CitizeNetReporter Wishes our 2,500 Reporter Regulars a Meaningful Thanksgiving

The White Plains CitizeNetReporter wishes our some 2,500 regular readers and those of you joining us for the first time a meaningful and delightful Thanksgiving Holiday. The CitizeNetReporter thanks you for your confidence in our reporting and your loyal readership, many of you read us twice a day, and we are very thankful and honored by your commitment to us.

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I Told McLaughlin I’d Return for One Year Three Weeks Ago: Yanofsky

White Plains Superintendent of Schools Dr. Saul Yanofsky told this reporter Wednesday, he had “indicated” to Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education he’d be willing to extend his contract for one year beyond June 2002, as early as the last week of October or the beginning of November. His offer was apparently on the table within two weeks of the district announcement of his departure, and has been ignored by the Board during the growing public furor over the Board decision not to renew his contract.
Two members say he was unwilling to come back.

Yanofsky said he was moved to call WPCNR by assertions from two
Board of Education members this week.

One statement may have been from Dorothy Schere. Schere said so in a public statement at the Board of Education Monday night. Her statement transcript can be read in a separate article.

The other member was Larry Geiger who indicated similar sentiments to WPCNR.

The Yanofsky statement

Yanofsky said he felt compelled to set the record straight about his willingness to “come back” and issued this statement Wednesday personally to WPCNR Wednesday at 4:45 PM:

“Three weeks or so, ago, in conversation with the Board President (Donna McLaughlin), I indicated I’d be willing to sign a one year contract. The Board decided not to change their mind. That was clear Monday night when they decided to go ahead (and search for a new superintendent). I was surprised to see two Board members say I had not (offered to come back).”

Dr. Yanofsky said he was moved to clarify his statement to WPCNR Monday evening after reading statements to the contrary.

Reaction trigger

For the record, WPCNR had asked Dr. Yanofsky a routine question as he was departing White Plains High School Monday evening. We asked if he’d be willing to come back if asked by the Board.

His response then: “That does not appear to be an option at this time.” Yanofsky amplified this comment late Wednesday afternoon:

“I said that does not appear to be an option at this time” he said, “in light of the Board vote Monday night. I wanted to set the record straight.”

Board had chance to patch things up.

What Yanofsky’s Wednesday statement reveals is the Board of Education has had the opportunity for three weeks to keep Dr. Yanofsky on a short-term one year basis on the table. They so far have apparently chosen to stay their course, in spite of public opposition, and search for a superintendent now.

Publicly they have been defending their decision to relieve Yanofsky of his duties last April on the basis of differences over test scores, program evaluation and quality of District-wide communications and public relations.

Negotiations loomed large in Board’s thinking

The unsolicited information provided by Dr. Yanofsky today makes clear that the Board of Education worry over a teachers union contract that expires in June 2003, has had far more impact on their decision not to renew Yanofsky’s contract than they have stated publicly.

Board of Education President Donna McLaughlin admitted as much to WPCNR Monday evening as she was leaving the Board of Education meeting. WPCNR sympathized with her, saying “You were between a rock and a hard place in light of those teacher negotiations.” Ms. McLaughlin said “yes.”

As outlined by WPCNR previously, the scenario the Board saw developing was this: If Yanofsky was extended for only one year, from 2002 to 2003, the new superintendent would be taking over in July 2003.

The teachers union would be negotiating in early 2003 with a lame-duck superintendent (Yanofsky). The union would have, in WPCNR’s analysis, a negotiating edge over Dr. Yanofsky: his own haste to settle the contract to give the new superintendent a clean, fresh start with the district, avoiding an ugly confrontation with teachers over wages in his or her first months on the job.

Yanofsky’s remarks Monday evening.

In his remarks to the public at the Board of Education meeting, Yanofsky did not reveal his offer to stay for one year. He described his approach to the Board of Education last spring as being a case where he did not ask for either a two or three year contract. He said “I did not say I wanted 2 or 3 years, just that we needed to talk about how best to transition (to a new superintendent). I felt it was time to have that conversation. That conversation (with the Board) never took place.”

Answers Board Criticism

In response to the Board criticism in their letter of last week of his position on testing, Yanofsky said Monday evening: “I never suggested that these tests weren’t important. I said that we needed to do all we could do to convince the state Education Department that it does not report results that stand education well and we tried to convey that to the community. State tests are a reality, and we as a district have to do all we can to improve the performance.”

Yanofsky shed light Monday on the Board request of him for a plan to improve test scores. Yanofsky indicated that there were six work sessions in which he and the Board discussed “what the nature of that plan might be.” It became clear, he said, that the Board wanted to “quantify” goals in such a plan, setting standards by which test scores should improve a certain percentage each year. He said he opposed such an approach.

The Board of Education will meet with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates next Tuesday to discuss profiling the new Superintendent of Schools candidate they seek.

The next work session of the Board of Education is Monday, November 26 at Education House at which they will begin budget discussions and review technology needs of the district.

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Delgado Lives! Election Suit to Monday. Dems: No Mechanical Inspection Please!

Councilman Larry Delgado’s lawsuit to claim 100 alleged “lost” votes due to a faulty voting lever in District 18 in North White Plains was not dismissed Wednesday morning. Judge Nicholas Colabella continued the challenge by adjourning the case to another judge, who will take up the Delgado suit on Monday.


EMERGING CONFIDENT FROM THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE WEDNESDAY MORNING, Larry Delgado, incumbent City Councilman is flanked by his election law team, John Ciampoli(L) and Jeffrey Binder (R). The three emerged from Judge Nicholas Corabella’s courtroom 1200 Wednesday with an adjournment to Monday on their suit to have the alleged faulty District 18 voting machine, now impounded, inspected. Today’s continuance means results are delayed at least another week.WPCNR PHOTO

In New York State Supreme Court, at the County Courthouse Wednesday morning, Judge Colabella listened to arguments on examining the District 18 Voting machine. He heard from Adam Bradley, attorney for Glen Hockley, the council candidate with an estimated 65-vote lead over Delgado. Jeffrey Binder and John Ciampoli, attorneys for Mr. Delgado presented his complaint. Mr. Delgado did not argue on his own behalf.

Delgado alleges 100 voters were disenfranchised.

Mr. Delgado’s counsel argued for an examination of the impounded District 18 voting machine where the alleged miscount occurred. Counsels Binder and Ciampoli base their argument on Section 16-112 of New York State Election Law which calls for “examination of the ballot” to insure no voter is disenfranchised.

Bradley: examination should not include mechanical testing of the machine.

Mr. Bradley, apparently seeking to avert actual inspection of the internal workings of the suspect faulty voting machine, raised the question to Judge Colabella of what the word “examination,” means and asked the Judge for a ruling on it. Bradley contended that “examination” did not include actually looking into the mechanical functioning of a voting machine.

Mr. Bradley based his argument on the fact that the Board of Election District Inspectors inspect the machines at the beginning of voting for functionality.

Courtroom observers felt, in observing Judge Colabella’s face, his eyes staring intently at Mr. Bradley and Mr. Ciampoli, that he took a skeptical view of Mr. Bradley’s argument that examination precluded internal inspection of the machines.

The Judge asked what the two teams wanted him to rule upon. Mr. Ciampoli said he wanted the Judge to rule on what constituted “examination,” and to set a date for the inspection, and appoint inspectors to examine the suspect District 18 voting machine.

The judge asked two Board of Election officials in attendance if they could assign inspectors, and they said they could. Judge Colabella then advised the attorneys for both sides, that he was willing to assign a date for an inspection date then and there, but that he was going on vacation and could not issue a ruling until January.

Bradley nonaction appears to delay decision for a week.

When attorney Bradley expressed reluctance to agree, Judge Colabella then announced that he felt it would be expeditious to reassign the case. The judge adjourned the case until Monday morning at 9:30 AM, before another judge.

Judges are assigned at random by computer. This, according to Mr. Binder, was how Judge Colabella happened to draw the Delgado challenge, despite his scheduled vacation coming up. By not agreeing to the judge assigning a reexamination of the machines date this morning, Mr. Bradley has, according to Mr. Delgado’s attorneys, held the examination of the machine up for a week.

Ciampoli speaking to WPCNR after the court appearance said the inspection of the machine could have begun this Friday, but now would not.

Entourage troops to the court clerk office for reassignment.

In an interview with the Delgado legal team, while waiting for the assignment of the judge Mr. Ciampoli and Mr. Binder gave us some details of their arguments.

Classic indicator of machine malfunction.

WPCNR learned from Mr. Ciampoli that Mr. Delgado’s result is a classic indicator of voting machine malfunction. Ciampoli reports he read the numbers off of Line 1-A, the Republican line, to a Suffolk County election expert, to get his reaction. The official immediately said “the count is broken.”

Mr. Delgado advised this reporter that his history of running in District 18, showed that his count could have been expected to be at least 100 votes more. Michael Amodio and Robert Tuck, Mr. Delgado’s Republican running mates each garnered approximately 139 votes and Mr. Delgado, just 39, according to those familiar with the individual District counts. This apparently lends credibility to Mr. Delgado’s challenge in the eyes of Judge Colabella who could have simply listened to the arguments and dismissed the suit Wednesday morning.

“Outcome Determative” weighs on Judges’ minds

Mr. Binder advised WPCNR that since the 100 votes in question are “outcome determinative,” the courts take a very serious view of the disenfranchisement question, “If the machine was defective, at least 100 voters will have been disenfranchised of their right to cast their vote for Mr. Delgado. A common sense scan raises the question of how do you then throw out those 100 votes?”

Warming up, Mr. Ciampoli added, “Every voter has the right to vote for every official. ‘So what?’ doesn’t cut it. That’s tough. You see a line that is different from all the others, normally you can throw it out. But here it is outcome determinative. This 100 votes makes the difference in the election.”

Ciampoli said the Delgado team at this point wants “a thorough review of this (District 18) machine.” He said they were not at the point where a new election was called for. Ciampoli says “sometimes a gear slips,” accounting for a failure of a machine to count on a particular candidate.

Mr. Delgado remarked, “It (the malfunction) is obvious to anybody. It only appeared on one line – 1-A – my line. Let’s look at the machine – determine the cause of the error. Any fair reading of the statute (16-112) is to see whether an error occurred.”

Mr. Ciampoli, an expert in election law, indicated Mr. Delgado’s chances are good: “I’ve never seen a judge refuse to have a machine examined when it meant finding out the truth (of the result).”

He sited one recent case where entire election was recanvased because of just this kind of election machine error.

Ciampoli said any election machine inspection would include the appointment of one Republican Party inspector and one Democratic Party inspector to go behind the panel and take a look.

Democratic Team Leaves Court Quickly.

Mr. Bradley on leaving the court did not wish to go into what his “answers” might be as to what he wanted examined. Mr. Bradley was accompanied to court by Tom Roach, also acting as counsel, with of course, Mr. Hockley and the third candidate for Common Council, Rita Malmud.

Official results have not been posted on the Board of Elections site, according to two Board of Elections officials because of technical difficulties and a “broken server.” The official said the Board of Elections is not required to file results by law before December 3, and they therefore were not behind.

Observers of the proceedings say this is the first time in White Plains history where a suit has been filed challenging a district vote that would determine a council seat.

By a little before noon Wednesday, the court clerk’s office had assigned Judge Orazio Bellantoni to hear the case on Monday, at 9:30 AM in State Supreme Court. WPCNR will be there.

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WP Taxi Drivers Request $1.25 Fare Hike Over All Zones

Approximately seventy city cab drivers met with the Taxi Commission Tuesday afternoon requesting a $1.25 hike in every fare zone across the city. Many complained that long waits at the train station reduced them to making less than the minimum wage ($5) per hour.
The drivers spoke of reduced business and competition from alleged run-in-the-red county loop buses that have taken away their Westchester Avenue and corporate park business.

The drivers said the buses, though full in the morning and evening rush hour have very little traffic during the day, and undersell the cab fares. The loop buses according to the cabbies charge $1.25 for the trips to and from the Westchester Avenue corporate park areas of the city.

They presented their case to the head of the Taxi Commission, Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Daniel Hickey. Hickey hoped to work out a fare plan to present to the Common Council in January.

Driver after driver cited rising insurance costs and dwindling ridership due to the cumbersome taxi rules at the White Plains Railroad Station.

Most of the drivers, who own their own cabs, said they were barely clearing $50 and $60 a day in wages. They said the low fares in White Plains (which start at $3.10) often made them less money per hour than the minimum wage ($5). Out of that they said they have to pay their own insurance, medical insurance, gas and car maintenance.

Their lawyer, Jeffrey Klein, requested that the Commission consider raising the wage a total of $1.25 in each zone across White Plains. However, Klein said that a combination of remedies might be considered.

He suggested for example charging fares who wanted exclusive use of a cab an extra dollar. Another suggestion was to enact a $1.00 surcharge for radio-dispatched calls.

The last fare increase was 5 years ago and that was only 40 cents, and the last fare increase before that was in 1993, when the increase was 30 cents, according to Klein.

Commissioner Hickey, who used to drive a taxicab in White Plains in the 1970s, when he said the base fare was 70 cents, said he would consider the options presented, get back to Klein and hoped to distribute the plan to the Common Council for review in time for the January 2002 Common Council meeting.

Klein, who speaks both Spanish and French, has been working with the cab drivers for about six months. He approached Commissioner Hickey for a review of the wages about two months ago and Commissioner Hickey scheduled the hearing as a result of the research Klein presented.

Hickey conducted independent reviews of cab driver wage claims, verified and checked the data, and scheduled the hearing.

Klein said he did not have figures on what fleet owners income levels were from year to year in White Plains and was unable to verify directly claims that the ridership was down over the last year among his clients.

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Council Grants Garage Underground/Air Development Rights to Cappelli for $2.4MM

In a special meeting of the Common Council Tuesday night, the Council passed unanimously a resolution agreeing to transfer subterranean rights to the third underground level of the new City Center Parking garage to Louis Cappelli for $400,000. They also entered into agreement with him to sell air development rights to him for an additional $2 million over 5 years.
The resolution cleared the way for Frederick Bland’s new parking plan and design for the Martine and Conroy residential tower presented last week. The design for the new apartment towers is scheduled to go before the council for approval December 3.

Foul! Cry Neighboring Owners and Developers-to-Be

The $2.4 million city windfall was opposed by Paul Bergens, legal counsel for Bart Goldberg, owner of the Broadmar building adjacent to the garage, (at Martine and South Broadway). Goldberg complained he knew nothing about this transfer of rights until almost the eleventh hour. Goldberg bitterly opposed acceding underground and air development rights to Cappelli, saying that the council was setting a dangerous precedent, and he urged a closer study of the implications.

He said the resolution denied Broadmar the ability to develop its property without Cappelli approval, charging Cappelli with attempting to control development in the area. Mayor Delfino pointed out that Broadmar had been at the location for sixty years and had not sought to advance plans to develop its property.

City Met Responsibility to Inform

Edward Dunphy, City Corporation Counsel, assured Council President Rita Malmud that Mr. Goldberg need not have been notified personally, because the city was required in any Special Meeting, to simply run an advertisement three days before the meeting regarding any resolutions they were considering at such a meeting. He told Ms. Malmud this was done.

Malmud Curious About Cappelli Motivation

Ms. Malmud questioned Mr. Cappelli on why he was willing to pay up to $2 million, suggesting that Mr. Cappelli had plans to build on top of the garage.

Cappelli cited his need to control what he called “view rights,” and said as part of the resolution, he was agreeing not to build on top of the garage.

William Null, representing Ridgemour Meyer Properties, interested in developing the Main Street A&P parcel of land into a condominium (property adjacent to the Cappelli City Center across Conroy Drive), stated his client’s interest in developing the property next to the garage that Cappelli would own air development rights on. His protest was not as vehement as the Bergens-Goldberg objection.

Null also told WPCNR in the City Hall rotunda that Ridgemour had simply been acquiring properties this fall and was indeed still in the hunt in developing the Main Street former A&P property. He also denied what Susan Habel had told us last week that Ridgemour did not have the financing for their condo tower. Null told the Council his client anticipated presenting plans for their development in January.

Feathered Fan Protests Clear Glass Construction

In a bizarre protest, a bird fancier, Doris
Simon, urged the Council to require Mr. Cappelli to install windows with ridged or smoked surfaces that would prevent birds from flying into the towers.

She envisioned massive bird kills from flights of migrating birds flying into the clear class of the towers and dropping dead to the parapets and sidewalks below. She painted a dire picture of anticipated featheredfanticide if Cappelli’s design did not include glass that birds would perceive as a solid, which they would, she said, avoid. She presented documents reporting the evidence of substantial bird kills at the former World Trade Center Towers as evidence for her concern.

The Money Deal

The resolution the council approved has Mr. Cappelli acquiring underground rights to the third lower level of his new garage for $400,000, with him paying $500,000 for air/development rights over the garage the first year.

In the second year, he would pay an additional $500,000 for the air/development rights, with payments of $334,000 in each of the third, fourth and fifth years of the contract.

Levine seems favorable toward present City Center design

Robert Levine, the architect who induced Frederick Bland to contribute his talents to the design of the City Center apartments project at the eleventh hour last September, along with William Rose and Robert Stackpole, was optimistic about the Bland/Cappelli collaboration.

Levine was observed huddling with Mr. Cappelli and discussing the new portfolio of City Center designs with the Super Developer during a break.

When WPCNR asked him what he thought about the newly designed project, Levine told us, “I think we are going to be fine,” but when asked to comment further on what he was talking about with Mr. Cappelli, Mr. Levine declined to comment.

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Schere: Time to Move ON. Supported Yanofsky in April Ouster.

Special to WPCNR from the Board of Education:In WPCNR’s Tuesday report of the tumultuous Board of Education meeting, we report Dorothy Schere as having broken the code of silence by stating she was opposed to the Board decision to dismiss Saul Yanofsky. She was critical of the public for not taking more of an interest in the tasks of the Board and the affairs of the School District. Tuesday, the School District released her statement. Here is Ms. Schere’s complete statement:
In any organization or decision-making body you have varying opinions that sometimes cannot be reconciled. I was not able to support the idea that the superintendent’s contract should be allowed to expire. For several months I advanced the idea of an extension of his contract and was unable to find enough support for this. It is clear at this point that neither the Board nor the Superintendent wishes to extend the contract past June 30.

There is no one who is not at fault here for what has happened over the past few months including the Superintendent and the seven Board members who were in office last year. But you can’t unscramble the omelet or put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It is time for us to move on, to reflect on what has happened, do our best to have a successful school year, and try to rebuild the public’s confidence in the Board.

In the past few weeks the Board has been criticized, for everything from its use of the English language to its decision-making process and communication with the public. There have been calls to “fire” the Board, or recall the Board, but who of you will take our place? In the past two Board elections, including the one in which I was re-elected, the candidates have gone unopposed. There has been no public discussion of values or vision, no debate about the issues of the Standards or the State Tests, no League of Women Voters or neighborhood association debates.

No one comes to Board work sessions except to protest minor budget decisions, and those few who have interest are content to watch the televised monthly meetings without giving any input or asking questions. Complaints and sometimes praise are delivered on street corners and soccer games but not in a public forum. So the Board’s work has gone on, unnoticed and unremarked on, and very often our information from the community is limited to the people we happen to speak to.

The one good thing I see coming out of this situation is that perhaps this will strike a spark of interest. I hope that we will see people pay closer attention to the Board. I hope that we will see more candidates for the Board Election in May who have been paying attention, who understand what the role of the school board is, what their vision for the district is and who are willing debate the issues.

I hope that you will now become engaged in the process of finding a new superintendent, make an effort to be more informed, attend Board meetings on a regular basis, communicate your concerns more regularly, run for the Board, and become part of an involved community that will strengthen our schools.

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160 Beseige Trustees; Board Unmoved. Saul Reconciliation Unlikely.

UPDATED! :D r. Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools ruled out renewing his contract, even on a short-term basis Monday night saying to WPCNR “It does not look like an option at this time.” He made this revelation in remarks to WPCNR after a School Board meeting that saw over 150 persons jam the All-Purpose Room at White Plains High School to plead with the School Board for his retention. Yanofsky said he already has been contacted with offers for new positions.

Dorothy Schere becomes the only Board Member to come out opposed to the Yanofsky ouster. Her statement was released Tuesday.

Larry Geiger, School Board Trustee, confirmed Yanofsky’s sentiment advising WPCNR “He (Yanofsky) has indicated to us he does not want to do that (come back).”

Approximately 25 persons spoke, criticizing the School Board dismissal of Yanofsky. The possibility the Board may have violated state education law was raised as grounds for a lawsuit to stay the Board decision.

However, any lawsuit would appear moot at this point. Yanofsky, walking to the parking lot, told WPCNR he has already received calls about new employment, though not as a superintendent of schools.

White Plains, Scarsdale educators to head search team

When the Board took up the regular agenda, the Board voted to hire officially a consultant to begin a search for a new superintendent, noting that the two persons in charge of the search are familiar with the educational dynamics of the White Plains-Scarsdale area.

Hazard, Young hired.

In a statement read to the public announcing the appointment of the search firm, Ms. McLaughlin said Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was “the largest and most experienced school executive search firm in the country and has been involved in almost 400 superintendent searches.”

She said that “Leading the search will be Dr. John A. Whritner and Deborah S. Raizes, two senior HYA associates with strong connections to Westchester and White Plains. They worked together on recent superintendent searchs in Tarrytown, NY and Norwalk, CT.”

First meeting Tuesday

The President of the School Board said they would be meeting with the consultants next Tuesday privately to discuss salary and set up a timetable, and that the public process would begin in January. Larry Geiger told the audience that all the consultants the district had interviewed said the school district was on a good timetable for a June hire.

McLaughlin said Dr. Whritner was a school superintendent for 25 years in Connecticut and Michigan, and had actually begun his career in the White Plains Public Schools. She said, that in his 14 years here, Dr. Writner had served as a teacher, principal of two schools and as Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools under the Anton administration (according to Dr. Saul Yanofsky).

The other consultant participating in the White Plains search is Deborah S. Raizes, a Scarsdale resident, who served for six years on the Scarsdale School Board as both Vice President and President with that body. She is Chairman of the Corporation of Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a member of the Westchester Community College Foundation Board and of the White Plains Hospital Board of Trustees. She has been involved in over 25 superintendent searches with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.

Yanofsky will not be drawing up the “profile.”

Asked by WPCNR, whether Dr. Yanofsky’s input would be sought and used in developing a profile for the new superintendent with the search firm, Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education, said, aghast, that would be “inappropriate,” that it was the responsibility of the School Board and the School District cabinet. She said Yanofsky would not be part of the superintendent profile development with the consultants.

The acrimonious evening ended with the sobering knowledge that the school system in White Plains was going to change and would be going on without Dr. Saul Yanofsky after June 30, 2002.

Good News and Some Bad News from the accountants

More jolting was the knowledge delivered by the auditor of the school district, Les Storch of Bennett, Kielson Storch DeSantis & Company, that the budget year of 2002-03 was going to be severely impacted by cutbacks in state aid, a limited district general fund (it is $6.2 Million), lower returns on investment of school district funds, and dwindling returns on employee retirement funds requiring district attention. Storch said the board had ended last year (00-01)with a budget surplus of $1.2 million.

Tax relief claims up, too.

Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, added to the gloom by reporting tax certiory claims were already filed by seven parties in the amount of $350,000, and he did not know by how much this figure would grow.

Unusual statement by Schere

Regarding the Yanofsky matter, Dorothy Schere broke the code of silence on the part of the Board of Education on the Yanofsky decision by stating she did not support the removal, (the first Trustee to admit that there was discord on the Board). Obviously, emotionally hurt by the proceedings, and close to tears, Ms. Schere scolded the public for not attending school board meetings, or paying attention to district business or the school budget. Ms. Schere refused to release her written statement to WPCNR.

Board sees broad spectrum of White Plains including the kids.

Speaker after speaker came up in praise of Dr. Yanofsky, and expressed incredulity and outrage that the board did not bring up the differences with the community. One taxpayer brought up the fact that only parents received the board communications on the matter and said it was wrong of the board to only think parents cared about education.

Ironically, The President of the White Plains High School General Organization, Joanna A. Barnum, with her Secretary and Treasurer addressed the board, putting the controversy into perspective, saying that “As President of the G.O., I would never make a decision affecting the student body without asking the student body first.”

Petitions handed over

Althea Fusco delivered petitions signed by 1,162 persons demanding the Board reverse its decision. A representative of Centro Hispano presented petitions signed by 645 Hispanics supporting Yanofsky’s return.

Lawyer sounds omininous note

Steve Kass, a well-known town attorney raised the spectre of a lawsuit attempting to stay the Board decision during the Public Forum at the close of the School Board meeting. Kass said he sees the decision made in executive session as violating Section 17083 of the State Education Law.

He pointed to a case where a school board was overruled for having voted on a decision of a similar nature in executive session, which the court found illegal. Ms. McLaughlin’s contention was that the board did not vote in the Executive Session when Dr. Yanofsky’s fate was sealed, but had reached what she called “a consensus.”

Kass pointed out that Richard Bernstein a trustee was up for election in May, after the Board had decided to oust Yanofsky. He said that the public trust was deceived because persons might have voted differently or against Mr. Bernstein had they known of the Board Yanofsky decision that he had participated in.

Kass, when asked if he knew of a person, or persons preparing such a suit at the present time told WPCNR, “No comment.”

In other matters…

The board also voted to eliminate the turberculosis PCD test from school physicals, citing policies of the Westchester County Board of Health.

Ms. McLaughlin advised all that the next meeting of the Board of Education was November 26, when the school board would be taking up technology needs of the district, and, raising her voice slightly urged all to attend.

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Giant Poinsettia Tree Launches Holidays at The Westchester Friday

Special to WPCNR–Shoppers may purchase traditional poinsettia plants off a spectacular tree of 400 poinsettias with every plant they purchase aiding severely ill children of St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children. The Westchester, the premier mall of White Plains, will present its first-ever giant “St. Mary’s Poinsettia Tree” at 12 noon on Friday.

The Westchester St. Mary’s Poinsettia Tree, decorated with 400 poinsettia plants set on platforms to raise funds for The St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children will be dedicated the day after Thanksgiving at 12 noon in the Nieman-Marcus rotunda.

The St. Mary’s Poinsettia Tree is the first holiday display tree The Westchester has presented in its 8-year existence. Living poinsettia plants may be purchased off the tree by shoppers and businesses for two weeks for $25 per plant until December 8. Plants may also be purchased as a Memorial/Tribute this year.

Proceeds will go directly to St. Mary’s Rehabilitation for Children in Ossining, a 44-bed sub-acute facility providing long-term care for children with special healthcare needs from birth to 18 years of age.

St. Mary’s is New York’s premier provider of complex medical care and intensive rehabilitative services to children with special healthcare needs from birth to 18 years of age. St. Mary’s Foundation sponsors this event for Children. For more information about St. Mary’s, please call (914) 333-7018 or visit the St. Mary’s website at www.stmaryskids.org.

City Officials are expected to make a personal appearance with executives of The Westchester and St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center for Children to participate in the festivities.

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Gismondi’s Warning on Chimney Scams Followed Up by Westchester County

As reported in CNR last month, it’s chimney scam season. White Plains has been fielding and dealing with chimney scams, alerting neighborhoods for five weeks. White Plains Building Commissioner Mike Gismondi alerted CNR to this widespread seasonal scam and we reported his warnings. Today, the Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection issued a county wide alert to be wary of telemarketers who are trying to sell chimney cleaning services.

The Department of Consumer Protection says many companies hired through telemarketing lead-generation, are unlicensed and will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers by saying that unnecessary repairs must be done and when doing work, doing it incorrectly.

“These companies cold call you, offer you great prices and then show up and do either no work at all, inferior work or unnecessary work,” said County Executive Andy Spano. “Many of these companies are not located in Westchester, and it may be difficult to find them later.”

The Typical M.O.

Added Elaine Price, director of Consumer Protection, “Be wary of sales lines such as: ‘We will be in you neighborhood,’ ‘A discount is offered for seniors and veterans,’ ‘If we don’t inspected your chimney, you may be in danger.’ Don’t allow these callers to convince you to act without time to make an informed decision.”

She noted that chimney cleaning and maintenance companies must be licensed by the Department of Consumer Protection. The department’s website at www.westchestergov.com has a list of licensed contractors. If you are queried by a telemarketer for chimney cleaning, you can check by telephone to see if they are licensed by calling 995-2155.

“We have information that will help consumers avoid be taken by these companies,” Price said.

Price said the department has received complaints from consumers who say chimney repair companies have come to a home for an inspection, told consumers their chimney needs cleaning and have gone ahead and done additional work without approval from the homeowner.

The Department of Consumer Protection is located at 112 East Post Road and can be reached by phone at (914) 995-2155.

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School Board Presses on in Superintendent Search; Chooses Search Firm.

The Board of Education is moving on with its search for a superintendent. The City of White Plains Board of Education has selected Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Illinois to conduct a search for a successor to Dr. Saul Yanofsky. The firm will be introduced Monday evening at the public November Board of Education meeting to be held at White Plains High School at 8 PM in the B-1 All-Purpose Room.
The Board will recommend approval of the national search firm to conduct a superintendent search for a contract not to exceed $40,000.

Hazard,Young, Attea & Associates is very familiar with the superintendent requirements of the tri-state area having filled superintendent searches in Chappaqua,Pelham,Rye,Scarsdale, and Tuckahoe in Westchester. The firm has delivered superintendents to Long Island districts (Babylon, Lawrence, Three Villages Central School District, and Brighton) and in New Jersey, (Marlboro,Sommerset,Holmdel,South Orange-Maplewood, Tenefly and Westfield).

Mix and Matchmakers

Their most recent successful search was finding Dr. Sal Corda for the Norwalk, Connecticut School District. Dr. Corda was formerly of the Peekskill School District. The firm can be expected to know the demands of a school district like White Plains: a balanced ethnic mix demanding a candidate familiar with managing the politics and fulfilling the special requirements of a special needs population.

The principals

Hazard, Young is run by Dr. William Hazard, and Dr.William J. Attea. Hazard’s background is that of a professor in Administration at Northwestern University, where he has been involved in advanced development of educational administrators for about thirty years.

Attea was a former superintendent of the Glenview, Illinois schools for 24 years, and before he taught as a teacher and was an administrator in New York and Illinois.

National intelligence system

The firm derives its strength from a strong network of “associates,” five of whom are active superintendents, 23 of whom have been superintendents. Twenty percent of the firm associates are mininorities and over 35% are female. The principals and their consulting colleagues reflect the sensitivities of all major races, religions and ethnic origins.

Several associates can bring an understanding of the White Plains, Westchester demands to the search. They include Deborah Raizes, former President of the Scarsdale Board of Education, and John Whritner, former superintendent of Greenwich, Connecticut and Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Searching for Superintendents in 5 area schools

Hazard, Young is currently conducting searches in the following adjacent school districts around Westchester:Hauppauge, NY, Fairfield and Bloomfield, Connecticut; Watchung Hills in Westfield, and the Ridgewood Schools in New Jersey.

New York Superintendents report 23 superintendencies vacant statewide

A check of the New York State Council of School Superintendents reveals that the following other area school systems are searching for superintendents too: Elmsford (which we believe has just been filled), at a salary of $165,000; Lindenhurst, L.I., Rockland BOCES, and Southern Westchester BOCES.

Around the Tri-State area, the NYSCOSS report these communities searching simultaneously with the city of White Plains: Tenafly, Watchung NJ, Weston, Somers, and Watertown, Connecticut.

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