It’s not been a piece of secreted information, nor has it been unknown by many. It’s not been a surprise to anyone, especially our Town Board, since the last two years after notification. What has been troubling to most is the Town Board’s obvious obfuscation of a bill that was written by resident advocate Robert Bernstein, and mishandled by every portion of our Town’s leadership. While it’s also no secret that there is no love lost between Messrs. Bernstein, Feiner and Lewis, Mr Bernstein had, along with members of his Edgemont Community Council, pointed out that numerous massage parlors, alleged fronts for prostitution, continued to operate and multiply throughout our Town. In fact, Mr Bernstein, with help from several resident advocates including Ella Preiser amongst others, crafted a bill to regulate massage parlors within the Town and presented it to the Town Board for adoption.
The Town Board dutifully washed their hands of it, uh, we mean, turned it over to Town Attorney Tim Lewis. Mr Lewis opposes the submitted bill, so it languished in his “not to-do” pile. At numerous subsequent meetings, Mr Bernstein and others would ask about the fate of the bill and get the requisite stare Mr Feiner has learned to use so well. Mr Lewis gave his legal opinion of the bill and why he had not done anything with it. Ever the politician, Mr Feiner continued to say he supported the bill but was waiting on the Town Attorney. As time dragged on, so did the lack of a legal position as the Town Attorney, et al, sought a non-binding determination/judgment from the NYS Attorney General’s office. Mr Bernstein explained that while Mr Lewis may disagree with the law, his presumption toward enacting the bill into law was incorrect and it should be adopted. We can’t help be reminded of the Town’s new slogan: “Why fix it when we can talk about it?”
At last weeks Town Board meeting, Police Chief Chris McNerney told the Town Board that all six massage parlors had been shut down about two weeks ago. Eleven women were arrested that were working at these locations as unlicensed massage therapists. When asked how many have reopened since then, he stated, “All of them.” On March 16, 2015 Chief McNerney, himself an attorney, drafted a letter to the Attorney General’s office detailing that state law gives local governments the legal authority to close down brothels fronting as massage parlors. “I strongly believe that the Town of Greenburgh’s proposed local law is needed and is not preempted by New York State law,” Chief McNerney wrote. “The intent of our proposed law is to curtail criminal activity at businesses within the Town and to eliminate businesses which jeopardize the public health, safety and welfare,” he added.
Jeopardizing the public health, safety and welfare of Town residents is a heartfelt concern from the Chief of Police, yet Town officials seem less than concerned. In fact, knowing that Mr Feiner can get scads of publicity out of this quandary, he has done what he does best and flipped the Town’s inaction into a publicity stunt. He sent out an email via his coveted GBList that the Town will be hosting a forum about sex trafficking on Thursday at 7PM, championed by reporter Ken Picard. Other panelists include our Police Chief Chris McNerney and Lauren Pesso, the Director of the Human Trafficking Program at My Sisters’ Place. Noticeably absent are Mr Bernstein who has been championing the issue via legislation to help curb and/or stop human trafficking. We realized this was a publicity stunt because there are many other representatives who could be included from Westchester County Office for Women, Westchester County District Attorney, Hope’s Door, Victims Assistance Services of WestCOP, Pace Women’s Justice Center, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Empire Justice Center, Westchester County Department of Probation, Westchester County Department of Social Services, Westchester County Chiefs of Police Association and the Interfaith Caring Community of Greenburgh. We could list more but think the point is made. Why have these others not been invited?
The answer is simple. As we begin the re-election cycle, Mr Feiner will need to have the appearance of seeming to care about the community. It could be our next Town slogan, “We seem to care.” He’ll use this ploy to bring human trafficking to the forefront, as will other local politicians in their bids for re-election. Nothing will come of this venture. Eventually, for the sake of the young girls involved, we hope that Mr Bernstein’s proposed bill comes to fruition and is passed into law. If it is, it will be closer to the elections so as to provide Mr Feiner with more campaigning opportunity. This type of insincere patronizing by Mr Feiner has lost its luster long ago. It’s time for a change in Greenburgh. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.