Monday, January 23, 2017

Silence Won’t Be Purchased With Appointments

Appointments to various committees happen quite often in the Town. Many are rewards for either supporting Mr Feiner or his schemes. For instance, prior to retiring to Florida, his friend and confidante Alan Hochberg was appointed by Mr Feiner as the Deputy Town Supervisor. Mr Hochberg, also a convicted felon just as Mr Feiner, chaired other committees, including a veterans group for the Town. We understand there’s an unspoken quid pro quo with the former resident and Mr Feiner.

At a recent Council of Greenburgh Civic Association meeting that Worthington Woodlands Civic Association President Dorrine Livson attended, we learned she received an offer from Mr Feiner to be nominated for a vacant seat on the Town of Greenburgh Planning Board. Mr Feiner’s offer, while appropriate at face value, seems like a classic move to silence another of his growing list of outspoken critics. In his correspondence to her, he says, “I think you would be an outstanding member and am confident that you would be fair with each applicant. I also appreciate the constructive suggestions you have made to the town over the years.” Finally, there’s something the Supervisor said that we can agree with!

Apparently an offer was first made to Edgemont resident Jeff Sherwin for the vacant seat on the planning board. It appears that after Mr Sherwin declined Mr Feiner’s offer, Ms Livson declined as well. So now two critics of Mr Feiner failed to be enticed into servitude. We’ve written extensively of Ms Livson and the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association. For those of you who do not know of Mr Sherwin, he is a significant contributor to the Edgemont Incorporation Council, the group which is seeking to get a referendum in the Town as Edgemont seeks to incorporate as a Village and become independent from the control of the Town. In particular, these residents believe they are better suited to control the destiny of their community than Mr Feiner and his Board.

In an article in a weekly newspaper that covers Edgemont and parts of the Town, Mr Feiner was quoted as stating, “I have spoken to others who also believe that you would be an asset to the planning board.” Mr Sherwin was quoted responding, “I believe Paul Feiner is not pro-incorporation. I believe he has a mission to thwart incorporation. I think his asking me to join the planning board was part of a plan, either by distracting me, or by trading favors, or by getting me to say ‘no’ without sufficient reason so he could say Edgemont doesn’t really care about zoning and planning.”

For the last several years, Mr Feiner has pretended to seek approval from his Town Board on numerous projects. As those who follow Town politics are aware, his Board has become nothing more than a rubber-stamp arm of his administration, approving any and all projects of his desire. Project after project appears to get unceremoniously pushed through if it’s one favored by Mr Feiner. The average taxpayer, saddled with exorbitant fees and demands usually take a back seat to the big developers. They also rarely, if ever, get an opportunity to speak to the Board at a work session or in private as so many of the big developers often do.

One project that is currently in litigation is with the S&R developers who are trying to build on a parcel of land they purchased adjacent to the Greenburgh Nature Center. It is being held up for several reasons that never should have seen the light of day. The Town’s zoning maps, changes erroneously made by the Town Board and a covenant held by the neighboring convent of nuns nearby should mandate a dismissal of this project! Regardless, this is yet another lawsuit that is costing the taxpayers more money that we shouldn’t be paying. Planning Board member Hugh Schwartz, whom we have had respect for previously, is regularly vociferous in his objection to the Edgemont Incorporation Council effort. He has had numerous articles published stating so as well as countering those in favor of the effort. Interestingly, Mr Schwartz’s wife is an employee of the law firm involved with the lawsuit against the Town! While we’ll give Mr and Mrs Schwartz the benefit of the doubt, this alludes to substantiating our case with both Ms Livson and Mr Sherwin.

Having a one political party Town works for those members of it. But not having any opposing or dissenting views on the Board robs the residents of fairness, fresh ideas and an ethical compass. Mr Feiner is asking his “critics” to join him on the boards - but that takes away their civic duty to speak out for, against or critique a development as they cannot go before the Town Board, Planning Board or the Zoning Board to present their private point of view or even represent their Civic Association. While it makes him look like the good guy, he is really trying to silence them knowing what they can and cannot do according to the Town’s Ethics Code. This unethical abuse needs to end. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

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