Saturday, August 23, 2014

Consolidation Deflection Plus

Recently there was a private meeting with the self-appointed Fairview Fire Monitors and the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Chiefs along with Mr Feiner. Why would Mr Feiner be participating? Because they aren't really self-appointed, he is the catalyst behind the Fire Monitor group, pulling their strings, if you will, and making sure all the headlines and faux issues deflect attention away from his mismanagement of the Town. This isn't the first time the Master Deflector has done this.

More scrutiny of the Town and actions of its employees is not only necessary, but imperative given the constant illegal actions of Mr Feiner. The change of venue with the former news website, the Greenburgh Daily Voice has given Mr Feiner carte blanche to write anything he wants directly onto the site with little or no fact checking. So, in spite of an outdated and cumbersome Town website where Mr Feiner has free reign, he now has the ability to amplify his mantra, usually poised to benefit someone other than the taxpayers.

The Fire Monitor group is just another example of his control of the issues behind the scenes and ultimately the media. Case in point, when it was time for the Town Board to vote on the budget, he kicked up the high fire taxes as his deflection to hide the almost $17 million dollars in bonds that passed through the Town Board faster than a bullet fired from an outdoor shooting range. With the exception of the G10, there was no outrage with the budget passage. Nor was there even a mention about the Town's oft-touted superior AAA Bond Rating which Mr Feiner always boasts. This would have been a perfect opportunity to mention it, finally in the correct context. Instead, we get more duplicity from Town Hall.

Mr Feiner "kicked off" the fire tax issue when his own contaminated land sale debacle blew up after being brought to the public's attention by us and others with the former Frank's Nursery property. Mr Feiner desperately tried to gift the contaminated land to his friends from GameOn 365 with an illegal lease. When that illegal action was publicized and a lawsuit threatened, Mr Feiner backed down. When he tried to manipulate the sale to GameOn 365 for half the amount that was offered by Ardsley's House of Sports ($3.5M), an established and full functioning business, he incredulously blamed the public of bid rigging and it was their fault that the land sale fell through. Through it all, Mr Feiner knowingly withheld the fact that the Town never had clear title for the property he was trying to gift to his friends. The Town couldn't sell the contaminated property even if they had followed part of the law!
More recently, he has reneged on his offer with the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, as well as the public, to enforce the conditions for an auction of the former Frank's Nursery property to only qualified bidders who intend to use the property as residentially zoned. The Civic Association fought vehemently for this one provision. And, while Mr Feiner had actually insisted on Civic Association inclusion, at the eleventh hour Mr Feiner changed the bidding structure.

This latest twist means bidders will no longer be required to comply with existing residential zoning for the property allowing bids from any bidder, regardless of intended use and totally disregarding the neighborhood and its civic association's request for zoning adherence. According to Mr Feiner, it was a legal necessity. ABG believes the real reason is the structure he had originally put in place would have virtually guaranteed GameOn 365 not be a contender or even the winning bidder. More importantly, he wouldn't be able to control the outcome as a favorable one for GameOn 365. And Mr Feiner's end-game, no pun intended, is to deliver the contaminated property to GameOn 365, one way or another.

All of this is nothing more than deflection - period - taking attention away from the Town's budget fiasco(s). A financial source extremely close to Mr Feiner admitted that the next couple of Town budgets promise to be very painful for the Unincorporated taxpaying residents because of impending increases which will border on obscene. This tells us we should expect more deflection, whether it's a high-line park in Hudson River with the Tappan Zee Bridge, regulating gun ranges, developing and delaying adoption of Comprehensive Plans, withholding tax revenues collected by the Town for the fire department fom the fire department, collapsing park pools, or anti-Semitic charges against other Town employees. We're sure there will always be more to come from Mr Feiner to muddy the facts until he gets what he wants.

One final comment about the Fire Monitors sans Mr Feiner. They are in agreement with several civic association leaders and the fire chiefs that it is not necessary to push for a referendum to consolidate the two "cherry-picked" departments. Numerous residents and the Fire Commissioners, the Chiefs and their members proved with facts and figures that any savings that might be had initially would be short lived and ultimately more costly to the taxpaying public. Since both the Fairview and Hartsdale Fire Chiefs have been openly discussing the issues surrounding consolidation, and their efforts to control costs and expenses, the Monitors agree that the dialog is improved and a pause may be warranted. Perhaps a study about consolidation in the future will be requested and even done. ABG hopes it won't be a knee jerk reaction to another one of Mr Feiner's unqualified comments. We'll discuss this more in another post as necessary.

Greenburgh taxpayers take everything Mr Feiner does "on the chin" and more importantly, with their wallets. This must change. It requires a public that is not content to accept the meager bribes from the Town, or with phony certificates at Town Board meetings. It requires the residents to abandon their willfully ignorant status and become involved. It requires a certain amount of paying attention which our current crop of politicians count on the public to not do. Again, this needs to change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Greenburgh Isn't Russia?

A recent article in the New York Times described a fuel shortage is happening in North Korea. Apparently, they are suffering from a burgeoning class of new drivers, elevated from mere bicycles, which had been a staple of transportation for many years, to motorbikes of all sizes and styles. Compared to North Korea, South Korea is light years (pun intended) ahead of them. In fact, looking at the two Koreas via satellite, separated by the infamous "39th parallel", the stark differences between the two countries are readily obvious. In fact, above the 39th parallel, the north is mostly dark at night and the south is well-lit, unmistakenly enjoying their "bout" with capitalism.

While the north cracks down on this somewhat important status symbol of private motorcycle usage to conserve fuel, military and government officials are free to enjoy its usage at will. As government, even communist government is wont to do, it appears the average person suffers the most. These new restrictions, similar to what had taken place previously and not really "new" to anyone with half a memory of the Cold War, highlight their stunted economy and further highlights the pitfalls of government control.

One workaround for those who use their motorcycles, motorized bikes, and scooters for deliveries is to utilize the political bosses as "passengers". Hired to be passengers, allowing the purchase of fuel by the otherwise non-qualifying owner, it's a crafty, gray market-ish economy that has the politicos looking the other way. That is, unless they need fuel, at which point the North Korean Police will stop bikers to extort their fuel while pocketing extra cash.

In Russia, embargos and sanctions from around the world are beginning to be felt by their proletariat, or average person, who was already used to waiting on line for basic items and then some. I'm sure when Vladimir Putin needs a "joy roll", there's plenty waiting for him in the bathroom vanity wherever he choses to "cop a squat." His body guards must finally be happy there's an unintented benefit to putting up with all of his crappola. Who knows, there might even be a waiting list to get on his security detail just for the access to the essentials. Regardless of the select few with unfettered access, there's now a "Buy Russian" campaign for everyone else. ABG is sure many will be harkening back to the Cold War days when plentiful was not something for many in the eastern block. We even have the same thing going on with the New York State’s Empire Zone (EZ) program provides a variety of tax incentives to businesses expanding and creating jobs in targeted areas (known as Empire Zones) throughout New York State.

Our point in discussing this and specifically to government control over anything is how it relates to the average person, not the political elite. In the Town of Greenburgh, Mr Feiner and his Town Board pretty much pull all the strings, apply the grease to the wheels they want to see turn or keep the developers' motors running on all cylinders without regard to what the neighborhoods want. In the meantime, taxpaying residents must spend close to a year just trying to get approvals, permits, etc., to make small to medium changes to the homes they own and pay taxes on. Then their work process is drawn out awaiting approvals from the appropriate division (i.e. plumbing, electrical) within the building department. Its so bad for residents that many contractors refuse to do work in the Town, adding to an escalating cost and frustration for those who persevere. When questioned about this Mr Feiner falls back to his old standby claiming that residents are the perpetrators of bid rigging in the Town. When pushed and asked how residents could do this, he changes the subject, just doesn't answer or rambles on until you forget what the topic even was. he's quite adept at it.

For those who are enamored with our new healthcare system forced upon us by the President and a complicit Congress, we suggest watching what happens around us to see what's in store. One example that always comes to mind in the Veterans Administration that maintains hospitals, health care, and aid for our military veterans and how well the government doesn't do with it. We are constantly hearing of nightmare scenarios playing out for this relatively small portion of our population. Sadly, this is a microcosm of what we have decided to do to our health care system. Still not convinced?

The government runs many programs, most of which typically operate in the red. The Post Office, which was "privatized" in the 1980's, is an abject failure of glaring proportions. So much so that last year there was talk of them going "belly up". Why wouldn't they try to learn from FedEx before they imploded? We're not saying the people are bad, but there is no incentive to improve the service or process once you don the light blue shirt. How many times have you waiting on line to purchase stamps or ship something thinking, "Why is this taking so long? They're only selling stamps for crying out loud."

ABG staffers were in our lobby when the mail carriers arrived with the day's delivery. They opened the doors to the mailbox banks and proceeded to divvy out the mail. Upon finishing, they locked it all up and proceeded to leave without emptying the outgoing mail slot/box. Once might certainly be a coincidence - it happens. A quick query to the front desk personnel verified that not only is it a common occurrence, but they have to request the special key the building owns to open the mailbox!

Social Security, along with the infamous lock box that Vice President Al Gore promised us as the panacea to soothe our aging seniors trepidations as they got close to retirement. While the conversational box may have had a lock, its been raided yearly by politicians on both sides of the isle. And how about the classic example of the infamous Motor Vehicle Department and its lack of efficiency? Have you ever gone just to get an e-z pass? Its amazing the paperwork and identification you need to participate. Any of these agencies require it but some politicians want to allow illegal aliens the ability to vote, drive a motor vehicle, get DSS benefits and so on. Its out of control.

The Town of Greenburgh has a lot of issues. Some of them are important ones although not to the same scale as the federal government. Mr Feiner has made Greenburgh a "Sanctuary Town", meaning our police and fire personnel are not allowed to report multiple dwellers in single family homes, increase water usage, garbage and trash pickup, police services and more. He's turning our once vibrant Town into a mini third-world nation where rules and laws mean nothing to the chosen few. For real change to happen, the uninformed, willfully ignorant and apathetic resident must begin paying attention, attend meetings and be vociferous. The time is now! Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Comedian Robin Williams Dead at 63

Today, August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Emergency Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The resident, actor/comedian Robin Williams, was pronounced dead at 12:02 pm.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at home, where he lived with his wife, at about10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. He was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

When It Rains We Flood

A few months ago, the Fulton Park Civic Association met with our new Police Chief Chris McNerney and County Legislator Alfreda Williams about projected increases in parking and traffic from County Center events in this tiny and already heavily traffic-congested neighborhood. The Chief said he would meet with residents to find an acceptable method to control parking and try to keep the streets as open as possible for the neighbors. He sent a traffic officer to survey the area and discuss what could be done to help alleviate the congested neighborhoods already horrendus traffic congestion by limiting parking. Suggested temporary "No Parking" signs by the Chief were dismissed by the traffic officer as they can be ripped down by those parking their cars with the claim there was no signage there when the parked. So what does a neighborhood do?

In a subsequent conversation with the police chief, he said he would discuss this matter with the officer to attempt a resolution. Since the NY Knicks basketball team's minor league franchise is playing out of the County Center this coming basketball season, in addition to other events held each weekend at the same location, Fulton Park needs real relief. The Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board and Building Departments continue to approve and encourage increased development in the surrounding area, choking these residents off from access and egress from their own neighborhood. Let's hope the Police Chief truly can help them. You may also recall at several Town Board meetings during the Westhab debacle Mr Feiner repeatedly professed that he was going to prove to Fulton Park just how much he cared about them and that they were going to change their opinion of him. Not only has he proved how much he cares about Fulton Park, but the residents there anticipate more abandonment from Town Hall and specifically The Problem Solver.

Questions posed to Ms Williams were regarding any progress that might be made on the flooding issue by the County, specific to the Fulton Park neighborhood, but more importantly throughout the length of the Bronx River? She said that major progress had been made cleaning out the Saw Mill River on the other side of Town, but the Stormwater Advisory Committee appointed to address flooding had not even met during the last year. In fact, in a recent article published in the Journal News by Legislators George Latimer and Shelley Mayer, they're quoted as saying, "Unfortunately, to date, little has materialized." Its obvious.

No politician will get much news "cred" holding a press conference saying they were proactive about a problem that is plaguing more and more neighborhoods. Nope. But they will get a lot of press when they are out during and after a storm providing sound bytes, saying what's happening is terrible and we must reach out to blah, blah, blah. It sounds like Mr Feiner writes their press releases. The reality is that all of the Fulton Parks, mostly lower income and commonly ignored communities can forget about getting much help from local, county and state government officials.

This past winter found us experiencing some pretty severe cold and quite a bit of snow. Through it all however, most homes that typically flood made out well with minimum amounts of water in their basements and crawlspaces. So, while the weather has been most cooperative, our elected officials have not. Now would be the time for them to push for remediation throughout the lengths of both the Saw Mill and especially the Bronx River regions. One suggestion furnished to Ms Williams was for the County to begin dredging and clearing the Bronx River of debris, whether man-made or natural, from the south and work north. That way when the river is actually "opened up" at the north end, it won't overwhelm the southern parts as they await the same work. Good suggestion or not, it doesn't really matter. Nothing is happening. Why fix it when we can talk about it? Why fix it when they can ask you to vote for them (again?) so they can help you?

It is incumbent on our Town officials to push for remediation of the river areas since they continue to approve all kinds of developments throughout the Town, paving or filling what had been open space that would normally absorb rain and storm runoff. All of that formerly absorbed water is only being directed into these two overburdened rivers on each side of Town. It's also incumbent on our local representatives, such as our Town Board, to ensure that County, State and Federal representatives stop using member item funds for small-pet-project-vote-getting-purchases and devote their time, energy and resources toward fixing the problems they've help to create. Only then will be see A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Town Hall Suspected of Bid Rigging - Updated!

In a stunning and yet typical closed door, about-face move, our Town Board is unceremoniously moving swiftly albeit effortlessly toward scrapping the entire proposal constructed for the former Frank's Nursery property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road! The multi-million dollar question is why? In particular with this previously passed  proposal was the fact that the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association had participated with significant input into the proposal, actually correcting numerous mistakes pre-final draft. Could the explanation for this move be that Mr Feiner realized he was losing control to gift the property to GameOn 365 and felt he/they needed to move before the "auction" began? Remember, past performance doesn't guarantee future results, but it sure does provide an extremely accurate indicator.

On the Agenda as TB-1 in this Special Town Board Meeting to be held on August 5th at 10:30AM, the Town plans to rescind TB-8, adopted on July 15, 2014 which authorized the marketing plan/budget of GA Keen Realty Advisors related to the sale of the former Frank's Nursery property located at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road. Why?

With the second agenda item, TB-2, the Town Board plans to turn right around and approve the marketing plan/budget, information sheet, information memorandum, non-disclosure agreement and bidding procedures document for the auction of 715 Dobbs Ferry Road (Formerly Frank's Nursery) and authorizing a marketing plan/budget appropriation amount not to exceed $27,000 to GA Keen Realty Advisors, the Town's Real Estate Advisor. What changed and why?

What the Town Board is doing is removing the unanimously agreed upon stipulation that any bids on the property strictly utilize the R-30 zoning requirements to develop the property! Translation: Bid rigging. For example, GameOn 365 would have to follow the permitted uses of R-30 zoning such as residential housing, assisted living facilities, private clubs, etc., if they were to bid on the Frank's Nursery property. Similarly, this would apply to anyone else as well. And, we all know that what Mr Feiner wants is what will happen, regardless of the hoops he or others must jump through to accomplish it.

Mr Feiner's allegations of citizen bid rigging during the lease/sale/auction debacle with GameOn 365 still rings hollow as the Town Board again tries to change the playing field to benefit GameOn 365. They are still only a paper company with a small handful of investors relying on Mr Feiner's back room agreement for them to purchase the property while more significant offers are ignored. Is this just another ploy in Mr Feiner's bag of tricks? Will we see something added into the new proposal that removes the definition of a qualified bidder, or removal of the adherence to the R-30 Zoning?

You'll recall Mr Feiner tried to illegally lease the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road to GameOn 365 about four years ago. Only after residents and civic associations threatened to sue the Town ala, "If you don't like what I'm doing, sue me," to stop his illegal actions did he back down. Fortunately, their threats to sue was enough to stop the runaway Mr Feiner and his Board from breaking yet another law.

Mr Feiner recently reached out to the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association claiming the owners of the Apple Farm, located in the shopping center on Rt 119, expressed interested in purchasing the Frank's Nursery property after the decision to rescind the proposal. The reply from neighborhood's Civic Association was firm: the only way they would agree to the sale of the property is if any bidder adheres to the R-30 zoning codes for the property. Mr Feiner wasn't happy and needed a way to push the Civic Association aside. In fact, ABG believes this could be why there is a special meeting with new proposals being introduced. By the way, given the amount of items on the Special Meeting Agenda, these should have all warranted a regular meeting. However, it would also have warranted the requisite public comments and slowed down the process Mr Feiner seeks to control, exposing their real motivation.

UPDATE, Sunday August 3rd:
In an email forwarded to the ABG offices, Mr Feiner replied to the query as to why the change. His answer below, is vague enough to appear legitimate but is really Mr Feiner thumbing his nose at the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association and their involvement with the entire process that HE insisted they participate in. Here's his email quote:

"RE: Resolution TB-1  08/05/14

we were advised that this requirement would not be legal and could jeopardize the sale of the property.  My understanding is that the town has more leeway re: decision as to who we're going to sell the property to, after the auction take place.  PAUL"

"We were advised" means that Mr Feiner made a decision and is not providing specifics because by remaining vague, his feet won't be anywhere near the fire, let alone held to it. The "more leeway" dumps the ball he temporarily "lost hold of" back in his lap, allowing him to cherry-pick to whom the Town sells the property after the auction. This will allow him to say no to bidders he wants out of the way until he gets to, for instance, the GameOn 365 bid. Since he can't control the bid, he needs to control the awarding of it. This rescinding of the proposal will allow that control to be his. 

Also on the agenda worth mentioning is AT-1, a resolution authorizing tax certiorari settlement with Westhab, Inc./22 Tarrytown Road Housing Development Fund Corporation for a total of $28,901. It's sad that a) the Town granted everything on Westhab's wish list when they sought to build; b) they utilize the police, fire and sanitation services while being a not-for-profit-but-very-well-paid organization; c) they don't have to contract with a carting company for garbage, recycle and trash removal while all other businesses must and are seeking a refund while utilizing Town services. Is this their idea of being a good neighbor, forcing the other residents to pay their share? And where are the financially concerned Fire Monitor participants and why aren't they looking at these expenses and/or behavior?

Having community involvement is critical for the success of the Town. Open government, real open government should be the cornerstone of how government works. Sadly, while Mr Feiner knows how to say and use the buzzwords about open government, he doesn't practice what he preaches. We'll have to wait and see what the changes are in the auction proposal contracts and learn why after the change takes place. Hardly open government. But in Greenburgh, it is our goverment. Only when the willfully ignorant become involved will we see A Better Greenburgh.