Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October: Miscellaneous

The purpose of this Miscellaneous topic is to discuss any town related issues you feel are important. Please post any issues you wish to discuss in the comments section of this post. Thanks!

123 comments:

hal samis said...

I am certainly guilty of using these postings to get my story about the Library Board, the expansion project and soon their 2007 budget "request" out to the community. Residents don't really recognize what a wonderful opportunity this is before them to "speak their mind", even if their voice is guarded wearing the masking of "anonymous".

But even more significant is that these blog pages are not edited, your comments appear immediately after the "publish your comment" button is clicked. That means that the Supervisor is willing to bear the inevitable criticism that such a forum will attract.

Think about it: the Supervisor is providing a useable format for the public to throw stones. If the public doesn't like something, they can get their problem aired while not being limited to the publication dates and preferences and word count of the local newspapers.

I've gone to a few of the blog subjects and the comments are running mostly anti-Feiner. The comments are also mostly anonymous which means that "who" or how many times the same "who" is writing is unknown.

I haven't done research on this but I don't expect to find many governments or organizations that sponsor such an opportunity for the public to vent or...to applaud.

This is a very worthwhile undertaking and I hope that the future of this enterprise is not endangered by those who can't tolerate freedom of speech or those who continue to speak out but will only do so wearing the cloak of anonymity.

I really think this is a wonderful opportunity for both Feiner, Feiner's friends and foes alike and uncommitted citizens to get their views out to others, almost effortlessly. Everyone should visit these blogs regularly. And their value, as time goes on, will be appreciated more and more by more and more visitors.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

Frankly, when a politician "links" his own website (a kickoff to his next election?) to the town website, in effect using town property (the website, if not the intern's services) he has no choice.

Anonymous said...

This is a great public service-- it's refreshing open government. Does any other elected official anywhere in provide such a forum? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

This blog is what democracy is about: providing citizens with the opportunity to express ourselves in an open forum. I hope all our elected officials listen to the voice of the people.

hal samis said...

This reply is to "anonymous" whose language seems remarkably similar to either that of a local attorney or a member of the town council...

Mr. Feiner is a politician and one thing that politicians do is run for office. That is not a sin or an activity invented by the Supervisor. In his situation, being holder of the office of Greenburgh Town Supervisor, it takes on its own life, separate and apart from the country club that is the Town Council. Unlike the job description of the four Council members who fulfill part time jobs yet are elected to four year terms, the office of the Town Supervisor is only a two year term. This means that running for re-election is and should be the goal of any official who believes that he or she is doing a good job. And it means running in every election, a task which the individual Council members do not have to endure.
Oerhaps the position should be changed to become like other heads of government, a four year role.

While you are speaking frankly, anytime the Supervisor or the Town Council or the Town Council's legislative aide use town property, say the elist for promotional purposes, the residents who pay for this service should be allowed to respond to incorrect and subjective pieces by having their say circulated in front of the same audience via access to the elist.

Since this is not to be, then Mr. Feiner's blog site is the next best thing. And since you read and respond, although furtively, you demonstrate no qualms about using it to air your grievance.

If I see in the 2007 budget a line item for "Supervisor's intern" I may agree that the Town also has some proprietary interest in the "intern".

Meanwhile I do anticipate that I shall see a costly line item in Department 1010 (Town Council) line 100.2 (aide to Town Council) which for 2006 was at the rate of $50,000. Hopefully with less than a year of use, this item will not be budgeted at the same percentage of increase as for town employees with two or more years of service. And that this line item shall not be used as the indigenous Press Agent for the Town Council.

Finally, although not Specific to you, I think that anonymous is an awkward construction even for those who seek to hit and run.
May I suggest that a unique, secret identity be used instead. It makes it less cumbersome and wordy to target responses to those members of the public who were born without proper naming ceremonies.

These public domain names are still available: Deep Throat, Sasquatch, Stupifyed, Tonto, Judas, Bashful, Cisco Kid, Double 0 and Prancer.

Anonymous said...

Random topic: I'd like for unincorporated Greenburgh to become a city. This township set-up is so embarrassingly antiquated and unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

If unincorporated Greenburgh became a city then the villages would not have to pay the costs of operating a court house. Won't taxes of unincorporated Greenburgh residents go up if this happens? I heard that members of the Town Board are considering spending over $25 million on a new court house.

hartsdale commuter said...

the area immediately around the hartsdale train is a pigsty especially near the stream. the town clearly has some oversight of this area as town dpw personnel empty the garbage bins at the station. the town spends hundreds of dollars on "art" in desanti plaza (just opposite the train station). the money would be better spent on cleaning up the train station and perhaps refurbishing the war memorial near the shabby bushes next to the signs saying "please do not feed the birds." and lets not hide behind the argument that some of this area may belong to the MTA. its in greenburgh and we should clean up our mess.

hal samis said...

As Jerry Seinfeld might ask, 'what is it with these Todd Harvey designed Library projects?'

Today's Journal News reports that Ed Falcone, (who lives in upper Westchester County) stepping down as Director of the Ossining Library which is preparing for a December opening, has just accepted a position as Deputy Director of the Yonkers Library.

In Greenburgh, Demita Gerber is leaving her $117,400 job in December, reportedly, to move to Arizona to be near her family.

Both Libraries are the product of Todd Harvey. Although there have been rumors that Ms Gerber had some problems (understandable) with Howard Jacobs, head of the Library Board of Trustees, it is curious that neither Library Director is sticking around to bask in the glory of their new bricks. Of course there are many obvious and reasonable timing explanations, particularly for Mr. Falcone.

However, Library Directors run their respective Libraries in name only. They are only well paid employees reporting to the Library Trustees. Whereas their input to their Boards is heard, often times the Board steers the Library in a direction that is contrary to that of the public face of the Library, the Director. And often they are in total agreement as well.

Still, having examined the "layout" of Greenburgh's vision of Library of the Future, I can see many design flaws that will down the road come to haunt a staff that actually has to inhabit and operate the building.

"Getting out while the getting's good" is a phrase that springs readily to mind.

Perhaps there is some community elsewhere that will similarly entice Mr. Jacobs.

curious villager said...

mr samis makes the point in his blog posts that ms juettner is the town board's liasion to the greenburgh library (which is funded solely by unincorporated greenburgh)
even though she doesnt live in unincoporated greenburgh and is not taxed with respect to this library. nor will she pay any portion of the 20 million dollars plus interest for the expansion.
do residents in unincorporated greenburgh feel this is proper?

greenburgh watchdog said...

many of the posts complain about various town eyesores like the european health spa and closed gas stations. the town board has been busy voting to fund lavish dinner cruises and discount opera tickets for students in mt pleasant and north castle (in the valhalla school district). what efforts have been expended to lobby the owners of these eyesores to do something about their properties? oh i forgot, they have been busy with dog parks, ignoring tim lewis' opinion on westhelp and forbidding the circus from coming to town.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Ms. Juettner should not be the liason to the library. The services and the costs are to or for unincorporated Greenburgh (oops, or whatever Feiner and/or ARdsley finagle into just giving to Elmsford).

Anonymous said...

Oh lets be fair to Juettner, she needs to build up her political resume. She counldnt knock off Marge Gaffny as democratic leader in greenburgh, so the feiner camp has to find stuff for her to do

hal samis said...

Dear curious villager,

Liaison to the Library is not Ms Juettner's only outing in the land of A vs B budgets,but that is not the issue.

Ms. Juettner should not be the Library liaison because in that capacity she has been sleeping at the switch. As I have cited elsewhere on these blog pages, she failed to advise the Library Board not to concede their interest in the old town hall site and thus, then paving the way to disgnating the parcel as surplus and availabe for sale to Sunrise; she failed to inform the Library Board that use of the old town hall for a temporary library was impractical due to costly remediations and she failed to intervene in the lengthy Frank's lease negotiations which further ran out the resettlement clock.

Only recently has she found that she has a voice but it seems to be to confound the Supervisor but nevertheless to follow his lead on important votes.

Why she is so popular with your fellow villagers is a mystery. She certainly does not have her
"hometown" interests at heart and thus she, other than ineptitude, is not a threat as liaison to town departments she doesn't have to pay to support.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

I think she does have the Villagers best interests at heart, she has consistenly supported Feiner in charging the unincorporated budget for town wide facilities, which should be charged town wide.

What I think should be done with the library is just -- start all over. Ok, we have had a delay. That is not fatal. I think we should get plans as follows:

1. Keep present libary operating.
2. Have new consturtion start in the space between the old town hall and old libary. Restrict parking to either the small lot on the lower level beside the old library (for employees) or behind the old town hall (for library users). Have a designated walkway to steer clear of construction. Consturction vehicles and equipment only to use area in front of old town hall, behind old library (the current main lot) and the "middle" driveway between the old town hall and old library.
3. When that part of construction is done, move books etc to new, know down old and finish -- moving employee parking as needed.

Cut out need for temporary library.

Obviously, with hindsight, we would have done things differently, including possibly combining new town hall (which is truly the taj mahal of town halls) with library. what is done is done.

hal samis said...

Dear Greenburgh watchdog,

The European Health Spa has only recently come off lease. The tenant, although not occupying the premises but still paying rent, had a valid lease which prevented the owner from intervening.

Two years or so ago, the owner submitted a development application to the Zoning or Planning Board (I forget which) to rebuild his adjacent carpet store over two or three facing Central Avenue rental stores (the property is on a hill) and was beat up due to problems with left turns onto the premises when heading South and the slopes caused some mediations for run-off on impervious surfaces (parking) and potential disturbances from blasting to the school property located behind. I think the application was withdrawn and I don't know what the current status is.

However before you continue with the "lobbying" concept you should consult with the various Edgemont civic associations which have an interest (non-ownership) in how this property is developed. You will learn that residential development is on their hit list because they do not want to burden their school system. Commercial development is subject to scrutiny because of an unpublished list of unacceptable uses and the traffic they might bring. And, as is always the case, what is permitted at this location if variances are allowed, becomes the precedent for similar situations townwide.

Development faces opposition even when it is a conforming use. And there is a very short list of property owners who want to build parks along Central Avenue.

Finally, intervening one behalf of the owner or to allow him to proceed with development will not be high on the Town Board's list of priorities. It is local lore that the Supervisor's attempt to allow this owner to conduct a tent sale of carpets, like you see at Bloomingdale's every year but afoul of Greenburgh local laws, that allegedly first gored the ox that Bernstein bought for two zuzzim which led to the start of the A vs B headaches.

As for the gas stations, they have their own problems due to the likelihood of residual soil contamination which sets in motion a costly and time consuming process to make them eligible to emerge from brownfield status.

Don't bet your IRA on opinions made by Town Attorney Tim Lewis. He is going into this Westhelp situation with a bad batting average behind him. Who knows for sure if this turn at bat will get him out of the slump he is mired in from practically every "opinion" or lease he has vetted. He also comes with the baggage of not understanding FOIL laws and what is permissable at Public Hearings.

As for dog parks, they said it couldn't be done and yet it got done. I don't have a dog but every dog has its day and their turn came up. A trivial quality of life issue that cost little to undertake, less to maintain and hardly worth the ensuing uproar.

Finally the circus has not been banned in Greenburgh; it has merely been renamed as Town Council with new ringmaster, Gil Kaminer. This crew's particular skill is "barking" (see above) up the wrong tree which is a still a protected activity in Greenburgh due to the absence after two years of a workable set of tree laws.

hal samis said...

Dear Greenburgh watchdog,

The European Health Spa has only recently come off lease. The tenant, although not occupying the premises but still paying rent, had a valid lease which prevented the owner from intervening.

Two years or so ago, the owner submitted a development application to the Zoning or Planning Board (I forget which) to rebuild his adjacent carpet store over two or three facing Central Avenue rental stores (the property is on a hill) and was beat up due to problems with left turns onto the premises when heading South and the slopes caused some mediations for run-off on impervious surfaces (parking) and potential disturbances from blasting to the school property located behind. I think the application was withdrawn and I don't know what the current status is.

However before you continue with the "lobbying" concept you should consult with the various Edgemont civic associations which have an interest (non-ownership) in how this property is developed. You will learn that residential development is on their hit list because they do not want to burden their school system. Commercial development is subject to scrutiny because of an unpublished list of unacceptable uses and the traffic they might bring. And, as is always the case, what is permitted at this location if variances are allowed, becomes the precedent for similar situations townwide.

Development faces opposition even when it is a conforming use. And there is a very short list of property owners who want to build parks along Central Avenue.

Finally, intervening one behalf of the owner or to allow him to proceed with development will not be high on the Town Board's list of priorities. It is local lore that the Supervisor's attempt to allow this owner to conduct a tent sale of carpets, like you see at Bloomingdale's every year but afoul of Greenburgh local laws, that allegedly first gored the ox that Bernstein bought for two zuzzim which led to the start of the A vs B headaches.

As for the gas stations, they have their own problems due to the likelihood of residual soil contamination which sets in motion a costly and time consuming process to make them eligible to emerge from brownfield status.

Don't bet your IRA on opinions made by Town Attorney Tim Lewis. He is going into this Westhelp situation with a bad batting average behind him. Who knows for sure if this turn at bat will get him out of the slump he is mired in from practically every "opinion" or lease he has vetted. He also comes with the baggage of not understanding FOIL laws and what is permissable at Public Hearings.

As for dog parks, they said it couldn't be done and yet it got done. I don't have a dog but every dog has its day and their turn came up. A trivial quality of life issue that cost little to undertake, less to maintain and hardly worth the ensuing uproar.

Finally the circus has not been banned in Greenburgh; it has merely been renamed as Town Council with new ringmaster, Gil Kaminer. This crew's particular skill is "barking" (see above) up the wrong tree which is a still a protected activity in Greenburgh due to the absence after two years of a workable set of tree laws.

hal samis said...

I guess if it is worth saying it is worth repeating but I don't know how it happened.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

The issue to me of the dog park is -- is this ANOTHER town wide use on property cared for and paid for by unincorporated Greeenburgh. Why do we have to pay to let the Village dogs go for walks?

As to development, it is up to Planning Board, which does want to implement a new master plan (which based on what everyone says about Central Ave, is sorely needed).

As to the tent sale -- it works at Bloomingdales, for a number of reasons, including, they have their own traffic light. It is safe exiting, even if making a left turn. Try that out of Dilmahanis. The street that they are on -- Bloomingdale Ave, is not the overcrowded disaster that Central Ave. is. That is why they can run a limited tent sale. Every municipality limits tent sales.

gaffney supporter said...

dear anon:

marge gaffney ran against allegra dengler. gaffney prevailed. dengler was feiner's pick. this has to be a troubling loss for feiner since dengler ran with him for town board and now she has lost again. feiner is increasingly isolated. now he is reduced to defending dinner cruises and other lavish perks for valhalla.

Anonymous said...

The blog shouldn't be used to attack Juettner or Feiner. We should use the tool of the blog to discuss our vision for the town's future. We should use the blog to help town officials come up with good solutions to pressing town problems. Name calling might make a blogger feel good - but no one else will take the blog seriously. That is sad.

election reformer said...

dear sad:

this is from wikipedia with respect to term limits. perhaps it will explain why they may be a good idea in greenburgh to address careerists in town government or elsewhere:

arguments in favor of term limits:

"It prevents incumbents from using the benefits of office to remain in power indefinitely." In some situations, merely being in office provides an elected official with a distinct advantage in further elections. Supporters of term limits argue that this advantage is undemocratic, and means that incumbents no longer fear losing their offices and cease to be concerned with the needs of their constituents. Term limits ensure that all officials are eventually removed from power.

"It makes room for fresh candidates, and encourages participation." Imposing term limits on an office ensures that there will always be vacancies for new candidates to pursue. This may encourage citizens who would normally not consider running for office to do so, as they will not be challenging an established, entrenched opponent. Many proponents claim that term limits will increase diversity in a legislature, bringing the law-making body's demographics more in line with those of the general population.

"It stops politicians from making choices solely to prolong their career." If a politician can serve as many terms as they wish, they may be tempted to follow policies which will ensure their long-term political survival, rather than policies which further the interests of voters. Supporters of term limits sometimes argue that if politicians know from the beginning of their service that their time in office is limited, they will act differently (and less self-servingly) than “career” legislators.

greenburgh gourmet said...

anyone know what is going on with the old mitty's space next to pastina's restaurant?

Marc Herman said...

I'm glad to see that such a large number of people are utilizing this blog to express their opinions. I've continually worked on this blog over the past few months, and the visitor count has skyrocketed! This truly has grown into a great way to encourage citizen communication with government. I appreciate that everyone who posts here has taken time out of their day to support the website, and voice their opinions. The more, the better!

-Marc Herman

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of any other government anywhere that has a blog? Don't you feel fortunate to live in Greenburgh?

DEMLEADER said...

Thank you bloggers for participating in our democracy!

Anonymous said...

Again we ask :

Will anyone be investigating the claim that a Greenburgh town employee made threats against the Valhalla Superintendent?

It would also be interesting to see what Council Members, if any, authorized this individual to make such threats. Conversely, if this employee was operating on their own without any Council Member instructions, then such behavior should be harshly dealt with in the future and possibly subject that individual to an ethics investigation.

Additionally, I recommend that any investigation include discussions with any other recent prior parties with issues in front of the Town Council, including Verizon, to assess if this is representative of a pattern of behavior. I would think that the honorable Council Members would be embarrassed if it were determined that these charges are accurate , for surely that should not reflect the intention of Town government .

Town Board : Is this being investigated, or are you wishing that this issue will disappear? Has any investigation determined that this did not indeed happen ?

Please show us your integrity on this issue. Take a stand.

Anonymous said...

Wow -- the best defense is a good offense. Feiner and his Valhalla friends see the money slipping away -- so what to they do -- go on the offense.

If a council member or employee tells a citizen that their cause would better be served by letting the council work on an issue, that is not a threat. Relying on the word of Superindentent Ramos-Kelly from Valhalla, as per www.valhallavoice.com is absurd. Anyone can make absurd charges.

Go home Valhalla -- you have taken enough of our money. Greenburgh 7 gets nothing for its low income housing.

Anonymous said...

may i suggest that bloggers limit their posts to a paragraph?

hal samis said...

Dear anon: (to be brief)
May I suggest that you use your mouse and scroll speedily past anything too lengthy to absorb.

Misrepresentations or allegations do not need support.

It is in presenting the truth in a democracy that back-up is useful.
And, not every reader of these pages knows the back story, especially those that only read headlines.

Short and Sweet.

truth teller said...

while stuck at the four corners i had a vision of what we need in greenburgh for the next supervisor:
1. school bus service is cut in edgemont. civic leader organizes private bus service for neighborhood.
2. town illegally charges only unincorporated for parks open to all town residents. civic leader sues town and wins.
3. town gifts millions to school district in apparent violation of state constitution. civic leader alone speaks before angry crowd from school district in opposition to gift which if returned would benefit the entire town not just a section.

all of the above is documented in the current scarsdale inquirer.the civic leader? bob bernstein.

Anonymous said...

The Blog is a great idea, but I'm afraid its popularity may also be it's downfall. We need a way to search the blog for topics of interest i.e, (Library, Ridge Hill, Taxter Ridge, Con Ed, Dog Park, etc) without scrolling through dozens of topics. Also, we should be able to have favorite Posters, so you can be notified when new comments are posted; and we should be able to "subscirbe" to certain topics and be notified via email when a new post is made on a topic.

This is a great idea, let's make sure it is useable!

Anonymous said...

I just learned about this blog today. The blog provides Greenburgh residents with a great forum to participate in their government. Thank you Paul Feiner for having the courage to encourage people to write what's on their mind.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Paul Feiner sometimes. I disagree with him other times. What I like most about our Supervisor is that he listens. This blog is amazing. It's so refreshing to find an elected official who encourages his critics to express their viewpoints in an open forum. If our national politicians were like Paul Feiner people might not be as disillusioned with politicians.

hal samis said...

What's missing from this blog?
Here is a wonderful opportunity for residents to have a dialogue, ask questions, get answers, criticize the Supervisor -- all on the Supervisor's dime.

What's missing is that we don't hear from anyone else in the government. You can believe they know about it. You can bet they read the comments. Most of them possess the requisite computer skills to respond.

This would be a wonderful opportunity for residents to go beyond the local newspapers, beyond the 5 minute public comment at Town Board meetings...and maybe get some answers.

Elected officials, instead of getting out to registered constituents only during voting season, could have a continuing dialogue with voters and non voters. And, there likely are many things that they should want to say that they might otherwise not have the chance to do.

For example, Mr.Sheehan got a lot of coverage in today's Scarsdale Inquirer in an article about the Valhalla grant. Thhe paper noted "Town Councilman Francis Sheehan, who originally requested that the board wait until Oct. 17 to decide whether or not to release any funds, does not believe the contract is valid for several reasons."

And then the article continues quoting Mr. Sheehan on a number of points. What I am curious about, however, is if he and the Council do not believe the contract is valid, then logically they should not have voted to release the funds. Or, Mr. Sheehan should have stuck to his guns and held it over to the following Tuesday work session.

In a later quote, "The more I looked into this, the more suspicious I became of the legality if this document, Sheehan said"

These 180 degree turns deserve an explanation especially as Mr. Sheehan was not on the Board when the original contract was signed and thus could have easily remained unassociated with such a "tainted" document by staying true to his determination to hold it over, or even have voted against it, or abstained. But, gee, what are you going to do with all those voters present in the room and these voters wanting it to pass?

This blog is a great opportunity for elected officials to explain their actions and the public, in turn, would be able to question that explanation. It seems a reasonable question to ask, why vote for something when you don't believe it is legal?

Everyone is so quick to point out that the Supervisor was doing something illegal. He responds that he had opinions that it was legal; he voted for it because it appeared to be a good thing for those harboring the homeless shelter (I don't care what anyone says, having it nearby does not add to the value of your home) and if, a higher authority overturns the contract because it is found to be illegal, that will be the results of the findings by the higher authority, not the town or school district. Hey, the Supervisor has been wrong before and he will be wrong again, like all of us.

However that certainly seems to a more acdeptable attitude; voting for what you believe is legal and good, than that of Mr. Sheehan and the rest of the Town Council...voting in favor of something you believe is illegal.

This blog is a good forum to address this issue, for Mr. Sheehan and the other members of the Town Council who also apparently voted in favor, despite their qualms.

If they felt that the money would be returned if it was illegal, then how are they any different from the Supervisor? If the Comptroller, or a Judge if it gets to that, say it is illegal and says give the money back, that will happen with or without any local resolution language.

And, how about the Library Board? There's a lot going on what with the relocation, the bidding hurdle, the cybermobile out of service, the Elmsford contract. Talk to us. I've raised some reasonable issues. The :ibrary has its own web site but they're certainly not using it to put out information. In fact, they've cut back on releasing information since the expansion project started going downhill. Do they think I'm wrong in my allegations, put it out before the public in print. Bring it on.

But whether we hear from the Town Council members, from Mr. Kaminer, from the Library Board, or not, having this blog available is one of the finer things Mr. Feiner has done for the town. He gets a lot of flack from residents and he gets a fair amount of praise too.
But sponsoring this open forum is an opportunity to be heard that everyone should take advantage of because the comments are read, not only by bloggers but also by those that are elected but are a little shy about expressing or more likely, documenting their comments. This is also a problem too for many residents. Apparently there is one very large, Greenburgh family named anonymous with a lot of opinions.

So, residents with concerns, get on board. This train can carry lots of passengers.

I better say goodnight now because someone thinks there should be a curfew for bloggers.

edgemontvoter said...

I love this blog. I actually enjoy even the silly anonymous comments from the anonymous blogger who doesn't like feiner. this is fun reading.

Anonymous said...

I must say that this was a great idea with great characters all around. It is like an extension of the legendary town board meetings. But there is no time limit to the ranting!

edgemontvoter said...

This blog provides voters with a chance to participate in town government from our computer. We get to tell our elected officials what we like and don't like. Our comments are shared with the entire town in a public forum. This is also a credit to Paul Feiner. He's not afraid of the nasty comments posted on the blog. He wants everyone to get involved, even if they don't like him.

hal samis said...

Bloggers of the world unite!

I've heard a rumor that the Town Council is unhappy with this blog and wants to avoid any suggestion that it exists or is any way affiliated with the Town despite the knowledge that: it is hosted by the Town Supervisor of Greenburgh; it is open to all residents and Town employees, and that it is a useful means of exchanging information in a public forum on issues of concern to Greenburgh residents.

Anyone can speak and they don't have to give their name.

And. as opposed to the existing channels of communication amongst residents and their elected officials, this blog is not subject to the restraints and constrictions of scheduled public meetings, of meeting criteria and qualifications of local media and it is a means of immediate access.
The only thing standing in its way of being even more successful is that, still being in its infancy, many residents are still unaware of its existence.

To that end, I would hope that the Town Board would instead choose to allocate funding to promote this blog's exisatence so that a greater number of residents will become more educated, interested and involved with what happens in Greenburgh.

If this blog were a private, for profit enterprise that was nevertheless performing a service enjoyed by residents, then that might be an argument for cutting all ties to the Town. If that thought were to gain currency, I would point out that by using the same argument, I would insist that the credit union, in possession of a lease which was voted for by the Town Board and that this credit union operates under the shelter of the Greenburgh Town Hall roof and gives as its place of business such address, be given six months notice of termination and that this space then be designated as appropriate for temporary Library use.

Anonymous said...

The blog is the best thing that has happened to voters since women were given the right to vote!

Anonymous said...

Blogs are uncontrolled - potential liability for town -- libel etc.

makes no sense.

should be private, non-linked activity

Paul Feiner said...

I disagree with the previous post by anonymous. Sure, blogs are uncontrolled. Sure, some of the posts are nasty. And, other comments are inaccurate. The personal attacks against me sometimes hurt a bit --but I'm used to it (or should be used to being attacked). On the other hand -- it's very exciting that so many people are visiting the blog (over a few thousand visits so far and we're increasing our readership quickly). I also appreciate the fact that people are taking time to comment on issues of concern. I also think it's great that critics of mine have the ability to express themselves publicly. In the past I've posted lots of commentary on the town web site (www.greenburghny.com). My critics have not been given equal time -so Greenburgh residents have only been given my side of the story. Thanks to this blog ---you can get all sides of every issue and make up your mind if we're doing the right thing. That's what democracy is all about --we want you to participate in the process.
Sometimes bloggers say things that aren't true. For example, a blog post in the library section of the blog criticized me for signing the original contract between Elmsford and the Greenburgh Public Library. I obtained a copy of the April 22,2002 agreement today and saw that my signature WAS NOT ON THE CONTRACT -AS THE BLOGGER CHARGED. That contract was negotiated and approved by the Greenburgh Library Bd, not me.
One of the benefits of the blog is that it provides me and other elected officials with the chance to find out what rumors are being circulated about our actions --and to correct these inaccurate allegations early on-before they spread like a wild fire. In the past, I have always been upset when I have been criticized for actions I had nothing to do with...

village taxpayer said...

questions - who signed the 1999 library contract with elmsford? was it approved by the town board?

we now know paul feiner signed the valhalla school district "contract" since it is posted on the valhallavoice.com website.

the supervisor didnt mention that fact in his post as he tries to steer the discussion away from the well deserved slamming he got in yesterday's journal news editorial and community view on his now discredited "social benefit" theory.

Paul Feiner said...

I signed the valhalla agreement (WESTHELP agreement) only after the other members of the Town Board (Steve Bass, Diana Juettner, Eddie Mae Barnes, Timmy Weinberg)voted to approve the agreement. The WESTHELP partnership was, in my opinion, a win-win for the community. The homeless were welcomed by neighbors who reside near WESTHELP. The county did not have to shut down a shelter that was providing good services to a needy population. The neighborhood received a dividend and did not feel that government was taking action steps that hurt their neighborhood.

Merrill said...

Today October 23 I saw a dead racoon on Dobbs Ferry Road and Verne in Hartsdale. Can someone inform animal control. Thank

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Paul,

Just out of curiousity, when the contract was being approved, did you tell the other council members then that you had a legal opinion? As you have been saying now? They may have had every reason to rely on that. They do not work full time. They did not have staff until this year. You were in charge of supervising legal work. Only now does the public realize that there really wasn't a legal opinion, that, as Mr. Sheehan so eloquently put, is actionable. Do not blame them if they relied on you when you said there was a legal opinion.

Paul Feiner said...

The Town Attorney at that time, Susan Mancuso, kept the Town Board fully informed of the negotiations. Paul Bergins, the counsel we retained, to negotiate the WESTHELP lease agreement, also provided the Town Board members with full updates. When Mrs. Mancuso and Mr. Bergins felt that the agreement was in proper form they told all the members of the Town Board at the same time. We discussed this matter with them at work session. All Board members felt comfortable voting for this agreement. I think it's sad that the neighborhood relied on our promises -and that the town is breaking a commitment made to the people.

Paul Feiner said...

The Town Attorney at that time, Susan Mancuso, kept the Town Board fully informed of the negotiations. Paul Bergins, the counsel we retained, to negotiate the WESTHELP lease agreement, also provided the Town Board members with full updates. When Mrs. Mancuso and Mr. Bergins felt that the agreement was in proper form they told all the members of the Town Board at the same time. We discussed this matter with them at work session. All Board members felt comfortable voting for this agreement. I think it's sad that the neighborhood relied on our promises -and that the town is breaking a commitment made to the people.

Paul Feiner said...

The Town Attorney at that time, Susan Mancuso, kept the Town Board fully informed of the negotiations. Paul Bergins, the counsel we retained, to negotiate the WESTHELP lease agreement, also provided the Town Board members with full updates. When Mrs. Mancuso and Mr. Bergins felt that the agreement was in proper form they told all the members of the Town Board at the same time. We discussed this matter with them at work session. All Board members felt comfortable voting for this agreement. I think it's sad that the neighborhood relied on our promises -and that the town is breaking a commitment made to the people.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

I posted this on the budget question.

Why is the Town not considering selling the Waterwheel property? To the highest bidder. It is unused. Do we think we will ever have a use for it? We should use the funds for capital purposes.

Paul Feiner said...

There is a need for affordable housing throughout Westchester. The Village of Ardsley has requested that the town develop the property at the waterwheel for affordable housing --for volunteer firefighters, police, ambulance corp members.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Paul,

Tell Ardsley to buy the property with the money the recd from the Library contract.

And would employees of the unincorporated area have first dips at the property -- or would ardsley residents.

volunteer firefighter said...

We need affordable housing in Ardsley and in Greenburgh. The volunteer fire depts serve residents of unincorporated Greenburgh and the villages. It is getting more difficult to recruit volunteers.
If residents of unincorporated Greenburgh who reside in the Ardsley fire district want their taxes to go up, don't build affordable housing for the volunteers. Eventually, we will have a paid fire dept. Taxes will skyrocket!

truth teller said...

paul, your nose is growing again. the waterwheel property is being sold on october 30, 2006 by the town of greenburgh. the minimum price is 2.1 million. there are no requirements that it be used for affordable housing. because you failed to listen to residents in unincorporated greenburgh about your giveaways to the villages on the parks, they quashed your attempt to giveaway the waterwheel property to ardsley. you are no longer the problem solver. you are the problem.

Anonymous said...

Dear truth teller,

Thanks for the heads up -- where can we find more info on this

truth teller said...

go to the town of greenburgh website - under news and info - this will appear

TOWN OF GREENBURGH
ANNOUNCEMENT
OF PUBLIC
AUCTION
OF MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES
October 30, 2006
10:00 AM
Greenburgh Town Hall
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT
TAX OFFICE
(914) 993-1512
Follow this link to obtain the auction booklet in PDF format

Anonymous said...

Dear Truth teller,

Thanks for the post, as the blog will soon have outlived its usefullness.

As noted in the blog before this, the blog will soon will be requiring registration. That means that Paul can control posts. He will be able to let us friends post under different names, but not people who have different opinions -- or just want to get the truth out.

Ok -- bye bye any differing opinions

hal samis said...

To latest anonymous,

Why would creating a "unique" blog identity be a way of divulging who you are or what your viewpoint is.
If you're looking at a half empty glass, naturally you think you would have to supply your real name and garbage collection route.

All it is meant to accomplish is that in a dialogue it is easier to refer to some "identity" (not your personal names) which gives people like me or others the ability to reply to, say, "vexed villager" or "outsider" rather than "anonymous" which could be from unlimited, different writers with comments on different topics.

I am amused how residents, who use the blog, do not support the blog concept; instead attack the blog and any attempt to make it more useful as suspect activity.

Anonymous said...

There is a need for affordable housing for volunteers who do so much for our community. The waterwheel property was acquired by the town because the owners did not pay their taxes. We should use the land for a public purpose. Housing for volunteers is a good use.

disgusted at politicians said...

about a month ago, the state ethics commission received a complaint about state comptroller alan hevesi. the commission held yesterday as follows:

The Commission concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Hevesi knowingly and intentionally used his position as New York State Comptroller to secure unwarranted privileges for himself and his wife, and in doing so, pursued a course of conduct that raises suspicion among the public that he likely engaged in acts that violated the public trust.

greenburgh has been waiting for years for its ethics board to act on a number of complaints about mr feiner taking money from attorneys for developers who have pending matters before the town board (feiner argues this is legal)(perhaps he got an oral opinion from susan mancuso?) guess who appointed the members of the greenburgh ethics board....?

shame on mr feiner and the town board for allowing this matter to go unresolved.

Anonymous said...

Hartsdale Parking Meters

I seem to remember the head of Hartsdale Parking being quoted by Paul Feiner about a month ago, saying that the construction project is on schedule and the 15-hour parking meters (located on the northbound side of the tracks) will be put back into service in about 2 weeks.

When is this going to happen? It is a real hardship for all the commuters who do not have passes to have to get to the Bronx River lot extra early to secure a metered spot before they all fill up.

Hartsdale Parking is very mismanaged and in my opinion needs an overhaul of their leadership. Some new blood could actually be more responsive to the constituents, rather than hostile.

Anonymous said...

Hartsdale Parking Meters

I seem to remember the head of Hartsdale Parking being quoted by Paul Feiner about a month ago, saying that the construction project is on schedule and the 15-hour parking meters (located on the northbound side of the tracks) will be put back into service in about 2 weeks.

When is this going to happen? It is a real hardship for all the commuters who do not have passes to have to get to the Bronx River lot extra early to secure a metered spot before they all fill up.

Hartsdale Parking is very mismanaged and in my opinion needs an overhaul of their leadership. Some new blood could actually be more responsive to the constituents, rather than hostile.

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner insists that the town's $6.5 million gift to the Valhalla school district is legal.

The state Constitution permits towns to give gifts to school districts, but the money must be used for programs or facilities that benefit all residents townwide, such as a playground open to everyone. Here, however, the Valhalla gift benefits only residents of the school district. That makes the agreement illegal on its face. Illegal agreement are not "legally binding."

It is also illegal in New York to give away town money to private individuals and/or associations. Here, however, the Valhalla contract puts millions of dollars in the control of the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association, an association of private citizens accountable to no one, whose members must, according to the contract, constitute a majority of the committee that makes the decisions regarding how the town's money is to be spent.

Mr. Feiner admits that "the neighborhood is pleased that they are receiving a benefit." However, it is illegal for a town to use its money to benefit one town neighborhood to the exclusion of others. It is also extremely bad policy to do this because it tells neighbors that they, too, are entitled to taxpayer money whenever any unwanted use is proposed in their backyards.

Furthermore, it is bad policy here because the WestHELP homeless shelter is located not in anyone's backyard, but on a 30-acre college campus and Valhalla's costs of educating any children who live there is picked up entirely by the state. In short, the $6.5 million of town money that Feiner is giving away here is not compensating anyone for anything. On top of that, he is giving away millions to to a school district where two-thirds of the residents don't even live in Greenburgh.

The contract is troubling in other respects as well. Since 2003, Valhalla has received more than $1.8 million from the town - but there is nothing in the contract that permits the town to audit these funds to determine who got the money, how much was paid, and how it was spent. Mr. Feiner may be willing to accept Valhalla's verbal assurances, but let's face it: This lack of accountability for public funds is shockingly irresponsible.

Indeed, thanks to The Journal News, we now know this money is being spent on, among other things, trips to the Grand Canyon, cruises and evenings at the opera. And, courtesy of Greenburgh, one of Valhalla's elementary school principals is now getting $50,000 on top of his principal's salary.

Mr. Feiner seems to think that none of this matters, that as long as he had the support in 2003 of the other Town Board members when the contract was proposed, that a deal's a deal and must be honored no matter what.

However, the town attorney believes the agreement to be illegal, he has said so in writing, and the town has never received any legal opinion from anyone to the contrary - either then or now. Mr. Feiner insists that a lot of lawyers found the agreement to be legal, but he has nothing in writing to substantiate that claim, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that everyone knew the agreement was illegal at the time, but figured no one would ever raise it.

Valhalla school officials should rightfully be concerned, too. Not only did they not get any opinion at the time that the agreement was legal, they agreed to hold the town harmless from and against any liability the town might incur arising directly or indirectly from the town's having provided these grants. Obviously, if the agreement is found to be illegal, there may well be claims against the town, and in turn, under the indemnity against Valhalla, to get the money back.

I understand these developments may be personally embarrassing to Mr. Feiner. I know he took credit for the Valhalla agreement and staked his reputation on it. But however well-intentioned he may have been in trying to devise a way to benefit the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood, the ends do not justify the means, he is not above the law, and if this means putting an end to the Valhalla agreement, then that's what must be done.

Anonymous said...

FROM THE JOURNAL NEWS:

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner insists that the town's $6.5 million gift to the Valhalla school district is legal.

The state Constitution permits towns to give gifts to school districts, but the money must be used for programs or facilities that benefit all residents townwide, such as a playground open to everyone. Here, however, the Valhalla gift benefits only residents of the school district. That makes the agreement illegal on its face. Illegal agreement are not "legally binding."

It is also illegal in New York to give away town money to private individuals and/or associations. Here, however, the Valhalla contract puts millions of dollars in the control of the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association, an association of private citizens accountable to no one, whose members must, according to the contract, constitute a majority of the committee that makes the decisions regarding how the town's money is to be spent.

Mr. Feiner admits that "the neighborhood is pleased that they are receiving a benefit." However, it is illegal for a town to use its money to benefit one town neighborhood to the exclusion of others. It is also extremely bad policy to do this because it tells neighbors that they, too, are entitled to taxpayer money whenever any unwanted use is proposed in their backyards.

Furthermore, it is bad policy here because the WestHELP homeless shelter is located not in anyone's backyard, but on a 30-acre college campus and Valhalla's costs of educating any children who live there is picked up entirely by the state. In short, the $6.5 million of town money that Feiner is giving away here is not compensating anyone for anything. On top of that, he is giving away millions to to a school district where two-thirds of the residents don't even live in Greenburgh.

The contract is troubling in other respects as well. Since 2003, Valhalla has received more than $1.8 million from the town - but there is nothing in the contract that permits the town to audit these funds to determine who got the money, how much was paid, and how it was spent. Mr. Feiner may be willing to accept Valhalla's verbal assurances, but let's face it: This lack of accountability for public funds is shockingly irresponsible.

Indeed, thanks to The Journal News, we now know this money is being spent on, among other things, trips to the Grand Canyon, cruises and evenings at the opera. And, courtesy of Greenburgh, one of Valhalla's elementary school principals is now getting $50,000 on top of his principal's salary.

Mr. Feiner seems to think that none of this matters, that as long as he had the support in 2003 of the other Town Board members when the contract was proposed, that a deal's a deal and must be honored no matter what.

However, the town attorney believes the agreement to be illegal, he has said so in writing, and the town has never received any legal opinion from anyone to the contrary - either then or now. Mr. Feiner insists that a lot of lawyers found the agreement to be legal, but he has nothing in writing to substantiate that claim, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that everyone knew the agreement was illegal at the time, but figured no one would ever raise it.

Valhalla school officials should rightfully be concerned, too. Not only did they not get any opinion at the time that the agreement was legal, they agreed to hold the town harmless from and against any liability the town might incur arising directly or indirectly from the town's having provided these grants. Obviously, if the agreement is found to be illegal, there may well be claims against the town, and in turn, under the indemnity against Valhalla, to get the money back.

I understand these developments may be personally embarrassing to Mr. Feiner. I know he took credit for the Valhalla agreement and staked his reputation on it. But however well-intentioned he may have been in trying to devise a way to benefit the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood, the ends do not justify the means, he is not above the law, and if this means putting an end to the Valhalla agreement, then that's what must be done.

anti spin zone said...

feiner's use of the term "homeless shelter" is spin and maybe worse. go by the building on the wcc campus and see for yourself. its quite nice. it hasnt been a burden to anyone in mayfair-knollwood. as the journal news editorial stated, feiner's handout scheme to the valhalla school district was distasteful and should have been rejected as unprincipled.

hal samis said...

Dear antispin zone;

Thanks for not being another anonymous.

However, it is still a homeless shelter, no matter how nice the building looks or the site it is on.

Real Estate Brokers are required to divulge known problems when selling a house.
If it were your home or if you were buying a home and it became known that the subject house was near, not contiguous merely near, a homeless shelter even a nice one in a suburban setting, you would feel that this would have some negative import on the sales price.
Let's not pretend that this is not an issue for buyers and sellers. It is the perceived reality vs the objective reality that rules.

Offsetting this negative could be the story of how great the school district is and all the wonderful programs that it has to offer.

This is not to be taken as advocating that the laws should be treated with impunity. However, there are always real world considerations.

Given that the current predicament
has some debate over interpretations and representations over its legality
-- and to be kind, the hard-working Town Boards, then and just two weeks ago also bought into this by their votes; therefore it seems equally reasonable to let those holding the hammer to decide the issue. Feiner and the Town Council can be tried ad nauseum on these blog pages, but what is lacking is not the informal legal purple prose but the binding opinion of a higher authority. The contract occurred: its viability is exacerbated more by the reports of how the money is being disbursed than by what basis it came to be born; but now all that can be done is wait for the opinion of the person whose opinion counts.

And don't let the Town Council fool you with all their public concerns; they voted not to stop it "right here and now" instead leaving the door open to maybe some time in the future, perhaps when the moon and the planet Mercury are in perfect alignment.

The temperature outside is getting cooler; leaving the door open just runs up expensive heating bills.

WestHELP Supporter said...

What was most puzzling and disturbing about Sunday's Jurnal News editorial "A Cash Shelter" was the newspaper saying it found the WestHELP Funding agreement "distasteful."

Oh, really?

While the editorial admitted that it had supported the arrangement back in 2001, but as it says now, only because of "rampant NIMBYism in all of the Lower Hudson." the editorial writers must have also overlooked the Dec. 23, 2002 editorial "NIMBY, Not Here" (below) which praised the agreement as "an excellent example of a neighborhood working to harbor much-needed diversity that's rare in a time where NIMBYism (not-in-my-backyard) is the norm." Not only that, the editorial stated that "keeping the shelter in place is not only a financial bonus for the town, school and fire districts, but also will plant some community roots, although they may be temporary, for shelter residents."

How can the editorial staff find the agreement distasteful now when they endorsed it back in December of 2002? How can it be praised as a great deal back then -- a "financial bonus for the town, school and fire districts" -- but not now? It was a "win" back then, according to the Journal News. Now it's a loser?

The Journal News, its editors and writers, are the ones who should be ashamed. The newspaper's coverage has been blatantly biased, unfair and one-sided -- journalism at its worst. The Washington Post this ain't.

NIMBY, not here
The Journal News
December 23, 2002
Section: Opinion
Page: 4B

Legislators should move to keep WestHELP in Greenburgh

A potential pact between Greenburgh and Westchester County that would allow the WestHELP apartment complex for the homeless to remain on the campus of Westchester Community College in Greenburgh is an excellent example of a neighborhood working to harbor much-needed diversity that's rare in a time where NIMBYism (not-in-my-backyard) is the norm.

Since 1991, WestHELP, a nonprofit housing organization funded in part by Westchester County and the state, has maintained a 108-unit residence on WCC's campus. Under the original agreement with the town, the shelter was supposed to be turned into affordable housing for senior citizens in September 2001. In February, a committee of residents from the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood - which borders the WestHELP complex - working with the town, formulated a plan that would permit the shelter to continue operation, but would pay the town $1.2 million annually as a form of "rent." A portion of those funds would be distributed to the Valhalla school district - attended by children living at WestHELP - and to the Fairview Fire District, which serves the shelter.

Neighbors working to keep a shelter in their neighborhood? Unheard of. But it's happening. And we encourage members of the county Board of Legislators to support the proposed partnership when they vote on it, possibly as early as next month. Keeping the shelter in place is not only a financial bonus for the town, school and fire districts, but also will plant some community roots, although they may be temporary, for shelter residents. That's a sentiment that's even more important in the transient life of a homeless person.

The pact is a win on many fronts: In addition to the $1.2 million payment from WestHELP, the agreement would prevent creation of any new social-service facilities in north Greenburgh. That's fair, considering that Greenburgh, according to town officials, hosts as much as 55 percent of the county's homeless population. Also, keeping the shelter in place would avoid the costly dilemma of finding a new place for the people currently living there.

NIMBYism is alive and well in many areas. How enlightening to know that it's managed to be resisted in Greenburgh's north end.

dano said...

The "Hartsdale Parking District" does need professional management. And the fact that a parking area is a legal district is just so silly.

It would be nice if the Town took it over. Regulate the street parking like a normal municipality does, and perhaps subcontract the management of the lots to a real professional parking management business. Plus, there certainly are extra available lots of Central Park Avenue if the business wanted to grow and add shuttle service to and from the train station.

Just a thought.

First Amendment Believer said...

There are a couple of disturbing and alarming things going on these days in Greenburgh that all residents should be deeply concerned about. No, it's not whether the town's WestHELP agreement with the Valhalla school district is legal or not but, rather, concerns a local government's promise made to a community and its apparent willingness to go back on its word years later.

The suggestion made now by some that the deal -- as constructed – is illegal would be an indictment against the due diligence of the town but does not absolve the town of its original promise made to the neighborhood community. How can any resident feel comfortable with locally elected officials who will break their word? That is government at its worst.

Even more alarming, however, is the threatening and bullying position that the new town council aide Gil Kaminer took on this issue. First, as described publicly by Valhalla school superintendent Diane Ramos-Kelly at the Oct. 11 town board meeting, was the threat Kaminer made to her following the Tuesday afternoon work session that the school district wouldn't get the money it sought if a large crowd came to the town meeting in support of the school -- this coming after it had been determined that the board would vote to approve the spending of the $439,000 the Valhalla schools already had accrued but had not yet spent. The next night, Mr. Kaminer made similar comments to several district residents before the board meeting that the large pro-schools turnout "wasn't going to go well" for the district. Was it a mere coincidence then that soon after the meeting began Mr. Sheehan announced (with some lame reasoning) that he planned to hold over the vote. Hmmmmmmm.

Whether the WestHELP Partnership agreement is constitutional or not is open to legal interpretation that only a court of law can ultimately decide. We KNOW that denying residents their first amendment rights to free speech and lawful assembly is illegal and unconstitutional, however. Even Mr. Bernstein and other frequent critics of the town would agree with that. It is despicable and unconscionable that a public servant or representative would threaten harm to anyone in (or outside) the town and try to silence any group on an issue. Now, what will the town council do about Mr. Kaminer’s comments?

dano said...

The Valhalla/WestHelp thing wouldn't have been a problem if we arranged the school districts around here in a normal fashion. Leave them as independent districts if you want, but at least have them correspond precisely with municipal borders. The WestHelp property is in Mount Pleasant, not Greenburgh, but the school districts ... I could go on and on, but we all know how the set-up is. Maybe some day someone will take the initiative to clean up old-fashioned districts and boundaries and such.

Anonymous said...

Dear First Amendment,

Gil's threats -- this is mud throwing by Kelly (go to WWW.valhallavoice for more on her). Gil couldnt threaten my 10 year old.

He was advsing the Valhalla peopel that the council was trying to work on this, and it would be best to let them try to work on.

stop bullying Gil, stop bullying the council

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous with saafe 10 year old,

I don't see your denial of what Mr. Kaminer allegedly said -- only your interpretation of what it bodes. However, Mr. Kaminer should be familiar with the power of language, particularly when they come from the mouth from a representative of Town government.

Mr. Kaminer, former Greenburgh editor for The Scarsdale Inquirer, is used to people sucking up to him for in hopes of getting favorable treatment of themselves and their issues in the newspaper.

Now he believes that he has the backing and the stature of the elected officials he works for. As you seem him scurrying around Town Hall, always with files under his arm, think of the old song lyric "I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy, get yourself an outfit and you can be a cowboy too".

What is wrong with this picture is essentially too much too soon. Mr. Kaminer is not yet a power broker and he should ease into this role if that is his desire.
In the meantime, I understood his role to be the Town Council's liaison with the public as the part time Council members are generally off campus in their day jobs. Perhaps, some senior member of government should explain to him that in this capacity, he should be polite (I am not saying servile) versus combative with the public which pays his salary.

I fully expect the Town Council to rally to the support of Mr. Kaminer. Maybe to put this matter to rest, they should ask the Chief of Police to commence an investigation...

First Amendment Protector said...

Anonymous,
Please...you must read the National Enquirer for your world news, too. You just revealed what kind of person you truly are, reading and believing the garbage spewed on that slanderous web site run by the Valhalla district's most bitter, spiteful and despicable person. Yes, he was a former baord member a couple of decades ago who doesn't have the guts to run again because he'd get embarrassed. You form your opinion on the Valhalla school superintendent, someone you don't even know, based on that web site? That is beyond ignorant. And, just so you know, the overwheming majority of the garbage that site rails on have to deal with past doings by the FORMER superintendent, not the present one. Oh, by the way, at tonight's Valhalla school board meeting the final reports by New York State DEC and the NYS Dept. of Health were presented on the "contaminated" fields -- one of the big blockbusters that web site takes responsibility for -- and both state agencies gave the Valhalla playfields a clean seal of approval. So much for that controversy.

And your support and explanation of what Kaminer "said" is just pathetic. That's a really keen insight into what his threat meant. Are you for real? I was there at the board meeting when he said the same thing to a couple of residents. Were you there? I was also present at a recent work session where Kaminer identified himself as "the person around here who gets things done." Glad you can so cavalierly blow off such serious charges. And I laugh at you over your cries to stop bullying poor Mr. Kaminer. It's abusive people like Kaminer who act like the bullies once they get into public office. Our county government, of course, has set that example on how to do it and get away with it. This will not end.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear First Amendment Protector,

Most of what is on www.Valhallavoice.com has been confirmed by the Journal News. I guess they are another bitter, etc.

People see through your attacks on Gil Kamien as just anohter way to try to get Greenburgh $$$. Aint gonna happen. More likely to be a lawsuit from Greenburgh Taxpayers to get the old $$ back.

truthseeker said...

Paul Feiner does a great job. I resent all the namecalling. Everytime my family has had a problem he gets back to me immediately.

First Amendment Protector said...

Greenburgh Taxpayer,
Is that right?...let's see how long the reporter keeps his job after this plays out. He's being called on the carpet by his editors for this, one of the reasons being his accepting as fact many of the charges made by those responsible for that web site, especially those charges he KNEW were incorrect and yet consciously chose to ignore the truth.

As for the Gil Kaminer issue, it's interesting how you disregard so easily what he did. If he tried to do it to you, would you feel otherwise? Or, perhaps, you're closer to this issue that it appears?

Finally, a lawsuit to try and get the old money back would certainly be interesting, especially since an easy argument could be made that the town, including every member of the town board who unanimously voted for this agreement, were a) derelict in their due diligence in the handling of this and b) negligent as well. If you're familiar with the anti-trust lawsuit filed a few years back by the USFL against the National Football League, the Supreme Court found the NFL guilty of trying to put the USFL out of business. Guilty. The USFL was awarded only $3 in damages, however, which was trebled to $9.

In the WestHELP Partnership matter, who do you believe would be found to be blamed for entering into an illegal contract in the first place, assuming it's ever found illegal (and let's see how long Alan Hevesi lasts, now that the state has found out that he's a crook)? Maybe, just maybe, the town would be awarded about $3 back as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Protector:

The WestHelp contract has two provisions you overlook. First, it provides that if the Contract is challengd, the School District has to indemnify and hold the Town harmless. (para 11) So thats ground one for a return of the $. Second, the Contract provides that if its terms are violated by the District, and they have been, the Town can cancel the Contract and does not have to give any further monies (para 10). The Contract is posted on valhallavoice.com under "the deal." Feiner claims he took contracts 101 inlaw school.There is no such course.

Anonymous said...

Dear Protector,

so is the part of your post that Greenburgh should wait for NYS to sign off on this before paying any more money over to valhalla

First Amendment Protector said...

Anonymous,
Absolutely not...no court or state legal authority (including the state comptroller's office) has told Greenburgh not to honor the provisions of the contract (the town is doing that on its own). Furthermore, the town previously authorized money in past years DESPITE knowing that Hevesi's office was conducting an audit. Explain that. Given all the trouble Hevesi is in now (and he should not be able to withstand this thievery politically) who's to say that we'll ever see this audit? Then what legal ground does the town have not to honor the contract? Tim Lewis' opinion? Well, Susan Mancuso had a different opinion and the town signed a contract. With all due respect to both of those opinions, however, neither give the town any authority now to withhold the money.

Anonymous said...

I never saw a Susan Mancuso opinion. The only Susan Mancuso opinion I ever heard mentioned was she thought the Town should get a legal opinon and asked the outside lawyer questions as to how could this agreement be legal.

But by all means, ask the Town to post any Mancuso opinion.

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank Paul Feiner and the town of Greenburgh for providing the people with an opportunity to discuss our views with government officials. It's a breath of fresh air. We need you in Washington, Paul

Anonymous said...

As a person who grew up in a suburban county just outside of a major coastal city I feel it necessary to say one thing. The problem with Greenburgh is that everything is too divided. Want to fix it all? It's really very simple: merge all of the schools. That way every school has a little bit of everyone: the poor, the rich, the middle class, the stay-at-home, the overworked, the black, the white, the brown, the English-speaking, the Spanish-speaking, the Japanese-speaking. What is so wrong here that we can't all get along? We don't need to have a Yonkers situation happen here, we are a small area geographically. This isn't 1950 after all. It just feels like it.

Why didn't we move to Edgemont? No workable after school program, no bus... How can two working parents make a situation like that work? Clearly this is set up for those who can afford to have one parent at home or a nanny.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon,

If you are trying to encourage Edgemont to become a Village your thoughts are right on point.

But state law, not Town law governs school districts, and absent an unclear border (like the situation in Potantico Hills, where the border was in dispute) the state is loath to make changes.

Maybe the two new best friends, Arsdley and Elmsford, want to combine schools? Hee hee hee

Anonymous said...

Why was Waterwheel property taken off of auction list?

Do not give it away to Ardsley. If used for low-income housing, residents of unincorporated Greenburgh must be given first shot. WE have suffered enough -- Manhattan ave issues.

First Amendment Protector said...

Anonymous,
The fact that you have never seen a Susan Mancuso opinion does not mean that such a legal opinion -- written or verbal -- was not provided to the town supervisor and the town board. Obviously, such an opinion was rendered since the board voted unanimously for the agreement. The fact that there may not be written documentation available now either means such a document was lost OR such a document was never authored for the records, which would only be another indictment against the town board for not requesting such a legal memorandum to review before they voted on the contract in the first place. That's bad government, sir. This fact is clear: Steve Bass, Diana Juettner and Eddie Mae Barnes put their signature on a contract. If they did so without seeking legal counsel, that is irresponsible, a dereliction of duty and, perhaps, negligent. This is not only doubtful, however, it is irrelevant. They signed the contract, therefore, they are bound by it UNTIL a court of law tells them otherwise.

First Amendment Protector said...

Anonymous,
As for the indemnification clause in paragraph 11, we have legal opinions that dispute your assertion that this clause requires ANY repayment of past money spent by VUFSD that was authorized and approved by the town. Show me where this is clear. What you have, sir, is an interpretation of that clause. And we have a different interpretation. And only the highest court in New York would determine which legal opinion is correct.

As for your claim that the contract's terms has been violated by the school district, again, that is your claim, not a court's claim, and you have no legal authority, only a (legal) opinion. Another matter that only a court of law would be able to decide.

Anonymous said...

I just moved to Edgemont from LA. I read on one of the blog comments that some Edgemont voters want to secede. Are they bonkers? Are they nuts? Services are good in Edgemont. Actually, they are excellent. If you don't like living in Edgemont you should do the reverse of what I did--move to LA!

Anonymous said...

The schools are great in Edgemont.

The town services are horrendous and expensive. I moved from White Plains. While Greenburgh officials laugh at tax increases in White Plains, they are still less than Greenburgh and they provide phenonomal services.

They have police directing traffic at the train station area at rush hour. Look at Hartsdale, the traffic backs up to the upper level of the garage, and no one cares. There "solutions" are always inconvenience to the citizens.

They have recyclying pick up of both newspapers and bottles every week, except those with holidays. They are not tryint to enact a mean spirited leaf law.

We have virtually no parks within Edgemont, yet have to pay for every elses. When the Edgemont Civic associations wanted to a have a family picnic within Edgemont they had to pay the Greenburgh Nature Center to use it. Meanwhile Ardsly youth leagues play on Greenburgh parks for free.

White Plains reserves municipal jobs for residents; Greenburgh does not.

No, the schools are great, Town services expensive and horrible.

fact checker said...

Dear Protector:

I have see the WestHelp contract. It was signed only by Paul Feiner on the Greenburgh side. As for Ms. Mancuso, Greenburgh paid her alot of money so, rumor has it, she wouldnt sue the Town. Her oral opinion isn't worth the paper it's written on (apologies to sam goldwyn).

Anonymous said...

dear fact checker

I thought mancuso left -- with generous package -- over complaints about how the deal with the developer for town hall was cut

fact checker said...

Anon:

We will never know the whole truth since its confidential. So much for open government in Greenburgh. Btw, Mancuso was one of several top female officals who left Greenburgh soon after they arrived.

hal samis said...

Dear anony mouses and misses,

In a world in which the Greenburgh Library Board is allowed to ignore Supervisor Feiner's offer to rent temporary space for the Library during the construction period, might there not be stronger sanctions which can be applied?

It has been announced that 70 to 80% of the Greenburgh Library's collection will go into "dead" storage (inaccessible) the two+ years of construction...materials that residents have paid for with the intent that they would always be available to use.

As is now known Greenburgh belongs to the Westchester Library System which essentially has created a system whereby the owned materials of member libraries are in effect shared amongst all of system's contributing libraries. That means if a patron at, say, the Somers Library wants to borrow an item that is owned by Ardsley, it will be transported by WLS to Somers for their patron to check-out. Popular materials that have reserve waiting lists get filled on a first come, first served basis and thus patrons have a larger inventory to draw upon (and system-wide competition) than just what could be purchased by the patron's home library.

However, throughout the system there are instances in which there may be only one of the item (others might have been bought originally but got lost etc) remaining. It might not even be a very popular item. What if that item belonged to Greenburgh and ended up in storage and it was wanted by Harrison? By taking the Greenburgh inventory and putting it into dead storage, they are really taking away the inventory of the WLS.

Who is paying for the storage expense? The bonds which are sold for the expansion are to be used for construction, a capital expense. Rent is not a capital expense which is why the bond proceeds could not be applied to the rent for Frank's.

But the important point is that the maximum amount of Greenburgh's inventory should be available for circulation, for Greenburgh patrons and for WLS members. In fact, I suspect that this "storage" plan is already a causing some grumbling at the WLS.

What about distributing the Greenburgh inventory by "loaning" it out in bulk to the WLS members. I am not talking about the extra 6 or 7 copies that Greenburgh owns of the same item.
If Greenburgh or WLS kept a tracking list of who got what, I'm sure that the books would eventually be returned in time for the opening of our expanded Library. And this should reduce the storage expense as well.

But if this is too complicated, there is always the clear win-win, for residents, for the WLS, of renting some satellite locations. The problem in this is that the Library Board would have to return Feiner's call. If they make the call, I'll personally reimburse them for the quarter.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

Suggestions and "help" from yOu and others, like Mr. Feiner who did not support the Library bond are going to find a sceptible eye. Not that people wont consider, but your and Feiners offers to help with a phone call are going to be met with some sceptiscm. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

Paul Feiner said...

I think the suggestions posted by Hal should be reviewed. He is coming up with constructive ideas that could reduce the storage costs for the library. Why should books be stored in a vault when they could be read by people who want to read the books? I plan to write to the LIbrary Board asking that they consider the suggestion PAUL FEINER

hal samis said...

dear "sceptible" anonymous,

get over it!

frustrated said...

Town and village residents are entitled to know why the WaterWheel property was taken off the auction block. This property has languished for nearly a dozen years in increasing states of decay. Its a rather small lot of about 100 x 75 with residential zoning. Not much of consequence can be built there. Lets get it back on the tax rolls and into the hands of someone who can do something productive with it. The status quo is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

The waterwheel property may be used for affordable housing for police, firefighters, ambulance corp workers who serve Ardsley and unincorporated Greenburgh. The village of Ardsley has been pushing hard for this. It seems to make sense. It's getting more difficult to recruit volunteer firefighters since Ardsley is so expensive. If we lose an all volunteer fire dept the taxes of residents who reside in the unincorporated section of Greenburgh served by Ardsley FD and the village of Ardsley will see their taxes go up alot.

Anonymous said...

Edgmont (Greenville) pays our firefights -- why do we also have to subsdiize Ardsley's. Most of the area served by Ardsely Fire Dept. is not in unincorporated Greenburgh

Unincorporated Greenburgh residents should be first in line. Otherwise the property should just be sold.

Anonymous said...

Is there some confusion over what the Waterwheel property is. I thought it was listed with a minium bid of 2.1million. That seems like it has to be more than 100 by 75 to me. Rather than giving up more money to the owners of the Manhattan property, I think this should be developed and let the Manhattan property residents, who have suffered so much, be first on the list.

Anonymous said...

The town is not a for profit business. The town needs to spend our tax dollars wisely and provide residents with essential services. The waterwheel property should be used for affordable housing. We have a severe housing shortage. We will not be able to attract volunteer firefighters to the volunteer dept if we don't get smart and build some housing now

Anonymous said...

Of course the town is not for profit, but assets of the town should be used for the town, not the village -- and the need for low income housing is not just for the village firemen, it is desperately needed for other town residents. Village residents should not be given a priority for the housing.

Anonymous said...

Enough with the affordable housing for volunteer firefighters. This is a valuable parcel that should be sold for the highest dollar amount and bring in more revenue for the town. We are all suffering trying to make ends meet. What ever happened with the affordable housing in Dobbs Ferry for volunteers? Looking in the parking lot and the luxury cars parked there they dont really need affordable housing?

Anonymous said...

The above comments are ridiculous. Volunteer firefighters perform a vital service. If, god forbid, your house was on fire, and the volunteers were not there for you you would regret the comment you just made. We need the volunteers. Do you want to lose the volunteer fire dept and have to pay more taxes?

Anonymous said...

I believe that the majority of unincoorperated have paid firefighters. That right we dont have to wait for volunteers to show up. Paid departments also have more oversight so their is not as much lavish spending. Personally I believe that most of the fire departments within the town can be united. Hey just look how many chiefs you have in the Hartsdale, Fairview and Greenville districts making well above 100k with tax paid personal vehicles etc. Combine the departments and have one chief and look how much you can save. Infact you had a town wide fire department covering the villages as well you can probably save tons of money because of all the duplication of services you have.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 10:08

The Villages and (I think) the independent Fire Districts have the right to run their fire services as they choose. The village officials are subject to election and the independent fire budgets are subject to voter approval.

That being said, I think the Town should not subsdize on individual fire district, Ardsley. If low income housing is provided on town owned land, preference should be town wide, whether for town volunteers, town employees and all volunteers and employees of ALL village or local fire, school or other districts. The land should not be given away for Ardsley to set preferences. We have had too many problems with preferential treatment of areas -- lets not make more problems.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog for about a week. I'm very disappointed in some of the blog posters who keep trying to find fault with anything and everything that could be good for our town. Why would anyone be against affordable housing for volunteer firefighters? This a great idea.

Anonymous said...

From the leaf pickup blog section ... "cutting out everyone who isn't Ardsley village in the schools" ... but my response is better placed here as a miscellaneous item ...

That would be so intelligent ... actually aligning schools with their own municipalities ... what a concept! I don't even live in the Ardsley school district, and it's clear that Ardsley's school district boundary lines are abusive.

Hopefully when you and the other villages secede from Greenburgh, all the dramas we endure (i.e. DPW, library situations, which residents may visit which parks, the baffling mess of who lives in which fire district which may be different from your police district which may be different from your school district) will no longer be a problem.

Just envision ...

City 1: Elmsford and Ardsley (heck, just take it all, the whole stretch between the Saw Mill and the Sprain from Yonkers to Mount Pleasant ... maybe name it the City of Saw Mill ... what a powerhouse city that would be!)

City 2: Irvington and Tarrytown (and East Irvington and Glenville and Eastview ... give it some cool historic name; too bad Sleepy Hollow is taken already)

City 3: Dobbs and Hastings (name it something quaint and Hudson-ish or River-ish)

City 4: Greenburgh (Fairview, Woodlands, Hartsdale; three neighborhoods in one city - period)

But what to do with Greenville-Edgemont? We can't just let them be stuck with Greenburgh while everyone else enjoys its freedom!

I'm sure it's not a simple task, but we can at least dream!

"The Future of Greenburgh and Its Villages" would likely be a beneficial and lively blog topic of its own.

It it ain't broke don't fix said...

Our property values depend on government that is not in chaos. The advocates of secession are trying to create chaos. Our town, our villages, are well managed. If it ain't broke, don't fix.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:13,

Nothing is wrong with subsidized housing for the Fire dept. and if ardsley wants to buy the land at FMV from greenburgh, that would be fine. In the meantime, it is unacceptable to subisidize ardsley only

Michael Kolesar said...

There is a lack of information about the Ardsley Engine Company and the community which it serves. The Ardsley Engine Company, a separate legal entity from the Village of Ardsley, provides fire protection services to two fire districts, the South Ardsley fire district and the Chauncy fire district. Based upon the assessed values of the property included in these two districts, which includes the entire incorporated Village of Ardsley, 32% of the total assessed value lies in unincorporated Greenburgh. These fortunate property owners currently pay about 25% of the fire district taxes that someone living in the Greenville and other fire districts in unincorporated Greenburgh pay. If anyone is being "subsidized", it is unincorporated Greenburgh, not the people of Ardsley. There are I believe no current active members of the Ardsley Engine Company who reside in the areas receiving this protection. These areas of unincorporated Greenburgh currently pay about $300,000 annually for this. If the Ardsley Engine Company ceased to function in this capacity, the annual cost would in my view approach an additional $2.8 million annually (all for personnel costs), of which the unincorporated Greenburgh residents would have to pay 32% or about $900,000 annually. If some affordable housing is somehow made available for present or future members of this service, is it worth it? That is the question that the Town Board must evaluate and the rest of the Town should consider. After all, if the Valhalla area of the Town can receive $650,000 annually, maybe this for another portion of unincorporated Greenburgh is also appropriate.

For what it is worth, Ms. Juettner resides in the Village of Ardsley and Supervisor Feiner lives in an area of unincorporated Greenburgh, that is part of the South Ardsley fire district.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so it is residents of the Ardsely Engine Company, not the Ardsley Village, that want their volunteer firemen subsidized so they can continue to recieve lower priced fire services. Big deal. The point is that the land belongs to the entire Town. I know that it is difficult for residents to accept that the Town is supposed to be fair, and for the benefit of all. That is why, if their is low income housing, it must not allow the Ardsley (Village, Engine Company or whatever) to get first priority on subsidized units. All town people (residents and employees) must be allocated apartments on a fair basis (lottery?)

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am not sure of your point, but it seems to me that a logical extension of your argument is whether governments should do any kind of government subsidized housing. Why should "low income" individuals receive this?

In the action that is being considered, in order to qualify, one has to render a valuable social service, that is fire protection, which may mean getting out of that nice warm bed at 2AM on a cold snowy night to try and save a structure and maybe a life or two. Not worth it?? That's a part of this consideration.

Time for all of the Town Board members to start to chip in with their thoughts .....

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

The problem is that when some of the Town has volunteer fireman and most doesn't, it is hard to be fair with this. No one is saying that the volunteer firemen don't deserve this -- only that the subsidy should come from their service area, not the entire town. If you only want subsidized housing for service providers, you certainly have the right to have that view, but it does not and should not mean that the subsidy should come from the rest of Greenburgh.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous,

You wrote

"If you only want subsidized housing for service providers, you certainly have the right to have that view, but it does not and should not mean that the subsidy should come from the rest of Greenburgh."

Given your view of the world, how do you rationalize the payments being made to the Valhalla School District that doesn't even lie entirely within the Town of Greenburgh?

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Virtually everyone, including me, who does not live in the Valhalla School District has problems with that arrangement. And just as obvious, virtally everyone, inlcuding me, who does not live in the Ardsley Engine company district, has problems with providing benefits for just those residents (by subsidizing fire services).

If the town wants to provide for lowincome housing, it must be truly a town wide benefit. And if Ardsley is one of very few places with volunteers, limiting the hosing to volunteers is a sham, as it gives preference to Ardsley.

Anonymous said...

This is not low income housing that we have been talking about. It's called affordable housing. Affordable housing is for working stiffs. Firefighters, police, teachers. People who get a pay check every week and earn good money. Unfortunately, to live in our community you can't earn good money. You have to earn lots of money.

Anonymous said...

OK, fine so it is affordable housing. Same point, is that if it is town owned land, it has to be fairly open to all town employees. Ardsley should not be given a preference.

Anonymous said...

This blog is a great idea, and I think it is admirable that Greenburgh is open like this and receptive to hearing from the citizens.

This blog makes it easy and convienent to communicate with Town Goverment.

Thanks for providing it.

Anonymous said...

This blog is a great idea, and I think it is admirable that Greenburgh is open like this and receptive to hearing from the citizens.

This blog makes it easy and convienent to communicate with Town Goverment.

Thanks for providing it.

I would also like to suggest the town set up forums/message board so that we can post and discuss issues as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree! This blog is awesome. It's great to live in a town that has officials who listen to the people who elect them to office. I get the feeling that my comments are really considered.

awesome said...

The Supervisor's budget for 2007 is unbelievable. How can the town keep taxes so low when everything is going up?

Anonymous said...

I'd be curious. What are the tax rates in other Westchester municipalities? Are the taxes going down, flat or substantially below the cost of living everywhere else or are we, in Greenburgh, just plain lucky that we have good management here?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what is being done to address pedestrian safety on West Hartsdale Avenue? There is no sidewalk, and this road is narrow, curvy, and especially dark at night. The sidewalk ends at North Washington Avenue, and from there it's the non existent shoulder. There are several pedestrians that walk this route every day.

It's ridculous that one cannot walk or safely ride a bike on this corridor that connects the Maplewood, Pinewood, and Poets Corners neighborhood to the core of Hartsdale.

We should begin to lobby the state to install a sidewalk on this road, before someone is seriously injured killed.

I know there has been sidewalk conterversy in the town before (my feelings is the conterversy was more for conterversy then anything else), but this is completely unrelated. This a major state owned throughfare and in should no way even be the source of political heat or issues.

I urge the Town Board to explore this issue.