Sunday, October 11, 2009


From: Archibald [archibald___full e mail deleted)]
Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 11:33 PM
To: Paul Feiner

Hi Paul,

I am currently employed at ___(deleted name of company) on Sawmill River Road as an Accountant, this is to inform you of my success. Thanks for all your help and God bless.



hal samis said...

And here's my contribution to seeing that some people are not "working".
Email sent Friday.

The Library Board of Trustees meets monthly; there are no work sessions.
Therefore, they have met but 9 (nine) times so far this year.
This body claims and is allowed sole discretion over disbursing an annual operating budget of $3,400,000 +/-.

The Library Board of Trustees is an appointed Board (by the Town Board), not an elected one.

As such it would seem reasonable that its members take their positions and personal commitment seriously, at the very least to the extent of attending these monthly meetings. If they are unable to do so for whatever reason(s), their immediate resignations would seem to be the responsible and honorable course of action. In turn, the Town Board should accept some ongoing responsibility for those it appoints.

I submit that two of the Trustees, Diane Creston and George Hayward have already passed the point of no return.

2009 Library Board of Trustees Meeting dates:

January 15, February 26, March 26, April 30, May 28, June 25, July 23, August 27 and September 24.

Of these nine meetings, George Hayward has not attended 1/15, 3/26, 6/25 and 9/24.
He has missed 4 out of 9 meetings; this is the equivalent of 44%.

Of these nine meetings, Diane Creston has not attended 3/26, 4/30, 5/28, 6/25, 8/27 (attended "by phone", not allowed to vote) and 9/24.
She has missed 6 our of 9 meetings; this is the equivalent of 67%.

Neither absence rates are acceptable to any legitimate organization composed of voting members and no one on the Town Board would dare to face the public or stand for re-election having earned such a dismal record.

I urge the subject Trustees to "do the right thing" and the Library Board and the Town Board to consider the folly of having $3,400,000 left in the hands of just five Trustees while the Library charter calls for a seven person Board. To remind all, as of this writing, the longest service of any of these other five is under two years (the President of the Board less than a year) while the two recent appointments (by the Town Board) for the coming year bring to the table their combined experience of six months and 0 months respectively.

I would anticipate that two more vacancies on the Library Board will be announced shortly.

An Observer of Greenburgh said...

Is the library board not an all volunteer board? My concern is why would such a budget be under the control of an all voluntary board? Is anyone paid? Is there no library manager/executive that could administer this 3.4 million dollar budget?

While I still have a bitter taste from the 2005 vote to have a 20 million dollar plus library built, which in the economic times we face now appears to be a little too much in hindsight--I do appreciate the people on the library board.

If I am correct in saying that they are not paid and are all volunteers then I would have to commend them on what they do even with everything else going on in their lives like work, children &c.

I feel that the library board might benefit more if it were run like a village government. Where you have a manager and the board could continue to vote on the "political" matters concerning the library.

I do think that every seat on this board needs to be occupied. But as far as attendance goes I would like to hear the reasons from the two people called into question by Mr. Samis as to why they missed these meetings. It is possible there were good reasons for them.

hal samis said...

Dear sitting on a fence,

You are neither the solution nor part of it. By choosing the safety of the middle road, you run around in circles, meeting yourself coming and going.

Whereas you think that the seats should be occupied you are hoping for good reasons to explain their absences. I suspect that for the most part the explanation is the poor health of the individuals. However, if this is the case, then they should resign, not occupy the seat so that voting remains vested within a smaller club. There need be no humane reasons for tolerating their attendance; it is not as though they would be forced to give up a paying job just when their needs are greatest.

If you are uncomfortable with the $20 million+ tab for the Library expansion, the excessive cost and subsequent waste is still true whether the economic times are bad or good. What you are saying is that as long as we can afford it, then it doesn't matter how we spend it.

You want to commend them for being volunteers because they likely have busy lives yet you don't want to condemn they for letting their busy lives interfere with fulfilling the responsibility they have voluntarily commited themselves to. Attending one meeting a month is the minimum snapshot of "holding their body to the grindstone" and you are looking for some defense from those who miss 4 or 6 meetings out of 9 and you think this is praiseworthy?

There are complex issues as to why the Town Board likes to buy into the fiction that the Library Board is independent of the Town Board. These have to do with their acceptance of what kind of Library it is and whether it falls under the State Education laws. One clear way to remove all the confusion would be for the Library to become an Independent Library District in which the Budget and the Library Board members would be voted upon by the residents -- just like a School District. Even though the Town Supervisor and the Library Board both say for the record that this is what they want, neither group has taken the first step toward arriving at this.

The Library Board knows when their bread is buttered.

As for the Town Board, they have a history of not filling vacancies on problem Boards (all town Boards consist of unpaid volunteers, fyi). Consider the Ethics Board which still has one vacancy for 5 seats. And because the Town Board fears an active Ethics Board, they also tolerated keeping one of these seats "off the market" by not kicking off a member who attended only the first 2 meetings and thereafter attended none. For how long? Just about a year and a half.

So don't think that there is no back story as to why there is no effort to force the resignations of the Library Board's two space fillers in name.

And in full disclosure, I applied for the last two Library Board vacancies and neither Board even consented to interview me -- in disregard of their own rules. But then, there is no one who knows as much about what goes on as myself and by keeping me off this Board, they can continue to hide the dirty laundry. Like your attempt to demonstrate your impartiality by mildly suggesting that in these economic times, hindsight yields a different picture while rejecting the notion that there were those demonstating foresight. And today is just more of this "business as usual" management style.

Every picture (everytime) tells a story.

Anonymous said...

If Demita Gerber didn't run for the hills and was still there, she would have gotten a Library District. She was trying to get it for years before she escaped to the mid-west. The Library, however, now believes that the right thing to do is not have the taxpayers get to vote for their budget every year because they know it would be voted down every year. Do you think the Town's budget would be voted in if we had to vote for it?

hal samis said...

Dear 1:23,

Yes, Ms. Gerber did leave hastily behind a rather weak cover story.

But what do you mean by "trying to get it" (independent library district) for years?

In the 1960's there was a movement toward self-awareness/fulfillment that was mocked, perhaps rightfully so. It was called EST after its founder. However, what was used as an example in its promotional literature was this:
the enrollee was asked to try and lift his/her chair. Everyone asked was able to do so. The message was that there is no such thing as trying: either you can or you can't.

Everyone who talks about forming an Independent Library District is
"trying" but no one really wants one to happen. That is why as you put it "she was trying for years to get it". There is very little upfront money necessary to get a petition underway to create an Independent District and the effort is token when compared to the effort for the Referendum to expand the Library.

Thus for everyone who is "trying" to get an Indendent Library District, I respond that this talk is a sham. The Library Board has the best of both worlds: they get to spend what the Town Board feels bound to supply and they get to spend it as they please. Were all residents to see the Library Budget apart from being a few pages as part of the Town's budget, they would likely vote it down which is what the Library Board fears most. And, the Town Board is very generous in supplying the Library with what used to called operating funds. Today's budget contains surpluses which can be moved to a capital budget for bailing out the unfinished library expansion. Above all, for whatever its faults are, this Town Board cannot be accused of being political "book burners" which is often the grounds for seeking an independent lbirary.

But don't get off track unless you meant to point out that as an Independent Library District, the Library Trustees would be voted for by the public; not appointed to terms by the Town Board -- an observable conflict of interest.

Such a conflict which is apparent when you consider that the current Library Board, headed by Frank Musantry, a Feiner disciple, is not vigorously pursuing remediation for the sins of the Architect, the Construction Manager and the Town's liaison, Al Regula. All that was supposed to be done; all that isn't being fixed and all that was done sub-standard are examples of "trying" to be resolved by secret "negotiations" while the one year warranty period expires. Why isn't the Library pursuing the matter vigorously? Maybe the dangling budget request review, maybe the desire to present a united front, maybe the hope that this will somehow all blow over and the myth of a library expansion on time and on budget will remain immutable.

But how to explain that after nine months, no one has resolved even the simple and obvious canker sores i.e.
1) what's going to be done about the mens room door that exposes the urinal
2) what's going to be done about the opening in the wall of the bridge to the outdoor chilren's play area?
3) what happened to the glass panels to separate the toddler's area from the young adult section

Of course I have my own lengthy, inclusive check list but these three are good examples of "trying to lift a chair".

But it is my contention that Mr. Musantry is playing ball with Mr. Feiner and, in turn, Mr. Feiner is giving Musantry the Library Board that he needs for rubber stamping.

In fact, volunteer board or committee, they don't get appointed by chance. It's as though the unstated is the s.o.p. for membership: "round up the usual suspects..."

Hello Frank, Fran, Mike, Don,
Alan, Milton, Vic...

Anonymous said...

Can't believe Samis is still bashing Demita Gerber. His hatred for her is petty and that's where all his venom for the library began. Time to let go.

Demita Gerber reached a point in her public service life where retirement was earned and she moved to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Is there something wrong with that?

As to the library board, they are volunteers who rely on the director to help adminster the budget and oversee the operations of the library. The director reports to the trustees.

Unfortunately, as with other voluntary boards, the Town Board is now stacking them with cronies who will try to overtake the operations and give control to the Town Board by voting at their direction. The time has come for all these boards to have elections so that the Town Board can't take control of them. That is the whole purpose of having these boards - so they could be independent of Town politics.

Anonymous said...

What are these nefarious town board conflicts of interest being insinuated w/r/t the library and other matters? Haven't the Board Members (except possibly Brown) already "earned" their lifetime healthcare benefits? Aren't their pensions building inexorably regardless of what they do? Our Board, as unqualified as it may be, does not seem to me like the classic small town govt. conflict of interest types with private law and real estate development practices. I'm not defending them, I'm only arguing that none of our Board members seem clever or conniving enough to get any personal benefit from "controlling" the library or other boards.

hal samis said...

Very strong accusation (hate, venom) about Gerber when all I did was respond to someone who brought her name up. But does reminding residents of the facts get tossed because I attach names to my recitations?

Does it strike anyone as unusual that this "beloved" Library Director split even before the ground-breaking (shadings of Heslop)? Did she give any indication beforehand or did she just become overcome overnight with angst about not seeing her family which lived in Michigan for years? Or did the $50,000 bonus to Triton haunt her?

And let's not sway sentiment by saying "Demita Gerber reached a point in her public service life..." Unlike volunteers who serve on town boards, Ms. Gerber was very well compensated for her JOB, going from the mid $90s to around $117,000 in four years and was the third or fourth highest paid town employee at the time. Petty or not, the position of Library Director is not a high pressure job.

As for the members of the Library Board of Trustees, "relying on the Director" this is not their job. Whereas you agree that board members should be independent of the Town Board, you might also consider that a Library Board in awe and dependant on a Library Director's "continuity" is not, in so far as public trust is concerned, operating independently which is the role expected of a group of appointed "officials" who have sole responsibility for a $3.4million annual budget. The Library Director role vis a vis the current Library Board (and as was also true when Gerber was around) was to promote her agenda to a naive and complaisant Board which relies on what the Director puts in front of them. They swallow these directives whole because they are either absent from meetings or too concerned about tomorrow to digest the problems of today.

And to be direct, either the Trustees were ignorant, naive or lying when they voted to drop cybermobile service and Sunday hours because there wasn't enough money in the budget OR they relied on the lie that their administrator, the acting Library Director told them. We know after the fact that the Library had a $200,000 surplus in that year's operating budget PLUS a fund balance they could tap if they really felt "bad" about breaking their promise to continue, if not expand cybermobile service, during the construction period.

Are we operating the Library like the game show, "To Tell the Truth" where all the contestants are rewarded regardless of whether they are honest or not?

If this shocks you, I've got another example waiting in the wings.

hal samis said...

To 9:37,

You must be forgetting that the Town Council is a paid position, earnings which increases their retirement kitty. A generous pay scale too when compared to what a typical part-time job commands in the private sector. Salary + health plan + pension does not typify the compensation package found in the real world.

To continue their eligibility for riding this gravy train, they must be re-elected. To do so, they need the cooperation of the town department heads and the town boards to rationalize their policies.

And since the Town Council members do not raise campaign funds on their own, they depend upon riding the coat tails of the Town Supervisor. Take a look at who is contributing to the Supervisor's campaign war chest and you might want to withdraw your naive statement that this doesn't seem like the typical small town scenario. And if your exposed naivity rankles you, then where have you been when several high profile zoning variance "squabbles" have played out at Town Board Public Hearings?

Also if my tone that you label "nefarious" feels misplaced re the Library Board and the Town Board, then were it not for me everyone would be accepting without qualification their joint party line that the library expansion project is:

1) finished
2) on time
3) on budget

Two presumed independent boards collaberating to maintain this fiction strikes me as nefarious behavior.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "motivations" and so forth, if the Feiner expiration date rumor asserted above is true, then all will be revealed when Feiner announces his next job in 4 years or so. If he becomes a commercial real estate industry lobbyist in Albany, then I'll publicly bow down to Hal.

Anonymous said...

Hal, Hal, Hal,

You STILL need to crawl back under that rock from which you came out. Venom once again spurts from your words. IS EVERYTHING a conspiracy with you? Can't ANY ONE person do ANYTHING right in your eyes? Obviously NOT. Good thing you are in THE MINORITY. I would MOVE from here IF I even thought YOU represented a majority.

Anonymous said...

hal's stalker at 11:25: let's see if you can sell your house before you threaten to move

Anonymous said...

If the house is in Hartsdale or Fairveiw, dont even try selling.

hal samis said...

Dear 3 times not a lady,

"Hal, Hal, Hal,

You STILL need to crawl back under that rock from which you came out. Venom once again spurts from your words."

No doubt what you wrote was purely for illustrative purpose only.