Sunday, July 27, 2014

Honest Answers Welcome But Deflection Triumphs

Whenever Mr Feiner's latest guilty verdict is highlighted, he goes into what we've tagged as "deflection mode". You've seen this time and time again and we've written about it as often. The difference between us and the mainstream media is that we see it exactly for what it is. They, on the other hand, will reprint what he says without question or challenge. ABG believes they've abdicated their role as the fourth estate. Knowing he will get them "to play" by simply saying a few media-friendly buzz-words, he stated the Town's fire districts should consolidate. He began his rant to consolidate the Fairview and Hartsdale paid fire departments and deflected attention away from his failing budget, guilty verdict judgements and the general financial distress the Town of Greenburgh has been delivered. His ploy worked, his schemes have worked but his actions are failing. His policies are failing. HE is failing.

Mr Feiner has a small cadre of die hard loyalists who will do his bidding for him, allowing his appearance of being hands-off any hot button topic - such as fire district consolidation. In fact, when a Town Board meeting is not going his way, he will get on his mobile device and rally his troops via text messaging for help. As he stalls the meeting with his ramblings, awaiting his serfs arrival, they are given quick and unfettered access to the microphone. Their standard response might be an iteration of, "I was watching this at home and was so upset I had to come in to speak..." Others, in particular the G10, must sign up early and wait until called, usually after these troops have had their privileged say. Mr Feiner has perfected this routine and utilizes it often.

When Mr Feiner's guilty verdict was announced, the victorious Fortress Bible Church Discrimination lawsuit was almost put to bed. The judge had given ample opportunity to Mr Feiner and the Town to settle the case outside of the courts, but Mr Feiner, a non-practicing attorney, did not take advantage of the golden opportunity before he and the Town Board. His being obstinate, based on how many times Mr Feiner acted against the law and found guilty by the courts, keeps costing us more and more money we just don't have. One question we have been posing for years is why Mr Feiner can be found guilty in Federal Court on seven counts of discrimination, lying under oath, destroying evidence and still not be disbarred? It's business as usual in Greenburgh and for that matter, New York. Chicago has nothing on us.

Mr Feiner knows the taxpayers have deep pockets and brags they're only being zapped with a 3.4% tax increase, well under the NYS 2% Tax Cap, to pay for his illegal actions. We were under the (mistaken?) assumption that Mr Feiner had been personally found guilty and required to pay the penalties associated with the verdict and be forced to personally pay toward the verdict levied.

His latest deflection is to appear supportive of a 9A Bypass to reduce congestion on the 9A corridor. Naturally, like most of his follies, the "best chance of making this happen is now," a statement often made by Mr Feiner for projects he is interested in. This was the recent article in the once-critical and now-friendly White Plains Examiner. Under his hand, he had the Town Board adopt a resolution supporting New York State's pursuing of a 9A Bypass. This is like kissing your aunt on her cheek - it's nice but just doesn't mean anything. Its interesting that now that our Town Planning Commissioner has resigned to go wreak havoc in Stamford, CT., that Mr Feiner comes up with this exercise in futility. Next up? A press conference with his state representative buddies providing them more air time/publicity but producing little more than the promise to draft legislation to investigate the possibility and funding feasibility to study the need to see if there is a traffic congestion problem on 9A. It will go nowhere because there is no funding available for any of this.

Mr Feiner has included the Villages of Ardsley and Elmsford into the fray. Both of these villages are suffering because of the building that has taken place throughout the Town. What he doesn't address is the already congested traffic throughout the Town and the two mega-proposals in the north-end of the Unincorporated Town north of Elmsford at the old Union Carbide property. His press release, dutifully reprinted by the Examiner, says that the Town has $4.3 million dollars in a 9A Bypass Fund collected from new real estate taxes from new developments, but doesn't say what its availability of designated uses might be. We're back to that Aunt you kissed earlier. Its like her telling you she has put money aside for you when she dies, and then doesn't die anytime soon. Its nice but doesn't do you any good.

Saying you're for something is okay. Unfortunately, Mr Feiner is for everything with little action toward anything except providing for his developer friends and donors. Now that the shooting range has been closed, the bloated budget is done, the 10% salary increases for all elected officials complete, the verdict for Fortress Bible Church rendered, WestHelp still unoccupied costing us $1.2M/year, the Frank's Nursery property languishing, Brightview Assisted Living underway, Dromore Road dragging on, the Ferncliff School relocation gone, the Finneran Law changed with no sports bubbles, Midway Shopping Center expansion before the Town, the Trader Joe's expansion painfully lumbering on, the Landmark at Eastview 100+acres proposal starting to see the light of day, the fire consolidation scheme doing its damage, flooding in low lying areas still not addressed, racism at Town Hall unchecked, paving of Deli Delicious' entire property approved, and the Greenburgh Daily Voice turned over to Mr Feiner for his unfettered use, why shouldn't Mr Feiner do what he does best and add to the obsfuscation with a 9A Corridor Bypass to the mix?

 It's time for real leadership in Greenburgh. The stranglehold of political leverage is slowly proving why one-party rule, lack of ideas, and one voice is not good for our Town. The willfully ignorant must change and become involved. Our Town must change. Only then will we start to see A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Town Drags Feet On Equity Taxing Proposal

It started quite auspiciously, even if disingenuous, as an attack against a good man in the Fairview Fire Department. That attack has morphed into a deflection movement that has accomplished what Mr Feiner had set out to do. He needed to take focus away from his newly proposed Town budget and the gaping holes created by Mr Feiner with the $6.5 million fine, $5.5 million not covered by insurance, the lack of $1.2 million per year by the intentional non-renewal of the WestHelp contract, the loss of an offer for $3.5 million plus unlimited cleanup for the former Frank’s Nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road, Dromore Road, Midway Shopping Center, to name a few. Why hasn’t this fire monitor group expanded their scope and begun a study about Town-wide spending, budgets, largess and lawsuit failures? ABG believes Mr Feiner is behind this deflection move to consolidate only two of the three paid fire departments in the Town, utilizing resident Milt Hoffman as his surrogate, to keep any and all focus away from his failings with Town finances.

While fire consolidation has generated quite a buzz, it is also a disingenuous proposal because it only includes two of the three paid departments. Milt Hoffman, a close friend and confidant of Mr Feiner, continues to bemoan the savings that could be had. Yet, the numbers presented by both the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Chiefs don’t support Mr Hoffman's claims, nor does the now-outdated fire consolidation report Mr Hoffman helped pen and often refers. Who is monitoring the monitors?

However, ABG believes some good has come from this fire district scrutiny.

One problem that was highlighted is the date of the elections for the Board of Fire Commissioners, which is dictated by New York State law, not local or County law. The Fairview, Hartsdale and Greenville Board of Fire Commissioners elections are mandated by NY State to be held on the second Tuesday of December. The law also mandates minimum voting hours from 6pm until 9pm. The Fairview Board of Fire Commissioners extended the hours from 5pm until 9pm and are currently investigating ways to expand the hours of voting. One issue is the people working the polls are contracted by the Fire District and all work “regular” jobs. In a discussion with a Board member, ABG learned they are addressing the expansion of voting hours and hope to expand them for this years election. ABG believes this would be a step forward for residents and the District.

Another proposal submitted to the Town Board on May 21, 2014 on behalf of the three fire districts has languished since its submission. The proposal was written on behalf of the three fire districts by Hartsdale Chief Ed Rush. It partially addresses high fire taxes for the districts as well as the tax-exempt properties not paying their fair share for services they take advantage of but are not required to pay for. Simply, the proposal addresses the fact that each fire district pays “rent” for the use of fire hydrants and water in the Town. 

The hydrant/water rental charges in 2013 was $163,530 for Hartsdale, $253,590 for Fairview and $137,460 in Greenville. The proposal references NYS Assembly and Senate bills A4086-A and S5278-A, respectively, allowing municipalities that purchase water from private water companies to allocate the cost of maintaining fire hydrant infrastructure to all customers. Translation? Instead of water costs being paid by only the 52% of taxpayers in these fire districts on only their fire protection tax bills, 100% of the residents who use water in the Town (everybody) and receive a water bill would be paying for water usage and hydrant rentals throughout the Town - including the tax exempts! This will not cause a dramatic lowering of the 52%-ers fire protection taxes, but it does begin the address the non-payment for services rendered by tax-exempts. 

In the Fairview Fire District, 48% of the properties are tax-exempt. That means 52% of the resident taxpayers pay 100% of the taxes, allowing for the tax exempts to get a free ride whenever there is a Fire, Police, or EMS emergency. Our paid-for-by-52%-responders go to the scene and perform their jobs as though these people paid taxes. And, no one has a problem with that. The police department personnel respond to police related events; the fire department responds to their respective fire, ems and other events and EMS personnel respond, often seeking aid from volunteer EMS agencies from the villages. One little-known fact is that the Villages pay for paramedic services to the Town provided by Greenburgh Police. Again, the tax-exempts do not pay for this service, the 52%-ers do!

Mr Hoffman’s group seemed surprised when Chief Rush brought this proposal up at a meeting held at Town Hall with the fire monitors. The audience queried why the Town has not acted on this? Chief Rush mentioned he did not know but had just sent a follow-up email to the Town Board asking for a response. The Problem Solver did not reply. In a separate email forwarded to ABG from a resident, Mr Feiner stated to a resident who inquired about it that he had given the letter to the legal department and to the Water Advisory Board to "investigate". While this sounds logical to the willfully ignorant voter, ABG believes it is another rope-a-dope by Mr Feiner in hopes he can continue the ruse of fire consolidation, garnering more headlines and media time. Sadly, while everyone is clamoring for savings for the beleaguered taxpayer in Greenburgh, someone has finally done something tangible and the Town won’t act. ABG believes it is a step in the right direction and should be implemented immediately!

Fairview Fire Chief Reiss also proposed a $10 student fee be attached to Westchester Community College students’ tuition that would help offset costs for all the fire and EMS calls they respond to at the WCC campus. Here, however it becomes a bit more involved because WCC is part of the state university system and this fee would need to be approved at the state level. Why hasn’t Mr Feiner reached out to his two state buddies and ask them for help? Another idea a residents suggested is to have the Fire District charge tax-exempts properties for fire inspections. Charging for false alarms might add another revenue stream for Fire Districts to raise income. The police department charges for burglary/security false alarms after a certain amount of false alarms have been generated. While ABG likes the fire inspection fee idea, we understand the state prohibits charging for fire false alarms because they are considered "life safety" alarms. However, ABG believes this is worth investigating and if the same component failures are what’s generating an alarm, that fines be levied to force compliance to remedy the defect – with the penalty money going to the fire district.

It would seem that equity of payments for services would be something Mr Feiner would be championing for the taxpayers he continues to abuse. Instead, he shrinks away from helping the people he was elected to serve. Perhaps its time to elect someone else who will represent the residents over the developers. Maybe then we will see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire Monitors "Facts" Faulty

There’s a deflective move to consolidate services in Greenburgh. In ABG’s opinion it is a disingenuous scheme that was proven out during a meeting held the night of July 16th. According to their email blast, the Fire Monitors were holding an “important meeting” with Fire Chiefs Howard Reiss and Edward Rush of the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Departments, respectively. Both Chiefs have been meeting often with community organizations, various groups and residents to explain their side of the consolidation debate. Ironically, Mr Feiner has started this phony debate as a means of focusing attention away from himself and the poor job he is doing managing the Town’s finances.

First, ABG supports consolidation of services, purchasing, equipment, and expertise whenever and wherever possible. Second, the Villages in the Town of Greenburgh long ago formed a purchasing consortium back in the early 2000’s. In fact, while the Villages were all trying to control costs and expenses for their residents, the Town, under the now-22 year stewardship of Mr Feiner, simply refused to participate. Why is no one monitoring how the Town is spending money and only targeting one portion of our taxes? Third, a Town-wide consolidation, instead of cherry-picking districts within the Town to possibly consolidate, makes more sense and might produce much more savings and rewards for taxpayers. But since this was a scam to begin with, it isn’t being offered. Politically, Mr Feiner cannot gain as much traction as he can with a few buzzwords and the help of the media so hence, the fire consolidation hysteria.

What was noticeably missing at this meeting were the Fairview Fire Commissioners and the Hartsdale Fire Commissioners. There was one Hartsdale Fire Commissioner present who remained silent in the back of the room listening to what was being said. Why would this group of self-appointed “monitors” only invite the Chiefs and not the Commissioners to this “important meeting”? The Commissioners are the decision makers for anything and everything budgetary for these districts. Plus, the Chiefs work for them and can certainly discuss much, but not everything. They simply cannot answer every question raised. Could it be because these monitors are not interested in gaining real and accurate answers and only propagating their own – vis-à-vie Mr Feiner’s – agenda? How can we be so sure? Any evidence presented was met with resistance.

During the meeting, the group’s leader Milt Hoffman, repeatedly maintained that each Chief could do away with their own secretary/assistant and both could share just one. This would save one of the districts an assistant’s salary. While his statement sounded plausible, Chief Rush sternly interrupted him, stating he does not, nor has he or the Chief before him, ever had an administrative assistant, noting he has told Mr Hoffman this before. Chief Rush emphatically stated if and when he needs administrative help, he turns to his firefighter dispatcher for that assistance when there are no alarms, a position Mr Hoffman also seeks to eliminate. Chief Rush then detailed a number of reasons to keep the dispatching system in place as is and why it works well. Mr Hoffman, like Mr Feiner, threw an unsubstantiated dollar amount out, saying the department could save $400,000 a year by moving dispatching from within the department(s) to Westchester County’s Department of Emergency Service’s Dispatch Center, known in the fire service as 60 Control. Chief Rush, also a Certified Public Accountant dismissed the number as just plain wrong.

Chief Reiss stated that he does not have an assistant and so far does a lot of the administrative work himself. Regardless, Mr Hoffman refused to back down insisting they both had secretaries. Both Chiefs reiterated he was wrong. ABG isn’t sure how many in the room were from this ad hoc Consolidation Committee, but even audience members were correcting Mr Hoffman each time he volunteered incorrect information. It just seemed as though Mr Hoffman had made up his mind, probably with coaching from Mr Feiner, and regardless of any facts that may be presented, would be unwilling to concede on any points.

One resident, a former police officer-turned-firefighter in Town stated to Mr Hoffman and the group that once you put this consolidation referendum out for a vote, it will be a fait accompli. Explaining further, he said if after the referendum passes, we later determine it is too costly, don’t like it, are not saving enough money, whatever it is, we are stuck with it and there’s no going back! Mr Hoffman disagreed at which point almost everyone in the room beyond his two or three steadfast supporters, shouted out that he was wrong. He stammered. Then, he said it can be undone. Again the crowd reacted vociferously against him. Clearly shaken, he began back-pedaling. Then he said, “That’s why we need a study.” A study? That’s never been part of this agenda push.

This was the first mention of a study by Mr Hoffman or anyone else from this committee. The reality however, is that he isn’t interested in any study, which was confirmed by Mr Feiner at the last Town Board meeting when Mr Feiner said there will be a meeting (meaning this one) and then the public will decide, meaning referendum. Mr Feiner is the master at parsing words. Keep in mind that Mr Feiner is not affected by this consolidation because his gated community home is protected by an all-volunteer fire department.

Fire taxes are based on a number of factors, such as the valuation of your home, its location and whether you have a fire hydrant nearby, an installed sprinkler system, a paid or volunteer fire department to name a few of those factors. All of these contribute to how much money per thousand dollars of valuation on your home you will pay in fire taxes. Mr Feiner lives in an area protected by a volunteer fire department. His fire taxes are about $15/thousand versus our $150/thousand. Do the math and you’ll see that with or without consolidation, he loses nothing while he forces the rest of us to pay dearly.

Mr Hoffman made several outlandish statements regarding the fire departments and their assumed largess. Both Chiefs were quick to respectfully point out Mr Hoffman’s inaccuracies as well as his referencing of outdated information from the 2010 fire consolidation study he participated in – which concluded that a consolidation would not generate savings for the taxpayers! Mr Hoffman also tried to describe the inner workings of 60 Control and the dispatch system they use and the service they provide to the fire community. Chief Rush certainly understands how 60 Control works, as his father Chief Raymond Rush, helped create the facility and was the first County Fire Coordinator to run the Valhalla facility when it opened in 1973.

A resident asked how the committee plans to pay for this consolidation study. Mr Hoffman insisted the two fire departments would be getting grants for the study. Chief Reiss deferred to Chief Rush who explained he had looked into grant monies from the state for consolidation studies. And, even though there may be grant money available next year, it would require matching funds and numerous conditional concessions from the Fire Districts. The resident asked what the cost was for the matching funds per district and the answer provided was about $25,000 per district. Several audience members protested. Mr Hoffman again stated the Fire Districts can surely find $25,000 in their bloated budgets. Both Chiefs emphatically stated they didn’t have the money Mr Hoffman believes they have, adding the numbers don't lie. Mr Hoffman denied what they said. Why? Because he’s not interested in facts! They also pointed out that the union contracts, redistricting and more will consume and generate mammoth legal fees for the taxpayers and not yield the results being touted by Mr Hoffman, Mr Feiner and this committee.

The illogical and incorrect information being propagated to the public continues to go unchallenged by most in the media and Town. As this meeting began to devolve with Mr Hoffman babbling nonsense to try to make his ill-conceived and erroneous points, he began alienating portions of his crowd who had come to this meeting sympathetic toward consolidation. They began to leave, effectively ending the meeting lacking cohesion to move their consolidation agenda forward. Interestingly, when Mr Hoffman was the Opinion editor for a daily newspaper, he was always espousing the unions and their cause, especially within the paid fire departments, such as Yonkers, New Rochelle and Mt Vernon. He met with them regularly and unabashedly wrote of their meritorious points. Why now has he changed his tune and why is he going after the Fairview and Hartsdale union firefighters?

This is not over. We’re pretty sure Mr Hoffman will meet or talk with Mr Feiner asking for tips as to how to proceed. If, and its a very big if, there is genuine interest in consolidation, the fire districts can announce they will perform the study next year, put in for grant money and take charge over this debacle. Mr Feiner has stirred another pot of deflection to remove himself from the firing line already poised by his critics. The Fire Districts need to slow down this reckless and costly imposition onto the willfully ignorant before any irrevocable damage has been done. Will the Town kick in any greenbacks since they are the ones forcing this ill-fated fiasco? Probably not. So how can we stop this steamroller from crushing the taxpayers? By getting involved and changing the leadership within the Town. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Feiner Admits To Altering Official Town Recording

Many residents have a love/hate relationship with Greenburgh. On the one hand, we love being proven right. On the other hand, we hate being proven right. Mr Feiner has openly admitted on the website called "Greenburgh Update" that he "just posted an unedited tape" of the Town Board meeting recording. You'll recall we exposed and published what we believed to be was a doctored recording after discovering the deletion of the negative comments made about Mr Feiner by former Town Supervisor candidate and opponent, Robert Bernstein. As seen in the screen capture admission of his post below, Mr Feiner states:

Note: Whenever we catch Mr Feiner in a lie, he'll routinely say what we've uncovered and exposed is not true.

Numerous individuals contacted ABG after we first broke the story about the edited version of Mr Bernstein's public comments. They were wondering if this could be a technical "glitch" or was actually done on purpose? Our rationale was since this has happened before, we were not as forgiving and believed it to be on purpose. By whom? That's the million dollar question. It certainly could have been a glitch. But with our Town Board openly lying to residents, routinely doing back room deals with developers and keeping residents in the dark on so many issues, is it any wonder we're skeptical?

You'll recall a short time back that approximately fifteen or so minutes of Commissioner William Carter's discussion of the Theodore Young Community Center (TYCC) budget were deleted after Mr Carter made an unintended comment about the Lanza Foundation being Mr Feiner's "Golden Goose". While the comment wasn't that derogatory or intended as an insult, deleting the Carter portion of the recording was worse than leaving it uncensored and risk the Lanza's viewing it. After the G10 created an uproar about it, the Town replaced the edited recording with the unedited version. We believe the same thing is happening here.

During the last Town Board meeting, held on a Tuesday instead of the normal Wednesday night, much was said by the public about the altering of Mr Bernstein's public comments in the Town's official video record of the meeting. ABG staffers continued the debate that if the recording was edited, what were those who authorized or did the editing thought the benefit might be? Town Clerk Judith Beville insisted an internal investigation by SwagIt proved that the error had been on their part. ABG has FOILed the report from SwagIt. But from what we heard Ms Beville read at the Town Board meeting, it seems far from over. 

The Town Board meeting seemed contentious as the public wasn't buying what Ms Beville was feeding them. She insisted that the investigation and the matter is considered closed, reading excerpts from the report as Mr Feiner hastily moved to adjourn the meeting while she spoke. As we have all witnessed before with our government officials, they deny everything when caught and as more information is uncovered and the truth eventually surfaces, they begin to change their tune. Will the truth win out? Is Ms Beville hiding something? It'll be hard to find out the truth, after all, this is Greenburgh. We'll forge on and hope to uncover what happened. Until then, resident/taxpayers must remain diligent, involved and critical of what is taking place in our Town. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lies Fueled Media Blitz at Work Session

This was no ordinary Work Session for the Town Board. Quite the contrary. The front of the Town Hall auditorium was jammed with reporters and camera crews. Mr Feiner wanted to take advantage of what would be his media event and he did just that. Normally, Town Board work sessions take place at the floor level but because of today’s circus event atmosphere, the Town Board members present (only three) sat in their usual elevated seats on the dais. When ABG asked several of the other speakers if they had alerted the media, they all said they did not.

Mr Feiner opened the meeting saying the first order would be the proposed legislation known as the Proposed Shooting Range Ordinance. The ordinance was penned by Edgemont Resident and civic leader Robert Bernstein. What was later uncovered by Mr Bernstein when he was questioned about a specific section by Mr Sheehan, was the audience was not given the latest version of the bill nor did the Town Board have the latest copy. When you shoot from the hip too often, you can get used to working in a sloppy manner. This seems to be a common occurrence with our Town officials more and more.

Mr Feiner postured several times and stumbled to exhort a coherent thought that the media might be able to use “on air”. However he seemed quite pellucid after he openly lied, saying he had no desire to close down the Ardsley Road Shooting Range. At the Town Board meeting held on June 26th, he pandered to the residents from Ardsley Chase and said numerous times that he would like to see this shooting range closed! The audience, not knowing how Mr Feiner will say whatever he needs to get by unscathed, or out of a jam applauded voluminously – several times.

At the Work Session, more closely resembling a press conference, media savvy Mr Feiner got his sound byte. He stated that he didn't want to close the shooting rangeand he is only concerned about is “Safety, safety, safety.” That was a lie! Mr Feiner would later capitulate after openly lying to everyone and say both sides need to work together. Actually, that is the one factual piece of truth. Councilman Kevin Morgan said at the meeting that the request to study other areas if the Town came from the Town. Again, not true. ABG is in possession of emails showing the information had been requested of the Town Board, the Town Attorney and Mr Feiner by Mr Bernstein before the draft legislation was to be officially proposed! 

Mr Sheehan raised numerous questions about the draft legislation and was the only Town Board member present to do so. There were only three Town Board members present as Council members Jones and Juettner were absent. Mr Sheehan’s comments also alluded that Mr Bernstein statements were untrue and the emails ABG has indicate this was quite the opposite of what happened. ABG believes it was premature to introduce any legislation before the investigation was concluded, but maintain Mr Bernstein was acting in good faith in spite of being unable to get accurate and truthful information from the Town Board. 

This never should have been allowed to escalate the way it did and become an issue before  this politically challenged Town Board. The residents of Ardsley Chase (and surrounding area), the Range owners, Con Ed and Toll Brothers should have been the only ones holding any meetings and discussions.

Mr Feiner is in Deflection Mode once again and has another hot-button topic that ensures he will get more media coverage and more importantly, media coverage away from the Fortress Bible Church guilty verdict that is costing taxpayers $6.5 million, $5.5 which is not covered by insurance because Mr Feiner, Ms Juettner and the Town were found guilty of discrimination in federal court! This debacle is no where near seeing any light at the end of any tunnel. At the last Town Board meeting, the Board approved spending roughly $17 million dollars through bonds. Light of day? Hah! Darkness is all that can be seen for the beleaguered taxpayers of Greenburgh. Once the shooting range has been forgotten, Mr Feiner will start anew. Its time for the taxpayers to start anew by changing who is chosen to represent us. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Con Ed To Close Outdoor Shooting Range By Terminating Lease

Without facts, without cause and without regard to the livelihoods of those employed at the Westchester County Police Revolver & Rifle Range in Ardsley, Consolidated Edison capitulated to public hysteria and has decided to terminate their lease with the shooting range located on Ardsley Road. In an email alert just sent to constituents, but not the ABG offices, we’ve learned that Mr Feiner has been in secret communications with the Vice President of ConEd. Although, he doesn’t identify this VP by name – a standard ploy used often by Mr Feiner, Mr Feiner claims the following: 

“I received a call from the Vice President of Con Ed a short time ago advising me that Con Ed plans to terminate the lease with the gun range on Ardsley Road, effective in 30 days. They will continue to communicate with local law enforcement and officials during this transition.”

You’ll recall a woman who lives in the new Ardsley Chase development, where home costs range from $1.2M and up, was hit by a fragment of what is alleged to be a bullet. Town Board speculation, as well as some home owners, believe it came from the range. The range is in the bottom portion of what used to be a rock quarry. Anti-gun and anti-shooting activists have not entertained other causes for this yet-to-be-identified piece of metal. Was it fired from the range or somewhere else? A logical supposition could be someone with a small handgun from the nearby ConEd power lines discharged their weapon. Or, could something have landed on this woman’s leg and she bent down and unknowingly picked up a piece of metal instead of what hit her? Possibly. We don’t doubt she was struck by something nor do we believe she is making this up or is not credible.

While the police are investigating this matter, other residents have notified the police that bullet fragments have been found on their property. When were these found? Were complaints or reports filed with the police department? Our point is simple, while we believe the woman in question felt something strike her, Mr Feiner found another political deflection to garner attention away from him and his administration for his failings in Town leadership.

The Town’s budget will have a $3.4% tax increase – under the NYS 2% Tax Cap. The residents are being forced to pay the balance of $5.5 million not covered by insurance for the guilty verdict fine of $6.5 million in the Fortress Bible Church Discrimination lawsuit. The Town has lost $1.2 million per year while Mr Feiner lets the Westhelp property languish in ruin to garner a few more votes from Ardsley. The list is endless.

The Town should not have gotten involved in this case until all the parties had sat down and were unable to iron out the issues. Mr Feiner lied at yesterdays meeting when he said he didn’t want to shut the shooting range down. Not only did he say he wanted it shut down at a previous Town Board meeting, to thunderous applause from the Ardsley Chase residents, but he said it at subsequent meetings as well. In fact, he sent letters out to residents suggesting how they could have it shut down. This way he can continue to say he didn’t want it closed. Lies from our elected officials, guilty verdicts from our elected officials and fines that taxpayers are forced to pay for from our elected officials must end! Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Staples Shuttered; CVS to Move In

Shuttered Staples store as of July 5th at
Tarrytown Rd & Old Kensico Road.

After announcing several months ago of the impending closure of the Staples store at the corner of Rt 119 and Old Kensico Roads, the Staples organization finally put the key in the lock and turned it one final time. The nearest Staples store for the neighborhood is in Elmsford or all the way down Central Avenue in the same shopping center as Racconelli's (formerly Pizza & Brew) and TGI Fridays. Food establishments seem to fair better than other types of retail ones in Greenburgh.

You may recall the property was a restaurant called The Ground Round which succumbed to a fire and was subsequently torn down. Then, an upscale store named Conran's moved into the space, similar to what we have now with Crate and Barrel or Pier One. After that was CompUSA, the computer superstore, who signed a twenty-year lease - only they didn't make it that long. When Staples moved in, the property was cleaned up and added a nice touch to the neighborhood. Soon, CVS, will renovate and open another one of their stores here. CVS is a chain of pharmacy/convenience stores that originated in Rhode Island as the Consumer Value Store.

ABG spoke to a Staples executive under the promise of anonymity to find out why this store was closing. Simply, they weren't bringing in the revenue that was expected or comparable to other Staples stores. Retail sales were suffering as residents from the area also purchased more supplies online, usually with free shipping/delivery. Another complaint was there were numerous obstacles and fees in place from the Town of Greenburgh, making it more difficult than other areas to operate a retail store. He added closing or moving the operation was the path of least resistance for them.

In anticipation of closing numerous stores, Staples also shut down their distribution center in Port Chester and laid off their delivery drivers. They switched to the latest fad which is to offer them their old job, at less money, and work as independent contractors to the company. The problem with that, he said, was most of those workers were not highly paid to the point where they could afford to purchase and operate their own trucks, doing per diem deliveries.

Sadly, we've said this before about businesses in our Town, but once again another one bites the dust. Once our Town Board begins to understand what it takes to run a business and stops the incessant taxation through fees, fines and regulations, maybe then we can start to see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Town To Spend Over $12+ Million Tuesday Night

Tuesday night promises to be a bonanza of spending of taxpayers money beyond their control and worst nightmares. It promises to also be a gravy train to contractors based on the agenda that is posted on the Town's website.

First up under Decision heading, shown below, is the Town's increase in taxes through rate increases for Water and Sewers. Of course the Town budget promises another tax increase when they pass the budget. Mr Feiner will posture that the Board stayed under the 2% NYS tax cap at 3.4%. The mainstream media will validate whatever he says. We hope the Town Comptroller attends this meeting, but this time comes prepared to actually provide answers to the public’s questions and doesn’t say, ”I don’t know and will have to get back to you.” 

- To consider the Proposed 2014 Capital Budget and the 2015-2016 Capital Plan of the Town of Greenburgh. The capital budget was released to the public on May 28th.
- To consider a proposed increase and improvement of the facilities of the Town's Consolidated Water District
- To consider a proposed increase and improvement of the facilities of the Town's Consolidated Sewer District.

Next up under the heading of Supervisor is an ongoing and pending controversy coming from the Town Board, where the Town Board plans to condone anti-trust actions in Greenburgh by approving a request of the remaining three automotive dealerships left in Greenburgh on Central Avenue to block any competition from coming in through the adoption of this law(below). Many have fought to stop this debacle but since the attorneys for the three car dealerships have made the case, Mr Feiner wants this passed and so it will be. These attorneys also represent numerous developers friends of Mr Feiner in the Town. What passing this change does is keep any other auto dealer from gaining access or participating in selling or repairing automobiles on Central Avenue. Here's what it says on the agenda:

Introduction of Local Law amending Section 285-29.1 of Chapter 285 of the Code of the Town of Greenburgh entitled “Zoning,” to allow owners of pre-existing motor vehicle sales uses, motor vehicle sales lots and accessory motor vehicle repair facilities in the Central Avenue Mixed-Use Impact District to apply for a special use permit from the Town Board to alter and/or expand existing facilities.

Of course, the "mother lode" on the agenda of what taxpayers will be forced to pay for is a plethora of bond issues that total 25 expenditures by our count. This doesn't include the three-quarters of a million dollars in certiorari refunds to also be voted upon Tuesday night. The certiorari refunds are due to (mostly) businesses challenging their tax assessments. Since revaluation has never been done for the 22 years Mr Feiner has been in office, the Town, schools, fire districts, sewer districts, etc., are compelled to refund the money. So when Mr Feiner complains about the high salaries of other employees, whether they are Town employees or not, he is disingenuously trying to deflect attention away from what he is costing the taxpayers.

Here's a list of what will be presented, ultimately voted upon and wonder what this is going to cost us:
COMPTROLLER – 993-1528

- CO 1 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $5,100,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Increase and Improvements of the Facilities of the Town's Consolidated Water District in said Town

- CO 2 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuances of $500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Increase and Improvement of the Facilities of the Town's Consolidated Sewer District in said Town

- CO 3 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $1,000,000 bond of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Employment of Experts to Assist in a Program of Revaluation of Real Property, in and for said Town

- CO 4 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $100,000 bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of a Comprehensive Engineering Study to Replace the Falling Timber Retaining Wall at the Highway Garage, in and for said Town

- CO 5 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of LED Street Lighting at Various Locations in the Town

- CO 6 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $154,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay cost of the Acquisition of Computer Servers, Routers and other Equipment and Software for various Town Administrative Purposes, in and for said Town

- CO 7 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $250,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York to pay the cost of the Construction or Reconstruction of Various Sidewalks or Curbs, in and for said Town

- CO 8 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $223,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition and Installation of Communication or Transmission Systems Improvements, in and for said Town

- CO 9 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $64,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Equipment and Vehicles for use by Various Town Departments, in and for said Town

- CO 10 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $45,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of a Fire Suppression System for the Ammunition Room at Police Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 11 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $80,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Installation of Guide Rails at Various Locations Along Town Roads, in and for said Town

- CO 12 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $50,367 Bonds for the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Various Equipment for Installation or Use in Town Buildings, in and for said Town

- CO 13 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $134,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition of Various Replacement Passenger Vehicles to Replace Similar Vehicles in Service for Three Years or More, or in the Case of Police or Fire Vehicles, One Year or More, in and for said Town

- CO 14 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $350,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition and Installation of Drain Pipe and Related Drainage Improvements Along Old Saw Mill River Road, in and for said Town

- CO 15 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $350,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Acquisition of an Automated Refuse Collection Vehicle, in and for said Town

- CO 16 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $175.000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Construction of a Retaining Wall at the Police Department Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 17 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $870,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Equipment and Vehicles for Use by Various Town Departments, in and for said Town

- CO 18 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $130,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Improvements to the Town of Greenburgh Library, Including Installation of a Supplemental Boiler and Modification of the Circular Flower Bed, in and for said Town

- CO 19 - 7/08/14
A Resolution authorizing the issuance of $92,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of improvements to the Police Department Headquarters, in and for said Town

- CO 20 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $155,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Improvements to the Town Court House, in and for said Town

- CO 21 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $25,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the purchase of Traffic Signal Transfer Switches, in and for said Town

- CO 22 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $50,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Replacement of Doors and Related Reconstruction Work at the Lois Bronz Facility, in and for said Town

- CO 23 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $1,500,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of the Resurfacing of Various Town Roads, in and for said Town

- CO 24 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $45,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Security Enhancements and Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Improvements to the Department of Public Works Facility, in and for said Town

- CO 25 - 7/08/14
Resolution authorizing the issuance of $162,000 Bonds of the Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, to pay the cost of Various Improvements for the Greenburgh Nature Center, in and for said Town

The fact that Mr Feiner has lumped all of these expenses into one summertime meeting for a total bond expenditure of $12+ million is wrong. Keep in mind this doesn’t include the money for paying the fine for the $6.5M* Fortress Bible Church discrimination guilty verdict! With it, the total is $17.5+ million! It's a clever ploy to ensure the path of least resistance for himself and the Board by scheduling all of this during the summer months and after a big holiday weekend.

ABG hopes to see more than the G10 and many more residents come out and speak against this. Without having enough time to evaluate all of these, and knowing Mr Feiner has at least a three-to-two vote to move these forward, all we can think about is the military term BOHICA**. It’s a shame taxpayers must be treated this way by their elected officials. But, as the willfully ignorant, they allow it. It’s time for them to go. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

* $1M is covered by Town insurance. However, since Mr Feiner was found guilty of discrimination, destroying evidence and lying under oath in Federal Court, the insurance policy does not have to pay the remainder of the guilty verdict fine of $5.5M – the Unincorporated taxpayers must.
** Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Town Continues Video Cover-Up!

In our post on Thursday, June 26, 2014, entitled Town Edits-Out Incriminating News From Official Town Board Video Record, we detailed what transpired with the official video recording of the Town Board meeting. During Edgemont resident Robert Bernstein's time at the podium, the former candidate for Supervisor against Mr Feiner shared information about the Toll Brothers high-end development called Ardsley Chase, the known shooting range adjacent to it and donations to Mr Feiner's campaign war chest while Toll Brothers had applications before the Town. To the uninitiated, this is business as usual in the 80th Best Place To Live. To the regulars and developers, its just another day in Gotham.

If you listen carefully to the video on our previous post of Mr Bernstein, what he said in the live meeting was deleted in the officially posted video. On the officially posted Town video you can only hear him say, “...was one of the largest financial con...Toll Brothers application was pending.” The gap in the video was created to remove the reference that Mr Bernstein made about Mr Feiner receiving campaign contributions from Toll Brothers while they had applications before the Town! Faces in the audience showed shock and dismay. Many of those residents were "first-timers" to the Town Board meeting and were unaware of Mr Feiner's unethical behavior. They were stunned as they learned Mr Feiner accepted money from a developer while they had applications pending with the Town.

During his 3-minute time at the microphone, Mr Bernstein actually 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.” Those in attendance heard Mr Bernstein loud and clear. In fact, since most developers working in the Town knew this was acceptable and possibly even encouraged, it got so bad that the Ethics Committee was tasked to address it. Watching the video tape afterwards provided an unsettling realization that our elected leaders could not be trusted. Did "they" doctor the video again? Once might be a mistake, but twice is more than a coincidence.

You may recall the meeting with the Town Board and Theodore Young Community Center Commissioner William Young, where he detailed the TYCC's budgetary needs. During the course of discussion he made a comment about the Lanza Foundation and how the Town would not want to upset the Golden Goose. A day later that fifteen-minute section of the video tape mysteriously disappeared from the official video record of the meeting. How could that be? Upon questioning at the following Town Board meeting, Town Clerk Judith Beville said they would investigate what might have happened. The final excuse offered was that an intern deleted that section of the video. That lie was provided as they could not, or would not, disclose the real cause for the deleted section. The video is streamed over the internet live and during the live stream, the signal is sent/picked up by SwagIt, the video company that segments the video and supplies it online for the Town. An intern would be unable to alter the streaming video SwagIt receives.

Much speculation was made at that time as to what might have happened. Could the Town videographer, George Malone, have made the change? No, he was out of town on vacation. Could it have been the intern? Doubtful, as they cannot edit the streaming video that goes to SwagIt. Could Judith Beville, who is the overseer and manager of the video department have made the changes? Possibly, but no one was able to confirm her knowledge of the software used by the video department. Ultimately, something happened to cause Mr Carter's portion of the official video recording of the meeting to be deleted and now Mr Bernstein's portion has been deleted. The Town contacted SwagIt who was able to supply the Town a corrected version for the Bill Carter incident. Will they be able to do the same thing again and replace Mr Bernstein's deleted comments? As of this posting, the deleted official Town video record of the meeting is still missing from the Town's website. Why?

There are many critics of the Town. In fact, the G10 are suspect of many of Mr Feiner and his Town Board's actions based on their past history of "skirting" the fine line between right and wrong. They have also blatantly fallen on the wrong side of many issues. The Fortress Bible Church decision is one that originates from 2007 and is costing Unincorporated Greenburgh $6.5M - money we simply don't have. How much money has the Town lost through the actions, inactions and questionable actions of this group of elected officials? Its time for a change. It's time to get elected officials willing to clearly and steadfastly act on behalf of the taxpayers first and everyone else second. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate this 4th of July, we hope everyone will 
give pause and thanks to reflect on the sacrifices made 
by the few to provide us with so much throughout the years. 
God bless America!