Thursday, June 28, 2007

ETHICS BD NEEDS 5 MEMBERS, ONLY HAS 3

The town statute requires the Ethics Board to have 5 members. Currently, there are only 3 members. I have been urging the Town Board for weeks to make the other two appointments. Months ago we interviewed qualified candidates. Some of the individuals we interviewed are recognized nationally for their work on ethics issues. However - the Board has not gotten back to those previously interviewed.
The 3 members of the Ethics Board are working hard. They deserve to have a full Board working with them.

152 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Ethics Board and the Town Board almost one year ago. This evening the attack was led by Francis Sheehan, Steve Bass and one Ed Kraus!


The Kangaroo Court and the Cabal
By
Richard J. Garfunkel
July 5, 2006


Last night a privileged few of had the dubious pleasure of attending the latest chapter of the Greenburgh Town Board’s ongoing Star Chamber event. For all of you that have heard the term but do not know its derivation, a Star Chamber was a royal court that began in England in the Middle Ages; cases were heard there without juries. Usually it was known for their tyrannical judgments. The name came from the stars that were painted on the ceiling of the Court.

Of course this most recent addition of the Board’s and the CABAL’s latest witch-hunt put Judge Thomas Facelle on the Board’s hot seat last night. Judge Facelle, a man with impeccable credentials, 50+ years as a lawyer and a judge, 23 years in the Westchester County’s District Attorney’s office and a retired Brigadier General in the US Army’s Judge Advocate General’s law division, has been the Chairperson of the Greenburgh Ethic’s Board for twelve years.

Of course Judge Facelle was dragged in front of this rump session of the Town Board as a way of embarrassing him and the Supervisor. While the Supervisor was away this session was scheduled and the CABAL (the group of Feiner haters) had plans to turn this into one of their three ring circuses. But unfortunately for them, things turned out differently. Judge Facelle systematically reviewed the history of this so-called cover up regarding these unsubstantiated ethics violation by the Supervisor. It seems that Supervisor Feiner asked the Ethics Board to review a campaign contribution made to him. But, at the same time, Ed Kraus, and others decided to file charges against the Supervisor with the District Attorney’s office. Judge Facelle addressed this issue brilliantly. Because charges with the DA were filed against the Supervisor, he (Facelle) and his Board prudently decided to await the decision of the DA’s office. Of course the DA’s office not only quashed and dismissed these spurious charges and claims, but in their own inefficient way never advised or notified Supervisor Feiner, Judge Facelle or the Supervisor’s attackers. Therefore this specious case and its dismissal, promulgated by Bob Bernstein, Ed Krauss and other groups, had been in limbo since November of 2004. When Judge Facelle finally heard of the dismissal, in the past few days, he now was at liberty to consult the other members of the Ethics Board about reviewing these charges. Judge Facelle handled himself brilliantly under a withering but futile attack by Councilperson Bass who attempted to charge him with prejudging the case. Judge Facelle answered all of the questions posed to him by Councilpersons Bass and Sheehan who seemed astonished by the strength, authority and legitimacy of Judge Facelle’s position. Judge Facelle then presented to the Board a package that reflected the timeline of this so-called case and the relevant documentation that supported his testimony.

Of course many of the same characters that hate the Supervisor were there. These are the same people who wish to constantly wish subvert the will of the electorate by smear, innuendo and baseless charges.

After the Judge’s bravura performance in front of the Board, Mr. Ed Kraus demanded that he be allowed to speak several times. But the Supervisor asked the Board their opinion on this matter. Supervisor Feiner stated that if one person wished to talk all should have that right. Of course, Judge Facelle already had stated that he and his Board would entertain the charges of the complainants, assuming they had merit, allow them to attend their hearing, when it was held, and only allow relevant and pertinent evidence to be submitted, not political hyperbole and diatribes.

Councilperson Barnes wisely agreed with the position of closing the hearings to other interested parties and Bass and Sheehan grudgingly had to go along with Supervisor Feiner, Councilperson Juettner and Barnes.

Since Councilperson Bass wants the Ethics Board to look into Supervisor Feiner’s campaign contributions, I think that the Ethics Board should look into his. Council Bass publicly opposed renting space at the Town Board to the Westchester Federal credit Union or to any other organization. He received a contribution from the Credit Union, did not recuse himself and changed his mind.—voting to rent space at this location. Why did Bass change his mind? Was he influenced by the contribution? Shouldn’t he request the Ethics Board to review his action? Councilperson Bass also accepted contributions from those who actively the proposed legislation to tighten our tree code. The tree legislation that has been recommended by the Conservation Advisory Commission has gone nowhere. Did these contributions influence Councilperson Bass’s decision to delay a vote on this important issue?

Over the last number of years this CABAL of haters, have been attacking Supervisor with all sorts of charges. Many of these people have created a career of such actions. I say to them “get a life!” I have known the Supervisor for 35 years or so. I therefore volunteered a few years ago to help Supervisor Feiner set the record straight. Supervisor Feiner does not have a political organization, he does not have a patronage system, but he does have friends in this community that respect his hard work, dedication and honesty and excellent grasp of public policy. Supervisor Feiner has been in the public sector for over 25 years as an elected official and has been an activist for way over 35 years. His public record is second to none. His accomplishments are well known and respected, his honesty and commitment to people is legendary, but his small core of haters is relentless. I ask his supporters to rise up and to show their support for him and their indignation at his vicious opponents.

By the way, these withering attacks haven't abated- the cast of characters is basically the same- the new Cabal- the Stinger Bees: Bass, Barnes, Berger and Bernstein!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you'd let this be posted.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Richard Garfunkel who organized his White Plains neighbors to keep White Plains white?

Anonymous said...

Or is the Richard Garfunkel who is one of Feiner's campaign managers?

Anonymous said...

Check the date on Garfunkel's rant - last year. Hasn't he got any newer material?
Caution, Feiner is trying to distract everyone by letting Garfumble loose and boring Feiner's opponents to death

Anonymous said...

Put Garfunkel on the Ethics Board and give him 2 votes!

Anonymous said...

This is all intended by Feiner as a distraction from the real matters at hand.

According to the minutes of the latest Ethics Board meeting, which are posted online, Feiner is stonewalling the board by refusing to cooperate with their investigation into that 2004 fundraiser where Feiner solicited thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the Town.

Before our new Ethics Committee members were appointed, the Facelle-led group never met for three years to address the allegations that Feiner had violated the Ethics Code.

To make matters worse, Facelle had gotten a letter from the Westchester DA's office back in 2004 urging him to address the ethics issues.

Facelle told Feiner about the letter, of course, but Feiner kept the letter a secret and Facelle never told his fellow Ethics Committee members about it.

hal samis said...

And back to the topic at hand.
Whatever the reason, subtext or not, history, outside temperature...the reality is that the Ethics Board does need five members or the Town Board should change the composition. Whereas other Town Boards have and conduct their business without their full complement of members, from time to time this presents a problem with maintaining a quorum, this situation is different. The previous Ethics Board was for all intents, not only invisible but also useless. Bloggers will remember that I too wrote them a letter regarding Mr. Feiner.

What makes the present situation is that the new For Real Ethics Board is making rules, soliciting input and has a Chair. what is left for the two members who may eventually join the Board -- just to nod their heads. The expectations from a new Ethics Board should not be those of the old members versus the nouveau. All of the members should have hit the ground at the same time and the last two in should not be the johnny come latelys just because no one asked them to dance before the orchestra went on their break.

As to the old charges and their being revived under the new Ethics Board, I assume that this is the continuation of what was not heard by the Facelle Board. However, I am anxious to see the new Board (5 members) up and running because I want to bring a new set of charges against members of the Town Council.

And if this works out, then we can see how the Town Council functions with at least one member less than their full roster.

Anonymous said...

One person who shouldn't be on any ethics board is Samis.

Samis wants a full roster of five, he says, because he's got a "new set of charges" for which he's already tried, convicted and executed some unspecified town council member.

Samis should put up or shut up. If he's got a complaint, let him raise it (assuming he knows how to follow the rules).

Then let the ethics board consider it, and if additional appointments are made, so much the better.

But the best way to deal with allegations from him or from anyone else is to have them addressed promptly so that those that merit can get the serious attention they deserve, and those being advanced in election season for partisan political reasons by angry gadflies like you-know-who can be dismissed summarily.

hal samis said...

One of the nice things about America is that there is still some degree of freedom of choice.

If I feel that I want to bring a charge to the Ethics Board, it is still my decision when to do it.

If I feel that I want to do it when there are 5 active members, it is busting no one's hump if I choose to hold off a little while longer.

If I want to bring charges that is my right; otherwise why have any Ethics Board. I may not be Bob Bernstein but even I know that just bringing charges is neither the actual trial, conviction or execution.

If I really wanted to make this "politics" I would have been more specific. It is my intention to follow MY plan and do it when I feel it is timely. But since you want to push and assume that there is no specific gravity behind my posting, let me acknowledge that under the same standards that the Supervisor is being or will be judged, I would want to see the Ethics Board similarly consider the legitimacy of Town Council member Steve Bass accepting a contribution from the Town's outside auditors. Following that I have an additional four requests of the Ethics Board. If the Board is to exist, I believe in bringing them business so no one can say they had no reason to meet. But timing is everything, not unlike Bob Bernstein positioning himself as the last Public Comment before Ella Preiser's traditional clean-up.

Of course Mr. Bass can choose to resign and save all of us a lot of trouble and one or two trees.

Because what is good for the goose is good for the gander and I am a big believer in consistency.

Anonymous said...

Bass, who got a one-time $250 contribution from Bennett Kielsen in December 2005, has either given it back or is about to.

Feiner who's collected thousands of dollars from Bennett Kielsen over the years, hasn't returned a plug nickel.

Case closed.

Anonymous said...

Was Bass even on the Board then?

Anonymous said...

Bass should give the money to Dakfur, and then he will be able to say that at least he did something to help.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can send Young Kaminer to Dakfur, and he can threaten all the women there too.

I'm sure that Sir Francis would say that it is OK, the majority of the Town Bored would say nothing, and Bobby B. would say that nothing ever happened.

Am I missing anything?

Anonymous said...

And there's no Ethics Board to say that any of that is either good or bad.

Just another day in our little town.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please tell the obviously educationally-challenged and racially-insensitive Feiner-supporter from Mayfair Knollwood that the genocide is taking place not in "Dakfur" but in "Darfur"?

hal samis said...

Dear 12:40,

And Feiner is to appear before the Ethics Board for accepting dubious contributions, not, for not returning them.

"Bass has or is about to return..."
Try again, if you think that means the case is closed. If it takes getting caught to be Mr. Bass' defining moment, now's the opportune time for Bass to see if Brodsky is hiring.

Did you ever hear the one about the bank robber who said he was just about to return the money?

Do I need make a long list?

Bass has other problems ahead and salavation is not the "I returned the money" defense.

If Bass knows enough to condemn Feiner, he knows enough to manage his own affairs.

Glass houses, throw the first stone...

There's an even harder rain gonna fall.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymice 12:40PM,

How you know what Mr. Bass is going to do? Why has it taken him so long to realize that there might be something questionable about his actions? Is it because people like me have publicized it, so now it can no longer be swept under the table?

Very ethical of Mr. Bass.

Of course the Supervisor is definitely not "clean" here either, but we'll all wait and see how this progresses, although I will grant you, the Supervisor hasn't been burning up the track to get these issues behind him.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne Berger's law firm got a no bid contract from the town, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, to review a proposed land use. Now that Suzanne is running shouldn't the Board give the contract to someone else?

Anonymous said...

Kolesar, you can either ask Bass if he's returned the Bennett Kielsen contribution or you can read it on his next public filing.

And if you want to know why he gave the money back, you should ask him that too.

Right now, there's nothing that says accepting contributions from Bennett Kielsen is illegal under the town's Ethics Code.

Under the town's new Ethics Code, these contributions would be illegal. Bass supports the new Ethics Code.

The problem with these auditor contributions is two-fold: First and foremost, Bennett Kielsen compromises its duty of independence as independent auditors when it makes contributions to elected officials in municipalities where Bennett Kielsen has been hired to be the independent auditor because it suggests that, in return for the contribution, they'll turn a blind eye to financial irregularities, and reward the elected official with more contributions if their auditing contract is renewed.

For these same reasons, elected officials shouldn't accept these contributions either -- which is why Bass was right to return them, and Feiner continues to be in the wrong for holding onto them.

The propriety of accepting or not accepting money from Bennett Kielsen does not turn, however, on whether Bennett Kielsen engaged in any wrongdoing in performing Greenburgh's audits.

Thus, returning the money is something that's simply in the interest of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety -- something Bass recognized in returning the money, but Feiner refuses to recognize.

Anonymous said...

If Feiner's supporters want to make an ethical issue out of the town's awarding earlier this year a contract to the law firm Berger works for to represent the town against a developer at no cost to the town, they should quit bellyaching about it and file an ethics complaint.

It's important for the town's independent ethics board -- a board Feiner himself voted for -- to render an opinion on this issue as quickly as it can because if there's any wrongdoing here, voters are entitled to know about it, and likewise, if this is just a pile of political BS designed to distract voters from Feiner's own, much more serious ethical problems, then voters are entitled to know that too.

hal samis said...

Nice try 2:30, B+ for effort, F for content...a C- average.

You want to direct everyone to look only at "returning contributions" not "accepting" as though the "returning" portion is a bye for the "accepting". Avoiding the appearance of impropriety is more important than commiting the actual impropriety. Please hold onto that argument.

But why is the learned opposition to Feiner so anxious to have everyone rush to appear on the doorstep of the new Ethics Board? Is this blogger on commission?

Is it so unreasonable to register your grievances and notices AFTER the new ethics laws actually exist?
Seems simple enough, when the Town has passed the laws, then might be the starting point, or not. Only the Shadow knows. But since Mr. Bass will by then have returned the contribution, he's got nothing to worry about? We'll see.

Mr. Bass has other matters to answer for. And I'll deal with them one by one.

At my own pace because I'm a very busy blogger.

As you know.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon (1:58 pm):

Jeeze, I hope then that Bass will return the money to Darfur as opposed to Dakfur.

This is all so confusing.

You really smart bloggers are such geniuses, that it is hard for some of us educationally-challenged people to understand all that you are saying. Why, for example, things that look unethical to some of us simple folks, is completely OK for folks like you.

So sorry to take up your time.

However, I would like to thank the Town Bored for all the great efforts that they have indeed taken towards the genocide in Darfur. It is truely immeasurable, wouldn't you say!

By the way, to make amends, does any non racially-insensitive person have a spare Nobel Peace Prize application around that I can borrow? I have a nomination, but I want to keep it a secret so I don't spoil the surprise for anyone.

How's that Anon (1:58 pm)? Does that make you feel a little bit better now?

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymice 2:30 PM,

First my comments apply to both Mr Bass and the Supervisor.

While their acceptance of these funds was not a violation of the Town of Greenburgh's ethics laws as they did and at this time still do exist, I believe that both of them should have at least notified the public in a direct way before voting a three year deal to Bennett Kielson and both would have been better to recuse themselves. You haven't been a publicly elected official as I have and my record and actions on these kinds of issues is quite public and clear.

I agree with you 100% about the appearance of conflict from Bennett Kielson. Another reason for the Town to start the process of looking for new auditors rather than wait until the last minute. That's where an Audit Committee should play the key role because none of the Town Council members (no disrespect intended) would know how to evaluate potential audit firms and there could be a conflict with the Town Comptroller, whoever that might be.

What you can't explain away, however hard you try, is the vote and contract that they both voted for.

PS. Still afraid to include your name. Think you might ever get the courage to step out of "Anonymous"? Somehow I doubt it. No guts, no backbone.

Anonymous said...

amis should be interviewed for a slot on the board of ethics,this is the only person who has been telling the truth right along. He has all the facts before he makes a presentation. I,m sure he will call it as he sees it.

TAMMANY HALL said...

When the new ethics laws become law I hope that the board will review the propriety of sheehan, barnes, juettner voting to give Suzanne Berger's law firm a no bid contract. Was this six figure dollar contract a payoff for her previous financial and campaign support? Seems like tammany hall to me...

feiner ethically challenged said...

Tammany Hall indeed.

Feiner's solicits tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town, refuses to return the money and refuses to recuse himself from acting on those applications -- all in violation of the town's ethics code as it currently reads.

On top of that, according to the minutes of their meetings (which are available online) Feiner is now stonewalling the ethics board's investigation into his 2004 fundraiser, which is itself a violation of the town's ethics code as it currently reads.

So what do we get in response:

Feiner's supporters continue to want to make an ethical issue out of the town's awarding earlier this year a contract to the law firm Berger works for to represent the town against a developer at no cost to the town, they should quit bellyaching about it and file an ethics complaint.

It's important for the ethics board -- a board Feiner himself voted for -- to render an opinion on this issue as quickly as it can because if there's any wrongdoing here, voters are entitled to know about it, and likewise, if this is just a political smokescreen designed to distract voters from Feiner's own, much more serious ethical problems, then voters are entitled to know that too.

hal samis said...

So here is another theme developed by the Town Council and their Counsel.

The Ethics Board, while still lacking two members, needs something to keep busy so they should clear the decks and get down to work because as the anonymous 3:31 puts it "to render a decision as quickly as it can" because if there is wrongdoing voters should know, presumably ahead of the unstated September Democratic Primary date.

What 3:31 does know and also leaves unstated is the Ethics Board (new) really should rule on the Town's (new) Ethics Laws which are not yet finished or been presented to the Public at a Hearing.

So if Feiner is guilty of rushing without thinking to satisfy the needs of dog owners and promote a dog park -- which now exists -- what would you call the anonymous bloggers who keep insisting that the Ethics Board should be judging Town officials (when they do, there will be more than one) even before (likely, well before) the Town has passed the not yet drafted final version, much less near the end of the road to passage of these proposed new Ethics Laws.

I suspect that 3:31 is not that dumb. What 3:31 wants to have people believe is that there is something suspicious about why people aren't submitting complaints (putting up or shutting up) to the Ethics Board and why the Ethics Board is not meeting to hear these complaints. It is because what the current Ethics Board is working on is drafting the laws. Knowing this reality, it presents an entirely opposite picture of the one which is 3:31's hope that you will believe: that Feiner is somehow slowing down the process so he can evade being judged.

You see much of what you believe is what you read and the thought controllers are out to lead you astray.

Then, why should you believe me? I'm supporting Feiner. How about believing Francis Sheehan, then, who said, at least three times during the Wednesday Town Board Meeting, that the Tuesday work session lasted to 1:15 in the morning when they quit for the night with the new Ethics Laws still not finished. Nor were they finished following Thursday's (yesterday) Ethics Board meeting.

So when you read the various versions of the theme, 3:31's is merely the latest, "to render an opinion on this issue as quickly as it can" (scroll up and check) following from the Ethics Board that "Feiner himself voted for" and ending with "a political smokescreen designed to distract voters from Feiner's ...problems" and "voters are entitled to know that too"...I see my role as to make sure that voters do indeed know who is playing who, who is setting the brush on fire to create the smokescreen and whether the FAIR VIEW (get it?) fire district should be called out to demonstrate that they serve the entire Town.

Those who read the the blog must get smart and become aware who is lying. While I am not saying that when people contribute to the blog and use their own names that this is a guarantee of accuracy or the final word on every topic. We who use our own names are not using them to replace the dubious "As Seen on TV" or
Advertised in Good Housekeeping" stickers. What we are doing is to put you a little more on guard that seeing is not always worthy of believing and hopefully to make you interested enough to try and learn more on your own.

On the other hand, those that post as "anonymous" consider it a license to lie without any risk of exposure. When you see "anonymous", that is most often the warning that you need investigate further.

And when these anonymous posts riddle Feiner at every sentence, do what the Police Department does when it trys to solve clueless crimes and identify the perp. They ask: Who would benefit most?

On most (not all) of these topics, my money is on Bernstein, McNally, Bass, Sheehan and Kaminer. Juettner (liasion to the the Library) is dead to the world so she is not a suspect (hey Diana, since you didn't get to the Library Board meeting yesterday, I'll be happy to lend you my notes) and Barnes is brushing up her let's work together speech. Berger is too busy trying to learn the names of the major roads in unincorporated and whether there are any civic associations that don't belong to the ECC.

So if you see anonymous, it's a very good bet that one of the five is the author.

But hey, I can't pierce the corporate veil, I'm just guessing.

Anonymous said...

The following was omitted by Mr. Samis:

The town's Ethics Board has already been hard at work for several months investigating the Feiner fundraiser in March 2004 where Feiner received tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town.

According to the minutes of their meetings, which are posted online for all to see, Feiner is stonewalling their investigation, which is itself a separate violation of the ethics code.

Samis also omits to mention that no matter what the revisions to the code may be, conduct which occurred in the past will be judged under the ethics code in effect at that time. That's the way the law works in America.

Samis also omits to mention that, under the existing code, if Feiner believes that any member of the town council has violated the ethics code, he can file a complaint with the board.

For example, in attempt to smear Bass, Feiner's already complained to the ethics board about a $100 contribution that Bass received from the credit union.

So, if Feiner's good friend Samis thinks he's got the goods on Bass or Sheehan or anyone else holding public office in Greenburgh, it's up to Feiner to notify the ethics board to ask for an opinion.

Once the new code changes become law, any citizen can file his or her own complaint without having to go through a town board member.

Feiner and his people don't want to file any ethics complaints at this time because they know that the ethics board, as currently constituted, doesn't fool around. If their complaints have merit, they'll let everyone know.

By the same token, if the complaints are nothing more than muddled twaddle, they'll let us know that too.

Feiner is sitting on his hands for good reason.

hal samis said...

You see the nice thing about not belonging to the Bernstein cult is that those on the other side get to make their own decisions. And as a resident, my decision is to wait. Apparently that doesn't sit too well with Robby so he keeps urging that anyone who wants to bring a complaint should do it now or...or...they will have to do it later.
Sorry that I have decided to do it when I want and you'll just have to wait.
Who knows, the issue may not even be about money changing hands.

And what convoluted logic is it that says the new Ethics Board is tough and that's why I'm not making my complaint now. I can assure you it will happen in 2007, assuming that the new laws are voted upon, and gee I don't expect that the three recent appointees to the Ethics Board are expecting to leave before serving a year. So, I hope that Robby can wait not as long as we all have been waiting for his decisions, those lay-ups he says they are, to achieve closure.

As for the Ethics Board being hard at work for months investigating Feiner...according to Robby it is as plain as day. Why do they have to "work so hard" when the case is being tried by Robby & Co. on the blog?

Do I detect in "Samis omits to mention" a hint of desperation or just a love of my entertaining prose style. Obviously Robby thinks that it is crucial to mention the charges against Feiner and that is his right but since I am writing about his team I'll leave him to swing at the pitches he likes and I'll swing at the ones I like. Since we're on opposing teams, I don't feel the need to advertise which of his team will end up back in the minors after the pre-pennant race is over. I think readers recognize that I have a good handle on the who, what, why, when, where and how and when I choose everyone will know.

When I choose.

As for Feiner, he does what he wants. Outside of Edgemont there is still free choice.

Anonymous said...

It's political season--comments made against feiner on this blog are not true.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to make accusations put your name next to the name anonymous

Anonymous said...

feiner wrote to the ethics bd asking for an opinion on campaign contributions. He did that on his own initiative.
how come bass doesn't do the same?
Steve Bass has taken contribution from a business that rents space to the town. Originally, Bass was against the lease.He received a contribution after a meeting with the applicant and changed his mind.

Anonymous said...

Why does Samis sound like that creepy guy from the 50s who said he had a list of all the commies in the state department, right there in his little hand?

But that only he'll decide when ot tell us who's on the list -- and only when he's good and ready.

Was it the famous Edward R. Murrow who told the man to put up or shut up? Or was it the American public?

Anonymous said...

Feiner took tends of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town, but wrote to the Ethics Board about only one of them -- trying to pretend the others never happened.

Feiner's self-serving letter to the Ethics Board was disingenuous in other respects too.

Fortunately, town residents wouldn't let Feiner get away with that, and wrote to the Ethics Board about all the other contributions Feiner took, and to its credit, three years later, the Ethics Board is finally looking into that March 2004 fundraiser -- and Feiner, true to form, is stonewalling.

Rather than defend his own conduct, Feiner then wrote to the Ethics Board about a single $100 contribution that Bass received from the credit union. Feiner claims that Bass changed his vote over that.

Feiner's allegation is petty and unfounded. The credit union lease was approved by a 5-0 vote. Had Bass voted the other way, the lease would have been approved by a 4-1 vote.

The difference between what Bass did and Feiner did is that while Bass took $100, Feiner took tens of thousands of dollars from developers seeking approval of applications before the town that are worth millions of dollars.

It's Feiner who's got the ethics problem here, not Bass.

Anonymous said...

Does Feiner grant permits to builders,or do we have departments that handle these requests. I've seen zoning and planning board meetings, where developers and buildere bring forth their request. Do you mean to tell me that Feiner has influence over their decisions , Or he shares the contributions with each board. I do hope that you see what fools you are if you think that because someone contributed to the funds, he could build whatever he wants.This would make everyone dishonest in Greenburgh. I hate to tell you that your reasong is 100 percent wrong.I contributed to Feiner's campaign fund and I am not a builder. Yes I did get something back,,,,THANK YOU for your support.

Anonymous said...

There are many instances in which Feiner has received contributions from major developers like Robert Martin, LCOR (owner of the Madison Square Garden Property and others), and lesser known developers, like D'Allessio where, after getting the money, Feiner began acting as their own private lobbyist for whatever project they were promoting.

For instance, Feiner's recently been promoting a supermarket being proposed by Martin. Feiner actively lobbied for the helipad that the owner of Cablevision wanted for the Madison Square sports training complex. And Feiner also tried to act as "private mediator" of the dispute that D'Allessio was having with Edgemont residents over the cutting down of trees on a large lot that D'Allessio was developing.

Feiner also makes a point of lobbying the zoning and planning boards on matters that "interest" him.

Because Feiner solicited contributions from all of these developers, his actions all create the appearance of impropriety which is what the ethics laws in Greenburgh are to supposed to prevent.

hal samis said...

Nice try 8:56 and again at 9:06,

I've posted on other topics discussing anonymous bloggers who bring up "stuff" from over twenty years ago and the "stuff" is not even the truth. I even quoted Judge Welch's famous line to McCarthy/ Roy Cohen "Sir have you no sense of decency". So it is amusing to see it thrown back at me today in the era of Sheehan/Gil Kaminer.

The difference between the 1950's and the new millennium is not that vast when discussing ethical behavior. What was wrong then is still wrong today. But this is not the apples to apples comparison that anonymous would have you believe.

Senator McCarthy was pedaling his "I have a list of names" Mclarkey DURING a Hearing and his failure to produce the names led to his downfall. Of course not having names backed by proof was
the damning subtext.

In 2007 in Greenburgh, the Edgemont Mafia is making much of the new Ethics Board, trying to get as much mileage as they can from the original complaints brought by Bernstein, Kraus and Samis. But these letters to the "existing" but invisible Ethics Board was not the passsport to bring a citizen's complaint before them. The Town Boards (previous) made sure to see that would not happen. The green light to send these letters to the Ethics Board was established only after a pre-condition was in place and this occurred when the Ethics Board had reason to create a file.

Only a member of the Town Board could have the matter taken under consideration by the Ethics Board.
At the time, on the Town Board were Steve Bass (running this fall), Eddie Mae Barnes (running this fall), Diana Juettner, sleeping as usual, Timmy Weinberg (replaced by Sheehan) and Paul Feiner (running this fall). Which of the concerned Democrats actually brought their concerns to the Ethics Board? If you didn't answer Paul Feiner, you guessed wrong. None of the allegations against Feiner were of sufficient concern then (amidst all of the hullabaloo) or were enough motivation for any of the members of the Town Council to issue a directive to the Ethics Board. Why? Because to have Feiner judged would also be the criteria to have themselves judged. Now, why did Feiner voluntarily ask the Ethics Board to review his actions as the question will be enroute from bloggers stet. Skeptics will reach a not entirely unreasonable assumption that the Ethics Board (such as it was) was itself unethical and thus Feiner would not suffer an unfavorable ruling. As it turned out, no ruling occurred because the Board never met. On the other side, those that support Feiner would argue that there were no grounds and that Feiner would emerge blameless. But, that was then and today we have the BEGINNINGS of a new Ethics Board and the BEGINNINGS of new ethics laws.

But before we leave "then" hopefully for the last visit, the blogger criticizes Feiner for limiting the scope of the review by the Ethics Board. This was noted by those that wrote the letters and by the local media and brought up at Public Meetings. Why did no one on the Town Council (Bass, Barnes, Juettner, Weinberg) create their own directives, listing as many violations that they thought should be examined? I don't believe that for a member of the Town Board, a vote was necessary to bring a complaint to the Ethics Board. But today, thanks to daily applications of Miracle Gro, our Town Council is so much more concerned about what didn't catch their attention before because they were so busy reviewing WESTHELP files before voting.

However we are not in Ethics nirvana yet and that is why I have not brought my complaint to the new Ethics Board. I have a right to see what are the actual laws that I may refer to in my complaint. I have a right to wait until the Ethics Board is filled. Since the Town Board has trumpeted the brave new world of the new Ethics climate, they recognize that no one should be judged on laws which don't exist? But for reasons of their own, the Edgemont Mafia want to have the dirty linen washed and dryed before the November elections and just THEY want, as is their usual riff, does not mean that everyone else has to dance to their beat.

The important thing to remember is that the civilian part of the equation is only to bring a complaint to the attention of the Ethics Board. The review, gathering of facts and eventual judgement is the business of the Ethics Board. By electing to bring a complaint a citizen obviously feels that there is a basis to do so, otherwise the effort would be in vain and a waste of everyone's time. So, to not waste everyone's time, it would be understandable to weigh the sentiments of the Board, something that can be done by seeing which of the existing laws are retained intact, which are changed, which are removed and what the language of the new proposed laws actually says.

But, still the anonynmous blogger feels that my having a list of names is akin to the McCarthy hearings so to appease him/her I shall state the names that I will be complaining about, Steve Bass, Diana Juettner and Francis Sheehan.
I don't think that this makes it any better or worse for anyone other than the blogger but the actual complaints will be sent to the new Ethics Board at what is the appropriate time which certainly will not be before the new Ethics Laws are passed by the Town Board. I believe that this is no different from when Mr. Bernstein didn't just discharge his guns without issuing a warning first to the Town Board before the Taxter Ridge purchase was consummated.

But we know that Bob Bernstein is on vacation when his "team" writes that there was nothing wrong with Steve Bass's acceptance of $100 from the credit union because if he had not voted, the vote would instead be 4 to 1 and would still have passed. Thus Steve's vote wasn't even needed Bob is not stupid and would not author that idiocy even as anonymous because he knows that would allow:

It is ok to rob a bank if you can prove you didn't need the money.

And Feiner didn't do anything wrong because he already had a lot of money in his campaign war chest and thus the contributions weren't necessary.

Come on guys, let Bob enjoy his vacation and not worry about leaving the ECC family business in the hands of those that will give away the store.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Samis i'm sure that when your complaint hit the ethics board , we will have a new town council. This is something i"ve got to see. Rome fell and these four will fall also.This group seems to feel that they are untouchable ,what a rude awakening they will have.

Anonymous said...

The phrase Feiner took tends of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town appears over and over and over. Does it mean that the same person is writing this? Does it mean that there is an orchestrated effort to convince the public that this is true? Or that it is different than what other elected officials have done? Or is it the big lie technique - say somethiung over and over and it begins to sound real.

What I know is that Feiner asked the Ethics Board to investigate whether he has committed an ethical violation. No other member of the Town Board has done that.

And I know that the Town Council has put two members on the Ethics Board who are in cahoots with the Edgemont crowd. The Town Council has politicized the Ethics Board like they have politicized everything else.

Anonymous said...

Bass did nothing wrong ethically and Samis and Feiner both know it.

The ethics code, as currently written, prohibits public officials from "soliciting" contributions from persons with applications pending before the board.

In 2004, Feiner took the position that his fundraising was legal because the contributions he received came from a general fundraising letter which was aimed at Feiner's supporters generally, and not at those with applications pending before the board. Samis knows this because he's familiar with Feiner's arguments.

The problem with that argument, of course, is that most of the developers with applications who gave thousands to Feiner were "solicited" to attend a specific Feiner fundraiser in March 2004 being put together for that purpose by their lawyer.

That type of targeted fundraising would constitute a "solicitation" which is prohibited by the town's ethics code.

The $100 contribution that Bass received from the credit union was in response to a general fundraising letter which was not aimed at anyone with any applications pending.

Accepting money under those circumstances is perfectly okay under Greenburgh's code, as it is currently written.

Under the new code, however, that too would be unlawful.

Samis's statement that he's got charges to file against certain town council members, but he won't say what they are.

That's skanky behavior. If you think someone's done something improper, you either put up or shut up. Everything else is just smear, which is really what Samis (and Feiner) are all about.

Bernstein warned out Taxter Ridge by telling us -- before he sued -- exactly why he thought the town was acted illegally.

As Jon Stewart would say, "Samis, you've got nothing."

And one other thing, there's no such thing as an "Edgemont mafia." That too is a smear. Have you no shame, Samis?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:56 thinks it's all a big lie that Feiner took tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town.

Lists of Feiner's contributors can be found online on the "grassroots for greenburgh" website; other lists are available on the website for the New York State Board of Elections.

Anon at 5:56 accuses the town council of appointing two members of the Ethics Board who are in "cahoots with the Edgemont crowd." That's a smear.

The two new members of the Ethics Board were approved not just by the town council but also by Feiner. They also happen to be two gentlemen from unincorporated Greenburgh that Feiner himself once appointed, without town board approval, to be on his so-called SCOBA committee.

The fact that these Ethics Committee members are now of the view, according to their minutes, that Feiner is stonewalling their investigation, is therefore highly significant, and very troubling, because these guys are not partisan.

hal samis said...

Dear Edgemont Mafia,

Anybody get their money's worth for those tens of thousands of dollars?

What did Feiner, let me write it again so I can be sure you're going to respond about Feiner, do for these devlopers?

That's F E I N E R.

I just want to make sure that the complaints are regarding the appearance of impropiety tag and not that he is being accused of any specific graft arrangement.
Someone might get the impression from all the times that it appears that Feiner is being accused of some reciprocal arrangement, "You contribute and I'll..."

I know that giving that impression must have been the farthest thing from your minds.

Anonymous said...

By the way is there an Italian in the ethics group.

Anonymous said...

Bass solicited the contribution. He had a private meeting with the applicant and changed his mind after the meeting. There is no way the credit union would have known of the Bass fundraiser unless he told them. His actions were a direct violation of the law

Anonymous said...

Members of the town council who voted to give Suzanne Berger's law firm a six figure no bid contract should have recused themselves from the vote since she contributed to their campaigns. Ms. Berger should not accept contributiosn from members of her law firm. There is a conflict.

Anonymous said...

If 9:06 has any evidence to back up his or her allegations, he or she should present it to the ethics board for consideration.

If the evidence is real, the public has a right to know about it. Likewise, if there's no evidence to support it, the public has a right to know that Feiner's supporters are engaging in a smear campaign.

The ethics board is smart enough to figure this all out.

But why then are Feiner's supporters so bashful? Don't they know that the chair of the ethics board is himself a former Feiner contributor?

Anonymous said...

If Anon at 9:10 and other Feiner's supporters continue to want to make an ethical issue out of the town's awarding earlier this year a contract to the law firm Berger works for to represent the town against a developer at no cost to the town, they should quit bellyaching about it and file an ethics complaint.

It's important for the ethics board -- a board Feiner himself voted for -- to render an opinion on this issue as quickly as it can because if there's any wrongdoing here, voters are entitled to know about it, and likewise, if this is just a political smokescreen designed to distract voters from Feiner's own, much more serious ethical problems, then voters are entitled to know that too.

Should any complaint be filed, the Ethics Board would consider, among other things, the fact that the law firm was recommended by the town attorney (whom Feiner voted for) and by the head of the town's planning department (whom Feiner voted for).

The board would also have to consider the fact that there were at least two other law firms bidding for the job, and that Feiner himself never bother to interview any of the law firms that had expressed interest.

Since there was never any legal or ethical prohibition against Berger contributing to any of the town council members, since the town staff had unanimously recommended the hiring of the firm Berger works for, since Feiner never interviewed any other law firm candidates, much less expressed support for any other firm, it would appear that the town board's decision to retain that firm, at no expense to the town, does not raise any appearance of impropriety.

This is a far cry from what Feiner has done by soliciting tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money, and refusing to recuse himself when their matters came up for a vote.

Now THAT's an ethics violation.

Anonymous said...

Feiner wanted to interview other law firms but was outvoted by Barnes,sheehan and Juettner,I don't know if Bass said no also. If the town attorney was given a position by Feiner why is Feiner responsible for what Tim says or does;the same goes for the person on the planning board. Feiner wanted to interview other firms but Sheehan ruled that night and gave the contract to Berger's firm . That was in bad taste and yes it should be brought to the ethics board.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:02 doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

No one ever stopped Feiner from interviewing anyone. No vote was ever taken to interview or not to interview anyone. The matter of hiring a law firm for the Eastview project had been pending for months. So Feiner literally had months to interview anyone he wanted. He never bothered.

All of this was brought out when the matter of hiring the law firm finally came up for a vote at a public meeting of the town board which everyone can see.

Indeed, the matter had been on the calendar a few months before -- which is proof positive that Feiner had plenty of time to do interviews if he thought the matter was important to him, which he never did.

Instead, when the matter of hiring the law firm finally came up for a vote, the best Feiner could do that night was trash the town attorney and the town's planning commissioner on the ground that, because Berger is employed by the law firm they were recommending, their unanimous recommendation should be disregarded.

Feiner's terrible behavior that night, all caught on videotape, doesn't look any better in hindsight.

Town votes are a matter of public record. If there had ever been a vote of the kind described by Anon at 10:02, there would be a public record of it -- and there isn't. Feiner (or is supporters) are grasping at straws on this one.

The evidence is all on the videotape.

Anonymous said...

Steve Bass should ask the ethics bd to rule on his alleged ethics violation-taking money and changing his vote after receiving a contribution.

Anonymous said...

10:26 check the tape of that meeting.Feiner wanted to interview other firms but he was outvoted by,Sheehan,barnes and Juettner.Sheehan is this your comment of10:26

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:09 is rewriting history.

All town board votes are public. There was no vote to prevent Feiner from interviewing anyone. The town staff had made a unanimous recommendation. The vote on whether to hire the firm had already been pulled from the calendar once before to give town board members more time to consider the matter.

Feiner sat on his hands, did nothing, and then, when the matter eventually did come up for a vote again, Feiner made a paranoid speech about how town staff can't be trusted.

I'm not Sheehan. I watched the meeting from home. It's all on the videotape. I don't want to give my name because I don't want to be attacked personally the way everyone else who criticizes Feiner seems to get attacked on this website. I want to remain private.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how things get turned around. As I see it, it is the people who don't attack Feiner who get attacked and demeaned on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:53 should wake up and smell the coffee.

Read pretty much anything from Samis, who seems to monopolize most of the postings on this website with his pro-Feiner rants, and you'll see how he personally attacks BY NAME any number of people who've been known to criticize Feiner.

He seems to think he's got a license to say these things, presumably because Feiner lets him get away with making these outrageous attacks on people at town board meetings too.

But it's not just Samis. There's Feiner's campaign manager Garfunkel who's post at the beginning of this blog topic is just riddled with paranoid personal attacks on various people in town who don't support Feiner the way he thinks they should.

And then there's also Gooljar, whom Feiner paid two years ago to make derisive comments about residents Feiner didn't like, and for all we know, he's probably still doing it.

hal samis said...

Now the blog traffic is "in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars in contributions", now Feiner "sat on his hands" regarding interviewing law firms.

The tens of thousands of dollars problem has been responded to by a Town Council which "sat on its hands" and saw no reason to contact the Ethics Board in 2004, 2005, 2006.

Only now, in 2007, with an election coming up has the Town Council become concerned and registered their long dormant "concerns" with the
Ethics Board being formed and in the process of creating new ethics laws. Thus bloggers should be angry for allowing this issue to be ignored. That is, if sitting on hands is a fair characterization.

Creating new laws is not an overnight process. It requires the Town Board to draft these laws (which it is doing at work sessions) and it needs the input of the Ethics Board (which it is getting albeit from an incomplete Ethics Board) and then, the Town Board must vote to set a date for, and then open the Public Hearings on these proposed laws. If a Public Hearing is treated as a real event and heed is given to comments, then it is possible that the Town Board will then amend or add new sections or eliminate sections based on the input provided by the Public. Public Comment is fashioned, in turn, by its review of the final draft of these proposed laws and such a final draft should be available to the Public in advance of the Public Hearing. Twenty four hours before or the day of is not a reasonable amount of time for these important laws to be considered. Thus, the Town Board should endeavor to either make the final draft available at least twenty four hours before or set a date for a Public Hearing in which these proposed laws are made available in a reasonable period prior to the Hearing.

In other words, there is still a long road ahead, especially if the Town Board is really interested and are of opne mind to receiving input by way of the Public comments during the Public Hearing.

However, if the system is, operating as it should, then the Public comments may have an impact upon the wording of the laws and possibly such input can affect the nature or submission of any complaints that are put forward thereafter.

Finally it is my understanding, that under the existing law (that which remains operative until changed), only the Town Board can submit complaints to the Ethics Board. That the notion that residents may submit complaints directly to the Ethics Board is pne element of the proposed new ethics laws. Unless I am wrong, it would be contrary to existing law for a resident to submit direct complaints now and were the Ethics Board to consider such complaints they would be doing so without basis and in contravention of their existing mandate. Furthermore, if so, then any decision reached in this manner could be challenged by the subject of the complaint as tendered illegally and the resulting decision as poisoned fruit from a poisoned vine.

It is the hope of residents that the Ethics Board, itself, follows the rules and laws of the Town;
even though, the Edgemont mafia operates with its own set of rules.

Anonymous said...

Samis didn't mention that he can always give his complaint to Feiner, if he's really got one, and Feiner can submit it.

That's exactly what Feiner did after his Edgemont reelection lieutenant, Don Siegel, complained about Bass taking $100 from a credit union. Once Feiner and the town council reconstituted the new Ethics Board,Feiner contacted the board on Siegel's behalf and asked for a ruling.

Samis didn't mention that because he's really got no basis for making any allegations of his own -- he's just trafficking in smears. That's why he continues to talk about some "Edgemont mafia" -- which is just more smear-talk.

hal samis said...

Samis speaks for Samis.

And 11:28, is the blogspace yours?
How can I monopolize when you are writing?

How many people are there called anonymous?

Somebody's getting really nervous about me going to the Ethics Board.
Wonder why?

Anonymous said...

No one could possibly be nervous about Samis going to the Ethics Board, which is why he's keeps getting told to put up or shut up, and he continues to do neither.

If Samis ever did come forward with anything, it would likely evoke snickers more than anything else because even if Samis or Feiner had evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone, and they don't, he, like Feiner, both lack the skillsets to articulate whatever they want to contend in a way that would be capable of pursuading anyone of anything.

hal samis said...

Methinks the "gentleman" doth protest too much.

Thus the topic is: over until it is over; when the fat lady sings and, when all bob's horses and all bob's men can't put Greenburgh back together again.

Anonymous said...

why won't the Town Council appoint 2 others to the Ethics Board?

Anonymous said...

The law requires 5 members of the ethics board, not 3. Does Sheehan care about the law?

Anonymous said...

Didn't the town council members say at last week's town board meeting that they were still interviewing?

Didn't they say they were required by law to appoint an independent and a Republican?

The last ethics board did not meet for several years, despite issues pending before it, and its chairman sat for more than two years on a letter from the Westchester DA's office urging it to investigate the ethics inquiry concerning Feiner's having taken tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town.

Feiner may not give a rat's behind about who sits on the ethics board -- right now, he's thumbing his nose at the board's investigation of his alleged violations of the code -- but doesn't it make sense for the town council to approach the issue of filling those two remaining seats with care and careful consideration?

Anonymous said...

It ceratinly does make sense for the town council to approach the issue of filling those two remaining seats with care and careful consideration. It shouldn't take this long.

Besides the Town Council has no credibility on this. The two persons they have appointed so far are political. Both are on the town's unincorporated Greenburgh committee which is an openly anti-Feiner committee, and one of them is on the conservation committee, which is often in disputes before the Town Board. Whether or not they can act independently remains to be seen, but people with such political involvement should not be on the ethics committee.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that, in response to the news that Feiner is stonewalling the ethics board's investigationi, Feiner's people are now launching personal attacks on the two most recent appointees to the town's Ethics Committee.

Both appointees were appointed by Feiner to his so-called SCOBA committee, and one of them is a former Feiner contributor.

Feiner voted yes earlier this year to confirm both of their appointments.

Feiner did so knowing full well that both appointees were also serving on a five-member committee of unincorporated area residents looking into the A and B budget disputes, and that one of them was also a member of the Conservation Advisory Committee.

It is difficult to believe Feiner would have voted to confirm these appointments if he truly believed they were "anti-Feiner."

It's too bad that Feiner has chosen to politicize the work that the ethics board is trying to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Feiner and I don't care whether Feiner approved the appointments. Ethics is about appearances. It doesn't appear right for two people who are so involved in regular town politics to be on an ethics committee.

I'm glad that you consider that being members of the SCOBA committee is a sign of qualifications and integrity. It isn't that way when someone invokes SCOBA for any other purpose.

Anonymous said...

Being on that SCOBA committee is no sign of qualifications for anything.

As more and more of us have figured out, SCOBA was a one-sided political whitewash orchestrated by Feiner and the pro-village activist he picked to head it.

But the fact that the two ethics board appointees were appointed by Feiner to be on SCOBA, that one is a former Feiner contributor, and that Feiner voted for both of them to be on the ethics board, doesn't make it look like these two guys are biased against Feiner.

If anything, it looks like they're biased in Feiner's favor, which makes it all the more stunning that they've found Feiner NOT COOPERATING with their investigation into his taking those thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town.

It's pretty pathetic that Feiner's response to all this is to start smearing the ethics board members too.

Anonymous said...

anon at 10:26

what is the town's unincorproated gburgh committee and how do I join?

Anonymous said...

The Town Board appointed five residents from unincorporated Greenburgh to participate on behalf of unincorporated Greenburgh in an ill-fated attempt to mediate the legal disputes over the town's continued practice of charging only unincorporated Greenburgh for parks and recreational facilities that are open town-wide.

The five residents include three members of Feiner's SCOBA committee, one president of a civic association who, because she was a civic association president, was refused membership on SCOBA, and the secretary of the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations.

Anonymous said...

how about naming the five from the unincorpoated area.

Anonymous said...

should members of the ethics bd refrain from lobbying Town Board members to approve or reject controversial matters?

Anonymous said...

Watch the last town board meeting on TV. You will see John Mclaughlin pressing the Board to take action on flooding near his home on Taxter Road. He is one of the five members of the Unincorporated Greenburgh Committee which is also pressing the Town Board on budget matters.

Mclaughlin is a fine man, but should he be on an ethics committee which passes jusgment on Town Board members? I think not. The ethics committee should consist of independent people who aren't actively involved in town government issues.

hal samis said...

Here's the Samis take.

Given that the Town needs ethics laws and the existing laws aren't very well written, either clear or encompassing.

Given that the Town needs an Ethics Board to administer these laws.

Given that the previous Ethics Board was a joke.

Then, these thoughts follow:

The existing Town law states that the Ethics Board shall consist of 5 members.

It is my contention that the previous Ethics Board ceased to exist when the remaining members (but one replacement) resigned. Thus there was a lengthy period -- but still is -- when the Town had/has no Ethics Board. Certainly within memory the Ethics Board never met. The difference hinges on the interpretation of the word "Board" and whether it achieved a de facto existence.
Consider:
1) the defining characteristics and purpose for a organization.
2) the specific group and its component parts as defined by their names, party affiliation and appointments of office term.
3) whether it is the "Board" which survives and not its members, either as individuals or a collective.

I suggest that however you look at it, there is a more substantial and thus over-riding concept in play as per me a lay person. A car cannot run without gas. Without gas, you have no car because a car is not just the joining of steel, glass and plastic parts that are shaped into a visual mass reminiscent of what is familiar as a car. Without the gas, it is an immobile hunk of junk because a car is, as defined, is supposed to have the capability to "move" and attain varying speeds.

Without belaboring this point (which I shall do when pressed) I submit that when the prior Ethics Board, resigned, the Ethics Board was no more and therefore ceased to exist, as if the gas had been drained from it.

With this premise, the only recourse to the Town Board was to create a new Ethics Board, not replace "members" on the old Ethics Board. Until 5 members exist, there can be NO Ethics Board. In their haste to get this matter underway (election year?), the Town Board has attempted to put the car(t) before the hearse so that it can be pushed by the corpse.

I have asked Town Attorney Lewis for an opinion.

The Town Board has chosen to treat this as though there was no break in continuity; in support of this premise they have appointed new members (3) as replacements to fill out of the remaining terms of specific departed members.

For example (fact based but hypothicated with no specific citaation), if there was an opening (ALL positions were of course open) for a Republican with two years to go, a new Republican member might have been appointed for that term with two years to go. This is just an overview of what has happened and is underway.

I maintain that legally, when the last member (even second to last who had no opportunity to actually serve) of the prior existing Ethics Board quit, there was no longer an Ethics Board, no remaining terms were left and the way to go about it was to roll the hand back to "0" and start over.

Thus, what is called today's Ethics Board does not exist until all five slots are filled; that calling it an Ethics Board is an act of whimsy and that the naming of two Ethics Board positions, Chairman and Secretary, is without basis (or even reasonableness) when the entire Board has not yet been filled. The remaining two slots, when filled, will have had little to do with any reorganization, with any contribution to creating the new laws and will exist merely as placeholders. Thus the Town Board has given an inordinate amount of influence to just the first 3 members.

I have no ax to grind with any of the 3 in place today. However, that they have joined with the Town Board in the "rush" to get this underway is perhaps a window view of their independence from the Town Board.

They would have been on sound, if not higher, ground had they said to the Town Board, give us our full complement and then let us go to work. The "quorum" concept is a facility arrangement when a Board is already FILLED and in operation; it permits an entity to function with less than 100% attendance by its members. However merely providing a quorum should not be taken as the green light to launch. And launch in this case means to lead the creation of an Ethics Code and the choosing of the officers of the Ethics Board. Note that all correspondence from the new "Ethics Board" is not signed with "acting" titles.

Thus, the only way to right this procedure is to take a deep breath, take a step or two back and first fill all the vacant slots and then, and only then, will the Town have an Ethics Board.
Whatever personnel difficulties this may generate.

Having had the opportunity to attend yesterday's work session and see the Town Council in operation on discussing proposed language for the new laws, I will confess that they are taking it seriously and that they (Bass, Barnes, Juettner and Sheehan and Kaminer) are ALL contributing in a sincere and meaningful manner.

Yesterday's (Tuesday July 3) work session was supposed to precede a Special Town Board Meeting to "vote" on a final draft of the new laws for the purpose of holding a Public Hearing in July on them. Due to real technical problems beyond their control, the Special Meeting was cancelled, rescheduled for this Friday and likely as the result of this, none of the 3 "existing" members were present.

During the work session, two candidates for the vacancies were interviewed. However, despite the "pressing" need (see above), I would say that any candidate who says that he doesn't have the time because of prior "life" and already committed priorities, is not a candidate. Such a candidate is gaining a resume enhancer and is likely to be the quorum tester. As for the other, to say that he would have to give up another Board to serve on this one is akin to borrowing from Peter to pay Paul (pun unintended).

So despite their good intentions and hard work, from what version of the draft is available -- and none so far is yet available to the Public, I think that it is premature for the Town Board to vote on a version to be presented to the Public for a Public Hearing at the one July Town Board Meeting with the expectation that the Hearing will then be closed, only accepting written comments over the next week.

Not only does the draft need more work and more input, it also needs the input of 5 members from the Ethics Board, not just 3. The remedy to this last comment is overdue but that does not mean it the legislative product also should be rushed.

As this topic is regarding Ethical standards, before I continue let me make these stipulations.

A) I have submitted email comments on proposed law changes to the "Ethics Board Chairman" and he has made them known to those attending.
B) I have not attended any of the Public meetings of this group to discuss new laws and changes to the existing laws.
C) At yesterday's work session, the Town Council (Feiner was not present) I was allowed to participate and a useful dialogue was enjoyed by all.
D) What got me interested in looking into the matter of whether the Ethics Board, was really the Ethics Board, were comments delivered on this blog: that Feiner was stonewalling the Ethics Board. Although I have had no communication with him or any of his supporters regarding this, the inquisitive side of Samis (let be beat the punch, the inqisitional side) was intrigued because, as I have written already, it seemed questionable under Municipal Law whether "Boards" without first reaching a proscribed roster could be said to be "Boards" -- if so, then what was the purpose of specifying a member count. As discussed, the question seems to be then, whether this 3 man "Board" is a new Board or merely the extension of a surviving shell which once may have had an existence albeit of dubious heritage because it never met as a "Board" in recent years.

Finally with regard to one of the major components of any compendium of ethics laws: the issue of "appearance of impropriety.

Under the proposed changes, my position was stated regarding gifts returned merely receive a slap on the wrist; there is no painful or even progressive fine for repeat offenses. If you get caught and give it back all is well. Since then, my entire outlook has changed regarding the "appearance" concept, see below.

With that as the antecedent; let me discuss what is an "appearance".
It should not be a surprise for me to use as the poster child for givers, those campaign contributions made by real estate developers. Before anyone leaps to argue this is merely a disguised Feiner defense, let me say that it would indeed help Feiner were the matter to be viewed differently. On the other hand it would also help those who accepted contributions (those who criticized others while committing the same action in accepting them from, say, a credit union, an auditing firm, a person of influence with matters concerning the Town before local Courts, etc).
I am using real estate developers because real estate is the lynchpin for most controversial matters that affect residents. Its long reaching issues concern Planning Boards, Zoning Boards, Comprehensive Plans, Building Departments, Public Works Departments etc. and the problems of traffic, size of building, school enrollment... Lots and lots of daily decisions and potential enforcement pitfalls interfacing with Town government.

Now any contributions under $100 cannot be traced, don't have to be reported etc. so whatever is on the table is only about those contributions of $100 or more. Please don't sidestep the issue by reciting the possibility of staff members being persuaded to contribute $99.

Most real estate developers make substantial contributions to all heads of all local governments wherever they do business, and before, during and after. It is a fact of life. It is a cost of doing business. And as most bloggers would concede, real estate developers are in the right business and can easily afford to do so. Thus the larger contributions are most likely to come from those companies, including their support industries like lawyers, contractors, engineers, appraisers, traffic consultants, unions...you all know the cast. If Greenburgh were in in silicon valley, then we would be discussing software and hardware developers too. But here in Greenburgh, we only have Real Estate developers and the occasional car dealer to contend with. Even the car dealer is a real estate issue.

Even though they can easily afford to write checks for many thousands of dollars, do they do so because they have an embarrassment of riches that can find no better home or do they do so because they think that it makes sense, because there may be a favor to be had, that somehow, somewhere, sometime down the road, these monies will turn out to be a worthwhile investment. I think that there is assumed hope that there will be a return on investment but that if not, no real pain will be felt by giving. Certainly there is no downside.

And, we read from time to time that persons in office in other communities have succumbed to these temptations and granted favors. But not everywhere. And if a case can be made in Greenburgh to support a thesis that Feiner, having accepted and held on to such largesse, was able to arrange and DELIVER favors to the givers, then I would support his removal from office and argue for legal enforcement of such laws as exist to determine these actions as criminal behavior and subject to the appropriate punishment. But so far there is nothing to ignite the gas, only a ever antagonistic pilot light remains on.

However, this is not what the offending portion of the ethics laws is about. These new laws discuss the "appearance" of misdoing not the actual "doing".
Thus, while not guilty of that which can be proven, they are judged guilty of that which can only be inferred. An troublesome if not oblique turning away from the "innocent until proven guilty" standard.

Because, unless you can prohibit certain classes of givers (in this writing the class is real estate developers) from making contributions or the amount of their contribution (which you can't legally), then ethics laws try to shift the burder to the giftee. And this simply isn't fair to curtail contributions and their acceptance simply because of the inferences that arise from the criteria being that the gifts are poisoned because they came from a contributing class. And in some cases, real estate developers may also be residents living within the Town, paying their share of all taxes and having their share of demand upon Town services.

Real estate developers are in the business of changing the appearance, use, size, configuration, hours of use, etc, etc, etc, of real property (land) and the improvements thereon (commercial buildings or multi-family and single family homes) and the uses they are put to). One can even "build" a golf course. Because the real estate falls within the borders of one or more municipalities, there must, of necessity, be an interface with those in the hosting governments, be they elected, appointed or mere lower level staff positions. Hence real estate developers develop and government governs. There may or there may not be conflict between these two classes in carrying out their respective functions. But they have to intereact, inevitably.

However ethics boards assume that a contribution from a real estate developer is a contract between giver and giftee to watch our for each others back. This is not illogical or without historical record.

But even so, mostly the crime has not yet occurred. Imagine if the Police were to arrest citizens because the Police believed that these people "intended" to loiter or to litter. Likewise, ethics laws assume that gifts from real estate developers are given with the intent to obtain treatment better than that which they would otherwise be entitled to receive without a "gift", or even to receive the entitled treatment in a speedier manner. But if these gifts were viewed as merely the right to contribute to the Party or Candidate of one's choice, (a corporation or LLC can be the "one") then there would be no cause to navigate "appearance of impropriety". And, the guilty party for such an event or action without any proof, whatsoever, is not the giver but only the receiver.

In other words, if you are a real estate developer and you make a contribution to a candidate, you are view as doing it to recruit candidate(s) who will and and/or abet breaking the law(s).

These resulting "appearance" are the equivalent of an "ounce of prevention" handcuff and seem un-American to this writer.

But that is a simple enough argument to make. Let me expand upon it and hope there is an neutral attorney out there who can expand upon the following.

I am thinking along the lines of: a threat is not a threat if everyone knows it is a threat. A fatuous understood "legal notice" given all the above about why real estate developers make contributions. With the result that those accepting them suffer and are tarred for merely accepting them but that should be their only downside. A candidate has to bear the "cross" for accepting this money but that is a personal decision not one that should be left for an ethics board to decide.

Ethics Boards should have the power to determine if town laws have actually been broken (other than propsed ethics laws), if a member of Town government asked or put pressure upon another Town employee to do something unprofessional or unseemly...these should be the provenance of an Ethics Board AFTER an indiscretion has occurred not start the clock from the mere acceptance of a contribution. Contributions themselves are not tainted, only actions which may arise from the acceptance of them.

With the required posting of contributors, who has contributed is public knowledge. Will or should it cause the giftee's actions to be more intensely scrutinized? Will there be an actual dollar cost, will staff hours be required to perform this watchfullness? Sure! No one ever argued that maintaining Democracy was at no cost.

But causing hardship to any candidate by blocking their access to funding that their "supporter" may lawfully be entitled to raise, then this is a larger crime with Democracy as the victim.

Appearance of impropriety sounds like a solution but in effect is a crime itself. It supposes that a group of citizens can, when in a group mode (by majoirty rule) vs individual abilities, see into the future and rule today that these funds will cause an illegal consequence which may, or mya not, be of harm to the Community. Remember that under ethics laws, if contributions are deemed to result in only the appearance (not the actual deed) of impropriety (that which the reasonable man would assume), then the giftee must return the contribution. Being forced to return the contribution (campaign contributions are the lifeline of running for contested office) is clearly the intended punishment, but what was the crime? With no crime, it is not a question of an ill fit, there is simply no garment in sight.

Now in the real world of Greenburgh and using real math, the proposed "appearance" language hurts only the potential candidates more than the incumbents. Incumbents have name recognition, they have a degree of returning soldier with the electorate. And over their political life, they have the ability to grown campaign chests from repeated candidacies. Challengers start fresh with their first dollars. Each of these dollars stands farther behind the existing total of the incumbents. If the incumbents already have the bank deposit balances, then they AND their opponents will find both find it harder to accept new contributions as everyone will have to comply with new rules governing the ability to accept contributions. Those already having the money will maintain their advantage.

Now in the race for Supervisor, if Feiner has $140,000, then being forced to give back $40,000 still leaves him with $100,000 vs Berger's $?. I doubt her finances are in the same state less ballpark. Thus she will have to comply with new ethics laws as will Feiner, but he is already ahead and all it has accomplished is to make it harder for Berger because the gifting pot will be reduced. So in the world of real politik, the "appearance" laws have no impact upon effecting a change in the established order.

But real world aside, the entire concept of "appearance" is a nice, feel good, desirable standard. But unless entire classes of contributors can be eliminated or subdued, something not allowable under higher authority statutes, the attempt to create meaningful language around a faulty concept is still achieving the same failure.

And what others do elsewhere is not the answer. Why is the proposed ethics law language a suitable and desirable enhancement for Greenburgh? And if you don't know the language, consider that part of the problem before the Town Board votes to accept it this Friday afternoon.

On this Independence Day, don't be fooled into thinking that creating laws addressing the "appearance of impropriety" is a step forward. To the contrary, it is a first step those days when witches were burnt at the stake. If you agree that there are no such things as witches, then you will recognize that they were burnt because they gave the "appearance" of being witches. We have no business today to passing laws which say "that by accepting such a contribution, you are giving the appearance of being a witch and, the more you accept, the guiltier you must be".

From lyrics by Tom Rush,
"and there's another side of this life".
Not everything is what it appears at first blush. Even a rose has thorns.

Anonymous said...

The Greenburgh Ethics Code has always been aimed at practices which have the "appearance of impropriety."

Samis' suggestions are misguided because he thinks the ethics laws ought to be aimed at requiring proof of a quid pro quo for one's contribution. That, however, is already covered under the criminal laws -- the offense is called bribery or graft -- and conviction of an offense like that is automatically a violation of the town's Ethics Code.

The existing Ethics Code identifies certain practices which the town believes create an appearance of impropriety. One of those is prohibiting officeholders from "soliciting" contributions from persons with applications pending before the town.

Feiner argues that his attending a fundraiser in his honor which was organized by a lawyer who invited his clients and other developers with applications pending before the town, which raised tens of thousands of dollars for Feiner, was not a "solicitation" by Feiner within the meaning of the Ethics Code as it is currently written.

That is an issue for the current Ethics Board to decide. Inasmuch as the board now has a quorum of 3, it is perfectly capable of addressing that issue under Greenburgh's code, and the fact is that Feiner is currently stonewalling that investigation.

Samis' argument that there are two vacancies to be filled on that board does not provide Feiner with a legal excuse not to cooperate, and his non-cooperation is itself a separate violation of the Ethics Code, which Samis does not address.

The new code has zero tolerance for Feiner's legal defense that he did not "solicit", regardless of its merit.

The new code prohibits officeholders from not just from "soliciting" contributions from persons with applications pending, but also prohibits "accepting" such contributions.

Feiner's transgressions of the past will be decided, however, under the existing code.

Anonymous said...

If Samis says he has the goods on someone ,which he will bring forth at a latter date,you could rest assured that he is not lying. Among many good qualities of this man, no one can say that he is a BS artist.

Anonymous said...

I am a practicing lawyer and I am amused by the hypocracy of the Town Council and its working on a new ethics code. Also worried.

For starters, it would be easier to accept whatever they write if we didn't know that what they are writing is tailored to Feiner, period. Never a good idea to have a rule which applies to one person.

Also, it is entirely wrong to do all this with a hand-picked Ethics Board. Ethics rules, like rules and laws in general, need to be done properly and with procedural correctness. Having a Board of three people when the law requires five people doesn't cut it. If four justices on the Supreme Court were to suddenly die and only five were left there would be a quorum, but you can be sure that the remaining five would not act on cases, especially important cases, until new justices were appointed. The race to act with a Board of three people (and I am not commenting on the point that has been made by others that two of the three people on the Ethics Board are politically involved with the town government and probably should not be on the Ethics Board at all) smells of a kangaroo Ethics Board.

Then there is the question of "appearances." An appearance of a conflict is a basis for someone recusing himself, not of being punished. If Feiner took contributions from a developer who has business before the Toan Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board, etc., then he must recuse himself from all involvement in the business. That is true of any business with the town, not only real estate development. I am especially amused by this bit of hypocracy because if one thing is obvious it is that Feiner cannot influence anything in Greenburgh thanks to the hostility of the Town Council.

If an elected official accepts a contribution from a person having business before the town then that official must recuse himself. If his acceptance is egregious enough he will be punished by the voters. The town is not so large that word doesn't get around. If the gift was illegal he must return it and perhaps face other consequences, but if it is not illegal then he should not have to return it.

Large contributions have an impact that may be questioned, but that is true whether the contributions come from developers, banks, or citizen groups that have an agenda. It would be good if laws were enacted, and are constututional, to regulate campaigning and campaign expenses. But the laws in place are what we have, and the contributions that Feiner is said to have received are not illegal and probably not unethical -- although in this campaign period I would not expect that an under-sized Ethics Board consisting of political activists hand-picked by the Town Council to make that decision.

As I said at the beginning, would all this be happening if there were not a determined move to embarrass Feiner? The answer is "no."

Anonymous said...

Will the Ethics Board also rule on Steve Bass's contributions? Bass accepted a campaign contribution from a credit union that was negotiating a lease with the town. Initially (prior to accepting the contribution) Bass was opposed to the lease. He held a private meeting with the credit union. A few weeks later the credit union received a solicitation for a fundraiser and donated to Bass's campaign. What did Bass do? He changed his mind and voted for the lease.
The Ethics Board should look at Feiner's campaign contributions and Bass's campaign contributions at the same time. If residents of the town are to have confidence in the Ethics Board it is important that they not been seen as partisan or political.

hal samis said...

Dear 4:37,
Although I applaud your tempered response, I still find fault with your language while managing to skirt around those issues which you appear to be answering but don't.

There are 2 vacancies on what you call a Board; however I maintain that it is not a Board until the Board is complete with 5. It ain't over till the fat lady sings and it ain't the cake she eats until it is fully baked and the frosting is applied. Thereafter, there may be 100% attendance or less but still operative because there is provision for a quorum. But you have to start first with 5 to be a Board. 3 members is on the road to being a Board, 4 is even better but 5 is the magical number. And, with all the vacancies existing from the start, then it would be reasonable to allow all new members to have participated equally in forming this Board and determining its governing rules; they would all have been part of the process and not just there to vote the implementation of another's work product.

Whereas you made the distinction that the new code covers not only soliciting but also accepting contributions, what you did not mention was the "rigor" with how these violations are being treated by the "new" improved code. Would you care to inform the blog world of how harsh these new rules are, such distinctions and all.

As for not understanding the difference between what are criminal laws and what are ethics code laws, I plead not guilty. All that I have written about is is having to return contributions from the largest class of contributors because by definition that are likely to have business with the Town. Are Real Estate developers not human? Are they not residents? Those those accept their contributions are punished enough by public scorn if they choose to accept them which are then recorded and entered with the Board of Elections as part of rules requiring the listing of campaign contributions over $99. It seems though that under Greenburgh ethics laws, that even if a candidate was foolish enough to accept a contribution from a known sexual predator, there would be less fallout than accepting a campaign contribution from a real estate developer.

But if the argument is that there are already criminal remedies for violations of briberty or graft and thus in Breenburgh's little ocean there is no need to actually establish a quid pro quo before judging anyone guilty, because if it is handled elsewhere up the food chain, then why do we need to address it here? I'll yeild on this point if you'll yield that it is similarly redundant to create a local law to affirm the laws on Email acceptability under State FOIL laws. Of course by my yielding, you'll grant the consequence that even thinking collusion is as guilty as committing collusion and the consequence of your yielding will result in the Town Clerk, Records Access Officer, will still have to accept Email requests.

And whether Greenburgh's ethics code has always been concerned with the so-called "appearance of impropriety", or whether the community next door or anywhere else does, this does not avoid the discussion of whether a mere appearance of impropriety for no other reason than an application is before a Town board is separate and distinct from the larger, more gloabl concept of "innocent until proven guilty". In criminal proceedings I believe this would be closest but still far from home, to circumstantial evidence. In the appearance of impropriety, no crime is established, no habeus corpus, no crime is even suggested, just a whisp of an idea that something could conceivably result if capricorn was in the ascendant and mercury...

And what is the time frame for applications before the town. Unless strictly adhered to the definition, then an application the day after is ok, an application that has been acted upon and the file is closed is ok (developers must wait until their job is over and then they can give thanks), lawyers cannot under any circumstances give contributions because they represent many clients who may separetely but continuously be doing business before the town. Same as for any vendors or suppliers who have contracts, including outside consultants. The list can be endless. Hence, the need to connect a favor or reward to the contribution is what makes it both an ethical and a criminal issue, not the possibility that something untoward could result.

And mind you, developers do not just waltz in and out of Town application and review steps overnight. I believe the Greenburgh Health Center is now fours later, the Fortress Bible (in litigation) is testing the record, the Avalon Green process was four years plus...that's two terms for a Supervisor who wouldn't not be able to accept a campaign contribution just on the chance that something bad could result.

Finally, there is the issue of solicitation vs acceptance and one which I agree is something that Mr. Feiner should respond to, if he has not already. Frankly, this is language that leads into areas like intent and agencies and I beg a less than solid comprehension of what is involved and particularly to trade opinions with those with more training. I may argue "Constitional" intent without similar credentials but what liberal, college kid from the sixties feels disenfranchised on this topic?

So who's left to exercise their right to make a contribution with the sole payoff being the presumption of enabling better government to hold office, the candidate of your choice. Why all the people who don't contribute or those who make small contributions.
While an appealing populist idea, this does not many campaign buttons or posters buy.

Maybe this is a good thing and environmentally desireable but it is not the stuff that dreams are made of whereas the matters that concern ascribed actions arising from no worldly basis is the stuff of the Shakespeare tragedies, not the comedies.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason why the Town Board should not comply with town law and appoint 5 members to the Ethics Board. That's the law. The Ethics Board is supposed to make sure that the law is complied with. Sheehan/Bass are trying to play politics by keeping the 2 seats vacant. They are trying to politicize the decisions.

Anonymous said...

Dear 7:04--Did Bass violate the law when he accepted contributions from the credit union?
Did Bass violate the law when he held a private meeting with the credit union (he received a contribution shortly after his meeting)?
Did Bass violate the law when he changed his mind?
Did Bass solicit the contribution?
How did the credit union know that Bass was holding a fundraiser?
WHo told them?
WHo put the credit union on Bass's fundraising list?
Bob Bernstein was a host of the Bass fundraiser. Did he invite the credit union to the fundraiser?

Anonymous said...

The people playing politics here are Feiner and his handful of supporters who are using the need to appoint two additional ethics board members as a smokescreen to divert attention from Feiner's having solicited tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town.

After three years of waiting for these ethical violations to be addressed by the Ethics Board, after the prior chairman of that board concealed from the public, but not from Feiner, that he had received a letter in November 2004 from the Westchester DA's office urging him to get his board to address these ethical violations, and after a unanimous town board voted on two new members to give the board a quorum so that it could, at long last, finally function, Feiner is crying foul.

And why? Because the Ethics Board has asked some fundamental questions of Feiner and he's refused to cooperate, which is itself a separate violation.

And Feiner's response is to smear the Ethics Board members for being politically motivated or smear Bass by repeating false allegations that he supposedly changed his vote on a matter after meeting with a contributor who gave him a $100 contribution.

Feiner of course never produced ANY evidence of any such meeting, and unlike Feiner, who's never any contributions from anyone, Bass returned that $100 long ago.

This is local politics at its most cynical. The worst offender here is Samis who, based on his letter to the Ethics Board in 2004, really should know better.

Anonymous said...

As usual I will put my name to any remarks that I contribute. But the low-lifes who continue attack Supervisor Feiner and his supporters seem not to have the intestinal fortitude (guts) to write their names.

By the way I am the chairperson of the Jon Breen Fund, which has raised and contributed 10's of thousands of dollars to Mount Vernon High School students for 14 years and I serve on the Mount Vernon High School College Scholarship Fund that provides needed monies to college students. By the way our next meeting is July 11th at MVHS. Also almost all of these students are (98%) non-white! I usually wouldn't address myself to anonymous race-baiters but my long career as A Democratic District Leader in White Plains is on the public record. In that period I helped people such as Harry Bright, Basil Patterson, Jerry Gore, and many others, as I am currently helping Sonja Brown and Judy Beville. Greenburgh, like White Plains, is a diverse community, and I for one, have always supported diversity and equal opportunity, and will continue to. As to the meaningless charge that my piece on the Ethic's Board hearing was old news, that is idiotic. One year later, the truth is still the truth. Judge Facelle gave his explanation, my piece accurately described the event, and the CABAL of haters were shut up!

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown
July 5, 2007

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel's angry rant on Feiner's behalf adds nothing of substance that hasn't been said before.

The fact remains that Feiner solicited tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town, that Feiner never recused himself from any of these matters, that Feiner never returned any of the money, that Facelle, the former ethics board chair, held no meetings for over two years to consider the matter and concealed from the public, but not from Feiner, the fact that he had received a letter in November 2004 from the Westchester DA's office urging him to get the ethics panel to address the issue of these contributions.

Now the Ethics Board has been sufficiently reconstituted, with Feiner's support, so that it has a quorum and can finally act, but Garfunkel, like Feiner, thinks it's still okay for Feiner to thumb his nose at the investigation, this time by refusing to cooperate.

Garfunkel is of course acting for partisan political purposes and his nasty comments about some "cabal" is just as offensive and insulting to the Greenburgh community today as it was when he was uttering those ugly remarks two years ago and threatening "blood on the water" should anyone disagree.

And as for Garfunkel's supposedly race-neutral behavior in White Plains, this clip from the October 15, 1995 New York Times pretty much sums who Garfunkel is and what he stands for:

"Some residents in White Plains are so worried about affordable housing in their neighborhoods that they have formed an organization called White Plains Foremost and have fielded two candidates for this fall's Common Council elections.

"We are already saturated with special-needs housing," said Richard J. Garfunkel, president of White Plains Foremost. "Let Harrison, Pound Ridge, Scarsdale and Bronxville pull their weight in this matter. Let them share in the problem."

Indeed.

Garfunkel - Feiner's ugly face said...

Garfunkel, who is Feiner's disciple, enabler and sycophant in chief, cannot seem to muster a word about his buddy's inability to render a simple accounting of the WestHelp funds. Clueless as usual in his blind adoration of all that is Feiner, Garfunkel continues to rant about a cabal, a disgusting word that has an unseemly association with anti-semitism, when in fact Feiner's critics are being proven right. If anything is saturated,its Greenburgh with sixteen years of Feinerism and his attack dog Garfunkel.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether 10:20 is the person who complained about smears by several persons who had challenged the group of residents who were constantly criticizing Feiner and accusing him of virtual criminality. He should read his letter again if he wants to know what a smear is.

Anonymous said...

Feiner stands accused of violating the town's Ethics Code by his having solicited tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money when asked to do so, refusing to recuse himself from these matters, and failing to cooperate with the Ethics Board's investigation.

If Feiner and his supporters want to characterize this as "virtual criminality" -- that's their choice.

But the issue is not whether Feiner committed a crime -- that's an issue for the Westchester DA. The issue is whether Feiner's actions create an appearance of impropriety, which is all the town's Ethics Code and its Ethics Board is permitted to address.

Had these charges been resolved years ago, when they were first raised, we wouldn't be hearing about them now.

And while anon at 11:15 might not like to hear it, these allegations are real -- they are not smears. They are each supported by substantial evidence, all of which is a matter of public record.

Anonymous said...

I have no complaint about opinions or even factual mistakes. But if the following phrases from Mr. 10:20 aren't smears then I can't imagine what a smear is.

"Garfunkel, who is Feiner's disciple, enabler and sycophant in chief"

"Clueless as usual in his blind adoration of all that is Feiner, Garfunkel continues to rant about a cabal, a disgusting word that has an unseemly association with anti-semitism"

"If anything is saturated,its Greenburgh with sixteen years of Feinerism and his attack dog Garfunkel."

Sorry, 12:03, these sentences have nothing to do with the reality or non-reality of the allegations. They are just plain smears. The honest thing to do is to wait for the accounting which will surely come soon, and not to make accusations without evidence. You should not condone smearing.

Anonymous said...

Did Bass create an appearance of impropriety when he changed his mind after receiving a campaign contribution from an applicant and voted yes, instead of no, as he indicated he would?
What happened at the private meeting Bass had with the company that eventually contributed to his campaign? Did Bass advise the company that he was having a fundraiser? Was that a solicitation, against the town code?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:21 is repeating baseless allegations made by Feiner in an attempt to smear Bass and divert attention from Feiner's having solicited tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money, refusing to recuse himself, and refusing to cooperative with the Ethics Board investigation.

Bass received a $100 contribution from the credit union that leases space from the town. Unlike Feiner, who's refused to give anything back, Bass returned the contribution when questions were raised about it.

Why is this a smear against Bass?

First, there is no evidence that Bass changed mind on anything pertaining to the credit union lease. This is a story that Feiner simply made up.

Second, there is therefore no evidence that Bass had "changed his mind" after receiving that contribution. Again, this is simply something that Feiner made up.

Third, there is also no evidence of any "private meeting" between the credit union and Bass. Feiner made this up too.

Finally, there is no evidence that the credit union received anything in return for the contribution. Bass' vote was certainly not needed as the lease was approved unanimously.

It's a shame that Feiner chooses to smear his opponents like this, but unable to mount any defense of his own actions, this is evidently all Feiner can do.

garfunkel is as described said...

does anyone deny that Garfunkel is anything other than as the blogger at 10:20am described. seems like an accurate description. sorry the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is not a financial person nor is he an accounting major. Let the state do their work and let us see where the blames falls. Yes Feiner is the supervisor, but these financial functions should be checked by those in charge in overseeing,the disbursements of funds..

Anonymous said...

many politico's have taken more money as contrbutions to political campaigns, than Feiner ,and no one has made such a fuss as some of the Edgemont residents. Did he steal the money, can anyone prove that he did favors for developers,I think if you make such accusations one should have evidence.Without evidence one cannot be convicted. Talk is cheap. The ethics board, should be as qualified as a criminal jury, if not they should not be in that position. The ethic board should be people outside of Greenburgh, that look into wrong doing on the whole not a vengence against the supervisor or one that is influenced by the board members because of their friendship.Get the picture.

Anonymous said...

No one in Greenburgh's history has ever raised as much money as Feiner has -- and no one in Greenburgh's history has ever been as brazen as Feiner has by soliciting tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money, refusing to recuse himself, and refusing to cooperate with the Ethics Board's investigation into the matter.

This is troublesome. Very troublesome.

Anonymous said...

Has it occurred to anyone that Feiner and his minions trashing of the first three, very qualified, members of the ethics committee would dissuade others from joining the board? Of wait, that may be exactly what they want.

Anonymous said...

How did Feiner help the so called developers because they contributed to his campaign, Sheehan was on the planning board for years. He may have the answer .Feiner has no influence on the planning board or the zoning board. They make their own decisions, If you can come up with an answer it will serve the purpose to close some doors, and we could go on with having a good government.

Anonymous said...

Bass was a professional political fundraiser.

Anonymous said...

The Town Council hired Suzanne Berger's law firm without interviewing any other firms. Smells like Tammany Hall to me. Six figure contracts, no interviews, political patronage. Shouldn't the Ethics Bd review?

Anonymous said...

If Anon at 7:31 (probably Feiner) and his supporters continue to want to make an ethical issue out of the town's awarding earlier this year a contract to the law firm Berger works for to represent the town against a developer at no cost to the town, they should quit bellyaching about it and file an ethics complaint.

It's important for the ethics board -- a board Feiner himself voted for -- to render an opinion on this issue as quickly as it can because if there's any wrongdoing here, voters are entitled to know about it, and likewise, if this is just a political smokescreen designed to distract voters from Feiner's own, much more serious ethical problems, then voters are entitled to know that too.

Should any complaint be filed, the Ethics Board would consider, among other things, the fact that the law firm was recommended by the town attorney (whom Feiner voted for) and by the head of the town's planning department (whom Feiner voted for).

The board would also have to consider the fact that there were at least two other law firms bidding for the job, and that Feiner himself never bother to interview any of the law firms that had expressed interest.

Since there was never any legal or ethical prohibition against Berger contributing to any of the town council members, since the town staff had unanimously recommended the hiring of the firm Berger works for, since Feiner never interviewed any other law firm candidates, much less expressed support for any other firm, it would appear that the town board's decision to retain that firm, at no expense to the town, does not raise any appearance of impropriety.

This is a far cry from what Feiner has done by soliciting tens of thousands of dollars from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money, and refusing to recuse himself when their matters came up for a vote.

Now THAT's an ethics violation.

Anonymous said...

This is a letter that I wrote to the the editor regarding the acceptance of a contribution by Town Board Member Bass. Obviously this is over a year ago and I do not believe that it has been properly addressed. My statements in front of the Town Board have been obviously made in the public. My letters to the editor are obviously in the public record, and I do not contribute to this "blog" under any other name but my own and not under the cover of anonymous. The various critics of Paul Feiner, his supporters, and myself may wish to fantasize about that, but I say to them get a life.


June 7, 2006

To the Editor:

Recently it has come to the attention of the Greenburgh Town Board and myself that the charges brought by Mr. Ed Krauss, and others to the Westchester District Attorney against Supervisor Paul Feiner, for his alleged campaign gift violation, were dismissed without merit. This ends the latest edition of the Feiner “Witch Hunt” by Mr. Krauss and his friends on the Greenburgh Board. I suggest Councilman Steve Bass follow the lead of Supervisor Feiner and ask for an ethics opinion on the appropriateness of his accepting campaign contributions from the Westchester Federal Credit Union. A number of years ago Supervisor Feiner suggested that the town rent out space at the Greenburgh Town Hall to that institution. Among the critics of the suggestion: Councilman Bass. Last year the Councilman had a private meeting with representatives of that credit union in their offices in White Plains. He later received a campaign contribution from the Westchester Federal Credit Union and changed his mind on the rental agreement. He then spoke out in favor of the town renting the space to the credit union and voted on the agreement. Was the acceptance of this campaign contribution a reason for his “flip flop?” The public needs to know!

Anonymous said...

Nothing really has changed since I made these remarks over three years ago. The CABAL of Feiner-haters has now gone underground with their smears and attacks on anyone who has the guts or temerity to stand up and combat their lies. They hide like theives in the night with their cloak of anonyminity. Even they throw fighting words like anti-Semitism to characterize the term CABAL. Of course that is another smokescreen in their attempt to defame any and all of their opponents. In the last campaign they used "anti-choice." But this group of well-known haters has made an art form out of the "unatributed accusation." But everyone really knows who make up the CABAL. They prepare every two weeks their next round of attacks. They lie awake at night dreaming up their next verbal venture. They come armed with their half-truths and harrangues, and they drool at the thought of power. Well the power lies with the people and their craven conduct will never ingratiate themselves with the electorate.

Speaking of the CABAL

Remarks given at the Town Board meeting for the Town of Greenburgh
By
Richard J. Garfunkel
April 28, 2004


Hello my name is Richard Garfunkel, a resident of Tarrytown. Over the last year or so I have had the pleasure of serving on the Greenburgh Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as an unpaid volunteer, not unlike all of the other volunteers who give their service to this Town and other municipalities.

Also I have had the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with the political process after a lifetime of involvement in the City of White Plains. Over the past year, or so, I have attended meetings at the two Town Halls, that have served Greenburgh, and have learned a great deal about this town and what makes it function so well.

One doesn’t need to take a 9th grade course in Civics to understand the need and function of government, and what differentiates good government from bad government. Good government provides services, keeps one’s taxes as low as possible and listens to its constituents, all of its constituents. It has to be creative, has to keep up with the times, and it has to be practical.

But for sure the people’s business should be done in an “open forum,” and I am assured that it is being done in an “open forum.” Citizens of this town have had great accessibility to petition their government and they do.

But what I have been noticing of late is a concentrated effort by a small cabal of politically motivated obstructionists who have taken advantage of “open government” and have made these meetings into a “circus.” The term Cabal originated in England during the reign of Charles II. It was a secret group of advisors, known only by their initials, Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale. Unlike that Cabal, these people are well known, and they are not a secret and they are certainly not advisors, but rather obfuscators and negativists.

Today’s cabalists have their own agenda of carping criticism, which manifests itself in long-winded, self-serving nit-picking diatribes against the town’s elected government. In other words, the election campaign never ends, and for these folk it goes on, and on and on.

Like the classical allegory of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in dramatic lore, known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death. Here, in a metaphoric sense we have our own local Horsemen: jealousy, avarice, slander, and bellicosity.

No matter what the issue, no matter how profound the conclusions are, this cabal continues to rail against the purchase of Town Hall, the purchase of Taxter Ridge, and numerous other issues that should be considered “old news.” As an example, the sale of the old Town Hall site, will bring in immediate revenue, help defer the costs of the library expansion and bring in a continual stream of well-needed tax revenues every year. But, this is not good enough. It is never good enough for this cabal. The debate over the library expansion is healthy, but being fiscally responsible is also healthy. I ask is this cabal is really interested in the library? Is this cabal really interested in the Greenburgh Nature Center? Is this cabal really interested in Taxter Ridge as a preserved “open space” buffer against more out of control development? Is this cabal really interested in cable television access? Or it is really interested in a political agenda of obfuscation, interruption, delay and character assassination. Meanwhile, speaking of Taxter Ridge, I was over at the “special” Town Board meeting on April 3rd, in the Tarryhill Recreation Center, and I watched an enthusiastic overflow audience come out to celebrate the official “opening” of Taxter Ridge Park. There was uniform praise for the farsighted view and effort of the “Save the Ridge” committee, headed by Mr. Danny Gold, and great full credit to the Greenburgh Town Board and its Supervisor Paul Feiner for there wisdom and skill in negotiating the purchase of Taxter Ridge and their thoughtfulness in understanding its critical importance. I also ask where were our new Greenburgh variety of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Where were they to protest and object? Where were they to carp and complain? Why didn’t they rear their critical heads?

I have been listening to this Cabal rail about local cable access television for two years now. I have spoken to Mr. George Malone, who is in charge of the technical aspects of the Cable local access system. He has assured the community time and time again, that they all have had ample opportunity to be tutored and instructed in the art and methodology of putting on programming. Personally I am convinced that they really have no interest in programming.

We have members of this cabal who spend their evenings, and it seems every waking free hour pouring over tapes and transcripts looking for some type of smoking gun. We have a legal wizard looking for some conflicts of interest and some other conspiracies. We have others who want to spend $75,000 of the taxpayers’ money on their own cable studio to assuage their vanity. We have another member of the cabal who parades around interrupting and yelling from the audience. What also astounds me is their ability to delay the people’s business. Their only agenda is a political one, and certainly not one of good or open or responsive government. I urge all of you who are interested in the workings of good government to come here to the next meeting and to see in live living three dimension the real political side-show that we must all constantly endure. One can readily understand why people of good motive and talent shy away from getting involved in government. Who would want their character and motives to be smeared constantly with this ongoing barrage of hatred?


Remarks given at the Meeting of the Greenburgh Town Board
By

Richard J. Garfunkel
5-12-2004

My name is Richard J. Garfunkel, a resident of Tarrytown, and a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Here we all are gathered again. Its is our next chapter of the bi-monthly Kabuki dance of political theater by our regular players, This Cabal of political malcontents shows its toothless grin, not unlike the a jack-o-lantern meant to scare the smallest of children. Not unlike the apocryphal “bad penny” that turns up unexpectedly, these Cabalists are back with their boorish rapidity. Of course, when this meeting was at Town Hall, their usual playground, they had their full team on the floor. It was political guerrilla theater at its best when these Apocalyptical Horsemen spewed forth their dire warnings and threats of conspiracy and malfeasance. But at the last meeting on April 28th, at the Highview School, far away from their usual hunting ground, and in front of strangers, regular citizens not used to their antics, in a neighborhood that had legitimate concerns; the venom of their usual bite was tempered. No one really cared about their tired insipid tirades about Town Hall or the cable studio.

Town Hall is a marvelous reality, which will stand to serve as a beacon regarding and symbolizing excellent planning and forethought for into the future, when the dust of these Cabalists is long forgotten. Of course local cable access is another “smoke screen” issue for this group, and it is obviously available for their vaudeville act when they get it ready to go on the road. But, in truth, all of Greenburgh is waiting for their “See it Now” programming. Maybe the Cabal will go back in history to re-enact Henry IV or Richard the Third. The public pines with desperation to hear these closet Walter Cronkites or Ted Koppels bring exposé after exposé to the waiting public ears. Of course this cry for access to public cable is not unlike Cato, whom Plutarch often quoted as saying “Delenda est Carthago” or “Carthage Must Fall.” Of course the real meaning of this Cabalist refrain, which like Cato, who added this mantra to the end of all of this speeches, is really politics and more politics. This tagline about cable access is their hypocritical attack on real “open” government. Their sign off always serves to remind us how deprived they really are. Of course they think by making a mockery of the public’s time and turning these important meetings into a recreation worthy of the circus maximus, they can win what was lost at the ballot box!

Of course, many of us are not entertained by these lothario wannabes. These Cabalist conspirators do not entertain us and we will not be intimidated by their distortion of the facts by their promulgation of half-truths and their feeble attempt at intimidation.

As Aristotle said in the 4th Century BCE, “Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.”

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:37, also known as Don Siegel, must be from the Feiner gang that can't shoot straight.

He claims he doesn't contribute to the blog under any name other than his own "and not under the cover of anonymous."

Yet, like Feiner, who likewise contributes anonymously to his own blog, Siegel submitted his contribution anonymously.

Seigel's contribution repeats baseless allegations made by Feiner and Siegel in an attempt to smear Bass and divert attention from Feiner's having solicited tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers with applications pending before the town, refusing to return the money, refusing to recuse himself, and refusing to cooperative with the Ethics Board investigation.

Feiner and Siegel think that just because the Westchester DA's office has not yet found any evidence of a crime, that Feiner's been exonerated. That, however, has nothing to do with whether there's been an ethics violation which is why the Ethics Board is working so hard right now to get to the bottom of what Feiner did.

So what's the story with Bass?

Bass received a $100 contribution from the credit union that leases space from the town. Unlike Feiner, who's refused to give anything back, Bass returned the contribution when questions were raised about it.

So what's the smear?

First, contrary to what Feiner and Siegel say, there is no evidence that Bass changed mind on anything pertaining to the credit union lease. This is a story that Feiner and Siegel simply made up to get publicity.

Second, there is therefore no evidence that Bass had "changed his mind" after receiving that contribution. Again, this is simply something that Feiner and Siegel made up for PR purposes.

Third, there is also no evidence of any "private meeting" between the credit union and Bass in White Plains or anywhere else. Feiner and Siegel made this up too.

Finally, there is no evidence that the credit union received anything in return for the contribution. Bass' vote was certainly not needed as the lease was approved unanimously.

It's a shame that Feiner and Siegel choose to smear Feiner's opponents like this, but unable to mount any defense to Feiner's own much more serious violations of the Ethics Code, this is evidently all Feiner and Siegel can do.

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel sounds more off-the-wall than ever. Is he really Feiner's campaign manager?

Garfunkel is scary. said...

I agree. Garfunkel is so enamored of Feiner one suspects he deems him the equivalent of a deity. Garfunkel's pretentious postings say nothing about the illegality of taxing only unincorporated greenburgh for mystery park Taxter Ridge, or how Feiner and Iagallo engineered a 3 million dollar tax giveaway to the moonies to seal that deal. Garfunkel is also silent about the illegality of the WestHelp deal Feiner touted and still defends and more recently, he seems tongue tied when it comes to the inability of his beloved supervisor to produce an accounting of all the WestHelp funds the town received. Memo to Garfunkel - TINC (there is no cabal).

Anonymous said...

Why is someone like Bunting even being considered for the ethics board? Bunting received numerous violations for doing illegal work on his home. As a matter of fact, he had to appear before Sheehan and the zoning board to clear up all the violations. This is someone whose own ethics need to be questioned. If Sheehan & Co. appoint Bunting it will be indicative of their own lack of ethics.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:12. I am Anon 9:37.

Who is Don Siegel? Not me.

Anonymous said...

Will the Board of Ethics be dealing with the failure of the Town to respond to FOIL requests re the Westhelp funds?

Anonymous said...

Slander by the anonymous! What else is new? For my satisfaction, Supervisor has answered the CABAL and this group of nameless assasins who hide under the cloak of darkness! They do not have the guts to make their charges in public, but remind me of the thugs who write slanderous and obnoxious grafitti on some playground's wall in the dead of the night. These immature troglodytes belong in the playground. Supervisor Feiner has a long reputation of openess, and honesty going back decades. I do not mind carrying water for the Supervisor. I have been involved in organized Democratic politics since the fall of 1969, and was active from Arthur Goldberg's 1970 campaign for governor and was a co-chair for McGovern in 1972. Since then, I had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting almost every major politician that came through these parts over the past 38 years. Paul Feiner can stand easily with the best of them.

Most of the Supervisor's critics were either Republicans, in grade school, or wearing knickers back then. My wife Linda worked for Congressman Richard L. Ottinger for seven years and both of us know "real" Democrats! We support the Supervisor and do not take a back seat to these faux Democrats.

The proof is in the pudding, and these power wannabees seem to forget that Greenburgh has been managed quite well over the past 16 years. The parks and open space have grown dramatically, the Town Hall acquisition was a remarkable coup, the services are second to none, and the fiscal management of the Town has been excellent. But the bean-counters and nitpickers led by the chief obfuscator, Francis Sheehan and his merry band of Cabalists have been looking for scandals for years. He reminds me of Judge Starr who ran around for years trying to indict Bill Clinton. In the end the government ran up a bill of $77 or so million and Starr was sent packing. In two years Sheehan will be gone, and I predict after his defeat he will be forgotten quite quickly.

Speaking of the Ethics Board, just check on the credentials of Judge Facelle and read his last ruling. His reputation is, and was, second to none. He understood the quality and value of the specious charges brought by the CABAL members. He addressed them properly and they were disposed of.

I would start to look carefully at the ethics of Supervisor Feiner's opponent, and her "inside" deal with the Town Board. As the late Everett Dirksen stated, and I paraphrase, "now you are talking about real money!"

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown

Anonymous said...

We have asked for a simple accounting of the Weshelp money. If shouldnt take a lot to answer that. Why hasnt it been provided?

I think I am a real democrat. I have supported school budgets, library bonds and paid fireman. I think this supports the working people in the Town of Greenburgh. So please dont malign me.

Anonymous said...

I do hope that each of the candidates chosen for the ethics board, have had a back ground check .If the answer is no We would like to know why.As a resident of greenburgh I would like to have the best and honest people to see that things are done in the right manner. If no back ground check was made I'm quite sure you will be hearing from many of the residents.If a check has not been made than a higher authority,will do it for you.

Anonymous said...

When you start printing comments from meetings from 2004 something has got to be wrong with you. Is ther nothing new that you could think of to speak badly of Feiner. Your hatred is a sickness, See a doctor right away.

garfunkel needs new glasses said...

Garfunkel is blowing smoke - where is the accounting for the westhelp money? why has feiner taken so much money from developers with applications pending before town boards? and what about the campaign contributions feiner took from the town's auditors? thats an outrage.

once you see past garfunkel's bluster, you see feiner for what he is - a corrupt career politician whose only interest is self preservation. garfunkel, get your glasses cleaned (we just cleaned your clock). TINC.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I have the guts to leave my name, not like the other contributors who have distorted Paul Feiner’s record and my own. My record as a Democratic district leader, worker and contributor for 38 years, in, and out, of White Plains, can match itself easily against these unknown “poison pens.” But of course, any fair observor over the past five or so years would have been turned off to politics at Town Hall by just witnessing a fraction of the mud slung by the main participants of this locally known “cabal” of haters. Whether they are gravity challenged bombast-bloated legal-beagles, or people who used to do business with the town and were exposed for their rip-offs, or whether they were just power hungry, or whether they pose as representing their neighborhood associations with unlimited hunting and fishing licenses, or whether they are just mindless nit-pickers or bean counters, they all decided to be participants in the “theater of the absurd.” These carping, canabalistic, cabalists must adore their 15 minutes of fame in front of the cable broadcast because they continuallly come back for more and more. Have they enlightened the electorate? No, they have driven it away! Have they exposed wide-spread, or even limited corruption? No! Have they opened up government? No! Have they brought reform and fresh air to the public? No! Have they divided Greenburgh? Yes, as they have pitted village against the Town and section against section. Have they backed their own selfish interests? Yes! Have they brought down the level of public discourse to the gutter? Yes! Did they pressure the Board from continuing the practice of bringing meetings to different neighborhoods? Yes! And by the way, what are the grand contributions of the present Board? How much legislation has been bottled up and delayed over the past two years?

Did the Fair Campaign Board rule against them? Yes! Did they spread their half-truths and lies in the last moment of the last campaign? Yes! Were their specious claims made against Kevin Morgan on “choice” vociferously denied by the one and only Polly Rothstein? Yes!

For all of you who read this piece, please note the history of the last election cycle. Only 5800 voters out of a Democratic electorate of 28,000 came out to vote in the last primary. Because of this one-party, boss-dominated reality in Greenburgh, most voters were disenfranchised in 2005. Therefore, because in this town, “November Does Not Count” I hope that all of you voters who are regsitered Democrats come out and support Paul Feiner and the excellent candidates, Judy Beville, Sonja Brown, and Kevin Morgan who are challenging to bring real and invigorated leadership to the Board and Town Hall. If you feel that Paul Feiner has been an excellent asset to Greenburgh for the past twenty-five years, then show your support. All of the reforms, the “open government” the financial stability, the prudent management, the concerns for disabled, the reaching out to all communities, the work for unity of the town and the 24/7 non-partisan style and the concern for people have been hallmarks of Paul Feiner’s outstanding career. If this is how you think, and you are pleased with the parkland, the open-space, the conservation efforts, the protection of neighborhoods, the great services, and the transparency of government then continue your support for Paul Feiner. Good government need public participation.

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown

PS: I noticed that one of these anonymous low-life's has interjected an anti-Semitic slur to my use of the CABAL. By the way for your info, my children went to Solomon Schechter School, and I am proud to be a Jew whose has paid dues at a synagogue for over 30 years. Therefore if any other slime-ball out there wishes to wallow in the mud while using these type of slurs, go to it, the public will know!

RJG

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel is Feiner's campaign manager.

If Feiner lets every Greenburgh Democrat get to see who he picked to be his campaign manager, and they see just how ugly and nasty this Feiner-appointed apologist-in-chief can be, Berger is sure to win in a landslide.

What's more, if you think Garfunkel's angry tirades and pointless name-calling sound scary in print, you should hear him deliver these clueless and arrogant remarks in person.

Better still, ask if he'll deliver them in the original German.

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel, you should know that every person who doesn't toe the Bernstein party line gets insulted. Still, the last line of this stinking person who said that you should deliver your comments in German takes the cake.

These bums even use charges of anti-semitism to put down anyone who doesn't toe the line and they are the worst. Don't try to defend yourself because it will only provoke more of the same. It is no accident that they don't identify themselves.

I won't identify myself so that their inevitable slurs will not be associated with my name.

What a crappy place Greenburgh has become!

Anonymous said...

One does not have to leave Greenburgh to go to Isreal to see the unrest amongst the Jews. Just read the blogs and one can see the true colors of some of the area residents.What a shame.

Anonymous said...

I know Bob Bernstein, and he would not make anti-semetic remarks. I can only imagine that someone is pretending to be him, and make outrageous statements, to take the focus off:

1. Taxter Ridge;
2. The A/B lawsuit;
3. Inadequate insurance for the central Ave. tree:
4. Westhelp;
5. The attempted town wide zoning for clinics.

Anonymous said...

Sympathy for Garfunkel? Not a chance.

Garfunkel condescendingly disses all Feiner critics as "gravity challenged bombast-bloated legal-beagles, or people who used to do business with the town and were exposed for their rip-offs, or ... just power hungry, or ... they pose as representing their neighborhood associations with unlimited hunting and fishing licenses, or ... they are just mindless nit-pickers or bean counters, they all decided to be participants in the “theater of the absurd.” These carping, canabalistic, cabalists must adore their 15 minutes of fame in front of the cable broadcast because they continuallly come back for more and more."

This man is talking about human beings -- our neighbors -- professionals, blue collar workers, parents with small children, empty nesters, retirees, all of whom have volunteered to take an interest in local government because they think local government in Greenburgh ought to be doing a whole lot better job in serving the community than it's currently doing.

Garfunkel's entitled to his opinion, but if Feiner had any sense, he'd put Garfunkel back in his cage.

Anonymous said...

Is Garfunkel the only one talking about your neighbors, I think your neighbors are doing a fine job of talking bad about us who believe in good government,not a government that is run by a bunch of bafoons.We all cannot have it our way,But many of do not cry over every little googa.Garfunkel has the right to express his opinion as do your neighbors, This is and will be a free country, whether you like it or not.

Anonymous said...

In one of the comments,once again it is mentioned the case of cutting down trees by a gentleman who wanted to build a home in Edgemont. The people in that area cannot forget that he did what he wanted to do with or without the contribution to Feiners campaign. This is only repeated over and over again, because it happened in Edgemont.If it happened anywhere other than Edgemont No one would hear about it for the upteen time.
If I lived there I would have done the same thing.

Anonymous said...

check out richard brodsky's campaign contributions--brodsky received some from those doing business with the state.

Anonymous said...

Notice the pattern of character assassination. Five years ago it was Paul Feiner, then it was Timmy Weinberg, now it is all of whom support the Supervisor and answer the mindless sttacks led by the three Bees,and their "helpers," and you know who they are.

In the last campaign cycle Kevin Morgan and Allegra Dengler were slammed as "anti-choice" at the 11th hour. Kevin Morgan was smeared by Sheehan regarding his work on the Planning Board, and Allegra Dengler was accused of supporting the continuance of Indian Point. Of course all of those charges were wrong! Remember the work of the Fair Campaign Practice Board. But even with our counter-attack voters were turned off and the election tightened. Typical last minute campaign tactics, engagement of the "big lie."

Now the attack focuses on Supervisor Feiner's supporters. One attacker accused me of using the term CABAL, as a not so subtle, anti-Semitic slur because one Judith Regan used that comment in the past year. But I have been calling these carping, critics, Cabalists for years. Now they say I am attacking decent every day citizens of Greenburgh by calling them "names." Well the anonymous slanderers on this "blog" know whom I am referring to and these individuals are certainly not one's average neighbor, but they are the people who have made a career out of their "performances" in front of the Town Board. And by the way, since when do Neighborhood Association heads have the right to speak for their associations without first having meetings to authorize those comments? It seems that these individuals have been granted by themselves a "life-time" (witch) hunting license to speak for their neighborhoods. Has anyone checked the minutes of their meetings? Has anyone seen whether they even have meetings or these "fishing expeditions" were authorized?

We all know who is bringing the divisive litigation. We all know who are blocking needed legislation and we all know who have made careers out of outrageous accusations. I am proud to sign my name to this blog and say openly what I believe. I don't have to name names, because all who read this blog, and pay attention to the workings at Town Hall, know the truth. I have added this historical series of letters and addresses, which go back three years, because they are a true retrospective of what the Town and the Supervisor has had to endure. Nothing is beneath the level of these political hate-mongers, and no slandering of me, or my colleagues will ever change or alter that reality. I am sure that the more these people are exposed, the more the public will see their true motives, and they will see them as a great and dangerous threat to the survival of the Town of Greenburgh.

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown, NY

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel may think this comments are "historical," but to many of us, they come off as "hysterical."

As for Morgan, those of us who were present at his interview before the Democratic Town Committee in March 2005 heard him explain his views on abortion and why, as the father of a college-age daughter paying college tuition, he supports parental notification laws.

That's all I needed to hear. Parental notification laws are there to discourage young women from getting the abortion help they may need.

That makes Morgan anti-choice in my book, and no matter how pro-choice he says he may be, I'll always remember what he said to us that night in 2005.

Furthermore, despite what Garfunkel says, the public also has a right to know that Morgan is also a developer, and that he's never once in his tenure on the Planning Board ever opposed a developer's project.

What with all the money that Feiner's raked in over the years from developers giving to his campaigns, about the last thing Greenburgh needs right now is a developer on the town board.

Thanks but no thanks Garfunkel. I'm not buying.

Anonymous said...

I have a teenage daughter and if she needed an abortion, and couldnt face telling me, I would still want her to have the right to have -- safe and legal.

Anonymous said...

If your teenage daughter got pregnant you have done something wrong in bringing her up.With all the education children receive today this should not be taken place. If your child should get an abortion, what stops her from getting a few more.not only does this cost money but in the end she may loose her life. What does abortion have to do with the ethics bd, in Greenburgh, maybe you need some ethics in your home.,

Anonymous said...

Thank Feiner's campaign manager Garfunkel for bringing up the subject of Morgan's views on abortion.

A lot of us heard Morgan explain two years ago why he favors parental notification laws. To many of us, that makes Morgan anti-choice.

Anonymous said...

What was said by Morgan a few years back has nothing to do with ethics.If he said what you say he did well have you ever heard of changes. Morgan is a good man better than what we have on the Board today, I think what he said was a lie put to the Public by Sheehan. WHy not ask Sheehan where he stands with abortion. He too is a catholic ,lets see what his answer is.I know that he is not running for reelection,at this moment,but since he told lies about Morgan he should come foward with his views.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:26, I was face-to-face with Morgan in the room when he explained why he favored parental notification laws.

Look, he's entitled to his opinion, and I respect his views. I just think his position is anti-choice and wrong, and I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm uncomfortable with someone who thinks like that representing me on the town board.

"cabal" is anti-semitic said...

Garfunkel can be a member of a 1000 synagogues, he is still using a word - cabal - that is a perjorative most commonly associated with anti-semitic bigots. obviously garfunkel's mt vernon education is still showing.

here is another example from scotland:

Anger over Dalyell's 'Jewish cabal' slur
TAM Dalyell, the Father of the House, may be referred to the Commission for Racial Equality after claiming a "Jewish cabal" operating in both the United States and Britain is driving the governments of both countries into a war against Syria.

"A Jewish cabal have taken over the government in the United States and formed an unholy alliance with fundamentalist Christians," he said.

The members of this cabal, he said, are Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, Elliott Abrams, a member of the national security council, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, and John Bolton, the undersecretary of state.

Anonymous said...

But what does one's view on parental notification have to do with being on the Town Board? Have you noticed that the Town Board's function is to make policy for the operation of the town government, and medical decisions are way outside of that role?

Oh, I forgot. We have Steve Bass, who thinks that Darfur is within the Town Board's jurisdiction. I guess he may propose a rule disapproving parental notification, and then what would Kevin Morgan do.

Let's elect Town Council people who can bring some good town government and not be derailed by such irrelevant stuff as parental notification views. I disagree with the need for partental notification, and if it was something the Town Board had any authority over, I would take a candidate's views on that into account. Since the Town Board does not have any such authority, I will not take a candidate's views on that subject into account.

Since I care about the actual government services of the candidates, I wil certainly not vote for Steve Bass, who has been a prime mover in making our Town Board such a nasty and non-performing body. Ditto for Eddie Mae Barnes, who mouths platitudes but supports Bass every time.

"cabal" is not anti-Semitic said...

Cabal is not an anti-semitic slur. It is an age-old word that is used to describe any group's views that one doesn't like, it has been used by anti-Semites and it has been used by haters of any group.

The people who are making entirely unjustified charges of anti-Semitism against Mr. Garfunkel (whom I don't know at all, but whose writings do not show even a hint of anti-Semitism), are effectively saying that the age-old word "cabal" is out of the English language because it has been used to defame Jews. That is a foolish standard, and if it is used a number of words would have to be taken out of the English language because they are seen by some as anti-Semitic, anti-African-American, anti-Hispanic, anti-Italian, anti-anything.

Reading this blog, I know that it is almost useless to try to talk sense and logic to those people who have a hatred for Paul Feiner. But please, make your arguments with facts and reason, not insults and nasty twisting of words.

Anonymous said...

Morgan's got several strikes against him.

Not only is he anti-choice, but he's also a developer and, on top of that, he's running with Feiner and that means taking advantage of the tens of thousands of dollars in contributions that Feiner solicited from developers with applications pending before the town.

Add all that up, and you've got an automatic yes vote for Feiner on the town board. That means that when it comes to putting the interests of Feiner's contributors who are developers against those of the people, Feiner's contributors will win hands down every time.

Even worse, we'll have a return to the bad old days when Feiner just acted contrary to law, like when he illegally gave away $6.5 million in town revenues to the Valhalla schools, or when he lied to the Westchester County Board of Legislators by saying that the state comptroller told him it was okay to give town revenues from WestHELP to private civic associations, or when he decided that the millions of dollars in town funds used to acquire Taxter Ridge should come from only the unincorporated parts of town.

If Feiner's group is elected, town taxpayers, including those in the villages, can kiss the millions of dollars in town revenues from WestHELP goodbye -- it's all going back to Valhalla.

In fact, Valhalla's resubmitted to Feiner its old requests as if the state comptroller's report had never been issued.

Not having an independent voice on the town council is how Greenburgh seems to have gotten itself into trouble in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the blogger who commented at 11:51. I am Jewish and I lost relatives in the holocaust. I hate false charges of anti-semitism to smear others almost as much as I hate anti-semitism.

use of cabal word should cease said...

lets all agree - cabal is a nasty word and richard garfunkel's continued use of it is no surprise - his postings and personal history (most recently in white plains) show him to be a mean spirited and generally pugnacious character. memo to garfunkel - TINC and your use of this disgusting word to describe those who disagree with mr feiner is unfortunate. memo to mr feiner - dump garfunkel unless you want to lose.

Anonymous said...

Cabal is a tough word and often it is used unfairly. As one commentator said, it is often used by people who hate someone or some group in order to harm them.

But when you have a group of people, consisting of Bass, Sheehan, Bernstein and a few others including Barnes and Juettner, who constantly vilify the Supervisor who was, after all, elected by the voters of Greenburgh, and try to render him powerless, overexploit every opening, real or contrived, accuse him of financial misbehavior, try to muzzle him, and on and on, wouldn't you say that this is a cabal who does these things out of hate? It sure seems that way to me. And I voted for Greenawalt, Juettner and Sheehan in 2005.

I think there has been a cabal of haters and I won't support any of them this year or ever. I hate what they have done to my town.

Anonymous said...

WHAT DOES ABORTION have to do with our townboard,in running this disfunctional town. I have never heard a resolution put on docket concerning abortion. Come on OUR CANDIDATES ARE NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT,they are running to make a big difference in Greenburgh alone.If that's the only reason that someone will not vote for Morgan then he or she does not know what good government is all about. Yes maybe you too believed the lies that Sheehan told. too bad, 10:00 you have a lot to learn about politics. I do not think you heard what Morgan said. Ask your friend Sheehan what he thinks of abortion,and then answer my comment...

Anonymous said...

I understand that the ethics board is completed,I do hope that there were enough questions asked of them to represent each of the residents that may bring a complaint to the board. If someone has a tainted past he or she should be thrown off as soon as possible.I hope that there were many interviews and that SHEEHAN DID NOT MAKE THE LAST DECISION AS TO WHO SHOULD BE CHOSEN. REMEMBER WHAT SHEEHAN DID IN AWARDING THE CONTRACT TO BERGER WITHOUT INTERVIWING other law firms. This should be a problem to be given to the ethics board. Her firm should not have gotten the contract, since she knew that she would be running for town supervisor.

Anonymous said...

That's the only reason why Sheehan made sure that her firm received the contract,because he knew that she would be on the democratic slate for supervisor. The first thing that should be investigated by ethics board is Sheehan and Bergers wrong doing with awarding of this contract.

Anonymous said...

My wife Linda met Paul Feiner when she was teaching at Sleepy Hollow HS in 1972. She taught American Studies and in that year eighteen year olds were first allowed to vote. She called the Board of Elections to request that someone come to SHHS and help explain registration to her senior students. Paul Feiner came by bicycle. He was a teenager, and that is how we both learned about his interest in public service.

We have both followed his career closely. We were Democratic District Leaders for many years in White Plains, and my wife resigned from a party position, when she was appointed by Mayor Michael Keating to the White Plains Human Right's Commission. Contrary to the slurs about my stances on civil and human rights, we were involved deeply with these issues, and I continue to be involved at Mount Vernon HS with these concerns.

Paul Feiner changed the political calculus in Westchester County, starting with his demands for reforms regarding the all male Scarsdale Town Club. He has been a progressive and a reformer all of his career, and he has always fought against the status quo of "business as usual" politics. He has been attacked over the years by many of the people that he defeated in primaries. He has been attacked by many of the political "hacks" that permeate and populate party politics, and he has been the target of abuse and and a lack of fairness by the current Democratic Party Chairperson. At a Kerry Rally at Rudy's Beau Rivage, which she emceed, and was under the sponsorship of our assemblyperson, I asked her why the Town Supervisor was not allowed to address the crowd of loyal Democrats. She just ignored me and said, "he wasn't on the list!" I said he is the Supervisor! That meant nothing to the Town's Democratic Chairperson. She just didn't give a damn.

She was a witness to many Town Board sessions where the CABAL, and its friends, excoriated the Supervisor, and members Weinberg and Juettner, but she sat silent and felt comfortable and mixed socially with these blowhards and character assassins, while the Board was lambasted. By the way, only Town Board member Bass was ignored by these individuals. I asked her about her actions then and she basically ignored my concerns. She ignored Sheehan's racial taunt that he had thrust at Don Siegel and her ambition has blinded her judgment and required fairness.

She has manipulated herself in with the Board, she has received a no-bid contract courtesy of Francis Sheehan, her patron, and now she wishes to be leader of this pack.

Paul Feiner has enjoyed the support of the vast number of Greenburgh residents, of all political persuasions and racial and ethnic groups for 24 years. There is a reason for that. The reason is non-parisan 24/7 service to the public, not just one party. He, like his early mentor Cong. Dick Ottinger, runs his office with the attitude of the public comes first, politics comes last.

If the slanderers of the CABAL and their friends, and fellow travelers continue to insult the intelligence of the general public they will make their defeat even more decisive.

Richard J. Garfunkel
Tarrytown, NY

garfunkel in dreamland said...

garfunkel is blinded by the trees and cannot see the forest - his pal feiner has become a cynical (some would say corrupt) political careerist whose only interest is self promotion. feiner's sole goal in life is to stay in office. his reformer days are well behind him. he has lead greenburgh into a blind alley with all of its parts seeking to leave. none of garfunkel's posts say one word about feiner's inability to account for millions of dollars in westhelp funds. TINC but where is the money richard? better see an eye dr - the feiner you knew is long gone. the feiner of today either must account or resign.

you are wrong said...

garfunkel in dreamland says that Feiner "has lead Greenburgh into a blind alley with all of its parts seeking to leave."

Let me correct him. The villages want to leave because of Bob Bernstein and his lawsuits against the villages, not because of Feiner. Edgemont wants to leave because Bernstein wants to be Edgemont's mayor. Until Bernstein came along with his threats and lawsuits and demands nobody wanted to leave.

Put blame where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

The courts seem to be agreeing with Bernstein's interpretation of the law. So what you are saying is the Villages would rather the Town keep milking unincorporated Greenburgh. Which is understandable. What is not understantable is a Supervisor who has decided that the Town decisions will be made by the courts, instead of trying to come up with a plan and a budget that is in accordance with the law and acceptable to all parties.

Anonymous said...

Well it's about time that people are starting to see what Edgemont is all about. The residents were happy up until Bernstein and his group took over town hall together with four board members. They keep saying that they represent the residents. How many residents?Edgemont is tasting victory with the up coming election,this way they can rule all of Greenburgh in the manner that they see fit. Wake up voters and do the right thing. If they have it their way , you could rest assured that you will be taxed out of your homes.

Anonymous said...

Taxes will likely go up, because Feiner has not had maintenance done on town buildings. He has spent $$$ on parks which are of minimal benefit. Feiner's Folly costs will be with us for years. All we can do now is stop then from growing.

Anonymous said...

Bass was leading the opposition to the credit union lease application until he received a campaign contribution from them.

the truth about the credit union lease said...

Bass raised two important questions prior to agreeing to the credit union lease.

First, he wanted to know if the town was certain that it didn't need the space for itself because the credit union lease wouldn't make any sense if the town had to lease space elsewhere for its own needs.

This was a serious issue. At the time, the police were using the second floor for training purposes and because of overcrowding at the court, which had just expanded from two judges to three, there was consideration being given to allowing the court's new third judge to use the space.

Bass turned around after Feiner assured the town board that the town really didn't need the second floor space -- query whether that was really true -- and after the lease was modified so that if the town did need the space, the lease could be terminated.

Bass also questioned whether the lease terms were at market value. Again, Feiner assured the town board that the terms were fair. Again, one wonders whether that was really true.

The problem with the lease, however, is that once the town board authorized Feiner to sign it, it turns out Feiner never read it.

How could that be?

Because Feiner was so anxious to sign the lease that he did so bothering to check to see that the lease itself never defined the specific space in the building that was being leased out.

Anonymous said...

It's never Bass, it's always Feiner.

hal samis said...

Had to scroll up and check that I opened the right door, the one marked Ethics Board comments. Seems like the direction of new comments is a continuation of where I have just come from, the Edgemont pre-school topic. It also seems like activist bloggers must feel that their comments will be read by a larger audience if they post them everywhere however inappropriate.

Now the Town has a complete Ethics Board. Needless to say that I am happy on one hand and saddened on the other. First the Happy Face.
Now the "Board" is a Board. Of course, the Chairman and the Secretary should resign and be re-elected just to make it "appear" that their own behavior is consistent with their roles. With just 3 members voting for themselves, we had a majority of 2 (of 3) electing 2 Board adminstrative positions. Once 1 of these slots was filled, then the remaining slot was chosen from the remaining field of 2. This had been troubling from the beginning especially with no consideration to the idea of calling themselves "Acting Chairman" and "Acting Secretary".

Now all that remains to be functional is the creation and adoption of the new Ethics laws.
The Town Board, without discussion even when presented with the first hard copy draft of the proposed laws just two hours before the Special Town Board meeting Friday, voted to accept the draft so that it could be presented for a Public Hearing at the Town Board meeting Jukly 18 with the intent that the Hearing be closed and the laws be adopted at a new Special Town Board Meeting. Again, a Special Town Board Meeting (no provision for Agenda in Town law) is the same Town Board Meeting as is held regularly on Wednesdays; the only difference is that it occurs on a different and "unique" day. As such, before the Agenda items are voted upon, there should be a Public Comment section just like the regularly scheduled Town Board meetings. Lately "Work Sessions" have allowed the Public to comment but this should be a regular feature of Special Town Board meeting agendas. On Friday, there was no provision for Public Comment, there was none by the Town Board and the entire meeting was over in 5 minutes.

Now the Sad face. To escape or neutralize criticism for running the Ethics show with only 3 members in place, the Town Board filled the 2 remaining slots. I cannot argue hastily; I cannot argue they did so without deliberation; I cannot argue that the field of applicants was immense: the Town Board made their choice based upon conducting a reasonable number of applicants.
However, the last interviews were conducted on Tuesday prior and there was no Public meeting to see a vote to choose the appointments to be voted upon at the Friday meeting. Tuesday's work session and Special Town Board meeting were adjourned without such discussion.

However, what I can argue is the following:
1) As Town Board member Eddie Mae Barnes herself lamented, I would have preferred to see at least one female on the Ethics Board.
2) I only attended one session in which 2 applicants were interviewed. One of these, Bunting, was selected despite his own questionable actions before the town's Zoning Board (Mr. Sheehan residing) but more importantly, Mr. Bunting stated most repeatedly and clearly that his first priorities are to his family, golf and his law practice, the three things which occupy all of his free time, yes his law practice intrudes at night and on weekends. Thus it is doubtful that, regarding his own acknowledgement, that the Ethics Board will really have more than 4 members attending and that Mr. Bunting was elected to a three year term. A great resume item for a lawyer but not likely a sincere effort forthcoming for the Ethics Board. We shall see. However, despite what it says on all Town Board meeting agendas, regarding would-be applicants for volunteer Boards should submit a resume to the Town Clerk for consideration, Mr. Bunting appeared without a resume but agreed that he could supply one. The other applicant that I saw interviewed was rejected and I have no quarrel with that decision.
So, now we have a "5" member Board.

Going back a few steps, consider that it is the Town Board that selects the Ethics Board members.
Let's be real, most of the cases that are going to be presented to the Ethics Board are for actual or presumed infractions of Ethics laws by the members of the Town Board. Could we have not created a 4 or 5 member NOMINATING panel of concerned but neitral citizens, say a representative from a School District, a member of a Civic Association, a member of the Courts, a Lois Bronz or Tom Abinanti type etc.? Should not an Ethics Board, particularly one born amidst controversy, be nobler than Caesar?

Then too let us examine the actual Ethics Laws being proposed? Are they not mere tepid slaps against those found guilty? With all this Ethics talk, one would assume that elected Officials would be especially careful, if not REQUIRED to be knowledgeable about transgressions, and thus any violations of these laws would be treated in a most severe manner, ignorance no longer a permitted excuse. No, that is not what the Town Board has in mind for itself. Do these laws, insomuch as they in part concern themselves with wrongful acceptance of contributions and favors, address requirements for knowing who has applications before the Town. I have suggested that applicants before the Zoning and Planning Boards be REQUIRED (applicants with business before the town and the most important step for real estate developers) to divulge the names secreted within the Corporation or LLC. How else can we match contributions with a giver if the LLC is not itself the giver. And how foolish would that be?

If a corporation or an LLC applies for a mortgage, the Lender is going to ask for the identities (and financials) of those holding at least 10% ownership. And because we are a municipal Agency rather than a private business, we should extend that, going beyond to lesser interests which are related by blood or common interest (six or even fewer 9% interests, say a family, may have a control relationship) Do we have any similar language anywhere in Town law, including the new Ethics Laws, for requiring this? Why is an APPLICANT before the Zoning or Planning Board treated less cautiously than an APPLICANT requesting financing from a Lender?
Do we not also talk about the Town knowing the parties that it does business with? This has been used to protect the Town from doing business with convicted felons or those participating in unfair labor practices. However when it comes to ferreting out those who may be in a position to influence decisions or gain advantage (via campaign contributions), the Town Board decides to forgo such reporting as though it didn't want to know. The present rules which identify an LLC solely as c/o of an Attorney is not a clue to its membership and serves no purpose other than to confound the proposed Ethics laws. So much for tough new Ethics Laws which are fraught with loopholes. And, if identities of parties is not what Ethics Laws are about, then where is the accompanying Resolution for Local Law to achieve the desired result? Or is preserving the loophole the real intent? Both of the Town and the Ethics Board.

But, one thing that should be clear is that the Ethics Laws presented to the Public is that these laws are the laws of the Town Board, not the laws of the Ethics Board, even one of just 3 members. The Ethics Board made suggestions but the final product is the Town Board. And if the Ethics Board wants to say no, no we had as much to say as the Town Board, then I remind them that they then also had as little to say.

What the new Ethics laws are mostly concerned with is protecting the rights of low level Town employess to give wedding gifts or retirement gifts; in other words in marketing terms (80-20 rule), the new laws concern themselves most carefully with matters that affect the 80% of the market which is less likely (20%) to have any effect upon dubious transactions and "excuse" the 20% (the elected officials) which will likely cause 80% of the violations such as they are.

So you can see that there are things which may be viewed as controversial when the Public Hearing opens (and closes as the Town Board seeks) on the one day during in mid July (when hopefully people are away on vacaction) and little will be said or noticed.

Remember that the Ethics Laws should have lots to do with looking at how the Town's elected officials, the Town Board, conducts its business and how the individual members can or cannot be shown to be affected by their acceptance of campaign contributions. It is not a violation of law for contributions to be offered; the onus for wanton behavior is born by the receiver, i.e. the members of the Town Board.

It seems like the Town Board does not want to have these matters be subject to much scrutiny and thus the rush. Perhaps the looming pollings, September Primary and November election are the real reason to need to rush these laws into place so speedily without full airing in Public. Note that any contributions made to candidates would not influence any candidates because without having the office to issue their appropriate "thank you" from until after November or even January 1, 2008 when the new term takes effect, the new laws will have little use in July. There is always August, September and October to pass these laws, properly; well thought out and effective. Why would the new Town Board -- all five members -- want otherwise?

Finally, there are many words that need being said regarding the phrase "appearance of impropriety".
If anything smacks of the denial of Constitutional rights it is this phrase which goes right to the heart of "innocent until proven guilty". It is one thing to judge criminality (in another venue) but this is just downright anti-libertarian in town and moves Greenburgh into the territory of defending itself in Court as the first community in Westchester to deny the United States Constitution guarantees (of course we have also learned in Greenbrugh that a contract/agreement is not a contract). The language needs some toughening up and while the need may be reasonable, the execution is not.

But, a few hours on a hot July night can work wonders. Right?
Chalk this one up as a no finisher.

Anonymous said...

NO RESUME and someone was selected to serve on the ethics board. Who's his sponsor,If this is the correct way of choosing someone for this position, I have a lawyer friend who will be getting out of jail that could be of service to you.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that Samis is back.

hal samis said...

Re the credit union lease.

I was and am still against it.
More problems with little income coming to the Town. Surely Mr. Sheehan, speaking for the Town Board, didn't really mean that taking in commercial strays was such a win-win to give up the singular function and bragging rights of a spectacular Town Hall. $25,000 represents a tax savings of about 15 cents on the average assessment.

I FOILED a copy of the Lease and yes I would agree that it is fair market. And yes there is a cancellation clause on six months notice. But that is not the entire story.

When I pointed out that the Lease did not specify the designated premises, that in fact the entire Town Hall had been rented for roughly $25,000 per year, it took Town Attorney Tim Lewis about five minutes to understand, read and reread the Lease and recognize that his abilities had been, to put it mildly, somewhat over taxed. And of course, the Supervisor put his faith in Mr. Lewis, a practicing lawyer, and signed the Lease, he too failing to read and comprehend what he was told was ok to sign. Nor was this the first issue I have had with Mr. Lewis and his "in my opinion" sloppiness.

Mr. Lewis has cited obsolete laws to curtail the right of the public to speak at Public Hearings. What he forgot to identify were the more recent but still aged Open Meeting laws which nullified what he sourced.

Mr. Lewis similarly ok'd for Feiner's signature the original Triton Contract regarding their Library employment which. in the version that Lewis vetted, was $68,000 higher than their RFP proposal.

Blog readers will recall that I have oft called for the firing of Town Comptroller Heslop, DPW Commissioner Regula, Planning Commissioner Stellato, Mr Lewis and Town Clerk Alfreda Williams (darn, she is an elected official). And I have been criticized for picking on Town employees; Mr. Sheehan has been quick to defend them en masse. Their "unblemished" records no doubt reason enough for the Town Board to reward them with annual raises at Town Budget time. Perhaps, the Town Board will be able to justify an even larger annual pay increase were these employees to really screw up something big. Taxpayers, don't despair, the opportunity to increase their pay is at hand when the Fortress Bible suit concludes or a pedestrian is killed on Knollwood Road.

But a contract is a contract and a Lease is a contract. The credit union lease commenced March 2006. In early September 2006, it was confirmed that the Library would be moving into Town Hall, occupying somewhat less than 5,000 feet while the old Library was 22,000 feet. To obtain the realized space, a training room was eliminated and the lunch area was removed. You might say for the convenience of cashing their pay checks, the employees had to give up their lunch and break room -- so there was for them, at least, no free lunch. To fit the smaller space, the bulk of the Library's collections were put into dead storage at an expense to the Library. Six months notice given on September 15 2006 would mean that the credit union space would be available for Library use by April 15, 2007 and thus the services, programs and resources of the Library need not have been curtailed as sharply. Neither the Town Board nor the Library Board could see this outcome as a possibility.

But at least Town Hall would have been restored to its sole rightful use: to provide services and space to all residents, not just those who would use the credit union.

And bloggers may recall that there has been discussion of Town Hall work sessions being televised as well as Zoning Board back room discussions and Planning Board pre-Hearing work sessions. Perhaps, the credit union space could have been molded into a meeting room which would serve these broadcast functions better than their existing locations.

But as ever, the mystery remains as to why the credit union needed so badly to be located in Town Hall; that they would wait for almost two years to be allowed in the front door for the privilege of paying market rent for second floor space in a building that was not available on a 24/7 basis -- as opposed to renting available vacant storefronts or second store offices on Tarrytown Road. Such a location would have provided walk-in traffic in a visible location, something that all other banks and credit unions seek.

On the other hand, who can dispute the convenience and accessibility to the Town Comptroller who need just stroll across the hall if he wanted, say, to deposit any unused Town monies.

Of course the Town Council will argue that they have no clue but perhaps they will want to get up to speed quickly so they cannot be blamed for allowing a festering mystery to remain unanswered.

And the Public can expect their reply to read as, "we were snookered again". This time Mr. Sheehan was leading the pack and Mr. Bass can wonder why he reversed what may yet prove to have been the proper stance.

For want of a nail, the kingdom perished. From the other side of the table comes this question: can a kingdom perish because wanting to hammer $100 worth of nails caused splintering?

Anonymous said...

And who, dear Samis, was behind the lease?

Why none other than your friend Feiner. Why don't you ask HIM why he allowed the town to get snookered like this? Why must the story always be it's the town council's fault for NOT catching Feiner in time to avoid being snookered? Why is that state of affairs always okay for you?

Wouldn't it be nice if Greenburgh's supervisor were actually competent?

hal samis said...

Agreed Feiner was behind the lease, even suggesting a "bank" as a tenant as far back as 2000 when the building across from Town Hall had been proposed for the Town Hall.

Incidentally, there should be a brass plaque denoting that site as historic, where Samis cut his teeth on the first Town issue.

And this may come as a surprise, but there are issues that I do not excuse Feiner for, issues which still have not been adequately explained to my satisfaction. This is one such issue.

However your conclusion is of your making. Snookered is your opinion.
What I wrote was why with the existence of the cancellation clause, did no one employ it when the Library so desperately needed more temporary space?

I have no quarrel with the lease terms, I would call them fair and reasonable to both landlord and tenant. However, if you go to the trouble to write in a cancellation clause, then why wasn't it used. Both sides were represented by Counsel. I would certainly hope that a Credit Union which takes in money from the Public is professional enough to understand what they have agreed to. There is no language to protect the tenant against the invocation of the termination clause, i.e. "this clause shall be effective after ____ years. So, on the second day their lease could have been terminated on six months notice.
That would be the risk in renting space in a municipal building in an area of growing population.

The only thing that might stop the terms from being enforced if there were some undisclosed side agreements which cancel out the language of this specific passage.
Notwithstanding such, perhaps there is a "gentleman's" agreement that the Town won't ever invoke this clause.

If so, then what stopped the Town Council from accepting the Lease.
What stopped the Town Council from saying to the Credit Union, nice knowing you, you've been a great friend but our children need a larger library so that they can study, get into business school and run their own credit unions someday.

So yes Feiner wanted the Credit Union but unlike the other issues that he "alone" wanted and the results have been confused by both sides, this issue is simple.

The entire Town Board at lease signing is the same Town Board that sits on the dais. The Town Comptroller and the Town Attorney at lease signing are the same people who hold these positions today. The Library needed more space. The Town was aware well in advance that the Library would be coming to Town Hall. etc.

Every Resolution has a sponsor. Steve Bass sponsored the Darfur Resolution for example. Similarly, Feiner was the sponsor of renting the space to the Credit Union.

BOTH Resolutions passed 5 to 0.

The following is just an example.
Would you argue that Juettner was secretly against Darfur but voted for it? Would you argue that Juettner was secretly against the Credit Union but voted for it?

All 5 must take responsibility for their vote whether the Resoultion came from Feiner or any other member of the Town Board.

If it was wrong, then it is right to make them all responsible.
Just 3 votes would have stopped the Resolution dead in its tracks.
I don't understand why every time I repeat this, someone comes along to throw it back to Feiner's front door. If Feiner is everything, why does the Town spend $120,000 plus benefits for the Town Council plus $55,000 for their aide plus benefits IF they are responsible for NOTHING? Why do we have voting at all if there is always someone to say, sure they voted but they either didn't understand or they didn't mean to vote in favor. Once, ok. Twice, maybe. But in almost every vote, there are at least three votes joining with Feiner. So, cut the crap out.
Just 3 votes.
And the whole Credit Union lease still stinks. There was no purpose served by the indignity of renting out our Town Hall to tenant(s). Certainly, no economic reason at $25,000 per year.

Even though no one got "snookered" that didn't want to be, this was not an example of being snookered.
But it certainly is a text book example of the actions of a cooperative Town Council at the age of consent.

So if you think you scored points with asking who was behind this lease and granted it was Feiner and it was evil, then I would expect the Town Council to rise as one and say "Get thee away from me, Satan". Instead the Town Council made their littke speeches saying what a good thing for the Town this lease was.