Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Con Continues

For over three years now, Mr Feiner and his Town Board have been playing games with taxpayer property. For over twenty years now, Mr Feiner has been playing games with taxpayer money. The wallet-busting Supervisor has no plans to follow the law and will engage again in more spot-zoning to achieve his cash “fix”. Specifically, the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery property, which has languished as a contaminated, still undeveloped plot of land that continues to be mired in ineptitude and a morass of legal hijinks.

The property could have been sold for a profitable $3.5 M to Elms Street Sports, but Mr Feiner and his Board, began a new deflection campaign by concocting a slew of stories of “serious offers”, “genuine interest”, “real offers” and other well-played lies to keep the Town’s only serious offer from ever seeing the light of day. The reason? Mr Feiner promised the property to Martin Hewitt of GameOn 365 and by hook or by crook (the right word), he plans to keep that promise no matter how ill-advised or costly it will be for the Town taxpayers.

That’s one of the predominant issues here. The fact that Mr Feiner made this significant arrangement with Mr Hewitt, et al, before the Town acquired the property through foreclosure is critically important. But it’s not the only factor contaminating this entire process – beyond the physical contamination of the land at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. It’s also symbolic that Mr Feiner brought in his Board to strengthen this improper deal. Is it merely coincidence or intentional? ABG wholeheartedly believes its intentional. Mr Feiner couldn’t sell the 83-foot inflatable balloon deal by himself as his credibility is shot within the Town. Oh sure, the lamestream media will regurgitate his pablum, and that helps his cause du jour.

But its not enough and his need to add a legitimate air to the deal was desperately required. As he prepped “newbie” Councilman Ken Jones to go along, he merely had to “head tip” toward Councilman Morgan to get him on Board. Fellow discriminator Councilwoman Diana Juettner would go along with his scheme as she too was embroiled in the guilty verdict with Mr Feiner over the Fortress Bible Church discrimination case. That left Councilman Sheehan, who went along but was later thrown under the bus when Mr Feiner challenged petition signatures witnessed by Mr Sheehan, claiming Sheehan lied as to his permanent home address. Nice.

During this time, Mr Feiner actively ignored the 20-years worth of other foreclosable properties throughout the Town due to non-payment of taxes. That is, until a G10 resident stumbled upon “secreted” paperwork in Town Hall that was not supposed to be viewed by the public! The papers listed information as to how the Town was owed over $20 million dollars in back property taxes and should have been pursued by the Town through foreclosure. This discovery was a revelation! The Town had just been found guilty of discrimination in federal court and upheld in federal appeals court and being forced to settle, having to pay $6.5 million dollars with this guilty verdict. You’ll recall that the discrimination against the Church was trumpeted by Mr Feiner and backed by Ms Juettner. Once this “new” information was exposed*, Mr Feiner immediately offered a Tax Amnesty program to the twenty-plus year’s worth of offenders. The illegality of what he was doing was questioned by many, but since Mr Feiner has no trouble ignoring laws he dislikes, he simply shoved this one aside and began his Deflection Campaign for amnesty.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the $1.2 million a year the Town was now losing yearly because Mr Feiner chose to not renew the WestHelp lease in Valhalla. So with some quick accounting in broad strokes, the Town has cumulatively lost:
$20+M from outstanding tax arrears,
$2.4M from WestHelp (so far),
$6.5M from Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict,
$3.5M from Frank’s Nursery
$9M for underinsured tree death lawsuit
Sub Total lost to taxpayers by Mr Feiner: $40,200,000.

What’s missing here are the assorted financial fees for consultants, legal teams, court expenses and, well, you get the idea: there are many ancillary expenses that the Unincorporated Town taxpayers have been forced to pay for Mr Feiner’s illegal, irreverent and bad behavior. ABG has asked before why both he and Ms Juettner have not lost their law licenses as they are officers of the court and must adhere to the law, not break it? Isn’t being found guilty in Federal Court enough validation to endorse this?

During the entire GameOn 365 back-room debacle deal to court and the subsequent intended handoff of the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, we’re suspect that Mr Feiner has been coaching Mr Hewitt either directly or indirectly as to how to proceed to ensure he and his newly formed company receive the property. During this entire time, Mr Feiner has engaged a concerted misinformation scheme to discredit Elm Street Sports’ $3.5M cash offer for the property. Ironically, Mr Feiner and the Board have always had the right to make a private sale of the property to whomever they wanted. But this was never about making a sale of the property. This was always about Mr Feiner finding a way to “gift” the property to a personal group of friends without the resources necessary to purchase it. Without investor money GameOn 365, is simply a paper company without any resources, location or staff.

To continue the con game which all of these players have been engaged in, now GameOn 365, possibly under advice of counsel (Mr Feiner?), have begun a new chapter in their Book of Deceit. They claim to be moving forward with an alternate plan: building their ridiculously out of place sports bubble on the Golf Driving Range owned by the Vizioli family. The Vizioli family is currently one of the property owners with over $1M in tax arrears since 2008 that the Town has not bothered to collect. But, they have missed the tax amnesty period originally offered and can no longer pay the back taxes without penalties.

Another ploy GameOn 365 appears to be perpetrating on the community with Mr Feiner and Mr Madden’s approval, even endorsement, is to bring in other for-profit corporations to partner with them to offer varied services under the umbrella. The plans have now gone from a sports bubble and soccer field to a sports bubble, several sports fields and other facilities on the “new” site, truncating the driving range. You may recall several years ago that Mr Feiner attempted to “steal” the Vizioli Golf Driving Range by eminent domain to build a police station/town court complex. When that failed, a developer investigated building a senior housing complex that the Town then shot down. Now, all bets are apparently off for the Vizioli’s as they forego preserving their business and Mr Feiner is right on board with them to hand it over to GameOn 365. So, the hell with the taxpayers in the surrounding residential communities and what they want. In fact, now GameOn 365 has asked the Town to rezone the 32-acre area to benefit only them, yet again. This is quite a bit larger that the (almost) 7-acres of the Frank’s Nursery property.

ABG is confident that the Town Planning Commissioner and the Town Supervisor will resort to the spot-zoning Mr Feiner’s beloved GameOn 365 requires to proceed. The Town Board will invariably vote in favor of the spot-zoning change as they are used to going along to get along. At worst, it will be three in favor of the spot-zoning and possibly two against. This fight against spot-zoning, government officials assisting for-profit and even not-for-profit companies pitted against other, non-favored for profit companies is simply wrong. It could be worth an Ethics Board complaint, but their crafty use of words will yield little, if no results slowing or stopping the Town Board.

Another downside of Mr Feiner’s pursuit to illegally influence the results for a for-profit company, such as GameOn 365, is that the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery, will continue to languish. Mr Feiner’s greed to have his favored GameOn 365 receive the property over Elm Street Sports, who offered twice the amount of GameOn 365 in cash and would assume the contamination cleanup, has effectively flushed that deal away. Then Mr Feiner said other companies expressed interest in spending even more than the $3.5M Elm Street Sports offer. This was apparently another Feiner lie. Each time residents asked him who offered more and how much, he refused to say. Ah, yes, open government.

What all of this really means is that a) the Town will not be making $3.5 million dollars in cash; b) the property will not be remediated of the contamination that exists; c) once the illegal spot-zoning takes effect, no other company, investor or developer will look to develop the property; d) the “big need” for fields that was the impetus and justification for Mr Feiner to push his favored GameOn 365 to getting the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, is now moot. Only in Bizarro Greenburgh. It has to change. Only then, will we get A Better Greenburgh.

* Mr Feiner is only for open government when its convenient for him to share information or he gets caught not being forthcoming with information. Such was the case here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

OIMBY; Off The Hook: Democracy Dead

The Town Board thought they were to have an easy night. The severe cold weather kept even the most stalwart G10 members home, save one. Forget the general public, they rarely seem to care about the suspect actions of this Town Board – unless its about something immediate to them or their neighborhood. They’re what we’ve come to call OIMBY’s: Only In My BackYard. Greenburgh seems inundated with OIMBYs.

Rarely can the public learn of our Town Board and Supervisor’s secret meetings and back-room deals from the lamestream media. In fact, they regurgitate Mr Feiner’s carefully crafted potpourri-like press releases as articles. Political Science majors would do well to study political and electoral misinformation techniques by studying Mr Feiner’s stratagems. Exposure of Mr Feiner’s suspect and often illegal actions by using accuracy and truth is relegated to bloggers such as ours. Coveting certain pieces of information in hopes that that information remains unexposed to the public is part of Mr Feiner’s scheme to routinely deceive the public. Secreting information from the public appears to have happened again and this time its costing us dearly!

During the Town Board’s regular (we know) meeting, only one gentlemen was present to speak during the 3-minute public grace period benevolently granted by our elected officials. Only then does our “concerned” Board allow the public an enormous 180 seconds to speak to them about whatever they wish. If 180 seconds doesn’t do it for you, you can wait until the end of the meeting, or death, for five more minutes to speak. Interestingly, a select group is never encouraged to entertain a dialog with the Board. Only those deemed friendly to their majesties are engaged in a back-and-forth dialog. Such was the case with an engineer/developer named Paul Petetti (sp?). He was able to speak beyond his allotted time constraint and have a dialog with the Board, however brief.

The second speaker was Robert Bernstein, Mr Feiner’s challenger in the Democratic Primary for the Supervisor’s race. He discussed attachments that were not attached to Professional Services Contract that had been discussed earlier by Town Assessor Edie McCarthy. Mr Bernstein asked about the resolution to assist the Town Attorney with reassessment not to exceed $350k. Then he asked about the next paragraph stating a resolution for spending $279k for the same thing. Finally, he asked that when you go to the contract, the supportive information was not there. Why not? How can the Board make an intelligent decision? How can the public understand this with the confusing array of information presented?

The next issue was the $350k the Town spent for litigation against NextG, who sought to install numerous telephone pole-mounted cell antennas throughout the Town and specifically in Edgemont. Mr Bernstein mentioned that the Town did not post the decision on the Town’s website and that “We did!” referring to his Facebook page. Mr Bernstein’s obvious highlight of this was that the Town only posts what they deem good news or news that will not cloud the public’s view of their tarnished and/or incompetent Town leadership. The outside counsel was never provided the February 7, 2012, transcript from the Edgemont Community Council (ECC), via Jim Hallawell (apologies for sp?) that would have assisted the outside counsel with probably winning the lawsuit. Nor did the Town Board provide the ECC position paper. “Why was this significant? Because we understood the law. We got the law correct,” stated Bernstein while at the podium. “Why wasn’t this part of the record?”

The Board, as expected, remained mum. Embarrassment will do that. As the buzzer for the end of Mr Bernstein’s 5-minute period ended, he kept asking who was responsible for not providing the outside counsel with this information. As he continued on, he was finally interrupted by Town Attorney Lewis that his 5-minute time was up. “There’s nobody here... I’m sure you’ll indulge me.” Mr Bernstein continued. He was finally stopped by the Board, probably more interested in retiring for the evening they thought might be a “hands free” night they could have phoned in, except on Dial Democracy.

 Councilman Sheehan stated the $279k was the correct amount. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, the Town Board shuffled through a few excuses and Mr Feiner couldn’t make a motion to adjourn fast enough. Before it could be seconded (the sound of that locomotive could be heard barreling down the tracks), Mr Bernstein stated that he had just received phone calls from two residents that “Dial Democracy” was not working. You may recall that Dial Democracy was Mr Feiner’s phony attempt to allow residents to call in during a Board meeting.

It’s much easier to only hear from developers who want to build in a Town that lacks true zoning integrity, planning and building controls than residents with real concern about failed policies, underhanded proceedings and incompetence. Mr Bernstein highlighted the incompetence Wednesday night as the only speaker – and they still tried to shut him down. It’s time for Mr Feiner to stop putting obstacles in the way of the Comprehensive Steering Committee and let them introduce their Comprehensive Plan for the Town. While it is part of the answer to this Board’s illegal spot-zoning and developer “winks and nods”, it will not be adopted in time to stop Mr Feiner’s intricately weaved scheme to give away the Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to his favored and preferred GameOn 365. This needs to change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Police Assist Tarrytown Worker at Reservoir

At approximately 11:00am Thursday morning, Tarrytown Police and Fire Departments were assisted by the Irvington Fire Department Dive Team and the Greenburgh Police with a water rescue at the Tarrytown Lakes. 

A Department of Tarrytown Parks and Recreation employee was clearing snow off of the ice for the anticipated ice skating on the lake this weekend when the tractor-plow he was operating fell through the ice. The tractor and the operator were submerged in the frigid water. 

The tractor fell through the ice approximately 250 feet from the shore. The depth of the water where the employee was submerged is unknown. The operator was able to self-rescue and walked to shore. He was in the water approximately 10 minutes. The unidentified worker was taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia. Responders stabilized the vehicle in the water and ice and helped direct the recovery of the tractor from the water without further incident. Stiloski’s heavy duty tow truck/wrecker assisted.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Board Rules Feiner Guilty!

In a not-so-surprising ruling, the Town’s Ethics Board again ruled against Mr Feiner for an ethics violation for the same thing they found him guilty of twice before. Specifically, he made a post-primary fundraising letter campaign effort sent to certain residents of Irvington, Hastings and Hartsdale. This is not only a blatant violation of the Ethics Code because it was sent to residents appointed to serve on town boards, but also may have been sent to town employeesThe Town’s Ethics Code specifically prohibits elected officials from soliciting campaign contributions from persons appointed to serve on town boards and to town employees. Perhaps Mr Feiner got confused with all the mailings (read: campaigning) he’s been doing lately. This is apparently different from the other Ethics Code rule of elected officials not receiving things of value from a Town employee. An example you ask? Okay, one example might be if the Town Attorney were to say, solicit campaign ballot signatures for Town Board candidates running for office, and then swearing to the signatures’ validity as a Notary Public. That is a thing of value and prohibited by the Ethics Code. Or is it?

This is the second time in three years that Mr Feiner has been found guilty of the same offense by the Ethics Board. However, being an impotent Board under the control of the Town Board, which is ultimately under the thumb of Mr Feiner, nothing will come of this latest guilty ethics verdict. Interestingly, the last time this happened the Town Board decided to not impose any fines against Mr Feiner for his illegal behavior. It seems that they are willing to condone this behavior that is so detrimental to our Town. Since his checks and balances are ultimately controlled by him, it’s no wonder he would discriminate against the Fortress Bible Church! There, however, he could not control the outcome and it is costing the Unincorporated Town taxpayers $6,500,000 ($1M by insurance).

This time it was the Ethics Board members who received the fund raising mailing from Mr Feiner. OMG - quite the conundrum. Knowing they should at least appear to be ethically motivated, they initiated an investigation into Mr Feiner’s actions. For most people, this would be a no-brainer. But for the Ethics Board, it crosses a fine line. All Ethics Board members are selected and ratified by Mr Feiner and his Board, pledging allegiance whether overtly, openly or otherwise. Unfortunately, the impotence of the Board requires it to capitulate with every decision in Mr Feiner or the Town Board’s favor – like it or not.

ABG staffers were in attendance when the Ethics Board adjourned to executive session at its December 2 meeting to discuss the matter and then privately interview Mr Feiner. Ironically, Mr Feiner’s violation wasn’t on the agenda for that night. When pushed as to why they were adjourning to executive session, the Board’s President Jack McLaughlin stated it was to discuss personnel issues. It seems that every agency, group or Board in Greenburgh is taking greater advantage of hiding information from the public with more frequent Executive sessions. This opinion, only recently publicized, found the board accepting Mr. Feiner’s excuse that he did not knowingly solicit contributions from residents serving on town boards or from town employees. His rationale was that he  purchased the mailing list from a third party and used a different third party vendor to do the actual mailing. Sounds like a convenient excuse for this Board, but a genuine crock to us. How about the admission at the end of every ad that says this ad was approved by [candidates name].

It’s always sadly entertaining to find out what Mr Feiner is doing by way of lawsuits, guilty verdicts, Facebook posts and/or Blogs. It’s also quite pathetic. But his disheveled, shlub-like act has worn thin and is failing him more and more. Whatever he has done, legal or otherwise, will be excused by a Board he has appointed and made sure is comprised of friendly faces. On occasion, some may bluster a bit to appear impartial, but its just a ruse. Between rigged Boards, rigged referendums, rigged bids, rigged reports, rigged zoning, rigged meetings, rigged solutions and undisclosed information, Mr Feiner and his Board should be facing more court time than County DA Janet Difiore. But, as is typical, the usual suspects will be questioned and released without even a slap on the wrist. Carry on with business as usual. If and when this changes, we may begin to see A Better Greenburgh.

Below are copies of the opinion rendered and the solicitation letter from Mr Feiner:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stay Safe Indoors

With the severe cold weather upon us, many of us are finding ourselves forced to stay indoors. One of the things about being indoors is complacency and losing your “edge”, so to speak. Because you are stuck inside, you should be more aware of your surroundings and habits. Specifically, when cooking, using small or personal space heaters and your oven and washer and dryer, force yourself to pay closer attention to how they are being used. If you have a snow blower/thrower that is stored in a garage and gas operated, don’t store the extra fuel for it in your home or garage. Leave it outdoors. If you are not sure of a particular condition in your home, call your fire department or your building department on their non-emergency phone number and request someone from that agency come and advise you.

The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood-burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and manmade logs.
All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.

An estimated 236,200 one and two-family residential building fires were reported to United States fire departments each year and caused an estimated 1,980 deaths, 8,525 injuries and 5.5 billion dollars in property loss. Traditionally, January is the month that has the highest number of fires.

Here’s some eye-opening statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration:
• One- and two-family residential building fires accounted for 65 percent of all residential building fires.
Cooking was the leading cause of one- and two-family residential building cooking fires were small, confined fires (91 percent).
• In one- and two-family fires, fire extended in 52 percent of those fires beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires were other unintentional, careless actions (17 percent); electrical malfunctions (16 percent); intentional (12 percent); and open flame (11 percent).
• One- and two-family residential building fire incidence was higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
• Smoke alarms were not present in 23 percent of the larger, nonconfined fires in occupied one- and two-family residential buildings. This is a high percentage when compared to the 3 percent of households nationally lacking smoke alarms. Below is a chart of these statistics.

 Here’s a few general tips to follow during the cold weather in particular and for your overall safety in general.

Kerosene Heaters
Be sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
Be sure your heater is in good working condition. Inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
Never use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
Use ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
Keep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
NEVER fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling.
Refueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters—especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
When using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.

Wood Stoves And Fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
Use Them Safely:
Be sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
Wood stoves should be of good quality, solid con­ struction and design, and should be laboratory tested.
Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
The stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15­30 minutes to reduce the amount of
creosote buildup.
Don’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
Keep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite theses materials.
Before you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
If synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.

Furnace Heating
 It is important that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition.
 Be sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
 Leave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified. Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
 Check the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
 Is the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
 Keep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.

Other Fire Safety Tips
Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
 Never use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
 If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry an amp load. TIP: Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
 Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
 Frozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Use hot water or a laboratory tested device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
 If windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all the windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
 If there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.

 Be sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
 Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
 Contact your local fire department for advice if you have a question on home fire safety.

ABG hopes everyone survives this winter blast with minimal problems, aches and pains. Stay indoors, stay vigilant and stay safe. We’ll see you when the weather improves.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pandering With Feel Good Laws

Our County government is redundant in any direction you might look. There isn’t much we need or must have from it that warrants keeping it. We have federal, state and local laws passed to “protect” various constituencies. One must question if these levels of government really protect us, or are they simply another level of intrusion into our lives, pandering to special interests? Recently, Planned Parenthood pushed County Legislators to introduce County-level legislation to ban anti-abortion protesters from being within 200 feet of an abortion clinic, or making contact with a girl seeking an abortion. Before getting too excited, whether you are pro-abortion or pro-life, that’s not what this post is about. It’s about needs. Why would the County legislators feel the need to create and/or pass legislation such as this? They’re pandering for votes, similar to trolling for fish, in their districts hoping to get a “bite”.

Federal and New York State laws already exist limiting how close anti-abortionists can get to an abortion clinic. It’s 200 feet. You may be aware of the Planned Parenthood facility on Rt 119, directly across from the Greenburgh Police Station parking lot on Rt 119 that is mostly used when court is in session. Nestled back from the roadway, its not widely realized that it is there – unless you are seeking an abortion or to protest. On occasion, you will see protestors on the same side of the street as the facility, east of the I-287 bridge exit ramp with protest signs. So abortion, as well as anti-abortion, does exist here Greenburgh.

The point is, the anti-abortion protesters are following the laws that exist and staying 200 ft away from the abortion clinic. Why does the County need another law, duplicating what already exists? Because County Legislators can get publicity from it and add the number to their “look what I’ve done” scorecard. They are pandering to the pro-abortionists with another law we simply don’t need. Protagonists insist it closes a gap in the law at a County level. What gap? If nothing else, it highlights that a County legislator missed the opportunity to take a NY State law, use their word processing program to do a Search & Replace with the words “State” with “County” and introduce this as their County bill, pandering to the pro-abortion groups. By the way, County Executive Astorino vetoed this bill because it was redundant to existing laws.

We found the County passing several other “feel good” laws within the last two years or so. The intent of the laws may be valid but the result is more non-enforcable legislation that will dies a quick death and becomes forgotten legislation until election time, when we start receiving the cavalcade of mailings, robo-calls and lawn signs, espousing the “great” job the politico’s have done for us. The only time we ever really hear from our elected officials is when they want to get re-elected. Cha-ching!

This past year found the County government jumping on the “anti-texting” bandwagon by creating a law that is against texting while driving. Did it stop texting? No. Did it reduce texting? No. Going forward, will a ticket ever be written for texting while driving? Maybe. Once an accident has occurred, the police can look at a phone and see if it was being used for texting and issue a ticket. At that point, what’s the point? The accident has already happened and the lesson was better learned by example. We just hope nobody gets seriously injured or killed. Actually, most traffic regulations already prohibit distracted driving. So, whether you are texting, drinking a beverage, doing your makeup, shaving, tuning your radio or having a hands-free phone conversation, you are already breaking the law. That’s right. There are already laws on the books about distracted driving. Why introduce another law for the same thing? It’s not about the need for a new law, it’s about pandering to a new group of voters, of course.

Last year the County entered the environmental brouhaha by creating and passing a law prohibiting vehicular idling for more than three (3) minutes. Pandering in its purist form. Tickets written? None. Most vehicles that pull up to a drive-through window, will wait longer than three minutes to pickup their order from the takeout window. In fact, in Fulton Park, the former deli, now closed for over two years, has petitioned the Town for numerous variances, increasing the impervious space and actually asking for an endorsement to violate of the three-minute idle law. The Town Zoning Board of Appeals is poised to grant it. Stopping vehicles from idling past 3 minutes may be a lofty goal but it is not a realistic one. When a driver pulls up to a store to “run in” and purchase a lottery ticket, their car is left idling longer than three minutes. That’s what the law might seek to limit. Forget about someone stealing the car that was left running with the keys in it.

Most diesel vehicles used to have a more difficult time starting after they were turned off, which explains why many are left running while the driver makes a delivery or “runs in” to buy a lottery ticket. So who and what exactly was this law written for? Certainly not the delivery people, such as the bread, soda or snack vendor making a delivery. School buses? Possibly. When there is an school event at the County Center, a litany of school buses can be seen in the County Center parking lots, on the side streets such as Old Kensico and County Center Roads. These buses may or may not be idling. But who is issuing tickets? Greenburgh Police say its White Plains Police’s territory, White Plains Police say its Greenburgh Police’s territory and the County, who wrote the law always says there are no officers available to investigate. Mostly because they’re getting time-and-a-half overtime directing traffic in front of the County Center. One ABG staffer questioned the three minute idle, concerned that when the school buses are getting warmed up in the morning to go make their runs picking up students they run even longer. Does this count? Nope, after all, we do it for the kids.

After the Columbine and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, legislators jumped on the bandwagon to create more gun control laws in hopes of never experiencing more unnecessary school violence such as these two shootings. We only highlight these two shootings, knowing there have been more. Was this a knee-jerk reaction to a horrific event than a rational, well thought-out and planned objective? Obviously, no one wants to see anyone killed or injured by shootings, especially children. But taxing everything to be more expensive is not the answer. All that accomplishes is penalizing law abiding citizens. We don’t outlaw or raise taxes on gasoline because car accidents kill people. Having “gun-free” zones in school neighborhoods may feel good, but it just tells a shooter they will meet no resistance. So all the laws enacted under the heavy-handed guise of improving things rarely works. But it feels good.

We have enough laws, regulations, fees, mandates, controls and over-saturation at local, county, state and federal levels. Writing more laws to fill a small, albeit minuscule gap that may exist will give a politicians a feel good moment they will take advantage of during their next re-election campaign. It will also allow them to provide a mailing update (campaign), highlighting the great work they are doing for us, even though the law may never be enforced. What would be more advantageous for all of us would be for politicians to follow the laws already on the books. And, if they fail to do so, find themselves being investigated and removed from office. Greenburgh might be a good place for that to start. Then will might begin to see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Double Jeopardy in Greenburgh, Taxing Residents Twice

An interesting occurrence transpired Thursday night at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting at Town Hall. The docket saw some nine cases scheduled for review by the Board. Pockets of people were in attendance, probably sitting in groups of support for or against each case. The Fulton Park Civic Association and others were there for their neighborhood’s cause, specifically, the expansion plans for Deli Delicious and the major changes sought to the property. But that’s not what this post is really about.

It’s believed by most that the deli has already received Mr Feiner’s blessing, and is trying to officially “make their case” to have the zoning codes changed so he can get a variance(s) to add a drive-through window and “flip” the building. Selling the building will become more attractive to a fast food chain by installing the window which would then be grandfathered to the next owner. The deli has been closed for over two years now. The owner, Ernest Tartaglione says being closed is a hardship on his business. There is no business. Tartaglione, a commercial real estate landlord for numerous properties, is just counting this as just another property in his stable.

The interesting occurrence we mentioned above is that Tartaglione, et al, had petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals for a postponement of his deli’s zoning appeal case. Their reason is unknown but suspected to be related to the traffic report, only just released two days earlier on Monday. The Fulton Park Civic Association also petitioned for a postponement as two days was not enough time for them to review and analyze the information in the traffic report. But, the Fulton Park Civic Association, as with anyone filing a petition for postponement, including the petitioner, was forced to pay a $25 fee (tax) to the Town! When we were discussing this, an ABG staffer jumped in saying, “Wait! I know why. The Town employee will say it’s a lot of work to do, or it takes away from their regular duties, or there are costs associated with doing this. Or, all of those – am I right?” In a word, yes, she was right. The staffer was told the filing fee was because of the amount of work that was entailed to request the postponement. How preposterous!

Greenburgh taxpayers are repeatedly hammered by ill-conceived policies of the Town, created by our own representatives, that punish residents at almost every imaginable turn. Case in point? The request for a postponement and the related application fee of $25. This “fee” is a second tax applied under the guise of a fee. We are inundated with these fees in Greenburgh. When a resident/taxpayer goes to Town Hall to request anything for their primary property, there should not be a fee attached to it if it is a simple or small request, such as this postponement. Under the Feiner Administration of the past 22-years, we’ve seen fee after fee created to possibly pay off his guilty verdict fines. So, when the Fulton Park Civic Association applied for a postponement, it is ABG’s position that there should not have been a filing fee charged. This is simply a letter handed to a clerk who marks it received and passes it along to the appropriate individual(s) either manually or by email. This actually falls under the auspices of the clerk’s job. There should be no charge – that’s their job!

At a recent Town Board work session, there was a lengthy discussion about waiving the application fee for installation of a permanently installed generator, as opposed to a temporary or portable one. There are so many fees involved with the installation of just a generator, you might need a travel companion, a priest or rabbi and concierge if you go to Town Hall to do this. First, there is the application fee of $100 to review the application. Next, assuming your application review has been approved, you will pay a Building Department fee (installation), followed by the Electrical fee (power) and finally (?) the Plumbing (gas) fee. ABG is not saying to forego the safety inspections our inspectors are required to make during the installation process. We endorse that part of the process. Just don’t forget that they are very well-paid with benefits to do those inspections. That’s their job.

Realistically, there should not be any fee for projects that are small, single family homeowner-sized projects. It’s one of the reasons why we have a Building Department, financed by residents’ taxes. Unfortunately, we’ve allowed our elected officials to get ahead of us and tax us twice.

As was highlighted with the postponement fee, another travesty for the taxpayer/resident/community members/stakeholders must endure is the ridiculous fees for copies from Town Hall. If one goes into Town Hall and requests a copy of anything, they are charged 25¢ per page. That’s preposterous. The Town will supply a PDF of a document at no charge but we’re sure an Executive session can soon end this once they figure out the wording required. The taxes, paid by the taxpayers/residents/community members/stakeholders already cover this expense. The copier that is leased, the toner and paper used, the electricity, the service agreements, etc., are already paid for by the taxpayer! It’s their copier and supplies! Why are they taxed again? The administration’s argument is if everybody came in and requested copies it would be too expensive for the Town. This is a lame excuse.

First, “everybody” is not going to suddenly be coming in requesting copies. Second, most other communities are operating in a budget conscience fashion and provide the residents with copies upon request at no additional cost. The difference? Other, better managed communities, also haven’t been found guilty in Federal court of violating the rights of a church and paying $6.5 million in fines and penalties, forcing this administration to figuratively stand on the street corner begging for nickels and dimes! Would you like another example?

Several years ago, Mr Feiner and his Town tried to raise the “fee” for the Village of Elmsford residents to use the Town library, which is part of the larger Westchester Library System. It was a hefty increase that Mr Feiner assumed (we know) he would get because he is used to getting his way. Elmsford Mayor Robert Williams, apparently more concerned for his constituents than Mr Feiner, reached out to the Village of Ardsley for an alternative library arrangement that was less money for his Village and gave his residents a more cost-effective solution to Mr Feiner’s greedy proposal. Mr Williams completely and successfully bypassed Mr Feiner piggishness.

As a side note, it had often been discussed that the Village of Elmsford, which sold the library property to the Town for a dollar, be given access to the library directly as a gesture of good faith. A former librarian at the Greenburgh library was insistent this not be allowed. Her rationale was that it would, at the time, add 3,000 new Elmsford users to the library, overwhelming it. One would think more users would be a good thing for any library as it would give cause to an increased budget, increased purchasing power, more books, videos, programs and more employees. Besides, the 3,000 Elmsford residents were not going to show up all at once! It would also promote expansion. Oh, wait, they did expand with the award winning ski jump, a mostly inefficient use of space riddled with HVAC system issues, leaks, burst pipes and more. Ardsley’s library is looking like a pretty good deal.

Back to being forced to pay for what we already paid for through our taxes. The right thing (again, we know) would be to allow residents to come in and request one copy of a file or document they need. There should be no charge as long as they prove residency or occupancy of the address. If the taxpayer is requesting multiple copies of a document, that’s a bit different. The first copy would be free and a minimal fee of say 5¢/page or a blanket amount for the entire document of say, $2/additional copy can be charged. This would hold true for business residents as well. Now, if outside agencies come in requesting a copy, ABG believes it is fair to charge them for any copies they request. Obviously, if it’s only a page or two, the Town employees can use their discretion to waive the fee or collect it. Taking care of the Town’s residents is a concept that Mr Feiner has slowly let slip away – unless he can get publicity from it. Sure, he’ll respond to your phone call by fugaciously pawning your issue to one of his commissioners and be done with you. Then he’ll go back to his back room deals, overdevelopment, spot-zoning, variance request blessings and dismissing traffic studies to raise a few more bucks to pay for the fines he’s had levied against the Town’s taxpayers. It has to change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Slay The Pothole Vortex - Addendum

Based on the previous article posted by ABG this morning, a staffer just drove by the site of the lane-wide pothole on Old Tarrytown Road. She emailed us to say she saw steam coming from the freshly poured blacktop patch of the hole! That’s a relief. We also received word of crews that are out in White Plains on Main Street and other communities doing patching. Not being well-versed in the art of blacktop work, apparently rain is not a handicap to effectively patch a pothole.

We applaud our Town crew for responding to our post to rectify a dangerous situation on Old Tarrytown Road and hope we see more being done throughout the Town. While there is still much to do to get A Better Greenburgh, at least we won’t lose any fillings driving there.

Slay The Pothole Vortex

As the weather’s temperature drops to create new cold records, and weather people suddenly began teaching us about the Polar Vortex, a by-product of this cold is witnessing divots in our roadways expanding faster than crews can keep up with their growth. It’s almost like some science fiction movie where the film shows an accelerated growth of the pod that begins killing humans. Only this time the pod growth is the divot that grows in size to become a tank trap. It’s controlled by the Pothole Vortex.

Potholes are not a new phenomenon here in the northeast. But fixing them in a timely fashion, is. In the midwest, where many roadways are still made of concrete, the threat and realization of chips in the concrete growing exponentially larger each day is not common. Road crews respond quickly to keep their roadways in check. Concrete has a stronger tensile strength than its cheaper cousin, macadam/blacktop/asphalt. Plus, concrete is a much more cohesive product that does not break apart as easily as blacktop. Nor do you have “black ice” with it.

The first macadam surface in the United States was laid on the “Boonsborough Turnpike Road” between Hagerstown and Boonsboro, Maryland. Construction specifications for the turnpike road incorporated those set forth by John Loudon McAdam of Scotland. Early roads in the United States had been simple ruts carved into the ground by the many horses and wagons that traversed our great land. Travel was brutal at best, add to that any inclement weather conditions and you get the sloppy picture. Cobblestones were common from late medieval times into the 19th century.

In 1876, President Grant selected a group of army engineers to study the use of asphalt on roads. This group suggested that Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., be paved with sheet asphalt made from Trinidad Lake asphalt. That pavement remained in excellent condition for 11 years, despite the traffic at the White House. But, as with most politicians, Grant did nothing about maintenance. Because the traffic was literally lighter, potholes such as the ones we experience today were unheard of.

Coming down (eastbound) Old Tarrytown Road from Hillside Avenue will present you with the Mothra of epic potholes. It started as they often do, with a small crack and then a growing hole on the right-hand side of the road with a small road cone adjacent to it. As it expanded in size, presumably someone from the Town placed one of those large orange highway construction traffic cones in it. It’s the size of a large trash can with the black rubber ring on its base. That quickly fell over and into the hole, as the hole grew under its own power. This was the work of the Pothole Vortex, with a self-generating and uncontrollable appetite for growth! The “cone” lying on its side, was slowly being sucked into the earth, a la the China Syndrome. The unfortunate motorist driving in that direction, possibly on a cell phone, adjusting their radio, or simply aiming by rote, would be abruptly shocked when they hit this hole. Their car’s entire front end will fall into this and depending on their speed may make a tremendously loud bang, waking residents like a car hitting a bridge!

In short time, the Pothole Vortex gained strength, gorging and expanding its tentacles throughout our roadways. The Pothole Vortex required any drivers on the road to participate in some very creative maneuvers. Viewing traffic from above might resemble bugs flying around a lightbulb on a summer’s eve. This is making for some very unsafe driving conditions as motorists are swerving in all directions to avoid the bone-shaking, teeth-rattling dips and bangs with their cars. We’re sure there are other locations suffering from the Pothole Vortex. 

We realize the Towns and Villages are doing what they can to keep up with these traffic hazards. We also realize that NYS roadways going through our communities are largely ignored by our state government. Why isn’t Mr Feiner on the phone with Governor Cuomo and Assemblyman Abinanti and Senator Stewart-Cousins demanding repairs? Governor Cuomo has presidential aspirations, and says we should lower taxes, build a bridge and so on. He needs to do one more thing. We need the governor to tell the state road crews to get out there and patch our roads while our record-setting taxes are still being collected. What are we getting in return? They should be fighting this Pothole Vortex monster and making repairs 24-7 – around the clock! In fact, nighttime repairs make the most sense as the crews can work unimpeded due to less traffic, a safer environment for the crews as well as making morning commutes less harrowing as drivers won’t be slamming on their brakes each time the approach or hit a pothole. 

Mr Feiner, the Problem Solver, who won’t hesitate to redirect our road crews from a Town project to fill a pothole or trim a bush in some constituents neighborhood in search of a vote, needs to work with Commissioner Carosi and allow the Town crews to do what they do best. These road conditions are unsafe, ruin our already degrading and ignored infrastructure, and make for more work for our employees. We applaud the job Mr Carosi has been doing. We just need Mr Feiner to stay out of his way so he can help the taxpayers and slay the Pothole Vortex in Greenburgh. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Local Flooding Ignored

Religiously, we seem to enter into that time of year with area flash flooding, road closures, blocked roads, power failures and the like. Each time this happens our representatives search for or notify the media which flooded neighborhood they will visit in hopes of getting some “free” publicity. Mr Feiner routinely does this after he receives word that it is safe for him to exit his Boulder Ridge gated community. The 1%-ers such as himself know when to stay in. The rest of the Town, basically at opposite ends of each other, wait apprehensively, and are usually furnished enough water to provide the requisite flooding of their neighborhoods. Nothing changes except the promises to “do something”. As anticipated, nothing changes.

After Hurricane/Tropical Storms Irene and Sandy, the Village of Elmsford organized a cleanup of the Saw Mill River just south of the Elmsford Little League field adjacent to the river. For those unfamiliar with the fields location, it is along Rt 9A where southwest Elmsford and Greenburgh meet. The Babbitt Court neighborhood, well known for its political visitors seeking the flood limelight, usually floods quickly and gets media coverage. While the Elmsford Village officials organized and implemented a cleanup, Mr Feiner issued a carefully crafted press release alluding to taking credit for it. Interestingly, the Village officials did not seek the limelight or “atta boys”. They simply did what they could for their residents. It was not the end-all to the problem, but it was a start. Highway Commissioner Victor Carosi has tried to make sure area storm drains and such are as open as possible. But once the river cannot handle the volume of water, his efforts are, pun intended, a drop in the bucket.

At many Town Board meetings, Fulton Park residents, Hartsdale residents, their respective Civic Association leaders, and others, all request the Town do something to clear out the Bronx River to allow better water flow by removing the debris and “strainers”causing water backups into the Town’s flood-weary neighborhoods. Simply, strainers are debris of every size and shape that get caught up in the water, flowing with it until it gets caught in something, blocking the water flow and causing a clog at that point. Where does all this debris come from? Some of it flows downstream because of littering. People who are too lazy to hold the garbage from McDonalds or Burger King and toss it on the side of the road before they can dispose of it properly, beer and soda cans and plastic containers that will never degrade and are tossed out their car window all accumulate and go with the flow. Some of it is from dumpsters and garbage cans that are overturned during a flood, emptying their contents and finding its way into the river. Other debris could be larger items stored next to, or behind and near buildings and homes that also gets swept into the current and is on its way. Again, nothing changes.

At one Town Board meeting, when a resident pointed out to the Board that its been a relatively dry season, and a good time to work on clearing the river, Mr Feiner said it was County property and the County has to do it. “You’re my representatives,“ he said, “I’m just one guy. I need you to represent us with the County and any other agencies that need to address cleaning out the river.” Mr Feiner subsequently sent an email to a County commissioner that a resident had complained about the river needing to be cleaned out. That’s as far as he was willing to go. “Please re-elect me. I’m just as excited now as I was on my first day as Supervisor.” ABG understands its difficult for Mr Feiner to request County help since he has spent the last two years fighting with them over WestHelp, HUD, etc. But, residents shouldn’t suffer because of his bad behavior. It’s akin to him complaining that Greenburgh is losing HUD funds because County Executive Astorino is fighting with HUD. Again, nothing changes.

Today’s weather report is for mild temperatures and rain, heavy at times, with local flooding in low lying areas expected. The people who live in these low lying areas know that they will be dealing with flash flooding or just flooding. What they don’t know is why they cannot get help from all of the representatives who pander for their vote every two or four years. It’s time for the willfully ignorant to say, “Enough! We demand a change.” Only then may we see A Better, and drier, Greenburgh.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Phil Feiner Passes

After suffering a long illness, Phil Feiner, father of Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, passed away Thursday evening. A statement was made by Mr Feiner, “My family would be most grateful for privacy during this sad time for us.

We decided to have a small private service for family members. In lieu of flowers please do something nice for someone else or make a contribution to your favorite charity.

My father spent many hours as a volunteer looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars. Last year, he was honored and included in the Westchester County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame.”

Our prayers are with the family.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Super Majority Passes Amended to the Amended 10-yr Bond

Starting the 9PM meeting right on time a few minutes past 10PM, the Town Board moved as quickly as ever to pass the amended to the originally amended bond resolution authorizing the 5.5 million dollar bond to pay for the guilty verdict fine imposed on the taxpayers by the courts because of Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner and the Towns discriminatory practices and constitutional violations. The meeting started late as the Board members were at an elected officials dinner elsewhere and ambled in at their leisure. Mr Feiner was absent as his father is, according to Mr Sheehan, “gravely ill”. Apparently, this dinner was more important than running the Town and dealing with the financial gravity brought upon us by them.

At the previous days work session and subsequent Town Board meeting, Mr Sheehan protested that he would carry over the bond resolution as it was added to the agenda without enough time for the public to review it. Seemingly concerned about doing the right thing, his behavior had many thinking he was interested in what was affecting the public. Those of us who gleaned a ray of hope for our town were quickly disappointed as that flickering light went dead. It was nothing more than mere posturing.

As the Board members arrived, they were discussing amendments to be made to the amended resolution they left their dinner to vote on. The original bond resolution had several flaws in it which were pointed out by residents and Mr Sheehan during the Town Board meeting last night. At that time Mr Lewis insisted that the financing of the bond would only be paid for by the Unincorporated Town residents. But the resolution said otherwise. At some point during the day, the Board amended that original resolution. But since they found going to their dinner more important than addressing this significant piece of legislation, they still appeared unprepared as they entered the main hall to vote.

Moving faster that than a speeding bullet, the amended version of the amended version of the $5.5 million, 10-year bond resolution was adopted. Then in a four to zero super majority vote, they passed the resolution ti issue the bond and adjourned the meeting. Done deal, done again. Someday we will see a change in this ragged, seat of the pants behavior. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Get The Lights, Vote, Kill The Lights, Let’s Go

Under the cover of darkness, Mr Feiner and his Board have done it again. At some point during the last Town Board meeting two weeks ago and the printing of the agenda last week, the bonding for $6.5 million required to pay the settlement for Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner and the Town’s guilty verdict for discrimination against the Fortress Bible Church was changed from a bill of goods the public had been sold to something different. Mr Sheehan, not happy about the change for the Bonding vote, said he would hold the vote over. Mr Feiner, anxious to put his latest and highest-ever guilty verdict behind him, insisted they must vote on it at the Wednesday night Town Board meeting. Mr Sheehan said no. No need for any of Mr Feiner’s sycophants to worry, even with the one day delay, this will pass. The deciding vote will be Ms Juettners. Also part of the guilty “crew”, she is just as eager to sweep this under the proverbial rug. Again, we query why these attorneys have not been disbarred?

The Town is being forced to finance $5.5 million of the $6.5 million Fortress Bible settlement. The original five-year payment schedule was secretly changed behind the public’s back to a fifteen-year period from the originally detailed solution. Utilizing fifteen-years instead of five will lower the per year amount that will result in a smaller tax increase to our already abused taxpayers, but will cost more in the long run and drag out the pain three times over. The Town’s insurance company has already paid Fortress Bible Church the $1 million dollars as required from the Town’s insurance policy. We can’t wait to see the new renewal premiums...

If the bonding doesn’t pass, the Town will be required to utilize fund balance money to make the payment. They would have to do this so they don’t exceed the tax cap as they didn’t vote to exceed the NYS 2% Tax Cap that Albany had passed. Mr Feiner, who raised our taxes by 3.4%, below the 2% Tax Cap, still insists we are under the NYS Tax Cap. What he hasn’t discussed is had he not depleted the fund balance for operating expenses each year, there would be more money in the fund balance and the payment could have been drawn from those funds to begin with.

In order to wire-transfer the Town’s first guilty verdict settlement funds mandated by the courts to the Fortress Bible Church on Friday, the bonding resolution needs to be passed before Friday. If you watched the Work Session, Town Comptroller Bart Talamini got very agitated when Mr Sheehan said he would hold it over. He was almost to the point of snapping at the Board, insisting that they must past the resolution! Mr Sheehan was unswayed and said he would hold the vote over, as he done in the past when something was added to the agenda without enough time for the public to study it. And, with the significant changes that were made along with the faulty/incorrect wording, ABG believes this is the right thing to do.

Tonight, Thursday, January 9th at 9PM will be the vote by the Town Board to offer the Bonding to finally begin payment for Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner, and others, discrimination and reprehensible behavior. A Super Majority is required with this vote for the measure to pass. We’re sure Mr Feiner has already instructed Messrs. Morgan and Jones to vote for the Bonding. Ms Juettner and Sheehan are the unknown entities. Ms Juettner should want to vote for this so she too can move on and distance herself from it. But it is quite the conundrum for her. If she votes no, she risks be “Sonya’d”. She could also simply not attend the vote and thereby be “off the hook” through absentia. Mr Sheehan, after being thrown under the bus by Mr Feiner during the Democratic Primary, can go either way. Yet, we believe he is still ready to vote “no” because of the numerous wording problems in the document. It remains to be seen if a new document is offered tonight for a vote. If that happens, they should all vote “no” as it will be the first time the public is seeing it.

It remains to be seen how this will play tonight. The Board will be attending a political event elsewhere and returning to Town Hall strictly for this vote. It might literally take longer to turn on the lights, take off their coats, sit down, open the meeting, make the motion, do the vote and adjourn before the florescent lights are up to their full luminance.

Debacles in our Town are becoming more commonplace as Mr Feiner’s tenure continues to increase. The taxpayers deserve better. But until the willfully ignorant stand up to the power brokers, it will be awhile before we see A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Town Just Keeps On Spending

Never ceasing to amaze the informed, Mr Feiner has done it again. At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, issues concerning the Theodore Young Community Center pool’s water temperature and its subsequent closing on December 26th were discussed. They reopened the pool that following Saturday. Mr Feiner, cunning and shrewd, asked about the newly installed solar water heaters. He also asked if it was an auxiliary heating system  to the pool. The responses, while legitimate and polite, basically reiterated what he should already know. As Mr Carter had stated previously, the solar heating panels only heat the water for the showers, not the pool. Then they discussed problems with the boiler. This was also discussed at the previous work session when Mr Carter complained that Mr Feiner cut $10k from his maintenance line which he had anticipated using for preventative maintenance. Smart move. Mr Feiner then asked these three junior people, not Mr Carter, how much a new boiler would cost? Amazing. Mr Morgan mentioned there are a lot of factors involved with evaluating the boiler. They plan to contact Victor Carosi about a price for a new boiler.

Closing the pool due to the pool’s water temperature being below 78° was also in question. A discussion ensued but there was never an answer furnished as to why and how the pre-described temperature was actually chosen. As a rule, when the pool is closed, it is not due to temperature. Then it was brought up that there is a roof leak due to the installation of the HVAC system and solar panels as well as a ventilation issue. Naturally, Mr Feiner said we should get regular reports from Victor Carosi so we can decide whether to take the contractors to court. The final solution may be about going to court, but initially there should be tighter control and inspections of the projects, the work done and the crews involved, dare we say like a real project in the private sector? Since the Town’s contractors appear to be the same ones over and over, they know they will not be challenged or brought to court. Mr Sheehan discussed with someone in the audience that there was still a punch list of things to be completed before final payment is made. So you can actually have a discussion with someone sitting in the audience.

At the meeting, it was said that the Library’s compressor just “blew” in the children’s room section of the library according to this same person. He added that this is some years after the project was completed. That cost will be about $30k. We understand that mechanical devices fail and yet it seems the library’s HVAC systems have never worked properly.

The next issue was waiving the $100 Generator Installation application fee for the installation of fixed (as opposed to portable) home generators. Specifically, the Town Board is proposing to waive the $100 application review fee leaving in place the building, plumbing and electrical permit fees. Normally, if wetlands and steep slopes are involved there are fees for those as well. As Building Inspector John Locido stated, we have fees for everything. Sadly, he’s correct.

Apparently the Town is involved in another summary judgement lawsuit, with Wilson-Elser, after the Town caused damage on private property. Mr Sheehan stated that the request was made in December for another $25k for a private law firm to represent the Town. $25k had already been voted on at the previous meeting. And, a resident tells us a third $25K was also approved previously, bring the grand total for attorney fees to $75k! Mr Lewis said it was foreseeable as the demands from the wronged party and the Town’s offer are very disparate and they are now nearing the trial stage, set for February 10th.

The Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict settlement bond was then discussed. Mr Sheehan questioned voting on the bond issue without publicizing it properly. Specifically, he stated since we knew this was happening, why was it not on the agenda previously produced at the end of last week? Mr Feiner said the vote was it had to be done immediately and Comptroller Bart Talamini, said the time stamp must be present before the wire transfer of funds to be legal. Mr Sheehan still protested because the bond issue was not a surprise and should have been on the agenda. Since Mr Sheehan was resistant to just letting this go unchecked, Mr Talamini told him (and the group) that they would not be able to bond the $2.2 million if they don’t vote immediately. Mr Feiner started to make one of his inaccurate comments about having this be a better deal than before to justify keeping this on the agenda. Mr Sheehan told him that wasn’t the point. It was then discussed to hold a special meeting to vote on the bond issue.

Another surprise was that Mr Feiner changed the terms of the payment from what was originally laid before the public to what will actually happen with this bonding. The Town will need to finance $5.5 million of the $6.5 million Fortress Bible settlement. Mr Feiner decided to change the original five-year payment schedule to a ten year period as taxpayers had originally been told. Utilizing ten years instead of five will lower the per year tax increase to the already abused taxpayers, but cost more in the long run and drag out the pain for twice the period of time.

As the meeting continued, Mr Feiner actually asked Mr Sheehan how he planned to vote? Mr Sheehan stated he didn’t know how he was going to vote yet, but again, that wasn’t the point. Then it was publicized that a super-majority was needed to pass the bond. The room went momentarily silent. Mr Feiner, like a dog with a bone, believes that Mr Sheehan is going to vote against the bonding. Subsequently, if that happens, it remains to be seen what Ms Juettner does with her vote. We’re in agreement that she will vote in favor because she is equally guilty as Mr Feiner in this case. It was finally determined to hold a special meeting at 9PM on Thursday for the vote.

Amnesty was the next agenda topic. Town Tax Collector Ann Povella said the Town collected just over $4 million. There was 20, 944,000 million outstanding on September 30th. There were a couple of large ones and many small ones collected. Apparently some people didn’t make the date to file under the amnesty program and now Mr Feiner wishes to extend that grace period. Ms Povella stated we collected interest up to the 31st. Some people also came in to inform the Town they couldn’t pay. The list of fore-closable properties has gone from about 550 to 350 to 300 properties. The comment was made that some of the foreclosable properties are actually telephone poles, which the Town cannot foreclosed on. So the big debate was whether or not the Town extends the grace period or not, and move forward with foreclosure.

Even after being found guilty on seven counts of discrimination, this Town Board is still engaging in fast and furious behavior, doing as they please. Town Board work sessions, Town Board meetings, committee meetings, steering committees and more. It doesn’t much matter whats right or wrong. It’s still like the wild, wild west. It needs to change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.