Monday, October 16, 2006

? OF THE DAY:SHOULD LIBRARY BE INDEPENDENT

Question of the Day: Should the Library be an independent Library district? (question submitted by Hal Samis)
The Greenburgh Library Board is appointed by the members of the Greenburgh Town Board. The budget for the library must be approved by the members of the Town Board.
In some communities around the state there is a totally independent Library Board that does not answer to the Greenburgh Town Board. The Board members are elected by the people. The budget process is independent of the town's budget process. The voters approve or reject library budgets each year.
Should a referendum be held in 2007 to establish an independent library district? What do you think? A few years ago (prior to the Library expansion referendum) members of the Library Board discussed this option with members of the Town Board. What do you think?

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think making the library budget pass will be very difficult. If the Town had to get its budget to pass it would be difficult. The town cant even the courts to say its budget is legal

Anonymous said...

Agreed, this proposal is just Feiner getting annoyed that the Board wont do what he wants and go into sweatheart deal with Elmsford and when Greenburgh people complain to WLS and NY state dept of education, he tries to strike back.

Paul, how can you call yourself a democrat -- you dont support schools (other than Valhalla, which is mostly out of the town) you dont support libraries.

Paul Feiner said...

Dear anonymous: This proposal was first suggested by the Library Board, not me. I have always supported education -- in fact, I'm currently working on establishing a SAT summer camp for students. I'm also working with educators on setting up a college admission preparation camp. I have had a student internship program for years --providing students with an opportunity to learn about government. I am currently working with students setting up a cable TV news program. Anonymous: you continue to give out inaccurate info. I believe that Greenburgh and Elmsford should have negotiated a fair deal -- not a sweetheart deal. I have always supported libraries --just want to make sure that there is proper oversight for this library.

Anonymous said...

What is fair by whose standards -- how about WLS standards?

and who would be eligible for the SAT camp and who would pay (the unincorporated v. village question)

Paul Feiner said...

I believe that the standards should be established by the Westchester Library System. They are the board that oversees the entire library --they should have the ability of establishing rates for library cards. The SAT camp will be included in my 2007 budget--I have been working on this for a few months and believe that this will be an extremely popular program. I will address the budget issues in my upcoming 2007 budget. This is the kind of program that will be very helpful to students who reside in Greenburgh.

Paul Feiner said...

I believe that the standards should be established by the Westchester Library System. They are the board that oversees the entire library --they should have the ability of establishing rates for library cards. The SAT camp will be included in my 2007 budget--I have been working on this for a few months and believe that this will be an extremely popular program. I will address the budget issues in my upcoming 2007 budget. This is the kind of program that will be very helpful to students who reside in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

i can't believe that in the absence of any information, we are being asked if we want the library to have an independent budget. there are many questions that we would have to have answered before any meaningful conversation can take place... why did the library suggest it? was it because the town and its official(s) were being difficult and it was hard to negotiate the politics to get anything done? for towns that have independent libraries, why did they do it and how are they doing at getting budgets passed? i agree that this is a shot at the library, which will find it difficult to get a budget passed. why are we even discussing this, other than Mr. Feiner thinking it's interesting to stir the pot and forment unrest as the library begins construction? if there is a better reason, it is not apparent. further, with mr feiner answering comment for comment, this isn't an open dialogue; it is a limited conversation in which he can continue to posit his opinion and recount his accomplishments. true bloggers step out of the conversation and let participants answer one another. that encourages a really open blog. this does not require an answer, and in fact i will be interested how others respond to me and to anonymous. we can all have individual conversations with mr. feiner without a blog.

Anonymous said...

Since library services are educational, I like Yonkers' arrangement: "The policies and practices of the Library are set and overseen by the Board, and the Library Director is appointed by the Board. The seven members of the Board are appointed to five year terms by the Board of Education." So let Edgemont schools appoint or elect a few board members and Greenburgh schools appoint or elect a few board members, and let them do their thing. The town barely manages its baseline public works, so I think the library should be separate from the town. (I'd love for the Nature Center to be run by the two boards of education, as well.) The less the Town of Greenburgh has to finance and manage, the better for all.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the less the Town has to say the better, but I am concerned --

1. What are the rights of libraries in Yonkers -- a city, v. Greenburgh a town

2. Even if a library has rights in Greenburgh, we all know that Feiner never feels constrained by laws -- so I am concerned

any thoughts

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear anonymous at 7:54,

I dont disagree with your sentiments, but I think what the anonymouse before was saying was let the SDs appoint Board members. Lets remember that the only elected officials solely accountable to Edgemont or Greenburgh 7 are the School Board members. So lets go with them

Anonymous said...

The library has to make a decision: should the Town Board and Supervisor have some control over the library operations? If the library wants the Town Bd/Supervisor not to interfere then they should support an independent library district. I think Ossining also has an independent district. This is not about Feiner. It's about the library and the future of the library.

Anonymous said...

I'd like some more info before making up my mind. How many independent library districts are there in Westchester County? What are their experiences. I suggest that the Library Board commission a study and that we all keep an open mind on this. If we want the politicians to stay out of the library policy decisions then the board should be independent of them.

Anonymous said...

If the Library is considered a department of the town the library should be subject to the same scrutiny that other departments receive by the Town Supervisor and Town Board. If the library is an independent entity, then the town supervisor and town board should not be involved in the library budget oversight. The oversight will be the responsibiliy of the voters.

Anonymous said...

Library services are awesome! The children's library programs are terrific. I love the library. As a taxpayer I want the Town Supervisor and Town Councilmembers to take a hard look at the budget figures to make sure that we're not overpaying for the great services. Taking a hard look at
how money is being spent is good. Our elected officials are not being anti library when they ask questions.

Anonymous said...

If taking a hard look is such a good thing, why arent Town officials taking a hard look at the money going to Valhalla SD -- why pcik on the library --

are they sending people on crusies and double paying civil servants??

hal samis said...

I'm going to respond in separate sections due to time constraints, starting this writing while at work. I am writing an overview of the situation because I believe that my point of view will ultimately be embraced by educating the blogging public. And, despite what you may have heard, there is no blurred line between fact and fiction. I encourage "as-I-go" responses but please don't jump ahead of the story.

First off, the Library is not the school system. Surprise, there are many patrons who are not in school or even have childen in school. Schools generally provide the books that their classes use and often have well-stocked libraries "on campus" of their own even starting at the elementary school level. Public libraries are meant to complement the school experience and provide greater depth and a wider source range of research materials. At least, that is what they used to do before the internet became so popular. Today, libraries have taken to catering to what they consider to be their most library friendly markets, seniors and parents of school children. Seniors have lots of free time and parents want more free time -- so the library in effect "panders" to these groups. Greenburgh is not unique in this attitude but by examination of the floor plans of the planned "library of the future", it is apparent to see how these groups are receiving the bulk of space, layout, service and resource allocations. In any case, having a library run by school systems is not what the creation of an independent library district is about. My understanding of an independent library district is that it operates not unlike a school, fire or even sewer district, although the services are 365 day directed to all the residents of the District. In practice this means that those who run the library are elected, like school board members. The operating budget is proposed by the library and the public votes on it. In Greenburgh, the library operating budget is just one of many departments which totgether make up the total and the line items of the library budget are thus not easily accessible to the Public. The same is true of all town departments; they all enjoy a degree of safety from scrutiiny by being a part of the whole.

In Greenburgh was have a quasi independent library which exists in the nether world between the independent district and a town department and protected to a degree by state education laws. It is this nebulous status which has resulted in many of the contentious issues which have beset the Library in recent years while this nebulous status has also served the library administration very well by being able to operate without oversight and financial controls. By this I mean that according to local legend, the Library Board of Trustees can submit a budget, the Town Board can accept or reject the budget in its entirety but it cannot change individual line items (line items are entries like office equipment, postage, book purchases, and salaries. However salaries are themselves individual line items according to specific NYS defined job descriptions). Those who are reading and have poker skills may assume that the threat of rejecting the entire budget would be the credentials to bargain for line item changes. However, in practice this does not occur.

This is where I must take a "work" break. I'm not ashamed to identify myself. I hope readers and responders are similarly inclined.

GoodGovtGuy said...

The last thing we need is another layer of government! That's exactly what we'll get if the Library operates independently.

The public elects a town government to act on its behalf. Sometimes they make good decisions, sometimes bad, but at least they (hopefully) have all the information at their fingertips - something that few voters ever do.

Last year the Hartsdale Fire Dept had a vote on a bond referendum for construction at their W. Hartsdale Ave. firehouse - I don't think more than 200 people showed up. The per household cost was comparable, if not higher, than the library bond we voted on that same year, but because it happened outside the realm of local politics - with all of the open forums and debates it entails - it went relatively unnoticed. Is this what we want for the library system too?

Why not just have a separate parks district, garbage pickup district, snow plowing district, leaf collection district, police protection district, ad infinitum, and have a true democracy in which the public votes on every individual budget line currently decided upon by our Town Board? The shear folly of possibly creating another level of government - this one called a "library" government, with its own set of elected governing officers, budgets, etc - when we're already overburdened with too many as it is, is like trying to make income taxes fairer by adding 50 pages of changes to the tax code. All it does is make things more complex and better only for those with the time and/or money to make sense of it.

Let our local elected officials oversee our local services. That's what they're supposed to do. And if they don't do it well, we can hold them accountable at the ballot box.

Phillip Chonigman

hal samis said...

to bloggers, Mr Chonigman is heavily involved in local Democratic party politics, not that there's anything wrong with that...

Phil,
As you will learn when I resume, we do not have, maybe even not allowed, oversight of the library.
The Library Board of Trustees are not elected officials; they are not responsible to voters for their adminstration of the library.
The Town Board cannot force them to do what the Library Board does not want to do. That would be the surface level of the issue. However the reality is that the Town Council sides with the Library Board because it is very politically correct to do so. The Library is a revered institution and to attack the Library is to also be against motherhood and apple pie. When Supervisor Feiner finally favored expansion, he made the mistake of favoring a cap of $10 miilion in spending. On the other side, the Library Board wanted $20 million (so they said, but would have grabbed $15 and ran if offered). By the time the referendum got rolling, Feiner was the bad guy and more so because he wanted the referendum held during Novemember elections while the Library Board wanted it, full-speed ahead, in March 2005. It was finally held in May because of technical difficulties which I believe had to do with absentee balloting. Just like you noted with the fire district, few people come out for individual, unique (not repeating like School Board elections) one-off issues. Feiner knew attendance would be higher in November (the Library Board put out the word that this would make it more likely to be defeated, huh?) and those opposed put out the word that the Library Board didn't yet understand their project, they didn't have most of the answers and they were rushing in light of this. The Library referendum passed by 66 votes. The explained need to hold the referendum in May was so that construction could start Spring 2006. That it likely won't be underway this November is an illustration of the charge that the Library Board did not yet understand their project and hadn't yet provided enough answers.

Separately, the Hartsdale Fire District bonding costing "as much, if not higher" per household than the Library is a function of the limited area served by the Fire District whereas the Library is paid for by the households of the entire unincorporated population, albeit a much higher costing project. I don't think you are setting up an apples to apples comp.

So, the Town Council (Bass, Barnes, Sheehan and Juettner) are playing politics using the Library as the free agent. Everything the Library wants is okay because it is payback for Feiner. In turn, the Library knowing this, asks for the dark side (secret, release no information) of the moon and the Town Council goes along. To oversee, even to ask to oversee, would put Feiner back in the doghouse.

Furthermore, you've got to know the players. Vice President of the Library Board (Building and Finance committee) is Susan Wolfert, active reporter for the Scarsdale Inquirer. Even though she doesn't cover the Library story, she writes about other Greenburgh issues and there is always a potential conflict with how she portrays the players. Gil Kaminer, who wrote about the Library in lieu of Ms Wolfert, is now the legislative aide to the Town Council. The "morgue" used for background (for the edification of new reporters) at newspapers is packed with "facts" derived from old articles written by...Wolfert and Kaminer.

However there is one sharp deviation from this "conspiracy" theory to protect the Library as how I am want to characterize it: Francis Sheehan (fresh from Zoning Board service) was familiar with the environmental dangers associated with chemical contaminents...which is just another way to spell Frank's Nursery. It was him who insisted upon performing a sincere environmental review which ultimately was one of the major reasons that the lease of Frank's was rejected. Since you attend the DEMS monthly meetings in Ardsley, you know that the spelling of Feiner and Sheehan are completely different but the Library Board, which was on to Frank's as early as September 2005, puts out that the Frank's misfire was due to Feiner and his agaents and the Town Council does not publicly do anything to correct this story.

In a world lacking in oversight, we have the Town Attorney, with the oversight of the Town Board, negotiating a lease with Frank's since March 2006, despite the world knowing that the Town was interested in Frank's because of Feiner's misdeeds, the location miraculously remains available for Library use right up to the Town Board's cut-off date just after Labor Day.
Six months of negotiation for a two year lease.
During most of this period, we have Howard Jacobs, Chair of the Library Trustees, negotiating a renewal of a library service contract with Elmsford. Granted that the original terms were unfair to unincorporated residents and that to correct this was a very, if not, impossible task under the best of circumstances -- Greenburgh's position eroded by the circumstances of the expansion effectively almost obliterating the existence of the Greenburgh library for the next two years -- Howard Jacobs prevents Feiner from participating in the meetings with the Elmsford mayor. Non portfolio encounters portfolio.

So when you say beg the point that we should let our local officials oversee our local services, you are not tuned into what's unique about how our Library resists governance Town Hall. I'm getting ahead of myself but let me illustrate this by pointing out that the Library Board, not the Town Board, determines the raises for Library staff. Thus during a period when Town Hall employees were routinely getting 3% annual raises, the Library Board was granting 4, 5 and 6% raises. Last year the Library Director Demita Gerber earned $117,000, giving rise to the hopes that offspring should not marry a doctor or a lawyer, but instead a librarian.

Meanwhile, always voting for the Library demands, is the Town Board's liaison to the Library, Diana Juettner. She, of the villages, is their revenge on unincorporated. She doesn't pay for the Greenburgh Library, she never opened her mouth that the old town hall shouldn't be used for relocation (when the Town Board went shopping for a larger Town Hall, they held meeting after meeting to discuss the problems at the old town building -- mold, leaky roof, no elevator, not handicapped (ADA) compliant, etc.).
Thus when the project estimate was hastily put together to have a dollar figure to present for the then March referendum, the estimator, Triton, hired in October 2004 and the estimate produced in November 2004 was done without Triton going inside to look around. This was not done until way after the May referendum; not until July when they went inside and discovered the problems and the subsequent abandonment of the plan to use it. In turn this created the new problem of where to move during construction and the project went downhill from there. During all the delays of "months" before the Planning and Zoning Boards, the Library still did not have a place to move but it was the fault of the Supervisor and those pesky Boards which bent over backward and gave the Library everything. After their affirmative decisions, there was still no place to go and as it turned out, there's no place like home, being the new town hall and the multipurpose center.

Nothing like when that old "oversight" comes bobbing along.

end of part 2
more coming later tonight

Anonymous said...

Mr. Samis

Maybe if Feiner were fair, these things would not happen.

I am afraid of the library having to take its budget to a vote, because I saw what happened when Feiner supporters vicously went after the Edgemont School Budget. Even our beloved school had to go to a second vote. The Fire Disctrict vote had no publicity but when Feiner supporters went after the school district, it was difficult. What chance would the libary have against Feiner and his one-sided supporters?

We all see how supportive Feiner is of the Valhalla school district -- at best he says he was neutral during the Edgemont budget votes (even if his supporters were obsessed about voting down the budget) -- what a difference - I did not see him chearleading Edgemont educational needs -- which dont even include boondoggle cruises etc.

That is my fear -- until Feiner stops pandering to the villages (like his insistance on a contract with Elmsford not in accordance with Westchester Library System standards -- which it does have)the library does not have a chance.

Anonymous said...

Many Edgemont residents who like Paul Feiner voted for the school budget. Paul Feiner never urged any Edgemont resident to vote against the budget.

Anonymous said...

Feiner supporters were among the loudest advocates of voting no for the budget and Feiner did nothing to support it. I guess Valhalla counts

Anonymous said...

Feiner's supporters were also among the most supportive of the Edgemont school budget. Feiner gets support from people who have different views on different issues.

Anonymous said...

The question has nothing to do with Feiner. If an independent library board is established the structure of the library will continue long past the Feiner administration. Bloggers should not personalize any issue. We should analyze whether independent libary boards work in other communities and then decide if this approach is good for our town and for our library.

hal samis said...

As a reminder to anyone unfamiliar with my intense interest in the Library: I rent an apartment and thus any tax impact on my rent is insignificant. Thus, if the Library spent $50 million or $33 million, I don't care. My oppostion is not personal pocketbook based. However, I was fascinated by the story of the County Courthouse construction and its resultant rampant over budget cost and untimely completion...the classic municipal boondoggle. It occurred to me that the media ignore these stories until they happen and then they become front page stories. But weren't there any red flags, warnings along the way to the outcome? Weren't there professionals in charge? When the manure hit the fan, wasn't there an architect, a construction manager, a County team of experts who could see that things were heading south? If the County, with a larger payroll and more resources at hand, could screw up then would it not be, at the least, also be possible in Greenburgh with its own history of construction blunders? Does it make sense to put the project, the largest by far in Greenburgh's history, in the hands of a Library Board with absolutely no background in construction, in the hands of people whose backgrounds are mostly as educators? How many ingredients for disaster does it take? EVerywhere I looked I saw red flags, "Danger, Will Robinson!", and the Town Council just fiddled and looked uncomfortable through all my rants. Can their desire to "get Feiner" be so intense that they are willing to sacrifice any oversight of the project?

How many warnings do they need to become interested?

I used to one of those get Feiner critics too, being a most vocal figure in my own right. Any energy I am devoting to this library expansion, I used to devote exclusively to attacking the Supervisor. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...
he began to look good and his critics began to look bad. It seems that the game of politics can be played from both sides of the table, or both sides can be played on one side. But the bottom line of my interest is that despite the barrage of barbs thrown at him, on this issue he stands on the side of the angels. The Library Board goes out their way to insult and villify him and the public weal suffers as a result. Being a library buys a certain degree of acceptability: warm and fuzzy feelings because they are a...Library. However, this Library Board has long ago used up its credit voucher and is operating from the deficit column of the ledger.

Think back to the worst indictment: Feiner wanted to hold the referendum in November when there would be a greater voter turnout. The Library Board says this was sophistry because with more voters coming out, the greater the likelihood that the proposition would be defeated.
Take a beat and think...
Isn't that saying that if more people came out and they voted against the expense, isn't that what deomocracy is about?
And the corollary is what the Library Board wanted: if fewer people come out and voted, then it is more likely that the measure would pass?

And if the Supervisor had an advocacy postion, it was wrong for him to pursue it. but it is ok for the Library Board to hold "information" sessions.

The best I can say about either side is that both the Supervisor and the Library Board did not incur their finest hours.

Social engineering like this is good if you are the Library Board; bad if you are the Supervisor.

But no one but me apparently studies history something which is easy when you have retained copies of the source materials: newspaper articles, emails, press releases, letters to the editor, RFPs, contracts, OAT meeting minutes, internet searches, attended Town, Planning, Zoning and Library Board meetings -- I've paid my dues. As usual, if I have ever made any factual errors, please don't hesitate to make me aware.
///////////////////////////////////
Now let's return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, early 2004, when the then hot button was the proposed sale of the old town hall portion of eventually became the current plot for the Library expansion. I was opposed then to the sale to Sunrise Assisted Living, not because their's would be a bad use but because I thought that the Library expansion plan had not gone far enough and it was too early to assume that the town hall portion would not be needed.

At this stage, Diana Juettner didn't recognize any problem with the proposed sale but she's only a few meetings away from becoming considered a champion of the Library expansion. After all, she lives in the villages and can use the Library so why should she care any more than I how much is spent?By being content with the Sunrise sale, she was not alone. This headline from the Scarsdale Inquirer tells the story.
"Library board OKs sale of old town hall to Sunrise developers".
Actually, the vote was 6 for, 1 against, the sole against being Susan Wolfert. And, speaking in favor of the division of the property was the Library's architect Todd Harvey who saw no problems in designing around the proposed development, even having the then needed 160 parking spaces without the town hall site. You just gotta love architects. The author of the "SI" article was David Gottlieb, on his last legs as a full time reporter but still a tennis player. Another active tennis player circling around was Bill Greenawalt, former leader of the Greenburgh Democratic Party and future opponent, running against Supervisor Feiner. Mr. Greenawalt's contribution to the Library imbroglio was the statement to Feiner "the library is not your library, it's not the town board's library, it's not the library's library, it's the people's library". And from that foundation Greenawalt went on to promote the idea of creating an independent library district. He even wrote letters to Spano and Brodsky while other residents concentrated on the state Department of Library Development. There was a flurry of articles in both papers but the headlines in the Scarsdale Inquirer best summarize the activity: "Library board not town board should control its destiny","Resident seeks Albany OK on library district", "Attorney calls for G'burgj library to be autonomous". What happened, Mr. Greenawalt to your enthusiasm? Well for one thing, the Library Board, which had been crying the blues, bemoaning their fate and blaming Supervisor Feiner to any ears that would listen, suddenly clammed up and put creating an independent district on the back burner, the very, very far back burner. And, realizing that he had stepped on some toes at the Library, this was quickly dropped by Greenawalt who thereafter acted like it never happened.

There was a kids' cartoon show in my youth, "Rocky and his Friends" and there was a character, Professor Peabody who had invented a "wayback machine". The set-up was something like this..."Sherman and I stepped into the wayback machine, set the dial for the year 2004..." This is how I feel. The grown up word for how history becomes twisted is recidivism. As the years passed and now we set the dial to Fall 2005 and it is budget time in Greenburgh and the Library budget is being reviewed...I made a big fuss about the library budget, the salary increases higher than the other town department increases, about their increasing the book purchases above the prior year -- which seemed to make no sense because having had the referendum in May 2005, wasn't the Library supposed to move from its existing crowded 22,000 square feet into either the old town hall, 13,000 square feet, or elsewhere but still likely to occupy less space for the two years of construction? And since we dutifully held the referendum in May 2005, wasn't construction supposed to start about 4 months into the new budget for 2006? Why were heat and electricity etc. still at full year levels? I did know that the Library when it inflates its operating budget, unlike other town departments,it gets to keep the unspent taxpayer-contributed operating dollars and move them into the Library Fund, not repatriated back into the B fund. Did the Library Board, in October 2005, know something about their project expansion timetable that I didn't? That would be a hard call to make because ever since the referendum, the Library Board has always maintained that the project is on budget and on schedule. Anyway, I raised enough of a fuss before the Town Board, arguing that they as a group didn't need this grief; that since they couldn't change the budget, they shouldn't have to take the responsibility for approving it. In my second miscalculation, I had assumed (actually I heard it from two opposite end sources) that the Town Board was considering setting up the aparatus to create an independent library district now that the bond initiative (the commitment to sell $19.8 million in bonds plus the likely additional interest expense of another $13 million over the life of the bonds) was a fait accompli.

Over the past year I made some discreet inquiries and learned, no surprise, that the Library Board was especially not interested in becoming independent. After all, why have to run for elective office, why have your budget voted on by those who have to pay it, why give up a good thing: having Supervisor Feiner around to kick for every real or perceived mishap.

So, after enduring months of the Library Board's refusal to answer questions about the project; after seeing the Library hold off on presenting their final floor plans until the last minute, upon seeing what a financial, design layout and environmental disaster they have planned, I decided to bring back the idea of promoting a referendum to establish an independent library district -- again. True to form, this idea when ennunciated by Supervisor Feiner became just more of the automatic assault response that he is trying to bury the Library; that this is just one more example of retaliation, etc.

So I ask my fellow bloggers to answer this question: Why is it laudatory for Bill Greenawalt to propose creating an independent library district but malicious when the same idea is voiced by the Superviser?

Next up for discussion is reviewing some of the anonymous comments on this posting and then moving into an analysis of the proposed 2007 library budget: the budget you won't get to see unless you make of point of looking for it, otherwise it become just three pages out of last year's 178 pages of the entire town budget.

Hopefully, one day you may be able to view it just as you would look at your local School Board budget.

Last year's 20062005 budgets showed as an example

The Parks Department and Recreation Department had combined budgets of $3,396,736 in 2006 versus $3,223,048 in 2005
and the Commissioner earned
$96,235 in 2006 vs $94,400 in 2005

The Community Center had a budget
of $3,141,157 in 2006
versus $2,532,942 in 2005
and the Commissioner earned
$97,603 in 2006 vs $94,760 in 2005

meanwhile the Library budget which is determined solely by the Library Board of Trustees
$3,690,969 in 2006
versus $3,575,916 in 2005
and the Librray Director earned
$117,465 in 2006 vs $109,780 2005
Guess they really like their Director...but would taxpayers like to voice some input on their genorosity by voting separately on the budget of an independent library district?

next installment on Wednesday

Anonymous said...

The answer as to why it is laudable when suggested by Greenwalt and suspicous when suggested by Feiner is one of MOTIVATION. And maybe if we had a supervisor who wasnt always out to cut private deals with deveolpers and subsidize the villages we could deal with this better. but we cant. because we are all afraid that the only way to deal with feiner is through the courts --

I agree with you -- i would like to be able to suggest the library situaiton like adults. but as long as feiner is around to stick a finger in, that cant happen

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-- it's obvious that you don't like feiner. But, your blog posts contain lots of wrong info. You claim that Feiner cuts deals with developers. During Feiner's tenure as Supervisor the town's open space increased from 200 acres to over 600 acres. Feiner also approved Greenburgh's open space plan which has a wetlands and steep slopes law. Both laws have made it much more difficult to develop property. These laws have made developers angry at him, not happy with him.

hal samis said...

This just in...
the opening of the contractor's bids which was postponed from October 11 to today has been postponed again to October 31.

This is by no stretch of the imagination a good thing. "Don't worry, be happy" says the Library Board...we have experts on the team.

Now they can move the construction start to December the earliest. Although it is manageable, winter starts are not desirable.

It is good that we had the referendum in May 2005. That meant the project could get underway Spring 2006. Pity that the Zoning and Planning Boards and the Town Supervisor all stood in the way.

If that explanation appeals to you, the Tappan Zee Bridge is for sale. Send $100 for the purchase package.

Anonymous said...

So Feiner increased open space -- yes by paying for it -- with unincorporated Greeenburgh's money, even when it benefits all of Greenburgh, or even mostly Irvington.

he was pushing for the Franks lease -- which fortunately the Council put the brakes on -- with the environmental lobby.

I am sorry the library is behind schedule -- things dont always work as planned and I dont think anyone realized the Town Hall (which lets think -- who had responsibiltiy to maintian) has asbetos issues. I would rather they do it right.

hal samis said...

It is getting hard to tell the anonymous responses apart but many of them seem to take issue with Mr. Feiner for a myriad of supposed flaws on a myriad of unrelated issues.

Oddly enough this particular blog topic is about the Library; there are other blog desitiantions to complain about him. If these anonymous writers feel so strongly about how he is harming the Library, then I would think they would happily entertain the thought of removing the Library from under his supervision and favor creating an independent library district.

But what is most perplexing is the ignorance, if not the ill intentions, of many of these people who reply. Where do they get their information?

The latest posting is an example.
"He (Feiner) was pushing for the Frank's lease" The LIBRARY BOSRD wanted to rent Frank's while Feiner was only working to achieve this. On the surface Frank's was desirable, although not necessarily the most easy to reach location, it was large enough to accommodate the entire Library collection and services wouldn't have to be cut back. In addition the rental cost was affordable. If Feiner hadn't supported this choice of the Library Board, then he would have been criticized for holding back the Library expansion. He was criticized for seeking outside legal advice on some irregularities in arranging the lease...at that time a reduced assessment was proposed by the Town Attorney to make the deal more acceptable to the owner (this was something that I opposed) but he was trying to make the lease work which was the cojoined desire of both the Town Board and Library Boards. Because of continuing problems with the Library expansion, Mr. Feiner has consulted and received advice from private citizens who have expertise in various areas, all relating to the Library. I am one of them. When the lease signing for Frank's became imminent, Feiner argued successfully (in the face of Town Council and Library Board opposition)to have the lease and the results of the environmental testing made available to the public; when these became available to face the scrutiny of the public, it took less than two weeks to rightfully "kill" the deal which had been under discussion for six months. The Library Board which knew that they had to find an alternate to the old town hall (known since July 2005) had not succeeded in finding another location (back up in case) and thus the fall back of using space within the new town hall was adopted to get the ball finally rolling (this was the decision of the Library Board).

Unfortuantely, the available town hall space and the multipurpose center is minimal and thus perhaps as much as 80% of the Library's collection will be placed in dead storage for the construction period. However materials may be ordered through the Westchester Library System and picked up in Greenburgh.

But the point is that Feiner (in anononymous comments) was the culprit for seeking to rent the Frank's space and the Town Council did good by not not renting the space. What happened was that the public deserves the credit in recognizing the problems. What the Town Board did do was waste $2500 in hiring outside counsel to do due diligence regarding matterss which would have been apparent to all had they troubled to obtain the lease and environmental report before so acting.

Why should the town be concerned about preserving the old town hall which was to be torn down for parking after the new building was built? It was not as though the mold and asbestos were previously undetected. The Town Board (including Library liaison Juettner) knew that there were many problems associated with the old town hall and the desire to buy a bnew building was not only to acquire more space but also to escape these costly to fix problems. After the town moved out of the building, it was kept vacant until its final disposition was decided. Would you have the Town government fix and repair an unused building for no reason? When the Library considered using the old town hall for temporary space, it was their responsibility to determine how much it would cost to fix the problems. That their construction manager came up with a cost figure without going inside is the problem of this "experienced team" which the Library Board uses to buttress their own lack of experience. How does this become the fault of the Town, or even remotely Feiner? If you could prove that the Town brought mold and asbestos and then installed it in the old town hall deliberately to waylay the Library, then that would be a valid hypothesis. However all you are looking to do is force a square peg in a round hole which is the equivalent of blaming Feiner again for that which was not his intent or fault.

Incidentally when Feiner (Town Supervisor and Chief Financial Officer) and the Town Council (now comprised of Bass, Barnes, Juettner and Sheehan, then Weinberg before Sheehan) vote on acquisitions, resolutions, laws etc. together they are known as the Town Board. It takes 3 of their 5 eligible votes (5 members) to pass any matter.
The vote to acquire Taxter Ridge (which I opposed) was unanimous in favor of the purchase. It is odd that residents who see fit to cast blame can only remember the Supervisor's name when they are unhappy with how things turn out. Even the issue of the money to the Valhalla School District, both then and in last week's vote, occurred because the Town Board voted in favor. Somehow the other names who cast yes votes get forgotten. Perhaps some of the anonymous writers need to take courses in memory enhancement. I don't intend to be sarcastic about this but I am tired of repeating that it takes 3 of 5 votes to pass legislation; historically matters do pass unanimously and if voters are unhappy then they should throw all the bums out.

However, this blog topic is about creating an independent library district. Are there any comments on this?

Paul Feiner said...

Franks lease comments-- the anonymous blogger continues to make things up. I wanted to work with the library board--which was pushing for many months to have Franks as the temporary library location. If Frank's would have passed environmental tests - and if the financial arrangements were satisfactory I would have supported franks. I pressed the Town Board to provide residents of Greenburgh with information about Frank's before any lease was signed. I asked that a vote on Frank's be delayed until the public could review the contract. I had the proposed lease posted on teh website. I would never support any lease agreement that would put the health and safety of library patrons at risk. One of the reasons why I like this blog is because I'm getting lots of feedback and input from residents about many issues. Who killed the Frank's lease? The public--because the town provided the community with information before we voted on the lease. The public was kept in the loop. The input they provided us was invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Why won't the library or town board take Feiner up on the suggestion to rent out a vacant store front for the temporary library? Makes sense. I want to be able to enjoy the many great services the library offers its residents. I want a comfortable place to go to with my family during the next 2 years. Now that Barnes & Noble is closing we can't even use that book store as a replacement library.

Anonymous said...

According to the Library website, they are proposing as satellites the town hall, the multipurpose center and for young adult collection, the young center. These look like relatively centrally located to me.

Anonymous said...

The satellite locations may be in central locations but the space is very small. I have heard that over 70% of the books, video's will be placed in storage. Sounds like a big service reduction to me.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous,

The locations for the temporary Library were not the proposals of the Library Board; they were the contribution of Supervisor Feiner.
Even though the Library Trustees portray him as the bad guy, were it not for his offer, the Library expansion would be dead in the water because they would have no place to go. That would be the real contribution of the Library Board; what it on their web site is just the announcement.

The the real pity is that the Library Board of Trustees wants to play the victim, even to the extent that it won't allow the Town to rent them more space at other locations. Centrally located may be a phrase akin to epicenter but the multipurpose center is virtually unreachable and is not served by public transporation. In terms of population density, the 4 corners (Central Avenue and Hartsdale Avenue) is probably the highest concentration of residents.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

I am not affiliated with the Library Board, but if I were in their shoes I would be hesitant to agree to anything Mr. Feiner wants. Too many times he has not played fair.

DEMLEADER said...

I think anonymous (whoever you are) is preoccupied with Feiner. It seems from reading all these blog posts that you're spending day, night, weekends thinking of comments to make that are anti Feiner. There is more to life than being anti Feiner!
If the Supervisor is willing to do more for the library why should the library turn him down? This is not about Feiner. This is about the library and town.

Anonymous said...

Dear Demleader,

You posted at 11:28 last night and others are up all night obsessed with this blog???????

Unfortunately, it is not possible to discuss any political issue in this town without understanding what Feiner's position has been in the past (anti library bond, anti Edgemont school) and trying to assess what his position might be in the future.

hal samis said...

Dear time warped,

Under the rules of the Geneva Convention, all bloggers are allowed to stay up "late" and post what they want.

If you've come to the blogs because you are concerned about those who write blog entries at night, you are wasting your own time.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says that Paul Feiner is anti Edgemont schools. I met Paul Feiner outside the Scarsdale A & P two years ago - during the school budget vote election. I asked Paul how I should vote on the school budget. He urged me to vote for the budget, not against the budget. ANonymous doesn't know what he's talking about. Paul has always supported all the schools in Greenburgh.

hal samis said...

Dear Library Board of Trustees:

Please get over your baggage about the Supervisor. For some time now before you is an offer by Mr. Feiner to rent additional space for the Library to occupy during the construction phase. This is, of course, subject to the approval of the Town Board but I suspect you would already have at least the minimum 3 votes to approve such a measure.

The purpose of expansion was to have more space than the existing 22,000 foot building. You were content to use the old town hall building with its 13,000 feet because it was temporary. With the collapse of the Frank's lease, there was no alternative other than the Supervisor offering you space in the new town hall and the multipurpose center. The total of this space is under 8,000 feet. Most of your collections will be locked away in storage.

What I don't understand is why you will not take Feiner up on his recent offer to rent additional space. It is not legal to use the bonding proceeds for rent. This means that your $19.8 construction budget will remain intact. Any rental deal will have to pass not only your own muster but also that of the Town Council.

For example, If the storefront in Hartsdale center were used, the three weekly visits that the cybermobile makes in there could be substituted and other parts of town could benefit by this re-routing. The rented store need not be open every day or the entire day.

Speaking of the cybermobile, it is a key element in the Plan B relocation. Residents may not be aware that it is in its third week of repair, following over two weeks of repair in early September.
In light of this history, this would seem to be an additional reason for you to need to take Feiner up on his offer.

It is not as though the residents won't suffer from your stubborness.
Having access to more of the Library collection and services and maintaining the existing staff can only exist if you have more space. It would be a shame to lay off trained employees because they have nowhere to work from and their's is not work that can be done from home. On the other hand, it would also be unfair to taxpayers to pay for a staff that will not be utilized.

So, do the right thing for the Library, its patrons and the taxpayers; swallow your pride and "say thank you for your offer, where did you have in mind?"

cc: anonymous seeking shoes

Anonymous said...

Dear Anony mous regarding Feiner always supporting Greenburgh schools, -- GET REAL

Unfortunately for Feiner, too many in Edgemont remember all too well (i) the vicious and inflammatory anti-Edgemont blog entries on the website of one of his paid campaign assistants who mocked the efforts of those trying to get the budget passed, (ii) the false and misleading letter sent to the Edgemont community by Feiner's chief Edgemont campaign operative who, when confronted with the true facts, refused to issue any correction; (iii) the fact that Feiner put those opposed to the Edgemont budget in touch with the company that does robo-calling in order to help them get out their anti-Edgemont message; and (iv) the fact that Feiner, having admitted having had some responsibility for the anti-Edgemont robo-calls, offered at the 11th hour to make robo-calls urging that the budget be passed -- and then abruptly reneged. Few people in Edgemont will ever forgive Feiner for what he tried to do.

Greenburgh Supporter of Schools and Library said...

Feiner has been consistently against the Edgemont schools and the Greenburgh Public Libary -- how can we trust him to help

Anonymous said...

how can the last blogger claim that Feiner has been against the Edgemont schools when he encouraged people to vote for the school budget?
The blogger claims Feiner is anti library. Paul Feiner was responsible for obtaining funds from the state for the cyber-bookmobile. Paul expressed reservations about the library referendum last year not because he opposes the library but because he wants the library expansion to be done right.

Anonymous said...

I think we all remember the website "Greenburgh on the Rise" being against the Edgemont school budget. This website was maintained by a PAID feiner supporter. Feiner could have shut it down. He did not.

Paul Feiner said...

I could also shut down this blog but I won't. Because-- I want to encourage everyone in the town to express their views on issues of importance-whether they agree with me or not. I have worked with lots of people over the years and never try to discourage them from exercising their first amendment rights. They disagree with me sometimes. I disagree with them sometimes. That's what makes democracy great. If someone volunteers in my campaign --they should have the same right to express themselves as any other citizen.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I am assuming no one other than you or Mr. Herman is paid or compensated in any way or has any control over this website. What anyone else says is up to them.

As to Greenburgh on the Rise

Below is from Jason Gooljar's resume (available at http://www.jasongooljar.com/?page_id=5). It certainly appears he was paid to maintian Greenburgh on the Rise.


2005 Friends of Paul Feiner Greenburgh, NY
Website Editor/Data Entry

Designed and edited campaign website and graphics
Edited voter file for data entry and direct mailing campaigns
Did research to identify potential donors resulting in an increase in contributions

Paul Feiner said...

Marc Herman is a student intern/volunteer. I have always encouraged everyone who works with me to feel free to express themselves on any issues. No one should have to get permission from me to publicly express their views --even if they differ with me on a given issue. I think that a free exchange of ideas (like this blog) results in better government and more participation from citizens.

Anonymous said...

Paul

yes or no

was Jason paid, either as an employee or a consultant, by you or your campaign

a volunteer is not someone you pay

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Is harmon a paid or unpaid intern

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh on the rise was Jason's idea and his own blog. He was only paid to maintain and edit the campaign website.

Anonymous said...

oh i see the distinction

and i noticed that greenburgh on the rise was updated daily, the campaign website was set up and rarely changed.

Anonymous said...

My good sir or madam, you can insinuate and speculate as you wish.

It would seem that you aim to tar and feather with whatever you can conjure up. Anyone can do the same and accuse and assume as you do.

Anonymous said...

Futhermore, if you knew anything about blogging which it is clear to me that you do not; you would realize that personal blogs are meant to be updated daily.

Campaign websites are directed by more than just the web site editor or web team. It requires input from many persons involved on the campaign. Which is why updating is slower to happen. It was also not necessary to update the campaign website daily or even weekly.

How many times did the opponent of Mr. Feiner update his website? I recall that he did not do that frequently either.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner maintains that he supported the Edgemont School Budget. I am not insuiating anything. I am saying that he did not support the budget.

Greenburgh Supporter of Schools and Library said...

So one of Mr. Feiner's PAID supporters maintained a website that was vehemently agaisnt the Edgemont School Budget. OK, does anyone remember any of Mr. Feiner's supporters maintianing a website, volunterring on any committee, etc in favor of the Budget. I don't.

edgemontvoter said...

Dear Greenburgh supporter of schools: Paul Feiner does not live in the Edgemont school district. He can't vote in Edgemont school elections. He has always been supportive of education and programs for our kids --the question on this blog post is not about Paul Feiner. It's about the library--should the library be independent? I think this proposal is worthy of discussion, not name calling--not insults--not personal attacks.

Greenburgh Supporter of Schools and Library said...

Dear Edgemont Voter,

I agree, this poll is about the Library, and whether it will be better off independent. And as long as Feiner is Supervisor, he is part of the equation. And I realize he is not resident in Edgemont; which makes it particularly galling when his pitbull Gooljar (who was resident in Hartdsale) when after the Edgemont School Budget. The School is the most respected institution in Edgemont, and it had to go to a second vote -- what would happen to the Library if he sent his dogs after the library??

hal samis said...

Dear Greenburgh supporter of....

Yes, the blog IS about making the Library independent.

Let's play "Jeopardy"
Round #1

The answer is "King George"

The question is "Who ran the colonies after the War for Independence was won?"

Round#2

The answer is "Paul Feiner"

The question is "who controls the Library after it becomes an Independent Library District?"

Round #3

The answer is "Anything but addressing the topic"

The question is "What do close minded bloggers do?"