Monday, December 16, 2013

Feiner-gate: Deleting Public Information!

One of ABG’s contributors pointed out that Theodore Young Community Center (TYCC) Commissioner William “Bill” Carter spoke at the November 26th Town Board work session. And then he didn’t. At the meeting, Mr Carter was critical of Mr Feiner’s insertion of the Xposure program, heavily subsidized by the Town, into his budget. The net amount proposed for the 2014 budget is $115K. The Xposure program is based out of Brooklyn, NY, and was foisted upon us by Mr Feiner in 2009 to teach the youngsters about finance, the stock market and more.

When Mr Feiner was first espousing the Xposure Plan and seeking to “sell it” to the community, and knowing his Town Board would rubber stamp whatever he instructed. He sidestepped the TYCC Advisory Board completely and never did any kind of Return On Investment (ROI) justification. Many residents questioned the cost, noting that the Xposure program was already offered in several other area schools and YM/YWCA’s at no cost, questioning why we would be paying for it? Mr Feiner simply pooh-poohed them and did what he always did with his bad ideas. He implemented it.

A visit to the Xposure website provided us with a variety of what’s offered by Xposure. We’re just not sure if all of these items are offered at the TYCC version of the program. We’ve condensed about three paragraphs into one to explain what they do. For learn more, you can visit their website at ( Students learn the basics about savings and investment, deposits and withdrawals, checks, and interest and lending as they deposit their earnings into savings accounts on a regular basis. Students also learn fundamentals about the stock market, including ownership, stocks, research, and investing. They also learn about the scientific methods, the invention process, computers, the internet, and major office software skills, which are used in most jobs. In addition, students use SmartBoard technology, an interactive classroom tool that is used in many colleges and professional schools, to reinforce spelling, comprehension, and reading. An ABG staffer commented that this sounded like what you go to school to learn. Why are they getting this at the TYCC and not from their schools?

Mr Carter was openly critical of Mr Feiner and his budget as there have been cuts made to the TYCC operational budget. When Mr Feiner has a budget shortfall, he simply steals what he needs from the Fund Balance and raises taxes. This year’s tax increase is 3.44%, with Mr Feiner bragging that he stayed under the NYS 2% Tax Cap. Huh? Additionally, when Mr Feiner needs money for another harebrained campaign strategy germinating from the TYCC, he will contact the Lanza Foundation for a funding lifeline. The Lanza’s regularly sponsor/contribute/bail out Mr Feiner’s lack of management knowhow and quite often financially perpetuate his bad ideas year after year.

At the work session meeting, Mr Carter sat in the proverbial hot seat and was questioning the Xposure program as a line item in his budget as well as the needs of the TYCC. He stated that the program utilizes the TYCC space to operate, keeping him from offering other income-generating programs from the TYCC. Rather, could the program use the Greenburgh schools for its operation and free up the space in TYCC and the use of their first floor for their needs? They would actually be able to make money for the TYCC as well as staying within the mission of the TYCC.

Since Mr Carter made the mistake of openly criticizing Mr Feiner and his Board by telling the truth at the November 26th meeting (beginning of part 3) and not drinking the Feiner Koolaid, Mr Feiner needed to act swiftly. When Mr Carter arrived to the meeting being run by Councilman Sheehan, he sat down saying he had a few questions. Then there is an obvious jump in the online post and next see Mr Carter going through his portion of the Town’s proposed/tentative budget. Once the meeting ended, was the Town Video Department instructed to remove the beginning portion of Mr Carter’s meeting before posting it to the website as the official record? This might become known in Greenburgh history as the “missing 18-seconds” similar to what haunted President Nixon for the remainder of his tenure – before he finally stepped down from office. Wait a minute... this might work out for us. Mr Jones, defended the Xposure program saying the Xposure program was within the mission of the TYCC but didn’t comment about the Boards request for the TYCC to generate income. 

In the end, which apparently is nowhere in sight, the Town needs Commissioners and leaders who do the right thing, question what they don’t know and stand for what is right. Mr Feiner stands with four others, dauntless. Mr Carter did the right thing by questioning what he didn’t know. That entire portion of his visit to this meeting was deleted. When Mr Jones erupted in anger against community activist Hal Samis and hollered for him to, “Sit the F*** down!” the Town Video Department left the outburst on it’s website archive. They did later bleep the F-bomb out. While that too was disappointing, it seems censorship is becoming a hallmark of the untouchable Feiner administration. 

In a true open government, information provided by the people who run the various departments should be welcome. Whether the information is what you want to hear or not, it may be what we need to hear. ABG has stated before that having singular party representation in the Town will stunt growth, limit the good that can be done, different ideas, and in the end, fail its constituents by not having a give and take from different points of view. For those in office to blindly follow along with what they are told to do for their own political expediencies, they keep us from having A Better Greenburgh.

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