Sunday, May 27, 2007

NYS AUDITS SEWER DISTRICT TAX ASSESSMENTS

In December, 2005 (after receiving complaints from residents about the assessment of sewer district taxes) I asked the Town Board to hire a forensic accountant. I was overruled by the Town Board. Some of the residents who complained advised the NYS Comptroller's office. The state comptroller has now commenced an audit of the assessment of sewer taxes.
The assessment of sewer taxes has gone on for decades. It's important that we comply with state law. I welcome the audit.

115 comments:

Anonymous said...

www.sewerdistricttruth is the website that contains all the relevant information, history and legal issues involved in this matter.

Anonymous said...

The Town of Greenburgh can not afford to hire a forensic accountant for every budget/tax allocation issue. The comptroller is the right way to go.

Anonymous said...

When an issue is as documented as this one was, the Town has a fiduciary responsibility to act, not go into denial mode. Sheehan's denial strategy has now backfired and the State Comptroller is now investigating the Town again. The Comptroller might as well rent out office space at Town Hall.

Anonymous said...

The correct website is www.sewerdistricttruth.com.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan is always in denial mode when someone other than he raises an issue. What a disappointment he is.

the real sewer district truth said...

Everyone on the Town Board, including Sheehan and Feiner, supported hiring a forensic accountant last year to look into the matter. The problem was -- who should pay for it?

Even though the cost of a forensic accountant would have been relatively small, the Town Board felt it would be wrong to ask all of the rest of the town's taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Nevertheless, the Town Board offered to have the town taxpayers, including taxpayers from the villages, pick up the entire tab if the forensic accountant concluded that the town had acted improperly.

However, the Town Board felt that if the forensic accountant determined that the town acted properly, then the sewer district residents should pick up the tab.

The complaining sewer district residents weren't willing to take the risk that the town might have acted properly and they rejected the offer.

Their view was that the town was acting in a heavy-handed manner by insisting they pick up the cost if the town was proved right. So, they did the next best thing: they contacted the state comptroller's office, where the costs of the forensic accountant's work are being picked up by all taxpayers statewide.

The Real Real sewer district truth said...

Dear 12:08

The issue that you fail to address in your comments is that the deal offered to the residents of the sewer district was in violation of their constitutional rights. They proved beyond a doubt that the mismanagement issues raised were in fact town wide. To only target a specific segment of the population for paying for a forensic accountant is unfair and unjust. Equal protection is the rule of the land.

Given the history of the Town's strange accounting practices, it would have been easy for them to employ a firm that supports all things government. Had the residents accepted Sheehan's illegal deal, they would have been stuck with the bill, no question about it. They did the right thing by rejecting Sheehan's offer. The facts on www.sewerdistricttruth.com speak for themselves. This WAS and IS a Town wide issue and given that FACT, it was outrageous for Sheehan to even suggest that only a small percentage of the entire population of Greenburgh should have paid for a forensic accountant to study the issue.

When any member of the Town Board or a Department Head addresses an issue of a citizen, who is paying for it? The Town in its entirety is paying for that Town Board Member or Department Heads' salary. Never before has the Town asked to be refunded. Sheehan's attempt to demand to be reimbursed would have set a scary precedent. Any citizen of Greenburgh in the future who has a legitimate issue would be offered the same deal: Yes, we'll hire our own guy to check into what you say but if you are wrong, you (if it only impacts one resident) or your neighbors (if the issue impacts a neighborhood) will have to pay for it. Just think of the legal bill that Bob Bernstein would have gotten under this system! Had Sheehan gotten his way on this one, citizens would be far less inclined to complain to the Town about something, knowing that there was a potential bill waiting for them. The residents did the right thing, not only for themselves but for the rest of Greenburgh in rejecting this illegal deal. The outrage should be against Sheehan for offering an illegal deal in the first place.

the real sewer district truth said...

The town's proposal might have been illegal -- but it was without a doubt heavy handed.

Taxpayers in sewer district taxing jurisdictions have a right to have the Town Board, which by law manages such districts, act properly when it comes to calculating what they owe.

The law insists that they do so because residents of sewer districts can't elect their own sewer district managers and they don't have enough votes to get rid of a Town Board which ignores their rights, or conditions their performance on one or more outrageous demands calculated to avoid doing their job.

On the other hand, taxpayers of the town outside the sewer districts have a right not to be taxed for work performed on behalf of the sewer district -- since the rest of the town itself doesn't benefit from such work.

In such circumstances, the law requires that the right of the sewer district's residents to a forensic accountant be narrowly tailored to respect the rights of the town's other taxpayers.

The town sought to do that by ageeing to pick up the costs of the accountant if the town were wrong, but insisting that the sewer district taxpayers pick up the cost if the town were right.

The Town Board, including Feiner who uses every opportunity to oppose charging village taxpayers for any service that gets performed in the town's unincorporated areas -- even when the law requires it -- thought the proposal it made was fair and reasonable.

But sewer district residents rightly complain that because the costs are unknown and the outcome uncertain, such a proposal would have a chilling effect on the exercise of the rights of sewer district taxpayers to make sure the town correctly calculates their respective bills.

The sewer district taxpayers have a point, which is why the state comptroller stepped in. By law, whenever there is a dispute between a town and a district within the town, the state comptroller's office is supposed to step in and resolve the situation because when it comes to dealing with the tyranny of town hall controlled by a majority of taxpayers looking out for their own interests, the state comptroller's office is charged with looking out for the interests of the tiny minority that inhabits a sewer district.

Anonymous said...

As of 2004, there were over 8,600 properties on various sewer districts that the Town of Greenburgh managed. That figure represents a significant proportion of the overall Town population. The Town's mismanagement of sewer district taxes impacted thousands of families. These families are not a tiny minority of a single sewer district. More people have been adversely impacted by the Town's illegal sewer district policies than voted in the last Town election.

Anonymous said...

There is lots of blaming going around, much of it legitimate. But districts are created to be self-sustaining. Districts raise their own taxes and pay their own expenses.

These days nobody wants to know what the law really requires. All everybody wants is that somebody else should pay the expenses of the town, and the districts.

more truth said...

Districts may raise their own taxes and pay their own expenses, but the state puts their management in the hands of a town-wide elected town board.

When a town board is negligent in managing a district, as was alleged in connection with the tree case of a few years ago, which involved the Cotswold Park District, the entire town, including the villages, must pay for the town board's mistake.

Here, some of the sewer district's taxpayers think the town board was negligent, but that hasn't yet been proven. It's also possible that the town's calculations may be wrong, but because of poor wording years ago, the town's actions, while still needing to be fixed, might not be legally negligent.

So what does that tell us about who should pick up the tab for looking into this?

As a practical matter, because the expenses involved are small and because the matter seems confined to this one sewer district, the entire town should pick up the cost as part of the cost of doing town business by setting up sewer districts to be managed by town-wide elected town boards.

It's a small price for all of us to pay townwide considering that the normal sewer tax expenses themselves are paid for only by the inhabitants of such sewer districts.

And it's good policy too -- because by making us all responsible for the costs, the town has an incentive to get it right the first time because repeated mistakes will cost everyone money town-wide -- and if we all have to pay town-wide, and it starts to add up, we can remember that come election-time.

Isn't that the lesson learned from the tree case?

In the meantime, though, let's remember that so far only one sewer district is at issue here, and that only involves a relatively small number of families. But no matter how small in number they may be, they have rights and the town is duty-bound to respect them -- even if it means costing village taxpayers a few shekels in additional town taxes.

Anonymous said...

Dear 11:58

The Town of Greenburgh NEVER had a system in place to account for new homes built in its special assessment sewer districts areas. The Town of Greenburgh was supposed to evaluate on a yearly basis wether or not building took place. If so, residents within that sewer district would have their taxes lowered accordingly since the capital cost of the project was fixed and now more properties would be paying into it. The concept that this impacts only a few residents is misleading to say the least. Thousands of taxpayers might be paying too much for their sewer taxes.

With regards to negligence on the Town's part, what else would you call a government that was given incontrovertible evidence that it was breaking numerous laws two years ago and still engages in the same illegal behavior??????

Anonymous said...

This isn't about the town and the villages, it is about the town and the sewer district.

Interesting about the tree and the Cotswold Park district. Did anyone tell the Comptroller that the tree was in the Cotswold Park district when the town asked for an opinion? Could be that the Comptrollers opinion would have been different.

And by the way, if I remember and I think I do, the Comptroller's opinion said that the unincorporated area should pay for the tree settlement, but allowed some wiggle room and the town board squeezed through that wiggle room. I think that we should stop talking about the tree settlement before the villages wake up.

Anonymous said...

The state was informed that the tree was in the Cotswold Park District. That special distrct was established to allow district taxpayers to pay for park property. The district was not impowered to maintain or inusre the property. The town was.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the Comptroller's opinion on the tree settlement and also the letter from the town asking for the opinion. Will someone post them? I don't trust what people say about them later. I'd like to know for sure whether the Comptroller was told about the Cotswold Park District and whether his opinion shows that he was told. And I'd like to see more about the wiggle room that 12:13 wrote about.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please,

the VOC read all the documents thoroughly. Call Herb Rosenberg. They just cant admit that every decision they have made from the tree settlement to not agreeing to mediation has backfired. We need a supervisor who deals with reality.

Anonymous said...

Here is a question for all of you. If you have read what is posted on www.sewerdistricttruth.com, what is your prediction for the argument that the Town will make in its defense?

Herb Rosenberg said...

An anonymous poster at 2:24 PM, writing about the tree settlement, said that “the VOC read all the documents thoroughly” and urged a previous poster, who had raised some questions about the settlement, to “call Herb Rosenberg,” I have not usually, on this blog, been cited as an authority, but I’ll try. Here goes.

1. The VOC has not read the documents on the tree settlement. They have read the SCOBA Report, the Finneran Law, and some recent Comptroller opinions regarding other issues. The VOC was formed long after the tree settlement was made and the expense allocation completed.

2. The SCOBA Report did not go into the Comptroller opinion regarding the tree settlement (June 8, 2004, File No. 060438). The SCOBA Report did not comment on such matters. The only reference to the tree settlement was that it, together with the Taxter Ridge decision, sparked a public dispute.

3. I have not seen the request for the Comptroller opinion and so I do not know whether it said anything about the Cotswold Park district. But the Comptroller opinion itself has interesting and revealing things to say. Here are some extracts:

(i) “In the case of judgments arising solely from functions that are charged upon the area of a town outside villages, the cost should be charged only to that area. In the case of a judgment or settlement arising out of a town improvement district, we have similarly concluded that the cost is an expense of maintenance of the district and is chargeable against the district.”

(ii) We noted [in a prior opinion]...that this office was not in a position to determine the extent to which the judgment at issue therein was attributable to actions of town officials taken in furtherance of part-town or town-wide functions. We instead indicated that this is the responsibility of the town board...”

(iii) “...it is possible that the board could determine that an inspection function relating only to the operation of town parks gave rise to the underlying cause of action. If so, it would depend on whether the parks were established on a town-wide basis (see, e.g.. Town Law §220), a part-town basis (see general Municipal Law §240), in one or more park districts (see Town Law, articles 12, 12-A), or a combination of those alternatives...” [The prior opinion was in another part of the state and thus the Finneran Law was not relevant, as it is in Greenburgh.]

Whatever else you can say about the Cotswold Park district, it is certainly not a town-wide park. The park was established as a park district. From what I have read on this blog (and a few other places) the town’s Department of Public Works apparently undertook the responsibility for inspecting trees in the Cotswold Park district. The DPW is not a town-wide department and it is funded through the town-outside budget. To the extent that it undertook responsibility in the Cotswold Park district that would seem to be an arrangement between the town-outside and the park district.

Many writers and speakers have said that the Comptroller has determined that the tree settlement is a town-wide expense. This is not correct at all. The Comptroller’s guidelines and citations (see paragraph (i) above) make it clear that the expense should have been a town-outside expense. The Comptroller said that the Town Board has the right to make some determinations as to the nature of the parks, the responsibility for inspection, etc. The Town Board decided to make those determinations contrary to the guidelines, and thus the Town Board made the decision to charge the A budget for the tree settlement. If the VOC were as litigious as some in Edgemont, this would have been an easy determination to overcome.

I hope this helps, at least those who listen. From the others I expect the usual name-calling.

Anonymous said...

After reading the evidence, I believe that the Town has no choice but to plead no contest with respect to how they have managed the sewer districts. They have violated the Constitution as well as many state laws. They have no defense to this.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan just doesn't like to work with people in the community.

Anonymous said...

It is better to work with people and come to peaceful resolutions of issues than be investigated by the State Comptroller and probably wind up being sued. Sheehan adopted the wrong strategy here. It is ashame that the rest of the board followed him. Since this year is an election year, I wonder if Bass and Barnes regret their actions.

rosenberg is wrong said...

The tree settlement expense was charged to the town entire because the negligence was the fault of the town board, as manager of the town's park districts, in failing to have a policy in place for inspecting trees in those districts, and for failing, as managers of the Cotswold Park District, for failing to maintain adequate insurance against liability that might arise there.

The comptroller was never told that the accident occurred in a park district.

There is case law in New York that stands for the proposition that when a park district's management is a town-wide elected town board, and that board has acted negligently in carrying out its duties and responsibilities as managers of the park district, then the park district has a claim over against the town entire for negligence.

That is the reason why, in this particular instance, the tree settlement costs were allocated town-wide.

The tree settlement was preceded by an appellate court ruling that sustained claims against the town due to negligence on the part of the town board in failing to have a tree inspection program in place for its park districts.

Because the liability arose from an accident in a town-managed park district due to negligence by the town board, there is nothing in the state comptroller's opinion or Finneran which would support charging the cost to the town's unincorporated areas.

Finneran excuses village residents from having to pay for the costs of town parks (not park districts) which are inadequate for use by village residents and restricted in use to unincorporated area residents.

Finneran does not excuse the villages from having to pay for the costs of liability incurred in park districts when the liability arises from negligence on the part of a town-wide elected town board.

If the law were otherwise, in Greenburgh, where the majority of town residents reside in villages, town boards could act negligently in the managing of districts -- including sewer districts -- and never be held accountable by the voters town-wide that elect them to office.

Herb Rosenberg said...

I was waiting to see what Bernstein or one of his deputies would say in response to my comments about the Comptroller opinion regarding the tree settlement. Why am I not surprised to see a regurgitation of Finneran arguments when Finneran had nothing to do with the tree matter. The Finneran argument -- or at least the spin of the Finneran argument -- comes out every time any question is raised about anything.

There is no point discussing it further. The language and guidelines are clear in the Comptroller opinion. For objective people the answer is easy. For agenda-driven people no answer is ever good.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rosenberg is wrong,

Bob B why do you continue to lack the self confidence to identify yourself. We all know your writing style and vocabulary.

Right now your continued "attacks" on everyone who might have a different point of view on any matter is playing right into the hands of the person you want to unseat. You are going to drive voters away from Ms Berger, because you "have her" in your hip pocket the same way that you boasted on a Metro North train that you had the other four in your hip pocket.

Keep up the good work. !!!

Anonymous said...

Seems to me "Rosenberg is wrong" was right to address Finneran because Rosenberg mentioned Finneran twice in his initial comments.

I also didn't read "Rosenberg is wrong" as a personal attack on Rosenberg. There was no name calling.

It read more a like a well-reasoned rejoinder to Rosenberg's suggestion that the town acted illegally when the town board made the tree settlement a town-wide charge. I assume that's what Rosenberg meant when he said that the if the VOC were more "litigious" the matter would have been settled so that the villages wouldn't have to pay.

No, this didn't read like a personal attack on Rosenberg. But the commenter who insists the author of "Rosenberg is wrong" was Bernstein -- his or her comments were all personal attacks against him.

Why is smearing Bernstein so important to these people?

Herb Rosenberg said...

President Truman famously said “People say that I’m giving them, hell. I tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”

I don’t attack Bernstein, and if Bernstein is the person who signed himself “rosenberg is wrong” I don’t think I attacked him. I tell the truth. And in my comment about the tree settlement Comptroller opinion, I told the truth. Indeed, since I quoted the exact language of the Comptroller opinion it is truth by definition. And it doesn’t lend itself to any manifestation of the Finneran Law, especially an inventive manifestation, such as the one that “rosenberg is wrong” invented.

What the writers don’t realize, or refuse to accept, is that the Town Board has no governing role over the villages. The Town Law, section 60, states that the Town Board has no authority over the villages and may not interfere with the villages. Thus the Town Board cannot have a tree inspection program over the whole town, only over the unincorporated area of the town and over park districts within the unincorporated area. The villages have tree inspection programs over trees in the villages.

Nor did I say that the Town Board acted illegally. They acted politically (for the constituents who are the most vocal), and unfairly in light of the Comptroller opinion’s guidelines.

Finally, do you really think that the law would be different if the villages had a combined smaller population than the unincorporated area? If you think that the villages have more power than the unincorporated area then you have not been watching Town Board meetings.

Anonymous said...

This blog is for the discussion of the State Comptroller's audit of Greenburgh Sewer Districts. How did we get on the subject of tree lawsuits? Isn't that discussion better suited for the Greenburgh Democracy blog?

Anonymous said...

In order to understand why the entire town needs to pay attention when the town board screws things up with its sewer districts, it's important to understand why the town board felt the entire town had to pay for the tree settlement -- because it's based on what happened with the town's mismanagement of a park district.

Town Law 60, cited by Rosenberg, is a red herring. All Town Law 60 says is that town boards do not have the authority to interfere with the power and authority of village officers, "except as otherwise provided by law."

Requiring village taxpayers to pay their fair share of town taxes does not interfere with the power and authority of village officers.

In fact, as the United States Court of Appeals has held and Rosenberg should know,it's precisely because town boards in Greenburgh have the power to tax village residents that village residents get to vote for town boards in the first place.

And as for that state comptroller's opinion that Rosenberg places so much reliance upon, the reason it says nothing about the accident occurring in a park district is that the comptroller was never told.

Herb Rosenberg said...

It is the Town Board which placed much reliance on the Comptroller's opinion. If the Comptroller had been told about the Cotswold Park district his opinion would have been different and the Town Board (which had agreed to abide by the Comptroller's opiniuon) would have made a different decision.

Anonymous said...

What Rosenberg just said makes no sense.

The town comptroller at the time originally recommended that the tree settlement be paid for town wide.

The villages were never told and Brian Monahan, then mayor of Dobbs Ferry, objected.

Feiner then directed the town attorney to ask for an opinion from the state comptroller -- but the town attorney failed to mention that the matter involved an accident that occurred in a park district.

Once that omission was brought to the Town Board's attention, along with citations to the case law showing that the town entire is liable for negligent acts performed on behalf of a park district by a town board, it was clear that the town comptroller's original recommendation was correct and should be affirmed.

Anonymous said...

stop the fighting!

hal samis said...

OK the truce is over.

Doesn't anyone yet realize how things are done in Town?

Unless there is a Policeman or the State Comptroller at the dais when the voting starts, the Town Board votes, generally all FIVE members, to bend with the wind.

Any time 12 or more advocates show up in Town Hall at a Town Board Meeting, then the Town Board is all ears. The not so subtle secret is that filling the room with citizens is often tantamount to overpowering even the Policeman or the Comptroller.

Voters talk, nobody walks.

Think about how much the Town spends on fighting development, on traffic and environmental studies, on various consultants, on green space initiatives, on moratorium requests and now the comprehensive plan when there is little remaining land for development.

So, singling out l'affaire Sewer District as the the place by the Town Board to draw the line is comic. That is if you think that Mr. Sheehan is a funny fellow.

What we now learn is that there was indeed grounds for the Town Board to pursue the matter, not to threaten the parties that brought it to their attention. And how come these citizens never get to be citizen of the month?

What is comes down to is: it is not whether your cause is on the side of the angels or not; it is really how many angels can fit in a voting booth.

Anonymous said...

What is fascinating about Sheehan is he is a forensic scientist who teaches at John Jay School for Criminal Justice. For someone with that type of background he sure did drop the ball on the sewer district issue. Also, someone who teaches at a school for criminal justice should hold the Constitution more dear.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh……. the subject of ethics and member Sheehan arise yet again in the same sentence.

Were not his inaction and stonewalling in the d'affaire Kaminer and women threatening enough to give you a strong indication of his true belief in justice?

As they say, actions are indeed more meaningful than words. A politician’s actions are what are to be given meaning, not their words.

Ergo, preen all you want with your supposed ethical diatribes, we will however know you by your actions, not your bombastic protestations.

PS - Though the easy target has easily identified himself for acknowledgement by his hypocrisy, let us not allow his so silent co-conspirators escape our wrath.

You the electorate, have the power of the polls. If you continue to elect those and re-elect those who feel that it is entirely appropriate for town employees to attack the first amendment rights of women, you will be therefore be entitled to all the rights and privileges that it so affords you.

PPSS- In other words , no more belly aching if Greenburgh citizens’ apathy allows us to be continued to be "represented” by those who place their own personal interests in front of the general electorate (excluding the EDGENOT puppet masters). Common translation: Vote or shut up!

Dear Francis said...

Dear Francis,

After reading all the information on the webpage www.sewerdistricttruth.com I can't express how disapointed I am with you. You should have taken the lead on this issue and seen to it that this decades' old town-wide failure of properly assessing sewer district taxes came to an end. You would have been hailed as a hero. Now, you are nothing more than a coverup artist. Your policy of stonewalling on this subject may very well have led the Town to violate the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. By the way, the very same Constitution that you swore to protect and defend. Inexplicably, Bass, Barnes and Juetner followed you on this destructive path. Shame on them!!!!! Bass, Juetner and Barnes need to wake up and begin separating themselves from Sheehan. Following Sheehan could cost them their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Vote for Kevin Morgan

Let's just try and get someone new
for a change.

Anonymous said...

Property owners within a sewer district may have difficulty arguing that there constitutional rights have been threatened where property owners having a dispute with the town have recourse to the state comptroller's office -- whose consent was required before the sewer district could even be established -- and where, as here the state comptroller has agreed to look into the matter.

And since the state gives sewer district residents the right to seek recourse from the state comptroller's office, it's not fair to single out Sheehan or any of the other board members who were evidently looking out for the interests of all other Greenburgh taxpayers, including village taxpayers, who were not covered by that particular sewer district.

It was certainly within their authority as town board members, to require the town to pick up the expense of the forensic auditor, but in the current climate, with Feiner looking for any excuse he can find to blame the other town board members for being "anti-village," when it's so obviously not the case, it's understandable why Sheehan and the others would throw up their hands and leave the matter to the state comptroller's office to resolve.

Anonymous said...

Mr. 9:53, that's a great rationalization, but it is pure BS. You would defend Sheehan no matter what, just as you would blame Feiner, no matter what. The fact is that they all dropped the ball.

Anonymous said...

The town board dropped the ball, no question, just as it dropped the ball in negotiating a resolution to the A/B budget disputes.

With the sewer district, rather than look into the matter themselves, they left it up to the state comptroller.

With the A/B budget disputes, rather than mediate, they've left it up to the courts.

Why haven't any of the town board assumed responsibility for resolving these important town issues?

Because in this highly politicized atmosphere, putting people first has taken a backseat to the need to pander to the villages, who have a majority of the town's population but who pay only 5% of the town's taxes.

When it comes to fixing sewer district charges or A/B budget charges, no town board member wants to run the risk of doing anything which would add one penny more to what village taxpayers already have to pay in town taxes.

That's no way to run the railroad -- and public officials who said litigate rather than mediate, or who said mediate not litigate but then were too afraid to put a proposal on the table, may rue the day they didn't sit down and negotiate a resolution to these problems.

hal samis said...

I read a book, one not by Ayn Rand.
The book is "The Silent Language" by Edward Hall which discusses how communication is effected not only by language skills but also by body language.

Thus when I see the answer provided that Sheehan and the Town Council "threw up their hands" and left the matter to the State Comptroller, this should be taken to mean that this is sign of giving up, a substitute way of saying "I quit" because I can't discharge my job responsibilities.

For legal necessities, please have the members of the Town Council sign letters of resignation so that a special election may be called forthwith.

Clearly, the Town is under the control of the State Comptroller so we don't need the expense of the Town Council, their aide and the Supervisor will play merely a symbolic function.

Dear Francis/Or Francis Lover said...

Is that your best shot????? Is that all you can come up with???? Young Kaminer must be on vacation.

How is it possible that Sheehan was looking out for all the taxpayers in Greenburgh when he knew that massive injustices were bein carried out against hundreds and quite possibly thousands of Greenburgh tzxpayers and instead of correcting the situation, had Tim Lewis state that the Town Board "Did nothing wrong?"

Sheehan did not leave the matter up to the State Comptroller. The citizens who discovered this systemic failure of Government were the ones who petitioned the State Comptroller for assistance. Sheehan wanted to coverup the whole issue. When the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations asked the Town Board to hire a forensic accountant to look ino these matters, the Sheehan led Town Board did not even offer a reply. Francis Sheehan is the king of coverups!!!!!!

By the way, when you have three different tax rates for the same thing within a span of four homes and you are told about it and do nothing, you are in CLEAR VIOLATION of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Samis: why should Feiner be the only one left standing?

Because he politicized these issues in the first place, as you well know, he's as much to blame for the stalemate, if not more so.

That town council members lacked the kehones to stand up to Feiner and do the right thing is no reason to reward Feiner. It's a reason either to get rid of Feiner or find town council candidates with bigger kehones.

Right now the only other candidates -- Morgan and Brown -- are running as part of Feiner's "slate" - which would only make things worse, not better.

Anonymous said...

What makes you say they are running as part of Feiner's slate?

Anonymous said...

The sewer district residents have a right to complain, but they sympathy when others scream about supposed violations of their constitutional rights.

In order to have an equal protection argument, the sewer district residents would have to show that the town has no rational basis whatsoever for charging homeowners different rates within the district.

But if the town attorney says the town did nothing wrong in doing what it did, which he has, then the town attorney believes the town had a rational basis.

If the town attorney is right, then no matter what the difference in rates may be, there's no violation of equal protection, end of story.

More importantly, regardless of what sewer district taxpayers may think of the town attorney's advice -- and he's certainly been shown to be wrong on a lot of things lately -- every member of the town board, including Sheehan and Feiner especially (since he's the one who recommended the appointment of this particular town attorney) -- has every right to rely on that advice.

Therefore, to accuse the town board members, and Sheehan in particular, of violating constitutional rights is doing a disservice to those in the sewer district who've raised a legitimate grievance because these partisan political attacks on Sheehan, who relied on the town attorney's advice just as Feiner did -- may make people less willing to listen to the sewer district complaints.

In fact, these nasty partisan political attacks are not coming from the sewer district residents themselves, who are quite reasonable and patient.

No, the reference from anon at 1:58 to "young Kaminer" is a sure-fire give-away. That phrase is used by those from the Valhalla School District still blaming Sheehan and the town council for the fact that the state comptroller declared their $6.5 million gift from Feiner to be illegal.

'Nuff said.

hal samis said...

Dear 2:07,

Under "marshal" law, the Mayor or Supervisor remains, if only as a figurehead. If the Comptroller is to "assume control" of Greenburgh (play along and pretend he could do so) then someone local has to mouth them. Think WWII and the Vichy government.

So I wasn't arguing Feiner is good or Feiner is bad but merely saying that if the local form were to resemble England, if "Parliament" steps down, the Monarchy remains, because there is still a need for the titular head to be someone who is a resident.

Anonymous said...

Dear 2:35

I suggest you study the documents on www.sewerdistricttruth.com before you make the statement that the Town had a rational basis for charging different rates.

hal samis said...

P.S.

When I "well know" something, it will be written. You "well know" I do not look to conserve words.
If you want to agree or disagree with me fine; stop putting words in my mouth when you can't make your point.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

It seems to me you want Feiner and his team. Which is OK for you to want.

Anonymous said...

The town attorney supposedly concluded that the town had a rational basis for charging the different rates. Whether right or wrong, it doesn't matter because the state comptroller's office is looking into it.

The sewer district claim goes back 25 years, and Feiner's been in charge for the last 16 of them. Blaming Sheehan (elected in 2005) and other town council members for what occurred on Feiner's watch doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

ANON 4:15

Absolutely Right. Francis Sheehan can not be blamed for went on before his time on the Board. However, he can be blamed for ending the spirit of cooperation which is evident by the amount of meetings that were held in 2005. Sheehan can also be blamed for crafting the stonewall operation once his demands for the illegal reimbursement deal were rejected.

WAKE UP!!! said...

Eddie Mae & Steve,

You need to wake up! Stop following Sheehan and stake out your own positions. Do you understand the amount of trouble Sheehan has created for you on this sewer district issue? Sheehan behaved like a bully with the residents of the sewer district, only this time, he came up against people who would not be bullied. When Sheehan offered them an illegal deal, they correctly refused and took their case to the State Comptroller. Why did you let Sheehan run amok like that? If you read the documents provided to you, you had to realize that the residents were right in their assertions. Does this mean that you two along with Diana will blindly follow Sheehan anywhere??? Wake up Eddia Mae and Steve, if you don't watch out, Sheehan wil cost you this election!

We need an answer said...

This is taken directly from the website www.sewerdistricttruth.com. This is the key question that needs to be answered by someone at Town Hall:


Face to face meetings where held in September, October and December of 2005 that included the Heads of the Following Departments: Legal, Public Works, Assessor and Comptroller. The Town Board was briefed twice in early 2006. In March of 2006, a meeting took place with Tim Lewis, Diana Juetner and Francis Sheehan. ALL MEMBERS of the Town Board and ALL of the pertinent DEPARTMENT HEADS were fully briefed as to the findings of this investigation. Given the compelling evidence presented, why did Town Officials adopt the position that "They did nothing wrong?' As a government that prides itself on being open and transparent, why did the Town Board choose stonewalling this issue over dealing with it in an open, transparent and honest manner?

Anonymous said...

To 8:13

Because they took the easy way out and did not want to deal with the significant amount of problems that were uncovered. The Town was betting that the residents who brought these issues to light would go away. The Town Board made a poor judgement.

What this newest episode at Town Hall demonstrates is that in Greenburgh, we have way too many politicians who are not committed to doing the right thing. It's a shame. They pontificate about honest government but all we seem to get is investigation after investigation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. 2:53;

The beloved “young Kaminer” catch phrase is in the public domain and has not been copyrighted by any geographic district of Greenburgh to the best of my knowledge.

Perhaps Lawyer Bob can clarify this for us.

PS- As far as the "sure-fire give away" recheck your facts. I believe when used by the Valhalla folks, they say "Young Kaminer" as opposed to “young Kaminer". Just a helpful hint for those anonymous blogers who feel it is more important to guess at the identities of other anonymous blogers than deal with the facts.

Anonymous said...

“…..still blaming Sheehan and the town council for the fact that the state comptroller declared their $6.5 million gift from Feiner to be illegal.”

I will look in the Journal News tomorrow for the headline that pronounces effectively immediately that the state controller’s office has assumed all rights formerly ascribed to the NY State Judiciary, which is to opine on the legality of NY State laws.

Given that certain Town Board members and EDGENOT puppet masters create their own version of the NEWS on this BLOG, where they can create the scoops such as changes in governmental structures, should I cancel my JN subscription?

Anonymous said...

For those who continue to hide and run for the hidden hills at the mere mention of Young Kaminer and his oppression of women’s first amendment rights, either step up and call for an investigation or stop bringing up the subject. It really hurts your protestations when you don’t have either the facts or the truth on your side.

No the anonymous Town Council member and the controlling interest for what may be the single most important geographical apportionment in ye old Greenburgh ( hint , it begins with an E-------), will never address this issue head on. Just watch the misdirections that will follow this blog post.

Young Kaminer has admitted his actions, but from the ethically challenged and the so silent majority, we merely hear the soft sounds of their gentle slumber.

We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled foolishness

Anonymous said...

The Kaminer/Sheehan Axis has not been able to mount any kind of successful retort to the facts presented on www.sewerdistricttruth.com. There can be no further proof of wrongdoing on the part of the Board than that. Nuff Said.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying how the anonymous Town Council member, so eloquent in his anonymous blog posts will say that he merely relied on Attorney Tim Lewis.

We seem a bit selective of what we want to blame Esquire Lewis for isn't it. Very convenient how you like to ignore his recommendations when they don’t serve your partisan purposes.

No sir, CSI probably will not find your fingerprints at the crime scene. The public persona is much more important to you, than your substance, wouldn't you agree!

Anonymous said...

To ANON at 10:00 P.M.

I wouldn't be so sure of that. Kaminer was brought in for one purpose and one purpose only, to control the press. There was no story in the Journal News about him threatening the school superintendant now was there??? Kaminer has been very successful at planting false stories as well (see story in JN about VSD employee making it look like he earned $50,000 in a few days). Kaminer will be able to make the sewer district issue look like a minor accounting mistake. That's why Sheehan pays him the big bucks.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so sure about Kaminer's abilities with the Journal News.

That reporter Wilson who wrote about that ground breaking, earth quaking, body shaking front page expose about a maintenance man living on the Woodlands HS campus, so that there is someone on site to manage and monitor the property.....is gone from the Journal News.

I have heard the new editorial team at the Journal News has placed a premium on trying to be more truthful in their reporting.

One has to wonder if the separation was an admittance of the errors of their past history of the biased and intentionally dishonest reporting.

Cheers to the Journal News for beginning to try to become a reputable reporting outlet.

Dear 10:41 said...

Let's hope you are right but my money is still on Kaminer/Sheehan to have a story done on the back page that is so watered down and confusing as to be useless, that is if a story is done at all. The Sewer District Issue should be front page news, potentially thousands of taxpayers have been shortchanged by the Town and when confronted with overwhelming evidence, the Town covers it up and declares that "They have done nothing wrong." If that's not a great story, I don't know what is but I am afraid it will never get the proper attention due to the aforementioned Kaminer/Sheehan axis.

Where was Steve? said...

Steve needs to concentrate more on Greenburgh issues. I applaud him on focusing attention on the horrors of Darfur, but he is being paid by Greenburgh residents to work on their issues. Steve should never have let Francis initiate this ridiculous cover up scheme. How exactly did Francis think he would get away with it?

Anonymous said...

Dave Wilson, the courageous reporter who broke the scandal over Feiner's having illegally given away $6.5 million of town funds to the Valhalla School District for such things as yacht trips and nights on the town, left the Journal News.

Those who think Valhalla's wrongs should never have been exposed take credit for getting Wilson fired.

Hopefully the Journal News editors have more integrity than that, but judging from the consistently poor quality of its reporting on Greenburgh matters since Wilson left, that remains to be seen - which is a real shame because the real loser here is Greenburgh itself.

Wilson, however, now writes for The New York Times.

Dear 5/30 at 9:53 A.M. said...

Dear Francis, you state in your post that:

"And since the state gives sewer district residents the right to seek recourse from the state comptroller's office, it's not fair to single out Sheehan or any of the other board members who were evidently looking out for the interests of all other Greenburgh taxpayers, including village taxpayers, who were not covered by that particular sewer district."

This statement is extremely misleading. Of course, we must consider the source. First, you KNEW that hundreds and possibly thousands of unincorporated residents were paying too much for their sewer taxes. You were given the proof. It came from the Town's own Assessor. You can not deny that you knew. You knew it but you did nothing. Now, you are trying to make it look like you were trying to save Village Residents money. You always accuse Feiner of sucking up to the Villages but here you are, doing the biggest suck up job in recent history. You actively engaged in a massive coverup of the issue (who ordered Tim Lewis to make the statement "The position of the Board is that they have done nothing wrong?") and then try to change history by claiming that you were looking out for the interests of everyone. Since potentially thousands of unincorporated residents were paying too much in sewer taxes, whose interests were you looking out for?

Your post states "it's understandable why Sheehan and the others would throw up their hands and leave the matter to the state comptroller's office to resolve"

This statement is an outright lie. As stated previously, you engineered the stonewall operation. Your position was that you did nothing wrong. It was left to the residents themselves to seek help from the Comptroller's Office.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight... let's try a time line.

1) All is great with the Journal News and their courageous Greenburgh reporting.

2) The aforementioned courageous reporter "leaves" the Journal News.

3) Now the Journal News reports with "consistent poor quality".

4) The aforementioned reporter sends articles to the NYT much like you or I could. Not so sure that he is an employee of the NYT though.

Question: Why would the courageous Journal News make such a dramatic turnaround? What exactly do you think happened?

You know when individuals make mistakes and act inappropriately; they apologize and sometimes make efforts to not repeat the same offenses.

Did I leave anything out of the timeline?

Anonymous said...

It's very difficult to put out an daily newspaper that covers as much local territory as the Journal News covers and expect consistently good coverage.

Also, Gannett doesn't pay very much, so in many cases you get what you pay for.

Nevertheless, the Journal News did an excellent job reporting on Greenburgh in 2004 and 2005 when Joe Ax had the beat.

Before and after, however, the reporting has been consistently weak, with the assigned reporter rarely attending town board meetings. This is par for the course for a Gannett paper.

Dave Wilson was breath of welcome fresh air. If he was forced out of the Jounral News because the folks from Valhalla didn't want the public to know the true facts about the millions of dollars they got from a gullible Feiner, then the Journal News editors should be ashamed of themselves.

Indeed, maybe this is something Joe Ax should look into for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of who the reporter is, the mere fact that the sewer district story has yet to be written by the Journal News speaks volumes about their commitment to informing the public. It could also point to Kaminer being able to suppress a story.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to hear that :

1) Valhalla has the power to get the Journal News to "force out" a reporter.

2) That Kaminer has the ability to get the Journal News to suppress news stories.

Is there anyone who can not bully the Journal News around at this point?

PS- Just be thankful that the Journal News does not go to the Town Board meetings. Can you imagine the stories? I think the majority of the board would be ashamed to hear how others think of their misrepresentation of the majority of the citizens in this community.

Anonymous said...

When Joe Ax covered Greenburgh for the Journal News, he attended town board meetings and the stories he wrote were terrific.

First time in years that Greenburgh residents who don't watch the meetings on cable got a picture of Feiner at his dysfunctional best.

Anonymous said...

The Journal News has no competition and as such is not a credible source of information. Occassionally a story, like the Westhelp rents being funnelled illegally to the VSD overwhelms them and the story gets reported. Otherwise, they take press releases from government agencies and report it as news. Their crime reporters actually call police stations and ask if there is anything going on. Now that is journalism. Former JN education "reporter" Meryl Harris now writes the Valhalla School District newsletter. I am not sure if that is a step up or a step down.

Anonymous said...

Precisely why someone like Kaminer can fill the void created by no hands on journalists at the Journal News. Kaminer does their work for them and they are all too happy to print what he has to offer. Journalism via fax machine!

Anonymous said...

When it comes to feeding with press with BS, anyone who's ever worked at Town Hall will tell you that Kaminer's a piker compared to Feiner.

Feiner spends more time in a week issuing self-serving press releases than Kaminer does in a year.

And just to make sure his press releases land where he wants them, Feiner's got the Journal News editorial page editor on his speed dial.

Anonymous said...

Government officials at every local level have figured out that the JN is a re-reporter. They are the channel 12 of newspapers. Pretend journalists reporting what they are fed by the government. Pravda on the Hudson. With real reporters like Dave Wilson leaving, we are we are left to the real lightweights. Interesting to hear about Meryl Harris. She would always write the most inane "education" drivel, so now the VSD residents get to pay for it? Serves them right.

Keep your eyes on the ball! said...

Regardless of who our journalists are and regardless of whether or not Kaminer; Sheehan; Feiner plant and or kill stories, there are still hundreds of taxpayers who are paying more for their sewer taxes than they should and the official position from the Town Board is: They have done nothing wrong. Fighting about who will write what is silly. We all need to keep our eyes on the ball. Everyone needs to be acquainted with the facts presented on www.sewerdistricttruth.com. Coverups can not be tolerated in a free and open society.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we wait for whatever conclusions are drawn by the state comptroller's office?

Why is it so important to announce the verdict first and then conduct the deliberations?

That may be how things are done in the Valhalla School District or in Mayfair Knollwood, but that is not how they are done in the rest of America, including even in Greenburgh.

The sewer district residents who've raised the matter with the state comptroller's office have been extraordinarily reasonable and patient -- after all they've put up with these alleged miscalculations for 25 years without complaining for the first time until late 2005.

Let's let the state comptroller's audit finish the job and then let's see what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is you can't have three different tax rates on the same street for the same sewer line. The Town dropped the ball from the beginning. They never assessed new homes that were built properly. Beause of this, hundreds and probably thousands of Greenburgh residents are paying too much in their sewer tax. The Town should have been more upfront with their mistake instead of stonewalling. The public does not like coverups and when the Town Board declares that they have done nothing wrong, that is a coverup. The Board should have acted in a more honest fashion. We taxpayers deserve as much.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that some out there still think the right thing is for those unbiased folks from the sewer district residents to announce their own verdict, condemn everyone in sight who didn't listen -- and then wait for the truly unbiased factfinders from the state comptroller's office to complete their deliberations.

Sorry guys, that's just not the way it's done in America.

Let the auditors finish up, and let's hope you're proven right.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the documentation at www.sewerdistricttruth.com. Those documents were what led to the audit in the first place. I seriously doubt that the New York State Comptroller would take on yet another Greenburgh audit if there was nothing to it. As they say, where there's smoke, there is fire. This one looks like a five alarmer!

Anonymous said...

Dear 4:08 PM

The problem was not that anyone in the Town did not listen. THEY ALL LISTENED. The problem was they did not like what they heard and chose the path of cover up rather than correction.

Anonymous said...

If this five-alarmer was the no brainer you say it is, the state comptroller's audit would have been completed already.

The fact that it's not yet completed suggests that maybe, just maybe, we're not getting the whole story here.

What's peculiar though is why it's so important to assign the blame now. The case would be a lot stronger once the controller's made his findings, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. Give them time. It seems from the timing of Paul's post that the audit just started. However, you should also agree that the documents posted on www.sewerdistricttruth.com are extremely pursuasive. It seems to me that the Town will need Houdini to get out of this one. Unfortunately for the Town, he's been dead for over ninety years. I'm sure that you will also agree that the State Comptroller would probably not take on this audit unless there was solid grounds to do so.

Anonymous said...

The sewer district documentation, compelling though it may be, is not the reason why the state comptroller would take the matter on.

The state comptroller's office is a neutral authority set up to resolve disputes between special improvement districts, like sewer districts, and towns.

The reason for this arrangement is that most districts in New York are managed by town-wide elected town boards who don't often answer to the minority of residents who live in districts, even though they should. So the state comptroller's office looks out for those of us in districts.

Against that background, sewer district residents should just cool their jets for a bit and let the auditors finish up. If you're right, you'll be heroes.

Anonymous said...

Residents, whether they live in the affected sewer districts or not, have a right to express their displeasure at the Town's handling of this situation. Elected Officials have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure that their taxes are proper.

Anonymous said...

Dear 6:29

Right On!!! Although not always the case in Greenburgh. Does anyone know how long the Westhelp Audit took from the 1st time the State sat down with Greenburgh Officials until the final report was issued?

Anonymous said...

I've read through the documents on the sewer district website and what comes across is NOT that the Town did nothing. Quite the opposite.

What comes across is that the Town did in fact look into the matter, and, according to a memo dated March 30, 2006 from the town comptroller to Feiner and the town council, based on advice of outside counsel, the town comptroller seemed to be largely in agreement that a mistake was made.

So, contrary to what the sewer district folks are saying, it sure looks like the Town looked into their allegations after all.

Now the question is when did the state comptroller decide to get into the act?

Based on the information from the sewer district website, it sure looks like the town would have taken steps to correct the situation -- it's difficult to see how they could not have done so -- when the state comptroller's office stepped in to do the audit.

So, for crying out loud, why all the complaining about a do-nothing town board, when the documents posted on the website show that the town board did not ignore the complaints, but directed the town comptroller to look into them, which he in fact did.

Anonymous said...

Dear 7:19

You have proven many positions that have been expressed on this blog. First, the sewer district residents can not be blamed for many of the blogs talking about a do nothing Board, for it is they who know better than anyone what went on and they knew full well that the Town Board went so far as to bring in an outside counsel.

You state "Based on the information from the sewer district website, it sure looks like the town would have taken steps to correct the situation -- it's difficult to see how they could not have done so."

Go to the Town of Greenburgh website. Click on GIS Maps. Search the addresses talked about on the documents. Look at this years tax bill as well as last years tax bill. You will see that the Town HAS NOT CORRECTED THE SITUATION. This is the point that some of the bloggers have made. The Town KNEW FULL WELL that they made mistakes but REFUSED to address them.

You further write "according to a memo dated March 30, 2006 from the town comptroller to Feiner and the town council, based on advice of outside counsel, the town comptroller seemed to be largely in agreement that a mistake was made."

Your assessment is 100 % CORRECT. However, on June 20 2006 Town Attorney Tim Lewis stated to the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations that "the position of the Town Board is that they have done nothing wrong." Even though the Town knew about these mistakes dating back to 2005, they still have not been corrected two years later. The Town sent out TWO tax bills knowing full well that THEY WERE WRONG! Moreover, they knew that these mistakes adversely impacted hundreds and quite possibly thousands of taxpayers.

Some people know about this and that is why they express themselves so vigorously. It's not that the Town failed to act. It's that they refused to address the situation by having Tim Lewis lie on their behalf to the CGCA. When Lewis stated that they did nothing wrong, that's when the cover up started.

What the Town did not count on is residents being successful in obtaining an audit by the Comptroller. Now, the cover up will be laid bare once the final report is issued.

Anonymous said...

What do I get from all of this--Sheehan is the "leader of the gang" and will be followed to the end and Tim Lewis will lose his job over this--time will tell. Sounds to me like no one bothered to really look into this--just hoped it would all go away. Good luck everyone

Anonymous said...

ANON at 11:04

Exactly right. Sheehan has led the Town Board down a path of legal as well as political destruction. Violation of the Constitution is one of the worst things that elected officials can do. By knowingly charging different rates for the same thing, the Town Board clearly violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The deal that Sheehan pushed for with the sewer district residents violates the same premise, namely you can not target a specific population for reimbursement when you know that the issue is one that impacts the entire Town. Equal Protection is one of the Constitutional Standard Bearers that protects citizens from an overzealous government. Sheehan has been overzealous to say the least.

Anonymous said...

It would be ashame if Tim loses his job over this. The larger point is; who gave him the order to declare that the position of the Board is that they did nothing wrong? Which ever Board Member(s) told him to say that should tender their resignation immediately. The citizens of Greenburgh deserve better representation than cover up artists.

Anonymous said...

So, all the venon being aimed at Sheehan is based on a statement Tim Lewis, the town attorney, supposedly made at a meeting of the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations -- and the supposition that Lewis wouldn't have said it if Sheehan hadn't ordered him to do so.

What utter nonsense this is!

If Lewis really said "the town did nothing wrong," he should be raked over the coals by the Town Board because, in light of Heslop's March 30, 2006 memo, the town knew right then and there it had a problem on its hands.

But did he say it? The minutes of the CGCA are quite detailed, and unlike Town Board meetings, theirs are posted online. Has anyone found a reference to his supposedly making that statement?

And assuming he did make the statement, what's the evidence that Sheehan or any other board member put him up to it?

In fact, there's absolutely none. Just innuendo and personal attack - a tactic that Feiner likes to employ against his political opponents, but certainly not a tactic that the sewer district residents would engage in. No, they are much more reasonable than that.

I sure hope the state audit gets wrapped up soon.

Anonymous said...

There were at least a dozen people at the June 20 2006 meeting of the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations and Tim's comments were tape recorded as well.

As far as who ordered him to do it,
since you have studied the documents on www.sewerdistricttruth.com, I would take a closer look at the May 3 2006 documents, 1st page. Quoting from the document "An attempt was made to dismiss this evidence as nonconsequential when we were told by a Town Board member at our March meeting that 'All we had was a letter from the Town Clerk.'"

Now, if you further study the website there was a meeting held in March 2006 attended by only two Town Board members, Francis Sheehan and Diana Juetner. I'd bet my bottom dollar that Sheehan was the one who tried to dismiss the evidence.

It seems from the amount of meetings that were held (September, October and December of 2005), that there was cooperation at resolving this issue in an amicable manner. What changed was Sheehan assuming the throne in January of '06. The dynamic appears to have changed considerably and the mood went from cooperation to confrontation.

Referring to Tim Lewis, you ask "And assuming he did make the statement, what's the evidence that Sheehan or any other board member put him up to it?"

It is extremely doubtful that Tim Lewis would have made this statement proclaiming to speak for the entire Town Board. Given the fact that Sheehan took control over the Sewer District issue the moment he assumed power, he is the likely candidate to have ordered Lewis to make this statement.

You state correctly that "in light of Heslop's March 30, 2006 memo, the town knew right then and there it had a problem on its hands."

Since you seem to be denying that a classic stonewalling/coverup operation was put into place, how do you reconcile your statement with the fact that residents of special assessment sewer districts did not have their taxes adjusted properly in either 2006 or 2007?

As stated in a previous post, do the research yourself. The Town of Greenburgh web page can be used to verify the fact that the tax rates are still the same. Which means that it is possible that on the same street you can have one family paying $400, another family paying $40 and still another pay $0 for the exact same thing. The Town NEVER FIXED that situation even though, as you yourself state, they knew there was a problem.

had enough said...

I don't want to be piling on, but since Sheehan joined the Board he has become rude, dismissive, insulting and dictatorial. A major disappointment, he is not the Sheehan I admired before. Even Bass, who used to be rude and dismissive to many people, has had to be relatively quiet since Sheehan assumed leadership of the Town Council. What has happened with the sewer district, unbelievable as it is, can be attributed to Sheehan's election in 2005 and what followed.

Many people will defend Sheehan no matter how bad he is, because he goes after Feiner, and that is enough for lots of residents. But it shouldn't be enough. Judging Sheehan's performance, I will not vote for him again. It would be helpful to reduce his influence and that can be done by not voting for Bass, who is Sheehan's sidekick, and Barnes, who is nothing except a reliable supporter of Sheehan.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that there's no evidence that Sheehan is responsible for what Lewis supposedly said at some meeting of a civic association.

However, there's plenty of innuendo and smear, and now that it's been accompanied by a call for the defeat of Bass and Barnes, it's clear this is all coming from not from the sewer district residents, who have a legitimate beef that Feiner, as the town's chief financial officer should have made sure was fixed long ago -- but rather from the Feiner re-election camp.

Feiner will politicize any issue he can think of to distract voters away from his having been caught illegally giving away $6.5 million of town money to Valhalla SD, his having been caught taking tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town, and his having been caught maintaining a $500,000 off-the-books slush fund from the WestHELP money.

No one should be fooled by Feiner, least of all the sewer district residents who should be applauded for their persistence in bringing to our attention yet another example of town mismanagement.

Anonymous said...

Feiner was the only one who voted in favor of hiring a forensic accountant to get to the bottom of the sewer district mess. Sheehan is the one who wanted to cover it up and hope it would go away.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr 3:31 pm:

Where is exactly "the $500,000 off-the-books slush fund from the WestHELP money" that you speak of right now?

Is this money that the Town Board had absolutely no knowledge of?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Sheehan and the rest of the Town Council vote to allow the VSD to spend the #400,000+ that they already had?????????

Anonymous said...

to 3:57
the town board knew all about the $500,000 off the books money. the scoba report revealed it. the town board ignored it until the state comtroller got into the act.

Anonymous said...

So then it seems that this "slush fund" statement is one of those typical exagerations that is not based in fact and that gets thrown around rececklessly on this blog site.

Too bad some people feel the need to be dishonest here. I guess that is one on the limited options that one has when they don't have the facts on their side.

Anonymous said...

Given that the "slush fund" statement has been demonstrated to be yet another reckless exaggeration, let's try this one (presented courtesy of Mr. 3:31 pm):

"Feiner will politicize any issue he can think of to distract voters away from his having been caught illegally giving away $6.5 million of town money to Valhalla SD"

So my question is:

Did Supervisor Feiner unilaterally decide to give money to Valhalla?

If so, don't you think that someone would be looking to arrest him?

If he didn't do it unilaterally, should everyone else involved in this "illegal" activity be arrested also?

Also does anyone have copies of $6.5 million in checks that were given to Vallhalla, or is that just another one of those careless exaggerations that those who feel the need to toss about when the truth does not support their case?

Just asking......

Anonymous said...

Prediction:

The Town Council will conveniently blame Gerry Iagallo the former Asessor for l'affaire Sewer District as he is conveniently gone from the Town. Tim Lewis will also be held out for ridicule since Francis needs to direct blame away from himself.

hal samis said...

Dear 3:31 anonymous,

I really don't have the time now to wade into this because I have to send my own letter on another matter to the Comptroller.

However, I do object to the rehashing of the Feiner acceptance of campaign contributions from developers with business before the Town.

"Feiner got caught" sounds like this whole matter was some clandestine operation which you know is a needless inflammatory statement. You wrote it assuming that everyone who reads these blogs is unaware that all campaign contributions over $100 must be reported quarterly by candidates.
And these reports are available to all who choose to examine them, which is what you and I and others have done religiously for years. It is even simpler now that the filings are available online. Therefore, any candidate who accepts money does so knowing full well that the receipt of such will be widely known. Given this, do you need to portray it as he "got caught" which implies some covert behavior?

Accepting the contributions was and is the issue and perhaps the new ethics board will deal with this as well as the other questionable contributions accepted by members of the Town Council. If you insist, they "got caught" as well.

Let's work with a level playing field instead of acting like a drama queen. But I'll return to this later.

Anonymous said...

This gets better by the minute-while Feiner may be a lousy supervisor--do we want Berger who seems to be "best friends" with Sheehan--who runs the board now--too much power for him. As for the sewer issue--Sheehan had the opportunity to look good and fix this -- he chose to ignore and now he has made a real mess for the town.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sheehan has managed to escape all the trouble he has created so far.

What makes you think that he won't get away with this mess this time?

All he needs to do is "Blame the Supervisor" and the three sleeping dwarfs will all whistle along.

Anonymous said...

There are too many eyewitnesses to Sheehan's actions on this one. Plus, if this issue winds up in the courts, Sheehan will be placed on the witness stand under oath. I doubt he would risk a perjury conviction so the entire truth will come out. If Sheehan lies about the history of the sewer district issue now, he will be made to look very bad at a later date.

Anonymous said...

The problem is this, the Town collects taxes on behalf of quite a number of school, fire and special districts. If an accountant was hired for every district with a complaint, it would get expensive.

Anonymous said...

The facts presented on www.sewerdistricttruth.com demonstrate that this issue went far beyong the complaint stage and into the documented fiscal mismanagement stage.

Anonymous said...

The Town and Sheehan dropped the ball on this one. This issue should have been investigated thoroughly. Francis must not be such a great CSI afterall.

Anonymous said...

What do candidates Berger and Greenwalt have to say about this issue?

It would be interesting to see if they are willing to go contrary to Francis on this.

Looks like litmus test number 1.

Anonymous said...

Every public comment oportunity at Town Board meetings should be used to press Sheehan and the others on this, and Berger should be squeezed on this also.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! Berger needs to be asked if she supports stonewlling operations. She also needs to be asked if she supports the use of Gil Kaminer to threaten women.

hal samis said...

Hope this topic doesn't get bumped from the front page to make room for more grand openings, pre-grand openings etc.

Anonymous said...

Samis is right Paul. Please don't bump this thread. The give and take has been informative and for the most part, respectful. The topic itself is critical because it goes to the heart of what type of Government we have and can expect in the future, an open and honest one, or a Nixonian Style One based on lies and stonewall tactics.

Anonymous said...

Paul announced the audit a week ago. No story in the Journal News as of yet. Paul can't be blamed for supressing it since he announced it here on this blog. So who is to blame? Failure of the reporters at the Journal to do their job or is this the handiwork of Young Kaminer protecting his Chief Employer?

Anonymous said...

Probably a combination of both.

Three Stages of Truth said...

The three stages of truth are:

1. First, it is ridiculed.

The May 3 2006 document on www.sewerdistricttruth.com indicate that a Town Board member (likely Sheehan) attempted to dismiss the evidence as only a letter from a Town Clerk.

2. Second, It is violently opposed.

On June 20, 2006 Town Attorney Tim Lewis stated that the position of the Board was they "They did nothing wrong," disregarding the mountain of evidence that proves otherwise.

3. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

People are reading the documents posted on www.sewerdistricttruth.com and coming to the realization that the Town has horribly mismanaged sewer taxes and amplified their errors by denying them publicly.