Milagros Lecuona: City Has Quietly Hired 12 New Firefighters. Coming Aboard the rigs, March 10.


WPCNR HOMELAND SECURITY NEWS. By John F. Bailey. February 25, 2017 UPDATED  3 P.M. E.S.T.:

In a news conference this morning at Fire Headquarters on Mamaroneck Avenue, Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona  candidate for Mayor, and firefighters in attendance said the city has agreed to hire 12 new firefighters bringing the department up to full strength.

A fireman present at the event, confirmed to WPCNR the new firefighters will soon be sworn in, and would be on staff by March 10 and attending fire training after that date. Lecuona said she learned about the hires at the last Council work session. Ms Lecuona in her announcement  she  was going to primary Mayor Tom Roach in January has been critical of the city for the fire department personnel shortage the fire department has been drawing attention to around the city.

Asked about the status of negotiations, the firefighter WPCNR interviewed said the negotiations with the city were still going on, that he could not comment on the salary issues or the mandatory drug, alcohol and substance abuse issue, one of the contentions under discussion. The firemen will be sworn in March 2 and come on duty for training March 10

The announcement of the additional hires is the first time the city decision, which Lecuona said in the news conference would cost the city an additional approximate 1-1/2 Million dollars,

In a handout to the press, Ms. Lecuona commented:

“The current mayor has maintained numbers of firefighters at dangerously low levels. Ladder truck 34 is almost always out of service, leaving our children at White Plains High School, Ridgeway Elementary, the YWCA, the German School, and Ridgeway Alliance without all their own neighborhood equipment.  Yet today’s synthetic building and furniture materials burst into hotter flames 5 X faster than old materials, so whole rooms or buildings can be engulfed in flames before a crucial truck arrives from another neighborhood.

The firefighters have tried repeatedly over recent years to get the Mayor to respond to their concerns.  But “as is symptomatic of our current administration,” said Lecuona, “the firefighters have been continuously stonewalled and ignored.  This is typical of the way this administration functions, and why I am running to change it.”

Now entering his seventh year as mayor, Mr Roach has slipped raises for himself and some of his senior staff members into the budget. “Our firefighters have expressed a need for additional manpower, training and preparedness funding. What does the Mayor do? He ignores them, and gives raises to himself and his staff,” said Lecuona. “The ongoing lack of vision, process, and leadership have placed White Plains on a dangerous path.”



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Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona Holds News Conference Today on WP Fire Department Conditions

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Milagros Lecuona, Councilwoman, White Plains, is shown with her daughter, far left, and well-wishers at her announcement of her candidacy for the Mayor of White Plains in January.

Today, at 11 A.M.  she continues her campaign with a news conference at White Plains Fire Department Headquarters at Mamaroneck Avenue and Maple Avenues, calling for reviews of city Fire Department practices.

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Cuomo to Democrats: Fight Now

I have a message for Democrats in Congress: stand up and fight.

Earlier today, I joined President of 1199 SEIU George Gresham and hundreds of healthcare workers in the Bronx to rally against the Trump administration’s absurd attempts to derail the progress we have achieved in securing quality, affordable healthcare for millions of Americans.

As New Yorkers, we are not going to let nearly three million people who are now insured lose their healthcare coverage. Today, one out of every six New Yorkers has been given insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Enough. We’re not going backwards – we are going forward.

Watch what I said here and share it with your friends.

Democrats need to take a page out of the Republican Party’s book from when they disagreed with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. We need fight Trump every step of the way.

We are not going to let them undo the progress that President Obama made and was upheld by the courts.

Right now is not a time to make a deal. It’s not a time to get political. It’s time to get principled and remember who you are, who you represent, and who you’re fighting for. That’s what Democrats are all about.

That’s what the people of the state demand, and what the people of this nation deserve.

Andrew Cuomo

Governor, State of New York

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George Washington: The First and the Role Model for an American President. Apprentices, Take Notes!

WPCNR MILESTONES. Reprinted from the WPCNR ARCHIVES. February 22, 2017:

Today is George Washington’s Birthday again. The time when we remember the first leader and the best. It is instructive to look at our first leader, George Washington, the father of our nation.

One cannot help be reminded of the snowy winter at Valley Forge, when the bedraggled, poorly equipped rebel army suffered but held together, and attacked the Hessians in Trenton on Christmas Eve, 1776, crossing the Delaware River at night. What kind of man was he that George Washington could inspire his troops against all odds?

Washington was a man of tremendous character. Of principle.

Where did he get this character?

He specialized in self-control at an early age. That congressmen, lobbyists, and pundits and yes, Presidents,  means mind-control, reason and responsibility.

According to  the book, The American President, Washington, at sixteen, had formed a code of conduct. He had written a book of etiquette with 110 “maxims” to guide his conduct in matters. In this etiquette book he had written,

Every action done in company ought to be done with a sign of respect to those who are not present. Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not when others stop;…Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave…Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

The character sketch provided by the authors of The American President, indicates this personal “rulebook” was a book that Washington wrote over the years and referred to it often, for, they write, for the following reasons:

“for self-control, to avoid temptation, to elude greed, to control his temper. Reputation was everything to him. It had to do with his strength, his size, his courage, his horsemanship, his precise dress, his thorough mind, his manners, his compassion. He protected that reputation at any cost.”

Earning respect by example. Quelling rebellion with a few words.

Washington inspired by example. He lived with his troops. He shared hardships with them, and there was so much respect for him that he was able to talk them out of armed rebellion at the end of the American Revolution.

Washington had been asked by the army to join them to overthrow the Continental Congress, and make himself King.

Washington had been asked by one of the officers of the rebels to join them, and he wrote them,

You could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. Banish these thoughts from your mind.

Hearing that the rebels who were planning insurrection against the new country due to not having been paid by the Continental Congress, Washington rode to Newburgh, New York, on March 15, 1783, to meet with the dissident insurgents. Washington spoke to the rebellious group, saying,

“Gentlemen, as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common Country; as I never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your Distresses…it can scarcely be supposed …that I am indifferent to your interests. But…this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our Country in the extremest hour of her distress, or turning our Arms against it…has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts from the idea…I spurn it, as every Man who regards liberty…undoubtedly must.”

The would-be rebels fell silent, digesting what he had said. Then Washington withdrew a letter from Congress, but could not read the text, withdrawing some eyeglasses from his tunic, remarking,

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

The men present were reported to have tears in their eyes at this gesture of Washington’s and abandoned their plot out of respect for their leader.

Washington retired from the military, surprising the entire new country. His action surprised King George III of England, who was astonished that Washington had refused to hold on to his military authority and use it for political or financial gain. The defeated King of England, remarked, “If true, then he is the greatest man in the world.”

Seeker of Diverse Views. How to pick a cabinet.

As President, George Washington invented the Presidential Cabinet, whom he referred to as “the first Characters,” persons who possessed the best reputations in fields and areas of the jobs he was filling. Washington said on political appointments, “My political conduct and nominations must be exceedingly circumspect. No slip into partiality will pass unnoticed…”

Washington tolerated the relentless clashes between Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, but lectured them on the necessity for tolerance and moving beyond partisanship:

“I believe the view of both of you are pure, and well meant. Why then, when some of the best Citizens in the United States, Men…who have no sinister view to promote, are to be found, some on one side, some on the other…should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowances for those of the other? I have great esteem for you both, and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk.”

The Constitution Should be Protected

When George Washington left office after two terms, he made a farewell address which warned future generations of Americans about foreign entanglements and partisanship in the republic:

I shall carry to my grave the hope that your Union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the Constitution may be sacredly maintained; and that free government…the ever favorite object of my heart…will be the happy reward of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.”

Washington died in 1800, three years after leaving office in 1797. He was saluted on the floor of congress as being “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

He was the first and best. The ultimate role model for any leader.

Note: The American President By Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt (Riverhead Books. Penguin-Putnam, Inc.,1999) is the source for this information on George Washington.

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Selling of the Airport Will Be Number 1 Westchester County Issue, Columnist Predicts.

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Westchester County Airport–Issue of the Year-2017

Conservationist worries over Environment, Loss of  County Control, if Airport Privatized


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David McKay-Wilson, the Journal News columnist and Carolyn Cunningham, Co-Treasurer of the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County gave about 70 persons a comprehensive overview of the issues at stake as Westchester County prepares to lease its airport for 40 years.

The hour and a half comprehensive update unfolded at SUNY Purchase last night just as the county voted last week to hire a consultant for $550,000 to draft a new Request for Proposals for operation of the Westchester County Airport  to attract firms that  might offer the county “a better deal,” (as County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky told WPCNR after the meeting).

Oaktree the giant investment firm the county originally negotiated a lease of the airport last fall has had the deal temporarily on hold by the Board of Legislators.

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Ms. Cunningham (above) gave a comprehensive overview of the growth of the airport since 1984 when the limit of 240 passengers per half hour and voluntary curfews and noise control was put into effect through the efforts of the County Board of Legislators.

She said that Oaktree had proposed building a sewage treatment plant on the airport property. Currently the effluent (which includes the de-icing runoff used for removing ice from aircraft), is moved offsite by truck. She said she could not imagine building a sewage treatment plant adjacent the Kensico Reservoir.

Ms. Cunningham expressed concern that the county could lose the right of approval of hours and traffic limitations in any new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, (the limitations have been in effect since 1984). She cautioned, “There is pressure today” (to increase air traffic) and changing any part of the law could be disasterous and it was in the county’s best interest “to keep direct control of the airport.”

Cunningham said the deal has been introduced without the County having completed their master plan for the Westchester County Airport. “To do anything (before the airport master plan is complete) doesn’t make any sense at all. It is bad policy.”

The Astorino Secret Deal to balance his $15 Million shortfall

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David McKay-Wilson, (above) the “Tax WatchDog” Columinist for The Journal News has been following the County Executive Robert Astorino-Oaktree deal since it was sprung on the County Board of Legislators last fall and informed the audience where the issue is now.

“The airport will be Westchester County’s Top Issue of 2017,” McKay-Wilson began. He said that Ms. Cunningham’s concerns about the environment and the 240 passengers a half hour restriction were legitimate concerns, but he focused on “how much money is at stake here. (The deal) is a boon to investors, wallet-emptying for travelers. It is selling a  public asset to keep his (Astorino’s) no tax increase “brand” intact. It also allows the county to get its hands on airport revenues (which stay with the airport under FAA rules).”

McKay-Wilson described Oaktree (the lone airport suitor so far) as a giant fund that specialized in “distressed debt,” purchasing troubled companies at a low price, and “flipping” them at the first opportunity. He said Oaktree received funds from 75 of the top 100 pension funds; 350 Endowment Funds; 400 corporations; and  38 of 50 state pension funds. (It is big).

He said, “Westchester Airport is not distressed, why are they interested in it?”

He said the Oaktree-Astorino deal was “a secret deal. It was not determined in an open process. It is front-loaded: $15 Million to the county in the first year; $5 million to the county each year for 4 years and $2 Million for 35 years. ($105 millon total).”

He pointed out that the $15 Million Astorino budget shortfall could have been fixed by a 3% tax increase

He theorized that if you paid $10,000 in county property taxes that would be a $300 increase. For the more realistic view, WPCNR points out if you pay $2,400 in county taxes as you do if you own a $650,000 median valued home in White Plains, and the county legislature raised the county tax 3%, this computes to a $72 tax increase.

He said the county has now hired a consultant for $550,000 to vet possible new applicants to lease the airport. The consultant is now formulating a new request for proposals.

McKay-Wilson noted that he has been informed the County Master Plan for the airport is now due in April. It was supposed to be in to the Federal Aviation Administration by December 31. His requests for a copy of the interim stages of the plan has not been met yet after numerous Freedom of Information Requests. Wilson said public input has not yet been taken for formulation of the plan though airlines and professional parties and government entities have been consulted. He believes that public comment would be taken in April.

McKay-Wilson said that Oaktree has plans to upgrade the airport with restaurants, which he questioned the need for.

Mr. McKay-Wilson pointed out that the big prize at the airport is the parking garage, which generates $10 Million in annual revenue.

The parking “take” is parceled out as follows: $4 Million is paid for debt service; $3 Million is paid to the county; and $3 Million to the owners of the garage. In 2024 the garage is supposed to go over to Westchester County. McKay-Wilson noted that once the garage goes over to Oaktree there is no telling what will happen to the parking rates. He observed the airport parking garage when it opened charged $11 a day in 1994. Today, twenty-three years later, it is $30 a day ($7.20 an hour).

McKay-Wilson noted that the $105 Million the county receives in the deal over 40 years paled in comparison to the $10 Million (and up)  the parking garage would generate over 40 years, ($400 Millon) and (potentially much more with parking rate increases).

McKay-Wilson advised Westchester to “fasten your seatbelts, make sure your gear is comfortably stowed beneath your seats, or the above storage racks, and enjoy your flight.”

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Mary Jane Shimsky, (above)of Hastings-on-Hudson of the County District 12, asked by WPCNR if the county board was willing to sell the airport, said that Oaktree had not provided all information the Board of Legislators had asked for, and therefore the board opted to furnish a new request for proposals to take over the airport to get a better deal.


During the meeting, she said the county was very concerned that the curtailment of flights (240 passengers able to load per half hour) covenant in effect since 1994 be agreed to in any final agreement approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, no matter what company leases the airport, if it is leased at all.








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The Trump Report After One Month

WPCNR WHITE HOUSE WIRE. From the White House. February 21, 2017:

We are officially one month into President Donald J. Trump’s Administration, and it has been a very successful start.

President Trump has focused on jumpstarting job creation and saving taxpayers money, by withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and clearing roadblocks delaying the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Along with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, President Trump created the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, to ensure that all Americans have ample opportunities in the workforce.

In a first step to unraveling the Obama-era regulations, President Trump signed two bills to roll back regulations and issued an executive order requiring that for every new regulation created, two must be eliminated.

President Trump has successfully coordinated with several companies to bring thousands of jobs back to America, and saved Americans over $700 million by negotiating lower costs for the F-35 fighters.

President Trump has also taken great strides in domestic security by signing executive orders that focus on reducing crime, restoring public safety, dismantling transnational criminal organizations and protecting our brave law enforcement officials.

Looking to national security, President Trump has directed his Secretary of Defense to devise a strategy to defeat ISIS, overseen the imposition of sanctions on more than 25 individuals and entities that threaten America’s national security, and strategized with more than 30 foreign leaders about our shared security concerns.

Lastly, following on the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Trump nominated the brilliant Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

President Donald J. Trump has spent the last month fulfilling promises and helping the American people. He’s looking forward to the many more successful months and years of action to come.

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