Armistice Day Veterans Day Passes the Torch of Memory and Regret and Responsibility

WPCNR News & Comment By John F. Bailey November 11,2019

I could not attend today’s Veterans Ceremony at City Hall because of a previous commitment. I am republishing this piece I wrote a number of years ago, commenting on the significance of Veterans Day:W

It is the 11th day of the 11th month, and it is 1918. Armistice Day the day when World War I “The Great War to end all Wars” officially ended. Sadly, the way “The Great War” ended and subsequent reparations penalties on Germany, set the stage for a century of war:  World War II, the Holocaust, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 6-Day War,  the first Iraq War, the Afghan War..

It was sunny on the steps of City Hall today in White Plains this morning , not at all like the trenchs of the Somme in that “Great War.” I wrote the piece that follows in 2013 that delivers some of the feelings of all Armistice Days

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I attended the Veterans Day Ceremony in White Plains Rural Cemetery in 2013.  I met Ross Marsico,(above) the 90 year old  veteran of World War II who fought with the Third Army in France, Belgium and Germany. He was wounded by shrapnel, spent 45 days in a hospital THEN returned to active duty.

Mr. Marsico returned to the USA and spent 30 years as an active policeman in Harrison. He was honored as the 2013 Veteran’s Day Honoree

Mr. Marsico is a native of White Plains, just turned 90 in 2013, is an outstanding person to have the honor to meet. When he was asked questions how he felt about being  honored, he said he just represented all the other veterans and every day people who had served, that it was not about him. Then he teared up.

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Veterans day makes you tear up.

Chaplain Bob Donnelly of American Legion Post 135 in the invocation observed that the gathering was there to honor persons who had written a “blank check to the United States of America, good for everything including their life in service to their country.”

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Adele Zucker(above , Past President of Jewish War Veterans Ladies Auxiliary, said  Veterans day was to honor the veterans who came back and have contributed so much to their hometowns in addition to their military service. 

Chaplain Bob Donnelly noted that when he returned from the Vietnam war he was spat upon by a woman in an airport and called a baby killer, and observed today’s veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan  conflicts are much more respected.

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Then came brief  inspiration remarks by the Mayor, Tom Roach, who proclaimed Monday Veteran’s Day in White Plains  and U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jason Freeland(below)

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Sergeant Freeland, in his most recent tour, was responsible for training Afghan army and police recruits. He is now head of recruiting for the Marines in White Plains. He mentioned how honored he was to be among the veterans attending, and how it was their and those like them whose service that make it possible for him and today’s servicemen and women to perform and live up to the veterans’ example. This  truth was echoed again how you serve matters and it is an inspiration to those who come after you.

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Mayor Roach with Commandant Jack Collins of American Legion Post 135  places the Mayor’s Veteran’s Day Board Wreath at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

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The Home Defense Wreathis placed by members of the White Plains Police and Fire Department

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Dennis Jones, left, places the White Plains Historical Society Wreath. Joan Steere , Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed the final commemorative wreath.

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The White Plains Middle School Band played Anchors Aweigh, The Caissons Go Rolling Along, The Marines Hymn, Semper Fidelis (Coast Guard), and Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (Air Force).

Crisp. Inspiring, evoking the rich traditions and pride and sacrifice of the American armed forces.

As the gathering left, the tent was folded, and the crowd drifted away, until another Memorial Day another Veterans Day.

I remained and watched the tombstones of the Revolutionary War Dead…names no longer readable on the stones, they still spoke as one.

Cemeteries like the White Plains Rural Cemetery inspire by the testimony of the simple stones, the tiny flags denoting veterans and the stones too of every day people of long ago who lived well. As I read their stones I wonder what their lives were like their thoughts, their actions in that long ago time.

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Cemeteries are not places of regret, but, instead inspiration to ignite in us, with their  memories, to continue to work on our own lives and live up to the examples of persons like the veterans still with us and those who have departed.

Rifle Salute to the Departed Veterans by American Legion Post #135, was followed by Taps, played by Bob Freis

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The veterans are getting older.

James Dwyer of American Legion Post 135 was scheduled  to read Flanders Field. He could not  due to illness according to Commander Jack Collins. This is the touching poem penned in World War I, Mr. Dywer would have read. He could not, so I will publish it for him.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field

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This has been a reminiscence of a Veterans Day event of the past in 2013, that I wrote that year. It is not a report on today’s Veterans Day ceremony, but I am sure that many of the same sentiments were said.

May we shake the hand active soldiers we meet in airports and railroad stations today to recognize their service and just thank them. You do not have to say a word. A handshake. A respectfiul nod of the head is all that is necessary to recognize what serving your country as a soldier means.

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Pollination in White Plains Initiative Propagates at WP Council of Neighborhood Assocations Tuesday Night at 7:30 at Ed House. Neighborhoods Requested to Appoint representative to

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November Meeting:

How Pollinators and Native Plants Play a Role in White Plains


The November Meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at
7:30 pm at the Education House, 5 Homeside Lane, White Plains, NY.

The meeting will be a discussion on pollinators and native plants, and how they play a role in White Plains.

The WPCNA has invited subject matter experts to speak about some of
the things that  have happened regarding pollinators/native plants in
White Plains since they were there earlier (the library plaza filled with
native plants that the  White Plains Beautification Foundation, Pollinators of White Plains, awarded the first “This property is   on the
pathway sign” in White Plains, for example,  and other properties that the The Pollinators of White Plains has become aware of with native
plant/pollinator gardens; inside the library a   display and many more
books).

The Pollinators of White Plains will also touch a bit on invasives – why
they are unwelcome, identification and how to get rid of them; new
recommendations for getting the garden ready for winter.

The Pollinators of White Plains will be reaching out Tuesday to each
neighborhood, during the meeting, to appoint a representative to the
Pollinators of White Plains group so that they can be an ambassador

to their own neighborhoods. No knowledge required to start.

 The meeting will be a discussion for WPCNA delegates, residents and the public. We hope to facilitate a healthy dialog to better understand the
issues, opinions and ideas coming out of our neighborhoods. We all look forward to your input.
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COUNTY EXECUTIVE CUTS BUDGET BY $1 MILLION DOLLARS TO $2.1 BILLION

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Department of Communications. November 8, 2019:

Westchester County Executive George Latimer unveiled his 2020 proposed Operating Budget at the County Office building before County leadership, staff, the Westchester County Board of Legislators, non-profit leaders and municipal officials.  The $2.1 billion dollar budget includes a $1 million dollar cut to the Westchester County Property Tax Levy.

Latimer said:

“We made a commitment to freeze County property taxes, and now we can go a bit further and cut the County’s property tax levy by $1 million. This budget is about the people who live in Westchester County, it is about giving them some property tax relief, and at the same time working to make their County the best it can be – by providing services and programs taxpayers rely on while placing the County back onto solid financial ground.”

This is the first time, in almost a decade that a County Executive has proposed a budget that reduces the County property tax levy.  The cut to the tax levy is due in large part to the Westchester County Property Taxpayer Protection Act which shares back 20% to municipalities and 10% to school districts. The 30% amounts to over $40 million helping to provide additional property tax relief.

The share-back is directly responsible for the 0% increase to the Greenburgh property tax rate.  Greenburgh expects to receive $3.2 million in unanticipated revenues in 2019 and 2020.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said: “The reason why the town was able to have a 0% tax increase is because of the decision of Westchester County Executive George Latimer to share revenues from the sales tax with local governments.  This shared revenue will make it easier for all local governments to comply with the tax cap and work to end Westchester’s distinction of having the highest property taxes in the United States.”

Additionally, Lewisboro was able to keep their property tax rate under the New York State cap as a result of the additional sales tax dollars. Lewisboro was also able to spend:

  • $200,000 to cover likely shortfall in mortgage tax receipts,
  • $150,000 to cover retirement cost of Parks Superintendent,
  • $70,000 to cover additional hours for Police Chief and promotion of one patrolman to Sergeant caused in part by NYS Pre-Trial Discovery law reform, and
  • $40,000 in balance restoration.

Lewisboro Town Supervisor Peter Parsons said: “The additional funding from the sales tax will help the Town spread the tax burden more evenly, and is a first step toward being fairer to our senior citizens who tend to be property rich.”

For the 2020 Budget, the County will also have no “one-shot” deals, a step in the right direction to restore the County’s once sterling Triple A Bond rating.  Further, the Budget memorializes Latimer’s commitment to rebuild the County’s reserves – reserves that were nearly depleted by the last administration.  Latimer has directed that $10 million dollars be added to the County’s “rainy day fund” – bringing it up to $79 Million – a 23% increase from just one year ago.

The 2020 budget also features zero borrowing for operating expenses. All ongoing expenses, including pension obligations and tax certioraris, will be paid through the operating budget – not borrowed. In the long term this move saves taxpayer dollars.

Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Gayle Marchica said: “It has been incumbent upon County Executive Latimer to restore fiscal order to a budget that had been pushed past a reasonable threshold. Latimer’s proposal of no ‘one-shot deals’ to restore fiscal credibility, the replenishing of the County reserves, and zero-borrowing, exhibit a well thought out and sustainable approach to a longer-range plan. Ongoing small business growth is contingent upon our fiscal health and economic promise. As a small business leader, I am hopeful for further economic growth, workforce development and profitability in our County’s business vista.”

The Budget invests $1.5 million dollars in new Housing and Community Development initiatives, focusing on not only building affordable housing, but also education initiatives to enable more Westchester families to move toward homeownership. 

The 2020 budget also allocates $1 million dollars in Economic Development.  The money will be used for:

  • A comprehensive long-term economic development strategy and implementation plan. 
    • The last plan was developed in 2000. 
    • This will provide a roadmap for economic development for the next 1-5 years and beyond.
  • Workforce development initiatives to promote economic development in Westchester County by bringing more wage earners into the workforce.
  • Building a pipeline of talent that will enable Westchester County businesses to grow, through a mentorship program.
  • Initiatives to develop a more vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Westchester County, including the expansion of our Element 46 Incubator Program.

Maintaining his commitment to the environment, Latimer has earmarked $400k for additional funding for environmental initiatives including storm water gaugesand Planting Westchester, a program that will plant trees, greenery and add community gardens for food security and carbon sequestration.  The County’s program is modeled after New York City’s successful Million Tree Campaign.

Additionally included:

  • Refrigerant Disposal Program – Awareness campaign to ensure proper disposal of refrigerants as well as solid waste enforcement and subsidies for municipalities to insure proper collection and disposal.
  • Real-Time Meters – Placed in all County facilities to track energy usage to increase energy savings and the Demand Response Program (earnings).
  • Food Scrap Recycling –Phase 1 of the Implementation of recommendations from the “Food Scrap Recycling Study.”
  • Fleet Electrification – Increase purchasing of electric vehicles and build-out of charging infrastructure.

Westchester County Climate Crisis Task Force Chair and the President of the Westchester Chapter of The Climate Reality Project Janet Harckham said: “The allocation of funds to the office of Energy Conservation and Sustainability demonstrates the commitment by the County to make meaningful strides to combat the climate crisis.  This investment enables the department to create a tree planting initiative, significantly reduce greenhouse gasses and save money through energy efficiency, and invest in renewable power. This is a win, win, win.”

County Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability Peter McCartt said:  “Implementing these various programs shows a further commitment by this administration that we are up to the task of battling back against the forces that are exacerbating this climate crisis.”

Working towards a complete count, Latimer has allocated $150k for Census 2020 initiatives to ensure that every resident in Westchester is counted so the County does not lose out on both federal representation and federal funding.  Specifically:

  • Capacity building – helping organizations increase awareness about the census,
  • Volunteer recruitment and
  • Creation of local census hubs.

Latimer has also set money aside to meet the new state mandates for criminal justice reform and election reform.

After the rash of hate crimes in the County, Latimer is also refocusing on the County’s Human Rights Commission and adding the position of a Hate Crime Specialist to the department.   Additionally, dollars have been set aside for Anti-Bias Educational Programs for Schools and College Campuses

In our nationally accredited Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, on the heels of a banner year at Playland, with the highest attendance for the past four years, Latimer is continuing to invest in the Park this time by increasing Playland’s marketing budget by $250K, bringing the total amount now to $1.2 million in 2020.  Three curators will also be added to the Parks Department to be rotated among facilities to have 7 day Curator coverage.  Additionally, a maintenance employee will be added at Hilltop Hanover Farm.  

Non-profits are also slated to receive an overall 3% increase, and the budget includes the creation of a non-profit contracting position to improve the procurement process.  The Chief Non-Profit Contract Officer will serve as County-wide liaison to non-profit agencies contracting with the County to assist with the processing of contracts, provides training with the Department of Information Technology for departments and vendors on modules of the Vendor Portal, and ensure all of the administrative processes involved in the development, awarding and monitoring of contracts are handled in a timely and efficient manner.

Additionally, the Invest in Kids programs will be expanded to include pilot programs that will allow innovation, and will not be limited to geography or socioeconomic patterns. Invest in Kids was established under the Westchester County Youth Bureau Charter as a mechanism for provision of local tax levy financial resource for expanded use of the positive youth development model in addressing the needs of at-risk youth under the age of 21.

Additionally, the budget is making significant changes to how the County administers its daycare program by reducing the parent contribution for childcare from 27% to 25%, eliminating hourly billing and granting a 3% provider increase.

Moreover the 2020 budget also earmarks money for:

•      Stepping-up County customer service initiatives for Bee-Line and Paratransit,

•      Streamlining the capital project process (DPW & Parks),

•      Takes a holistic approach to community development and sustainability (DPW & Planning) and

•      Studying fire response and prevention at Valhalla Grasslands Campus.

Latimer has handed the budget to the Westchester County Board of Legislators.  They are charged with passing the budget before December 27, 2019 as ordered by the Charter.

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK WRAPS UP THE ELECTION on YOUTUBE AND WWW.WPCOMMUNITYMEDIA.ORG

WHITE PLAINS WEEK


The link to YouTube for WPW 11-8 is


https://youtu.be/CX4jV0AnEV0 WHITE PLAINS WEEK

JOHN BAILEY JIM BENEROFE REPORT

THE NEW WHITE PLAINS COMMON COUNCIL

THE NEW COUNTY BOARD OF LEGISLATORS

11 THINGS INCUMBENT COUNCILMAN AND COUNCILWOMEN-ELECT HAVE TO DO BEFORE TAKING OFFICE

CITY SALES TAX REBOUNDS COUNTY SALES TAX SAGS

RED LIGHT CAMERA ROLL OUT BEGINS

REAL ESTATE BLUES

WHY DID THE DEMOCRATS NOT RUN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES TO CUNZIO AND TUBIOLO?

AND MORE REAL NEWS

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White Plains Council Results Put Democratic Slate of HUNT-ROBINSON, PRESSER AND PUJA Cruising to an all Democrat member Council in 2020 by a 3 to 1 MARGIN. COUNTY LEGISLATURE GOES 15-2 DEMOCRATIC AS GORDON BURROWS LOSES 51% TO 49% UNOFFICIALLY

NADINE HUNT-ROBINSON.(2ND FROM LEFT, JENNIFER PUJA (3RD FROM LEFT) AND VICTORIA PRESSER HEADING FOR THE COMMON COUNCIL, SHOWN IN A SPRING APPEARANCE ON PEOPLE TO BE HEARD

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2019. NOVEMBER 5, 2019  UPDATED NOVEMBER 6 9 E.S.T.:

WITH ALL DISTRICTS COUNTED White Plains voters have sent Democratic Candidates for Common Council, incumbent Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson, and first-time candidates Victoria Presser and Jennifer Puja into office.

Virtually 3 out of every 4 voters, chose them over Andrew Custodio, Anne Marie Encarnacao and Brian Peroni, and Independent Candidate, Kat Brezler.

The Hunt-Robinson, Presser, Puja election guarantees an all-Democratic Common Council in White Plains beginning in January 2020, with four men and 3 women making up the Council

As dawn broke this morning, 15 County Legislature seats will all be held by Democrats. Because Gordon Burrows, longtime Yonkers legislator lost 51% to 49% to Ruth Walters, with Walters having 5,395 votes to Burrows’ total of 5,193, a slender 202 votes. Pending a recount, The Westchester County Legislature will be 15-2, in favor of the Democratic Party

Benjamin Boykin, of the uncontested Democrat incumbents returns to the County Legislature in District 7.

Here are the unofficial White Plains Common Council results with all districts tallied

NADINE H ROBINSON  Totals 5,787 24%

VICTORIA F PRESSER 5,143 22%

JENNIFER L PUJA  Totals 5,650 25%

 ANDREW C CUSTODIO  Totals 1,964 9%

BRIAN J PERONI 1,964 9%

ANNE ENCARNACAO 1,905 8%

KAT BREZLER 607 3%

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Ralph Martinelli Dies at 57

Mr. Martinelli was a partner and vice-president in Today Media, the parent company of Westchester Magazine, a successful multi-platform publishing company in the print, digital, and events categories, along with his deceased father, Angelo, and brothers Robert and Richard.

He was previously the publisher of Hudson Valley Magazine, where he started his career in advertising sales in the 1980s while working with his brother Tom. 

Elizabeth Braken-Thompson of Thompson & Bender says, “Ralph was a true visionary. He started with a print magazine and grew it into a multi-platformed lifestyle mega communications company that bridged digital, entertainment, social and print. He had that rare gift of being a true leader who recognized trends and shaped them in his own distinctive way and he did it with style, grace, and integrity. He left a lasting legacy for the Hudson Valley.” 

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COMMON COUNCIL APPROVES NEW LABOR AGREEMENT WITH FIREFIGHTERS, 6-0

Salaries  Go up 1/4% in 2018-19. 3% in each of next two years.

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. November 4, 2019 UPDATED NOVEMBER 5:

The City of White Plains Common Council on the night before election day, approved a stipulated agreement with the White Plains Professional Firegighters who have been without a contract since June 30, 2018. The vote was 6-0, with Councilman John Kirkpatric absent.

The first year of the contract beginning July 1, 2018, calls for a 1-1/2% increase in the step salary levels, but according to the agreement:

“In exchange for the City adopting and paying all of the costs associated with the (firefighters’) pension plan now and in the future, the PFFA will contribute to the cost of  (their) Pension Plan by reducing its  July 1, 2018 salary increase by 1% ( to)0.25% and to waive all retroactive payments (associated there with.”

“The PFFA will further contribute to the cost of the (firefighters) pension plan by waiving the July 1, 2018 Welfare Fund increase of $40 per employee and any retroactive payment associated therewith. Employees will continue to contribute toward their pension plan as required by the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law.”

WPCNR asked the Mayor’s Office for an explanation of the new agreement this morning, because the details of the plan were not included as part of the agenda.

In an unusual phenomena, the backup packet  for all items was also not included below the Common Council agenda on the city website for reference.

The backup packet was eventually published by 2 PM and put on the website.

In year two of the agreement the firemen’s salary schedules will be increased by 3% and also 3% in year three, 2020-2021.

It is unclear what costs the city  will pay of the costs of the firefighters pension plan at this time, i.e. whether all medical costs will be paid by the city, for example. Currently the firefighters WPCNR believes are required to pay 15% of their medical costs.

City hall did not get back to WPCNR there is no telling whether the 3% increases the next two years wipe out the givebacks the PFFA agreed to in the Stipulation of agreement.

It is also unclear how retired firefighters are affected going forward.

Firefighters’ contribution to the Welfare Fund will increase $40 each year of the three year contract.

The Professional Fire Fighters are expected to vote on the agreement Friday.

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White Plains Sales Tax Rebounds in September up 7.6% after 1st Quarter of New Fiscal Year. County Slumps.

WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the NYS Department of Taxation & Finance. November 4, 2019:

White Plains had a great first three months of its 2019-20 fiscal year, with sales tax receipts up 7.6% over July, August, September 2018 (when $12,213,869 was collected) .

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance reported White Plains received $13,141,676 being reported collected the last three months (7.6% more than a year ago.) September 2019 generated $5,337,424 in sales taxes for the city compared to $4,160,181 collected in September 2018.

Westchester County which saw sales tax receipts go up 4% in August thanks in part to its 1% increase in sales tax, saw the September handle slump to only a .7% increase. With October, November and December to come, the county, if it receives the same sales tax handle as it did in 2018 with generate $580,399,260 in sales tax receipts. In 2018, the county collected $550,562,481.

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RED LIGHT CAM ON SURVEILLANCE AT CHAOTIC BRYANT AVE-NORTH STREET INTERSECTION—5 OTHER INSTALLATIONS SCHEDULED THIS MONTH. LOOK SHARP! STOP SHORT!

HALLOWEEN SURPRISE: The colorful little sign is not an early holiday decoration–it’s the only warning you have not to run the chaotic Bryant Avenue and North Street intersection and get caught on camera with a red light violation. WPCNR noted this Saturday morning. Watch out at school dropoffs and on rush hours where everyone tries to beat this light.
Drivers approaching a green light will be saying their prayers as the red light camera (alongside the telephone pole) is watching you.

WPCNR TRAFFICA. By John F. Bailey, UPDATED NOVEMBER 3, 2019:

A Red Light Surveillance Camera has been installed at the troublesome intersection of North Street and Bryant Avenue, shown above.

It is one of 6 new installations scheduled according to the city to be in operation in November . Besides the Bryant and North Red Light Camera, such surveillance devices (that take a picture of motorists caught in the intersection when the light changes from yellow to red), other new locations are to be looked for at:

Hamilton Avenue and Cottage Place (in the downtown)

Mamaroneck Avenue and Ridgeway (in the southend)

Tarrytown Road at Central Avenue (a key intersection gateway at the County Center)

In October, the following locations were planned to be activated and now be live at this time:

Westchester Avenue at South Kensico Avenue (Westbound gateway to the city)

South Lex Avenue and Maple Avenue (popular cut through to Bryant Avenue

Eastbound Main Street at Bank Street

Westbound Martine Acenue at Mamaroneck Avenue

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NOV 1 WHITE PLAINS WEEK ON YOUTUBE NOW AND wpcommunitymedia.org

Here’s the link to the wpweek of 11-1-19 on youtube https://youtu.be/_yNk1akXyvk

JOHN BAILEY
JIM BENEROFE

19TH YEAR ON THE AIR

on

EARLY VOTING SUCCESS! WHAT IT MEANS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS

CHALLENGE TO NEW COMMON COUNCIL MEMBERS AHEAD

WHAT’S WRONG WITH WHITE PLAINS CAMPAIGNS

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT CRISIS NATIONWIDE

THE WPW SHOVELS IN THE GROUND REPORT

THE MAYOR SUPPORTS THE SEIU IN ITS NEGOTIATIONS WITH 35 BUILDING OWNERS IN THE TRI-STATE AREA

Here’s the link to the wpweek of 11-1-19 on youtube https://youtu.be/_yNk1akXyvk

www.wpcommunitymedia.org

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