FLASH!!! School Board: Saul Yanofsky fired after 12 years

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The White Plains Board of Education announced Wednesday that Dr. Saul Yanofsky is leaving as Superintendent of Schools at the end of his contract.

The decision to not renew Dr. Yanofsky’s contract which expires in June, 2002, was announced in a letter to school parents, dated October 17 and received October 18.

The official letter signed by Donna O. McLaughlin, President, White Plains Board of Education, commenting on the school leader’s departure stated:

“We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions that Dr. Yanofsky has made over the 12 years of his tenure, however, in recent years the Board and the Superintendent have had a number of significant differences. After much discussion and deliberation, the decision has been made to change leadership.

Dr. Yanofsky was unavailable for comment as to the nature of the significant differences.

Ed House Shocked. Announced Thursday morning

Michelle Schoenfeld, spokesperson for the school district, was unavailable for comment. However, WPCNR querying the receptionist found that the ed house staff was just informed of the Superintendent’s departure this Thursday morning. No further information was available.

School Board to initiate search.

Mrs. McLaughlin’s letter to district parents said:
“Although the responsibility for selecting a new superintendent rests solely with the Board of Education, we will provide opportunities for input from the entire community during the hiring process. We will share specific details regarding the search for a new superintendent in the near future.”

Yanofsky continues; will “provide leadership.

McLaughlin commented in her letter to the District that Dr. Yanofsky “will continue to provide leadership and direct the initiatives and activities for the district through the rest of the school year.”

Dean of School District Leaders is Pacesetter for Westchester County School Districts.

Yanofsky is looked to by Westchester School Superintendents as the lead negotiator and pacesetter in education issues. They have looked to Yanofsky for leadership in matters of teacher contract negotiations, school standards, and district management issues. As White Plains District goes, so goes the county, has been the impression.

Dr. Yanofsky has been a very vocal critic of the way in which the Department of Education operates in administering its state standard tests, and has been the lead Westchester spokesman in Albany on that issue.

He has also upgraded and adjusted White Plains school curricula to produce test scores that have improved on state mandated tests since they were instituted four years ago.

Yanofsky is the second administrative heavyweight to leave the district in five months. The district lost Dr. Constance Iervolino, its Curriculum Chief in September.

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Fuel Pools Housed.”Years” to Close. County Unhappy with Gannett

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A spokesman for Entergy, has confirmed to WPCNR, what an independent nuclear engineer consultant told us Sunday evening about the Indian Point safety procedures. The County Executive’s office accused Gannett’s Sunday Meltdown report panicking the area as “not responsible journalism.”

Here’s the situation: a professional nuclear engineer informed WPCNR Sunday evening the nuclear fuel waste dumps at Indian Point, are enclosed in concrete and steel-reinforced buildings. Indian Point has to comply, he said, with strict, projectile and earthquake-resistant standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for these pools. These standards for fuel waste containment are in effect at all United States nuclear power plant facilities, according to our source. Now Entergy has confirmed his information.

Entergy: fuel pools enclosed in “substantial building.”

Tuesday, Jim Steets, Communications Director for Entergy, told WPCNR, the nuclear fuel waste pools on the Indian Point site were housed in a “substantial building,” confirming what our nuclear correspondent described. Reports published as late as Tuesday would lead readers to believe the fuel pools are open to the air like sewage treatment plants. This is not true according to Mr. Steets.

Indian Point Has Own Fire Department.

Mr. Steets reported in response to our query about firefighting capabilities, that Indian Point has its own fire department on the premises. He said it is prepared to handle major fires there with backup from two other departments in the area. He said the fire chief of his in-house department, he assumed has been reviewing his department capability to handle jet-fuel fires because of the World Trade Center disaster.

He said he would confirm how his fire fighters were equipped to handle such a conflagration. Sheets said Entergy, because of their current state of security alert, would not be able to take WPCNR on an inspection of the facilities at this time.

Legislator Assured Meltdown Not Possible.

County Legislator, George Oros for the Town of Cortlandt and Peekskill, interviewed by WPCNR Tuesday, said Entergy had given county legislators a briefing last Wednesday.
The County Legislator said, through the briefing, he learned that “The plant cannot ‘meltdown’ because of the built-in safeguards in place, and it won’t explode because the uranium and fuel are not of a weapons grade.”

Oros confirmed officially for WPCNR that Entergy’s Indian Point plant furnished 20% of New York State electricity, while generating 1% or $3 million in property taxes to Westchester County. The Legislator added the plant paid 20% of the Town of Cortlandt’s property taxes, and approximately 40% of the town’s school taxes. He noted it employed 3,000 persons.

Oros: Three Issues to Consider About Closing Plant.

Responding to WPCNR’s question about possible closing of Indian Point, Legislator Oros told WPCNR—

“Knowing what we know now,” Oros said,“the plant should have never been there to begin with. That considered, we have to address three issues if we consider closing it: one,The loss and subsequent replacement of energy. We have to start working on that now. Two, How do you cushion the bow to the tax base, and, three, The loss of 3,000 jobs. We have to be working closely with federal and state officials to address these issues.”

The legislator said he has not been advised how long it would take to close down Indian Point. However, Mr. Steets, the Entergy spokesman spoke to that issue.
Steets told WPCNR that he was not familiar with the procedure, but felt the procedure would “take years,” most likely require special legislation, and direction from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

County Executive Moved to Act Because of Gannett “Meltdown” Article, Calls it “Not Responsible Journalism.”

WPCNR contacting the County Office of Communications on another matter learned that the County Executive office felt compelled to issue a news release detailing county confidence in Entergy Indian Point safety procedures and reassuring the public. (See earlier “Nuclear Builder” story on this site). A spokesperson for the County Communications Office said the County felt it had to respond with a news release to the story published in a Sunday Gannett news article on the front page, raising the possibility of a meltdown at Indian Point.

A spokesman who works in the County Communications Office, and a former Gannett reporter, told us on the record that the County Executive felt the article was “very alarmist, one-sided, and needed to be responded to. It was not responsible journalism.”

Entergy described as “unreachable.”

WPCNR has also learned that Entergy, the owner and operator of Indian Point, was never contacted about the premise of the Meltdown Sunday article which alleged that Indian Point would produce a radiation cloud similar to the Chernobyl disaster that appeared in Gannett papers.

WPCNR has a report that the Gannett Editor responsible for approving the Sunday Meltdown Story said the preparer of the article told her Entergy was “unreachable.”

However, Mr. Steets said a person involved in preparation of the report was on the grounds of Indian Point speaking and talking with him personally scant days before the article appeared with every opportunity to ask questions on these issues, and the individual did not.

WPCNR called up Entergy cold after six phone calls within one hour (and four of those were to information),Tuesday morning. We even got to a spokesman, Mr. Steets.

The Sunday Meltdown article has resulted in “more than normal calls,” to the County Executive’s office about the safety of Indian Point according to the County Communications office. Oros, our County Legislator interviewee, said he had received heavy phone calls because of the Gannett Sunday Meltdown article.

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Nuke Builder: Meltdown Far-Fetched. Corcoran, Ryan: “Shut Plant.” Spano: “Safe.”

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UPDATE:Sunday night, an expert in design, construction and failsafe systems of nuclear plants said the possibility of a “meltdown,” resulting from a plane crash into the Indian Point domes is highly unlikely. On Monday afternoon, County Executive Andy Spano confirmed our expert’s confidence, telling news media Entergy had assured him the plant was safe and confirming our independent expert’s assessment of plant safeguards. Both County Legislature District 5 Candidates called for a shutdown of the Indian Point facility.
A recent news report speculated about Indian Point melting down if its dome or domes were hit by a jumbo jet. WPCNR wanted to know Sunday, if this was a strong possibility. One man who has supervised construction of modern nuclear facilities says it is not. Monday afternoon, County Executive Andrew Spano also confirmed, in part, what our expert said about Indian Point safety.

Chernobyl and Indian Point cannot be compared.

A veteran consultant and professional builder of nuclear plants to current NRC standards, most recently in North Carolina, spoke to WPCNR Sunday evening. He was flabbergasted by the premise of the article. The WPCNR nuclear expert whom we will call “Bill,” said comparing the Chernobyl meltdown to Indian Point was not a fair comparison.

First, Bill said the Chernobyl meltdown disaster occurred when the controllers “lost control of the chain reaction, and literally ran out of the plant.” He said there were no remote back-up systems in place at the Chernobyl plant to shut off the reaction.

There are back-up systems at Indian Point and all United States plants. He attributed the Chernobyl accident to human error without a recourse, which caused the destructive meltdown and massive radiation cloud.

U.S. Plant Backup Systems Stop the Reactor.

“You simply cannot compare a Russian-built nuclear plant with a United States plant,” He said. “As a result of the Three Mile Island incident alone, in the 1980s, American nuclear plants were directed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to install ‘redundant instrumentation,’ in distinctly separate areas of the complex which consists of auxiliary control panels of all systems.”

This is designed, he says, to prevent exactly what happened at Chernobyl. If Indian Point were to be hit by a plane, even two planes, the redundant system can shut down the reactor immediately. Yet, even in that case, release of radiation is highly unlikely.

Could a Plane Hit Cause a Meltdown?

WPCNR asked Bill if a plane penetrated a dome, whether this could cause radioactive steam to escape. Bill said that even after a dome hit, any resulting explosion would need to penetrate the reactor to release any radiation.

The reactor in the typical Westinghouse Plant (such as Indian Point 2 and 3) is encased in an additional 18 inches of stainless stee, Bill says. This steel would have to be penetrated by the plane wreckage and fire, to release any radiation. Bill feels this is extremely unlikely.

“You have to realize that the reactor casing is built to withstand rigid forces generated by major earthquakes by law. Should a plane penetrate the dome, it is unlikely it will generate enough impact or explosive force to penetrate the reactor. A plane is not an earthquake. What caused the WTC towers to collapse was driving a plane into a spider web of construction not a reinforced dome.”

(WPCNR advises readers the fire from the jet fuel released in the crashes could not be extinguished, causing the interior steel supports of the towers to melt after approximately one hour of uncontrolled burning and heat)

Bill indicated that U.S. nuclear plants have fire-extinguishing procedures to handle such a scenario.

Could a jumbo jet penetrate the dome?

Bill said the domes (of typical Westinghouse plants) are constructed of approximately 2 to 3 feet of concrete and are lined on the interior with 1” steel plate.

“The domes are designed to withstand a 2,700 pound projectile (the size of a Volkswagon), comparable to artillery shells that penetrate bunkers. The domes are calculated to withstand the impact of a 747. They have crashed smaller planes into them in tests and they have held.”

How about the radioactive fuel dumps?

We asked if a jet fuel fire might release radiation by penetrating the fuel and igniting it. (This scenario envisioned by the recent media article was depicted by a nuclear consultant in that article)

Bill said, “the radioactive spent fuel is in a protected building itself. It is housed in a concrete-and-steel-lined protected building and under several feet of water. The spent fuel is quite separate from the domes housing the four steam generators and one reactor (typical of Westinghouse plants, Bill reports). Should the plane penetrate the spent fuel storage dump, and jet fuel ignites, the jet fuel sits on top of the water. It cannot reach the spent radioactive fuel.”

He said the scenarios of fires of many kinds are covered in the Final Safety Analysis Report, which has to be signed off by the Nuclear Regulation Commission, and the plant operator before the plant is put online. They cannot go online without it, Bill says.

As to fuel fires, “You can put out fuel fires with foam, and water in these instances. The water uses up the oxygen. I’ve done it.”

Expert chides uninformed media article

Asked about the hypothesis generated by the article, Bill’s reaction was “The article comes within 3 degrees of yellow journalism. This person has done major damage with this. Why didn’t he call the utility?”

It should be noted that WPCNR has been unable to confirm Bill’s generalized comments about Westinghouse manufactured plants, and Bill believes Indian Point 2 and 3 are Westinghouse plants.

However, Bill has been responsible for the construction and commissioning of nuclear plants and should know his stuff. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction specifications are required in all American nuclear plants.

Shutting down would cause a scramble to power Westchester

We asked Bill what the impact of shutting Indian Point 2 and 3 would have on the New York area. Bill guessed that Indian Point 2 & 3 generated about 900 megawatts each, 1800 megawatts in all, a major percentage of the Westchester area electricity, requiring Entergy (owners of the plant)to find some other source quickly if the plant were to shut down.

Our nuclear plant builder is correct in his assumption. According to information we received Tuesday from George Oros, County Legislator for the Town of Cortlandt & Peekskill, Indian Point provides 20% of New York State’s electricity.

The plant also contributes 1% of Westchester County property taxes, ($3-1/2 million) 25% of Cortlandt’s property taxes and 40 to 50% of the Town of Cortlandt Henry Hudson School District school tax. It employs 3,000 persons.

Ryan, Corcoran call for closing of the Indian Point plant

On Monday evening, County Legislator Bill Ryan and Candyce Canelstein Corcoran in the County District 5 Legislator race both called for closing of the Indian Point facility in personal appearances at the Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents meeting.

Ryan said he was for closing the plant, but alternative electric sources had to be found before that could be done, saying it was up to the federal government to direct alternative electronic “buys” perhaps with a Canadian supplier.

Corcoran suggested the plant should be closed, and suggested other sources of electric generation be investigated such as
hydroelectric, windturbines,GEO thermal, methanol.

Spano leaning towards closing

Ryan, in a WPCNR interview afterward said County Executive Andy Spano was leaning towards closing the facility if alternative energy sources could be found to take up the electric supply shortfall. The County Legislator also said he expected any shutdown of Indian Point to take quite some time to execute, but had no details.

County Exec says plant safe, confirming WPCNR’s expert.

In a news release Monday, County Executive Andrew Spano indirectly confirmed what WPCNR’s nuclear expert told us Sunday evening. In a statement released to the media, Mr. Spano stated:

We are in constant communication with Entergy, the operators of the plant. As is required by federal law, Entergy has a well-trained and equipped security force that is prepared to defend against an attack on the plant. While this security force at the plant is not visible to the general public, it is there and on high alert.

Mr. Spano confirmed heigtened security procedures and dismissed nuclear critics’ claims:

The Indian Point plants have passed their NRC-administered anti-intrusion security inspections and tests. Claims to the contrary made by nuclear critics are untrue. Additional security measures at Indian Point include increased surveillance activities and additional restrictions on people and deliveries.

Spano confirms WPCNR nuclear engineer’s report that dome can handle a plane hit:

Mr. Spano addressed the strength of the dome thusly:According to Entergy, the dome-shaped containment buildings at Indian Point are among the strongest structures in the world, designed specifically to withstand tremendous pressure. Studies have shown that nuclear plant containment structures can survive direct crashes of an airplane.

Spano also confirms our engineer’s comment on the reactor protection

The County Executive continued: In addition to the protection provided by the containment building, the reactor itself is enclosed in an additional structure of steel and concrete and sits down low in the containment building, providing further protection.

Spano says NRC coordinating with Feds

He assures us: The NRC has also advised me that they are working around the clock to coordinate with the FBI, other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the military and state authorities to provide additional safety measures that may be implemented not only at Indian Point but also at all nuclear power plants in the country. You may be aware that this last weekend, the National Guard was ordered to the Plants.

Coast Guard also beefed up, Spano says:

He reports: With the assistance of Rep. Nita Lowey, the presence of the Coast Guard, which was already there taking up protective positions in the Hudson, is being beefed up.

Indian Point no-fly zone enforcement:

County Legislator in his appearance at SNAP told the Scarsdale citizens that Indian Point is a no fly zone which is enforced 24 hours a day by jet fighter aircraft on standby. Ryan explained aircraft are given coordinates by the FAA Air Traffic Control they must fly when bypassing the plant.

If Intruder aircraft deviate from those coordinates, the air force scrambles a jet, and if the aircraft does not comply, the fighter pilots demand they fly to a specified coordinate or by shot down.

Coasties guard shorefront for 900 feet

Ryan also said Coast Guard patrols enforce a no-sail zone within a 900 yard semi-circle extending out from the shores of the Indian Point complex. Large ships and small craft, traveling up river are subject to boarding and searching, he said.

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White Plains Biggest Parade Handled Routinely by “The Parade City”

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With thousands lining Mamaroneck Avenue, mostly three-deep from Old Mamaroneck Road to Main Street, Bands, civic groups, and businesses saluted Christopher Columbus in the White Plains Columbus Day Parade Saturday.
Intelligent police management of cross-traffic at key intersections prevented the city from being tied up East to West. Even ambulances got through with clever routing.Here are some sights.

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Tigers are Top Cats, Mack, McKoy Runs Rock Mamaroneck, 20-14

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White Plains won its third straight game, on a pair of touchdown runs by Darrell Mack, and a 4th quarter clinching TD by Jeff McCoy in Mamaroneck, their most impressive offensive effort of the season.
In a battle of the Tigers, White Plains shut down Mamaroneck on a key sequnce in the third quarter, then scored another “six” on the ensuing drive, only to hold on in the red zone with time running out. The victory moved the White PlainsTigers to a 3-2 record.

PUNTING FROM HIS ONE YARD LINE, Orlando Cruz got it off without mishap with 4:22 to go in the game in Mamaroneck Saturday. The defense held on Mamaroneck’s next series and the Tigers had earned their stripes. WPCNR PHOTO

Darrell Mack, scored two touchdowns on long runs in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead at the half. Then Jeff McKoy who had spring Mack all day for quarterback option runs, scampered around end for 32 yards for the clinching touchdown.

PUT IT IN THE BOOKS! White Plains Tigers shake hands with Mamaroneck Tigers as they win their third straight game. Manual pdf WPCNR PHOTO

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Democrats Advocate Affordable Housing; Mayor:31 Accomplishments

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City Mayoral and Council Candidates offered unique solutions and stark differences at the old Battle Hill Elementary SchoolThursday. Here are the first rushes of the “highlights.”
Democratic candidates criticised the Delfino Administration record Thursday evening. They addressed issues raised by 30 Battle Hill residents. Candidate Robert Greer ratcheted up his campaign performance in his strongest and most cogent presentation to date, announcing some specifics, and promising commissioners of all creeds, races and genders.

Mayor misses the boom by moving too slowly

Greer found fault with the Mayor as having not gotten things going soon enough in the city, and therefore had missed the “90s boomtimes.” Greer charged the administration had not been responsive and aggressive in tackling traffic and illegal housing concerns and championed “affordable housing” as an issue he would pursue if elected.

Champ with opening flurry, sticks, moves, shuffles, and piles up points with judges

Delfino, in the leadoff spot, rattled off his impressive list of 31 accomplishments, and at the close of the night, defended his administration taking a look-at-the-record approach. At evening’s end, he deflected Democratic criticism, by saying, he has always been a consensus politician in his 30-year career: “We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric. The city gets into trouble when issues are looked at in terms of Democrat and Republican politics and agendas.”

Mayor endorses bipartisan approach

The confident Mayor dismissed the “Greericism” that he had not done enough soon enough, charging that from ’93 to ’97 “nothing had been done” in the city. He said that he was a believer in bringing persons together to solve problems working together. He humorously suggested that by voting for him for Mayor, the city would get to keep the combination of both himself and his opponent, Mr. Greer working for the city. “Otherwise, you just get him,” the Mayor said, indicating Greer, a playful bit that amused the audience.

Greer: a careful look on each new project.Will infrastructure handle it?

Mr. Greer said he was very concerned about the city infrastructure being able to handle what he described as “up to 6,000” new residents downtown, and promised a careful look at each new project in the next four years (“We better make damn sure as a community we’re able to absorb it.”)

Greer raised the specter that office vacancy rates had now climbed to 20% in the city.

He claimed the Democrats were responsible for the supermarket project on Westchester Avenue by rejecting the Shoprite project the Mayor had backed, and opting for Stop N Shop instead. He did not credit the Mayor for convincing Nick Pepe’ to work with Stop N Shop for a more convenient, better designed project that was ultimately approved.

Sees value in the “questing” approach as adding value to projects

Greer said his Democrats “asked more questions” and were responsible for “adding value” to the Cappelli City Center project by demanding a better-designed building at the last moment. He also raised a question whether the Cappelli financing was going to come through. “We have a questing approach to development. We ask questions.”

Democrats to push for affordable housing with special committee.

Democrats promised a mission for more affordable housing for professionals such as firefighters, police, and teachers, and our young people within the city limits. Greer said more affordable housing was the way to combat the chronic illegal housing problem raised by Battle Hill residents. However, it should be pointed out that illegal residents often lack the income levels necessary to rent affordable housing.

To combat the illegal rooming house conditions in Battle Hill and around the city, Greer promised to form an “affordable housing commission.” Greer said its mission would be to identify sites where affordable housing is possible in White Plains, and study a means of funding and building such housing. He took pains to say this was not moderate-income housing, but housing for professionals, police, teachers, firefighters, and “our young people.”

Rita Malmud said she would stipulate that such affordable housing be made available to White Plains residents on a right-of-first-refusal basis. Malmud and Greer both said they advocated more buildings inspectors to identify illegal housing where it existed.

City performance defended as not that easy.

Mayor Delfino said that his administration had stepped up enforcement with ‘Night Operations’ around town whereby police and sanitation persons put alleged illegal rooming houses under surveillance, counted cars parked, noted excessive garbage and unusual activity. He said the city had identified 32 alleged violators (22 on Battle Hill, 10 elsewhere) within 3 months, and time-consuming investigations and care preparations were under way.

He requested more building inspectors, and was pleased at Malmud’s pledge to legislate more.

“IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE!” cautioned Larry Delgado Thursday night at the Battle Hill Association Candidates Night, as he defended the efforts to remove illegal housing from areas of Battle Hill. Delgado pointed out the $1,000-a-day fines judges impose on each violation, and the city ability to jail incorrigible landlords. Delgado said exhaustive investigations and inspections are necessary to prove illegal residency violations. To the left of Mr. Delgado are, Mayor Delfino, Rita Malmud, Robert Greer. To his right, Mike Amodio, and Robert Tuck and, partially hidden, Battle Hill Association President Virginia Falzarano.WPCNR PHOTO

Greer promises open administration

Greer and Glen Hockley both hammered on alleged lack of communication from city hall. Greer returned to his theme of Mayor’s Nights, harking back to the Schulman administration. Greer added that his commissioners would be available once a month to listen and act upon citizen concerns on such nights. Hockley said people were his main concern and that their needs and helping them were the reason he was running, “I’m not a friend of any developer, and I’m for people and their needs.”

Ms. Malmud pointed out that as a legislator she could not order city commissioners to do anything, but promised to pass on all complaints to the Mayor’s office, as she has been doing.

Traffic: more enforcement, more rerouting suggested.

Mr. Greer said he would opt for more stop signs in Battle Hill, speed humps, and traffic rerouting, even though he admitted that in 1996, traffic rerouting did not solve the problem in Battle Hill, but simply transferred traffic to other streets.In 1996, Greer and the majority of the common council voted to discontinue and not fine tune a traffic management program that had aroused much protest in the Battle Hill area.

Mike Amodio presents proven solutions in effect elsewhere.

Each Democratic candidate advocated strongly for strictly enforcing illegal housing rules, and candidate Hockley said the key to removing illegally parked vehicles in Battle Hill was strict enforcement.

Only council candidate Michael Amodio actually made two suggestions that have worked on affordable housing and residents’ commercial vehicle parking problems similar to those plaguing the Battle Hill area.

Amodio suggested White Plains establish a Revitalization Commission such as exists in New Rochelle, to purchase dilapidated housing, refurbish it and then resell it to new homeowners at a profit. The commission, Amodio said, was very successful in New Rochelle in providing housing for “affordable income” residents (by this WPCNR assumes $60,000 to $80,000 incomes) and was funded by federal and state grants.

A Battle Hill resident asked what could be done about commercial vehicles owned by residents being parked in driveways throughout the Hill area, when this was expressly prohibited by law. The Mayor said his administration was awaiting discussions with the Battle Hill Association on how the neighborhood wanted to proceed against such violators, (residents who park their commercial vehicles, taxis, vans, trucks in their driveways). because they are all neighbors, and he considered this a sensitive issue. “It’s their livelihood. You don’t want to take his livelihood away or do that to your neighbor.”

Evidence of how talking about problems, may solve them

Mike Amodio, candidate for council, presented another thoughtful solution to this resident-owned commercial vehicle parking problem based on a policy in effect in Pelham. Amodio suggested the city designate a central garage location city residents who owned commercial vehicles could use overnight, where residents could park their commercial vehicles and thus comply with the city parking law. Amodio said Pelham is much smaller than White Plains, but that the policy of a designated garage works very well there for the residents who own vehicles like trucks, taxicabs and vans they use in their own businesses.

Traffic: Everybody Talks About it.

Traffic, a traditional issue in Battle Hill, was taken up big-time by Mr. Greer. He advocated much more aggressive enforcement and control devices, including speed humps.

The Mayor said his traffic enforcement initiative with radar signs, and 19 radar-trained officers, was making a difference in enforcing the limits, saying that within 4 months last summer in the Battle Hill area, police had written up 188 traffic tickets, 25% of the violators being from White Plains, and 10% actual residents of Battle Hill.

The Mayor cautioned that the city could not arbitrarily raise or lower speed limits or install stop signs without state approval, pointing out that “it’s not that easy.”

Individual candidate statements will be forthcoming in a follow-up report.

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White Plains Police Vote to Endorse Delfino for Mayor

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WPCNR has learned that an overwhelming vote of White Plains Police Benevolent Association members Tuesday evening endorsed Mayor Joseph Delfino for Mayor.
Three different sources have confirmed that the White Plains Police are standing behind their Mayor.

EARNS POLICE ENDORSEMENT: The Honorable Joseph Delfino, Mayor of White Plains inbetween meetings.WPCNR PHOTO

The action took place Tuesday evening at which time the leadership asked for the support of the members for Delfino’s reelection. The WPPBA has so far not returned calls for official confirmation.

Support was unanimous, according to a WPPBA member who attended the meeting:”They asked all in favor, say ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay,’ and I heard no ‘Nays.’,” our police source told us.

The shocker comes 8 days after the White Plains Labor Coalition had previously announced that the police were endorsing Mayor Delfino’s opponent for Mayor. The Tuesday vote has the police breaking away from the Coalition’s support for Robert Greer.

WPCNR’s source said the endorsement to his knowledge was only for Delfino, and we are attempting to find out whether the rest of the Republican slate is included in the statement of support. Our source informs us that the police are staying with their endorsement of Bill Ryan for County Legislator in the 5th District.

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Westchester Air Chief Named “Business Woman of the Year”

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Westchester County Airport’s Millie Hernandez-Becker, President and CEO of White Plains’ own Westchester Air has been named Northeast “Business Woman of the Year” by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“I am deeply honored to be selected as a regional winner for the Northeast,” said Ms. Hernandez-Becker, who has risen to President and CEO of Westchester Air since joining the aviation charter firm in 1987 as President of Sales.

ONCE A FLIGHT ATTENDANT, NOW SHE RUNS THE AIRLINE: Millie Hernandez-Becker of Pound Ridge, President & CEO of Westchester Air is the 2001 Hispanic U.S. Chamber of Commerce Northeast Business Woman of the Year for her vision in pioneering aviation charters. She is shown with one of her company’s Gulstream jets at Westchester County Airport. PHOTO BY JOHN VECCHIOLLA

“This award has very special meaning for me because this organization (the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) has supported me throughout the years, and has been such a source of inspiration. They have helped me to expand my business to the national level, and have done so much for the Hispanic business community,” commented Ms. Hernandez-Becker.

Westchester Air has provided air charter services flying out of “HPN” since 1983. Ms. Hernandez-Becker is credited for “growing the company” in the 1990s as being among the first to identify the market opportunity created by offering private aircraft as affordable substitutes for corporations downsizing and divesting themselves of their own private fleets.

A resident of Pound Ridge, she has over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry in most facets of aviation operations, beginning as a reservations agent with New York Air at LaGuardia, moving to Flight Attendant, then to supervisor, responsible for ground operations, ticketing, ramp and baggage. In 1985, she moved to Westchester County Airport as Assistant Manager for Ground Handling, Inc., where she supervised, trained and managed 52 agents at “HPN,” scheduling the daily operations of seven regional and national air carriers.

Ms. Hernandez-Becker received the award at the organization’s 22nd Annual National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The “Business Woman of the Year” recognizes major accomplishments in the areas of business and economic development, leadership and quality of service, and innovation in promoting the growth of Hispanic businesses.

She has, in her career, received the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Award for Hispanic Heritage Month, the New York State Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force’s “Businesswoman of the Year” Award, Mentor Magazine’s 1996 “Woman of Achievement” Award, and the 1996 Hispanic Entrepreneur Award. She has recently received a Presidential appointment to the National Women’s Business Council.

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Hospital Awaits Turndown to File Lawsuit on Council Loose Lips

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Based on reports of private conversations with New York Hospital insiders and city officials and candidates by a person attempting to mediate a solution, WPCNR has learned the prospects of New York Hospital adapting a conciliatory mood for negotiating a parkland deal in the SEQRA process are bleak.
The Concerned Citizens for Open Space Candidate’s Forum at the White Plains Public Library, last week revealed that New York Presbyterian Hospital has “the upper hand” on the city. The extent of this problem became soberly apparent last Thursday night. Prior to the Candidates’ Forum, William P. Harrington, the hospital dashing legal counsel, had a letter delivered by hand to members of the Common Council. WPCNR has obtained this letter.

Harrington letter is blunt.

The letter is harsher in tone than Harrington’s similar letter of June 18, 2001, when he admonished the Council to adhere to terms of the settlement. (See last week’s WPCNR story on “Candidate’s Forum.”)Here are Mr. Harrington’s statements in this new letter, dated October 1, 2001:

This letter is prompted by my clients’ deep concern regarding comments attributed to Common Council members in the September 2001 Edition of the White Plains Watch which raised, once again, the specter that the City will seek to illegally coerce the dedication of park land as a condition of the approval of Plan B.

These statements represent the second time in recent months that the Common Council members have seen fit to violate the Stipulation and Order of Settlement (the ‘Settlement Order’) which amicably resolved the Hospital’s civil rights litigation against the City and the Common Council members. The Settlement Order recognized that the Common Council could not demand parkland as a condition of the review and/or approval of Plan B. Yet, despite the Hospital’s unequivocal position that parkland is not available, Common Council members have insisted on improperly rekindling this issue in public forums. These statements have and will continue to cause significant harm to my client.

While the Hospital is fully committed to address all legitimate issues in the expeditious SEQRA process to which it is entitled under the Settlement Order, it will not tolerate the injection of the irrelevant, divisive parkland issue into the review process.

Accordingly, I am compelled, once again, to demand that the Common Council comply with the Settlement Order.

What the rhetoric indicates

Note, if you will the words: “improperly rekindling,” “significant harm,” “will not tolerate,” “irrelevant, divisive,” “unequivocal position that park land is not available.” These are not the words signaling you want to negotiate. This letter was no olive branch. The letter produced a chilly atmosphere in the Candidate’s Forum and candidates danced around the issue to “Billy the Kid’s” written gunshots all evening long, while he watched from his fourth row seat like Jack Palance in Shane

Such a letter interjected into a campaign, connotes a very clear hospital strategy on the development of their property: They feel they have the high ground legally and will win the right to develop in a lawsuit, even if the council rejects Plan B. It appears to this reporter, the hospital is simply setting the trap once again for the Common Council. Will the council continue to walk into it, virtually writing Mr. Harrington’s briefs for him?

Intelligence from “The Hill.”

This hardball attitude is confirmed by recent statements from informed sources on “the Hill,” reported to WPCNR.
WPCNR has learned that private bipartisan overtures to the New York Presbyterian Hospital by one neutral personality, affiliated neither with the County, open space interests, or the city, well-known for their ability to achieve consensus, have been made. This person’s efforts were rebuffed strongly by a hospital executive as being out of the question at this time.

The inquiring party was told the hospital fully intends to develop their property for medical use. Our source was told bluntly they have no intention of land swaps, building repositioning, of any negotiating whatsoever. This is very recent information. It confirms what WPCNR learned from what the hospital said to candidates in September at a private briefing.

No more Mr. Rogers in the Neighborhood.

This flies in the hospital best interest to appear more neighborly by agreeing to reconsider site location of the laboratory research buildings they plan as part of the Plan B review. This, despite comments by Constance Hildersley, the NYPH Vice President for Retail Estate, that “the solution is in the (SEQRA) process” last Spring. Hildersley seemed to indicate at that time the hospital was flexible. The council fully expected to massage the location of the buildings in reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Now, it seems when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is reviewed, most likely in February 2002, it appears equally certain that the hospital has no intention of considering repositioning the proton accelerator and biomedical research buildings elsewhere on their property to be good neighbors. Does the hospital expect the SEQRA process to be a charade? It appears so in light of Harrington’s letter.

Are they expecting the council to reject Plan B, so they may pounce with a lawsuit that will make them masters of their universe with impunity?

Phantom Grants still are Phantoms

The World Trade Center attack severely jeopardized the federal and state grants the hospital was assured by Governor Pataki and Nita Lowey’s office last Spring that they were getting to build the proton accelerator.

The uncertain financial outlook buys the hospital valuable time to fight a strong lawsuit through the courts. No one is now in any hurry to get the accelerator in there. Geoffrey Thompson of Thompson & Bender, the hospital public relations person, is on record as saying the grant money is still a possibility. They are assured of it, he says. We shall see.

Getting the brief ready.

By rigorously enforcing the city settlement agreement, carefully noting the council’s reassuring statements to community special interest constituencies, the hospital appears to be compiling evidence. It is the evidence they need to convince possibly a judge that the council was predisposed to negotiating parkland for proton accelerator location all along even as the hospital prepares the Plan B DEIS. You could realistically argue the council was, (is not) reviewing Plan B in good faith at this moment.

An atmosphere of resentment

Last week the New York Presbyterian Hospital showed its humanitarian side in offering grief and coping counseling to the community in wake of the Trade Center attacks.

However, they show the shortsightedness of management in continuing playing legal hardball with the city. In view of the draconian effect the Trade Center Attack has had on New York State, aid for the proton accelerator may be a pipe dream.They may need the city cooperation very much in the months ahead.

The hospital land has more value.

One thing appears clear to this reporter: hospital land is more valuable to the hospital. Medical personnel may not really want to work at their offices in Manhattan anymore, let alone practice there. They could move medical facilities up here. They could refocus their biomedical research Center of Excellence idea along more contemporary needs.

The issue facing the next Mayor and Common Council.

This will be the number one priority of the next city administration: stroking the hospital to make a good neighbor decision.

How the next Mayor and Council will do that will require a great deal of skill at eating crow gracefully. It will require a public apology of sorts. It will need putting egos aside. Can our councilpersons do that?

They have to. There could be a summit conference of sorts. (A start could be made by quiet lobbying at County Executive Andy Spano’s conference on responding to a biological threat coming up.)

Getting the city out of this pickle, will require a stroking of hospital and New York Cornell Medical College management like you would not believe. Perhaps asking Governor Pataki and County Executive Spano to “reason” with the hospital

Pressure is on the hospital, too. They have to fund something in light of New York’s new needs. They have the place. They have the medical and federal lobbying muscle to get whatever they want. However, it would behoove them to give the appearance of benevolent community involvement.

Our Common Councils to come should beware of throwing away the “whip hand” to please a minority, or for making short term political hay to please well-connected special interests at the expense of the greater good.

The most creative minds in this city have to figure out what will bring the hospital into a frame of mind to share their property recreationally with the city. The hospital, quite reasonably, doesn’t see why they should have to.

The hospital is taking a hard line by issuance of the Harrington letter. That did not win any friends or influence people positively.

“The city,” my source who attempted to begin mediation efforts with the hospital last week said, “is in a no win position.”

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New Poll Asks After City Center Where Do We Take Downtown?

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The latest White Plains CitizeNetReporter Survey gives Mr. and Mrs. White Plains a chance to let your leaders and prospective leaders know what you think about the future of the White Plains downtown.
WPCNR has thought up a number of directions the downtown could take now that the City Center is approved, and is expected to be built.

Do we let Mr. Cappelli build the Center and see the effect it has on the downtown, before any more massive new developments are considered and approved? In other words, declare a moratorium on development?

Or do we strike while enthusiasm is high, opening the downtown to entrepreneurs like Leon Silverman and John Halpern, two major downtown property owners with grandiose visions?

Or do we pay attention to the traffic problem and look at a mini-mass transit system that could take the form of bringing back the White Plains Trolley, shuttle buses (Delfin-O-Biles), or White Plains bypass roads?

Or should we go for a specific type of development like hotel/convention centers and hold the line on new residential apartments?

Let us know what you think? And, if you have some different options, send us your comments.

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