Utilities Ask Citizens to Lower Electric Use as Scorcher Continues

WPCNR Weather Scoop. From National Weather Service. July 4, 2002. 12 Noon E.D.T. The oppressive heat continues to cook White Plains and Westchester County. The Weather Service reports there is still a slight risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon or evening, and advises that utility companies are pleading with consumers to scale back their electric use today.






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White Plains Celebrates America’s 226th Birthday.

WPCNR Stars and Stripes. July 4, 2002. 9 A.M. E.D.T.: They came from all over town and all over the county, making their way to the vast open lawn behind White Plains High School to enjoy the White Plains Pops Band and the traditional Fourth of July Eve Independence Day Celebration Wednesday evening.

LADIES, GENTLEMEN, AND CHILDREN OF ALL AGES came from near and far to White Plains High for the traditional White Plains America’s Birthday party. Cars and families lined the streets leading to the high school field with spectators. Others in their neighborhoods gazed from their lawns at the eastern sky in the sweltering tropical heat of the lazy summer evening awaiting the annual celebration.
All Photos by WPCNR

GRAND FINALE of the 30-minute fireworks display arched magnificently into the velvet night to the cadence of military marches.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY HONOR COLOR GUARD, awaited the cue to march in to present the colors prior to the start of the show. Jewish Veterans of Foreign Wars raised the colors, followed by a robust playing of the National Anthem.

MR. WHITE PLAINS, former Councilman Robert Ruger, gave an invocation, praying, “God of our Fathers – whose almighty hand has made and preserved our nation – grant as we gather together as free people, that we may understand what it is we celebrate this evening. Our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our freedom. May we remember how bitterly our freedom was won – the down payment that was made for it, the installments that have been made since this Republic was born, and the price that yet must be paid for our liberty. May it be understood our liberty is under God and can be found nowhere else. May our faith be something that is not merely stamped upon our coins but expressed in our lives. You led us to this land, oh God, and out of conflict created in us a love of peace and liberty. Let us as a nation not be afraid of standing alone for the rights of people everywhere. Raise in us a right patriotism that seeks the nation’s good. To the extent America honors You – will You bless America. Keep her true as You have kept her free and make her good as You have made her great.”

MASTER OF CEREMONIES, Arne Abromowitz, Commissioner of Recreation & Parks, introduced the program by retelling an inspiring account of the Battle of White Plains and how 1600 White Plains patriots held off a superior British force, keynoting the evening.

MAYOR JOSEPH DELFINO WELCOMED THE MULTITUDES, saying the fate of the World Trade Center Towers, a symbol of our nation’s prosperity, made celebration of America’s Birthday take on even more significance. He was quietly sincere and meaningful in tone, saying America and White Plains would remain great if “we all work together.” To that end, he is shown introducing Common Councilpersons, L to R, Glen Hockley, Tom Roach in shadow, Robert Greer and Benjamin Boykin, Jr., Common Council President. The Mayor also presented plaques of recognition to the three corporate sponsors of the display, Heineken USA, Hudson United Bank, and the New York Power Authority.

WHITE PLAINS POPS BAND entertained the throng, performing a rousing 1812 Overture prelude to the display.


ROCKETS RED GLARE BURST IN AIR, casting a sense of awe in the audience. No matter how old you are fireworks are always a thrill on the Fourth of July.

PERSONALITIES WORKED THE CROWD. Amy Paulin “fans,” Adam Bradley flyers, and the occasional politician could be seen. Here, Councilman Glen Hockley is seen passing out Adam Bradley campaign literature.

PALS AND NEIGHBORS MET AT WHITE PLAINS BIG PARTY, greeted each other on the hillside, while children ran about playing, throwing balls, spinning glowing hoops before the show. Juliana, left, and “J” right had a front row seat.

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Sayegh Calls Con Ed on Eastchester, New Rochelle Power Outages

WPCNR City Evening Star Reporter. From the Sayegh for Assembly Press Office. July 3, 2002 4:00 PM E.D.T.: Amy Paulin’s challenger for the Assembly Seat in the 88th District, Tony Sayegh said today that the state should investigate the high number of power outages that occurred Tuesday.
“A95 degree day is not supposed to knock the power system for a loop,” said Sayegh, noting that he had received reports of several hundred customers in Eastchester and New Rochelle being without power on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

“Unlike power shortages that have affected other parts of the nation, this seems to be a case of Con Ed’s wiring simply being inadequate to handle the load on local streets,” said Sayegh, noting that there were several incidences of wires literally burning up along streets.

“If Con Ed has not been updating wires or replacing wires and components that are past their useful life, the public needs to know that and needs to know why, ” said Sayegh.

Sayegh said he suspected that Con Ed has been cutting back on maintenance of its system in recent years in order to increase company profits, taking unfair advantage of the new deregulated utility climate.

(WPCNR’s editor notes that Entergy, Indian Point’s operator, has also charged Con Edison with neglectful maintenance of steam generators at Indian Point, resulting in public relations problems for the new owners of the plant. The Mayor’s Office in White Plains also reported some power outages in White Plains due to the extreme heat Wednesday, but there were no mention of burning up wires.)

“When you have wires burning up along the streets, not only are people without power, but pedestrians and motorists could literally have their lives at risk, “ said Sayegh.

Sayegh said the Public Service Commission should investigate  the state of Con Ed’s system in Westchester.

“We know the temperature will hit the high nineties during most summers,” he concluded, “The electrical system should be prepared to handle it. But clearly Con Ed is not.”

July 3, 2002 
CONTACT: Tony Sayegh
(914) 924-2578


(New Rochelle) —  88TH District Assembly candidate Tony Sayegh said today that the State should investigate the high number of power outages that occurred Tuesday.
“A95 degree day is not supposed to knock the power system for a loop,” said Sayegh, noting that he had received reports of several hundred customers in Eastchester and New Rochelle being without power on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

“Unlike power shortages that have affected other parts of the nation, this seems to be a case of Con Ed’s wiring simply being inadequate to handle the load on local streets,” said Sayegh, noting that there were several incidences of wires literally burning up along streets.

“If Con Ed has not been updating wires or replacing wires and components that are past their useful life, the public needs to know that and needs to know why, ”said Sayegh.

Sayegh said he suspected that Con Ed has been cutting back on maintenance of its system in recent years in order to increase company profits, taking unfair advantage of the new deregulated utility climate.

“When you have wires burning up along the streets, not only are people without power, but pedestrians and motorists could literally have their lives at risk, “ said Sayegh.

Sayegh said the Public Service Commission should investigate  the state of Con Ed’s system in Westchester.

“We know the temperature will hit the high nineties during most summers,” he concluded, “The electrical system should be prepared to handle it. But clearly Con Ed is not.”

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White Plains Fear of Change: For the Better or Worse? 6 Thumbs UP on Straub

WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By Shivaun Dipshan.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002. 1:00 P.M. E.D.T.:
Concerned citizens and hospital employees piled in to the Common Council meeting, not to see the appointment of Commissioner of Public Safety, but to voice their concerns about the New York Presbyterian Hospital proposal.

HOSPITAL SHOWCASES DESIGN OF PROTON ACCELERATOR/BIOTECH CENTER: John Annunzio, the landscape architect of the building, as he appeared on Channel 72 Monday evening, presenting the first rendering of a combined accelerator/research lab on the Site Eight. Geoffrey Thompson spokesman for the hospital told WPCNR today, the hospital is agreeable to building the facility on Site Eight or a combination of two buildings, the research facility on Site Eight, the Accelerator on Site Five.
Photo by WPCNR

The Hearing on the hospital Special Permit was held open, and documents were referred out to City Departments for comment with a possible Council vote on the proton accelerator/biotech research facility on August 5.

Traffic, Pollution Concerns

The main concern of citizens who spoke, was the location of the biomedical center not as much the purpose, but safety issues such as traffic and pollution, and the effect it would have on White Plains. However, while the citizens are afraid of change, members of the hospital as well as residents posed the question what is the outcome if one fears change? They asked the council not to impede progress because it could lead to saving people’s lives. In the end it boils down to a question of stopping progress or allegedly, pollution.

A prophetic invocation

The Common Council meeting began with Father Donald O’Brien asking the Lord, to “grant us the courage to be open to each other and not to be fearful of new ideas and different approaches than our own to matters that are put before us.” His prayer was echoed throughout the meeting as representatives and employees from the hospital as well as residents asked that the council not fear the proposal of the biomedical research laboratories New York Presbyterian Hospital is planning for their White Plains campus.

”Watch” Ad Sets Tone.

The long list of residents and hospital employees to voice their opinions about the project started off with members of the Concerned Citizens for Open Space displaying their ad in the newest issue of the White Plains Watch.The ad demonstrated the signatures of 348 White Plains citizens who are opposed to the New York Presbyterian Hospital Project.

TRUMP CARD: The Concerned Citizens for Open Space advertisement as it appeared in the White Plains Watch this week was a star player Monday night.
Photo by WPCNR

“The citizens urgently request you vote no…we are deeply concerned about the future of White Plains,” said Barbara Benjamin, a representative of the association, reading the copy in the advertisement.

A preliminary WPCNR analysis of the first 100 names in the advertisement indicates that virtually all but 4 signees live in the residential neighborhoods immediately up to a mile and a half South of the project, and East of Post Road.

In our analysis of the first 100 signees of the ad, only 4 persons live West and North of Post Road, in the northern end of White Plains, and 58 households live in the area West of Post Road and South of the Hospital, the “Southend” of town. Of those, 39 of those 58 households reside directly South of the Hospital Property in the Gedney Farms, North Street, Haviland Manor area. We counted obvious husband/wife/family combinations as one household, accounting for the difference.

On-going concerns

Residents of the Gedney neighborhood, the North Street Civic Association, and Rosedale neighborhoods and Bryant Gardens (immediately across Bryant Avenue from the hospital property) have voiced concerns in the ongoing public hearing over the last six months because it violates residential zoning, causes health problems as well as traffic problems, and creates a negative impact on surrounding neighborhoods.

Monday evening saw the same speakers from the five previous months of hearings repeating their concerns:

Carry Kyzivat, a resident of Maple Moor Lane, about 1 mile South of the proposed location, and concerned citizen of White Plains, asked the councilpersons “why can’t White Plains be known for preserving unique grounds for the benefit of its residents? I emplore you to show you really care for this city.”

Carl Barrera, a resident, said the issue is not whether open space will be preserved, but rather about a project that a landowner wants to build on his property. His point was the council should not confuse the two issues.

Unanswered Questions Still Lurking

Marc Pollitzer, a resident of North Street, approximately 1 mile South of the proposed project, discussed how this project “seems like a commercial endeavor.” He then went on to ask the council how they could “blindly approve” this project without understanding what the research would be.

Ruth Marie Hicks, a resident who works as a researcher, voiced her concern about the location of the planned project. “I do not see that a residential area is an appropriate place for conducting this research.”

She also discussed how she thinks there are going to be more researchers than the hospital proposed because the amount of space and the number of researchers don’t add up.

Do We Really Need it?

Hicks also stated that Westchester didn’t need this (proton accelerator)facility because “we are very over serviced medically…we don’t need more facilities in this city…we already have two hospitals.”

In previous articles, WPCNR has reported that the proton accelerator, would be the only proton therapy cancer treatment facility of its kind in the New York Metropolitan area. WPCNR has found the accelerator treatment has long been ignored or not considered by oncologists in this area as a cancer treatment for prostate, children’s brain tumors and breast cancers. The reason may be that the accelerator renders obsolete the more invasive surgical procedures and radiation treatments in vogue to treat those cancers and practiced extensively by surgeons and radiologists in the New York metropolitan area.

WPCNR queries of surgeons and cancer specialists who treat such tumors expressed very little knowledge to us of the proton accelerator treatment. It is a treatment that has shown to be more effective and less invasive in treating prostate cancer, yet is tacitly ignored by cancer specialists in our area, so not too many patients are recommended for it.

Hicks, who is an asthmatic, warned the councilpersons not to underestimate the seriousness of pollution. Her mother, who was a singer and never smoked a day in her life, died of lung disease. “Pollution is a serious medical problem,” she said.

Esthetics Seem More Important

Mr. Wilcocks, a resident of Westchester, voiced his concern with people caring more about “a view” than saving people’s lives.

“If such risks were not taken before we would not be having this discussion because most of you would be dead. Progress always comes with a price tag,” he said. He then went on to call citizens who opposed the project arrogant and selfish and said that many of their complaints were not valid. For example, he called the traffic issue “minor traffic problems.”

The Role of Research-Possible Projects

The employees of the Hospital spoke of the benefits of research. Gale Rider, who is the Director of Psychiatric Health, voiced her concern about the need of hospitals to stay current.

The job of an academic medical center is to stay current: “health care is moving very rapidly and we find ourselves behind…what we are being challenged with now is the cure…what people want is the cure. It’s hard for families to hear we don’t have it now but it’s coming…the time is now,” she said.

Another researcher who works for the hospital tried to explain the kind of projects that the hospital is trying to set up. One of the projects is geared towards improving the quality of life of anxious elderly people in the community.

First Look at Facility Design

After a break in the Common Council proceedings, there was a surprise presentation by the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Most of the persons speaking at the hearing left, and missed some very interesting information, including a rendering of the new facility.

PAUL BERGINS ARTICULATES HOSPITAL COMPROMISE: Attorney Paul Bergins explaining the two compromise positions of the proton accelerator/biomedical research building Monday night, as he appeared on Channel 71.
Photo by WPCNR

One of the New York Presbyterian Hospital attorneys, Paul Bergins, presented the most recent developments in the project. Bergins offered an olive branch proposal, saying the hospital was open to placing a 6-story proton accelerator and research building on Site 8, with an accompanying parking structure behind it. Only five stories of which would be above ground, with the proton accelerator below ground.

When queried about tree destruction, a concern of Councilperson Rita Malmud, Bergins said the hospital was still working up a site configuration to limit the amount of tree destruction by relocating the retension pond.

For the first time in the one-year on-going consideration of this project, the hospital presented a color rendering of what the building would look like on the Site 8 interior site.

It is a red-brick, low-rise building, that is designed to a height that would not be seen from either Bryant Avenue or Mamaroneck Avenue, not rising above the tree line, according to Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for the hospital. Entry would be from the Bloomingdale Road access road where the hospital enjoys easement rights.

Documents Referred Out to Departments

At the conclusion of the hospital presentation, the Common Council voted unanimously to refer the documents out to city departments to comment. Next in the process, is creation of a Findings Statement. The Hearing on the Special Permit was kept open, and will resume or be closed at the August 5 meeting of the Common Council.

Rick Ammirato, a spokesman for the Mayor’s office, said a vote could be taken at that time, but not necessarily, it depends on the Common Council. Ammirato said the public can send in written comments to the Planning Department up until July 28 on the project.

Straub Approved. Mayor’s Wishes, Not King’s, Come True on Commissioner.

MAYOR DELFINO AND NOW NEW PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER DR. FRANK STRAUB: The Mayor is shown congratulating Dr. Straub in June when he introduced the NYPD Anti-Terrorism expert to White Plains. Dr. Straub was approved by the Common Council Monday evening.
Photo by WPCNR

Before taking a final vote on the new Public Safety Commissioner nominee, Mayor Joseph Delfino read from Dr. Frank Straub’s resume to reiterate why he would be a good candidate for Commissioner of Public Safety. He mentioned that he had “excellent credentials and experience.”

Some of the things he listed were that Straub is the Co-Chair for the Metropolitan Area Terrorism Committee, working with the New York City Fire Department to develop joint training programs for emergency responders to chemical, biological, and radioactive terrorist events.

He also mentioned that when Straub was Chief Administrator of the NYPD’s office of Training he managed a $25 Million Budget and supervised 750 persons. Straub has a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York, a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St. John’s University. He also teaches graduate courses at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“His unique background will bring a new vision…he will play a vital role in bringing fire and police to a new level of excellence,” the Mayor said.

Strengthen Bond Between Fire and Police

The vote was 6-1; Councilman William King was the only one who voted against Straub being appointed.

After the voting, the Mayor swore him in and presented him with the White Plains Public Safety Commissioner badge.

“It’s an honor to be appointed and a privilege to serve White Plains…Thank you for this opportunity to serve White Plains as a Commissioner of Public Safety,” Straub said.

He then went on to discuss how after September 11th the need for police and fire departments to work more closely together is called for and how he is going to help “strengthen the bond between fire and police.”

Not Enough Summer Jobs for Youth

The Youth Bureau is helping children to get summer jobs but the problem that many kids face is that there aren’t enough jobs. Councilman William King asked citizens of White Plains to “help employ our kids during the summer…if you have any odd jobs around the house you can think of or know any people who could use some help… please do not hesitate to call the Youth Bureau at 422-1378.”

Hudson United Bank

Hudson United Bank is donating $10,000 for the Independence Day Celebration and other Special Events.

“They said what can I do to be a part of this community? That is the first time any corporation has said that to me,” Mayor Delfino said.

Councilperson Rita Malmud also expressed her gratefulness for their 4th of July celebration.

The Mayor also mentioned that they are planning to have an outdoor film at the White Plains High School. The film that is going to be shown is Harry Potter; a date is yet to be set for the event.

Councilpersons Express Their Enthusiasm for the New Field

SAXON WOODS SOCCER FIELD SITE: Shown is the location of the new soccer field to be built for White Plains by the County of Westchester. It is located adjacent to the southbound Hutchinson River Parkway Entrance at Mamaroneck Avenue at far end of the Saxon Woods Pool Lot.
Photo by WPCNR

An artificial turf soccer field is going to be built at the southern end of the parking lot at Saxon Woods Park, which is adjacent to the Hudson River Parkway entrance ramp. The Council accepted the Inter Municipality Agreement necessary to initiate the project.

“I am so pleased we are starting what needs to be done to bring more soccer to White Plains,” said Malmud. She, along with other councilmembers, were pleased at its location because it wouldn’t bother people living near the field.

The City will pay for the maintenance of the field and be responsible for establishing regulations.

Benjamin Boykin, Jr., Common Council President shared Malmud’s enthusiasm for the project and added that the field will stay open till 10 p.m. and will be provided with lighting. The lighting will not impact the surrounding neighborhood. Boykin also said that they are planning to get the neighborhood’s reaction to the field.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for our city…it’s a field of dreams that has come true for our city,” councilman Tom Roach said.

“A few years from now Brazil should watch out,” said councilman Bob Greer.

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Corcoran Turns Down GOP Invitation to Run for Matusow Seat

WPCNR High Noon Newsl. July 2, 2002. 12 noon E.D.T.: Candyce Corcoran of White Plains today rejected the Republican nomination to oppose Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow or her challenger for the Democratic nomination, Adam Bradley in the November Assembly contest for the 89th Assembly District.
In a statement to the media, Ms. Corcoran said,

“I am deeply honored that the Westchester County GOP selected me as their candidate for 89th State Assembly District. Although I have had enormous support and encouragement to serve in Albany, I must decline the offer.

It is my personal belief, that I can be most effective right here in Westchester County, to continue on as a community activist placing People Before Politics.

Corcoran, offerred the Republican nomination for the 89th District by Westchester GOP Chair, James Kavanaugh on June 20, has spent two weeks attempting to secure financial commitments and support from the state and county GOP parties to finance her run. Corcoran was defeated by William Ryan for the County Legislator position in November, 2001.

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School Board Shocker: Richard Bernstein Resigns from Board. Applicants Welcomed.

WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. July 2, 2002. 1:15 A.M. E.D.T. Richard Bernstein, a two-term member of the Board of Education, announced by letter, his immediate resignation from the School Board Monday evening.

THEN THERE WERE SIX: Michelle Schoenfeld set out only six Board of Education member nameplates Monday evening. Richard Bernstein had announced his resignation.
Photo by WPCNR

At the regular Board of Education Monday evening, Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board said that,” in a letter to the District Clerk, Mr. Bernstein said his decision was based on time contraints in connection with his job as well as family responsibilities. The resignation takes effect immediately.”

Dorothy Schere, newly elected President of the Board of Education, said there were three avenues for dealing the vacant position. She said the Board could leave the position vacant until the next School Board election, they could hold a new election, or appoint some one to serve until May 20, 2003, when the 2003 School Board election would be held.

Schere said it was the Board’s unanimous decision to appoint a member of the community to complete the term.

Public invited to apply for appointment to seat by July 15

Ms. Schere invited anyone who wishes to be appointed to Mr. Bernstein’s seat to send a letter to Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education, stating their qualifications or resume by July 15. Schere said the Board would review applications and “begin interviews in late July.

Schere thanked Mr. Bernstein for his time taken to serve on the Board.

The departure of Bernstein leaves a vacant position on the 7-member Board, paving the way for a possible return to the School Board of recently deposed 18-year Board member, Larry Geiger, should he so desire and the Board of Education appoint him, or Stephen Sules, the other Board member defeated in the May 2002 School Board elections. Even Dr. Saul Yanofsky could apply.

Mr. Geiger, Mr. Sules, Dr. Yanofsky, or any other resident of White Plains, wishing to serve should send their letter/resume to Ms. Schoenfeld, Clerk of the Board, 5 Homeside Lane, White Plains, New York 10605 by July 15.

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Robbins of South Orange-Maplewood’s Renowned Columbia High, New WPHS Principal.

WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. July 1, 2002. 11:30 PM E.D.T.: The Board of Education reorganized Monday evening, and appointed Dr. Christine M. Robbins, currently Principal of the South Orange-Maplewood Columbia High School in New Jersey, to lead White Plains High School, replacing William Colavito.

First Woman Principal of White Plains High School.

All Photos by WPCNR

Dr. Saul Yanofsky introduced Dr. Robbins to the White Plains community describing her as “the other bookend we’ve been looking for,” as the statuesque and dignified Dr. Robbins sat next to new Superintendent of Schools, Tim Connors, in the front row at Education House Tuesday evening.

Seasoned Savvy Principal

Dr. Yanofsky described her as a new chapter in the district’s history, the first female Principal of White Plains High School, saying, “She survived the typically lengthy White Plains selection process. She comes to us from South Orange-Maplewood High School where she is familiar with the politics of a diverse school district. She has served three different districts, and this is the fourth high school where she has served as principal.”

Familiar with a White Plains High Environment

Yanofsky said Columbia High School where Dr. Robbins now serves, is “so much like White Plains High School,” saying it has “the same degree of diversity and its issues” and is approximately the same size (1,800 students). White Plains High School, as of September, 2001, served 1,763 students.

He described her as bringing to Columbia High School new initiatives, new ways of transitioning students to high school and an innovator in how extra-curricular activities are weaved into the high school environment.

He also expressed admiration for her academic writings, saying, “she is the most published administrator, I’ve ever seen.”

NEW LEADERS IN THE FRONT ROW: Timothy Connors, Superintendent of Schools to be, left, and Dr. Christine Robbins on right at Monday evening Board of Education meeting. Mr. Connors was brought in midway in the Robbins courtship.

Connors Involved in Hire.

Dr. Yanofsky said that once Dr. Robbins had been selected as a candidate that the School Board “involved Tim Connors midway on in interviews,” including making a site visit at Columbia High.

Dr. Linda Ochser, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources told WPCNR that the new principal had applied to the City School District through the second advertisement for the position placed in the New York Times.

Enjoys a Diverse School.

Dr. Robbins told WPCNR she was familiar with White Plains High School through work with students at Columbia High, working with students of White Plains High School on the Minority Achievement Gap issue.

She said was attracted to the White Plains Principal position, because “I really enjoy a diverse school,” and because of her admiration for Dr. Yanofsky’s achievements in the City School District, involvement in the minority achievement gap issue, and the environment Mr. Colavito, the retiring principal, has created at WPHS.

She said she also wanted to move closer to home, having spent nine years in New Jersey school systems, the last three at Columbia High.

She currently lives in South Orange during the week, and makes her home in Stratford, Connecticut, with her husband, Dr. Donald Robbins, a retired school administrator, who has a position at the University of Bridgeport.

She and her husband are parents of two daughters, Melissa, 25, a graduate of the University of Pittsburg, and Heather, 22, a graduate of the University of Connecticut.

She said she was interested in moving to White Plains.

Respect for Mr. Colavito’s legacy.

WPCNR asked how she planned to begin her transition to WPHS. Dr. Robbins said “I’m going to be supportive of Mr. Colavito’s initiatives, get to know the faculty, administrators, and students.”

Dr. Robbins said she had not known Mr. Connors prior to interviewing at White Plains, but felt he was a very dynamic leader, and looked forward to working with him.

She begins at 515 North Street on July 16.

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County Social Services Building Flooded

WPCNR City Evening Star Reporter. From Westchester County Department of Communications. July 1, 2002. 6:00 PM E.D.T.: A broken water pipe at the Westchester County office building at 112 East Post Road downtown, caused the building to be closed to the public, affecting about 950 employees. County officials said they expect to have the six-floor building reopened Tuesday.
Departments and offices affected were: Social Services, Probation, Mental Health, Consumer, Women, and Youth, Veterans, Section 8 of Planning and the Civil Service Employees Association. Depending on their job responsibilities, some employees were relocated to 150 Grand Street.

Others remained at their regular duties “in the field” or were sent home.

The water pipe into the boiler in the basement of the building apparently burst some time over the weekend, causing about 20 feet of flooding in the basement.

The White Plains Fire Department and the county Department of Public Works responded when the water was discovered Monday morning. Damage is being assessed.

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School District Names Dr. Christine M. Robbins to Head WPHS.

WPCNR NewsReel. From Board of Education. June 30, 2002. 11:00 PM: The Board of Education will be asked to approve the appointment of Dr. Christine M. Robbins to replace William Colavito as Principal of White Plains High School. Dr. Robbins is being offered a three year contract extending to July, 2005.

Dr. Robbins comes to WPHS from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, and the South Orange and Maplewood School District.

An intriguing matchup with White Plains

The District mirrors the White Plains district. It consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school and serves 5,000 students. (White Plains served 6,708 as of September, 2001). The School Budget of South Orange-Maplewood was approximately $56,000,000 in 1997-98, according to the South Orange Village Township, the latest figures WPCNR has been able to obtain. In contrast, the White Plains City School District will spend $126.9 MM in 2002-2003.

Superb reputation.

Columbia High School is one of the top schools in New Jersey in numbers of Merit Scholar Semifinalists, according to information supplied by South Orange Township. The school is home to one of the two students selected from the state of New Jersy to be PresidentialScholars. Columbia also boasts 3 students who recently were given state awards for high scores on Advanced Placement tests.

In 1997, the Columbia High School was chosen a School of Technology Excellence by the American Technology Honor Society.

The school, similar to White Plains High, is strong in music, winning state and national awards. Its Jazz Band performed at the inauguration of former Governor Christine Todd Whitman and with South Orange jazz artist, Thelonious Monk on the NBC Today in New York Show.

Strong in Math

In 2002, four Columbia High students received perfect individual scores on the New Jersey Math League Competition. In the team competition, Columbia placed third in its division among 80 other schools.

Involved in Successful Freshman Transition to High School Program

Most recently, Columbia HIgh School under Dr. Robbins, working with a district-wide committee has developed a program to transition middle school students more successfully to high school.

According to the South Orange& Maplewood Board of Education Meeting Highlights, February, 2002 issue, “based on research, visits to other school districts, and discussions with district staff, committee recommended creating teams or clusters.”

This program was instituted for 50% of the 01-02 Freshman class and “has shown a measure of success” and all 2002-03 Columbia freshmen will be included in the cluster program.

The South Orange-Maplewood cluster program divided half the freshaman into five clusters for three core subjects, language arts, science, and social studies, according to the Highlights report.

The newsletter describes the teachers in the cluster as having “a common planning time in order to share information about students, develop cluster activities, and plan instructional strategies.”

Dr. Robbins obtained a B.S from Pennsylvania State University. The nominee for Principal holds an M.S. from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a EdD from the University of Virginia.

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Naomi Matusow: An Independent Woman

WPCNR Morning Sun. Exclusive Interview By Shivaun Dipshan. June 29, 2002. 2:30 AM E.D.T.: Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow has proven to be different, from her opposition to the sales tax in White Plains to going slow on the reform of the Rockefeller drug laws but one thing will always stay the same, her.

Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow of the 89th Assembly District
All Photos by WPCNR

Nothing Has Changed

In an interview with WPCNR at her Mount Kisco office Thursday, Matusow said that even though she only represented a small portion of White Plains before redistricting she has always helped the entire city.

“I have never felt that I have represented only a small portion of White Plains,” she said.

She worked for and successfully passed the mandating of a minimum of 10% in building aid for all the schools in White Plains, which was incorporated in the state budget. This aid also extended to computers as well as textbooks. She noted she also worked with Audrey Hochberg to fund a magnet school in White Plains at the beginning of her 10 years in the Assembly.

Matusow said she would make the same effort to represent White Plains, even though she now represents a larger portion.

Helping to Improve all of White Plains

With discretion over state aid money allotted to her district in the budget, Matusow has donated it to many organizations. For example, she arranged $8,000 over the course of a few years to The Loft, a gay and lesbian organization, and $3,000 to My Sisters Place.
She arranged the funding of $17 million towards establishment of the Judicial Training Center, being created at the law school of Pace University, in White Plains.

She secured $125,000 for the Center of Advanced Technology at Pace University. Matusow has also earmarked $25,000 to the Youth Bureau of the City of White Plains.

In order to improve White Plains transportation, she arranged $100, 000 dollars for a transit-related project, which has yet to be determined by the Mayor.

Assemblywoman Matusow most recently has arranged a Multi-Model grant of $400,000 given to make improvements to any transportation system in the City of White Plains. In a coincidence, White Plains Commissioner of Public Works, Joseph Nicoletti, contacted Ms. Matusow by telephone just Thursday afternoon during this interview to thank her for the Multi-Model monies.

Trying to Get More Money from the State

Matusow voiced her concern about White Plains not getting as much state school aid as it should. She said that upstate they get about 60%-70% of school budgets paid by the state opposed to the 5%-10% that White Plains gets. (White Plains will receive approximately $8.8 MM in state school aid in 2002-03 in a school budget for 2002-03 of $126.9MM.)

She said that it was outgoing Superintendent of Schools, Saul Yanofsky, who brought her attention to the need for reform of how state school aid for building facilities was being denied White Plains.

I DON’T BELIEVE YOU LEGISLATE WITH HEADLINES…RESULTS ARE WHAT I STAND BY: Assemblywoman Matusow noting to WPCNR Reporters projects and bills she has sponsored, gotten passed, and how she has shifted state money to White Plains organizations.

“Making sure we get as much aid as possible is my primary position…We ought to be getting more money from the state”, Matusow said. However, she pointed out that the amount of money made available to the White Plains City School District is determined by formula, and suggested that both the school district and the City of White Plains come to her with specific project needs in the schools and the city.

Ms. Matusow said that White Plains stands to get $1 million from Albany by December if the State Senate passes the Assembly bill increasing local aid 10% over the next three years. She said the bill increases aid 4%, 3%, and 3% over the next three years.

“I am as close as my phone,” She said, picking up the telephone on her modest desk.

Bradley’s Political Tactics

Matusow said her opposition to the sales tax has never been a concern and has only been raised now as an issue to benefit Bradley’s campaign.

“I think my opponent has basically poisoned the well,” she said. “Bradley has succeeded in frightening them… this is a convenient hook if he can scare people enough,” she said. “I know why he’s doing it. It’s to further his political aspirations.”

Matusow described Bradley as a “me, too candidate,” who is in agreement with her on the environment, choice, and school aid, with the sales tax being his only issue.

THE ASSEMBLYWOMAN COOLY PICKED APART THE SALES TAX TRAP: Ms. Matusow, who has been opposed every time she has run for her seat, considers the Adam Bradley challenge part of the political process. She feels confident the northern communities in the 89th Assembly District which together comprise 80% of the voters, with White Plains, making up 20%
will turn the tide in her primary contest with Adam Bradley.

Matusow has not changed her stance on the 1/2% sales tax because she believes that having no sales tax can help boost business sales.

She discussed how, in August of last year, Connecticut had no sales tax on clothing and footwear for back to school sales and everybody went there to shop because it was cheaper.

She believes that the White Plains sales tax is driving consumers away.

“We live in a border area… we should enhance shopping and keep the sales tax down,” she said.

Matusow slowly said that she has voted against the sales tax five times, and “never once have I heard from him (Bradley) about it.”

She also assured us that the ½% sales tax would always pass, despite her “no” vote, and that she would never stand in the way of it getting to the Assembly floor for a vote, “I’ve never stymied it, nor would I.”

Finding New Energy Sources

Matusow objects to Mr. Bradley creating the impression she is weak on Indian Point.

Matusow toured Indian Point in January 2001 and, while she believes it should be shut down, she also understands the need for finding an alternative energy source. She also called for it being shutdown in December, 2001.

“I would like to close it but I am also actively pursuing information about alternative energy sources”, she said.

In a press release from December of last year Matusow expressed her concern about the plant being vulnerable to a terrorist attack. She is also concerned about “the safe storage of spent fuel rods, establishment of an appropriate no-fly zone, and military defense of this potential target.”

In the communication, she states that an “effort must be made to encourage investment in the development and utilization of renewable energy sources.”

Sponsors Mandatory Energy Alternative Evaluation Bill.

Matusow has co-sponsored a bill with Senator Victor Leibell, passed by the Assembly May 25th, requiring all public entities to conduct cost and feasibility studies to determine how they could convert to a more efficient form of energy. Matusow said that there is a state agency to fund such feasibility studies for cities and towns, the New York State Energy Research & Development agency.

Most impressed with geothermal energy.

Matusow believes that geothermal energy is the best replacement for nuclear energy. Geothermal energy works by heat pumps that are placed 4 feet below the ground or lower. These pumps stay at 53 degrees so that in the winter if you were trying to heat your house to 70 degrees you would start at 53 degrees instead of 0 degrees. It also works in the summer because the pump removes the heat from indoors. To find out more information about geothermal energy you can go to http://www.eren.doe.gov/RE/geo_basics.html.

Geothermal energy is used at the Westchester Country Club and has been proven to save 50% of energy, according to Ms. Matusow.

Matusow will continue advocating geothermal energy and is planning another visit to Indian Point to see the spent fuel rod pools. She feels that even should the plant be closed, the rods will still be there, and is concerned about that ongoing hazard.

Matusow Responds to Bradley’s Drug Law Criticism

Adam Bradley, candidate for the Democratic nomination for State Assembly in the 89th district criticized Matusow for opposing reform of the Rockefeller drug laws.

The drug laws severely punish and often incarcerate first time, non-violent drug offenders instead of offering them treatment.

Bradley sees these laws as being costly because it wrecks young lives, families and wastes tax dollars. He is concerned that incarceration of first time non-violent drug offenders is more costly to taxpayers than rehabilitation programs.

How “violent” is “non-violent” she asks.

Matusow, who is in accordance with the district attorney, thinks that the term “non-violent” is used very casually because rape in the 2nd and 3rd degree is constituted as “non-violent.” Additionally manslaughter in the 2nd degree is seen as “non-violent.”

In a press release sent out on June 14th by the New York State District Attorneys Association, it was stated that “roughly 97% of drug felons sentenced to prison were charged with sale or intent to sell.” Furthermore, according to DCJS figures, “77% of those in prison are second or persistent felony offenders.” These facts illustrate that the typical drug offender in prison is a drug dealer and a repeat offender, according to Matusow.

“I want to make sure that people who are out are not a menace to others. I’m not willing to take that chance. We have to revise some of the law,” she said. “I didn’t feel I could go along with the majority of the assembly.”

She also said that a vast majority of first-time drug offenders (75%) are “plea-bargained” by their defense attorneys into interim programs.

Her Accomplishments

In her 10 years in the Assembly, Matusow has passed 36 bills. Some of them include the assault weapon ban legislation, the fingerprinting and background check for school personnel, which include the mandatory reporting of any sexual abuse to law enforcement.

Her legislation for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse came before knowledge of the present church scandal now sweeping New York State.

“I don’t believe you legislate with headlines…results are what I stand by”, she said.

Another bill she co-sponsored, that recently passed was one that raised the driving age, which is an issue she is deeply concerned about.

Ms. Matusow, after ten years in the Assembly is on the Speaker’s Steering Committee, playing a key role in determining what bills come before the Assembly. In addition, she is a member of the Environmental, Transportation, Economic Development, Job Creation, Local Government, Consumer Affairs and Protection; and Tourism, Arts and Sports Development Committees.

In the end only time will tell if her independent stance will win her another term in office.

Ms. Matusow will be appearing shortly on an edition of White Plains Week, the local city news roundup program on Channel 71.


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