Saturday, December 9, 2017

Fire District Elections This Tuesday, Dec 12th

Our previous article about the fire district elections focused on a debate held in Hartsdale between Bob Iamonico and Mona Fraitag. It was readily apparent to the audience of about 50 of so people that Mr Iamonico had a better firematic command of the evening than his opponent, Ms Fraitag. After listening to both candidates, Ms Fraitag seemed lost with many of the questions. Clearly, her lack of knowledge about the responsibilities of a Fire Commissioner, even though she claims to attend every Fire Commissioner meeting, was glaring and why we found Mr Iamonico the more favorable candidate.

This Tuesday night, with somewhat varying times, will be the elections for the position of Fire Commissioner for the three fire districts in the Town. In Hartsdale, the election will be held at the Hartsdale Fire Station #1 between 3pm and 9pm; Fairview’s will be between 4pm and 9pm at both fire stations; Greenville’s will also be between 4pm and 9pm. In Fairview and Greenville, there is only one candidate seeking office. The Fairview candidate seeking re-election is Vickki Simmons. The candidate seeking election in Greenville is Warren Hershkowitz.

Interestingly, Mr Feiner went after Ms Simmons after attacking the former Fairview Fire Chief Anthony LoGiudice. Chief LoGiudice apologized to Mr Feiner for comments made some twenty years earlier per Mr Feiner’s request, then he refused to accept the apology and continued his assault against him in the media and with email blasts. By the way, Mr Feiner has yet to apologize to the Fortress Bible Church or the taxpayers after being found guilty of discrimination, destroying evidence and costing the Unincorporated taxpayers $6.5 million dollars in fines.

Then he and his cohorts turned on Ms Simmons. Ms Simmons is known to do the right thing and perform her duties beyond reproach with fire district issues. Mr Feiner, along with his lead surrogate Milt Hoffman (now deceased), accused Ms Simmons of doing a number of illegal things in order to promote her son to Captain in the Fairview FD. Not only was the vote to promote him to Captain unanimous, Ms Simmons abstained from voting for obvious reasons. When the next election took place, Mr Feiner backed his hand-picked candidate, Ms Claire Pizzuti who now sits on the Board. We believe this was nothing but another one of Mr Feiner’s diversion tactics to take public attention away from his failings at the time.

Ms Pizzuti was elected. In the next subsequent election, now retired Fairview firefighter John Malone was elected to the newly open seat. We are unsure if he was also backed by Mr Feiner. But the goal by Mr Feiner is to get three (a majority vote) seats on the three Boards of Commissioners to push for a referendum vote to consolidate the fire districts. Once that were to happen, his surrogates would cede control to the Town, similar to the control over what happens with the police department and in particular their budget!

We’ve heard a rumor that Feiner-friendly resident Don Cannon picked up a petition in order to run for Fire Commissioner in Fairview but never handed it in. Why not? Did he change his mind or is there an ulterior motive? What concerns us is that Feiner and Cannon might attempt a stealth write-in campaign for the commissioner position that Ms Simmons is seeking. We believe Mr Feiner’s long-range goal is to gain control of at least three Fire Commissioners in Fairview and Hartsdale so as to push them to vote for consolidation of the districts as it must be voted upon by the commissioners. We also believe that Mr Feiner will not replace paid firefighters when they retire so as to bring down overall manning levels,  as he did with the Greenburgh PD. Could Mr Feiner be scheming to forcibly drive down the Fire Tax by $1,000, giving him a $1,000 budgetary increase to play with in Town Tax?

In the end, after speaking with all the commissioners in the three departments, studying their budgets and listening to the consolidation, dispatching and personnel arguments from both sides, we believe the fire districts are operating well and with little or no waste in their budgets. We invite residents to go to the meetings and see and hear for themselves. Voting for representation on the fire commissioner boards is a five-year term. Use your best judgement as to whom you choose. It will make for A Better Greenburgh.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, it takes little effort to be against Ms. Fraitag. But surely with ABG's vast experience in Fire District advocacy, it would behoove it to perhaps cite "something" as grounds for voting for him -- something other than he's not Mona.
    If her claim of attending every meeting falls short of providing her with the "correct" answers as reported by a clearly biased ABG, what were Mr. Iamonico's answers? What does he bring to the table in terms of Fire Dsitrict direction? What I presume ABG likes about him must be that he is against consolidation -- a position which remains arguable but never on this blog. Consolidation is neither all good nor all bad but you wouldn't know it from reading these pages. One positive aspect about consolidation is that it lessens the monetary expense in justifying $200,000+ salaries for three Fire Chiefs and substantial amounts for seconds in command. Consolidation jeopardizes the shot at grabbing the brass ring for aspiring Fire Chiefs and current Chiefs who hang onto this bonanza for dear life and NYS pension. And, when you think about it, it is not as though the Fire Houses of these three, independent districts are so far apart from each other -- all being located under two miles while the distance from the nearest being less than a mile. Given that in most instances (say, an actual fire) all Districts respond to the same call, one really has to wonder whether or not consolidation is such a horrible thought were post consolidation the Fire Department to remain independent of Town Hall. Fear of Feiner running the show is merely the artifice that hides the cost of retaining a top-heavy, archaic, redundant management structure. Even at the "risk" of giving Ms. Fraitag a"portfolio" legitimacy, I argue that having a taxpayer advocate vs. no advocate is the lesser burden for residents to carry. And yes, it does make sense for Feiner (who hold elected office) to explore every opportunity to feed his mismanagement by finding ways to siphon off excessive tax dollars which do not flow directly to Town coffers. If that is ABG's concern, then whacking off the returning heads of the hydra has proven to be useless methodology to defeat the beast. However, I remain convinced that these ABG posts supporting Fire District independence are really about preserving a very costly status quo and not about reducing operational effectiveness. Thus, regarding this issue alone, "all I am saying is give Mona a chance"