Thursday, January 17, 2008

CITIZENS BUDGET COMMITTEE BEGINS INTERVIEWS OF COMPTROLLER CANDIDATES

The newly formed Citizens Budget Committee started to interview candidates for the position of Comptroller tonight. They will pre-screen applicants and recommend finalists. The Town Board will review the recommendations of the committee and make the final decision.

THE TOWN BOARD IS GOING TO REVIEW ALL OVERTIME EXPENDITURES WITH DEPT HEADS--STARTING IN EARLY FEBRUARY. WE WILL BE RECEIVING A LISTING OF OVERTIME BY EMPLOYEE EVERY TWO WEEKS. JUST ONE OF MANY INITIATIVES BEING TAKEN TO CONTROL COSTS.

28 comments:

hal samis said...

It is my understanding that this Committee does not know the salary cap that the Town expects to pay --nor even what the candidates have asked for.

It would seem to be a waste of time interviewing those who are asking more than the Town can pay so I would assume that when the "help wanted" notices went out that some salary was indicated.

Given that the Town is forced to tighten up its purse string, getting to the heart of the matter quickly would be the expedient path. Thus, the "ideal" candidate who costs more than you can afford is no bargain. Hiring a Comptroller for more than you can afford makes no business sense -- given that he or she comes with no guarantee to save dollars or to remain in office.

The last two Comptrollers came to Greenburgh because the money offered was attractive. There are Town employees who do their jobs and live as far away as Long Island or Putnam County. Perhaps the perk is that they can get ringside season tickets to Town Board meetings. Or not.

However, the most illogical marketing ploy which consumers can't get enough of is: "spending to save". 'If you can't afford it don't buy it' is the only economic model that always works.

Paying someone a lot of money so they won't leave doesn't.

And paying a new Comptroller heaps of money is sending a signal to other Department heads. Although I wouldn't object to some of them leaving for greener climes, I don't think it wise for Greenburgh to play this pay spiral trap until the Town can increase its revenues.
It takes no special talent to pay more and more.

But if rising taxes are not the problem, then I withdraw my comments.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

What the Town could do is create a "management" incentive program along the lines used by the federal government and award some additional compensation for any real savings achieved as a result of one's efforts. That translates into a win / win. Otherwise, what the taxpayers might get is just someone going through the motions for a paycheck. This program ought to be made available to all Department Heads and to a lesser extent all employees as many other organizations do, i.e. if your cost saving suggestion is implemented, then you get an award.

Ah, progressive management thinking from the 20th, not 21st century.

hal samis said...

Dear Great Mind,

We're on the same page having brought this up at last night's meeting of the Greenburgh Democratic Party when the Comptroller interview process was being discussed.

Anonymous said...

Who are the members of this so-called "Citizens Budget Committee?"

Did Greenburgh advertise for comptroller position? If so, where and when?

Is the work of the "Citizens Budget Committee" subject to the state's Open Meetings Law? How about the Freedom of Information Law?

Generally speaking, advisory committees appointed by a town supervisor, but whose appointment is not subject to approval by a town board, are not subject to either the Open Meetings Law or the Freedom of Information Law.

That means that Feiner's so-called "Citizens Budget Committee" can legally meet in secret and communications between and among their members can remain cloaked in secrecy.

This doesn't sound like open government. It sounds like the opposite of open government.

Greenburgh has had three different comptrollers in the past four years. No matter how well-meaning the volunteers who agreed to serve on this Citizens Budget Committee may be, their proceeding in secret to select, interview and deliberate before making recommendations to the town board doesn't sound a process that's likely to succeed or win the confidence of the community the new comptroller is supposed to serve.

What a shame. Greenburgh's got so many problems with its budget, one would think the last thing the town needs right now is an easily avoidable controversy over who and how the town comptroller would be selected.

Anonymous said...

Why do people think that the only way to accomplish anything is to do it in Times Square on New Years Eve with the cameras rolling?

Interviews with possible employees should be private, and the open meetings law even exempts such acts from the rules about open meetings.

If the members of this committee are experienced business people who have the ability to study job requirements, speak to applicants and understand their resumes and their answers, they can do a service to the town by screening them and making recommendations. Lord knows, the Town Council isn't particularly able to do the job. If they could do it, would they have hired the last three Comptrollers? I don't think so.

So quite complaining about everything and judge by results.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that whomever you choose for this position is 100% better and knowledgeable than the last three.
That's when all the trouble started in Greenburgh by hiring comptrollers who did nothing to help the residents.
Were they working for the town or for themselves???????

Anonymous said...

Comptrollers are not supposed to help the residents. They are supposed to maintain financial records and do financial planning and analysis so that the town can function fiscally.

That's the trouble with so many people. They think that everybody is supposed to "help" them. No, the staff is supposed to govern, and that sometimes means that people don't get what they want.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous 6:47,

"Grey skies are gonna clear up, so put on a happy face..."

Before you lecture, did you ask these questions of your Town government?

Before you described a problem, did you ascertain if there was a problem?

Why not try asking your Town government these questions and then if you find no answers forthcoming, THEN you can come scurrying back to the blog and continue your challenge?

None of your fears are realized. You just have to ask.
But you aren't looking for answers are you?
You just want to paint a gloomy picture.

The only person or situation cloaked in secrecy is yourself looking to create a problem even if none exists.

Anonymous said...

So if it's not a state secret Hal, why don't you tell us who's on this "citizens budget committee?" And if the comptroller position was advertised, why not tell us where?

And by the way Hal, when prey tell would anyone have had the opportunity to ask these questions of town government?

There's only been one meeting so far of the town board this year and most residents who came out that night were upset not about the secret "citizens budget committee," but about the secret firings of the director and assistant director at the community center. But even if the questions were asked at the last town board meeting, under the new town board rules, the town board isn't answering them.

And while it may not be important to you, Hal, since you don't pay any property taxes, to some of us who do pay taxes here it does make a difference who's on the committee that's doing the screening for the next town comptroller.

Last year, the town comptroller made certain recommendations regarding the A and B budgets. He made those recommendations based on an opinion from the state comptroller. However, some residents opposed those recommendations and the town board failed to implement most of them.

Wouldn't it be important to know whether the persons doing the screening for the next town comptroller are the same persons who were so successful in blocking adoption of the town comptroller's recommendations.

If the next town comptroller has to promise the citizens budget committee to "put the villages first" -- just as Feiner and his team promised to do -- don't you think people in the unincorporated areas should know about that?

And if that's not the case, don't you think it makes sense for town government to come clean and tell us once and for all who's on this "budget review committee?"

Or is it better to just be coy about it?

Anonymous said...

Among those who serve on the citizens budget committee are two leaders of unincorporated Greenburgh who have fought for Edgemont and E Irvington: Jack McLaughlin and Mark Baron. Mark co-chaired a presentation with Bob Bernstein in Edgemont a few years ago. Jack has sided with unincorporated Greenburgh residents regarding the A & B budget fights.

hal samis said...

To be completely honest I don't know who is on the committee other than Bob Reninger and maybe Herb Rosenberg. I don't think it is a secret and I haven't asked and I haven't been told.

If I were really interested I might have asked to join the committee but I have no training in accounting or bookkeeping so I don't think I would be an asset in inteviewing those that do.

However, instead of asking me to do your work, why don't you just call the Supervisor and ask. I had his phone number somewhere on my desk but maybe you already know it. It's not a secret either.

And just in case you don't want to waste your cell phone minutes calling town hall, why not cut and paste your questions and send them to the Supervisor, pfeiner@greenburghny.com or town board@greenburghny.com or even townclerk@greenburghny.com.

Stop creating a drama and re-inventing Watergate. Maybe if the WGA strike continues you can get a job as a scab. You know who and how to ask; if you really don't know; it is because you don't want to know. In your case, ignorance is a blis(s)ter.

Anonymous said...

And who else is on the Citizens Budget Committee? Why is the information being dribbled out in this fashion? Why can't Greenburgh's leaders show some candor, tell us who eles is on the committee, and explain why they can meet secretly and not have their work subject to the freedom of information law?

hal samis said...

PS, there were no secret firings.
Department heads serve concurrent terms with the Town Supervisor. To be reappointed would require a meeting and a vote by three Town Board members. There was no meeting for this purpose and hence there was no vote to rehire and there was no need to vote to fire as this was not what happened.

And if you continue writing in a secret language which is known only to yourself, perhaps you need to explain how anyone can respond to your concern: "But even if the questions were asked at the last town board meeting, under the new town board rules, the town board isn't answering them." I'm not sure but would grammarians call your sentence construction the conditional, future, second person pluperfect tense?

Logicians would call it a fallacy like the question: Have you stopped beating your wife.

Now be a good boy and run along. Report back only if you've struck out on what you typify as the impossible dream to gain information. Don't be lazy, do it the old fashioned way and make some effort. Or maybe you will just wait for your secret Santa next XMAS but remember, Santa may asks if you were a "good" child and did any good deeds this year and in compliance with the new homeland security laws, he needs to know whom he is delivering to.

Anonymous said...

Samis is living in fantasyland.

Hopeton White and William Bland were fired.

Yes, they were told they would not be reappointed. That's how you get fired in Greenburgh.

The decision to fire them was made by Feiner, Brown and Morgan. The decision was made secretly because, despite Judith Beville's best efforts to make government more transparent, their firing was never mentioned on any town board work session agenda. Or, to put it more politely, the issue of their "reappointment" was never placed on any work session agenda. Nor was it ever addressed in any minutes.

The firings look like they were done in secret because Feiner, Morgan and Brown never consulted with the community center's advisory board. One would think that before firing the center's director and assistant director, Feiner, Morgan and Brown would have reached out to the advisory board that oversees the center.

By ignoring the advisory board, Feiner reinforced the impression that these firings were deliberately being done secretly.

Sheehan said he found out about the firings only after the fact.

Anonymous said...

The word is out that Hopeton White and William Bland shredded the files in their office.

What are they afraid of? What were they hiding?

hal samis said...

Dear mommie dearest @ 12:38,

Put away the coat hangers!
If your appointment is not renewed, you are not "fired" just like Steve Bass and Eddie Mae Barnes were NOT fired.

If you are caught stealing yellow pads, if you don't come to work on time, if you don't do your job, if you lie to your superiors...these are reasonable grounds for firing...not for not renewing an appointment. There are ways you can, in fact, get fired, such a revelation being contrary to your insight.

The only reason you persist in using the word "firing" is that it gives you a basis to make your other suppositions; because if they were fired your views would have some validity.

It is amazing how Mr. Sheehan claims always to be in the dark and then schedules his own meetings without telling anyone.
Certainly he must be aware of which Department heads are in limbo or are gone.

But not renewing an appointment needs no notice or explanation whereas renewing requires a vote. Perhaps your complaint is that the Supervisor doesn't announce all the things he is not going to do.

As for notifying the advisory board or not, the Town is run by an executive, the Town Supervisor, who is elected and paid to make decisions. There is a world of difference between "not renewing" and "hiring".

Likewise, would you have the Chief of Police consult with the Police Advisory Board before arresting anyone?

Taxpayers are aware that the bulk of the Town's operating budget goes toward personnel and their related upkeep. Whether elected, appointed or otherwise hired, it is inefficient to have the various levels of staff function by committee. The Town Supervisor and the Town Council are elected officials whose job is to determine and administer. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars to impede their governance with implied requirements to consult with committees before taking action or taking no action.

In less than two years there is another election. Register your dissatisfaction then.

In the meantime, Mr. Sheehan is always welcome to add to any work session or town board meeting agenda, a resolution to hire anyone, including those not rehired.

And for those readers who don't understand propoganda and how it is used, the word "firing" or its derivative appears 7 times in the brief posting. Each time it appears gives more weight to support the story (well look, there is someone ahead of me on the line to get into fantasyland) that some secret and nefarious undertaking is in play. Each time it is wrongly used and each time it appears it is meant only to reinforce, not to prove, the author's own fanciful conclusion.

What is so revelatory or news worthy that the "Feiner team" may have run together with a strategy or vision of how to improve Greenburgh. They were running against Mr. Bass and Ms. Barnes who were supported by Mr. Sheehan and Ms. Juettner. Were or are they expected to discuss all their plans with the opposition. "Working together" does not mean that there is only one united viewpoint. Any differing opinion is and should be entertained. Despite all the noise, I don't recall any opposition from Mr. Sheehan or Ms. Juettner to what might best be described as a passive fait accompli.

In this matter, no vote was required. Does the anonymous blogger require Town agenda notations of things they are not going to do. Votes that are not going to taken? The blogger already knows the score as do most interested residents. But why forgo an opportunity to make waves if it can be another Seinfeld show about nothing. Not renewing a controversial appointment is not quite the same as starting a war over weapons of mass destruction. So anonymous, keep track of matters in your personal scorecard and give the new adminstration a chance to perform -- how about six months without interference. If you are still unhappy, then you are always free to run Berger again and this time she'll have your scorecard as a source of issues.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the firings of Hopeton White and William Bland were warranted, it makes sense for the town board to consult in advance on such important matters with the residents whom the town board appointed to serve on the community center's advisory board, if for no other reason than to lend more legitimacy to the process.

As it stands, by ignoring the advisory board, even if the firings were justified, they were made by Feiner, Morgan and most especially Brown to look like partisan political payback for Sonja Brown. And the community that the community center serves was understandably outraged. Ms. Brown, the doyenne of community outreach, didn't seem to have done much community outreach here, and it showed.

Sure, the town board can ignore its advisory boards, but next time the town board wants support from those in the community who volunteer their time to serve on these boards, their well-meaning efforts might fall on deaf ears.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the 1:21 blogger is right. I hope to dear God that the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations stops volunteering their time and keep their well-meaning efforts to themselves. Also their advice.

That way the Town Board may be able to do some good for us non-elite residents.

Anonymous said...

I do hope that M.Kolesar has sent in his resume.
I really say that he is the most qualified to fill the comptrollers position.
We need some one that will be available to account for each penny received and what is going to be spent.
Paul//// KOLESAR ALL THE WAY///////
If it doesn't work out pink slips are so easily available,but I'm sure he is the one to give Greenburgh what was lacking for too many years.TRUE ACCOUNTABILITY.

Anonymous said...

There is no point interviewing any other than Kolesar. Any one with a brain wont take the job without a long-term contract. And any one with a brain will want assureances that the budget will reflect court desions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, who seems so concerned about the "firings" at the Community Center. Just because some people came out to support the people who were not re-appointed does not mean that a majority of those who work or use the Community Center feel that way.

In 6 months you may understand that the decision you claim was done by Feiner, Brown, & Morgan was the best thing to happen to the Community Center. But by then I guess you will wrongly blame them for something else.

Anonymous said...

Don't look any further.KOLESAR is the person for this position.

Anonymous said...

AGreed Kolesar is the man. He is so desperate for a job he will sign off on anything. Just what Paul and co want.

Anonymous said...

What makes you say that KOLEsar is desperate for a job.
I'm quite sure that his consulting abilities keep him busy with many firms,which means that he's not desperate.
You just don't like him and will come up with any BS to slander a person who could put this town on the right tract.

ed krauss said...

To 8:18:
Clean language escapes me, to describle the contemptible nature of your blog posting.If you are so sure of what Mike Kolesar will do why don't you come out of the closet (no offense to Gays) and lend attribution to the character assassination of a decent human being.

People like you who feel they have carte blanche to say anything, with or without proof, and get away with it because they're too cowardly to lend their name so as to deflect rebuttal deserve to get the s--t kicked out of them- once a day for life without parole.

It takes a very sick and disturbed mind, so full of hate, with nothing personal to gain to attack a person's professional and personal reputation.

I would ordinarily feel sorry for a sicko,of illegitmate origins, people like you, but my sympathy can not extend to an amorphous, nameless piece of male genetalia like you...whether you are male or female.

There's a rock formation in Taxter Ridge Park in need of someone with your credentials to crawl under. Call The Greenburgh Taxi co. Have them pick you up. Take you to Taxter Ridge. And tell them I'll pay the tab including the tip.

This town has nothing to worry about regarding Mike's butt kissing of Feiner. We do have a good deal to worry about with sickos like you running loose and with a computer.

Just remember, HATE causes STREES, STRESS causes arteries to shrink, SHRUNKEN ARTERIES have a higher proability of clotting and CLOTTING brings on MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION which often leads to death. So scientific proof teaches us that HATERS live shorter lives than HAPPY PEOPLE.

So, PLEASE,PLEASE continue to HATE. Sorry I won't be able to attend your funeral...unless your obit will read ANONYMOUS.

Via con Diablo.

ED KRAUSS

Anonymous said...

Who said the firings were only done by Feiner, Brown and Morgan. From what I hear and that was verbalized at the center by Feiner and Brown was that this was a 5-0 vote. Sheehan is now trying his best to remove the foot from mouth he usually inserts. He told a group that was at the center that he only knew of the decision to remove Bland after an e-mail from feiner. He neglects to tell you that the 5-0 determination included that Bland stay on until a new director was found. Brown made it perfectly clear to us that the ONLY complaint that he had was that after conferring with people at the center and in the community that the sooner the better for SLICK WILLIE. I know the center, many people were bused to the town board meeting and staged an outcry. Where were the true community leaders?? where were the true advisory board members ??? where were the true hard working employees who know what went on ??? not at the town meeting. Bland wants to look like he is playing for the good of the center but we all know the two faced Bland who we had to work with. An audit of the center may justify why Morgan and Sheehan came over because of the shreading. What indictments will follow.

Anonymous said...

If that is true WOW!! The new board has balls sorry Sonja !! What should have been done years ago is now taking place. Liason Barnes what a joke. Just wanted a pension. The search for a new begining starts now for the center.

Anonymous said...

So why is the town doling out $4 million this year to the community center?

How can anyone now say in good conscience that such spending is warranted?

Sonja Brown wants very much to clean house at the community center -- this much is clear -- but is she doing it because she wants improvements made or is she doing it because she wants that $4 million to dole out herself, to her friends and political supporters?

Let's wait and see where the money goes.