Moroni: We’re Ready Today! Martine Permittees Buy June Permits Today at Hamilton

WPCNR Joe Friday Reports. May 22, 2002. 1:00 PM E.D.T.UPDATED MAY 23, 2002 8:30 A.M. E.D.T.: Albert Moroni , Director of the White Plains Parking Authority told WPCNR Wednesday afternoon that the Hamilton & Main Parking Garage Office is ready today, Thursday, to serve present Martine Garage Permit Holders who want to buy their June Permits. They will have the entire week next week to renew their permits at the Hamilton and Main garage in time for June 1, with the Hamilton-Main Office “computer-enabled” and able to accept payments today. Moroni was responding to a WPCNR reader who questioned when permits could be renewed at the Hamilton Garage Office.



MOVING OUT: The Martine Avenue Parking Garage stands abandoned and empty. Computer records and equipment are being moved to the Hamilton and Main Garage office where processing of payments for June permits are now being accepted as of Thursday morning, according to Parking Authority Chief. “I was informed Wednesday at 2 PM, the move is completed, so permit-holders can buy their tickets today,” Moroni informed WPCNR.
Photo by WPCNR


A WPCNR reader wrote Tuesday that one week after the Martine garage official closing, the White Plains Parking Authority office behind City Hall was not ready to accept payments by former Martine Garage permit-holders for June permits to use the Hamilton garage. They wrote,

“After many months of obvious warning, the WPPA office behind City Hall is not yet ready to process regular payments. The displaced permit parkers who were sent to the Hamilton-Main facility from Main-Martine are at a loss to know how to pay for June parking.

Demolishment of the old structure is about to begin. This is not new information. Yet, as of today, May 21, patrons are asked to repeatedly return to the office to find out when WPPA will be ready to accept payments. Some patrons may be out of town or simply do not have the time available to continually return to make their payment. The organization that specializes in collecting money for time appears to some people as abusive of patrons’ time.”


Moroni Explains the Delay. Says Come on in Today.

WPCNR’s “Sergeant Joe Friday” asked the Parking Authority’s Director, Albert Moroni, about the delay, and he reported the wait to process June Permits will end Friday:

Mr. Moroni told WPCNR, “John, in response to the e-mail from the unhappy permit holder, please be aware that the Main Martine office and garage only closed 4 business days ago and we are still in the process of physically relocating computers, equipment and other logistical issues.

By Friday, the 24th of May, we will have the necessary conversion of the database of former Main-Martine customers into the Hamilton Main system and the customer who is complaining…will have an entire week to renew their permit before June 1st.”

If you have a problem you’d like “Sergeant Joe Friday, Just the Facts Ma’am” to check out, write WPCNR about it, and we’ll try and get you the facts.

Posted in Uncategorized

OFFICIAL! City Passes Budget by 4 to 1. Pollak, Valentin oust Geiger, Sules

OFFICIAL RESULTS!!! WPCNR Evening City Star. By John F. Bailey May 21, 2002.10:45 PM EDT. UPDATED May 23, 2002 9:00 AM E.D.T.: The City of White Plains passed the 2002-03 $126.9 Million School Budget and a $3.6 Million Referendum to refurbish the eight White Plains Schools Tuesday. Voters also elected William Pollak and Maria Valentin to the School Board, ending the six-term member, Larry Geiger eighteen-years of service on the Board of Education, and ending Stephen Sules’ tenure after one term. Results were certified officially by Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education at Wednesday evening’s Board of Education meeting, with totals adjusted downward for Robert Tuck, placing him behind Stephen Sules.



NEW ERA ON THE SCHOOL BOARD: Maria Valentin and William Pollak enjoying congratulations all around at Education House Tuesday evening. Candidates endorsed and supported by White Plains Alliance for Vision in Education, Ms. Valentin and Mr. Pollak won first-time seats on the Board of Education.
A dazed and radiant, Ms. Valentin said to WPCNR, “This is more than I could ever have hoped for. I’m overwhelmed at the support the entire community has given me.”
Mr. Pollak commented, “I think the results Tuesday were an indication there was broad support for the positions W.A.V.E. articulated, and the need to listen to all the components of education. Even though there has been some acrimony in the process, I value and applaud the countless hours of dedicated service the departing members contributed to the City of White Plains.”

PHOTO by WPCNR

Maria Valentin gathered the most votes among the five candidates with 1,182. Mr. Pollak was second with 934, edging out Larry Geiger by 90 votes. Mr. Geiger received 844 votes. In a recanvassing of votes at Ridgeway School, Michelle Schoenfeld reported that Mr. Sules received 558 votes, and Robert Tuck received 514.



SUSPENSE AS SCHOENFELD CHALKS UP THE NUMBERS: Michelle Schoenfeld, fittingly on an old-fashioned blackboard posts the final returns from Ridgeway School, putting William Pollak past Larry Geiger for the second and final seat. Pollak trailed Mr. Geiger by 6 votes, 510 to 504 with five of the six districts in, and overtook Geiger with a 416-321 rally in the Ridgway District 6 to win by 90 votes.
PHOTO by WPCNR

The Budget was passed again with 1,643 voters approving the 6.9% year-to-year increase, and 357 voting against it. The $3.6M referendum enjoyed the same overwhelming approval by White Plains citizens, passing 1,567 to 375.



BOARD OF EDUCATION AWAITS RESULTS TUESDAY NIGHT: Members of the the Budget Committee, and some members of the Board of Education, and candidates Valentin and Pollak watch and wait for the numbers Tuesday evening.
Photo by WPCNR

Assistant Superintendent for Business, Richard Lasselle, was beaming, calling out to this reporter as we left Education House that the budget was passed again by a 4 to1, margin, 82% to 18%.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yanofsky: “Ambivalence” Related to Relationship to School Board.

WPCNR Morning Sun. May 21, 2002. 10:40 AM EDT: Dr. Saul Yanofsky, responding to characterizations on the part of Stephen Sules and Larry Geiger, Board Members, that he was “ambivalent” about continuing as Superintendent of Schools one year ago contacted WPCNR Monday to clarify his letter appearing in the local Journal News He acknowledges that his February 20, 2001 letter expressed he was “ambivalent” towards renewing his contract.



Superintendent of Schools Dr. Saul Yanofsky talks frankly with WPCNR.
WPCNR File Photo

He acknowledged to WPCNR Monday afternoon in a telephone interview, that his letter to the Board of Education of February 20, 2001, required by his contract to announce his intentions of whether or not he sought an extension of his contract, did say he was “somewhat ambivalent” about continuing as Superintendent. This fact was left out of his letter to the Journal News.

Yanofsky in talking with WPCNR Monday, characterized his ambivalence, (defined in Webster’s Dictionary as simultaneous attraction toward and repulsion from an object, person, or action,), as “related to a relationship to the Board (of Education),” but told WPCNR he was not ambivalent about continuing as Superintendent of Schools.

Wanted to be Superintendent. The Board of Education was what caused his “ambivalence.”

“The ambivalence wasn’t related to doing the job of Superintendent,” Yanofsky said. “The ambivalence was related to a relationship with the Board, doing that. That’s what my letter (to the paper) says. That’s not what your article says.”

“If you read my letter (to the paper), John, I tried to make that distinction which the board member clouds up,” Yanofsky said. “and you reinforce the clouding up of that distinction by reporting that the way that board member said. What useful purpose is served?”

WPCNR asked if he would make public the February 20, 2001 letter the board member speaks about. Yanofsky said he had no problem with that:

“What difference does that make? The key part you quoted. The rest is all bureaucratic stuff. I don’t have any problems (with showing you the letter), but I don’t think that makes any difference. You quoted the key statement which is accurately quoted, I said I have some ambivalence about continuing, and what I continued to say to the Board was my ambivalence has to do with the way you (the Board) and I interact with each other.

I never suggested and I’d be interested if anybody claims otherwise that I was tired, frustrated or disillusioned with the role of superintendent. I never said that. I said my ambivalence has to do with my relationship with the Board, not with running the district. That’s what my letter in the paper Saturday says, that’s the distinction I was trying to make and you cloud it up by quoting all this garbage from this Board Member.”

What the Yanofsky February Letter Told the Board.

For the record, the text of the key statement in the February 20,2001, to the Board of Education, stating his intentions reads although I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent about it, I would be willing to entertain an offer to renew my contract beyond June 30 of 2002 if the Board so wishes.

February 20, 2001 Yanofsky Letter Expected Discussions

Yanofsky described the contents of the February 20, 2001 letter to the Board of Education for WPCNR:

“The whole first paragraph just quotes from the contract about the timelines for notification, then basically I said, well, I’m somewhat ambivalent about it, I’d be willing to entertain an offer to continue. I assume you’re going to want to have to spend some time talking to me about it, so let’s look at the agenda and we’ll make what changes we can. That was the whole letter. It was written 14-15 months ago and I figured there’d be lots of opportunities for conversation.”

Asked how many conversation opportunities presented themselves, Yanofsky said, “ I don’t want to even rehash that. That’s not the point.”

Letter to paper was to clarify his ambivalence.

We pointed out to Dr. Yanofsky that his letter to the Journal-News implied that he was at no time ambivalent about continuing as Superintendent of Schools. The actual quote from Dr. Yanofsky’s Journal News letter says “Larry Geiger and Stephen Sules said that I was ambivalent about continuing as superintendent of schools, suggesting a lack of interest/and or commitment to the district. This is simply not the case.”

“What does the letter say, John? I said at no point did I state any ambivalence about my substantive role as superintendent.” Yanofsky explained. “That’s the whole point of the letter (to the paper), because these guys, including comments on your website, were implying that I had lost interest in being superintendent. That’s a hundred percent wrong. I told you before, I’m not just telling you now.

“I told you that when you printed Lewis Trippett’s letter, how wrong it was. And you kept on printing that. I don’t understand why you continue to print things that are just not true. You’re printing stuff that has inaccuracies and I’ve told you they are inaccurate and you keep on printing them.”

We asked what was inaccurate about Monday’s article

Yanofsky kept on talking: “Basically it reinforces this notion that I was ambivalent about continuing as superintendent, in doing the job of superintendent, that I had lost interest. That’s what these two board members (Sules and Geiger) have been saying. And I put up with it during the debate.

“I didn’t say anything when you printed Geiger’s comment about the CEO who’s lost interest in the job. But, when they say it to the Journal News Editorial Board, and it gets printed all over Westchester County I felt I had to respond to protect my reputation. All of that you could have known if you had given me a phone call before you printed this stuff.”

WPCNR asked why he had not made this clear a number of months ago.

Yanofsky said, “Because I didn’t have to say it. I wasn’t going to respond to Trippett. Trippett’s letter was so vicious, so full of inaccuracies, I wasn’t going to respond to it, because I thought it was all over. Until these guys (Sules and Geiger) started making a campaign issue out of it.”

Not the first time ambivalence brought up.

WPCNR pointed out this was not the first time he has been portrayed as being ambivalent about continuing. Yanofsky again said, “No. No. No. What is ambivalent. That’s the point, John. Listen to me. What is ambivalent what I said, what I meant, what I clarified was that my ambivalence was in continuing the role vis-à-vis the board, not that I was ambivalent about serving as superintendent. That’s what the letter to the paper said. That’s a distinction that’s critical. Read the letter over. I don’t know how to make it any clearer.”

WPCNR asked Dr. Yanofsky, “Did you say you did not want to work with them (the Board) any more?”

Yanofsky said, “Did I say that? I said I was ambivalent. That’s exactly the word I used.”

WPCNR asked if he told them he was willing to come back for a period of about two years or so:

“It never got to a point where we talked length of term,” Yanofsky confirmed. “John, you’ve got stuff up there that’s just wrong that misses the whole point of the letter that was attempted to be very explicit. Read the letter over. I tried to make a distinction because I was getting criticized publicly based on the implication I had no longer cared about the district, that I had lost my interest in the district, there’s not a shred of evidence that I have (lost interest). I’m doing everything I ever did before and probably a little bit more now that we start running out of time.”

WPCNR Not Fair.

“By printing this thing you reinforce all the wrong messages. It’s just not fair journalism.” Yanofsky charged. “You’ve only printed their side. You’ve distorted the public’s understanding of the issues. Because you didn’t talk to me. I would hope that if you talked to me you would have written something different.”

Not contrived to influence election.

“The implication of what they said to you, and this is perhaps the most damaging, that this was all part of a contrived strategy to influence the election. I was on your television program for a half an hour the other day, and if I wanted to influence the election, I would have said something at that time, and I would have had a television audience that would have heard it. I stayed away from it. I had absolutely no intention of having any role in this election whatsoever, until I started reading about what they were saying about me. I would not allow my reputation to be damaged because two people want to get reelected.”

Why he did not set the record straight in December.

WPCNR asked why Dr. Yanofsky didn’t call them on this last December when Mr. Trippett had said the exact same thing: “Because they said it and it was over. I mean, I don’t want this thing to last all year.”

WPCNR asked why he would write the letter to the Journal-News at this time: “Because they were saying publicly that I had lost interest in the district that I didn’t care about the district. That’s the implication of what they were saying. I didn’t want to go out having people think that. I’ve invested twenty years in this district, more than both of them combined. I thought it was over. They made a campaign issue out of it.”

The Wrap-up.

In wrapping up our conversation, Dr. Yanofsky said, “The point is there is an important distinction to be made. The important distinction is if you focus on the word ambivalence, that my ambivalence, as this letter says so clearly, was about a relationship with the Board, not about the substantive role I perform day-to-day as superintendent. I never was disinterested in that. I never lost energy. I never lost enthusiasm. If anybody claims otherwise I’d like to hear the shred of evidence behind that.”

Board’s Mind Made Up?

WPCNR asked Dr. Yanofsky, if when he sat down with Board members to discuss his status, if he felt their minds were made up that they didn’t want him. Yanofsky said, “No. I felt that some of their minds were.”

“I don’t want to rehash all that. There’s no useful purpose. All I want is my reputation not be damaged because a couple of people want to get reelected, that’s why I wrote this letter. I wrote it reluctantly. I was not prepared to write it. What they said to you and which you repeated was the implication that I did this deliberately to swing an election, which is absolutely irresponsible.”

Why he wrote when he did.

WPCNR asked him why he wouldn’t hold off writing the letter until after today’s election.

Yanofsky said, “Why? Because it was off to an editorial that was printed a few days ago. First, I had no idea when this letter would be printed. I wrote it in response to an editorial because they quoted in the editorial the fact that the two candidates said I was ambivalent about staying on the job, and I wanted to distinguish between the two very different kinds of meanings, one of which is true, the other which is not.”

WPCNR had one last question, we presented to him that by telling the board he was ambivalent about working with them, but wanted to do the superintendent’s job, that he was presenting the board with a dilemma, which was a subtle way of saying he was not interested in the job. WPCNR asked, “That says you were not interested in the job. The letter in the paper leads (the reader) to believe you never said you were ambivalent, while your letter (of February 20, 2001) said you were ambivalent. You can’t be ambivalent about one thing and be pro about the other thing. You either like the whole package (Board and the Superintendent’s job) or you don’t.”

Yanofsky took exception to my characterization of the Board’s dilemma: “Think about what you just said. It makes no sense. I was ambivalent about continuing a relationship with the board that was getting worse, I was not ambivalent about performing the responsibilities of running this district. That’s a very clear distinction. It’s not a whole package. It’s a very separable package.”

Posted in Uncategorized

John Frango, Winchell of Westchester, Passes Away

WPCNR White Plains Epitaph. May 20, 2002. 10:00 PM EDT.: News compadre, Jim Benerofe, and I were talking about the hospital story Monday evening when Jim told me, “I have something else to talk to you about. John Frango died.”



John “Frankly” Frango of White Plains, Pioneer Columnist, in a typical “Frankly Frango” column header.
Photo by WPCNR

Mr. Frango died Monday.
John Frango was the longtime publicist for Pepsi Cola, White Plains P.R. man par excellence in the 50s and 60s, liaison to Joan Crawford, the actress, and John was well-known as a popular columnist for Suburban Street.

Since I did not know John well, I’d appreciate any memories old White Plains residents might want to share about John Frango, another chapter in White Plains journalism past.

I met John when he became a fan of White Plains Week right from the first week when we began the show in January, 2001. I was flattered he took the time to say how much he liked the show. Some 62 shows later, he still was, telephoning me just last week with enthusiastic suggestions and observations about the show. He offered Alex, Jim and I encouragement when we needed it. Like most confident, creative people he appreciated good work of other writers, and consistently reached out to say, “hey, you’re doing a great job.” I cannot tell you how rare that is in the writing business, or any business.

He was such a positive fellow with sharp insights, and no-holds-barred opinions on issues, personalities and life, which he shared in his long-time column, Frankly Frango. He was a sensitive and thoughtful writer, and though I did not know him well, he was a person I was looking forward to having on the show as a future “Legacy of White Plains.” I always felt there was time.

He had a feeling for news. A feeling of how to do things the right way.

He had sent me a column he had written about his father, which I told him I was saving for Father’s Day. I thought I’d share one of his last pieces of writing with you. I regret we had not scheduled him to be one of our “Legacies of White Plains” personalities.

John’s untimely passing points out to me at least, we should never put off saying how much we appreciate knowing and working with someone, because you never know when they will be gone for good, without knowing how you felt about them.

The following story is very graphic and some may find it distasteful, but it is a sample of a writer who knew how to do it. Who could recognize what about life makes us alive. This one’s for you, John, and I regret we did not publish it sooner.

A Story of A Beautiful Ice Man

By John R. Frango

It was in the early 1930s and my father was carrying a piece of ice on his burlap-covered shoulder up to the second floor of a tenement house.

I followed him up dilapidated stairs and into the “apartment.” I immediately noticed a man and woman. They were naked, sprawled across a filthy mattress, soundly asleep. Their dirty and scratchy buttocks were like two small mountains. Cheap gin bottles were sprawled across the dust-laden floor.

A blond, blue-eyed baby girl was sitting silently in a broken crib amid excrement and urine. Her tinyhands and her entire body were saturated with feces. The milk bottle near her frail body was dark and the nipple heavily soiled.

The odor in the “apartment” was heavy and almost suffocating.

My father looked at me and said: “Go down to the candy store and tell the man Joe Frango needs a bottle of milk.”

Now why I was going to a candy store for a bottle of milk befuddled me. But you never questioned your father in those halcyon days. You just did what you were told.

I ran down the hill as quickly as I could. When I finally arrived at the candy store, there was a slim, tall man standing in front with spectacles perched on the tip of his nose. He was reading a Yiddish newspaper.

“I’m Joe Frango’s son,” I said. “My father needs a bottle of milk.”

The man put the newspaper under his arm and walked into the store. I followed slowly behind him.

He stopped in front of one of those early bright red Coca-Cola coolers. As he opened it wide, I noticed three bottles of milk drifting like cruisers among an escort of uniquely designed six-ounce bottles of Coke.

He rolled up his sleeves, took one of the milk bottles out, and wiped it off with his apron. He located a brown paper bag, put the bottle of milk inside, and handed it to me.

“My father didn’t give me any money,” I said sheepishly.

“Get out of here,” the man said with mock annoyance “Go, so go already.”

Later, of course, I learned that the man bought ice and coal from my father and they became friends after both arrived from the old country: he from Berlin, Germany, my father from Naples, Italy.

I finally arrived at the “apartment,” and was literally astonished at what I saw. I knew my father was marvelously methodical, but this was – to repeat – beyond belief.

A blanket had been placed completely over the bodies of the drunken couple. The gin bottles were packed neatly in a corner of the “apartment.”

The baby’s entire body and the crib were scrubbed clean – immaculately. And my father had fashioned a diaper out of a towel he had found. The milk bottle was washed so that it was miraculously changed from translucent to transparent and the nipple appeared as if it was a brand new piece of rubber.

My father took the bottle of milk out of the bag, opened the paper lid, and poured milk into the baby’s bottle. He then placed the bottle carefully into the baby’s hand; she sucked on the nipple furiously – as if it were a new experience.

My father smiled and hand me the bottle with the remaining milk in it. He told me to put it in the icebox.

When I opened the box, I was faced with decaying pieces of tomato, lettuce and meat. The offensive odor invaded my nostrils and I gagged. I closed the box as quickly as I could and somehow found myself out on the creaky porch – sucking in the soft summer air.

After about five minutes, I turned to watch my father close a back door that was overflowing with a river of cracks.

Then Joe Frango, whose huge, calloused hands were dwarfed only by the size of his soul, touched me lightly on the arm and said softly, “Peccato (how sad).”

I was never more proud of a man than I was of my father on that cloudless summer Saturday so many years ago. His humanity pierced my heart and I wiped my eyes as I followed him down the steps and back to the truck.

© 2001, John R. Frango. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hospital to City: We’ll Move Biotech Facility off Bryant. New Plans in 2 Weeks

WPCNR Evening City Star. By John F. Bailey. May 20, 2002. 7:30 PM EDT.:The Mayor’s Office reported Monday evening that New York Presbyterian Hospital will draw up plans for locating their biotech facility on the interior of the hospital property. The new site plans will be considered by the Common Council as part of the current FEIS review. Plans showing the new site developments are scheduled for delivery within two weeks, a hospital spokesman said.



MOVE ON OVER! Site 8, shown on a map of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Property taken from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, is the former driving range property. Bloomingale’s is located in the X area at the lower portion of the picture. Site 5 is immediately above and to the left of the dark black building outlines, smack dab in the middle of the NYPH compound. Hospital spokesman, Geoffrey Thompson, said the biotech facilities could be spread over the two sites, or on one of the two, with access exclusively from Bloomingdale Road in either case. Site 5 is where the Marriott senior convalescent facility was supposed to have been built.Bryant Avenue is the boundry on the right of the map.
WPCNR Photo


Rick Ammirato, Policy Specialist for the Mayor’s office, said the Mayor had received a letter from New York Presbyterian Hospital stating that, in view of the strong community opposition to the Bryant Avenue site, the hospital was willing to situate the new biotech/cancer treatment facility on Site 5, formerly the location reserved for Marriott senior care faciity, or Site 8, the wooded site located near Bloomingdale’s, but not the densely wooded portion adjacent to the Bloomingdale’s parking lot. Amerotto said that there could also be a combination of the two sites developed.

Mayor applauds step.

Mayor Joseph Delfino in a statement said he was pleased the hospital had listened to the community, that he and the Council had for some time indicated to them the Bryant Avenue side location was not the appropriate location. He said he was pleased about this new spirit of cooperation on the part of the hospital, and hoped it would prove to be fruitful.

Olive Branch from Hospital.

Geoffrey Thompson, spokesman for New York Presbyterian Hospital, said the hospital expected to have fully developed plans for the two new sites within two weeks. He said the new site plans drawn up were based on sites the Common Council said they wanted considered as alternate locations, and would be submitted for the Council review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement so they could decide between the two.

Thompson said the hospital still believed that the Bryant Avenue original site was still the best location for the facility, but was drawing up the new plans in response to Common Council requests in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tolchin Becomes Chief Advisor to Spano. To Oversee Emergency Response Plan.

WPCNR County World. From County Department of Communications. May 20, 2002. 1 PM EDT.: Communications Director Susan Tolchin will assume the responsibilities of Chief Advisor to the County Executive, Westchester County Executive Andy Spano announced today, in addition to her role as Communication Director, which she has held since 1998.
“Ever since Susan started working here, I have given her more and more responsibility,’’ said Spano. “She has handled everything with integrity and professionalism. She is terrific on follow through and everyone enjoys working with her. I know she will handle these additional responsibilities with the same energy and dedication.’’

Among her duties as chief advisor, Tolchin will oversee the county’s emergency response plan. She will also be in charge of the county’s environmental health initiatives as well as supervise the county’s Office of Consumer Protection, Office for Women, Human Rights Commission, Veterans Service Agency, the Office for the Disabled and liaisons for the county’s Hispanic and Gay and Lesbian communities.

Ms. Tolchin will be paid $135,335 a year in her new position.

“I have always worked in the fields of journalism or government,’’ said Tolchin. “This job has offered me the opportunity to combine both these professions and working for the County Executive and his administration has been the best job I have ever had. I thank him for his confidence in me as I assume these additional responsibilities.’’

Larry Schwartz, the current chief advisor, will continue to serve as Acting Deputy County Executive.

A Cum Laude graduate of Syracuse University, she was dually enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and the Newhouse School of Communications. She majored in journalism and political science.

Tolchin was elected as Greenburgh Town Clerk in 1980, an office she held for 14 years. Before holding her current post, she served as director of community relations for Westhab Inc. Among the many voluntary positions she has held are, chair of the Board of the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, past president of the Greenburgh League of Women Voters and a former member of the Greenburgh Planning Board.

She currently lives in White Plains with her husband, Larry.

Posted in Uncategorized

Meanwhile: Hospital FEIS coming in. A & P Attorney Busy on Other Cases.

WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By John F. Bailey. UPDATED May 20, 2002. 8:00 PM EDT: Susan Habel, Commissioner of Planning, announced to the Common Council last Thursday evening that a draft of the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the New York Presbyterian Hospital biotech-proton accelerator proposal for the Bryant Avenue side of their property had been partially delivered and would be ready for council consideration this week.
27 Days to Doomsday.

The council was surprised to learn on May 15, they had only until June 17 to review and accept the FEIS, and file it with the Department of Environmental Conservation and appropriate state agencies.

Commissioner Habel reported to the council that the Planning Department and Michael Gerard, the city environmental consultant from Arnold & Porter, were “going through” the draft FEIS delivered by the hospital and that Mr. Gerard was prepared to brief the council on the Council’s responsibilities with respect to the FEIS on May 21, the only date he was available this month.

Habel quietly advised that the Council, under the agreement with New York Presbyterian Hospital had been granted 60 days from acceptance of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (accepted April 18) to deal with the FEIS.

Council disturbed at Gerard’s “short notice.”

Habel reported that she expected the Planning Department to assemble the complete FEIS over the past weekend and present it to the Common Council Tuesday. At this time, she said, Michael Gerard was available to “give you (the council) an overview of the process and what some of the issues are and what the framework is on what they need to do next to comply with the environmental review.”

Councilwoman Rita Malmud said the 21st was not possible for her to attend, and Councilman Tom Roach said he was scheduled to be out of town on a conference dealing with development of downtowns, and could not attend. Councilman King not present was therefore a question mark as to whether he could attend.

The 22nd, Robert Greer said was out, because the Council was going to attend a Fisher Hill Association meeting on the placement of a group home in that neighborhood.

Gerard has other matters pending.

Councilwoman Malmud, flustered, protested less than a week notice for a meeting was not enough time to react. Mayor Delfino scolded her, saying, “This doesn’t move, June 17. We have to get it out.”
Ms. Malmud said “it was not fair of Mr. Gerard,” that he was only making certain dates available. Ms. Habel said Mr. Gerard had informed the city he had trial dates that could not be moved and therefore the 22nd, was the only date he had available. Habel, also noted that Gerard had announced several other date possibilities, but they were much closer to the 17th deadline.

Habel said Gerard gave her only four dates when he could meet with the Common Council on the FEIS: May 21, June 5, 6th or 11th. Giving the council a much shorter timeframe to review and accept the FEIS and the Planning Department a very short time in which to turn around the documents and distribute them to state agencies.

Ms. Malmud wondered it the Council could have some of the documents. Mayor Delfino stuck to his position that “You’re (the council) was going to have to make the time.”

Council President Benjamin Boykin said it did not appear the 21st was doable, and suggested the Council take the first meeting with Gerard on June 5. Mayor Delfino cautioned, “then you’re not going to have enough time.”

Glen Hockley suggested Gerard see some members of the Council the 21st, and split up the meeting. Boykin said he’d “rather not do that.” Habel committed to having the documents to the Common Council tomorrow, May 21.

Delfino demands more dates from Gerard.

The Mayor seeing the time crunch dilemma, demanded that Ms. Habel get an explanation from Mr. Gerard as to why he could not meet sometime between the 21st and June 5: “I think he should give us an explanation.”

Mr. Gerard, whose legal fees are being paid for by New York Presbyterian Hospital, Ms Habel said, would be contacted to set up alternative dates. The council was looking at meeting Thursday evening, May 23rd at 8:30 or 9 as an alternative.

Habel Makes Sense of it All.

After Thursday evening’s executive session which ended at 8:15 PM in which the Common Councilpersons were considering their raises, WPCNR dropped by the Planning Department to find both Planning Commissioners Susan Habel and Rod Johnson still at work. Habel said the council had to be satisfied with the FEIS, because the content of the FEIS, answering questions raised by the DEIS, is the basis for the Findings Resolution which, as lead agency, the Common Council is required to file either accepting or denying the proposal.

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Board Member Challenges Yanofsky Letter. Says 2001 Letter Declared “ambivalence”

WPCNR Morning Sun. By John F. Bailey. May 20, 2002, 9:15 AM EDT: A member of the White Plains Board of Education, reacting to a letter from Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools, published inSaturday’s Journal News, three days before the Board of Education elections Tuesday, told WPCNR Saturday evening that Yanofsky stated in writing he was “somewhat ambivalent” about continuing as Superintendent, contrary to what Yanofsky claims in his published letter to the newspaper.

The School Board member said they and several other members of the Board of Education were shocked Saturday at Yanofsky’s Letter.

“It states on numerous occasions that he never stated he was ambivalent about continuing as Superintendent. That is simply not the case. In a letter sent to the Board on February the 20th, 2001, Dr. Yanofsky wrote, and I’m reading it to you although I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent about it, I would be willing to entertain an offer to renew my contract beyond June 30 of 2002 if the Board so wishes.”

Yanofsky Discussed His feelings of Ambivalence.

The Board Member said what happened next: “When we asked Dr. Yanofsky for some clarification, on his statement (in the February 20, 2001 letter), he proceeded to give a dictionary definition of the word ambivalence, and in our discussion, he tried to explain the conflicting feelings he had about continuing as Superintendent and about the nature of the Board-Superintendent relationship. This is very different than what he tries to portray to readers of the Journal News in today’s (Saturday) letter.”

Confirms Lewis Trippett’s comments at December Board of Education Meeting.

The Board member taking exception to Yanofsky’s letter to the paper confirms former Board Member Lewis Trippett’s public comments made at the Public Board of Education Meeting of December 11, where Trippett stated, in part,

“Under the contract, Dr. Yanofsky was required to inform the Board in writing whether or not he wished to continue as Superintendent under a new contract. The letter that Dr. Yanofsky sent to the Board hardly reflected a vigorous desire to continue. In the letter, Dr. Yanofsky stated that he was ambivalent about continuing as Superintendent but was willing to entertain an offer.

Trippett December Statement Elaborated Yanofsky’s position.

Reading his statement December 11, Trippett said Dr. Yanofsky continued to present a puzzling position: After receiving this letter (of February 20, 2001), the Board provided Dr. Yanofsky with the opportunity to explain his letter before we began substantive discussions about whether to renew the contract. Perhaps, I thought, he misspoke, or made a poor choice of words. However, rather than back off his letter, Dr. Yanofsky re-affirmed his statement that he was ambivalent about continuing as Superintendent. When asked if he could identify any cause for his ambivalence that could be addressed, Dr. Yanofsky gave no indication of anything that could be done that would change his feeling of ambivalence.

Communications between Yanofsky and Board Were Not
Going well. Board Brought in Facilitator.

The superintendent’s letter as published Saturday stated that his relationship with the board was increasingly categorized by problems in communication, trust and management style. Yanofsky said in his letter to the paper that I urged that we devote some time – perhaps with an outside facilitator – to address these problems.

The Board member WPCNR interviewed said that they did not remember actually whether it was Yanofsky or the Board that suggested a facilitator, but the Board attempted to bring in a mediator:

Questions Yanofsky’s Motives in Publishing Saturday Letter.

“We actually brought in a facilitator to assist in those areas. The Board did on two occasions. So we attempted that with him. We did bring in a facilitator to help improve the communications between the Board and Dr. Yanofsky,” The Board member said. “Beyond the counseling thing, because I’m looking to move forward here. I, quite frankly, can’t understand his reasoning behind this. I think it’s important for people to know facts, and that is a fact that on February 20, 2001, (his) letter doesn’t even state any strong willingness to continuing as superintendent, only that he’d be willing to entertain an offer.”

We asked the Board member for details on those communication breakdowns: At this stage of the game, I’m very forward-looking. Certainly there were issues around communications specifically. I don’t want to go into those details at this point, frankly, because at this point I don’t think it matters.”

February 20 Letter at Odds with Saturday Pre-Election Letter.

Asked for a copy of Yanofsky’s key February 20 “Ambivalence Letter,” the Board member said: “I don’t know that I can. I don’t believe I should at this point. Because it’s not for me to just do that. But I’m just telling you.”

“If you read his letter (Saturday) it would seem to indicate something very different from the facts I just told you, three days before the election,” the Board Member said. “I don’t think that’s his role.”

No contract length discussed. No Offers Made.

Asked if Dr. Yanofsky at anytime had stated what kind of offer would get him to stay, the Boarder Member said, “We didn’t get that far.”

WPCNR asked if Dr. Yanofsky had ever asked the Board for a one-year or two-year contract beyond June 30, 2002, and the Board Member said, “No, he did not.”

Yanofsky did not retire.

“We, of course, urged him to retire once we had determined that the district needed a superintendent who was very clear about his desire to continue in a leadership role as a superintendent, and he did not choose that path. Had I not read this letter in the newspaper today (Saturday), I would not have been upset. He seems to indicate that the comments made by Larry Geiger and Stephen Sules about his being ambivalent about being superintendent is simply not the case, he says, and it is in fact, the case..”

Spin surprises board members.

The Yanofsky letter was the talk of the Board of Education over the weekend with members buzzing about the surprise letter to the editor, the Board Member who spoke to WPCNR said,

“Three days before an election, I think it’s important the voters be given all the facts. I’m surprised he chose three days before an election to put this kind of spin on this thing. It’s this kind of thing here that I read in the paper today that I hope will make people understand the difficulty in communications we’ve had. Because it’s this kind of spin that doesn’t facilitate good communications. I am hoping we can get past this and that’s where I’m going. It’s disturbing that he would do this three days before the election with all its inaccuracies. It’s disingenuous for him to do this. At the December Board meeting he even acknowledged he was ambivalent about it.”

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WPCNR Poll: Evaluate: the Mayor And Council: Would You Give Them a Raise?

WPCNR Village Voice.May 19, 2002: The Common Council in Executive Session last Thursday night was considering whether to give themselves and the Mayor a pay raise. They will decide this, if it has not already been decided, this week, when they pass the 2002-03 budget May 23. Figures speculated are that the raise would equal the union settlements: 3.75%. Currently Councilpersons make $31,250 a year plus benefits, the Common Council President, $33,750, and the Mayor earns $125,000. Do you feel their pay should be increased?

Let us know by evaluating the Delfino 7 in this week’s new WPCNR Poll at the right. CLICK on your Choice and then CLICK “VOTE.”

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Stage Door: Mayor to Form Committee on City Center Showplace. $400G Price Tag

WPCNR White Plains Variety. May 17, 2002. 12:15 PM. EDT:. With City Center financing secured, and the City Center going full-steam ahead, City Hall will turn attention to hammering out crucial policy decisions on the community theatre piece of the project. Cappelli Enterprises has promised to incorporate a community theatre “shell” into the fourth floor movie theatre level.

Professionals interviewed by WPCNR, indicate minimum cost for outfitting the interior “working guts” of a professional, 200-seat theatre is approximately $400,000.
During the four-month approval process last summer, Louis Cappelli, the “Super Developer” of the City Center project now underway in downtown White Plains, said he would build a “shell” of a community theatre, as a compliment to the string of 15 movie theatres of National Amusements now planned for the fourth level of the City Center.

Cappelli indicated the inclusion of a community theatre was a good will gesture to secure support for the project. However, Cappelli said during the approval process that he “knew nothing” about building an operating live production theatre, and therefore would only finance the empty shell of the building. How much of that shell, design and construction has not been determined.

A Mystery Price.

The rest of the financing, production specifications and equipment would be the responsibility of the city or community groups to design and finance.

Now that the project is under construction, the city has a limited amount of time to hammer out construction specifications for the proposed city showplace, envisioned as home to amateur and professional theatre groups, as well as find private financing to pay for the interior furbishing of the community showplace.

Mayor to Reach Out to Arts People.

George Gretsas, Executive Officer for Mayor Joseph Delfino, confirmed Wednesday evening that the Mayor was in the process of putting together a Community Theatre Advisory Committee to deal with these concerns:

“Shortly the Mayor will be convening a committee,” Gretsas told WPCNR Wednesday evening. “He has not made any final decisions who is going to be on the committee, but within a reasonable period of time the committee will be convened, and then there’s a whole slew of issues that need to be discussed in terms of the governance of the theatre, what kind of operational agreement we’re going to have (with the Cappelli organization). We’re going to want to get input from the committee, and ultimately, the Common Council will have input as well.”

Gretsas said it had not been determined how many persons would be included on the committee.

“We’re obviously going to tap into a lot of theatre groups in the city, there’s plenty of them from Westco to the community play group theatre, Fort Hill Players, and there will be representation from a lot of the arts groups.”

Asked when Cappelli’s engineers would need specifications to set up the “shell” of the theatre, Gretsas said: “A lot of those discussions were put on hold, while we were waiting for the financing, so I think that’s where you see a little gap in the process. But now that the financing is in place, we’re going to be having discussions with Cappelli in the very near future.”

“Shell” of a Theatre Can’t Be Just Another Box.

According to a veteran set designer for community theatres on the East Coast, the design of any professional theatre requires more space than a movie theatre. John Lefton, longtime set designer for the Chappaqua Drama Group, says a very minimum means the community theatre Cappelli would have to build should be larger than the National Amusements movie theatres on the same floor. To be an effective theatre, John Lefton indicated that the stage Cappelli builds would have to be twice the size of any of the National Amusement Theatres he builds.

“Unlike a movie theatre, “ said John Lefton, a veteran scenic designer, who designed sets for the Chappaqua Drama Group for thirty years, and currently is a professional set designer for a theatre group in the Medford New Jersey area, “You need a flyspace (the ceiling space above the stage) equal to or more than the height of the stage opening. You need a system of 2-inch pipes and pulleys above the stage to “fly-in” extra scenes or drops, and store an entire wall of an interior set above the stage.”

Custom Specifications.

Lefton said a functioning community theatre would need a stage width of at least 25 to 30 feet, and 20 feet deep, considerably deeper than a movie screen requires. He noted ideally, any community theatre should plan to have dressing rooms, lighting systems, sound systems, with their sophisticated light boards and sound boards and control booths and computers which he confirmed put “tremendous demands,” custom electrical and technical on an electrical system.

As for stage demands, he pointed out for example, that the Metropolitan Opera House backstage space is equal to the amount of space taken up by the entire seating area of the Met audience, “because the opera has such huge sets.”.

Talking “A Fortune.”

Asked about the cost of such state-of-the-art interior accoutrements, Lefton said the technical demands would be approximately $500,000, with seating and furnishings. “It’s going to cost a fortune. You’re talking big, big bucks.” He said.

Professional Theatre Builder Estimates $400,000.

WPCNR contacted Bubba Fanelli of United Stage Associates in New Rochelle, who are currently renovating the Humanities Theatre at SUNY Purchase.

Flannelly said that the wiring for a working theatre is similar to a movie theatre but requires more sophistication and sophistication: “The real difference in power distribution is that the lighting needs a separate power service. Normal amount would be 200 amps 3 phase 5 wire, and audio video would share a power service 100 amps 3 phase 5 wire.”

Fanelli pushed for a big stage: “Whenever possible you want the performing area to be as big and grand as the space will allow, the higher the better, you want to put in a line set grid, which allows you to bring the pipes (where lighting, curtains, sets are hung) in and out (and down to the stage). The pipes will hold lighting, scenery, audio, and sometimes dead storage. You also want to make sure you have dressing rooms stage left and right, and some sort of storage.”

Run the Wire at the Beginning. Wiring Plan Needed.

Fanelli estimated approximately $400,000 for the infrastructure components of a community theatre, which could produce a variety of shows and events, regardless of the amount of seating. He said however that in preparing the “shell” of the theatre it was important that Mr. Cappelli’s electrical contractors be informed at the beginning the kind of wiring needed for the technical equipment going into the theatre. Fanelli said “when you’re running one wire you may as well run five.”

“If it’s all about the money, there are many types of systems to buy. I always tell my clients, run the wire…that is most important. Once the wiring is in place, then you can buy and or upgrade later, but a wiring plan must be implemented from the start (of construction). This is for audio, lighting, intercom, and AV.”

The man who builds theatres as a business, could not stress enough the importance of the wiring: “The biggest concern is the wiring, intercom to the dressing rooms, power distribution for the lighting, all the circuits on the pipes, audio feeds, etc.”

Asked if the wiring systems were specialized, Fanelli advised, “Yes and no, it is complicated and needs to be drawn on a master plan.”

The smell of the greasepaint. The Roar of the Crowd.

Fanelli priced out a rough estimate for a theatre’s technical needs: audio, $65,000, lighting, $50,000, rigging $150,000, intercom system, $8,000, Audio Visual miscellaneous, $10,000, drapes/curtains, $15,000, for a “ballpark total” of $298,000 for the working guts of a theatre. The impresario reports the stage construction will be around $40,000, bringing the total to the $340,000 neighborhood.

Build it and they will come.

Fanelli, recalling Louis Cappelli’s homage to height when the City Center plan for 34-story twin towers was advanced, recommended the more seats the better, saying, “costs for the stage lighting, audio, rigging, intercom, drapes and all the things that make this a working professional theatre, will be needed whether 100 seats, or 500 seats are in place, so my attitude is the more seats, the better, as we know you need to sell tickets to make back your money. So let’s fill the house up with theatre goers, and make back some of our investment.”

He priced seats out at $200 each, meaning that a 200-seat theatre would add about $40,000 to the $340,000 production component, for a rough cost of $380,000.

Line Set Grid Very Important.

He advised that a mobile Line Set System that lowers the stage pipes, to which lights, arbors, battens, and other behind-the-scenes, above-the stage components to the floor of the stage on an individual pipe-by-pipe basis was essential for smooth, professional operation of the theatre.

He said that touring companies could install their sets more efficiently with such a system, rather than a fixed system where lights, sets have to be hung individually with stagehands going up ladders. He noted it makes turnaround of shows faster and is something touring companies and acts look it in evaluating a theatre venue.

United Stage Associates most recently completed design, staging, and production for a show at the United Nations, and is renovating the Humanities Theatre at SUNY Purchase. Fanelli said the organization provides concept, design, installation and crew supervision to build and renovate professional theatres based on client vision of what a new theatre should be equipped to produce.

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