Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Questions Were Well Written, But The Answers Were Not

The meeting at the Theodore D. Young Community Center (TDYCC) was billed as one of providing information to the Town’s residents regarding the impact on Town operations should the Edgemont Community incorporate and become a Village within the Town. The dais was represented with commissioners from each of the Town’s departments as well as the Town Attorney, Tim Lewis and Town Board member, Ken Jones. The consensus in the audience was that as Mr Feiner’s appointees, they were instructed to be there. Chairs were set up in the gymnasium for about one hundred or so people. Many of the seats remained unused.

André G. Early, the Commissioner of the Department of Community Resources, welcomed everyone and turned the microphone over to Don Cannon, a Feiner-sycophant, who has obediently served his padrone in several capacities. Tonight, his apparent task would simply be to spread misinformation, false facts and obfuscate any discernable information to the Town residents, a task he executed well. And, when he didn’t know how to answer a question, or it was specific to one of the department heads, they were offered the microphone to give the seemingly agreed upon answer, “I don’t know.”

The short presentation made by Mr Cannon regurgitated information Mr Feiner has touted but never verified, qualified or detailed beyond his typical sensationalism. Those who follow Town affairs know Mr Feiner typically throws out unrealistic numbers and bogus information, hoping something “sticks”. Here, it was a rehashing of the anti-incorporation numbers that he has maintained as accurate. We might believe him if he would explain and quantify how he arrived at them. But, he never does…

That leaves us with the numbers he’s created. At every opportunity Mr Feiner has said the Edgemont incorporation would mandate drastic cuts throughout the Town. He claims that Edgemont’s incorporation, parroted by Mr Cannon, will cause the Town budget to lose $17.5 million dollars, increase taxes to Unincorporated Greenburgh residents by 30%, layoff 30% of Town employees and cut services by 30%. Our first question, read last, asked how they arrived at these numbers? Our second question was if the new Village of Edgemont contracts all of the same services with the Town, how do the numbers change? Mr Cannon answered the question with a technically correct but invalid answer. He said, “I got those numbers from the Town budget.” The second question’s answer was brushed aside with the standard answer, “We don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.”

The numbers are important for several reasons. First, the standard answer was always, “We don’t know or we’ll have to wait and see.” Councilman Jones, an attorney, seems to have studied at Mr Feiner’s “dance” school. When he didn’t have a tangible answer, he said an awful lot of “um’s and ah’s” and just kept dancing around not providing any answers, eventually just turning off the microphone. Second, the 500 pound elephant in the room was simply: how can you tell us we’re going to lose $17.5 million dollars, increase taxes to Unincorporated Greenburgh residents by 30%, layoff 30% of Town employees and cut services by 30% and then claim you’re unable to substantiate how you arrived at those numbers? And, since the proposed Village of Edgemont representatives have consistently stated they always planned to purchase services from the Town, which they will be paying for, how will these numbers be changed? “We don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.”

In speaking with former Justice Herb Rosenberg after the meeting, he stated, “The questions were well written, but the answers were not,” referring to the 3x5 index cards that residents and attendees were required to fill out with their questions. Sadly, because this meeting was not about sharing and presenting facts to the residents, the evening turned into a colossal waste of everyone’s time. Many residents left early as they slowly realized they were being pandered to and not getting any real information. Many began shouting questions from the floor, obviously frustrated by the card-controlled questioning process. In fact, the Journal News reporter who was at the meeting left about halfway through it.

As we were leaving, we passed Mr Feiner in the lobby area and overheard him asking someone how the evening went? They asked why he hadn’t been here for the meeting and his answer was that he was at another meeting. We don’t know if it was about Edgemont Incorporation or not, but we believe he accomplished his goal of limiting transparency and obfuscating information against the Edgemont Incorporation effort. The outcome would have been the same had Mr Feiner been present, so it’s no loss that he wasn’t in attendance. Again, people wanted to know why no action had been taken by the Feiner Administration for the Town to be ready should incorporation proceed long before this meeting. The answer given by Mr Cannon was that a Citizen Task Force was being formed to address the incorporation. What’s next, using interns?

There is another meeting this Thursday night at the Seely School. We hope this will provide real, forthcoming information. The Town officials claim to be neutral in this entire episode – but they obviously are not. Mr Feiner has invited WesPac, a social activist and anti-Israel group to the meeting. He’s done this before with them. Last time caused Town Hall to be shut down earlier in the day about a year ago after Mr Feiner allowed them use of Town Hall for free, costing taxpayers a lot of money for police overtime and allowing Mr Feiner to subsequently create phony cause to keep neighborhood organizations from utilizing Town Hall for meetings. Why do we mention this? 

We believe the tactic for this Thursday night’s meeting will be orchestrated by Mr Feiner to somehow accuse the Edgemont Incorporation Group of racial discrimination. We honestly do not believe they are doing this to keep anyone out of Edgemont. Rather, it is to get out from under the Town’s mismanagement and control. Regardless, once it is refuted by the Edgemont Incorporation leaders, he will need something else to deflect away from his cavalier approach to the incorporation and the Town’s lack of preparedness. This meeting at the Theodore Young Community Center had a specific intent. It could not be recorded or televised as it should have been and is why it was not held in Town Hall – which we know was available since no one is allowed to use it any more. Regardless, WesPac will give him the added conflict and deflection he desires once the discrimination issue is removed. The meeting held Tuesday night is the exact representation of why Edgemont residents are looking to incorporate. This type of bad behavior from Town leadership needs to end. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

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