Saturday, January 19, 2008

library drop off box meeting tuesday to discuss cybermobile/sunday hours

GOOD NEWS... LIBRARY DROP OFF BOX SAVED! The Greenburgh Library has reconsidered their plans to remove the library drop off box on E Hartsdale Ave. This convenient box is located across the Hartsdale train station. Library patrons can drop off library books/video's that were taken out. Thank you--Greenburgh Library for continuing this service.
CYBERMOBILE/SUNDAY HOURS NEED TO BE RESTORED? The Greenburgh Town Board will discuss the need to restore the cybermobile/Sunday hours at our work session this Tuesday at 2 PM. Meetings are open to the public and are held at Town Hall. Work sessions are now televised on local public access TV.
SHOULD ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE SOME OVERSIGHT OVER NON ELECTED LIBRARY BD MEMBERS---One of the issues that must be discussed is the roles of the elected Town Board and the unelected Library Board. The elected Town Board provided the Library Board with funding for the cybermobile and Sunday hours. The unelected Library Board decided to use the funds allocated for the cybermobile/Sunday hours for other purposes. I believe that some of the library purchases/spending could be deferred until after the new library opens. The Library claims that under NYS law they do not have to listen to the Town Board. They can shift funds for any purposes --even if the Town Board disagrees. How can elected officials oversee budgets if we have no control over significant aspects of town budgets? If the Town Board objects to out of state travel expenses, salary increases over the cost of living, additional hirings - we cannot do anything about our concerns --according to the Library Board. The law should be changed.
If the Library Board wants to be independent of the Town Board they should create a special library district. I would support a Library district. It would remove the library from political interference. Library Board members would be elected by the people. Library budgets would be voted annually by the people. The library would be accountable to you, the taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

Although I am not an attorney or "super" lawyer, it seems to me pretty clear that elected officials do not have nor for the most part should have line item control over a Library. The overwhelming issue is censorship and that's why it is separated under State Law.

That being said, a sufficient number of concerned citizens should attend the Library Board of Trustees meetings and voice your displeasure. The second power that elected officials do have is who gets named to these Boards. As those who don't want to or haven't served the broad community's interests come up for a new term, don't reappoint them. Just as some on this blog have railed against the length of time that some have been in elected public office, maybe there should be term limits for the various volunteer Town Boards (By the way, how long have the various current members of the Library Board served in that capacity?). At least require a "break in service", so new views may be aired.

While the objective of the state law is ostensibly to keep politics out of the Library operations, it is quite clear to this writer that the Library Board doesn't feel the same way. Their actions stink of politics, but remember as Mr. Samis has pointed out for quite some time, the action to reduce the overall funding to the Library was approved by both Council members Juettner and Sheehan in addition to the Supervisor. Just three votes, I think, is Mr. Samis' mantra.

Anonymous said...

What was promised to the library board for having the drop box stay in place.
What kind of games are we playing now.

Feiner to Library: Drop Dead said...

If Feiner feels that the town library should be governed by a library district, shouldn't he first tell unincorporated Greenburgh taxpayers what this additional layer of government -- a library district -- is going to cost?

I suspect it's going to cost us a lot more than the cost of a high maintenance frequently disabled cybermobile, and Sunday hours.

What's also disturbing is Feiner's demand that the laws be changed to give him line item control over the library budget. Putting aside the issue of censorship, which is itself a powerful reason not to allow town politicos ever to get into the business of picking and choosing how a library spends its money, there's no reason to think Feiner and his cronies would do a better job of managing the library's budget.

The town board already has line item control over the community center -- and its budget at around $4 million is a lot more than the library's budget.

But faced with a 23% tax hike in unincorporated Greenburgh, Feiner didn't propose any cuts to the community center's budget. To the contrary, he proposed that the community center's budget be padded even more, while slashing the library's budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the 2008 budget, taxpayers are paying $170,000 more this year for the community center's operations, while the library's cost to taxpayers went down from $3 million in 2006 to $2.8 million in 2008.

Even more astonishing is that the library's expenses in 2008 are actually budgeted at $3.4 million, which means that to cover the library's costs in 2008, Feiner had to deplete the library's reserve funds.

And try as they might, taxpayers won't find the word "cybermobile" anywhere printed on Feiner's 2008 budget, or in any of the budgets Feiner submitted for prior years. So much for the "elected" town board telling the library board how to spend its money. It didn't.

And what happens now that Feiner's declared war on the library? There's no money in the library's budget to wage a countercampaign. The library board members can show up at town board meetings and write letters to the editors of the local newspapers, but that's about it.

The real losers in Feiner's war against the library are not those for whom the cymbermobile is an occasional convenience. No, the real losers in this war that Feiner started are the people who need Greenburgh's library the most -- the poorer residents of Fairview who have depended on Greenburgh to provide a quiet place for their kids to study and do research after school and when school is not in session.

Anonymous said...

If the center has a larger budget than the library there is something wrong with the management of the center.
Has anyone investigated as to why?
Has anyone been dipping into the funds?
How many freebees are there enjoying the services of the center while some other users pay their dues.?
I"m starting to think that money has been given freely to the center without checking where it was going.
Has the tide turned now with new members on the board,I hope so.
The residents need a lot of questions answered as to where has all the money gone and when will it stop going.
If the center eats more than they can chew CLOSE IT because we will not be able to afford it.
With the library we need good people to oversee their spending.
This too was one establishment that never was checked until now since we had a good tax hike.
This tax hike because of poor management will cost us dearly for a few more years to come or maybe the town will be bankrupt before then.
Too much spending without anything coming in.
Please put everything on the right tract before we will be facing bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 6:35 (aka possibly a "super lawyer?"),

The Library has a surplus because it overstated it budget in prior years against what it actually spent. That surplus is not for the Library Board to spend as it sees fit but belongs to all of the taxpayers. If the surplus wasn't used in the 2008 budget, the tax hike would have been another 1.25% higher ($400,000 divided by about $318.9 million. You can't have it both ways, as much as you like to bash the Supervisor, it was three votes that approved this year's budget, but you only focus on one voter, not Juettner and Sheehan. I wonder why. Give us a break. You probably don't even go to the Greenburgh Library. I'll bet that you and your family go to the Scarsdale Library. Wanna bet?

Anonymous said...

So Anonymous 6:35 is playing the race card. Could this be the same person who commended the speakers supporting the Commissioner and Deputy Commisioner of the Community Center for being articulate? Since when has he cared about "the poorer residents of Fairview?" Seems to me that it is more important for the whole Town to have a cybermobile up and running, rather than to purchase books that will sit in their boxes until October.

Anonymous said...

The library board evidently felt that, givem the huge cuts in its funding this year, it was more important for the library's mission to have a fully stocked library when it opens than it was to operate a bookmobile that was prone to breaking down, had no place to be garaged, frequently needed expensive repairs, and when it was running, only served a few areas of the town -- not the "entire town" as one blogger wrongly suggested.

But why won't Feiner take a closer look at the much bigger community center budget as that 6:35 pm blogger suggested? Sure Feiner's canned the community center's leadership -- or in Feiner parlance, he didn't do it, "three members of the town board did it" -- but he's pledged not to cut any of the community center's programs.

In other words, while the library's fair game for bashing, Feiner made clear he's not cutting a dime out of the community center's budget. In fact, Feiner's just pledged to add another $25,000 to pay for more swim "coaches."

Seems to me that if this bookmobile were all that important, Feiner and his allies on the town board would find a way to use some of the community center's $4 million budget to kick in the few bucks needed to get the bookmobile up and running again. If they can find cash for the swim coaches, why can't they do the same for the bookmobile?

Or is it more important just to bash the library board?

Think sensible said...

I learned a long time ago that when a person is accused of something, the most effective way of dealing with the accusation is to accuse somebody else of something and hope that the subject is changed.

The Library Board should be criticized for what it has done and for its greed and arrogance. That has nothing to do with the Community Center.

The Community Center should be examined for possible inefficiency and padding. That has nothing to do with the library.

In short, it isn't one or the other. It is, or may be, both.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:20 couldn't be more wrong. The Town Board decides how much money to give the library and how much money to give the community center.

As it stands, it looks like the community center this year is getting around $1 million more this year than the library. If the library needs more money to operate a cybermobile, it's not the library board that's being arrogant in not spending it -- it's the town board that's being arrogant in not forking over the dough.

If the town board can give the community center a budget increase this year of $170,000, no questions asked, bringing their total to nearly $4 million, which is a lot more than the town board is giving the library, then, if it's that important, the town board can shift some of that money to the library so it can operate the beloved cybermobile.

The problem here is not with the library board. It's with the town board.

Anonymous said...

Why does the community center get unlimited funding?

Fox watching hen house?? said...


Change the Law?? I'm offended that you, Mr. Feiner,have no respect for good laws put into place for very good reasons. I'm alarmed at your frequent suggestions to have laws changed in order for you to gain control over things you have no business being involved in. I get the sense that you are not happy unless you have a say in everything and anything that works or moves in Greenburgh. Because of this, you look to incite.

You consistently make trouble for the Parking District and the Library and I know it pains you to have no say in school district business.

It's counter productive and pointless. If you want to help, then HELP! Stop this crazy nonsense and get focused on important issues within your grasp.
There are plenty.
10:20 states : I learned a long time ago that when a person is accused of something, the most effective way of dealing with the accusation is to accuse somebody else of something and hope that the subject is changed.

I couldn't agree with him/her more.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the community center, the work session this Tuesday includes an item: audit of community center. The Town Board is going to discuss auditing the center's operations, looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

Why single out the community center for an audit? That's a coward's way to respond. By your logic, every department that gets charged to unincorporated Greenburgh should be "audited" to find taxpayer savings.

Why not show real leadership in Greenburgh and take $100,000 from the community center's $4 million budget, and shift it to the library on condition that the library board agree to use the money this year to operate the cybermobile.

Anonymous said...

The days when the Library Board blackmails the town are over. No more money for them. They wasted enough with this ridiculous new library, even if they knew how to build a library.

Anonymous said...

Because Paul is more supportive of basketball than reading.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Bd conducting an audit of the courts as well?

hal samis said...

WARNING: This is a long, long posting (many short lines) and contains facts and figures supported by specific references to the Adopted Town Budget. It attempts to show, almost line for line, how ridiculous the Library Trustees arguments are, especially when the ball is being carried by those seeking to convert a serious issues into an attack on Feiner. The nadir of such misinformation appears on this blog at 6:35 PM 1/19/08.

To 6:35,

Are you Bob Bernstein or Jim Lasser?

Maybe the Library should "drop dead" if it doesn't know how to manage its money.

Interesting that you quote from the Town Budget (an assumed reputable source) but let me examine what you wrote because anyone who writes "the Library's cost to taxpayers", as though it were a new meaningful approach, is doing so for a reason even while including 2006 to bracket the comparison period has its own "playful" twist. My purpose is to expose your scam.

2006, readers will remember was the last year that the 22,000 foot library existed. In January 2007, the Library opened in Town Hall and the multipurpose center. One would think that the only relevant comparison, therefore, would be between 2007 and 2008 because if the Library spent as many dollars occupying 5,000 feet as it did occupying 22,000 feet, even Howard Jacobs would apologize. No apology necessary from 6:35; I assume that you were born lacking the integrity gene.

Now to look into the matter, one can first choose the simple approach and just look at the 2008 Final Budget on pages 132-133 and come away with these stand-alone numbers for the Library.

2008 Budget $3,440,046
2007 estimate $3,070,144
2007 modified $3,308,956

The 2007 estimate is what was projected as the actual expenditures by year's end, looking from the window of 9/30/07.

Using the estimate numbers (what they did/will spend) against the 2008 Budget number, the Library is getting $369,902 more to spend in 2008.
And, for the record, 2008's budgeted amount remains under 2006 by $66,668.

But some of the line item expenses would reasonably increase you argue, even items that are presumed to cost more in 2008 like line 902.0, Building Maintenance which is charged to the Library at $325,017 in 2008 vs $309,778 in 2007 -- both expenses being artificial numbers because in both years, for all practical purposes, there is no Building to maintain (yes the Library should be charged something for its percentage of occupancy, especially as they live rent-free). I argued this in 2007 so I've been there, done that but for this posting, consider that the number was part of the 2007 Budget just like it appears for 2008. And despite what the anonymous bloggers would have you think, the total money (their Budget) exists at its funding levels to recognize this "expense", even such a nonsensical number. Another way to look at it would be to just remove it and reduce the Budget total an equal amount. The Library Trustees would have you believe that they should not be burdened with the expense (and similar) but after their exclusion, their Budget of $3,440,046 should remain intact. And there are other items too that the same illogic and the same conclusions can be regurgitated. These items, which are included in the Library Budget are the "800" and "900" budget line items which are amounts that the Town "assigns" to the Library (and all other departments) and includes the Library's share of things like NYS retirement system contributions, social security, medical insurance etc. (800 line items) and building maintenance, radio communications etc. (900 line items).
But whether you challenge their existence or not, they are included in every year's Budget; while the Library Budget funding includes the money to pay for them and it is a pure apple-to-apple comparison when looking year-to-year. Who said accounting practices have to be practical?

The issues that I have raised lead to the conclusion that: the Library Board is playing politics when saying that they don't have any money to pay for the cybermobile and Sunday hours; instead having to do with the other line items that the Library does have control over. These are the "100" lines (personnel); the "200" lines (furniture and equipment); there are no "300" lines and the "400" lines (books, cds, dvds, postage, software, training, stationary, telephone, contingency fund, etc.).

It is within these lines that I see games being played and that since the Library can (like the Town does for its own Budget) move expenditures from line to line at will. So, when I see in the Final Budget that (after all the cuts and "damage" that the Town Board caused to the Library) that on just three lines: 406.2, 414.1 and 414.3 (dvds, books, cds), the Library "intends" to spend $183,000MORE than it spent in 2007, I sound the alarm. Residents and patrons have "suffered" but survived the Library operating out of Town Hall in 2007 and they will do so again in 2008 because the reality is that for at least 10 months of the year, the Library will be in exactly the same place while the probability favors that this will continue into 2009. But even if the Library was ready to hold its grand opening in November 2008, what would be so terrible were it to open without these additional purchases for two months and used this money, INSTEAD, to keep the cybermobile operating and be open on Sunday. This is not a fanciful dream on my part but what the Trustees, themselves, promised their Patrons when the Library had to move into 5,000 feet from 22,000.

There are other line items I could decipher and show where there is money to retain these services but the 6:35 poseur, sorry poster, wants to direct your attention to pages 134-135 which represents Library revenue because the argument is that we should look at "the Library's cost to taxpayers
went from $3 million in 2006 to $2.8 million in 2008". Try as I might I can't match those numbers so I am supposing that they are rounded from page 134 **Total** for 2006 of $3,059,146, $2,906,632 in 2007 (the final estimate) and $2,851,963 projected in 2008.

But what is Library Revenue anyway?
The Library collects Fines (line 15.2082.00) $73,894 in 2006, $23,000 in 2007 and $25,000 in 2008Apparently a less used Library produces lower fines as I doubt that Patrons suddenly became more diligent in returning items when due.

In 2006, the Library was credited with $199,202 of revenue (line 23.2303.00) from Elmsford and, of course none in 2007 and 2008. So even though the Library was operating at full steam in 2006, some of the costs were reduced by Elmsford revenue. This $200,000 is of course why the 2006 year was included and is the $200,000 lower cost to taxpayers that the poster is so proud to point out.

Use of Money and Property.
Interest and earnings (line 24.2401.00). This is the money that the Library is credited for earning on the year's budgeted dollars which are "given" to the Library on January 1 to be spent throughout the year.
This interest is really the taxpayer's money not the Library's but that is how the system records it -- here it works to the Library's advantage while "Building Repairs" is a similar bookkeeping application of how the system works resulting in it being treated like a Library expense.
Anyway, $157,592 in 2006, $124,000 in 2007 and $124,000 in 2008. A lower total Library Budget results in lower Interest (as does the interest rate paid on these funds).
NOTE: what I'm not sure is whether the Library Fund interest was included and, if so, then 2008's $124,00 should be lower.
Commissions (line 24.2450.00) are the Library's cut of copying machine revenue. $4,931 in 2006, $1,000 in 2007, $1,000 in 2008. Like Fines, smaller space has its impact.

The State Aid lines (30.3840.00) $12,928, $10,000 and $12,000 are consistent as are Medicare Reimbursement (line 40.4089.06)
$5,400, $6,800 and $6,800.

In fact, the only substantial line changes are the transfer lines which represents the income which is the taxpayer component of the Library revenue. Thus we have returned to the **TOTAL** of $3,059,146 in 2006 which represents the 22,000 foot building and the $200,000 from Elmsford; $2,906,632 in 2007 (5,000foot Library, no Elmsford) and 2008$2,851,963 (5,000 foot Library, no Elmsford) and possible two months in new building).

Perhaps a lot of details to respond to a frivolous anonymous poster but like Sy Syms "an educated taxpayer is one who can say drop dead to those who post misleading information".

As for the elimination of the Library Fund, this "issue" is overblown and represents nothing more than holding the Library to the same standards as are applied to other Departments. Like the Town, itself, has built a substantial Fund Balance, the child, the Library, had learned from the master. Whereas they have little wiggle room in under-stating revenue (their revenue is basically their budget), they do over-estimate their expenses and thus the unspent money has been moving into the Library Fund where it earns interest. Taxpayers should be ecstatic to learn not only have they been dipping into their wallets for the Town's savings account, but also the Library's. That is how the Library was able to accumulate over $400,000 which represents well over 10% of any year's operating budget.

Because of Unincorporated budget problems coming to a head in the 2008 Budget, the Town got wiser and decided to roll up any orphaned Funds and consolidate them into one Town Fund. This increased that Fund total and allowed the Town to make more withdrawals from what is referred to as its "savings for a rainy day" account. With a larger, by consolidation, Fund Balance, the Town was able to withdraw more without endangering "required" levels. The reality is that the Library Fund should always have been merged into the Town Fund Balance.

However, why this is now such an uproar is that the Library Trustees were counting on using the Library Fund to pay for items that could no longer be paid from the Referendum funding because that cupboard is now bare. Of course the Library Trustees still maintain that the expansion project is not over budget so that presents a problem when needing to purchase furnishings that were part of the Referendum request, the($19.8 million).

It is my belief that the whole "flap" over the cybermobile is not about whether there is, or there is not, money to continue to operate the cybermobile or Sunday hours; the whole issue is over the embarrassment that the Trustees will face when they have to own up to being out of money for expansion-related necessities and that their harsh actions are only the payback from being exposed.
Lest anyone forget, the $19.8 million contained about a 19% cushion for inflation, contingencies. etc. That they are over budget has nothing to do with their self-generated late start; it has to do with financially imcompetent volunteers. This is reason enough why $3 million plus budgets should not be left to the sole discretion of amateurs. None of this has anything to do with book-burning or not buying controversial titles for the shelves -- those being the classic reasons to have Library's remain independent -- but NO ONE has put forth that the Town Board or the Supervisor intends to interfere in these areas. Censorship as relating to the Greenburgh situation is an umbrella with holes.

One more thing, Feiner perhaps explained it poorly and he has been criticized thereafter for alluding to a cybermobile expense which does not appear as such in the Budget; thereby he is overstepping his bounds by insisting that the cybermobile be restored. In fact, there is no budget line marked cybermobile. What there was instead are these lines, now removed from the Library Budget due to the "los" of $200,000 (so return to the Tentative Budget):

190.6 Part Time Driver/Cleaner
2008, $15,000*
101.3 Bus Driver/Clerk
2008, $46,395
425.0 Gas Grease & Oil
2008, $6,000
and elsewhere contained within other lines is the cybermobile's allocation of books, cds and dvds (without the cybermobile's presumed share of them, the lines for these items in 2008 have actually increased by $13,000 from the Tentative Budget) and cybermobile repairs, etc.

*This item (190.6) had been modified in 2007 and the Tentative Budget represented this number as $36,849 which was shown as being reduced to $15,000 for 2008. Now what remains in the Final Budget is the $36,849 number for 2007 with no amount for 2008. This gives the false impression that the Library has saved $36,849 on this item alone by cutting out the cybermobile whereas it was only budgeted as a $15,000 expense in 2008.

So perhaps the Supervisor's language was not precise but I don't think that employing drivers had any other use than to drive the cybermobile. And, the Library took great pains to explain that the full-time driver also functions as the on-board Clerk during the week.

Finally, I still know next to nothing about the operations of the Community Center. However, that Town Department, as do all others except the Library, operate at their historical high level of service. Only the Library operation had curtailed service due to its relocation disruption. Thus the Library became the logical point to uncover overspending in a difficult 2008 budget/tax year.

When it was learned that the Library would now not open before October (the project is not delayed per the Trustees who had earlier announced July), the Library 2008 REQUEST came under increased scrutiny (my) because the Library would be operating in a similar fashion to how they operated in 2007 (which included the cybermobile and Sunday). And, still they got an additional $377,000 or 8% more for 2008.

Furthermore, if the Supervisor OR the LIBRARY TRUSTEES KNEW how much it would cost to operate an independent Library District, they would say. They don't know which is why it isn't going to happen, if at all, for several years. In fact, the Trustees, at their November 2007 Trustees meeting (Feiner on hand to discuss the matter), fell all over themselves to affirm their desire to do so, stating that they would need about two years (get past the building opening) to do an analysis of costs and benefits. So, given that the Trustees have had so much to complain about ("Feiner's demand" is a malicious description concerning his request for an opinion, but what would you expect from mud-throwers) when facing off with the Town. In any case, the onus is on the Library to make their case, not the Supervisor. Certainly, it is the Library that has to introduce such a Resolution for a Referendum.

Finally, who is the person writing the mask? If I had written as many lies and misrepresentations as this author I would do well to hide like an anonymous blogger. The only war on the Library is the war that anonymous bloggers have attributed to Feiner. If anyone can be charged with declaring war, it is me, not the Supervisor. And since I have no portfolio what does it matter that I lob epithets over the internet or speak at meetings or write to the media. If I am wrong, then prove me wrong. But stop this politicizing and continuing an election campaign that ended in November with Feiner's decisive victory. Neither does the Library imbroglio have nothing to do with depriving Fairview children of a quiet place to study.

In 2007, the quiet place wasn't there and in 2008 the quiet place isn't there and it won't be there (with or without the cybermobile) until the new building opens. It is a shame that the Library and its supporters have fallen to such an ill-conceived level of response because they are cornered, lacking any rational defenses to their self-created problems.

The elimination of the cybermobile and Sunday hours does not, never had, and never will have any dependence upon the level of the actual 2007 or the 2008 budget funding. It all comes down to that the Library asked for more than they needed, got turned down and are sulking. The way to make this problem go away is not to find them more money; the way to make the problem go away is to get rid of the problem makers, even if it need be done one Trustee at a time.

Anonymous said...

I must congratulate Supervisor Feiner, and the new Town Board for their actions regarding the Young Community Center. They have listened to many voices that called for change and they acted. Ms. Barnes, the Town Board liaison to the Community Center, was rarely seen. Where was she when all these complaints were voiced? Where was she when these programs were not put in place? Someone has to be held accountable, and the electorate fulfilled its role in the primary and the general election. The electorate said, "no more!"

I was there on Wednesday and I was able to talk to some of the staff, and a number of the people who use the Young Center. The question was, where was Barnes? She was missing in action. Supervisor Feiner and Town Board Members have been meeting with the community center staff, who are honestly concerned over some of the rumor-mongering hovering, in and around the community, and the impact of the leadership changes. I myself witnessed and listened, out in the hall,to an hour tour d'force effort by Town Board Member Sonja Brown to answer questions and express her views.

There is no doubt that the bloggers cannot have it both ways. One cannot complain about the past without the understanding that this Town Board, over the past four years, has been collectively irresponsible and dysfunctional.

Supervisor Feiner went to the people twice with his own independent slate, which was outside of the boss controlled party apparatus. Despite every type of negative endorsement, and the last minute slams over "choice," conflicts of interest, and Indian Point he barely survived in 2005. In the next two years he faced the Town Board's withering, and often personal attacks on all he proposed and everything he said. The bloggers should understand that reality.

Now we are in 2008, and this time the last minute slams failed. Barnes and Bass, who were caught up in the Dromore Road investigation, are now gone. The party bosses had challenged Timmi Weinberg's petitions in 2005 and threw her off the ballot, which cost her seat. In this election cycle, the public was fed up with the sqabbling, the undermining of the role of the Supervisor, and the direction the Board was taking the Town.

Now a new Board is in, and Kevin Morgan and Sonja Brown will exert their strength and bring this Board into synergy with the public's needs and desires.

With regards to ongoing editorial fight over the library, I would like add my perspective to this debate.

The Library Board's Chairperson Howard Jacobs, first of all, bamboozled the old Town Board into buying into our current unfinished monolith on Rte 119. All of this has been obviously chewed over for years. I applaud Hal Sammis and his persistant effort to bring openess and transparency to this whole library mess. He has exposed for many of us who read this blog, and come to Town Hall, the truth about the library and its Board. Neither Mr. Sammis, Paul Feiner, myself and most other sane people are not anti-library or closet book-burners.

So that you understand,I have never talked to Hal Sammis about the Library Board. Mr. Sammis is an independent thinker, and historically has been a vocal opponent of the Supervisor for a number of years. The Supervisor, who is no fool, has recognised much of the value of his criticisms. I, as a vocal and ardent supporter of the Supervisor, also recognise that Mr. Sammis has added important points to all of the discussions that involve town businees, especially with regards to the library.

Unlike many of the other carping critics who are hate-filled, and power-driven, Mr. Sammis has contributed mightily to the ongoing dialogue that should make government work better.

With regards to the Young Community Center, the Library and its Board, and the other town departments, much reform, openness, and maybe change is needed.

We are advancing into a sea of unknown and uncharted waters. Revenues will be down, not only in Greenburgh, Westchester, New York and the country. We are seeing the market place rocking daily with each new revelation. Something has got to give!

There are going to be tough decisions needed ahead, and the choices will not be easy. The taxing trough is not bottomless. Services for both the schools and the Town are suffering from aggressive budget creep. It will take strong unified leadership to deal with upcoming stormy days. Any casual witness in this Town knows the ongoing problems of Central 7. Reform regarding the running of the schools must also be addressed. Currently a large percentage of our taxes go to our schools and the increases have been much higher than inflation for a number of years. Again hard choices must be made. Not one person, or one Supervisor can address these ongoing problems alone. But new ideas, a consensus regarding governing, and the understanding of the issues are critical to reaching solutions.

The above is re-print from my entry of 1/19/08 which was archived.

With regards to Anon 6:37-1/20/08, I am sure that the statement "I am offended..." is written by the same individual that wrote 6:35 1/19/08. In fact I have heard that same opening line at numerous Board Meetings by the one and only Robert Bernstein. But, of course, I could be wrong, and this is only a guess.

This is an individual who portends to be the conscience of Greenburgh, no less the Brandeis, Cardozo, and Holmes of the Edgemont. If it is him, it did not take him long to start his New Year's resolution to go on the attack.

But, of course, I maybe wrong, but I assume other long-time witnesses and observers to the mischief-making at Town Hall would easily recognise his legal mumbo-jumbo style. What other lawyer would waste his/her time tying up the Town in lawsuits? But of course I sign my pieces along with Hal Sammis and some others.

My suggestion is that the Community Center is not off-limits to review, or the Library Board or any other department in the Town. The carping critics of the CABAL have been nit-picking for years about management. Now we have fresh faces on the Board who will support the Supervisor's concept of openess and transparency, and find out the truth. By the way they should also look into the Dromore Road deal and find out the truth of Robert Bernstein's involvement and motives.

Awhile ago it was brought up about Bernstein's work ethic, which was reported in our newspapers, where he stated that he devoted an inordinate amount of time to working against the Supervisor. Of course this is a paraphrase, and if Robert Bernstein wished to sign his name to some of these contributions, he could also explain why he hates Paul Feiner. I am sure the handful of people that read this blog would like to know his motives.

Meanwhille, a hearty cheer to Hal Sammis who has spent quality time asking the right questions and probing for the truth.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

Where were the ones that were supposed to oversee the library and the center and whatever other department is in trouble.
Where were the comptrollers who were jotting down figures without knowledge of what they meant.
Thanks to Samis,Krauss,and Garfunkle who have enlighten many of us as to the poor managerial skills that were in place.Could it be that everyone failed us the taxpayers.
Feiner was againsst the library from the beginning but as we all know he was over-ruled not only for this instance but what ever suggestions he made.
The hatred of the four previous board members put us in this circus with the library and at the moment the community center.
The monies alloted the library will not be enough to finish the project.
Would it be left in mid air who knows.
But we all know that we have exhausted all avenues as far as money goes.
I'm sure that Jacobs never dreamed in a million years that his spending would ever be questioned
and taken apart by concerned citizens.
Why is it that the people in Edgemont still support all the wrong goings on as to where our money is being spent without an honest accountablity.There are only two Edgemont residents that sign their blog comments thats Krauss and sometime writter Lasser.
Why do you hide behind annon.I'll tell you why because you all put unincorporated area in a swindle.

Anonymous said...

The truth is obvious for all to see who wish to look. Legislative dictatorship never works. In a sense a committee that designs a horse comes up with a camel. The hegemony of the legislature obviously weakened the constitutional role of the Supervisor, the elected chief executive. Wherein the legislator is protected with a four year term, the executive must stand before the electorate every two years. That position is full-time, is compensated a full-time executive salary, and that person is expected to be the chief office of the town, plain and simple.

With regards to the library, not only are newspapers going broke in America, just read today's NY Times, about the firing of the third editor of the LA Times in four years, for not cutting expenses, but other institutions are threatened. I love newspapers and my wife and family love books and greatly appreciate the value of libraries and what they offer. But what we need and needed was a competent Library Board with competent leadership. We also know that the head of the library resigned quite a while ago. She backed and supported this boondoggle and we are left with her flawed vision and support.

No one in their right mind would not support the continued existance of libraries, but in the same vein no one cannot fail to see the disappearance of book stores and the coming and overwhelming dominance and univerality of the internet. By the time this new edifice needs a new paint job, it may be obsolete.

To reiterate once again, the Library Board, with its former allies on the last two Town Boards seem to have a twin agenda that included the removal of the Supervisor.

I walked into that Library many times during the day and one could bowl in the Library. I took pictures of its emptiness, and one Library employee demanded that I turn over the negative. She claimed I was not allowed to photograph inside the Library. Was it an invasion of privacy? Was someone in there in "witness protection?" Was my right to record the true emptiness of the building less than the rights of some shy patron? In truth there were no patrons!

The Library is a necessity, which no one should doubt. But it is not and never was intended to be a business or a money-maker for the taxpayers. it is a service not unlike the police department.

Therefore the rush to vote on a a poorly thought of referendum was a mistake. The Supervisor fought it, but understood clearly that he was being drawn into a political squabble he could not win. Unfortunately either could the public. Times have changed, commodities have skyrocketed, and the Bush legacy is coming through.

New prudent and sensible leadership must now prevail. I agree whole heartedly with Hal Sammis's suggestions and his analysis of the budget is masterful. This is the type of openess and transparency we need a lot of.

As Edward R. Murrow said of Joe McCarthy, "We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we...remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes which were, for the moment unpopular.

It was thought and promulgated that opposition to the library boondoggle was an opposition to books, reading and learning. No, not at all. It was opposition to political manipulation of an issue that had an "end justifying a mean."

Richard J. Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

There should be an audit of the library. Clue: Conference expenditures.

Anonymous said...

Any wrong doing should be reported to the government.
Have the NYS comptroller's office check into the library since they have been taking our money without good results to the residents .Where has all this money gone to.