Thursday, November 30, 2006

November: 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!

313 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 313   Newer›   Newest»
hal samis said...

It has been reported that at yesterday's work session, Council Member Eddie Mae Barnes feels that she has "a life" and that late running Town Board meetings cut into it.

Two things come to mind:
Who knew she was such a party person and went out afterward and
Gee, that's too bad.

Town Board meetings run late usually because the the Town Board has not done their homework first.
On nights when there is/are Public Hearings, these are State law protected in that the Town Board cannot prevent anyone from speaking and impose time limits as long as they are on topic and not repetitive. This is what open government is about.

Furthermore, how many meetings run late? There are twelve months in the year; there are two meetings per month except for July and August which have only one. Thus the universe is about 22 meetings of which about 6-7 tops are meetings which continue after 11:00. Most of the meetings end before 10:00. But even if every meeting ran "late", so what?

If earning her salary is too onerous a commitment away from her personal life, then she and other Town Council members have a very easy solution before them...QUIT.
And, if not tomorrow, then we certainly would not expect to see Ms. Barnes run for reelection next year.

Or, perhaps this was just a hint to those interested parties who are drawing up their Christmas shopping lists: Ms Barnes wants a life.

hal samis said...

I am waiting to see what action is taken regarding Mr. Kaminer's alleged mistreatment of the public re the great Valhalla School Board scandal.

Although I certainly don't wish him physical harm, I don't want other announcements to divert the Town Board's attention away from this serious issue. Residents, whatever their views, should not fear to pursue their causes or advised to back off.

Mr. Kaminer is employed in his position as Town Council aide only since late Spring. He has not yet put in the time or earned the right to play Power Broker.

I expect to hear some meaninful statement from the Town Board as to disciplinary action. I do not expect to hear the sounds of silence.

reluctant greenburgher said...

It is increasingly clear that the current town board is plagued by mediocrity. How do we get better candidates? Should we make local elections non-partisan? Is the unincorporated-villages composition of the "town" hopelessly broken? Is there really anything such as the 'town of greenburgh' other than what appears on a map or a blog or is it the case of there being no there there?

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

HAL,

Gil has been supporting all of gburgh, not just feiner.

hal samis said...

Dear Greenburgh Taxpayer,

What does it matter whom Mr. Kaminer supports?

Did he perform incorrectly on the issue in question? If so, what should the Town Board do about it?

Do they need Chief Kapica to investigate?

Michael Koleasr said...

What exactly has Mr. Kaminer done for the Villages since after all we pay 45% of his salary and benefits, which I estimate is about $70,000 annually.? He came to the Ardsley Village Board to tell Ardsley what a mistake the Ardsley Library made in making an agreement with Elmsford. Since when do paid employees tell the employer about their "mistakes"? I must live in a different world. How exactly does he support ALL of Greenburgh?

As to Ms. Barnes' alleged comment, all I can say is if the workload or time commitment is too much, don't run. I speak from first hand experience, but I've never complained. I lived up to my commitment. I just can't continue to do it now and I'm still putting in the time and effort and will until the end of November.

hal samis said...

What with all the recent concern over Central Avenue, is anyone worried about Dobbs Ferry Road and the vacant store that was formerly occupied by Frank's?

Even without having the Library onsite as my source of quotes, I would like to remind, from memory, Greenburgh residents of a situation that happened in March of this year.

The Library Board and the Town Council accused the Supervisor of trying to wreck the Library expansion by divulging that "secret" negotiations were underway on behalf of the Library (even before this news it was one of the Town's worst kept secrets) with the property owner. Feiner's private communication to a citizen for the purpose of consulting with him for some advice and this taken together with a comment by the Supervisor in "The Journal News" were widely promoted by his critics as proof that Feiner was working overtime to savage the "imminent" deal. The Town Council and Library legions said that unknown third parties would rush in to unseat the Town's interest and the Library would lose out on obtaining the perfect location.

In fact it finally ended when the Town Board vetoed, for good cause, the location. In fact, the Town had been "negotiating" for over six months without an option, without putting up any money and still the location remained available throughout the delicate negotiations. Now, following the town's Labor Day decision to walk, the property is presumably still available.

I guess that, all of the interested parties of North America if not all the ships at sea who were made aware of the location's availability by the actions of the Supervisor, are too busy having "a life" and are not proceeding with either a lease or purchase.

I think the Town Council and the Library Board owe the Supervisor an apology. The one clear thing to emerge from all the mud-throwing is that, if I were a seller or landlord looking to make a deal with anyone, I wouldn't use Mr. Feiner as my broker as he apparently doesn't have the right contacts.

I don't believe in letting bygones be bygones. I do believe in apologies however. How about it, Mr. Jabobs, Ms Wolfert, Ms Palevsky and Mr. Sheehan, how about it?

New lamps for old said...

Re: Waterwheel Property
some random ideas which may or may not be viable:

Why not sell the property to the highest bidder and use the funds as a loan source to help subsidize homeowners or renters who agree to volunteer as firefighters. Or use the funds to purchase an existing property which could house people who agree to be volunteers for set periods of time. There might even be an exchange program with other fire departments who have personnel who would like to live in new york for a few years. I recall a program to encourage medical school graduates to serve rural communities by either forgiving school loans or giving them free tuition so they would set up shop in out of the way places. White Plains hospital has, I believe, a summer program where nurses from out of the way places can intern (they are paid) to learn more advanced techniques etc.

hal samis said...

Greenburgh, located a mere 45 minutes from the great white way.

Here's an idea how to have Town Board meetings end earlier. And it has nothing to do with "every days is blame it on the public day". It has to do with the well paid Town Council policing their own.

When Mr. Sheehan was a mere activist member of the public, he would do research, analysis and often raise important points -- all within the confines of the 5 minute public comment section. If he attended, ad he did, Town Board Tuesday work sessions, he, like most residents, was an observer not a speaker as per the meeting's privilege.

Today, as a member of the Town Council, he still works as hard, perhaps harder, gathering his research, analyzing and raising important points, many of which I disagree with. But what is different about today versus yesterday is that when he attends the work sessions, he now sits as a member and he is not limited by time in bringing his brand of solution to his peer's attention. And when he sits on the dais at the Town Board meeting, he is not limited by the restrictions (when and how long) which apply to the public.

The problem is that he is performing another staging of the same material as rendered at the reading Tuesday but, this time he does it for the public as though he wanted to earn some recognition for his effort.

Watch the meetings on replay or on the web. Mr. Sheehan expends a lot of time in his tutorial role and this effort seems as though there were some, perhaps yet unfathomed, purpose lurking offstage to justify this recitation. The bottom line is that Mr. Sheehan gets most of the meeting's on-camera time and he milks it to no end...and this is a big source of the relentless advance of the hands across the clockface.

You see, Mr. Sheehan is not really a "behind the scenes" kind of guy. He wants recognition and he wants the praise. And, oddly enough for all this intense effort, he still invariably votes on the same side as the Supervisor.

I maintain that the work session should be the "out-of-town" tryout for the following night's performance of the Town Board meeting. The Town Meeting is not the run-through; it is a place of serious business, all out in the open in full view of the public, the people who voted for those on the dais.

And the fault dear Brutus lies not in the stars but in those who would be stars. Let the Town Board hold the dress rehearsal as scheduled, the day before opening night. When Wednesday rolls around, "it's another opening of another show".

In short, let the Town Board get together off-stage on Tuesday and finalize the script for the following night. Tell us what you've got and then turn it over to the audience. Our meetings last so long because it not only maintains the comments on the issue by the Public, but also the force-fed seating of a replay of the rehearsal by way of another round of comment from the Town Board. Don't ask for an opinion of the Town Attorney; you should have had it Tuesday. Don't ask for comments from the other Department Heads, it was the Town Board's responsibility to have heard them already before they constructed a Resolution.

Give us your best shot and then shut up. But bring the best shot to work, don't make it ad hoc just because you see the sails swell or deflate from public wind. If there is a new light shining, that is cause enough to reconsider and review in a less stressful setting. And if the Town Board team members aren't each carrying their share of the load, then let the Public know. We are more than happy to grant them permission to return to that state of grace known as "having a life".

Paul Feiner said...

To New Lamps for Old: I think your idea re: selling the waterwheel property and using the proceeds as a loan source is an interesting idea. I will ask the mayor of Ardsley to share this thought with volunteer fire dept members.
I always appreciate new concepts and suggestions. I will also share the idea with Town Board members and with our affordable housing committee. If you are willing to share your name with me - I would be interested in having a more detailed discussion. You can call me at 993 1540 or at my cell: 438 1343.

Anonymous said...

Gil Kaminer was a political hack when he was a reporter, and he is a political hack in his new job. But don't be surprised. He was hired to be a political hack by the super-political hack, Steve Bass.

The Town Board won't deal with Kaminer's outrageous threats. If the Town Board does anything less well than listening, it is admitting error or punishing its allies. Now if Paul Feiner or one of his supporters had made such a threat, there would be a furor, and probably calls for an FBI investigation.

Anonymous said...

Yet 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.

Do the honorable members of the Town Board want this to be their legacy?

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

Dear Anon,

Has anyone, including the journal news, reported exactly what "threats" Ms. Kelly alleges were made? I would like to hear her repeat them. I would really like to hear her repeat them under oath. Right now all we hear is the word threats. She may regard a threat, as her wanted source of boondoggle funds may dry up

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh Taxpayer, if you go to the archives of that meeting you can hear Mrs. Kelly state exactly what words Kaminer used in his threats. Don't pretend that it is all some mystery that no one can solve or pin down.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. Suggest an investigation of the Superintendent as opposed to Mr. Kaminer.

Isn't that called the old misdirection play?

How telling is it that none of the Town Council members nor Attorney Lewis will touch this subject with a ten foot pole.

Doesn't it make you think that this may be just the tip of the ice-burg?

Why doesn't Mr. Kaminer deny the "allegations"?

Do you want proof? Ask for someone to review the digital recordings of that evening in town hall and to view Mr. Kaminer pulling the Superintendent aside after the meeting. Do you think that he was telling her to have a nice evening?

Now that Verizon has their contract, they should be willing to discuss if they were threatened too.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. Suggest an investigation of the Superintendent as opposed to Mr. Kaminer.

Isn't that called the old misdirection play?

How telling is it that none of the Town Council members nor Attorney Lewis will touch this subject with a ten foot pole.

Doesn't it make you think that this may be just the tip of the ice-burg?

Why doesn't Mr. Kaminer deny the "allegations"?

Do you want proof? Ask for someone to review the digital recordings of that evening in town hall and to view Mr. Kaminer pulling the Superintendent aside after the meeting. Do you think that he was telling her to have a nice evening?

Now that Verizon has their contract, they should be willing to discuss if they were threatened too.

Anonymous said...

The bloggers are focusing attention on Gil Kaminer. He is the messenger. He does what the Town Council tells him to do. If the Town Council members direct him to threaten school superintendents he does his job. If the Town Council members tell him to intimidate he does his job. It's not Gil who we should be bad mouthing - it's the people he works for.

Anonymous said...

dear anon,

all i heard kelly saying that the valhalla people would be better off not coming to the meeting.

i take that as advice, as the council was working on the issue.

i take sheehans discussions as trying to reassure the valhalla that the council was working on the issue

all of these are relevant, above board connmunications.

i see kellys complaint as trying to buly the town into giving money. it is bad enuf we gave into the 439 (although as valhalla already had that money, i am not certain what difference that made)

this is the feiner/kelly school of we cant get what we want, lets through mud

what i hope the council learns from this, is dont even try cooperating with feiner -- how he acted at that meeting was disgraceful -- he was bullying wiht the council and did not even try to maintain order whn bernstein spoke

Anonymous said...

what has bernstein got to do with the issue? he's not elected to anything. He's irrelevant. The issue is this: should a town employee who works for 4 councilpeople be allowed to speak to a school superintendent in a disrespectful manner.

Anonymous said...

Couple gets plea deal in teen drinking party

from todays journal news

what a waste of town money

Anonymous said...

DEar anon at 9:56

Now it is not threats (which there never were); now it is speaking in a "disrespectful manner".

I think Feiner spoke in a disrespecful and bullying manner to the council.

hal samis said...

Does anyone else out there in blogland appreciate the Supervisor's "Interesting Facts" series?

I, a resident but not a taxpayer (renter), read cover to cover each year's proposed budget and make comments accordingly at the Town Board meetings. This is the first year that the numbers I see on the pages have a real sense of perspective that was hitherto missing. The Town Inside (Town Hall) are aware of the background; this is the first year that the public has been let in on the backstory. Kudos to the Supervisor for sharing this with the Public.

Anonymous said...

Feiner's problem is that he treats no one with disrespect. People take advantage of his being too nice.

Anonymous said...

Feiner treats everyone with respect?

HA HA HA

He makes no attempt to maintain civility in Town Meetings when speaker with views opposing him have the floor.

Anonymous said...

Feiner let's everyone speak. He let's everyone blog comments. He lets people express their views. He let's people criticize him (just like you just did on HIS blog). He believes in citizen involvement just like the founders of our country did. His adversaries are not always very civil to him. That's the price of democracy.

Anonymous said...

It's great that so much information about the town is given to us.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is neither elegant or eloquent in his speaking style. But the elegant and eloquent Sheehan and Bass speak with poison. They blame everything on Feiner and I expect that soon they will blame the national deficit on him. I am not surprised at Feiner's outbursts, but rather how he can manage not to have more of them.

Feiner makes mistakes, but so do the others on the Council. Their governing philosophy seems to be to try to embarrass Feiner at every turn. If instead we had some civility from them, and some cooperation, I am sure that Feiner wouldn't have his outbursts and there would be fewer mistakes.

Anonymous said...

"Feiner is neither elegant or eloquent in his speaking style."

And does anyone receive his e-mails? I know his intentions are good in regards to communications, but I just get so embarrassed for him when I read them - grammar, spelling, punctuation, spacing, run-on sentences, etc. I still remember my sixth grade English teacher who had a keen eye for all that kind of stuff - subject-predicate agreement and "two spaces after a sentence-ending period," which she would make us chant as we typed. (I guess I'm still scarred by the experience!)

But seriously, maybe a communications or poli-sci major at one of the local colleges could do an internship with him as his assistant for written and spoken communications. I think his open communication efforts are to be applauded; he just needs some assistance in the basics of professional-level spoken and written communications.

Anonymous said...

At least Paul is better than John Kerry! John Kerry almost became our President. It's not the grammar and punctuation that counts - it's the product. Paul runs an efficient and well managed town. I'm proud to reside in Edgemont.

Anonymous said...

"It's not the grammar and punctuation that counts - it's the product."

Agreed, though it's sometimes just difficult to decipher what the product is.

Anonymous said...

HAL SAMIS
IS ALL OVER THIS BLOG,HE SEEMS
TO HAVE BETTER SOLUTIONS TO EVERY
PROBLEM ON THE AGENDA,
NO ONE IN TOWN GOVERNMENT ESCAPES
HIS CRITICISM,IF HE CAN'T FIND A CURRENT ISSUE TO BELITTLE,HE WILL
UNEARTH ISSUES OF THE PAST TO
POINT OUT THE MISTAKES OF CURRENT
TOWN MANAGEMENT.
WITH SO MUCH WISDOM IN ONE MIND,
WHY NOT ASK HAL SAMIS TO RUN FOR
TOWN OFFICE,AND, IF ELECTED,HAVE
HIM CORRECT THE MANY MISTAKES
OF THE TOWN EXECUTIVES.
IN THE INTERIM,IT MAY BE PRACTICAL TO LIMIT THE POSTINGS
ON THE BLOG TO X NUMBER OF LINES.
ONE HAS TO BE SURE THAT AS A
PARTICIPANT IN THE BLOG ONE 'DOES
NOT HAVE A LIFE'TO KEEP UP WITH
HAL SAMIS' POSTINGS.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who is criticizing Hal Samis. I wish Samis was on the Town Board. We wouldn't be having the looming disaster of the new library if he were. And there would be some attention paid to real issues that serious people raise. The Town Board turns a deaf ear to anyone who isn't one of their favotites and that person's bunch of toadies.

We used to have a serious Town Board before this bunch decided to turn over town government to the Council of Civic Associations and stopped listening to anyone who wasn't part of this group.

You are obviously part of this group. Stop talking and start listening.

Anonymous said...

Hal can run for office if he wants.

He thinks the stipend for town council is generous.

Anonymous said...

I recieved in Saturday's mail, along with many other town residents I spoke with, the Towns bi-annual guide to programs and services.

Unfortunetly, half the programs, some of which myself and my fiance' would have been interested in attending, had already passed.

I suggest to the Town, knowing the postal service, that they print out and mail this guide as early as possible, so those interested in these events can attend.

Another waste of taxpayer's dollars to print and mail this guide when it's already 3/4's obsolete.

hal samis said...

Dear (used by convention) Anonymous with the "Caps lock" on:

My blogs are lengthy because I believe that people who don't know the history are a part of the phylum of blog readers. And some who do know, find it more convenient to forget. In any case, like Sy Syms "an educated blogger is my best customer".

Many current problems were born in the past. When recall of what happened in the past, even the past of last week, is different from what actually happened, this process is called recidivism, or from the Orwell book, "1984" -- newspeak. Lots of residents would like to forget or sweep older problems away. That is why people still study history; that is why I keep ems, newspaper articles, contracts, publicity releases. Being able to refer to them is troublesome to those who only want to live day by day.

I can be wrong "once", just like Mr. Hevesi. But, I invite those in blogland to demonstrate when I have been. That might be a more valuable topic than my motives or volunteer status. If you think that my brand of "wisdom" is lacking or incorrect, Bring It On.

I have no intentions of running for public office because I cannot maintain a fiction that I CARE about everyone's problem or about their block's problems. I am only interested in larger issues. On the other hand, the generous financial remuneration for Town Council is very appealing, especially with the medical coverage and the perks. It is a wonderful retirement supplement. Unfortunately, those in place are there for these same reasons, two of them, Bass and Sheehan, also using the face time provided as their steppingstone to higher office.

Furthermore, the reality of running for office is to befriend those that can help you. Since I have no respect for those in these positions, it would be hypocritical to suck up to them. Instead I have chosen to be hypercritical. Furthermore, since I have the guts to put my name out there in postings, it makes it very easy for those, who have much more important things to do, to skip over my comments. To the right of the page is a scroll bar. Use it!

Otherwise, why do you want to limit postings? Are you one of the subjects of my comments? Do you have a problem with free speech? This blog is for anyone.
You are not required to read my comments.

And, if you haven't caught on yet, my greatest concerns are the Town Council (four members having the minimal three votes to block resolutions, etc), the Library Board of Trustees (incompetence and ego personified), and
real estate use (my profession).
Just like the old Buster Brown shoe commercials, if you see these topics listed..."Look for me in there too".

One can only wonder whether anonymous is just another hiding place for the Town Council members and Library Board members who "apparently" don't visit this blog page, don't wish to comment or refute, are busy with their "lives" or just don't have an appetite for representing themselves, on record, where their "points" can be refuted.

Or do you believe that they are unaware of this blog and thus haven't visited?

hal samis said...

Dear (used by convention) Anonymous with the "Caps lock" on:

My blogs are lengthy because I believe that people who don't know the history are a part of the phylum of blog readers. And some who do know, find it more convenient to forget. In any case, like Sy Syms "an educated blogger is my best customer".

Many current problems were born in the past. When recall of what happened in the past, even the past of last week, is different from what actually happened, this process is called recidivism, or from the Orwell book, "1984" -- newspeak. Lots of residents would like to forget or sweep older problems away. That is why people still study history; that is why I keep ems, newspaper articles, contracts, publicity releases. Being able to refer to them is troublesome to those who only want to live day by day.

I can be wrong "once", just like Mr. Hevesi. But, I invite those in blogland to demonstrate when I have been. That might be a more valuable topic than my motives or volunteer status. If you think that my brand of "wisdom" is lacking or incorrect, Bring It On.

I have no intentions of running for public office because I cannot maintain a fiction that I CARE about everyone's problem or about their block's problems. I am only interested in larger issues. On the other hand, the generous financial remuneration for Town Council is very appealing, especially with the medical coverage and the perks. It is a wonderful retirement supplement. Unfortunately, those in place are there for these same reasons, two of them, Bass and Sheehan, also using the face time provided as their steppingstone to higher office.

Furthermore, the reality of running for office is to befriend those that can help you. Since I have no respect for those in these positions, it would be hypocritical to suck up to them. Instead I have chosen to be hypercritical. Furthermore, since I have the guts to put my name out there in postings, it makes it very easy for those, who have much more important things to do, to skip over my comments. To the right of the page is a scroll bar. Use it!

Otherwise, why do you want to limit postings? Are you one of the subjects of my comments? Do you have a problem with free speech? This blog is for anyone.
You are not required to read my comments.

And, if you haven't caught on yet, my greatest concerns are the Town Council (four members having the minimal three votes to block resolutions, etc), the Library Board of Trustees (incompetence and ego personified), and
real estate use (my profession).
Just like the old Buster Brown shoe commercials, if you see these topics listed..."Look for me in there too".

One can only wonder whether anonymous is just another hiding place for the Town Council members and Library Board members who "apparently" don't visit this blog page, don't wish to comment or refute, are busy with their "lives" or just don't have an appetite for representing themselves, on record, where their "points" can be refuted.

Or do you believe that they are unaware of this blog and thus haven't visited?

Anonymous said...

Hal,

As far as I know, the only person with a vote on the council to run for another office is Mr. Feiner, who has periodically amassed large campaign funds by pandering to people, or their attorneys, with interests before the town.

YOu think the town council members reeive generous stipends. My guess is many people in the town could not afford to serve and support their families.

but if you think it is generous, run.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the Supervisor's "Interesting Facts" with its wonderful recitation of the activities offered at the Theodore Young Community Center. Presumably these activities are open to all residents of the Town of Greenburgh - why else would you call it a community center? So, I'm wondering why the roughly $3.25 million to operate the Center is charged only to the "Town Outside" budget. It seems to me that if a program is open to all Town residents, paying for it should be the responsibility of all Town residents.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor's "Fact Sheet" about the Theodore Young Community Center omitted an important fact. The 2007 Proposed Budget has a $3.25 million line item in the "Town Outside" budget, not in the "Town Entire" budget - so while everyone in Town has the legal right to partake of the many Community Center offerings, only the unincorporated area is charged. Didn't Bernstein win a lawsuit against the Town for a similar misapplication of charges?

Anonymous said...

Funny, I thought the same thing about the Fall / Winter Guide. What a waste to print and mail out of date information with programs that have already passed. Also some library childrens activities listed in the guide are not being held. Who was responsible for this major mess?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right, Mr. Bernstein won a similiar lawsuit. The town is appealing that and also saying that even if it loses appeal, it will apply that decision only to taxter ridge, not to anything else similiar. At the same time, Mr. Bernstein has a second lawsuit for various other parks and facilities, including the young center.

Anonymous said...

Village residents can use the programs at the Theodore Young Community Center. They are charged more for the programs offered at the TY Community Center than unincorporated Greenburgh residents are charged.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis-

It is unfortunate that you would not consider running. Even though I may not agree with all of your opinions, your honesty is refreshing.

It is unfortunate to see our Greenburgh Town Board evolve into a body with less integrity and less honesty than our County Legislators. Hard to believe that it could happen, but it has.

The grandstanding and the politics are reprehensible. The fact that four members are so willing to break promises is the worst example of elected officials behaving inappropriately. Additionally, their young aide, Mr. Kaminer, seems to be cut from the same unfortunate cloth.

I hope that we will see the day when men & women of integrity and honesty again get elected to the Town Council.

The path that we are headed down now with the existing majority is fraught with danger.

Candidates without ulterior motives are sorely needed.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon,

I see 4 members of the Town Council as principled, and wanting to do their best with a funding scheme which is regarded as problematic by the Journal News and likely illegal by the Town Attorney. I see Mr. Feiner trying to ignore these issues, and relying on a supposed "opinion" that is now shown to be not an opinion but a scrap of unsigned paper.

Fortunately, the 4 council members respect the law, and are not intimidated by Mr. Feiner or the Valhalla representatives.

Anonymous said...

The members of the Town Board, Juettner, Bass & Barnes, approved the WESTHELP partnership with the school district a few years back. Their recent vote to give the Valhalla school district some of the money but not all of it was the worst of all possibilities. They broke their word to the residents of Mayfair/Knollwood. They showed residents that they can't be trusted. At the same time they authorized some money (which they think is illegal) to be given to the school district. The Westhelp partnership is either legal or it's illegal. They cann't have it both ways. They are not fighting for us.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the guy from Edgemont who always speaks at town board meetings is too preoccupied with trying to cause problems for the town. Doesn't all this controversy create instability and reduce property values? The town is well managed. Our services are good.

hal samis said...

Dear Anons:

In particular the contributor "as far as I know the only person to run..." and "generous stipend, most people cannot afford to...".

Well I guess there are things you don't know. Mr. Bass was running for many offices, Brodsky's and Feiner's but the problem is that he only ran for 10 minutes.
Have you looked at his campaign funds? A lot of money for one who isn't running "what you know".
And, Mr. Bass also has a little problem with where his money comes from: i.e. the Credit Union which is leasing space in Town Hall. Before contribution, Bass against their tenancy...After their generous contribution, Bass voted in favor.

Mr. Sheehan, too, has all the trappings of one enroute to sitting in the Supervisor's seat. Unlike Mr. Bass, he actually knows something about how the Town runs. However, despite putting in major hours, again unlike Mr. Bass, he mines this knowledge to appear to be championing the higher road but in the end votes along with everyone else. The Valhalla issue is such an example and, as has been pointed out already in this blog: either the funding is all right or it is all wrong...there is no half pregnant. If Sheehan had issues about it, then his vote should have been NO even though there were many Mayfair/Knollwood resident/voters present. A few months ago he "performed" another variation of "Francis in the know". The occasion was the Town's final approval of the Library site plan. Mr. Sheehan, with years on the Zoning Board, and now the Liaison to the Zoning and Planning Boards (he actually stays for their meetings) is well versed in ADA compliance. Thus, one (me) wonders why it never occurred to him to question the absence of a handicapped ramp on the site plan.

All of those Library hearings before those Boards that he attended: he said nothing. Silent, that is, until he had center stage at the Town Board's review and he "discovered" that a needed ramp was missing. This blogger (me) previously did his duty quietly before the Planning Board and alerted them to a missing enclosure around the children's outdoor garden. But Mr. Sheehan waited until the Town Board meeting (with its greater turnout) to show residents that, in him they have a hero.

As for the other two Council members, the word sinecure is what springs readily to mind.

Now what I actually said in previous blog entries was "generous" remuneration which in 2007 will go to $28,332, a level which exceeds the incomes of many Greenburgh residents. Someone must hold down service jobs at McDonald's or sales positions at WalMart or CVS. Let me explain further. The $28,332 is the salary for the part-time job of Town Council, not the pay level for their full-time employment (they all hold day jobs). Nevertheless, this is not their total compensation package. As part-time employees of the town, they are eligible (by vote of the Town Council) for the whole benefits package including medical.
They even allowed themselves to earn an additional $2000?, $2500? if they do not opt into the Town's medical plan...as full time employees elsewhere they may be already covered by these employers. If so, they could always decline the cash benefit in lieu and save taxpayers the expense but nooooh.
How many part-time employees outside of Town government are eligible for medical coverage in other jobs? In fact, employers have been moving to part-time staffing just to avoid paying for benefits.

Hey, there are even CONTIGUOUS communities where, say Trustees and Council members perform their community service for free.

So, when you get four Council members who are continually slacking off, complaining and yet manage to be part of the mostly unanimous votes which occur regularly, I say throw the bums out.

And, for part of this year they have had a full time helper. With well under a year's employment, legislative aide Gil Kaminer is eligible to receive the same 3% annual increase that all town employees (even those who have been there for ten years or more) get. He goes from $50,000 to $51,500. Of course, as a full time employee he is entitled to the whole benefit package.

What is particularly irksome is that the Town Council whines about some recent Town Board meetings which have ended very late at night or even early in the morning. These meetings run so long not because the Public speaks but because the Town Board doesn't do its homework before the Public Hearings. Or, they schedule too many Hearings for the same evening.

And, these late meetings are really the exception, not the rule. It is their whining which is the rule not the exception.

Coming up on future Town Board meeting agendas is the Town's 2007 budget hearings.
This item which must be passed before year end (or stop the clock) is probably going to make its first meeting appearance in December. Does it strike anyone's consciousness that, in the little time left in the year to hold public discussion, there may be a late ending meeting(s) in the offing?

NOTICE: Any Town Council member that wants to have a "life" or go Christmas shopping, can either resign their position now or plan to get a good night's sleep before these meetings

Logical thinker said...

So village residents who use Theodore Young center are charged a surcharge. Unincoporated pays millions to run the place and probably pays all the capital costs to maintain the place. So essentially villagers can use the place freely outside of a surcharge which is a drop in the bucket. How is this either logical or fair? Reminds me of fuzzy math.

hal samis said...

Some Interesting things about the 2007 Library budget.

Supervisor Feiner is only partly correct about the Library's Budget.
It is true that he and the Town Council cannot make line item changes on the Library budget. What they can do, however, is to reject the entire Library Budget. This would leave the Library without any operating funds for next year.
OR
The Library Board could come back to the Town Board and ask: "what would you like to have us do so that you will approve the budget?"
AND
The Town Board could say i.e., "cut line 5 by 30%, cut line 27 by 10% and eliminate completely line 46.
WHICH WOULD
Cause the Library Board to say "ok to line 5, 5% from 27 and add back $5000 to line 46 and you've got a deal."
OR ANYTHING SIMILAR
Because the Town Board doesn't have to play the powerless card anymore just because it is THE LIBRARY. Especially during the next two years when the Library will no longer be the Library.

The 2007 budget was submitted based on information realized/submitted as of September 30, 2006

WHAT SHOULD BE UNDERSTOOD BY TAXPAYERS IS that the Library is unlike other Town Departments. If they don't spend all their budgeted money, they get to keep it in a special LIBRARY FUND which is the Library Board's kitty to spend when and how they choose. Excess funds from other Town Departments (with the exception of DPW because of ongoing, not necessarily fiscal year commitments) revert to the Town's general funds. Thus, if you give the Library too much money, more than they really need, they get to keep it. In short, reward them for making unreliable projections.

It is not desireable for taxpayers to foot the Library's rainy day savings account. And, I think that if something came up that was an unanticipated need, the Town Board would somehow find the money for this emergency. Just as they would find the money for a DPW or a Parks Department emergency. But how many emergencies are anticipated over the next two years while the Library plant is under construction?

We are going to spend a lot more in 2007 to promote Library services which are being curtailed.
The Library says it will need $10,000 for Advertising/Publicity vs $1,100 in 2006. However, in the small temporary spaces the Library will be running programs at the same $6,000 level as 2006.

Insuring whatever it is that the Library insures, certainly not Town Hall or the multipurpose center, will rise to $22,800 in 2007 vs $16,400 in 2006 even though the Library is cutting back on book, media, office equipment etc. purchases. As things depreciate, wear out and fewer are being replaced, I wonder why the insurance bill is going up...Greenburgh has not submitted Katrina claims to the best of my knowledge. One clue is that even though the Library will be operating out of at least four different locations next year, the cost of Security has decreased from $25,000 to $12,000. So either there is less to watch (much being placed in storage) and thus less need for a Guard, then why are we paying almost 40% more for insurance.

Ok, we have a lot less Library next year and we have consultants up the wazoo in the $19.8 million expansion budget, but that doesn't mean that taxpayers won't be writing any checks. It is true that the amount won't be 2006's $50,000 for professional fees and consulting but we are still paying $25,000 in 2007. Hope some of this money is going to support our good friends at the Westchester Library System.

But, even when you're flat on your back and have nowhere for the staff to sit or work, what does the Library Board do to solve this problem? Why send staff off to camp. I'm refering to the $8000 in 2007 ($7000 in 2006) allocation for Conferences & Seminars. This is a perk; want a day away from the office, want a free lunch, go to a conference. Yes networking is very important to Library staff.
Didn't Demita find a new job (yes it turns out she's not going to Arizona to be near her family but instead is going to Wisconsin) by way of this networking. Don't we know yet what we want for the new Library? Don't vendors still send salesmen to customers? Doesn't the WLS attend these seminars and report to the member libraries? But hey, at least they don't hold these events in the Islands -- yet.

Now let's look at another item: building maintenance. This is supposedly what DPW charges the Library. In 2006, the figure was $310,750. Maybe a lot, maybe a little. How much is budgeted for 2007? You might think this is a trick question because you and I know there is no building next year. Well here's the trick. In 2007, the Library has budgeted $309,778. Pretty precise this figure, not $310,000, not $309,800 but $309,778...for a non existent building. Meanwhile since there is less equipment to repair, they are on track with $4,818 in 2007 vs $20,627 in 2006.

Now I'm going to take a break here and continue later. In part 2 I shall discuss the payroll, the book and media purchases and the new $80,000 requested project for 2007.

The goal of all this is to show taxpayers how to save at least $400,000 from the Library Budget by just saying NO! $400,000 for those who read The Scarsdale Inquirer article on the Valhalla School District, is the number that the liberally quoted Town Council member Sheehan said is the amount that would raise the taxes for unincorporated residents by 1%. Although I don't agree with his logic, this representation is for his benefit because I am sure that he agrees with his own logic; yet he won't say NO to the Library either. Is that because a reporter for The Scarsdale Inquirer, Susan Wolfert is also on the Library Board of Trustees and is a member of their building committee? Only the Shadow knows.
Stay tuned
FOR

Coming Attraction trailer
SOON PLAYING AT A BLOG NEAR YOU,

THE LIBRARY BUDGET; PART DEUX
Ripped from the blog...
"For example in 2006, the Library Director was to be paid $117,465 for the entire year. She is quitting and will not be working for the month of December. Thus one month (1/12 of year) returns $9,789 to the Library excess funds.

And in 2007, this position is budgeted at $120,989 even though there is currently no Library Director. Do we need one for the next two years? I think not. But it is my understanding that the existing Assistant Library Director will become the Acting Library Director. The Assistant salary is budgeted at $91,284 and assuming she will get some increase as "Acting Director", one of the salaries is unneeded during the construction period and taxpayers should not be paying upfront to move this money to the Library Fund.

In fact, for an operation that will be mostly disabled over two years, the difference in 2006 and 2007 is just a reduction of $110,258 from last year's budget of $1,845,040. How come it is so little? That's why it is important to look more carefully and with the concern that the Town Board is unwilling to express.

Without a building, the Library shows a combined expense of $57,200 for Electric, Heat and Water. This compares to $83,450 which is budgeted in 2006 with a building to maintain. I guess taxpayers are getting off cheaply because thankfully we are paying less next year to operate a building which doesn't exist.

hal samis said...

Interesting things about the Library Budget, part 2. Warning: these are not "reasons to be cheerful part 2".

OK we're back. Just like the movie trailers which only show the best part, so did I show you just the Library Board's best part which would be the difference between 2006 and 2007, not based on the total Library budget but based only upon the staffing budget. Thus in 2007, the Library has budgeted $110,258 less dollars. However regarding their TOTAL budget, in 2006 they got $3,473,246 and want $3,351,832 in 2007 or just $121,414 less. Just because the Library will be operating without a building to take care of and at a bare bones service level doesn't mean that they will be spending at a bare bones level.

So, if the Library budget is only $121,414 less next year, did they make any cuts? Yes they did and then they gave them right back.
In 2007 on audio and visual aids, books, periodicals/newspapers, recordings, online services, cd roms and standing orders - books, the Library has budgeted $163,544 for these items. This compares to $411,400 in 2006 or they intend next year to spend $247,856 less. So people got raises but still the insignifcant difference to the trailing budget implies that there are some other things afoot.

One of those line items is "requested projects". In 2006 this was $6000, in 2007 it is $80,000.
Wasup? says the actor in the tv commercial. The Library wants to seize this occasion to purchase and afix electronic tags and purchase code readers for all their inventory. These bar-coded tags will aid in self-check out and inventory control in two years at the new building. But do we need them, do we need them now? The only other Library in Westchester which has this is the new Ossining Library. Can this be purchased down the road? Yes. Is it necessary at all? No. Can we live without it? Yes For different answers contact your Library Board. The reason the Library wants to do this now is that they've got a lot of additional expenses to bring to taxpayers in a year or two when that year's budget matches up with the new building opening. You see, the Library wants to then purchase what they've held off on from next year's budget and maybe even the next year after that. You see, they know they've got a lot of shelf space to fill and they don't want anyone to get the idea that it wasn't needed.

Now we come to personnel. I've already mentioned the "now you see her now you don't" Library Director but her salary with increase remains intact and headed directly to the Library Fund. Do we need to replace her with someone at the same wage scale? I think not. There are only three other Libraries large enough to support such a top heavy staff as ours: White Plains, Mount Vernon and Yonkers and they have no openings. On the other hand, I can thoroughly understand the difficulty presented applicants when having to envision themselves working under the existing Library Board of Trustees.

Now I come to the staffing expense. The Library has presented a $65,000 reduction in part time clerks payroll and a $25,000 reduction in part time librarians and the complete elimination of $38,000 in pages. This totals $128,000 but it is offset by normal salary increases and the continued use of a separate driver(s) for cybermobile runs instead of training and certifying a librarian and "leave the driving to her". What you have is a vehicle which goes out staffed with two librarians and a driver. The driver warms the engine up in the morning, drives 10 minutes to the unincorporated Greenburgh stop and then has nothing to do while the librarians do their thing. In short, the driver is paid for the full day in which he only works two hours at most.

But don't expect the Town Board to notice any of these anomalies. It is, after all, the Library and the Supervisor is trying to climb out of the doghouse he got himself into for disagreeing with the Library Board. Remember, "we have to hold the referendum in May 2005 so we can have a Spring 2006 construction start". Protecting the Library is how the Town Council sees the best way to "get" Feiner. It never crosses their minds anything relating to protecting the taxpayers. As I have said before and shall continue to say, throw the bums out. Starting next year with Bass and Barnes.

And once more with feeling, this budget has nothing to do with the absence of the revenue stream from Elmsford. This is what the Library Board says it will cost to operate the Library next year.

On the other hand, Elmsford balked at paying more than $260,000 saying that it couldn't afford to pay $330,000. If they were paying Greenburgh (to put it into perspective) neither amount would cover just the 2007 building maintenance of $309,778 on a building that doesn't exist so it is equally fitting that the Elmsford revenue doesn't exist either. And even if we have a line item for a Library Director (with 2007 raise) who doesn't exist either, at least we do have a flesh and blood Secretary to the Director who does exist at $52,986, up from $48,000 in under two years. And we do have a PR/Special Events Coordinator who is going from $12,500 in 2006 to $25,195 to handle Library information which is non-existent about Special Events in 2007 which won't be happening. Perhaps before the Library puts it into storage, bloggers should read "The Wlarus and the Capenter" one more time to get a better picture of "Wasup" at the Library, now and for 2007.
Don't look for help from the Town Board; they've already followed Howard Jacobs down the rabbit hole.

Stuck in Traffic said...

Traffic ideas:

Extend the green lights on Central Avenue at the four corners in the east - west direction (that is along hartsdale avenue) between the hours of 6-9 am and 5-7 pm. That is when the traffic is heaviest. During the other hours traffic is heavier on Central in the north-south direction. Also, consider making Hillcrest one way going down the hill to stop jam ups on West Hartsdale while drivers seek to make the left turn onto Hillcrest (you would then make the left at Ridge).

Anonymous said...

Re: Summer Youth Achievement Program

I am a bit dismayed that the Town is going to spend over $4300 per student to attend a three week SAT prep course, and it is only going to benefit 12 students.

Twelve seesions at Kaplan, according to Kaplan's website, is around $1000. For $53000, the Town could send all of the Juniors in Woodlands to Kaplan's course. And Kaplan has a guarantee.

Another alternative: WCC's classes run around $600 to $800, depending on the number of credits. Why not give HS students entering their senior year an opportunity to take one summer class at WCC [WCC can identify those that are appropriate] and have an opportunity to get additional help from a prof. to keep up with the work, and then pay for them to take the Kaplan course or get the Kaplan course into the schools to reach more students? They will have real college credits to show on their college applications.

The SAT is in the Fall, so most test strategies students are taught in the summer will be lost by the time the test is taken.

Or, for $53k, the Town could hire a test coach for their juniors/seniors to individually analyze each student's test taking abilities and offer individualized tutoring.

Anonymous said...

Can one of the lawyers who understands the Town/Village rules explain something to me?

The villages say they have their own courts and do not rely on the town court. So why were the recently arrested Elmsford massueses arraigned in Greenburgh -- per the Journal news.


"Following a two-month investigation by village and Westchester County police, four of the women were charged with a misdemeanor charge of promoting prostitution and a felony count of performing massages without a license.

The fifth was accused of being a madame and was charged with a felony count of promoting prostitution. All five were scheduled to be arraigned in Town of Greenburgh Court this afternoon."

It also seems curious to me that promoting prostition can be a misdemeanor, but perfroming a massague without a license is a felony -- but that is a question for antoher blog.

Anonymous said...

Re: SAT Camp, Anon, 11/09/2006 3:25 PM

You make wise points. It seems wasteful for the town to spend money on services that are already in place by well-respected academic organizations.

Whatever decisions are made in regards to this need to be in the hands of the school systems, not the town government. Mr. Feiner's idea might have merit - I don't know - so he should propose it to the two school boards. It certainly has no place in the municipal budget.

For the benefit of more residents, this money should be used for municipal services - cleaning the median strips along the Greenville-Edgemont section of Central Park Avenue, collecting leaves efficiently, enforcing signage regulations, revitalizing the Hartsdale section of Central Park Avenue, and such.

Anonymous said...

Re: stuck in traffic

The sad reality is that the Greenburgh DPW will choose to do absolutely nothing in regards to this important matter. They can't even handle the bare necessities. Anything that requires the slightest bit of academic analysis is just ignored by the Greenburgh DPW, no matter how obvious the problem is.

As DPW services are one of the most important functions of the town, I'd have expected Greenburgh to have an executive manager for this department ... Oh well.

Anonymous said...

The SAT camp is a wonderful opportunity the town will be offering our students. This camp also highlights the special kind of place Greenburgh is. With house sales all over on the decline, it is important that Greenburgh distinguish itself from other communities by offering residents programs that are not provided by other localities. The cost of the program is not expensive. If the SAT camp motivates some low income students to go to college and get a higher education it will be well worth the costs.

Anonymous said...

This is a program that should be handled by the schools.

And -- it will just invite more litigation -- has anyone asked the Town attorney under what rationale this can be charged to the town outside the villages --

Anonymous said...

Edgemont school tax increases have been in the double digits or close to double digits for a while. Friends who reside in other school districts also are experiencing big tax hikes. There was no town tax increase last year and this year the tax increase is only 1%. It's nice that the town can help our kids. I'd rather see the town absorb the cost than have a bigger school tax increase. Every additional school program and school tax increase puts school budgets in jeopardy since voters have to approve school budgets.

Michael Kolesar said...

Today's article in The Journal News says alot about "open" government. 3 Town Board members claim ignorance about a $500,000 slush fund, the Supervisor thinks that "off the books accounting" is OK and the Town's auditors never say a word. WOW !!!

Anonymous said...

Readers of todays Journal News should compare the tax increases in other communities with Greenburgh. Unincorporated Greenburgh residents face a 1% tax increase. Compared to a 5% tax increase in North Castle and a 3.96% tax hike in Rye. There is obviously good management in Greenburgh!

Anonymous said...

Re: SAT camp

The dozen students who would be in the program are 16/17 years old! It
s way past camp time for them. Greenburgh could offer employment to them and they would get more out of it; their parents would probably prefer it. The SAT prep should stay in the school. Again, the town could offer "scholarships" to Greenburgh students to go to Kaplan or one of the other providers, and maybe that will even encourage them to open an office in Greenburgh.

Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

To Mr. Kolesar,

1. Why should we have any confidence in our Town financial statements or budgets? What other problems are buried?

2. Mr. Feiner constantly referes to himself as Chief Financial Officer for the Town. Where was he? What does he have to say?

Enron in Greenburgh? said...

Off the books budgeting is unacceptable and most likely illegal. Both Heslop and Feiner should resign and the rest of the town board should start taking NoDoz pills. Who can trust any of the numbers in the town's budgets? Greenburgh has reached yet another low.

Anonymous said...

It's disgraceful that the mudslinging that takes place in Washington DC, Albany is now coming to Greenburgh. The town entered into an agreement with Mayfair Knollwood. One of the aspects of the agreement was that the town would allocate some funds to benefit the neighborhood that is impacted by WESTHELP. That neighborhood happens to be Mayfair Knollwood. Last year, after County Executive Spano placed another homeless shelter in the backyards of residents of Mayfair Knollwood (this time the shelter was for sex offenders) residents asked the county to authorize policeovertime to be spent to protect the neighborhood. The majority of the members of the Town Board wanted to wait for the state comptrollers opinion on the WESTHELP partnership funds before directing that the funds come out of the WESTHELP partnership. The Town Board members authorized the police overtime.
No improper action was taken.

Anonymous said...

This is not an enron situation. This is a situation of elected officials working with the community to solve a problem. The WESTHELP partnership was designed to provide neighbors who reside near homeless shelter(s) with dividends. NIMY, (NOT IN MY BACKYARD) as former Legislator Bob Astorino said, became YIMBY (YES IN MY BACKYARD). The WESTHELP partnership was great out of the box thinking. It made everyone happy. The concept could be used as a model for other officials looking to place low income housing or homeless shelters in neighborhoods that don't want them.

Anonymous said...

The WESTHELP partnership agreement was not a slush fund - it was an agreement approved by all the members of the Town Board & Supervisor to solve a NIMBY problem: having a large homeless shelter placed in a much wealthier neighborhood. It is good public policy.

Commuter said...

The "artwork" in Desanti Plaza near the train station is crap. In fact, every installation has been of zero grade. We cannot afford nor do we need these indulgences. Tax dollars should be used to provide basic services, not "arts council" nonsense.

Yes Virginia, its a slush fund said...

What is a slush fund?

the term is generally used to describe money that is not properly accounted for and is being used for political payoffs.

Sounds like exactly what Mr. Feiner has with the $500,000 off the books, I will decide what to do with the money, WestHelp funds that no one on the Town Board knows about.

Where is the outrage by the members of the Town Board of this blatant corruption?

Its a slush fund said...

Dear "anon" at 1:44:

The Journal News did not think it was good policy. Legal counsel to the Town thought it might be an illegal policy. And now we have a slush fund - plain and simple. This whole matter really stinks.

Anonymous said...

Turco's store in Hartsdale sold to Morton Williams

(Original publication:Journal News November 10, 2006)

Upscale grocer Preston Turco has sold his eponymous market in Hartsdale to New York City-based Morton Williams, a family business that shares Turco's enthusiasm for fine food. Read more about this story now in our Business in the Burbs news blog at http://burbsbiz.lohudblogs.com/

Anonymous said...

Re: SAT Camp

"I'd rather see the town absorb the cost than have a bigger school tax increase."

Understood. If the town has spare money to give for such a venture, decisions and management still need to be fully in the hands of the Edgemont and Woodlands academic professionals, not Greenburgh government.

Anonymous said...

The $500,000 is probably legally fine. My concern is the "off the books accounting." It sounds pretty shady.

Anonymous said...

re -- SAT camp -- Town should not get involved.

1. If insufficient spots -- who allocates? Our town, known for fairness?

2. How to resolve village issue -- are they eligible -- if yes, goes to entire town budget. Not even certain if you could set up this program for just town outside village.


TOWN SHOULD STICK TO ITS KNITTING -- AND CONCENTRATE ON ITS RESPONSIBLITIES -- ROADS, ETC.

Anonymous said...

To the blogger who called the $500,000 "shady" - I think your comments are shady and political. Everything about the WESTHELP partnership was above board -done in public. All the members of the Town Board -Feiner,Bass,Juettner & Barnes-voted for the agreement. This agreement is good for the town, good for the homeless, good for the school district, good for the county, good for mayfair/knollwood

Anonymous said...

How come that opponents of the proposed SAT/Biz camps have not objected to the other camps that the town has sponsored over the past few decades? Some of these camps have also focused on leadership training.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who wrote at 7:20.

Do you think that someone can break the law just because he thinks that the results are good? That's anarchy, not government.

It is too bad that Mayfair-Knollwood won't be allowed to have their pay-off money. It's the legality, stupid.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 12:08

ARE these camps you are referring to in the town entire budget?

Anonymous said...

There are some anonymous people who don't like anything the town is doing that is positive. They look for technical objections to almost everything - from SAT camps to tennis bubbles to the WESTHELP partnerships. Nothing is perfect but these lawsuits and divisive tactics are getting everyone angry at everyone else. It is stopping progress. These people are making it more difficult to have a better town. Who wins? No one.Angry people should go to a gym and punch a punching bag to reduce their stress.

Anonymous said...

We live in a good town. Crime is low. The parks are great. The sanitation workers do a legendary job. Why do some people have to be negative all the time?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 1:43,

Why dont you just tell the town to charge the town entire for all these programs? Why is that solution unworkable?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 5:47. The reason not to charge the entire town for these services is that the villages provide these services and pay for them through high village taxes. They don't want these town services that the Town Board keeps offering.

It is like a lawyer giving you advice you haven't asked for and don't need, and then sending you a bill

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 7:40

The problem is that NYS law provides that they have to be charged to the village residences also.

PS I would guess as few people in Edgemont as in the villages use these services -- which is why we dont think it fair that if NYS says that the town entire should pay that the town entire should fiar.

Anonymous said...

To anon at 7:40

You should read the law. it doesn't say what you think it says. So the wars continue.

tennis bubble advocate said...

Why are we allowing legal theories pushed by people who want to create chaos to prevent the town from moving forward on quality of life initiatives that will benefit residents of both the villages and unincorporated Greenburgh? Like the tennis bubble.

Anonymous said...

dear anon at 12:23

the only legal opinion that counts will be the judges.


dear anon at 9:23

legal theories keep getting pushed becuase, oh yes, THEY KEEP WINNING

Anonymous said...

SAT/COLLEGE PREP

I AM A SINGLE PARENT THAT CONTINUES TO WORK DURING THE SUMMER. I CAN NOT AFFORD TO PAY THE HIGH COST OF AN SAT/COLLEGE PREP COURSE. WITH TWO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PREPARING FOR COLLEGE, I THINK THE SAT/COLLEGE PREP SUMMER CAMP IS A WINNER-NOT ONLY FOR OUR CHILDREN, BUT FOR OUR COMMUNITY!!!

Anonymous said...

Summer Program
Summer Youth Achievement Program

I am a white parent with white children. The Links provides SAT Prep programs for low-income and black Woodlands High School Students ONLY. We are a family that makes just enough to jump over the low-income line. Thank you Mr. Feiner for providing my children a chance to become a part of a great summer program.

Anonymous said...

the problem is

1. The villages dont support this.

2. If charged to the town outside budget -- oops that will be part of Bernstein III

Anonymous said...

"I THINK THE SAT/COLLEGE PREP SUMMER CAMP IS A WINNER-NOT ONLY FOR OUR CHILDREN, BUT FOR OUR COMMUNITY!!!"

I have a vibe to agree with you. However, the academic executives of our school systems need to assess this.

If the idea is "a winner," then the school systems need to handle this venture for the town's students. The municipal government has way too many things on its plate, many of which need to be delegated to appropriate professionals.

Mr. Feiner's intention and idea might be valuable to the school systems, but his focus needs to be on supervising basic town services.

Anonymous said...

Summer Program

I wish some people would get a life. The older we get the dumber we get. Hello all you old, nothing in life to do but complain all the damn time!!! This program is for the youth of today!!! I am 67 years old and in support of the SAT and College Camp! It cost over $32 thousand to house just one young person in jail - our tax money! I would rather keep our children in a safe, learning environment during the summer where risky behaviors increase. Why don't you open your eyes outside of Greenburgh and fight the bigger situations that are hurting our schools, communities and Country - such as housing, hunger, education, unemployment, war!!! Instead we worry about cleaning median strips, collecting leaves, revitalizing the Hartsdale section!?!?!?! Come on!!! Educating our children and preparing them for positive adulthood should not be left solely to our schools--it is the responsibility of all of us - people, community, Town, faith-based groups etc...

Wake Up!
Help our children!!!

SCHOOLS CAN NOT DO IT ALONE!!!

Anonymous said...

Youth Camps

As a parent of three girls, two in college and one in high school (who is learning disabled), I support this Program.

As a resident, I am so angry about our public school. I refuse to have my children involved in that system. My husband and pay a lot of money to send all of our children to private schools. If I do not trust our public school system to educate my child during the regular school year, what makes you think I will trust our public school system to assist my child with her SAT readiness?

Every Sunday, my husband and I drive my daughter to her SAT Program in Long Island. It continues to be a struggle, however, it is the only program we can afford at this time. In my research, it cost over $1000 to enroll our child in a SAT program that fits her needs.

Because my children do not attend the public schools here in Greenburgh, as a tax payer, I feel that my children do not benefit from the school taxes that I pay into. This program will not only help to prepare my child for something so important in her life, it will also give me a good feeling knowing that my town tax dollars will be spent to directly help my child.

Thanks Paul

Anonymous said...

Whether the program is worthwhile is not the issue. The question is who should pay.

Fiener is irresponsible in putting this program on the table without dealing with the obvious questions

1. Which budget -- A or B -- should it be in?

2. Does Town Attorney agree?

3. Is the Town likely to see a lawsuit?

All Feiner is doing is raising hopes of parents without doing enough homework.

I hope all the Ardsley, Hastings, etc people speak up now, and dont wait for a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:15 AM

Why do residents of Greenburgh 7 district allow the schools to be as horrible as they are? I used to live in the district, and when my kid turned school age we moved. Why? Because the schools are failing, and no one seems to talk about it. No one in my neighborhood had their kids in the schools -- and I'm talking about black, white, hispanic, and asian. When we went to visit principals and attend open house nights at the schools, there was an attitude of "we do the best we can, what do you expect from us?" We realized it was private school or we'd have to move out of district, and that's just what we did. But everyone doesn't have that option. How much longer can we allow the school district to fail?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:11 PM

As an Ardsley parent, I don't see this as the job of town government to provide an SAT camp. I'd rather not be billed for it if it was to be offered.

Anonymous said...

Greenburgh 7 is only of the many school districts in the town. I think the town has to remember that. Many town residents are happy with their schools.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know, with the new Christmas Tree shops opening on Central Ave, how does the town plan to accomodate the, what I expect, very large increase in traffic around this area, especially around the holidays?

I hope that the town has pursuaded the Christmas Tree shops to pay for an Police Officer detail, to direct traffic, like Franks Nursery used to do at Christmastime.

But then again, I guess we need a $15,000 study before figuring this out or acting on it.

Michael Kolesar said...

To the People of the Town of Greenburgh:

The recent public revelation that the Town has a separate fund of money of possibly $500,000 that has not been included in the Town’s financial statements that were audited by an independent public accounting firm raises a number of very serious issues. I will provide my assessment based on what little I know as well as recommendations for changes in the structure and governance of the Town.

The “off the books fund” – This fund apparently is an off shoot of the WESTHELP undertaking some years ago that also involves payments to the Valhalla School District and the Fairview fire district. (1), Exactly how much is in this “fund”? (2) Where is this fund currently maintained (i.e., a bank and if so what specific bank or other financial institution)? (3) Who in Town government has “access” (the ability to expend, deposit or add to it or move it) to this account or fund ,i.e., only (?) the Town Supervisor and the Town Comptroller or anyone else?

The “audit” – There are in my view three possibilities regarding the actions of the independent auditor especially with respect to the Town 2005 financial statements. (1) The auditors were told about this “off the books fund” and agreed to it. Not a nice scenario. (2) The auditors were and have been for some years lied to by the Town’s senior personnel. How? It is a common requirement to ask any entity that one is auditing for a complete list of all bank accounts or accounts with financial institutions that the entity has had during the period under audit. This list should include accounts that are active at the end of the period as well as any accounts that were closed during the period, which would further include accounts opened and closed in the same period. (I know this as I was a practicing CPA in the State of New York earlier in my professional career and conducted numerous audits on a wide variety of entities from large corporations to small not-for-profit public interest organizations). Was the list provided to the auditors complete? A review of the documentation retained by the auditors will answer this question. (In the practice of public accounting, these documents are usually referred to as “work papers” and are a requirement of the auditors to document that they have in fact conducted their audit in accordance with the recognized professional standards.) If the list of bank accounts was not complete then it appears to me that the auditors were lied to? If so, I call for an investigation by either or both the Westchester County District Attorney or the State Attorney General as to whether any state laws have been violated and by whom? This is no trivial matter. (3) The auditors “missed” it. How? First, there should have been some kind of annual reconciliation of the funds received for the WESTHELP project with related disbursements. We are not talking about a small amount of money, but millions of dollars each year. Second, even if the auditors missed it in prior years, the report of the Town of Greenburgh’s Special Committee On Budget Allocation (“SCOBA”) clearly raised this matter on pages 17 and 18. Did they fail to read, understand and question the Town about these funds? How did they then conclude that the Town’s financial statements were “fairly presented”?

Recommendations

Elect the Town Comptroller – At present the position of Town Comptroller is a “political” appointment. As such it may be understandable that any incumbent would feel an “obligation” to “go along” with the individual or individuals (Town Board) that “hired” them. Unfortunately, this is not the behavior that is needed. The person in this position must be a person of the highest personal and professional integrity. You must do the accounting as it is supposed to be done and not as possible non-accountants “want” it to be. One must be able to stand up and “JUST SAY NO.” It is not easy. I have been there. I was the Controller for a public company that was engaging in accounting practices and disclosures that were not in conformity with generally accepted standards. I “blew the whistle” and it cost me my job. Ever since when some people have looked at my resume, I have had to explain why I was only employed at that company for about six months. Some people view it negatively. “You weren’t a team player.” Fortunately others view it as someone who has professional integrity and want to employ your services. It’s not easy if you have a family, a mortgage and bills to pay to possibly give up you job, but do the right thing. That’s why this position needs to answer to all of the people of the Town, just as the Comptroller of the State of New York is elected as well as Comptrollers or their equivalents in many jurisdictions around the State and country are elected positions. It’s just too important.

Establish an Ombudsman for Town Employees – In the wake of the recent financial scandals at such companies as Enron and WorldCom, public companies are required to have an independent body to take employees concerns about unethical or illegal behavior. Who else in the Town know about this “fund” and why did they fail to step forward? Were they afraid for their jobs? Understandable, but not acceptable.

Establish an Independent Citizens Audit Committee – Public Companies are required by the SEC and the various stock exchanges to have audit committees. The Town Board does not have sufficient knowledge or experience to carry out its fiduciary responsibility in this respect. The Government Finance Officers Association (“GFOA”) has for many years advocated the establishment of audit committees for all governmental bodies. We have seen the failure of school districts to have sufficient financial oversight and the State Comptroller’s Office has recommended that all school districts have audit committees. However, these committees must be comprised of knowledgeable and capable individuals who know and understand what an audit committee’s role is.

The Village of Ardsley has led the way in this regard with the establishment of its Audit Committee in the Spring of 2005. The Committee consists of two Village residents who are CPAs, one resident with a strong background in finance and knowledgeable about financial statements and disclosures and myself (also a CPA) as the Village Board liaison and representative. I provided the Town Supervisor with a copy of our local act and some background in the Spring of 2005. I guess it hasn’t been a priority for the Town. I wonder whether it was shared with the other Town Board members.

Summary

We the people of Greenburgh cannot have “open” government when there are “off the books funds” hidden from full and open public view and scrutiny. What else is going on? Who knows? Who can accept the “words” of the senior personnel when these conditions have apparently existed for so long? We need a new beginning and we need it now.


Sincerely yours,


Michael J. Kolesar, CPA
Trustee, Village of Ardsley

Anonymous said...

Mike's comments miss the point! The funds that were received by the town were not secret funds --every penny received was reported on in the papers and approved by resolution of the Town Board --the Board approved the WESTHELP partnership contract unanimously (FEINER,BASS,JUETTNER,BARNES,WEINBERG). This partnership provides a dividend to a neighborhood that accepted a homeless shelter in their backyard.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention that if Mike would like the homeless shelter in his neighborhood, residents of Mayfair Knollwood would be willing to give your neighborhood the funds that we were promised.

Angry resident said...

Mike Kolesar is exactly right about the failures, intentional or otherwise, of the Town to properly record and report the moneys received from Westhelp. I can see a lot of finger-pointing, but the fault is with the entire Town Board. If the problem was described in the SCOBA report which was issues in the summer of 2005, then nobody on the Town Board can claim ignorance. This requires a serious investigation by outside law enforcement, and if the auditors screwed up let's get new auditors.

But elect a Comptroller? No way. That is a guarantee that we will get a political hack such as our current Town Board members. Electing professional people is not an answer. It is holding the government accountable that is the answer. And on this one I expect that there will be accountability. There better be.

And Mr. anonymous, who wondered if Mike Kolesar would take a homeless shelter in his area, you represent the worst of bigotry. We are talking about law, violations of reporting on public funds, possible criminality, etc. Does everything come down for you as to how much you can extort from the town?

Michael Kolesar said...

I wish all of the "annonymous" posters would stop hiding and come out into the public eye. As to "accepting" a homeless shelter, for many yaers the County of Westchester housed homeless people in the Apple Motor Inn on Route 9A in "downtown" Ardsley. The Village never received one penny in compensation for the additionl costs.

In the 1950's the State and Federal government determined that it was in the best interes of all to construct what you all know as the New York State Thruway through downtown Ardsley. What did or has the Village received? NOTHING !!! We get traffic, we get constant noise, we get pollution. Valhalla,your role is just part of the overall good for society. Get over it and stop looking for a $6.5 million buyout.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kolesar,

I agree with your sentiment, but I am concerned that with an elected comptroller, we would not improve, but decline in our financials.

I think that by allwowing the town council to have an aid, that will improve the councils ability to ride herd on mr. Feiner.

I do have to ask, thought, where were you when:

1. The town charges cost of parks to only unincorporated Greenburgh, in violation of NYS law.

2. The town acquired Taxter Ridge, knowing that large parts of unincoproated Greenburgh did not want it, esp if it would not be charged to town outside.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and also Mr. Kolesar,

anyone representing Ardsley has to explain the contorted reading of the "contiguous" rule vis a vis the Elsmofrd library rule -- your creditbility is at stake.

Anonymous said...

None of the WESTHELP funds were hidden. The Town Board voted at a public meeting to accept the funds on an annual basis. The allocation to the town, Valhalla school district, Fairview Fire district & town (to benefit the Mayfair Knollwood neighborhood) has always been public information. The dollars allocated to each of the entities has been the subject of numerous articles. The comments in previous blogs are uncalled for.

Westchester RISE said...

A message from Westchester RISE


Greenburgh Summer Youth Achievement Program:

SAT Preparation Review/College Prep Course & BizCamp: Business/Entrepreneurship 101



Problem/Need/Risk Factors:

The 1990 census reported Westchester’s youth population under age 21 at 224,858. In the 2000 census this number had risen to 259,517, an increase of 34,659 or 15.4%. New York State’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services 2001 County Resource Book indicates that Westchester County has an adolescent chemical dependency level of 6,310 (9.8%) of the youth population. Poverty in Westchester is highly correlated with race/ethnicity and female-headed house holds. It is concentrated in five cities but is also increasing in towns and villages. Westchester County’s 2002 needs Assessment reported 87,667 Teens 16-19 not in school and not working in New York State. As reported in the 2000 Westchester County of Criminal Justice Services, 1,719 domestic violence crime victim’s statistics reported. In 2001 it had been reported a total number of 1197 female pregnancies between age 15 and 19 years. In terms of youth, this data would suggest the need to ensure that prevention programs are offered.

Greenburgh’s population composition and distribution is substantially changing requiring service plan development and community collaboration not only on the county level but also at the municipal level. Many youth require assistance in addressing their emotional, health and physical well being as well as their education, job skills development in order to stay productive, remain in school and prepare for the workforce. The push for higher academic standards and student achievement is now extending beyond the school day, fueling a growing demand for high-quality after-school programs. While some 6.5 million children nationally attend after-school programs, more than 15 million others would likely take part if appropriate and affordable programs were available. According to U.S. Census data (2000), many of those children are now unsupervised after-school.
Students who experience high academic achievement and actively engage in and feel attached to their school are less likely to engage in problem behaviors and delinquency. Quality after-school programs are widely supported as a buffer against the danger of delinquency. Youths who are unsupervised during after-school hours are found to be more delinquent at all times and not only after school. Moreover, interventions that immerse students into the rich fabric educational resources have been shown to reduce delinquency. These students are bolstered by various protective factors such as high expectations for youth by the community, positive bonds with parents and family, effective parenting, opportunities for participation in the school and community, and involvement with positive peers and peer-group activities.
Furthermore, an increase in the number of after-school age programs is necessary to support increasing numbers of working parents. As reported by the U.S. Department of Justice (2000), the gap between parent work schedules and child school schedules can total 20 to 25 hours per week. This unsupervised time is a risk factor for serious and violent behavior among youths. The evidence supports the proposition that children who are unsupervised during the hours after school are more likely to use alcohol, drugs, tobacco, receive poor grades, and drop out of school than those children who have the opportunity to benefit from constructive activities supervised by responsible adults.
Community-school collaboration is needed in order to maximize the impact that community based organizations could have on academic issues. School age youth need additional supports to acquire the skills and competencies needed to succeed in school and be able to make a successful transition to the work world. Continued support and strategies are needed to better engage youth during out of school hours. As reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, (2000), it is important for children to have an after-school program that helps them develop academic and social skills in a safe, caring environment Quality after-school programs that reduce risk factors and increase protective factors for the youths served can offer a host of intriguing and rewarding experiences for youths and their families. After-school programs keep children of all ages safe and out of trouble because they meet family needs by providing responsible adult supervision of children during non-school hours. They also offer rewarding, challenging, and age-appropriate activities in a safe, structured, positive environment. In fact, research has identified three major functions provided by after-school programs. They 1) provide supervision, 2) offer enriching experiences and positive social interaction, and 3) improve academic achievement. But despite this support, there is a lack of affordable, accessible after-school opportunities in many communities.


Program Impact:

A plan is needed with focus on services that foster the well being, safety and development of all children. The inability to handle the needs of youth can result in economic hardship for families and for the community. After-school programs save taxpayers money by reducing crime and drug use while providing structured lower-cost alternatives. The NYS Department of Corrections currently spends $32,000 per inmate per year to incarcerate offenders. After-school programs provide peace of mind to working parents because they know their children are safe and actively engaged in learning and recreational activities. These same programs make employees more productive since they do not have to worry about their children after school, thus saving businesses money and time.

The program is consistent with the goals formulated by the Westchester County Youth Bureau’s Integrated Services Plan:

GOAL 1: PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTHY CHILDREN.
• Objective 3: Increase the number of children who will grow up emotionally healthy.
• Objective 4: Increase the number of children who will grow up free from health risk-taking behaviors (smoking, drinking, substance abuse and use, unsafe sexual activity and violence).

GOAL 4: SUPPORT YOUTH IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES NEEDED FOR SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION TO ADULTHOOD.
• Objective 1: Decrease the number of youth who commit criminal offenses.
• Objective 2: Increase the number of youth who will delay becoming parents until adulthood.
• Objective 3: Increase the number of youth who will have the skills, attitudes and competencies to enter college and/or the work force.
• Objective 4: Increase opportunities for youth to make constructive use of leisure time and participate in family and community activities.


In addition, the Greenburgh Summer Youth Achievement Program anticipated successes will act to:

• Improve students social skills
• Improve their self-confidence
• Improve their homework quality
• Give them higher aspirations
• Enhance their academic achievement
• Encourage them to develop new skills and interests
• Improve school attendance and reduce dropout rate
• Raise academic skill levels and performance by students on standardized tests
• Reduce grade retention
• Reduce number of unsupervised children in the summer
• Increase family and community involvement with children

Program:
The Greenburgh Summer Achievement Program offers challenging, active, and fun summer enrichment curriculum that will give high school students insight into college life while fostering a balance of personal and intellectual growth. This is not summer school! Students do not want to replicate the classroom setting, grade pressures, and competition that they experience during the academic year. The program’s small, college-style seminars are dynamic, interactive and stimulating, incorporating SAT Preparation Review, College Preparation, Business/Entrepreneurship Training, guest lecturers, field trips, active discussion, role playing, and group projects.
Summer sessions, designed for 10th, 11th and 12th graders, give students challenging instruction and unique recreational activities while they experience a taste of college life.

The Greenburgh Summer Achievement Program engages students in College-level academic activities that build the critical thinking skills necessary for high school and college success including essay writing, logic/problem solving, critical reading, college
level writing, research skills, logic and presentation.



Communty Partners:

In collaboration with the Town of Greenburgh, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Westchester Community College, Westchester Referral and Information Services and Education (Westchester RISE) and Westchester Federal Credit Union offers to provide a Greenburgh Summer Youth Achievement Program for students.

This proposal addresses the need for supplemental educational services for students to succeed in school, academically and socially. We propose to work with 45 high school youngsters (25 SAT-College Prep/20 BizCamp), grades 10th, 11th, and 12th. Our goal is to prepare the child for a successful future.
Westchester Community College has committed classroom space to facilitate the development of this program and coordinate the College Prep Course component. The Princeton Review Coordinator will coordinate the SAT Preparation Review component. NFTE will coordinate the six-week BizCamp: Business/Entrepreneurship 101 component. Westchester Federal Credit Union (WFCU) will provide each student participating in the SAT/College Prep Course and BizCamp a $50.00 account award upon completion of the program. Westchester RISE will provide the staffing and expertise to make it a success. Staff will be onsite during the program day and/or after program hours to reach students and parents.

Anonymous said...

compare Greenburgh's 2007 taxes with other localities:
Todays Journal News reports that Ossining has a 9.3% tax hike. Mt Pleasant has a 4.9% tax hike. Yesterdays Journal News reports that New Rochelle is proposing a 4.9% tax hike.
Greenburgh's tax increase is 1% in unincorporated Greenburgh. A 9% decrease in the villages.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous 11/12/2006 9:07 PM

Why don't you wait for the decision of the Westchester Library System to see whether the agreement is upheld? However, if you look in most dictionaries, there is a secondary meaning to the word "contiguous" which is near, not touching. I didn't negotiate the agreement and would have made some changes to it. In fact I was the only Board member to vote against it, not for the reasons you may think, but then you probably didn't know that. Care to identify yourself?

Anonymous said...

Follow up to the post comparing Greenburgh's 1% tax hike (unincorporated Greenburgh), 9% tax cut (villages) to neighboring communities--which are experiencing bigger tax hikes: last year Greenburgh did not raise taxes. Villages taxes went down, taxes in unincorporated Greenburgh went down slightly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information Westchester RISE. Sounds like a great program.

Anonymous said...

Valhalla Voice on the Slush Fund


The Journal News reports that $500,000 in Westhelp funds are sitting unreported and unaccounted for in Greenburgh Town accounts.

According to the article, town board members did not know this money existed, but the president of the Mayfair Knollwood Civic Association did know.

Supervisor Feiner says he did not include in the budget because he wanted to maintain "flexibility" on how the money is spent.

"Once it's in the town budget, you can't say it's for one neighborhood," Feiner said. "Then it's in a town fund, and we had indicated we would give priority attention to Mayfair-Knollwood."

I suppose if you have the "flexibility" to hide the funds you would have flexiblity not to report what you spend it on.

We hope the Comptroller's office is paying attention.

Anonymous said...

The RISE program sounds good, but that asssessment and approval must ultimately come from the academic professionals in our school systems, not the town government.

Also, can RISE implement this program without legal/ethical difficulties? I believe that the director is an employee of the town or school district.

Valhalla Voice on Feiner's slush fund said...

Another WestHelp Slush Fund

The Journal News reports that $500,000 in Westhelp funds are sitting unreported and unaccounted for in Greenburgh Town accounts.
According to the article, town board members did not know this money existed, but the president of the Mayfair Knollwood Civic Association did know.

Supervisor Feiner says he did not include in the budget because he wanted to maintain "flexibility" on how the money is spent.

"Once it's in the town budget, you can't say it's for one neighborhood," Feiner said. "Then it's in a town fund, and we had indicated we would give priority attention to Mayfair-Knollwood."

I suppose if you have the "flexibility" to hide the funds you would have flexiblity not to report what you spend it on.

We hope the Comptroller's office is paying attention.

Independent Thinker said...

Ardsley Trustee Kolesar is right. In hundreds of entries on this blog, not one post has identified a single social cost to the mayfair knollwood (MK) area of the WestHelp facility which is located on the campus of Westchester Community College. Notably, blogger Feiner has also failed to to identify a single social cost to MK either. Even if there was such a cost, there is no justification for a payoff.

Anonymous said...

The WESTHELP partnership, approved unanimously by Feiner and the entire Town Board, is designed to provide benefits to neighborhoods that are asked to house homeless shelters in their back yards. All of us have our life investments tied to our property. If property values go down, we are harmed. By approving the WESTHELP partnership agreement the Town Board calmed people down. The Town Board reduced the perceived negative risks associated with having a homeless shelter in their back yard. WOuld any of the bloggers who are fighting the WESTHELP agreement volunteer to have a homeless shelter placed in your neighborhood? If you received a dividend perhaps the answer would be yes. WIth no dividend - you'd probably participate in an effort to stop the homeless shelter from opening up.
The town has always been above board-the partnership provisions have been discussed in an open forum and all funds received have been publicized.

Anonymous said...

Would you rather have a government that doesn't listen to the people? WOuld you rather than a government that doesn't make an effort to address your concerns? WOuld you rather have a government that couldn't care less if your property values went down? The WESTHELP partnership made residents of Mayfair Knollwood feel good because people who worry about homeless shelters feel that government is being considerate of our feelings.

Its a lie said...

The WestHelp facility is not in a neighborhood. It has been a model citizen. Yet we hear over and over that the WestHelp money was need to address a social cost to Mayfair Knollwood. It seems its still true people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

Watchful resident said...

Yes, I'd like to have a government that cares about its residents. But above all, I'd like to have a government which respects the law.

What one resident likes another doesn't. We can't make it up as we go along. That's why we have laws.

I am sure that Feiner meant well. This is no slush fund, it is a fund that Feiner and the Board was holding for Mayfair Knollwood, not for their private purposes. But one can't flout the rules about reporting correctly, however good one's motives may be.

Feiner was wrong, but at least he was honest. The Town Board members knew this very well, and now are pleading ignorance.

For sure, all this will come out and many people will have legal problems over it.

Diogenes in Greenburgh said...

Feiner is honest? Maybe in Hevesi's dictionary but not mine. Keeping taxpayer money deliberately off the books and hidden from the published town budgets/town board is dishonest conduct.

Investigation needed said...

Town board members may bear some culpability here but unlike Feiner, who works for the town full-time, they are part-timers who have a right to rely on Feiner (who is the town's chief financial officer), the town controller (Heslop) and the town's outside auditor to comply with the law. The auditors contribute annually to Feiner. Carl Vergari blotted his career by failing to investigate municipal corruption. Spitzer, Cuomo, Fiore - we need you in Greenburgh.

Paul Feiner said...

I have asked the Town Comptroller to provide members of the Town Board and the community with an explanation of the financial reporting used re: HELP USA funds. The report will be available tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. Those interested in reading Jim Heslop's memo can e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com and I will forward you a copy of his memo as soon as I receive it. Please be advised that the entire Town Board approved the budget document.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner,

Does the town provide funding for any other youth program(s) in Greenburgh? If so, which ones? If your answer is yes and the SAT program is voted down, then I think we should take town funding away from ALL youth programs since the minority feels strongly about "hands off of education –GOVERNMENT". The government has always had their hands in education.

It would be nice if the schools had funding for such a program as well as other programs needed for our youth to succeed in school. However, in reality all across the world, money for education continues to decrease. School Budgets are voted down more and more. School programs, staff, and needed materials are lacking in the classroom. People do not want their school taxes to increase. How do we expect the schools to adopt new programs when they can’t even keep the programs and staff that are in place?

I believe in doing what is necessary for our children.

My only hope is that this program is opened to students residing in all areas of Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

The WESTHELP agreement --can we trust the words of elected officials who promised the residents of Mayfair Knollwood that they would provide funds to the school district in return for our support of the continued operation of the homeless shelter? TRUST ---CAN POLITICIANS BE TRUSTED?

Anonymous said...

I feel bad that a group of people want to end a program that worked and made people feel good about government: the WESTHELP partnership. Let's face it-- no one wants to live near a homeless shelter - especially a large facility. The WESTHELP partnership provided immediate neighbors with a benefit: programs for their schools. Property values for the neighborhood went up, not down. The community won. The homeless won.

Anonymous said...

The homeless -Valhalla school district partnership is the kind of out of the box thinking that makes people feel good about their officials. Our representatives turned a controversial shelter into a win for the community.

Anonymous said...

Andy Fastow thought he was thinking outside of the box also.

Truth Teller said...

According to today's Journal News, the comptroller has issued a report on WestHelp. If it was anything other than a ringing denunciation of the illegal and fiscally irresponsible "feel good" program concocted by Mr. Feiner, he would be crowing about it.But all is quiet in Mr. Feiner's blogosphere.

Feiner's bubble about to burst said...

The last time Feiner got his hands on a confidential report, it was the police chief's investigation of his having leaked confidential e-mails to Herb "White Lie" Rosenberg. Feiner couldn't leak it fast enough. Now he's got his hands on a new confidential report issued by the comptroller's office. So Mr. Feiner, why aren't you leaking this one?

Anonymous said...

Why is it that people choose to treat people with no respect and without kindness? Some of you are so mean, fueled with so much hatred. I think a lot of this displayed anger is more personal than about any issue. We try to break each other down, for what? the unhappiness in our own lives? Some of us our lonely, missed up our own lives so bad that we try to hurt others in the process of living.

We don't always have to agree, however we do need to learn to respect each other.

How do we teach our children love, respect, honesty when we as adults no nothing of the three.

I feel so sorry for some of you and embarrassed as a human being.

May God continue to bless you all. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

God,
Please forgive our enemies and those that trespass against us.
Please place more love in our hearts.
This I pray in the name of Jesus

Amen.

Paul Feiner said...

I was on the phone with the comptroller's office today. The comptroller's office had to postpone the exit interview scheduled for today. They specifically requested that the memo not be released because they said it is not final and is subject to change. The report has "Draft-not intended for external distribution" on every page. It would be inappropriate for me to release the report when they specifically requested that no elected official or town official release the information to the public.
I am anxious to have the report made public. I feel strongly that reports/recommendations should be made public.
I do not believe in secrecy.

Anonymous said...

Come clean Mr. Feiner. Does the report say whether the WestHelp agreement is legal or illegal? And if its illegal will you get our money back?

Truth Teller said...

I agree. And stop trying to change the subject with bs about the TZ bridge and bike safety. Legal or illegal?

Anonymous said...

As a parent of 2 teens I am pleased that the town is considering an SAT camp this summer. This will be a money saver for my family and help my son get into a better college.

Angry anonymous said...

Hey, anonymous. It's not the Town's taxpayers' responsibility to get your children into a better college. It is your responsibility.

Anonymous said...

to angry

I am angry too. Why do I have to pay high school taxes where I live. Most town people are happy with their schools and do not want this.

Anonymous said...

Last night the Town Board did something real positive, thanks to Supervisor Feiner. They worked out an agreement to end the decades old tax breaks given to the owners of 90 Manhattan, 100 Manhattan & 33 Oak Street. The Supervisor negotiated a deal to preserve affordable housing. The tax breaks will end at the end of one more year. Thanks for saving the taxpayers money! Thanks for saving the Central 7 schools money!

hal samis said...

Here's a new twist...on an old topic.

Instead of all the emphasis on interpreting and appealing Bernstein I, does anybody out there is blogland have any thoughts beyond who is paying for Taxter Ridge?

How about wondering when ANYONE can actually use the Park. We know that people all over New York State are allowed. Presumably even some residents of Greenburgh should be able to use it.

But when?

What a great laugh the residents of East Irvington are having: a park without parking.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

There is no need for parking. What is the point. Taxter Ridge provides open space, maybe hiking trails (with absolutely no security -- I wouldnt walk there), and prevent overburdening of Irvington schools. That is its use. There is no point in spending any more money.

Anonymous said...

Hal - Taxter benefits the Irvington School District and as you correctly note, its only usable by residents you live next to it. Under the logic of the Feiner Social Benefit Theory, the rest of Greenburgh who cannot use the park, should now be submitting a bill to the ISD for compensation for the inability of the rest of us in Greenburgh and the villages to access the park.

Anonymous said...

Taxter Ridge is open to anyone in Greenburgh and the state since funds were received from the county/state to acquire the park

dano said...

"Yes, I'd like to have a government that cares about its residents. But above all, I'd like to have a government which respects the law."

Respecting the law is important. Working to change laws when need be is just as important; it's a great benefit of living in a democracy.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anonymous, 11/10/2006, 7:20 PM ... "To the blogger who called the $500,000 "shady" - I think your comments are shady and political."

I did not say or even imply that that the $500,000 was shady. You incorrectly read what I wrote. Scroll up to Anonymous, 11/10/2006, 6:50 PM.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Taxter Ridge ...

Gov. Pataki on Taxter Ridge: "We are safeguarding precious natural resources while expanding outdoor opportunities for families in and around the region."

Great, but are these families in and around the region supposed to park their cars to enjoy the opportunities?

-----

State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro on Taxter Ridge: "Through our stewardship, we have been able to preserve scenic parklands and expand outdoor opportunities for all of New York’s residents".

If "all of New York’s residents" are welcomed, then I think that includes the villages. Though again, where will all of New York's residents park?

-----

Danny Gold, Chair of the Committee to Preserve Taxter Ridge: "The citizens of our community will enjoy these woods, as will all the citizens of the state, the county and the town."

If we all just park along Taxter, Eiler, Altavista, Round-A-Bend, etc. to enjoy these woods, will we get a parking ticket? Perhaps it might be easier to just build a huge parking garage and welcome center at the end of Algonquin.

-----

Feiner on Taxter Ridge: "I think this property to Greenburgh is what Central Park is to New York City."

Hahahahahahahha!

Anonymous said...

nice ...

----- Original Message -----

From: Towncouncil towncouncil@greenburghny.com
To: gblist@cit-e.net
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:54 PM
Subject: Town Council asks for full accounting of WestHelp funds in 2007 budget


The Town Council took major steps Tuesday to restore financial integrity to the Town’s budget and financial statements. During a public work session to discuss the 2007 budget, the council directed Town Comptroller Jim Heslop to fully account for the $1.2 million received in rent for the WestHelp property in the budget. The council instructed that these funds should be placed into the town wide (A) budget.

The council has relied upon the town’s professionals, including its chief financial officer and its independent auditing firm, to conduct business in accordance with the law. Last month the town comptroller brought to our attention some problems in the accounting of rent received for the WestHelp property. When the supervisor presented his budget proposal earlier this month those problems had not been addressed.

These issues will be corrected before the council approves the 2007 budget.

Councilwoman Eddie Mae Barnes
Councilman Steve Bass
Councilwoman Diana Juettner
Councilman Francis Sheehan

Anonymous said...

some handy town e-mail addresses ...

towncouncil@greenburghny.com
townclerk@greenburghny.com
dpw@greenburghny.com
legal@greenburghny.com
assessors@greenburghny.com
building@greenburghny.com
planzone@greenburghny.com
tdycc@greenburghny.com (community center)
jheslop@greenburghny.com (controller)
pfeiner@greenburghny.com (supervisor)
gbyrne@greenburghny.com (parks/rec)
jkapica@greenburghny.com (police)


http://www.greenburghny.com/Cit-e-Access/ContactInfo/?TID=10&TPID=1429

Housecleaner said...

There the fab four -- Bass, Barnes, Juettner and Sheehan -- go again, blaming Feiner. As though they hadn't been informed a year ago, and Bass, Barnes, and Juettner voted for the false budget and financial statements afterwards. And Sheehan knew ir as well and never said anything. Just once I'd like to see the fab four admit their mistakes, their negligence, their hostility, and accept some responsibility.

What is it that Truman said -- "the buck stops here." Well, for the fab four it always stops someplace else, mostly and conveniently with Feiner, though this time they are blaming their "professionals." Well, they were told all about the false bookkeeping and did nothing about it until the story broke.

They are all at fault -- Feiner, Bass, Barmes, Juettner and even Sheehan, and the Comptroller and the outside auditors. No excuses. Clean house.

Anonymous said...

To Bass, Barnes, Juttner and Sheehan. What was the problem you had with the Westhelp rent? Was it that it was in the wrong budget, which you have now fixed? It wasn't that the rent was collected in a hidden account, and was not recorded in the public records, which is something you never got around to thinking about, much less fixing. Quit your evasions. Be truthful and accept responsibility. I agree with housecleaner. You should all go.

Anonymous said...

When I read Councilmembers Bass, Barnes, Juettner, Sheehan's comments that the Town board took major steps to restore financial integrity to the towns budget I almost threw up. They all worked on last years budget. All the members of the Board (with the exception of newcomer Sheehan who attended all of the budget meetings in 2005) voted for the budget they now claim had no integrity. Were they asleep? Why can't they admit they made a mistake if they actually did make a mistake? People who make mistakes and try to blame others are WIMPS!

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm disappointed in Steve Bass, Eddie Mae Barnes, Francis Sheehan and Diana Juettner. I don't know if the town made errors in their financial reports regarding the homeless shelter. If they did the buck stops with the members of the Board who voted for the budget. Last year the Town Board made some good and bad changes in the Supervisor's proposed budget. The Town Council can't have it both ways - they can't pass the blame when they are found to have made a mistake and try taking the credit for good initiatives when people are happy with what is going on. Come on guys and gals: admit your mistakes. Don't look for scapegoats!

Anonymous said...

Diana, Eddie Mae, Steve & Francis: I luv yah - but your statement on the e list made you look real foolish. If you made a mistake admit it. Don't pass the blame on to others.

hal samis said...

Maybe it is way past time to part time with part-time Council members. Even with the assistance of a full-time aide, Gil Kaminer, the part-timers Bass*, Barnes*, Juettner and Sheehan can't get it right or accept responsiblity. But there is always the time to put out Press Releases to say "we don't know nuthin'about it, Miss Scarlet"

*These Council members are up for re-election in 2007.

The above had to be said.

But here's a compromise coming from out of left field.

Surely the Town Board is not going to vote year 2007 budget raises as a reward for ALL those who didn't understand how to perform their job responsibilities in 2006. I always thought that non-civil service positions were different from civil service employees in that they had to show why they were entitled to a raise as opposed to the automatic and contractual civil service raises.

Thus, if someone screwed up or someone gave bad advice, let's skip the warning, let's skip the firing or resignation rumbling, instead: let's not give any of them a raise because however you slice it, whoever you blame, whoever gave bad advice, whoever listened to bad advice...2007 is the year that the taxpayers should not have to underwrite higher salaries while still suffering from their past mistakes.

I say let's eliminate their raises and let them participate (at least from their wallets) in our pain and disappointment. True they recently have had to put in a few more hours meeting to talk around their mistakes, but hey, do the job right and go home earlier.

Call it symbolic, whatever. The amount of money is not going to send anyone to the poorhouse or even to affordable housing.

But the public is entitled to something and the public is best served by seeing these matters settled quickly and moving forward. If they continue to earn 100% of what they earned in 2006, at least taxpayers can expect that their salaries in 2007 will be paid for a 100% effort toward running the Town better next year instead of 75% toward running the Town and 25% toward defending what they did in previous years. In effect, the public is buying key man insurance so that their leadership will be free of overhanging distractions and thus able to do perform their jobs better and in everyone's best interest.

Now I could and will, if necessary, identify the list of those whom I believe should be particpating in this redemption process but I hope to see that this finds it way to all of those concerned and that they will all come forward voluntarily as further proof of their mutual desire to put this behind them.

There are a lot of things that we should be doing next year to make this a better community. Finding who left the milk bottle out, finding who knocked over the milk bottle, finding who licked the milk up and then crying over the spilt milk is not going to serve the Town any better than what has already emerged in public view. There is work to be done next year. And down the road there is also an election for the Town Supervisor and for two Town Council members. Let's free the Town Board and the concerned Department Heads to concentrate on running the Town and we, the voters, will concentrate on our job which is deciding who or who not to elect.

Amnesty is not just a gift to the conferee; it is also a good deal for the Town and its residents.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

Isnt Feiner up for re-election in 2007 also?

Do you have anything to say about him, or only the council?

Anonymous said...

As usual, Hal Samis has it right.

Of course I woud go further and vote them out. We need straight talk, not political double-talk.

Anonymous said...

The homeless/Mayfair Knollwood/town/school district partnership is being criticized by some. We should recognize that it was and is still a good concept. We are rewarding neighborhoods that accept the homeless in their backyard. People hate it when their elected officials impose social programs on others. The elected officials grab the headlines. The people who live near homeless shelters worry about property values and crime. The HELP USA partnership which Supervisor Feiner, the Valhalla school district and Mayfair Knollwood civic association are being criticized for gave the community a bonus for accepting a program no one else wants. How many other neighborhoods would voluntarily welcome a homeless shelter in their community?

Herbert Rosenberg said...

Today’s Journal News reports that the “Town Council has directed its comptroller to account for $1.2 million in annual rent plus $500,000 that was set aside for a neighborhood under an unwritten agreement.” The Council members went on to say “The Town Council took major steps Tuesday to restore financial integrity to the town’s budget and financial statements.”

Shifting the blame to the Comptroller and saying that this restores financial integrity is nonsense. The Comptroller may share in the blame, but it is the Town Council’s dereliction that needs to be examined, and the Town Council’s integrity that has to be restored.

The issuance of false budget documents, and possibly financial statements, raises questions not only of the town’s credibility, but perhaps also of violations of law. What is needed is an examination by an independent outside accounting firm -- not the town’s auditors – to see how this was done, what went into the secret accounts, who signed checks, what was expended and what is left, etc. For the Town Council to do it internally is like President Bush asking his Attorney-General to investigate who was telling the truth about WMDs.

Anonymous said...

The homeless funding initiative that Supervisor Feiner and the Town Board approved should be continued. It brought everyone together - the community, the homeless, the school district and the town.

Anon said...

Don't you understand? This isn't about supporting the homeless initiative. It is about truthful financial statements and budget presentations.

hal samis said...

To anonymous who can't read,

Look up a few lines from your post and you will see in my entry that you obviously didn't get to the end because: "And down the road there is also an election for the Town Supervisor and for two Town Council members..."

The reason that I focus on the Town Council is that it so simplistic to only point the finger at the man at the top of the heap. But how do things actually occur in Greenburgh? How do local laws get passed? How do resolutions get passed? How do contracts get signed? How does money get spent? How do Department heads (comptroller, town attorney etc) get hired?

The answer is by majority vote of the Town Board.

Town Board = Town Supervisor (1)
+ Town Council (4)
total votes ________________5
All votes carry the same weight
A majority is 3 votes

Thus it easy enough to see that any three votes can either pass or reject any issue. Most matters in Greenburgh, as a matter of record, pass unanimously.

So the tradition of slinging mud at the Town Supervisor masks the reality that the members of the Town Council are equally culpable because not only do they allow everything (good with the bad) but they also vote to permit it. If everything before the Town were so crystal clear, then just three people could stop all these so defined misadventures. And, the Town Council doesn't even have to see things unanimously among themselves, only three of their four consents or rejections will accomplish desirable outcomes.

My self-imposed mission is merely to get voters to understand this simple fact of life. Voters have five fingers on their hand. They should learn not to point with just one but to use all five.

"Problemsover" Feiner is the problem said...

Editorial from today's Journal News:

The last $500,000 surprise

(Original publication: November 16, 2006)



Every January Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner sets aside $5,000 dollars of his own salary and establishes a list of goals for himself. If, by year's end, he and the rest of the Town Board agree that Feiner has achieved his goals, he gets all $5,000; if he achieves some of the goals, he gets some of the money. It has never happened, but if the board were to find that Feiner failed at every measure, he would forfeit the entire $5,000 (not to mention what would happen on Election Day).

That's how the Democracy of Greenburgh works. In his own quirky and charming way, Feiner holds himself publicly accountable.

If only he applied that same transparency to the Greenburgh town budget.

We know from recent events that the $1.2 million annual rent that the WestHELP homeless family shelter has paid to the town since 2002 was divvied up every year, with $650,000 going to the Valhalla school district, $100,000 going to the Fairview Fire Department and $473,000 going to the town. Since the agreement was signed in 2001, questions have been raised about its legality, a chorus the town's attorney is joining. The noise reached the ears of state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, whose office has been investigating the WestHELP agreement since 2004. (His office issued the first draft of a confidential report Monday, and representatives from the comptroller's office came to town this week to discuss it.)

Now additional questions are surfacing about how the funds are accounted for in the town's budget - or not. Staff writer David McKay Wilson reported this week that of the $473,000 a year that the town received, only $372,844 was recorded in its annual budget. The other $100,000 a year was set aside for the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood adjacent to the shelter. By now, that pot has grown to $500,000, which has been neither accounted for nor, apparently, spent.

The money would have gone directly to the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association to spend as it pleased if not for an inconvenient obstacle, like state law. Town officials said that the state constitution prohibits such gifts to a specific neighborhood. So instead, they settled for an unwritten "understanding" with the local activist group. With a wink and a nod, town leaders set aside $100,000 a year for the sole use of the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood.

Three of five Town Board members - Eddie Mae Barnes, Steve Bass and Diana Juettner - said they had no idea that $500,000 had been taken out of the budget over the past five years and set aside for the neighborhood's use. On Tuesday, the board began to set things right. It ordered town Comptroller Jim Heslop to include all of the $1.2 million that WestHELP will pay in rent to be included in the 2007 town budget. That is a step in the right direction.

Feiner may very well be a paragon of accountability and transparency, as his annual salary give-back might attests, but his handling of the finances in the WestHELP agreement falls miserably short of ideal. Public money needs to be on the public's books, without side deals, secondary understandings or any other such nonsense. By his own admission, Feiner says that putting the money in the budget would curtail his ability to use it exclusively for the Mayfair-Knollwood neighborhood. Well, that's just too bad. Public accounting is about putting all the cards on the table so they can be viewed, discussed and debated by - the public. It isn't meant to be convenient. Greenburgh and its supervisor shouldn't play by different rules.

Feiner has lost his way #2 said...

The Town's auditors BENNETT, KIELSON, STORCH, DESANTIS, LLP contributed $500 to Mr. Feiner in 2005 and $250.00 as recently as April of this year.

These are the same auditors who failed to detect deliberate financial misreporting by Mr. Feiner and others including Mr. Heslop(now being corrected by the town councilmembers)in the 2007 budget).

Feiner may find accepting such contributions proper. Greenburgh residents should not.

Feiner has lost his way #1 and # said...

From ValhallaVoice.com

Restoring Financial Integrity, One Scam at a Time

Unwritten agreements between town officials and private citizens, unreported income and expenditures, hidden bank accounts are all the subject of an ongoing NYS Comptroller's audit of the "WestHelp Partnership". Another article in the Journal News reports that the Town of Greenburgh will now obey the law and follow generally accepted accounting practices and begin to properly report the $12 million dollar Westhelp deal. Well welcome to America, Mr. Feiner, we hope you enjoy your stay.

Hidden flexible bank accounts used to fund handshake deals will have to be disclosed. Questionable payments made to a single school district at the expense of nine others will have to be reported. Town funds might even have to be used for Town purposes. But don't stop there, let's see a full accounting of the entire income stream. Let's not pretend it all starts now. In the last two months alone, the Journal News has found a total of nearly $1.0 million dollars hidden in Valhalla School District and Greenburgh Town accounts. The Town and the School District must give a full accounting of all funds since the Sublease was signed in 2001.

Correction to above said...

meant to read #3 - with feiner there certainly will be more in the future.

Anonymous said...

To Feiner has lost his way #2-

Have the courage to show what money is going to the other Town Board members too.

Those who live in glass houses ought not to be throwing stones.

Feiner has lost his way #4 said...

The issue in the post was whether it is right for Feiner to accept contributions from the Town's auditors. Unlike the other Town Board members, only Mr. Feiner is the Chief Financial Officer. Please deal with the issue if you can.

hal samis said...

All these "lost his way" and religious parables...

This only works when delivered from a pulpit on high.

And when I see someone bringing Jesus to the blog table I shudder because I know how that story ends.

But if this spiritual thing is going to persist in blogdom come then let me address the flock directly in the words that a flock understands...baah, baah, baah.

Anonymous said...

Dear Blogger who criticized the campaign contributions Feiner received: Didn't Steve Bass accept contributions from the Westchester Federal Credit Union before he approved the lease at Town Hall (first, Steve was against the lease--then he received the $$$--then he voted for the lease)? Didn't Bass/Juttner/Sheehan receive campaign contributions from Bernstein (the guy who wants everyone to secede from the town)? True they returned the $$$$ but they returned the $$$$ only after there was a public outcry? And, didn't the members of the Board receive campaign $$$ from opponents of the tree law? Remember that controversy. Interesting how the town council reacts. The tree law has been studied, re-studied, re-re-studied and now it's being re-re-re-re-restudied.I doubt that the Town Board will ever pass a tree law. I'm trying to make a point: in today's society every candidate for public office needs to raise funds if they are going to hold office. Everyone who donates to a candidate probably will advocate or oppose something.

Sadly Disappointed said...

Feiner should never have accepted political contributions from the town's outside auditor -- and the auditor should never have made them. Making political contributions to a town's chief financial officer compromises the auditor's duty of independence and creates the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the auditor must give money to Feiner to get the work and, in exchange, the auditor must not disclose or reveal anything that might tend to embarrass Feiner, or the auditing job will go to someone else. Now that the auditor has admitted to the Journal News that it knew the WestHelp money wasn't being properly accounted for -- but kept the matter quiet -- it sure looks like that's what might have happened.

And make no mistake, accepting any contribution that creates an appearance of impropriety, as this sure does, violates the Town's Ethics Code.

Having already been caught taking thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the Town -- also in violation of the Town's Ethics Code -- Feiner should have learned his lesson. But he obviously has not.

And one other thing: Feiner wants us to believe that this is just some political catfight between him and the town council, but it's not. Feiner's actions (along with those of the auditor) have compromised the integrity of the town's financial statements. This is financial mismanagement at its worst, and we as taxpayers will have to pay for Feiner's recklessness.

Instead of blaming everyone else, and accusing them of lacking integrity, he should accept responsiblity for what happened and apologize.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous has not been even handed in your attacks against Feiner. Why don't you look at the campaign contributions that all the Town Board members received? Did you object to Steve Bass receiving a contribution from a union that is in contract negotiations with the town? We need campaign reform -- not only in Greenburgh but at every level of government. Candidates can't run for office unless they have a war chest.

Anonymous said...

I wish all the feuding would stop. The Town Council, Supervisor & anonymous writers should work together on figuring out a way to get the tennis bubble approved. Tennis players would enjoy having a tennis court to play at during the winter months. The town will generate some needed revenue. The courts will be restored to the condition it should be (not at taxpayer expense).

Anonymous said...

If the Town Board were willing to stand up to Bernstein the tennis bubble would be easy. But as long as Bernstein calls the shots we will not have anything but fights.

Anonymous said...

And if the Town Board would obey NYS law on budgets and charge the parks open to the villages to the town entire budget, the bubble could likely get done. Dont blame Bernstein --the courts keep agreeing with him that what the Town did it wrong. If the Town, at Feiner's direction, didn't acquire land -- like Taxter Ridge -- knowing that it wasnt going to charge it to the town entire, knowing that there is no way to restrict a park like Taxter Ridge to unincorporate residents (or restrict it to anyone for that matter) we might be able to find a way out of this.

Instead, we are running up more litigation costs and in the end will pay more and more for a dysfuntional parks system that does not offer recreation in proportion to the costs.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the entire Town Board vote for Taxter Ridge?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the entire Board voted for Taxter Ridge, but it was clearly Feiner leading the charge. It was also Feiner, as CFO, leading the charge on oh we can allocate this to the town outside the villages budget. Now at least they are waking up, and not trusting Feiner on everything he says.

hal samis said...

Moving from religious parables we next find ourselves in the midst of military maneuvers as though evoking the picture of Feiner astride a horse, sabre pointing and urging his officers and recruits forward..."To Taxter!"

Unlike the military, in Greenburgh voting independently is not the same as refusing to follow the "command" and would not result in a court martial or other disciplinary action. In fact, the Town Council eagerly (you know how they explain their vote on camera so that they can make hay) fell all over themselves to both vote for the purchase of Taxter and to vote in favor of appealing Bernstein.

This is not intended as a comment on whether either vote was correct, good, bad, or in who's best interest. This is just to remind voters that it only takes 3 of the 5 votes cast to pass or 3 of the 5 votes cast to reject. No one was holding a gun to anyone's head.
So whether Feiner was in favor or not, the recorded result remains that the Town Council supported him.

If you want to hit something, five bodies presents a larger target mass than one and increases the chance that you will score. With luck, maybe you will even hit three.

Greenburgh Homeowner said...

Well once again the Leaf Law is back on the Council Agenda. This law is basically a tax on homeowners (who already pay more, per $ value of their homes than condo, coop and apartment dwellers -- if you do not beleive it, call the Town assessor -- there are different assesment methodologies for single family homes v. condos, coops and apartmnets).

One would think the council members would have better things to do -- like three of them start planning their re-election because every home owner will want a council more understanding of home owners.

hal samis said...

Dear Greenburgh homeowner,

You might want to know why the leaf law is back on the Agenda now instead of being discussed early next year. Since the law was/will not be passed in time (whatever it contains or doesn't) to actually affect this year's pick-up of leaves, why does it still occupy its prime time placement? Because it is filler to avoid getting around to matters of substance.

You see there are now some more timely, if not urgent matters before the Town Board. One that I am waiting for is the discussion of the Town Budget for 2007. You may have heard about some problems regarding what goes in A and what goes in B and what doesn't even appear at all. This is just background static when compared to the discussion about how the money will be spent next year. And, the Town Board has conveniently scheduled things so that there will
little time to hold extra public hearings before the budget must be passed. Of course, the Town could stop the clock like Albany does but the Town Board doesn't want to state yet whether they will avail themselves of this option. They may play the old pass the tentative budget trick but somehow changes occurring next year never happen in front of the public.

I sent the Town Board and Comptroller an email on November 15 alerting them to this problem and suggested that they schedule additional hearings now while there is still time (there is a noticing requirement) and these meetings can be cancelled if not needed. Everyone's schedule is impacted by the holidays.

I also suggested that all non-essential items be removed from the Agenda until the budget discusssions were concluded.

I also asked for an opinion whether the clock could be stopped.

I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear their response. Neither of us should hold our breath while waiting.

Meanwhile, what the Town Council has done is to schedule a leisurely end of month appointment schedule with the various town departments so they can "review" the submitted requests. This will be their excuse: we couldn't even discuss this with them until the end of November so that is why the first hearing won't occur until the December Town Board meeting.

We are both worldly residents. We both know that every year has Tnaksgiving week at this time of year. We both know that the Christmas Season begins every year at this time. We both know that the budget review should have been concluded already. We both know the Town Board doesn't want meetings to end early in the morning. We both know the Town Board this year has additional assistance from their Aide, Gil Kaminer. We both know that this year's budget review is taking place later in the year than last year's review before Mr. Kaminer was hired.

And we both know that even those town staffers whose performance was, how should I say this, not quite up to par...are scheduled to receive raises.

We both know that everything is not right. The annual budget review is in two parts. Part one is known as the Supervisor's budget and has been available for almost a month. Part two is the version after the Town Council conducts their review of his budget and makes their changes. That there has been no Public Hearing already conducted is because the Town Council (part-timers) review is still underway and won't be concluded until the end of the month.

We could say that this is a good thing because the Town will benefit from their thoroughness. After all, we don't want a replay of things that were unearthed recently. We both know that if it takes longer, it should be worth the wait. Last year, the Town Council told the Public that it had conducted an exhaustive review of the budget -- and they had saved the taxpayers big dollars versus the Supervisor's budget. The difference actually was around $40,000. But, just so there is no confusion, even though at last years budget reviews, Mr. Sheehan was only a Councilman-elect, he was present, participating and spoke as an equal as the Town Council conducted their "exhaustive" review. And we both know that now they say, "Budget, what budget?"

I, and other members of the public, eagerly await the opportunity to conduct our own somewhat less than their exhaustive review during the Public Hearings. Let me go to the crystal ball and make this prediction: the Public is going to find a lot of problems and the Town Board is going to try to limit public comment because they have to pass the budget by December 20.

Forewarned? Forget it!!!

Anonymous said...

As I see it there are two possibilites with the leaf law:

1. They pass it Monday night, and start fines on Tuesday. Tough luck for those of who plan on going away for Thanksgiving Holiday and havent figured out where to put the leaves.

2. They dont pass it and just annoy people more than necessary.

If they plan on not acting, they should put that on the website now.

If they plan on not enforcing until (say 30 days) after passing, what is the point of a hearing now, the hearing might as well be in April, and they could give time to Budget.

As to the idea that they can give extra bags out to people who have no room to put leaves, that is STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. Most of the people with no place to put leaves would have bags and bags of leaves. And what happens if the bags get run over or broken -- is that my fault too.

The members of the Council who live in apartments or gated communities have no clue how difficult this is going to be. The school districts want to keep the senior citizens here, and keep taxes without school age children -- well this leaf law is the "Get out of Town Law"

Anonymous said...

These anti Feiner messages are so annoying. Paul Feiner is the best town supervisor Greenburgh ever had.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Feiner haters! See a shrink. Your lives have been taken over by Feiner. You live for this blog. You seem to spend too much time consumed with statements you can make that are insulting, angry, mean spirited, false. Get a life. Spend more time with your family and less time trying to knock people down.

hal samis said...

Is there a Secret Santa in Greenburgh?

If so, it's still a secret.

But for sure, what we do have at Greenburgh Town Hall is a SECRET committee.

For some time.

Now chaired by Town Council member Francis Sheehan, this committee, ostensibly to discuss land use applications, it is supposed to meet on Tuesdays and only some Depeartment heads, some members of Legal, some members of Buildings etc. made the cut. The guest list is specific and those on the list are cautioned:
"Do not send substitutes".

It is interesting to note that neither the Chair of the Planning Board, the Chair of the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations or the Town Supervisor were aware of the existence of this committee.

I will be asking if confidentiality pledges were requested from those requested to attend.

What is actually discussed is unknown because the Public is not invited. Whether this committee has any powers to determine, effect or enforce their policies is unknown because the Public is not invited.

Are there any minutes from these meetings? A FOIL request will soon by enroute to Town Hall.

But, what is clear from the October 18 email from Francis Sheehan to this select group is the
following:

"To start we will hold these meetings every week on Tuesday at the same time. The place is to be determined. If we can get the DPW conference room I would prefer that to the LFJ room because there is no need to draw attention to ourselves."

Let me repeat, "there is no need to draw attention to ourselves".

Perhaps Chief Kapica should be reviewing all of Mr. Sheehan's emails.

The good news is that taxpayers will be spared the expense of a Public Relations firm being hired to share what this committee does with the Public.
However, as the Town Council is also in the midst of hawking an expensive Comprehensive Plan, perhaps there is something that might be of interest to the Public in what is being discussed in rooms "where there is no need to draw attention to ourselves" as per Francis Sheehan.

On the other hand, what with the Credit Union and soon the Library in Town Hall, perhaps Mr. Sheehan fears that to hold these meetings in "daylight" might attract excessive traffic from "land use" groupies who would overwhelm Town Hall by their arrival and the meeting itself would be interrupted by requests from autograph seekers.

It seems that not only do we have issues with off balance sheet budget entries, we also have at least one secret committee as well.

Any there any bloggers out there who are similarly concerned to learn that we have, perhaps a rogue CIA tye organization operating under the Town Hall's roof? Direct your queries to fsheehan@greenburghny.com.

hal samis said...

Is there a Secret Santa in Greenburgh?

If so, it's still a secret.

But for sure, what we do have at Greenburgh Town Hall is a SECRET committee.

For some time.

Now chaired by Town Council member Francis Sheehan, this committee, ostensibly to discuss land use applications, it is supposed to meet on Tuesdays and only some Depeartment heads, some members of Legal, some members of Buildings etc. made the cut. The guest list is specific and those on the list are cautioned:
"Do not send substitutes".

It is interesting to note that neither the Chair of the Planning Board, the Chair of the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations or the Town Supervisor were aware of the existence of this committee.

I will be asking if confidentiality pledges were requested from those requested to attend.

What is actually discussed is unknown because the Public is not invited. Whether this committee has any powers to determine, effect or enforce their policies is unknown because the Public is not invited.

Are there any minutes from these meetings? A FOIL request will soon by enroute to Town Hall.

But, what is clear from the October 18 email from Francis Sheehan to this select group is the
following:

"To start we will hold these meetings every week on Tuesday at the same time. The place is to be determined. If we can get the DPW conference room I would prefer that to the LFJ room because there is no need to draw attention to ourselves."

Let me repeat, "there is no need to draw attention to ourselves".

Perhaps Chief Kapica should be reviewing all of Mr. Sheehan's emails.

The good news is that taxpayers will be spared the expense of a Public Relations firm being hired to share what this committee does with the Public.
However, as the Town Council is also in the midst of hawking an expensive Comprehensive Plan, perhaps there is something that might be of interest to the Public in what is being discussed in rooms "where there is no need to draw attention to ourselves" as per Francis Sheehan.

On the other hand, what with the Credit Union and soon the Library in Town Hall, perhaps Mr. Sheehan fears that to hold these meetings in "daylight" might attract excessive traffic from "land use" groupies who would overwhelm Town Hall by their arrival and the meeting itself would be interrupted by requests from autograph seekers.

It seems that not only do we have issues with off balance sheet budget entries, we also have at least one secret committee as well.

Any there any bloggers out there who are similarly concerned to learn that we have, perhaps a rogue CIA tye organization operating under the Town Hall's roof? Direct your queries to fsheehan@greenburghny.com.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner, you were, and are the only Town Board member whose reponsibilities were full time. You were, and are, under NY State law, the Chief Fiscal Officer of the Town. Your Board colleagues had the expectation that when you made a recommendation you had performed appropriate due diligence, because that is part of your job. It cannot be delegated, unless you are willing to have the rest of the Town Board join you as full-time paid employees of the Town. You need to accept the Truman premise that the buck stops at your desk, you are ultimately responsible. Over the years you have proudly claimed credit for every good thing which has happened in Greenburgh - the flip side of that is you must accept responsibility bad things which happen on your watch. Sadly your intentions are not an excuse for violating the law. If you don't agree with the law, you used to lead a campaign to change the law - now you simply ignore it. That arrogance is unseemly and discerdits much of the good you have struggled to accomplish. I sugggest you say you are sorry, resign quietly and devote your life to some private philanthropic endevor. You have violated the trust of the Greenburgh community, forfeited the respect of your fellow Board members, destroyed the hopes of a neighborhood, and divided the Town. With accomplishments like those under your belt, perhaps you really do have a career opportunity awaiting you in the NY State legislature.

Anonymous said...

I think that Paul Feiner gets a bum rap from his critics. Our Supervisor tries to bring people together - not divide people. Look what he did with the tenants who reside at 100 Manhattan Ave? He negotiated an agreement that made everyone pleased. The tenants received the protections from excessive rent hikes. The owners received permission to sell their property. The buildings will be renovated. Excessive tax breaks won't be given to the landlord. Same thing with WESTHELP. Paul tried bringing everyone together. The homeless received the shelter they need. The county did not have to look for another shelter location. The neighbors & school district impacted by the homeless facility receives dividends. What's wrong with that?

Amazed resident said...

Regarding Hal Samis' news of a secret committee, headed by Francis Sheehan for which, he says, "there is no need to draw attention to ourselves" I am outraged as this contemptuus attitude.

Where is the outrage from others? I remember when the Supervisor formed the Committee on Budget Allocation there was an outcry because their meetings were not public. Isn't this even worse? Not only not public, but secret, so that even the Supervisor can't attend.

I am becoming afraid of Sheehan. The last person I know of who had secret meetings that would not be disclosed was Cheney and his energy committee. Where is the reformer and open government person that Sheehan used to be.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it wonderful that Supervisor Feiner provides all of us with a chance to express ourselves? This is what democracy is all about. I wish the Town Board members would return phone calls like Supervisor Feiner does.

Anonymous said...

Neighbor in violation of zoning laws

I have a neighbor at 28 Arden Drive in Hartsdale who is trying to rent out an apartment in his house illegally. My neighbors and I are concerned about (a) strangers living in the neighborhood, and (b) parking on an already tight street. The bus stop is on that corner, and we are all concerned. They were warned about a month ago and it obviously did not stop them from trying again. What can we do? Can the Zoning Board fine them?

hal samis said...

Yesterday afternoon the Town Board held a work session to hear a report by the Library Team on the status of their project, particularly the bidding review process and how this relates to their $19.8 miilion budget.

Although myself and other members of the Public were present we were not allowed to look at copies of what the Town Board were given by the Library's Construction Manager, Triton. Triton is the hire that prepared the Library's $19.8 million original project estimate in November 2004 and included therein was their own fee of $612,000. As soon as the referendum passed, their fee swelled to $680,000 by November 2007. One item, a new $50,000 charge looks suspiciously like a pre-referendum fee -- Triton not the low bidder won the award because they were the only respondant promising not to charge for pre-referendum work. After November 2007, they will receive an additional monthly fee of a little over $21,000 a month. Construction of the project is not likely not to start before January 2007 so unless what was previously estimated as an almost two year construction project, Triton can safely bank on collecting the additional monthly income.

Many "critics" knew from the start that, in all fairness, Triton was rushed, being hired in October 2004 to produce a project estimate by November 2004. At that point, the project wasn't even fully conceived. But the Library Board, in its rush to get you the public a $amount to vote on at what then was expected to be a March 2005 referendum, had no qualms about the consequences of incomplete work product. So, despite Supervisor Feiner and a few civic minded citizens (i.e. myself who doesn't represent anyone unlike all those civic minded citizens of Edgemont who claim they do)repeatedly cautioned that this referendum was being held prematurely to avoid answering questions. The Library Board convinced the Public that by holding the referendum in May 2005 the project could get a Spring 2006 construction start. Those who use the Library know that no construction has started.

I don't want to say the other shoe has dropped because there are many more shoes that are going to drop as the Library Board scrambles to find ways to afford more shoes.

But where things stand, while no construction has started. is that the project is already over-budget...over the over-budget amount of six months ago that the Library told you would go away...but hasn't and indeed has grown. I'm sure that to most of you this is not shocking news because that is what happens when you agree to allow those without any construction experience to be in charge of a $20 million project, $33 million when you add in the interest ($13 million) on the money you taxpayers are borrowing (the bonds) to finance the project. "You taxpayers" are only the residents of unincorporated Greenburgh.

Oh, before I address how much extra the project is costing and where it is coming from, let me tell you what the $19.8 is not buying. The Library's information session information follows in parenthesis. You are getting a 140 seat auditorium (200) which cannot be divided (dividable) into smaller meeting rooms. You are not getting the cybermobile inside the buidling (inside so it won't break down) and you are not even getting the first round substitution of a canopy to protect the cybermobile now parked outside and you are getting a steel tile exterior (granite facing) and you are getting asphalt sidewalks (concrete) and you are getting the cheap grade carpet and floor tiles (carpet) and you are getting 134 parking spaces (160) regardless of what happens because there is no money to convert the landbanked spaces and you are getting other so called "alternates" which reflect the lower grades and downgrades which you will have to accept as "just as good". But don't worry you are still getting the cafe. But even with these reductions you're not getting them for $19.8 million.

Nor are you getting (and this I applaud) the mezzanine level and curved rooftop glass wall (I'm not talking about the newer design's glass sloped roof) which was the picture you originally saw pre-referendum and the part of the extra costs which added up to the $19.8 million you voted for. This means that although the project changed for the inferior, they are still charging the public $19.8 million and there's more to come.

Let me be fair by also mentioning that what was not part of the original project was a $144,000 ADA required ramp which the Architect argues you shouldn't have because it costs money and from the other column is that the project no longer has to pay out the estimated $300,000 for renovating the old town hall building. So there is a net $155,000 gain to the total after the unanticipated ramp but before the costs of the setting-up in the satellites is considered.

So where do you the Public stand? You better sit down.

Well the Library Board has managed to attract a few grants totalling $500,000, or less, but specific to items like the circulation desk etc. These items of course were part of the original estimate of $19.8 million so if there is outside extra money coming in and still the project is over the $19.8 million I think you are beginning to understand that if the Library, the one that was represented to the Public before the referendum, was actually to be built, it really would cost very close to $25 million (plus the interest).

So how much are they actually over budget before they make still another round of cuts. Hard to say because they wouldn't let the Public see their handout and not all the items have yet been bid.
Technically there is still a 4% reserve (4% of the hard costs) which is lower than the norm and nothing has yet started or been signed and the first few change orders, this cushion will be wiped out in a heartbeat. My estimate is, that without the outside funding, they are already in the hole about $1.6 million for the inferior project that they are forced to go with.

So far we have just been discussing what are known as "hard" costs (construction, materials, labor) but there are also the soft costs, fees like the Architect and the Construction Manager. Don't worry about them because if the building has to open without a front door, there will be money to pay them.

One interesting thing though is that their fees are generally percentage based on the project cost. How does this scenario strike you, blog world?

Let's say the Architect was to design a building with the intent to use all the better, longer lasting but more costly elements. By adding all of these together you get the project cost @ $19.8 million. But the Architect and the Construction Manager know they can always go to the so-called "alternates" if the project gets in budget trouble, like ours.
So by starting with the high-priced spread (butter in the commericals) you can always come back with the margarine. And just to put a $cost of margarine, let's say that if this was a perfectly acceptable alternative way to go (that is the way we are now going) then the cost of margarine would not be $19.8 million but say $17.8 million. Ok, you say, all they are doing is allowing for inflation and contingencies. No, no, say I because already built into the project was a $3 million+ cushion within the $19.8 million.
So what are you getting at, Mr. Samis?

The Architect and Construction Manager get paid based on the $19.8 million, they never offered the Public the margarine deal for $17.8 which they should have if all of these alternates are "just as good" but they are now forced to use. How about a referendum choice like this:

Would you like to spend $19.8 million or $17.8 million, either amount will result an equally good Library; the only differnce is that on the higher amount we will pay the Architect and Construction Manager much more. By the way, the Architect/Engineer fee on the project is around $1.6 million. And, again the Construction Manager fee which started at $612,000 will close out around $800,000 if construction ends in 18 months.

But everything is fine and on schedule says the Library Board building committee (Howard Jacobs, Susan Wolfert, Estelle Palevsky) and their mouthpiece, Al Regula.

Finally there is one option that the Library Team refuses to consider although they don't deny the basic premise. What if, instead of cheapening a lot of varied items, why not look to one element which can be downgraded instead. I'm referring to replacing the high, sloped glass roofline with a standard height flat roof.
No one has disputed an outside estimate that this would save $500,000 and while there never was any net savings (a Library fiction shelf story) in lighting cost even when the natural lighting contributes. This was proposed six months ago by the Public, rejected by the Library Team and eventally the bidding process started without making this consideration.

Here's how the game is played. I suspect that this sacred design was sitting around the Architect's shop unclaimed or even rejected by another Client. No one wanted it until our world-class rubes at the Library showed up. The Architect wants this built for his brochure and I can envision a picture of it at night lit up inside and seen (with "envy" from Elmsford, no let me correct that...Elmsford won't be envious they will be using it just not paying for it) from cars on 287. The Construction Manager (the estimator) says it would be too expensive to estimate the cost of a sloped roof vs a flat roof and that to do this project would have to be re-bid. (actually the project may have to be re-bid for legal reasons) Hello...since they made their own estimates before they put the project out for bid, they already know how much the sloped roof is costing and I just can't believe that a simple, everyday flat roof over a rectangle can be such a difficult or "unusual task to throw together.
Estimating from the beginning the sloped roof-- yes, today a flat roof-- no.

So, brace yourselves for the news when the Library Board feels that they have no choice but to announce this. Maybe they'll get more grants, who knows. Hopefully they will. But before you rush to congratulate them on their success, ask where would they would be without this extra cash infusion.
Everything that the grant money is now paying for was included in the $19.8 million. There will still remain noticeable down-grading and lesser amenities even after the grants. But, thank god the cafe has survived. Who will run it is an unaswered question.

And, let's see if the Library breaks with their tradition of not telling the public what's really going on and responds, due to this blog, with a truthful or rven near truthful update. Someone once told me that Libraries are about providing information. Seems odd that you would have to go to the Supervisor's blogsite to know what's really happening.

One final note: Ask your Library Team if they have yet received approval from NYC on where they can locate the geothermal wells. This is important and is way, way behind schedule...

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 10:30 on 11/18 -
Mr. Feiner gets "a bad rap" because he does are things which are thoughtless, or self-serving and unabashedly political or illegal. The WestHelp/Valhalla issue is a good example. He failed to think through the likely results of making a payoff which he felt was politically necessary act to buy back the community's goodwill. He never thought about the simple idea that concealing the amount received and reporting a different amount (by netting out the payoffs) was improper if not indictably illegal.
As for the Manhattan Avenue "win-win" doesn't it bother you even a little that the owner of private property needs the permission of the government to sell? If the Town wishes to add to its presence in our everyday lives, why not establish a Department of Housing, buy property and become a landlord? Then the Town's (naturally only the "B" allocation) tax dollars could become the subsidy source for "affordable" housing in a nice, direct, easily understood way. Our Supervisor's respect for private property is at least as great as his respect for the law. Ah, you make the point that the current Supervisor is a force for good so we should cede the decisions to his judgement. What if some evil future Supervisor chooses to raise rents? Well, having placed the power to make those decisions in the unfettered hands of a previous Supervisor we would have little recourse - or as the little ones say, "No backsies." If you trust in men you forego the protection of the law.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that Paul Feiner's actions are self serving or inappropriate. I think Paul wants government to be responsive to the people. The WESTHELP homeless facility was imposed on a community against its will. Paul tried to figure out a plan of action so that the neighborhood received a benefit. He wanted the community to feel that government was on their side. He did the same thing when he negotiated the agreement with the tenants and new owners of the buildings on Manhattan Ave. The tenants felt that their chief elected official was on their side. Paul is now trying hard to be responsive to those who have concerns about cluster development - he wants to work out a compromise so everyone comes out a winner. Why should elected officials be against the people who elected them to office?
Paul Feiner is for the people. Maybe, those who oppose him want the government to be responsive to the elite, but not to the people.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board should invite Norah McAvoy, former Comptroller; Ann Marie Berg, former Comptroller and Jim Heslop, current Comptroller to testify at a Town Board meeting --as to the reasons for the WESTHELP bookkeeping practices. They are the professionals who are responsible for budget documentation. This meeting could provide members of the Town Board and the public with an explanation as to the reasons why...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm naive, but isn't the CPA firm, Bennett Storch, supposed to be the independent watchdog of the Town's finances? Doesn't their opinion letter clearly state they have examined the Town's records and have conducted appropriate accounting tests. Based on the examination of the records and the results of the test, don't they then make the representation that the Town's records fairly and accurately reflect the Town's financial condition in accordance with the standards set by the Govenmental Accounting Standards Board? Based on those representations, I think we, the taxpayers of Greenburgh, have been cheated by the accountants who haven't performed; the Town Controller who failed to provide the relevant materials to the accountants and apparently maintained two sets of records; the Supervisor who concocted the scheme; the Town Board members who failed to perform any meaningful oversight of any of the active participants in the fraud. I hold out little hope that an independent accounting firm will be able to do any more than substantiate what is already apparent to most observers. There were failures of process from the top to the bottom. Independent Accountants lack to ability to enforce the law and punish the transgressors. Should their report not fit the needs of the Council and/or the Supervisor, it will be ignored or dismissed as political. My recommendation is that the Westchester County DA's office open an immediate investigation. Failing an interest on the part of the County DA, our best hope may lie in the US Attorney for the Southern District of NY taking an active interest in government mis/mal feasance. The CPA firm's role in this should also be investigated by their professional disciplinary body as well. We deserve better than we've been getting from everyone involved in this mess, and if we fail to demand an uncompromising standard of ethical, legal behavior from our public officials we'll get exactly the government we deserve.

Anonymous said...

Paul Feiner's critics claim he promotes secrecy (WESTHELP). This is hogwash! How many e mail alerts does he send out pointing out the good and bad things happening in town? How many other elected officials have a blog like this on their own sites --allowing citizens who are critical or even mean spirted--to freely express their views?
The town of Greenburgh continues to be well run. Our services are superb. Our financial ratings are excellent. Our property values keep going up.

Anonymous said...

No money regarding the WESTHELP funds disappeared. All the WESTHELP money has been accounted for. The only WESTHELP money spent was money that was released by the Town Board. The state comptroller's office had copies of all documents relating to WESTHELP since 2004. Every penny that has been received by the town or distributed to the school district and fire district has been publicly acknowledged.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anonymous, 11/19/2006, 12:57 PM ...

total agreement with the beginning of your comments ... unfortunately, though, the town is managed poorly, particularly the dpw services ... greenburgh services and organizational behavior would be a great case study for MBA students

Anonymous said...

Anonymous blogger thinks town is managed poorly. Who is anonymous? Do you have credentials? Moody's, a world respected independent review agency has praised the town for "SOLID FISCAL MANAGEMENT." Standard & Poors also has praised the town. Both agencies have awarded the town high marks and praise in their reviews of town management. I think the services in Greenburgh are great!

Anynomous said...

Don't worry about these complainers. It is all the anti-Feiner stuff that is instigated by Bernstein and the Council of Greeburgh Civic Associations and their zealot friends. If Feiner were to go, suddenly all the great stuff in Greenburgh would be recognized. But I suspect that Feiner will outlast them

Anonymous said...

On a different topic: why are the anti Feiner-ites determined to kill the tennis bubble proposal which would generate revenue for the town and infrastructure improvements at no cost to the taxpayers at our tennis courts. I love tennis and am very disappointed that the tennis bubble proposal has not been approved. I'd vote to re-elect the entire Town Council if they would push to finalize this once in a lifetime deal.

Anonymous said...

Heh -- I would have like it if the Town had put a golf course on the taxter ridge property. I doubt that will happen either.

I do not know why you put all the blame on Bernstein -- if the town would just charge all the parks to the town entire the tennis bubble could get done.

Answer to Anonymous said...

Your comment:

"I do not know why you put all the blame on Bernstein -- if the town would just charge all the parks to the town entire the tennis bubble could get done."

You could also say if the town would just charge the unicorporaterd area, as it is required to do, then the tennis bubble could get done. The tennis company isn't making the deal because they know that charging tyhe entire town is illegal. Unlike you, they seem to have read the law.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, the town now gives tennis permits to village residents -- so pls tell me why the tennis should get charged to unincorporated greenburgh.

I wasnt awawre that the outside party has an issue -- but, if it does, it is more likely to be the continueing issue of parks open to village residents being charged only to the unincorporated area.

Anonymous said...

I don't care which budget the tennis bubble is in --- I play tennis. I have friends who live in the villages who also play. We want some action from the Town Board. Cut out the fighting which doesn't serve my interests. The voters didn't elect Bernstein. They elected the Town Council & Supervisor to enhance our quality of life. The tennis bubble proposal is a great opportunity for our town to make money and to give tennis players a place to play during the colder, off season months.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 313   Newer› Newest»