Monday, June 30, 2014

Evaluating Consolidation: Is Bigger Better?

Several months ago, before Mr Feiner might have begun editing or authorizing the editing of the official Town Board meeting video records to hide what was being said about him, he needed to deflect attention away from the reckless and costly expenses he was incurring for Town residents. He began a rant against the Fairview Fire Chief and enlisted the help of his fellow progressive big government proponents where they carried the rally cry of his deflection under the guise of consolidation. But like Mr Feiner’s flawed and disingenuous referendum for the illegal sports bubble lease on Dobbs Ferry Road, the information they espoused was intentionally misleading, misrepresenting and invalid. They didn't care. This wasn't about truth, helping taxpayers or improving services. No. Once Mr Feiner gets caught in one lie, he shifts gears and deflects to the next issue du jour. That’s what is happening here.

Every consideration must be on the table when discussing consolidation, including what the real, ultimate and agreed upon goals are? For Mr Feiner and crew, the real goal is an elusive one, at least to the uninitiated. He claims its about saving money but his “facts and figures” are outdated and his models are incomplete. Without a fair and honest assessment, the committee he tasked to investigate a fire department consolidation option expended energy towards futility. And, the dissenting point of view, compiled through the eyes and experience of actual firematic personnel, offered a starkly different vision of a consolidation. Frankly, if we are going to expend the effort to study all of this, shouldn’t it be genuine and factor in all the variables? Of course it should. In fact, it must!

Putting these variables aside momentarily, this is about growing government and wielding the power of a new, singular, town-wide fire department under Mr Feiner’s authority. It has nothing to do with saving money. For Mr Feiner, it is about getting press, creating controversy and getting what he wants. But the uninitiated won’t see this. Consolidation increases Mr Feiner’s power base and extends his political reach, giving him control over the fire department budgets. Ah yes, control. Currently the paid fire departments in Greenburgh fall under the authority of their respective fire districts. Each fire district is its own taxing entity and must raise whatever funds they need for all of their costs. This includes everything from personnel pay checks, fuel for apparatus, equipment, right on down to toilet paper and pens. Yes, this all about control.

One significant variable that has changed is the number of departments to be included in the consolidation. Mr Feiner's 2010 commissioned study was to provide a predetermined outcome and conclusion based on three fire departments consolidating. They were the Fairview, Hartsdale and Greenville Fire Departments. But now he’s only talking about consolidating Fairview and Hartsdale. What changed? Nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Greenville Fire Department protects the Edgemont section of Town and Mr Feiner knows going after the Greenville Fire Department would be like throwing gasoline onto the fire with an already strained relationship with Edgemont. No, he’s decided to focus on where the voters won’t pay attention or be able to negatively impact him by focusing on doing his deflection in Fairview and Hartsdale.

The 2010 study proved that a lot of money, time and effort would be wasted to disband the three fire districts, and shutter three fire departments with little or no savings to the taxpayers. A new larger,  more costly and ultimately unwieldy fire district would need to be created and voted into existence. This is not going to be a quick fix. There's also the possibility a new fire district might not be approved by voters. Hmm, what happens then? More importantly, the three fire districts’ union's contracts would become null and void. If the goal is to break the union and its costs to the taxpayers, this is one way to do it. But will Mr Feiner discuss that? No. He stays focused on the sensationalism of eliminating one non-union fire chief's roughly $200k position, claiming those huge savings will help the taxpayer. What would help the taxpayer the most you ask? Honesty, true open government, some town-wide consolidation and an engaged electorate. Most importantly, we would save tens of millions of dollars every year if Mr Feiner would simply stop breaking the law!

Consolidation is a popular catch-phrase bandied about by those with the belief that government is the cure. We're reminded of the oxymoron from Ronald Reagan's speech saying, “I'm from the government and I’m here to help.” He also said government is part of the problem. As any government gets bigger, more and more people become dependent upon it as politicians lure dependency from the constituency. As those who have become more dependent upon government, politicians such as Mr Feiner and others continue to mete out crumbs to those who can’t or won’t rely on themselves for what they need. There is a place for government to help people, just not with Paul Feiner at the helm. His goal is to grow local government and his power base at whatever cost - taxpayers be damned!

What you never hear about is what happens when he and his select follower’s superficial fire consolidation plan fails? He also never discusses the reduction in services for the Fairview residents of the Town. Nor, does he really care. Conversely, costs will increase by making sure Hartsdale’s Fire Department members are trained to provide the same services the Fairview Fire Department already does. What will it really cost us for the public to be served equally throughout the Town? How much is that additional training expense going to be as well as the never-discussed maintenance or update training afterwards? What about the additional personnel that must be added to comply with the National Fire Protection Agency’s recommended fire department staffing, Section 1710 for paid staffing & Section 1720 for volunteer staffing? Most fire departments follow the NFPA guidelines. Also, what will happen to the previously pensioned employees, their medical benefits and other contractual agreements? Are we to assume the many questions not even skimmed-over in the consolidation talks will magically resolve themselves? Hardly.

Several years ago the Town received grant money (that we pay for but was told was “free”) to study consolidating the Greenburgh and Dobbs Ferry police departments. The only reason Greenburgh Police Chief Kapica and Dobbs Ferry Police Chief Longworth agreed to the study was because it didn't cost them any money from either of their budgets along with minimal effort. In fact, because he is a political gadfly, when Dobbs Ferry Police Chief Longworth retired from Dobbs Ferry PD, he was appointed as Westchester County Commissioner of Public Safety, a misnomer of a new name for the Westchester County Police. There’s an entity with a $35 million budget that we could probably stand to do away with.

Westchester County Police offer taxi cab regulation for the County - the only profit generating division of this group, new police officer recruit training, guards at the County facilities and parkway patrols. They also offer a bomb squad that is similar to what the state police offer if requested. How many bombs do we get in Westchester? They go to an occasional “old ordinance keepsake” found in a home of a soldier from the WWII, Korea or Vietnam era when someone passes away or the home is sold and they are cleaning it out. Mostly we see them “blowing up” abandoned backpacks.

The County Police offer a hazardous materials response team (re: overtime/backfill funding/personnel/cash cow - pick one) made up of County Police officers seeking overtime. Backfill funding is the term used when someone is pulled from the job they are performing, say as a patrol officer to go to a “bomb call”, and someone else has to be called back (to) fill in to cover that position for them. There is usually a guaranteed number of hours for the individual coming in when backfill funding is utilized. 

The Westchester County Department of Emergency Services, which is the fire branch of the County's emergency services with an $8M operating budget, offers a Special Operations Team comprised of two all-volunteer response teams for hazardous materials and technical rescue responses, led by one paid Chief. There are no overtime costs, backfill funding, no pension costs except one (Chief), and these teams are made up of industry leaders, responders and instructors who deal with these types of calls daily. Mr Feiner hasn’t addressed any of this because he knows he doesn’t have to. The willfully ignorant electorate only hear him say “consolidation equals savings”.

Can money be saved without consolidating. Frankly, yes. But the return on investment must be weighed fairly and intelligently. That hasn’t happened. One example is the Town operates a SWAT Team. How many incidents involving SWAT does the Town have per year? The ongoing training for these officers and the increased pay for participating on the SWAT Team is an expense that could be eliminated if we used the County or State teams. Another example where money can be saved is with the Greenburgh Police Department and their Technical Rescue Team. It is comprised of police officers and firefighters from the three paid fire departments. They provide the bulk of the manpower for this team. The fire districts pays for their members' training, not the Town or the police budget. The fire district is never reimbursed by the Town for the money spent to participate, for the backfill funding when they are called away from firefighting duty or training.

As mentioned earlier, the Westchester County Department of Emergency Services operates a Technical Rescue Team available to all communities at no cost if requested. Plus, anytime the Special Operations Team for the County responds, the County seeks reimbursement for any expended supplies from the insurance companies involved in the alarm. So there are no out-of-pocket cost to the municipalities.

We have the best responders in the Town and these examples aren’t an attack on them. Rather, the examples are intended to highlight information that is lacking from the consolidation activists. They’re not wrong to want to look into consolidation. But, Mr Feiner’s goal and those of our taxpayers don’t match. Mr Feiner is merely adding another ball into his juggling act to deflect attention from his poor and often illegal actions with consolidation talk. The real damage is what he is doing to the Greenburgh taxpayers if the consolidation referendum carries to disband the fire districts only to find minimal savings in the short term and increased spending in the long term. Mr Feiner and his Town Board have cost us millions upon millions of dollars with decisions against him and the Town with Fortress Bible Church discrimination loss, Frank’s Nursery, WestHelp, Dromore Road, Veteran Park, Brightview, NextG, the list is endless. When Mr Feiner ceases his illegal behavior, we will begin to have a more cost-effective, a lower taxed and A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Town Edits-Out Incriminating News From Official Town Board Video Record

The schedule had been changed from the traditional Wednesday night Town Board meeting to Monday night. Yet, this Town Board meeting was uncharacteristically filled with residents from Unincorporated Greenburgh. In fact, the Town Board, fearing a loss of votes from the same residents, decided to change the agenda and jump right into the 3-minute public comment portion to placate them. ABG staffers had watched the meeting online while it was underway as well as conferred with attendees. Imagine our surprise when we went to the Town website to review the video – which is the official record of the Town’s meeting – only to find it had been altered and then removed! Why? Read on.

The first portion of the meeting was solely outraged resident after outraged resident complaining about a shooting range next to the new Toll Brothers’ Ardsley Chase development, which consists of about two dozen million dollar-plus new homes. In fact, there is a police investigation currently underway because a resident was apparently “hit” by a stray bullet fragment that is alleged to have originated from the firing range. The police investigation is underway and should provide all of the facts.

Frankly, as lifelong residents, no one in the ABG offices were even aware that there was a shooting range in Westchester beyond the Yonkers shooting range on McLean Avenue and at the Westchester County Police facility in Hawthorne. Ironically, one shooting range that has existed for years was mentioned under the chapel at Archbishop Stepinac HS. It has been dormant for years.

These residents were at the Town Board meeting to complain that this shooting range, supposedly a mile away, according to the Toll Brothers prospectus, was is in fact much closer. Back before the project was moving forward at full steam, Toll Brothers illegally removed the forest of poplar trees on their site for their project. They were fined, subsequently paid the fine, and then sold the same trees to a lumber mill for a significant profit, much more than the fines cost them. Those trees, along with other forest and shrubbery, provided a natural barrier between the shooting range and the rest of the then-uninterested world. Consolidated Edison, the property owner and landlord of the shooting range, also removed many trees in the area from their property. This reduced the sound and protective barrier that had existed for years.

During the Town Board Public Comment session, after many of the residents had spoken, former Town Supervisor candidate Robert Bernstein took to the podium. During his 3-minute time at the microphone, he stated that, “Toll Brothers knew they were building adjacent to a gun range. And, what many might not be aware of is that Toll Brothers was one the largest campaign contributors to Mr Feiner while their application was pending.” If you listen to the video below of Mr Bernstein, what he said in the live meeting was changed when he says, “...was one of the largest financial con...Toll Brothers application was pending.” The gap in the video was altered to remove the reference that Mr Bernstein made about Mr Feiner receiving campaign contributions from Toll Brothers while having applications before the Town!

Some might consider Mr Feiner’s financial acceptance of money from a developer to be a bribe or at the very least an unethical way to purchase approvals for various requests for their multi-million dollar development. They would be considered wrong, because this is Greenburgh, and its just part of “doing business” in our Town. Most developers know this. Most residents do not. Mr Feiner taking Toll Brother money while their application was pending is a matter of public record. Ironically, this is not the first time the Town’s public record has been altered for to cover up bad information. A fifteen-minute section of video with Theodore Young Community Center leader Bill Carter was removed and later restored after the G10 went on the offensive with the Town.

Mr Feiner accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Toll Brothers when the developer sought approval to build ttwo dozen luxury homes in what is now called Ardsley Chase. Its a subdivision next door to a live outdoor shooting range on Ardsley Road. Sadly, Mr Feiner pandered to this crowd and told him he would contact everyone ELSE and do everything he could to close or at least regulate this gun range, which has been here for about 41 years. He has just done about everything he will do for them. And, Toll Brothers got their approvals, Mr Feiner got his contributions for his campaign fund and the text of what Mr Bernstein said has not seen the light of day.

It’s a long time overdue for this Town Board and Supervisor to go. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Addendum to Pretending To Be Honest, Open and Transparent

We neglected one vital point with all that we exposed in the previous article, Pretending To Be Honest, Open and Transparent. There is another critical factor that will ensure GameOn 365 be the successful bidder that acquires the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road under the guise of an auction run by a third party. That point is simply advertising. How the property will be marketed and advertised will either increase the interest in purchasing the property or not.

As mentioned in our previous article, Ardsley's House of Sports offered the Town $3.5 million in cash and full remediation of all contamination for the former Frank's Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. But since they were not Mr Feiner's business of choice, and the newly formed GameOn 365 was, Mr Feiner fabricated a lie that the House of Sports offer was not a serious one. As Donald Scherer, CEO of House of Sports said numerous times, he is always serious when it comes to money. So, Mr Feiner again took it upon himself to intentionally inflict more financial pain to the Greenburgh taxpayers by refusing a valid and more substantial offer.

Reviewing the Frank's Marketing Budget v2, there appears to be line item disbursements listed detailing advertising in several print and online mediums. One example is the Journal News (1x3 ad) for $379; run three times for a total of $1,137. At face value it sounds good doesn't it? The problem with a 1" x3" ad in any paper or online is that it's the size of a mailing label and will not much exposure and review at all. If the Town were serious about advertising in the Journal News, they should be doing an ad that is three or four columns wide by 15". That is the size of an average story in the paper. While we're not trying to beef up ad sales for the Journal News, they are simply taking the money and running what will be the size of a classified ad. How much information can be put in this ad? Realistically, it will probably say: Property For Sale, 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, call 914-993-1500. If there's any room left, maybe they can add: Serious offers (from GameOn 365) only.

Other print media advertisements listed tout more of the 1"x3" advertisements as well. There are several more ads in the Journal News. One such ad is a color ad in the Real Estate section that is 2"x3.5" which is the size of a business card. How much information can realistically and correctly be included in an ad of this size and still be effective. It can't. There's a 2" x 3" Wednesday and Saturday combo ad in the Wall Street Journal that will cost us $1830 for three ads. There are several other  1"x3" ads that will be run in other papers for a substantial amount of money. As we've watched our tax dollars urinated away by Mr Feiner's other follies we now come to this auction. We will see a total of $25,938 spent on ads that will have little or no success because the methodology is flawed.

Our previous article discusses what's called a Stalking Horse and that allows the seller and bidder to engage in a sale without actually having to bid for the property. This is the slight of hand that Mr Feiner, the Town Board and the others will use to ensure GameOn 365 receive the property. When information about the GameOn 365 proposal was requested by the Freedom of Information Laws, the request was denied as was the appeal. If there is no proposal on file, why was GameOn 365's name the only one on the Retention Agreement posted on the Town's website. We wonder if they in fact could be considered as having submitted a serious offer since no paperwork is on file at Town Hall? House of Sports made a legitimate offer. Why weren't they included in the Retention Agreement?

Games are being played again by the Town Board and especially Mr Feiner with the former Frank's Nursery property and what will be done with it. When the games stop, maybe then we'll see A Better Greenburgh.

Pretending To Be Honest, Open and Transparent

 Mr Feiner has tried for the better part of three years to illegally lease, then sell, then connive a way to gift the contaminated former Frank's Nursery property to his favored GameOn 365 buddies. He even went so far as to craft a lopsided and intentionally poorly worded referendum to provide the results he wanted to move the illegal deal forward. Ever the crafty politico, his plan worked. A complicit media even fed the public Mr Feiner's deceptions without question. Continuing to claim that he wanted the best deal for the Town, Mr Feiner steadfastly refused to entertain or accept a cash offer for double the amount, $3.5 Million, from an existing and profitable Town business, House of Sports in Ardsley.

Now Mr Feiner has finally decided its time to stop playing games and auction the property off. Or is it? The end game is never what it appears to be when Mr Feiner and his Town Board have an ulterior motive up their proverbial sleeves. There is multiple documentation on the Town's website regarding the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the hiring of GA Keen Realty Advisors to perform the advertising and the auction of the property for the Town. But its what missing that has us concerned.

The flyer for the sale of the property provides the most basic of information, none of which actually tells a prospective bidder/purchaser what they are really purchasing: multiple contamination and an R30 Zoning requirement. These two glaringly absent points are of major significance to anyone who would be interested in participating with the purchase of this property. Was leaving this information out intentional or accidental? Based on past performance of this Board and Mr Feiner, ABG is relatively certain it was intentional. But why?

The same documents posted on the Towns website lend a bit of a clue. We've already touched on the faulty flyer that will probably not be used with any real verve by the Town or GA Keen. In fact, we believe its creation was part of "Pinocchio Paul's" smoke screen to appear to want to advertise this property while maintaining a final strong hold over the process so that GameOn 365 will be the victor regardless of how many bidders or promises are made for R30 zoned construction. How do we know this, you ask?

There are two indicators that are skewing our opinion. The first is in the Retention Agreement on page four (4) under section F Good Faith. "The parties hereto shall deal with each other fairly and in good faith so as to allow each party to perform its duties and earn the benefits of this Agreement and shall not interfere, prevent or prohibit the other, in any manner, prior to or during the term of this Agreement from carrying out its duties and obligations under the Agreement." Ironically, this agreement was never utilized with the online "Town Square" website, the Daily Greenburgh. You'll recall that Mr Feiner and the Town Board entered into a one year agreement to use the website for no fee. And when the fee would be charged to the tune of $2,000 per month, Mr Feiner said they would not pay and cease using the site. Good faith operators? Hardly.

The second indicator that this is probably still a "done-deal" is on page eleven (11) under Schedule B-1. Here the page says "Game On 365, LLC" and below that it says "Remainder of Page Intentionally Blank". Blank indeed. This appears to be crafted with GameOn 365 as the sole beneficiary, again with the "done-deal" benefitting only Mr Feiner's cronies. Why would House of Sports intentionally be left off of this document? Probably because there was never any intention to sell or gift the property to anyone other than GameOn 365!

Then there's the "Stalking Horse" deal that can be found on Page two (2) of the Working Draft of Bidding Procedures. Stalking Horse? Really? Why not just say that GameOn 365 can bid prior to the auction and have a clear shot at purchasing the property as Mr Feiner intended all along? The Stalking Horse a) "allows the seller to solicit bids on the property prior to the Bid Deadline". ABG has learned that this is a common practice. And, b) "if the seller enters into a binding Real Estate Purchase Contract with the bidder prior to the Bid Deadline, which contract subjects the contract vendee to the Auction, such bidder shall be deemed the Stalking Horse". And of course, if the deal is made prior to the auction and the Stalking Horse is outbid, the Stalking Horse gets  a 3% breakup fee plus reimbursement of actual, reasonable out-of-pocket due diligence fees. And, the auctioneer still gets paid. It seems the only people that will suffer, again, are the Greenburgh taxpayers.

The Town Board has rescheduled the Town Board meeting for tomorrow night. We'll see how accurate our assessment of what is taking place will actually be. It's deals like this with the crafty wording, intentional vagueness and colorful terminology that hurts our Town. This must stop. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Impassioned Plea To Maintain Segregated Neighborhood

Several Planning Board meetings ago found a discussion on a proposal made by a family that is looking to combine three parcels of property into one and build a 2400 square foot home on it. The zoning for the neighborhood would allow for a 2800 square foot house. 2400 square feet is not an unwieldy, garish and/or oversized home as new homes go. This project would have most likely gone under the radar for approval except for one speaker. As the Board opened the “hearing” to the public to speak, the first speaker voiced their opinion against the proposal for several reasons which he proceeded to explain. Next up was Town Clerk Judith Beville.

She took to the microphone and speaking softly, introduced herself, stating that she was the Greenburgh Town Clerk. She began discussing “her” community and requested the Board “join” her in imagining going to her neighborhood and proceeded to ask the Board to envision how close her home was to the projected new home proposed across the street from hers. She stated that this was a woodlands, wetlands, nature preserve and protected environment that they would be allowing to to be disturbed. he left out wildlife preserve. The neighborhood is comprised of small colonial style houses. This home will stand out and not blend with the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. Living directly across the street from the proposed home, Ms Beville asked the Board, “ I want you to ask yourselves, ‘would you want this house built near you?’ ”

She proceeded with an impassioned plea saying this was a direct exploitation of this long-time African-American community.There it is. When all other arguments fail, bandy the race card to win the NIMBY argument. How disappointing it is to once again witness discrimination, this time in the form of racism through NIMBY-ism from another member of Mr Feiner's administration. Ms Beville has supported Mr Feiner and his Board's multiple construction projects against the wishes of many more people than the few in attendance this night. You may recall packed Town Hall meetings where neighborhoods protested Westhab, WestHelp, 88 North Rd, Frank's Nursery, Avalon Green, Toll Brothers, Dromore Road. The list goes on. What is different for her than what these other resident taxpayers were seeking to limit? Absolutely nothing!

Her claim was that this home shouldn’t be built because it would be a change to this long time African American community. Interpretation? Her racially segregated neighborhood should stay as it is. This is an example of reverse racism coming from another community leader and member of the Feiner administration. We’ve previously posted that the Feiner Administration condones racism from within and now it’s becoming more exposed. 

We invite you to watch these videos linked below from the meeting and ask you to decide. Here are two links we found on YouTube of her speaking at the Planning Board meeting. By the way, these are not videos that ABG produced or created. 

Watch her plea here:

TOGPB 04 16 2014 NIMBY Beville

The Board later detailed what constituted a wetland – this property was not. They explained a nature preserve – this property was not. They explained all of her other postulations only to summarize that the space she bemoaned as a waterway was determined to be a drainage ditch that occasionally collected water. They went through each of her points of objection and detailed how she was incorrect.

The Board’s response:

TOGPB 04 16 2014 NIMBY Beville QA

It’s interesting to watch how the "Greenburgh elite", or "1%-ers", who are used to getting their way for what they want, react when something is going to affect them more directly. This time it is Ms Beville and a project across the street from her home. When Westhab was proposing their building in Fulton Park, the residents didn’t say “No” to the proposal. They only asked the Town Board to not change the zoning and keep its size within the confines of the existing zoning. They had worked with the homeless at that location for years while it was a homeless hotel. The Fulton Park Civic Association President, who lived directly across the street, just asked for a more reasonably sized building and a buffer. Ms Beville felt Westhab should be built regardless of the residents concerns and publicly stated as much. But Ms Beville is saying she doesn't want anything built there. That's just wrong.

When Mr Feiner decided that a new Stop and Shop on Rt 119 would be a good thing on Rt 119 and the Glenville Neighborhood objected, they were summarily dismissed. When the Parkway Homes neighborhood found out they were getting yet another group home at 88 North Road, there were two issues at play: the first was that Mr Feiner led the state to that piece of undeveloped property and second, Councilman Jones failed to inform his neighbors and former neighborhood association. When Mr Feiner realized he could get Valhalla votes by letting WestHelp rot, he instructed somebody at the Town to leave it open. Now it needs millions of dollars worth of repairs to be habitable. Why are Valhalla residents, who live at least one mile away from this facility against this affordable/low income housing?  
Some of the reasons people object to the developments throughout the Town are invariably told that it will raise our property values, increase diversity, increase tax income and make the Town more vibrant. The reality is usually not what we are told. Objections to the Dromore Road development is about overwhelming the school district, not about low income residents. Objections to the Comprehensive Plan's "nodes" is not about low income residents, but of urbanizing the Town and overwhelming the school system with more kids at an undervalued tax income as apartments pay less in taxes than single family homes. Of course, the elephant in the room is the continued racism emminating from our Town administration. Once this stops, we'll finally have A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

ABG would like to wish all of our readers a healthy and Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Job Opening In Greenburgh

Thomas Madden, Commissioner of the Department of Community Development and Conservation, formerly known as the Planning Commissioner, has submitted his resignation to the Supervisor. Mr Madden was appointed as Commissioner of the Department of Community Development and Conservation for the Town in February 2008, after serving for four years as the Deputy Commissioner. While Mr Feiner claims to be upset about the resignation, residents we’ve discussed this with are overjoyed with the pending departure!

As Commissioner, he has been instrumental in the over-development of numerous areas throughout the Unincorporated Town and convoluted ideas that are simply a hindrance to business and doing business in the Town. More recently, as a member of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, he has leaked confidential information under review by the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to developers with a financial interest in the Town. He also worked closely with the GameOn 365 people to help them build a for-profit recreational sports facility at the old Frank’s Nursery property. When questioned as to the ethical or even legal nature of a Town employee working on behalf of a private corporation (conflict of interest), he poo-pooed those critics.

Mr. Madden was a member of the Westchester County’s Central Park Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Study. Regardless of the outcome of this study, Mr Madden’s belief of increasing public transportation while doing nothing to alleviate traffic congestion is well-known. To focus on creating more bus routes while automotive traffic remains backed up almost everywhere is nothing more than social engineering gone awry. Why was the County looking to eliminate the Bee Line Bus System Express Route to New York City via Central Avenue, returning via Madison Avenue? Why was the County seeking to eliminate a Rye bus route only two years year ago? Because mass transit in a suburban area won’t work as it does in a city. Add the cost of running these systems and we, the beleaguered taxpayers, will be overburdened with another layer of increased taxes. Maybe now that Mr Madden is leaving Greenburgh, he'll be more apt to share his metropolitan vision in a more appropriate arena.

He will be taking a job in Stamford, Connecticut as their Economic Development Director. It’s ironic that he will be in a position for economic development giving his anti-business acumen here in the Town, highlighted when his suggested plan for taxing businesses was proven to be illegal. He can certainly “talk the talk”, but has difficulty actually working on behalf of businesses, unless of course they are a developer. Then, all bets are off, all the stops unplugged, and any resource they need is at their disposal.

He also worked closely with the Brightview Assisted Living Facility’s management to ensure success with their private assisted living project at Benedict Avenue and Rt 119. They, with Mr Madden’s assistance, wrote the zoning law change that Mr Feiner and the Town Board could not pass fast enough to allow the project to move forward. He did the same thing in Fulton Park by working intimately with Westhab to create an oversized subsidized housing project through changed zoning code that easily went contrary to why the zoning was in place to begin with. But Mr Madden needed a legacy and how better to get it than to be sanctioned by his convicted criminal boss, Mr Feiner.

While the Business Council of Westchester County recognized Thomas as one of their “Rising Stars – Forty Under Forty” program, in 2012, the criteria for this award is unknown. The program pays tribute to individuals who surpass expectations, raise the bar, set new standards for success, and make their mark in their chosen profession at a young age. We’re not saying he should not have gotten it, but given the number of vacant office spaces, retail spaces and taxpayers who are leaving the Town as fast as they can, we think the award may have been a bit premature. He had been instrumental in helping Mr Feiner shape the downward direction of the Town. Greenburgh certainly is a leader because of some of the actions of Mr Madden...the leader of what a Town should not do.

The Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee has been holding community outreach meetings at Town Hall. Mr Madden was a key architect of the plan. The plan has gotten hammered by residents throughout the Town, leaving many to speculate that this could be Mr Madden’s Waterloo. Since the meetings have produced such a negative response from the community, and many of Mr Madden’s back room dealings are now being made public, it seems a good time for Mr Madden to accept the position in Stamford and "get out of Dodge" while the getting is good. Interestingly, his leaving may bring us one step closer to A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This Job Stinks!

Driveway pipe
Looking up Randolph
Fulton Park has had its share of abuse from the Town for the last seven or so years. Mr Feiner, et al, dumped Westhab’s subsidized housing in the neighborhood. Then he appointed new Zoning Board of Appeals members and coerced his newly appointed subjects to approve the Deli Delicious petition to pave his entire property and (illegally?) expand onto the state property to create a drive-through window for a private company.

Now something completely different is happening that will have a better outcome for this previously ignored and now “dumped” upon neighborhood - but it still stinks – literally! Apparently, the Town Public Works Department discovered several of the sewers in the area were at an unusually high level after some recent rains. Not only does this create a foul smell, but it can cause the sewage to back up in multiple locations as well as being a health hazard. Fulton Park knows what that smell and cleanup nightmare is like after having had all kinds of sewage back up into residents’ basements when the neighborhood was flooded during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. Naturally, FEMA, NYS, Westchester County and the Town talked about helping but in the end, did nothing!

Looking down Randolph
An email was sent out to the Fulton Park residents from Public Works Commissioner Victor Carosi advising of what would be taking place starting today. Here's what it said:

We have a substantial sewer break in the brook behind Randolph Road.  We expect noise and disruption to residents along Randolph Road and Benedict Road during the work.  This will include operating a large pump and having pipes along the street for probably the next five days.  The pumping will be necessary to operate 24-hours a day.  The pump ordered is fitted with noise dampening mufflers, but it still will be noisy. 

I would like to inform the neighborhood association and/or key residents in this area.  Victor G. Carosi, P.E.
Commissioner of Public Works
Town of Greenburgh, NY
We decided to investigate and found crews in the process of laying out 12" piping to bypass a section of pipe that had been found to have cracked and been leaking. Representatives from the Town stated the plan is to pump as much of the sewage and water from the dead end of Benedict Rd through the piping into another sewerage drain located on Randolph Road. Our photos show the piping and driveway plates that are actually flat piping, allowing cars in and out of their driveways. The Towns representatives were forthcoming with information and their plan. After all, this wasn’t a Town Board meeting so there was no need for secrecy, special meetings behind closed doors or Executive sessions.
“Quiet pump”

The schedule of events after the piping is hooked up is to pump the water and sewage tonight and tomorrow and then evaluate the amount left. If the level is low enough, they plan to repair the existing pipe with a liner, hopefully eliminating the need to tear up the road and physically replace the old pipes. If everything checks out okay, the work will continue probably through Monday. If they need to do a bit more, it could go longer. They are confident it should go smoothly. They also said this should not disrupt any residents use of water or sewers (toilets, showers, etc.).

Workers laying the pipe said it was a dirty job but once everything gets started, it should be “routine”. One fellow did comment on the extraordinary amount of mosquito bites he got just laying the equipment out in place. He said they sprayed the area but to no avail. Most residents are already well aware of the Panama Canal-like quality Fulton Park suffers from with mosquitos. Well, as the saying goes, “Its a dirty job but somebody has to do it.” And while this job really does stink, we’re glad the dedicated employees of the Town are there doing the job.