Moving Candlelight Walk: Thousands Throng Main from Bank to Broadway

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They carried flags, “thank you signs,” and lit candles. They came from all races, ranks and religions to walk, remember and celebrate what it means to be an American and prayed for America’s future on the White Plains Candlelight Walk Sunday night
Police estimated a crowd approaching 8,000 persons gathered at the White Plains Railroad Station and marched shoulder to shoulder, Black to White, Hispanic to Hassidim, Italian to Jew, Arab-to-Asian, Old-and-Young, American-to-American in a solemn, uplifting remembrance and rededication to America’s future.

Candlelight March on Main

The White Plains Candlelight Walk staggered city officials with the streaming turnout filling the broad Main Street boulevard with ranks of 30 to 40 persons shoulder-to-shoulder all the way from the City Hall steps to Bank Street.

By 7:15 PM the parking lot below the clock tower at the railroad station was filled, and still they came. Every race, every creed. Neighbors greeting each other. Shaking hands. Some carried signs. Some carried flags. Some brought their own candles, but they came. They walked. Pushed strollers. Children did not cry or misbehave. Persons said “Excuse me,” and smiled at each other. They knew this was important.

WHITE PLAINS REMEMBERS:Crowds milling at White Plains Railroad Station at twilight, awaiting start of Sunday evening’s Candlelight Walk to Remember the victims of the Trade Center catastrophe. WPCNR PHOTO

A disciplined group

They lit each others’ candles. At 7:35 PM they began to walk slowly south on Bank Street filling the broad cross street with quiet, orderly, confident humanity. For such a large crowd, they were serious and stalwart.

Some carried signs reading “Thank You White Plains Bravest and Finest,” and “Thank you Fire and Police.” They sang impromptu versions of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” waving their flags. Their spirits were steady. Their pride high. No fear. Their love of country and fellow Americans was glowing.

The city stops for a remembrance

As dusk stole velvetly over the streets with an orange sun receding to the West, traffic on Hamilton Avenue stopped for this long freight train of White Plains citizens. They took 30 minutes to reach City Hall, and still, from this reporter’s vantage, reached back to Bank Street.

There was no honking of horns from stopped autombiles. No animosity. Motorists recognized something special: thousands of tentative, yet determined steps of America on the way back were being taken.

The City Clergy in a remarkable ceremony

At the City Hall steps, with Main Street jammed with humanity, a quiet, respectful crowd drew close to the old neo-classic columned brick fa├žade. They waved flags, their candles in their hands glowed like they do at a Meadowlands concert.

MAYOR DELFINO OVERWHELMED: The Mayor stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Councilpersons, city clergy, choir, and dignataries, saying “God will get us through,” at the conclusion of the historic and moving White Plains Candlelight Walk on the steps of old City Hall. WPCNR PHOTO

Mayor Joseph Delfino welcomed the multitudes thanking all for coming, thanking the White Plains firemen and policemen for their efforts the past week, but his remarks were hard to hear. Somehow you did not have to hear them. Everyone understood what he was saying. Everyone felt it, too. I did.

The Mayor was surrounded by a host of the White Plains clergy from many churches behind him. The men and women of the cloth had assembled at his call to present an ecumenical service of remembrance and prayer for the victims of the World Trade Center disaster. There was a chorale group and ensemble. But, I cannot tell you who they are at this point.

The message you heard even if you could not hear it

There were no news releases or media briefs at this gathering. No text of the Mayor’s remarks was handed out. He did not make many. It was not that kind of event. It was regretfully special. You did not need to know who was offering the prayers, rabbi or priest, minister or pastor.

The different prayers and appropriate hymns rose on the cool early autumn night echoing skyward, warming hearts, and somehow fit splendidly meaningfully together. The White Plains clergy, in this reporter’s opinion, should do this more often under pleasanter circumstances. It was very special and so right.

The impromptu public address system could not be heard clearly beyond 100 feet. However, the people of White Plains listened and soaked in the spirit of the sweetly sung entreaties to The Almighty, with no catcalls, no disrespect, dedication and silent endorsement of the message. Children did not cry.

A moving sequence

The most moving sequence of the service occurred when each Man and Woman of God voiced a prayerful sentiment and the ensemble sang “Lord, listen to your children preying.” It was a White Plains “Moment to Remember.”

The service concluded with the throng singing “We Shall Overcome.” After several moving choruses with the multitude of citizens swaying together, the final stanza which goes “We Shall Stand Together,” closed the old 60s protest song with a roll of applause and cheers.

The Mayor rallies the crowd

Mayor Delfino came to the podium. With clergy, councilpersons, and congresspersons to his right and left, spoke proudly and earnestly to the crowd:

“Never would I have believed that we’d have such a turnout. I am overwhelmed, this is truly the greatest community in America,” and went on to thank all the city’s clergy for coming together for the service, saying that “God would get us through.”

The Mayor said that there was a Remembrance Book in the City Hall rotunda, which would be placed in the White Plains Public Library for all to sign. The Mayor announced this because not all of the thousands could march into the rotunda to sign it that evening, which brought one of the few laughs of the night.

Everyone leaves with a sense of a job to be done

The remarkable evening of remembrance and renewal closed with a rousing singing of “God Bless America,” with outstanding voices from the steps of City Hall, helping the citizens out with the second and third verses.

The crowd slowly dispersed.

They returned to cars, parents pushing strollers, couples arms over shoulders. Old city and county political rivals often adversaries, shook hands on the City Hall steps.

Some young persons in their 20s stood in front of the fenced off E J Conroy Drive, and, impromptu, shouted “USA,USA!” Then they changed what they were chanting. They crossed their hearts and began to recite, in unison: “The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag,” getting every word right with dignity and dedication.

You should have been there.

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Those Who Never Got To Say Goodbye-Poetry

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Poetry from a White Plains Middle School Student expressing what many of us may be feeling as we start a work week different from any other.
Today i learned

What textbooks would never teach

And how much people lost.

Some lost little

And some who lost much more.

I mourn for them

For those

Who lost much more than

A place to work,

Important files,

Their raise

Or their favorite lunch cafe

I mourn for those

Who’ve lost more

Than money can replace

That time may never heal

Whose tears will never dry.

Today, our world lost

Our dearest and closest loved ones

But heaven only gained more.

This is for those who never got to say good-bye.

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A Reporter’s Troubled Questions: A Little Too Late

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The American people trusted our government to protect us, and in the last 8 years our leaders let us down big time. I’m sorry, “The Thing” Tuesday should not have been a surprise.
Tell me, Mr. and Mrs. America, and Mr. and Mrs. White Plains didn’t you think exactly like I did the last 8 years, that our government was looking out for our welfare? Always.

Didn’t we trust them to always have our best interest in mind in dealing with foreign policy, enemies, etc. We spend billions on the FBI, the CIA, the INS, the DEA, the ATAF, the NSA. You name it there was an agency that was out there looking out for us, Mr. and Mrs. America, protecting us against the Haitian boat people, the Mexican illegal aliens, the Branch Davidians, the Aryan Nation. Real threats there.

Weren’t we told all efforts were being made? Didn’t you and I think that?I mean, I don’t have time to check the quotes after the USS Cole torpedoing, the Ethiopian embassy blast, and I’m probably forgetting some catastrophic incidents, as well.

So when the Ethiopian embassy was blasted, we thought well, (at least this reporter did), that we’ll probably be getting a handle on this bin Laden guy real quick. We trusted our FBI, CIA, the National Security Agency, would quite rightly get on his case. We trusted them.

Well, they didn’t.

Why didn’t they?

I am blame-pointing, and not being fair. I am not being forgiving. Because I am outraged that “The Thing” that happened Tuesday was a complete surprise. This is too incredulous to be believed that it was a surprise. Couldn’t we have a little suspicion once in awhile? Were our top law enforcement and security agencies hands tied? And, if so, by whom?

Just today, we find that with a lot of effort the FBI has turned up over at least 100 suspects in this plot. In four days. You think, perhaps if they had actually infiltrated these little cells in the last eight years that maybe they might have gotten a little inkling of the September 11 plot?

We know. It’s very hard to infiltrate because these folks are from the middle east. Rubbish. It’s your job to infiltrate. It’s your job.It’s your job to sniff it out. The last plot against the World Trade Center was sniffed out back in ’92-93. And they stopped it. And we did not do anything since? That is unacceptable. There is no excuse.

I have in a joking manner referred to the Clinton Administration as the worst presidency in American history, due to Mr. Clinton’s behavior. But not until this week did we know how really incompetent the administration really was. How utterly incompetent.

There is a heap of anger out there.

I fault the management of our intelligence gathering the last eight years. Because that is the question here. How can you round up a 152 people who might have done this in 4 days and not have any inkling this plot was in the air?Are you kidding me?

What do you make that the reason we are not retaliating right away is those geniuses at the CIA are working the phones to the Mossad, saying, “Hey, you know anything about these guys?” I hope not.

I hate to say it, but Clinton not only disgraced the Presidency. He appears to have grossly mismanaged American intelligence on his watch. Or, the persons who ran it for him did. Here’s why:

Not to have infiltrated Bin Laden’s gang effectively after the Ethiopian embassy bombing and the USS Cole bombing is a major negligence. Is anyone suspicious at the FBI and CIA anymore? Do not forget the FBI and the CIA, could not even find those two moles, who were outing their agents in Russia for years. How about a little skepticism? Another thing, they were too busy sniffing out real threats to the country like the Branch Davidians. Of course, the FBI and CIA are going to be blamed. Police and fire officials always know no matter how they handle anything the political forces will use them as scapegoats. Sometimes they are to blame.

But, there appears to this suspicious mind, more to this than just bungling. More evidence to throw in the hopper: Could the FBI, CIA, have been consciously prevented by the Clinton Administration as a matter of policy from extensively infiltrating Middle East terror organizations? Because Clinton had this “pipe dream” of going out as being the President who arranged a Middle East lasting peace, could the FBI and CIA have had their hands tied, because the feckless, clueless Clintonistas did not want to irritate the wonderful Mr. Arafat? Because they did not want covert operations against bin Laden, Quaddafi and Hussein, poisening the atmosphere on the negotiations? Remember how Clinton, the darling of the media, was portrayed as such a diplomat? He was so concerned about his legacy?

We reporter-types have a lot of respect for law enforcement guys. We believe they are doing their job to their best, 24/7. But they have to be allowed to do it. And they have to be given solid, responsible direction. I do not think this is the FBI’s fault. Could they have done a better job? The last four days of swift detentions and shocking revelations tells me they could have if they were allowed to. For some reason they did not. Why?

You can just hear the Clinton braintrust talking to the FBI now back in 1996 can’t you? “Look if we really go after this guy, well it’s going to prevent us from creating an atmosphere for peace…dadadada daddada”

No one will write these things because they are unseemly and unthinkable. Well, I am. Too bad.

In the months ahead, members of congress will be asking these kind of questions in the biggest congressional investigation you have ever seen. They are honest questions that need to be answered. I think you’re going to see a lot of old familiar Clinton Administration regulars quizzed on camera in the next two years if we get to that point. Harsh, unfair, partisan? Yes, all of those. But the 5,000 dead persons from Tuesday deserve them to be answered.

Tuesday you saw the result of 8 years of alleged intentionally curtailed intelligence operations for what can only be political reasons. A megolomaniac President’s ego perhaps?

As an aside, to see former President Clinton appearing in public Friday comforting people on camera before President Bush arrived in New York Friday, was a disgraceful faux pas. He was the President — “The Boss” when the FBI, CIA, and the usual agencies should have been getting hard information on these Barbary Pirates. Clinton told one tearful woman looking for her husband when asked if he could help, “I am not the President.” This is perhaps a good thing, and completely in character. Mr. Clinton always passed the buck to someone else.

It strains reason to believe the FBI can finger over 150 people in four days and not have been prevented for some preposterous political reason from conducting the undercover work needed to sniff out any plots they might have been hatching.

This epic outrage has ended for all time the credibility of our usual talking heads: Yasir Arafat’s PLO is through for good. (That’s why he was crying on camera Tuesday. He was crying because he is through. And anyone negotiating with this organization again is on dream street.)
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were caught on video tape on a television show saying God is angry at us because we as a nation support abortion, homesexuality, etc. Poppycock. Saying those things have discredited him and Robison as a credible political force, as much as “The Thing” Tuesday has ended the hopes of the Palestinians for a thousand years. How stupid and self-serving of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson to say that.

Last but not least are the “journalists” of today to whom investigative reporting is a lost art. To whom the tough question is anathema to ask. To whom investigative journalism consists of telling why things happened, not telling what is going to happen. Years of talking about Monica instead of our terrorist stance? Come on.

One writer actually dreamed up this kind of debacle in the fifth rate men’s magazine, Maxim, conjuring up just this kind of scenario, only his villains were bin Laden and the Columbian drug cartels, not the Middle Eastern terrorists. If he could dream it up, why couldn’t our security agencies? To read that chilling article go to the Maxim Magazine website and do a search on “Terrorists.” The article appeared in August, 2000.


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Cappelli City Center New Designs to Present Monday

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Frederick Bland and Louis Cappelli will present their new design suggestions for the City Center Towers Monday at 8 AM in City Hall.
As of Friday afternoon, plans were in place for the new Bland-Cappelli designs for the City Center apartment towers to be presented Monday morning to the Planning Board, Urban Renewal Agency, Design Review Board, Conservation Board and the Common Council.

Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for the Cappelli organization, advised WPCNR Friday afternoon that Mr. Bland has been working with the Cappelli team all week long tweaking the designs. He did not have any information whether Bland is actually drawing and designing or the nature of Mr. Bland’s participation was in the redo.

Thompson also said there was no change to his knowledge in Mr. Cappelli’s commitments from his financing banks.

The meeting is scheduled for 8 AM.

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The Bravest Come Back: White Plains Firefighters Return from WTC Rescue Mission.

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White Plains Firefighters participating in volunteer rescue duty at the World Trade Center catastrophe and in relief of city fire crews in the Bronx returned to duty Saturday night in White Plains.
Duncan MacRae, of the White Plains Professional Firefighters Association checked in with WPCNR Saturday night reporting that Engines 1 and 4 of White Plains Gedney and Old Mamaroneck Road (Station 1) returned to duty in White Plains after 3 days in the Bronx. “We sent two engine companies (to The Bronx) to relieve their guys. It went on for three days. About 20 to 35 guys went down to aid in rescue work at the site, volunteering on their own, removing the rubble and debris to help rescue people. The guys were pulled towards it to help our brother and sister fire fighters.”

MacRae described the mood of the White Plains volunteers who participated in the rescue:

“There’s a lot of frustration among the men. I don’t know how to put this. They were basically pulling out dead people. We didn’t get out as many living people as they had hoped because of the pancake collapse nature of it. Our guys are dealing with it pretty well. They are very supportive to each other when they get back.”

MacRae said the men performing the harrowing rescue work were overwhelmed: “It’s too much to bear. It’s difficult for them to come back to work. But, they are still back.”

MacRae reports that Tom Van Essen, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department “has assured us that the New York City Fire Department now has the rescue operation in hand and feels he can better coordinate the city “tours” (of duty) with his chain of command, so we’ve suspended our official operations down there.”
MacRae said the initial hits were “too massive for them to handle. It’s pretty much out now, but as rubble removal continues, it allows more oxygen to the fire, causing flare-ups.”

The crews and Engines 1 and 4 from the Gedney Station were assigned to the Bronx this week and are back on duty in White Plains as of Saturday night, according to MacRae. Cliff Gapco, Jim Escarvage and Roberto Ripari manned Engine 1, and Kevin Heffernan, Steve Glover, and Keith Simone, on Engine 4.

MacRae said “They were ready to serve any need whatsoever. On behalf of the men. We’re ready to go back, if needed.”

MacRae also reported that those White Plains Firefighters volunteering on their own at the crash site, were told they would not be covered by Workmen’s Compensation or their city insurances, if they were injured.

At this point our telephone interview was ended by the intermittent blasts of the firehorn.

MacRae, apologetically said “Looks like I’m going to have to be going out soon.”

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Prayer for the World Trade Center Tragedy

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The Yonkers Tribune, a sister affiliate of the Westchester Network, created the following prayer on the day of disaster, which White Plains CitizeNetReporter presents as a tool of comfort in this grim time.
As the cries of the bereaved rise across this continent, we turn, O God, to you in shock.

We watch as this day of horror unfolds, and cannot fathom the depths of hatred and desperation that could have willed such devastation upon innocent people.

We, at, join with others throughout the world in praying for the victims killed, maimed or wounded, and for their families and loved ones. Be near to those who grieve, we pray.

We pray for all those called into emergency service, police and ambulance drivers, caregivers, emergency personnel and passers-by — give clarity of thought, steady hands that they may do what is needed.

We pray for the people and Government of the United States of America, and indeed all nations, that those in authority might respond not out of vengeance but with wisdom, restraint, and reason.

Finally, we pray for ourselves, and people of goodwill throughout the world, that we might be given open hearts to understand the meaning in the madness of this day. Comfort us all.

In the legitimate cries of oppressed and suffering people throughout the world who live lives of ongoing catastrophe, may we hear your voice calling us to build a world of justice in order that we might create a world of peace.

In the name of The Lord, we pray. Amen

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County Chamber of Commerce Determining Office Space Availability for Relocations

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Marsha Gordon, President of the Westchester County Chamber of Commerce,asked county firms to advise her of empty office space to spearhead relief efforts for businesses left homeless by the World Trade Center disaster.
Gordon announced Friday that the Chamber is calling on county firms and Chamber members to advise of empty office space to begin assisting in the relocation of firms from New York City displaced by the World Trade Center attack.
Gordon asked companies to check in with the Chamber if they had formal offices available, or as little as a desk and a telephone. She said they are also interested in gathering information about business services and equipment availablity in this clearing house effort.

Businesses are urged to fax the Chamber at (914) 948-0122 or e-mailed to The County Chamber of Commerceon the internet.

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Planning Board Roundup: City Center endorsed.

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The City of White Plains Planning Board endorsed the Cappelli City Center project pending design changes Tuesday night.
In a Planning Board meeting held before virtually no audience Tuesday evening, the Board gave its blessing to the Cappelli City Center project with the following caveats, according to the official minutes:

The Board recommends the Common Council consider the visual impact of the roof-scape (of the City Center retail/theater portion) on residents of the existing and proposed apartment buildings.

The Board prefers the previous design of the Martine Avenue facade of the parking structure (false apartment fronts), because the articulated facade broke up the mass of the structure and appeared more residential in character. Two elements of the current design preferred by the Board are the light shielding and the grillwork on the openings.

The proposed sign on the upper left corner of the Mamaroneck Avenue frontage of the building should be replaced by a “blade sign” affixed to the corner of the building, above the Greenpoint Bank building.

A clock should be installed in the City Center plaza.

A uniform license should be granted the applicant for the projection of signs from the building.

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Bland on Board City Center: New, Improved Bland/Cappelli Towers Coming Monday

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WPCNR News learned Wednesday that Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, is redesigning the Towers of Cappelli as we write. The new looks are expected to be showcased to Monday in anticipation of a final vote September 20
Two reliable sources, one within City Hall, one with firsthand knowledge of the Cappelli & Bland creative team’s work have confirmed that Frederick Bland, “Super Architect” from Beyer, Blinder, Belle has combined with “Super Developer,” Louis Cappelli in a design makeover the last five days.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said he expects to “have more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the presentation of the Cappelli & Bland designs tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Pulling up lame in the backstretch.

After breaking from the gate in the Common Council Stakes strongly, City Center stumbled rounding the turn to approvals September 4. The Bland hiring for redesign came about to appease reservations Common Council members had about the Louis Cappelli “originals” presented to the Council at his 34-story zoning hearing September 4. On that ”Night of the New Heights,” the Council approved the 34-story scope of the towers.

But, they approved the 34 stories not without prejudice. For the first time, they informed Cappelli with a bit of bad news. His designs were not acceptable to the majority. Rita Malmud, the most outspoken architectural critic called the towers “34 stories of mediocrity.”

Changing Board Jockeys

Cappelli, shocked at the Council’s displeasure with the tower aesthetics, reacted swiftly. He told the Council he would hire Frederick Bland, the city consultant. Bland executed the study for the Council on the effect of building heights in downtowns, in early August. Cappelli informed The Journal News that he would “fire” Schuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural firm designing the towers, and engage Bland for his exclusive touch. Confirmation is hard to find.

However, Cappelli’s public relations firm, Thompson & Bender, and Bland’s own architectural firm, Byer, Blinder, Belle did not confirm to WPCNR that Mr. Bland was, indeed, on board.

Now, WPCNR has ascertained Mr. Bland is fully involved holding the reins. Mr. Bland has had at least 5 days on the designs, since as of last Thursday evening he was not under contract. Today, a source shown the latest thinking on the Cappelli City Center project, said Mr. Bland was fully integrated, hands-on, in the redesign process and that Shuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural designer, is out of the picture. Work was reported being executed in the Beyer Blinder Belle offices on 11th Street in New York City. How Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Bland were interfacing on the project is not known at this time.

Down the stretch they come.

A city hall source confirmed the new look or looks are planned for showing tentatively Monday morning in a dramatic presentation to the Design Review Board, the Planning Board, the Conservation Board, and the Urban Renewal Agency.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s right hand man, said he would have “more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the details of the unveiling. City Hall, he said, is trying to arrange for the Common Council to see the designs at the same time, because he did not want the other city boards to see them before the Common Council, WPCNR presumes, as a matter of protocol and respect for the Council.

Photo finish.

At this late date, Monday appears the last possible date for a pre-vote viewing of the designs by the Council, considering the holy days of Rosh Hashanah are on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The ultimate City Center vote on the Cappelli site plan and Special Permit is scheduled to be held by the Common Council on September 20, one week from Thursday. However, there is always the possibility it could be moved forward.

Win, Place or Show Money scheduled for September 25

Mr. Cappelli is pushing the City Center horse hard for approval September 20 because he is scheduled to close on his financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce September 25.

It remains to be been whether CIBC, previously committed to furnishing $375MM to bankroll the City Center construction, is being affected by the reeling international markets resulting of the World Trade Center catastrophe. Mr. Cappelli’s pleadings with the Common Council to move faster because of the “event-risk” factor in any financing arrangement now appear eerily prophetic.

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Brutal Day After: Postponements of Events.

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WPCNR will report your cancellations and postponements as well as any services or efforts you or other community groups may be considering in the days ahead to help or assist as the metropolitan area regroups. Today, the JPI Groundbreaking at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue was postponed and the Candyce Corcoran for County Legislator fundraiser for Friday, September 14 was postponed.
City hall reported today that due to JPI executives being unable to fly in for the 300 Old Mamaroneck Road apartment complex groundbreaking for Jefferson at White Plains, the groundbreaking was postponed.

Candyce Canelstein Corcoran also reported to WPCNR to say that because of “the horror and devastation” of the Trade Center attack, and the fact that she has been placed on active reserve as a nurse to assist health authorities, that she is postponing her fundraising event scheduled for Friday evening, September 14, until further notice.

Please send your news to “Report News” on our website.

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