Thursday, January 24, 2008


This letter is going to be sent to the chairs of all the Greenburgh Boards/commissions.
The Greenburgh Town Board will be considering a proposal to require members of all boards/committees to attend a certain percentage of the Board meetings of Boards they are appointed to. If a member misses more meetings than authorized by the new law – the seat would become vacant and the Town Board would appoint a replacement.

I would appreciate your discussing this proposal with members of your Board. I would also appreciate your providing me and members of the Town Board with feedback. Do you have attendance problems with Board members? What do you think would be an appropriate attendance requirement? What, if any exemptions (such as illness) should be authorized if a new law is approved?

If any member of your Board has an attendance problem – I would also appreciate it if you would ask if he/she is still interested in serving?


Anonymous said...

The Town would be better served by winnowing out some of its deadwood from advisory boards. people who do not show, or who are not participating whould be re-evaluated. All boards but the zoning, and the planning boards should have a two-year term co-terminus to the year the Supervisor runs. All terms should end on Dec.31st, and they should be re-appointed on merit.

When a President or governor is elected the old appointments are all asked to resign. Some are carried over by the choice of the executive. I call for resignations from all Board members.

In fact, every President has the right to fire every US Attorney, if they wish. Some have taken that action. Others have had hold-overs. People do not volunteer because there are no published openings. This information should be made available to the public.

No one should be permitted to serve on more than two minor boards, or one major board.

The current Housing Board should be eliminated and a new Board should be brought in. The current chairperson is an incompetant, who also serves poorly on the Central 7Board. She has intervened politically, time and time again, and her partisan activity should render her dismissal.

We need to encourage a new generation of leadership that steers a steady course, and moves away from racial divisiveness, and inflammatory rhetoric.

Citizen participation along with new blood and the rotation to retirement of people who have failed miserably in their roles is essential to success.

The Library Board, the leadership at the Young Community Ctr,the Housing Board and other departments need a probing level of scrutiny from the current Town Board. Business as usual cannot be tolerated. Uncontrolled overtime, no show jobs, phony budgets, and poor hosuing maintenance can no longer be tolerated. The failures of Barnes and Juettner in their positions of liaisons from the Town Board are obvious. Ms Juettner showed Wednesday night that she was unprepared to understand the workings of both the Library and the Library Board. We should allow the Supervisor to ask for a special master or investigator to root out corruption and incompetance. The times call for scrutiny!

Audits should be demanded, and the Supervisor should be backed by a Board that wants answers, honesty and the proper delivery of services.

Volunteer Boards are the first line of defense. They are the eyes and ears of the town government. When they fail in that role they fail the town, the people, and the taxpayers.

For that reason alone we need smart and dedicated people, without connections to special issue oriented groups, on our boards

Concerned Citizen

Anonymous said...

Paul has been supervisor for quite a few years. This is not him wanting his own people, this is him not getting along with people he chose years ago.

inquiring minds want to know said...

Doesn't state law mandate staggered seven-year terms for zoning and planning board members in order to avoid precisely the kind of politicization of these boards that Feiner is seeking?

Doesn't Feiner understand that these state laws are there to promote good government and that his efforts to politicize these boards will destroy their ability to act effectively?

Wasn't it interesting that the chairs of zoning and planning boards did not speak in favor of Feiner's proposal to add alternate members to these boards? So much for these proposals supposedly coming from them.

Instead of attacking the zoning and planning boards for not doing their jobs, wouldn't it make better sense if the town board would fill the vacancies on these boards when they occur?

If there's a problem here, isn't the problem not with the zoning and planning boards, but with the town board, and Feiner in particular, for not nominating qualified individuals to serve?

Anonymous said...

The suggestion for alternate members to the planning bd came from fran mclaughlin, chair of the planning bd, i've been told.

Anonymous said...

The point is about minor boards, not the zoning and planning boards. The issue is about not having quorums on some of these boards. The members of many of all of these boards have been seleced and approved by the vote of the whole town board. Feiner has not controlled the town board for years! Was the nomination and confirmation of Cora Cary approved by Feiner? No! Is she competant?
Also many communities have alternate-members on these major boards. They often sit and are prepared to fill-in or be the next in line!

This concept that government should be either a struggle to govern, or a stalemate, or domination from the legislature over the executive is farsical.

We do not have a two-party system. The GOP refuses to find, finance and develop candidates. Is that the fault of the Democrats? Of course no! Therefore it is a battle between factions, a family food fight. The turnout in the Greenburgh primary and other primaries around the county and the state have reflected a marked decline in voter interest and turnout. Is that the fault of any one candidate? No! The party apparatus in both MV and Greenburgh failed. The general election consisted of the primary losers, running on secondary lines and appealing to the greater electorate. What was the result? The large body of voters voted overwhelmingly for the primary winners. Berger, the party chairperson could have run, she chose not to because that run would have threatened her leadership position. She would have lost in a landslide, the way she was defeated in the primary. Both Barnes and Williams, office holders for collectively 30+ years, and supposedly well known, and never challenged ran on secondary lines and attracted fewer votes than they had in the primary, even though almost twice as many people voted in the general election. Where was their support? They had name recognition! But they were defeated overwhelmingly. Bass, who was an appointed Board Member, by the party, was unchallenged four years ago and this time around when his record was on the line, when he was challenged, he was soundly defeated. His campaign chest was greater than all of the candidates, except Feiner and Berger, combined. He financed Barnes and he was soundly defeated. Why? He was seen as an obstructionist with few ideas, and under his watch, the legislative majority spent the surpluses, increased spending, voted for WestHelp, hired Bryan Cave, met secretly over Dromore Road, and let the many departments slide. The Board placed their own acolytes on the various boards while Feiner fumed in the minority. But Feiner did not panic, he held his cool, defended himself against withering attacks, selected his team and won an historic victory.

Now Feiner has support, wants to make changes, wants better, more active Boards, wants to get the town moving and he is being criticized for doing his job. Who are his critics; Weems, Preiser, Bernstein, Washington, Brown, and many of the same old others who do not want democracy to work, but want the election results cancelled by complaints and obstructionism. They gave the new Board about 9 days before they started their new attacks.

Wise up Greenburgh. Come out to the meetings, and support the democratic process.

An Interested Citizen

hal samis said...

People who serve on Boards do so not just because they have been appointed but because they agreed to be on them -- or even asked.

There are responsibilities that come with accepting the position.

Their judgement may be good or it may be bad.

But is it too much to ask that they at least attend the meetings?

Anonymous said...

And what is the delinquent attendance record of these supposedly absent appointees, Mr. Samis? Is it too much to ask, Mr. Samis, that you ask Mr. Feiner to document that a problem actually exists before he proposes legislation solve it?

This business of appointing alternates to serve on the zoning and planning boards didn't seem to have much support from board members themselves, including the chairs of each board.

hal samis said...

I see that someone on the blog on January 25 at 10:52 posted that the idea came from the Chair of the Planning Board.

I've attended Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings and noticed the same persons absent.

But, what is the downside? If the members attend, then the alternate has nothing to do.

As a proposed town law, the draft discussed at the meeting Wednesday needs more work.

As for your conclusion that this proposal doesn't have the attention or support of existing board members, maybe the idea of having on hand a potential successor with experience doesn't make some of the backsliders comfortable.

The Zoning Board meets one each month and the Planning Board meets twice monthly. Not such a taxing commitment being asked of them to attend their board meetins is it; if they did, there would be no problem.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Samis, I regularly attend planning and zoning board meetings. You, sir, do not. I therefore can't imagine how you can come off saying the same people seem to be absent.

Why don't you identify the culprits for us, Mr. Samis?

You don't seem to have any problem spewing hateful comments about volunteers on the library board. Why don't you identify who you think is chronically absent from the zoning and planning boards?

Maybe the reason you're not saying is that you don't know what you're talking about, and you're afraid the rest of us will find out.

Anonymous said...

Dear 10:15 one does not have to attend the meetings physically.
Have you not heard of the reruns of all town board meetings on cable tv.
If the answer is no I suggest you spend some money and get yourself a cable contract instead of critisizing the citizens that have been in the know of all the happenings in our town.
You have a few weeks left to get a free tv from Verizon.
As far as the library board they are all seeking to bleed the tax payers.
The building that they made the town board swallow [Feiner excluded]was not needed to serve this town.
The monies that were allocated for this white elephant are not enough to finish the shell and furnish the inside.
They knew exactly what they were doing but they did not give a dam about the public.
So if the library board is put down constantly there's a good reason
They have only to blame themselves and no one else.//////////.

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous 10:15,

If you read what I wrote, I said that I attend Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings. I did not say that I regularly attend these meetings. I also sometimes watch them on cable when I can't get to Town Hall. I don't know who you are so I don't know whether you are ALSO a "regular" at Zoning board meetings. Hugh know that I can't even say for certain whether or not your anonymous posting originates from a pissed-off member of the Planning Board. And whereas I didn't state it, do you know how long a period of time I am referring to and who was on, or still is, or is newer to these boards during my observation period.

The reason that I regularly cite the members of the Library Board by name is that I don't like or agree with their policies having to do with running of many things relating to the construction project and some things relating to their operation of the Library, NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR ATTENDANCE. Since the mission of the Library Trustees is defined, I feel on solid ground to publicize their (individually and collectively) deviation from this mission. Their attendance is not the issue because when a member(s) on this Board does have other pressing matters to attend to, he/she/they have resigned when it became apparent that they could not do both. Not so true on other boards.

In the case of the Ethics Board whose decisions I have disagreed with, I have observed that one member who told the Town Council at his interview (which I attended) that he would be unable to attend meetings because of his personal life -- but was selected anyway because of the then "urgent" need to complete the board's roster, this member has fully complied with his warning. As far as I know, there have not been recent meetings of the Ethics Board and, if so, they are scheduled during my work day.

I don't attend CAC meetings but I likely disagree with their work product -- as do most residents and Town Board when their proposals make an occasional appearance in draft form at the Town Board meeting.

I believe that completes the list of boards that I comment upon.

The distinction that exists between the planning and zoning boards AND the Library, the CAC and the Ethics Board IS one of results. If I disagree with or am unhappy with the results, then I go looking for the perps. Either because I have no problem with the decisions of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board or I don't have enough information to dispute their rulings, I do not discuss or single out or otherwise identify the individual participants creating my concerns.

Other than the Planning Chair and her support of the Comprehensive Plan.

And oddly, there are individuals who serve on multiple boards, taking their skewed thinking from portfolio to portfolio so that when their business as usual view emerges at another venue, it is likely to incur the same reaction. And this includes some husband/wife teams.

But volunteers as a class are not beyond the law, not beyond criticism and do not get the coveted "get out of jail free" card.

When you write about me "spewing out hateful comments" presumably your opportunity came from ??? but certainly not anything that I wrote on this topic in the two postings that precede your own.

You need to remember that in this forum it is easy enough for readers to scroll up to recognize bogus allegations and that this ability to do so generally explains why these allegations are made by poseurs under the anonymous brand.

Anonymous said...

Samis has an awful lot to say in that last blog entry,but he doesn't answer the one simple question that the blogger at 10:15 asked of him: who are the same people he claims are absent?

The 10:15 blogger suggested that the reason Samis didn't provide that info in the first place is that he really didn't know what he was talking about and was afraid the rest of us would find out.

Now we have.Samis's lengthy non-response proves that the 10:15 blogger was right on target.

Anonymous said...

You can read Samis posts going back to the begining, he never answers the question. This is especially true if the blogger is critical of his ideas.

Anonymous said...

Most people think Samis answers questions!

Anonymous said...

I hate to say that the 10:15 blogger is full of hot air.
Samis asks and answers question more than you do.
When you are at any meetings you sit back and observe.
You never get up to give an opinion
or an idea as to what could be done to help the residents.
Introduce yourself at the next board meeting,which ever comes first the zoning,planning.library or town .

Anonymous said...

If there are members of the zoning and planning boards who are regularly absent, they should be removed and replaced.

Samis said that the same people are in fact regularly absent from these boards. The blogger at 10:15 asked who in particular Samis was referring to and it seems no one knows, not Samis or his friends.

If Samis of all people won't name names when he's called on to do so, that makes me think he shot off his mouth without doing his homework, that this whole issue is a phony, and that if there are any absences, it's because the town board hasn't filled the vacancies.

If Samis was full of hot air here, and it sure looks like he was, maybe he's full of hot air on many of the other things he talks about.

hal samis said...

Here's the game, get away from the topic and turn it into an attack on me. Fine. When this happens I always conclude that I am stepping on someone's toes and that the underlying issue must therefore be valid.

Someone must be feeling some heat or guilt to be orchestrating this deflection away from the topic.

And I doubt that it is, for example, LD or KB who serve on boards but could care even less what I think of their attendance. And there is really no point to list those members no longer serving on boards because such a rule, if passed, would have no application to them.

What really is the downside to maintaining attendance of some (as yet undefined) standard? If it wasn't already the practice but was similarly being proposed: that members of boards should be Greenburgh residents -- and I supported this -- then there would be bloggers demanding to know if I had checked everyone's address.

Even if everyone's attendance was 100% perfect, what would be so bad about having such a requirement?

But as for doing homework, that would be a lot of work for me to review the minutes of town boards just to play blog trivial pursuit.

There seems to be a lot of attention being directed away from the Library onto matters that are no-brainers to implement and really should not be pose a problem to anyone. If current members serving on boards are proud of their attendance and secure that they have good records, what is the problem? Only the anonymous are threatened.

Go ahead, be clever and have a field day in lieu of a nice one. And maybe you would want to check first with some of the board members as to how they would feel about being exposed just to serve the demands of those who seek to remain anonymous themselves.

Talk is cheap and reputations have no value when you think that you are invisible. The H.G. Wells character was indeed invisible and.....insane.

Anonymous said...

So when Samis said he attended Zoning and Planning Board meetings and noticed the same members being absent, he really didn't know what he talking about after all.

What a surprise.

Wouldn't it be better, Mr. Samis, if everyone focused his and her attention on the real problem at hand, which is what to do about that 19% tax increase.

It's pretty simple really. The more spending that's cut this year, the more we'll have in reserve next year to offset next year's double digit increase.

Wouldn't it therefore make more sense for Mr. Feiner to be spending his time trying to find ways to cut expenses and less time trying to blame supposedly absent zoning and planning board members?

hal samis said...

How did you arrive at that conclusion? Not from reading what I said. If you want to post for yourself AND me, then you don't need me. But being invisible, is there a face or a farce staring back from the mirror?

Anonymous said...

I guess when Samis said he attended zoning and planning board members and noticed the same people absent, he was making it up. Kudos then to the 10:15 blogger who caught him.

Anonymous said...

Paul, you are the CEO and CFO of the Town. You should be focusing on cutting expenses.

Anonymous said...

I am constantly amazed that some of our citizen-bloggers speak to cutting the budget with such a cavalier attitude.

I am sure that if one spent some time at, let us say the Park and Recreaction Advisory Board meetings, of which I was an active member of that Board for a few years, one would have an opportunity to review their budget, line by line.

One would quickly see and know that the demands of upkeep, repair, and the cost of this maintenance is always rising. In fact, the needs of that department are quite regularly delayed because of budgetary restraints.
Therefore improvements to fields, tennis courts, and other heavily used facilities are often put on the back-burner more often than one would casually believe. But eventually the work must be done, and delay quite often raises the cost of repair.

But, surprise, surprise, there are citizen-taxpayers that use these facilities constantly and demand improvements. It wasn't long ago that I did a report on a park with a story board and pictures, and because of citizen input (complaints), the Recreation Department jumped through a hoop to make the so-called needed enhancements. From my perspective the needs were not critical and they could have waited.

So, in fact, government, for better or worse, responds to perceived need.

As most literate people know, most of the Town's expenses are labor and much of the cost of that labor is determined by negotiations or state law. There are also mandates from the state that demand automatic and unavoidable costs to the Town, regarding accessibility and the like.

So, the bottom line for our anonymous bloggers and the erudite Hal Sammis, is a cut in services, plain and simple. (At least Mr. Samis puts his name on his remarks!)

Less police protection, less garbage pick-ups, less programs at Veteran's Park for seniors, and at the Young Center for mostly juniors, less inspections, slower response time, and it goes on and on. This why the Supervisor and the Town Board are elected. They are elected to make these choices and the voluntary Boards are there to help them sift through the detail and to make thoughtful recommendations.

I suggest that the cost-cutters review the budget line for line, come to the work sessions and the Town Board and lobby for their specific changes.

I am sure that the Town Board would listen attentively and judge the merits of each suggestion.

But, all in all, the same problems of Greenburgh exist in every city and hamlet in Westchester. The only solution on the immediate horizon is to do with less. Let the first one who wishes to do with less come forward.

Aside from all of that, we must seek and encourage more commercial development in the areas zoned for that type of usuage.

By the way, at our last Town Board meeting, one citizen suggested that we should be getting a piece of the White Plains growth "pie." But taxes have not gone down in White Plains, they have increased along with congestion, high parking fees, noise, pollution and other unpleasant changes. In fact, White Plains has been accused of giving away the proverbial farm in concessions to get the big developers to construct their buildings. I also do not believe that Greenburgh lends itself to high rise, million dollar co-ops or hotels.

Therefore, I, like all of you, are concerned with the rising cost of living, and the part local government plays in that reality. Again, go through the budget, go down to Town Hall and make your suggestions. Eventually the process will end and many of the expenses will remain. Government will continue and cannot disappear. If the ratables continue to decline, tough decisions will have to be made. If they are not, there is always the ballot box in 2009.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...


Taxes have gone up in White Plains, but they have gone up at less than inflation. And quality of life has gone up in my book (And I am not minimizing the recent tragedy, but I do not think it is indicative of life in White Plains). A vibrant downtown, etc.

Anonymous said...

Taxes have risen above the rate of inflation since its latest building surge. White Plains is a city with a legitimate downtown that has gone through incredible change, which started with Urban Renewel under Mayor Hendey and my good friend Michael Keating.

No resident of White Plains who left in 1965 and came back today would recognise the downtown, except that Main Street meets Mamaroneck Avenue. I am not criticizing White Plains. I lived there for 33 years and genuinely like the city.

My point was that one cannot compare the two entities. Since White Plains is the County Seat and therefore the location of the court system, it is unique from any other locale. It has also been the leader in shopping since B.Altmans became the NYC department store to come to the suburbs in the 1930's.

Greenburgh's population continues to grow, and to serve that population's needs, it must have commerce which can make a profit
and therefore create revenues to pay for the services, plain and simple.

Let us not be diverted by looking for comparisons that I, or anyone else made. The critical element regarding the town's government is to maintain a high quality of services and a revenue stream that is not onerous to the average homeowner or resident.

I believe that Greenburgh needs a strong resolve to attract new sources of commercial revenue.

If Greenburgh cannot accomplish that end, two things could happen; either a cut in services, or higher taxes.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

Garfunkel you are right.
What we need is more commercial development.
The civic associations have fought against development too long giving us no way to turn but higher tax rates.
Between no development and more green space we have cut our nose to spite our face.
Now we need to do the right thing not only to help lower taxes but to create some new housing for seniors.