Friday, January 26, 2007

library contract still hasn't been given to me to review

A number of people have asked to see the contracts with the library construction. I was advised earlier this week that I would have the contracts by the end of the week. I have still not seen the documents or been presented with contracts to sign so have not been able to sign the documents as of this moment. Furthermore, when I do get the contract, I would like to review the document and will do so promptly. Even though we have retained a lawyer who specializes in construction contracts to advise us : the language in the contract, there may be issues he is unaware of. Past history has shown that it would be irresponsible not to allow members of the community to also take a look at the contract before it is signed. If you are interested in being advised when I am given copies of the contracts to review, please let me know and I will immediately get back to you.
Again, I want to make it clear that as of this writing I have not been given any library construction contracts to review or sign. I also want to emphasize that my review will be done quickly because I do not want to delay the project. I just want to make sure that we are exposing the town to unnecesary and unanticipated problems/costs.


Anonymous said...

Feiner seems once again to be at war with the library and those working to get the project off the ground.

Now, he's seeking to throw cold water on the project on the eve of the library's groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow.

He's complaining that he hasn't yet seen the final contract or contracts. Nevermind that, unlike what happened with the Frank's Nursery contract, the contracts this time are being vetted by a real lawyer.

And nevermind that Feiner doesn't say who's got the contracts. Indeed, it's possible that Feiner himself is holding them up because they may be in the hands of his own town attorney.

The last time Feiner make a big stink about contracts was when he was pushing the town to sign the contract he had been negotiating for Franks.

Turns out there he never read the clause which required the town to cover the cost of an environmental cleanup at the site, which could have cost the town millions of dollars.

Now, in what might be called a classic Freudian slip, the supervisor concludes his hysterical remarks by writing as follows:

"I just want to make sure that we are exposing the town to unnecesary and unanticipated problems/costs."

Sad to say, truer words have never been spoken.

Anonymous said...

Ask Young Kaminer or The Journal News for a copy.

I have also seen cases where an EDGENOT civic leader gets copies of things in advance of other folks, so you can check with him too.

As you have seen, that's SOP behavior for the ethically challenged on the Town Board to operate.

Paul Feiner said...

Regarding the first e mail --during the past week I have asked for the contract a few times. I have been advised that the contract was not signed by the contractors so it was premature for me to sign the document. A few minutes ago I walked to the public works dept and they confirmed that the contracts have not yet been signed by the other side. I cannot sign the contract. I was told that we might have the document on Monday. The minute I am presented with a contract to sign I will start reviewing the contract. I have told the library director that I will act within days. I do not want to hold up this project. The individual who wrote the first blog probably is not aware of the facts. I was the town official who insisted on sharing the contract language with the public before the document was signed. I was never prepared to sign a poorly worded Frank's lease. Thanks to my insistence that the lease be presented to the public before a vote was taken - the lease was found defective.
I'm disappointed that anonymous wants to provide the public with inaccurate facts.

truthteller said...

Feiner still keeps trying to blame everyone but himself for that Frank's lease. Now he says he was "never prepared to sign a poorly worded Frank's lease."

The lease was posted on the town's website over the Labor Day weekend.

It is difficult to believe Feiner ordered that it be posted without first having read it.

It is also difficult to believe that Feiner would not have known from prior discussions with the town attorney that the lease by its terms required the town to cover the cost of state-directed environmental cleanup at the site, that the costs of such a cleanup were unknown, and that the entire town, including village taxpayers, would end up having to bear these costs.

After all, who negotiated the lease if it wasn't Feiner and the town attorney? That provision didn't just appear out of thin air, and when the public objected and town officials insisted that it be removed, Frank's refused on the ground that the town's assuming that liability had always been part of the deal.

Furthermore, Feiner's prior familiarity with the lease terms was demonstrated by several pres releases he issued in the weeks leading up to the agreement's release.

For example, on August 21, 2006, Feiner issued a release stating that "the Town Board should provide full disclosure, in advance of the lease authorization, of all tax reduction agreements for Franks that have been negotiated. . . I am inclined to support Frank's as a temporary library location. I also had discussions with the former assessor about the proposed tax rreduction for Frank's a few months ago."

Feiner also had to have known of the environmental obligations the town was being asked to assume. Thus, on September 1, 2006, Feiner issued another press release stating that the town was making a available to the public a "site assessment report" - which discussed certain of the environmental risks.

If Feiner didn't know beforehand of the huge environmental exposure that the town was agreeing to assume in the lease, his not knowing confirms what many already say -- that he's a terrible manager.

In any event, he certainly should have been familiar with the lease terms when the lease was posted over the Labor Day weekend.

Yet, as late as September 4, 2006, he was still calling for its approval. On September 4, the Journal News reported that not only had the lease been posted, but that Feiner "favored moving to Frank's" and opposed the creation of satellite libraries, which he dubbed a "ridiculous plan."

As the town's chief financial officer, Feiner has a duty to make sure the town does not enter into irresponsible contracts. But that duty is first discharged by reading the agreements himself to see what they say, and confirming his understanding with counsel.

It is not discharged, as Feiner seems to think, by releasing such agreements to the public for comment.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The August 21, 2006 archives of the supervisors report (on web)quotes Supervisor Feiner requesting the Town Board to provide the public with advance copies of the Frank's lease. The Town Council had actually scheduled a vote on the following Tuesday to vote on the Frank's lease. They wanted to vote on Frank's while Feiner was on vacation. Feiner demanded that the vote be put off till after he got back from vacation and persuaded the Town Board to place the lease on the town's web site. He demanded that the public have adequate time to review the documents and insisted that the Town Board exercise its oversight responsibilities.
The Town Board was planning to vote for Frank's until Feiner stopped them.

hal samis said...

Water, water, boil and bubble
whatever happens Bob B see trouble
by how he's written there's no out
blog drafted to take feiner out.

The Frank's facts not quite as writ
the events arranged to make fit
an event review not quite true
truthteller what's wrong with you?

The Super's job is not to review
every piece paper old or new
there's staff to be supervised
legal writings they need exorcised.

You avoid reasons about the rush
the Town Council not saying much
wanting to make docs confidential
sign the lease their only essential

But Feiner won and posted it onsite
1-2-3 the Council lost the fight
a lease DNR on day 1 lives 8 months
Tim Lewis plays role of staff dunce

Twas not feiner that killed lease
he lacked the technical expertise
outside Counsel brought in to read
what instead died by grass feed.

So Frank's a second death does die
a site the Library problem satisfy
and with this answer gone for good
the Library chose the town 'hood

Library Trustees made bad choice
not the first they've done worse
but it's Feiner who everyone blames
the result of an orchestrated frame

The current chapter with more lies
left or right, bloggers capitalize
nothing that Feiner can do right
or appease those looking to fight

No one asks the obvious question
why bidders did no execution,
if contracts are good as written
wouldn't they rush to give pen.

Ask instead the omniscient Council
I'm sure they've readied a mouthful
but if all's really, all's well
let us see them, we can tell.

But try and get the package away
Al Reguala can wait you out all day
no one lets the cat out of the bag
the Library styled information lag

Ground breaking only a staged event
snap Jacobs pix then away he went
on vacation for the February 28
Saturday photo-op feeling great.

No avoiding what remains undone
geothermal drilling permits unwon,
DEC and DEP waiting for filings
be some time before water's rising.

But Library say don't worry be cool
building team still going to school
$30 million bucks and still in red
begging for money or project dead.

But while we wait until the start
remember this and take to heart;
temp library will be open to nine
more hours open; no books to find.

Anonymous said...

I wish the council members would spend some time overseeing the library project. I favor the library, voted for the expansion. Am disappointed in Francis (who I thought would scrutinize actions carefully) for not doing his job reviewing the library project. This is big.

Anonymous said...

The satellite library at town hall is a good idea. The library needs more space for library users and library staff. we need a place to cuddle up with our books.

Anonymous said...

That anonymous blogger complaining about inadequate town council oversight over the library project is...Paul Feiner.

Continously at war with the library, Feiner had tried and failed to block Saturday's library groundbreaking ceremony by suggesting that without signed contracts, the ceremony should be canceled.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous:

I can follow your trail around this blog by your pawprint and time stamp.

Nor did Feiner try to block the ground breaking. That is your conclusion because he posted a status report on where are the contracts.

The issue of the unsigned contracts is me. The Bidders have not signed the contracts as of last week. They sign and then the Town signs. I would assume they would have signed already if there were no issues.

After them it is reasonable for Feiner to review the contracts before he signs.

And, I requested that some citizens who have or may have interest (and I included Bob B) have a few days as our diligence paid dividends last time we looked; you will remember that the Town Council opposed our review then.

And, for those of you who know, the Library, which was supposed to obtain drilling permits for the geothermal wells last March 2006, as of last week had not even submitted an application.

With the absence of these two items and the cold weather (can't pour concrete when it is freezing) and the fact that the Library is still not out of the old building, the "rush" to hold this ground breaking seemed odd. Because there is not that much that will happen in the next weeks.

And then, when I became aware that the head of the Library Trustees was going to be away for the entire month of February, the urgency became apparent. Can't have your picture taken with the shovel if you're not here.

However, I think there is a good chance that Mr. Jacobs could have had his ground breaking in March or beyond, without any risk to the project. On the other hand, like former Director Gerber, maybe he won't be returning.

Anonymous said...

So Samis says it was he not Feiner who tried to stop the library's groundbreaking ceremony.

What a lovely guy. Not that Samis is to be believed -- word at the ceremony (which Samis crashed) was that it was Feiner not Samis who tried unsuccessfully to stop it.

However, regardless, in falling on this particular sword, Samis has now become Sancho Panza to Feiner's Don Quixote.

Paul Feiner said...

I have never suggested to anyone that the groundbreaking ceremony be cancelled. I have been asking town dept heads for the contract to review and was surprised that I had not been given the documents to review and sign prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. Groundbreaking ceremonies are always ceremonial in nature - so the lack of a contract to sign was not important re: whether the groundbreaking ceremony was on or off. The goal: to build the library on time, within budget. And, to work with library staff so that the satellite libraries work.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous,

The "impossible dream" of the Don Quixote reference is that the Library expansion project will come in anywhere near the $19.8 million pitched to residents before the referendum.

Attention has been focused on the construction contracts so far because of their timeliness. While these "winning" bids already take into account, a reduction in amenities from what was presented pre-referendum, with more to come once construction actually starts, there are other areas which the Library is beginning to acknowledge as sticking points.

In the November 23, 2004 project estimate which became the rallying point of the cited $19,867,747 expenditure, there are two items cited as "hard costs". One is FF&E
Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment which totaled $978,600 and the other is Technology $186,400. Together both come to $1,165,000 or 6% of the project total.

At the ground-breaking, Judy Criss of the Greenburgh Public Library Foundation pleaded for contributions for furniture and technology. Before this I have argued that the Library intends to "steal" from their Operating budget, the money to pay for this.
Perhaps, there isn't enough money left, perhaps the grant for the circulation desk, perhaps what can be salvaged from the existing Library Fund isn't enough, but taking 6% of the construction budget total and not buying these items would also be the means to disguise the story that the Library is still "on-budget" is a deliberate fraud.

If the $1,165,00 earmarked for these two areas is being used to, instead pay for other expenses, and these items need to be funded by new money, then I argue that the Public is being misled regarding the on-budget claim.

And, as soon as anonymice write that this is what School Boards do, then I shall reopen the issue of whether our Library is a Library District (which the Trustees clearly don't want) like a School District because our Library does not operate the same way and cannot be cut from the same fabric bolt.

Speaking of School Districts, doesn't anyone from these School Boards resent the implication that it is the Library which teaches kids how to read. Certainly those who pay School taxes should be concerned about where their taxes are going and maybe bring this news to the School Boards.

So whereas Mr. Jacobs gave a cute but likely manufactured story of how the Library came to do 34 pre-referendum information sessions, it should also be noted that, however many of these sessions the Library gave, is the same number of times that the Library Trustees syndicated misleading and false information for residents.

Finally, the Library invited the public via newspaper stories and their own website, so crashing the event held on public property with part of the costs being paid with public tax dollars is not quite the same challenge as breeching security at a meeting of the high security EEC.

And what an "official" sounding statement: "word at the ceremony was that it was Feiner not Samis..."

Where did this come from? page three of the handbook to writing propoganda? Certainly it was not stated from the podium. Perhaps it is just another way for anonymous to portray their version as the "insider" report. And insider or not, the reality is that the Town does not have signed contracts yet.

As Feiner has written, the event is symbolic. However I differ with this concilatory approach. The Library construction is now ten months behind and to try to contain this public relations problem and include Howard Jacobs in the photo-op, the Library Trustees have created this non-event event. They could have just as easily scheduled it for after the contracts were signed, after the Library was vacant and after the geothermal drilling permits were obtained, or even applied for.
But in so doing, then I would be harping about construction was behind by a year or more, a number which has an even more powerful effect than ten months.

I remind everyone that this is not about the Library, the institution. It is not about the staff of the Library. It is not about these employees trying to make an inadequate relocation effort succeed. It is just about the top of the toptem pole; the inadequacies of the Trustee Building Committee (Jacobs, Wolfert and Palevsky); the willingness of DPW head Regula to maintain the cover-up; it is about the Town Council members (Bass, Barnes, Juettner and Sheehan) who are willing to sacrifice the interests of the taxpayer on how their $30 million are being spent to unseat the Supervisor, AND it is about two parts of Town, Edgemont and Fairway maintaining an uneasy truce using the Library expansion as the fulcrum.

It would be possible to have the Library of the future realized better and truer to the original promised version if these people were not running the show. When municipal projects run amuck, it is not because a of sea change of events. At every stage there are warnings, red flags, which scream danger. It is true on this project too but the powers that be are more concerned with protecting their personal stake than protecting the project.

So whereas the Man of La Mancha allusion is used to say that I am the vessel of Feiner's dirty work,
(untrue) the broader implication would be more valid: I have always maintained that I am tilting at windmills. And even though, there will one day be a new Library and the Children's Room will delight the masses, there will be those who will know that there could have been a BETTER Library for the same money; there will be those who will hum the tune from another show; they will think instead of the glory that could have been...
Which was,
a similar feel-good institution that was tumbled by petty jealousies and the ambitions of its own styled Board of Trustees and Town Council...the Round Table.

hal samis said...

my apologies, Fairview. Whatever could I have been thinking when I wrote Fairway.

Anonymous said...

how come triton wasn't at the ground breaking?

hal samis said...

Triton wasn't at the ground breaking perhaps because there wasn't enough left of 2007's $308,000 line of the Library's operating budget (repairs and maintenance of the old building) to purchase an additional brand new shovel for the photo-op.