“Thrifty 8” Harpoon 1% Sales Tax. “Never in That Position:” Brodsky

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WPCNR County Clarion-Ledger. By John F. Bailey. February 5, 2003: In the aftermath of the announcement that the Westchester County Legislative Delegation would refuse to sponsor a 1% budget-gap closing sales tax as requested by County Executive Andy Spano, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, leader of the Assembly delegation from Westchester County, indicated to WPCNR that the 1% Sales Tax never had a chance in the first place, that it was never even close to being offered to both Albany houses.
WPCNR asked Mr. Brodsky what had changed within the last week when it appeared that the 1% Sales Tax had a chance of being offered to both houses, according to remarks made by County Executive Spano, and a reported (in a Journal News article), conciliatory attitude of Mr. Brodsky, himself. Brodsky told WPCNR he and the rest of the delegation “were never in that position.” Asked why County Executive Andy Spano had indicated to reporters that he felt the delegation would sponsor the increase, Brodsky said, “You’ll have to ask him that question.

Brodsky: “No.” Bronz: “Frustrated.”

Eight members of the Westchester County Delegation of State Senators and Assemblypersons assembled in Albany Tuesday afternoon to give the county the bit of bad news that there would be no sales tax bailout. They gave the message to Lois Bronz, Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, in a conference call according to The Journal News, which was then telephoned with apparently exclusive news of the decision in their own conference call with the eight legislators.

According to The Journal News, Bronz who was planning a meeting on the bill was informed of the decision.

Ms. Bronz told WPCNR Wednesday afternoon that the first she had learned of this was from a telephone call from Mr. Brodsky, not from her County Executive Andy Spano.

She said Mr. Brodsky called her to tell her “there was no consensus on the bill.” She said she had taken that to mean that the legislators were having problems with the “language” of the bill and that she was still, as of 4 PM Wednesday hopeful of passage of an amended bill. She said the date of the sales tax increase to go into effect was incorrect, being June 1, instead of March 1st, as requested and there were a few “technical difficulties.” Ms. Bronz said the corrected bill was sent back to Albany Wednesday morning.

Asked if the County Board of Legislators expected the bill to be offered, Ms. Bronz also told WPCNR that she and the other County Legislators had, based on what they had been told, expected that the Westchester delegation of state legislators were going to sponsor the bill in both state houses before yesterday afternoon’s events. “I’m frustrated,” she said.

Mr. Brodsky, when asked about this different “take” by Legislator Bronz on his conversation with her, said the bill can always be amended, but when asked by WPCNR if it would be coming out of committee and going to the floor, he said, “No.”

The Thrifty 8

A spokesperson in Senator Nicholas Spano’s office said that the
eight legislators “not in consensus on the bill” present on the conference call were: Senator Nicholas Spano, Yonkers, head of the New York Senate Westchester delegation, Senator Vincent LeibellThe Third, representing Northern Westchester, Assemblyman Adam Bradley (White Plains, North Castle, New Castle), Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Assemblywoman Sandra Galef (Ossining), Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (Scarsdale-White Plains-New Rochelle), and Assemblyman James Gary Pretlow of Mount Vernon.

Brodsky: County Tactics to Blame.

Brodsky, commenting to WPCNR, explained why he and the delegation was never supportive of the sales tax increase: “ Number 1, the county got into this mess from fiscal gimmicks undertaken before the last election to reduce property taxes. Number 2, their remedies (to the budget gap) were deeply unfair and regional, and let big companies off the hook entirely.” Brodsky added a “Number 3,” stating that the 1% sales tax increase would have had residents paying up to $500 a year more in sales tax, as opposed to only $100 more in property taxes on average for most residents, if the county raised the property taxes instead.

“It was not fair. It burdened the working poor, it did not treat municipalities fairly.” He said, and said he had told Ms. Bronz this in his original call to her.

The Assemblyman indicated the delegation was not pleased with County Executive Spano’s campaign for the sales tax: “The tactics they used, using campaign funds, the advertising. They were awful.”

Ms. Bronz said the county disagreed with Mr. Brodsky’s figure of $100. She said “That is the problem, the variation in (property) taxes in so many different communities.”

The County Executive Office responds.

Susan Tolchin, Chief Spokesperson for County Executive Andy Spano, asked to explain this contradiction of impressions as to whether the 1% Sales Tax was truly dead, and the ultimate fate of the bill that was dead one day and on life support the next, told WPCNR, “We’re still plugging away, working very hard. You know Albany, something may be dead one day and revived the next. If the Assembly delegation fails to act, the people of Westchester will face a senseless double digit increase in property taxes.”

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Spano to Hold Second Conference on Teen Drinking

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WPCNR WESTCHESTER TEEN WATCH. From th Westchester County Department of Communications. February 4, 2003:
Wednesday evening, County Executive Andy Spano will hold his follow-up to his December Conversation on Underage Drinking at Valhalla High School.
More than 100 young people from at least 30 Westchester high schools are expected to attend a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 5 with County Executive Andy Spano. This meeting is a follow-up to a Dec. 12 teen drinking summit, where students enthusiastically shared their ideas about effective alcohol-prevention initiatives. The meeting will take place in Cafeteria B at Valhalla High School, 300 Columbus Ave., from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

“This meeting Wednesday is an outgrowth of our December summit, where the students pulled no punches in telling us what they liked and didn’t like about some of the ideas we presented. And they also suggested that they themselves could come up with some better solutions,” said Spano. “This will be their opportunity to share their ideas as well as for us to talk about some of our proposals. In addition, they will be given questionnaires to take back to their peers so we can find out what kinds of programs the kids think work.”

The county is still pursuing one of the three initiatives presented at the December summit – a proposal to amend the state Vehicle and Traffic Law and alcohol laws so that an underage person found in possession of liquor could lose a driver’s license for a year, or have his right to obtain a license suspended if he does not yet have a license.

“This would not be a criminal offense,” said Spano. “The teens, parents and school officials we heard from in December said a criminal approach was too severe.”

Also under consideration by the county is a new initiative: to push for state legislation to increase penalties to retailers who sell liquor to minors.

“Increased penalties have been effective in deterring merchants from selling cigarettes to minors,” said Spano. “It seems clear we should advocate for the same approach here. Like with cigarette merchants, those who illegally sell liquor to teens could lose their license to sell liquor and lose a lottery license as well.”

On Wednesday, following the give-and-take between Spano and the students, the Teen Drinking Action Council started several years ago by Spano will meet.

The council brings together student leaders with the mission of creating messages and activities that support an alcohol/drug free lifestyle and innovative ways to spread that message to other students. Many students attending Wednesday night’s event are current members of the Teen Drinking Action Council. Other students are welcome to join.

The Teen Drinking Action Council meeting will include a discussion of a phone helpline run by teens for teens and planning for a barbecue to celebrate teens who support an alcohol/drug free lifestyle.

In addition to Wednesday’s meeting, the following events are scheduled dealing with underage drinking:

• On Feb. 25, Spano will meet with college presidents to explore the issues of drinking on campus.

• On March 6, Spano will host an evening conference for parents and community leaders to focus on parental involvement in a grass roots efforts to deal with the issue.

• And on April 7, Spano will reconvene a meeting with students to discuss what they found when they surveyed their schoolmates.

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Common Council President Looks Into Future of White Plains Renaissance.

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WPCNR FOR THE RECORD. From Common Council President Benjamin Boykin. February 3, 2003: Monday evening, after Mayor Delfino delivered his State of the City Address, he turned the floor over to Council President Ben Boykin for the Council’s view.



HAILS WHITE PLAINS RENAISANCE: Council President Benjamin Boykin in his address to the city Monday evening. Mr. Boykin said it was due to the Common Council working together with the Mayor to make it happen.
Photo by WPCNR News

In his address, he called for a redevelopment of Lexington Avenue between Fischer Avenue and Post Road. He said the council would work to get the Building Department to ease supplemental building code restrictions that make White Plains projects more expensive.

Mr. Boykin stressed that the council has given the Mayor their input as to what should be included in his lPhase III Revitalization Plan and were looking forward to seeing it. He said the council would work toward providing more affordable housing in White Plains. He said the council would expect studies to be executed of any future downtown development. Here is Mr. Boykin’s speech:

ON BEHALF OF MY FIVE COUNCIL COLLEAGUES AND MYSELF I WISH TO PRESENT A REVIEW OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS DURING THE PAST YEAR AND AN OUTLOOK OF WHAT WE AS COUNCIL MEMBERS HOPE TO ACHIEVE IN 2003. THE MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 2002 HAVE BEEN ACHIEVED BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL AND THE REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION HAVE WORKED TOGETHER AND HAVE REMAINED FOCUSED ON THE BEST LONG-TERM INTERESTS FOR WHITE PLAINS RESIDENTS.

WHITE PLAINS TODAY COULD BE BEST DESCRIBED AS A CITY IN THE MIDST OF A RENAISSANCE. WE ARE REINVESTING IN OUR TAX BASE AND BUILDING A BETTER CITY FOR ALL RESIDENTS. OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, 1,790 UNITS OF APARTMENTS HAVE BEEN APPROVED. OF THESE, 130 ARE AFFORABLE HOUSING UNITS. 1,361 OF THE APPROVED UNITS ARE CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION WITH COMPLETION SCHEDULED DURING THIS YEAR AND EARLY 2004. THE MOMENTUM IS GROWING AS WE PREPARE FOR:

· CITY CENTER: A MAJOR RETAIL COMPLEX INCLUDING A 15 SCREEN MEGAPLEX THEATER, RESTAURANTS, STORES, A 2,200 CAR GARAGE AND APARTMENTS.

· FORTUNOFF: 180,000 SQUARE-FOOT SPECIALTY STORE FOR THIS NATIONALLY RENOWNED RETAILER PLUS 75,000 SQUARE FEET OF ANCILLARY RETAIL SPACE.

· A 400-SEAT PERFORMING ARTS CENTER AT THE CITY CENTER AND A NEW PARK AND FOUNTAIN AT THE INTERSECTION OF MAMARONECK AVE. AND MAIN ST.

· A DOWNTOWN STREETSCAPE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM INCLUDING NEW LANTERNS, BENCHES AND IMPROVED CURBING, JUTOUTS AND CROSSWALKS.

IN ADDITION, A 57,000 SQUARE FOOT STOP & SHOP, THE CITY’S ONLY LARGE-SCALE MODERN SUPERMARKET, OPENED IN DECEMBER 2002.

THE COMPLETION OF THESE PROJECTS, WHICH INVOLVE NEW RESIDENTS LIVING IN THE HEART OF OUR CITY AND NEW RETAIL AND ENTERTAINMENT ACTIVITIES, WILL PRODUCE A DOWNTOWN RICH IN CULTURAL AND ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS AND GENERATE ADDITIONAL TAX REVENUE WHICH WILL PROMOTE BOTH GREATER TAX STABILITY AND CONTINUATION OF HIGH-QUALITY CITY SERVICES. ALL PROPOSALS NOW UNDERWAY WERE SUBJECTED TO INTENSIVE REVIEW TO INSURE THAT THE CITY’S INFRASTRUCTURE WAS SUFFICIENT TO HANDLE INCREASED VOLUMES OF TRAFFIC AND PARKING WITHOUT SACRIFICING THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE CITY’S RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS.

NOT ALL PROJECTS APPROVED SINCE 2001 ARE UNDERWAY. CONSTRUCTION OF JEFFERSON PLACE, A 281 APARTMENT RESIDENCE ON MAMARONECK AVE., IS STALLED DUE TO FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS WHILE THE HAMILTON, A 106 UNIT APARTMENT BUILDING AT CHURCH AND BARKER AND 42 UNITS OF HOUSING FOR LOW- AND MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES AND SENIORS AT SO. KENSICO AND HADDEN HAVE YET TO BREAK GROUND. WE INTEND TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS TO PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND CITY IF THESE PROJECTS DO NOT HAPPEN.

MORE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS ARE EXPECTED IN 2003. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS FURTHER DEVELOPMENT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE VISION FOR A VIBRANT AND LIVABLE DOWNTOWN AND DOES NOT OVERLOAD OUR TRAFFIC AND PARKING INFRASTRUCTURE. WE MUST KNOW THE LIMITS OF OUR PRESENT AND POTENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN SERVING VARIOUS KINDS OF USES IN OUR DOWNTOWN AREA AND WILL REQUEST PROFESSIONAL STUDIES TO ASSIST THE CITY IN EVALUATING FUTURE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS.

WHILE DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT PROCEEDS, WE NEED TO INSURE THAT THE HIGH QUALITY OF RESIDENTIAL LIFE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS IS MAINTAINED AND PRESERVED. NEW MEASURES TO CALM TRAFFIC AS IT PASSES THROUGH CLOSE-IN AREAS SUCH AS BATTLE HILL, FISHER HILL, THE HIGHLANDS AND NORTH BROADWAY SHOULD BE EVALUATED AND, IF ACCEPTABLE TO RESIDENTS, ADOPTED.

WE HAVE PROVIDED THE ADMINISTRATION WITH OUR IDEAS REGARDING PHASE 3 OF THE DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION PLAN. WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING THIS PLAN AND GETTING PUBLIC INPUT PRIOR TO ITS APPROVAL AND ENACTMENT IN 2003.

WHILE THE PROGNOSIS FOR INCREASED SALES AND PROPERTY TAXES FROM INCREASED BUSINESS ACTIVITY IS ENCOURAGING IN THE LONG TERM, FISCAL 2003-04 WILL BE A DIFFICULT YEAR FOR THE CITY’S BUDGET. BECAUSE NEARLY ALL OF THE NEW CONSTRUCTION WILL NOT BE IN OPERATION AT BUDGET TIME AND BECAUSE SALES TAX REVENUES FROM EXISTING STORES REFLECT THE CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, THE TAX OUTLOOK FOR THE COMING FISCAL YEAR IS GOING TO BE CHALLENGING. THE IMPACT OF INCREASED BUSINESS ACTIVITY WILL BEGIN TO HAVE A STRONG BENEFICIAL IMPACT ON THE CITY’S STRUCTURE IN 2004-05 AND THEREAFTER.

SOME OF THE CITY’S SUPPLEMENTAL PLUMBING CODES HAVE BEEN MODIFIED TO PERMIT THE USE OF ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE RECENTLY RELEASED NEW YORK STATE BUILDING CODE. WHILE THESE ARE POSITIVE MEASURES, WE WILL WORK WITH THE ADMINISTRATION, DEVELOPERS, CONTRACTORS, ARCHITECTS AND LAND USE ATTORNEYS TO EXAMINE ALL THE CITY’S SUPPLEMENTAL BUILDING CODES TO ELIMINATE THOSE CODES WHICH UNNECESSARILY INFLATE CONSTRUCTION COSTS WITHOUT PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SAFETY OR BENEFIT TO OCCUPANTS OF BUILDINGS IN THE CITY.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WHITE PLAINS HAS GAINED ACCESS TO LAKEFRONT PROPERTY. THE CITY’S LONG-TERM LEASE PROVIDING ACCESS TO SILVER LAKE AND THE PURCHASE OF THE D’ELIA PROPERTY CONSTITUTE THE LARGEST ADDITIONS TO THE CITY’S OPEN SPACE AND RECREATIONAL INVENTORY IN MANY YEARS. WITH THE APPROVAL OF NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL’S SPECIAL PERMIT APPLICATION IN 2002, DISCUSSIONS ARE IN UNDERWAY WITH THE HOSPITAL TO ADDRESS COMMUNITY NEEDS FOR THIS PROPERTY.

2002 SAW A MAJOR TRANSITION WITHIN OUR PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT WITH THE RETIREMENT OF FORMER COMMISSIONER DOLCE. THE COMMON COUNCIL INSISTED THAT A NATIONAL SEARCH BE LAUNCHED TO IDENTIFY THE BEST POSSIBLE REPLACEMENT. THE SELECTION OF COMMISSIONER STRAUB AND HIS APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY COMMISSIONERS CHONG AND JENNINGS HAVE SERVED TO FURTHER STRENGTHEN OUR POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS. DUE IN LARGE MEASURE TO THE FRESH IDEAS OF THE INCOMING COMMISSIONER AND DEPUTIES, THE “BADGE DRAIN” HAS COME TO AN END, CURRENT CONTRACTS HAVE BEEN NEGOTIATED WITH BOTH POLICE AND FIRE UNIONS, AND DEPARTMENTAL MORALE HAS IMPROVED. NEW POLICE BIKE PATROLS HAVE ADDED A NEW LEVEL OF PROTECTION WITH INCREASED POLICE PRESENCE IN OUR DOWNTOWN AND CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS.

THIS EVENING, THIS COUNCIL IS EXPECTED TO APPROVE THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW OFFICE FACILITIES FOR THE HOUSING AUTHORITY AND NEW COMMUNITY SPACE FOR WINDBROOK RESIDENTS. NEARLY 100% OF THE FUNDING FOR THIS PROJECT WAS PROVIDED BY FEDERAL SOURCES IN THE EARLY 1990S. WITH VISIONARY THINKING AND CREATIVE PLANNING, WE ARE PROVIDING ADDITIIONAL GREEN SPACE FOR THIS COMMUNITY.

LEXINGTON AVENUE BETWEEN FISHER AVE. AND POST RD. SHOULD BE REDEVELOPED. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FUNDS SHOULD BE USED TO UPGRADE FACADES AND STOREFRONTS THEREBY IMPROVING THE LIVING ENVIRONMENT IN THE CITY’S DENSEST NEIGHBORHOOD.

ILLEGAL OCCUPANCIES ARE A MAJOR THREAT TO CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS. WE WILL INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO INCREASE MINIMUM FINES FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS OF THE CITY’S OCCUPANCY CODES AND TO PROMOTE THE HIRING OF MORE CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

DURING 2002 WE PASSED LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING THE HIRING OF A CITY GRANT WRITER. THIS INDIVIDUAL WILL BE CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF GENERATING ADDITIONAL FUNDING FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SOURCES TO EXPAND CITY SERVICES WITHOUT GENERATING ADDITIONAL TAX BURDENS ON OUR RESIDENTS. WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE HIRING OF THIS INDIVIDUAL IN EARLY 2003.

IN ORDER TO FOSTER A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CITY GOVERNMENT AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT, WE CONTINUE TO URGE THE ADMINISTRATION TO RESUME REGULAR INFORMAL MEETINGS OF THE COMMON COUNCIL AND SCHOOL BOARD TO DISCUSS ISSUES OF COMMON INTEREST AND CONCERN.

WE BEGAN “CITIZENS TO BE HEARD” LAST YEAR AND WE ENCOURAGE OUR RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS OWNERS TO BRING YOUR ISSUES TO THE COMMON COUNCIL AT 7:00 PM EACH MONTH PRIOR TO THE START OF THE COUNCIL MEETING AT 7:30 PM.

WE NEED TO DO MORE TO INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MIDDLE-INCOME HOUSING IN WHITE PLAINS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP AND REFINE POLICIES THAT SPELL OUT THE REQUIREMENTS AND INCENTIVES FOR THE PROVISION OF MIDDLE-INCOME HOUSING BY DEVELOPERS WISHING TO BUILD IN OUR CITY. THE DIVERSITY OF OUR CITY IS ONE OF ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSETS. WE MUST WORK TO SEE THAT OUR CITY’S WORKFORCE, AT ALL LEVELS, AND OUR BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS, REFLECT OUR RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY.

THE YEAR 2003 PROMISES TO BE THE BEGINNING OF THE REALIZATION OF HOPES AND DREAMS BEGUN JUST A YEAR OR TWO AGO. BY YEAR-END, NEW WHITE PLAINS RESIDENTS WILL BE LIVING AT THE FORMER “HOLE IN THE GROUND” AND AT CLAYTON PARK. WE WILL BE ABLE TO SEE MOVIES, DINE AND SHOP AT THE CITY CENTER, ENJOY BOATING, FISHING OR PICNICKING AT OUR NEW LAKEFRONT PARK, SHOP AT FORTUNOFF, SEE LIVE PERFORMANCES AT OUR PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, AND STROLL BY AN EXCITING NEW PARK AND FOUNTAIN AT MAMARONECK AND MAIN.

THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF ALL THIS NEW ACTIVITY AND THE PROPOSALS WHICH FOLLOW WILL DEPEND ON OUR ABILITY TO MANAGE DEVELOPMENT IN A WAY THAT WILL ADD TO OUR QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE SOURCE OF PRIDE WHICH WE HAVE IN OUR CITY.

THE WHITE PLAINS RENAISSANCE IS UPON US. WE ASK THE ADMINISTRATION, IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE COUNCIL, AND WORKING WITH THE BID, BUSINESS OWNERS, COMMUNITY GROUPS, AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT, TO ESTABLISH AN OFFICIAL CELEBRATION THIS FALL TO SHOWCASE THE WHITE PLAINS RENAISSANCE.

WE HAVE AN AMBITIOUS AGENDA FOR 2003. WORKING WITH THE MAYOR AND HIS ADMINISTRATION, WE ARE READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO RETURN WHITE PLAINS TO ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE AS THE JEWEL IN WESTCHESTER’S CROWN AND TO CELEBRATE OUR RENAISSANCE.

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Council Gives JPI to June 1 to Get Jing. Mayor: City Strong

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WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. February 3, 2003 UPDATED WITH PHOTOS: The Common Council Monday evening granted JPI, would-be developers of The Jefferson of White Plains 76 days to June 1st to pull together the $20 Million in financing they need to go ahead with their now-estimated $100 Million townhouse and luxury apartment complex at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue, demanding both copy of closing documents on the financing and a letter of credit for $500,000 to finance a Site Restoration Plan.

The council also approved the construction of a new White Plains Housing Authority Headquarters addition to 225 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is expected to begin construction this summer and be completed by the fall of 2004. All praised Mack Carter and the Housing Authority and the Winbrook residents and the city for working together to find a solution. “The Last Activist,” Ron Jackson was credited by all speakers for being a catalyst of the community effort



AMERICA’S FAVORITE MAYOR Joseph Delfino delivered the State of the City Address and said, “It is with great pleasure that I report to you tonight that the State of our City is strong. The Mayor set an aggressive agenda for the new year, saying he would release Phase 3 of his economic development plan within two months, containing his blueprint for completing his administration’s vision of the city.<
Photo by WPCNR News


Training for “Unlikely” Terror Attack.

He said he would establish a training program to prepare public safety personnel for an “unlikely terrorist event,” begin new “outreach efforts to foster better police/community relationships,” and direct new initiatives in controlling speeding.

He said he was pleased to have hired a new Commissioner of Public Safety, Dr. Frank Straub, and his two Deputy Commissioners, David Chong and Charles Jennings, whom he said bring “tremendous expertise and professionalism to our department.”

Illegal Housing Crackdown

The Mayor said he would “expand our efforts in cracking down on illegal occupancies,” announcing that “our Building Department has been working extremely hard to address this growing problem but there is more that needs to be done.”

Mr. Delfino said he would create an Unsafe Housing Task Force, that “will combine and coordinate the efforts of our police, fire officials, building inspectors, and our law department to target illegal and unsafe housing conditions.”

In another initiative, he said he would propose legislation establishing guidelines and procedures for making new affordable housing units now being constructed available for those who qualify. He said he would “look for opportunities to encourage construction of new affordable housing.”

NYPH Talks Continue Positively.

The Mayor held out the possibility of reaching an accommodation with New York Presbyterian Hospital over acquiring parkland for the city: “I have been meeting with representatives of New York Hospital to discuss the issue of parkland. Everyone acknowledges that the hospital has no legal obligation to contribute any parkland to the City. However, in meeting with the hospital, I truly believe that the hospital is interested in our community concerns and I intend to continue my dialogue with them.”

Mayor Delfino noted his administration had finally come to a decision on bringing a cancer center to White Plains by approving the New York Presbyterian Hospital proton accelerator, biotech research project.

Legal Update

That project, incidentally, continues to be on hold while Concerned Citizens for Open Space lawsuit continues the discovery process. According to George Gretsas and sources close to the case, the discovery process is waiting on Thomas Whyatt’s response to the city’s motion to Judge Richard Mollea to dismiss the case on the grounds that Concerned Citizens for Open Space has no “standing” in the matter.

Projects All Around the Town

The Mayor said he would push for decisions on whether or not to double-deck the Waller/ Maple Avenue parking lot, and what to do about repairing City Hall. He said he was leaning towards the least costly option, repairing the heating and electrical only, but said there was no consensus.

Mr. Cappelli is Coming to Town.

Delfino predicted the city would be considering a proposal for a $300 Million hotel and condominium complex on Mamaroneck Avenue and Main Street. This will be presented Friday, it was reported by George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer when Louis Cappelli, City Center impresario, and new owner of that site is scheduled to appear before the Urban Renewal Board.

Mayor Delfino said he expected to see proposed improvements at the Galleria Mall and at the Pavilion Mall, and said he would ride shotgun over the residential project at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue.

2002: White Plains Year of Acheivement

The Mayor ran down the list of achievements totaling $1.3 Billion in new development. In 2002 alone: Two apartments were erected at 50 Main Street, with completion this Spring; tremendous progress at the City Center, due to open in October 2003; progress on the Fortunoff’s, also scheduled to open in the fall, and completion of Clayton Park, which he described as “the first residential building to be built in the downtown since 1988.”

He closed with pointing to the new Stop & Shop store opening its doors to the public, the new Youth Bureau, the ESL for Daily Living Program, made possible through a partnership between the White Plains Public Library, the Westchester Library System and Westchester Library System.

Recreation Upgrade

In 2002, he noted recreation achievements: acquisition of the Lakefront property on St. Mary’s Lake for a lease of $1 a year, the city’s first waterfront park, and cited numerous other improvements to parks. The Mayor said the city planned to have the new Liberty Park on Silver Lake opened by the summer for boating, fishing and passive recreation.

The city’s chief executive said 2002 also saw two other key projects the city has needed get under way: renovation of the Main-Mamaroneck fountain, and the Performing Arts Theater for a cost not to exceed $7 Million, paid for bonds paid by city parking revenues, county , Federal and state dollars, and “no money will be used from City property taxes to pay for either project.”

Bouquets from Mayor Delfino

The Mayor threw out many bouquets tonight for 2002 progress. He praised the Business Improvement District for its cooperation: “This strong relationship has been invaluable and it is hard to imagine any downtown succeeding without the City and the BID working together hand-in-hand. Having looked at other cities nationally, we have found that adversarial relationships between a BID and its City are symptoms displayed by failed downtowns and I am thrilled at the example that we have set here in White Plains and I would discourage those who look to create conflict where none exists.”

He shared credit with the Common Council, magnanimously: “To my colleagues on the Common Council, I would like to once again thank you for all your service to this community. Each of you, in your own way, have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort…When we put aside partisan politics and do what’s best for our community, great things happen. When we look at each other as colleagues and not as competitors, we foster an environment of progress and positive change. And I would encourage each and every one of you to stay focused on our joint objectives without being distracted by the same handful of partisans who prefer political infighting and animonsity over progress. There is no question in my mind that if we stand united, we will continue to break new ground and flourish as a city.”

Columbia Crew Remembered

The Mayor opened Monday evening’s meeting with the White Plains Police Honor Guard salute to the perished crew of the space shuttle, Columbia. The Reverend Jacob Stukes saying a somber and appropriate Invocation.



THE WINBROOK-HOUSING AUTHORITY COALITION, celebrates the approval of the new White Plains Housing Authority on the Winbrook campus. The group includes, Bernard Arnold, far left, the architect, Al Pio, second from left, chief superintendent, (hero of the Windbrook gas pipeline leak incident), far right, Susan Habel, Commissioner of Planning, and second from right,
Mack Carter, Executive Director of the Housing Authortiy. Ron Jackson, who is recovering from an illness could not be present, but was praised by all as a key component of the compromise which made the new headquarters approval possible.
Photo by WPCNR


Employee of the Month

The Mayor recognized Vincent Longo, Senior Code Enforcement Officer of the Department of Building as Employee of the Month, a man who has lived all his life in the city, had a 30-year career in the construction business, with the last 5 years being with the White Plains Building Department. The Mayor saluted him for being the lead code enforcer on the Bank Street Commons project, Clayton Park, Fortunoff’s, and the Pace University Judicial Training Center. The Mayor praised him for “making a difference in this city” with his “excellent communications skills and congenial personality.”



EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH,
Mr. Longo, taking the microphone said he had seen White Plains grow from when Mamaroneck Avenue went from two-lanes, and had five movie theaters. “It’s looking good and going to look better.” He said there was “a great bunch of people in the building department and safety is the number one priority when you come in (to the department.) I’m proud to be here to be one of them.”
Photo by WPCNR News

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White Plains Teachers Will Receive a 3% Raise Across the Board

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From Jerry Gorski. February 3, 2003: The President of the White Plains Teachers Association, Jerry Gorski reported to WPCNR today that the amount of the pay increase negotiated with the White Plains City School District for a new one-year interim contract running from July, 2003 through June 2004 will be 3% at all salary levels “across the board.”
A first-year White Plains Teacher currently starts at $42,712 plus benefits. Teachers coming on board in 2004 will start at 3% more: $43,993, according to Gorski. The most highly paid teacher level, which is paid to Ph.d degreed teachers with 20 years of experience is $107,011 and will rise to $110,221. Mr. Gorski could not say offhand how many teachers were at that highest level.

The median salary for White Plains teachers, according to Mr. Gorski is $76,308. He reports that in the last five years, over 200 new teachers have joined the faculty, district-wide. White Plains currently employs 632 teachers. Gorski said that if you count this year’s new hires (82), slightly less than half had been with the district less than five years.

He speculated that with retirements announced this month, the district overall salary level might not automatically increase 3%. In the current budget year, White Plains School District has budgeted $76,692,311 towards salaries out of a total budget of $126.9 Million. Of that $76.7 Million, $51,233, 643 is paid to certified teachers. A 3% raise would mean roughly increasing the budget for teacher salaries 1.5 Million.

Gorski said the new contract would be voted on perhaps in late June, and the teachers he has talked to, circulating at lunch hours throughout the district are “very positive about it.”

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Amy Paulin’s Albany: New Law Gives Victims Right to Sue Over I.D. Theft

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WPCNR’S AMY PAULIN’S ALBANY From Assemblywoman of the 88th District, Amy Paulin. (EDITED)February 3, 2003:Assemblywoman Amy Paulin announces today a new law she supported making identity theft a felony level crime punishable by up to seven years in prison and gives victims the opportunity to seek legal recourse.
Recent identity theft crimes in Westchester County have made us aware of how easy it can be for someone to steal our most personal information. Over 750,000 cases of identity theft occur in the United States each year. This crime costs billions in damages to both consumers and the financial industry.”

This month, a Bronx woman was accused of trying to use another woman’s identity to steal $2,800 from a bank in Rye. In addition, a former H&R Block employee working from that organization’s White Plains office was accused of stealing the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses of at least 27 customers.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal identification information about another person – including a Social Security number, name, or credit card number – to apply for credit, open bank accounts, or make unauthorized purchases.

In the past, financial institutions, such as credit card companies or banks, were legally considered the sole victims of identity theft – leaving consumers with ruined credit and no means of rebuilding their financial reputation. This law provides legal protections to both the credit institution and the card holder.

Westchester residents can protect themselves from identity theft by not giving out personal identification information – such as their maiden name, mother’s maiden name, or Social Security number to persons or companies they’re not familiar with; keeping items with personal information in a safe place; and destroying ATM, credit and debit card, and bank receipts. Check your credit report annually to ensure that they have not fallen victim to credit card fraud.

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Feiner to Schumer-Clinton-Lowey: “Send Lawyers, Guns and Money.”

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WPCNR THE GREENBURGH GAZETTE. From Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. February 3, 2003: Greenburgh’s leader is calling upon Greenburgh’s Washington delegation to aid the town in preparing against possibilities of a terrorist attack.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has written to US Senators Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Nita Lowey seeking $l07,564 in federal funds to enable the town to “do our job of preparing for a terrorist incident correctly.”

The town of Greenburgh has been providing increased training to our police emergency medical services personnel to address the threat of terrorism, said Feiner in his letter:

“We have begun to purchase specialized equipment to ensure that emergency service providers can safely enter contaminated areas to treat and evacuate patients. Unfortunately, our resources fall short of ensuring that a viable initial response to a major incident can be mounted.

Feiner said that Police Chief John Kapica has prepared a list of equipment that is needed that will enable Greenburgh to do its job protecting the public and minimizing losses. The purchase of the
equipment will assist in the search, rescue and containment operations that are required in the event of a frightening incident.

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Working for the Pataki Dollar: White Plains Week Analyzes Education Cuts

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. February 3, 2003:The weekly city news roundup show, White Plains Week brings White Plains up to date on how Governor George Pataki’s suggested 2003-04 Budget cuts in funding Education will impact the White Plains City School District Friday night. The All-Night News Boys will also update the Indian Point Mexican standoff, report on the White Plains Police Department’s Dr. Frank Straub’s security conference of last week.



THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING PATAKI DOLLAR will be examined Friday night by Alex Philippidis, Editor of Westchester County Business Journal, James Benerofe of SuburbanStreet.com, and John Bailey of White Plains CitizeNetReporter, beginning at 7:30 PM on The Spirit of 76, WPPA, White Plains Public Access Television. The program appears every Monday at 7 and Fridays at 7:30 on Channel 76, the White Plains Channel.
PHOTO BY WPCNR ENTERTAINMENT

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Mysterious Power Outage Disrupts East Coast Internet for second week.

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WPCNR INTERNETIONAL TRIBUNE. By John F. Bailey. Februay 2, 2003: For the second straight weekend, websites throughout the East Coast and across the country were affected by a crippling disruption at the Eastern DataCenter in Parsippany, New Jersey, (not Maryland, as previously reported), according to Scarsdale Technology’s Sean Cover. The Westchester Network first noticed the slowdown in internet interfacing Saturday morning, and it lasted throughout the day, with the data center getting service restored to The Westchester Network at 9:30 PM Saturday evening.

According to Mr. Cover, troubleshooting the outage for The Westchester Network, the problem disrupted internet service for a large number of servers and websites:

He filed this report to WPCNR and The Yonkers Tribune:

“There have been some severe power and switching problems in the data center throughout the day (Saturday). Hundreds of servers are down, some of them for 13 hours straight. Many people are aware of the problem and are working on it frantically.I’m still trying to get the details from the data center, but the end result was that our sites were up and down all day. I know for a fact there was a power outage at the data center at 7am Saturday which forced them to go on their UPS backup, but they went back on utility power at 9am. However, it seems there were internal power switching and network problems that followed off and on all day long.”

Filing his report to us Saturday evening, Cover is concerned about the second disruption of power without explanation in two weeks: “There’s a big stink about it. Hundreds of servers providing service to many ISPs and web hosting companies were disrupted. Right now at 9:45pm, things seems back to normal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

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Columbia’s Legacy: We Take Miracles for Granted. Overlook the Person.

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WPCNR’S JOHN BAILEY AND THE NEWS. February 1, 2003: Saturday’s fatal Columbia Space Shuttle accident killing all 7 astronauts aboard when the historic spacecraft broke up over East Texas at daybreak Saturday morning begins a period of national mourning.

The expected media speculations have started, guessing at the cause of the reentry that went bizarrely, awfully wrong.

The truth is the civilized world takes absolute scientific miracles for granted. We do not appreciate the courage and skills of the men and women creating the future.

Those of us with cell phones, internet connections, high-speed trains, satellite communications and entertainment (all products made possible by the space program), do not realize the magnitude of daring achievements that you and I have come to accept to be executed like clockwork.

I first learned of Columbia’s fate late Saturday afternoon when my wife mentioned that instead of sports programming being videotaped on our television, there was coverage of a live NASA event on ABC.

(Incredibly, the radio station I had been listening to on the way from a sports clinic had not reported any hint of the accident. That station was Z-100, the most listened-to station in the New York metropolitan area. America Online also on their first up page did not mention the missing craft as of midday. That kind of communications misjudgment is sad.)

As I watched the close of Mr. Jennings’ coverage at about 3 PM, he signed off with no recap, no names of astronauts, and some parting words about what he thought was the cause of the disaster.

I’ll say what he should have said.

Columbia’s seven astronauts who died were Columbus, Magellan, Cook, Lewis, Clark, the Wrights, Lindbergh, De Laroche, Earhart, Markham, Chaffee, Grissom, White, Gargarin, Komarov, the Challenger Crew, the crew of Soyuz 11. They are the hundreds of brave men and women who went into the unknown.

They are the people who trust in their ability and their vessel to expand the world’s horizons, to know the unknown, whose legacies build a better world. Whose deeds inspire and achievements are the catalyst for more achievement.

From Cook’s fragile vessel which sailed the Pacific, to the marvel that was the Columbia, the captains courageous who sailed the Roaring 40s, blazed the Oregon Trail, discovered how to fly, and flew the oceans, journeyed to the stars, knew the risks they were taking.

It is trivializing their courage, their skills, and the difficulty of what they did and wanted to do, to concentrate on the causes of their failure, as if knowing the cause will make their loss acceptable.

The Magnificent Seven

I do not know Columbia’s Magnificent Seven. I just see their smiling faces in their photograph, and I regret the loss of every one. They had achievement on their faces, pride in their demeanor. Their eyes shown with the glow of being alive and striving to do the great things they set out to do.

Civilization has been created because of people like the crew of the Columbia’s Magnificent Seven.

The Columbia itself had flown 26 missions since launching in 1981. It was guided and outfitted with the best 2003 communications and equipment had to offer. Not like Captain James Cook’s bark, Endeavour, a 100-foot ship powered by sail that conquered the “space” of his time, the Pacific Ocean. It was the Columbia’s Magnificent Seven’s Endeavour. They were tracked, they were backed up, but they perhaps more than anyone here on the ground knew the high dangers of the shuttle mission.

Liftoff, as their predecessors, The Challenger crew fell victim to, is fraught with risk. Reentry, which needs to be negotiated at precisely the right angle of attack, is equally risky. Soyuz 11’s spacecrew of Dobrovolskiy, Volkov, and Patsayev died in 1971 on reentry, when the Russian cosmonauts took too long to descend.

No guarantees in real life. Machines sometimes run out of miracles.

The magnificence of the explorers’ sacrifice and dedication, is that they except the risk of “the endeavor.”

They accept the challenge, bear it alone, seizing challenge with an indomitable spirit and confidence, facing death when it comes with the satisfaction that they made the effort, and I suspect analyzing, coping, trying to fix it until the end.

Columbia’s Magnificent Seven, after 16 days in space, are gone now. My sorrow is with their families who will miss these Magnificent Seven, and who know in their hearts that they died trying to reach the pinnacle of their aspirations.

They are only human.

They tried their best, achieved their best, and experienced what they longed to experience. They dared to live the great adventure.

Not all of us have the courage to follow our longed-for adventures and make them real. You can watch movies that attempt to give that experience by transference. That’s why, I believe, you and I take it so personally when we lose heroic personalities of our time. We wonder what they are like. We glorify them, rightly so.

Follow Me! They Say.

I wonder how those Magnificent Seven felt, how satisfying it must have been, to be at your best, doing what you love, coping with the risks.

The Columbia Crew is the Miracle.

In reality it is not machines that conquer, it is the intrepid personalities, each unique, each contributing, who perform the miracles with God’s help. That they fall short is an example to us, not to take ourselves, our fates, or our existences for granted.

This is true of the everyday people we take for granted: the firefighter, the policeman, the train engineer, the airline pilot, the construction worker. All are highly trained disciplined workers, executing precise tasks for which the non-expert has no feel or understanding . What makes for the desire to achieve? What is out there or up there that leads them on?

The Feel of the Unknown

I took Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s biographical adventure diary, Listen! The Wind down from the bookshelf. She was the young bride of the aviator-pioneer, who navigated for him and ran his radio communications on his many exploratory flights around the world. In a passage she describes a night flight over the ocean, in which she was operating the radio for her husband Charles, who was at the controls. Mrs. Lindbergh is describing the feelings she had as she tries to tune in the South American coast at sea in the dark of night in 1933, seventy years ago. The feeling, the courage of the adventurer, the explorer has not changed

Night was the hardest. It would be all right once it was day. I kept saying…We began to hit clouds. I could tell without looking up, for the plane bumped slightly from time to time, first one wing down and then the other. And the moon blackened out for short periods. Then for longer periods. I could not see to write my messages. I stiffened, dimly sensing fear – the old fear of bad weather – and looked out. We were flying under clouds. I could still find a kind of horizon, a difference in shading where the water met the clouds. That was all. But it seemed to be getting darker. Storms? Were those clouds or was it the sky? We had lost the water. We were flying blind. I turned off the light quickly (to give my husband a little more vision), and sat waiting, tense, peering through the night. Now we were out again. There were holes through which one could see the dark sky. It was all right, I felt, as long as there were holes.

More blind flying. This is it, I thought is what people forget. This is what it means to fly across the ocean, blind and at night. But day is coming. It ought to be day before long…
Daybreak! What a miracle. I didn’t see any sign of day and yet it must be lighter. The clouds were distinguishing themselves more and more from water and sea.

Daybreak—thank God—as if we had been living in eternal night—as if this were the first sun that ever rose out of the sea.

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