Thursday, December 27, 2007





Anonymous said...


Right, so let them so as they see fit. It's not a town government matter.

Anonymous said...

The Town Board should replace library board appointees if they continue blackmailing the Board.

Anonymous said...

The Towm Board should reduce the library budget by twice the amount attributable to the Cypermobile and the Sunday hours.

No Library Board blackmailing allowed.

hal samis said...

To 9:27,

Written like a TRUE Democrat, no one should criticize the Bush administration's stand on Iraq, especially as it is not a local matter. Let Bush & Co. do as he sees fit.

And that is bridge (no need to spend $$ studying this bridge) enough to discuss Howard Jacobs and Susan Wolfert, Library Trustees who have gotten the Library and its patrons into this mess.

First let's start from the point in time when they screwed up and left the Library with no place to move so construction could commence. And for good measure, throw in Diana Juettner who forgot that she was the Town Board liaison to the Library. So not having a place to move, the Library construction was delayed and were it not for the good graces of their worst enemy, Paul Feiner and the gift of Town space, they might still be looking for a place to squat. Note too that the Library never had referendum money to pay for rental space because rent is not a capital expense and cannot be bonded. So, yes the Library Board grabbed the brass ring and moved into Town Hall and a tiny space in the multipurpose center. Under 5000 square feet in both locations to substitute for the 22,000 foot building they gave up because it was too small while they "needed" 46,000 feet.

But not to worry, during the Library's wandering in the desert, the Library Board assured their friends that the slack would be taken up by expanded hours and the Library would bring service to neighborhoods on a regular route basis thanks to their cybermobile. Rememeber when they bragged about how many new Library cards were generated from cybermobile stops. And no thanks said Howard Jacobs to Supervisor Feiner, we don't need a temporary storefront in Hartsdale for the two years or so because...we have the cybermobile.

And a mixed blessing it proved to be for the cybermobile was itself an ungainly vehicle and it consumed vast amounts of electric power which was provided by an onboard generator. However to use this generator, the cybermobile had to remain idling and consume vast quantities of gasoline. Hartsdale (serving many powerful, nearby friends of the Library) got the lion's share of service runs (three weekly) with the Saturday stop alone lasting over six hours. However, despite the "pleas" of the Library, the Hartsdale Parking District (Ruth Jacobs, wife of Howard) was unable to find a docking location where the cybermobile could connect to a land-based source of electricity; the Parking District preferred to donate the equivalent of three desirable parking spaces at no cost so that the cybermobile would remain at its prime location (to the dismay of the merchants) but there having to remain dependant upon the generator. However, this became problematical because the generator needed to be loved and respected and kept warm overnight and the good folks at the Library were not able to provide this extra care and thus the cybermobile was out of service for extended repairs well over a month every year. And while knowing this irksome problem, the Library Trustees did plan the new Library of the future with only a canopy to protect the cybermobile from the elements. Alas, trying to solve their problem the Library Trustees did also spend $10,000 of taxpayer money to purchase a back-up generator so that the repair log would show a quicker turn around time unless you were to count the actual days out of service
And still the most recent episode (following the previous three weeks around Labor Day 2007) witnessed the cybermobile being out of operation for another extended period. But lo and behold, no sooner than the Library paid for and got the cybermobile back in service Wednesday then they announced on Thursday that it would be put on permanent hiatus. And to think that I was objecting to the staffing of the vehicle only now to witness the end of the cybermobile. Why, you rightfully ask? Why the Library got its budget cut for 2008 and thus they needed to husband their few shekels as they see fit. In fact, reeling from the loss of $200,000, the Library Board threw a real hissy fit and said, "we must remove Sunday service as well; we'll be a six day operation. As for those patrons who depend on these two areas: let them suck wind because we (the Trustees) need to show who's the boss and let that Feiner fellow and his motley crew take the heat." Of course, what remains is when did they throw this hissy fit? I attended the Thursday monthly meeting of the Library Board and scarely a word was spoken about the budget in the rush to leave the building. However they did have time to hold an Executive Session, subject: personnel. But summoned to attend this secret meeting was unincorporated resident and Library supporter, Thelma Washington, who was not a Library employee (at the time) and it became more complicated to think that the Library, having no money six days later, would be considering a new hire. However, if they did not discuss their budget during the Executive Session, which I'm sure they would never do because a budget is not within the privilege of Executive Session, then when did they vote? On Christmas day?

But what is this all about? Let's play Sy Syms and say that an educated reader is our best reader and go back to the October 1 initial budget request from the Library to the Town Supervisor. Note that October 1 was the cited date and assuming that the other departments were similarly in compliance, even a true Republican would recognize that the tax increase was not obvious before the September Primary. Ignoring a few missing items such as the salary of the Library Director, the Assistant Library Director, their Tech person and using the 2007 figures for the line items that the Library Board says are under the Town's control (i.e. that famous repairs and maintenance item, this year $15,000higher) and we see a request for $3.8 million (over $4 million when the missing items and year old numbers are factored in) and we understand see that the Library Board would easily have been able to meet on Christmas Day because they have what is known in the religion business as chutzpah. $4 million compares with the actual $3.5 million spent in 2006, the last full year that the Library suffered in the tiny 22,000 foot building. And, the 2008 Budget book shows from a nine months into 2007 basis, the full year would end at $3,070,000, the entire year spent in town hall captivity. Of course, you suppose, that they let the part-time staff go to save taxpayers the expense and would just depend on retaining the full time well-trained staff because, after all, 5,000 feet is not 22,000feet. So, the payroll for 2006 was $1,845,000 and 2007 was budgeted at $1,752,000 which became $1,727,000 in 2007. Of course, not having a Library Director salary was a large part of the difference. But tolerable, allowing for reducing staff body count and CSEA increases. However, what the budget book actually shows is that part time clerks (line 190.0) in 2006 was $170,000, in 2007 was budgeted at $115,000 which became $126,000 in 2007 and is estimated for 2008 at $183,000.

But what needs to be recognized is that 2008 has all the same fingerprints of 2007 in that the earliest the completed Library will open is some time in October 2008 and more likely even later. Thus, as for staffing excess and other areas AND in recognition that 2008 is going to be a tough year for Unincorporated taxpayers (beginning with a 23% increase at budget time, down to 19% at the finish) that perhaps the Library could do its part to ease the burden on taxpayers; it is these taxpayers that the Library fondly calls its patrons.
Perhaps even a "soft opening" is in order. But nooOOOH say the Library Trustees. We want the world and we want it now. So, in their first request to the Supervisor they asked for the equivalent of $4 million (the moon), hoping to settle for the sky. And when the tentative budget was printed, the Library number was already down to $3,640,000 and then yours truly went into action and advised the Supervisor thusly:
hey Paul, the Library won't open until October, why do they need to spend $165,000 more on books, cds and dvds than they did in 2007? What's going to change? Where are they going to put these materials; most of their collection is collecting dust in storage (paying dearly) and the Westchester Library System still exists for reserving items. Let them go on a buying splurge (we'll deal with that in 2008) in 2009 when they are settled in their new building. Furthermore, why do they need a $75,000 contingency fund and...and...etc. And the Supervisor listened and, lo and behold, even the Town Council listened. But probably what was most listened to was the frightening realization that while toiling in the confines of the town hall space with the employees tripping over each other, why would anyone (Library Trustees vote on promotions and raises) of any management expertise feel the need to promote staff members during this interval? Taxpayers were generous and willing to retain the staff when they weren't all needed but surely this was the time to freeze job titles. Employees would still earn their CSEA generated increases but bumping them up a grade at this time was poor insane and, let's face it, Library employment is not one of the universe's most stressful industries. And remember, that each promotion and its higher pay grade cost taxpayers more in attendant benefits too. So for two years, the Library Board had an excellent and understandable reason to hold the line on rising costs -- IF they chose. But noooOOOH. Because they're the Library. And even facing the confines of pay grades, the Library can be extremely generous. One recent hire went from engagement in mid 2005 at $48,000 to $58,000 coming 2008 at a time when similar positions in Town Hall earned 3% annual increases which in a three period, by way of comparison, $48,000 becomes $52,450, not $58,000. While likewise some Greenburgh taxpayers faced with paying the 23% tax increase are lucky to earn $15 per hour full time with smaller or no benefits and earn just $31,200 a year for their 40 hour week.

So now it is retaliation time for the Library Board of Trustees. Time to pay the Supervisor and the Town Board back for doing the intolerable. How to make them pay for the insult? Why let's hit them with the anguish and squeals of the residents who would otherwise not be able to experience even the diminished Library if it were not for the visits by the cybermobile or being open on Sunday. Let's screw the patrons so that they will mob Town Hall.

OK, that's a plan. But before you Trustees get too comfortable with that, answer one question: have you saved (made back) the $200,000 by eliminating the cybermobile and Sunday hours? How? Do you propose to fire staff? Are you going to sell the cybermobile?

I don't think so.

What we have is just a poorly executed attempt to make the Public think that the Library's travail lies behind another front door -- just not at their own door. But, this scheme is the work of churlish bullies who see the issue as one of personalities and payback. It is typical of the pettiness and inbred homilies that the Library Board exchange with each other in what passes as their monthly meeting.

It is par for the course and a clue as to what went wrong in the Library's negotiations with Elmsford which sent Elmsford fleeing to Ardsley. And the Library's rage against Elmsford and the WLS is still unabated. Yet the Trustees are not big enough to bury the hatchet, accept the loss, and try to work a compromise with the concerned parties because the Ardsley contract was only for four years and, at the time, the Greenburgh Library was facing a two year downsizing so what was the incentive for Elmsford to pay the most to receive the least. But there is an approaching reality. The Library Trustees have voiced their willingness, indeed enthusiasm, to become an independent library district, one free of town politics. Thus, by the time this happens, the Elmsford/Ardsley contract will be ending, Greenburgh will have a spanking new Library of the future and the independent Library will NEED to generate income, not drive it away.
Getting money from Elmsford should be high on their priorities but, again, noooOOOH!

Because they have their pride.

And while I'm on the subject of needing money, the allied non-profit, The Greenburgh Public Library Foundation, is hard at work trying to raise money to fill the expansion budget shortfall and obtain money for things like chairs and bookshelves and desks (furniture) and technology -- things which were included, like others gone AWOL, in the original $19.8 referendum but are now unfunded. Unfunded even though the Library is on track both in completion date and on budget -- or so THEY say. But, then, still there is that pesky matter of raising money for these items that they don't need. But, you reading this blog, you were about to make a $5,000 donation or more (remember Howard's neighbor Timmy Weinberg gets 5% of all that she raises) but maybe reading that there is no more cybermobile service or Sunday hours will make you rethink your generosity. In fact, there may be many prospective donors who will view their gifts as compromised under the circumstances. My point?
Is a Library Board taken to punishing the residents/taxpayers/library patrons the best approach to deal with righting the Library Board's past sins? Is this the best time and the best battlefield to continue the war against the Supervisor and the Westchester Library System?

I think not.

In fact, so tired am I with the Library Board's pomposity and self-effacing actions that I seek the resignation of the entire Board of Trustees -- including the newest member (another Howard Jacobs neighbor) whose affirmation was so urgently required of the then existing Town Council.

Because the Library Board is hurting the Library in countless variations of "you only hurt the one you love".

Indeed, I know so.

Because neurotic behavior is defined as unhealthy behavior from making the same mistake again and again -- all the time not allowing for other possible behaviors (choices).
Letting the Library Board do as they see fit only expands the circle of those who will suffer the outcome of their folly.

Nothing has followed the way the Library Board represented for the past four years. They haven't gotten any wiser, just deeper in debt. They just keep loading the 16 tons of number nine bull.

Anonymous said...

When does Susan Wolfert's term end?

hal samis said...

To those who will disagree:

I'm willing to read and respond to all comments except the Library Board of Trustees are VOLUNTEERS and are thus exempt from criticism -- and if I argue they are incompetent in PERFORMING their job, you, in turn, are free to run to your labelmaker and spit out: "personal attack".

Anonymous said...

The library board should be elected. Then, if they are being vindictive the public can replace them.

Anonymous said...

I am curious.
Assume the library defers the spending for new material for its collection and continues to operate the cybermobile and open the Town Hall branch on Sundays. (I agree that while the library's new home is under construction there is no need to acquire new materials which will not circulate from the satellite locations.)
The money budgetted for new acquisitions will not be spent until October, but where will the money come from if it is not included in the annual budget? There will not be an amendment to the budget when the library opens in the new building. Budgetting is an annual process, not weekly or monthly or quarterly - and leaving money out of the budget means not being able to spend it during that fiscal year.
Given that no one involved in the budgetting process either at the Library Board or worse at Town Hall has any meaningful concept of extended fiscal planning I am very concerned.

Anonymous said...

i'ts a library people, a place that houses books. We didn't need a new one and we surely don't need a library board. We should have two librarians that are paid and the rest volunteer. Put that in the budget and we will save a lot of money, and the books will still be there.


Save a tree read online!!!

Anonymous said...

Why not get rid of all the high paid people in the library system.
They have been filling their pockets a long time and we have permitted the to do so.
We pay so much money for different problems that arise in town but no one wants to touch the library and all the other departments.
Get someone knowledgeable to check out the other depts Samis has done a thorough job with his investigation.

hal samis said...

Dear curious at 8:41,

There were two "daring" foreign movies in the 1960s. Yours would be the one titled "I am Curious Yellow" and mine would be the one "I am Curious Blue".

Just because the Library might open in October 2008 or soon thereafter does not mean that the shelves will be bare. Do you honestly think that the Library would not survive the opening and the months of October, November and December without having the ADDITIONAL SPENDING OF $165,000 over the 2007 budget?

If the Town has survived reduced 2007 acquisition levels, it can live through, at most, an additional three months of this "hardship" in 2008 should an October opening even occur.

And what you see on the Library shelves today is but a fraction of the Library's collections because the bulk of it remains in storage.

Furthermore, new acqusitions are keyed to new releases more than replacements. The items you want to read, hear or view lose their "lustre" over time as the hype chain diminishes. Thus, today's best seller list of trash reading no longer becomes "must have" items in hardcover editions nine months after they drop off the list. These titles are replaced by the newer best seller titles.

How this affects the Library acquisition program is twofold. They can benefit from softcover pricing reductions or even publisher overstock pricing for items which are no longer sought after AND, even more important, the Library need no longer buy the usual number of copies that it might acquire in making pre-pub orders.

Meanwhile what do patrons do about fulfilling their needs in the lean years of 2007 and 2008? Some may purchase copies from booksellers at their personal expense. Some may wait to purchase the title when the mass market paperback version beccomes available. Some may buy the title and share it with their friends. Some may even have lost interest and accepted it as one of life's indignities. However, some may have placed a reserve request through the Library (even done online) for the title and had to wait a little longer than usual for the next available copy obtainable through the vast resources of the 38 member libraries of the WLS or even gone directly to these libraries and found an express copy available (no holds are taken on express copies). So the situation is not as bleak as would be imagined. AND, the Greenburgh Library still has had budgeted (as it will have in 2008) money available to purchase new releases -- just not as many copies as they would like.

Finally, with no cybermobile in 2008 and given at least the same spending levels of 2007 (all I argued was not to allow the ADDITIONAL $165,000 of purchasing power in 2008) the Library will not be using their budgeted money to purchase an extra copy for exclusive cybermobile use and thus will have extra money available. 2007 purchasing included copies designated for the cybermobile.

So extended budget planning is not the issue here. This is merely an issue of warring personalities and a Library Board which wants to sock it to the Public's pocketbook in advance of the presumed spin-off into an independent Library District. I doubt the Library Board's sincerity in this endeavor because doing so would cause their stand-alone budget to undergo scrutiny by a resentful Public and their wasteful spending would come under fire. As a Town department, they are just a few pages among the many comprising the Town budget and thus are overlooked while dismissing what questions arise because they are, THE LIBRARY. Thus, as noted, whatever dollars the Library receives in total can be re-allocated (like other Town Departments) and spent at will -- even on things that would more properly have been part of the construction allocation. The theory that the Library Board is operating under is to "get it while the getting's good".

But, don't overlook the larger picture either. The 2008 Town Budget (unincorporated B where the Library lives) took a toll on all taxpayers and it was, of necessity, the respnsibility of the Town Board to take action where they could -- without offending any special interest groups -- and the Library Board's greed was just too obvious to continue to ignore.

It finally caught up to them.

Anonymous said...

If the residents that voted for this overspending library board the residents deserve what tax hikes they get.
To us who voted No for a new library have to suffer with the tax burden in play at this time.
Something should be done to rid the library board of parasites who know very well how to fill their pockets.
Town board this has got to stop.
Why is it that Juettner did not report all what was taking place to residents.
She was and is the laison for this library system.
Someone had a good idea to put the court into that large building,maybe this waqy the town residents could servive the following taz hike
We have got to use what we have. That building is too large for just a library and they know it.
The court will be very happy in moving where there will be more space to work in and above all adequate parking .
Paul and the new town board should look into ways of consolidating building users ans well as services.

ed krauss said...

The Library Board, acting out of spite, and spite alone, like any other bully, are hurting the most vulnerable and in need- our seniors, those who can't drive, children who use the library for research.

The cessation of the cybermobile and the closing on Sundays is not in lieu of anything.

Many of us fought hard to help the referendum pass. I for one has had his eyes opened by that which has taken place since then.

The mishandling of a $20 million project such that fundraising is taking place NOT for "dessert" items but for basics is a function of a total lack of money management.

The cavalier way raises are given out and/or promotions far in excess of raises given to other town employees, as if the dollar allocated to the library are Monopoly $$$.

The unthinking requests for that which is unnecessary; 12 months worth of new materials when the library will, at best, be open for 9 months.

And now, the coup de grace (French for CHUTZPAH)of unilaterally deciding to "ground" the cybermobile, and eliminate Sunday library days without benefit of public input, or a vote open to the public is a sign of unwarranted arrogance, pettiness and mostof all unfitness to handle a $3.5+ mllion budget.

All of the members should resign or be asked to resign. And, since Dianna Juettner is the liason to the library Board ad was obviously a party to this moral crime, if not a real crime, she too should follow her Board.

This is another example of "loose" management(if management at all) in the Town of Greenburgh. However, unlike much of the 95% of the "iceburg" invisible, this one is not only visible, but so "IN YOUR FACE," that it should be dealt with openly, quickly and decisively.

No question this town needs a library, but not one run by such incompetense and obfusation.

Whatever it takes we need a Library District, and we need it fast-tracked.

Anonymous said...

Ed krauss and Samis have opened your eyes[the town board] as to all the wrong doing that go on with the library and you are still funding them some money in the budget.
Why is it that the board refuses to take good ideas into action?
Both men have spelled it out so good that any responsible person can understand.
What's wrong with you.?
How much s--t will you Sheehan and Juettner keep throwing into our faces concerning the library.
Two intellegent persons have laid out all the paper work for you.
Is there a possiblity that both of you cannot read.?
The library deserves no monies that they asked for in the budget.
We will see how good both of you will stand up to them and say NO>
The supervisor was against this plan right along.

Anonymous said...

Ed is right. The Library Board is being vindictive. The Town Board should ask for their resignations. They are hurting our seniors. SHAME ON THEM!

Anonymous said...

Let's see how vindictive the town board will be when it comes to the money that the library is asking for,
The only problem is Sheehan and Juettner will give them the sky if they could because the supervisor was against the library expansion.
If the board members have followed the boss Paul we would not be in this boat but they wanted to give Feiner the business so the expansion was voted in.
The fault rests on the shoulders of two of the present board members.
We will be looking at more of the same resentment for Feiner from Sheehan and Juettner but this time they will be challenged by two new board members who are for the residents and not against us.
Make sure the library receives nada.
In other words nothing.
To Krauss and Samis we have to say thanks,for your investigative reporting.
How about running when election time comes arround to replace Sir Sheehan and Madame Juettner?


Anonymous said...

I dont know, it seems to me that now that Elmsford is no longer part of the Greenburgh Library system that the time that the bookmobile spent at Elmsford schools can and has been elimianted. Ed, dont you think an adjustment of cyber book hours is in order.

Anonymous said...

To the library board;
Have you realized that you have cut your nose to spite your face.
Since we are dealing with the board with childlike mentality
the supervisor should see to it that no monies are granted since their spending has been going out of sight .
Their ideas to screw the residents have come to a close.
Now we would like to see some investigation as to what this board needs this money since the library will not be opened until maybe the end of next year.
Does the library personnel get paid even if they do not work?
How much did they receive for cyberbook mobile clerks and how much for the Town hall clerks
How many worked a full shift?
Will all these clerks still be on the payroll as usual since there days of operation has been done away with and hours of operation reduced?
I think in a way having this large tax hike has opened all of our eyes to the bad managerial practices throughout this town in almost all departments.
It seems that the only department that is running honestley and efficiently is the building department.The residents have spoken but are you listening town board.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the citiznes of Greenburgh end up having to pay every time you try to think?

Anonymous said...

The building department is so corrupt the Building Inspetor lists Ben Franklin as a regular member of his staff.

Anonymous said...

8:07 what proof do you have. Come foward with this information.
Boy do you know how to hurt a perfect department with lies.
Put up or shut up.
You must be someone that was turned down for a building permit since you were the one that wanted to do some construction against the rules and regulations of the town.
Maybe you were given a few citations for doing a botched up job that did not meet the building standards.
If you think that you are getting even on this blog think again.
I do not think that you could stand up to any of the employees in this department.
Too bad that you were turned down for some illegal reason.But that's the way the ball bounces.
Work with the laws and you will get further go against the laws and you will be in the same boat again.
Sorry that you didn't get your way.then again I say put up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of the bookmobile was a childish thing for the director of the library to do.
Instead of looking at ways to save money he took away the one thing that senior citizens use daily.
Well how much money does he make maybe it will be just as easy to get rid of him as the bookmobile.
His position is not written on stone. Paul start making good moves to give us a better cut in taxes if not for this year but for the next one.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The town board should be deciding on the issues regarding the library, not a library board.

Paul get this town organized!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We need new people whom are out to help the people not ruin lives.
No one ever has taken time out to check on what was going on.
Now that we have such a hike in taxes the light went on maybe there's something wrong here.
Before this problem gets worse start making changes from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

I think closing the cyberbookmobile for High Point residences is a great inconvenience, especially since there are so many seniors here. Why not at least continue this service until the new library opens.

ed krauss said...

Re my 12/28/07 3:39 posting. It should read, "the library will be open, at best, 3 months..." Not 9 months.

But I'm sure all of you knew what I meant.