Thursday, March 29, 2007


Dan from Hartsdale posted a comment on the blog commentary (Ardsley sidewalks). He mentions that anyone who has a blogspot site can install a sitemeter that records the URL and time of anyone who clicks on the site. For example, if a blogger logs on to the site from a law firm one can find that out. He mentions anonymous may not be anonymous.
I will post this warning on each week.


Jim Lasser said...

Please clarify your statement about "posting" a warning about the sitemeter and its abilities. Have you installed such a device or do you intend to? If installed is it your intent to track down those who make comments? I can understand the desire to keep the discussion civil - and applaud it. On the other hand, it is possible to read your statement as a threat, or at least an attempt to inhibit some discussion.
An explicit statement of your intentions would put the matter to rest. Please let us know what you intend.

Marc said...

There are no logging utilities within this blog that attempt to log the IP, identity, or otherwise identify anonymous visitors. There are no privacy flaws or tools within this blog. Rest assured that your anonymous identity is safe within this blog, but practice proper Internet safety on other websites, because tools such as these do exist. The only thing that is logged by this blog when you post is the time of your post. Your IP address is not recorded.

Marc Herman said...

There are no logging utilities within this blog that attempt to log the IP, identity, or otherwise identify anonymous visitors. There are no privacy flaws or tools within this blog. Rest assured that your anonymous identity is safe within this blog, but practice proper Internet safety on other websites, because tools such as these do exist. The only thing that is logged by this blog when you post is the time of your post. Your IP address is not recorded.

Anonymous said...

Dan, did you ever hear of free speech,or have you forgotten that this is THE UNITED STATES.

Paul Feiner said...

I do not have a sitemeter nor do I intend to acquire a sitemeter. And, do not plan to contact others who have sitemeters to find out who is logging on. However - the post yesterday contained information that others verified. I want to provide bloggers with this warning - you should independently confirm with computer experts.

time will tell said...

If Feiner doesn't have a "sitemeter" and doesn't intend to acquire one -- why then bother posting a warning every week that he might, and why warn in particular that he might use it to identify bloggers from law firms?

In his last campaign for supervisor, one of Feiner's paid campaign workers who, like "Dan" also lived in Hartsdale, operated a blog which for a time was linked on Feiner's orders to the town's website. (The town council had to pass a resolution directing him to sever the link).

That blog DID have a sitemeter and and Feiner's paid aide said on the blog that he would use it to identify the names of law firms which he believed were the source of blog entries critical of Feiner.

But the attempts at intimidation didn't stop there.

The blog that year posted an anonymous threat believed to be from Feiner's campaign manager which mentioned one lawyer-critic by name, and said if he and others kept it up, there would be "blood on the water."

Within a day or two of its posting, some of the others mentioned had their property vandalized, and the lawyer was warned that his property might be next.

When the lawyer contacted the authorities to investigate, Feiner's paid aide (presumably at Feiner's suggestion) wrote individual letters of protest to all 120 of the law firm's partners.

And when Feiner was copied on an unflattering e-mail from the lawyer, critical of Feiner's having taken thousands of dollars of contributions from developers, their lawyers and consultants with active applications pending before the town, Feiner himself complained directly to the law firm's management about the lawyer constantly beating him up in the press and in e-mails.

And when the lawyer, still a private citizen, criticized him at town board meetings, Feiner would identify the lawyer's law firm by name and demand to see a list of the firm's clients.

These efforts at intimidation have not worked, but the fact that Feiner continues to use them speaks volumes about his character, and cavalier disregard for the First Amendment rights of private citizens who criticize him as a public official.

Anonymous said...

MR. BERSTEIN,I think it's about time that you stop being a child. The same message is given at town meetings is about a donation that Feiner received.It's starting to sound like a broken record.You're pissed off that the so called person lives in Edgemont,and that should not happen on your watch. Change the message,that you're trying to put across.Believe me people are starting to feel sorry for you,since you're discussions are always the same.Taxter Road and the developer in Edgemont.Stop smearing Feiner's name .This is causing more friction among the residents of Greenburgh.

hal samis said...

Why would anyone feel threatened, feel their civil rights were impaired or otherwise by the announcement that technology exists to piere the veil of anonymous. Do people write things that are false or malicious or provocative only because they feel that can get away with it if no one knows who they are?

Yes Virginia, grow up! People will lie and malign if they think they can get away with it. There are even people who will complain that there might be a way to prevent this or even to trace it.

Why personal attacks might even be allowed at Town Board meetings if the speaker wore a bag over his/her head.

Anonymous said...

In this town, where well-reasoned arguments critical of Feiner are often met with nasty personal attacks, some people may choose to blog anonymously because they would rather the reader focus on what the message says instead of who the messenger may be.

Feiner supporters don't care though. Instead of defending their man, they'll "out" who they think the messenger is, attack that person personally, and ignore the substance of what was said, no matter how serious it may be.

That doesn't speak well for Feiner, or his supporters.

Anonymous said...

I think the supervisor should be for advising people of security issues re: this blog

Anonymous said...

There is a ring of truth to anon 5:38 when he/she states "some people may choose to blog anonymously because they would rather the reader focus on what the message says instead of who the messenger may be." How do we know if young Kaminer is not the author of most of the anti-Feiner blogs. Maybe Frances has ordered his protege to write anti-Feiner blogs when he is not busy threatening women.

Bernstein's critics are jealous said...

Feiner got elected easily before Bernstein started uncovering Feiner's corruption, laziness and incompetence. If anyone should grow up its Feiner. The problem is he can't do anything other than play Supervisor on television. Bernstein woke us up and the town is slowly realizing we cannot afford Feiner's gadly antics, divisiveness and inability to govern or lead. As for attacks on Bernstein, smells like jealousy for someone who fought town hall and won.

hal samis said...

Just checked the Bill of Rights. There is no absolute right to write on the blog. It is available to all for viewing. If assumed residents feel that their views are important and would help clarify all the confusion, there is no real reason that they should have to fear from adding their name. Of course, these anonymous authors view of their own self-importance is so high that they nurture the fiction that others would go out their way just to punish these efforts. Exposing content errors is by no means a personal attack; nor is pointing out that statements are "opinions" versus fact another example of a villification.

Why don't bloggers try attaching their names and see what happens?
Hopefully those who respond to them will not do so anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Samis, are you kidding?

Samis is reason enough not to sign one's name to any blog entry on this site.

He has personally and relentlessly attacked and impugned the integrity of dozens of community volunteers in this town who've taken him at his word, looked into what he's had to say on a number of subjects, and found his arguments to be without merit.

Every time Samis goes after someone on this blog, it gets recorded on any number of search engines. If you've been attacked like this, try googling your name and see what comes up.

Now try to imagine you're applying for a job or meeting a new client, and the prospective employer or client googles your name as well.

Samis doesn't care because he doesn't think his personal attacks have any consequences, and since everyone can see he's been encouraged by Feiner to keep it up, the situation only gets worse.

The result is that anyone interested in serving the town asa volunteer has to think twice because of the consequences.

This is one of the saddest results of Feiner's legacy in this town.

Dan said...

I'm the Dan who posted the comment that sparked this thread. I have no affilition with Mr. Feiner or his blog. I do have my own blogspot site about my personal interests on which, like most bloggers, I installed a sitemeter. I get that the sense that many of the posters on this site might not be too tech savvy (neither am I). I only intended to give fair warning to those who desire anonymity that they have to be careful on the internet - particularly when logging onto ANY website from their office. I gave the law firm example because I am a lawyer and know from this situation from personal experience.

hal samis said...

To Anonymous and "Dan" who is taking so much time from his busy day to alert all of us and to alert ud and to alert us...

Let me understand the logic. I make comments on this blog about real people.

(I) "have personally and relentlessly attacked and impugned the integrity of dozens of community volunteers..." not to mention those who are employed by the Town for generous salaries.

And I complain about bloggers who write without signing their names.

How do I know who the dozens of community volunteers whose "integrity" has been impugned are?

If I already know who the impugned are, golly I must be writing about them without the need to identify them from their signed blog posting.

So if the blogger is correct, people can appear on search engines even without signing their blogs because I refer to someone who has made a public statement or done an action in public, or is a public official and that somehow by their action to not sign their posting, that this alters the landscape?

Likely the bloggers are the same people who appear in public. So what would be different or are those who post anonymously all deep throat moles who have not yet been "activated" and thus are unknown to the general public?

Really, the anonymous argument to avoid appearing in a "google" search result is absurd. What is more likely is that by posting as anonymous, the bloggers don't have to deal with the inconvenience of working with the truth.

Anonymous said...

Samis just doesn't get it.

He doesn't see or care about the damage he causes innocent Greenburgh residents who, without compensation, agree to serve as volunteers on various boards, including for example the library board -- only to find themselves viciously maligned by his posts -- posts that anyone googling years from today can pick up.

In Samis' mind, if anyone makes the critical mistake of actually engaging him in discussion, and doesn't go along with what he says, that person or groups of persons is not "innocent" at all. And therefore, in his mind, he can malign them til the cows come home.

Those who actually know Samis know that he is the one who plays fast and loose with the truth, daring anyone to catch him in his lies, and the reason he signs his name is that he makes no secret of his open contempt for anyone who tries to expose him for what he is.

So go ahead Samis and scream some more at town board meetings. That way anyone tuning in for the first time will be able to see firsthand just who you are and what you are.

In the meantime, blog on for Feiner. The public should know just how closely aligned the two of you are.

hal samis said...

Dear farmer in the dell (anonymous),

Try milking another cow.

You make me feel so abashed. So much so that:

Here's today's dare: what is that I am incorrect about regarding my comments about those Library Board volunteers who are throwing taxpayer dollars down the toilet. Since 12:15 seems so intimate with the Library Board, perhaps he can illustrate?

And if these "innocent" volunteers are really so innocent, then I promise to no longer "malign" them about what you show to be incorrect. I'll even apologize.

And since you mentioned the Library Board, you want to be convincing or you will have dug them even deeper into their grave.
In which case, what someone googling in 2027 about members of the Greenburgh Library Board in 2004/2005/2006/2007/2008 shouldn't disturb them in their interrment.
Thus you have to show me to be wrong and them right. Attacking me does not proof that the Library Board is right or running the expansion project well.

Time to put up.

Anonymous said...

He'll never admit it because Samis is not capable of admitting error, but there are plenty of places even on this blog where Samis has been proved wrong or just plain full of it.

Just google "Hal Samis" and look for entries like "Samis Gets Clock Cleaned" and you'll see for yourself.

At least for the moment, now that he's been told the kind of damage he causes, he's stopped attacking community volunteers by name.

hal samis said...


People who visit this blog can still read even if they don't post either with their own name or as anonymous.

They can read your postings and mine and see that you can't or won't participate in the "dare". You have harmed the Library Trustees more than me because you claimed my statements were false yet where is your proof to back up your counterclaim. In the absence of any reason to change my opinion, I stand with any and all characterizations I have made about the Library Building team, Howard Jacobs, Estelle Palevsky, and Susan Wolfert. They didn't and still don't understand the project and there isn't enough remaining in the budget to deliver anything near the Library that was promised in their information sessions including items like furniture and technology as indicated in the project estimate of $19.9 million.
Nor would anyone expect better from a former high chool principal, a reading specialist and a former mid-level bank employee. They and their support team simply do not understand the project, municipal construction, or how to deal with their Architect and Construction Manager.

The only thing they might have some frame of reference to accomplish was to secure a temporary location for the Library. Their own hire, Triton (Construction Manger) said it was essential that this be arranged by December 2005. I'm not retreating from my own criticisms of Triton but they were right on this matter. In case you have forgotten, it was not until just after Labor Day 2006 that the Library went with Plan B, moving into Town Hall. Of course, even Labor Day was 6 months after construction was to start -- remember "we have to hold the Library referendum in May 2005 so that we can get a Spring 2006 construction start".

So while they were complimenting each other on a job undone (go to a Library Trustee meeting and see how they celebrate each other) what was the Construction Manager and the Architect doing? Even while the Library was "delayed by the fastest in-out at both the Planning and Zoning Boards that I have ever seen (February, March, April 2006 which could have been done even earlier if the Architect had delivered the site plan in October 2005 as he had said he would instead of February/March 2006 so these hearings could start)...what were they doing? not obtaining the permits for the geothermal drilling which was also needed to be done by March 2006.

Source of this information is the Library's own OAT meeting minutes attended by Jacobs, Palevsky, Wolfert, the Architect, the Construction Manager and our very own Al Regula. But let's concentrate on those three volunteers whose reputations have been "soiled": Howard Jacobs, Estelle Wolfert and Susan Wolfert. When did they ever let on that things weren't going well? Never. Either I am correct and they don't know what was going on (understandable since they are grossly unqualified for the job) or they deliberately and collaboratively agreed not to disclose the problems.

What do you call telling the residents, the taxpayers, the Town Board and their own Library Board and Library patrons that everything is going well. Am I making this up. Did the construction start last Spring?
Did the Library arrange a suitable relocation address in time? Did they obtain geothermal drilling permits? Did they even apply for the permits? Don't ask me the one who ruins resumes on google. Ask Mr. Jacobs. Ms Palevsky and Ms Wolfert. That is if you don't already know being such an insider.
Has the project been downscaled. No, the 46,000 feet has remained the same because that would be obvious and leave them open to even further criticism, especially since they had rallied behind their hired consultant who said they must have 46,000 feet.
If you want to sit down in the new library better give generously when the Greenburgh Library Foundation comes knocking at your door because currently they don't have the $878,000 estimated for this. Etc.

So when "volunteers" are in over their heads and spending $30 million of resident's money, and they won't move aside politely because they want to be in the ground-breaking photo, they deserve everything they are getting and going to get.

Take that to the bank, google and the world you hide in.

And thanks for makign it easier for me to rach people. When they see the anonymous attacks and the lack of follow through, who is right is not hard. I say this knowing how simple it will be for my attacker to write mulitple attacks at different times under the name anonymous. But reasonable residents understand what's going on here.

Or wait for the next confrontation. Like a subway station announcement, there's another train directly behind...

Deconstructing Samis said...

Well it didn't take long for Samis to start launching personal attacks again against his favorite target of late -- the volunteer residents who serve on the town's library board.

Stripped of all his hate-filled venom about how unqualified and incompetent he thinks they are, all Samis says is that the volunteers haven't told the public that there supposedly isn't enough money remaining in the $20 million budget to deliver "anything near" the library that was promised.

So where's his evidence?

The most important thing he tells us is that the project has so far not been downsized. But he says not to worry, not downsizing is just part of the coverrup.

So what else is he talking about?

He says there's an $878,000 shortfall. Omigod! On a $20 million project, that's about a 4% overage. Big deal.

If that means all they have to do is cut $878,000 from their original estimates, that sounds pretty good for municipal construction.

He next blames the volunteers for problems with the new building's geothermal heating system. But what exactly is the problem?

Geothermal wasn't called for in the referendum -- that was an idea someone had later on for doing something "green" and saving money long-term. The experts agreed and the town went along.

Later on, long before permits would be needed to drill the deep wells geothermal requires, the experts said they could save red tape and money if they drill shallower wells that don't require permits at all.

There's nothing wrong with that and while the experts figure that detail out, construction is already underway.

But none of this matters to Samis.

To him, the dedicated volunteers who've poured thousands of unpaid and thankless hours into making this project a reality must all be part of that vast pro-library conspiracy out there -- to be sure, a conspiracy that's out to get him.

So who is this Samis really? Let's unmask him.

He's an angry twice-divorced unmarried unsuccessful real estate mortgage broker living alone in a small apartment who simply craves the attention he gets by trashing the work of others, and most especially the work of those relatively successful members of our community who think it's worth their time to volunteer for the betterment of the town.

Feiner and his supporters think Samis walks on water these days.

Greenburgh voters should remember that.

Anonymous said...

I like Sitemeter. If the corporation or firm you are viewing a site from has their own domain i.e. whatever LLC, it will show up in the logs that this is where a person visited your site from. In the past I've been able to see when a hit from a law firm or municipality i.e. showed up.

If your firm or corporation goes through Verizon, Comcast, or Cablevision for Internet access to name a few, that is what will get logged and not the name of the company or firm.

However Sitemeter does two cool things. It logs your IP but it also will give you the latitude and longitude coordinates of where the hit came from. You can paste these coordinates into Google Maps and can narrow down the location. It won't be exact but you will see the area where the range came from i.e what street and etc.

Anonymous said...

As to the commenter who brings up the "private citizen" argument. I'd argue that the lawyer that the commenter is referring to whomever that may be, if they constantly appear at public town meetings, is not a "private citizen".

I would argue that they are what is called a "limited public figure".

=== A person can also become a "limited public figure" by engaging in actions which generate publicity within a narrow area of interest. For example, a woman named Terry Rakolta was offended by the Fox Television show, Married With Children, and wrote letters to the show's advertisers to try to get them to stop their support for the show. As a result of her actions, Ms. Rakolta became the target of jokes in a wide variety of settings. As these jokes remained within the confines of her public conduct, typically making fun of her as being prudish or censorious, they were protected by Ms. Rakolta's status as a "limited public figure" ===

So if you are going to speak in public and draw attention to yourself, you should be able to withstand criticism and attention.

hal samis said...

If anyone thinks I am troubled by criticism of myself, that is simply not the case. If anything it renews my faith that I am stepping on the right toes.

I'm back on the job and criticizing the Library Trustees, Howard Jacobs, Estelle Palevsky and Susan Wolfer because I interpreted the posting from the anonymous blogger as an invitation to dance.

I didn't go into much detail before about the Library because I had to leave my "small" apartment where I live "alone" and play poker with some friends in the real Scarsdale and I was lucky I won because the proceeds can supplement my small income from my "unsuccessful real estate career". I live alone because after "two marriages" I guess I don't want to make the trip down the aisle again and by living alone I have more free time to be "angry" at self-rightous bigots.
An attitude I can believe as originating from within the
Town Council suite.

Ok let's digress on the Library. I did say that they were afraid to downsize the Library and kept it at the promised 46,000 feet because they were boxed in by what their consultant said which they bought into (that the Library needs 1 foot per pop). However, this is not the same conclusion that other experts would reach in the computer and internet age.
Nevertheless, the building is said to be remaining at 46,000 feet. However there are other aspects to downsizing. For example, the Library Trustees said the Library needed 160 parking spaces up from the then existing 39. So when they went before the Zoning and Planning Boards for variances, one of the things they immediatly requested was to reduce the zoning required 154 parking spaces to 120 and to "landbank" 34. From the Construction Manager's mouth this saved about $90,000. One of the things about landbanking is the assumption that if they are needed they can then be paved and returned to parking spaces. Of course this would create another expense and should the need arise, the money to do this will have long been spent, like yesterday.
At the same time the parking was disappearing, so was the auditorium/meeting room which went from (depending upon which "information session" you attended, from 200-225 seats per Howard Jacobs to the present plan for 140 seats. Of course the
Architect will say that only 168 seats were intended. Since the original concept was to be able to divide this space into smaller units or meeting rooms (the new library will have more meeting rooms), the mechanism to do this has also disappeared -- the dividable wall units fell by the wayside, this about a $40,000 expense so what we are left with is one room of 140 seats, roughly the size of the auditorium in Town Hall. So now Greenburgh has a second space for large groups. However what was supposed to be different between the two rooms (Town Hall vs Library) was that the Library's was part of a larger concept, a cultural center with performances, movies, poetry readings, musical events being presented. In fact so important was this to the Library of the Future that the entire design of the new Library revolved around the importance of this auditorium. Since the Trustees anticpiated holding events after the Library portion of the building was closed, they sought to isolate the Library (all the uses that patrons were accustomed to go to at a Library) and put them on the second floor which could then be closed at night. This in turn caused the need to situate the main entrance to where the auditorium was located and thus everyone who goes to the Library for books or research must go up one flight to access them and down again to leave. The everyday greater use was given an inferior and inconvenient location while the lesser used space was given prominence. This includes inconveniencing Seniors and Parents with strollers for the children's room is located upstairs as well. So in the old Library, patrons could use the books and research functions by entering on the same level; parents with strollers had to go downstairs because not only was the lower level closed, there was also no way for those with strollers to get to this door from the parking areas. However in the new and improved Library, instead of having to go down to the children's room, parents have to go up and park further away in aggregate than they did before. Of course this could have been avoided by knocking down the old structure and building an entirely new one story library of the same size but with the auditorium located at one end with the building entrance between the auditorium and the traditional functions and no one would have to change floors while, incidentally, parking around the building could be located more equidistant. And, the cost for both libraries would be the same $300 per foot. Anyone want to see Ossining's new Library built ground-up? It is larger and costs less than ours.
But the Trustees wanted something a little different. I'll get to that tomorrow. So with the vision of a cultural center before the voters, let's see how this is to be realized. Here's the chance to create an auditorium which will allow all those events residents had to go to the Purchase campus to view or hear. Think of it right here in our very own Greenburgh. So we have a room designed without floor grading to insure sightlines, without a raised stage, without an enclosed projection booth, without dressing rooms for events using costumes etc. And the bottom line is that the in-use time of this 140 seat room will be a mere fraction of how the upstairs, the Library will be used. So because the Library functions work best together, what you are getting as the necessary result is a very crowded upper level and a lower level awash in wasted space simply because there is no other logical use for the space. Other than a lobby for people to stand in during the l'entre acte and visit the infamous cafe which is portrayed on the plans as only five seats at a coffee bar but is really larger being meant to occupy what is labeled as a gallery on the plans but is really a largish empty space with no walls which severely inhibits the ability to hang objets d'arte from were it really a gallery. And there is a conference room which is really for the Library staff being located deep within the innards of the staff area. And there is a training room for computers which is also referred to as a meeting room (remember the new library will have lots more meeting rooms) for those who like their meetings in row seats and seated behind a computer screen. But with all this space what is lacking is an enclosed garage to house the cybermobile from the weather elements. This was discussed as part of the new library but fell by the wayside, as was an outside canopy which also disappeared due to a lack of money. Meanwhile the lower level also contains the book and media processing areas which are located on the Knollwood side (East) of the building on the lower level while the books arrive and depart the Library at the opposite end of the building (East) the Elmsford side. This of course necessitates that these items be carted the length of the building. I could continue but I guess you can conclude that I am not happy with the approved plans.

But what about the sloped roof. Either you like it or you don't but one thing, it is not, is energy efficient despite their promotion that it was. The extra cubic footage from the ceiling height requires additional lighting to maintain an equal wattage level, this more than offsets the amount of natural light which is let it which occurs only when it is daylight and on sunny days. When the Library is open after sunset, or it is cloudy or it rains etc. simply put, there is a lot more space to light and at an increased energy cost. And to get this extra height, it required the trip to Planning and Zoning which the Trustees made so much out of.

But where would the project even be if the Public had not cried out and caused the Library Trustees to reverse their stand and finally withdraw their acknowlegement that the old town hall site wasn't needed for the Library's planned expansion. And to make it even more lively, look back in the press clippings and you will find Todd Harvey, the Library's Architect agreeing: saying that the project would still have 160 parking spaces even without the plottage to be sold to the Sunrise
Development. Diana Juettner, the
Town Board, liaison to the Library, never spoke out against the proposed sale to Sunrise until AFTER the public expressed their outrage at a Town meeting. And I'll be discussing her again later.

So with the support of the Public, the Library Trustees felt that now was the time to strike and push ahead for the overdue Library expansion. But to maintain the Public support they had to come up with an expansion project and a cost to execute -- without these there could be no Referendum. They could not just say give us $20 million. To justify this number they needed an estimate with charges and expenses and a grand total. They needed a Construction Managerto do this. So with a hasty RFP they "happened" upon the winner,
Triton which told the Trustees that they would not charge for pre-referendum services (the project estimate and appearances at meetings). There are some details that would be of interest in a Court situation but I'll let them pass in favor of saying that even though they were not even the low bidder among the responsible firms interviewed, they won the job because of promising not to bill as noted above. The fee they estimated for themselves was $612,000 (one of the many numbers which added up to the $19.7 million cost) and sure enough when their contract was signed, $612,000 became $680,000 and eureka the pre-referendum fee finally emerged. Of course, we now know that they are going to be earning considerably more than their own estimate because this was just for the period ending this November 2007 and the job is not going to be near finished by late fall of this year. However, at the "information session" at Town Hall (it was taped)
Triton did earn their money because when I asked about an item on their estimate which had no price next to it (in fact it said "not included") I asked why, wondering why, it wasn't included. The item was "oil tank" and I had suspicions that the size of the existing was too small for a building doubling in size and the existing one was probably old and ready for replacement. But my speculations were wrong because I was told that they aren't going to need one
BECAUSE THE LIBRARY WAS GOING TO BE HEATED AND COOLED BY GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. So go back and re-read my attacker's posting at 8:04 and you will see that I am wrong because in explaining the undersight in not seeking drilling permits because the idea of using geothermal energy came AFTER the Referendum. Totally untrue. Then the blogger says that long before the permits were needed (of course you would also have to ignore the Library's own OAT meeting minutes which remind everyone for the three months prior to March 2006 that the permits would be needed by the end of March 2006. Another lie. Compounding that lie is still another that someone found a better way which wouldn't require the permits. However what doesn't fit the known facts is that the RFP for a drilling contractor went out in early fall for the drilling which required permits. Only after the bids were opened and they acted as though everything was going well, did Bob
Reninger reveal his correspondence with the permitting authority which showed that the Library hadn't even applied for permits even though there is also correspondence from the Architect and the Construction Manager which skirts the issue. Something like we called but they didn't call back...The proposed new drilling scheme exists only because they know they cannot obtain the required permits; it was introduced only after the drilling contract specs for the original method had been bid on and the reason these contracts haven't been signed is because they need to be changed and the Library team is trying to avoid being caught which will be obvious when re-bidding is required.

If you read my blog entry and you read my attacker's you will see the statement "where's his evidence". I could reply where's the evidence of my attacker but I have provided evidence in citing the OAT meeting minutes, in pointing out that the project is not where it is supposed to be in time while there are things I have held back too. For example, it is not just the missing $878,000 of furniture and fixture contracts.
There is also the missing $186,400 of technology contracts (this does not refer to computers), the missing $189,000 to pay the Construction Manager through December 2008, but I should acknowledge that I made a mistake too, the $878,000 is wrong. In my anger I goofed; the accurate amount from the Triton estimate is really not $878,000, it is $978,600. Sorry. Then too are the quality reductions in the finishings, like being forced to go with the grade Z carpet because it is cheaper. Lots of little items like that. And all of this comes AFTER the cushion of 19% of the project total which was reasonably factored in at the beginning to prevent this exposure to changing conditions. They have blown through this insulation level which was to be the protection against escalations, contingencies and inflation. What is in the four signed contracts incorporates this. Meanwhile constuction has not yet started.

I'm packing it in for tonight. When I come back, I'll discuss Ms Juettner's involvement, the Town Council's involvement and the less than splendid job being not done by several Town Departments. Perhaps my blogger stalker who makes so much of my "attacks" on the innocents who really are wasting taxpayer dollars, maybe he/she can find a few "facts" to prove me wrong. Perhaps there is a way to scan documents and move them to the blog but I can at least cite and direct readers to my source material. Can my blogger doppelganger follow suit? In any case I don't think my living in a small apartment is reason enough to disregard my comments.

When I hold citizens and volunteers feet to the fire it is not without provocation or reason or that they ahven't earned it. But I can support what I say. So far blogger opposite has not provided any facts to support he/she's pwn allegations.
Something even a casual reader can readily discern. Of course that is why the posting is anonymous.

And in closing, we know Gil, Francis and Howard can type.
Does anyone know if Timmy or Estelle can?

Anonymous said...

Samis speaks with forked tongue.

He opposed the library expansion because he thought voters should have authorized no more than $15 million of the $20 million requested. So he told us the design sucked.

But a majority of library referendum voters didn't buy what Samis was selling any more than they bought what Feiner was selling.

Samis and Feiner are gadflies who think they are boatloads smarter than the rest of us. Trust the two of them, they tell us, they know better.

In the two years since the library referendum, Samis and Feiner have together been on this crusade to prove that they were right in the first place and that the majority of library referendum voters who said yes to this project were either too stupid or, gasp, we were misled.

But their game is all smoke and mirrors. Samis and Feiner don't know anything about municipal construction. Feiner, with no grasp of the details, tries to make headlines with baseless charges about the library being overbudget before any money had been spent.

And Samis, obsessed with details, but without any overall understanding of how consruction works, screams with outrage at any modification along the way. Thus, he reacts with horror when the number of parking spots are reduced from 160 to 120 or the number of seats in an auditorium get reduced from 225 to 140.

Nevermind that Samis doesn't drive, the existing library had only 39 spaces, and a scaled down auditorium is more in keeping with what Samis wanted in the first place.

But none of what they say matters. By law, the capital cost of the project is capped at $20 million. If certain costs go beyond what was estimated, which always occurs in construction projects, decisions will have to be made on cutting back in order to keep the project within budget.

All of that is normal.

Also normal, especially for construction of a municipal library, is raising money privately to augment the costs and thereby keep the cut-backs to a minimum.

Anonymous said...

Why wait till the construction is completed, and the money has runout. Stop the project as it stands now,and refurfish what we have. If a home owner can buy a small house and turn it into a Mcmansion Why can't the contractor do the same. Come on many of us were not born yesterday,this plan smells too fishy.

hal samis said...

A very serious error was made in the comment by anonymous at 12:16. I do drive; I just don't own a car. That said and now that the truth is known, that should put everything I have written in a entirely new light.

Does it seem to anyone else that the blogger is getting desperate?

Assuming that readers can get past my carless resume item, let's proceed with the story. The blogger says it is normal to raise additional funds to prevent cutbacks in the project. Furthermore I wanted a $15 million project. Horrors, or what would become the reality is that a $15 million would end as a $20 million project and the $20 is on the way to $25 million. If this was all so normal, why weren't voters told that sure we are calling this a $20 million turnkey but you really should understand that we will need a lot more money to deliver what we promised. And, if to establish, this one I have to resort to using details (aka facts) then it is not a reasonable approach.

It is good to know too that anonymous blogger understands how construction works. According to him, undertanding parking space reductions and fewer auditorium seats are the norm. Next time you readers encounter bait and switch, remember that it isn't wrong, it is just how the construction industry or more importantly how the Library Trustees Howard Katz,
Estelle Palevsky and Susan Wolfert function.

So the norm to augment the faulty design, poor planning and poor judgement is to raise more money. OK. I'll bite.
The Library Trustees have argued that the Town has needed a larger library for at least ten years.
The formerly existing building was too small when built and only gotten samller ever since. So here we have on tap in Greenburgh someone who understands the "norms", understands construction and with this insight has alerted the Library
Trustees and its fund-raising entity (tax deductable gifting) the Greenburgh Public Library Foundation (hello Ms Bishop) that "folks we need to get hustling and start raising some big bucks." I'm reasonable, let's take the first 10 years of inaction and toss them out the window. Let's even say good job for the what I believe is around $30,000 raised in the two years ending this May since the referendum. But how are they going to raise the really big bucks (around $2.2 million) before the project is finished -- either in the two years which end December 2008 or earlier by March 31 2008 which will be the point that the budgeted money for the Construction Manager's fee ends, assuming of course that the money budgeted includes the free service period (not signed) of January,
February and March 2008. Otherwise if the project does go to December 2008, there is no money to pay the additional $189,000 that they would earn.
But that is the norm we are told.

But what if they don't raise the money? It is not like the project hasn't already been cut back and cut back and cut back. The anonymous blogger is talking about additional future cutbacks. And even that is predicated on a zero change order construction period --something that is most decidedly not the norm.

So anonymous, without giving us your name(s), what are YOUR qualifications to speak with authority on construction?

And whether the project is $20 or $15 or $25 million, the design still sucks. One has nothing to do with the other. Just like there is no half pregnant.

And a majority of referendum voters? True but 66-68 votes doesn't really convince me that the high road was taken after 34 road shows of lies which no one would suspect as such because it was THE LIBRARY. How about an information sheet which ranked
Westchester libraries by size and population but using the GROSS square footage for the other libraries and the smaller USABLE square footage number for Greenburgh? This tells residents that Greenburgh is behind in the size race. When this was pointed out to Library Director Gerber, she said oh that's just a mistake, we used the wrong number and then the Library continued to distribute this "fact" sheet at their next 17 meetings. That too must be something that the blogger would call normal or just a detail.

Gee can anyone be smarter than "the rest of use"? About anything? If you had a name(s) I might even vote for you because I think smart is a good quality. Buth since you lack both a name and any evidence of being smart, I don't think I'm going to be spending much time choosing among the litter. Of course, maybe everyone else except you in "the rest of us" are the smart ones.

And I don't even think the rest of your crowd is too happy with the job you are doing here.

Meanwhile, whatever size the auditorium should be or has become was not done for my benefit. Nor was the elimination of the mezzanine level ($600,000), an even funnier joke if you consider that Library users and staff might have to be on all three floors just to get a book, but we all had our laugh and the mezzanine beat a hasty retreat. But it was vanquished leaving behind its cost in the project total.
That too must be the norm. As was the curved roof facade (not the current sloped roof) at a $112,000 premium. Not understanding construction like you do I see that the inclusion of these items in the original estimate was just a straw man to build into the project an additional cushion beyond the printed 19% existing cushion. In other words, with the elimination of the mezzanine and the curved roof facade, did the project total decline (and it vanished from the project within four months) by its allocated $712,000 plus its own part of the 19% cushion bringing it to a real reduction of $847,000 BEFORE the Architects and Construction fee which is based on what is spent. In other words, if these items had never existed, the project total presented to the Public would have been at least $900,000 lower. On a more detail level if the premium carpet had never been estimated, the project cost would have been lower. If...if...if..because if all these "quality out", "cost cutting measures in" were suggested from the beginning, (if they perform the same function but cost less why are we only now choosing them) then the total cost of the proposed project would have been lower, the fees based upon the money spent would have been lower and it would all filter down to what we are actually going to get: the $15 million library costing $22 million without all the escape hatches that were built in so the Architect and the Construction Manager would look good. And when you know you have a fool for a Client, it is childplay. And, let me remind you that the fool is the Library Board of Trustees. But let me prempt the anonymous blogger's retort to this revelation: "Samis sold his Google shares under $200 and he is balding." Now you know for certain that I can't know what I am talking about.

The other point about making the choice of the lower grade as driven by the need to cut costs.
Sure the carpet looks good the day the Libray opens but, if it has to be replaced three years later, is this not another one of those jokes that the Library Trustees are playing on the taxpayers?

Anonymous blogger is grasping at straws.
That too is the norm.

Now a word about old stoneface, our very own Diana Juettner, the Town Board's liaison to the Library. She is the benficiary of the need to circle the wagons when under attack and thus she got included in the save the cheerleader manifesto that the Town Council has been constructing: if one of us goes down, we all go down. Juettner is the Library chain's weakest link so it was necessary to revise history and construct an elaborate fantasy about her role in the proceedings. Residents have been led to believe that she has been the Library's Joan of Arc. She may have visions but they are only about a nice, cushy job where she doesn't have to say or know anything. Not unlike Ms Barnes who only has to preach faith, hope and harmony.

In fact, Ms Juettner has been an even greater threat to the Library expansion than me. First, Ms Juettner lives in the incorporated section which means she gets to use the Library but doesn't have to pay for it, operating or construction costs. So it would be assumed that whatever they want, why should she speak out against it. After all, it is THE LIBRARY. But that is forgetting that once upon a time, the Town
Council followed the Supervisor's lead without questions and such a time was when the proposed sale of the old town hall portion of the site was in negotiation. I did then and even now believe that it was wrong to consider this before the Library expansion plan was finalized but the other reality is that the Town could realize some tax reducing proceeds from both the sale and returning the land to tax rateables. The proposed use was non-toxic if not even desirable and the least offensive use to the neighboring civic association. Under NYS Town Law, the Town can't just dispose of surplus property; it has to declare the property to be surplus and there is a process for that. One of the steps is to ask Town departments whether they need the parcel. When the Library was asked, the Trustees, headed then and now by Howard Jacobs said ok, we don't need it. Juettner was silent. Brought in to assuage fears, Todd Harvey, the Library's then and now Architect said, ok, we don't need it. Juettner was silent. Of course, despite her long hibernation on the Town
Board she never heard about disposing of surplus property and thought that applied to getting rid of used office equipment. Myself and others were skeptical of the wisdom of disposing of this adjacent land before the Library's plan was finalized and we started a Resident reaction which ultimately succeeded in applying the brakes. Our angry voices and unified position (friends and foes of Feiner alike because after all this was THE LIBRARY) and a groundswell of anger reached out to the Town Board and Diana Juettner woke up and said..."maybe we should wait".
This was taken as a 10,000 watt sign to the Library
Trustees so they hastily reversed their position and declared "we need it, you can't sell it".

So wait the Town did and eventually the problem subsided. Following her annointment as patron saint of the library, Ms Juettner returned to her dais hibernation. Meanwhile around her the Library expansion movement was growing in stature and direction and this led to the bold step to proceed with a Referendum and take it directly to the people -- who, after all, are the ones paying for it.

Feiner offered a $10 million expansion, how this number arrived at was never explained but in any case the Library wasn't buying.
Actually Feiner was not against a Referendum. Why should he? If the residents are willing to pay, then he is off the hook for the resulting tax increase. What he was against was the rush to the referendum in May versus the existing November polling date. A separately held elected would cost over $60,000 to mount. Back and forth went the allegations and both sides had hidden agendas on why now versus later or later versus now. My position was that we didn't know enough; the Library hadn't answered all the questions and that the Library didn't understand its own project. Not having anyone on their Board with construction experience was not a plus either. Triton was hired as the Construction Manager and requested to work with the Architect to produce an estimate(due yesterday)of the proposed project cost so that the Library would have a number to insert on the Referendum ballot. From this came the $19.9 (before debt service of the bonding). Juettner still in hibernation on the dais, waking up from time to time only to eulogize some departed Greenburgh soul. And on the occasional Library Board of Trustees meeting that she attended, (she is much more regular since my public scolding) she resumed her dead to the world mien while the Library Trustees discussed the project around her.

One of the items on the estimate was a $300,000 cost assigned to renovating the old town hall for use as a temporary library while the construction was underway. A not unreasonable or unlikely choice. But of the Trustees and liaison seated at the table, only one person would be aware of some potential problems with this decision. This would be Diana Juettner for only she regularly slept through Town Board meetings.
This is a crucial point that I am now at so pay attention.

Remember the recently ended flap over the disposition of the old town hall. The reason it was available was because the Town had purchased and moved to a newer, larger and more modern building about a half mile away. This purchase, a controversial matter iself, was finally concluded after a three year search with many missteps along the way. But before the process got to the fail safe point (where they couldn't go back) the Town Board had to justify what was viewed as an extravagent purchase and why the building should be used as Town Hall rather than the Library. And even before the current Town Hall building was bought, there was combustion over the purchase of the then vacant building shell across the street and over the available/not availble driving range on Dobbs Ferry Road. To justify the need to quit the old town hall building, the Town Board conducted its own "information" sessions and cited a variety of reasons why the building should no longer be used.
Not only was it too small for an expanding Town staff, the building was beset by the existing problems of inadequate wiring, a leaky roof, no elevator, mold, non ADA compliant bathrooms etc. A verifiable laundry list of problems. Diana Juettner was on the dais during these infomercials. And Diana Juettner was also at the table shared by the Library Trustees when their construction budget was discussed, including the plan to use the old town hall.
And Diana Juettner said nothing.

Now the Library's attention shifted to winning the referendum by holding their own information sessions (34 is what they say) and always answered that they intended to use the old town hall during the construction period. You know, "a man, a plan, a canal, panama!".

May 2005, the Library wins the referendum and onward and upward.
Now it is July and knock, knock it's the Construction Manager trying to get into the old town hall. Inside, he discovers a number of shocking problems: there is inadequate wiring, a leaky roof, mold, non ADA compliant bathrooms, and no elevator, etc.
It will take $500,000 to remedy and although, in hindsight, it might have been better to pay the piper, it would have been difficult to explain putting so much into a building which would be demolished in two years or so OR might become so useful in its new condition that it could be withdrawn from the Library expansion. So, thusly the frantic search, which would take a little over a year to find a substitute location but eventually end in failure, began and similarly a pattern of ineptitude and the three stooges-like performance nu the Library team commences and continues right up to the present.

Would things have been better if Ms Juettner spoke up and said, maybe we shouldn't count on using the old town hall because...
Would things have been better if the Construction Manager had first gone inside the old town hall instead of doing a drive-by estimate...
Could the town hall building plans been of some help if looked at? One would still be unaware of the mold but the ADA problems and the lack of an elevator would be obvious...

In fact the forced rejection of the old town hall for relocation was the commerative starting place for the downward spiral of setbacks that the Library's expansion plan would have to endure.

But, for my buck, if Juettner had opened her mouth back in November it would have saved a lot of time and money.

I'll continue tomorrow with more on the other characters and more of the back story. You'll note that I'm not talking about the size of anyone's home, their marital status, or what's on their tax return. Da, Da Da, Da, "we just want the facts m'am".

Samis and Feiner not credible said...

Samis is delusional.

He screams with outrage that the original estimators on the project put the cost of temporary space at $300,000 out of the total $20 million when, if the old town hall were used, it would really have cost another $200,000 more.

Omigod, a 1% mistake. Such morons! And for this, he's filled with rage -- sheer rage -- that Councilman Juettner didn't catch this beforehand.

But Samis didn't catch it either. Nor did Feiner or anyone else who, back in pre-referendum days were looking for anything fault they could find to get voters to say no.

Perhaps true library opponents should be venting their rage not at Juettner, but at Samis and Feiner for being so stupid -- utterly stupid -- not to have caught this themselves.

But true to his polemical self, Samis leaves out the rest of the story. Instead of plowing ahead to refurbish a dilapidated town hall at $200,000 more than was estimated, a decision is made to set up satellite libraries.

So, how much more did that cost us? Or did the decision to use rent-free space at existing municipal locations like town hall result in a cost savings?

If the decision to use satellites resulted in any cost increase at all - even as little as 1% more -- you can be sure Samis would be screaming about it.

But he conveniently left that part out.

Samis's rants are always full of holes like these.

Samis admits he hates the library project and everyone backing it. So does Feiner. No one should therefore believe Samis or Feiner are capable about telling the truth about the library project in any kind of objective manner because they're not.

Anonymous said...

What does a library rant have to do with Dan's warning? Hal's diarrhea of the mouth is getting tiresome. He needs to start his own blog if he wants a forum to take up screen after screen of space. Often, when he can write in manageable paragraphs, he's coherent and has a good point of view. But when he goes on and on like he's doing here, no one has the lifespan to read everything he's written. Try Kaopectate, Hal!

hal samis said...

Dear credible challenged,

Can you please tell which computer you use. I might be interested in such a system which converts written words to screams and rages.

Does the phrase "purple prose" have any meaning to you?

Samis (and by your extension, Feiner) did not "catch" the $300,000 number because as you point out Samis and Feiner are not in the construction business. How should we know how much $300,000 would buy in remediation. I never made claims that I was all-knowing.
I never claimed that I had a team of experts. On my side were not a Construction Manager, an Architect, the 3 member Library Building committee of Howard Jacobs, Estelle Palevsky and Susan Wolfert, Al Regula plus the Library's affiliated building experts including Estelle Palevsky's husband who speaks for the Library as with his resume as "Engineer". Fred Sissel, architect, artist, former trustee whatever and 2-3 others.
And of course they had Diana Juettner too. The country needed our anonymous blogger when the little boy said "the emperor's not wearing any clothes" because he was not scorned for not attending the Fashion Insitute of Technology. Every criticism of the Library by residents was countered with "we have this 'Team' who know what they're doing" -- unless they didn't know which turns out to be the case most often.

Since your calculation that $300,000 versus $500,000 out of $20 million is only 1%, what's the big deal...why didn't your buddies on the Library team argue that either and spend the $500,000 and have a place to move, a larger and more efficient space to operate from, and not hold back the project for a year. Certainly that would have had a cost savings value was only 1% and they were operating with at least a 19% cushion.

That itself would seem to be a very stupid mistake on their part that you have uncovered with your calculator. Perhaps you can scream and rage at them yourself. Welcome to the "haters" which YOU have labeled because there is considerable disagreement with them.

Hey, there are a lot of jerks and assholes in the world: you for one. But, even true, that doesn't mean I hate you. I don't even hate Howard Jacobs or Diana Juettner. I feel sorry for them.
They are in over their heads and won't admit it preferring instead to waste taxpayer's money and hope somehow that putting a fish tank in the children's room will divert attention away from the rest of the building. And of course, the longer the project disrupts the normal library operation, the more grateful and forgiving the patrons will be when any library finally opens.

But, hiding under the rock of being anonymous you have no problem with being vicious yourself towards those who are proud to carry names; you say that if you used your name it would end up on google. This means that you know this and do it to others because it won't come back to bite you. If Samis uses names, bad. If anonymous uses Samis' or Feiners' name, good. At least the Supervisor gets paid to endure insults. So I must, at least, be one of those hard-working volunteers.

Finally before I continue with my rage and screams (warning: turn down the volume control on your computer) let me point out the other error in your latest posting. You have attempted to turn the town hall mistake into a virtue by saying that the library was able to then move into rent-free space at the new town hall. And thus wine out of water. Even without going into the problems of the smaller space and the items in storage or unordered, you would be quite correct if in July 2005 when they became aware of the magnitude of the problems from using the old town hall, even the 1% cost difference, IF THEY HAD THEN SAID ok let's use available space in the new town hall...CAll THE MOVERS and we can be out of the old building within six months, time enough to allow the Spring 2006 construction start. But that isn't what happened was it. They looked for alternatives and then got caught up in the Frank's lease (try me on who to blame for that mess, please blame it on Feiner so I can respond, please) and when that failed, only then did they move rent free to town hall. On the other hand, if Al Regula is really charging the Library budget $310,000 as repairs and maintenance for their space in the new town hall, then they didn't get such a good deal for free rent did they.

You talk about "holes" in the story. When you actually find one let me know. While I wait let me remind you that the swiss cheese is holier than the doughnut. In your case, we know who is the rat.

Now lets return to my rage and screams and rants and screeds.

Let's talk about the Library Board of Trustees. Fortunately they are married, live in nice homes, have cars so their dysfuntion in running their expansion project must be rooted in other areas.

Here are a few reasons why this project is heading downhill.

Protecting their ego is their primary motivation. They can't be wrong. It isn't even necessary for them to have created the problem; once they endorsed a postion they will not back down, bail out or even call a time-out.

No one ever expected them to be architects, construction managers, well-versed in town politics or even the processes of moving things along from idea to ribbon cutting. Certainly nothing on their resumes suggested this and these skills are not necessary to supervise and operate a Library.

Their first problem was with then Library Director, Demita Gerber, who thought she could do an end run around the Trustees themselves and call the shots. She thought she knew Feiner and she thought she knew her Board. She also thought she could play both ends against the middle. She thought that if she could build an empire she would benefit as well. Historically, she got what she wanted from the Board because she was a good adminstrator and a good ship's captain. But then she got caught up in the power struggle and she lost. Let me make it clear: Demita ran a good library; she did not run a good campaign to head a bigger kingdom.

There clearly was a need for a newer and larger and more modern library. To renovate within the same space would not solve the problems. On the other hand, to build slightly more than double the existing size was to create problems. Bigger is better is a vanishing concept in this millennium. Technology prides itself on making things smaller every year. Information is stored in smaller and smaller places and these places need no longer be onsite anymore. For example, the library's reference room during the move is on-line. For a library which bills itself as the Library of Tomorrow, the Trustees need only go to Greenwich to see tomorrow. The problem is that the Trustees are based firmly in the last century where better was bigger. That does not mean that they don't understand technology; it means that they feel more secure with bricks and mortar than high speed data lines. But to hedge the bet, they also decided to market the Library under a new nomenclature, a community cultural center. This Board of Trustees is not inventing the concept; they are following in the same steps that other Library's have set upon.
Patrons have more choices to obtain Library materials than they did twenty or ten or even five years ago and where they actually get them may not be from a Library at the top of the list. Even excluding schools from the mix (they have libraries, computers and staff too) the ways that people get information are changing. So while it may be correct to respect how the greying baby boomer population uses libraries, it is not correct to continue to assemble bricks to accommodate them and their perceived future needs. They (myself too) are not going to be the library users of the Library of Tommorow. Our children's children will. And, if they go at all, it will not to be read the newspaper or check-out books or use the encyclopedia. They will be downloading not going down to the library.

So what the library, despite all their talk and tenuous links to the "classics" like Moby Dick, what they are really about is running a taxpayer day-care center for the very young and the very old. This may not be so terrible but not they not being up front about it is my problem.

The Library operates without any Town Hall intervention. They do so because both the Library and the Town government are reluctant to establish exactly what the Library status is. Neither independent Library District, which is the last thing the Trustees really want (to have their budget scrutinized directly as opposed to being another page in the Town budget -- and to have those who pay have the right to reject), nor Town Department although I think they really are. They operate as some quasi Agency not unlike the Hartsdale Parking Authority, another Agency which should be folded into the Town as a department. Gee, Howard Jacobs is on the Library Board and his wife Ruth is on the Parking Board -- both entities have sizeable bodies of critics.

However, despite being funded wholly by the Town, the Library determines its own budget and staff salaries. The Town Board may make a show at changing a few dollars (removes a few bucks from one line and adds them back on another) but the Library pretty much gets what it wants.

But what the Library Trustees do excel at is crying. Even when they have no basis, other than seeking pity, to do so. For example, the recent Elmsford/Ardsley library service contract dispute held no downside for the Greenburgh Library other than bragging rights. Elmsford was paying less per resident than Greenburgh residents and Elmsford did not have to participate in bearing the expansion expense either. Ardsley saw an opportunity and seized it. They could underbid Greenburgh for the Elmsford contract. Furthermore, Elmsford saw, correctly, that to pay increased fees to Greenburgh at a time when the library would effectively "out of order" for 2-3 years of construction would be a waste of their taxpayer dollars. When the Library was finished, they could always come back or renogotiate or continue to use it via Ardsley. Thus Greenburgh (and this was Howard Jacobs not Feiner) really had nothing to bargain with so I am not blaming Mr. Jacobs. But, how does any of this affect the Greenburgh Library. Elmsford money went to the Town. The loss of this income was to the Town, not the Library. The Library's 2007 budget (the first full year without Elmsford) shows only minor reductions to reflect fewer purchases because there is no room to add to collections. Salaries all rose in line or in excess of those paid to other Town departments. So why was this such a "blow" to the Library. Because the Library Trustees need to hide their problems behind whatever cloud drifts nearby. Thus the "look ma what they're doing to me now" tears. And even at their Trustees meeting last Thursday, they are still crying.

As for their handling of the expansion project, they knew, know little. In the rough world of business, customers with deep pockets and a similar lack of savvy are known as "pidgeons".
Architects and Construction firms like to deal with municipalities not only because the money is "good", the money is "there" but mostly because they know they can write their own ticket. Even when the largest municipalities have dedicated construction knowledgeable employees on staff, they are still able to get away with murder. Thus, imagine when vendors stumble across a situation like Greenburgh, with political unrest. The money is there, $20 million approved and waiting to be spent.

I have written about Triton's game before but let me add this. When they computed their original fee, they did so based upon adding their fee into the base upon which they computed their final fee. They did not base their fee upon the hard costs but upon the hard costs plus the soft costs (of which they were part of). Thus, they created a sort of double billing system which was only the starting point from which it grew as I have documented previously.

To pull the wool over eyes, you need a docile crew of sheep. The Library Board of Trustees, bah bah. Mention buzz words and they are off and running. The hot words today are "green building", LEEDS certification, renewable energy. And what self-respecting Library Board would want to build the Library of Tomorrow when their Directors network at "conventions" to discuss what's new and how big my Library is...

Well green building is also big business not only do the Library Trustees lack construction insight, they also lack business backgrounds. LEEDS is really a gimmick from a trade association of manufacturers who saw an opportunity to sell more of their products (capitalizing upon tax credits) if they could also manufacture status for participating to those who can't use the tax credits, like public libraries. So like any promotion which pulls you in by giving you the first levels for free, so does LEEDS. You get points and if your project accumulates enough you are eligible for several status levels, like American Express. Do you want or need the PLATINUM card?
Same thing at LEEDS. The free points come from being located near a bus stop, buying materials from suppliers located within 500 miles (never mind that the supplier can buy from anywhere) etc. but the harder points that you need to qualify are those from turn-key stystems that can be purchased from LEEDS suppliers. And, so far there's not really anything wrong with that but, the next step is the hard one, the actual certification of your LEEDS points. You can't just submit the invoices. Why do you want to be LEEDS certified in the first place? If you were a commercial entity or developer, you would get tax credits. However if you are a Library and can't use the tax credits, all you would get is a wall plaque. And certification is the pocket-lining gimmick. It could have cost the Library as much as $140,000 (not in the budget). So it was dropped after two meetings of pleading by the Architect who wanted it for his portfolio. However, if the certification was "only" $25,000 the Trustees would have bit. Why am I discussing this? Because the LEEDS focus is the rallying point for some of the features in the Library design which have added thousands of dollars in costs, created delays and are still unproven over time. Everyone wants to buy into the "green building" story so why wouldn't Greenburgh either. Why not get on the bandwagon with our current project, the Library. But, let's not just get on the bandwagon, let's try and head the parade. Let's not go with the time tested renewable energy sources like thermal energy, or even energy savers like green roof construction? No, the Trustees have an Architect who happened to have an unused sloped roof design going begging because no one else wanted it. That is until those folks from Greenburgh came in the door.

Thus, under the sales pitch of "natural light", our Trustees bought the farm which precluded thermal energy and green roof construction. Never mind that those folks over at Town Hall are pitching thermal roof panels. What the Library needs is the next step, geothermal. "We're not going to confuse people with the concept of present value of money, instead we'll just tell them that after an initial expense they're going to save money down the road." Everyone likes to save money down the road, but even when it costs $5.00 a gallon to get there?

In fact, what the Trustees allowed was to plan the Library around this even though there is no certainty that the drilling will even locate water or that it will remain at sufficient pressure over time. "Oh, what's the tiny problem? No survey, we can always get that."

And later, "Oh so the Library's built over the Aqueduct, no problem".

So naturally the Library Trustees are sucking this in and spitting it back out because why would the Architect and Construction Manager lie? So the Referendum passes and then follows the put up or keep talking stage.

No survey, no site plan.

Architect promises and promises and promises and delivers six months late. No place to move the library? Check off that box nine months behind schedule. Geothermal drilling? Check off that box eight months, no nine months, no ten months, no eleven months, no twelve months and still counting.

Do I expect the Library Trustees to understand what's happening? No. Do I expect them to see the pattern? No. Do I expect them to think that this indicates a problem? No. Do I expect them to rethink what's going on when I rub their faces in it? YES.

Ignoring that there were no weapons of mass destruction and knowing this, we didn't just pull up stakes, say sorry and come home, this is a recent precedent for the Trustees' determination to stick their own heads in the sand. But there is an even more dramatic historical event that follows the same accountability standard (and anonymous blogger is going to have a field day with the insensitivity of this one). Take a deep breath:
The Holocaust. If anyone read some of the testimony from the Nuremburg transcripts, they would recognize the answers. "no, absolutley not, we had no idea...our government told us that the trains were just transporting them to work camps...of course we heard rumors, but who do you believe...we wondered what happened to the Kleins but then so many people had was just too fantastic to comprehend...those things you talk about just couldn't have been happening here...we were only following orders..."

Nothing is wrong with the expansion project either. Rumors are always going around... The examples I have brought together in these blogs show that there are voices crying out (mine and others) but no one listens. Neither the media, the Library Trustees or the Town Council. The Library Trustees are now squirming but their new strategy is to say the project is in the hands of the Town. The Town Council will say they were misled because they heard reports, in public, from the head of DPW, Al Regula, that everything was ok, on time and within the referendum ordained amount. How does Al know this? Well since he is busy running the DPW and solving the snow and garbage collection problems, he has to rely on what the Architect and the Construction Manager, hired by the Town, say. And from the single voice, Mr. Feiner, "I said we needed to hire an independent Project Manager".

And in about four years, when the Town starts the expansion of the
Court and Police HQ, Mr. Regula who is the head of the project will say, everything is proceeding on budget and on schedule. Now let me get back to picking up the snow and garbage and building sidewalks.

hal samis said...

Dear bowel challenged,

Try the scroll bar.
Short enough.