WPCNR LETTER TICKER. DECEMBER 7, 2016:
Dear Mayor Roach and Members of the Common Council :
As you may know, the Village of Mamaroneck has successfully defeated a Federal lawsuit for money damages brought by a developer that wishes to build on the defunct Hampshire County Club. http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2016/11/30/hampshire-country-club-lawsuit/94597154/ Interestingly, the lawyer for the Hampshire developer is none other than Michael Zarin, counsel for FASNY (French American School of New York. This result brings to mind Mr. Zarin’s threats to sue White Plains for damages in Federal Court if FASNY does not get its way in respect to developing the Ridgeway CC property.
Media reports show that the Village of Mamaroneck was faced with similar threats by the Hampshire team yet municipal leadership stood behind its zoning laws and defeated the damages claim.
It is heartening to see that the leader of a nearby municipality has the wisdom to resist improper development and defend a baseless lawsuit, notwithstanding the expense of doing the right thing:
“This decision upholds the village’s right to determine its own
destiny,” Mayor Norm Rosenblum said of the
Nov. 18 ruling. “One of the most important things about any
municipality is zoning because it determines the character of the
village and that’s just what was reinforced in this decision.” (emphasis
As you review the latest FASNY submission, we respectfully request
that you keep in mind the story of Hampshire CC and Mamaroneck — a
municipality can and should make land use decisions without being
intimidated by fear of a lawsuit.
Joseph L. DeMarzo
White Plains, NY
Out of the Sun
Out of the sun on quiet Sunday morning they came
Birds of death blazened with red suns raining fiery havoc on Battleship Row.
One by one, ruthless planes dove, destroyed wantonly to their nation’s eternal shame.
Thunderous explosions scattered fiery death in Sunday dawn’s glow.
Flames belched from bowels of stricken Arizona, America’s pride,
On Hickam Field pilots raced to planes to defend
As their birds were crippled on ground by Zeros’ glide
Gunners in turrets on ships floundering filled skies with flack’s din.
In search of aircraft carriers, marauders could not find
Ruthlessly strafed and bombed leaving Pearl
Smoking ruin. Ships sunk, burning as raiders flew back into the Sun
The day of infamy had been ignited in the Zeros’ swirl.
America listened a world away, somber FDR
Spoke of this day that will live in infamy.
America must never forget that Pearl Harbor Scar
When an unsuspecting America slept in complacency.
To the 2,403 perishing that day under merciless bombs
Hails of bullets,terror of torpedos out of nowhere
America must remember forces against our freedoms
Relentlessly work always to remain aware of surprise of deadly bombs’ glare.
Vigilence is the price of freedom always to be defended
Against those who would destroy our republic from within
By dark forces in far off places we have offended.
The answer is not curtailing freedom at home rather it to champion.
The USS Arizona lies today in Pearl’s waters, bleeding lives
Of her men through the eerie eternal slick marking the rusting hulk.
Beneath Pearl’s waters, the blood of free people oozes from the shadowy bulk,
Bleeding forever, freedom’s spirit living eternally in lost lives remembered.
The Arizona never rests.
Note: The Pearl Harbor attack took place 75 years ago today at 7 A.M. Honolulu time –just about 12 noon Eastern Standard Time. Its aftermath is dramatically depicted at
JOHN BAILEY, JIM BENEROFE AND PETER KATZ
THE NEW WHITE PLAINS MALL PROJECT
THE SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANTS IN WHITE PLAINS–EXCLUSIVE PETER KATZ VIDEO AND INTERVIEWS
PETER KATZ INSIGHTFUL REGULAR FEATURE –
THE MILLION DOLLAR SALES TAX SLOWDOWN?
PLAYLAND DEAL STALLS–NO STANDARD AMUSEMENTS O.K. YET.
THE AT&T BUILDING SALE
PEARL HARBOR 75 YEARS AGO ON DECEMBER 7–A LOOK BACK WITH REAL HISTORIC FOOTAGE OF THE ATTACK ON THE DAY OF INFAMY
Monday, December 12 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Strategic Plan Presentation
Presentation of the new Strategic Plan for the Downtown White Plains Transit District. Celebrate the hard work done to improve the City’s future. This public meeting will be located in The Reckson Building at 360 Hamilton Avenue.
31 Mamaroneck Avenue, (914) 428-4220, artswestchester.org
Now – Saturday, January 14
“Remedy” explores the many ways humankind attempts to ameliorate society’s modern ailments (mental, physical, and beyond) through art. Working across media, the contributing artists engage with the tools, institutions, and methods of healing, as well as the role artists and art can play in the process of personal and collective healing. Gallery hours are noon to 5 pm. Learn more.
BARNES & NOBLE
City Center, 230 Main Street, (914) 397-2420, stores.barnesandnoble.com/store/2202
Friday, December 2 at 7 pm
The Polar Express Pajama Storytime
Come in your PJs and join Barnes & amp; Noble for a magical evening as they host their annual Polar Express Storytime. Coloring and activities to follow, including writing a Dear Santa letter.
Saturday, December 3 at 11 am
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Storytime
Celebrate all things Grinch with a reading of the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Barnes & Noble will have good deed badges and tracking booklets for kids to log all the good things they do this holiday season. Activities to follow.
Saturday, December 3 at 12:30 pm, and Sunday, December 4 at 12:30 pm
Photos With Santa Claus
Join Barnes & Noble for an afternoon of holiday festivities including photos with Santa Claus, Storytime and activities with Santa’s Elves and face painting.
Saturday, December 3 at 10 am
Educator Holiday Shopping
Pre-K through 12 educators are invited to a special holiday shopping event. Educators will receive a 25% discount on books, toys, games, movies, music and more. Plus, 10% off Café consumables and select NOOK® devices.
175 East Post Road, (914) 644-8191, beadeverything.com
Wednesday, November 30 from 6 pm – 8 pm
Join Bead Everything for their Ladies Night. Every second and fourth Wednesday night, stop by and bead, chat, snack, and shop with friends. Ladies Night is free to attend, just call ahead to let them know you’re going.
Bead Everything offers classes for every skill level. Call (914) 644-8191 to register and pre-pay.
Thursday, December 1 at 10 am
Introductory Class: Wire Wrapping
Friday, December 2 at 11 am
Saturday, December 3 at 10 am
Introductory Class: Stringing
Saturday, December 3 at 10:30 am
Poinsetia Bracelet and Earrings Set
Sunday, December 4 at 11 am
CITY CENTER 15: CINEMA DE LUX
237 Martine Avenue, (800) 315-4000, https://www.showcasecinemas.com/theatre/8571/city-center-15-cinema-de-lux/white-plains/ny
Saturday, December 3 from 2 pm – 6 pm
Free Holiday Cookie Decorating
Celebrate the season at City Center 15: Cinema de Lux at their free holiday cookie decorating event.
FORME URGENT CARE
7-11 South Broadway, (914) 723-4900
Now – Friday, December 9
Spread The Warmth Annual Coat Drive
Donate a gently used or new coat to those in need. Drop off coats in Forme Urgent Care’s waiting area.
GRACE CHURCH OF WHITE PLAINS
33 Church Street, (914) 949-0384, www.DTMusic.orgNoonday Concerts at Grace Church
30 minute concerts, Wednesdays at 12:10 pm. Free admission, donations are greatly appreciated.
LA BOCCA RISTORANTE
8 Church Street, (914) 948-3281, www.laboccaristorante.com
Thursday, December 1 from
6:30 pm – 10 pm
Moms of White Plains presents their 1st Annual Holiday Botique at La Bocca Ristorante. Great vendors, raffles, wine, appetizers from the chef, and more.
171 Mamaroneck Avenue, (914) 949-8466, www.vino100whiteplains.com
Saturday, December 3 from noon – 5 pm
11th Annual Grand Tasting
Join Vino 100 for their biggest event of the year. Dozens of open bottles, food, and a great time. Free and no RSVP needed.
WHITE PLAINS PUBLIC LIBRARY
100 Martine Avenue, (914) 422-1400, whiteplainslibrary.org
Wednesdays, from 12:15 pm – 1 pm
A weekly Meditation program at the library. No registration or equipment necessary. Starts promptly at 12:15pm with the first few minutes devoted to beginning instruction.
DINING AND NIGHTLIFE
Dinin’, dancin’, and just plain fun…
THE MELTING POT
30 Mamaroneck Avenue
Monday, December 5 – Thursday, December 8
Midweek Romantic Getaway
The holiday season is the perfect time for a date night. Join The Melting Pot for a French inspired fondue experience. Dinner for two is just $59 per couple and includes cheese fondue, entrees, and chocolate covered strawberries with champagne. Book now, and ask for special seating in our Lover’s Lane section.
|SAVE THE DATES|
Saturday, December 10 – Sunday, December 18 from 11 am – 7 pm
White Plains WinterFest Holiday Market
Artisan food, craft vendors, and live music. Located on Court Street between Main Street and Martine Avenue.
Wednesdays at 12:10
Noonday Concerts at Grace Church
30 minute concerts. Free admission, donations are greatly appreciated.
December 14 – Ephemerals: Thomas Bagwell, piano; Gilda Lyons, voice
December 21 – Angelica, women’s chamber choir
January 11 – Jenny J. Lee, piano
WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. December 1. 2016:
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Christina Scaringi, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging five defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a debt-elimination scheme to defraud homeowners and banks.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “The defendants allegedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments and, with their greed, victimized them further.
When the defendants were done with the victims, after falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate their mortgage debt for fees, these homeowners were left much worse off, in even greater debt. With the charges today, and thanks to the investigative work of the FBI and HUD, the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney stated:
“As charged, the defendants exploited a program designed to help cost-burdened individuals enjoy the privilege of affordable housing. Crimes of this nature not only hurt their victims financially, but often force upon them other forms of anguish while harming the financial integrity of the very programs established to help them. We urge everyone to protect themselves against this type of fraud and abuse. If something doesn’t sound right, trust your instincts and do some checking. If you think you may be or have been a victim of mortgage fraud, we urge you to contact your nearest FBI office.”
HUD-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Christina Scaringi stated:
“HUD’s reverse mortgage program was created to help our senior citizens find greater financial security through FHA-insured loans. The defendants’ alleged scheme to unjustly enrich themselves through the victimization of our senior citizens is a shameful act that will not be tolerated by the HUD OIG. We will continue to aggressively pursue those who would prey on America’s senior citizens and encourage anyone having knowledge of such schemes to contact our HUD hotline.”
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court:
In at least 2011 and 2012, BRUCE LEWIS, 65, JACQUELINE GRAHAM, 47, and an unindicted co-conspirator were partners in a business that they called the Pillow Foundation or the Terra Foundation (collectively, “Terra”). Terra held itself out as a business that would investigate and eliminate mortgage debt in exchange for a fee. Terra solicited clients who were having difficulties making their mortgage payments.
ANTHONY VIGNA, 59, was a lawyer who worked in-house at Terra and provided legal services to it and its clients. ROCCO CERMELE, 54, was Terra’s director of operations who recruited clients, among other duties. PAULA GUADAGNO, 58, was a real estate title professional who performed real estate title work for Terra.
LEWIS, GRAHAM, VIGNA, CERMELE, GUADAGNO, and others at Terra told potential clients that Terra could eliminate their mortgage debt in exchange for a fee. In reality, Terra filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages at local county clerk’s offices in Westchester and Putnam Counties and in Connecticut. These fraudulent documents made it appear as if Terra’s clients’ mortgages had been discharged, when in fact they had not.
To profit from their scheme, Terra and the defendants charged monthly fees that they said covered, among other things, audits of the clients’ properties that they often failed to perform. Terra and the defendants also encouraged their clients to take out second or reverse mortgages on the properties for which Terra had claimed to have discharged the first mortgages.
Once the clients had taken out these second or reverse mortgages, Terra and the defendants retained substantial portions of the proceeds. Some of these second or reverse mortgages were made under HUD’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.
In total, Terra and the defendants filed nearly 60 fraudulent discharges in Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and in Connecticut. The fraudulent discharges claimed to discharge mortgages with a total loan principal of over $33 million. In reality, the Terra clients for whom the fraudulent discharges were filed were often left with both a second or reverse mortgage and their original mortgage that had not actually been discharged.
* * *
VIGNA, CERMELE, and GUADAGNO were taken into federal custody this morning and were presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy. LEWIS and GRAHAM remain at large.
Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and HUD-OIG. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Westchester and Putnam County District Attorney’s Offices and the Cheshire Police Department in Cheshire, Connecticut, for their ongoing assistance in the case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Beidel, Michael Maimin, and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecutions.
US v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfUS v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfThe charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. From The Gedney Association. December 2, 2016:
WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. November 28, 2016:
Two weeks before White Plains gets its first look at what Parsons Brinkerhoff, the MTA, and the city transit center steering committee propose for redevelopment of the transit center,(based on collected citizen-preferences), owners of the White Plains Mall 200 Hamilton Avenue, presented a project Monday night to the Common Council that will reimagine the 1972-built mall into a residential community, public space and restaurant destination with regional appeal.
Hamilton Avenue would include a bike lane access to the new railroad hub envisioned as part of the transit district redevelopment, with a widened median. Entrance to the new concept Food/Craft Hall openair space would be off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, with a fountain on the corner of Barker and MLKJBLVD.
A 28 story, 260 unit apartment building would be built on the corner of Hamilton and Cottage Place, diagonally across from the Residence Inn. Adjacent to the 28 story would be a 15 story apartment, complex with 120 units, and on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, 100 units with an additional 120 units fronting Hamilton Avenue. The residential components surround the property with retail (mostly restaurants) at street level on the sides.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard frontage would be re developed into restaurants and stepped heights of residential units. Parking would be in garages inside the structure and a private greenspace created on the roof of the interior garage, 7 stories above the street for use of apartment residents.
The public would have use of the public space reminiscent of those in old Spanish courtyards, sprawling in scope for concerts, with enticing kiosk food concessions and traditional contemporary restaurants surrounding the interior courtyard. Mr. Null coined this public space the Food Craft Hall. It would be accessible by a street entrance on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard where the present mall is entered now.
The proposal suggests thee rental complexes of 28 stories at the highest and stepping down to surround the “mall block” with residential with an open air public space and food kiosks inside. The apartments are planned to incorporate the city requirement that 20% of the units be classified as affordable housing linked to income.
The plan is to build the “reimagined” mall in three years from the time it is approved (5 years out ). Streetscapes is spearheading design of the project which attorney for the project.
William Null said the concept follows the national trend of providing rental housing to repopulate downtowns with street attractions, restaurants, entertainment that appeal to persons in their 20s and 30s, who seek the best of suburban and city worlds, close to public transit so they do not have to have a car.
Mayor Thomas Roach chairing the work session, said the concept fits in with the transit district mission to bring safer and an appealing environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and create a lively environment around the central transit district.
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. November 28, 2016:
The $4.9 Million September Sales Tax boom did sustain momentum in October for the City of White Plains. The retail pace fell to $3,982,450 compared to the $4.9 Million the city raked in in September.
The $3,982,450 October White Plains “handle” was $328,613 lower than the $4,311,063 generated in October, 2015 (a 7.6% decline, year to year for the month).
White Plains, four months into the city fiscal year 2016-17 is up ½% $16,787,530 to $16,690,601 coined in July, August, September and October in 2015.
Westchester County now going into the last two months of its 2015 year is up ½% over 2015, $414,480,802. Should the County equal sales tax receipts of November and December of 2015, it will top $501,858,187, an all time record over 2015’s $499,527,981.
However, the county’s ambitious forecast of a 14% sales tax receipts increase was obviously way too high.
The county has never had more than a 4% sales tax receipts increase in the years WPCNR has been observing county sales tax trends.
The county answer to the bungled forecast is to lease the Westchester County Airport to an independent operator and cover the $15 Million shortfall with an upfront payment from the airport operator. The County Legislature is dubious about this solution.