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.

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