Wednesday, March 07, 2007

TOWN BD WORK SESSION AGENDAS SHOULD BE RELEASED TO PUBLIC ON FRIDAY BEFORE TUESDAY WORK SESSIONS

The Greenburgh Town Board releases the agendas of the work sessions that are held on Tuesday afternoons a few hours before the work session begins. Many issues are discussed each week during the work sessions. Residents who are interested in specific issues are not provided with adequate advance information about the agendas. The lack of notice discourages public participation.
At next weeks Town Board meeting I will introduce a resolution calling on the Board to release tentative work session agendas the Friday before the Tuesday work session meeting. This will provide the public with the ability to make plans if they are interested in an agenda topic. I also hope the Board will provide the public with the chance to talk at each work session. It's the people's government!

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right Paul,but i'm sure the rest of the so called board will not go along with this proposal.Why should the public know ahead of time of upcoming plans or resolutions?

Anonymous said...

Much is discussed at board work sessions. Taxpayers have a right to hear the deliberations. An open meeting is not open if no one knows about it in advance. I hope the council will take some steps forward and become more open, just like they used to be.

Anonymous said...

Feiner has been running town board work sessions the same ad hoc and slipshod way every Tuesday for the past 16 years.

During that entire period of time, Feiner himself has set the agendas, decided when the meetings would begin, unilaterally decided who would be invited to speak and when and, despite all his talk about "open government," never once arranged to have any minutes taken or to have the meetings televised on the town's cable access channel.

No, if the town board's work sessions are not "open," it's because Feiner has kept them closed (except to friends and supporters when he's trying to lobby for something).

Now, in a contrived effort to pit himself against the town council, he wants to change the way business is conducted at these work sessions -- claiming that the town council is standing in the way of open government.

In fact, the very practices that Feiner wants to condemn the town council for going along with are the very same practices that Feiner himself is responsible for establishing.

Anonymous said...

Over the years many Feiner critics have spoken at work sessions. Work sessions provide the board with the chance to have a dialogue with citizens in a more informal and relaxed setting.

Jim Lasser said...

It is my understanding that under New York State's Open Meetings Law, there is NO substantive difference between "regular" meetings and "work sessions" - with the caveat that no binding votes may be taken during work sessions. That being the case, the lack of notice and lack of minutes are serious matters. Mr. Feiner, you champion what you call "open government" so here's a challenge: broadcast the work sessions both via cable and internet, open the phone lines and archive the video and minutes for downloading and viewing later. The equipment has already been bought and paid for, the incremental costs would be minimal, and your claim of "open government" wouldn't have a hollow ring.

Michael Kolesar said...

Without getting down to the "name" calling, I agree with Anonymous 3/7/07 10:24 PM (got a name???)that to represent that others are standing in the way of a long standing, but no doubt less than outstanding prior process is a bit disingenuous.

Re. Mr. Lasser's comment, as I am sure someone can readily check (and no doubt will and call me to task if I am incorrect), I do not believe that minutes are required for work sessions. They may be quite helpful, especially for the Town Council members who have participated in case someone's memory gets "cloudy" about a particular matter.

That said, the Town should move forward with at the very least airing these meetings on tape replay and / or the Internet. I don't agree that the public has a "right" to speak at these meetings. I say that as one who as a former elected official participated in many of these. Those attending might be invited by one or more of the elected participants to address the group, but that is and should be at the entire Council's option, consistently applied. I can see where if one opens these meetings to everyone to speak "by right", some will just go on and on and (A) these meetings will last very long and (B) little will be accomplished. Public hearings are the vehicle for all to address their concerns either orally or in writing, which hopefully the Town incorporates into the public record.

Anonymous said...

"Work sessions" of Greenburgh's town board are generally open to the public, but are inaccessible to most because they usually start in late afternoon when most folks who have an interest in such matters are at work.

If these sessions were televised, the public would get to see a supervisor who is prone to angry temper tantrums, who doesn't hide his dislike of the town council members, who abruptly leaves most meetings at 5 p.m. to "pick up his daughter," and who can only occasionally be counted on to return.

Feiner's leaving the room is when the real work of the town council begins, and the public should be able to see that as well.

Anonymous said...

Paul is smart in leaving the work sessions what ever time suits him.The other four have no home life,since the chief makes them stay until all hours in the morning and evenings.CHIEF SHEENAN,you're looking for too much glory.What ever is said at the work sessions is all bull,because you have a few of your chosen friends who listen. When it comes down to brass tacks,nothing changes you do what you want and the others follow your lead.representing the public means nothing to you.If you didn't have Paul to attack all the time you would be bored with the meetings.GET YOURSELF A LIFE.BECOME A HUMAN BEING AGAIN.

Anonymous said...

So what's the problem with paul leaving a work session early to pick up his daughter. The board members who constantly say this should be ashamed of themselves.

Michael Kolesar said...

Regarding my earlier posting above about minutes for work sessions, I stand corrected. One of the readers of this blog has provided me with information that certainly appears to indicate that minutes are required of work sessions.

Anonymous said...

The discussions at the sessions should be made known to the public,especially this last meeting on the library.Have you read the newspaper this morning,the federal government is investigating Yonkers [Ridge Hill]maybe that's what we need here in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

There's plenty wrong with Feiner leaving the work sessions every week to pick up his daughter.

First of all, attending these meetings is part of his job. He's the town's only full-time elected official. If the others are able to rearrange their professional lives to make the meetings on time, Feiner should do likewise.

Furthermore, at $120,000 plus per year, Feiner gets paid plenty to do this job. And on top of that, his wife makes another several hundred thousand dollars a year more. They can easily afford to have someone pick their daughter up.

Indeed, there are plenty of Greenburgh residents who make a lot less than they do who can manage to make arrangements once a week to have their kids picked up and dropped off -- so they don't lose time at work.

It's also rude and annoying for those residents and professionals who've made put aside their business that day to meet with the Town Board at work session to discover that the town supervisor thinks he has better things to do with his time than sit with his colleagues to discuss town problems.

It should also be noted that Feiner's leaving the way he does is extremely petty and small-minded. It only began a few years ago when the town board refused to approve his request to fund and staff a children's playroom at Town Hall.

hal samis said...

Let's do this in bits and pieces.
The old story is that Feiner was, is and will be bad.
The new story is that will be the way it should be with the town council in charge.
So, what's the difference?
Blogger Anonymous 10:24 informs us that Feiner "never once arranged to have any minutes taken or to have meetings televised..."
The balance of power shifted over a year ago; yes, Mr. Sheehan has been in office now in his 14th month.

Where are the minutes and when are the work sessions to be televised?

hal samis said...

Second turn at bat.

Feiner does leave the work sessions to pick up his daughter.
This is a reasonable and unobjectionable personal matter which would normally be unassailable. Except that tolerance for family life with working parents is no longer an
acceptable excuse.

Those who have attended work sessions know that the Supervisor, the position being full time, is generally available at the start of the work session. They are held at the place where he works full time. Town Council members have day jobs elsewhere. They make arrangements to leave these full time jobs to attend work sessions. However, they generally do not arrive on time which is understandable because things happen. No one complains about this even when the Supervisor or members of the Public have to wait for the Town Council to arrive.

The time of the work session is set so as not to inconvenience Town employees. On the other hand, members of the Public, who also work but are not compensated like the Town Board for attending these Town meetings, suffer the most.

It is onerous especially for those who work in the City to get there at 3:30 while it is most annoying when the meeting does not start on time or is changed to "Executive Session".

Perhaps, it would be most voter/resident tolerant to hold these meetings later, say at 7:15 or 7:30, like Town Board meetings.
That way the Public would not have to leave work; the Town Council would not have to leave work; the Supervisor could pick up his daughter. WIN-WIN-WIN.

Since the Town Council appears to be running the show, perhaps it or its apologist would embrace this solution.

Anonymous said...

Rudy Guiliani probably did not pick up his son from school - now they don't talk to each other.
It's important for elected officials to put their kids first.
Feiner can't win. He gets criticized for e mailing the State DEC on a Friday evening near midnight about a town matter on the blog. He gets criticized for being a family man.

16 years of feiner is too much said...

lets discard this false straw man of feiner the family man and the late night emailer. feiner is rightfully criticized because he is corrupt, lazy and incompetent. if you want proof - watch the rerun of the last town board meeting. 16 tons was too much and 16 years of feiner is the same. i think we should do him and us a favor and let him go free this november.

Anonymous said...

If it's so important for Feiner to show he's a "family man," why hasn't he ever suggested that work sessions start at a time that's more convenient for all concerned?

The reason it never occurred to him is that he couldn't be bothered.

His "picking up his daugher" is merely an excuse for him to leave meetings he'd just as as soon not be present for.

And why doesn't he want to be present for these meetings? It's not just that he dislikes his colleagues.

He also doesn't come prepared. For example, he rarely if ever has read any of the written materials.

Residents of the town need to see this for themselves.

And as for Feiner's middle of the night e-mail missives to state officials, the criticism was that, to be really sneaky, he deliberately used his personal e-mail account which he knows is beyond the reach of the state's Freedom of Information Law.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad-- you can't find much to complain about regarding services. So, now you're complaining about Feiner picking up his 7 year old daughter from school. You neglect to mention that the supervisor comes back to the work session after he picks up his daughter.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding?

Deteriorating services and infrastructure -- with a bundle of misplaced priorities -- have been a trademark of Feiner's tenure over the past few years.

Put that together with Feiner's persistent pandering, his divisiveness, his conscious disregard of the law, his off-the-books accounting and his continuing to take contributions from lawyers and consultants whose clients have applications pending before the town -- and it's clear that Greenburgh's problems go far beyond Feiner's walking out of work session to "pick up his daughter."

Anonymous said...

These comments are out of place. We have a right to like Supervisor Feiner or dislike him. However - one thing for certain, he works hard. He runs an open government. He responds to concerns almost immediately. The town, under his leadership, has excellent services. The tax rates have compared more than favorably to other local governments. I think Supervisor is doing a great job. Criticizing the Supervisor for picking up his daughter from school highlights one thing: you can't find things to criticize.

Anonymous said...

These comments are not out of place.

Feiner does not work hard on town matters.

He's done nothing to improve the garbage and recycling schedule, even though residents have been complaining for years that once-a-week garbage pickup during holiday weeks makes no sense.

Facilities at Greenburgh's parks continue to deteriorate.

He's done nothing to help resolve the legal disputes over the A and B budgets. In fact, by undermining the town's failed attempt at mediation last year, he made the situation worse.

Feiner's also done nothing to promote affordable housing. This past year he held up approval of a plan to renovate some affordable housing units so that 40 units in the same complex could stay in the hands of upper income people and not become eligible for the low income residents of Greenburgh who could have used them.

Feiner's also shown himself to be an extremely bad manager. The state comptroller said his deal to give away $6.5 million of town funds to the Valhalla School District was not only illegal, but the reasons he gave for giving the money away were bogus.

The state comptroller also faulted Feiner for cooking the books by keeping $500,000 in town funds in a separate account that wasn't reported on the town's financial statements, and for reporting on its books only a fraction of the town's $1.2 million rental income from WestHelp.

Feiner is so helpless right now he can't even implement the most recent findings by the state comptroller on certain A and B issues because he doesn't want village residents to get upset with him.

On top of this, there is Feiner's continued effort to undermine the library expansion project.

And, instead of reaching out to his critics, as the NY Times suggested he do after just squeaking by in the last Democratic primary, Feiner has done just the opposite, ignoring his colleagues on the town board and also ignoring most unincorporated area civic association heads.

And Feiner continues to be ethically challenged. Even though residents in the unincorporated aras have asked him to stop, he continues to rake in thousands of dollars from lawyers and consultants who have clients with applications pending before the town.

Greenburgh very much needs a new leader who doesn't come with all this baggage.

hal samis said...

Back in the box.

Do we see the heavy hand of Francis Sheehan at the keyboard.
Otherwise, it is really amazing how many anonymous bloggers possess 16 year memories.

What is overlooked if the work sessions were to be televised is that the Town Council won't appear
to be such great managers on camera either. But since pro-Feiner and anti Feiner activists all want to see the meetings televised and only Feiner is identified as opposing this; let's hear those three "ayes" at the Town Board meeting next week.
Mr. Bass can even sponsor the Resolution.

For those who don't come to the blog with this 16 years tracking experience (myself included) let me share something from my beginning 7th year. The Town Supervisor, the Town Council, the Town Departments do not come by their policies from living in a vacuum. Private citizens, even those unaffiliated with civic organizations, can contribute. Their input is part of what a work session is about. Much of what is viewed at the Town Board Meeting was born at the work session and often the product of mere mortals.
When the Town Board refuses to allow quesions or hear from the Public, then what results is the dirty laundry that gets hung out at the more public meeting and causes that meeting to run late.
The recent efforts to block public participation which bloggers like to say was unique to Feiner are ignoring that, if true, he must have been ahead of the wave because the "new" Town Council has taken such a policy to heart and now treats it as their own creation. Sorry Mr. Kolesar, but Greenburgh is a larger pond and the varied problems need airing.

Mr. Feiner's daughter may be too old for the children's room but she still needs a parent. True the Feiner's could easily afford to hire someone to do this but more likely the reason for this arrangement is probably the result of the need for the Supervisor to have at least part of one night a week to spend some "quality" time with her, to assume some parental responsibility, because it certainly isn't quantity time as I suspect he attends meetings every other night. That this has become molded into a political liability says more about Feiner's attackers than it does about how he runs the Town. Especially since "running" the Town has gotten harder without the Town Council backing him. If critics find that the Town is still being run to their dissatisfaction, then look to the four member Town Council and their assistant.

As for the comments regarding the garbage pick-ups, I would support firing the head of DPW who has made himself very busy hiding Library information these past months. Perhaps screwing up this project (actually he doesn't know what's going on without calling the Architect or Construction Manager) but this effort has made him forget what his Town paycheck is really for -- he certainly isn't being paid to draw upon his his previous Town construction efforts. For those who want to look into this Department further, I suggest that they look at the employment numbers. A few years ago much was made of adding 2 or 3 workers to the sanitation payroll. Since that occasion there have been retirements, resignations, etc. How many people actually are out on the trucks today and in the intervening years versus before the additional workers were hired?

And poor anonymous at 8:32. He doesn't even understand that the Town moves forward or backward by the majority vote of the five members of the Town Board. Perhaps this pitiful, uneducated person has never voted before and doesn't realize that all five of the people on the Town Board are elected. Certainly this civics challenged blogger is not the product of the Edgemont School system or is still waiting for Greenburgh 201 to be taught. And yet with all these blanks in the learning process, this person is clearly trying to jump start the election season. This person is just pleading for "someone" to come along without all the baggage.

Which would be the explanation for all his "carrying on".

Anonymous said...

The Town Council is moving Greenburgh backwards. The public can't participate at work sessions. Agendas of work sessions are released only a few hours before the meeting begins. There are more executive (closed sessions). The Town Council is prepared to adopt rules making it more difficult to obtain records from the public. The Council hired the Greenburgh Democratic Party chair's law firm to represent the town on a major land use case - worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the law firm.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Sheehan a lifelong Republican before switching parties so he could get move up the Greenburgh political ladder? His GOP leanings should explain his desire to close the operations of government to the public.

Be Careful What You Wish for... said...

Samis correctly points out that neither the members of the Council nor the Spervisor will look good on TV. The ongoing political wrangling and resulting gridlock have an obvious answer - a professional Town Manager.

Anonymous said...

The public has a right to know how the council treats each other and the public during work sessions.

Expose The Bully said...

Paul,

What you need to do is put Sheehan in his place by exposing the incident between Kaminer and the School Superintendent. You need to contact the National Organization of Women and explain to them how this woman was threatened by a Town Employee and the rest of the Town Board did not address your suggestion of putting Kaminer under oath to determine who ordered him to threaten the Superintendent. I'm sure that The National Organization of Women would address this abuse and publicize it, thereby exposing Sheehan's style of management to everyone. The more the bully is exposed, the more the population will grow to detest him.

Anonymous said...

Paul, while you're doing Mayfair Knollwood's bidding by repeating false charges to a good organization like the National Organization for Women, be sure to tell NOW about your own longstanding problems with women who had to quit town government because they couldn't work for you any longer, such as former Town Attorney Susan Mancuso and former Town Comptrollers Norah McAvoy and Ann Marie Berg, to name just a few.

Dear 2:11 said...

What you fail to mention in your run-on sentence is; were these women threatened. Of course they were not, they quit of their own valition. However, Gil Kaminer DID threaten the school superintendent and there are witnesses to Gil's confession.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor and Town Board appoint on merit. The new assessor is a woman. So are many other high ranking employees. The anonymous comment was out of place.

Slander exposes town said...

The statements made by anon at 3 are false and defamatory. The town council aide threatened no one, there was no "confession" and there are no witnesses to any "confession."

By allowing these false and derogatory statements about a town employee to be published on a website linked to the Town of Greenburgh, Feiner risks exposing the town to a claim for damages.

The two prior town comptrollers were quoted in The New York Times as saying they could no longer work with Feiner. The former town attorney was given a generous severance agreement (equivalent to 18 months salary) in exchange for a release of claims and her silence on the reasons why she left.

hal samis said...

Dear 2:11 said,

Let's make our points without becoming the grammer police especially when the word you are unsuccessfully using is vOlition not vAlition.

All bloggers are exempt from the rules regarding run-on sentences, spelling, grammar and agreement between the subject and the verb etc.

It is hard to type in this little box and I, personally, like to see a hard copy for my proofing.

Reserve your criticism for the message not the punctuation. We have enough to read and write without first pausing to diagram the sentence.

Anonymous said...

Checking..............

Young Kaminer did indeed threaten the Superintendent, and did tell others who told him to do it.

Despite the many mentions of this in public town meetings, there has never once been a public denial of this fact.

Rest assured, if the parties involved do attempt to deny these facts, then the individuals who were directly told of what happened should then be questioned by the Town Attorney. You don’t want a mess like this on anyone’s hands. There are a bunch of fingerprints at this crime scene. Conviction would be a slam dunk, unless, someone wants to crank up the lying machine.

This is a slippery slope that you don’t want to head down. There are some in this town (be you A or B) that should be very hopeful that it disappears, because, if the investigation becomes formal, the light that will shine on all those involved will be uncomfortable and will cause other members of the town board to separate themselves publicly from the offenders. Not a good thing for the current silent majority.

Keep pushing this point that nothing happened; but don't be surprised when the door swings back around and starts hitting some folks in the head.

Be like Young Kaminer and his co-conspirator and hope that this sorry example of dirty politics is forgotten over time.

Anonymous said...

The former town atty is also the atty who did not stop the town board from signing the WESTHELP contract that has been so controversial. Maybe the atty gave the council bad advice.

Anonymous said...

Poor Gil. He makes in the neighborhood of $50,000 but it sounds like his attorney bills will be more than twice that in the not so distant future. A steep price to pay for being Francis's pitbull.

Anonymous said...

when is the council going to demand the money back from valhalla

Anonymous said...

The council will be taking the 5th on the Valhalla fiasco.The will never admit that something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Everything should not be personalized. The issue is this--should government be open or closed. I think the supervisors suggestions are good ones. I want to know what is going on.

Anonymous said...

GIL come clean.It will save you money .

Anonymous said...

I read the two articles in the Journal News today about the WESTHELP agreement. I am pleased that Terry Williams, an opponent of the WESTHELP partnership, correctly pointed out that the agreement was not approved by Feiner alone but also by Steve Bass, Eddie Mae Barnes and Diana Juettner. We know where Feiner stands on WESTHELP. How come Bass, Barnes and Juettner are so quiet?

Anonymous said...

Why should Bass,Barnes and Juettner ,admit any wrong doing.They are acting as they always do,[listen to Sheenan] and put all the blame on Feiner,and you will come out smelling like roses.Thank God that there are so many tapes pertaining to Westhelp,that we could check. JUST REMEMBER IN DOING ALL THIS INVESTIGATION, YOU OPEN THE DOOR FOR SHEENAN TO RUN FOR SUPERVISON.This is something Greenburgh residents do not want.We have to have new people all arround representing us.This town is in a lot of trouble,because two town members want the seat in the middle,and the other two just occupy space,they seem to always be in lala land..

Anonymous said...

Is Sheehan trying to get Terry Williams to primary Bass to knock out a possible rival?

Anonymous said...

RIGHT ON 5;32.Sheehan is like a wolf hound preparing an attack.HE started with Feiner and he will finish with Bass.HE SAYS THAT HE DOESN'T TAKE CONTRIBUTIONS,BUT HE DOES ACCEPT FAVORS. I TAKE CARE OF YOU..YOU TAKE CARE OF ME.THATS THE POLITICAL WHEEL.

Anonymous said...

Young Kaminer, Terry Williams and the co-conspirator will get along just fine in that they all see no problem in threatening Superintendents of Schools.

For evidence, check out Mr. Williams body of work, all chronicled on the Greenburgh Board of Education meeting video archives.

Think long Greenburgh before you start thinking that he is going to be a walk in the park. His addition to the mix will take this dysfunctional board to even a lower low. Hard to believe that it is even possible.

Hey EDGENOT, you are going to like this guy even less.

Good luck folks!

Anonymous said...

Terry Williams says “me, Sam Wilkins, Robert Bernstein and Robert Reninger, who alerted the state comptroller to this financial malfeasance”

Does this mean that Terry Williams is taking credit for this too?

You podium hogs got a new candidate to contend with here.

Let’s go Terry!!!!!!!

Just what this town needs, another hot aired bragger focused on their own political glory.

Let the games begin.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan & his band of merrymen/women
board memebers, are acting in concert just like the board did towards the final years of the Veteran administration, the aim is to dump Feiner -- they might suceed, but he is much more popular w/the voters than they perceive.
While they are jockeying for position to replace him in a primary, all they are doing is setting up the scenario for a yet to be named "white knight" to come in @ the 11th hour & be easily elected -- guaranteed it won't be
either one of the two pretenders on the current board, much to their chagrin--
sheehan is absolutely the worst thing that has happened to the Greenburgh Town Board in the last
30 years -- I've been around Greenburgh Dem. politics all that time!!!

Anonymous said...

May I ask the REPUBLICAN party a question.Do you have anyone who could run in the next election to replace one or two board members on the town council.We have to have a good mix.Having four council members of the same party as the supervisor is not too good since two members want the job .Something has to change in Greenburgh,These four democrates are only after one thing that is get rid of Feiner,maybe with a difference in two seats WE will have a better chance of living peacefully.The civic associations [some of them]wanted Greenburgh to stay green ,FEINER WAS CRITISIZED FOR proceeding with their demands.Whatever Feiner wants to do or say the board says the opposite,This has to change. Political parties put your heads together and come up with some good people who will help GREENBURGH.

solution said...

lets try term limits.

Anonymous said...

SHEENAN,REMEMBER THE SAYING .HE WHO LAUGHS LAST,LAUGHS BEST.

Anonymous said...

SHEENAN,REMEMBER THE SAYING .HE WHO LAUGHS LAST,LAUGHS BEST.

Anonymous said...

SHEENAN,REMEMBER THE SAYING .HE WHO LAUGHS LAST,LAUGHS BEST.