THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY: TRIBUTE TO COLUMBUS AND THOSE WHO FOLLOWED HIM

This column originally appeared on WPCNR on February 1, 2003, and celebrates the Dreamers, the Achievers, the High and the Mighty, of whom Columbus was one–the man who kept a frightened crew together and a mission of three ships across unchartered waters to open half the world. I wrote it about the Apollo 11 Crew, but the sentiments expressed aptly fit Columbus the man and the achievers who risked the unknown:

The Space Blazers:

 The Apollo 11 Crew: Nail Armstrong, Michael Collins,  Buzz Aldrin, Jr. Mr. Armstrong set foot on the moon  48 years ago July 20, 1969(NASA Photo)

The two papers I receive at WPCNR White Plains News Headquarters, White Plains, New York, USA did not tell you this was the anniversary of the day when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

The exact hour  was  20:11 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). That was the culmination of the last great American achievement  – the personal computer and the internet were to come as the next great American achievement conquering space — when Apollo 11 with Armstrong in command, with astronauts Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. blasted off to the stars  for real becoming the Flash Gordons, Buck Rogerses, Tom Corbetts and Captain Videos for all-time.

Their mission was a success.

But there have been the tragedies associated with striving for the stars and being the best, achieving the best, working for the good. Those are the persons who keep the dreams alive by their deaths and personal sacrifice. I wrote the following after the explosion of the Columbia Space Shuttle upon reentry after 19 days in space in January 2003.

Saturday’s fatal Columbia Space Shuttle accident killing all 7 astronauts aboard when the historic spacecraft broke up over East Texas at daybreak Saturday morning begins a period of national mourning. 
The expected media speculations have started, guessing at the cause of the reentry that went bizarrely, awfully wrong.
The truth is the civilized world takes absolute scientific miracles for granted. We do not appreciate the courage and skills of the men and women creating the future.
Those of us with cell phones, internet connections, high-speed trains, satellite communications and entertainment (all products made possible by the space program), do not realize the magnitude of daring achievements that you and I have come to accept to be executed like clockwork.
I first learned of Columbia’s fate late Saturday afternoon when my wife mentioned that instead of sports programming being videotaped on our television, there was coverage of a live NASA event on ABC.
(Incredibly, the radio station I had been listening to on the way from a sports clinic had not reported any hint of the accident. That station was Z-100, the most listened-to station in the New York metropolitan area. America Online also on their first up page did not mention the missing craft as of midday. That kind of communications misjudgment is sad.)
As I watched the close of Mr. Jennings’ coverage at about 3 PM, he signed off with no recap, no names of astronauts, and some parting words about what he thought was the cause of the disaster.
I’ll say what he should have said.
Columbia’s seven astronauts who died — we know their names: they were

 

Columbus, Magellan, Cook, Lewis, Clark, the Wrights, Lindbergh, De Laroche, Earhart, Markham, Gruber, Chaffee, Grissom, White, Gargarin, Komarov, the Challenger Crew, the crew of Soyuz 11. They are a handful of the hundreds of brave men and women who went into the unknown.

 

Appollo 11′s Crew turned the dreams of the 1950s visualized in television shows like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (above, Astro, Roger and Tom) and Captain Video, “The Master of Science” below  into reality.

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


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

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

The Magnificent Seven


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


Civilization has been created because of people like the crew of the Columbia’s Magnificent Seven, not the incompetence we see demonstrated daily today where technology is concerned.


The Columbia itself had flown 26 missions since launching in 1981. It was guided and outfitted with the best 2003 communications and equipment had to offer.

Not like Captain James Cook’s bark, Endeavour, a 100-foot ship powered by sail that conquered the “space” of his time, the Pacific Ocean. It was the Columbia’s Magnificent Seven’s Endeavour. They were tracked, they were backed up, but they perhaps more than anyone here on the ground knew the high dangers of the shuttle mission.

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


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


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


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

They never give up.

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


They are only human.


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


“Follow Me! ” They Say.


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


The Columbia Crew is the Miracle.


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


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

The Feel of the Unknown


I took Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s biographical adventure diary, Listen! The Wind down from the bookshelf.

She was the young bride of the aviator-pioneer, Charles Lindbergh. She navigated for him in his aircraft, and ran his radio communications on his many exploratory flights around the world.

In a passage she describes a night flight over the ocean, in which she was operating the radio for her husband Charles, who was at the controls. Mrs. Lindbergh is describing the feelings she has as she tries to tune in the South American coast at sea in the dark of night in 1933, 80 years ago.

The feeling, the courage of the adventurer, the explorer has not changed. This is great:


“Night was the hardest. It would be all right once it was day. I kept saying…We began to hit clouds. I could tell without looking up, for the plane bumped slightly from time to time, first one wing down and then the other. And the moon blackened out for short periods.

Then for longer periods. I could not see to write my messages. I stiffened, dimly sensing fear – the old fear of bad weather – and looked out. We were flying under clouds. I could still find a kind of horizon, a difference in shading where the water met the clouds. That was all. But it seemed to be getting darker.

Storms? Were those clouds or was it the sky? We had lost the water. We were flying blind. I turned off the light quickly (to give my husband a little more vision), and sat waiting, tense, peering through the night. Now we were out again. There were holes through which one could see the dark sky. It was all right, I felt, as long as there were holes.


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


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

Note: This column originally appeared February 1, 2003 on WPCNR.

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THE FIRST DEBATE

 BCW to Hold First Head-to-Head Debate in Westchester County Executive Race

 

WHEN:               Tuesday, October 10, 5-7 p.m.

                 

WHERE:  The Reckson Center, 360 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains.

 

WHAT:      Continuing its leadership role of keeping the business community informed on important issues, The Business Council of Westchester will hold the first head-to-head debate in the race for Westchester County Executive between Republican incumbent Rob Astorino and Democratic challenger NYS Senator George Latimer. The candidates will debate key issues from the closing of Indian Point and the future of Westchester County Airport.

 

WHO:            The debate will be moderated by nationally respected pollster and political expert Lee Miringoff, Director, Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

 

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State Senator Latimer Collects Support of Lowey, Engel, Meng,

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2017.From the Latimer Campaign. October 8, 2017:

George Latimer Saturday received the endorsement of Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-Westchester/Bronx).

Latimer, Meng, Lowey, and Engel were joined by Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and all took part in a voter registration drive in front of the H-Mart supermarket immediately following the press conference.

“We are here together, united for our common values and for the hopes of every Westchester resident. Standing with me today are the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Senior ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I deeply admire their leadership and the dedication to their constituents, and I know that together, we can restore our nation’s hope on the same foundation of values and beliefs I am basing my campaign on,” said Latimer.

 “I am proud to endorse George Latimer for Westchester County Executive. George has been a friend and colleague with whom I have worked for many years both during his time on the Westchester County Board and in the New York State Legislature. George is a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose and has been a strong advocate for common sense gun laws. I look forward to continuing our work together on these important issues, as well as many others, to ensure that Westchester County is an even better place to live, work and raise our families,” said Congresswoman Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland).

“I am proud to endorse George Latimer and look forward to working with him,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “While we fight the destructive attacks on the middle class in Washington, we need leaders like George Latimer standing up and fighting for our values here in New York, particularly at a time when those values are targeted by the President, the GOP-led Congress, and their enablers here in Westchester,”said Congresswoman Meng (D-Queens).

“I am happy to join my colleagues in endorsing George Latimer for Westchester County Executive. I have worked directly with George since his days as a County Legislator and have seen first hand his effective leadership and strong insight into the critical issues in Westchester,” said Congressman Engel (D- Bronx/Westchester).

Currently, Congresswoman Meng is the DNC’s only Asian-American officer and has focused much of her grassroots outreach on emerging communities. “With immigrants and the American Dream facing unprecedented attacks from the extreme right, we wanted to host this voter registration drive to empower, mobilize and invigorate voters in one of the most important races in the state,” said Meng.

The endorsement and voter registration drive add to Latimer’s growing momentum with only four weeks left until the November 7th general election. Latimer  is running on the Democratic, Independent, Reform, Working Families, and Women’s Equality ballot lines.

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Saturday in Puerto Rico: Department of Defense Systematically Expanding Relief, Reconstruction, Supplies

WPCNR PUERTO RICO RECOVERY. From the U.S. Navy Northern Command. Saturday, October 7, 5 P.M. E.D.T.:

Today, the Department of Defense has deployed the 35th Expeditionary Signal Brigade to provide command, control, communications and computer support for DoD and FEMA responders; the 393rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion for logistic support to DoD responder teams; a Movement Control Team to support transportation and movement in Puerto Rico. In addition, a veterinary detachment arrived in Puerto Rico to help treat livestock and local animals.

U.S. Northern Command continues to distribute commodities via ground and air Saturday in support of FEMA’s ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Approximately 71,000 liters of water and 35,000 meals are being distributed to nine municipalities and the Defense Logistics Agency is executing a water plan to distribute up to 2,500,000 gallons of water in Puerto Rico.

Friday, the DoD supplied over 162,000 gallons of bulk water, 44,000 gallons of bulk fuel, 1,500,000 meals, and 2,990,000 bottles of water to Regional Support Areas; additionally, 106,000 meals and 244,000 bottles of water were delivered directly to Puerto Rico municipalities.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is currently conducting central route clearance Saturday in order to open up roadways into the interior of Puerto Rico.

Additionally, the 26th MEU, along with Marine aviation units, continue support operations today at the Guajataca Dam to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to repair the Guajataca Dam.

Saturday, the hospital ship, USNS Comfort, continues to engage with Health and Human Services and the Puerto Rico Department of Health representatives in its continued support to patients on the island.

Reachout to St. Croix

In addition, 13 flights were scheduled Saturday to transport hospital units to St. Croix and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, as well as sustainment and transportation units for Puerto Rico.

Yesterday, the USNS Comfort was near the coast of Arecibo-Manati when she received four critical patients from Hospital Menonita in Caguas after its generator failed.

Patients were medically evacuated by helicopters from the USS Wasp and USNS Comfort. Comfort, with the assistance of Army Black Hawk helicopters, had also received critical patients from Ryder Memorial Hospital in Humacao two days prior after its generator also failed.

Comfort has treated 75 patients ranging from six months to 89 years in age and performed numerous procedures such as gastrostomy tube placement, colectomies, sacral-decubitus ulcer debridement, as well as treated for wounds, hernias and pneumonia.

Currently we have more than 6,600 active duty service members and 56 helicopters operating in and around Puerto Rico.

To date approximately 7.4 million meals, 5.8 million liters of water, and 294 generators have been delivered to Puerto Rico in support of FEMA and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

USNORTHCOM’s mission is to assist lead federal relief agencies in helping those affected by natural disasters to minimize suffering while continuing its mission of defending the Homeland.

- 30 -

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Help Puerto Rico. Not Wall Street.

WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. OCTOBER 7, 2017:

Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street
Petition to Congress:
“Immediately pass a major Puerto Rico relief package, including billions in direct aid and grants, not loans and cover the reconstruction of the island’s electric grid and infrastructure. Restore control of Puerto Rico’s budget and spending to the island’s elected officials by eliminating the Financial Oversight and Management Board, and forgive Puerto Rico’s Washington-manufactured debts so the island can make a lasting recovery.”

Add your name:

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/puerto_rico?t=3&akid=25328.12040589.nuzueu

Dear John,

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/puerto_rico?t=4&akid=25328.12040589.nuzueu

Long after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, millions of American citizens there are still without electricity and reliable access to basic necessities like food and water.1

The quick and overwhelming response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has been utterly missing in Puerto Rico. Instead, the Trump administration took a week to waive shipping restrictions, causing massive delays in aid efforts even as the elderly were dying due to the lack of medicine or electricity for ventilators and dialysis.2

Instead of springing into action, Donald Trump has tweeted that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them,” accused San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of criticizing the disaster response only because Democrats put her up to it insisted that Wall Street be able to profit off loans to Puerto Rico and said the disaster wasn’t a “real catastrophe” like Katrina during a trip where he tossed paper towels to desperate people like he was a game show host.3,4,5

After decades of exploiting Puerto Rico to help Wall Street, our government is now ignoring American citizens in desperate need. So we are standing with our friends at Democracy for America to demand that Congress act immediately to provide a massive aid package and end Wall Street’s hedge fund exploitation of Puerto Rico.

Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street. Click here to sign the petition.

After the Trump administration labelled the disaster response a “good-news story,” Mayor Cruz declared “this is a ‘people are dying’ story.”6 Once again, Trump flew off the handle when a person of color dared to criticize him. But while the mayor was sleeping on a cot and is doing all she can for her people, Trump was enjoying a day of golf.7 Only recently were there reports that Trump would request aid for Puerto Rico, with no guarantees that it will be enough or free the island from the hands of hedge funds.8

The crisis in Puerto Rico is decades in the making, and the result of a racist, colonial approach to the island. First, it was sugarcane industry exploitation. Then, Congress turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven for manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. When Congress allowed those tax breaks to expire, the economy collapsed and the island plunged into debt.9

Wall Street hedge funds bought the debt and used that leverage to force Puerto Rico’s government to slash infrastructure and the social safety net while paying them billions in interest and fees. Washington has since imposed an unelected, Wall Street-backed “fiscal control board” to institute harsh austerity measures.10 The hedge funds that bought up Puerto Rico’s manufactured debt even pushed a new deal just days ago in an attempt to profit off of the disaster.11

Puerto Rico does not need more racist, colonial micromanaging. Congress must immediately pass a massive relief package like the ones for Irma and Harvey, end Wall Street control over the island, and forgive the island’s debts.

Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street. Click here to sign the petition.

Puerto Ricans are American citizens – but have been treated like colonial possessions to be exploited by large corporations and then told they cannot manage their own affairs. They had no voice in Congress when our government was boosting oil and gas companies, but now that climate change has supercharged storms and devastated the island, Trump has even floated the idea that Puerto Rico not be rebuilt at all.12

The rest of America has failed in our obligations to our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico for far too long. Congress must not only pass a massive relief package, but tackle the underlying outrage by ending Wall Street control over the island and forgiving its Washington-created debt.

Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street. Click the link below to sign the petition:

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/puerto_rico?t=8&akid=25328%2E12040589%2Enuzueu

Thank you for speaking out.

Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/puerto_rico?t=10&akid=25328.12040589.nuzueu

References:

  1. Oren Dorell, “With long lines for food, water and fuel and no electricity, Puerto Ricans help each other,” USA Today, Oct. 1, 2017.
  2. Carla Minet, “Nature caused Puerto Rico’s latest crisis. But politics are making it worse.” The Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2017.
  3. David A. Graham, “Trump Takes to Twitter as Puerto Rico’s Crisis Mounts,” The Atlantic, Oct. 1, 2017.
  4. John Wagner, “Trump declares Puerto Rico is in ‘deep trouble’ as questions mount about his commitment,” The Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2017.
  5. Chris Cillizza, “Trump’s Puerto Rico event was way worse than his tweets,” CNN, Oct. 4, 2017.
  6. Juana Summers, “Trump attacks San Juan mayor over hurricane response,” CNN, Sept. 30, 2017.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Rebecca Savransky, “Trump to request for more disaster relief funds this week: report,” The Hill, Oct. 2, 2017.
  9. Juan Gonzalez, “Puerto Rico’s $123 billion bankruptcy is the cost of U.S. colonialism,” The Intercept, May 9, 2017.
  10. Ibid.
  11. David Dayen, “Puerto Rico rejects loan offers, accusing hedge funds of trying to profit off hurricanes,” The Intercept, Sept. 28, 2017.
  12. Julia Ainsley, “Trump Administration Won’t Promise To Fix Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure,” NBCNews, Sept. 29, 2017.
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THE NEW GOVERNOR MARIO M. CUOMO BRIDGE IS NOW OPEN EAST-WEST. VIDEO FROM THE GOVERNOR

TimeLapseTumbnail

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Office. October 7, 2017:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday evening that all traffic is now traveling on the first span of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, weeks earlier than planned. The iconic twin-span cable-stayed crossing opened to Rockland-bound traffic in late August.

VIDEO of a time lapse is available CLICK: here.

The last cars crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge is available on YouTube(CLICK) here and in TV Quality (h264 format) (CLICK:) here.

All four lanes of Westchester-bound traffic have officially shifted to the first span this evening, just a few weeks after the Governor announced the opening of the first span for Rockland-bound drivers.

Traffic on the New York State Thruway (I-87/I-287) will consist of four lanes in each direction on the first span, separated by a concrete barrier.

This will allow design-builder Tappan Zee Constructors to demolish the landings of the old bridge, which occupy the same footprint of the second span, and connect the second span to land. When completed, drivers will reap the full benefits of the 3.1-mile twin-span, which will include:

  • Eight general traffic lanes;
  • Four breakdown and emergency lanes;
  • Space for future bus rapid transit and commuter rail;
  • A bicycle and walking path with six unique viewing areas; and
  • Cashless tolling.

The original Tappan Zee Bridge, linking Rockland and Westchester, opened in December 1955 and there are now more than 140,000 vehicles crossing it daily.

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK OCT 6 SHOW ON THE INTERNET NOW

IMG_0174

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP?

PETER KATZ, JOHN BAILEY AND JIM BENEROFE –THE LOCAL LOWDOWN

ON

RKOTower

YOUTUBE AND WHITE PLAINS WEEK.COM

The YouTube link is

 
The whiteplainsweek.com link is
 
 
1-OPENER

COUNTY EXECUTIVE CAMPAIGN GETTING HOT AND PERSONAL

LAS VEGAS MASS MURDER IGNITES LOCAL GUN SHOW ISSUE AGAIN

HOW SECURE CAN HOTELS BE–NOT VERY SECURE–SHOULD THEY TIGHTEN UP THEIR “HOSPITALITY?” 

8-comfort in action

THE AGONIZING PACE OF PUERTO RICO HURRICANE RECOVERY–A FIASCO OVERLOOKS THE 80 PHARMACEUTICAL PLANTS THAT ARE THE ONLY SOURCE OF KEY SUBSCRIPTION MEDICATIONS FOR STROKES, AIDS

4-SHOCKER

BALLYHOOED HIGH SPEED INTERNET “BUNDLE” OF WHITE PLAINS, YONKERS, MOUNT VERNON AND NEW RO DOES NOT EXCITE INTERNET PROVIDERS YET AFTER A YEAR.

WHEN WE GO ALL-ELECTRIC CARS WILL WE HAVE ENOUGH OUTLETS?

5-Electric car charging

11-BOARDWALK

COUNTY STARTS PLAYLAND NORTH BOARDWALK REPAIR FIVE YEARS AFTER HURRICANE SANDY

9-TRUMP THE PRESIDENT

AND THE ONLY WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF ALL THINGS TRUMP.

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Latimer Accuses County Executive of “Pay to Play” Contracting on County Projects.

WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2017. From the George Latimer Campaign (Edited). October 7, 2017:

 State Senator George Latimer called on his County Executive Robert Astorino to disclose his campaign’s relationships and meetings with thirteen NYC-based firms that have received nearly $80 million in county contracts during the office’s existence.
According to the New York State Board of Elections and the Westchester County Government the list of donors includes notable contributors such as Arcadis, Harris Beach, HDR, LiRo, Tectonic, and Verde Electric Corporation.
An analysis by the Latimer camp shows that the firms have contributed over $200,000 to Astorino during his tenure as County Executive, further raising the question  of pay-to-play for the controversial Republican lawmaker.
“This is a great deal for these companies and for Rob Astorino, but a terrible deal for Westchester taxpayers,” said George Latimer. “Since Astorino won’t disclose exactly what took place at 125 Park, (the Westchester County Manhattan-based economic development office), we can’t know if these donors were meeting there with him or what was being discussed. This raises serious questions about the integrity of our County Executive that Rob Astorino should answer immediately.”
According to a review of Westchester County public records and state campaign finance reports, thirteen firms either headquartered in New York City or with a significant presence there received $79.2 million in taxpayer-funded contracts between 2015 and 2017. This coincides with the existence of the county’s Economic Development satellite office at 125 Park Avenue in Midtown, which Astorino opened to great fanfare but which  the county cannot point to any specific benefit to taxpayers having come out of the exclusive commercial space. Last month, the county announced that it would be closing the space once its current lease expires.
These thirteen firms, which provide a range of services including engineering, architecture and legal, have at the same time been major donors to Astorino’s high-profile political campaigns over the years. In total, they contributed over $213,000 in contributions to Astorino’s war chest both before and after many of the contracts were issued to them by the county.
For Latimer, this raises serious ethical questions about Astorino’s use of the Manhattan space, which the State Senator and others contend provides the Republican with a base of operations for building his donor network ahead of a rumored 2018 rematch against Governor Andrew Cuomo. As a result, Latimer is calling on his opponent in the County Executive race to release all information pertaining to his relationship with the firms in question, as well as details on any meetings that the donors may have had with Astorino and county officials at the Park Avenue office.
“Rob Astorino in his past races for County Executive and Governor made a point of criticizing his opponents for the practices that he seems to have mastered,” Latimer said.
Latimer’s request comes one week after he and fellow county lawmakers held a press conference and rally outside county offices in White Plains to call for the full disclosure of all meetings at the office. Astorino’s office has stated in the press that no meetings logs were kept and no such details are available for the taxpayer-funded space.
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