Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I spoke to Robert Freeman, executive director of the NYS Committee on Open Government about whether or not the work session should have been closed. Mr. Freeman agreed with me: the discussion of the financial statements (regarding WESTHELP--allocation of dollars)with our auditors should have been an open meeting, not a closed meeting. Mr. Freeman said that this "didn't even come close to being an acceptable closed meeting."
I am requesting the town to release all documents/options given to the Board members yesterday by Bennett Kielson (our auditors) regarding the WESTHELP allocation to the public.


Anonymous said...

Let's form a committee to oust Sheehan from Greenburgh politics. He is not the right person for this position.Hey democrates how much more of his doings must we swallow. He is a hitler in disguise.Do we have to wait for the ethics board,to look into his behavior. People with his mentality are usually sent away for some time.Anyone who takes the town board into the woods after a year looking for forensic evidence in a recent firing of a police officer must be incompetent.The evidence was waiting especially for him to say YOU SEE I WAS RIGHT. I wish the officials at the stae level could look into what he does.

feiner not telling whole truth said...

Feiner's not being candid about this matter.

According to the tape of yesterday's meeting, executive session had been requested by the Town Attorney Tim Lewis to discuss two memos he wrote -- one dated May 15, 2007 and the other dated May 21, 2007 -- and it was Lewis who insisted that the meeting had to be closed because, in his opinion, the memos to be discussed were protected by attorney-client privilege.

Of course, if the town auditors were to be present, and they were, and the subject was the proper accounting for WestHelp on the town's 2006 financial statement, which it was, and the town attorney's memos were to be discussed with them (which we have to assume) the attorney client privilege might well be waived in that situation.

However, according to the tape, the only town board member to question the wisdom of going into closed session over this was not Feiner, but Sheehan.

If Feiner was opposed to going into executive session, indeed, if he voted against it, he did so silently.

But regardless, why didn't Feiner report on his blog what Tim Lewis had said? Why is Feiner grandstanding about open government when Lewis, who was Feiner's appointee as town attorney, was the one on the tape insisting that the meeting had to be closed?

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to start a pool on this one?

How will the "TOWN BORED" spin this ethical failure in such a way that it is of course Supervisor Paul's fault?

And if the crime can’t be pinned on Supervisor Paul, then how long before Lawyer Tim gets thrown under the bus?

Ladies and Gentlemen: the betting windows are now OPEN.

Anonymous said...

Well Mr. 11:56 am (aka Francis) is the first at the betting windows.

Seems that he will be betting the daily double today on both Paul & Tim, to Win & Place.

He is going to have to however jack up the bus so that he can get both of them under it.

Good luck bettors, one and all!

Anonymous said...

The open meeting law doesn't allow the Town Board to hold an executive session just because it wants to. The law doesn't allow the Town Attorney to request it just to cover his views of financial statements. This is a budget matter, and of all Town Board business, budget matters require public hearings the most. If this is about Westhelp business, and how the money is to be allocated and reported, then we have an absolute right to know because there has been so much politics about it. They want to keep the public from knowing so that they can play more politics.

Shame on the Town Council. And shame on Tim Lewis. Will we ever have a Town Council which respects the law? Will we ever have a Town Attorney who knows the law? Maybe if the present Council is voted out.

Anonymous said...

Just foil for the two memos and watch the fun begin. The form is right on the town website. The town clerk is usually very quick and responsive. If she is not, you know you've hit a nerve.

cut the crap said...

The town attorney is the TOWN'S attorney, not the town council's attorney. We are the clients, not Sheehan and company. And if they plan to game the financial statements, we want to know about it.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan, a non-lawyer, was right to question whether the meeting should be closed, but what's he going to do when the town attorney, Tim Lewis, Feiner's appointee, insists that no, the meeting must be closed because Lewis' "privileged and confidential memos" will be disclosed?

Feiner, himself a lawyer, should have pulled Tim aside and said no Tim, if you're sharing your memos on Bennett Kielsen with Bennett Kielsen, then the memos aren't going to be privileged anymore.

But the audiotape shows Feiner kept quiet.

His silence speaks volumes about what went wrong here.

Anonymous said...

isn't it amazing that everything is feiner's fault, even when he is quiet. i never found that anybody, even feiner, thought that feiner functions as a lawyer. he may have a law degree but nobody would hire him as one's lawyer. besides, we know who runs the town board, and it isn't feiner.

Feiner is corrupt said...

Feiner is the same corrupt politican who took campaign money from Bennett Kielsen, the town's auditors who were caught napping while Feiner engineered the WestHelp slush fund.

Anonymous said...

Who has this audiotape? Is there a betting line for an 18 minute gap on this tape????

Anonymous said...

Does anyone see a patern here:

Sheehan gets elected.

The Valhalla School District Superintendant is threatened by Gil Kaminer. She is told that she had better not make a circus out of her public comments. Paul is outraged and calls for an investigation. The rest of the Town Council (including two women) remains silent.

Citizens from a sewer district document that the Town has been assessing sewer district taxes improperly for years. Paul is given the information and acts upon it. Meetings are held between Paul, many department heads and the citizens. Paul and the department heads vote to hire a forensic accounant to sort through everything.

Sheehan gets elected.

Sheehan takes control of this process by requiring that the residents of the sewer district must pay for the forensic study should the forensic accounant state that the Town acted properly. This deal is ILLEGAL. It is a violation of Constitutional Rights. It is illegal for the Town to target a specific sewer district for reimbursement when ALL the sewer districts would have benefitted from this study.

Sheehan gets elected.

Open Meeting Laws are violated.

So, I ask again, does anyone see a pattern here????

Anonymous said...

Feiner did not want the meeting closed.
Fortunately, Feiner is keeping the community informed regarding the options under consideration. Millions of dollars are at stake.

Anonymous said...

The pattern is that Feiner's supporters apparently think it helps Feiner's re-election campaign to smear and discredit Sheehan -- presumably because he's not running for re-election this year and doesn't have any reason to answer back.

However, the reason for singling Sheehan out in particular is that his hard work has apparently paid off: he's learned things about Feiner over the past 18 months that, once disclosed, would portray Feiner in an extremely negative light.

Feiner's whole career has been predicated on discrediting his opponents before they speak in the hope that no one will pay attention to what they say.

Sheehan is just the latest in his line of fire. Two years ago, Feiner's campaign threatened "blood on the water" if anyone crossed Feiner's path. Feiner's clearly at it again.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan doesn't have to wait to start his smearing. He smeared Kevin Morgan and Allegra Dengler in 2005, and he was officially criticized.

Anonymous said...

And with this new drama, the everyday business of supervising the town (street cleaning, economic development, etc.) will end up on the back burner.

(Actually, routine expectations of taxpayers are already on the back burner, so as we watch the weeds flourish on the median strip across from Midway Shopping Center, I guess that the supervision of basic services will now be off the stove altogether.)

hal samis said...

Well I'm glad to see that Mr. Sheehan's hard work has paid off and he has at last got the goods on Feiner. And he has even shared these goods with you; perhaps you two have your own Executive Sessions and have taken an oath of silence together until Pearl Harbor II unfolds in The Scarsdale Inquirer.

But wouldn't it be nice if Sheehan also shared these goodies with the rest of the Town? Especially if we have paid for the investigative services of our latter day Mickey Spillane? After all, I must confess that I am still just a little underwhelmed by the results of the earlier email inquisition.

You see what springs to mind when this type of tactic is used ("I've learned things that when used...") is the mental picture of a short, overweight man holding aloft a file which he said contained lists of names of "fellow travelers" or commies, all intent on overthrowing the system.

But the names were never produced which caused people to realize that there never were any names.

So if Mr. Sheehan wants to disassociate himself from the mental picture of that fellow Irishman, Senator McCarthy, he would do well to either put up or shut up.

Futhermore, it is interesting to remember that even his critics would grant that Feiner started his career on a populist, moral and liberal platform while these same critics would argue that along the way Feiner became just another politician.

It only has taken Sheehan 18 months to assume that profile himself and, when it is noted on this blog, then the wagons form a circle and the defenders try to perform damage control by calling it a smear.

People attend or watch the Town Meetings and what they see is Mr. Sheehan doing it to himself.

So, if you or Sheehan are on the level, bring it on. It is said that truth never goes out of style but what is the profit in testing each morsel's expiration date?

We're all waiting. And for a starting point, there's lots of space below.

Anonymous said...

the issue is not sheehan, the issue is not juettner, the issue is not barnes, the issue is not bass, the issue is not feiner. the issue is this: should the town bd discuss budget allocation options in a public forum.
The answer is yes. We are talking about over a million dollars. A budget..B budget? Let's discuss this in an open forum. Our officials should be accountable for their actions and shouldn't hide behind the town atty or make anyone else a scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Jim Heslop's report re: A & B budget allocations?

The Crimes of Sheehan said...

The crimes of Sheehan need to be investigated. Sheehan violated the first amendment rights of the Valhalla School Superintendant by having Kaminer threaten her. Sheehan violated the 14th amendment rights of citizens on special assessment sewer districts by refusing to properly adjust their assessments, knowing full well that they were wrong. Now Sheehan has violated New York State open meetings laws. We need something like a Special Prosecutor to come in with subpeona power and investigate these assaults on our rights. A special prosecutor will cost money however, in the end, it will save us money because Sheehan's reckless behavior will wind up costing the Town millions in judgements in future law suits filed against the Town by people who were damaged by these despicable and illegal tactics.

Jim Lasser said...

As Hal is fond of reminding us, it takes three. Any three members could have refused to go into executive session. Any three could have required Heslop to report in his findings to the Board meeting in a public session. AND any ONE could have posted the report on the Town's very own website.
The regularly scheduled violations of the Open Meetings Law which have been the norm in Greenburgh for years have never seemed to bother anyone sitting at the front of the room before. Why is there suddenly this concern? Greenburgh alone - of all the governing bodies in Westchester - does not make copies of the minutes of its public meetings (which, by the way, include "work sessions") available to the public unless the individual wishing to read them FOIL's them. The Town's Public Record Officer's "regulations" do not permit filing Freedom of Information Law inquiries by email.
Suddenly the Town Supervisor is quoting Robert Freeman - whose office (the New York State Committee on Open Government) is the organization which has issued written opinions on the items addressed above (minutes - including "work session" minutes - and the acceptability of filing FOIL requests by email). Have the Town's elected officials, any ONE of them, decided to honor the Open Meetings Law, or are we being treated to another cynical, self-serving helping of "politican on the rise"?
A challenge to Feiner, Juettner, Bass, Barnes, Sheehan and Williams:
Post the complete text of the minutes of ALL public meetings on the Town's website. The resulting archive of public documents would go a very long way towards making the idea of "open government" a reality. As the Town must already be typing the minutes, there is NO additional cost, only the possible embarassment of being accurately quoted. If, as someone expressed, there is fear the minutes might be altered by some un-named and unscrupulous party, post them as secure PDF documents. If the Town doesn't have and feels it cannot afford the software to comply, I promise to raise the money as a gift from private sources.
Here's an opportunity to finally put real meaning into what's becoming a badly shopworn phrase - "open government". Let's try it on for size. Remember, it will take only ONE of you to make it a reality.

Anonymous said...

It would be great to envision a day when three members of the Town Board rise up to defeat Sheehan. The way the Board is presently constructed, that will never happen. The vote has been 4-1 for the last 18 months. Sheehan is such a unifying force that Bass, Barnes and Juetner follow him no matter what, even going so far as to use Kaminer as a thug to scare off a woman. The more Sheehan & Co. are recorded, the better off we will be. All of their meetings should be broadcast on cable. Work sessions included. There should never be a meeting held that can not be simulcast on Cable and on the internet.

hal samis said...

There is another aspect of this story which adds some background to how the Town Council attempts to maintain their work sessions as though it were a private club.

Recently I have been successful in getting acknowledgement of the Town Board Work Session posted in advance of its occurrence. Just like the dates of the Town Board, Zoning Board and Planning Board meetings for the entire year are posted on the Town's website under "meetings", now residents can similarly observe that the Work Sessions are scheduled.

What I have been UNSUCCESSFUL in accomplishing is getting the Agenda posted in advance of the meeting. What is the current practice is to post the Work Session Agenda at 12:00 on the day of the meeting (Tuesdays). I have argued that if the Public is interested in a particular Agenda item, they should be allowed adequate time to make plans to be there. I doubt that the first the outside auditors heard about their appearance before the Town Board was on 12:00 of the same day.

For some residents, this may present no problem as they are nearby and may have no prior engagements. For some, like myself, who work in NYC and have to juggle work schedules, travel time to Greenburgh Town Hall, etc., knowing just 3-1/2 hours ahead of the first Agenda item is inadequate. Whereas Residents do not get paid to attend these meetings and do so because they are interested and concerned citizens, the Town Board members, the outside auditors and consultants and, the Town Department heads who do attend, individually or severally, are paid when they appear -- because this is their job.

So I have a established a lengthy paper trail of correspondence with the Supervisor, Town Council and Town Clerk pointing this out but to no avail. Only the Supervisor has taken the trouble to actually respond and offer that he has requested to have the Work Session Agenda posted on the prior Friday afternoon. Yet nothing has come of this. Feiner also proposed that the Work Sessions be scheduled Tuesday evenings when even more of the Public (and he would be done with his parental obligation) could attend. Yet nothing has come of this.

Recognizing that perhaps it would be unreasonable to expect the Town Board to know their schedule for Tuesday by Friday afternoon (although the Agenda for Town Board MEETINGS on Wednesdays is generally available by Friday afternoon) I suggested: it would be adequate foreknowledge to make arrangements to attend, were the Work Session Agenda to be posted by 3:00 on Monday, the day before. But again, no progress.

Open Government and Sunshine Laws are in place and their provisions are regularly flaunted in Greenburgh. However, little attention is given to Notice of the meetings at which the violations occur. Part and parcel of the concept is that the door can be open or closed with the same result if there is no one from the Public present. As many residents still have to work to pay Greenburgh taxes and other necessities of life, it would seem reasonable for an Open Government not to throw roadblocks in front of the Public, these hurdles for the sole purpose of discouraging the Public's ability to attend.

Before he joined ranks with the Town Council, Mr. Sheehan, private citizen, used to be vocal about making Work Sessions available to the Public, even arguing that they should be televised. Yet nothing has been done about this either. It is apparently a different world when you are a member of the Town Council.

Thus it is "surprising" that Mr. Sheehan does not even support the idea of making the Work Session Agenda available in advance of the actual meeting. As I have noted above, it is unlikely that the outside auditors, Bennett et al, cancelled everything on their calendar because they first learned of their appearance only at 12:00.

But as each day passes, we find more and more reasons to realize that Democracy in Greenburgh is practiced only as a topic on this blog, not at Town Hall where it really belongs.

It is true, too, that Mr. Feiner may have had some difficulties in the past with acknowledging that reciting Open Government is not the equivalent of practicing Open Government. But he has demonstrated a commitment to getting back on the road to achieving this in real time. On the other hand, the Town Council, who tell us that three of them are born again, now responsible and independent elected officials and the fourth member, who has for the most part been able to dodge the after effects of a Town Council which pre-dated him, however, all four of them show no sign of wanting to do things any differently than in the past. Because, as in the past, and now in the present, secrecy is how they protect their rear ends.

And the Public has its options too; it does not have to sit back and accept this treatment. This Fall, we can get rid of Steve Bass and Eddie Mae Barnes because, let's face it, they don't deliver the goods. They talk the talk but in the end the results are always the "same as they ever were".

So what about Feiner? Well this year there are two candidates running against him. Neither has any equivalent experience. Both are running low profile "campaigns" which do not require either bucks, vocal chords or shoe leather to maintain. Their campaigns amount to "I'm not Feiner" but we don't know who THEY are either. So, the challenge is (from the next page following from where Jim Lasser took a breather) what would the would-be "new blood" do to resolve these problems. It is time for these candidates to go on the record about...anything.

As for the existing Town Board, 3 of them can't even get the sound system in the Town Hall auditorium to function properly (we have occupied the building for at least three years now). And even though I opposed the traveling summer Town Board meetings, the sound system (a microphone and a portable loudspeaker) worked better at these remote locations than it does at Town Hall.

The point here is that Government which cannot be heard is not Open Government either.

So here's a blog that is read by all of the Town Board and a grwoing number of residents. If you think that these "little" things are beyond the reach of the Greenburgh Town Board, let them know. On the other hand, if you agree that Open Government cannot exist by excluding the Public, (either by lack of Agenda noticing, inaudible sound, closed doors, etc.) let them know as well.
The $ cost to provide any of this is pennies per taxpayer; the potential results of excluding the Public from the process can be $$$ in the millions.

unhappy resident said...

Hal Samis is right. What do we do about it. I make a commitment to tell at leat 25 neighbors about what is going on. Maybe many more. If you all are as disappointed as I am at what the Town Council is doing, tell at least 25 of your neighbors too. Maybe many more. And ask them to spread the word. The chain letter effect. But this is real.

Anonymous said...

An open letter to Eddie Mae, Diana and Steve from a taxpayer:

You are politically insane to align yourselves with Mr. Sheehan. Many of us have been watching from the outside and waiting for the implosion to begin. It has, as we have predicted.

He is not someone you want to follow. He might be a perfectly nice guy in a social setting, but he is condescending, sneaky and transparent to taxpayers. It's obvious that his behavior is strictly politically motivated.

His behavior is shockingly nasty and, frankly, unacceptable on the part of a public official.

Distance yourselves from him, if you dare.

Because you know that sooner or later, someone will complain to the state about it.

Michael Kolesar said...

Following up on Hal's comment about the agenda for the work sessions, since these by law are not confidential, and if the Supervisor truly wants to publicize these agendas, the Supervisor could post them here on his blog when he gets them. Yes, he might have to retype them, unless of course he receives them in electronic form, in which case it's just a quick copy and paste.

Where there's a true will, there's a legal way.

hal samis said...

Dear Mike,
I don't think it is an issue of how to post it or where to post it. I don't know for sure but I think the Work Session Agenda is not Feiner's but the Town Council's and the posting decision on the web site is the Town Clerk. With the regularity of its appearance at 12:00 on Tuesday, I don't think it is because they are waiting to pencil in an open time slot, not a likely situation week after week.

What I think is going on is that it has become a policy decision not to put it out before. The Town Council/Kaminer may offer any number of reasons for this but I am convinced it is done purposely to make it always a "last minute" effort with the results being what I have detailed. However, those that are called to appear before the Town Board all seem to have known in advance of when their time slot is booked.

Of course, residents have the option of showing up every week at 3:30 just in case there is something of interest to them, at some time during the Session, but I think that we agree that this is not how government should operate.

Actually Feiner is on the side of the angels on this one. He now repeatedly asks to allow the Public to speak at these meetings and he is repeatedly overruled by the Town Council.

Holding the Work Sessions on Tuesday evenings would be better for him as he has a long-standing commitment to pick up his daughter around 5:45 and doesn't return until around 7:00. As the Town Council members hold day jobs, one would think that they too would favor this scheduling.

I'm not really sure if Feiner now is an advocate for broadcasting or taping the Work Sessions but at worst, all of them don't seem enthused about it and since it has been discussed for at least 5 years and not yet applied, my conjecture is that they just don't want to be seen in all their disinterest or the Public to see what time they all arrive for the scheduled meeting.

Keeping the Public outside the door, literally and figuratively, is what is the common theme. All of the issues, including putting out the Agenda in a more timely manner or even making copies of the Resolutions available at these Work Sessions and Town Board Meetings, or making meeting minutes available (when they exist) without FOILing, together serve to keep the Public in the dark. And any 3 votes could change this all around. If 3 of them wanted to. And since there aren't 3 votes, what's a Resident to conclude?

Anonymous said...

There is no basis for anyone other than a Feiner supporter like Samis to conclude that Feiner has been on the side of the angels on this one.

Feiner's been running work sessions the same chaotic way Samis describes for the past 16 years. Put charitably, like it or not, that's Feiner's "management style" -- or lack of it.

Samis conveniently forgets that because Feiner's the supervisor -- the only full-time elected official in town other than the town clerk -- Feiner gets to set the agenda. You don't legislate an agenda. Samis' "three votes" mantra doesn't apply here.

All votes must by law be public. The idea of the town council usurping Feiner's control of the agenda by legislating and then voting on the release of their own work session agenda is silly.

The agenda for work sessions is not released until the day of the meeting not because the Town Council wants it that way, but because Feiner does not want to give up the right to juggle things around at the last minute, and that's the way he's always done it.

If the agendas were released earlier, Feiner would be locked in, and because Feiner isn't on speaking terms with the town council anymore, unless there's a town emergency, the council's not likely to cut Feiner slack on this one any time soon -- particularly since these last-minute additions by Feiner are usually for partisan political purposes anyway and Feiner these days pays little enough attention as it is at work sessions.

Sure there are people who are invited to appear at work sessions long before the agendas are released. It's usually a matter of courtesy because the meeting time has been set aside for the town board to "work" on their particular issue.

The only thing wrong with that is that residents like Samis aren't clued in when the invitees are.

But if Samis were all that interested, and it's clear he's not, why doesn't he just pick up the phone and ask Feiner a few days before each work session whether he knows what's coming up.

That way Samis can plan his life accordingly, and wouldn't that be grand?

Anonymous said...

The above comments are ridiculous. The Town Council approved rules last year which restricted the supervisors ability to set the agenda. Work session agendas are set only after 3 members of the board agree as to what gets scheduled for the agenda.
The town council wanted to keep this session closed for political reasons.

Anonymous said...

Shift millions away from the villages after the primary! That's what this was about. pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan 5:39 thank you for telling us how you conduct the work sessions. I think you should get a life Have you forgotten when you were just mr. citizen,how you disrupted sessions and town hall meetings. Who are you kidding. No matter what goes wrong or where it goes wrong you blame the supervisor. Blame youself.You really don't want to hear the truth, because you feel that you are above the law. Today a judge in Brooklyn was sentenced to prison ,he too thought he was above the law.

Anonymous said...

I have come to believe that the anti-Feiner bloggers are autistic. They say and do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and.....

So now Feiner, who has absolutely no control over anything since Sheehan was elected, is the one who controls the agenda. Feiner controls nothing. The fact that he has been fighting for earlier publication of the agenda means nothing to these bloggers who say that Feiner controls the agenda and doesn't let the others usurp that role, and it seems to be beyond the understanding of these people, but that is a sign of their autistic behavior.

Even uncontrovertible little things like the work session agenda is not too small to escape the rage of these bloggers, but lack of perspective is another sign of autism.

The constant repetition of the phrase "the only full-time elected official" is a sign of autistic behavior. But here there is a little stumble. The blogger says that the Town Clerk is the only other full time elected official (though you wouldn't know it by the Town Clerk's presence in Town Hall), and as it happens the Town Clerk prepares the agenda.

A descent from autism to paranoia is the statement that we don't have an early agenda is because Feiner does not want to give up the right to juggle things around at the last minute. Or is it delusional behavior rather than paranoia.

I'd love to vote for new blood, but if the Town Council and their friends are in control I am not voting for anyone they like.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:25,

What will shift millions away from the Villages will be the court cases. By not negotating, Feiner is creating a situation where the villages will pay, but recieve nothing.

hal samis said...

What I don't understand is what the objective of the Feiner criticism is when it keeps going back 16 years.

Between then and now he must have done something right. And how dumb were all those nominating Democrats and voters who allowed this to happen?

But let's say he was all bad all the time, fooled everyone, and now he is under pressure to allow others (Town Council) to have their own chance to be bad.

And maybe the incentive for this is simply that he wants to be re-elected.

Yet even while he takes the steps toward doing the right thing he is still criticized.

And vying for the chance to be equally as bad are members of the Town Council who obviously don't want to share this dubious honor because they haven't done very many things right either.

What's so hard about getting three votes together if the issues are so clear and being on the correct side is so obvious? Because the quarterbacking by blogger critics after the game is over is like a computer "fatal error" notice. No one is really worried when it appears and it is assumed that it is only a temporary annoyance which can be cured if you turn the system off for 30 seconds and reboot. Nevertheless, the anonymous bloggers from the comfort and safety of their home keyboards want everyone to see the end of the world with every arriving Feiner email.

Perhaps it would be clearer if it were viewed not as a Greenburgh problem but more like a traditional, dignified spectator sport such as professional football.

If you see two teams facing each other across the line of scrimmage and one team has four players plus a relief player on the bench and then you look at the other team with just one scrawny player, you would ask how come how the team with four players on the field can't get to the end zone? They can pass the ball, they can block, they can run, they can kick. So why can't that team nail down the win? The lone player has no one to pass to, no one to throw to him, all he can do is run with the ball, and even in that he has no one to block for him. Again, why can't the team with four players score a touchdown in this or last year's season. They had the benefit of viewing the training films of the games from earlier years; they've had excellent coaching both on and off the field and even their cheerleading staff is well organized. What do you think the Vegas line would be on a match between the team of one and the team of four?

If you took the four to win, that was and is the definition of the sucker bet.

So here's the choice, do we allow the softer side of Feiner to emerge or do we try to stop it by denigrating his every move?

Is what all the fuss is about really for the good of the Town or for revenge? Because if it is for the good of the Town, the Council has the ball deep in Feiner's territory. That's what having the three votes is all about. And if it were for the good of the Town, then I would join them in the cheer "push em, push em back". But it is not because the Town Council is afraid to use their four, one more than three, votes to actually do something good because they only want to make Feiner squirm, not to vote for a different policy.

And if the four continue to vote for renewing the employment contracts of a bad coaching staff, then who is the blame? Apparently the mantra of the whole Town Board is "been there, done that, let's do it again."

Are we so afraid that somehow Feiner can still pull the wool over the members of the Town Council; that Feiner with his artful command of the English language can perform Svengali-like feats of persuasion when he speaks at Town meetings?

Or are we really afraid that the Town Council comes from the same stock? They have met the enemy and it is themselves. Which is why none of them will appear before the ethics board.

If there was confidence in the Town Council to set things right, then their 3 votes would triumph. Yet given the opportunity, time and time again, the votes of the entire Town Board are in unison.

So if the re-formulated Town Council or "Town Council Under New Management" sign exists, they must be all the time on the side of the angels. If so, then what's the problem? Why all the squawking? Because there is a "territorial" dispute? No, the crux of the problem flows from the corollary that if they vote on the same side of the issue as Feiner, then the conclusion follows that either they are wrong or Feiner is right.

So if you are criticizing Feiner since Sheehan took control of the Town Council, then you should be including the Town Council as well because nothing starting in the last 18 months could occur without their support or, at the very least, without their taking responsibility for allowing it to happen. Which they won't. Now this is not my usual swipe at Mr. Kaminer but he was hired to be the Town Council's full-time presence at Town Hall, in acknowledgement that they are only part-timers. So, if the Town Council still can't penetrate the alleged mechanizationsand wizardry of a rogue Supervisor, but only resident bloggers can, then Mr. Kaminer is not doing his job.

And what's on the horizon? Two candidates with little to none experience in municipal administration with the result that if either of them win, they will be wholly dependent on the part-timers. Both of Feiner's opponents are good people, both are hard working and both are, like Feiner, career politicians. Neither of them has taken a stand on important issues or have demonstrated any willingness to speak out on Town problems -- with their solution. When asked by the Greenburgh Democratic Party how they would handle the A or B questions, both said they would wait until the Court has decided. Well, so far the Court hasn't decided (assume we include the standard process which allows appeals) and what this means is that why have a Supervisor if the job is not one of decision making but following in the footsteps of the Courts, or the State Comptroller. What if it takes another year for the Courts? Does that mean they will still have no opinion because one of them might be sitting in the Supervisor's chair within that year. What any government needs is a decision maker (with making decisions, some will be right and some will be wrong, it comes with the territory) and...a good system of checks and balances. Greenburgh has these elements unfortunately the checkers and the balancers and the candidates all are dancing to the same tune.

But what I really get is a mental picture of a kid sneaking into the movie theater to enjoy a free show. To be even more clear, running for office solely because your platform is that you are not Feiner is not only sneaking in, but also hijacking the theater including the movie PROTECTORS.

This is really a love and marriage situation when looking at the Supervisor/Council drama; "you can't have one without the other".
If you want Samis to shut up, do the detergent demonstration with two washes done in the same machine, that way you can empirically judge which wash is "whiter".

Anonymous said...

The Town Council wants power for power sake. They don't care about the people.

Mayor of the village of Edgemont said...

I say make Edgemont a village! That will solve the problems of all!

hal samis said...

Dear Mayor,

Villages still get to vote in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Yes Hal, that is part of the problem. Most voters are residents of the villages. They can vote for Feiner, knowing he will spend spend spend for things like Taxter Ridge, knowing that they wont have to pay for it -- oops until the courts get involved.

hal samis said...

Then the answer is to get more voters who live in unincorporated. And one way to get more voters is to encourage residential development in more places, perhaps along Central Avenue.

Silly said...

We have been hearing forever that village voters outnumber the unincorporated area voters and that is why Feiner wins and rewards the vilages. How silly.

Village voters have voted right along with the unincorporated area voters. That's why the Town Board consists of unincorporated area residents, with the exception of Juettner who has been there for 15 years and who is hardly an advocate for the villages. Even in 2005, when Feiner ran with two challengers,the villages voted with the unincorporated area and voted for Sheehan and Juettner, who had more votes than Greenawalt.

So cut the BS. If this year village residents stop voting along with the unincorporated area it is becasuse the Town Council has shown itself hostile to the legitimate requests of the villages and they kowtow to the loud and demanding voices in the town, mostly Edgemont voices. A word to the wise?

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous 1:14 PM,

First, as Hal likes to correctly point out, it took (and takes) just 3 votes. Taxter Ridge was not acquired by the Supervisor acting on his own.

The problem has been the beneign neglect of the Villages in participating in actions or proposed actions of the town Board. Shame on us !

The "recent" Village activism stems from a few incidents: the unfortunate tree case, where the Town was woefully under insured and then passed a portion of this liability back to the Villages. The Town insurance polices did not and do not cover the Villages per se for an event like that if it should happen in a Village. Using the logic recently articulated during the public hearing on the volunteer firefighter and ambulance property tax assessment reduction, if we already have it or pay for it separately, it shouldn't be charged to the Villages. The State Comptroller's opinion offered that, but the Town Board rejected that, including the Supervisor.

Re Taxter Ridge, the Villages (at least Ardsley, Hastings and Dobbs Ferry to the best of my recollection) weren't pushing for this. A few individuals near the site (and I think residents of unincorporated Greenburgh) were the proponents and the Villages for the most part were asleep. Hopefully now the Villages have learned their lesson and know better, but I'm not convinced by the lack of participation on issues that could come back to haunt the Villages such as granting the sidewalk waiver re the Greenburgh Health Center.

Push too hard and one won't have to worry about a contested election between Democrats and Republicians in the Town, but a "Village" party and an "unincorporated" party. That would be interesting

kolesar swings and misses said...

Kolesar swings and misses once again.

The Taxter Ridge acquisition was actively supported by the Villages of Irvington and Tarrytown, and by the Irvington School District, which besides serving East Irvington in unincorporated G'burgh, serves all of the village of Irvington and a portion of the village of Tarrytown.

The Irvington School District stood to benefit the most from the acquisition because of its concern that the 200 acres of Taxter Ridge would be developed residentially -- a prospect it feared would result in an infusion of new school-age children and a forced expansion of their schools.

The Villages of Irvington and Tarrytown supported the acquisition provided, however, that the town's costs were charged exclusively to the town's unincorporated areas.

At the town board meetings both before and after the town board vote on Taxter Ridge, Edgemont resident Bob Bernstein warned repeatedly that the town would be acting illegally if it proceeded to purchase the property and tax only the unincorporated areas of the town.

In fact, Bernstein urged Feiner again and again to contact the village mayors to let them know that their residents may be on the hook for Taxter, but Feiner ignored him.

The only way village residents would have known back then that they may be on the hook for Taxter Ridge was if they had showed up or watched the town board meetings on cable -- and only if they happened to tune in when Bernstein was given his five minutes to speak.

There was never any other discussion of the matter.

This was back in 2003 -- another election year -- and Feiner was determined to acquire Taxter Ridge come hell or high water before election day and he did not want this dispute over who pays to get in the way.

hal samis said...

Dear 4:44,

It certainly is convenient to have a whipping boy on hand to point to -- that alone is reason to keep Feiner in office. However, on hand to raise their hands and say "aye let's buy" were Steve Bass, Eddie Mae Barnes and Diana Juettner, even if she had to be woken up to vote. They all heard Bernstein, except Juettner who was sleeping, and they all chose to ignore him.

You see I am an equal opportunity blame sharer. If you earn it, you should be remembered for it. So if I have to, every time I see blame not being shared, I'm going to remind everyone until they learn to include all the parties.
Just three votes is only the shorthand but you know I can make that stretch out to paragraphs. I will do so until I think that everyone has gotten the message.
And when I read your posting it reaffirms that the message has not yet been learned.

Don't be lazy, repeat aloud after me or even write it down on your next posting.

Steve Bass voted to buy Taxter Ridge and ran in 2003.
Eddie Mae Barnes voted to buy Taxter Ridge and ran in 2003.
Diana Juettner voted to buy Taxter
Ridge (snore...)
Paul Feiner voted to buy Taxter Ridge and ran in 2003.

Who knows, it could even become a movement.

But now that it is bought, ask any of them why there is no capital budget allocation for Taxter Ridge planned for at least through 2009.
Think of it as the Park that everyone in New York State is eligible to use; that Greenburgh alone is obligated to maintain and no one in New York, even if from unincorporated or incorporated can use.

Because there is no parking, lighting, emergency facilities, etc.

If the Town Board can't answer this conundrum; ask Danny Gold of East Irvington what leverage he held over the then Town Board.

So, again Taxter Ridge was voted by the equal votes of Steve Bass (running this fall), Eddie Mae Barnes (running this fall), Diana Juettner (sleepwalking for another two years) and Paul Feiner (running this fall).

Be consistent in your voting.
They were and still are consistent in their voting.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone see that this structure of villages and an unincorporated area is just nuts? Legal structures can be changed, so I don't understand why the residents of Greenburgh (village and unincorporated) allow this system to continue.

What services, specifically, does the township provide for the villages that the villages cannot handle on their own? Maybe there is some vital reason that villages need to be associated with a township, but I truly can't think of anything.

If the township does need to exist for some reason, it still seems to me that if you took the unincorporated area and divided it into three villages (north, central, south), that everything would function more cooperatively and efficiently, with a whole lot less drama.

Herb Rosenberg said...

To answer 9:01's question, at least in part, villages have to be part of a town because N Y State recognizes only three entities -- cities, towns and Indian reservations. Hence villages have to have a formal legal relationship with a town. But 9:01 is right -- the town provides virtually no services for the villages, because under the N Y Village Law the villages provide for themselves the services that the town government provides for the unincorporated area. The few services that a town provides to the villages are usually charged back to the villages, which is eminently fair.

It is an outdated situation, but there it is, and it leads to the problems that have developed, but I don't want to get into that.

There are remedies, but there is much institutional bias against those remedies. To many oxen to be gored. Maybe some creative thinking will come up with remedies that are easy.

Of course if people decided to live in harmony -- to live and let live -- these legal peculiarities wouldn't create difficulties. That is the way it was once upon a time three or four years ago.

Anonymous said...

Not only did Steve Bass, Eddie Mae Barnes, Diana Juettner vote with Feiner to purchase Taxter Ridge, they also voted (along with Francis Sheehan) to appeal the Taxter Ridge lawsuit.Todays news about the Appellate Division should send Bernstein a message that he may not be listened to by the council in the future.

Anonymous said...

You really think that Sir Francis, Steve & Eddie, and Diane (is she still awake) are not going to play patty-cake with Bob B. anymore?

If so, I have a bridge to sell you in Greenburgh!

Herb -- Saying So Doesnt Make it True said...


This premise that the Town doesnt provide services to the Villages is a lie that you keep repeating, in the hopes that people will believe it.

1. What about the Lois Bronz day care center? How many village residents use that facility?

2. Taxter Ridge -- how does that help the Villages any less than the unincorporated area? Where were you when that was acquired? Did you voice concern as to how it would be charged?

3. Kapica's Navy -- how is that helping any of the unincorporated area?

4. The TDY Center??

herb Rosenberg said...

To answer the last blogger, one can say that discussing the hole rather than the doughnut doesn't make for serious discussion. But to answer:

1. The Day Care Center is open to everybody in Greenburgh and out of Greenburgh (including the Bronx). If it is federally funded then open admission may be mandated by law. if it is not federally funded then it is possible that it may have to be restricted to residents of unincorporated Greenburgh. This was never a problem because nobody cared. In light of the Bernstein lawsuits this may be a problem that may have to be faced.

2. Taxter Ridge is open to all, but in reality only to deer, mosquitos and squirrels. The town violated the law by making a deal with the state and county to open it up. That is going to be answered by the appeal.

3. Kapica's Navy, as you foolishly call it, is a joint effort by various police departments. Each municipality pays its share.

4. The Theodore Young Center. Same as the answeer to the Day Care Center. But we know that the Young Center was financed by grants under the federal Water Conservation Act, which requires open admission, and from HUD and the Health and Human Services Department, so in all likelihood it is covered by the federal grant exception in the Finneran Law. And before you get all heated up about the federal grant exception remember that all Americans pay the taxes that went into those grant.

Now to get to the real point. I said virtually no services, which to me means almost no services. So let's see.

a. The A budget pays for the Town Court. The Town Court has no village cases because the Village Courts handle those.

b. The A budget pays for the Town Comptroller. The Comptroller does nothing for the villages and the villages have their own comptrollers.

c. The A budget pays for the Town Attorney. The Town Attorney does almost nothing for the villages because the villages have their own Village Attorneys. It is only when the town is sued and the entire town is at risk that the Town Attorney can be said to be doing something for the villages.

4. The Assessor's Department is in the A budget. He assesses only for the Town taxes, not the village taxes. The villages have their own assessors. But the Town Assessor is in the A budget.

5. The Receiver of Taxes Department is in the A budget, but that office deals with the collection of town taxes and school taxes. The villages have their own Receivers of taxes who administer collection of village taxes. If the Receiver does anything for the villages it is not big, certainly not 100%.

6. The Data Processing Department is in the A budget, but does nothing or almost nothing for the villages.

7. The Central Service Department (which provides office and administrative services to town departments) is mostly in the A budget, even though it does nothing, or almost nothing, for the villages.

8. The Town Engineer is in the A budget, but you can rest assured that if a village asked for the Town Engineer's services the Town Engineer would hang up.

I can go on, but I think tthe point is made. There are some services that the town provides, like road striping, but the villages pay the town for those.

The argument is always about how to charge the parks. It comes about because the town has decided for its own policy reasons to let non-residents in even though that violates the Finneran Law (the town collects revenue for letting village residents in). Since the town made that policy it is likely that a few village residents may come in, but all but a small number of village residents use only their own parks not the town parks. And town residents use village parks, especially in Ardsley, without being taxed for their costs.

By the way, on the revenue side it is the unincorporated area residents who are being treated unfairly. The laws are antiquated and unfair all around. That is why I, and others, have been trying to get the town and village governments to sponsor a group of knowledgeable and objective -- and I stress the word "objective" -- people to study the laws and recommend amendments that will eliminate these inequities and enable Greenburgh to,once again be a neighborly place. The village governments are willing, but unfortunately the Town Council prefers the politics of division.

Anonymous said...


Most of the "inequities" you site are in budget issues decided in accordance with state law. As to your request of "objective" agreement on these issues, I submit that your idea of objective is biased in favor of the villages. You have already shown your bias. Which is OK, you are a village representate. If tthe Town were to form a committee on this, the recognized leaders in the unincorporated area must be part of the solution. But you will not accept that. Which leaves the unincorporated areas no choice but to go to court. Maybe a different supervisor will accept that unincorporated leaders can be part of a solution. Until that time, more lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

"budget issues decided in accordance with state law"

Yea, but laws can be changed. Why do the villages allow the law to remain? If I lived in one of the villages (and I wish I did), I'd definitely do everything possible to secede from Greenburgh. If it weren't for Edgemont schools, I'd move from Unincorporated Greenburgh in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:41, so what you are saying is that no one in the villages or edgemont should be happy with Town mgmt?

Herb Rosenberg said...

Mr. Anonymous 4:43, you obviously don't get it at all, and you don't read either.

Of course the inequities that I cited are in accordance with state law. That doesn't make them less inequitable or unfair. Just as it is inequitable for WestHELP rentals to be in the A budget because that is in accordance with state law, when equity and fairness would place them in the B budget. Just as it is inequitable for the mortgage recording tax to be skewed disproportionately in favor of the villages because that is in accordance with state law.

The whole point I and others have made is that the state laws are antiquated and don't work with large, highly populated and developed suburban towns. The kind of clashes which have developed in Greenburgh will continue forever if these antiquated laws are not changed, because the unincorporated area on the one side, and the villages on the other, will continue to complain that they are being treated unfairly. And the truth is, that both sides are.

The goal is to develop proposals for legislative changes that will result in residents throughout the town agreeing that they are being taxed fairly -- or as fairly as it is possible to be in this high-tax era. That requires knowledge and objectivity and a strong sense of fairness.

I won't talk about what objectivity means. It would be a useless exercise because (aside from the fact that yor writing shows that objectivity is not what you want) as long as this Town Council is in office there won't be any efforts to solve the problem. Their speciality is ducking responsibility.

And now enough on this subject, at least for me, since every effort to explain results in the same old distractions from those who have been persuaded by some of the "recognized leaders of the unicorporated area" that the villages are ripping them off.

Anonymous said...



Jim Lasser said...

Among the unelected, but not necessarily self-appointed, "leaders" of unincorporated Greenburgh, Hartsdale Division, one really ought to include Hal Samis, Bob Reininger, Ella Presier, Harry Lawson and Cora Carey.
Is their "leadership" any better, worse or somehow different from that of Bernstein, McNally, O'Shea, Kaiman or Siegal?
In all cases what raises some folks hackles is passionate advocacy - not leadership. Why should Herb Rosenberg and Mike Kolesar get a pass from the critics for passionately advocating for their communities? Because they reside within Village boundaries?
Advocacy is part of the political process. Sticking to the issues, rather than making personal attacks seems more productive. Signing one's name to an opinion shouldn't create a license for those with no respect for the process of democracy to launch the kinds of ugly personal attacks which discourage free and open discussions.
I've remained largely silent for the last several weeks because the tone of the discussions has been so unrelenting viscious. Facts have been omitted, distorted, or simply ignored - there isn't much sense in participating in a discussion where "facts" are created on the spot to bolster weak arguments. Nor is there much point in participating when any criticism of the sitting government are met with cries of "Treason!" and "Hang the bastards!"
We sit at the crossroads of antiquated laws, self-serving venal politicos at several levels of government, growing populations who perceive themselves to be disenfranchised, or at the very least poor represented. - And instead of trying to figure out what to do, we want to assign blame rather than take responsibility. I fear we are getting exactly the government we deserve. Sure, it would take only three - but those three would have to display some willingness to accept responsibility. Where the difference can be made by one elected official - like posting the agendas of public meetings, insisting on adherence to the spirit as well as the letter of the Open Meetings Law, enforcing the terms of Town-wide franchise agreements - the political parties have failed us miserably when it comes to having a choice, probably because they are controlled by the same career politicians who are our elected officials.
I suggest we all go to the polls in September (for the political party primaries) and write in the single word "NO" to express our frustration.

Herb Rosenberg said...

Thank you Jim Lasser for your sensible words. Discussing facts and reason should be the popint, not name-calling, especially by people who make things up and then hide behind an anonymous identity.

But there is one correction that I have to make. I am not a "passionate advocate" for my community (i.e., the villages). Neither, I think, is Mike Kolesar. What I think we both are are passionate defenders against the almost always unfair accusations and the misstaments that are generally directed at anyone who disagrees, and specifically against village residents. And at anyone who thinks that the current laws are ridiculous because they impose inequities in suburban towns such as ours. And at anyone who thinks that the Finneran Law was enacted to deal with one of those inequities. Very few people have dug into the history and development of the current laws, and even fewer people understand budgets as well as Mike Kolesar does.

I am quite certain that if people in unincorporated Greenburgh -- and especially the Town Council -- actually interacted with village representatives instead of stonewalling and impugning them, you would all find out that passionate advocacy of the villages is not what we are about. We are about reality, fairness, and neighborliness, and working thngs out, not about playing gotcha games with the laws. I, for one, have tried to write about facts and about the effect of current laws, and have been met by the kinds of ugly personal attacks which discourage free and open discussions which Jim describes. The same is true for Mike Kolesar. It is discouraging.

Yes, there is room for passionale advocacy, but at the end of the day leaders (and by that i mean the elected leaders) have to make decisions based on law, fairness and good sense. A judge expects passionate advocacy from the lawyers before him, but his decision is not a reward for better advocacy, but for his conclusions based on what the advocates have told him plus, and I stress the word "plus" -- his own analytical skills and knowledge of the law. Our elected officials have the same responsibility, except that they have to take policy into account. I don't think that Jim will disagree with my view that in Greenburgh the elected leadership has failed miserably. If they had done their job, instead of abdicating their responsibioity to the self-appointed unelected leaders (i.e., passionate advocates) the town would not be in this mess.

Anonymous said...


Edgemont has no elected officials. So are we entitled to no representation. And yes, many think you and Mr. Kolesar do presnt the Village veiwpoint.

Your continuting efforts to disenfranchise the Un-Villaged will only result in more lawsuits, where yes, the courts have to respect the law. Apparently our Town CEO does not.

Herb Rosenberg said...

Oh well, what's the use. Contents is nothing, labeling is everything. End of story.

hal samis said...

Dear nameless 12:44,

The "CEO" of Greenburgh would be Paul Feiner who has just ONE vote on Town matters.

To do anything the "CEO" must be joined by two votes from among the four on the Town Council.

Conversely, any measure supported by the "CEO" can be defeated by any three votes from the four members of the Town Council.

In fact, most measures get passed by FIVE votes in favor.

Still don't get it?

Just THREE votes.

But more puzzling is why such an informed Edgemont person as yourself does not recognize that Eddie Mae Barnes is an Edgemont resident (344 Central Avenue). I'll bet you, like many voters, think she represents Fairview.

And most puzzling is why Edgemont leaders are backing for Town Supervisor, a candidate who lives not in Unincorporated but in the Villages.

Finally, Mr. Kolesar and Mr. Rosenberg do present a Village viewpoint which is not unlikely as they reside in the Villages. However there is a difference between PRESENT and REPRESENT. As they have no official capacities, their right to speak/write is as viable as that of "civic leaders" who claim to represent what is an entire School District.

If you still don't understand local affairs, or even who represents who, I suggest you see if Edgemont is offering a summer school class in Greenburgh 101 for those who failed the first time around.

Anonymous said...


As I am certain you know, all town council members are elected by all of Greenburgh, not the area they live in. So if Edy Mae lives in Edgemont, she still must be elected by Greenburgh. But I am certain you know that.

Anonymous said...

Is 6:53 saying that Edgemont ought to have the right to have an elected representative from Edgemont? How about Hartsdale. How about Fairview. How about each self-designated area in Greenburgh that doesn't make noise at Board meetings. How about each village. Then each area representative can fight with each other area representative to grab what he can.

Or better, how about having a Town Board that respects the entire town. What a novel idea.

Anonymous said...

No I am saying that when Herb or Hal say only elected representatives should carry any weight, just becuz Barnes lives in Edgemont, she is still elected by all of Gburgh, which leaves Edgemont, Hartisale, Fairveiw and the rest of unincorporated Gburgh without any dedicated elected representative. And Herb, Hal and Paul know that.

Anonymous said...

8:16 says " which leaves Edgemont, Hartsdale, Fairview and the rest of unincorporated Gburgh without any dedicated elected representative."

Damn right. We are a town, not a balkanized community with individual selfish interests. Next you will want two separate dedicated Edgemont representatives, one from each side of Central Avenue.

The different areas should not be enemies. They were not until Bernstein and McNally started making demands for Edgemont and to hell with the rest of Greenburgh.

If every area gets its own dedicated representative the Town Board will consist of more than twenty people. And instead of a government we will have a free-for-all.

A responsible Town Board will take into account the needs of each area as part of a town. That doesn't mean that each area will get what its vocal representatives demand. How do you think a dedicated Edgemont representative will vote when it involves a question which involve other areas? They won't look at it as a town question, but how does it affect Edgemont. Same thing with dedicated representatives from other areas.

Things are bad enough. Don't make it worse.

hal samis said...

We're making progress.

Edgemont bloggers now acknowledge that there are other sections of unincorporated.

And the concensus seems to be that the Town needn't replace a Town Board with a House of Representatives.