Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Call For Civility, A Call For Democracy- You Decide

As we were writing an article about Mr Feiner's email blast, hard-copy mailing to follow, we received a rebuttal email from the Edgemont Incorporation Council (EIC). While we refuse to print Mr Feiner's press releases for numerous reasons, we felt it fair to print it in its entirety with the EIC rebuttal. As we have followed this entire process, we believe the EIC has been forthcoming, forward with their answers to any questions and tried to provide an honest and open discussion. The same cannot be said about Mr Feiner and his Board. With the exception of the special Sunday night "CYA" meeting, his Board has seemed to distance themselves from him and this event. No matter, they know you will re-elect them in November. In fact, the Democrat party has already nominated them and is carrying petitions to that effect.

Regardless of the election outcome and stalemate of ideas, creativity, new or better thinking the residents will not be receiving come this November, the real effort by Mr Feiner should recognized for what it is, voter suppression and control. Simply, Edgemont residents should be allowed to vote. They followed the rules to do so. They gathered the signatures, they put their money ($6,000 fee) up while Mr Feiner has bent, manipulated and disregarded the rules. This argument is broken down by both of the sides below. Once again the EIC has provided links to back up their position and share information. 

Eventually, usually at taxpayer expense and in the courts, this will be decided. Allowing the community to vote without Mr Feiner strong-arming the process to achieve his goal,even though its usually served for him before, should be the outcome in court. It's the right thing to do even if you don't want it. Why? Because like it or not, it will help to make A Better Greenburgh.

A Call For Civility
As many of you may have experienced, the debate related to Edgemont’s proposed incorporation has produced a level and intensity of rhetoric which has inflicted real damage on every segment of the Town’s population and staff, as well as the outside world’s view of both our Town and its Hamlet of Edgemont.
At this time, the attacks on the Town Board, our staff and on me have become increasingly personal and in many cases cruel and hurtful.  I have not reacted previously to the ever-mounting, non-stop barrage of vicious commentary, as I believed that acceptance of criticism comes with the “turf” when you choose to be a public servant.  However, this process, which I truly believe is an orchestrated plan by the pro-incorporation group to discredit every aspect of the Town, comes with a severe cost.  Residents, both pro and con, are at “each other’s throats.”  Words like racism and elitism are being tossed about outside and within a community which previously had been seen as a bastion of acceptance of diverse opinions.  The results of this campaign will clearly live on beyond the Edgemont referendum, both in the form of our residents’ perception of each other’s values and in the manner in which the Town of Greenburgh and its Villages are viewed by the outside world.  In addition, the effect of this nasty rhetoric on our staff, who fear for their jobs and whose spirits are being broken by the constant criticism of their commitment and ability to professionally fulfill their responsibilities, is wrong and unacceptable.
I am the elected Town Supervisor for approximately 90,000 residents of the incorporated Villages and unincorporated Town of Greenburgh.  In conjunction with a Town Board comprised of individuals I trust and respect, we endeavor to do the best job we can, for all residents.  The Town Board and I oversee  434 full time and 268 part time Greenburgh employees, who are dedicated to serving Greenburgh’s residents and have proven their competence and commitment, over and over again.  The Town Board and I have great pride in these individuals and respect for each and every one, on a personal and professional level.  They are the best of the best and provide the highest level of service anywhere.
At some point Edgemont voters may cast ballots in a referendum to determine whether Edgemont will become a Village.  Let us be clear, the potential loss of nearly $17,000,000 in revenue will absolutely have a devastating effect on many of the more than 42,000 residents of unincorporated Greenburgh.  As Supervisor of “The Town of Greenburgh,” not just any single entity, I will do my best to ensure the fairest outcome for my entire constituency.
I appeal to those Greenburgh residents on both sides of this debate, to our local newspapers and media outlets, to pursue their objectives, as is their right and responsibility, to their fullest, but to utilize restraint in their tone and presentation.  Our community and our children are watching, and regardless of the outcome, it is my fervent hope that Greenburgh’s reputation for civility and acceptance can remain intact.
PAUL FEINER, Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Open Response to Supervisor Feiner on Civility 
The EIC completely agrees that the discussion on Edgemont's incorporation should be civil and respectful.  

Since it began, the Edgemont Incorporation Committee has conducted a fair, open, information-based, transparent process. The thousands of Edgemont residents who have attended the dozens of meetings, forums, open houses and petition-signing events over the past year can attest to the depth of the discussion, the sincerity of the views held (on all sides), and the genuine spirit of civic engagement that has animated the entire process. Thousands of visitors have examined, analyzed and debated the detailed information assembled by Edgemont volunteers and experts on our 
Edgemont's residents are not "at each other's throats" -- we are discussing, debating and challenging each other to build a better community.  What we are attempting -- with no help from you and your regime -- is to exercise our rights under state law and under the constitution.

But let's be clear about what Edgemont has gotten in return from you, your board, your hired investigators and some of your anti-incorporation supporters: 

a consistent pattern of obstruction, deception, and delay at every step in the process.
a secret and outrageous scheme (revealed through emails to which you were a party) to organize and support an opposition campaign, including false allegations of intimidation. 
- vulgar gestures directed at Edgemont residents in a public meeting
the active solicitation of false objections to Edgemont's legitimate petition. 
the use of Town funds for private investigators to deceive petition signers into disowning their signatures.
and most recently, an attempt to thwart democracy with an unconstitutional home-rule bill.

The EIC endorses any call for civility in this process. But even more importantly: 
We call for DEMOCRACY.  After months of assurances that you were merely trying to follow the law, it turns out you could only pretend to care about the law as long as you were winning. So last week, you decided if you couldn't win an Edgemont vote, you would try to have Edgemont's right to vote taken away altogether - by ramming a "home-rule" request through the legislature in Albany on the last few days of the legislative session. With no notice, no debate, and then a sham last-minute meeting on Father's Day, you had your Board of Supervisors rubber stamp your anti-democratic end-run in Albany.  It was only thanks to the very civil appeals of hundreds of Edgemont residents to their legislators in Albany that your scheme was halted

We call for HONESTY.  Don't hide behind your hired guns to disclaim responsibility for the private investigator fiasco.  It was your responsibility and your decision. 
Don't tell us, with a straight face, that the home-rule legislation you tried to ram through the legislature had nothing to do with the Edgemont incorporation effort. 

We call for RESPECT.  The Edgemont community has expressed its clear will to hold a vote on incorporation.  The EIC has expressed its clear intention to promote a fair and cooperative process between the Village of Edgemont and the Town of Greenburgh. You have rejected the community's petition based on fabricated technicalities and outright falsehoods, and you have rejected any possibility of a constructive, cooperative dialogue with the Village of Edgemont. 

The Scarsdale Inquirer's editorial page this week called you "a desperate man" and said your latest attempt to stop Edgemont was "manifestly desperate," seeking "new, totalitarian authority to keep [Edgemont] and their money right where they are." This week's Lohud article calls your "failed effort to change the rules in the middle of the game seems desperate, if not vindictive."

We agree.

Mr. Feiner - the CIVIL thing to do would be to honor the will and the right of Edgemont's citizens to hold a vote on incorporation and to accept the outcome.  If you insist on fighting, do so on the facts.  Argue the merits. Accept the voters' will.  That's civility. 

One more thing:  
It is not a fact (as you continue to state) that Greenburgh will lose $17-million in revenue when Edgemont incorporates. 
The EIC has consistently, repeatedly, emphatically laid out many scenarios in which the Village of Edgemont might find it advantageous to contract with the Town of Greenburgh for a variety of services.  What is a fact is that after Edgemont incorporates, you - Paul Feiner -- will lose your personal control over that $17 million in revenue.  You will no longer be free to use that money, among other things, to pay multi-million court judgments for your unconstitutional actions (Fortress Bible) or to hire private investigators to come into our homes and trick us into surrendering our constitutional rights. 

The EIC.


  1. I have to wonder if Paul's letter was meant to take attention away from the Lohud article on Don Seigel's tax assessment (drastically underassessed). Instead of calling for civility, Feiner should be calling for an independent investigation. We need to know who had access to the assessments, and who authorized changes.

  2. Although it's Greenburgh, 1 plus 1 still equals 2

    The growing l'affaire Siegel needs
    to be investigated including who is funding his secret lawsuit challenging the signatures of Greenburgh's new Town Judge in his quixotic campaign to stop Edgemont. from voting on whether to incorporate or not.

  3. "What's in a name?
    It isn’t hand or foot or arm or face or any other part belonging to a man."
    From Romeo & Juliet by W. Shakespeare

    In anticipation that name in question, the EIC would respond with "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" I submit that the notion (aka a fool's errand) that the TOG should be negotiating with the EIC is patently false; morally, logically and legally bankrupt: the latter especially significant given that the first to cry foul re legality was the EIC. Therefore I question what is the EIC? It carries no portfolio meaning that it represents no existing legitimate government. Indeed, what it might represent has not yet completed the first tri-mester: an allowed Petition (ok, the EIC is challenging the challenges) but even were the Petition to go forward, the next tri-mester, a big one, is succeeding in the resulting Referendum. Neither of these events is a sure thing at the this writing. Furthermore, what is the EIC, itself? Its leadership assumed their positions by their self elicited nomination and election. Individual Edgemont residents, perhaps not even Civic Associations, did not elect the EIC "officers". Some Edgemont residents, unhappy with the TOG government, simply formed an "equally imperfect union" and hung out a sign announcing "we're open for business".

    So on what basis would you have elected officials for the legitimate TOG government negotiate with a non-representative (anyone on the EIC committee in favor of remaining within the unincorporated fold?) group of organizers with no power to speak for the whole of Edgemont? Election of Village officials obviously marks the third tri-mester.

    In real estate transactions there is a phrase "ready, willing and able" and I submit that the EIC may be ready, may be willing but fails miserably on the third element, able. It has neither the legal basis to negotiate as it represents no government; it cannot agree to or, execute a contract to obtain for-fee, (most assuredly not for free) services, programs or use of facilities provided by the unincorporated budget) and it certainly has no money in the bank to pay for them.

    And why should the TOG spend taxpayer paid man-hours to determine a fitting charge, were it even willing to provide such relief to Edgemont, with no assurance that if Edgemont did incorporate that its new and duly elected government would vote to honor contracts or agreements that it did not itself negotiate or execute? Does the EIC think that it is ok to use taxpayer dollars to aid its quest for incorporation but not ok for the Town Supervisor to use taxpayer dollars to hire consultants whose investigations and studies would seek to protect the well-being of those Greenburgh residents "left behind" - a far larger population?

    It may be a hard road for the EIC to travel but that is a road that the EIC chose to travel. This issue of Greenburgh refusing to reveal its endgame in advance of any Referendum is only fair play in a play like Romeo & Juliet featuring opposing sides and. if roses are the talisman of victory, both sides need to find a new florist.

    As for Albany, still smarting from NYC Mayor(s)' success in running its school system, there is little surprise that Albany would back keeping open the floodgates for a school district attempting to become a government.

  4. Hal,

    1. No one is asking the Town to contract before a village is formed.

    2. No one is asking the Town to spend any money. There is a great volunteer committee, headed by the very talented Luis Polit, a CPA.

    3. Common prudence would be for anyone concern on the verge of losing their largest income stream to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Capital expenditures should be evaluated. For example, buying new garbage trucks.

    4. New York City school district has existed for years, and will continue. If Albany did not renew mayoral control, it would revert to a board, where the mayor appointed two members, each borough president one. The same governmental unit, the New York City Schools would remain.

  5. Raid,

    It may be just coincidence, but the Town has hired Troetti, Siegel's attorney, for $25K for a case that has been dormant since 2012 (see here: not 24 hours AFTER Paul Feiner was served with this lawsuit from Don Siegel. The Town also hired another law firm on the same day to handle that same dormant case for another $25K.

    Go figure.

    1. You missed my point about schools. It was not about NYC or Albany but rather my observation that here in Greenburgh was have a school district trying to become a government -- the opposite of most battles over who runs the schools.