Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Open Letter


I am getting physically sick listening to people defame my husband. And for what, having a potty mouth? Venting? Saying something he shouldn’t have said around the dinner table at the firehouse years ago before he was chief? People say stupid stuff. People regret stupid stuff. Life goes on.

Let me tell you about my husband. He has been in the Fairview Fire Dept. since 1973. He was a volunteer firefighter. He was a volunteer for nine years before getting on the paid department. As a volunteer, for nine years he stood fire watch at the Woodlands Community Temple so the worshippers were safe. He didn’t have to be there, he volunteered.
For well over thirty years, Tony ran the Fairview Explorer Post. Guess what? Again, not paid. He even had trouble with the Union because they did not want him doing this for no pay. But the kids in the community needed this program so he ignored the Union and kept on running the Explorer Post. At the same time he was Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 67 and a Den Leader for Pack 67.

For more years than I can remember, Tony ran Christmas parties at the School for the Deaf and Union Child Day Care – now the Lois Bronz Day Care. Again, guess what? Yup, unpaid unless it happened to fall on a day he was already scheduled to work.

Tony also ran the Fire Prevention Program at the Firehouse along with his Explorers for many years. That included the puppet show, running the Sparky Car, setting up and running different educational games. The program was also run in the schools in Fairview.

Tony has spent over forty years saving lives and property. Firefighters see unimaginable things. Things most people only see in horror films or nightmares. They see bodies burned beyond recognition, somehow seems even worse when it’s the body of a tiny baby or toddler. They see bodies badly damaged or decapitated. They see people trapped in cars, badly injured and only have minutes to try and rescue them. Some die before they are reached despite heroic attempts beyond imagination.

I am ashamed to live in a town where the Town Supervisor who sits relatively safely behind a desk, has the nerve to call a hero an anti-semite because this humble hero called him a bad name when the Town Supervisor threatened to change a successfully running fire dept where this man spent forty years of his life protecting and serving. Whatever was said was said in the privacy of the firehouse kitchen. Had these men just come from a fire? A heart attack victim, stroke victim, horrific accident only to hear again that Mr. Feiner wanted to take their jobs away from them and conceivably, services away from their community? Who knows? It was said in the privacy of the kitchen. Only those there truly know what the circumstances were at that moment. It was not a public comment, it was said in a moment of anger. And then forgotten because life goes on and possibly the next call came in and they were on the run again. Maybe they got to eat, maybe they didn’t. That is their life. They eat together, they live together, they are a family.

Let’s talk a little bit about what Tony has done specifically for Darryl. Darryl’s son was murdered. Tony spent countless hours with Darryl and his family making sure they had everything they needed. Darryl wanted to put up holiday decorations at the firehouse in honor of his son – his wish was granted. Darryl wanted to store his cars at the firehouse, again, done. Darryl didn’t need to come back to work until he was ready after the death of his son. His brother firefighters picked up the slack for him, including Tony. When Darryl pulled the knife on the guy in the firehouse parking lot, his brother firefighters talked him out of hurting the guy and then helped make the problem go away because that’s what brothers do.

Unfortunately, Tony also worked down at 9/11 on the piles. Firefighting is a killer of a job. So Mr. Feiner, as you sit comfortably behind your desk pointing fingers and defaming characters, just be thankful that if you had a heart attack and Tony was there, he would save your life despite the fact that he is losing his own to a 9/11 cancer.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Words Will Never Hurt Me


Let’s be honest, everybody has said something they regret, whether they were vocally yelling it or muttering it under their breath and were simply overheard. It reminds us of the episodes we all have either seen or participated in where a teacher would embarrassingly ask a classmate who got caught speaking or passing notes if we wanted to share the comment with everyone in the class? Usually the answer was a timid, “No.”

Could our society be, in general, a little too intent on bullying? Every comment made is not necessarily bullying and everything that’s said is not going to scar everyone on the receiving end of these comments. What ever happened to, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?” Or, the old teenage retort, “ If I wanted crap I’d squeeze your head.” The list of comebacks goes on. In fact, comedians use this same skill set to deal with hecklers.

Why has Mr Feiner recently taken such a keen interest in the Fairview Fire Department? Because he desperately needs to deflect attention away from him – this is purely a self-serving interest. He needs to deflect attention away from the Fortress Bible Church’s guilty verdict decision against Mr Feiner and his Board for $6.5M. You’ll recall he promised during his campaign the fines would be paid for in full by the insurance company? Remarkably, once Mr Feiner was found guilty in federal court for discrimination, his actions negated the policy payout. He has left the Unincorporated Taxpayer on the hook for $5.5M, only receiving $1M from insurance. Then there’s the deflection from the $1.2M in lost revenue to the Town because Mr Feiner decided to terminate the WestHelp lease with the County. The Town Board condoned this activity and again, the UnIncorporated Taxpayers are on the hook for this. We’re not going to start slinging anti-semitic comments here, but he is certainly not a mensch.

Mr Feiner has initiated a lawsuit, probably a first for him because he’s usually on the receiving end of lawsuits. He claims that Fairview Fire Department Chief Anthony LoGiudice made an anti-semitic remark about him. Perhaps he did, perhaps not. But does it warrant anything more than an apology? More deflection? Is it like the Paula Deen incident that happened years ago and might just have been blown out of proportion? 

For that matter, what of the statement yelled by Councilman Jones who shouted at Town Resident Hal Samis at a Town Board meeting to, “Sit down! Sit the f*%# down!” Whether Mr Samis was right or wrong with his actions, it did not warrant the profanity during a Town Board meeting, nor interrupting the speaker at the podium. At the next meeting, Mr Samis publicly apologized and approached the dais with his outstretched hand asking if Mr Jones would accept his apology and shake on it. He was yelled at again to back away from the dais and Mr Jones has never apologized for his actions and comments. There certainly seems to be a double standard in Greenburgh.

Whether Fairview Fire Department Chief Anthony LoGiudice made an anti-semitic remark about Mr Feiner or not, it appears that this could be resolved with an apology. But Feiner seems intent on seeking more woe-is-me publicity (aka deflection) and focusing on ruining the career of a tremendous Town-wide asset to maintain the focus elsewhere and not on his bad behavior. If he were truly concerned with Fairview Fire District costs, for which he does not pay anything, he would not be bothering with a lawsuit. You may recall that a Federal Judge stated during his trial and found Mr Feiner guilty of lying under oath, not being a credible witness and destroying evidence.

This behavior by Mr Feiner is not new nor is it surprising. We know he will do anything to take the focus off of himself and his illegal or ill-conceived ideas, such as an 83 ft sports bubble in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While he pretends to be concerned with what one person is saying about him, he should be more concerned with what everyone else is saying. It’s time for Mr Feiner to step down and show that actions speak louder than words. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Statement by the Fairview Board of Fire Commissioners

Fairview Fire District
19 Rosernont Boulevard
White Plains, NY 10602-1680
(914) 949-2828
Website: www.fairviewfire.org
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/FairviewFire


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Statement by the Board of Fire Commissioners

A recent news report has noted a wholly inappropriate and embarrassing utterance by Chief Anthony LoGiudice which is completely unrelated to a meritless lawsuit presently being defended by the Fairview Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners and Chief LoGindice. The words do not reflect Chief LoGiudice's true feelings. The words were spoken in an angry moment when Supervisor Feiner and the Chief were at odds over political issues related to Supervisor Feiner's efforts to consolidate local fire districts with the Fairview Fire District. For reasons publicly outlined by Chief LoGiudice and earlier by the late Chief Mauro, Chief LoGiudice has very strong feelings of disagreement with Supervisor Feiner. Rather than eloquently address these disagreements, Chief LoGiudice inappropriately used words which do not - and never did -reflect his true beliefs of compassion and respect for people of all religions.

As to the lawsuit, we believe it is fair to note that this board and the Fairview Fire District have a long history and tradition of diversity in our hiring and other employment practices. Age discrimination was not in any way the cause of our decision to hire persons other than David Hecht. The Fairview Board has always hired irrespective of age and in fact, firefighters employed by the fire district over the last seven years have ranged in age from 19 to 44 at the time of hire. We were and are fortunate to have had several better candidates. Mr. Hecht may wage his lawsuit as he and his lawyer see fit; we, however, will not succumb to reportage since it is in court that these claims must be adjudicated. We are confident that a fair adjudication will prove Mr. Hecht's claims to be without basis in law or in fact. The Board will not publicize the reasoning behind its decision to hire other candidates, as there is an obligation to protect the privacy of all concerned as well as the integrity ofthe case.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Building Failures and Sports Bubbles

As our staff was researching the sports bubble collapses, we stumbled upon additional information regarding fixed structures with their roofs collapsing. One of the commonalities with these buildings and their collapses was that many of them employ a newer style of construction method called truss construction. As we delved into truss construction, the safety information we came upon was overwhelming. Trying to digest it all was a pretty good challenge.

Truss construction has been around for a good number of years. It has been seen by most people in bridge construction and in warehouse roof construction. Here’s a few picture examples of its usage in bridges.

















Finally, here’s one we believe you will be most familiar with:
That’s right, its the Tappan Zee Bridge in the Hudson River. 

When truss construction is in the design phase of a project, its usually being considered for several reasons. Those reasons might be time-savings to construct the frame, lower costs than traditional methods and stronger ability of lesser materials. By this we mean if a traditional roof were to be constructed of 2x6’s or 2x8’s, a truss roof, which is considered an engineered roof, can be made from 2x4’s and rated to hold the same weight (and possibly more) due to its geometric triangular shape, which is inherently stable under ideal conditions. Others reasons to use truss construction is quality control. Like a manufactured home that is built in a warehouse (usually with a truss roof) the conditions are controlled and more precise. When you build outside in the elements, with what is called “stick” construction, many factors affecting the construction’s outcome can come in to play, such as weather, materials, labor, etc.

Since we are looking at all of the sports bubble collapses, however, we’d like to focus on roof structures, what they offer and their detriments. A roof must be rated to sustain a certain amount of weight and pressure, referred to as Loads. There are dead loads, live loads, impact loads, static and repeated loads, wind loads, concentrated loads, axial loads, eccentric loads and torsional loads. Even with conventional stick construction methods, we’ve seen an increase beyond using standard-sized wood from trees of many sizes and types. We’ve also evolved from very early building methods to newer and more engineered methods. So while many aspects of construction have remained the same, much as evolved and changed. But is it necessarily better or something we should allow or use?

Greenburgh used to have two bowling alleys. One was the Skytop Lanes on Knollwood Road and the other was the Elmsford Lanes on Saw Mill River Road. Both suffered from roof collapses many years ago from excessive weight from snow. Skytop was eventually torn down and replaced with an office building. Elmsford Lanes was repaired and eventually morphed into Sportime, which continues to operate today. Large expanses of indoor property have always posed a construction challenge, whether it be a gymnasium, bowling alley or warehouse. Go into Sam’s Club on Rt 9A and look up. What you will see is truss construction.

Truss construction has benefits and detriments. One of the benefits is a financially cheaper way to construct a commercial building as well as a residential one. The loss of attic space in a home is detrimental to some homeowners but of no concern to others. The open air feel for a warehouse is obvious. The open air feel in a home, while faster and cheaper with truss construction can be achieved with “stick” construction as well, albeit usually at an increased cost. One problem that exists with truss construction is that the 2x4's are joined together with metal plates with quarter inch deep "teeth" that are pressed in the wood to join the pieces together. The stability of these plates can vary from installation to installation. Another issue with truss construction is firefighting.

It is well known in the fire service that truss constructed roofs collapse mush sooner than traditionally constructed roofs. One reason is the failure of the aforementioned metal joiner plates. Another is the fact that each piece in the truss is dependent on the others for its strength and stability. Loss one piece of a truss affects the overall integrity of the entire structure. The numerous firefighter line-of-duty-deaths (LODD) due to truss construction has caused the fire service to research and change the way the fire service fights fires when truss construction is used. They will cautiously enter a building, if at all, because truss construction failures happen so quickly, giving firefighters little time to exit to safety. Traditionally constructed buildings often give warnings when structural failure is imminent.

Truss constructed buildings give little or any signals of impending failure when involved in fire. Their failure is swift, usually without warning and does not allow firefighters much time to exit. Installed fire sprinklers will help control the fire scene usually by controlling the spread of fire, even extinguishing it. At a truss construction fire, firefighters will often be forced to execute what’s know as a “surround and drown” operation, where they do not enter the building and pour water into the fire scene. You’ve probably seen this type of operation on large building fires on the news. Obviously, if there are lives at stake firefighters will attempt a rescue, however, not if truss construction poses too much of a risk to firefighter lives.

The reason we have touched on truss construction is with all of our engineering marvels on the one hand, there are engineering failures on the other. The sports bubble collapses throughout the sports bubble industry are happening frighteningly too often, too uncontrollably and are proving too risky given the lack of safety standards that do not exist with this industry. Just because someone is able to create an inflatable tent the size of the one proposed by GameOn 365, doesn’t mean the Town or its residents must approve it. If buildings with fix roofs collapse under the weight of snow and because of other weather events, we don’t need to see what will happen with a “temporary” structure. Its only when the Town’s leaders cease to entertain pipe dreams like this sports bubble in a residential neighborhood that will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Deflection 101

As time progresses, more of Mr Feiner’s covert actions have crept into the light. Some of those were the guilty verdict from the Fortress Bible Church discrimination lawsuit, his back room deals with GameOne 365 to mention two. During both of these, he has spun other issues out into the public's “eye” in hopes of deflecting attention from his own bad and often illegal behavior. You’ll also recall his pitch for the Tappan Zee Bridge to become a high-line park, be named after Pete Seeger and to have a Denny’s with a water park on it. Ok, the Denny’s part belong’s to our Cindy.

But his trying to take attention off of the fact that he, along with Diana Juettner and other former Town Board members discriminated against the church, destroyed evidence and lied under oath! One of those would be Steve Bass, now in County government on the 8th and 9th floor. Ouch! Let’s talk about anything but promoting bad civil servants. Thankfully for Mr Feiner, Mr Seeger’s passing provided him the deflection topic he needed. When that could no longer be played front and center, the Fairview Fire Commissioners conveniently decided to fill a temporarily unfilled Assistant Chief’s position. He was able to use the Town’s email list, which he treats as his own property, to alert the public about the meeting. The issue is that he did more than just alert the public to a meeting. If he had stopped there, it would have been fine. But he injected his “personal” opinion and insisted, incorrectly, that this was a new position that was being created and too costly for taxpayers. It was just another lie. Since he hasn’t returned any of his salary to the Town for non-performance, a clever hoax from his past, we assume he too is feeling the tax pinch in his gated community of Boulder Ridge.

Now that the GameOn 365 megaplex proposal has hit the skids yet again, Mr Feiner has begun touting the 100+ acre development proposal on the Landmark at Eastview property. Mr Feiner has continually insisted that maintaining the GameOn 365 request for a Recreational Overlay Zone change would be good for the Town. The neighborhoods in the area disagree. Mr Jones, perhaps trying to keep in line with his boss, suggested rezoning the former Frank’s Nursery property. This is illegally known as spot-zoing. The vote passed by three to two, with Mssrs Feiner, Morgan and Jones in favor of openly spot-zoning the property for the benefit of a single applicant. See the video in our previous post for proof of this. Its almost like a bad joke: two lawyers walk into a bar and sit down with a retired cop. The reality is they made and approved a motion to spot-zone an individual property for a particular developer.

In an interview about a complaint levied by Robert Bernstein and two community leaders against Mr Feiner and the Town Board in the Westchester Business Journal, we quote: “Feiner called Bernstein ‘the Joe McCarthy of Greenburgh. He likes to smear people’s reputations.’” Wow! Mr Feiner has some nerve to make a comment like this! Unlike Mr Feiner, the one thing ABG recognizes about Mr Bernstein is that he doesn’t lie when he is discussing issues before him. And, when Mr Bernstein makes a mistake, he owns up to it and apologizes. Speaking of apologies, this statement by Mr Feiner warrants a public apology to Mr Bernstein. ABG believes Mr Feiner is getting a little testy as more and more people are exposing his questionable actions with developers, town assets and personnel.

Mr Feiner has been beating the drum for the GameOn 365 proposal for several years now, constantly applying his deflection tactics to wear down any opponents to the project. Those opponents seem resolute in their determination to fight the proposed megaplex, regardless of Mr Feiner’s deflection efforts. Worthington Woodland Civic Association President Dorrine Livson, the Town’s newest, self-proclaimed real problem solver, suggested the proposal be scrapped on Dobbs Ferry Road and moved to the Landmark at Eastview location where the zoning and the open space that Mr Feiner is so desperately seeking to eliminate, can handle to project. Ms Livson is correct with her assessment of where the megaplex should be built. The Town Board should listen. Only then will we begin to see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spot Zoning House of Cards

The Town Board screwed up by pulling the GameOn 365 Recreational Zoning Overlay Request from the March 12th agenda. GameOn 365 may have screwed up by hiring the law firm they did. The Landmark project that Mr Feiner says will bring us $5 million dollars in tax revenues a year was presented yet again at the public hearing. He screwed up the numbers. By pulling the GameOn 365 Overlay Zone proposal from the agenda, it moved the Landmark at Eastview proposal to the forefront, highlighting several issues. One of those issues is that the Landmark proposal projects recreational facilities on the 100+ acre development. In fact, Worthington Woodlands Civic Association President Dorrine Livson made the introductions. She said that the law firm and the planners for GameOn 365 are the same as the Landmark proposal and suggested they introduce the two parties so this sports bubble megaplex can go onto that property, legally zoned for it. She also stated she is the Town’s new Problem Solver!

The attorneys for the Landmark Project screwed up. They are the attorneys for Landmark project, and complained that they weren’t happy about having to re-present the project to the Board after Mr Sheehan referenced some procedural issues that were incorrectly done. Interestingly, those same attorneys were overheard responding to the question before the meeting if they were at tonight’s meeting representing GameOn 365? Their collective response in the vestibule area was, “Not tonight!”

It’s well known that Mr Feiner often and cavalierly spews numbers and fictional information as needed to make his argument for or against something. He’s also known to often put his foot in his mouth. He has previously stated that the Recreation Overlay Zone that GameOn 365 authored and requested be implemented for their sports bubble project, specifically for the former Frank’s Nursery property, is not spot zoning. Councilman Ken Jones has said the tax revenues from the sports bubble megaplex proposal would amount to more tax income for the Town than if homes were built on the property, similar to those on Westchester View Lane. He’s wrong. Mr Feiner said the Landmark proposal will generate $5M per year in tax revenue. He’s wrong. How do we know? Numerous people have run the numbers and they don’t gel with what Mr Feiner or Mr Jones have said! 

At the Town Board work session of October 8, 2013, Councilman Ken Jones made a motion at the 32-second mark in this video “to authorize Thomas Madden to begin to investigate the possibilities of rezoning to recreational the Frank’s Nursery property for the December 3rd, “as is” auction, not withstanding.” “For recreational purposes,” added Mr Feiner. The vote was 3 to 2 in favor of having Mr Madden investigate the possibility of a recreation zone.

video
This was clearly an endorsed motion for spot-zoning for a particular piece of land. The three Board members in favor of the change are now backpedaling to cover their southern exposures after the outcry from the public has exposed their blatant intent. Apparently, in an effort to circumvent time, public hearings, criticism and general taxpayer resistance, Mr Madden went ahead and worked with the GameOn representatives to draft the Recreational Zoning Overlay zone change. There was no “open” discussion with the Town Board or the public as to what might be nice to have, required, necessary or unnecessary with a study. Their was no conference with the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee who intentionally left overlay zones out of the soon-to-be-proposed Comprehensive Plan for a reason. The existing Comprehensive Plan discussed Overlay Zoning but decided against it.

But, the Town administration either knows better than the public or simply doesn’t care about the public. ABG believes the latter to be the case. Because of the apparent collusion that seems to be taking place between GameOn 365 and the Town, we suspect they do know more than the public. They know all the closed-room deals that have been made, regardless of how many times Mr Feiner says he is telling the truth. After all, he was found guilty of lying under oath by a federal court. The public, however, continues to dig and uncover more. Why not just be honest and, dare we say it, open with the public?

The former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road is the intended and unintended casualty of all of this deflection by the Town administration with GameOn 365’s ludicrous proposal. It remains contaminated with carcinogenic debris and waste and has been ignored by the Town since they acquired it through foreclosure. By leaving it alone and focusing on the GameOn 365 proposal on the Golf Driving Range, the property will not only languish, it will become the bastard stepchild of the Town. No one will want the property should the GameOn 365 proposal move forward. We believe Mr Feiner will begin the woe-is-us story about how the Town is lucky GameOn 365 has agreed to take the former Frank’s Nursery property off the Town’s “hands” and will use it for a parking lot for their sports bubble. We hope this doesn’t happen. In fact, we hope the Town with its AAA Bond Rating, will float a bond, remediate the property and then sell it at market value. If that doesn’t happen, Mr Feiner has often said he has ten or more parties interested in purchasing the property, as is, out of the other side of his mouth. He refuses to say for what use these offers are interested in using it for. We believe its because there are no offers and this is just another delaying tactic to find a way to give the property to GameOn 365. Open government? Miscommunication? Misinformation? Non-Transparency? Hidden Agendas? A Board out of control! You decide. Only then can we get A Better Greenburgh.

Pets Alive Needs Your Help More Than Ever!


ABG learned of the situation that Pets Alive, formerly the Elmsford Animal Shelter building had been deemed unsafe for occupancy and ordered evacuated. They have moved some animals to sister facilities, trailers and are desperately seeking adoptions of their animals. This is a “no kill” animal facility. If you’ve ever considered adopting a pet, now is a great time to do so!

From Pets Alive Westchester's Facebook page:

This is a very difficult thing to say to all of you, but our building may potentially be in serious jeopardy. It has been determined that Pets Alive Westchester is structurally not sound and needs to evacuate as soon as possible. There is no way around these horrible words.

Our plan is to set up trailers on the property to house all of the animals, and we are in desperate need of foster families and adopters for our dogs, cats and rabbits. Although this is going to be a difficult time, we know we shall get through this. We will set up shop right on the property, trailers will be brought in as soon as possible. Dog runs will be there. Some of our cats thankfully will go to the rescues of our sister location in Middletown as well as Mid Hudson Animal Aid & Pibbles and Kits, such amazing people who have done so much to help us through this - but we would much rather see them in foster homes or adopted.

All of our dogs, however, are in need of foster or adoptive homes and we are pleading to all of you to consider taking one of them in. All adoptions are free and are desperately needed, immediately. Please come to the shelter this weekend and adopt. If you're interested in adopting or fostering a cat, dog or rabbit, contact adoptions@petsalivewest.org to find out who will be the best fit for your home during this time. Please use email to contact us right now as we are not sure how long we will have access to our phones. We will keep you updated as the days progress. One thing you can be certain of is that Pets Alive Westchester is a survivor of all that it has endured and been though. We will get through this and together we will celebrate a new page. Thank you for all your support and help us to spread the word. We need adopters, we need fosters, and we need them now. We need YOU now. We need your help.

UPDATE: We are almost completely out of the building but we still have a need for a small group of volunteers tomorrow, Sunday, at 10am.

You do not need to have taken our orientation, please just show up - we are at 100 Warehouse Lane South in Elmsford, NY. When you come to the building - DO NOT ENTER THE BUILDING. The condition of the building is rapidly deteriorating and possibly dangerous. Please meet in the loading dock area (to the left of the main entrance) for instructions. We need everyone to stay safe! All of our animals are out of the building and we are almost finished emptying the entire building and loading all of the contents into trailers. We have been given a reprieve by the city before they bar us from entering the building and shut off our utilities but we must have absolutely everything out by Sunday night. Please join us if you can and THANK YOU!! We will be unable to respond to questions by phone or email at this time - we have no phones, no computers, no usable base of operations - yet. We're working on it.

At this time we do not need any donations of materials - we have almost no animals left on site. Thank you all so very much for everything donated, especially all of the crates and carriers and storage containers and boxes. We could not have done it without you.

If you are interested in fostering or adopting - especially one of our dogs - please email us at adoptions@petsalivewest.org. We beg your patience as we are receiving thousands of emails per day right now and it may be some days before we can reply.

If you are interested in one of our cats, most have gone to Pets Alive in Middletown and Mid Hudson Animal Aid in Beacon, New York. Please contact them for information on fostering and adopting. Anything you can do would be gratefully appreciated. Tell 'em we sent you.

All of our bunnies have been adopted or fostered.

We could very much use donations of money if you are able to do so. We will lose the use of our facility for a very long time and we have many unpredictable expenses. Anything you could spare would be gratefully appreciated.

Paypal link:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

One Problem The Problem Solver Won’t Touch

A concerned citizen reached out to ABG and asked if we would publish his letter to the editor. After discussing it with us and that he had already sent it to another media outlet, we made an exception to run it because it touches on an extremely sensitive topic in Greenburgh. That subject is that Mr Feiner routinely and repeatedly uses Town resources for his own agenda. Here is Mr Hirsch’s letter, unedited and in it’s entirety:

Town Supervisor Feiner would like everyone to view him as a leader who runs the Town “openly” but the reality is far from that truth. For years I have written how Mr. Feiner is a master at controlling the media which enables him to control the message. The media I am most often referring to is his control over the Town resources he employs to communicate with his constituents (email distribution lists, Town website, televised meetings, etc.). Personally I don’t believe that Town resources should be used to help keep him in office but it truly offends me when Mr. Feiner uses these same town wide resources to sway public opinion in support of his agenda. It should be noted that these same resources are NOT available to residents (nor am I suggesting that they should be) but it’s awfully hard to speak out on issues when the Supervisor has a good lead on controlling their outcome.

Although I have over 20 years of history from which to pick, Mr. Feiner handed me the perfect timely examples to highlight his selective reporting style.

For weeks Supervisor Feiner has been using town resources to sway public opinion on last night's [March 4th] Fairview Fire District Vote. Included in today's email [March 5th] he stated that “The room was packed with residents of the Fairview Fire district-the overwhelming majority of attendees objected to the funding of another administrative position.” I'll agree that out of context this is a factual statement but I am merely borrowing some of its words to help make my point.*

The 2/26/14 Greenburgh Town Board meeting was also “packed with residents” where most (all save I) spoke up against the board approving resolution CD1-2/26/14 (zoning change study for GameOn). Putting both issues aside and sticking to my point, there was NO such email or story reporting on this event to the public. Also, if you listen to Mr. Feiner at the 3/4/14 Town Board work session, while he acknowledges the event he also continues to move his agenda forward even claiming that residents he has since spoken to are no longer against the proposal. There he goes again changing the message with the town wide resources primarily available to him.

The days of “Control the Media, Control the Message” have got to end and I implore the Town Board to finally create, initiate and follow Policies and Procedures for town wide communications from how we choose to disseminate information (mail, email, website, etc.) down to reviewing guidelines for acceptable content.

Below are the other communications Mr. Feiner chose to write about the vote for the Fairview Fire District while at the same time selectively withholding to write about the opposition surrounding the zoning change for GameOn on the Dobbs Ferry Road corridor (Please excuse the typo's, I wanted to share Mr. Feiner's communications verbatim).














* Unlike my example above, on 2/24/14 Supervisor Feiner wrote regarding Fairview “I believe that this proposed expenditure is a big waste of taxpayer dollars. I encourage residents of the Fairview fire district to attend the meeting on Tuesday March 4th.” This would directly support my notion of how Mr. Feiner shares his thoughts to help sway public opinion towards his objectives.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Town Board Pulls Recreational Zoning Request

Shortly after parking their personal vehicles on the Vizioli’s parking area, two community leaders waiting for the Channel News 2 van were forced to move to the entrance of the former Frank’s Nursery. Once Channel 2 News’ Lou Young arrived with his cameraman Chris, Young immediately began peppering the two with questions. Shortly following, other leaders arrived and joined them as they walked to the Golf Driving to record his report.

Asked “on air” by Lou Young to explain what was going on with the Golf Driving Range property, the requested Recreational Overlay Zone and the installation of an 83 foot tall inflatable and temporary sports bubble, Worthington Woodlands Civic Association President Dorrine Livson explained the proposals using a mock up she had constructed. She explained that every neighborhood resident she discussed this with was against the Recreational Overlay Zone, against the sports bubble megaplex with two outdoor fields, ice hockey rink and 80 ft tall lights. Finally, they want the former Frank’s Nursery property remediated of carcinogenic contaminations and sold. Young also spoke with Robert Bernstein at a different location about these three issues. As this was all taking place, the Town Board Work Session was underway and found the Board postponing the Recreational Overlay Zone vote scheduled for tonights Town Board meeting.

After speaking with the community leaders, Young then went to speak with Mr Feiner, who tried to convince Young, as he has tried to do individually with residents, that this project should proceed against the wishes of the residents and civic associations. We’re sure Young doesn’t recognize Mr Feiner’s Divide and Conquer strategy. Nor does he understand Mr Feiner’s deflection or delay tactics. This is “routine” for those in the know. The neighborhoods have spoken out loud and clear, but once again the Board is doing what they want, not what the residents want.

Here are two links for this story from CBS Channel 2 and from News12:
http://newyork.cbslocal.com/video/9934771-proposed-sports-complex-has-some-westchester-residents-up-in-arms/


 Whether the real issues remain in the forefront or are disguised and dismissed as rants by an elected and privileged few, we know the issues are real, tangible and will affect our people and their largerst investment: their homes.  When Lou Young asked Mr Feiner on camera if he had any connection with this company or project at all, he replied, “Zero.” Mr Feiner has been found guilty of lying under oath in Federal Court in the Fortress Bible Church and 6 more counts. Why should we believe he’s telling the truth now? We can’t. It’s time for a change in Greenburgh where residents and taxpayers are treated fairly and given preference over outside developers. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Deflection Scam Rope-A-Dope

In a recent neighborhood “outreach” meeting, Mr Feiner met with eight Town residents to discuss developing a Recreational Overlay Zone, penned by the GameOn 365 attorneys, erecting (as opposed to building) a temporary sports bubble 83 feet tall (8.5 stories) on the Vizioli’s golf Driving Range property and abandoning any focus on selling the former Frank’s Nursery property. In essence, the driving range would remain as a token of its former self with about half the “tees” they currently operate and golfers would hit the ball into a field about half the current size as it would be reduced as well.

ABG recently penned a story that the Vizioli Family had been delinquent since 2008 in the back taxes to the Town. All of a sudden, they have made a down payment toward paying off the debt with an extended payment schedule. How did this magically come about?  In this meeting Mr Feiner stated that out of the $21 million of unpaid taxes that were outstanding to the Town, they have collected $13 million and still have about $8 million left to collect. Why has the Town not gone after all of the Town’s tax cheats before this? Why have we waited until now to act?

Invited to meet with residents by two residents who live nearby, Mr Feiner arrived and was later joined by Councilman Ken Jones to this table top exercise in what would prove to be futility. There was a lot of Mr Feiner’s deflection tactics as well as his deflection rope-a-dope in play this evening. It’s where the uninitiated are made to feel like they are getting genuine concern with his well-honed deflections and smoke screens.

To be polite, they asked Mr Feiner to go first and answer questions previously prepared and forwarded to Mr Feiner. Those questions were:

Justification:
• How did the Town and Mr Feiner determine there was a need for this sports facility?
- Mr Feiner referred to a recreation needs assessment study that was performed for the Town in 2005 by RG Roache. He wouldn’t say why the study was commissioned nor if it was commissioned for town-owned recreational resources or for private industry owned and operated facilities. He didn’t say if the study indicated where these desired recreation facilities should be located. All the residents said to put it in a commercially zoned and developed area.
• Does the Town’s current Comprehensive Plan identify the need for a sports facility?
- Mr Feiner said yes but in reality the answer is no.
• Why is the GameOn 365 facility the most financially beneficial for the Town (protracted studies, litigation, community outrage, etc.?
- Rope-a-dope. Mr Feiner never answered this question, but insisted on continuing to criticize the House of Sports offer for twice the amount of money with full site remediation than GameOn 365 had offered.

Location:
• Why is the Dobbs Ferry Road the best location for a sports bubble in the Town of Greenburgh?
- It was his opinion, based on no actual evidence, studies or proof. 
• Why not place the bubble in a location already zoned for commercial use? 
- When the offer was for the former Frank’s Nursery property, it’s where he felt it would be best. Now that it’s on the Vizioli property, he has no control over where a private deal can be made. The interesting lie that the Town Board members in favor of this proposal have maintained is that the Town Board must review this application. They are not required to do so. They can simply refuse the application and its over. What application? The Recreation Overlay Zone application, which is zoning change* that will indirectly start the process for GameOn 365. Mr Feiner also pushed for the SEQR study to answer all these questions, failing to note that this can only be done if the Town Board appoints themselves the Lead Agency – which officially starts the project.
• How does the community surrounding the proposed sports facility truly benefit? 
- This project will increase the value of the homes in the area and the Town. People from all over want this project, even though none of them live near the project/proposal. Rope-a-dope.
• Why does the town believe that adding an eight story bubble to a residential community is the right
thing to do? 
- Because there was a referendum and many people have reached out to him in favor of this project. When questioned about the people who live here and don’t want it, they got rope-a-dope.
• One of the primary reasons given by the Town for declining the Fortress Bible Church building was
the traffic impact. The proposed sports facility is only a half of a mile west of the Fortress Bible
Church location. What changed to make the Town now believe traffic will not be an issue?
- No answer. Rope-a-dope.

Frank’s Property:
• Does the town believe it will get the same price for the Frank's property if the property next to it is
used for homes versus an eight story bubble? 
- We could get more according to Mr Feiner. The Town has received a lot of offers for the property. In fact, he said, a company is interested in constructing an assisted living facility there. When asked for an example of another use from one of the “many” applicants, he refused to say. Rope-a-dope.

Financial Impact:
• Does the Town believe that property values will not be impacted by the proposed sports facility?
- This commercial project will increase and enhance home values nearby and the Town.  
• Is the Town considering the financial impact of lower tax revenues due to large numbers of Tax
Certioraris by the communities surrounding the sports facility location? 
- “You know, I think... Can I say something...” Rope-a-dope.
• Has the town modeled the optimal use of the land from a tax revenue perspective - proposed sports
facility versus a significant number (25-36) of new homes? 
- Rope-a-dope. But at the Town Work session held two days earlier, the Town Board had a conference call with Town Assessor Edie McCarthy and asked her what the tax assessable’s** would be. What was uncovered as she gave no tangible answers because she was not in the office that day and unable to reference the information required to give an accurate answer. It was also immediately revealed that she was discussing the 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery property and not the Vizioli’s Golf Driving Range. The call was terminated.

Community Outrage:
• Does the Town care that the communities surrounding the proposed sports facility are united against
it being built?
- A lot of people want this and I have to listen to everybody, not just this neighborhood.

The prepared questions were legitimate ones that Mr Feiner had no intention of answering or pursuing resolution for. He spent an hour an a half doing his rope-a-dope to avoid direct hits and dodge all and any questions. There was a lot of his signature, “Let me say something...” and he would deflect to something else. One resident asked why they insisted with arguing every point the neighbors made instead of listening to their concerns and trying to convince us to accept this? Mr Jones did say he hadn’t said much and was listening and that he was the one to postpone the vote at the last Town Board meeting. Whether that was sincere gesture or because the crowd packed the room and they were unprepared for that kind of response from the community is unknown.

Mr Feiner insisted that they try to find a compromise. While neighbors who have never seen Mr Feiner in action believed his quest to be sincere, a seasoned resident said that again he is not listening to them or the neighborhoods. They don’t want a compromise. The don’t want the Overlay Zone (again written by GameOn 365’s attorneys). They don’t want a bubble. They do want the former Frank’s Nursery remediated and the property sold. More rope-a-dope. 

In the end, ABG is convinced Mr Feiner will find his way clear to vote for the Recreation Overlay Zone through, dodging the Comprehensive Plan bullet one more time. After the Comprehensive Plan is adopted, Mr Feiner will have used up most of the Unincorporated Town’s undeveloped space and can breathe a sigh of relief that he got every square in of Greenburgh developed. Since Mr Feiner never met a developer he doesn’t like or Mr Madden a project he doesn’t endorse, ABG is convinced this will happen. We hope we’re wrong. 

Mr Feiner and the Town Board will try to wear down the residents with more postponements and delays. He will offer to meet with more neighbors individually to fracture their unity against this project. Eventually, the residents will tire of his tactics and then this will be voted through – that’s his style. Next year, voters will return to the polls and forget this, re-electing him and this Town Board again. They are well aware of the voters loss of memory at election time. Until this cycle is broken, we will have to wait to see A Better Greenburgh.

* The Town Board authorizes all zoning changes. The Zoning Board of Appeals can render its determination, but they can only make recommendations only to the Board.
** The argument has been made that 36 homes of comparable value to the ones on Westchester View Lane will generate approximately $30k/year in taxes. This will yield approximately one million dollars or more per year in tax revenue for Greenburgh. This is more than the temporary sports bubble and fields/open fields can generate.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Feiner and Board Caught In Another Lie

After several months of covert and detailed investigative detective work, numerous residents and civic associations were able to uncover that the Town of Greenburgh does not have clear title for the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. It explains why Mr Feiner and his Board were anxious to lease the property to GameOn 365 instead of selling it. However, without clear title to the property, Mr Feiner’s illegal lease or a sale simply could not be executed. The threat of yet another lawsuit from community leaders stopped the originally scheduled illegal lease and gave pause to the sale.

Dorrine Livson, President of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, along with Ella Preiser of the North Elmsford Civic Association, worked tirelessly to uncover the facts. What they uncovered after digging through Westchester County Clerk’s files was amazing. “It took a lot of sleuthing and detective work,” said Livson, “it was just a charade to keep us from finding out the town didn't have clear title. And then they kept piling on more schemes to keep it covered up.” In a separate conversation with Livson, she stated there were many people who helped. “Of course, Ella Preiser, Tom Bock from Fulton Park, Bob Bernstein from Edgemont and a few others helped.” She explained that her sole motivation was to keep a commercial entity out of a residential neighborhood. The revelation of this information lends itself to a possible investigation from both the Westchester County and the New York State Attorney General offices. There is the possibility of criminal conduct under the New York State Penal Code by both town officials and GameOn of bribery and official misconduct. Time will tell.

ABG has detailed through numerous articles what has transpired with the meetings between the Town and GameOn 365 regarding the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Unbeknownst to Mr Feiner while he was craftily trying to broker a deal with GameOn 365, the Town thought they took possession of the Frank’s Nursery property. But, as this newly uncovered information reveals, they never had clear title for 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Once they learned of this, however, their legal, ethical, moral and fiduciary duty to the taxpayers was to admit the mistake they accepted from their title search company and cease moving forward with this sweetheart deal for GameOn 365. We’re sure Mr Feiner’s spin will be that this was not their fault.

The community spoke in volumes this past Wednesday night that they do not want a recreational overlay zone, a sports bubble or a sports megaplex in their neighborhood. GameOn 365 only had three people speak on their behalf and they were financial partners. At this past Tuesday’s work session, there were four Board members in attendance, Morgan, Jones and Feiner, along with Thomas Madden, extolled the positive aspects of the bubble. At one point they included Town Assessor Edie McCarthy on a cell phone who discussed generalities with regard to property values, tax assessments and what the Town could make by building 7 homes on the Frank’s Nursery property. But that was not the property in question. Mr Sheehan stated that one of the issues brought up by residents was that the Town could make better tax income by building thirty or so million dollar homes on the residentially zoned property. He also stated that the residents were clear with their opposition to an overlay zone and a sports bubble/megaplex. Regardless, Mssrs Feiner, Morgan and Jones continued pushing for the GameOn 365 proposal.

The issue is not whether the Town wants a company who will only charge for using their facility in the Town or not. Nor is it about them being a ‘for-profit’ company. The issue of where it belongs and ultimately where it goes is what is being ignored by some Town officials. When the correct decisions are made for the right reasons, the right thing happens. This is not the right thing for Dobbs Ferry Road. At this point, we’re not sure its right for the Town. When our elected leaders realize this, we hope they will do the right thing and stop this convoluted scheme. Only then will we have A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Feiner Lies During Meeting; Delay Tactics Begin

It was standing room only. Councilman Ken Jones had previously made the statement several times that he hadn’t heard from anyone who lived near the proposed site and were against the GameOn 365 Sports Megaplex. He insisted that the earlier referendum validated that the public wanted it. ABG and others believe the referendum should be considered null and void as the referendum was for a sports bubble on the Frank’s Nursery property, which GameOn 365 has since abandoned. 

Mr Jones went to the Westchester View Lane meeting the previous Sunday and was met by community leaders who have vociferously represented their groups against these zoning and bubble proposals requested by GameOn 365. The G10 were elated at this meeting with standing room only. In fact, stalwart community leader Ella Preiser, a volunteer of many Town committees, and currently on the Town’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, commented that it was great to see so many neighbors come out for this issue.

Two expansion plans were on the agenda and were voted through without objections. Then Planning Commissioner Thomas Madden took to the microphone, apparently to soften the blow of the Town Board moving the GameOn 365 projects forward as the Lead Agency against the wishes of the public in attendance. He practically whispered his informational presentation, which frankly was unnecessary, and when residents shouted they could not hear him, he turned the microphone over to another speaker. He could have briefly explained that the Town Board must vote to make themselves the Lead Agency in order to initiate a SEQRA study instead of trying to fake real concern with an elaborate hoax to placate the angry room. The Town Board received a reality check from the packed room that they didn’t believe or approve of the Town Board’s repeated lies about these issues on Dobbs Ferry Road! The residents admonished the Board that no one has contacted them about the GameOn 365 proposal even though the Board continued to state otherwise.

Speaker after speaker rose to the podium to say the Town must stop the proposed zoning change, stop the proposed bubble and focus on selling the former Frank’s Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road before they do anything else. The Board sat in their usual unresponsive silence. At one point, however, Mr Feiner made a comment seemingly to defend Mr Madden’s unethical behavior of divulging confidential Comprehensive Plan information to GameOn 365’s developer. Mr Feiner said the Comprehensive Plan information was available to the public*. A member of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, stood up and said, “That’s not true!” Mr Feiner repeated that the Comprehensive Plan information was open to everyone. Again, “That’s not true!” Mr Sheehan, the chair for the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, remained silent. While Mr Feiner can maintain the bully pulpit because he has a microphone and won’t allow residents to speak, being loud doesn’t make him right. After going back and forth several times, he finally said, “Well, it should have been open.” This is a standard tactic for Mr Feiner and the Board members when a resident catches them in a lie. 

As the Board listened to nothing but irate constituents, we saw Mr Feiner on his cell phone. We imagine Mr Feiner texting Mr Jones saying, “We’re sinking and fast. We may need to delay this until they stop coming out.” Mr Jones leaned over several times to discuss something with Mr Morgan. Mr Jones might have returned the text message, “What do you want me to do?” 
“Move for postponement.” 
“Done.” With a little bit of stammering, whether genuine or good acting, Mr Jones said somnething to the effect of, “It looks like we will need more time to...” 
“I make a motion to hold this over for two weeks,” said Mr Jones. The angry taxpayers weren’t happy with a postponement and let the Board know it. Shouts emanated from the entire room to take an up or down vote. Even Mr Sheehan and Ms Juettner wanted an up or down vote. The motion was seconded by Mr Morgan and passed with a three to two vote to postpone with Mr Feiner, Morgan and Jones voting in favor and Mr Sheehan and Ms Juettner voting against.

Stay tuned, as there’s more to come with this proposal. We urge residents who normally don’t bother with Town Board meetings to continue applying pressure to the Town Board. The Town Board’s delay tactics to wear down the populace have begun. This will not be the only postponement or delay. Eventually, they will close whatever public comment is going on, adjourn to Executive session or a Work session and vote this project through. Or, Mr Feiner will ask GameOn 365 to withdraw their application until no one is paying attention and magically, it will reappear to see another day at a later date. When the Town Board feels they can vote it through, whether with a unanimous vote or not, they will. The public is already enraged that their wishes are being ignored. The Town Board must listen to its taxpayer-residents. Only then will we have A Better Greenburgh.

* The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee had made the decision not to release information as they were working on the new plan to avoid confusion and conflict before it was released in full. An example was originally given to withhold releasing it piecemeal. This way, if they wrote Chapter 2 and someone got a hold of it and started developing plans based on what Chapter 2 said, and then in Chapter 6 there was a change that affected Chapter 2 and had to be changed, the information the developer had would be wrong. Mr Feiner knew this. Mr Madden knew this as well, but chose to divulge the information to a developer anyway.