Friday, January 12, 2007

State Comptroller's report on web re: WESTHELP

The State Comptroller's opinion regarding the WESTHELP partnership has been released and can be read on the town web site: www.greenburghny.com. The draft report, which had been leaked to the media against the wishes of the comptroller's office, had contained some inaccurate information and comments. The inaccuracies have been corrected in the final report. The comptroller's report does not say that WESTHELP cannot pass money to the Valhalla school district -- they recommend that the pass through be set up differently, without the town being used as a pass along. I believe that it is important for the town to re-negotiate the agreement that members of the Town Board (Steve Bass, Diana Juettner, Eddie Mae Barnes & I) had previously voted for. HELP USA has agreed to participate in any re-negotiations.

109 comments:

Anonymous said...

.


Would love to know what Mr Sheehan and Young Kaminer feel about what should be done to the ethically challenged who see no problem leaking reports when it suits their purposes.

Interesting to see the amount of effort that goes into the majority opinion separating Mr Sheehan from the rest of his esteem colligues. How far under the bus can you actually throw a group of individual?

Anonymous said...

Given that EDGENOT has yet to respond to the previously posted ethics challenege (chirp chirp, yes the crickets have returned), the Controller's report gives multiple options for resolving any potential legal issues with the grant.

Let's see how quickly the bully and his merry band of followers disown any action to solve this situation.

No I bet, they will forget their promises to Mayfair Knollwood and the intent of the contract, and go forth satisfing those who may present larger voting blocks and yes greater political contributions.

The party's over said...

The Mayfair Knollwood folks can't be too happy about the report and neither can Mr. Feiner.

Not only does the state comptroller report find the Valhalla agreement to be illegal, but it goes on to say that, even if it were legal, Mr. Feiner had no evidence to support any need for entering into it in the first place.

Thus, the report blames Feiner for falsely representing that the agreement was needed to compensate Mayfair Knollwood for a reduction in their property values when there was no evidence of any such reduction.

The report also blames Feiner for falsely representing that the agreement was needed to compensate the school district when there was no evidence that the school district was out-of-pocket any money for educating any WestHelp kids.

The report also rejected all of the legal arguments that Feiner's Mayfair Knollwood lawyer Chase Caro presented on his behalf.

Time to renegotiate? Not likely to happen based on these findings. Bottom line is that Valhalla got $1.8 million in town funds it should not have gotten in the first place.

What's more is that Feiner himself, in his own report, says that the $1.2 million the town got from the county was needed to compensate the town for the rent it would have gotten had it converted the WestHelp to senior housing.

So, by Feiner's own admission, that money, all of it, properly belongs to the town.

The report also criticizes Feiner for signing an agreement that was poorly worded and which everyone apparently knew contained provisions which were either illegal or weren't being adhered to in any event.

The real question is whether Greenburgh taxpayers will be able to get some of that $1.8 million back. On that issue, the report made no recommendation but said that a further audit, this time of the school district itself, was now in the works.

Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Party Over-

You seem to conveniently forget that this WESTHELP deal never would have occured without the explict agreement of Mayfair Knollwood.

Do you conveniently forget the promises made to that community?

Thought so.

the party's really over said...

Explicit agreement of Mayfair Knollwood? Gimme a break!

Mayfair Knollwood is a civic association consisting of a group of private citizens. None of these citizens ever had any legal right to challenge the county's right to place the WestHelp facility where it is. Nor did they ever have any legal right to challenge the Town's decision to allow it there.

Sure, Mayfair Knollwood was part of a number of legal actions in the late 1980s, and it even tried to incorporate as a village in order to keep WestHelp from being built.

But Mayfair Knollwood was on the losing end of every single case, it was ordered to pay the town legal fees (which Feiner forgave), and its incorporation effort ended in failure when the previous town supervisor, Tony Veteran, concluded that the incorporation effort was motivated by racial discrimination (and the courts backed him up).

No, Mayfair Knollwood was never legally entitled to anything and if the residents there received promises from Feiner that they would be taken care of, they should now realize that Feiner never had the legal authority to make those promises.

Those promises were unenforceable then, and as far as the state comptroller is concerned, they're just as unenforceable now.

Steve, Francis Diana & Eddie Mae can't be happy said...

Steve Bass, Diana Juettner and Eddie Mae Barnes, Francis Sheehan can't be happy with this report. The draft that they leaked to the media had contained information that was inaccurate. The comptroller's office corrected the mistakes.

Seriously, the party's over said...

There's still no evidence that the Town Council members leaked anything to anyone. Why do the Mayfair Knollwood folks continue to try to smear them with this lie?

Is it because they want to divert attention away from the comptroller's conclusions that the Valhalla agreement was illegal and unconstitutional? Is it because they don't want the rest of town to see how the report essentially found Feiner guilty of gross fiscal mismanagement?

Anonymous said...

From the Journal News

State says Greenburgh, Valhalla WestHELP pact can't stand as is
By DAVID MCKAY WILSON
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Related Media
State audit of WestHELP grant (pdf)




(Original publication: January 12, 2007)



GREENBURGH - The state comptroller's office today released a report that concludes part of the WestHELP pact created for neighbors of the county's homeless shelter violates state law.

The $650,000-a-year grant from the town of Greenburgh to the Valhalla school district, where the neighborhood's children are enrolled, violates state law because it fails to provide educational programs that serve the entire town.

The finding puts in question a program that provides enrichment programs for hundreds of Valhalla students and adults.

Read more tomorrow in The Journal News.

Anonymous said...

I read the report and can't find any statement that accused Feiner of "gross fiscal management." The problem with anonymous bloggers is that you write fiction --smear people --and are not truthful with the facts. I reside in E Irvington and appreciate the excellent services the town offers. Mr. Feiner is a good supervisor.

Anonymous said...

Of course the E. Irvington people think that Feiner is doing a great job -- he spent OUR money to buy Taxter Ridge to protect you and your schools.

Anonymous said...

Edgemont also thinks Feiner is doing a great job. He's fighting for our schools district. Thanks Paul for pushing for the moratorium. Good letter in todays Journal News.

Anonymous said...

About proving "allegations" ........ Young Kaminer has stated who put him up to making threats, but of course the majority of the Board will not prosecute, despite numerous requests. Why.......? Get real. Just because the bully will throw them under the bus, just like was done in the majority report.

Why no righteous indignation over the release of the confidential draft report to a very questionable newspaper reporter by the silent majority. Why the rush by the ethically challenged to have that bastion of journalistic excellence report errors in fact that the Controllers department removed from the final report?

Answer this....who had access to the draft report and who would be motivated to release it? Who has already demonstrated questionable ethics?

If you have answers that are not so obvious, please feel free to share. You are going to have to take your head out of the sand and see the real world. Otherwise go to sleep.

Feiner is guilty said...

What Feiner did was gross fiscal mismanagement.

The state comptroller's report concludes that the $6.5 million in town funds that Feiner gave away to Valhalla was illegal and unconstitutional.

The report also concludes that Feiner had no evidence to support his claims that the give-away was justified.

If that's not a finding of gross fiscal mismanagement, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

The only inaccuracy worth noting that the report corrected was making clear that it was Feiner, not the town council, who represented falsely to state officials that the agreement was needed to compensate the neighborhood for a reduction in their property values when there was no evidence of that at all.

The final report also makes clear that it was Feiner, not the town council, that falsely represented that the agreement was needed to compensate the school district for the cost of educating WestHelp kids, when there was no evidence of that either.

Anonymous said...

When is the Council going to demand our money back?

Anonymous said...

The final comptrollers report corrected an inaccuracy concerning the WESTHELP coordinator. Accusations in the draft report about his work were not true and were corrected in the final report. One of the reasons why I am so upset at the Town Council for leaking the draft report to the media (directly or indirectly) is because a good mans reputation was smeared.

Anonymous said...

A good man? The person who is recivieng a salary for being an assistant principal and then 50K on top of that?

Ok Samis, how come you arent complianing about this? Only council members health benefits?

Becuase you are Feiners' pit bull

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Town Board will take immediate steps to renegotiate the lease and to implement the suggestions made by the comptrollers office. The comptrollers office provided the Town Board with some good ideas that will enable the WESTHELP partnership to continue. HELP can give funds directly to the school district.

Anonymous said...

The best thing the Town Board can do is put an end to this sorry mess. Renegotiate? Not a chance. Taxpayers have every right to insist on getting their money back.

Anonymous said...

Renegotiation? Give me a break -- given that VSD has used the funds as a slush fund -- and the state is now investigating that further --

THEY DO NOT DESERVE THE MONEY

Anonymous said...

A good man's reputation? He gets a full principal's salary of $160,000, plus a 6% bonus, plus a night differential for attending normal business functions that a principal is required to attend. Then he takes $52,000 for what is a full time job both as described in the grant and as described in the work he was supposed to do. Getting paid for two full time jobs at the same time from the same government payroll is illegal, unethical and needs to be prosecuted. This guy was no novice. He is about to retire at the end of his career. In fact, this was supposed to be his position in retirement. They were building him an office suite called "the Center of Enrichment and Equity" hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating four classrooms at the old Columbus Avenue School! it is right there in the grant requests listed in the audit. What the next audit will find is that one of those enrichment teachers was doing his job as principal. Evaluating his teachers, while he booked opera tickets and moonlight cruises. Remember this audit, as bad as it is, does not even address what Valhalla actually spent the money on. The town needs to get its money back now, before the Comptroller starts uncovering what they were buying and who was getting paid and paid off.

Anonymous said...

There is an error in the comptroller's report which states that the Valhalla school committee is a committee of the school district , appointed by its superintendent. The Valhalla School Committee is a committee of the town of Greenburgh, not of the Valhalla School district. It acts for Greenburgh not Valhalla. Paragraph 3 of the grant clearly states that the Valhalla Schools Committee is appointed by the town board. Valhalla could never appoint a committee where a majority would be from any particular town, unless it was Mt. Pleasant let alone one neighborhood. The Committee was not appointed by the district superintendent who would never have the power to do so. It is all in the grant.

Valhalla has no committee on its side. The money has always been controlled by the Mayfair Knowlwood Civic Association. I wonder why no one "correcting" the Comptroller's draft pointed this out even with an extension.

This money is not going to be that easy to get back. According to the documents Greenburgh residents had control over it.

Anonymous said...

The Valhalla School Distict recieved the money and indemnifed the Town of Greenburgh. Do you know what indemnitfy means?

Anonymous said...

There were two guarantees. One was an indemnification, which appears in the grant. That simply protects the Town from cost of legal actions that relate to the money. The second is the 2 am guaranty, which I have not actually seen.

The lawyers will not have such a simple reading. Does the school board have the power to guaranty $1.8 million? They can't bond it, they can't spend it without a district wide vote. just because they signed it, does not mean they had the power to do so. Did the town have the reasonable expectation that the school district could make such a guarantee? Could you ever imagine the town making such a promise on the fly to secure funding that was already under audit?


The town and school were playing fast and loose with the law, and their powers. Remember, one Valhalla board member resigned over this very issue. He, a lawyer, knew that this agreement was illegal and has been proven correct. The concept of limited government seems to be a novel idea here in Westchester.

There is sure to be a taxpayer lawsuit from North Castle and Mt Pleasant as I understand they pay 80% of the Valhalla School taxes.

I am not saying not to go after the money, I am saying don't delay, this school board may be dumb enough to write a check before they get sued.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board should comply with the law. At the same time the Board should meet with residents of Mayfair Knollwood, with the Valhalla school district. The state comptroller provided the town with a mechanism to give funds to the Valhalla school district. The money has to come from HELP and go directly to the schools.
The partnership that had been approved by Supervisor Feiner, Councilmembers Bass, Barnes & Juettner, should be honored.

Anonymous said...

The Valhalla school district is not entitled to any more handouts, period. We now know from the state comptroller that it was wrong for the school district to have gotten any money in the first place.

The district was never out of pocket a dime as a result of the WestHelp shelter. The comptroller says Feiner's statements that the district was out of pocket were false.

The town was asleep at the switch when we allowed Feiner to get away with this the last time. We're not going to let him get away with it again.

With Feiner in charge, the town council is our only protection against further giveaways like this.

Let's hope the town council does the right thing and hangs tough on this one.

Anonymous said...

Yes one mechanism would be for the money to go directly form Westhap to the School District, but the report said, quite clearly, that the town must get fair value for its property. So do not ignore that.

None of the alternatives that the report gave are really workable. It was not the responsiblity of the state to fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

For the Town to consider renegotiating a new deal while the Comptroller is beginning an audit of the school district is lunacy. An audit that begins with the question, "so what did you do with this money you received illegally?" is not ending with the good housekeeping seal of approval. The party is over.

Anonymous said...

The town has to get clarification what fair market value is. There are different interpretations.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there might be different interpretations.

1. The first would be if the property were rented to anyone who wanted it. That would likely be far greater than the 1.2 million it is currently being rented for.

2. The second would be the rent that could be obtained for its present use, by Westhelp. We know what they are willing to pay -- 1.2 million.

If anyone else has any thoughts as to what the fair rent would be -- post them.

Anonymous said...

Well the Valhalla School district leases its Columbus Avenue School property for $1 year plus maintenance expenses capped at around $100,000. Westhelp already pays its own expenses, so how does $1 a year sound? Besides the County is leasing the property to the town of Greenburgh and they are sub-leasing it back. How much does the Town pay the County for the sub-lease?

All this talk of re-doing the deal is ridiculous. Let's get the money back from Valhalla and use the $12 million for town wide purposes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Town can or use the "Valhalla" methodology for determining fair rents or any other totally baseless or irrational methodology. If others chose to do so, they will have to live with the consequences of their actions. If the town does not act appropriately, the town may be liable. It has no choice. If others want to be "on the hook" for problems, that is there choice.

Anonymous said...

Let Valhalla go to Westhelp. The town should not be involved. Valhalla can explain what they need the money for and Westhelp can decide if gifting their money to Valhalla is in keeping with their organizational goal of aiding the homeless.

Anonymous said...

check out the website:
valhallafacts.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Reading through the audit, I don't see where the school district asked Greenburgh for funds for adult outings. None of the grant descriptions are even close to describing an adult outing. That would mean they used funds that were earmarked for educational enrichment programs for the kids for those excursions.

Anonymous said...

Valhallafacts seems to be a little short on facts with no opportunity for discussion. At least the Valhalla Voice identifies himself and maintains a blog.

Anonymous said...

I checked out that website Valhallafacts.blogspot. It looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the rock. This person sounds like a raving idiot!
This person says that the Comptrollers report does not say the Westhelp deal was "illegal". OK, the report doesn't use the word illegal. So for all of you who haven't seen it yet, here is an excerpt from the result of the Comptrollers report.
"The town can only fund programs that are for Townwide purposes. Since the 2003-04 school year, the Town has provided more than $1.8 million of funding to the district. The programs funded by the educational grant that the town makes to the district do not further town purposes, but rather further the purposes only of the district. Therefore, the grant cannot be made in the manner that the town currently follows".
Even though the word isn't used, that portion of the report sure sounds like something illegal to me. Oh yea BTW Truthteller, I was able to read the whole report on Valhallavoice.com. You dont seem to have it on your website. Only your ridiculous spin.

Anonymous said...

I think a referral to the Westchester county da is in order

Anonymous said...

How many times does the comptroller's report mention the upcoming audit of the school district?

Given what's already known about how the funds were distributed, a referral to the Westchester DA is almost certain to result.

Anonymous said...

Does the DA's office have a school corruption unit? Getting money illegally, putting it under the control of private individuals, using it for adult recreation, channeling funds to a private foundation are enough red flags to warrant an investigation. The mere fact that the grant requests don't match the programs is enough put someone away.

Anonymous said...

Report: WestHELP payments by Greenburgh to Valhalla schools improper
By DAVID MCKAY WILSON
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Speak out
What do you think about the state comptroller's report? Join the conversation in the "Greenburgh" forum of LoHud.com.

Related Media
State audit of WestHELP grant (pdf)



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• Education Etc.

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(Original publication: January 15, 2007)



GREENBURGH - A $6.5 million educational enrichment program in the Valhalla schools, which is financed by the WestHELP homeless complex through the town of Greenburgh, violates state law because towns can't support school services that only serve part of the town, according to an audit by the state comptroller's office.

The report was issued Friday, almost three years after a Greenburgh resident asked then-state Comptroller Alan Hevesi to investigate the agreement, in which the town provided funds for educational enrichment in a deal that extended the homeless center's lease.

Under the agreement, WestHELP pays Greenburgh $1.2 million a year in rent for the 108-unit complex. The town then divvies up the income, keeping $473,000 and passing on $100,000 to the Fairview Fire District and $650,000 to the Valhalla schools.

The fire district's portion was not included in the audit.

Since 2003, the town has passed on to the school district $1.8 million for an array of enrichment programs, including classroom technology, education consultants, trips to the opera, and tuition assistance for students studying overseas.

The audit found that school districts, not towns, are charged with funding education in New York. And if towns do provide educational funding, state law requires such programs to serve residents in the entire town. The educational grant has only served residents in the Valhalla school district, the smallest among 10 districts in Greenburgh, which serves students who live near the 108-unit homeless complex.

The report questioned the justification for the deal, which created community support for Westchester County's wish to keep the shelter open for an additional 10 years.

"There is no evidence to support the Town Supervisor's claim that the homeless shelter would have an adverse impact on the community," the report said.

In addition, there were no WestHELP students in the Valhalla schools as of May, the report said. The town had said the Valhalla schools deserved funding because it would serve homeless children.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and Valhalla Schools Superintendent Diane Ramos-Kelly say they want to renegotiate the pact.

"An advisory opinion from the comptroller is not a court of law, so the prudent thing to do would be to renegotiate a new agreement," Feiner said.

Ned McCormack, chairman of the Valhalla Schools Committee, a community group that sent recommendations for school funding to the town, said he was encouraged by the report.

"The very good news is that the comptroller's report makes it clear that there is no constitutional bar to the Valhalla school district receiving money as part of the WestHelp agreement," McCormack said. "The ball is now in the Town Board's court to follow up on the report's suggestions for improving how money currently passes from the town to the school district so the benefits of the original agreement can continue and the commitments made to all the parties involved can be honored."

The report recommends two methods. The town could seek special legislation from the state Legislature or have WestHELP give funds directly to the Valhalla school district. However, if the shelter makes direct payments to the schools, it must also continue to pay fair market rate to Greenburgh for the 108-unit complex. Greenburgh receives about $950 a month per apartment.

Renegotiating the contract would take the cooperation of Westchester County, WestHELP and the Greenburgh Town Board, whose members unanimously supported the deal at the time.

Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz said the county was willing to listen. WestHELP-USA Chief Executive Larry Belinsky did not return phone messages Friday.

Town Board member Francis Sheehan said any deal that diverted funds now received by Greenburgh to the schools would violate the requirement that the town receive fair market value for the apartments. He said cutting income to Greenburgh would encourage another comptroller's audit.

"The fair market value is the rent we've been receiving," Sheehan said.

Robert Bernstein, an Edgemont resident, said the money should not go to the neighborhood or its school district but to the entire town.

"The town should not give the schools any more money," he said. "They got their $1.8 million. They've benefited plenty and the town should declare the agreement null and void."

Valhalla school officials were pleased that the Comptroller's Office had revised an earlier draft that had criticized the $50,000-a-year payment to Kensico Elementary School Principal Sal Miele to administer the grant.

The draft report said school records showed Miele worked 15 days on the program, with came to $3,333 per day. After officials complained, the comptroller's staff acknowledged it had erred, noting that the records referred to 15 pay periods in which Miele received payments from the WestHELP fund.

"Sal is an honorable, good man, an esteemed educator here, and I'm pleased that the comptroller corrected it," said Valhalla Schools Superintendent Diane Ramos-Kelly.

The report, however, found that there were no records to show how many hours Miele worked on the grant, in addition to his full-time job as a school principal. Ramos-Kelly said Miele was a professional and not required to keep time sheets.

The comptroller's office said it intends to undertake a new audit of how the district has spent funds received under the program.

Reach David McKay Wilson at dmwilson@lohud.com or 914-694-3528.

PRUDENT -- GIVE ME A BREAK --

Anonymous said...

Jeeze... the article mentions Sheehan and Burnstein in successive paragraphs.

Talk about weird coinicidences!

Anonymous said...

It is obvious to the Comptroller's office that Valhalla has been using Greenburgh's money in ways a school district has no authority to do, with incomplete records, guidelines and controls.

This not an advisory opinion. It is an audit, to be followed by another audit. The chairman of a Greenburgh Town Committee is says the prudent thing to do is wait?

Does this mean they continue to spend our money? Are they actually going to lunch at MacMinnimen's this weekend? Are these full time enrichment teachers, administrators, and facilitors still on their WestHELP funded payroll.

Would it be too much for our elected officials to get answers to these questions and post them here?

Anonymous said...

Prudent ???

I think our elected officials should start to worry about their own personal liability. Any customary indemnities by town, etc. or insurance do not apply where there has been gross negiligence or fraud. They have got to get our money back.

Anonymous said...

And I would suggest that any employee of either the School District or the Town who writes any checks after this audit may be facing criminal charges.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at the Comptroller's report and look at some of the things that the money was spent on. Talk about creative job descriptions. Can you say euphemism? There is no way to know exactly what alot of the money was spent on because of Valhalla's cryptic descriptions.

Anonymous said...

Me think that everyone is responsible for WESTHELP. The entire Town Board voted for the WESTHELP contract. Francis Sheehan voted to release some of the funds earlier this year. The county attorney's office OKd the arrangement before the deal was signed. Our town attorney and her counsel said the agreement was legal. Don't point fingers. Let's have a meeting with the Valhalla school district and town and come up with a new solution that will enable us to keep the homeless housing shelter operational for years to come.

Anonymous said...

Give money to those crooks? The state is so concerned they are having a futher audit. VSD can not be trusted. Go awwy

Anonymous said...

Feiner bullied the council into giving away the money. We all saw it on the TV. NO meetings with VSD

Anonymous said...

This discussion is so amusing. With just a few exceptions, the postings are by the same 2 or 3 people who are obsessed with this topic while everyone else is wondering, what is the big deal about this? why would the comptrolled even get involved? and now that the comptroller has ruled that it's NOT illegal NOR unconstitutional, why are they still obsessed? by the way, mr. anonymous(and everyone knows who you are by the language you use), don't ever refer to private individuals as "crooks" unless you can prove what you say, or you'll be receiving a summons. should that be delivered to your legal business or your illegal business?

Anonymous said...

and how would you know if these postings are the same 2 or 3 people, unless you are paul feiner monitoring the ip addresses coming in?

Anonymous said...

The state has said the arrangment must be restructured. so if it werent illegal why would it have to be restructured.

Anonymous said...

MEMO TO THE "FORMER MEMBER OF THE VALHALLA SCHOOL BOARD": Hey, John, you can't hide behind your anonymous posts in this forum -- your biased voice comes across clear as day! Why doesn't the "former member of the Valhalla School Board" run for the seat again (rather than hiding behind the skirt of his son, as he did in past years)? Maybe because he's gutless? Perhaps because he's too afraid to be publicly embarrassed by a contentious election season and a humiliating defeat? Hey, why don't you post this on your bogus web site? C'mon, John, run for the board and face the District's residents publicly with your charges. You wouldn't dare though, would you, John? Then you'd have to answer those of us who have questions about YOU! Until then, like you, we'll post anonymously, too.

Anonymous said...

FROM WWW.VALHALLAFACTS.COM: You heard it hear first, or at least truthfully.

What does the January 12, 2007 NY State Comptroller's audit of the Greenburgh/Valhalla/WestHelp Partnership really mean?

Simple -- it means that the comptroller gave the town of Greenburgh three possible options to resolve this once and for all and do the honorable thing for Valhalla's students. If the Greenburgh Town Board would like to move forward and negotiate a new deal, or set up a different avenue for funding, it can. We implore the Town Board members to do the right thing, not the politically expedient thing.

We are skeptical, though. The Board's feud with Supervisor Paul Feiner is so transparent and petty that the most likely scenario will be to set Mr. Feiner up in whatever way they can and by whatever means. While this blog will do its best to avoid naming/blaming people, this name has, mysteriously, rarely been mentioned in all the press coverage about the WestHelp Partnership: Francis Sheehan. Isn't that curious, considering the FACT that Francis Sheehan is the engineer and architect of the Greenburgh opposition to the WestHelp Partnership agreement. He is also the brains behind the questionable decision to hire a $60,000 Town Board assistant whose sole responsibility is to undermine the authority of the town supervisor.
Francis Sheehan is also responsible for much of the inaccurate information that has somehow made it into The Journal News about the WestHelp agreement. And yet he is rarely quoted in the news stories, preferring instead to hide behind the same curtain that shields our friend with the nasty Valhalla web site.

They are vocal, but rarely quoted. They are seldom right, but never in doubt. They are motivated by money and politics. They hide from view while they point accusing, anonymous fingers at everyone and anyone but themselves. They use the basest tactics to bully and intimidate. They know full well that the individuals they harrass would rather go on with their daily lives than wage a war of words. No more The gloves are on, gentlemen. You haven't seen anything yet.

Ms. Greenburgh Taxpayer said...

The state has given the Town three options:

1. Get the state to pass a law allowing it. Wont happen. Most of town is agaisnt.

2. Use moeny for expenses to benefit all of town. Not just Valhalla students.

3. Have Westhelp pay VSD directly. But Town must still get fair value for rent.

In short, none of these options are workable -- or guess what, they would have been used before.

Anonymous said...

NOT "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" AND NOT "ILLEGAL": All those attorneys and attorney-wannabes out there, the NYS Comptroller's report did NOT say the town's deal with the Valhalla UFSD was "unconstitutional"... nor did it call the deal "illegal". What the report DID say, was that "THE GRANT CANNOT BE MADE IN THE MANNER THAT THE TOWN CURRENTLY FOLLOWS." Francis Sheehan and Gil Kaminer must have been reeling reading that. They were hoping the audit report would deliver a knockout punch but, rather, the audit report offered RECOMMENDATIONS on how to do the deal the proper way. And this is what Greenburgh must do. It was Greenburgh that constructed the deal in this manner -- yes, that's right, after getting the advice of then-town attorney Susan Mancuso, who also sought outside legal opinions on the crafting of the deal, it was Paul Feiner AND Steve Bass, Diane Juettner and Eddie Mae Barnes (along with Timmy Weiberg) who approved AND signed the deal. Now we find out they had it wrong. Now we find out they should have done it a different way. Hey, when the negotiations for this way taking place, doing a deal directly with HELP USA WAS considered, but it was the TOWN that said "no, our attorneys have looked at it and we can pass the money from the town to the school district." If Mr. Sheehan doesn't like this deal, which he obviously doesn't, then this is to be considered when negotiations for the next contract can begin (in two years). Until then, the town must live up to the agreement it came to with the community. Only now, it needs to find a different road to get to that final destination.

Anonymous said...

What is fair market value? The comptroller has advised that HELP can give funds directly to the Valhalla school district provided that the town receives its fair market value of the property. THe rent that the town negotiated at the time of the agreement was based on payments that WESTHELP had been paying to retire the mortgage on the property form the $1.6 million annual mortgage payment. $400,000 was designated for WESTHELP to be used to maintain the property with the remaining $1.2 million to be allocated among the town, school & fire districts. The right thing for the town board to do is to determine the fair market value of the property and to commence discussions with all the parties so a lease can be rewritten, to comnply with the law.

Anonymous said...

Boy, some of you people are real mental deficients or you are just blinded by your unbridled greed. When the Comptroller says "The grant cannot be made by the manner that the town currently follows" what do you morons think that means. By giving Greenburgh options to correct what was done incorrectly is a clear implication that something was done wrong! It's all some funny word game for you guys. Something could look, smell, sound, taste and feel like it's illegal but because no one uses the word that makes it all ok. Hell, the Comptroller said Valhlla engaged in illegal activities in the Fill for Fields scam and nothing happened, so why should they worry about this. This is the reputation the Valhalla School District has made for itself. It's leadership will stoop to any means whatsoever no matter how unethical or illegal just to secure as much funding as possible then piss it away on some of the ridiculous expenditures you can see on the audit report. Some of you pro-school types are calling the opposition greedy. If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black.

It's illegal said...

The prior posting is utter nonsense, dreamed up by Mayfair Knollwood spinmeisters.

It might fool some people, like perhaps former colleagues on the editorial board of the Journal News. But those guys are not stupid either, and neither are the residents of Greenburgh.

The state comptroller carefully explained in the report why the agreement is illegal (which means it's legally unenforceable) and why, to the extent it involved passing money to a private foundation, which it did, it is unconstitutional.

In New York a town has no legal authority to make a gift of town funds to a school district unless the funds are used for all town residents. Nor do towns in New York have legal authority to use town funds to subsidize a school district's education budget.

The comptroller's other critically important findings were that there was no evidence to support Feiner's assertion that the money was needed to compensate either the neighborhood or the school district itself.

Finally, the report made clear that there's much more work to be done in terms of an audit of the district itself to see how the WestHelp money was actually spent. Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars that seems to have been under the control of a few private individuals accountable to no one, the findings from that audit may prove to be more disturbing than anything we've seen so far.

In any event, regardless of what the second audit shows, there is now no reason to renegotiate an agreement that was not only illegal and unenforceable, but which was not warranted in the first place.

Like it or not, Mayfair Knollwood the party's finally over. And when the existing sublease comes up for renewal, Mayfair Knollwood will no longer be dictating terms to the town as it did the last time.

If the town wants to extend the WestHelp lease, it can negotiate an extension with the county. If the town wants to exercise instead its right to use the property for senior housing (or for some other form of affordable housing), it could do that too.

But Mayfair Knollwood has no more legal right to a say in this matter than any other civic association in unincorporated Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Oops. The prior post was meant to respond to the Mayfair Knollwood flack who's trying to suggest that the comptroller found nothing illegal and unconstitutional with the WestHelp/Valhalla agreement.

On a related note, Feiner himself argued to the comptroller that the $1.2 million was needed to compensate the town for the lost of the rental income the town would have received had the WestHelp units been converted to senior housing. So, in terms of fair market value, the town is already getting it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is true. Valhalla has yet to admit they did anything wrong in the Fill fo Fields deal while Greenburgh and Eastchester have. When the Board was confronted at a meeting with the Comptrollers allegation that VUFSD illegally avoided a public vote, the board president brushed it aside and said "it's only an opinion". Clearly the Valhalla School District has realized that there is no real controlling legal authority and will continue it's unethical and illegal practices until someone takes them to court.

Anonymous said...

The issue: an agreement was made a few years back with residents of Mayfair Knollwood and Town Council members Bass,Barnes,Juettner,Supervisor Feiner to 1)keep a homeless shelter open; 2)provide a neighborhood that accepted 108 homeless housing units in their neighborhood with a dividend. THis agreement was reached. The Town Board now has been provided with a formula so that they can keep their end of the bargain--legally. The Board has a moral obligation to keep their promises.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to keep track of all the anonymous postings, but I'd like to challenge the writer(s)who seem to be referring to "the Mayfair Knollwood flack" and earlier to "former colleagues on the Journal News editorial board." What are these references to? Who are these references to? Could Joe McCarthy have returned from the grave and discovered this blog site?
By the way, it's totally transparent whose postings contain such intellectually superior adjectives as "real mental deficients" and "you morons."
Can't help but chuckle at the phrase, "Mayfair Knollwood, the party's over." If you think that any of this has been a party, you're sadly mistaken.

Anonymous said...

I think the party's over means no more $$$. I agree. According to the state the present arrangement is unacceptable. The alternatives offered by the state are unworkable. And the state is still investigating where this money went to. VUFSD lied to the Council about where some of the money wnet (the Valhalla Foundation), which the state has specifically demanded the return of. The Council will not let themselves be bullied anymore, as they have their own legal concerns.

The next time Kelly shows up at a Town meeting, she should be presented with a formal demand for return of all monies pursusant to the indemnification agreement.

Anonymous said...

From the state report

The town can only fund programs that are for Townwide purposes. Since the 2003-04 school year, the Town has provided more than $1.8 million of funding to the district. The programs funded by the educational grant that the town makes to the district do not further town purposes, but rather further the purposes only of the district. Therefore, the grant cannot be made in the manner that the town currently follows".


If anyone seriously thinks that the means the funding was not illegal, it is time to call the D.A.

Anonymous said...

TO THE ALL THE ATTORNEYS AND ATTORNEY-WANNABES (Not to mention the anonymous poster who thinks the town can negotiate an extension of WestHELP with the County without Mayfair-Knollwood's participation): Here was a good one: "Like it or not, Mayfair Knollwood, the party's finally over. And when the existing sublease comes up for renewal, Mayfair Knollwood will no longer be dictating terms to the town as it did the last time ... Mayfair Knollwood has no more legal right to a say in this matter than any other civic association in unincorporated Greenburgh."

Oh, really?

Obviously, some posters need to put on their reading glasses. I'll save them the trouble. Please read article "j" from Page 17 of The Sublease and Homeless Housing Facilities Agreement: "Negotiations to entend the WestHELP sublease for an additional period of up to ten (10) years would begin at year eight (8). Parties to the negotiations would include representatives of the County, Town, the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association, and the Knollwood Manor Civic Association. If the new terms cannot be reached among the parties within one year, WestHELP and the County would have a period of up to five years (5), commencing upon the expiration of the eighth (8th) year of the Sublease term, to turn the Premises over to the Town unoccupied."

Hey, WestHELP naysayers, what does that say? Not only is Mayfair-Knollwood and Knollwood Manor a party to the next round of negotiations, IF NEW TERMS CANNOT BE REACHED AMONG ALL PARTIES (repeat who those who still cannot read...ALL parties)then the shelter has to close.

Now, why do you think that's in there? The answer is very simple, really: because Mayfair-Knollwood and Knollwood Manor negotiated the contract between the County, WestHELP and the Town.

We are PLAYERS in this, folks., It's clear as the nose on your face. And, by the way, the Agreement commenced Sept. 18, 2001, which means negotiations on a new Agreement begins Sept. 18, 2008. That's not all that far away. Between now and then, I suggest the Town begin looking for a new future home of the Greenburgh WestHELP shelter. That could be in YOUR backyard. Of course, you'd have no objection to that since the shelter has proved not to have any impact on the neighboring community, right?

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how the arguments against the Help contract appear to be based in the facts of the Comptrollers report and the seemingly unanimous agreement that the deal reached between Greenburgh and Valhalla is, at the very least, unfair and inappropriate, but more likely illegal. The arguments comming from the other side sound more like a childs irrational logic when the position is taken that the Town must honor an agreement because it was promised and deny the appearance of inpropriety and possible illegallity.

Anonymous said...

REGARDING FAIR MARKET VALUE: Contrary to Mr. Sheehan's opinion, and those of the WestHELP naysayers, fair market value is not the $1.2 million. Fair market value has not been determined, but would be comparable to what other low income affordable housing units rent for throughout the County. And keep this in mind as well: the $400,000+ that Help USA spends annually to maintain the shelter needs to be factored into the fair market value equation. If the Town was the landlord in a future low income affordable housing scenario, maintainence would be the responsibility of the Town, not the renter. So, that would be a future expenditure on the Town's books.

Anonymous said...

OK anon, at 10:14, if no agreement, County must turn over to TOWN (note, not Mayfair, not Town and Mayfair and Town, but TOWN). Then Town can do what it wants. OK?

What's clear to me is that you WERE players. Past tense.

and as to fair market value -- Feienr has insisted its 1.2 -- I think its more.

Anonymous said...

So you are saying that the County can empty the facility for one night, turn it over to the Town and then teh Town can just reopen it?

That is outrageous.

Anonymous said...

No, we ARE players. WE will be at that negotiation table. YOU will NOT. Yes, the facility would turn over to the Town in the scenario previously outlined. No argument there. But it would NOT, and could not, be a homeless shelter.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:17

Why could it not be a homeless shelter?

thanks

Anonymous said...

And why would the town not be at the negotiating table?

in 2008, Feiner might not be.

Anonymous said...

What chutzpah -- that town will not be at the table.

And why does Mayfair/Knollwood have this atittude -- becasue feiner encouraged it

i hope town council is reading this

Anonymous said...
No, we ARE players. WE will be at that negotiation table. YOU will NOT. Yes, the facility would turn over to the Town in the scenario previously outlined. No argument there. But it would NOT, and could not, be a homeless shelter.

1/17/2007 11:17 AM

Anonymous said...

Please. Do you really think the Town could get away with a shell game maneuver like you suggest? Get real. And who said the Town would not be at the negotiation table? I didn't. Seems like you may have just revealed yourself. This wouldn't be the Gang of Four's newly hired aide posting, would it, Gil? Mr. Feiner may or may not be at the table in '08. Same holds true for two of the Gang of Four. Doesn't really matter, though. We'll be there. With attorneys.

Anonymous said...

My mistake...I previously thought this back-and-forth this morning was with one of Greenburgh's notorious resident bloggers. Guess not.

Anonymous said...

Cant disagree with anyone from the Valhalla School Board, the Superintendent, the Valhalla School Committe, and any employees having any control over disbursement of the funds having counse.

Anonymous said...

WARNING TO EDGEMONT RESIDENTS (AND ALL OTHER GREENBURGH RESIDENTS): Imagine if the Greenburgh Town Council gave you its word and then entered into an agreement that prohibited any and all the future construction of housing units along Central Avenue, and then a few years later went back on that promise and ok'd further building. Would you be outraged? Please don't insult us and say not. If you can understand this concept of betrayal then you can understand how we feel. This is what's at stake. This is the current makeup and attitude of the Town Council. And it's no coincidence that this attitude has developed since the last election. These new players at Town Hall are dangerous, treacherous, unethical and immoral. Is this what you want from your local government?

Anonymous said...

If you want to compare it with Edgemont, why is it that with Edgemont, Feiner says no moratorium unless legal, but with Valhalla arrangement, just ignores legal issues.

Also, is Feiner giving edgemont money, No he is not. Is he giving money to valhalla, where most students dont even live in greenburgh.

Your comparison, like Feiner, is biased and one-sided.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous wannabe lawyer who wrote that the sublease says that negotiations to extend the sublease would have to include the Mayfair-Knollwood Civic Association and the Knollwood Manor Civic Association and that all parties would have to agree to extend the sublease.

I am not a lawyer or a wannabe lawyer, but I can read. The County and the Town and Westhelp don't have to extend the sublease. They can make an entirely new sublease, and when they do they should keep the civic associations out of it. Someone recently wrote that Elmsford and another community have homeless housing and they didn't get paid off, and their local civic associations had no say in it. Neither should Mayfair Knollwood, the Valhalla School District, the fire district or anybody else. The Town Board has learned its lesson so there will be no payoffs in the future.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I hope Ms. Barnes, Mr. Bass and Ms. Juettner are reading this blog as well. You ask why does Mayfair-Knollwood have this attitude now? Sorry, we usually do take offense to getting stabbed in the back. Or are you suggesting we take the knife with a smile on our faces? Perhaps the two Town masterminds have a more ambitious master plan that just overthrowing Feiner? Perhaps they want more? By orchestrating this betrayal, the two masterminds obviously don't care if they drag the previously good reputations of Ms. Barnes, Mr. Bass and Ms. Juettner with them. I hope THEY will not be bullied behind closed doors by the two masterminds.

Anonymous said...

Well, guess I was wrong. I guess you couldn't grasp the concept of betrayal.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Eddie Mae, Diana: KEEP YOUR WORD. WE TRUSTED YOU

Anonymous said...

Oh Please,

trust is a 2 way street -- the Council was told:

1. The Town had a legal opinion.

2. Westhap was going to cost VUFSD money.

3. Westhap was going to cost the community.

4. No funds were given to the Valhalla School Foundation.

Had the council been aware of everything they know now, I doubt they would have voted for it in the first place

Anonymous said...

Oh, please yourself! Are you on laptop at Disney World or something because you're in Fantasyland! At no time ever was the Town told by anyone involved in the negotiations that the impact of the past and future WestHELP children to the Valhalla school district was worth $6.5 million over 10 years. Get real. The Gang of Four, led by the two masterminds pulling the drawstrings, are now trying to rewrite history to advance their objectives. This attempt at revisionist history and the tact that "we were misled" will not work, however. It's an act of desperation, quite frankly.

As for this "scandalous" single payment to the Valhalla Schools Foundation, you, and the town board just embarrass yourselves by crying that you were lied to, misled or otherwise deceived. Exactly how? Let's review: 1) the formula of payment to the Foundation was in the contract between the town and the school district, which the town board approved, and 2) it is the town board that approves or disapproves all programs and funding requests made by the school district. The town board received the request for the Foundation payment that first year (pre-dating both Diane Ramos-Kelly and Sal Miele) AND IT WAS THE TOWN BOARD that approved it! How can the town claim it was lied to or misled when it was presented with a specific funding request for the Foundation and approved it? It is the SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of the town board to approve or disapprove funding requests. Afterwards, when it was learned this payment to the Foundation in this fashion raised a red flag and might not be proper, this was not presented again in future funding requests. The NYS Comptroller's report REJECTED the town board's contention that there were other "hidden" and "improper" payments to the Foundation, as the board claimed based on a story done by the Journal News' David McKay Wilson (who, by the way, was subsequently yanked off the Valhalla school's beat by his superiors based on his biased reporting against the district). What don't you get?

The only thing the Gang of Four can possibly admit to is dereliction of duty if they never bothered to review the funding requests, ask questions and make an educated decision regarding these requests. It would quite embarrassing -- not to mention damning -- if the members of the town board admitted that they never did their due diligence, wouldn't it? The buck stops with THEM so please continue making these charges so you can look even more foolish than you do already!

Anonymous said...

So there were payments before there was a grant?

Anonymous said...

Not at all..how could there be? Where does it say that? Either you're misreading it or I erred in phrasing it. To simplify the process however, here's how it works:
1) VUFSD presents town board with grant requests and makes presentation;
2) Town board reviews;
3) Town board votes on grants;
4) VUFSD gets check from town;
5) VUFSD funds approved grant requests.

Of course, there's also usually another step, which is town waits too long to vote and issue check before VUFSD can fund the grant during current school year.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought Mr Miele was the first administrator, who preceeded him?

Anonymous said...

It's true that Mr. Miele is the first adminstrator but he was not involved the first 1+ years when Dr. Tom Kelly was the Superintendent. It was only after the first grant proposal process was completed that it became apparent to the Committee that there needed to be someone in charge to oversee the program. There were talks at that time with Dr. Saul Janofsky, former Superintendent of the White Plains school district, to see if he was interested in the position/ He eventually accepted a post with Westchester Community College. Mr. Miele was not brought in until the 2nd round of grant proposals, and he came on board either in mid term or towards the end of that round of proposals, I believe.

Anonymous said...

So who was paid the $65,000 Administrator's salary shown in the first round of grants in the Comptroller's Audit?

Anonymous said...

To anon at 5:40,

so where does the Valhalla School Committee come in?

Where is it written that VUFSD couldnt spend the money however it wanted?

Anonymous said...

Hang on a minute. I'd like to see an answer to anon at 12:13PM's question. Who got paid the 65k admin salary the first two years? How about it anon at 5:40PM. You seem to know "how it works".

Anonymous said...

The Valhalla School Committee is a committee of the Town of Greenburgh, appointed by the Greenburgh Town Board. All the committee members are Greenburgh residents and a majority must be Mayfair Knollwood residents. It is set out in the Grant Document, signed by Paul Fiener.

The Comptroller's report is in error when it says it was a Valhalla Committee appointed by the superintendent.

It is the VSC committee that had the responsibility to authorize, on behalf of the town, payments to Valhalla based on grant requests that came through a Valhalla committee that was never set up. There was never a committee on the Valhalla side.

The requests included blanket funding to the Valhalla School Foundation, a private fund with stated purposes to supplement regualar educational programs, something the Grant could not do. Any payment to VF is illegal and in violiaton of the grant.

The grants list no adult programs, as this would be in violation of the grant but there were many adult programs. The grant provided for 10% administration costs but they spent at least triple that amount in one year hiring "enrichment teachers" to develop programs at two schools. At least that is what the grants say.

They got the money in lump sum, spent it as the VSC saw fit and never accounted for the money or the programs to the Town, except for the fact that the town, through its VS committee had control of the funds at all times.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you look at all the grant books and see which items may have been requested and approved but were not necessarily paid. That's why there was money that "built up" and needed to be requested again. I think that will answer your question.

Anonymous said...

Are the grant books at town hall? Do they show requests and expenditures? Who should I contact?

Anonymous said...

You should be able to get the full WestHelp Partnership grant lists and descriptions from Town Hall, since they were turned over to all the Town Board members. In fact, they've had those reports each year, which is exactly that they voted for.
There is also a complete list of expenditures for each year in the comptroller's audit, although a couple of the descriptions are wrong.

Anonymous said...

www.valhallafacts.blogspot.com:
Hey folks:

It might be time to remind the Greenburgh Town Board about its own Ethics Code. Here's what the preamble to the Code, adopted in 1970 and revised in 1991, states (the highlighting is ours):

"Public service should be considered the highest calling of a citizen, and the public interest should take precedence over all private interests. To achieve these ends, a Town government should require that public officers, employees and agency members be honest, fair and responsible to the people; that they exercise independent and impartial judgment; that they give their undivided allegiance to the public weal regardless of factionalism or transient political majorities; that public office and employment not be used for personal gain; that public officers and employees observe in their official acts the highest standards of integrity and faithfully discharge their duties regardless of personal consideration; and that the public have confidence in its government and the officers and employees thereof, and that those officers and employees avoid even the appearance of impropriety. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics for officers, employees and agency members of the Town of Greenburgh (hereinafter sometimes also referred to as the "Town") and a Board of Ethics to render advisory opinions with respect thereto, to investigate alleged violations thereof and to facilitate compliance therewith."

1. "be honest, fair and responsible to the people..."

2. "highest standards of integrity"

3. "that the public have confidence in its government and the officers and employees..."

4. "...regardless of factionalism or transient political majorities..."

5. "avoid even the appearance of impropriety..."

Some residents and taxpayers believe the Town Board should take heed -- its own Ethics Code warns them that it's not OK to conduct personal witch hunts, it's not OK to leak a draft audit to the press to gain the upper hand and get ahead of the facts, it's not OK to conspire with the press to bring down an entire neighborhood, school district, and school officials because their lawyer friend said go ahead, it's OK. (He also advised them that the agreement was "unconstitutional." Wrong again.)

Let these public officials know what you think, and that you will remember their kindnesses when you're in the voting booth. Tell them it's unacceptable to hire a "legislative assistant" to serve the political interests of some members of the Board, issue warnings to members of the public, and gossip about taxpayers with the press. Tell them it's unacceptable to lie in their response to the state audit, claiming they thought the intent of the agreement was to compensate Valhalla for the cost of educating children living at WestHelp. Were they asleep at all those meetings they attended? How inept are the three members of the Board who voted for the agreement? It's no surprise, then, that they are being bamboozled by the councilman who took office Jan. 1, 2006 (and insisted on hiring the legislative assistant).

Violating their own Ethics Code is not a wise move.

Anonymous said...

More from the Valhallafacts site
(www.valhallafacts.blogspot.com) ... interesting reading:

Speaking of the Town Board, you'll note that many of the stories published about the WestHelp Partnership in The Journal News have been one-sided, orchestrated by the Town Board and the "legislative assistant" hired to be at the beck and call of Councilman Francis Sheehan. Someone -- if not the Town Board & the legislative assistant, then their associate from Edgemont -- leaked an inaccurate and incomplete DRAFT audit report to Mr. Wilson, knowing full well that anyone who had seen the agreement had been advised by the Comptroller not to release any details until it was complete. Gee, what was the rush? Were they trying to get ahead of the facts?

Curiously, on Dec. 23rd, Mr. Wilson began making his round of phone calls to everyone associated with the agreement, saying that he had the draft and was writing a story about it. This just happened to be one day after State Comptroller Alan Hevesi resigned. Hmmm. Must have been a credibility issue. Mr. Wilson and his editors, in lock-step with how they've handled coverage of this issue all along, were kind enough to publish the story, based solely on a draft and inaccurate report, on Christmas Day. Ho, ho, ho. At least it was a slow readership day.

The WestHelp Partnership issue has become an issue for two very simple reasons. (1) Two long-time opponents of ANY educational spending in Valhalla smelled blood and money that potentially could be used to lower their tax rates instead of helping to enrich the education of kids who live in their school district. (2) A political group in Greenburgh, dedicated to unseating Supervisor Feiner, finally had their "issue" and began a campaign to squeeze the WestHelp Partnership deal into dust while they tarnished the reputation of the Supervisor.

Victory at any cost.

As a result, the WestHelp Partnership and the well-intentioned individuals who agreed with the Supervisor and HelpUSA to help put the unique agreement together find themselves caught in the middle of politics. Really, really dirty politics. The kind of politics that make you want to check your phone for bugging devices and take a long, hot shower.

It's pathetic to watch what goes on at Greenburgh Town Board meetings -- an alienated supervisor, a newcomer who has trained the other council members to play dead, and a busy-bee legislative assistant who scurries back and forth from a back room into the Board room, just to to whisper into Mr. Sheehan's ear. Not into Diana Juettner's ear, not into Eddie Mae Barnes' ear, not into Steve Bass's ear. The political use of this legislative assistant is transparent and unconscionable. He is not being used for any other reason. He is busy making Francis look good and Paul look bad. That is his job and Greenburgh taxpayers are footing the bill.

**By the way, here's the background on the threat that everyone seems to be referring to:

There was at least one additional witness to the threat, which was delivered to the Valhalla superintendent of schools in the Town Hall parking lot after a Greenburgh Town Board work session, when the legislative assistant warned her not to bring a lot of Valhalla parents and students to the following night's Town Board meeting (which was going to be taped for cable TV). He had gotten word that residents and kids would be showing up en masse.

The witness tells us that he said, and we're paraphrasing some of this: If you bring "a circus" to tomorrow night's meeting, "he (Sheehan) won't be happy about it" and things won't go well for the school district.
...Excuse us while we step away for that long, hot shower.

It's great to see that some bloggers are openly wondering what we have been curious about -- why Mr. Sheehan keeps his laptop open at all times during the meetings. Is he being coached? Is his seat on the Town Board so priceless that he needs to be coached, or assisted, during the meetings? Methinks he a big fish in a very,very small pond.

If any of you follow Supervisor Feiner's blog, check out Hal Samis's posting from today -- Jan. 18th. His fascinating summary of what's wrong at Town Hall is tremendous reading.

Anonymous said...

That Valhallafacts site sucks. It's some anonymous person blogging over and over trying to discredit the Valhallavoice web site. It pales in comparisson.

Anonymous said...

That previous post is brought to you by Valhalla's Minister of Misinformation, John Fitzgerald, editor of the Valhalla Voice web site and a frequent anonynous blogger to this Greenburgh site. Hey John, why don't you run for the Valhalla school board again so you can get trounced and publicly humiliated. Oh, I guess I have my answer.

Anonymous said...

Someone woke up on the wrong side of the rock.

Anonymous said...

Minister of misinformation. Wow that's clever. Unfortunately Mr.or Mrs. Anonymous bomb thrower, all you have are clever titles and your own misinformation. Why don't you you put your name on this blog or your lame web site. Mr. Fitzgerald has credibility because his name is on his web site. You have nothing. The Valhallavoice web site is three years old. If it's full of lies why hasn't anyone tried to sue him? Your website sounds like an angry raving parent who is upset about the ugly truth about the Valhalla School District being exposed.

Anonymous said...

Do you even know what you're talking about? Please visit www.valhallavoice.com and point out where Mr. Fitzgerald's name actually is. It's not there. So you're responding to a blog without knowing anything of which you talk about. Mr. Fitzgerald should put an "About Us" page on his site, paste his picture in and use his name. The only thing you see, however, is "Editor."

And you obviously know nothing about First Amendment rights. Just because the Valhalla Voice website is three years old means nothing more than it has been spewing KNOWING and DELIBERATE misinformation for three or more years, all of which is protected speech under the First Amendment (freedom of speech...freedom of press).

Anonymous said...

And I don't see too many people other than Hal Samis post on this blog and use his or her name. And that includes Francis Sheehan, Gil Kaminer, Bob Bernstein, John Fitzgerald, myself AND yourself.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous @ 8:03 PM. Mr. Fitzgerald has an exchange of letters with Evelyn McCormack, who is a spokesperson for the Valhalla school district, in the form pdf files on his Westhelp page. She knows who owns the valhallavoice and clearly he makes no attemp to hide his identity. His letters to the editor in the Journal News often refer readers to his website. Anyone can check who owns his site on a number of internet directories.

You may not like what he says, or how he says it, but unlike the valhallafacts bloggers, he does not hide his identity.

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Fitzgerald "clearly" does not hide his identity on the Valhalla Voice web site then he should post a bio about himself and he should have a contact page which addresses himself. There is so much on his site that two PDFs which people may or may not access, is not "clearly" identifying himself.

Anonymous said...

And the anonymous bloggers on valhallafacts are?

Anonymous said...

To the ridiculous "truthteller" and the still anonymous web site Valhallafacts. You actually have the audacity to try and make an argument about HOW Mr Fitzgerald has identified himself on his website Valhallavoice.com? Oh you would like him to include a bio? Will there be anything else? Oh and while he's working on that could you tell everyone who the hell you are?

Anonymous said...

Truthtellers? What a joke! This is one unidentified person on a rant. This person spends more time calling critics of the Valhalla SD liars than he or she does addressing accusations. Anyone who feels it necessary to constantly proclaim themself the only source of truth, must be a liar. Note: no names on the web site, no way to post a blog, but you can make a comment via email (ofcourse now this person knows who you are) and the truthteller reserves the right to post only the comments he or she deems appropriate. What a hypocrite!