HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE
VORPERIAN (AT RIGHT, ABOVE) HAS JUST RETURNED FROM A WORLD CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT, IN SLOVENIA. HE IS SHOWN WITH PAUL LEACH, EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY CENTRE DIRECTOR, AND A PROFESSOR AT MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY, IN SLOVENIA WHO ADDRESSED THE CONFERENCE
JOHN BAILEY INTERVIEWS VORPERIAN ON THE SHAKY FINANCIAL FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT IN STRASBOURG FRANCE.
THE FINANCIAL FUTURE OF THE COURT.
THE DANGER OF THE COURT BEING ELIMINATED
THE PROGRAM CAN ALSO BE SEEN ON
(Scroll down the program wall on the website to White Plains Week People to Be Heard)
as well as 7 PM
ON VERIZON FIOS CH. 45
OR ALTICE CABLEVISION CH. 76
WPCNR SOUTH END TIMES. Special to WPCNR By Diana Das. Photos by Diana Das June 13th, 2018.:
The Council of Neighborhood Associations of White Plains held their final meeting for the summer last night at Education House(pictured below). Co-presidents Bill Brady and Andrew Custodio moderated a lively roundtable, which included Councilman Dennis E. Krolian (D), that pertained to three issues concerning residents of White Plains:
Airbnb; the new dockless bike sharing program; and the spread of new high-rise construction from the City Center into suburban neighborhoods.
The first topic on the agenda was Airbnb and the issue of whether or not the online broker for short-term lodging and rentals should be allowed in White Plains revealed reactions, for and against.
One resident, Diane, spoke of the benefits that Airbnb offered, one of which being that it is a way of “connecting people.” As an Airbnb renter, she described her experience as “very positive.” To those in the roundtable that may have been skeptical, she elaborated further, adding that, as a renter, she can “screen out” people that could have the potential to be unreliable.
However, Mr. Brady brought up the issue of whether or not Airbnb can be truly regulated.
Echoing that, another resident named Alan, was also concerned about the fact that residents won’t know who is coming in or out of their neighborhood, saying that one of the things he loves about White Plains is “the calm feeling of knowing everyone in the neighborhood.” The potential loss of community was another sentiment raised as well, with Alan asking, “What kind of place do you want to live in?”
Another concern with allowing Airbnb into White Plains was how it would change the business framework of the city in addition to overcrowding in residences.
Here come the Bikes
Mr. Brady next steered the discussion to the topic of the dockless bike sharing program that White Plains is participating in. The two companies that are part of the program are Lime and Ofo.
To use Lime and Ofo, residents need to download the Lime or Ofo mobile app (available on iOS and Android) and register their basic information and payment method. With the apps, residents can locate a nearby bike, scan the license plate (for Ofo) or the bike (for Lime), and ride. When they are finished, they can park the bike in an appropriate location and lock it so another rider can use it next.
The Common Council adopted the dockless bike sharing ordinance in March which paved the way for White Plains to participate in a one-year pilot program, according to the press release from the Mayor’s Office dated June 4th 2018. The press release states that this “authorizes the City to establish a permit process through which dockless bike share operators can operate within the city.”
During the first 30 days of the program, up to 150 bikes will be in use in White Plains and just like riding private bicycles, riders participating in the bike-sharing program are subject to rules governing safety and accessibility. For instance, the bicycles cannot block pedestrian access to sidewalks, accessibility ramps, or entrances to public and private property. The bicycles also cannot block vehicular traffic.
Residents’ concerns about the pilot program.
One resident felt that the scattered bicycles were an “eyesore”, while others agreed that the “placing of it is a problem.” According to one member of the roundtable, businesses have complained about riders leaving the bikes in front of their stores, blocking the entrances.
Mr. Brady noted that the bikes scattered around “kind of serve a purpose,” referring to the fact that anyone with the mobile app can locate a bike that has been left nearby.
Another resident, Max, said that “Biking is a culture,” and that he hopes that people would learn the right way to leave the bikes when they are finished using them. He also asked, “Who from the city is answering questions about how the companies are operating?”
Other residents felt that the city should offer bicycle safety instructions. (White Plains does offer this through the parks department: http://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/documentcenter/view/331)
Some of the positive aspects highlighted were fewer cars on the streets and the bicycles were an affordable way for people to get around the city. Another benefit is that if a pedestrian sees a bicycle left in a hazardous place, they can call either company–Lime (for the green bikes) or Ofo (for the yellow bikes)–and tell them. The companies keep records of who was using the bike and when and can block out riders who don’t observe proper safety protocol.
The final topic of discussion for the evening was the spread of high-rise development into residential neighborhoods in White Plains, beginning with the development of 52 North Broadway (pictured below). The development will include market-rate housing, dormitories for students attending Pace University, and housing for seniors.
Mr. Brady noted that the buildings in the development will be away from North Broadway(on left in the photo above) in order to preserve the former Good Council green. The majority of the development will be toward the rear the property (in lower right of the picture above), adjacent the Cross Westchester Expressway, which will impact people who live near the project in the back on Stewart Place.
Mr. Brady next asked a member of the roundtable, Barbara, to provide the other attendees with more information about the project.
Barbara mentioned that they want to rezone residential areas and that if it is happening with the North Broadway project, it could happen to other neighborhoods as well.
Another issue she brought up was the alleged contaminated dump site that she said was shut down by the DEC and hadn’t been sealed properly for the past fifteen years. (Editor’s Note: an environmental review is being conducted to analyze the safety of the alleged contaminated area. That review is due by the end of the month.)
An additional concern that Barbara raised was traffic congestion on North Broadway, near the new development.
She said, “The biggest issue is that it becomes a traffic nightmare for everybody.” Barbara also said that the number of cars is going to increase to 1,000 per day, ranging from people visiting to drivers making deliveries.
With the rise in new developments being built now and others potentially in the future, the traffic situation will be an issue, with entrances to the cities from the highways, such as I-287, becoming congested. Residents were also concerned about the proliferation of “city-sized” buildings in residential neighborhoods, with one saying, “It’s a city-wide problem.”
The rise in vehicular traffic poses another concern: public safety. If there is an emergency, it was argued, the fire department would have trouble reaching people.
As a resident described it, “It is an absolute public safety issue. Our fire department is down by the train station. Can you tell me, in a high rise, when we need a hook and ladder, how it’s going to get to Stewart Place when there are a thousand cars in the TransCenter and you’ve got four hundred cars on the corner there…how are they going to get up Barker Avenue and across North Broadway?”
Will Market Rates be Affordable? Is White Plains Growing too Big?
With the rise in new luxury developments being built in the city, people were concerned that there would be a lack of affordable housing and rents would increase for everyone.
This led attendees to ask the question of, “What kind of city do citizens want White Plains to be?”
With the population of the city estimated to be between 58-59,000, some were wondering if the population boom is necessarily in the best interests of the city at large. Residents can write letters and attend Comprehensive Plan meetings and offer their views on what they would like White Plains to be. The loss of “Mom and Pop” stores in the city is another concern as well, with some residents lamenting the loss of community and camaraderie.
After the meeting, the Co-Vice President of the The Council of Neighborhood Associations, Chris Price, had this to say:
“I think businesses need to be smarter about how they service this community.” He noted that it is about evolving with the needs of the community as well.
The next meeting of The Council of Neighborhood Associations in White Plains will be in October.
(Note: Photos of the bikes and the 52 North Broadway Development, from WPCNR)
Governor Andrew Cuomo Addressing White Plains High School Students at the high school Tuesday morning. Governor’s Press Office Photo.
WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the Governor’s Press Office. June 13, 2018:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday stopped in Westchester County as part of the statewide campaign to pass the Red Flag Gun Protection Bill, which kicked off Monday, June 11 on Long Island and in the Bronx.
The Red Flag Protection Bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill, was advanced by the Governor last week. The bus tour stopped at White Plains High School to bring together local elected officials, school staff and students in support of the bill.
Westchester County leaders endorsed the bill, which would prevent individuals determined by a court to have the potential to cause themselves or others serious harm from purchasing, possessing, or attempting to purchase or possess any type of firearm, including hand guns, rifles, or shotguns.
This legislation builds on New York’s strongest in the nation gun laws and prior legislative efforts, and, if passed, would make New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.
“New York will not stand by and wait for Washington to take action against the gun violence and school shootings that have become all too common in this country,” Governor Cuomo said. ”Parents should not have to fear sending their children to school every day and teachers should not have to wonder if they will return home from work. Together, we can and will pass this common sense gun legislation and we will continue to fight to ensure gun violence has no place in this great state.”
WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. By John F. Bailey. June 12, 2018 UPDATED BULLETIN, 3:45 PM E.D.T.:
According to a spokesperson for the County Board of Legislators, Jason Chervokas, the County Board of Legislators called a Special Meeting of the Board Friday afternoon to vote on a home rule request to the New York State Legislature, that would allow Westchester County to install red light cameras (which would take surveillance photographs of vehicles running red lights at intersections).
Chervokas told WPCNR the meeting was called Friday afternoon in order to get the home rule request considered during this session of the state legislature. He said possible implementation was a long way off, and that there would be discussion and consideration of what county intersections would be installed with red light cameras.
Chervokas, also issued this statement as of 3:45 P.M.
”Just to explain, we’re just at the start of this process. All Monday’s vote will do, if the state signs off, is give us the authority to pass our own law authorizing the cameras if we want to. That means the whole regular legislative process before we actually vote on such a local law.”
Chervokas confirmed the County Legislators voted 16-0 to send the home request request.
WPCNR sent a request to the Westchester County Department of Communications to confirm that the County Executive George Latimer requested the Board of Legislators to vote on the home rule request and when the request was made, or whether this was the Board of Legislators acting on their own.
Chairman of the Board of Legislators Benjamin Boykin’s office was asked by WPCNR when the request, in any was made, and why there was no public discussion of the red light camera initiative.
As of Tuesday morning there was no official press release from the County Executive or the County Board of Legislators explaining the action.
Benjamin Boykin, Chairman of the Board of Legislators AT AN SEIU 32BJ demonstration in March, A WPCNR FILE PHOTO
BULLETIN 3:45 PM: BENJAMIN BOYKIN, HAS NOW RESPONDED TO THE WPCNR REQUEST IN A NEWS RELEASE ON THE SURPRISE VOTE. THE COUNTY BOARD OF LEGISLATORS NOW CONFIRMS THAT YES, THEY HAVE VOTED TO ASK FOR HOME RULE REQUEST TO INSTALL RED LIGHT CAMERAS.
THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICE HAS NOT CONFIRMED WHETHER MR. LATIMER REQUESTED THE VOTE AND WHEN LATIMER REQUESTED IT IF HE DID REQUEST THE HOME RULE MESSAGE. HERE IS THE NEWS RELEASE WITH MR. BOYKIN’S STATEMENT.
At a special meeting on Monday, the Board of Legislators, by a 16-0 vote, approved a measure asking New York State to give the county permission to consider passing a local law that would allow red light cameras at county intersections.
“The measure was passed in order to get it into the hands of state legislators quickly, because the state legislative session is ending. But this does not mean that the county is on the verge of installing red light cameras,” explained Board Chair Ben Boykin (D-Harrison, Scarsdale, White Plains).
In fact, if the state approves the request, the Board would still need to draft and vote on a new local law authorizing the cameras, a process that would involve careful consideration.
“Before any program actually moves forward, the Board will examine all issues regarding any specific proposal for implementation in cooperation with the relevant county agencies and departments and with the County Executive’s office,” Boykin said.
“That means looking at statistics on the impact of red light cameras on safety and on changing driver behavior, as well as looking at where any such cameras would go, before deciding if red light cameras are a good idea,” he added.
The Board also would examine how systems might work so as not to inadvertently flag drivers, as well as what the implications are, both for costs and for revenue. In addition, careful consideration would be given to the lessons learned by the cities of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Yonkers, which already have their own red light cameras in place.
GEORGE LATIMER MOVING AHEAD ON SHARED SERVICES TODAY
WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. By John F. Bailey. June 11, 2018:
Westchester County Executive George Latimer took the bull by the horns today on sharing services between county cities and villages, with village collaboration first.
He announced two public hearings this coming Thursday, in Yonkers, 3 PM to 5 PM at the Yonkers Riverfront Library and later Thursday evening at the Mt. Kisco Library, 7 to 9 PM.
Latimer said input from the public and city and village officials at those hearings would be a start to formulating a county shared services plan approved by a panel of the chief elected officials from every municipality in the county to submit to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo due by September 15.
The Rockefeller Institute and the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz will help the county prepare the Shared Services Plan. Patty Dwyer former Executive Director of the New York State City and County Management Association has been tapped as a consultant/liaison with the Institute and Benjamin Center to formulate the County Plan.
Dwyer told the news conference today her immediate focus would be on finding opporutnities for villages in Westchester to combine services.
GINA PICINICH, Mayor of Mount Kisco and County Chief of Police told of the $500,000 a Year Savings achieved by The County Police taking over Mount Kisco policing.
Asked if Mr. Latimer would be “proactive” in bringing a meeting of village, city officials’ minds on sharing opporuntunities, Latimer told WPCNR the county would be making suggestions.
Latimer emphasized that there is a home rule policy in New York State and at this point it appears it will be up to the cities and villages to agree to county suggestions on savings.
The timetable is demanding:
Mr. Latimer’s news release indicates August 1st is the Deadline for the Presentation to Westchester County Board of Legislators.
There will be a public hearing (Date and location to be determined)
September 15 is the deadline for the Panel of Municpality leaders (of 41 cities and towns in the county) to approve the County Plan and submit it to the Governor.
October 15 is the deadline for the Presentation of the Plan to the public.
WPCNR has been assured that these dates are just deadlines and the public will be informed as the plan is developed.
WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. From Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker. June 11, 2018:
On Monday, June 4th, my colleagues at the Board of Legislators and I continued our meetings with Con Edison over the power outage experienced during the noreaster in early March. I am sad to report that Con Ed once again left us feeling rather dissatisfied with several of their answers. Con Ed also started their discussion that day by disputing the fact that they had ample notice that a noreaster was expected, and not just a regular winter storm. How is it that the average Westchester resident, courtesy of the Journal News (Potential nor’easter could deliver strong winds and rain Thursday and Friday February 26) knew 3 days before the storm hit, but Con Edison was caught off guard? Their excuse for failing to have mutual aid on the ground ready to work as soon as the storm let up because they didnt have enough time was infuriating.
I continued to press Con Ed and asked them about their billing methodology. Using an actual electric bill I identified that almost half of the $220 monthly bill was to cover maintenance on the system. Look at your Con Ed bill. Dont you wonder what Con Ed is doing with that portion of your money? I know I do. Knowing how expensive this equipment must be, and how much of our money goes toward properly maintaining it, I had asked Con Ed at a prior meeting what the average lifespan of a transformer was. During the time that many of us had lost service, I had heard of out of state crews remarking on the aging equipment that they were sent to repair. I felt it was important to get a baseline. One member of the Con Ed team responded that transformers can go on forever until they dont. Finding that response unacceptable, my staff (which included four interns from Mamaroneck High School) and I decided to do our own research. We reviewed Public Service Commission testimony and reports from prior storms, including the 402 page Comprehensive Management and Operations Audit of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which led Governor Cuomo to end LIPA and create a new utility company on Long Island that puts ratepayers first. In that report, we were able to identify many of the answers that Con Ed was not able to provide.
We will continue to pursue answers and ultimately solutions to get better electrical service in our community. If we dont, the precedent that was set on Long Island could be an option for Westchester County.
Click here to view my questioning of Con Ed:https://www.dropbox.com/s/l4m6x310u6ahlwh/Leg%20Parker%20Cow%20June%204.mp4?dl=0
If you want to watch the entire two hour meeting, click on this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vakjzyo6sm9auh9/Jun%204%202018%200200%20PM%20Committee%20of%20the%20Whole%20Committee%20Meeting%20SD%20480.mp4?dl=0
WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE From Wallet Hub. June 11, 2018:
The personal-finance website WalletHub today released two key reports, one showing that consumers repaid $40.3 billion in credit card debt during Q1 2018, the second-biggest quarterly paydown ever, and the other finding that a Federal Reserve rate hike on Wednesday would cost people with credit card debt an extra $1.6 billion this year alone.
- At 3.80% for Q1 2018, the charge-off rate (the amount of defaulted credit card balances written off compared to the amount of funds charged) is up nearly 6% year over year and at the highest point since mid-2012.
- We began the year owing more than $1 trillion in credit card debt for the first time ever, after adding a post-Great Recession record $91.6 billion to our tab in 2017.
- 37% of people think travel is worth getting into debt for, behind just housing (47%) and health care (61%).
- 89% of people say their personal finances are run better than the federal government.
- 41% of people with credit card debt say they’ll pay it off in less than a year.
- The Fed has cost the average homebuyer roughly $42,000, if you assume its six recent rate hikes are fully responsible for the rise in the average mortgage APR since January 2015.
|Cities with the Biggest
|Cities with the Smallest
|Darien, CT||Clarkston, GA|
|Lake Forest, IL||Coachella, CA|
|Southlake, TX||Chelsea, MA|
|Beverly Hills, CA||San Luis, AZ|
|Dix Hills, NY||Cicero, IL|
WESTCHESTER COUNTY AIRPORT PUBLIC HEARING – GOVERNANCE
Monday, June 11
Hergenhan Recreation Center
40 Maple Avenue, Armonk
WORLD WIDE NOW
BAILEY BENEROFE KATZ
RAISING THE AGE TO BUY TOBACCO PRODUCTS
BICYCLE FLEETS IN WHITE PLAINS
THE NEW SITE PLAN FOR THE GOOD COUNSEL PROPERTY
CON EDISON AND NYSEG APPEAR BEFORE BOARD OF LEGISLATORS AND “DISAPPOINT”
AIRPORT MASTER PLAN PANNED AT FIRST COMMUNITY INPUT MEETING ON THE WESTCHESTER AIRPORT
PARENTS OPTING OUT WHITE PLAINS STUDENTS FROM ASSESSMENTS DECLINES SLIGHTLY
AND MORE ON