Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taking Care of Their Own

It was recently reported that the communities throughout Westchester County are being reimbursed by the federal government for cleanup and repair costs from the damage of Superstore Sandy. In case you might not be aware, today is the one year anniversary of Sandy and the devastation it caused. Sandy was less of an issue in Westchester County than Long Island and Rockland County.

Reopening 93 roads in Nyack to restoring their devastated marina, municipalities in the Lower Hudson Valley rightly footed the bill for the recovery effort after Superstorm Sandy blasted this area. The federal government will continue to send money to these localities if they haven’t already received payments. You may recall when Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene hammered our area, numerous homes and businesses were ravaged by flooding, debris, lack of power and more. Our media savvy Supervisor remained home, ensconced in the comfort and safety of his gated Boulder Ridge community sending emails saying Greenburgh was without power, had flooding and roads were closed. Duh! While residents were left to fend for themselves, Mr Feiner waited days until he began visiting the devastated areas throughout the Town.

Once it was deemed safe to travel, Mr Feiner went where the news cameras were. He made sure to take advantage of the free press as he promised flooded residents a FEMA buyout for their homes. When push came to shove and it was detailed what the Town would have to do for buyouts to take place, he quickly clammed up and moved on! He then pointed fingers at other legislators in various levels of government that they needed to do something. He later held a meeting at Town Hall to discuss the power outage outrage because it took so long to restore power. He made sure his pandering went unchallenged and did not invite ConEd or any other utility representatives to that gripe session. When challenged by one resident why he was not at the Emergency Operations Center in Hawthorne where most leaders for all the major players were, he remained silent, probably thinking, “Damn! How did that guy slip in to this meeting? Where’s Hochberg with a body-block when I need him?”

Westchester and Rockland counties have received $49 million in public assistance grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the year since the storm made landfall, federal officials announced on Monday. But individual residents, with FEMA Flood Insurance, that carries a minimum $5k deductible, couldn’t get reimbursed for their damage and were left to fend for themselves. Where are Nita Lowey and Chuck Schumer for them? Rockland had more damage from Sandy than Westchester and yet Westchester benefited from nearly $38 million, while Rockland collected about $11 million, with Putnam communities received $1.3 million. And, they are still applying for additional funding, with more expected to be awarded in the coming months! The residents? Tossed aside.

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, “One year ago, Sandy made landfall and devastated our region, taking lives and damaging homes and businesses,” Lowey said Monday at a White Plains event marking the one-year anniversary of the storm. “Federal assistance has been absolutely essential in helping the communities ... get back on their feet.” But they didn’t really help residents get back on their feet, did they? They helped government get back to the business of taxation but hung the residents out to dry. Literally.

We’ve experienced a relatively dry hurricane season this year. We’ve also experienced a relatively dry response from our leaders regarding fixing any of the flooding issues that remain dormant to plague our area again. The first thing that needs to happen is a plan to dredge and maybe even widen both the Bronx River and the Saw Mill River from start to finish to ensure water can properly drain from all neighborhoods into these only two waterways’ exits. The next thing needs to be making sure debris and natural obstructions that might get into the rivers are quickly removed. We also need to question this unending development of any open space and replacing natural absorption with impervious space. Just because its undeveloped doesn’t mean we need to put a building on it. Alas, nothing will be done.

Our political leaders cannot wait to beat their chests and say look what I did when things are bad or good. Things are not good right now for residential and business taxpayers, they are just on hold until the next storm. Paul Feiner and Rob Astorino both brag about their respective bond ratings but refuse to take advantage of it by investing in their constituents and our infrastructure. Mr Feiner prefers to lead by press release and not from the front. He could be holding everyone’s feet to the fire but knows its better to not make any waves and complain about things like the Tappan Zee bridge, closing Indian Point, or brag having solar powered trash receptacles in the Town. If he was a true leader, instead of taking care of his own, he’d be helping our residents to make A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beware: Six Constitutional Amendments in November 5th Election

There are six (6) constitutional amendments being presented to New York State voters in the upcoming November 5th elections. Many people we speak to are unaware that there are any constitutional amendments being offered for a vote, let alone six of them. These are not referendums as often referred to by Mr Feiner regarding the 715 Dobbs Ferry Road property that are conveniently worded for a predestined outcome. These are literal changes that will be made to the NYS Constitution and as such, we hope that voters and the electorate in general take these very seriously. They are listed below.

1) Whether to allow up to seven casinos to be built in New York. Currently, non-Native American casinos are unconstitutional, and this amendment would permit the Legislature to approve up to seven new casinos. Currently, the NYS Constitution prohibits gambling, except for (1) parimutuel wagering and horse racing; (2) State lotteries; (3) bingo conducted by certain charitable, non-profit and religious organizations; and (4) games of chance conducted by these same charitable, non-profit, and religious organizations. This proposal would amend the constitution to authorize casino gambling within the state, allowing for no more than seven casinos.

Pros: Upstate economic infusion of jobs, tourism, taxes, limit of 7 casinos in the amendment.
Cons: Increased crime/prostitution/flimflams/loan sharking/drugs, gambling addiction, police costs, little or no real estate improvements as witnessed in the decline of Atlantic City’s blight. There is no legislation, proposals or information other than what the casino industry has presented. There are no details of what would be done and where. The dollar amounts of revenue being proposed include Indian casinos revenue. Nor are the costs to develop these casinos included which would reduce the income projections.

2) Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment. The proposed amendment basically allows veterans who serve in civil service positions additional civil service credit for subsequent appointments or promotions.

Pros: It would benefit individuals who, through no fault of their own, were not classified as a veteran with disabilities at the time of their first civil service appointment.
Cons: While we appreciate our veterans, this will increase the cost to taxpayers in civil service salaries. It retroactively removes restrictions to apply for special credits that may have expired or not been applied for.

3) Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities. The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution would extend for ten years, until January 1, 2024, the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits indebtedness contracted for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Basically, it allows counties, cities, towns, and villages the ability to exclude sewage facility work from being counted as debt.

Pros: The concerns expressed in 1963 when this was initiated with a ten-year cap are still the same today.
Cons: Continue to allow politicians to kick the can down the road for another 10 years, as they have done for the last 40 years. The concerns may be the same but perhaps 40 years was enough time to deal with it.

4) Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve. The proposed amendment to section 1 of article J4 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to settle longstanding disputes between the State and private entities over certain parcels of land within the forest preserve in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County.

Pros: The “Forever Wild” clause of the NYS Constitution forbids the lease, sale, exchange or taking of any forest preserve land. The proposed amendment would allow the legislature to settle 100-year-old disputes between the State and private parties over ownership of certain parcels of land located in the forest preserve, in the town of Long Lake, Hamilton County, by giving up the State's claim to disputed parcels. In exchange for giving up its claim to disputed parcels, the State would get land to be incorporated into the forest preserves that would benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels currently do.
Cons: The statewide vote is violating Home Rule for Long Lake, Hamilton County, by having the entire state decide the fate of one region. We question whether this needs to be a constitutional change or can be addressed by a law from the legislature or a decision from the judicial system.

5) In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals. Inc. The proposed amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the Constitution would authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on mining the land. In exchange, the NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with a minimum assessed value of $1 million to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining. it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve. The back story here is that NYCO Minerals is a producer and supplier of wollastonite (calcium metasilicate), which is a rare, white mineral having commercial application as a reinforcement or additive in ceramics, paints, plastics, friction products and various building products. The Lewis mine produces 60,000 tons of wollastonite annually. NYCO Minerals has indicated that its mine is approaching the end of its pit life because the remainder of the wollastonite vein extends onto adjacent forest preserve land.

Pros: The land swap would preserve jobs in, and preserve a large company/employer in Essex County; provide new access to mountain peaks and trout streams; allow the state to acquire a higher quality of land than it would be trading to NYCO Minerals.
Cons: It is not vital to NYCO Minerals survival; it would diminish the “Forever Wild” clause of the NYS Constitution; it would be giving up forest preserve land to a commercial company. There are also no contracts and only talk of a 1500 acre parcel swap.

6) Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve. The proposed amendment to the Constitution, amending sections 2 and 25 of article 6, would increase the maximum age until which certain state judges may serve as follows: (a) a Justice of the Supreme Court would be eligible for five additional two-year terms after the present retirement age of 70, instead of the three such terms currently authorized; and (b) a Judge of the Court of Appeals who reaches the age of 70 in order to complete the term to which that Judge was appointed. Basically, a judge could sit on the bench until age 80 depending on their competency.

Pros: The State Judiciary system would benefit from the experienced judges otherwise lost to mandatory retirement; longer and healthier lifespans enable us to have older and equally capable performance from older judges. The retirement age was adopted when living longer wasn’t as viable.
Cons: Keeping older judges blocks newer judges from moving into those positions at the higher levels. Not passing this forces retirement under the guise of enhancing diversity. Age should not be a penalizing factor of employment for judgeships.

ABG is not telling you how to vote but will detail our thoughts for each issue. 1) At first glance the construction of casinos upstate may seem like a good thing and we’re pretty sure it will pass. However, there are too many questions and bad examples of what happens to casino-laden areas. And, this is New York – predestined to experience the worst of what can go wrong with any project. While many will say it doesn’t affect us because its an upstate issue, we know from experience that it will affect us financially if no other way. We suggest voting no. 2) Additional civil service credits may be a reasonable idea, however, we cannot complain about increased spending and out of control salaries and and pensions and then say yes to this. We suggest voting no. 3) Exclusion of indebtedness is part of what’s wrong with how we as an electorate, and our representatives with our blessing (votes), continue to kick the can down the road. It’s time to stop doing this. Forty years should have been enough time to address any water issues we may have. We suggest voting no. 4 & 5) While we disagree with the state cavalierly making constitutional changes to address land use and land use rights, we particularly disagree with constitutional changes to benefit a commercial entity. We suggest voting no. 6) We believe in and appreciate our seniors, their abilities and knowledge and think it may be wasteful to force their retirement. This change to extend the age limit makes sense and we can support it assuming measures are put in place to evaluate the competency of aging judges.

In the end, our votes will all add up. As we have seen in Town of Greenburgh’s Democratic Primary election, turnout is typically low and voters tend to vote with whomever has the loudest voice. The loudest voice is not necessarily the most honest or sincerest voice. Mr Feiner has proven this to us time and again. But since most voters only read the headline and not the entire story, or tend to believe what they hear, these changes will probably go through. It would be nice if we had representatives who held regular town hall meetings and explained in detail the pros and cons of an issue and listened to our input. New York state doesn’t have that. We used to have three men in a room, which has grown to four men in a room, whose personal interests trump the public’s interests.

Regardless of how you vote, get the facts, read, learn, listen and be critical of what’s presented before you go to your polling location and vote in our 1800’s-style “progressive” voting booth – another example of NYS control gone bad. Please, at least go vote!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Incentives for Business, Disincentives for Residents

Disincentivizing residential taxpayers in favor of incentivizing business taxpayers to remain where they are has been proven to not work in the long term. Initially, the company announces they will move to another, cheaper location, whether sincere or not. Almost as if orchestrated, the particular municipality offers a tax break for a company who agrees to stay, thus saving jobs and maintaining the local economy. The press writes it up, the politicians pose for pictures and espouse what a great service they performed. Collectively everybody slaps each other on the back with “atta boys” preening like the next coming of the savior. As has been replayed time and again, the companies take advantage of the tax breaks until they exhaust their viability and eventually leave for greener pastures. And who’s left holding the “tax bag”? You know who.

The next portion of this tragedy is creating Business Incentive Districts (BIDs) to focus on “blighted” areas. These too, don’t work. Yonkers has a BID. The visible rewards of the BID are singular, as are most. There are BID employees literally sweeping the streets in Gedney Square and the surrounding areas. As fast as they clean the area they are assigned to work in, the residents and visitors deposit more trash where they stand and not in the trash cans and receptacles – often only a few feet away. What the BID system indirectly does is ignore the root problems and foster bad behavior. We wouldn’t need street sweeping personnel if everyone would practice cleaning up after themselves and not litter. But that seems to be an excuse for not “insulting” residents and guests who are being slobs. All this bad behavior and trash adds up.

In fact, many years ago in New York (and probably other states) during the 1960’s, there was an anti-littering camapign with signs, TV commercials and radio spots telling us not to be a litterbug. ABG also recalls having street sweepers and garbage men picking up trash and garbage on the street until that term was considered insulting and required an upgrade. Of course, budget cuts also brought a halt to the street-level cleaning we used to have. The anti-littering campaigns of long ago worked. Our highways slowly became less littered with debris and what debris we see now on the highways are usually from auto accidents. Garbage cans placed everywhere would sometimes overflow as pickups became fewer and fewer as scarcer budget funding became greater and greater. In Greenburgh, Mr Feiner and his Board have bragged about installing two new solar-powered trash compacter garbage receptacles in Hartsdale. The compactor part of the receptacles promise fewer pickups and less attention provided it remains sunny long enough to charge them and keep them compacting.

Back to our tax giveaways. Here’s another example we recently read about in a Sound Shore weekly newspaper that will cost taxpayers more. The County’s Local Development Corporation will give Phelps Memorial Hospital of Sleepy Hollow access to $14 million in tax exempt bond financing toward the construction of a new 20k square foot surgical suite. For any of our readers who have not visited Phelps in the last five years, they have undergone a major transformation, becoming an area Trauma Center, with other expansions, including a completely renovated Emergency Room.

And who is pushing this financial extravaganza? None other than our old development friends, Alfred DelBello, of DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise and Wiederkehr, LLP. DelBello made a presentation to the LDC on behalf of the hospital and explained how the plan will improve patient care by increasing efficiency and staff productivity, while creating 10 permanent medical professional jobs. What hasn’t been mentioned is that Phelps plans to lose in excess of $45M with the implementation of Obamacare. According to our sources who insisted on anonymity, the Obamacare mandates will force the hospital to give away $45M in services that they will not be able to bill for or be reimbursed for. If you are wondering who’s left holding that bag, we’re pretty sure you know we all are.

Our regular readers know that DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise and Wiederkehr, LLP, are typically the attorneys of choice representing every major not-for-profit project (and then some) to request the blessings of Mr Feiner and his Town Board to build oversize, zone-busting, mega-projects on specs of land in Unincorporated Greenburgh. Delbello, along with William M. Mooney, Jr., started the Westchester County Association as a vehicle to gain more clout throughout the County via business strength and representation – the ultimate special interest group!  Mooney, the organization’s President, is the public persona. DeBello is the unseen and all-knowing wizard behind the curtain, typically recognized by Mooney at their events and invited to speak at what is made to appear to be an impromptu moment. While they are smart enough to know the organization needs to appear to have a balance, Mooney is a Republican and DelBello a Democrat, they have openly supported current County Executive Rob Astorino. This is why Astorino made this statement regarding the $14M giveaway: “Thanks to the partnership between Phelps Memorial Hospital and the County’s Local Development Corporation, Westchester residents will have more access to outstanding health care and our talented workforce of medical professionals will have more opportunity to find good-paying jobs.” Maybe so. But what is the County doing to help residents who don’t have access to $14M giveaways?

Each time a BID or a County Local Development Corporation gives a break to business, you and I must pick up the remainder of what they do not pay. It’s the same with Obamacare and why Phelps proposes losing $45M this year. Everyone was told if they liked their healthcare, they could keep it. This is being proven to not be true. The “marketplace” rates are proving more expensive than private programs as everyone must now pay for those uninsured users who cannot pay, have pre-existing conditions and so on. The point being that somebody always pays for others and in NY, there never seems to be a cap – real or imagined – on any program once its been implemented.

Special interest groups work. Delbello and Mooney sought to build the ultimate special interest group and struck gold. The County Executive owes them his support because of their support of him and routinely gives it. The proverbial “tit for tat” or “quid pro quo”. Paul Feiner owes Al Delbello and proves it every time DelBello’s law firm files an application on behalf of another developer or project that doesn’t fit or doesn’t want to conform to existing zoning. Our Town Board goes along with Mr Feiner’s wishes because they fear being “Sonya’d”*. So when does a willfully ignorant populace stand up for themselves? Apparently, no time soon. If they did, we’d start to get A Better Greenburgh.

To be attacked and dismissed from the “Feiner Team” as was done to former Councilwoman Sonya Brown when she publicly attacked Mr Feiner.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Greenburgh Fire Claims 2-Year Old

Fire was already raging through the two story home at 107 Sears Avenue when numerous 911 calls were received at about 10:03PM on Saturday night. The fire department responded to find the upper portion of the home engulfed in flames. It was estimated that about 75 firefighters would ultimately respond to this fire call.

Reports were that some family members had gone out shopping or were out of the house when the fire started. Those who were still there quickly exited the home and tried to make re-entry to no avail.

Aftermath of the home on 107 Sears Avenue.















While firefighters continued to fight the fire, interior attack crews attempted to find the 2-year old child on the second floor. They were forced to retreat after the roof collapsed and the volume of fire increased. It was believed the child was in a second floor attic bedroom. His body was later found on the second floor after the fire was extinguished. Investigators will continue to investigate the scene, however, the volume of fire and damage may make identifying the cause almost impossible.

Our hearts and prayers are with this family.

Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial Service

After the cowardly attacks of September 11, 2001, much has been said about the bravery, sacrifice and courage of members of our emergency services and rightly so. It is especially difficult when the members of the emergency services give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the line of duty. Long before the September 11th attacks, several Westchester County firematic associations had already begun to acknowledge and memorialize those who gave the their lives in what is known as Line Of Duty Deaths (LODD).

Westchester County Association of Fire Chiefs’
President William Barnes Jr addresses the crowd.
He’s joined  by WCVFA President Robert Moon and
WCAFD’s 
Joe Iantorno (left) and DES Commissioner
John Cullen, 
County Executive Rob Astorino 
and Chaplain John Coyne (right). 





















Each year the Westchester County Association of Fire Chiefs, the Westchester County Volunteer Firemen’s Association and the Westchester County Association of Fire Districts sponsor the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service at the Richard A. Flynn Fire Training Center at 4 Dana Road in Valhalla. The fire service loses about 100 firefighters per year, with September 11th being the major exception, in LODD. It was mentioned in County Executive Rob Astorino’s speech, that Westchester was fortunate this year by not having had any firefighter deaths and not having to add any names to this Memorial Wall. We pray for the souls of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families as we honor their memory.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chlorine Leak Requires Special Operations Team Response

On Friday evening at approximately 8:30PM, Westchester County’s all-volunteer Hazardous Materials Response Team responded to a chlorine leak at what’s known as the “Shaft 18” water treatment plant near the Kensico Dam in Valhalla. Once notified, the Team responded as a mutual aid response with the Valhalla Fire Department and an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The leak, apparently cause by either a failed pipe or fitting, was back in service about 24 hours after the initial chlorine leak forced its shutdown.
A master stream from a Valhalla FD engine is applied to a
door of the facility. Security issues prohibit more
detailed photos.
While the cause of the leak remains unknown, officials have narrowed the failure to one section of a pipe in “Shaft 18”. Entry was attempted by the Hazardous Materials Response Team and DEP personnel in level B response suits to get readings and evaluate the damage. As the responders got close to the building, their readings were found to be at such a high concentration, the entry team was forced to withdraw and change into level A response suits. This change of suits would allow them entry into the hazardous atmosphere to do their assessment. While the readings were extremely high, the chlorine spill was contained inside the building and the public was never at risk to exposure.

According to DEP representatives, chlorination operations were resumed to normal operations shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday. Crews spent much of Saturday replacing equipment, as well as alarm sensors, which became damaged because of the leak. After testing all of the plant’s systems, and everything was certified, the systems were put back on line. 

ABG asked if this plant was even necessary after the new RV Water Treatment Plant on Walker Road was put on line. The explanation was that most of the water is treated at the new plant but still requires final treatment with chlorine beyond just the UV treatment. As such, the Shaft 18 facility is still required for water treatment but used in a more reduced capacity than before. The plants process drinking water for a variety of communities in Westchester, as well as for most of New York City’s clean water supply. But officials said that the leak did not affect water service, and that there was never a threat to public safety.

Other water treatment plants in the Westchester water purification system increased their chlorination operations of water during the Valhalla facility’s shutdown. Water going to New York City was chlorinated at a separate, alternate site farther down the water-line system. Residents may have smelled a slight bleach-like odor on Saturday as the facility was being aired out.

The Valhalla FD and the County’s Special Operation’s Response Teams encompasses Hazardous Materials and Technical Rescue response professionals from many walks of life. Their dedication, training, and responses help to keep everyone’s taxes low and safety at an all-time high level.

Silence of the Lambs

Sheep following the proverbial herd. Unanimous voting decisions 98% of the time. Kumbayah moments. Presentations and accolades are hoisted upon convicted felons appointed to Deputy positions. The remaining 2% of the votes, not to be confused with the phony tax cap that Mr Feiner disingenuously insists we adhere to, may possibly find, on occasion, one nay vote out of five. Sadly, the resultant outcomes for residents are all but guaranteed. Most decisions are habitually skewed, tax-laden, poor and/or costly decisions, culminating in undesirable execution. These decisions result in greater expense for both homeowner and business residents alike. Can this Town Board, previously referred to here as the “Stepfords”, ever break away and lead the Town in a better direction? ABG sincerely doubts it. It’s almost the silence of the lambs!

Democratic Primary
In the Democratic Primary campaign, Mr Feiner repeatedly stated that he welcomed the competition and this was democracy in action. While stating that from one side of his mouth, out of the other side he was quietly challenging Supervisor Candidate Bob Bernstein’s ballot petition signatures to get him thrown off the ballot! Concurrently, Mr Feiner challenged his fellow Town Board Councilman Francis Sheehan, who previously rode shotgun for most Mr Feiner’s wishes, voting through a wide range of issues brought before the Town Board. Occasionally, Mr Sheehan would find it necessary to appear to be an independent thinker. Knowing the rest of the Board would be supporting the Feiner mandate, ABG believes he (or another) would get Mr Feiner’s blessing to object publicly and vote against the proposal, purporting the appearance of independent thinking and voting. Ms Juettner, a co-defendant in the Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict with Mr Feiner, will often do the same.

Now that Mr Sheehan has been “thrown under the bus” by Mr Feiner with the intentional efforts to discredit him, we’ve witnessed a small glint of independence from Mr Sheehan, who portends to be more openly critical of Mr Feiner’s machinations. Still a bit gun-shy to go after Mr Feiner, he’s now offering some resistance, just not a full court press. After all, he doesn’t want to be “Sonya’d”*! Speaking of press, while all of this was going on behind the scenes between Messrs. Feiner, Bernstein and Sheehan, Mr Feiner kept telling the lamestream media that he welcomed the competition, that this was the American way and this is (was) democracy in action. These statements were nothing more than lies.

To be attacked and dismissed from the “Feiner Team” as was done to former Councilwoman Sonya Brown when she publicly attacked Mr Feiner.

We have a few more examples to share for the uninitiated and/or willfully ignorant. Read on...

Westhab
Sometime twenty years ago, Mr Feiner met with the Fulton Park neighborhood as residents continued protesting the additional homeless and transitional (from jail) people being placed in what was then known as the King’s Inn Motel. Earlier, Mr Feiner told the neighborhood residents he would support a senior living facility there if the County were to ever close the motel or cease using it for the homeless. Then, some sixteen years and nine or so elections later, he reneged on that promise and claimed he never said that. Another Feiner lie. When challenged, he insisted the residents produce the letter showing that he had said that. He subsequently sat down with neighborhood leaders, claiming he never said that but suggested to Councilman Morgan, “We may have to move this to another location.” When that statement was made, the leaders believed he would find another location for the subsidized housing. They soon learned it was another lie as Mr Feiner often does when confronted by facts. Mr Morgan repeatedly promised that no decision had been made with the project and “they haven’t voted on anything.” They believed him as well, only to learn that it too was a lie.

The Town Board quickly became the lead agency, offering Westhab “carte blanche”, approving everything that was requested for their 7-story apartment building to be built on .7 acres of land. Residents painfully learned Mr Feiner would lie about various aspects and features of the project, the residents would investigate his claim and through the residents’ due diligence, instead of just saying they would do due diligence as Mr Feiner has typically drones on about, they proved he was lying. Ultimately, Westhab utilized Mr Feiner’s bias against the neighborhood and the Town’s outdated and faulty zoning maps to push the project forward even after they twice lost their funding. Any homeowner and/or taxpayer would never have gotten this kind of consideration!

Deli Delicious
After watching the Westhab developer’s train scream through the station, Deli Delicious’ owner, Ernie Tartaglione petitioned the Town to create a drive-through window added to his small deli building. His claim was that he was losing $4K a month as his competitors flourished (without drive through windows). His plan then was being pushed by Irvington contractor Chuck Pateman, Sr. Fulton Park protested after they got wind of Tartaglione’s plans because it promised to congest their already over-crowded local street and one exit from their neighborhood. Earlier, Tartaglione had tried to make a deal with Westhab to purchase his property but they refused. Then he tried purchasing and distributing outdoor plants and shrubbery to several Fulton Park residents who protested his proposal to win them over. That ploy also didn’t work.

He enlisted Mr Feiner to reach out to all his media-friendly outlets and touted this construction renovation as vital to local business. Mr Feiner did just that, intentionally berating and abandoning the Fulton Park neighborhood taxpayers and residents. Nobody believed Mr Feiner because he cries wolf so often. That strategy simply didn’t work. Soon after, Tartaglione boarded up the windows and entry doors and put up illegal signage as well as spray painting in red paint the words “closed”. He continues to use the building and the basement office today, sells Christmas..., oops, “Holiday” trees during the winter.

Now Tartaglione is back again trying to build a drive-through window so he can flip the building and have the drive-through “grandfathered” to the new owner. While the previous Zoning Board of Appeals turned down his request, we’re not sure this will happen a second time as Mr Feiner has been appointing more “Feiner friendly” board members. If the zoning change were to not carry over or be “grandfathered” to the next tenant Mr Tartaglione sells the property to, ABG believes if won’t be easily flipped. Since this is a project Mr Feiner wants, ABG predicts it will go through even though there are more holes in this proposal than a pound of the deli’s Swiss cheese.

Stop and Shop
The Stop and Shop grocery chain decided to close their longtime location at Tarrytown Rd and Rt 9. It has had several iterations as a supermarket. It was a First National, then Finast and finally Stop and Shop supermarket. A somewhat small store by today’s comparison, it was considered a mega-store in it’s day. The new store was planned at the location of the old Premier Theatre location on Rt 119, opposite Benedict Avenue. The Glenville neighborhood complained to the Town that the already high volume of traffic on Rt 199 would be exacerbated with more construction. There would be more noise, truck idling at all hours of the day and night, flooding and a degradation of the quality of life for the residents there. Mr Feiner didn’t care. He told of laws that prevent truck idling, noise control and so on. They were never enforced by the police – even when complaints were made. More of Mr Feiner’s lies.

Dromore Road
S&R Developer Estates purchased property at 1 Dromore Road in 2006 for $1.4 million, and proposed building apartment buildings at that location. The property had a single-family home on it and S&R proposed to build a four-story, multi-family (37 unit) apartment complex. The developers believed the parcel of land was located in a multi-family CA-1 zone. The zoning maps showed the land to be zoned multi-family. The following year the Town informed S&R that there had been an error on the zoning map and the land was actually located in an R-20 single-family zone. More faulty and outdated Town zoning maps! The town corrected this zoning map to show that the property was situated in an R-20 zone, which is zoning for single-family residences on a minimum of a half-acre lot. Court actions took place and finally covenants requiring permission to build were discovered and have brought much of this to a temporary halt. Now, 7 years later, S&R knows all too well what homeowners go through for much simpler projects and renovations. The property is no closer to fruition with any kind of plans and the Town has been in court and dragging its feet for the entire period of time.

GameOn 365
This debacle is currently one of the fiasco du jour as Mr Feiner connives creative new ways to “gift” the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to a startup venture named GameOn 365. The property is the former Frank’s Nursery site which has contamination throughout and was foreclosed upon, is how the Town acquired the property. ABG has often stated that if there’s a law Mr Feiner doesn’t like he ignores it. Such was the case with GameOn 365 when Mr Feiner tried to lease the property to the corporation instead of doing a sale as required by County and State law. When a neighborhood lawsuit and concerted effort was made by HelpBurstTheBubble.com and the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, threatening Mr Feiner with another court visit, he capitulated and said their would be a sale.

At about that time, Ardsley-based House of Sports doubled the offer for the property and said they would remediate the contamination with no conditions as long as the Town would detail the zoning that would be applied to the property. Since the nursery’s abandonment and the foreclosure, the property reverts to its original residential zoning. This was a monkey wrench in Mr Feiner’s scheme forcing Mr Feiner into Feiner Deflection Mode and said the House Of Sports offer was not legitimate. Following suit, the Town Board picked up on the phrase and began postulating their own versions of with ever-so-slight personalizations. Not gaining the traction for which he had hoped, Mr Feiner did what he always does and simply made up his own “facts” about House of Sports and their offer. Mr Bernstein publicized the House of Sports offer and constantly urged Mr Feiner to accept the offer and that would show how legitimate it was. Mr Feiner countered that Mr Bernstein and others were “bid-rigging” and trying to sabotage the deal. He even spouted the same lies at the Hastings-on-Hudson debate between himself and Mr Bernstein!

Mr Feiner was in quite the quandary. He was now running against Bob Bernstein for the Democratic endorsement for the Town Supervisor position and he didn’t need Bernstein and his pesky facts getting in the way now that he was so close with getting this latest fraud over on the public. But Bernstein kept pushing. With push coming to shove, Mr Feiner begrudgingly took the advice of one of his G10 arch rival’s, Mr Hal Samis and announced the Town would offer an auction for the property and the bidding would start at $3.5M. Mr Samis is retired from the real estate industry and often suggests to Mr Feiner and the Board how to go about proceeding with various projects involving real estate. Unfortunately, they rarely take his advice insisting on distancing themselves from him. Consequently, they continue to bungle project after project without the best outcome for the Town or its taxpayers.

Now that the Democratic Primary election has concluded and Mr Feiner is the winner, Mr Feiner has decided not to do a real auction and to go back to a sealed bid – but still call it an auction. Ironically, while an auction would be the way to go and offer the most transparency, it could cost Mr Feiner and his GameOn 365 friends the property because Mr Feiner would not be able to control the outcome of an auction. Doing an auction could actually shut GameOn 365 out of the process! They simply cannot compete against the House of Sports’ cash resources or another offer from another bidder for more. Mr Feiner claims two other companies have expressed interest in the property but refuses to say who they might be openly. ABG believes there are currently no other bidders at this point for the property.

Auction, RFP, sealed guess, it really doesn’t matter. At the last Town Board Work Session meeting, the 715 Dobbs Ferry Road property was brought up again as Mr Morgan struggled to find wording to offer a motion for Mr Feiner’s folly. Since Mr Feiner threw Mr Sheehan under the proverbial Primary Bus, Mr Sheehan has been questioning Mr Feiner’s deals in modicum amounts. It seems a little too little, too late. Since no one is running against this goresome-foursome (Feiner, Juettner, Sheehan, Beville) and Paul has thrown Mr Sheehan under the bus, we hope Mr Sheehan will begin using his conscience a little bit more and not just continuing to go along to get along.

Brightview Assisted Living
ABG supports assisted living in Greenburgh. That said, the problem that always seems to be at issue is the over-sized nature of these proposals. In the Glenview section of the Town, roughly where Benedict Avenue meets Rt 119 across from the Marriott Hotel, is the Brightview Assisted Living center that Mr Feiner has mandated his Board to bless whatever the variances and conditions requested. It is to be built at the top of a hill in a small neighborhood overlooking the area on a ridiculously small parcel of land. To build it “to be cost effective” for the developer, they claimed they needed 90 units. They would also need zoning changes and variances to pull this off. Our Town Board agreed to the condition that Medicare patients would not be eligible to live there. Why? They are the low end of the financial spectrum and unable to afford the rents charged in facilities like this. Because they do not offer profitability for a company such as Brightview, they want to exclude them – a form of segregation and discrimination that is condoned by our Town Board. This falls in line and is borne out with our Town’s previous racist actions against the Fortress Bible Church and the subsequent guilty verdict rendered by the courts.

The issue of size for this facility is controversial. When the neighborhood complained about the size and the fact that the building was within 10-feet of the neighboring properties, the developer turned the building to change the encroachment to other areas. Still not happy, Brightview “squished” the building in and forcing it to go up another story. But specific zoning for Assisted Living didn’t exist. What did exist is zoning for Nursing Homes. While playing semantics, Brightview cried foul and requested an assisted living zoning change specific to Assisted Living facilities. Our Town’s legal department seems capable enough but never sticks their head even near the chopping block and stepped back into the shadows on this one. What happened was that Brightview’s legal team wrote the zoning change, with benefits for the developer more than the Town. Even with the requisite public hearings and many points of contention brought up by Glenview residents and the G10, Mr Feiner’s “zoning change train” was racing into the station, never slowed down and his Board passed the Town-wide change, indelibly affecting all Greenburgh neighborhoods with small pieces of property with four story buildings simply called Assisted Living Facilities.

Fortress Bible Church
Many years ago, long before ABG existed, a Mount Vernon, NY church purchased property near the intersection of the Sprain Brook Parkway and Dobbs Ferry Road. The proposed neighborhood where the Fortress Bible Church planned to build is residential. One well-known resident was then County Legislator and now State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti. His friend and cohort, Supervisor Paul Feiner, frantically worked to keep the church from proceeding with the property’s development in Mr Abinanti’s back yard. Abinanti is an attorney by trade who can afford to move just about anywhere he wants, leaving behind residents that cannot and are stuck when these same representatives decide to assault their neighborhoods with unwanted and non-conforming projects. Abinanti hightailed it out of the neighborhood once Feiner was brought to court and found guilty of seven counts, including discrimination and violation of the Church’s Constitutional rights. The average citizen is powerless to act upon transgressions like these. Ultimately, most taxpayers are stuck with these developments as they witness their largest investment dwindle. Now, as the Fortress Bible Church decision and subsequent appeal upheld the guilty verdicts, the Unincorporated portions of the Town will be forced to pay the guilty verdict fines and attorney’s fees to the tune of about $8 million! Mr Feiner insists our insurance will cover the expense. According to Mr Bernstein when he was debating Mr Feiner, this is not true.
So, we pay in court fees, loss of tax revenue, guilty verdicts and they will be able to build with the Town’s money.

Flooding
Hurricanes, tropical storms, 100-Year Storms, 200-Year Storms, Armageddon, Locust, lions and tigers and bears - oh my! It seems as everything continues to degrade along with our infrastructure, and yet the only thing Mr Feiner and his Town Board want to address is our AAA Bond Rating! We’ve discussed this before and will just say having a AAA Bond Rating is nice but doesn’t help us if we don’t take advantage of it. Mr Feiner seems fixated on the rating but that’s as far as he intends to go with that.

Each time it rains, residential and business taxpayers cringe in anticipation of the subsequent flooding they know will take place. The two well known locations are the Saw Mill River and Bronx River sides of Town along the 9A corridor and the Bronx River Parkway corridors. During the Hurricane Irene assault, both sides were literally underwater. Mr Feiner and other politicians took every opportunity to get all the media coverage they could garner but offered no solutions or spent any more time doing anything but talk about it. Mr Feiner took initiative and began to point to every other politician and say they should do something to help their constituents. He didn’t say help our or my constituents. Why not? Probably because he doesn’t really care about the people he claims to represent.
When then-Elmsford Trustee William Zimkin organized a Saw Mill River cleanup, spurred by the 9A business community, Mr Feiner was there for the media-fest and then “poof!”, he was gone.

This past year has been a relatively dry season, and all the politicos could have been dredging both rivers, cleaning out the debris, improving the surrounding areas for all the residents, they’ve done nothing – led by Mr Feiner. It’s time to change the politicians who do nothing but pander for real leaders. The change will give us A Better Greenburgh!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Passing of Elmsford’s Brian Morgan

Brian A. Morgan, formerly of Elmsford, NY, passed away suddenly in Florida. He was 59 years old.

Brian Morgan, Archbishop Stepinac Class of 1972
yearbook photo.


He is survived by his wife Barbara Painter Morgan and his children, Brianne, Brian (Natalie) and Brendon, brother Kevin (Nancy) of Elmsford, Richard (Patricia) of Miami, Robert (Jennifer) of Tampa and sister Linda of Elmsford, NY. He was predeceased by his parents, Rosaleen and Alphonsus and his sister Deborah.

Service will be held Sunday, October 20 at the Palms West Funeral Home, 110 Business Parkway, Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411. 561-753-6004. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Boy Scouts of America.

Reproduced from the The Journal News on Oct. 18, 2013 http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=brian-a-morgan&pid=167580462&fhid=5126#sthash.5DcRWkDy.dpuf

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where’s Our Comprehensive Plan?

ABG knows there’s a committee at Town Hall, but all there has been from the administration is a lot of lip service as to the importance of having a Comprehensive Plan, without actually having one. Lately, along with comments that it’s due for a review, adjustments and changes and so on, will we ever receive any notifications from the Steering Committee that we’ll soon see some “rubber hitting the proverbial road”?

Mr Feiner rushes development proposals through the Town’s review processes as if being chased by the Steering Committee seeking his sign-off on their Comprehensive Plan. He’s cavalierly making numerous zoning changes, mostly recommending larger buildings in the Town at numerous locations before a plan can be adopted. An example is his convoluted efforts to make sure GameOn 365 is the only winner for the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. He has instructed his Town Board to now have Planning Commissioner Thomas “Build It Bigger” Madden into developing a possible recreation district for the corridor where neighborhood civic associations have emphatically said their needs are to have it scaled down.

It would seem that a serious look at Greenburgh’s future is in order. Just last week County Executive Robert Astorino mentioned at a candidate’s debate that White Plains is likely to be the transportation hub for any mass transit coming off the new Tappan Zee Bridge and along the 1-287 corridor. Mayor Tom Roach has been heard saying the same thing. Mr Feiner has ignored the difficult traffic conditions and flooding in Fulton Park, which is the last touch of Greenburgh on the path into White Plains and their transportation parking lot. He routinely supported more mass transportation even though the infrastructure doesn’t support it or has been addressed for future improvements. The proverbial, “Build it and they will come,” mentality will give little, if no relief to traffic congestion in the area.

The CEO of White Plains Hospital has been very outspoken about the need for more real estate for a medical center that is bursting at the seams on its current campus. There are plans for more retail development on Bloomingdale Road and another on the Post Road. Central Avenue has been targeted by Mr Feiner and Mr Madden for even more development. Who will fill these businesses? Where will all these shoppers come from? How will an area already dying a slow death with overdevelopment survive even the smallest storm, where flooding practically happens when it gets cloudy? Can we work to fill the vacant store fronts and offices with more than Dollar Stores and Nail Spas? Parking that costs more than the merchandise being sold says volumes.

The traffic situation in the area is already overwhelming as our roadways and tempers are bursting at the seams. Mr Feiner and his Board blatantly ignore all traffic reports which reinforces the fact that all of our areas being expanded upon receive a failing grade. Numbers can be presented in many ways, assuring the outcome desired by the presenter. Every neighborhood that complains about traffic is pushed to the side so Mr Feiner can wave his “payoff wand”, granting another developer carte blanche over the beleaguered residents. We don’t count. But how much more can the Town of Greenburgh absorb? How much longer until a willfully ignorant electorate rises from the couch of indifference and begins to take note of the metamorphosis of their Town? Is this what they signed on for when they bought their homes? This explains why the expression of not being able to fight City Hall resonates among so many.

Mr Feiner talks about riding bicycles for moving residents but offers no bike paths, racks or ideas to improve biking throughout the Town. Traffic and cyclists, and lets not forget those pesky pedestrians, just don’t mix. Not all of us live in expensive gated communities such as his bucolic Boulder Ridge where riding a bicycle is a relatively safe adventure. It seems that much more thought needs to go into how much Greenburgh can do. Actually, ABG wonders if any thought has been given to what Greenburgh should and might do? We welcome a Comprehensive Plan for the Town. We trust it will slow or even stop our out-of-control Town Board from spot-zoning for every project and every developer.

It’s time for a Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Greenburgh. It’s also time for Mr Feiner to stop playing games with the Steering Committee and let them come forth with a proposal, have the review process and get this show on the congested road.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Scams in the Area

A couple we heard about recently received a call from their “grandson” who stated he had been arrested and needed $1800 wired immediately to Wells Fargo to get out of jail. He provided an account number to send the money to. The couple, each 83-years old, were about to hit the “send” button when one of them decided to call their grandson. He answered immediately and when asked where he was, he replied he was on his way to school. Not in jail. They were lucky this time that they didn’t lose any money or reveal any critical information. Crisis averted – for now.

We went online to the US Better Business Bureau to see what scams are typically perpetrated on others. We found the exact “top” scenario this elderly couple went through and it is almost verbatim to what happened:

Top Emergency Scam: Grandparents Scam
The “Grandparents Scam” has been around a while, but it’s still so prevalent we need to mention it again: grandchild/niece/nephew/friend is traveling abroad and calls/texts/emails to say he or she has been mugged/arrested/hurt and needs money right away (“…and please don’t tell mom and dad!”). Plus the FBI says that, thanks to social media, it’s getting easier and easier for scammers to tell a more plausible story because they can use real facts from the supposed victim’s life (“Remember that great camera I got for Christmas?” “I’m in France to visit my old college roommate.”). Easy rule of thumb – before you wire money in an emergency, check with the supposed victim or their family members to make sure they really are traveling. Odds are they are safe at home.

ABG reached out to a former Scarsdale Detective about this and he recounted almost verbatim how the phone call and subsequent transaction transpired. It was eerie how accurate he was. He suggested calling the police in the jurisdiction within which they live. A subsequent phone call to the Greenburgh Police Department found me discussing this with a 911 operator. She said there was no crime committed because nothing was lost by the couple and they were just acting a good grandparents usually do. Not smart grandparents, but good grandparents. She said be happy they made the phone call and that no harm was done. Or was it?

My Scarsdale Detective suggested that since this person got them to go this far, the next step is to contact them again with a simple call that the funds didn’t go through and to try again. The next would be to threaten harm to a family member unless they pay up. He also suggested they will be contacted by more scam artists posing as contractors and other representatives and they will use another family member’s name to convince them this is on the “up and up”. The scammers may even come to their home! The scammers are smart enough to be able to push enough of their buttons that they will believe what they are being told. We’re sure their adult children would probably tell us they could never “put one over” on them when they were youngsters growing up.

As we were discussing this in the ABG office, Sean told our group of a newly married couple who took their financial gifts and deposited those in the bank before taking their two-week honeymoon out of country. They came to learn the hard way that their new apartment had been burgled during their absence (they were still overseas and didn’t know what was taken). How did the thiefs know they would be away? The new bride had posted their honeymoon itinerary several times on her Facebook account, including when they would be leaving and returning. Now, before you tell us that Facebook accounts are all friends that you invite to join you, we concede that point. However, how many of you accept friendship requests from people you don’t know just to be able to say you have “x” amount of friends on Facebook? Add in all the other social media out there and its easy to get that information.

We learned this same elderly couple was scammed years ago via the US Mail by someone who filled out and submitted a change of address form to have their weekly paychecks diverted to the scammer. Little if no authentication is required to prove who you are to change a mailing address. Obviously, everyone must remain diligent and if they see a change in mail delivery habits, they should inquire with the Post Office as to what they can do to fix the problem. It also goes without saying to call the police for help.

In trying to figure out what to be on the lookout for that would indicate a scam, our Scarsdale Detective gave us some basic points that will always be helpful. We are posting them with the caveat that this are guides, not hard and fast rules, and they don’t ensure you will be scam-proof.

If contacted by a seemingly loved one or friend in trouble ask for a phone number and tell the caller you’ll call them right back. IF they give you a number you don’t recognize, don’t call it. Instead, call their number that you always use to call them directly to see if you can reach them. If you cannot reach them, and have access to the internet, type in the phone number in a search field. If it’s a scam phone number, you may be surprised and it will say so.

If the caller says they cannot hang up, don’t know the phone number to give you, tells you the phone can’t receive calls or gives you any reason for you not to hang up, its all part of the scam. Hang up and call the police.

If the caller gives you an address, phone number, account number, etc., to wire money to, don’t do it. Rather, call the police first. Don’t worry about being rude.

If the caller asks you for any kind of account number, such as checking, savings, mortgage, or passwords, pass-codes or specific account information, don’t. Again, don’t worry about being rude.

In the end, caveat emptor rings true more and more. Always be vigilant, questioning and reaching out to family and friends if something doesn’t seem right. As soon as someone starts asking you for information, money or specifics, beware! Don’t relinquish any information or specifics about your bank accounts, credit cards, passwords, account names, and so on. If you think something is up, hang up. If you can, get a phone number and then hang up and call the police. And, if you are approached or called or emailed, let your friends know and immediately contact the police to let them know what is happening. Ultimately, it will help us have A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Adapt or Disappear


After years of election night “hand-wringing” and “pacing”, and maybe even the occasional campaign contribution, perhaps its time to take our collective involvement in our Town campaigns up a notch.  

In the past, most discussions indicated that many engaged in politics the same way a gambler participates with spectator sports.  Choose which candidates we wanted to support and maybe contribute to their campaigns or PACs, and hope those we trusted with our money could work their magic and win. There have been occasional good results, but unfortunately, too few to brag about. And, like the gambler, we could only shrug our shoulders and think, “Oh well, maybe next time.” The difference between our limited involvement and the gambler’s was being content to sit on the sidelines, unwilling to do more than give money. Should we question our past actions and offer the skills and expertise we might possess to positively affect the outcome of a race?

In the ABG offices, there’s agreement that we should think independently and not just go along because of party affiliation and start to think more like the business people we are. The time for this has never been more crucial. Gone should be the resignation to merely “hope for the best” and blindly trust others to manage our investment in their candidates. Gone also is our willingness to acquiesce to their requests for money, without an accompanying expectation of accountability. Of course, the candidate and their message will always be the most important ingredients for the success of any campaign, but lets stop playing the role of blind party loyalist, and started thinking and acting like a businessperson.
  
Let’s insist on getting a substantial return-on-investment from our political contributions. This is especially critical for those contributing to Super PACs – previously an unaccountable black hole rarely if ever offering any accountability beyond an email saying how “they” successfully utilized our financial input.

ABG offers the following suggestions to those who are interested in doing the same.

1. Invest in campaigns that take social media seriously.
Media consumption has fundamentally changed in the last few years. Too many in the GOP, for instance, cling to the same old strategies that have become less and less effective. More and more television ads blindly aired in October right on up to the November election are increasingly ignored by most voters and frankly are a waste.

Today’s campaigns must also have a twitter presence in particular to attract young voters in addition to a commitment to build a strong following on Facebook. Former Democratic Supervisor candidate Bob Bernstein had a good jump with Facebook in the Democratic Primary election over his opponent. Monitoring tweets, originating tweets, and re-tweeting enables candidates to respond in real time to current events, and to shape the media narratives that swirl around them. 

In political campaigning, the quicker a response, the better, and providing the appearance of seemingly being more engaged with the voters. Immediate responses are perceived as a candidate being more “in touch” with the electorate. Many of the Democrats are doing this and the results are apparent. This type of media involvement might turn the tide for Republicans by engaging a younger voting audience.  

Old media models are no longer building large audiences while Facebook (as one example) is now almost mandatory. An allocation of resources away from the old methods and towards a new one is imperative for better results and donors should demand it!

2. Invest in campaigns that use cloud technology to organize data.
Prospective donors should hold their candidate accountable for a campaign that leverages “cloud computing” software to organize the “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) efforts, fundraising, or other campaign activities.  

Cloud computing enables large numbers of computers to share information in real time over, thus relying on shared resources to achieve coherence and balance. President Obama’s campaign utilized a cloud service called Amazon Web Services (AWS) during the 2012 presidential election.  

Amazon Web Services helped facilitate the raising of hundreds of millions of dollars, coordinate millions of phone calls and thousands of volunteers over the cloud network, which simultaneously reduced expenses, duplication, and other inefficiencies associated with traditional bricks-and-mortar campaign operations. There is a level of office to office coordination that has never been able to be done before.

The “cloud computing” technology is only a small portion of how to enable campaigns to capture information, respond to current events, tweak the candidate’s message, and monitor the pulse of voter sentiment – all in real time. In a local campaign in Greenburgh, however, much of the work would be scaled down by a smaller geographic area by either communities, villages and even streets.

3. Invest in campaigns that analyze data carefully, and make intelligent decisions accordingly.
Republicans coined the term “micro-targeting” during the Bush years, taking the technological lead in predictive modeling. Yet through the last two elections, that lead was relinquished to the Democrats, who better utilized this new technology and data mining.

These same campaign donors should also ensure that campaigns invest in technologies to mine data on individual voter preferences and to map relationships between persuadable voters. Donors should force campaigns to provide accountability for their donation. Accessing this information enables a campaign to select the best method of communicating with particular voter groups, and craft individualized messages that speak directly to their interests. 

The Obama campaign leapt ahead with this in 2012, and the GOP must follow suit if they plan to be more competitive. Data mining provides vast amounts of facts about voters as individuals and demographic groups. Utilizing this information can develop authentic, dynamic, and responsive messaging platforms, rather than promoting those that are based on long-held perceptions or intuition, which results in static messaging and voter disconnect. 

Businesses that invest in data-mining technologies consider it the best way to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Every campaign should adopt the same mentality. Mr Feiner has found his own data mining technique and exploited it. Our best advice to any donor: as a businessman, technologist, and one who now demands a good ROI on his campaign contributions, we’ll now be an active part of the solution, by participating in campaigns and PACs that maximize our dollars to utilize technology to better target and inform voters. Those that participate with us will do well. Those that don’t will either quickly learn to adapt or disappear. Speaking of disappearing, we hope they adapt. We deserve A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Just More Lies

A short while back, Mr Feiner was stopped by a community lawsuit from illegally leasing the former Frank’s Nursery property to his preferred developer (reasons still secretly unknown). Because of the lawsuit, Mr Feiner then said he would sell the property to them. Then he said the Town would issue a new RFP (Request For Proposal) for the property. Seeming to now be resigned to follow the law with foreclosed upon property, Mr Feiner said the right things during his Democratic Primary campaign against Bob Bernstein. The law requires any municipality that acquire property through foreclosure to sell it or keep and develop it for Town use, such as a park, a library, a court or police station. Mr Bernstein was the chosen Democratic District leader’s over-whelming endorsed candidate for the November elections. But now that the Democratic Primary has past, Mr Feiner has again changed his tune.


You may recall that Mr Feiner was “gifting away” the property through rent credits, tax credits and so on, to GameOn 365, after announcing they would build an 83 ft/8-story tall sports bubble and would pay the Town $5M over the course of 15 years. Please do that very simple math and ABG believes you will see that after every credit and tax break is rendered, school taxes paid, etc., there won’t be but a couple of thousand dollars left for the Town yearly. This was not a good deal for the Town.

Mr Feiner later claimed that there was a second company, House of Sports from Ardsley, NY, interested in purchasing the property but he didn’t think their offer to purchase the property was sincere. The House of Sports owners emphatically stated time and again that their offer of double the amount for the property was sincere and that they are always serious when it comes to money. Mr Feiner stated that whomever the Town sold the property to, the other would sue the Town and Mr Feiner didn’t wish this to end up in litigation. Having been found guilty in the Fortress Bible Church lawsuit and then having that verdict upheld in the Appeals Court, coupled with the guilty verdicts that he engaged in unfair campaign practices during the Democratic Primary campaign, illegally made payments to the Valhalla School Board, Mr Feiner is wise to try to stay out of court. This is not good for the Town.

Mr Feiner continues to state that he wants the property to be environmentally sanitized by the new owners and at the new owners expense. The Greenburgh taxpayers have been responsible for paying the school district and other various taxes (fire, county and town) since acquiring the property through foreclosure. Mr Feiner says (we believe incorrectly) that it is his personal opinion to make the Dobbs Ferry Road corridor a “recreation corridor”. ABG has repeatedly pointed out that Mr Feiner’s personal opinion simply “can’t be” since he is always the supervisor and cannot simply stop being the Supervisor to render a personal opinion. Every time he speaks, like it or not, he is speaking as the Supervisor. As such, he has often said this property should be developed for recreational use. Fine. Just don’t try to sell it to a private, for-profit business as a loss-leader under the guise of offering the Town residents another sports field. The only way residents will use any of this facility’s resources is by paying for them! This is not good for the Town.

This summer found Mr Feiner changing his spin once Bob Bernstein’s fact-laden campaign began exposing his litany of lies. He insisted the Town would do another RFP, put a new sign up advertising the property and have all bidders meet with the environmental consultants to generate maximum interest and revenue for the property. Simply, this was classic Feiner-spin fabricated in the moment. This is something Mr Feiner does often, without regard for the truth, strictly to benefit himself at any given moment. This is not good for the Town.

Doing another RFP would actually shut GameOn 365 out of the process because they cannot compete against the House of Sports’ cash resources or an offer for double the amount. House of Sports offered to willingly do the environmental cleanup at their expense as long as they knew the assigned zoning usage for the property. GameOn 365 could not. That alone would have been good enough reason to “seal the deal”. Next, putting a sign out on front of the property is as absurd as Mr Feiner’s claim that he posted the sale on his blog, thinking this would result in a sale. Finally, House of Sports’ only condition for purchase was to know what the zoning use for the property would be by the Town. They also wanted the full environmental report from the Town so they could estimate how and what work would need to be done should they purchase it. The Town never replied to the House of Sports request. These two requests were then transformed by Mr Feiner into “too many conditions” from the House of Sports as a serious purchaser.

House of Sports is a proven winner with their highly successful and well-run facility in Ardsley. This should have been a no-brainer for our Town leaders. An easy $3.5M with little-to-no effort. But our Town Board only plays ball under Mr Feiner’s direction and are subsequently aligned with his chosen purchaser. Instead of making the maximum interest and maximum revenue for the property his goal, as Mr Feiner stated earlier, our Town Board co-opted for politics as usual, and towed the line as instructed. This is not good for the Town.

Many have asked when the Town-wide Comprehensive Planning Committee will unveil their five-years-in-the-making Town Comprehensive Plan. Mr Feiner really doesn’t want it because once implemented, it will severely limit his ability to spot-zone properties for his numerous developer friends. So each time the Committee gets close to completing the plan, Mr Feiner tasks them with another issue to address. The last time was reviewing and correcting the Town’s existing zoning maps. This monumental task has finally been completed by the committee. Mr Feiner maintains this plan will be ready by the end of this year. That’s factually impossible given the amount of public review, revisits, rewrites and changes that will need to be made to it and then the ultimate adoption of it. Another Feiner fabrication. 

Mr Feiner continues to make unsubstantiated claims that other developers besides GameOn 365 and House of Sports are interested in the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. When pushed for an answer as to who these mysterious developers are,  Mr Feiner refuses to answer. GameOn 365 appears to be moving forward with erecting their 83 ft/8-story tall inflatable bubble on the golf driving range property adjacent to the former Franks plot. This seems to be another Feiner-like deflection from the fact that they don’t have the money or investors to compete against House of Sports’ (or any other) bid for the property. But they have to appear committed to building a sports bubble, no matter how improbable it may be. Their intent now seems to be that they will erect their bubble literally in the backyard of the Westchester View Lane residents and seek the Frank’s property for parking. Subterfuge, lies, posturing, empty bank accounts, non-existent investors. These are just some of what Mr Feiner endorses with this charade. Mr Feiner has stated over and over again that he wants an RFP for this property. Normally, in any place other than Bizarro Greenburgh, it would be the correct way to proceed. But if an RFP took place, he won’t be able to stack the deck as easily to assist GameOn 365 in getting the property. This is not good for the Town.

Mr Feiner announced at the last Work Session that he has now decided to auction the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to the highest bidder without any conditions and for a minimum of $3.5M. At face value this seems perfectly viable but what happened to the RFP he promised? The Democratic Primary is over – back to business as usual. But an auction provides a way out for Mr Feiner and GameOn 365. Here’s what ABG believes will happen. 

GameOn 365 will bid whatever amount they do (its really immaterial). House of Sports will bid $3.5M. Any other bidders who participate are mere icing on the cake. The bids will either be too low, have too many conditions or will simply not happen because the Town will not be forthcoming with the zoning information for the property or the requisite cleanup of it. Knowing how the property is intended to be zoned and used mandates what must be done for hazardous remediation to the property. This is what was holding back House of Sports with proceeding with their offer into a sale. Mr Feiner also knew they would not proceed if he didn’t provide the information. Common sense tells us that no CEO or company in their right mind would purchase property not knowing this. Mr Feiner is banking on this and its his ace in the hole to be able to make sure GameOn 365 gets this property for “a song” with the Town on the hook for everything! This is not good for the Town.

Regardless of how many people or organizations bid on this property, Mr Feiner will have some reason for them to be disqualified or have the secret bid, under the guise of an auction, declared null and void. Not surprisingly, Mr Feiner will announce no one bid properly or the required amount, or had conditions and didn’t meet the criteria. With his normal media blitz, he’ll announce he’s made a decision to sell the property, awarding the sale to GameOn 365. He will say we need to move this process forward because the Town is losing so much money, knowing full well it was what he had intended to do now that he’s forced to follow the law he had previously tried to ignore. The amount of the sale will be the lesser amount he originally tried to gift to GameOn 365 with the illegal lease. Either way, can you say, “Done Deal?” This is not good for the Town.

This saga has gone on for way too long and unfortunately will go on longer because of the  earlier mentioned subterfuge, lies, posturing, empty bank accounts, non-existant investors and the like. It needs to end. This is not good for the Town. Greenburgh taxpayers deserve A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

“Like A Bad Zombie Movie”

Unknowingly being filmed by the Town video system, three Town Council representatives Morgan, Jones and Juettner were having a casual conversation that was broadcast to the public. In it, Councilman Morgan seated at the conference table asks Councilman Jones, “So Ken, did they clean up [the] WestHelp?” Walking back on camera, Jones shrugged his shoulders almost suggesting a dismissive response.
Morgan continued, “Because, the main building, I had Victor and Richie* in there... ”
“Was it bad?” Juettner queried.
“That building was probably...” stated Jones.
“It looked like one of those bad zombie movies, B movies, with s*** thrown everywhere. So I said, I had them up there because I knew the County was going to try to make us look bad. So they sent like 10 guys up there ”
“Good.” injected Juettner.
“And cleaned up and put everything outside, so.”
“You know what, (unintelligible) its so stupid.”

You can watch the entire video here:

video

The balance of the conversation finds them discussing what might need to be done to the apartments, and other work to perform at the site. This was quite a different presentation than the unified “Everything will be okay,” or “the mold is manageable,” statements usually made in public. Its disturbing to learn of the actions taken by Morgan and the Board/Supervisor. Now, the County is pursuing taking back control of the property after two years of intentional neglect caused by this same Board and Supervisor. Equally disturbing is that this one action could have been taken over two years ago to close the facility, winterize it or at least keep the heat on to a minimum temperature to preserve the existing conditions of the apartments at that point in time. Even Mr Feiner’s handpicked, unqualified and inexperienced choice to manage the facility said the same thing!

The intentional neglect of this facility by Mr Feiner and his Board is reprehensible. As ABG has stated previously, the Greenburgh Housing Authority has maintained a list of people, residents, seeking housing in the Town. At the time Mr Feiner decided to abandon the facility, there were approximately 250 applicants waiting for a place to live. With 100+ applicants, Mr Feiner and his Board could have moved these people into these apartments with little or no effort. But he chose to play a game with their lives for election votes from Valhalla. This is a very sad state of affairs for our Town. Unfortunately, we’ve learned to expect deceit and lies from this current leadership based past performance. But playing these games when people need a place to live should not be tolerated.

Greenburgh residents have experienced the worst from our leadership numerous times as they rubber-stamp approve projects for developer after developer in the Unincorporated section of Town. No matter how logical, factual, truthful or well-stated, they lose to the developers and Mr Feiner’s goals. Guilty verdicts against the Supervisor and the Town (Fair Practices Committee, Fortress Bible Church, Valhalla School District) abound. Tax increases every year for property taxes, sewer taxes, water taxes) abound. Last year our management-lacking Board did away with leaf pickup under the guise of saving taxpayer dollars. When pushed for the amount saved, the Board offers silence. When neighborhoods fought large projects in their neighborhood based on facts (Fulton Park [Westhab], Edgemont [Dromore Road, ShopRight], Glenville [Stop & Shop, Brightview Ass’t Living], Sprain Road (Toll Bros.), Worthington-Woodlands (GameOn 365), they were dismissed in lieu of the developer’s requests. Spot-zoning, the illegal rezoning of parcels to accommodate a developer, seems to happen as a matter of routine course for developers – especially one represented by a particular White Plains law firm. The Town’s strategy appears to be one of divide and conquer.

When the Bronx River and Saw Mill River sides of the Town suffered from severe flooding from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, Mr Feiner pointed to everyone but himself for residents, his residents, to approach for assistance. Every news media outlet regurgitated his “we seem to care” rant, but never followed up to show what he actually did (or didn’t do) to help his residents. Each event finds him pointing to everyone else to help his constituents except himself. That’s not being a leader or providing real leadership. When it came time to renew the WestHelp contract with then County Executive Andrew Spano, Mr Feiner decided to not renew it in hopes of gaining support from the Valhalla voters. After all, he was going to be running against a formidable candidate with Bob Bernstein (or whomever the unknown future candidate would be) and would need every edge he could muster.

This post only scratches the surface of what’s wrong. This video shows the insolent nature that this Board treats serious issues before the Town. The residents got what they voted for in this past Democratic Primary election. The amount of Democratic voters who participated was miniscule. Many are willfully ignorant and simply vote the party line because that’s the easiest thing they can do. But their cavalier attitude is severely costing all of us more than we should have to bear. Greenburgh residents deserve A Better Greenburgh.

* Victor Carozi, Highway Commissioner, Richard Fon, Deputy Commissioner