once they began, they asked the audience members to identify themselves and they did the same. Their regular order of business transpired quickly and they came to the Ethics Complaint. They each had received copies of it and were ready to discuss the complaint.

Having all received a copy of the complaint and read it prior to this meeting, they began by questioning what the definition of “service” is. This was akin to to former President Bill Clinton asking what the definition of “is” is? Being reviewed by a Board that was appointed by Mr Feiner finds us in a quandary of yet another ethical challenge in a Town bereft of ethics. How can we have a ethics board adjudicate the same person who appointed them to their position and then hope to get a fair outcome? We can’t and probably never will.

In fact, Mr Feiner posted on his own blog, back when he probably still thought transparency meant posting the truth, about his lying to the Ethics Board, comprised of some different members:

feiner caught lying to town's ethics board said...49
Feiner has been caught lying to the Town's Ethics Board about lawyer Mark Weingarten's involvement in a March 2004 fundraiser that netted Feiner tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town.

In his October 6, 2004 letter to the Ethics Board, Feiner made no mention of Weingarten when he described the $1000 Feiner picked up that night from Michael D'Allessio, the developer who had an application pending before the town to cut trees in Edgemont.

Feiner wrote as follows: "Mr. D'Alessio attended a fundraiser that William LoSapio of Gregory's Restaurant in White Plains hosted for my campaign account on March 29th."

Bernstein, who first raised the issue of Feiner's ethical problems, wrote to the Ethics Board on October 18, 2004 and said Feiner was playing fast and loose with the truth.

Bernstein wrote: "In fact, Mr. Feiner told The Scarsdale Inquirer that the fundraiser was organized by Mark P. Weingarten, a member of the White Plains law firm of DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Tartaglia Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP, and that it was Mr. Weingarten, who issued the invitations on behalf of Mr. Feiner’s campaign committee. See The Scarsdale Inquirer, "Residents Question Feiner on Campaign Contributions," September 17, 2004. Mr. Feiner also omits to mention in his letter that Mr. Weingarten was then representing Mr. D’Alessio and that, in addition to Mr. D’Alessio’s $1,000, his law firm contributed another $500."

On Wednesday, August 1, 2007, the Town made public the actual invitation to the event. The invitation, dated March 4, 2004, was on the letterhead of Weingarten's law firm and says as follows:

"On Monday, March 29, 2004 . . . Bill Losapio and I will be hosting a fundraiser for Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner." Weingarten cited Feiner’s “strong support for economic development within the Town of Greenburgh” and said, “I know you have been helpful to Supervisor Feiner in the past. . . A minimum contribution of $250 is recommended. Paul has earned our support in the past. . . .” Contributions were to be mailed to Weingarten’s law firm, to Weingarten attention, care of his secretary.

The invitation was mailed to numerous developers with applications pending before the town.

The invitation proves that Bernstein was right: Feiner was lying to the Ethics Board in October 2004 when he tried to claim someone other than Weingarten was responsible for the fundraiser.

Other documents show that Feiner lied to the Ethics Board about other matters pertaining to that fundraiser as well.

So while Mr Bock and others lodge complaints against Mr Feiner, he has appointed members to the Ethics Board that will be sympathetic to him and his lies. One of the current members on the Zoning Board is William Losapio (above) who held the fund raiser for Mr Feiner. He also voted on the Westhab project as well as other Feiner-centric projects that residents were vehemently against. So, how can residents be assured of getting any real and honest decisions from him when they file with the Board or go against one of the Town leaders? They can’t. Nor can they appeal a rendered decision.
If we look at any of the major projects that have been perpetrated in many of the neighborhhoods throughout our Town seems to be represented by DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise and Wiederkehr, LLP. Since this law firm has actively participated in Mr Feiner’s previous campaign, it’s no wonder that Mr Feiner will make a motion to have the Town Board become the Lead Agency and “floor the accelerator” for the process to sail through every required review process. In the event one of the reviewing entities votes against a DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise and Wiederkehr, LLP client, the Lead Agency has the power to ignore their recommendation(s) and simply move the project along. For instance, when Westhab petitioned to change the zoning for their subsidized housing project at 22 Tarrytown Road and the Zoning Board voted against the change, Mr Feiner told the Town Board to ignore that recommendation and the Town Board changed the zoning and continually greased the project past every bump in the road.
Ethical behavior needs to begin with the Ethics Board as well as the other Boards in our Town. The Ethics Board’s cavalier and wanton disregard for the real issues lodged against Mr Lewis and the others are easier skirted because the control of these appointed Board is just that: controlled. This needs to change. The decision was laboriously discussed even though the Ethics chair succinctly described the issue and the recognizable ethics violation, poised for a vote. The three other members able to vote, whose position was echoed by the volunteer attorney, providing a service that their explanation deemed not a service, claimed the heart of the matter was a definition of service. They twisted the issue to be about Mr Lewis’ right to participate in community service gathering petitions. One member even went so far as to compare this to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which was in no way what was inferred in the complaint or the explanation given by the complainant. It was a very well-done, Feiner-like deflection.
This issue was a simple one for anyone without an agenda, but changed to nothing more than pleasing their benefactor (Feiner). Mr Lewis acquired signatures for Paul Feiner. It was a service that would be paid for if volunteers were not available. It was also a thing of value and both of these were clearly stated in the Greenburgh Ethics code and the gist of the complaint. Mr Bock explained that Mr Lewis could place a yard sign in his own yard, a bumper sticker on his own car, and get signatures for any other candidates that were not a member of the Town of Greenburgh government. As an attorney he was the witness to the ballot petition signatures, similar to that of a Notary Public which is a service that is normally paid for. While the three members of the Ethics Board voted to dismiss the suit, the issue of an ethical decision being heard and made by this ethics board will certainly impact whether or not others will step forward to lodge a complaint. It’s exactly the outcome that was expected and Mr Feiner as well as Mr Lewis knew the outcome. These members should have a shelf life and be replaced by an independent vote by the public to the position for a limited specific time period. It would help make for A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Honoring A Lifetime of Volunteer Service

Ogden Engine Company, located on Ashford Avenue in Dobbs Ferry, had a terrific day this Sunday afternoon with great weather, great stories, great food and great people! It was their turn to honor several of their member’s lifetime of volunteer service to the Engine Company, the Fire Department and the Village of Dobbs Ferry. The honorees were Edmund Dalio and Gerard McIlvain, each with forty (40) years of service and Stewart Storm, with 50 years of service.

Deputy Westchester County Executive and former Village of
Dobbs Ferry Attorney Kevin Plunkett presents Gerard McIlvain
with a Westchester County Proclamation for his 40-years of
service to the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department and the
Dobbs Ferry Ambulance Corps.

Westchester County Deputy Fire Commissioner and
former Ogden Engine Company member John Cullen
presents a Special Recognition award to 
Gerard McIlvain for his work as a charter member of the 

County’s Hazardous Materials 
and Technical Rescue Response Teams.

Deputy Westchester County Executive and former
Village of Dobbs Ferry Attorney Kevin Plunkett
presents Edmund Dalio with a Westchester
County Proclamation for his 40-years of 
service to the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department

The event was planned by fellow firefighter Kevin Cullen and the emcee was former Fire Department Chief and former Village Trustee Frank Farrington, who was filling in at the last minute as the original host fell ill. Chief Neil Sweeting was also present and said he was proud to be attending as this is such a milestone for the individuals, the engine company and the department. Chief Farrington read from the original fire company minutes about each member, highlighting when they were voted in to the Company. He also touched on numerous other achievements they contributed during their time in the company.

Deputy Westchester County Executive and former
Village of Dobbs Ferry Attorney Kevin Plunkett
presents Stewart Storm with a Westchester
County Proclamation for his 50-years of 
service to the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department.

Edmund Dalio has spent a good number of years working with the Boy Scouts and the Fire Department’s Explorer Post in addition to being a responder. Stewart Storm had a professional career in the banking industry and applied those skills to the Engine Company and fire department. Gerard McIlvain is a career firefighter in Scarsdale FD, a fire instructor and private fire contractor for numerous area agencies. Each honoree had a future day set aside by the Village as their own. While the festivities drew to a close and the crowd began to wane, the dedication, drive and professionalism of all the members shone as one of the best examples of public service and volunteerism money can’t buy. Congratulations to each of them on a job well-done!

St Baldwick’s Cuts It Close

Banner in front of the Valhalla Fire Company #1

On a beautiful end-of-summer Sunday morning, the last thing any family wants to think about beyond that final summer barbecue, starting school, and working around the yard is cancer. Those six letters, that one word used to automatically be a death sentence. Not any more. Cancer screenings and cancer treatments have progressed tremendously. In part, the St Baldwick’s Cancer Research Foundation has played a big part in that.

St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events began as a challenge between businessmen and have grown from one event in 2000 to over 1,300 events in 2012, raising critical funds for childhood cancer research. Events take place in pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, malls, military bases, firehouses and any other place you can imagine.

Event Coordinator Kristine DeRezis, far left, addresses the crowd before
the Riguzzi family gets their heads shaved. Second from left is cancer
survivor 12 year old Joey. His Mom is the second from the right with blue
hair and “Patriots” written on her forehead. 

The Valhalla Fire Department, along with numerous other area fire departments has hosted a head shaving event for four years now, with this year’s event raising a “pre”-event amount of $20,000. The goal today was to raise a mere $1,000. In fact, one woman we spoke with, Sandy Riguzzi, had a friend from Boston pledge $1,000 for her to shave her head. Not to be outdone, the friend’s husband pledged $1000 and 1 if she would dye her hair (Boston Patriots) blue and write Patriots on her forehead –which she did. She insisted on telling us that even though she dyed her hair blue and wrote patriots on her forehead, she is a diehard NY Jets fan! She is shaving her head to support her son Joey, age 12 who  has Downs Syndrome and is a cancer survivor as well. The family has raised $7,000 for today’s event.

Maddie Manfredi, 12, sings the National Anthem.

Maddie Manfredi, 12 years old, sang the Star Spangled Banner national anthem a capella before a crowd of about one hundred people. She was spot-on and would give many contestants on American Idol or America’s Got Talent a run for their money. The crowd erupted with loud applause when she finished. Someday we may be paying to hear her sing!

It would be terrific if we didn’t need an organization like St Baldwick’s; but until we can find a cure for cancer, its great to know there are so many volunteers willing to make the effort to help such a small portion of society. And after the laughter of seeing our friends with shaved heads passes, its also nice to know that they too are willing to help with this simple, and yet impactful gesture. Thanks to everyone for helping out.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Indifference And Insensitivity

September 11, 2001. It’s known as the Second Day of Infamy. The cowardly murders perpetrated upon us under the guise of a few skewed religious zealots affected many, many lives, families, friends and acquaintances throughout our Town and our country. Many Towns and Villages had September 11th services to remember and honor those taken away from us so swiftly. There were numerous events during the day around the County. In fact the County had a service held during the day at the Kensico Dam Plaza’s The Rising Memorial Statue. While the County rarely does anything at the Dam in the evening when most people can attend (except fireworks), it was a nice tribute to those fallen Westchester residents, our relatives, friends and others.

Totaling ignoring the solemnity of the day and casually acting as though nothing happened was our Town Board. They held the regularly scheduled Town Board meeting, with nothing more than a moment of silence for those victims of the September 11th attacks hastily reminded by Mr Sheehan. This callous and even impenitent action for such a horrific event can only be rationalized with distain for this Board. This is the same Board that will shamelessly campaign at each Town Board meeting, cut residents off from speaking and do whatever they please without regard for legality or ethics. Obviously, their bad behavior is an effective strategy given the results of this past Democratic primary.

The meeting was attended by a few Hartsdale residents seeking more garbage cans in their “downtown” area and some plants near the train station. Several of these people engaged in conversations back and forth from their audience seats, never once being asked by the Board to go to the microphone as they so often do to members of the G10 or anyone else who is critical of them. Playing (?) dumb, Mr Feiner kept his microphone off so neither exchange could easily be heard. One of the G10 stalwarts, Mr Hal Samis was in attendance. When he went to the podium, he asked a number of questions. In a surprising turnaround, Mr Feiner answered several until Mr Samis re-asked questions that were not answered. After not being satisfied and pushing back for answers, Mr Samis was finally told they would answer his questions once he sat down. This is a perfect example of the duplicity of our Town Board. They’re back.

For Mr Feiner to say that he wants people to talk to him so he can address why they didn’t vote for him in the recent Democratic primary election, to engage new or dare we say unobtrusive residents with minor issues and then to put off someone else during the same exchange highlights just one of the glaring problems found in our Town government. Perhaps if Mr Samis had asked for another garbage receptacle anywhere else in the Town, he might have received more of an exchange from our chatty Board this night. This also highlights one of the serious campaign issues brought up by Mr Feiner’s challenger, Robert “Bob” Bernstein, that of a Town Board which is aloof, condescending and unresponsive to its engaged and experienced residents – no matter how many times they insist otherwise.

Back to our original assertion, which was about disrespectful way this Board regards the victims, families and friends of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Ceremonies that were happening throughout the Town in Villages were respectfully attended by many, a fact that is easily recognized given the lack of participation of the public this night. We’re sure there were others who decided not to attend because they were disappointed in the Democratic primary results, which is totally understandable. Yet this same Board will delay and cancel Town Board meetings on a whim. They will delay the start of these meetings when issues of substance requiring public hearings need more time than they will allow. They delay meeting after meeting to allow poetry recitals, musical performances, magic shows, and other illusional distractions. The Board will delay the meeting to present certificates of appreciation, watch movies made by kids and they will dress up in period costumes in a counterfeit attempt to entertain their detached cohorts. But why won’t they cancel a meeting to observe a national day of reflection? After all, Mr Feiner released one press release after another to announce the building of and the later renovation of our Town Memorial on Central Avenue. Why not do have a ceremony there?

It has been suggested on more than one occasion that this Town Board will cancel meetings during the summer months for several reasons. One is that there is less to do during the summer. Really? Does government stop during warmer months? Hardly. In fact, it appears there is more going on throughout the Town that should be addressed by our detached and elitist Town Board. But, the most recurring reason that always comes up is if there is a primary or an election that year, Mr Feiner and his Board will need a way to limit his or his Board members’ exposure and their opponents exposure. By canceling the Town Board meetings they’re assured to limit their opponents free exposure on the cable access/Verizon channels and aid their campaign. This year Mr Feiner needed to limit Mr Bernstein and Ms Brunson Fantauzzi’s exposure. It worked. Its amazing how the system is stacked against a challenger and for the incumbent.

Every move Mr Feiner makes has a personal motive. Sometimes, as in the WestHelp debacle where the Town has already lost $2.4 million and counting, it may take two or more years to see why he did what he did. Of course, deflection. He went against the Fortress Bible Church years ago to help protect the neighborhood of his buddy, Tom Abinanti, then a County Legislator and now State Assemblyman. He met with GameOn 365 approximately one year before the Town acquired the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery, secretly offering to gift it to them with an illegal lease and way below market value. He assisted Westhab with acquiring funds and then the property at 22 Tarrytown Road long before he informed the Fulton Park neighborhood that they were about to be assaulted again with low income, subsidized Section 8 housing. Studies have shown that crime follows Section 8 housing and Fulton Park is living proof of it. Ever since the building has begun occupancy, break-ins to cars and homes in the neighborhood has returned. “I’m going to prove to the resident’s of Fulton park how I feel about them. You’re going to change your opinion of me,” said Mr Feiner after doing nothing after Hurricane Irene wiped out so many residents. It was another lie from Mr Feiner. So, yes, they’ve changed their opinion of him.

So what can we do about a bereft Town Board interested in only their own agenda and not the peoples’  issues? Apparently, very little without a united Town. The Republicans have dismissed Greenburgh. According to the Greenburgh Republican Leader and the Westchester Republican Party leader, they will not waste their time and energy to fight a battle in Greenburgh. The Democratic leaders handily supported Mr Bernstein over Mr Feiner in their nominating meeting as the endorsed candidate. Does this mean Mr Feiner is bulletproof? Of course not. Looking at the numbers, Mr Feiner received 3,801 to Mr Bernsteins 2,121 votes out of the 42,000 registered democratic voters in Greenburgh! Just under 6k Democrats voted in another typically low-turnout primary event. This is hardly a justifiable representation when Mr Feiner only received 1,680 more votes than Mr Bernstein out of 42,000 possible votes.

We hope that next year, the showmen and women that sit on the Town Board will observe and celebrate the Second Day of Infamy with more than a simple, afterthought moment of silence. In spite of this indifference and insensitivity exhibited by the Town Board, we refuse to acquiesce. While we observe and respect those whose lives were lost on September 11, 2001, we can only hope our Town Board will do the same next year. In spite of them, ABG believes we can still have A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

In a disappointing loss for truth, integrity and true open government, our incumbent Supervisor handily won the Greenburgh Democratic Primary election, beating the Greenburgh Democratic Leaders’ choice by roughly a three to one vote, as did his running mate. With a seemingly low Democratic voter turnout, those it did choose to vote made a big mistake.

According to the posted information from the Westchester County Board of Elections as of 6 a.m. today, Mr Feiner has won the Greenburgh Democratic Primary over Hartsdale attorney Robert “Bob” Bernstein. The tally of votes numbers Mr Feiner with 3,431 to Mr Bernstein’s 1,862. Incumbent Town Clerk Judith Beville, trumped challenger Sherron Brunson Fantauzzi with a few more votes than Mr Feiner, receiving 3,631 to Ms Fantauzzi’s 1,607 votes for the Town Clerk nomination. These numbers may fluctuate a small bit after absentee ballots are tallied by all election districts which had submitted their numbers.

Sadly, Mr Feiner distorted the truth about Mr Bernstein, preferring to make up lies about him and simply lie when there was little if any substance to attack. He chose to simply smear Mr Bernstein in mailings as well as control his public persona by refusing to participate in open and honest debates, mocking the public he claims to want to represent and pander to special interests. Mr Bernstein simply cited issue after issue about Mr Feiner’s poor performance and failed record. 

It’s difficult to run for office, and especially difficult in a Town tainted by cronyism, special interest pandering, dishonesty, a supermajority that chooses to ignore the truth and out and out illegal activity by corrupt leaders. The Democrats’ super-majority in the Town has locked onto this horse and appears unable to let go. We congratulate Mr Bernstein on a well-run and above-board campaign. We hope this doesn’t cause Mr Bernstein to slow down in fighting for what’s right at Town Hall. Mr Bernstein deserves a few days off to catch his breath. We hope to see him at the podium soon. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It’s Time To Think Outside The Box

Much has been said from both camps regarding who voters will select in today’s Democratic Primary for Greenburgh Town Supervisor. Supporters of Mr Feiner, the 22-year incumbent, claim that he is responsive to individual residents requests for action on some particular issue affecting them, i.e., a pothole in front of their house, a bush or branch blocking a sidewalk. He responds well to one-on-one issues. Detractors will question the cost-effectiveness of pulling our Highway Department personnel from a scheduled, legitimate project to accommodate one resident. Doesn’t the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one? But what we’ve witnessed in Mr Feiners waning years is more and more irrational behavior and decisions. For him, it’s campaigning. For us it costs us more money. Their claim Mr Feiner thinks outside the box is disguised desperation for not knowing what to do.

Supporters of Mr Bernstein point out that he has successfully sued Mr Feiner and the Town at Mr Feiner’s prompt and actually helped the Town’s revenue stream. Mr Feiner always says, “If you don’t like what I’m doing, sue me!” Is this the attitude we want of our Town leaders? Doubtful. Mr Feiner complained that Mr Bernstein has sued the Town and cost us millions of dollars. In fact, Mr Feiner has claimed the tax increases we’ve experienced in the Town are a result of these lawsuits! That’s simply absurd. Mr Bernstein fought for the WestHelp affordable housing to remain just that, affordable housing. Mr Feiner duped the Ferncliff School into thinking he could move them into the property. But, as the master of deflection, Mr Feiner got traction with this hoax by colluding with numerous other politicians representing the area. This Feiner-induced mess has cost us $2.4 million dollars so far and is continuing to climb.

Mr Bernstein fought the Frank’s Nursery property debacle Mr Feiner conspired to gift away to GameOn 365 with an illegal lease instead of simply selling the property as required by law. Mr Feiner refused a cash offer from Ardsley’s House of Sports for $3.5 million dollars plus remediation to give GameOn 365 enough time to make a counter offer. They couldn’t. They have no money and are relying on a pyramid scheme utilizing investor dollars to leverage a lease, which was stopped by a neighborhood lawsuit. “If you don’t like what I’m doing, sue me!”

The list of Mr Feiner’s bad decisions, wrong deals, squandered opportunities, developer winks ’n nods, closed door meetings, lost revenue and so on is a long one. ABG writes about it all the time. After 22-years of mismanagement, we have an opportunity to return the Town to it’s residents. We have the ability to stop listening to Mr Feiner’s supporters rationale that he responds to people’s requests on an individual basis. We need a supervisor who will respond to the entire electorate. It’s time for a change. ABG has endorsed and believes Mr Bernstein is a good person to start this needed change and offers real leadership, management know-how, honesty, integrity, fairness and hope. It’s also time for all registered Democrats to come out and vote for overdue change in Greenburgh. It’s time. What you do today can help us finally get A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Desperate Last Ditch Effort

Desperate people do desperate things. No doubt Mr Feiner is desperate. At the debate held in Hastings-on-Hudson last week between himself and his opponent Robert “Bob” Bernstein, we half expected him to start foaming at the mouth as his lips were quivering while Mr Bernstein recited negative facts and figures about Mr Feiner with confidence. Armed with only a small pad compared to Mr Feiner’s stack of documents, Mr Bernstein simply recited failure after failure within the Feiner Administration in general and Mr Feiner directly.

Prior to the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations' debate and knowing that he would not be attending the scheduled event, Mr Feiner had previously instructed the Town Videographer to play a 30-minute political rebuttal commercial prepared in advance immediately after the Solo Debate! He had been invited several weeks earlier and never responded to their invitation per the written instructions from the President of the CGCA. Judith Beville finally replied the day before the event, saying they would not be attending. He claimed he made the decision at the last possible moment. Really? Then how did he happen to have his video ready for primetime and submitted to run on the Town’s cable access channel if his decision was so late? Obviously, he had no intent on participating in the debate.

The video of the debate was posted on the Town’s website. At a specially requested Town Board meeting, Mr Feiner asked the Board to allow him to put a second video online. Amazingly, the Board voted 4 to 0 to not allow Mr Feiner’s request! He stated that he was allowed to do this because Mr Bernstein had the debate online and election rules allow it. Actually, our understanding of Greenburgh rules only allow posting a debate if the League of Women Voters is moderating a debate. And, you can only post a certain number of videos online if they are for election purposes. Apparently, the Town Board didn’t agree (gasp!) with Mr Feiner. After the Hail Mary stunt he pulled by throwing Town Councilman Francis Sheehan under the proverbial bus when he challenged his ballot petition signatures in court, ABG is guessing Mr Feiner has some real butt-kissing to do to get back in the good graces of Mr Sheehan.

The Solo Debate video that had originally been posted on the Town’s public access channel has now been removed by Mr Feiner and the Town Board so as to not give Mr Bernstein’s campaign any edge against Mr Feiner. This decision to remove the Solo Debate video was authorized by an impromptu and secret vote of the Town Board to aid Mr Feiner’s campaign. Open government? This vote was executed before the second debate took place and seemed as though one decision would help Mr Bernstein and a reciprical one would assist Mr Feiner. ABG doesn’t believe Mr Bernstein should suffer because of another bad decision made in a last ditch effort by Mr Feiner to control the outcome of the primary election. ABG is now questioning the motives and ethical behavior of the entire Town Board regarding this secret vote. There are two debates that our readers can watch on YouTube if they are interested. The first link is to Mr Bernstein’s original “solo” debate and the second one is the two of them in the Hastings-on-Hudson debate.
Bob’s Solo Debate:

Bob and Paul Debate in Hastings:

It’s ridiculous for Mr Feiner to think by removing the cable access video of only Mr Bernstein that he can stop people from viewing what he chose to ignore. Mr Feiner insulted the Unincorporated residents by not attending, as well as the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and the League of Women Voters. This Tuesday, September 10, is the Democratic Primary for registered Democrats only to decide who will be the endorsed Democratic candidate for the November election for Town Supervisor. 22-years of mismanagement, fiscal irresponsibility and questionable decisions is a long time under one rule. It’s time for Greenburgh to get real management skills, financial planning, open government and to have Town Hall returned to the residents. It’s time for developers to wait in line. It’s time for neighborhoods to be heard. It will come as no surprise that ABG is endorsing Robert “Bob” Bernstein and Sherron Brunson Fantauzzi in this race. It’s time for A Better Greenburgh.

Spending While Saying They Save

Republican County Executive Rob Astorino claims he’s trying to save the taxpayers money but is actually spending more on duplicative services behind the scenes. When he took office, he tried to consolidate the County Police (parkway patrols, bomb squad, SWAT) and the County Fire Service (fire training, hazardous materials response and technical rescue response, dispatching) into a Public Safety group, ultimately managed by the County Police. He appointed George Longworth, a retired police chief as the Commissioner of Public Safety, retired detective Joseph Yasinsky as is Deputy Police Commissioner, and retired fire officer John Cullen as his Deputy Fire Commissioner. Are they “double-dipping”, collecting their civil service pensions or did they come back to public service and put their pensions on hold? These were all political payback appointed positions which are ultimately a “cash cow” for union support via overtime dollars.

The majority of the Westchester fire service complained openly and vociferously against the consolidation and Astorino claimed “the plan we had discussed is off the table”. Even though it was proven that any consolidation here would not be cost effective, he went to work behind the scenes with his other plan to continue the consolidation anyway. It’s like saying you going to combine an airline mechanic position and a automobile mechanic position into one because they are both mechanics. It simply doesn’t work.

The Department of Emergency Services (originally the Richard A Flynn Fire Training Facility) humbly began under the auspices of the County Police in a small basement room in their facility in Hawthorne, NY, at the junction of Rt 9A and Saw Mill River Parkway. It was never a marriage made in heaven and the volunteer firefighters in Westchester County fought to get their own facility to have control and fire-specific orientations toward dispatching, training and safety. That effort came to fruition in 1973. Raymond Rush became the first administrator of the facility until he was ousted by then-County Executive Andy O’Rourke and its leadership became a patronage position for the County Executive du jour.

The County Department of Emergency Services dispatches about 30 fire departments throughout the County. They also maintain a Special Operations Team which encompasses Hazardous Materials and Technical Rescue Response teams. These all-volunteer members and are highly trained, equipped and led by one paid Chief. Each team is comprised of volunteer professionals from numerous walks of life including the fire, medical, police, engineering, construction and other backgrounds. As volunteers, they cost the county no money, especially overtime money, which is what the county police get for training and responses through backfill funding for their participation. Backfill funding is the practice of sending someone who is working or “on-duty” to training (or putting them on another assignment) and then (back)filling that person’s position with another member on (backfill) overtime. When the “professionals” consisting of paid county personnel on overtime cannot handle a call, they call either of these volunteer Special Operations Teams to bail them out.

Without the original fanfare, Astorino began approving purchasing duplicate equipment for the county police that the Special Operations teams already have (four vehicles and numerous trailers with equipment). Since the paid fire union mandates they will not work with volunteers, and Astorino is beholden to the unions for their “support”, he has been getting them this duplicate set of gear, equipment and training, costing the county taxpayers unnecessary hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of dollars, and handing it over to the county police “just in case”. It’s this kind of subterfuge that is causing him to lose battle after battle with the public. His pandering and deceit may cost him re-election even if his challenger Noam Bramson is proven to be the lesser candidate. But his end-game is to support the police and fire union personnel in hopes of buying their votes.

As an aside, the County’s Technical Rescue Team was awarded a Congressional Unit Citation for their participation in rescuing one of the rafters in distress on Sunday, August 28, 2011, during the tail end of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee after participating in numerous responses during a 35-hour period. The County Legislators also recognized the Team for those same efforts as did the Westchester County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, The Westchester County Fire Chiefs Association and the NYS Chiefs Association. So why pay for services that are provided for free by the County to any municipality who asks for it with SWAT(special weapons and tactics), Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials responses? Mr Bernstein is correct to question whether the Town should have a SWAT team, but needs to continue the argument to Technical Rescue and Hazardous Materials responses as well.

During the Democratic Primary Debate, and in a campaign mailing, Mr Feiner accused his opponent, for the Supervisor’s position, Mr Bernstein, of seeking to contract fire service protection away from the Village fire departments to the paid fire departments, which he claims would raise their fire protection costs by roughly 30%. Mr Feiner is famous for quoting outdated information and throwing out numbers that sound impressive but have no real basis in fact. What Mr Bernstein had said was we should look at all of the Town’s expenses and if contracting with the Village fire departments is not cost effective, put the fire protection out to bid. As long as everything throughout the Town is on the table for review, ABG sees no harm in reviewing this. Reviewing whether a duplicate SWAT team, hazardous materials and technical rescue team is needed when the county already maintains available ones for us to use at no charge is a logical choice.

The Greenburgh police SWAT unit, hazardous materials unit and a technical rescue units are comprised of individual members, some of whom are members of the paid fire departments. If called out, it automatically initiates the backfill funding overtime extravaganza for both police and fire. There is little or no oversight of these expenditures as they are automtically deemed necessary due to an emergency. There is usually little if any other overtime available due to current budget constraints. But, the paid services see this as a minimum of six to eight hours worth of extra money and treat every minor dustup as a major event. It bolsters their claims of needing these in these positions and of course the overtime. But do we really need it? 

The Villages contract fire protection service with the Village in portions of the Unincorporated Town. The largest contract being with the Elmsford Fire Department for covering the western portion of the Town in the area of Rt 119 between the Elmsford and Tarrytown and north Elmsford from about I-287 to Grasslands Road. The amount of money spent for the Elmsford, and other Village contracts throughout the Town is under $1M. To realistically think the paid fire departments can cover this space is not cost effective, practical or necessary. We urge you to check your tax bill and you’ll see the two largest expenses on it: school taxes and fire protection taxes (in Unincorporated).

Mr Feiner claims we do need the SWAT team because if something were to happen, they’re there. But so is the County – at no charge! Supervisor Feiner and the Town of Greenburgh is doing a similar union payback thing with the police and paid fire personnel by allowing it. In discussing this with a variety of beleaguered taxpaying residents, everyone ABG spoke with did not know that this took place but were not surprised, claiming there’s always abuse in every system. They knew about “normal” overtime for things like coverage for personnel calling out sick, special events, storms and so on. Most did not even know of the backfill funding component of overtime for paid emergency responders.

Backfill funding is utilized routinely in the Yonkers Fire Department with grants from (mostly) Congresswoman Nita Lowey (and NYS Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand) under various program grant names that would never indicate it was overtime or backfill funding money. Things like a grant from Homeland Security for “improved inter-municipal operations”. You might say it’s a grant from the federal government and doesn’t cost us anything. You’d be wrong. It is a grant from the federal government, but it paid for by all taxpayers and it is only going to the paid departments. Most people want and expect their taxes to be used in their communities.

Ms Lowey will rarely, if ever, get the same amounts of money (we’re talking hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars) for any of the 50 or so volunteer fire departments in Westchester. Usually the meager amounts she gets volunteer fire departments are “member items” of up to $5,000. Member items are discretionary funds each legislator maintains with the ability to give it away to any special interest they choose. Volunteer firefighters in Westchester County outnumber paid firefighters about four to one. The volunteers live and vote in and for their communities. Most paid firefighters don’t live or vote where they work. So while the paid firefighter unions lobby are more successful than the volunteer departments in the “gimme more” department, you’d be hard-pressed to prove this isn’t about paying off the unions.

September 10 is the Democratic primary. ABG has touched on a few “goings on” that most people don’t know about. Why? A lack of transparency exists throughout local, county, state and federal government that is rarely learned about until it’s usually too late or somebody gets caught doing something wrong. Greenburgh has been shrouded in secret meetings, back room deals, winks and nods, developer carte blanche and neighborhood assassinations by the current administration. It’s time for real change in Greenburgh. ABG urges concerned Democrats to come out and vote in the Tuesday primary. Vote for A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

News Blackout Extended for Supervisor’s Debate

It’s now been two days since the Supervisor Face-Off at the James Harmon Community Center in Hastings-on-Hudson. Nothing has appeared in the mainstream media as to the debate held in Hastings. ABG has written previously as to how the lamestream media is in the tank for Mr Feiner. (See: Greenburgh News Blackout, May 30, 2013 and News Blackout Continues, May 31, 2013 on ABG to read more. Add to the lack of coverage for all-things Greenburgh or if you will, the selective coverage for all things Paul, and you’ll see why so many “willfully ignorant” residents continue to vote for more of the same old thing. There was nothing written of the debate in Westchester’s only daily newspaper or their Express version. Neither was there any coverage from News 12 or Channels 2, 4, 5 or 7. Why not?

Numerous readers have emailed ABG to let us know about several other people in attendance that night. Specifically present, but not mentioned (unintentionally) at the debate were Greenburgh Town Board Council members Diana Juettner and Francis Sheehan. You’ll recall Ms Juettner was part of the Town Board recently found guilty with Mr Feiner in the Fortress Bible Church discrimination case. Mr Sheehan was one of Mr Feiner’s confidantes and co-architects with most Town projects, developer approvals and web site jockeying. Mr Sheehan’s also the same Town Councilman Mr Feiner threw under the bus when Mr Feiner sued Mr Bernstein and Ms Brunson Fantauzzi over ballot petition signatures, alleging that Mr Sheehan lied on those same petitions! The case was thrown out of court. We’re reminded of the line from the Godfather movie that Mr Sheehan may want to keep in mind. “Michael, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Many have forwarded the text from David McKay Wilson’s recent blog saying we could do with it what we wish. While it certainly is good reading (as is all of Dave’s work), it’s his post and we will not reprint it without his express permission or request. ABG would still like to thank our readers who thought highly enough of us to take the time to send it to us. We trust you’ll understand our position regarding it. 
You can read it here:

There were several statements made in this debate by Mr Feiner that warrant mention and clarification. Mr Feiner came “out of the gate” on defense. Mr Bernstein was convincingly on offense. Mr Bernstein tried to discuss the points of projects throughout the Town while Mr Feiner continually attacked Mr Bernstein’s character and professional work (see below). Whenever Mr Bernstein quoted facts about Mr Feiner, Mr Feiner would appear agitated and then hastily rifle through the stacks of papers he had. Mr Feiner said several times that Mr Bernstein was lying, or sued the Town too much, costing the voters and forcing increased taxes on the Villages. Or, he would quote something Mr Bernstein had said in old newspaper articles from 2008 as if changing a position after five years was a bad thing.

Feiner Fact:
Mr Feiner said Mr Bernstein was against Westhab’s affordable housing in Fulton Park.
Accurate Fact:
Mr Bernstein’s stated he said he was against the oversized building because it was 28 units being put on .7 acres and surrounded by blacktop and the deal had already been agreed to by Mr Feiner and his Town Board.

Feiner Fact:
Town Attorney Tim Lewis denied Wilson’s request to tour the facility today, saying he needed to check with other members of the Town Board.
Accurate Fact: 

Feiner Fact:
Mr. Bernstein and his former law firm were sued for malpractice, but the case was dismissed with prejudice with no finding of any wrongdoing by Mr. Bernstein or the firm, and the $107 million was paid by a former client to settle price-fixing litigation.

Feiner Fact:
Mr. Feiner claimed he didn’t destroy evidence in the Fortress Bible lawsuit, the judgment would be for less than the $5 - $7 million expected, and that insurance would cover the cost.
Accurate Fact:
Judge Stephen C. Robinson said in his ruling, “at no time did Mr. Feiner refrain from destroying documents, including electronic documents such as email,” and the Town’s insurance carriers have notified the Town they would not cover intentional violations of federal law, which is what occurred here.

ABG believes the reason there was no media coverage was because Mr Bernstein was the stronger candidate in the debate and they refuse to show a failing Mr Feiner. Mr Bernstein exhibited confidence, knowledge and command of the facts and seemed cool, calm and collected during the entire debate and while speaking. Mr Feiner spoke better than he usually does in public, but seemed frazzled at times and kept holding up paperwork and in hopes we might believe it “proves” Mr Bernstein was lying. Mr Bernstein was the one who was sticking to the facts and maintaining accuracy during the event. We almost expected Mr Feiner to cover his ears and start saying, “I can’t hear you, na, na, na, na, na, ” over and over again.

In the end, Mr Feiner, a shrewd and crafty politician, changed his persona for the debate, but it wasn’t enough. He kept slipping back into the old persona and just made up what he needed to assault Mr Bernstein. It didn’t work. When Mr Bernstein spoke, Village residents could be heard saying , “That’s not true, oh, that’s not true either.” When Mr Feiner spoke, those same people could be heard saying, “Uh-huh, That’s true, that’s true.” Interestingly, the crowd was split with two camps, one for each candidate. What seemed missing was a third camp without a preconceived notion of which candidate they might vote for based on what they heard  that evening. Both candidates stayed on their message. Mr Bernstein sought to publicize and challenge Mr Feiner’s policies, decisions and actions and how they are costing Unincorporated and Village residents a lot of money. We think he succeeded. Mr Feiner was trying to prove Mr Bernstein has contradicted himself and lied. He staked the claim that Mr Bernstein left his old law firm because of a $107M lawsuit against him (see above). It didn’t work. 

The Democratic Primary Election will be on next Tuesday, September 10th. Only registered democrats can vote in this primary election. We hope our readers will view the video of the exchange and make an informed decision. We also hope the “willfully ignorant” will start paying attention – and fast – and also make an informed choice. It will help us to have A Better Greenburgh.

Wishing Greenburgh L’shanah Tovah

This holiday marks when the Jewish calendar year advances and is traditionally seen as the date when the world was created. It is considered one of the holiest days of the year and emphasizes introspection on the past year and planning ahead for the new one. We wish all our readers a good year on Rosh Hashanah.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Democratic Debate: “You Sound Like Me!”

The James Harmon Community Center at 44 main Street in Hastings was at capacity for the forum or debate – whichever you prefer to call it – for the “face-off” between rival Democrats Town Supervisor candidate and challenger Robert “Bob” Bernstein and 22-year incumbent and current Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. They are both seeking the Democratic endorsement for the Supervisor’s race. According to Democratic Leader Suzanne Berger, whichever candidate wins the endorsement on September 10th will be virtually guaranteed to be elected Supervisor in the November election. For Mr Bernstein this is a make-or-break primary and his only chance to run for the office. Mr Feiner on the other hand will also be running on the Working Families party line regardless of the outcome on September 10th.

There were two moderators for this evening’s debate and a three-member panel comprised of several media writers . They were Susan Wolfert representing the Scarsdale Inquirer/Rivertowns Enterprise, David McKay Wilson representing the Journal News and Danny Lopriore representing the online site The (Greenburgh) Daily Voice. Each candidate made opening statements followed by questions from the media panelists.

Here’s a few observations about the event. The room had probably about two hundred or so people in it. There were people lining the perimeter of the room. Also in attendance were Town Councilman Kevin Morgan, Town Attorney Timothy Lewis, County Legislators Alfreda Williams and Michael Smith. Also in attendance and given a chance to make a three minute introductory speech during a brief pause in the debate were Town Clerk challenger Sherron Brunson Fantauzzi and current incumbent Town Clerk Judith Beville. There were several others there that the hosts acknowledged early on. Mr Bernstein arrived at the dais carrying a small pad. Mr Feiner arrived carrying an armful of papers and folders. The audience seemed to be an even mix of supporters for both candidates. The moderators asked that the audience hold their applause while candidates spoke. There were numerous video and still photography and cell phone cameras going off. There was a young man who was using his Mac laptop as the official time-keeper for the candidates.

Ms Beville addresses the audience. Ms Brunson Fantauzzi
is seated to her right.

During their three-minute segment to address the crowd during the Supervisor candidates break, Ms Brunson Fantauzzi repeated her list of reasons why voters should choose her for Town Clerk. She similarly went through this list at the non-debate held at Town Hall several weeks ago. A sample from the list she read from included many points posed as questions, such as “If you want a Town Clerk who will expand the hours of her office, vote for me.” And, “If you want a Town Clerk who will transcribe minutes in real-time during the meeting, vote for me.” Unfortunately, Ms Brunson Fantauzzi read this rather long list from a sheet of paper that sat upon the table. As candidates were asked to stand during their answers, Ms Brunson Fantauzzi appeared to lose her place several times along with her rhythm. While this speech served her well at the last event, she fumbled here. At this stage of the campaign, she should have had it memorized or go with a different speech entirely. Ms Beville on the other hand spoke clearly, concisely and with confidence. We still think Ms Brunson Fantauzzi’s message is spot-on but her delivery was lacking and hope the message doesn’t hurt her campaign.

Supervisor candidate Bob Bernstein addresses the crowd.
Mr Feiner is seated to his left.

As questions were posed and answers tendered, an interesting pattern developed. When Mr Feiner spoke, Mr Bernstein jotted a few notes on his pad, and when appropriate stood up and rebutted Mr Feiner, sometimes referencing his notes, sometimes not. When Mr Bernstein spoke, Mr Feiner rummaged through his papers and folders spread out before him and when it was his turn to rebut Mr Bernstein’s comments, he would stand, hold up and point to a piece of paper and say , “This is a copy of the court’s decision. It quotes Mr Bernstein saying...” Or, “Here’s a quote from Mr Bernstein from 2008 when he was against...” This went on throughout the night. At one point, Mr Feiner appeared very nervous and blurted out, “You’re flip-flopping again. You’re all over the place. You sound like me!”

To Mr Feiner’s credit, he practiced for the night’s debate and was much more coherent and smoother that usual. He tried to lay his case against Mr Bernstein with a few ineffectual facts that ultimately rang hollow. When facts didn’t work for him, he resorted to what he always know best and began lying about Mr Bernstein, claiming Mr Bernstein wanted to hire a professional administrator so he could continue working at his law firm and leave running the Town to someone else. He (Bernstein) wasn’t going to be as attentive to residents’ needs and concerns as he has been for 22 years. Mr Feiner stated he was like an old time doctor who still makes house calls at any hour of the day or night. To his credit, he does. Mr Feiner is very adept at deflection and changing the subject when it suits him. He did this several times attacking Mr Bernstein, to the point where both the questioner and the moderator had to ask him to please answer the question. Throughout the evening, Mr Feiner seemed tense, almost jumpy and somewhat nervous. He did dress the part and abandoned the disheveled look that has served him so well in the past.

Mr Bernstein also may have practiced for last night’s debate. He has been involved in many of these same issues and has spoken about them at length before last night’s event. Whenever Mr Feiner spoke, he (Bernstein) periodically made a note or two and appeared to be calmly waiting his turn to either speak or rebut a point or two. After answering the actual question presented, Mr Bernstein smartly used his remaining response time to address points Mr Feiner made about him that were off-topic. When Mr Bernstein stood to speak, he cited facts and numbers, easily appearing confident, knowledgable and at ease with the topics and venue.

According to Mr Bernstein, Mr Feiner has done some good things in office. According to Mr Feiner, Mr Bernstein has sued the Town several times costing the Town unnecessary amounts of money. Mr Bernstein stated that taxes have increased for the Unincorporated as well as the Village residents. Mr Feiner stated that taxes have risen because of frivolous lawsuits from Mr Bernstein. Mr Feiner appeared to be on defense the entire night as Mr Bernstein handily recited facts, decisions and actions taken by Mr Feiner and his Board. Whenever Mr Bernstein hit too close to home, Mr Feiner would state it was the Town Board making the decisions and he was just one vote.

ABG has written often about the collusive nature of “his” Board. Mr Bernstein says he doesn’t want to fire Mr Feiner, just retire him. Mr Feiner states there are injustices that need correcting and he should get two more years. ABG has written often about the many injustices in the Town which have been created by Mr Feiner and his policies. Mr Bernstein has identified a number of ailments the Town is suffering from, some festering for about 22 years. Maybe its time to look for a new doctor? It’s certainly time for A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ethically Challenged & Resorting To Lies

During the last forum at Town Hall which was not attended by Mr Feiner, his opponent for the Supervisor position, Mr Robert “Bob” Bernstein, had the spotlight shone on himself and the Town Clerk candidate Sherron Brunson Fantauzzi. The fact that Mr Feiner and Ms Beville chose to not attend  the event was nothing short of disrespectful to the residents of Unincorporated Greenburgh and those in attendance.

Several people have stated that Mr Feiner, speaking on behalf of himself and Ms Beville, did not attend because the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations were campaigning for Mr Bernstein and against him and they are a partisan group. Ironically, the CGCA is run by Madelon O’Shea, who insists that all meetings, functions and discussions remain non-partisan. The League of Women Voters may or may not be partisan but the moderator, Ms Sue Weisfeld was specifically chosen as she has been known to be fair while forcefully maintaining control of a forum and the time constraints necessary.

We’ve always maintained Mr Feiner is shrewd. He proved it again by not attending the forum and then having a one-half an hour commercial run on the cable access channel immediately after the forum ended. It allowed him a relatively captive audience, a half an hour of uninterrupted and unquestioned time to talk about what he wanted to discuss, not what residents might be interested in hearing. It reminded us of the night he went to the NAACP forum about WestHelp and never answered any questions and rambled on about everything but answering the questions that were asked. ABG is relatively sure we’ll see a repeat performance of that behavior again tonight.

Watching the video he produced found him in front of numerous locations discussing topics relating to where he was. One location he illegally entered to film his commercial was the Elmsford Fire Company, a private corporation who did not authorize his film crew to enter or film there, where he professed his love of the villages volunteer firefighters. At the end of that video, he must have realized he offended the paid firefighters in the three Greenburgh Departments and quickly praised them too. ABG understands why he filmed this piece there. The paid firefighter’s union has endorsed his opponent, Mr Bob Bernstein.

He spoke in front of Frank’s nursery (loss to Greenburgh: $3.5M), WestHelp (loss to Greenburgh: $1.2M/yr), the Fortress Bible property (loss to Greenburgh: up to $8M), the Theodore Young Community Center and so on. At each location he staked his claim against Mr Bernstein as being against what he was trying to do at each of these locations. ABG believes Mr Bernstein was on the right side of each of these escapades. Mr Feiner could be found weaving half-truths with out and out lies about Mr Bernstein. We already have documented that Mr Feiner is ethically challenged and in desperation is resorting to lies to make his case for re-election. Residents are smarter than that but Mr Feiner is hoping they will only remember what he has said, not what he has done.

Mr Feiner has been in office for 22 years now. In the beginning, when many residents tired of the Anthony Veteran administration, the voters decided to try something new with Mr Feiner. What we have learned in those 22 years is that the old saying about how “power corrupts” is absolutely true. While Mr Feiner may have been a logical and even good choice 22 years ago, his lack of management skills, lack of private sector knowledge and experience, lack of ever working in the real world has shifted his focus from doing the right thing for residents to favoring developers, contributors and special interest groups.

This September 10th is the date for the Democratic Primary. The outcome will decide who will be the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party in the November election. It’s not about which yard sign was more impressive or readable when speeding down our residential neighborhood streets. It’s not about wondering who will help you as you watch your possessions float away during a misting rain because overdevelopment has no place for the water to go. It’s not about standing in the shadows of a larger than zoned-for building wondering how to watch a sunset in our Town. It’s not about watching our already overdeveloped green space turn black from macadam. It’s not about wondering if traffic will begin to move in time for you to play with your kids before they go to bed. It’s not about watching our seniors move out of their homes of 30 and 40 years into a subsidized studio apartments because taxes became greater than their Social Security checks. No, it’s about the fundamental and sweeping changes our Town has gone through and deciding if enough is enough! It’s time to return Greenburgh back to it’s residents. It’s time for A Better Greenburgh!