Council Takes Up Overnight Parking Wednesday; Gerrard Talks IV Continue; PB Meet

Hits: 0

WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. Special to WPCNR. June 18, 2002: The Common Council will meet in two work sessions this week. On Wednesday evening at 6, they will consider the issue of introducing overnight street parking in the Highlands neighborhood.

Thursday evening at 5:30 PM, the New York Presbyterian Hospital Gerrard Talks continue, with the Council receiving more advice and counsel from their environmental lawyer, Michael B. Gerrard, of Arnold & Porter, on their impending acceptance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the hospital’s Biomedical-Proton Accelerator proposal for the Hospital property.

Tonight the Planning Board meets at 8 PM in City Hall to discuss among other items, two controversial projects in Woodcrest Heights.

Posted in Uncategorized

WPW Friday: Tour Indian Point with John Bailey. Latest Hospital Council S

Hits: 0

WHITE PLAINS WEEK WATCH. June 17, 2002: WPW, the city news round-up show on Public Access Channel 71 will take you on an exclusive tour of Indian Point, the nuclear energy plant Friday night. Viewers will also get the latest info on the Police Commissioner Search, and the alternatives that have been suggested by the White Plains Planning Department for building the NYPH biomedical center buildings within the historical district on the hospital property.
John Bailey hosts the show with Alex Philippidis of Westchester County Business Journal and Jim Benerofe of Show is on Cable Channel 71 at 7:30 PM Friday evening.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mayor Introduces Dr. Frank Straub to Succeed John Dolce

Hits: 0

WPCNR City Hall Herald-Statesman. Press Statement From The Mayor’s Office. City Hall. June 14, 2002. 11:00 PM E.D.T. The following is the text of Mayor Joseph Delfino’s remarks introducing his nominee for Commissioner of Public Safety, Dr. Frank Straub, made today at a news conference at City Hall to the media.

MISSION: WHITE PLAINS: Assistant Commissioner for Internal Training of the NYPD Counter Terrorism Bureau, Dr. Frank Straub, left, listens to Mayor Joseph Delfino’s announcement to the press at noon Friday. Commissioner Straub awaits interviews with the Common Council over the next two weeks.
Photo by WPCNR

For the past several months, we have been conducting a national search to fill the vacancy left by former Commissioner John Dolce. Over 90 candidates from 13 states applied for the job with roughly 15 individuals that we interviewed. I am very proud of the fact that this City has attracted the best and the brightest in the field of public safety and I believe it is a testament to the terrific job that our Public Safety Department has been doing. It certainly says a lot about the wonderful reputation that our department has and there is no question that it is one of the best public safety departments in the state of New York.

In searching for a candidate to head up the department, my primary concern has been that the department’s new leader be someone who understands the vital role that the department plays in preserving the quality of life in White Plains and who has the administrative background to lead an organization with roughly 400 employees.

I was also looking for someone who has the experience and vision to manage a department that will be facing new challenges in these uncertain times.

I am very proud to announce that I will be submitting to the Common Council the nomination of Frank Straub for the position of Commissioner of Public Safety.

For almost two decades, Commissioner Straub has dedicated his life to protecting public safety at the local, state, and federal levels. He currently serves in the New York City Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau as Assistant Commissioner for Internal Training, where he is part of an elite group dedicated to developing and implementing the department’s counter terrorism strategies.

Prior to that, he was the chief administrator for the NYPD’s office of training, which had a $25 Million budget and a staff of 750. Under his leadership, Commissioner Straub graduated a police recruit staff of over 1,300, expanded the civilian board of visitors, and developed and implemented the department’s first responder program in the aftermath of September 11th.

He is also Co-Chair for the Metropolitan Area Terrorism Committee’s training subcommittee where he is working with the New York City Fire Department and other agencies to develop joint training programs for emergency responders to chemical, biological, and radioactive terrorist events.

Prior to his work in the NYPD, he served as Executive Deputy Inspector General in the Office of New York State Inspector General, where he led a team of investigators, auditors and attorneys charged with investigating corruption and fraud in New York State agencies.

Before that, Commissioner Straub spent almost ten years working for the United States Department of Justice. He began as a special agent, working his way up to second in command of the New York Field office, which is responsible for the Nation’s Northeast Corridor, rising to the rank of special agent in charge of the Inspector General’s Office of Research and Policy Analysis, an elite unit that conducts research on misconduct in the Department of Justice. While with the Department of Justice, Commissioner Straub administered an agency-wide accountability and performance system, and developed a nationwide anti-corruption program.

Early in this federal law enforcement career, he served in both the United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and the United States Naval Investigative Service.

Commissioner Straub holds 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 focusing on the investigation of public corruption, ethics, and community policing at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has been published in several local and national publications focusing on various public safety issues.

Commissioner Straub is also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, serving on the Police Investigative Operations Committee, and a member of the American Academy of Professional Law Enforcement.

Commissioner Straub, a twenty-year resident of Westchester County, lives in Cortlandt Manor with his wife and his two children.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mayor Taps Frank Straub, NYPD Counter Terrorism Expert for Public Safety Commish

Hits: 0

WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. June 14, 2002. 1:00 PM E.D.T.UPDATED 6:00 pm E.D.T.: Mayor Joseph Delfino named Dr. Frank Straub, 43, currently Assistant Commissioner for Internal Training in the New York City Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau as his choice for Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of White Plains.

Commissioner of Public Safety Nominee

Photo by WPCNR

Straub previously was Chief Administrator of the NYPD’s Office of Training where he managed a $25 Million Budget and supervised 750 persons. He also served in the Department of Justice, as a Special Agent, and rose to the rank of Special Agent in charge of the Inspector General’s Office where he was responsible for productivity of a nationwide staff.

Dr. Straub will be interviewed by the Common Council, according to the Mayor. As of Friday evening at 6 PM George Gretsas reports no dates have been set yet for councilmembers to interview the nominee, but the Mayor’s office was working on it.

Dr. Straub’s appointment is subject to the Council’s approval. The Mayor hoped to have the Straub appointment on the July 1 Common Council agenda.

Straub is also Co-Chair for the Metropolitan Area Terrorism Commitee, working with the New York City Fire Department to develop joint training programs for emergency responders to chemical, biological and radioactive terrorist events.
(More to Come)

Posted in Uncategorized

CNA Tours Indian Point: Radiation Cloud Procedures Explained.

Hits: 0

WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. June 13, 2002. 12:00 E.D.T.: Seven members of the White Plains Council of Neighborhood Associations toured the Entergy Indian Point atomic power plant Tuesday, and saw for themselves the security and emergency steps to be taken in the event of a possible terrorist strike at the Buchanan plant.

CNA REPS IN INDIAN POINT EMERGENCY OPS FACILITY: Jim Steets of Entergy demonstrating how the Wind Solar Map with its 10 mile mapping of the area surrounding Indian Point, predicts the direction of any radiation releases. He is shown explaining the operation of the WSM to CNA delegates, L to R, John Vorperian, Riena Kaplow, Ingrid and Carl Barrera Tuesday at Indian Point. Also observing were Joel Rudikoff and Peter Katz.
All Photos by WPCNR.

CNA CO-President Carl Barrera, Joel Rudikoff, Ingrid Barrera, Peter Katz, John Vorperian, and this reporter were escorted into the depths of the Indian Point plant by Entergy spokesman, Jim Steets, Tuesday. We saw the facilities often characterized as vulnerable to terrorist attack by prominent politicians and a threat to the public by environmentalists.
In His Sights.

I was told by Mr. Barrera to enter the complex by a side entrance where we would meet our guide. However, I drove up to the main entrance just to check it out, to be met by concrete barriers and an obvious military presence. I could feel the security personnel’s eyes on my car as I very carefully and slowly turned my Camry around — very carefully.

As I drove down Bleakley Avenue South in the direction of where I thought the side entrance was, I was met by another security vehicle of the National Guard. I had stopped my car to get my bearings on the directions, and the Guardsman riding atop a camouflaged HumVee, locked onto me with his green scope giving me a no-nonsense, once-over. Being in his cross-hairs, gave me a very unnerving feeling.

When Indian Point Checks You In, They Check You In.

In order to go on this tour, I had to be precleared in advance by the Indian Point Communications Office with a series of paper procedures. My name was on the list, which the entrance Guard checked on my visit. An identification procedure was conducted. I was told where to park and exactly where to proceed on the site.
Evacuation Has 10-Hour Lead Time.

Before I could join the CNA group, I was furnished with new credentials, and a second set of identification procedures prepared on the spot so plant security could keep track of me on the site. Only after 45 minutes was I escorted into the Indian Point Emergency Operations Facility situation room. Jim Steets, our guide was looming over the Wind Solar Map, where the 10 miles surrounding Indian Point is rendered on a screen.

WIND SECTOR MAP identifies towns and areas threatened by any airborne radiation leaks. There is an estimated minimum of ten hours leadtime before communities can expect to have any radiation leak reach them, according to Steets.

Steets said, the Wind Solar Map is used to predict what areas might be affected should any “plume of radiation” escape Indian Point’s reactor. The Map uses wind direction and windspeed as a guide, to advise Westchester County Executive Andy Spano of communities the projected path of any radiation drift.

“The facility is staffed with people with a variety of tasks, whose job is to get all the information they can about the status of the plant, the condition of the plant, and the potential for releases,” Steets told me. “We can measure, with great certainty and accuracy exactly what a release would entail. Then we can make a recommendation, which we’ve done in drills, to the county, one or four, or all four counties (Dutchess, Orange, Westchester, Putnam), that there’s a potential for release, potentially in X amount of time, and you ought to evacuate certain areas.”

A Calculated Reaction.

“Then the County Executive can look at it and say, well, actually, we’ve already evacuated those areas, or, thanks for the advice, we’ll take it under advisement. It’s also, really his decision to make. He makes those decisions based on what’s going on at the plant, and what advice he can get from his own experts in a variety of fields, his own health department, his own advisors.”

The impression this reporter received is that, contrary to evacuation plan critics’ portraying miles of jammed highways and panic in the streets, there was no need for a “War of the Worlds” panic evacuation, given the leadtime to analyze any radiation release.

Slow Rate of Drift Means No Rush. No Panic.

Steets said that the wind speed and direction determines how fast any radiation emission, that might be brought about by a leak from the domes from any possible enemy attack. He said the slow speed of radiation cloud drift allows the county a lot of time to mobilize any necessary evacuation in an orderly manner, (“We have capability to evacuate areas”). Any shift in wind direction disperses and deconcentrates any radiation cloud, Steets said, and does not spread it in concentrated form to other areas.

Within 2 miles, Cloud Dissipates.

Steets said that any radiation escape from either dome in the form of radioactive steam, loses its concentration quickly: “The concentration of radiation diminishes so much after two miles, that areas 5 and 7 miles away you don’t have to evacuate.”

Steets said that this conclusion was “based on science.”

Steets added that it was Entergy’s opinion that the Westchester County Evacuation Plan was workable, citing the ten hours of lead time before any release of radiation would spread significantly.

Talking to Anybody.

Leading us out of the Emergency Operations Facility into a conference room, Steets said, “We are meeting with as many people as possible. If this (close Indian Point movement) is rooted in fear, all we can do is tell you where we’re coming from. We’re not afraid of this plant.”

(WPCNR Will Continue “Inside Indian Point”)

Posted in Uncategorized

King Komments:Overnight Onstreet Parking; Crosswalks; Commuting.

Hits: 0

King Komments By Councilman William King. June 11, 2002.:After a short absence, Councilman William King resumes his timely comments on White Plains issues. Today he comments on the growing clamour for on-street overnight parking.
Noticed in Brooklyn Heights recently where they have weekly street cleaning that cars which can park all day and all night on one side of the street cannot park on that side of the street during a 4-hour period on Tuesdays during the day. This is the only time cars are allowed to park across the street on the other side. This seemed very easy to follow.

Also, re snow removal, what do you think NYC does when it snows? Where are people in the city supposed to park? Answer? The City of NY doesn’t deal with it and they just plow in the traffic lanes, not the parking lanes. People shovel themselves out and the snow eventually melts. That’s life.

What does the WPPA do in its parking lots where people are allowed to park overnight and around the clock? Do people who park there have to clear out so the lot can be completely cleared of snow? If so, where do they go? Does WPPA ticket them and tow them if they don’t move?

I would like to finally finalize a resolution and/or ordinance by the end of this week, well before our work session next Wed. I will look at Bob’s proposed ordinance from the early 90’s. But this is not rocket science – let’s all just think this one through and do it for action/referral at the July meeting.

On Crosswalks

I was just in Salem, Mass. and surrounding towns over the weekend. Salem’s downtown, like those of the surrounding towns, is criss-crossed all over the place with sidewalks painted green which are often also highlighted with signs, like Connecticut’s, that are red, yellow and white and say “Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.”

And people do stop much more often than I see people stopping or even slowing down at our minimally marked (and fading) crosswalks with the small white signs with black lettering that say “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk on your half of road.”

We could at least cross hatch our crosswalks to make them visible, as I have seen done in Baltimore, and maybe add a “splash” of different colors here and there just to be different.

Are you lobbying the state for changing the “state standard” sign which is very ambiguous and not too eye-catching? I hope you are – New York (and White Plains) is way behind neighboring states in this department.

Commuting and Traffic Accident Suggestions

This idea sprung from a short email exchange, I had where one said you might try to go to work using the bus instead of the car at least once a week. Also, I received an email suggesting another idea about reinstituting that Highlands shuttle bus.

And I received a call from Jim Benerofe telling me about an op-ed piece he just put up on his website about there being too much traffic in White Plains.

There have been more and more traffic accidents in White Plains and the recent horrific crash at Main and Mamaroneck was only the most tragic example. Traffic is on a lot of people’s minds a good deal of the time. As traffic never seems to decrease anywhere, it also never subsides from our consciousness.

So let’s at least try to address the issue in a more visible way. Bike Route signs was (or will be, when they actually appear) a start. The MTA and the Westchester Beeline System are both members of a national organization called APTA, the American Public Transit Association, that is pretty lame. They have an annual “Try Transit Week” every year probably around Earth Day that mostly goes un-noticed. Why do it only one week a year?

In White Plains, why not publicize it on streetlight banners and banners across the street on the major thoroughfares leading into town the way Berkeley, California does, with a different message along the same theme with each banner?

The banners could say the following messages, as briefly as possible, “Try the Bus at least once a week,” “Leave the car at home at least once a week,” “Ride a bike to work once a week,” “Help to lower air pollution,” “Help reduce U.S. oil imports,” etc.

Too many events and initiatives are not well enough publicized. Maybe corporate sponsors could pay for the banners – that Metropool guy who spoke at the last Common Council meeting maybe has funding or could make the contacts with the corporations.

Let’s be more progressive about getting people out of their cars and being a national model. Let’s keep doing things to be a more livable community.

Posted in Uncategorized

Council Considering Touring Indian Point June 26 Before Drafting Resolution

Hits: 0

WPCNR Morning Sun. By John F. Bailey. June 12, 2002. 9:00 A.M. E.D.T. UPDATED June 13, 2002 5 PM E.D.T.: Councilman William King confirmed to WPCNR today that the Mayor and Common Council are arranging to tour the Indian Point 3 Nuclear Plant in Buchanan, tentatively on June 26. Entergy Corporation reported Tuesday that the White Plains Common Council and city officials were in the process of planning a tour of the Entergy Indian Point atomic power plant before taking a political position on Indian Point closure.
Karen Costable, of the Mayor’s Office, is in the process of arranging the tour, according to Mr. King.

James Steets, Director of Communications for Entergy, told WPCNR Tuesday that city officials and members of the Common Council had expressed interest in accepting Entergy’s invitation to review Entergy operations, safety and emergency procedures and evacuation plan prior to drafting a Common Council resolution taking a position vis-a-vis the continued operation of the atomic energy facility.

Steets said he had approached the Mayor and Common Council members, inviting them to tour the Buchanan facility when he heard the Council was about to draft a resolution taking a position on the plant.

Steets told WPCNR Council members had expressed interest in taking a fact-finding tour prior to drafting the resolution. He said the Mayor’s office was trying to organize the excursion within the next two weeks.

Posted in Uncategorized

Council to Create Overnight On-Street Parking Zone in Highlands.

Hits: 0

WPCNR Morning Sun. By John F. Bailey. June 12, 2002. 9:00 A.M. E.D.T. Common Council President Benjamin Boykin said Monday that the Common Council will be discussing lifting the ban on overnight street parking for the Highlands area along Old Mamaroneck Road.

Boykin said the details would be discussed in an upcoming Council work session.

Councilman Boykin told WPCNR Monday evening that details of how residents could qualify for overnight street parking had to be worked out, but that at the present time, the lifting of the traditional restrictions on overnight street parking was only being considered for the Old Mamaroneck Road area, but did not provide details. The northern sections of Old Mamaroneck Road have considerable apartment density.

Posted in Uncategorized

Gerard Talks III: NYPH Needs 10 Bldgs Instead of 2 to Build in Hist. Distr.

Hits: 0

WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By John F. Bailey. June 11, 2002. 12:02 A.M. E.D.T.: Susan Habel, Commissioner of Planning, put on her master builder’s hat Monday evening and presented her concept of how New York Presbyterian Hospital could fit their planned biotech/proton accelerator complex into buildable areas in the historic district of their property.

SUSAN HABEL TO THE RESCUE: The Commissioner of Planning presents a plan that would fit new buildings into the historic districts on the New York Presbyterian Hospital property, at the third session of “The Gerard Talks” at City Hall Monday evening.
All Photos by WPCNR

This exercise was requested by Councilmembers Benjamin Boykin, Rita Malmud, Glen Hockley, and Tom Roach last Thursday.

The Hospital, to fit an equivalent amount of square footage into the historic district, would have to build 10 buildings instead of two. Michael Gerard said this violated the spirit of “practicable” environmental solutions.

Ms. Habel made the presentation at the third session of “The Gerard Talks,” the sessions scheduled by the Common Council with their environmental lawyer, Michael Gerard, to discuss legal issues involved in their acceptance of the NYPH Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The meeting adjourned to yet another Executive Session at 8:15 PM last night, where they were expected to ask for a one-week extension to accept and prepare their Acceptance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement until June 24. According to the SEQRA regulations, the Council must accept the FEIS by June 17, six days from now.

Habel Presents Her Own Site Plan for Historic District.

In a meeting where Michael Gerard had very little to say, Ms. Habel did most of the talking, showing the building footprints that could be accommodated under the exacting restrictions dictated by the State Historical Preservation Office.

The bottom line, according to Ms. Habel, who along with her Deputy Commissioner, Rod Johnson, and the Planning Department prepared a hypothetical Historic District Building Plan requested by the Council, over the last two working days, requires the hospital to build 10 buildings instead of two.

Gerard Advises Habel Plan Fails the “Practicality Test.”

Gerard after digesting Habel’s one-hour presentation, said that at the heart of the spirit of complying with the SEQRA statute was to form a mitigating course of action that was “practicable,” for the applicant, rather than dictating steps that were “physically possible”

His statement was meet with a very quiet silence by the council.

Gerard Dismisses Conservation Board Concern on Contiminating Water with Soil Runoff.

Mr. Gerard was asked by Councilman Glen Hockley about the Conservation Board letter worrying about possible contimination of Cassaway Brook with soil runoff, due to a reported high amount of mercury in the soil samples on Site 6.

Gerard dismissed this as not a problem as long as no construction was undertaken on site 6. He also pointed that the contiminant concentration in the soils were less than normal drinking water, and the mercury level was .1 above the level allowed for drinking water. Ms. Habel advised the Conservation Board got their letter in too late to be included in the original draft Final Environmental Impact Statement.
Mayor Delfino said, “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers (to Mr. Hockley), listen to him (Gerard), he’s getting the big bucks.”

Hockley Concerned About Solid Waste.

Mr. Hockley said he wanted to know how many more trucks and trips to transport solid waste out of the facilities would add to the impact of the site. Ms. Habel said this was addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Boykin, Hockley Both Await Further Clarification on Research Being Conducted at Other Hospital Sites.

Ms. Habel stated that she was awaiting information from Cornell, Mount Sinai Hospital and NYU campuses on the nature of Safety Level 3 biotech research they were now working on. At this point, she said, she has heard from NYU that they were working with Turburculosis, their only Level 3 research on only 300 square feet. New York Presbyterian Hospital, she said, was working with only “a small amount of Level 3 research within their system and was going to get back with specifics, that it was not a major problem element.”

She said the hospital was doing a small amount of AIDS research, which she said was a Safety Level 2 concern, since it was not spread by inhaling. She expected more information on the kinds of research within the NYPH system by the end of the week.

More Time Needed.

Ms. Habel said that the Plannind Department needed approximately one week more beyond June 17 to marshall the material for the Acceptance of the FEIS.

The Council adjourned to Executive Session to consult with Mr. Gerard about the feasibility of extending the June 17 deadline.

Posted in Uncategorized

New Sheriff In Town: Mayor Offers Public Safety Job to Outsider.

Hits: 0

WPCNR Evening City Star. By John F. Bailey. June 10, 2002. 11:45 PM E.D.T.: The search for a new Commissioner of Public Safety could be ended shortly as tomorrow. The Mayor’s Office announced this evening that a decision has been made, and the job of running White Plains Police and Fire Departments has been offered to a man outside the departments, at direction of the Common Council.
George Gretsas reported Monday evening that Mayor Joseph Delfino has offered the Public Safety Commissioner’s job to a candidate with “a public safety background with broad experience in law enforcement, with he unique aspect to his background. He is a certified firefighter.”

Common Council Demanded a Person Outside the Department.

Mr. Gretsas said the candidate has been offered the position by Mayor Delfino, and the city is awaiting the person’s acceptance of the position, prior to announcing who he is. Gretsas would not revealwhat part of the country or area he is from.

Gretsas said the Mayor followed the wishes of the Common Council that the position not be filled by one of the three members of the police department who applied for the position.

Acting Commissioner of Public Safety, Daniel Hickey, Captain Peter Viviano, and Police Chief James Bradley had all applied for the position. Gretsas reported that the three internal candidates had been informed the job was being offered to someone else.

“A fresh look” Needed: Boykin

WPCNR asked Common Council President, Benjamin Boykin, why the Common Council would want to bring in someone new to head the Public Safety Department who was unfamiliar with with the department. Boykin said the council felt he would bring “a fresh look” to the department, but would not elaborate on what that was.

Mayor Would Have Filled Job from Within.

Privately, WPCNR has been told that Mr. Hickey, Mr. Viviano, and Mr. Bradley never really had a chance at the job, because the Common Council had told the Mayor they would not give him the votes.

Posted in Uncategorized