WPCNR LABOR WATCH. Special to WPCNR from the Service Employees International 32BJ. December 23, 2019:H

In a Stamford Marriott meeting room this afternoon, a union bargaining committee representing over 3,000 janitors in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and the lower Hudson Valley, New York, reached a tentative contract agreement with an industry group representing cleaning contractors and building owners, thereby averting a strike after December 31. 

“We are pleased and proud to have reached a strong tentative agreement today,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU and head of the union in the Hudson Valley. “This four-year deal gives 3,000 men and women a solid wage increase, maintains their high quality, employer-paid benefits, and makes important rule changes that will improve communication and respect on the job, including providing clear language on prohibiting sexual harassment.”

Friedlaender continued, “This agreement will make a real difference in the lives of our members and is reasonable for the employers in the region. Our members proudly work hard to make Fairfield County and the Hudson Valley a great place to work, study, shop, and live.” 

“Our efforts here confirm that we’re more than just vacuum pushers,” New York Medical College cleaner and bargaining committee member Claudia Rodriguez said. “We are full human beings, and with this accord, we have now made our needs felt and respected.”

Negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and the contractors began on October 30 in White Plains, NY, and progressed slowly for weeks.

Janitors then voted unanimously on December 12 in White Plains and on December 14 in Stamford to authorize the bargaining committee to call a strike after the December 31 contract termination if necessary.

The strike could have affected any of almost 90% of the large office buildings in the region, including landmarks like the Westchester Financial Center, IBM, and Pepsi Cola in the Hudson Valley, and 1 Landmark Square, the Stamford Government Center, and Sikorsky Aircraft in Fairfield County. The settlement is the last in of a series covering over 75,000 32BJ commercial cleaners on the East Coast this fall.

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Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona Thanks the City After her 12 Years of Service

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL-CHRONICLE EXAMINER. From White Plains Common Councilwoman, Milagros Lecuona. The following message is a transcript of her remarks to the Common Council December 2, 2019:

I want to thank the mayor for giving me these few minutes and to be able not to say good-bye but to say thank you.  Yes, there are lots to be thankful for.

TODAY IS a bittersweet moment. On the one hand it has been an honor to serve you all as your council person for these past 12 years but on the other hand, I am happy to leave my seat and open up an opportunity for other people to join the common council and bring new blood.

As you know, I do believe that term limits are crucial for the city democratic participatory process. This doesn’t mean however, that I’m disappearing. I got to the common council through my lifelong community advocacy efforts.  That’s my nature and that will never change.  I will be as always, one call away, one email, or a stop in the street…

It has been a pleasure working with the City commissioners and city staff, (need to mention Anne McPherson and Monica Guzman) working with volunteers who dedicate valuable family time to serve on important city boards and committees and business owners who understand the city’s potential and are willing to invest in White Plains future.   

My special thanks go to the residents of White Plains for their trust and support but also for the challenges they brought to me, agreeing or not always, residents like Carry Kyzivat, helping me with her stories, thoughts, complains, advice, become a better public servant and to understand the repercussions and relevance of municipal legislature.

But most of all, I want to thank the residents of White Plains, for giving me and my family the gift of their friendship, making us feel at home since the first day we moved to White Plains 30 years ago.

To the mayor and common council, especially the newly elected members I wish them wisdom to legislate well and courage to carry the voice of the people.  We should never forget that we are elected to serve all residents equally regardless of party line, economic status, race or ethnicity. History will judge our city not by how many high-rise buildings were raised but by how we treated those in need.   And when in doubt, keep in mind, it’s always about putting RESIDENTS OF WHITE PLAINS first.

I also would like to recognize two members of the common council who were important to me while on the council. Councilman Krolian for being a true team player and an important independent voice on this council who always showed compassion and courage.

I want to thank former Councilwoman Rita Malmud. She was on the council when I first joined and from day one, she became a great role model for me through her insistence on moral and ethical values on the council and as a tireless hardworking reliable public servant.

Needless to say, my family’s support, advise and love also made it possible for me to serve.

Before closing I would like to raise a few of my concerns.

  1. As long as the distribution of city’s revenue remains as is, which means, increasing the city’s debt unprecedently for capital projects and rightfully so, but without addressing the current path of budgetary annual operating revenue decreases and without creating new sources of revenue.
  2. As long as development continues getting approved by the council without having an updated Comprehensive Plan that reflects current urban planning best practices and city needs, without compromising the already compromised city’s infrastructure and protecting the residents present and future best interests, especially our precious open spaces.
  3. As long as we continue to leave unresolved parking issues, retail store vacancies, keep approving luxury rental units without studying the population projections, which goes back to point 1 and 2, the Comprehensive Plan-responsible growth and the Budget revenue.

I’m very concerned about the city’s economic resiliency and its future well fare. 

I do believe as an urban planner and after 12 years on the council that there are a few useful things I could leave you with I have a list with more than a dozen recommendations for the common council.

Mostly recommendations I’ve made in the past that the council has heard before. I’m passing a copy to the clerk for the records and in case residents would like to consider them.

Let me briefly mention three of those recommendations.

Update the Comprehensive plan to protect White Plains suburban livability and the beautiful character of our neighborhoods and open spaces.

Incrementally close Mamaroneck Ave to pedestrian usage and leave a lane for a trolley and emergency vehicle, creating a linear park that will bring pedestrian activity downtown without competing with the malls.  Among other advantages, this will help bring new revenue to the city.

Develop Baldwin Farm as a nature educational center.  Among other advantages, that could also help will bring new revenue to the city.

If you want to read the whole list not just of recommendations but also what I consider to be my legacy on the common council for 12 years, please visit my Facebook page and my website at:  under Projects

or find me in Facebook: Milagros Lecuona

It has been an honor to serve you

Thank you

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WPCNR QUILL AND EYE SHADE. By John F. Bailey with Data from the NY DEPT OF TAXATION & FINANCE. UPDATED WITH NEW WHITE PLAINS FIGURES. December 23, 2019, Updated December 27, 2019:

Cash registers in Westchester County were Jingle Bells  again in November with the county collecting  23% more Sales Tax Dollars  in November year to year, ringing up a A $55.2 MILLION “handle” for the second month in a row,  to last year’s $42.1 MILLION.

And Yes, Virginia, the county sales tax receipts reflect internet sales, The New York State Department & Finance confirmed to WPCNR in this statement:

“Yes. All internet sales that were paid would be included in the Westchester County Sales Tax Figures. Internet Sales might be a portion of the increase but the increase is also due in part to 1- the new 1% increase in Westchester County Sales Tax rates that began in August 2019 and 2- total Sales Tax collections being up overall in NYS. Sales Tax Receipts is up compared to October 2018.”

The state did not have what the percentage of internet sales tax receipts were internet-generated.

This county bonanza was a bewildering contrast compared to White Plains White Plains was even in November sales tax receipts–$3,999,814 compared to $3,975,933 in November 2018.  

The county is awash in new lovely money.

Through the first 5 months of the White Plains fiscal year 2019-20, the city has collected $21,126,850 in contrast to $20, 258,107 last year at THIS time.

 (This corrects a WPCNR line error on the 2018 report, and now showing that White Plains is now ahead of last year’s pace of sales tax collections  by 4.3%. WPCNR gives a tip of the WPCNR fedora to Cliff Blau  for the tip.)

The White Plains economy is not experiencing the same prosperity the rest of the county is, even though White Plains collects the same sales tax as the county.

White Plains is UP 4.3%. A boffo December may get the city back on track. to meet the city’s conservative-by-law sales tax estimate.

The county predicts $747 MILLION in sales tax money will come in in their 2020 budget.

If the county gets another $59 MILLION in sales in December for the third month in a row, they clear $607 MILLION for the year, a 10.2% increase. But, if this pace continues in 2020, and the $607 Million grows 15% the county will add an  additional $91  million for a 2020 total of $698  million.

That leaves a possible $49 MILLION deficit from the predicted $747 Million in sales taxes.

The  figure of $747 Million is said to be a calculation by the county that has not been explained.

If  the $607 Million grows  12%, the deficit balloons to $67 MILLION.

If it hits 10% more sales taxes, the increase in sales taxes grows 61 Million, leaving a $73 million deficit off the projected $747,000,000

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Windows 7 Support Ends This Week: What it Means

WPCNR TECHNOLOGIST From Aaron Woodin, PC Ventures. December 23, 2019:

I’ve been fielding a lot of calls about the apparent end of 
support/end of life for Microsoft Windows 7.

Here are my thoughts:
There is no need to panic.  Any computer running Windows 7 will 
continue to function normally after Microsoft’s deadline.
End of support/end of life simply means that Microsoft will no longer 
issue new updates (outside of extraordinary security issues that crop 
up every now and then), and that you cannot call me directly for 
operating system support, even for the traditional $150 ‘per incident’ fee.
So, what am I recommending, overall? 
Again, don’t panic and feel you need to get a new computer before the 
If your computer is more than about 3.5 – 4 years, old, consider 
replacing it proactively. (most computers only work reliably for about 
that amount of time, any way)
Regardless of which Operating System and computer you use, please back 
everything up – my recommendation is an online service called 
In addition, when the time comes to replace a computer, please have 
all usernames, passwords, etc organized.  And try to find any 
installation discs, etc so we can reinstall your programs.
The good news is that computers continue their 35+ year trend of 
getting better, faster and less expensive.
Any questions?  Please don’t hesitate to email, text or call.
I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season and a great 2020!

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The NEWSIES Conquer The World!

Photos Courtesy WPPAC by Kathleen Davisson

WPCNR STAGE DOOR. Theatrical Review by John F. Bailey. December 21:

The bluesy trumpet first notes seduce you into a tap-your-toe urban rhapsody as you gaze into the intrigue of endless tenement roofs receding to the horizon.

Newsies grabbed the first night audience Friday  with zip, zing and ginger at White Plains Performing Arts Center in its 16th season  in a rousing-fast-moving, never-a-lull revival of the Disney musical about the famous strike of the newsboys against The New York World when its publisher tried to cut their wages in half in 1899.

Dawn breaks over the spectacular “New Yawk” set—a cascading view into the tenements of turn-of-the-19th century lower East Side.  Waking up are Jack Kelly (the charming bad boy Alex Prakken) an in-your-face wiseguy with heart-winning sensitivity who sings his dreams  out front in a reverie, Santa Fe.

Then its off to Newsie Square to pick up The World, Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, for distribution and the newsies sing Carry the Banner, the best labor anthem since ‘Look for the Union Label” for the ILGWU (The International Garment Workers Union).

Meanwhile, high atop in his carpeted crag in The World Building, Pulitzer played with hubris malice and discusting greed by Mark Bradley Miller, decides to cut the Newsies wages, because the end of the Spanish American War has cut his circulation and his anthem The Bottom Line tells you all you need to know about capitalism in 1899 and capitalism in 2019.

The prices are relayed to the adorable lads, the newsies played with outstanding youth exuberance by the very age appropriate lads. Each is a personality you fall for—and many do star turns…tapdance to begin Act II when the audience is worried about the Newsies fate. You know this is going to work out, but you worry anyway. That’s how good this company works together, acts together and gives it their all every second.  

Enter the Lois Lane of 1899, the inquiring perky lady reporter Katherine, earnest confident Kristen Seggio, her first lead at the WPPAC.

Tough Guy Melts
Jack (ALEX PRAKKEN) the newsboy from the streets pays attention to no-nonsense reporter Katherine of The Sun. Ms. Seggio has the clever knack of showing her interest in him without showing her interest in him, shows good reporter concentration. Leans forward holding her attention on what he says. (Good technique).

She’s playing the romantic lead that is ancillary to Jack the organizer,  but is actually the woman who takes charge. Ms. Seggio showcases intelligence, pluck, inspiration, motivation,  her glittering soprano style reminds the audience the possibilities you can make come true  when she and Jack sing Something to Believe In.

She types up the interview on a typewriter, singing Watch What Happens, a great send up of the anxiety of a reporter trying to create  the perfect lead. She covers the Newsie  demonstration at The World building She writes it up for the New York Sun that publishes a great article on the strike.  

When the newsies are cleared out with violence by Pulitzer’s goons,  Pulitzer brings Jack back to try and make a deal with him, dropping charges, in return for talking the Newsies out of a strike.

Jack finds out the reporter Katherine has a secret identity. She is not who he thinks she is.  Jack flees the scene delivers the plea not to strike, (he is afraid more newsies will be hurt), 

Katherine searching for Jack finds him in Medda’s theatre where he paints sets. She sees yet another side of him. You can see where this is going. Ahhh, but you will love it! I’m just a romanticist. But if there is an scintilla of sentimentality that old Disney Magic will work on you, your kids, your girlfriend, they will love it.

Ms. Seggio shows her dancing chops fitting right in with the fabulous tap tempo of the newsies, getting their confidence back where they are recovering in Jacob’s Deli. The King of New York is a showstopper!

Ms. Seggio and Mr. Prakken on Jack’s rooftop hideaway, singing Something to Believe In  signature song of the show.

Ms. Seggio’s Katherine finds Jack at his rooftop retreat. He gets furious with her for misleading him. She tries to work out a plan to help the Newsies. And she gets his attention!

She invents a bold plan to get the Newsie’s story out to all the newsies in all the boroughs.

Does it work?


Does she save the day?

Can a woman who has everything be happy with a homeless newsboy? What do you think?

The show even brings in the great Teddy Roosevelt, then Governor of New York in 1899.

This second act punches through to irresistible suspense, talent working together to put on a show. Newsies has the enthusiasm of the old Our Gang movies combined with the power of love to bring about that Happily Ever After. Newsies has been worked for all it has to offer in such an intimate, up-close and personal venue where “every seat is a box seat.”

I salute all the Newsies: Matt Oster, Nathan Cockroft, Talen Piner, Zach Eisenberg, Marcus Parfitt, Elijah Dillehay, Alec Gallazi, Timothy Matthew Flores, Casey Bagnall all involved, on their marks, relentlessly entertaining. They had the patrons of the theatre leaning forward when they went into their dances.

Josh Assor, Choreographer used every foot of the WPPAC proscenium and pushed the talent to execute a flawless procession of difficult close-in dance numbers that held audience attention.

The orchestra delivered the big crisp mound of sound worthy of the intense driving score flawlessly laying a good bed.Stephen Ferri the Conductor, pianist, with Ricky Romano, Philip Varricchio, David Salter, Ryan Resky (he of the trumpet solo), Art Triggs, Gary Capozziello, Andrew Borkowski, Lexi Bodick, Soe Spinelli, Spencer Inch.

Newsies  conquer the world for the next three weekends. It is a great show for children. An elixir for parents for the sadness of today. A history lesson about a true event. There really were Newsies back in that day that brought the media giants to cowtow.

Newsies even brings in the great Teddy Roosevelt.

Newsies is Bully!

EXTRA! EXTRA! Newsies plays through January 12 at the WPPAC. Go to to note days and showtimes. Or telephone 914-328-1600

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link to wpw for 12-20 on youtube






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The New Tappan Zee Bridge officially the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will see possible toll hikes in 2021 including sharply rising congestion tolls on commercial trucks, but a modest increase for motorists The  old Tappan Zee Bridge in foreground awaited demolition a year ago

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the New York State Thruway Authority, December 19, 2019:

The New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors today approved a proposal to begin the toll adjustment process on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and other tolling changes that support the statewide conversion to cashless tolling, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020. The approval authorizes the Thruway Authority to begin the public process required to implement the toll rate changes supporting the fiscal stability of the Thruway Authority.

The Thruway Authority, supported by analysis by its independent traffic engineer, has determined that there will be additional revenues needed for the Authority to fulfill its system-wide operating, debt service, and capital needs through the upcoming forecast period. Thruway tolls have not been adjusted since 2010.

On Jan. 1, 2022, the passenger toll rate on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will be 58 percent below the rates at Port Authority crossings and 53 percent below the current passenger rates for the major MTA Bridges and Tunnels. For example, the cash toll rate on the George Washington Bridge, the crossing to the immediate South of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, is currently $15 for two-axle vehicles and $12.50 for E-ZPass holders during peak hours. Tolls on the New York State Thruway system remain among the lowest in the Northeast – lower than the Massachusetts Turnpike, the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

 Standard NY
E-ZPass Rate
Goethals Bridge$12.50
George Washington Bridge$12.50
Holland and Lincoln Tunnels$12.50
RFK, Whitestone, and Throgs Neck Bridges$12.24
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge$12.24
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (2022)$5.75

* Current rates at other crossings as compared to 2022 rate at GMMCB

To reduce commercial congestion on the bridge when drivers ‘bridge shop’ for the cheapest crossings and create additional traffic, adjustments to commercial toll rates on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo bridge will more closely align with other major crossings in the New York metropolitan area.  

The NY E-ZPass rates for commercial vehicles on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will increase by 31 percent in 2021 and 30 percent in 2022. For example, the toll for a tractor trailer with 5 axels and a NY E-ZPass account will increase to $55.77 during peak hours in 2022, compared to $90 at the George Washington Bridge. Even with the adjustment, the commercial toll rate on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in 2022 will still be 38 percent less than the toll rate on the George Washington Bridge. 

Over the past decade, the Thruway Authority budget has been successfully balanced while maintaining strong fiscal discipline.  The Authority also received an infusion of additional support from bank settlement funds approved by Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature for capital projects and the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge project. This infusion of funding has allowed Thruway tolls to remain frozen through 2020. 

During this time, Thruway Authority staff have been working hard as part of a sustained effort to modernize the system. The new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is fully opened to traffic and construction on the bicycle and pedestrian path is continuing. Cashless tolling is already operational at several locations along the Thruway including the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, and the entire ticketed system is scheduled to convert to cashless tolling by the end of 2020, which will improve travel for motorists. 

In addition, since 2010, the Thruway Authority has heavily reinvested toll revenues into the system by replacing/rehabilitating 116 bridges, resurfacing more than 2,000 lane miles of the highway and spending more than $6.6 billion on the capital program, which includes the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

“Given that these groundbreaking projects are transforming travel on the Thruway and ushering in a new era of a modern transportation network for motorists in New York, this is the right time both operationally and financially for us to begin this process,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said. “The feedback from motorists about a potential toll adjustment has been essential in this process. We are committed to keeping tolls affordable, while providing the Thruway the necessary revenue for our capital needs.”

In July, the Toll Advisory Panel held listening sessions in Rockland and Westchester Counties to review toll rates, potential resident and commuter discount programs and commercial vehicle rates on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Feedback from the listening sessions, as well as recommendations by Stantec Inc., the Thruway Authority’s independent traffic engineer, were considered in the proposal.

The proposed passenger car toll adjustment for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge includes:

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, increase NY E-ZPass rates by 50 cents in 2021 and 2022 to the rate of $5.75;
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the commuter discounted rate will be 40 percent off the NY E-ZPass rate only for passenger vehicles that opt into the program; and,
  • A new resident E-ZPass plan will be offered for Westchester and Rockland County residents that will keep their rate flat through 2022. The program will be offered to passenger vehicles with a NY E-ZPass who opt into the plan and can provide proof of residency (i.e. documentation showing their vehicle is registered in one of these two counties, etc.).
Standard NY 
Out of State 
Tolls by Mail

*Westchester/Rockland Co. residents who apply for the plan and can provide proof of residency (i.e. documentation showing their vehicle is registered in one of these two counties, etc.).

 NY E-ZPass 
NY E-ZPass 
Out of State  
Tolls by Mail 
Current $32.75 $16.38 $32.75 $32.75 
2021 $42.90 $21.45 $49.34 $55.77 
2022 $55.77 $27.89 $64.14 $72.51 

Additionally, the Board of Directors approved proposed changes to support the Thruway’s system-wide conversion to cashless tolling:

  • With the conversion to cashless tolling in 2020, the standard NY E-ZPass toll rate will become the base toll rate and beginning Jan. 1, 2021, a 30 percent rate differential would be established for Tolls by Mail toll rates. Such differential toll rates have been standard practice among other systems that have converted to cashless tolling.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, establish a 15 percent rate differential.
  • Clarify Board Policy that beginning Jan. 1, 2021, all transactions that are processed through a license plate image review will pay the Tolls by Mail rate.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, implement a $2 administrative surcharge per billing statement for Tolls by Mail statements to support the administrative costs associated with processing transactions through the Tolls by Mail program.

Any potential toll adjustments along the Thruway system are subject to the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), the Public Authorities Law, and the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Public hearings for SAPA will be conducted in 2020.

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Private Sector Jobs in Hudson Valley Up 1% In Year Rockland-Orange-Westchester, less than 1%

WPCNR LABORING. From the New York State Department of Labor. December 19, 2019:

For the 12-month period ending November 2019, private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley increased by 8,200, or 1.0 percent, to 824,100. 

Gains were largest in educational and health services (+5,400), leisure and hospitality (+4,300), natural resources, mining and construction (+2,700), and financial activities (+1,600). 

Losses were largest in trade, transportation and utilities (-3,600), and other services (+1,500). 

The region’s private sector job count reached 824,100 in November 2019 – a record high for the month (series dating back to 1990). 

Two sectors posted year-over-year growth of more than 4.5 percent.  Aided by strength in its tourism industry, the region’s leisure and hospitality sector grew by 4.7 percent – its strongest year-over-year November growth since 2013. 

Within the region, Sullivan County’s private employment sector continued to post the strongest gains year-over-year, up 8.0 percent. 

The second fastest growth was recorded in the Kingston MSA (+1.6 percent), followed by the Dutchess-Putnam MSA (+1.4 percent), and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area (+0.6 percent).    

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The Chairman of the Board Releases Westchester Board of Legislators Accomplishments of 2019

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER, From County Legislator Benjamin Boykin December 19, 2019:

With the conclusion of the 2018-2019 legislative term, Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin (D – White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) has released an End of Term Report.

The report, which is attached, details dozens of actions taken by the Board over the past two years to stabilize the County’s finances, restore Westchester’s infrastructure, improve County parks, safeguard the environment, increase affordable housing, protect public health and safety, support working families and make Westchester more fair and inclusive.

“The residents of Westchester elected the most diverse Board in County history for the 2018-2019 legislative term and asked us to confront many challenges,” Boykin said. “Foremost was the need to stabilize the County’s finances, after years of structural budget deficits and dwindling reserve funds. But we also faced a backlog of hundreds of millions of dollars of essential improvements to roads, bridges, parks and facilities, as well as the duty to ensure that our laws and regulations reflect our values. While there is always more work to be done, I’m proud to say that with diligent effort, bipartisan cooperation and a steadfast focus, the Board has been able to achieve these goals.”

Copy of report is attached.  It is also available on the BOL website at:

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