Monday, July 30, 2007


The Greenburgh Town Board will be voting tomorrow at a special meeting to authorize the hiring of an outside law firm to serve as special counsel to the the Ethics Board. This could be very costly. In addition, some of the members of the Ethics Board are outstanding lawyers. I don't think we need to hire another law firm to do work that can easily be done by our full time lawyers. The meeting will be held at 6 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall on Tuesday July 31.


Anonymous said...

Our town attorneys are paid to do legal work: it's about time they stepped up to the plate and STOP hiring their friends to do the work THEY are supposed to be doing.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a good idea under one condition that Sheehan keeps his mouth shut,He wants the revisions to favor any wrong doing of his sidekicks. You know he's only out to set down laws to hang Feiner, even if he sneezes ,so please Lawyers of the town do the right thing,that will cover everyone in the town .

data not drama said...

What is the precise amount being proposed? "This could be very costly" tells me nothing.

Also, what is the rationale for hiring outside counsel?

Since these two questions are the essential matters to be considered, provide us specific data upon which the decision will be made, not just your opinion.

P.S. I don't mean to be disrespectful, Mr. Feiner, but you often post based on your feelings, without supporting evidence that I'd expect from a manager, and that just creates drama and ineffective outcomes. I'm no Berger fan, but when I see such juvenile postings and consider the importance of the supervisor position to the Greenburgh organization, I just can't imagine voting for you again.

Anonymous said...

Don't play stupid, you know how much consulting lawyers make per hour. This is something that you won't know how many hours it will take to make solid laws,without loopholes.This must be done right because ,there's no way that changes will be made latter on with the council members that are on board at this moment.Let's try our own town lawyers ,who are already getting paid for their services.

Anonymous said...

Who is being hired? What are the rates? Do we have a retainer agreement? Has the Town Board hired the law firm? Is the firm associated with the Democratic party--another Suzanne Berger cronie? Will the Town Board interview the firms? Why can't our Town Attorney's office do the work? I'd rather see taxpayer dollars go to programs. I don't like it when my dollars are going to pay lawyers who are friends of the politicians.

data not drama said...

"Don't play stupid ..."

I do have a feeling that outside counsel isn't needed, but my two questions are genuine. How can a professional, intelligent decision be made without such information provided up front?

Michael Kolesar said...

I agree with "data not drama" and then some.

How was or will the firm be selected? What are their unique qualifications in this area? How much is the Town Council setting aside or budgeting? How was this amount estimated? Who in the Town is responsible for managing this firm, i.e. only the Chariman of the Ethics Board and therefore is answerable to the taxpayers about this spending?

Good idea or bad idea? Who can say at this point? What other alternatives were considered, i.e. use the County Board of Ethics?

Additionally, why another "special" meeting that the vast majority of the public can't attend, participate in or watch? What's the rush? Poorly planned, poorly executed.

Anonymous said...

The rush is because Sheehan wants the ruling to be passed before primaries,whether the format is right or wrong. HE says as someone else said that changes could be made afterwards. Boloney.

hal samis said...

There are at least two (Sigal, Bunting) lawyers on the Ethics Board. The Ethics Board (before Bunting was chosen) and the Town Council (Sheehan) drafted laws even before the Ethics Board was complete and their work product shows the result.

They ended up with an inferior set of laws as a result of this rush.
Perhaps outside Counsel should have been part of the drafting process. Not hired after the fact for an undetermined reason, or to make sense out of the mess that the Town Council calls "Ethics" laws.

As a substitute for good, solid Ethics laws, we have instead slogans like "pay to play" and "nothing's perfect".

Now we have a request for outside counsel to an Ethics Board which has no regulatory or enforcement abilities; it is only an advisory Board. If this Board is entitled to different treatment, residents need to know why. And they need to know why it has to be done with the urgency of a "Special Town Board Meeting". There is a regular Town Board meeting in just over two weeks, August 15.

Meanwhile other Boards which DO have regulatory abilities, Zoning Board and Planning Board, come quickly to mind; these Boards make do with in-house legal staffing.

In conclusion, this outside counsel for the Ethics Board is merely expensive window dressing to make the Ethics Law doctrine appear to be a serious matter.

Maybe what the Ethics Board needs is its own version of "pay to play". Let it be self-supporting.
Outside Counsel may be retained and paid for by the "fines" collected from those found to have committed unethical acts. With a $250 capped fine (as per the new, "tough" Ethics laws), I'm sure that hiring outside Counsel will be a simple matter.

Otherwise, the Town could be spending "tens of thousands of dollars" to collect that $250 or less.

More of the Town Council's "politics vs potency"?

Anonymous said...

It was said if the ethics board can't come up with a good set of laws not Sheehan's laws, please step down and let's start the process of getting new volunteers that know how things should be done. Sheehan should have not had the opportunity to put forth his ideas before hand. You can see he wants the laws to cover his sidekicks of any wrong doings. He wants to hang only one person with his input and that is the supervisor. The ethics board if made up of lawywers should know that his input is against the constitution.and therefore illegal. Let's wait and get the thing right. I was surprised at one meeting that a lady resident wanted the laws passed as is. She happens to be a true fighter for justice but in this case she was a failure.Has she been influenced by Sheehan also..

Anonymous said...

Sheehan is going to bankrupt the town with all these outside lawyers

Anonymous said...

We as residents should bring a law suit against Sheehan, for mismanagement of our tax dollars.His power trip will end in total disaster for the town. THey say Feiner gives away our money --big mistake--watch and see how much the mistake that the four council members made with Dromore Rd.,the contract given to Bergers firm and now outside consul for the ethics laws,will cost us..Sheehan we don't have money trees.Smarten up.

Anonymous said...

Given that you won't pay attention and adopt whatever an expert recommends, you're right - buying a professional opinion is a waste of money. In fact, so is taking someone away from what might be productive work and assigning them to this doomed-from-the-start effort is also a waste. Just write whatever you want and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

A Guarantee - you will certainly get no more than you have paid for - and most likely will get significantly less.

Soothsayer said...

When Mr. Feiner and the other members of the Town Board are in conflict, the Town MUST hire outside counsel because there is a conflict of interest created for in-house counsel.
How would you like to have to tell your boss s/he's a complete idiot and wrong to boot?
Think your job would survive through lunch?

Anonymous said...

Steve Bass, Francis Sheehan are wasting our tax dollars. The money should have been used for programs for kids.

Anonymous said...

Look at the line of comptrollers and attorneys the town has had. The turnover is absurd.

hal samis said...

Do you mean that the new, tough Ethics laws only protect town employees from unwanted raids on their wallets but do nothing to protect them from doing their jobs?

How can that be?

Anonymous said...

Ethics for Sale

It is interesting how Suzanne Berger, a lawyer for many years, and the Chairperson of the Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee, seems to not understand the law when it comes to contributions. Of course, she talks of “ethics” and her main patron and supporter, one Francis Sheehan, a member of the Greenburgh Town Committee, has crafted his own version of the Town’s new loop-hole infested “ethic’s code,” but she doesn’t seem to practice what she preaches.

A review of her latest campaign filings shows contributions from “Friends of Judge Ecker,” “Judge Berliner for Supreme Court,” and “Colangelo for County Court.” This seems to be not only unethical, but also illegal under New York State law. One would think a lawyer would know better? Besides those gifts, why is she receiving gifts from the Yonkers Democratic Chairman’s Trust Fund and the Mount Vernon City Committee? Greenburgh certainly has been in conflict over roads, development, and large future projects with its neighbor Yonkers. Does this mean that a potential Supervisor Berger would have to recuse herself from negotiations with Yonkers? I also see that Tim Iodoni and the Oxman, Tulis law firm also made contributions. Why are these Judges, politicians and Democratic Committees taking sides in a primary?

Ms. Berger also said at the last Greenburgh Town Board open meeting that the 38% of her political gifts, which came from her law firm, Bryan, Cave were from people she knew for twenty years and were friends, but her previous law firm merged with Bryan, Cave in 2002! Could it be that these were rewards for her work in securing a six-figure contract through a no-bid process engineered by Town Board Member Sheehan? Was there a payoff to him also? These are significant “ethical” questions that must be addressed. Is this influence peddling at its highest level? I hope that this “insider” contract is removed at the next Greenburgh Town Board meeting.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Jim Lasser said...

In 2003 Mr Feiner received a campaign contribution from the Greenburgh Health Center - an IRS recognized 501(c)3 tax-exempt, ot for profit corporation. IRS regulations specifically forbid contributions from 501(c)3 organizations for any reason whatsoever. One possible penalty for a willful violation is the loss of the organization's tax exempt status, and the loss of donors' charitable deductions claimed on their personal income tax returns.
The Greenburgh Health Center was then, as now, in need of significant variances to complete the acquisition and development of a valuable and needed community facility.
A member of my campaign staff found the GHC gift reported on Mr. Feiner's state election commission required report. I privately, and completely off the record, asked Mr. Feiner to return the contribution which I was absolutely sure had been accepted accidentally. The level of anger and vitriol heaped on me during his temper tantrum convinced me that there was clearly more to the gift than met the eye. Shortly after the date recorded on his campaign finance disclosure report, the Supervisor appeared at a ZBA hearing to "assist" GHC in obtaining the necessary variances.
The campaign gift was not returned until more than two years later...
You may draw your own conclusions about the ethical issues involved.
Unlike many of you who will now go on the attack, I clearly and proudly sign my name to my comments.
Anonymous posters will be ignored as they lack the moral courage to do what is right.

Anonymous said...

.Lasser is there any other garbage that you have to throw out from years gone by. These are old stories and I'm quite sure whomever reads this blog has known the point that you are trying to make it into a federal case.Talk about your two friends and their wrong doings,this is what is on the table at this moment and it is not going away. We are living in the present and not the past.

Anonymous said...

We should not have the Greenburgh ethics board review complaints made against Greenburgh politians and employees. The complaints should be handled by other villages so no mistakes are made. Since Sheehan has the upper hand with all the boards he and the other three members would never be convicted of wrong doing with the Dromore drama.But instead Feiner would be hung in the drop of a hat
Krauss and Samis expressed their ideas quite well what should be done with the ethics board. Their request will go unanswered,because of el capitano Sheehan..