A major ruling on Wednesday from the Supreme Court of the State of New York found in favor of a challenge by Ms Dorrine Livson, against the Town. The Town had been ordered by a lower court to supply Ms Livson with a copy of the now infamous GBList used by Mr Feiner to only send information he wishes to present to residents. Ms Livson, President of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association (herein WWCA), had submitted a Freedom of Information Law (herein FOIL), request for a copy of the email list used by Mr Feiner to promote or denigrate proposals, topics of his choice or projects within the Town he either favors or not. He also used it for personal attacks, such as those he made against now retired Fairview Fire Chief Anthony LoGiudice and others.
Here’s a little history:
WWCA President Dorrine Livson had requested the email list in 2014 so she could counter some of the misinformation being put forth by Mr Feiner regarding the 8-story (83ft) inflatable sports bubble that private investors, known as GameOn 365, had agreed to build on the former Frank’s Nursery location on Dobbs Ferry Road during secret conversations with Mr Feiner. This was the proverbial “back room deal”. Once Ms Livson got wind of these conversations with Mr Feiner and Mr Hewitt, she FOILed emails from Mr Feiner and received one email in particular from GameOn 365 owner, Martin Hewitt. Mr Hewitt asked Mr Feiner to cease all email communications with him and only do telephone calls because phone calls could not be FOILed and emails could! But the damage was already done. After discontinued use of 6 months, the property was no longer grandfathered as commercially zoned and reverted back to residential zoning. Then Mr Feiner promised $5 million dollars in tax revenue which turned out to be another exaggeration. But since he wanted the GameOn 365 project to go through no matter what, he pushed to have the project on a referendum at the upcoming election, asking all residents of Greenburgh to vote on this one project in this one neighborhood. He sent out numerous emails using this same email list to promote its passage. This was exactly what Ms Livson was upset about and why she sought the email list – to counteract these types of actions by Mr Feiner.
With the elections underway with the “new” voting machines – seemingly crayons and poster board, many people were not voting for the referendum as they didn’t know it was on the back of the voting ballot. He sent out an “emergency” email using the same email list telling residents to flip over their ballots and vote for the referendum. He was out of control. But, he garnered 22,000 votes in favor of the bubble.
Back to the present:
The Town denied the request on the basis that the Webmaster stated that there was neither a print or extract function with the software that can reasonably create a list of email addresses. Undaunted, Ms Livson contacted Cit-e-Net on or about March 11, 2014, and was informed that Cit-e-Net could provide the Town with a digital copy of the gblist, upon request by the Town! Ms Livson subsequently appealed the denial which ironically gets reviewed by, ahem, the Town Board – the same people already denying her request. Regardless of how absurd this might be, they denied her appeal. Undeterred, Ms Livson filed what’s called an Article 78 proceeding against the Town, the Town Clerk and the Town Board with the assistance of Edgemont Resident and Attorney Robert Bernstein.
The Supreme Court reviewed the Article 78 filing and found in favor of Ms Livson. The Town refused to turn over the email list even after ordered to do so by the Court and appealed. Yet, although the court found in favor of Ms Livson, the Town stated afterwards they were now concerned with the confidentiality of the people on the list. Our understanding is that this argument was not made during the Town’s original court presentations and was without merit as an argument now!
Mr Feiner’s abuse of the GBList is well known by those who follow Mr Feiner’s shenanigans and not what he writes in his press releases. All of this could have been avoided had Mr Feiner and the Town Board complied with the original FOIL request by Ms Livson. Once again, the court has found in favor for Ms Livson and has ordered the Town to produce the email list to her – again. They have also been ordered to pay court costs as well. Congratulations to Ms Livson and Mr Bernstein on a job well done! While ABG is certain other civic organizations will be filing for copies of this, it remains to be seen how the Town finally responds. It’s another dark day in Greenburgh that did not have to come to pass had the Town done the right thing. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.