Friday, July 31, 2015

United Water Warns Customers About Phone Scams

The concern about scams is an important issue. Consequently, United Water has just issued an announcement about telephone scams being tried on their customers. Most of Unincorporated Greenburgh residents are not served by United Water. Typically, the residents of the Town's Villages are their customers, specifically Ardsley, Hastings and Dobbs Ferry. Information posted on their website indicates that their customers are found in New Rochelle, Rye, Rye Brook, Bronxville, Tuckahoe, North Pelham, Pelham Manor, Ardsley, Hastings-on-Hudson, Port Chester, and Dobbs Ferry.

The water company noted that several customers have received telephone calls requesting payment for overdue bills. As such, United Water is advising the recipients of suspicious or questionable calls to hang up and call customer service at either (877)-266-9109, or (877)-426-8969.

If someone comes to your house claiming to be from the company, be aware that United Water employees wear uniforms and ID badges with the company name and logo, it said. The badge shows the employee’s color photograph, name, job title and date the badge was issued. Customers should also look for the white United Water van with a prominent company logo. If customers have any doubts, they should have the person wait outside while they call United Water to verify that the company has sent someone to their home. If they suspect they’re involved in a scam, they can also contact local police, the company said.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Developer Receives Preferential Treatment

An email and corresponding “snail” mail went out to Town residents of behalf of a developer by Mr Feiner immediately after a recent Town Board meeting. No sooner did he publicly say he was against the developer's project to increase the amount of buildings in the Midway Shopping Center and reduce the corresponding parking spaces due to safety concerns at a Town Board meeting, when he must have realized he had bitten another hand that feeds him! But this was no ordinary email and snail mail letter. It was a poll. There have only been two that we can recall. The other one was in support of his friends from GameOn 365.

So, Mr Feiner needed to redeem himself with some quick back-pedaling. Even though he operates unimpeded by the majority of taxpayers, he “slipped up” when he said he goes to the Midway Shopping Center daily and has had close calls there himself. He may have had close calls driving in the shopping center’s lot, but not being an expert in traffic control, it was strictly his opinion. For that matter, he may simply be a terrible driver. There may be no recognized safety issues at that shopping center except for a raised acid level when you are trying to find a parking space.

The applicant was seeking to add two more structures (initially) to the shopping center. Numerous area organizations and individuals have protested, claiming the area is saturated with traffic congestion already. The Town’s unofficial practice toward a concept called “shared parking” and “under-utilized parking”, make the argument against the expansion a difficult one. Still, the confluence of cars in this successful shopping center makes entering, parking and exiting extremely frustrating. In fact, the developer decided to offer numerous safety improvements to the area and the shopping center if their proposal was approved by the Town Board. One resident objected about the Town being held hostage by the developer who would only commit to the improvements if they could build another structure (since reduced from two down to one).

At some point, their proposal got scaled back to the addition of only one new building instead of two, perhaps as a “suggestion” by Mr Feiner. They argued, perhaps rightly, that for them to invest in the upgrades they had planned, they would need this additional building’s approval and ultimately its income to be, wait for it, “cost effective”.

Armed with the knowledge that the “willfully ignorant” will go along with almost anything he proposes, nor give the proposal the scrutiny it deserves, he sent out both the snail mailing and e-mailing, seeking “Citizen Input”. We’ll tell you shortly what we expect he will say he found. But first, how many other project developers has he done a poll for? We can recall several projects including Westhab, Deli Delicious, Dromore Road, Brightview, Stop and Shop (on Rt 119) among others, where Mr Feiner sent out emails and snail mailings (at taxpayer expense) championing these projects. But the answer is zero. The difference with GameOn 365, was that he desperately sought to initiate an illegal lease for the them with the former Frank’s Nursery property on Dobbs Ferry Road. He’s been their biggest cheerleader. The referendum for GameOn 365, carefully worded to only force a positive outcome, did just that. The Town was promised $5M as an incentive for passage of this referendum. However, the devil is always in the details and the referendum, whether legal or not, could not help an illegal lease move this ill-conceived deal forward! 

In fact, even more potent than this seemingly casual request for a yay or nay vote for Midway, knowing full-well that the foregone conclusion would be in the affirmative, is the fact that Mr Feiner made the case for the developer by laying out all of their points. Why would Mr Feiner do this and not the developer? Why did GameOn 365 have a strategically worded referendum created on their behalf and now a taxpayer-funded mailing? If you think this expansion is a good one, drive a bit north to the Westchester Square shopping center and get ready to use your imagination. It’s the one on Central Avenue that houses Trader Joe's, CVS and Best Buy. They have proposed expanding Trader Joe's store, and adding a standalone building to the north east of Best Buy for a CVS drive through. There will also be a new walk-in medical facility built on the south side near Trader Joe’s. To allow for the additional traffic, new entrances and exits will be built out onto the side streets on both sides of the shopping center.

Mr Feiner is trying to cover both sides of his backside as he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. At a recent Town Board meeting, when he said he was against the expansion of the Midway Shopping Center unless safety improvements were performed, he placated the Edgemont group and others who have spoken vehemently against this expansion. Edgemont satisfied, he knew one of his first phone calls the following morning would be from the owners of the Midway Shopping Center. What to do? Deflect - and fast. So, Mr Feiner did what he always does when he is caught lying. Mr Feiner, who could also be known as “The Deflectomatic”, has a lot of hustling to do. Soon we will hear that he received a lot of responses about this project. He’ll say the majority were in favor of it. He’ll need to tread lightly. If he angers Edgemont, they will threaten again to incorporate. Make the developers mad, and donations of food and campaign monies may go away. What to do?

This is far from over. There are many issues taking place on the Central Avenue corridor as Mr Feiner tries to orchestrate a change to that area to his vision of what Central Avenue, and then Rt 119, should be. Is it what you want these two thoroughfares to be? If banks were only open from 9AM until 3PM, shared parking with a restaurant might work. Otherwise, ABG believes it’s a recipe for over-congestion and ultimately a disaster. It must be stopped. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pets Alive Closing The Elmsford Location

Animal welfare group Pets Alive announced plans this week to restructure their organization by closing their Westchester facility located off of Warehouse Lane in Elmsford, NY and consolidating operations to their Middletown, NY location. Skyrocketing repair and maintenance costs of the structurally unsound Westchester shelter coupled with declining revenue led the group to their decision. Pets Alive Westchester was closed from mid-March through July in 2014 due to cracks in the building’s structure. Pets Alive has spent most of the last year exploring options to permanently repair the structure with multiple experts but estimates to save the building total well over a million dollars with no guarantee that the building will be safe.

“Although closing the Westchester location was a very difficult decision to make, the reality is that no amount of money is going to make this building safe in the long term,” said Erin Guilshan, Executive Director of Pets Alive Westchester. “There are issues that cannot be fixed. We have to think about what is best and safest for our organization and our animals.”

In addition to the building problems, Pets Alive is also taking into consideration the operating costs for the building, which exceeds 30,000 square feet. Much of that space goes unused but still needs to be heated, cooled and cared for.

“The Pets Alive organization believes we have a fiscal responsibility to our donors. Although the decision was difficult, we cannot continue to spend our donor’s funds on a building that cannot be properly repaired and costs a phenomenal amount just to maintain. This restructuring will allow us to focus more on our mission to save the lives of the animals that need us.” said Pets Alive Chief Financial Officer Jenessa Cutler.

Both Pets Alive locations have waived their adoption fee for the immediate future. They will be offering animals for adoption to qualified adopters for a donation of the adopter’s choosing. The facility will stay open for several more months to rehome the animals already housed in the building, although no new animals will be taken in. Any animals remaining in Westchester will be transferred to the Middletown location.

Pets Alive wishes to emphasize that absolutely no animals will be euthanized because of this transition, and all animals will be safe. Pets Alive remains extremely committed to the welfare of the animals in their care and their no kill policy, and careful consideration will be paid to their stress level and health during the transition. Enrichment programs are being developed to ensure a smooth transition for the animals. Rescue efforts for community animals will continue in the Middletown location.

Board President John Sibley says, “Pets Alive recognizes the importance of our presence in Westchester. We are committed to exploring options to maintain a future presence in Westchester County.”

At this time, Pets Alive welcomes the support of the community in the form of financial donations and volunteer help on both sites to prepare for the transition of the animals. Donations can be made at or mailed to Pets Alive, 363 Derby road, Middletown, NY 10940. Pets Alive is a registered 501c3 not-for-profit.-- Audrey Lodato Executive Director Pets Alive

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Questionable ESCO's To Be Forced On Residents

We recently wrote about our trying to learn about Sustainable Westchester, the energy company (ESCO) all Greenburgh residents will be forced to be made a member if Mr Feiner has his way. We're also interested in its sister company, Solarize Westchester, for similar reasons. Both seem to be “blessed”, authorized, and financed by New York State, with ties to the bloated thread of New York State's labyrinth of bureaucracy. By the way, both of these companies are not-for-profits. Being a not-for-profit does not guarantee the residents and/or major taxpayers of the Town any kind of quality performance or financial savings. What is promised is our knowledge that the past performance of our Supervisor provides an almost iron-clad guarantee of future results through his oft-times illegitimate if not downright illegal, behavior. But what of NYSERDA, Sustainable Westchester and Solarize Westchester?

We went to the NYSERDA website to find out about this program. Their home page provides a small bit of information, one piece being "The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA, which states they "promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources." It says a few other things that have a politically correct “ring” to it. Please don’t misunderstand, we endorse energy saving efforts, renewable energy solutions and others that may be in development. But, we also realize the need, dependency, efficiency, cost and viability of carbon based technologies as well. We admit that being aware and respectful of our environmental impact must start individually. That’s part of the problem here in Greenburgh. The individuals are not being allowed to make their own decisions and are being spoken for by Mr Feiner and his Town Board.

Image 1

Image 2


When we clicked on the Sustainable Westchester home page, we got the picture on the left (Image 1). When we tried to delve further with many of the links, we got an error page similar to the one below it (Image 2). Do they have something to hide? Then we tried the Solarize Westchester site. We again found minimal information with more snippets of generic information. What we also found was that the Board of Directors information is conspicuously missing.

Mr Feiner has taken it upon himself to compromise your extremely valuable personal information by not only entertaining Sustainable Westchester’s request to the Public Service Commission, by telling taxpayers that we are being signed up for this - whether you want it or not. It will happen as soon as the Town Board passes the resolution adopting this convoluted proposal. The petition from Sustainable Westchester starts out in the introductory statement, saying amongst other things, “...its implementation of a demonstration of community choice aggregation...for an order requiring Consolidated Edison, Inc., of New York and New York State Electric and Gas provide certain of the Utility's customer information Petition.”* 

The lack of information about moving ahead (or not) with the Town’s participation of Sustainable Westchester’s ESCO is moving frighteningly too fast for many residents who continue to come up short for answers. Rather than feel that Mr Feiner is trying to hoodwink them, it would behoove this unchallenged administration to take a step back and gather as much information and conclusive evidence as possible before acting on joining residents into the ESCO. They should also withdrawl the proposal until such time that any and all answers are supplied, mailings are agreed to be performed and paid for by Sustainable Westchester, residents will have the opportunity to opt IN and not opt OUT. Finally, there should be a guarantee of savings that will be refunded if prices rise. If this “deal” is as good as Mr Feiner claims, he should have no problem with any of these points and moving forward at a slower pace – and canceling it if it does not offer the guaranteed savings being purported. Otherwise, they should simply scrap the entire thing. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

* We skipped information in parenthesis on their web site by providing “...”.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stop Town From Releasing Your Information To Private Company

We have just begun to dig into the Sustainable Westchester company, funded in part by NY State, and its sister company, Solarize Westchester. We can find a link between the two but are unable to scratch beyond the surface. Apparently tied into the bloated thread of New York State's labyrinth of bureaucracy, both of these companies are not-for-profit. The proposal Sustainable Westchester has submitted appears to request the Town and Consolidated Edison provide them with your private information! This could be interpreted as similar to questionable companies who sell your email addresses, personal addresses and other personal information. Being a not-for-profit does not guarantee anything and past performance of our Supervisor is certainly an indicator of future results.
Distinguishing between a not-for-profit and a for-profit company implies that a not-for-profit business will not turn a profit. It's a mistaken belief that non-profits cannot and do not make money. This is hardly the case as many do actually not only make money, but make a lot of money and sometimes not related to the actual non-profit purposes. The biggest difference between profit-driven and not-for-profit companies is how profits are distributed. A for-profit company redistributes profits to its shareholders and a not-for-profit sees the money go back into the company or toward more and/or higher salaries.

The mere fact that a company is organized under the not-for-profit corporation law does not mean that contributions to them are necessarily tax deductible. But many times those with access to the press will push on behalf of the not-for-profit, claiming that, "This company is doing important, vital, charitable work, etc., and by the way, they are a not-for-profit company." So what? The common misconception is that a not-for-profit has to be profit-LESS entity and operate at a loss or just break-even. There is no such legal requirement for this. Nor is there any restriction of paying extremely handsome salaries to its officers and even their staff. Why do we mention this?

Mr Feiner has already decided that the Sustainable Westchester plan is a go-ahead. This may have appeared validated as representatives from Sustainable Westchester were not even present at the opening of this public hearing. Mr Sheehan had raised some reasonable questions about moving forward with this but Mr Feiner continues to ignore all rational arguments to slow this process down. In fact, yesterday there was a press release from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, announcing more than $1million in restitution will be awarded to NYS energy customers from an energy service company! It was found that these people were falsely promised lower energy prices and some enrolled WITHOUT their consent and they will now receive partial refunds! While violating the law has never bothered Mr Feiner, it should give him pause to re-evaluate moving forward with so many unanswered questions looming. Next up, Mr Feiner will spew a cornucopia of terms he likes to use whenever the G10 prove him wrong, using phrases such as, "We must follow the process", "do our due diligence", "people must have confidence in the system (interchangeable with process)", "this is only my personal opinion", and so on.

While our digging into ESCO's and Sustainable Westchester did not provide enough in-depth information beyond sound-byte-like snippets, what we did find is what we believe is a significant conflict of interest with Sustainable Westchester. The Board of Directors* of Sustainable Westchester include the leaders of the same municipalities who have entered into a contract with Sustainable Westchester! Mr Feiner continues to try to spin their membership as a good thing, without acknowledging their membership as Board of Directors! Has Mr Feiner been promised a Board of Director position once the proposal is adopted? Could that be why he has pushed so adamantly for the Town to join?

Why is this not “great news” as Mr Feiner purports? Several reasons. First, Sustainable Westchester is using this application to gain your personal information! Whether it's only for your mailing address or more, the Town should not be assisting a private corporation in acquiring your personal information to operate their business. Second, you may recall, the Town refused to give its email list to a Civic Association who wished to use it for informational purposes, and was ordered to do so by the court with the provision that it not be used for commercial purposes. That decision is currently under appeal. Third, residents should have to opt IN, not opt OUT of this program. But that is not how Mr Feiner is working this questionable process. Fourth, is the obvious conflict of interest by the participating communities whose leaders sit on Sustainable Westchester's Board of Directors. Why wouldn't these Board of Directors, who control the direction of their communities, put their communities in this program? It's an obvious windfall for them. Something here stinks!

During the public comment portion of the July 8th, 2015 Town Board meeting, the "done deal" was obvious when Mr Feiner slipped and then backpedaled as he said (paraphrasing) that they could hold off voting on this proposal until he gets information from other community supervisors on the success of this program and then vote for it. This is just another delay tactic to assuage the public's unified objection against this plan. It's another Feiner deflection as he pushes all residents into a questionable program. Ken Stahn, President of the Sprain Road Civic Association, organized a meeting immediately prior to the last Town Board meeting. He said that there were too many variables still unaddressed and we don't need to be the “leader or the first” to do this. He also commented that the Town is involved in a corresponding program, Solarize Westchester, that seems like it may be a better deal but also has unanswered questions and may require waiting a bit more. Bob Bernstein commented that this Town Board's members are not energy experts and should not get involved with this given their track record.

In the end, this proposal will pass regardless of the arguments against, the proof against, or the simple logic that the Board will ignore because Mr Feiner tells them to do so. They'll ignore the cost of or even the fact that the Town will pay for mailings instead of Sustainable Westchester; ignore the penalties incurred by residents who didn't know Mr Feiner secretly enlisted them in the program to boost the numbers for his friends ESCO; ignore that the costs may go up and the residents will have little or no recourse for refunds or to get out from under until the 3-year contract expires or if the cost of energy goes down, forcing residents to pay more than the market rate and putting the ESCO in financial difficulty. Mostly, they'll ignore that the willfully ignorant have once again had their freedoms chipped away by not having the choice to opt IN, but rather must opt OUT. This must change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

* The Board of Directors for Sustainable Westchester include, among others, Noam Bramson (Mayor of New Rochelle), Chris Burdick (Supervisor of Bedford), Tom Roach (Mayor of White Plains), Nancy Seligson (Supervisor of the Town of Mamaroneck) and finally Mike Spano (Mayor of Yonkers, often referred to as the City of Hills, where nothing is on the level).

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Double Standard in Greenburgh

ABG staffers recently sat down with the developers of The Jefferson at Saw Mill and discussed their plans to build what we understood to be a 296-unit apartment building. We subsequently learned that the size was scaled down to 272 units after management heard from the residents of the area who expressed concern about the size and scope of the development. We discussed their model for what they are seeking to build with their on-site representative, Steven Hutton, who explained that they are a residential-oriented developer and not an assisted living or nursing home builder. Their Corporate headquarters is located in Dallas, Texas and they have offices across the U.S. They are a private, not public corporation and strive to "play" to the character of the region. For this particular project, their research indicated a "mill' heritage and designed The Jefferson at Saw Mill to have that type of feel to it.

The interiors of the apartments are very much upscale with quality fixtures and designs used throughout. The price range of these apartments are tentatively anticipated to be about $3,000 per month and are geared toward Millennials. They have also adjusted the height of the buildings to be four-stories, down from five-stories. We also discussed some of their plans for the area, such as impacts on traffic and the schools. They showed us their plans to refine some of the traffic conditions ignored by the Town as far away as Jackson Avenue, hoping to have a positive impact from their location on Lawrence Street, which is a bit south of the Ashford Avenue area in Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry. Just south of The Jefferson is the new development already underway called The Loft on Saw Mill River, a new upscale, 66-unit development being built by Ginsberg Development,in Hastings. We haven't heard of any similar improvements they may be offering to the region since having broken ground.

There was also a recent exposé about the soon-to-open, resort-style, assisted-living housing complex called The Ambassador, on Saxon Woods Road in Scarsdale. The exposé detailed the unlicensed operation of the Prospect Park Residence in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that was operated by the same management company from 2009 to 2012. The alleged violations also included insufficient care for some of its residents during the tenure of its former Executive Director, David Pomerantz, who has since been replaced with a new Executive Director, Jean Dunphy. During his tenure, the facility was advertising itself as a "full service senior facility," despite its lack of certification or ability to treat patients suffering with dementia and other medical conditions. Mr Feiner had endorsed the new facility and Director Pomerantz, reminding us of other endorsements he's made of people who have lost their positions under questionable circumstances.They recently opened on June 25th, with help from Westchester County through financial incentives.The County Executive has stated there will not be a tax increase in this years budget. Perhaps if government stops giving our money away to wealthy developers that don't really need it, our taxes could actually be lowered.

The Jefferson, appears to be a different kind of proposal, offering to build what they refer to as high-quality, luxury rental apartments consisting of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom configurations. Ironically, a bit farther south will be The Lofts on Saw Mill River, a 66-unit apartment complex on Route 9A in Hastings-on-Hudson. Obviously, developers are more apt to build luxury as opposed to affordable units as the profits, clientele, upkeep, and visitors offer less issues. However, three of the affordable units will be available to households earning up to 50 percent of the area median income and nine will be reserved for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. The affordable units will rent at $874 per month for a studio and up to $1,484 monthly for a three-bedroom apartment. The question always raised is how well will the people in the affordable units fit in?

Mr Feiner recently endorsed the Ginsburg project and rejected the The Jefferson. It's no secret that Mr Feiner has a long-term relationship with Ginsburg, so there's also no surprise he would support Ginsburg's project while being against The Jefferson. Is it because it will impact his Town Board colleague Diana Juettner's community? Is it similar to his rejecting the assisted living proposal off of Payne Street between the Sprain Brook Parkway and the aqueduct near High street because another colleague, Councilman Morgan lives near by? It's interesting how politicians always ignore residents concerns and insist they know what is best for everyone else's neighborhood as they destroy them, but theirs must remain untouched.

Westchester County has agreed to provide Ginsburg approximately $1.2 million toward land acquisition and infrastructure costs. The county Industrial Development Agency has approved sales and mortgage tax exemptions for the project that total $679,780. It's difficult for us to fathom why the County is giving money to Ginsburg Development when this is the fourth site of luxury apartments for Ginsburg in addition to Harbor Square, a $65 million, 188-unit apartment development on the Ossining riverfront; River Tides at Greystone in Yonkers, a $100 million, 330-unit apartment complex on Warburton Avenue; and Riverside in Rockland County, a 106-unit luxury apartment building at Harbors at Haverstraw.

Is Mr Feiner correct when he says The Jefferson is too much because the Town's infrastructure can't handle it? Probably. But the infrastructure he so conveniently complains about and uses to his advantage to stop one or two "non-blessed" developers is the same infrastructure he has ignored with the help of his Town Board colleagues for these last 22-years! While we prefer to see a greener Greenburgh, not congested with affordable housing, that will go unchecked as long as Mr Feiner and crew can easily operate with impunity while they stay in office unopposed. Until Mr Feiner dedicates resources to improving the Town's infrastructure, he cannot turn down any proposal that is made because infrastructure cannot handle it. He should have thought of this 22-years ago. Now that it's a little too late, his behavior promises more lawsuits against the Town. It must change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fairview Discrimination Lawsuit Update

After ABG posted our original story about the Fairview Fire District making a financial settlement with David Hecht, we learned a little bit more information about this case. We currently await the court transcripts to read the actual testimony, but have heard a few things that we find interesting and wanted to share.

One major issue was regarding David Hecht’s residency. While many have stated that Hecht was a Village of  Elmsford resident, Hecht apparently claimed to be a resident of the Unincorporated portion of the Town. Why does this matter? It’s simple, the Fire District’s Board of Fire Commissioners will only hire Greenburgh residents, not Village residents. We’re not sure if they make exceptions or not to the policy.

So this move explains why Hecht lied about his residency while trying so desperately to become a paid fireman. After being turned down, he saw the dream becoming less attainable and decided to initiate a lawsuit against the Fairview Board of Fire Commissioners for age discrimination. Then he enlisted several of his friends to testify on his behalf. One of those friends, retired firefighter Darryl Leake was reported to be disgruntled while on the job and even after he retired, this was a way of getting payback. A current Deputy Chief, as well as a sitting Town Councilman testified on his behalf. Regardless of who spoke on his behalf, Hecht would still not get the job he coveted. And once this last test’s list expired, he would have had to take another fire test and hope to be hired. What we believe is that Hecht could be found to have lied under oath!

Until we can have a look at the court transcripts, we can only surmise what Hecht said under oath based on what he said publicly while trying to make his case via the media. One issue that indicates he lied under oath, is that Hecht applied for and apparently received financial aid via the STAR (School Tax Relief) program from New York State. We’ve been told that in 2007 he applied for STAR exemptions as a resident of Elmsford. Three years later, he applied for STAR exemptions as a Greenburgh resident. One way or the other, if he didn’t physically move, it could be said he lied about one of his residences. Lying on your taxes might cause him some unforeseen financial stress if pursued by authorities, causing him to lose some of his proceeds for tax penalties payment.

Speaking of his award from the settlement, Hecht was suing the Fire District for age discrimination for $1 million. Testimony unknown, we wondered why the District would settle when the evidence pointed to a solid case against him. ABG learned unofficially that Hecht had lined up additional personal lawsuits against the Board members and other firematic personnel. Settling was a cost effective move suggested by the District’s insurance company that would be paying the settlement. So in the end, the Fairview Fire District, Fire Department and the public are finally finished with David Hecht. Or, so we thought!

ABG has learned that now Hecht is suing the Hartsdale Fire District and its Chief, Edward Rush. Apparently, someone informed Hecht that he wasn’t hired by the Hartsdale Fire District because Chief Rush, “didn’t like Hecht.” That statement alone should not be cause to sue, however, we’re leaning toward Hecht accepting another settlement from another insurance company looking to get out from under this as quickly and inexpensively as possible. The fact that Chief Rush may have said he didn't like Hecht could be taken a number of different ways and certainly could have been referring to results and information from his fire test and evaluations, etc. Although we’re sure Hecht will twist it to his advantage seeking another settlement.

Next up in the parade of lawsuits will probably be against the Town of Mamaroneck and the Village of Larchmont, who apparently entertained hiring Hecht before the defecation hit the ventilation with the Fairview FD. Hecht remained with the Fairview Fire Department volunteers but no longer enjoys the camaraderie prior to his lawsuit and is fairly inactive. It remains to be seen what will happen with Hecht’s paid firefighting career or even if he will ever have one. It also remains to be seen if he will be successful suing more fire departments in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Critical Meeting Wednesday Sets Up Residents to Lose

Once again, the machine at Town Hall is operating in high gear. Subterfuge? Trickery? Or, just more Standard Operating Procedure from Mr Feiner, et al? Willfully ignorant residents are about to be entered into an ESCO without their permission by the Greenburgh Town Board, under the lie of helping them save money on their ConEd bill for the transmission of their gas or electricity to their homes. Transmission is the least expensive portion of your utility bill. You currently pay ConEd this fee which is billed in your monthly statement. If a resident is already a part of an ESCO, how they will be affected has not been answered. Many questions with few answers keep hounding Mr Feiner and his Town Board. We believe many of them go unanswered by choice. Regardless of the issues, we're confident that they will pass this - unless you act now!

We previously wrote about this issue in an article entitled Big Brother Creeps In on June 22, 2015. In that article, we explained how Mr Feiner had singularly decided without resident taxpayer input to enter ALL RESIDENTS into an Energy Savings Consortium Organization called Sustainable Westchester. This will be with a three-year contract with no guarantee of savings from day one through day one-thousand and ninety-five. Your utilities provider will still be ConEd. What Sustainable Westchester is providing is purely a “paper” plan which Mr Feiner continually extols the unconfirmed and unsupported claims of high savings residents will realize, up to $600! The only way these savings will happen is dependent on high enrollment numbers. Mr Feiner is guaranteeing high membership to Sustainable Westchester without having to actually guarantee any savings, service or delivery improvements for the residents. He has yet to furnish any kind of fact-based information with a firm commitment validating savings. Because it's all dependent on this outside organization, when this savings deal “goes south”, he gets to walk away clean, pointing the finger at Sustainable Westchester.

There was a meeting held at Town Hall an hour or so prior to the regular June 16th Town Board meeting. Hosted by Ken Stahn, President of the Sprain Road Civic Association, his goal was to get details of what the plan was from Sustainable Westchester and have residents' questions answered before the Town Board voted for this plan. When Mr Stahn spoke at the Town Board meeting later that same night, he told the Board he wished they would take the same time and effort as the just concluded hearing had been given with exhaustive questions (and few answers – a recurrent theme from this Board) and table the vote. Thankfully, the vote was postponed for two weeks until this Wednesday night's Town Board meeting. But, we've seen this before where the Board postpones and postpones until any opposition is reduced to a few people and can easily be dismissed and then they vote as instructed by Mr Feiner.

DON'T BE DISMISSED - YOU SHOULD COME TO THE MEETING AND BE HEARD! Tell the Town Board not to act on this until all questions can be satisfactorily answered. Demand the Board tell you what the savings will be. And, if they can't, have Sustainable Westchester tell you. Demand the Board tell you what the penalty costs are if you decide to drop out of the ESCO before they commit us to it? Tell the Board if you drop out and want to get back in, there should not be a three day window of opportunity, it should be open ended. Tell the Board you see a conflict of interest because some of the same Board of Directors for Sustainable Westchester are current and sitting Mayors and Supervisors*. Tell the Board you want the ability to opt IN, not opt OUT. Tell the Board there are other questions that need to be answered before any decision is made such as the link of Sustainable Westchester and Solarize Westchester. Solarize Westchester is another solar energy program that Mr Feiner is promoting with claims it too will save them money without telling you how much you must spend before you start saving anything.

Ask why the Town has an employee from the Department of Community Development and Conservation (a contradiction of terms?) dedicated to work on behalf of Solarize Westchester, which has ties to Sustainable Westchester? Just because these companies are not-for-profit should not make what they are doing automatically adopted. Ask the Board if Sustainable Westchester or the Town will refund the difference if Sustainable Westchester's savings don't happen and your costs increase? Tell the Board they should wait and see the savings that are proposed in the current group of Cities and Towns before we jump into this. Tell the Board the Town should not bear the cost of a Town-wide mailing to opt OUT. Rather, tell them Sustainable Westchester should do this.

Go to the Town Board meeting this Wednesday night. Tell the Board not to move this issue forward until real facts and figures are presented. It is critical that this Board “do their due diligence”, “follow the process”, “keep an open mind”, and refrain from their “personal opinions” before acting. You may recognize these catch phrases as Mr Feiner's. He uses them each time residents catch him not being truthful (lying) or violating the law. When Mr Feiner tells you he's spoken to and received emails from many residents who are in favor of this, tell him and his Board you don't care unless he's willing to provide contact information you can verify. Tell him to listen to you. Tell his Board to listen to you. Ask the Board about the Federal Government's accusation that the Town recently submitted an illegal claim for solar grant funding and are seeking reimbursement of that funding from the Town? Get involved and stop the shenanigans at Town Hall. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

* The Board of Directors for Sustainable Westchester include, among others, Noam Bramson (Mayor of New Rochelle), Chris Burdick (Supervisor of Bedford), Tom Roach (Mayor of White Plains), Nancy Seligson (Supervisor of the Town of Mamaroneck) and finally Mike Spano (Mayor of Yonkers, often referred to as the City of Hills, where nothing is on the level).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

The freedoms we enjoy as Americans were (mostly) paid for by our military service people. On this day, we ask that you take a minute from the festivities you may enjoy and give silent thanks to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their families, friends and loved ones. And of course, if you come across our service personal, say hello and thank them for their service.

Below is information that was presented by a veteran that we feel is worth repeating.

To understand what the flag draped coffin really means......
Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?

Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times?

You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that They pledge allegiance to the flag of the United! States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day!

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, "In God We Trust."

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today .

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning. In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.

Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred to, the symbol of "Liberty and Freedom."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Feiner Pushes New Tax While Professing Tax Cap Compliance

The Rolling Stones' song, You Can't Always Get What You Want, sometimes rings true, except in Greenburgh. Mr Feiner has stacked most of the decks to his benefit for his own agenda. If a taxpaying resident doesn't like a zoning requirement that was created back when our leaders favored a real vision for our Town, they could move and find another place to live. If people found this planning attractive and wanted to be a part of it, they could move to Greenburgh. But nowadays, Mr Feiner and a quid pro quo handshake with developers, can and invariably does, allow it to be changed, regardless of community input. Concurrently, whatever the Planning Review and Zoning Review Boards say is only a recommendation to the Town Board and easily ignored or dismissed by at least three of the five on the Town Board providing Mr Feiner the changes he seeks. It's purely a stacked deck against the resident taxpayers. Now he's going beyond the residents.

Touting the NYS 2% Tax Cap, Mr Feiner has jumped on the "taxing bandwagon" with all of his cronies. He professes to be operating under the NYS 2% Tax Cap through semantics and a willfully ignorant electorate, but he does not actually stick to it. Our State, and in particular our County, has the highest taxes in the nation. And, Mr Feiner just asked his Albany best-buds, Legislators Stewart-Cousins and Abinanti to pass a 3% tax levy that the Town could apply to hotel rooms. What this means is the Town will get a small fee per room, a yearly "windfall" by applying this tax to visitors to Westchester and in particular the Town of Greenburgh.

What Mr Feiner and many politicians like him refuse to acknowledge is that each time another tax is added to a hotel bill, some corporate accountant sits with a calculator analyzing their traveling colleague's expense report and questioning if they really need to go there to begin with, or stay overnight. Eventually, businesses will begin to change their travel habits and affect Mr Feiner's newest cash cow. Since past performance is an indicator of future results, we know Mr Feiner will invariably have another Fortress Bible-like decision waiting against him in the wings. Here's a suggestion for Mr Feiner: stop breaking the law and you won't need your buds to create more taxes!

The New York State Legislature approved a law that authorizes the Town of Greenburgh to generate additional needed revenue by having a 3% hotel tax. This tax could generate from non-resident visitors to the Town significant revenue--probably somewhere between $200,000-$500,000 a year. There are almost 2000 hotel rooms in town. According to Mr Feiner, "The dollars received will be used to REDUCE your property tax bills and to comply with the tax cap." Really? Each time he says this he fails to produce either hard numbers or cold facts - and we never see a savings. He speaks in generalities, platitudes and what we like to call a circular conversation. You've seen him do it often. You ask a question and he has some colloquial story or personal experience and steers the conversation away from what the original topic was. Of course, there's always the, "This is just my personal opinion..." Sorry Mr Feiner, your position as Supervisor is like that of a police officer. You are always the Supervisor, just like a cop is always a cop and never really "off-duty", and saying something is your personal opinion doesn't hold water. Now, if you want to step down as Supervisor to have a personal opinion, we'd be happy to give you an open forum...

The Town has been seeking permission to impose a hotel tax since at least 2009. The New York State Legislature had previously authorized New Rochelle, White Plains, Rye and 43 counties in NYS to have the tax--but not Greenburgh. 46.5% of the counties that had previously been granted permission to have a hotel tax by the state have smaller populations than the Town of Greenburgh. Mr Feiner argued that NYS was not treating Greenburgh fairly. Now he knows how the residents feel.

The villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings, Irvington and Tarrytown as well as villages within the Town of Mount Pleasant were also granted permission to adopt a hotel tax this week by the legislature. But most of these communities with hotels are generally used in part or total for DSS (welfare) recipients. They had formally been known as Welfare motels. So we pay top dollar for these people to live in small rooms with no conveniences beyond a bathroom. We're sure not everybody in these hotels are DSS recipients, but the fact remains that not only did Mr Feiner push for this tax increase, but we a) will not see our taxes go down, and b) in the end only increased the taxes on ourselves. We need politicians that have our best interest at heart, not theirs and the re-election campaigns. It's time for term limits in Greenburgh. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.