City Sales Tax up less than 1% over a Year ago. County Sales tax on target for a 2.8 % Increase in Sales Tax Collections by Fiscal Year Close

WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. November 24, 2014:

White Plains City sales tax collections, just out from the New York State Department of Taxation continued modestly up in October retail action in the city, rising three quarters of a percent. Through the first fourth months of the city fiscal year that began in July, the city has earned  $16,652, 414 in sales taxes compared to $16,532,253 in 2013, a gain of .73 per cent.

Westchester County through the first 10 months of its fiscal year is up 2.8% in sales tax collections, $488 Million in 2014 compared to $414 Million. Should the county earn the same sales tax revenue the next two months as it did in November-December 2013, the county will collect $502 Million for 2014, 2.7% more than 2013. If it exceeds Nov-Dec collections by the 3% the county is averaging…the County could collect $504 Million for 2,014.

 

 

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The Day President Kennedy Was Shot.

WPCNR NEWS COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. November 22, 2014 (Originally published in 2001):

Someone made a big mistake this year. The papers this morning have no reference to the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed

Today is the day in Dallas 51 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was shot in his motorcade in front of the Texas Book Depository Building.

November 22,  1963. A most unfortunate coincidence that someone should have noticed.

Fifty-one years ago today at about midday eastern standard time, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.

When I heard the news, I was heading up the steps of  Gray Chapel at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. It was sobering news. Then within the hour it was reported that the President was dead, and the search was on for potential suspects.

It was the first time in my life a national event had ever affected me.

Persons in their late 60s can probably remember exactly what they were doing when they heard that electrifying news.

Disbelief. Concern. Sadness.

Who would shoot the President?  How could they? The President no matter who he was was revered and respected at that time — not ridiculed, mocked, vilified, and criticised for his every move as he is today.

 

President Kennedy’s popularity was ebbing at that time. The public was initially inspired by the vision of Camelot and the likable, energetic young president. However, by the time he was assassinated, President Kennedy was coming under harsh criticism for his foreign policy and his inability to move an agenda through congress. He was ridiculed by impressionists and pushed around by congressional heavyweights — eerily not too much different from our President today.

 

But, when Kennedy was shot, the American public, even those who disagreed with his politics and considered him in over his head in the presidency, were stunned by grief and horror.

Nothing had happened like that in America since 1901 when President William McKinley was assassinated.

An entire nation reflected in guilt for a week as the three television networks showed 24 hours a day assassination and funeral coverage. Walter Cronkite shed a tear on camera when he reported Kennedy was dead.

Until the Trade Center Horror in 2001, this nation had not experienced anything on that national scale of reaction to an event.

Were we a more sensitive nation then? More sensitive to what killing actually is? I wonder. In the fast-moving sensationalism of news today, would the same sensitivity be there today?

Or, have we been hardened to violence, and do we now see violence as more of an acceptable solution to problems than to be avoided at all costs?

I remember how Americans sat mesmerized in front of their televisions as the Kennedy goodbye played out. I remember, too how Kennedy’s death swiftly paved the way for the landmark Civil Rights act of 1965, legislated by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. That legislation, without Kennedy’s assassination would probably never have been passed. I believe it passed because of collective guilt over Kennedy’s demise.

For 49 years, politicians, when their charisma is measured, have always been compared to Mr. Kennedy.

However, charisma does not get things done. Does not make for change by itself. It is nice but it achieves nothing unless you have some solid ideas, management skills, and are willing to work hard for it. Even, then, as a recent Kennedyesque President found out, it may not happen.

However, the political rancor and hysterical hatred of our current President expressed in the Republican debates, on talk radio and by candidates who should know better two years ago created an atmosphere of disrespect for the President that exceeds even that aimed at George W. Bush. This was brought to an unheard of level this week by Michael Steele’s comment about Emperor Obama and his reign of lawlessness.

The lack of respect for the Presidency today has created an atmosphere that is far more dangerous for the President than we can ever tell.

This has been further enflamed by the whining of rich little brat Mitt Romney who has been given everything he wanted and bought everything else except the Presidency. His comments after losing two years ago alluding to what was needed was revolution to change things were historic as well as despicable. It was a rich boy’s whining. It was reckless and immature. No defeated presidential candidate has ever made remarks like that. Even Al Gore when he lost the election did not, to my memory come out and call for revolution. Romney’s petulance showed the voters saw right through this Guy Smiley of a candidate they in their guts knew the phoney he was.

Romney’s comments Two years ago to his donors, were echoed this week by  Michael Steele’s statement about Emperor Obama this week and his “reign of lawlessness” is exactly the sort of talk that can inspire violence. It was irresponsible of Romney and Steele. A losing Presidential candidate has one job, unite behind the new leader. Romney is the only President in my memory ever to act this way. And the Republicans’ inability to compromise has stalled the nation on recovery, immigration, health care…you name the issue, the Republican Party has stalled progress.

We should always remember The Republicans’ whining. Bullies always whine.

Ideas and rhetoric are one thing, but to vilify the President on the scale of what we hear today is irresponsible.

So when you sit down to turkey Thursday give a thought to be thankful for a nation that does not rise up in arms whenever a leader is elected that a portion of the populace does not like. Be thankful that the American people speak as one, and still do, even though we disagree.

 

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Just A Few More Questions from the Truth Police Going into FASNY 8 TALKS


WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. November 19, 2014:

The following letter from Ron and Marie Rhodes, who have been conducting extensive analysis of the French American School of NewYork updated site plan for the planned school campus on the old Ridgeway Country Club have sent this letter to the Mayor of White Plains and Common Council this week and shared it with WPCNR.  5 Days before the 8th continuation of the French American School of New York extended hearing on the revised “mitigated” site plan for the organization development of the former Ridgeway Country Club, the self-styped “Truth Police” write:

Dear Mayor and Common Council,
 
After reviewing FASNY’s Revised Site Plan of October 20, 2014 we would like to share with the Common Council some of our concerns and questions with FASNY’s Constructions Plans.  
However, it’s important for all of us to keep the “Big Picture” in mind. . .that FASNY’s Construction of a regional school campus on 53 acres is out of Character in our neighborhood of single family homes and out of Compliance with the White Plains Comprehensive Plan and other WP laws.  
 
Further complicating FASNY’s Construction is that the old golf course property they acquired. . .some of which is designated environmentally sensitive land, other parts have steep slopes unsuitable for building and some sections cover underground streams which will require the expert opinion of the Army Corps of Engineers as to the location and amount of building allowed. 
 
As we all try to understand the Construction Plans. . .FASNY hasn’t helped WP citizens or themselves by constantly changing their plan details and being less than forthcoming (i.e. truthful) in communicating facts.  For example in the SEQR Findings the Common Council reduced FASNY’s student population down to 950. . .yet in the first draft of their Site Plan FASNY actually increased their building square footage 30 thousand for the same 950 student population. 
Now in their Revised Site Plan FASNY is taking credit for reducing their building size 30 thousand sq ft back to where they were. . .yet FASNY is still using their original FEIS building square footage which was for a student population of 1,200. Confusing to say the least. . .and gives us an indication that FASNY’s real plans are for a student population of 1,200 or higher.
 
Our questions that we would like to see our Common Council get FASNY to address at the November 24th Review Meeting are:
 
1.  If FASNY still has not reduced its building square footage to correspond and reflect the 950 student population cap. . .is there anyone who doubts that FASNY will be really building a school campus for a student body of 1,200 or higher. . .and is just not being truthful to the WP Community about what their real plans are?
 
2.  How is FASNY on page 3 of the Cover Letter to their Revised Site Plan stating “the remaining buildings continue to comply with the Zoning Ordinance standards for Building Coverage (20% permitted, 4.2 proposed) and Floor Area Ratio (40% permitted, 5.5% proposed, and various setbacks.”. . .if the property FASNY acquired is made up of 4 separate parcels of land and the 78 acres of the Conservancy is a separate activity?   Does it appear to anyone else looking at their Exhibit 1 map. . . that FASNY’s buildings, roadways & paved bike paths, parking, turf-type ball fields and their attempted take-over of Hathaway Lane. . .concentrate all of their Construction, or you could say destruction, by covering a lot of impervious surfaces in a residential neighborhood currently of Open Space?
 
3.  Does their proposed Closure of Hathaway Lane. . .allow FASNY to combine 2 of their parcels of land and in the process allow more Construction without FASNY having to apply for additional accessory permits?
 
4.  Shouldn’t FASNY be required to give a detailed breakout of the Construction coverage of their 53-acre campus by buildings, roadways & paved bike paths, parking lots and ball fields?
 
5.  And how does FASNY’s 3 miles of paved bicycle paths and the 48 ft paved roadway off North Street, the first 200 ft of which is about 60 ft wide, impact the environmentally sensitive designated land it’s on and the size of the Conservancy itself?
 
6.  If FASNY’s project is the largest building proposal ever for a WP residential neighborhood. . .does the City of White Plains have Construction Procedures in place specifically for residential areas?
 
7.  Is anyone concerned that FASNY is dragging out their Construction over 10 years. . .only because of their need to do a lot of additional fundraising along the way? 
 
8.  Isn’t a 10-year Construction process in a residential area. . .cruel and unusual punishment for residents who live nearby?
 
9.  What happens to our residential neighborhood. . .if FASNY’s fundraising is unsuccessful and their Construction is left unfinished midstream?
 
10.  FASNY’s representatives have tried to compare their Private School to a Public School. . .however doesn’t the WP Public School System secure the financing upfront before any School Construction Projects begin?
 
11.  And isn’t all of WP Public School Construction completed within a few years?
 
12.  Should FASNY be required to have all their Construction money upfront or a Construction bond in place before any work begins?
 
13.  And wouldn’t it be better for White Plains. . .to limit the scope of Construction to the amount of funds FASNY has upfront?
 
14.  And if FASNY has the Construction money upfront. . .why would Phase I Caps or for that matter a 10-year Construction Plan even be needed?
 
15.  With all our existing local and out of town morning commuter Traffic and our 10 schools currently operating around our residential neighborhood. . . shouldn’t Construction Work and Deliveries start after 10AM each morning. . .in order to safeguard our Children, Seniors and Commuters?
 
16.  Who from FASNY will be in charge and responsible for their Construction. . .including what streets Construction Vehicles and Workers can travel on and where they will have to park?
 
17  FASNY is claiming that they have 75 ft setbacks. . .yet if you go to Exhibit 7 in their Revised Site Plan. . .why are they still showing 25 ft side yard setbacks?  And why is the paved 8 foot wide bike path within the 25 ft setbacks? 
 
18.  And shouldn’t all the paved bike paths be beyond the 75 ft setbacks?
 
19.  On page 2 of FASNY’s Revised Cover Letter. . .what does “move trail on Parcel B from 10 feet to 50-60 feet from residential property lines” mean. . .if FASNY is supposed to have 75 ft setbacks?
 
20.  With regard to FASNY’s 3-D presentation. . .how is it this 3-D shows that existing residential houses and FASNY’s newly planted trees look larger than the FASNY school buildings? 
 
 We can’t wait for the Army Corps of Engineering input and analysis. . .as we learned in our own due diligence 35 years ago before we bought our current house. . .that a developer could not build on the golf course without undertaking substantial and costly hydrology studies to identify where all the underground streams were located. . .so we’re delighted the Army Corps is investigating. 
 
In the meantime:
21.  Who to date has determined that FASNY’s building foundations will not interfere with the existing underground streams on the old golf course property? 
 
22.  With all the buildings, impervious paths and surfaces. . .who so far has determined where all the rain water will flow to?
 
23.  If FASNY misrepresented or gave incorrect documents and maps to the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal government agency, is that a punishable offense in any way?
 
24.  With the Conservancy. . .what “sponsored activities” will be allowed?  Could a “sponsored activity” something like the “Great Jack O’lantern Blaze” that is held in Croton around Halloween each year and attracts over 100,00 people be allowed on the Conservancy?  Wouldn’t a “sponsored activity” like this negatively impact our neighborhood?  Who is looking out for WP neighborhoods?                      
 
25.  In view of how misleading the FASNY representatives have been to date. . .shouldn’t the City have 100% control of the Conservancy going forward. . .since FASNY originally promised and communicated this to all WP citizens when the Conservancy was first proposed?
 
26.  When the Common Council meets on November 24th. . .will FASNY once again announce that they changed their plan details from their most recent Revised Site Plan submission of October 20th. . .in an effort to avoid questions from the Common Council. . .and once again confuse WP citizens and City Staff by having all interested parties looking at different FASNY plans?  
 
Thanks in advance to the Common Council for questioning FASNY and searching for the Truth,
 
We report. . .you decide.                                                                                                                                                   Your Truth Police, Team Rhodes
 
Marie and Ron Rhodes
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Slate’s back! Slate the Lab Returned to His Owner thanks to Kindly Neighbors

 

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WPCNR PET REPORTER. From the Gedney Association. November 19, 2014 UPDATED 2 P.M.E.S.T.:

Thank you for the tremendous response about the runaway Black Lab named Slate.  We have located the owners on Ridgeway Circle after over a dozen calls and emails from the community.

Slate was found on Ethelridge Road this morning and the subject of an e-mail sent Gedney Association members.

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No Exit: You can come in, but you can’t get out. Ho-Hum Housing Market in White Plains.

WPCNR REALTY REALITY. News & Comment By John F. Bailey November 18, 2014:

Nothing is changing in the White Plains Housing Sales anytime soon.

White Plains had a very flat 2014 third quarter (July, August, September) compared to 2013, selling the same number of homes in White Plains as last year.

Single Family Home sales were flat at 80 sales compared to 82 last year; 9 less condominums sold—43 sales this year compared to 52. The equity death spiral  condo owners are experiencing in horror  continues — not getting  all the money they expected to get out of their condo investment, and watching the possibility of getting even less became inescapable.

Co-Ops are  the least expensive way to own your own home in White Plains New York USA.

Co-op sales in the third quarter were up 22% ,61 co-ops sold compated to 50 last year. There’s no magic here: the Average selling price of a CO-OP in the lowest taxed city in the county was $188,954..up from $176,000 last year…median selling price for the 61 sold was $177,000

Prices continued to sink in Condoland.The average selling price of a condo in White Plains in the third quarter was $554,260 — down 6% from $590,000 a year ago. The median selling price sank 7% to $395,000. That is not a good trend if you still own a condominium.

Meanwhile homeowners have to be increasingly concerned over the agonizing slow rise of prices on single family homes. Real estate prices in White Plains on single family homes have not recovered like “Wall Street World Casino,” the stock market.

The optimism of last spring on single home sales has been dashed in the third quarter is now tempered by the hope that the rising inventory will spark the market. Mike Graessle, of Rand Realty who supplied this interesting snapshot of the White Plains housing market says that homes coming on now have attracted multiple offers.

But you have to be patient, and price it right, as Mike has often told me in the past.

In the third quarter it was taking the owner of a single family home 4-1/2 months from first listing to sale. People who need to get out are desperate, they are having to drop their price on average 7-1/2% from their first listing price before selling. That simply kills your nest egg takeout, that has already been blown away some 10% in value since before the recession.

The national disgrace that is holding back the housing market is college tuition loans. There is no way the vast majority of first time home seekers can afford a home with college loans, stingy wages and anxiety about taking on more debt.

That’s why Co-ops are popular first options. They are the lowest priced.

The banks are bringing back the Uriah Heep tradition, realtors have been telling me for five years.

The median price of a single family home in White Plains is $576,500 the average selling price, $676,000 that’s up  an insignificant 3% from the third quarter of 2013, slightly more than inflation.

If you have to put 20% down on a $500,000 White Plains house…you need $100,000 cash plus a $400G mortgage. The banks are not taking that risk if you already owe on tuition loans and just starting out in your mid-20s or early 30s. Why can’t our congress see that and forgive those college tuition loans across the nation? That would start a recovery.

If you can’t buy a house in White Plains, where can you buy it?Where would you want to buy it? Recovery, what recovery?

We can also look forward to new tax increases in the spring from the city and the school district. A lot more. I predict a fat 5% (to bring up union wages) from the city since there is no major election for two years and about 7% from the school district that will really hurt.

That old house is starting to kill its owner on the city and school property taxes and the excruciating slow increase in what you can sell your house for has exploded what you thought you’d get from your equity when you sold it,  while the city and school district unchecked spending is eroding your cash flow to pay the taxes. As you transition to fixed income that is a big time problem for the county and city economy growth potential.

And another thing…

Have you received that property tax rebate from the state, yet for our city and school district staying under the tax cap?  The Department of Taxation and Finance told WPCNR the state is sending out the rebates for cities and school districts that stay under the tax cap, which the city and school district of White Plains claimed they had. The state can’t even get the refunds to us in time for holiday shopping.

Could the city and school district governments start cutting this year?

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The Panhandling Menace.

WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. November 18, 2014: The following letter was received in reponse to the letter highlighting the daily panhandling business going on at Court and Martine Streets. The writer asked their name be withheld due to fear of reprisal.
I read the letter you published regarding panhandlers in the area around DSS.(Department of Social Services, Michaelian Building, White Plains)
 
1) Do you see a connection with empty stores on Court between Main & Martine and the aggressive panhandling?
 
2) The “wonderful” fountain area is also full of vagrants whenever I pass through. It is a wonder that Starbucks stays in business!
 
3) Can the cops take any legal action?  Is begging legal?  When does aggressive begging become illegal? Cetainly public urination is illegal.
 
4) Why doesn’t CNR do a show, with the people from the BID, to discuss the glut of empty stores (large & small) which seems to get bigger every month.
 
The Democratic Party rules WP and their monthly meetings rarely exceed 90 minutes.  There are no dissenting voices – the consent agenda makes sure everyone is home by 9:30.
 They don’t seem to be too concerned with empty storefronts or falling Sales Tax…as long as the PA (Department of Parking) keeps netting over $20 million per anum for the City’s coffers.  I guess as long as the bars are full every night on Mamaroneck Ave, the “Renaissance” continues…
 
I assume my observations must be completly off-base since an unknown Democrat won the recent election against a life-long resident with decades of voluntary public service to WP…by TWENTY percentage points.  I must be crazy. Everything is looking up in WP.
 
We don’t need no stinkin’ Comprehensive Plan…our twenty year old one is just fine.
Remember, a slow development period is the perfect time to update the Comprehensive Plan.  Reactionary, spot zoning and moratoriums will not get the kob done.
NAME WITHHELD ON REQUEST
White Plains, NY
 
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Voter Turnout in New York State Declines 50% in 20 Years

WPCNR CAMPAIGN CHRONICLES. News & Comment By County Legislator Jim Maisano. From Mr. Maisano’s website. November 17, 2014:

NEW YORK’S DISAPPEARING VOTERS

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During my lifetime, for the even years when we are not voting for president but voting for such important officials like Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, US Senate, Congress, State Senate and State Assembly, New York State’s voter turnout of registered voters has been cut in half.

Yes, when I was a little 3-year-old back in 1966, the voter turnout for those that chose a Governor in an exciting four-way race between Nelson Rockefeller (Republican), Frank O’Connor (Democrat), Paul Adams (Conservative) and Franklin Deleno Roosevelt Jr. (Liberal) was over 60%.

Our recent race between Andrew Cuomo (Democrat), Rob Astorino (Republican) and Howie Hawkins (Green) had the lowest turnout election watchers can remember – about 31% of registered voters.

See chart above for voter turnout in Governor election years since 1966. (Note: it’s possible turnout from 1966 to 1990 was a bit higher as it was difficult to track down the exact data, but I believe my percents are good estimates).

It’s shocking that so many New Yorkers are failing to respect their civic duty to let their voices be heard on Election Day. We can all speculate about the reasons for this massive drop in voting: negative campaigns, people turned off by modern day politics or working too hard/no time to vote, so many uncontested races, or New York’s embarrassing political corruption.

But frankly, as a very busy person who always finds time to study the candidates and make it to the polls, there is just no excuse for failing to vote.  Less than one-third of New York’s registered voters just picked our federal and state elected representatives.

As a comparison, North Carolina, which did have massive amounts of money spent on one of the featured US Senate races, had a 44% turnout.

I worked on Governor George Pataki’s exciting victory in 1994 and that campaign had a much more respectable turnout of 53%. Election Day 2014 was not a victory for democracy in New York State.

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