McLoughlin: No New Direction. No Superintendent Profile. Maybe We’ll Tell.

UPDATED:Board of Education President Donna O. McLaughlin told 50 parents Thursday night the Board would meet with Saul Yanofsky November 5, to discuss a way they could reveal the “significant differences” behind the Superintendent’s dismissal. She revealed no guidelines are in place describing the kind of superintendent they are looking to hire, and there is no “new direction” planned, contrary to colleague comments. No good time to replace Yanofsky.




BOARD PRESIDENT READING EXPLANATION TO PTA COUNCIL: Donna O. McLaughlin, reads lengthy statement, while Dr. Saul Yanofsky listens Thursday evening. The statement was the statement read at the Curriculum meeting Monday evening, and can be read in its entirety in the WPCNR story headlined “Yanofsky:”They Wanted Me to Resign. Short-term contract denied. WPCNR PHOTO

Denies “new direction” sought by other Board Members

In a spirited discussion after the regular PTA Council meeting at Education House, McLoughlin denied that the Board was seeking a new direction (as stated to WPCNR by Board members Stephen Sules and Larry Geiger privately). She said the board was just seeking a fresh look.

Search Firm Will Draw Up Profile of Ideal Superintendent with Parent Input.

She stated that she had not investigated the cost yet of what a national recruiting search for a new Superintendent of Schools would cost the district. She indicated funds were set aside for such purposes in the overall school budget. She said she had just begun to evaluate search firms.

Asked what qualities the board was looking for in a new superintendent, McLoughlin said the Board did not have any in mind, and that this would be determined by the search firm with help from the community the Board would hire.

When pressed, McLaughlin said the Board would be looking for “someone like Saul.”

Councilmembers said, “Well, he’s right here. Ask him.”

McLoughlin recounts “countless hours,” phone calls

At one point McLoughlin complained that she was just a “volunteer,” as were the rest of the Board and that they had agonized over this decision.

“Look at the bags under my eyes,” she said.

Yanofsky sought to spare community over the summer

McLaughlin said the delay in announcing the departure was Yanofsky’s decision. Yanofsky agreed. Explaining why the decision was not released last April, Yanofsky said,

“I didn’t see any point in disrupting the community back then…nor do I need 14 months to find another job. I didn’t think it helpful to the district to identify the areas the Board and I disagreed about.”

Yanofsky “uncomfortable” with alleged Board Member comments, however.

Yanofsky said he and the board had agreed not to reveal the nature of the differences. He reported pleasantly that he has been hearing things board members have said “that make me less and less comfortable keeping quiet about it that are unfair and inaccurate,” and raising his voice slightly said, “I’m getting close to the point, where I don’t think it’s fair to me to keep quiet about it.”

He gives us a glimpse of the “differences.”

Dr. Yanofsky, commenting on the problem of revealing the differences between himself and the board in a way that would not polarize the community said,

“You have to be careful how they are related without doing harm, they’re not dramatic differences to my knowledge,” saying they dealt with “How do you engage? How do you deal with subtleties, style differences that are a part of it.”

McLoughlin says differences very apparent in “work sessions,” chides parents for not attending work sessions.

Reacting to substantial incredulity expressed by Council Members about differences between Yanofsky and the Board, whom they felt always seemed supportive of Yanofsky, McLoughlin had a different “take.”

The Board President said the differences are very prevalent in work sessions of the Board. McLoughlin said the public rarely attends those work sessions, otherwise they would have noted the differences. She chided parents for not attending work sessions.

However, WPCNR would like to point out this appears self-serving. Board of Education work sessions are not vigorously publicly noticed in an aggressive manner that would indicate that the Board of Education wants the public to be there. However, WPCNR will be asking for notice of all work sessions from now on.

The Board of Education never faxes the media when work sessions are called, as City Hall does. The Board has never, to this reporter’s knowledge, e-mailed WPCNR about a work session, as they do with publicity releases. During the course of the year, the public is only informed about budget sessions. As a reporter, you have to ask about work sessions. When attending them, executive sessions can be called if the public, and reporters are present, thus shielding meaningful discussion from view. The only times, in this reporter’s opinion, when the public was aggressively asked for input last year were on the subjects of budget and the Code of Conduct.

McLoughlin would not, or could not say how many parents had expressed dissatisfaction about Yanofsky.

Parents questioned McLoughlin where the Board got the idea parents were unhappy with Yanofsky. She said she attends many meetings and sporting events, talks to many people and has heard things. When pressed for a number of parents she had heard expressing dissatisfaction, McLoughlin declined to elaborate.

Schere Leaves When the Questioning Starts. McLoughlin Defends the Board Decision Alone.

Does September 11 make a difference. McLoughlin says, ‘no.’

In a revealing answer, one Council member asked if the Board had considered the need for Dr. Yanofsky’s expertise after the Twin Towers attack. McLoughlin acknowledged they had, but decided a replacement for Dr. Yanofsky would have to be found sometime and there would never be a good time.

Only two Board of Education members attended the gathering: Michelle Tratoros and Dorothy Schere, in addition to McLoughlin. After saying, “Dorothy Schere is sinking very fast,” Schere left for the evening, after the first two parents got up and started the long orderly, sometimes loud, inquisition of the Board President. Schere was reportedly ill. However she had stayed for over an hour before being too ill to continue, apparently. Tratoros did not make any comments. Stephen Sules, Larry Geiger, Richard Bernstein and Susan Kirkpatrick did not attend.

Emotional, firm Parent Voices Highly Critical of the Board.

The predominant theme running through the discussion was the Board should have sought input from the community, and asked comment on Yanofsky leadership prior to last April.McLoughlin said that was a very difficult thing to do, because of the sensitive nature of the evaluation process. She also staunchly said the Board had the right to choose a Superintendent on its own judgment.

Petition Movement Is “Not Doing Badly.”

A parent organizing a petition drive calling on the Board to reverse its decision told WPCNR that signatures are accumulating, and that it was “not doing badly.” She said some parents refused to sign, but the drive was ongoing. Petitions are available for signing at What a Bagel Cafe and Pretty Petals.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cappelli Financing Appears to Be In Place as Major Firms Join the Project.

WPCNR has learned that major design and engineering firms have engaged with the project and begun producing detailed plans to begin construction, indicating financing has been arranged and locked up, but simply not announced.
Observers of the paper trail involving the City Center project have alerted WPCNR that they expect the financing for the Cappelli City Center is in place and has already closed, despite no official announcement.

Evidence for this from seasoned construction experts familiar with the way projects work is that new players have joined the project to work in teams on separate facets of the project: retail, movies, and residential. The sources, close to the project, report the firms engaged are prominent well-known firms which do not do work “on spec,” and are very expensive. This would indicate that Cappelli Enterprises has proceeded to hire them to prepare the detailed blueprints needed for official construction to begin.

A tip-off is that National Amusements has its design team working on the theaters portion of the project, so that firm obviously things it is a “go.”

Mayor Delfino indicated this in the Tuesday evening Candidate’s Forum held at Highlands Middle School in which he said Louis Cappelli had said financing was on track and he expected to close on it in November.

Another factor indicating that closing on the financing has been done is that closing dates do not normally fluctuate on deals this big. Cappelli had said he was closing September 25.

This gives rise to the speculation on part of skeptics that announcement of the closing is being held back, so as not to influence the election coming up November 6, by according Mayor Delfino and his candidates positive publicity. Mr. Cappelli has rarely let grass grow under his feet on this project. Now it appears his hiring of major national firms to prepare plans and designs in fulltilt would at the very least indicate there is no problem, or most likely, that the closing has already taken place.

Posted in Uncategorized

Board Publicly Pilloried. Petitions Perking. $$$crutiny Starts.

White Plains School District administrators and parents harangued the Board of Education Monday evening at a routine public work session, demanding the Board reverse its decision to dismiss Superintendent of Schools, Saul Yanofsky. New Curriculum Head first to face revealing Board queries on consultant-use.

The Board of Education, after experiencing a weekend of private telephone calls to their residences, faced the music Monday evening and listened silently for a hour as key school administrators praised Saul Yanofsky and condemned the Board decision. Parent attendees were more vocal and pointed in their criticism. At one point, School Board President Donna McLaughlin was reported “close to tears.”

School President Donna McLaughlin, according to two CitizeNetReporter operatives, opened the routine work session on curriculum saying that she would allow time for some public comment by the district administrative heads, principals on the firing of Saul Yanofsky that was announced last Wednesday.

Nothing new as to what’s behind the sack. No wrong doing involved.

McLaughlin read a statement at the outset of the meeting which was described by our observer, as not shedding any more light on the reasons for the dismissal of the 12-year superintendent.

“Donna said that the district thanked Sal Yanofsky for all his work and contributions, the first time the Board has said thank you,” said Althea Fusco, who was in attendance. “Donna also said there was absolutely no impropriety or wrongdoing on Dr. Yanofsky’s part involved in the decision.”

She said that Hugh McKiernan, Principal of Mamaroneck Avenue School, and President of the Administrators and Supervisors Association (in the district) stood and spoke on behalf of the supervisors about Dr. Yanofsky. He praised Dr. Yanofsky’s work over the years, and she reports him saying that he had never heard of any criticism of Dr. Yanofsky over the years.

No “Path” by McLoughlin

Parents protested more vehemently. Fusco reports at one point McLoughlin, (reportedly the only board member who spoke to the irate audience), reached out to the angry parents to “travel with us down this new path together as we always have.”

This was met with the question from one parent, “But, what is that path?”

McLoughlin did not say anything in response as to what new directions the Board was planning to take that Dr. Yanofsky apparently by the board’s guarded comments was not willing to take.

Other comments during the one hour blast-session, Ms. Fusco reports, criticized language of the letter sent by the Board, announcing Dr. Yanofsky’s departure effective in June, 2002. The letter was criticised for its run-on sentences and for not officially thanking the superintendent. The board was accused of being “unethical” in dismissing the Superintendent without taking the matter up with the community.

What a Night to Present a Curriculum!

Meanwhile, what was new Assistant Suprintendent for Curriculum, JoAnna Maccario, thinking? She is a no-nonsense, pleasant and earnest woman, so typical of the “White Plains School Professional” who operates with the same intensity and commitment as her predecessor, Constance Iervolino. You could tell in the respective and fiesty way she answered questions and presented.

Here she is, on the job three months, fresh out of New York City, thinking she is taking a job in a stable school district with a great reputation, and here the parents and administrators are to a person blasting the Board of Education. It must have made her feel right at home.

In what was anticlimactic at best, Ms. Maccario presented a powerpoint presentation on the curriculum for the 2001-02 year. She will present the “Curriculum Show” again at the PTA Council meeting on Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 PM at Education House.

Clues Emerge as to the Board of Education New Era

WPCNR did not hear all the presentation, coming in through the glass doors of the Board meeting room (the front door to Education House was locked), however, we arrived.

The first comments made by Board of Education President McLaughlin to Ms. Maccario, were whether there were any “new initiatives or content?”

Maccario said, “it was a continuation of things we’ve been doing.”

Consultant Evaluation Asked.

McLaughlin also asked if the consultants contracted to conduct new teacher and staff development were doing what they were hired to achieve. Maccario responded they were working to get “something quantifiable” on the success of the consultants, and the success of student improvement based on consultant-derived methods and training procedures, saying “Quality of work is what we need.”

“Are we all on the same page?” McLaughlin asked.

“That’s what we’re starting to feel,” Maccario answered.

“I just want to be sure that the money were spending is meeting the need.” McLaughlin said casually.

Dorothy Schere made it pleasantly clear in Ms. Schere’s casual voice, “We just want to make sure whether or not it’s (the consultant-spending) is helping to teach, and how you go about evaluating these consultants.”

Maccario said she would devote a session with the Board to consultant evaluation, and said she would find “some way of us having a healthy conversation on this topic.”

Pre-K effectiveness inquiry.

Michelle Tratoros, another member of the board asked a question about Pre-K effectiveness and got an answer from Ms. Maccario that non-English speaking Pre-K-ers “at the end of six months, still had no English.”

Yanofsky a silent observer. No back-up this time.

Dr. Yanofsky in the past when his assistant superintendents would make presentations and run into questions from the Board of Education members, amplified the extenuating circumstances influencing the condition being called into question.

This Yanofsky trait of standing up for his people, endearing him to his staff, was obviously not coming from a clearly hurt and troubled Dr. Yanofsky, sitting to the left of Donna McLaughlin at the very end of the table.

Lewis Trippett a silent witness.

Our CitizeNetReporter operatives report Mr. Tippett, a member of the Board of Education at the time it voted to remove Dr. Yanofsky last April was in the audience.

They report he did not rise to aid Ms. McLaughlin in facing the shock and displeasure voiced by everyone in the audience.

Our operative said that Mr. Trippett was asked by those around him in the audience, how the board could dismiss Yanofsky, and Mr. Trippett responded, “Well, you don’t know the stories we heard.”

However, when pressed by persons around him for those stories, Mr. Trippett did not elaborate on what the board had been told.

Trippett the Trigger?

WPCNR has pieced together from three different sources that Mr. Trippett may be the driving force behind Yanofsky’s ouster. The feeling we encountered was there was rivalry over power between the two men.

Another source advised there is some unhappiness over two new principals in the district, and that contributed to the decision.

Another observer we spoke with over the weekend, pointed out Trippett was a very strong advocate of school standards testing. Yanofsky was critical of the way in which the New York State Education Department administered and conducted the tests. He consistently maintained that the state lack of liaison on test content resulted in misleading representation of district performances.

Dr. Yanofsky was an outspoken champion for other school districts seeking to alter the testing procedure. Another source said this was a direct challenge to the teachers by the Board of Education because the Board resented the latest teacher contract Yanofsky negotiated.

Budget Balooning a Concern?

A source tonight told WPCNR that Board members Ms. Schere, Ms. Tratoros, Mr. Stephen Sules, and Mr. Richard Bernstein were “quite conservative,” translating that into consistent concern for budget impact of special programs and special education. Yanofsky has championed special need after special need. Another source Friday said the 9% increase in the 01-02 budget shocked the board, and “was the last straw,” and contributed to their decision to end Dr. Yanofsky’s employment.

First Comments Reveal “New Path?”

Based on the first words heard from the board tonight in response to their new Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, costs of performance-enhancing programs are going to be scrutinized “on the new path” Ms. McLaughlin is talking about.

The fact that the first comments to their new Assistant Superintendent, after her slide show, revolved right off the bat over the value of consultants for training teachers and evaluation of them, may be just coincidental.

To be fair, other comments may have been made of a positive nature by Board Members during the presentation of Ms. Maccario which we did not see.

“There’s No Money Here. It’s All Accounted For.”

However consider this exchange for what it is worth: Uneasy laughter came from the board when Ms. Maccario said that working for the New York City Board of Education, she could always find extra money for things and always put in for them.

She said this in a very humorous way. There was a chuckle from the board, and someone remarked, “well there’s no extra money here. It’s all accounted for.”

Nervous laughter was uttered by the seven Board Members.

Ms.Maccario got her request in anyway, saying she hoped for laptops for her staff to faciliate communication. Nobody laughed.

Petitions being circulated.

WPCNR has learned that parents have begun to circulate petitions through their neighborhoods today calling on the Board to reintstate Dr. Yanofsky. Petitions ask residents of the city who are eligible to vote to sign the following resolution:

Petition to Retain Saul Yanofsky

AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE WHITE PLAINS CITY SCHOOLS


We, the undersigned, are appalled at the decision of the White Plains Board of Education not to renew the contract of our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Saul Yanofsky. While the Board of Education may technically have the right to make such a decision, they have a clear ethical obligation to represent the voters who elected them and to seek input from the community before making such a critical decision. We maintain that they have clearly failed in this obligation and that they move immediately to reverse this decision and offer Dr. Yanofsky the opportunity to remain as our Superintendent.

Teachers Union to Meet Tuesday at 4 to Consider Response

Jerry Gorski, President of the White Plains Teachers Association, commented to WPCNR on the Yanofsky denouement,
“I was shocked just like everybody else when I got the letter. I didn’t see it coming. We’re having a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to consider the matter. It is a regularly scheduled meeting.”
Gorski said he had “no official response at this time.”

Gorski reported that, to his knowledge, there was no legal mechanism to overturn the Board decision. He said the Board of Education has “final say in all personnel matters, and that’s that.”

He said he spoke to the Board President (McLaughlin), and she said “no more to me, than was said in the letter” to the district.

Yanofsky has not confided in Gorski. He keeps it to himself.

Gorski remarked that the teachers “couldn’t believe it. They are angry. They did not like the letter, and the way it was stated.”

The WPTA President said Yanofsky was “going about his business.”
Our correspondents at the Education House meeting Monday said Yanofsky appeared genuinely touched by the spontaneous display of support.

Westchester Superintendents Shocked.

A person speaking to New Rochelle’s Superintendent of Schools said that that superintendent said they were shocked Yanofsky had been let go, “He’s the most respected superintendent in Westcheser County.”

Based on the outcry Monday night, he is also the most respected superintendent by the people who work for him and the parents who trust their children to him.

The Big Hurt.

Passing Dr. Yanofsky on the way out between the dignified columns of Education House, we noted Yanofsky talking with a companion in the shadows. We saw his withdrawn melancholy. The soft features of his face. The reticence, so unlike him, and wondered about the personal discipline it took to keep this hurt secret for six months.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tigers Fight Flags, File Saunders, 14-6, on Good Hands of Mr. Lee

White Plains High School won its fourth straight football game in the autumnal palette of Parker Stadium Saturday with Jeff Lee scoring both touchdowns.

Evan McGuire gave us a WPCNR exclusive report on the Tigers latest win Saturday crediting stalwart defensive play for shutting down Saunders except for one 60 yard TD pass play in the first half.

Saunders tried a pitch back to one of their runners on their very first possession in the first quarter. They were not ready for Jeff Lee, the F-14 fighter jet that patrols linebacker for the Tigers, on routine sortee.

Air Strike!

Lee roared into the backfield in his best Lawrence Taylor imitation and picked off the pitchback. He was off! Off to paydirt racing 70 yards to light up a “6” on the scoreboard in the North End. Saunders came back in the first quarter on a 60-yard pass, missing the point to make it 7-6.
“It was real close (after that) the whole game,” McGuire reports. “We caught a couple of breaks. Nobody wanted to give up. We contained them a lot on defense.”

Scoreless second half.

The Tigers scored again late in the first half on a third down from the Saunders 22 yard line, when Darrell Mack hit “Mr. Lee” on a quick snap slant pass over the middle. Lee executed has fearless turn and catch and turned on the afterburners. He left the secondary in his wake for a 13-6 lead, plus point and the Tigers were up, 14-6 at the half.

McGuire reports the Tigers failed to put away Saunders in the second half having a touchdown called back because of a hold in the 4th quarter. He said it was a penalty filled game that prevented either offense from getting things going. Spectators at the Parker bowl were loudly critical of the officiating the entire game.

Lee saved the game picking off a pass in the last two minutes to stall Saunders’ drive for the equalizer.

Credits coaches for turnaround.

McGuire said that Coach Santa Donato and his staff “have good ways to motivate everybody. After our first two losses, our goal was to run the table. Everybody wants to get better and win every week. The coaches want to teach and motivate us to get better.”

White Plains, thanks to an offense that seems to come up with big plays when they have to, and a defense that consistently stops drives has turned its season around. WPCNR asked McGuire about the outstanding open field tackling and pursuit the Tiger Dee has used to contain explosive offensives.

“He who tackles most tackles best.

McGuire credits the outstanding open field tackling we’ve seen to practice, “We’ve had a lot more emphasis on the fundamentals this year. We’ve done a lot of repetition on tackling. We have a defensive pursuit drill every practice.”

McGuire admires Jeff Lee with “finding ways to shake tackles.” Asked about the passing game, produceing some great clutch plays, mostly to “Mr. Lee,” McGuire says, “We wish we did not have to pass. We like to pound the ball in. When we’re blocking and running well, we don’t need to pass. We like ball control.”

Next week the Tigers are at home to play Lincoln, a game that was postponed from September at 1:30 PM.

At halftime, the White Plains High School Band entertained and spectators were complimentary about their forming a formation, described as a big “W” on the field, and the “Big Ten” sound of “Great Balls of Fire.”

Posted in Uncategorized

School Board: Time for New Leader. Yanofsky Inflexible.

Stephen Sules and Larry Geiger of the School Board confirmed to WPCNR Thursday Dr. Saul Yanofsky consistently disagreed with the School Board on issues they refused to identify, forcing the Board decision not to renew his contract. They depicted Dr. Yanofsky as committed to his vision for the School District mission, citing the need for “a fresh look,” “new leadership.”

WPCNR also learned from Mr. Sules and Mrs. Donna McLaughlin, School Board President that the decision to remove Dr. Yanofsky effective at the end of his contract was made “by consensus” in executive session last April. No vote was taken.

Time for a New Leader, Trippett says.

Lewis Trippett, Board Member at the time of the change, commenting Thursday evening said the board acted because they felt “it was the appropriate time for a change in leadership of the School District.”

Trippett added that the parents in the White Plains school district would be involved “extensively” in the search process for a new superintendent. He said the search firm had not been engaged yet, that the school board would be providing a profile of the kind of superintendent they were seeking to the firm.

What’s wrong with the school district? No answer

Asked repeatedly why Dr. Yanofsky suddenly no longer possessed those qualities, Trippett would not comment, repeating the mantra that Mrs. McLaughlin, Dorothy Schere, Larry Geiger and Mr. Sules advised WPCNR:

Tthey were looking for a fresh look, a new direction for the district, without articulating what that direction was.

Geiger most candid.

Lawrence Geiger praised Dr. Yanofsky’s contributions to the district, pointing out the district had renewed Yanofsky’s contract four times since 1989,

“As to why he’s been let go, we realized it would be better for the kids with new leadership. We felt a new person would take a fresh look at many of the issues we’re facing. It’s really a personnel matter. We made a judgement call that’s between the board and him. We need to maintain the strength and the direction the district should go.”

Asked if this meant the Board was dissatisfied with district performance, Geiger would not comment, but mentioned, “there’s always room for improvement.”

Geiger made the strongest statement yet that what we saw at the docile Board of Education meetings on the first Monday of the month, was not a true picture of the Board relationship with Dr.Yanofsky. saying,

“There were a number of differences that could not be resolved. I think it’s the best way not to go into specifics.”

Board deliberated long, Sules reports.>

“This decision was not reached quickly, ” Sules said, reached at his home Thursday night. “It took quite awhile. There were some differences of opinion (between Yanofsky and the Board) that he delivered. We felt we needed a fresh look at the challenges of the District. We need someone very forward looking at this time. The Board believes this is the time to search for a new leader who would provide a fresh look.”

Board Member Michelle Tratoros declined comment and referred WPCNR to Ms. McLoughlin. Richard Bernstein, reached at his New York office, referred us to Mr. Sules and Ms. McLoughlin. New Board member Susan Kirkpatrick, did not return our call.

Can you Keep a Secret? The School Board Can.

Asked why the board kept this secret for six months, Mr. Trippett objected, saying it was not kept secret.

Trippett said, “We just didn’t publicize it.”

However, neither the CO-President of the White Plains PTA Council, numerous teachers, and key members of the City School District contacted by WPCNR knew their leadership was changing for six months until Wednesday of this week.

The Saul Man On the Job Through June. Geiger feels no problem in filling slot.

Yanofsky will fulfill his contract through June of 2002. Mr. Geiger said he felt confident they would have a successor to Yanofsky by Spring, 2002,

“When we hired Saul in 1989-90, we advertised the opening in the fall of 1989 and had Saul on board in March, 1990,” Geiger recalled. However, last year according to Rosemary Williams of the Middle School PTA, there were 11 Superintendent’s jobs unfilled in Westchester County.

Parents, key teachers dumbfounded.

Three key personalities in the school district were shocked by the news. They could not make sense of the Board’s decision, and could not shed any light on any particular policy difference Yanofsky had with the board that would explain his being dismissed.

One White Plains teacher said it felt to her “like a death in the family.”

Yanofsky’s accomplishments in 12 years:

Dr. Saul Yanofsky was eulogized while still living today by every district worker we talked to. WPCNR, on short notice, credits him as having brought balanced schools to White Plains painlessly, computer-networked the School District in a way that is the envy of every other Westchester School District, met the challenge of the New York State standardized tests, raised the test scores of ESOL (English Spanish Other Language) students, initiated pre-K and all-day kindergarten programs, and consistently fought eloquently for his students.

Posted in Uncategorized

Habla Espanol?Now WPCNR comes in Spanish, 4 other languages!

It is fitting that with the Hispanic Parade coming up this Saturday, WPCNR, thanks to the cutting edge Westchester Wire Network, now offers the opportunity to read all stories in Spanish. Just pick your language by going to the Translator Box on the left (just below the Reader Comments!).
White Plains CitizeNetReporter is proud to announce the only daily foreign language editions of White Plains news. You can choose to read WPCNR’s exclusive insider reporting on White Plains events, deals, coverups, breakthroughs, successes and failures on school, city hall, politics, and sports in any one of five languages.

Simply move your trusty cursor to the Translate Feature box on the left of this column (It’s just below the reader comments, my favorite part of the site!)

Click on the downward pointing arrow and select the language you prefer: English, Spanish, French, German or Italian.

Sean Cover who acquires these bells and whistles for we network affiliates says it is very good. Give it a test and tell your Spanish-speaking, French, German or Italian friends about it.

And let us know how good the translation is!

Posted in Uncategorized

A Military Man on Biological Threats

Retired Military Specialist SFC Red Thomas (Ret) gives his “Take” on Media Hysteria Over chemical weapons. Information appears authentic, and was forwarded to us by the postmaster general’s office.
Since the media has decided to scare everyone with predictions of chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare on our turf I decided to write a paper and keep things in their proper perspective. I am a retired military weapons, munitions, and training expert.

Lesson number one: (Toxic Gases)

In the mid 1990′s there were a series of nerve gas attacks on crowded Japanese subway stations. Given perfect conditions for an attack less than 10% of the people there were injured (the injured were better in a few hours) and only one percent of the injured died.

60 Minutes once had a fellow telling us that one drop of nerve gas could kill a thousand people. Well he didn’t tell you the thousand dead people per drop was theoretical. Drill Sergeants exaggerate how terrible this stuff was to keep the recruits awake in class (I know this because I was a Drill Sergeant, too).

Forget everything you’ve ever seen on TV, in the movies, or read in
a novel about this stuff, it was all a lie (read this sentence again out loud!)!

These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm, you will probably not die. This is far less scary than the media and their “Experts,” make it sound.

Chemical weapons are categorized as Nerve, Blood, Blister, and Incapacitating agents. Contrary to the hype of reporters and politicians, they are not weapons of mass destruction they are “Area denial,” and
terror weapons that don’t destroy anything.

When you leave the area you almost always leave the risk. That’s the difference; you can leave the area and the risk; soldiers may have to stay put and sit through it and that’s why they need all that spiffy gear.

These are not gasses, they are vapors and/or air borne particles. The agent must be delivered in sufficient quantity to kill/injure, and that defines when/how it’s used.

Every day we have a morning and evening inversion where “stuff,” suspended in the air gets pushed down. This inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air pollution are worst at these times of the day.

So, a chemical attack will have its best effect an hour of so either side of sunrise/sunset. Also, being vapors and airborne particles, they are heavier than air so they will seek low places like ditches, basements and underground garages. This stuff won’t work when it’s freezing, it doesn’t last when it’s hot, and wind spreads it too thin too fast.

They’ve got to get this stuff on you, or, get you to inhale it for it to work. They also have to get the concentration of chemicals high enough to kill or wound you. Too little and it’s nothing, too much and it’s wasted.

What I hope you’ve gathered by this point is that a chemical weapons attack that kills a lot of people is incredibly hard to do with military grade agents and equipment, so you can imagine how hard it will be for terrorists.

The more you know about this stuff the more you realize how hard it is to use.

We’ll start by talking about nerve agents. You have these in your house, plain old bug killer (like Raid) is a nerve agent. All nerve agents work the same way; they are cholinesterase inhibitors that mess up the signals your nervous system uses to make your body function.

It can harm you if you get it on your skin but it works best if they can get you to inhale it. If you don’t die in the first minute and you can leave the area you’re probably gonna live. The military’s antidote for all nerve agents is atropine and pralidoxime chloride.

Neither one of these does anything to cure the nerve agent, they send your body into overdrive to keep you alive for five minutes, after that the agent is used up. Your best protection is fresh air and staying calm.

Listed below are the symptoms for nerve agent poisoning:

Sudden headache, Dimness of vision (someone you’re looking at will have pinpointed pupils), Runny nose, Excessive saliva or drooling, Difficulty breathing, Tightness in chest, Nausea, Stomach cramps, Twitching of exposed skin where a liquid just got on you.

If you are in public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask yourself, did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick too?

Is there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something fruity, or camphor where it shouldn’t be?

If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you breathe faster and inhale more air/poison), leave the area and head up wind, or, outside. Fresh air is the best “right now antidote”. If you have a blob of liquid that looks like molasses or Kayro syrup on you; blot it or scrape it off and away from yourself with anything disposable.

This stuff works based on your body weight, what a crop duster uses to kill bugs won’t hurt you unless you stand there and breathe it in real deep, then lick the residue off the ground for while.

Remember they have to do all the work, they have to get the concentration up and keep it up for several minutes while all you have to do is quit getting it on you/quit breathing it by putting space between you and the attack.

Blood agents.

Blood agents are cyanide or arsine which effect your blood’s ability to provide oxygen to your tissue. The scenario for attack would be the same as nerve agent. Look for a pop or someone splashing/spraying something and folks around there getting woozy/falling down. The telltale smells are bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn’t be.

The symptoms are blue lips, blue under the fingernails, rapid breathing. The military’s antidote is amyl nitride, and just like nerve agent antidote it just keeps your body working for five minutes till the toxins are used up. Fresh air is the your best individual chance.

Blister Agents

Blister agents (distilled mustard) are so nasty that nobody wants to even handle it let alone use it. It’s almost impossible to handle safely and may have delayed effect of up to 12 hours.

The attack scenario is also limited to the things you’d see from other chemicals. If you do get large, painful blisters for no apparent reason, don’t pop them, if you must, don’t let the liquid from the blister get on any other area, the stuff just keeps on spreading. It’s just as likely to harm the user as the target. Soap, water, sunshine, and fresh air are this stuff’s enemy.

Bottom line on chemical weapons (it’s the same if they use industrial chemical spills); they are intended to make you panic, to terrorize you, to herd you like sheep to the wolves.

If there is an attack, leave the area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream. They have to get the stuff to you, and on you. You’re more likely to be hurt by a drunk driver on any given day than be hurt by one of these attacks. Your odds get better if you leave the area. Soap, water, time, and fresh air really deal this stuff a knock_out_punch.

Don’t let fear of an isolated attack rule your life. The odds are really on your side.

Nuclear bombs.

These are the only weapons of mass destruction on earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun isn’t, fall to the ground!

The heat will be over a second. Then there will be two blast waves, one out going, and one on it’s way back. Don’t stand up to see what happened after the first wave; anything that’s going to happen will have happened in two full minutes.

These will be low yield devices and will not level whole cities. If you live through the heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation, you’ll probably live for a very, very, long time. Radiation will not create fifty foot tall women, or giant ants and grass hoppers the size of tanks.

These will be at the most 1 kiloton bombs; that’s the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT.

Here’s the real deal, flying debris and radiation will kill a lot of exposed (not all!) people within a half mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions this is about a half mile circle of death and destruction, but, when it’s done it’s done.

EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will fry every electronic device for a good distance, it’s impossible to say what and how far but probably not over a couple of miles from ground zero is a good guess. Cars, cell phones, computers, ATMs, you name it, all will be out of order.

There are lots of kinds of radiation, you only need to worry about three, the others you have lived with for years. You need to worry about “Ionizing radiation,” these are little sub atomic particles that go whizzing along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells in your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going.

That’s how you get radiation poisoning, you have so many dead cells in your body that the decaying cells poison you. It’s the same as people getting radiation treatments for cancer, only a bigger area gets radiated.

The good news is you don’t have to just sit there and take it, and there’s lots you can do rather than panic. First; your skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a news paper or your clothing will stop beta particles, you just gotta try and avoid inhaling dust that’s contaminated with atoms that are emitting these things and you’ll be generally safe from them.

Gamma rays are particles that travel like rays (quantum physics makes my brain hurt) and they create the same damage as alpha and beta particles, only they keep going and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through your body. It takes a lot to stop these things, lots of dense material, on the other hand it takes a lot of this to kill you.

Aftermath

Your defense is as always to not panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation poisoning will not effect plants so fruits and vegetables are OK if there’s no dust on em (rinse em off if there is).

If you don’t have running water and you need to collect rain water or use water from wherever, just let it sit for thirty minutes and skim off the water gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and the remaining water can be used for the toilet which will still work if you have a bucket of water to pour in the tank.

Biological Warfare

Finally there’s biological warfare. There’s not much to cover here. Basic personal hygiene and sanitation will take you further than a million doctors. Wash your hands often, don’t share drinks, food, sloppy kisses, etc., … with strangers. Keep your garbage can with a tight lid on it, don’t have standing water (like old buckets, ditches, or kiddie pools) laying around to allow mosquitoes breeding room. This stuff is carried by vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and contaminated material.

If biological warfare is so easy as the TV makes it sound, why has Saddam Hussein spent twenty years, millions, and millions of dollars trying to get it right? If you’re clean of person and home you eat well and are active you’re gonna live.

Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you’d take for a big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff and I’m not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one either (how’s that for confidence?). We have a week’s worth of cash, several days worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We don’t leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don’t have them.

These people can’t conceive a nation this big with this much resources. These weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to demoralize. If we don’t run around like sheep, they won’t use this stuff after they find out it’s no fun. The government is going nuts over this stuff because they have to protect every inch of America. You’ve only gotta protect yourself, and by doing that, you help the country.

Finally, there are millions of caveats to everything I wrote here and you can think up specific scenarios where my advice isn’t the best. This letter is supposed to help the greatest number of people under the greatest number of situations. If you don’t like my work, don’t nit pick, just sit down and explain chemical, nuclear, and biological warfare in a document around three pages long yourself.

This is how we the people of the United States can rob these people of their most desired goal, your terror.

SFC Red Thomas (Ret)
Armor Master Gunner
Mesa, AZ

Posted in Uncategorized

McLaughlin Refuses to Reveal New Direction for School District

School Board President, Donna O. McLaughlin, after keeping the firing of Saul Yanofsky secret for six months, would not comment on what areas of operations the Board felt a new superintendent needed to address to the Board satisfaction, which caused the Board to not renew the 12-year Superintendent’s contract.
Mrs. McLaughlin, interviewed by WPCNR, said the Board had decided to not renew Dr. Yanofsky’s contract as of last April and had chosen not to release the decision until now.

Firing by mutual consent. Consistent policy clashes.

Dorothy Schere, another member of the school board, after hanging up on WPCNR twice, the first time when asked what Dr. Yanofsky did wrong, saying, “I’m not going to go tit for tat,” revealed that “the board and Saul Yanofsky had a number of policy differences over a long period of time, and we agreed it could not go on and agreed to a parting of the ways.”
Ms. McLoughlin, in an earlier interview had said the board needed “to start fresh, strengthen and freshen the district approach,” without saying what needed freshening.

The sacking of Yanofsky was mutually agreed upon between the Board and Dr. Yanofsky last April. Schere said that Yanofsky and the Board had agreed to keep it a secret because last spring was not an appropriate time to announce it. (The School budget and school board elections were held in May.)

Yanofsky’s contract, according to McLoughlin, states that the school district has to inform him fourteen months in advance whether or not they intend to renew his contract.

No direction revealed in superintendent search

McLoughlin, despite repeated questioning by WPCNR would not say where the board and their Superintendent disagreed on policy.

When asked what kind of superintendent they were looking for as to strengths he or she could bring to the school district that Yanofsky did not have, she would not specify what the board felt it needed in a new district leader.

Parents input will be sought.

She said that parents would be invited to participate in a process expressing what they were looking for in a Superintendent, and to voice their concerns to the search firm. She said a search firm had not been hired yet. The District has eight months and thirteen days to find that person before Dr. Yanofsky leads.

Schere said the Board planned to hire a search firm for Dr. Yanofsky’s successor in November.

She said the parents of the district would be notified as to their opportunities for participation in expressing what kind of administrator they would want to replace Dr. Yanofsky. Schere said that they could not hire a search firm earlier because it would not have been appropriate or in the best interest of either party. She did not say why.

Richard Lasselle, the Assistant Superintendent for Business, who is under contract to the school district for three more years, said he knew about the departure at the end of last week, when Dr. Yanofsky told him personally. He said he knew it was nothing of a personal nature, but had no idea as to why the Board was dismissing its leader. Not being in executive sessions with Dr. Yanofsky and the Board, he said he had no idea where the conflicts were.

School Board can keep a secret.

This was a well-kept secret by the Board of Education. Sources WPCNR have spoken to said even Dr. Yanofsky’s secretary did not know until Wednesday night of this week. Co-President of the White Plains PTA Council, Nancy Smith, learned of this by a phone call today, Thursday.

Ms. Smith said she was getting lots of phone calls from parents, and was stunned by the news. “I like him,” she said, and found the news “unbelievable.” She expressed an immediate concern as to the lack of a defined period of transition between Dr. Yanofsky and his successor.

“Will continue on same path.”

McLoughlin commented that the district was dedicated to the best education for the school district children and that they would “continue on the same path Dr. Yanofsky has blazed.” She said she had great confidence in the administration and personnel of the district to carry on without Dr. Yanofsky at the helm.

Yanofsky will continue in his position until June 30, 2002.

Posted in Uncategorized

FLASH!!! School Board: Saul Yanofsky fired after 12 years

The White Plains Board of Education announced Wednesday that Dr. Saul Yanofsky is leaving as Superintendent of Schools at the end of his contract.

The decision to not renew Dr. Yanofsky’s contract which expires in June, 2002, was announced in a letter to school parents, dated October 17 and received October 18.

The official letter signed by Donna O. McLaughlin, President, White Plains Board of Education, commenting on the school leader’s departure stated:

“We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions that Dr. Yanofsky has made over the 12 years of his tenure, however, in recent years the Board and the Superintendent have had a number of significant differences. After much discussion and deliberation, the decision has been made to change leadership.

Dr. Yanofsky was unavailable for comment as to the nature of the significant differences.

Ed House Shocked. Announced Thursday morning

Michelle Schoenfeld, spokesperson for the school district, was unavailable for comment. However, WPCNR querying the receptionist found that the ed house staff was just informed of the Superintendent’s departure this Thursday morning. No further information was available.

School Board to initiate search.

Mrs. McLaughlin’s letter to district parents said:
“Although the responsibility for selecting a new superintendent rests solely with the Board of Education, we will provide opportunities for input from the entire community during the hiring process. We will share specific details regarding the search for a new superintendent in the near future.”

Yanofsky continues; will “provide leadership.

McLaughlin commented in her letter to the District that Dr. Yanofsky “will continue to provide leadership and direct the initiatives and activities for the district through the rest of the school year.”

Dean of School District Leaders is Pacesetter for Westchester County School Districts.

Yanofsky is looked to by Westchester School Superintendents as the lead negotiator and pacesetter in education issues. They have looked to Yanofsky for leadership in matters of teacher contract negotiations, school standards, and district management issues. As White Plains District goes, so goes the county, has been the impression.

Dr. Yanofsky has been a very vocal critic of the way in which the Department of Education operates in administering its state standard tests, and has been the lead Westchester spokesman in Albany on that issue.

He has also upgraded and adjusted White Plains school curricula to produce test scores that have improved on state mandated tests since they were instituted four years ago.

Yanofsky is the second administrative heavyweight to leave the district in five months. The district lost Dr. Constance Iervolino, its Curriculum Chief in September.

Posted in Uncategorized

Fuel Pools Housed.”Years” to Close. County Unhappy with Gannett

A spokesman for Entergy, has confirmed to WPCNR, what an independent nuclear engineer consultant told us Sunday evening about the Indian Point safety procedures. The County Executive’s office accused Gannett’s Sunday Meltdown report panicking the area as “not responsible journalism.”

Here’s the situation: a professional nuclear engineer informed WPCNR Sunday evening the nuclear fuel waste dumps at Indian Point, are enclosed in concrete and steel-reinforced buildings. Indian Point has to comply, he said, with strict, projectile and earthquake-resistant standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for these pools. These standards for fuel waste containment are in effect at all United States nuclear power plant facilities, according to our source. Now Entergy has confirmed his information.

Entergy: fuel pools enclosed in “substantial building.”

Tuesday, Jim Steets, Communications Director for Entergy, told WPCNR, the nuclear fuel waste pools on the Indian Point site were housed in a “substantial building,” confirming what our nuclear correspondent described. Reports published as late as Tuesday would lead readers to believe the fuel pools are open to the air like sewage treatment plants. This is not true according to Mr. Steets.

Indian Point Has Own Fire Department.

Mr. Steets reported in response to our query about firefighting capabilities, that Indian Point has its own fire department on the premises. He said it is prepared to handle major fires there with backup from two other departments in the area. He said the fire chief of his in-house department, he assumed has been reviewing his department capability to handle jet-fuel fires because of the World Trade Center disaster.

He said he would confirm how his fire fighters were equipped to handle such a conflagration. Sheets said Entergy, because of their current state of security alert, would not be able to take WPCNR on an inspection of the facilities at this time.

Legislator Assured Meltdown Not Possible.

County Legislator, George Oros for the Town of Cortlandt and Peekskill, interviewed by WPCNR Tuesday, said Entergy had given county legislators a briefing last Wednesday.
The County Legislator said, through the briefing, he learned that “The plant cannot ‘meltdown’ because of the built-in safeguards in place, and it won’t explode because the uranium and fuel are not of a weapons grade.”

Oros confirmed officially for WPCNR that Entergy’s Indian Point plant furnished 20% of New York State electricity, while generating 1% or $3 million in property taxes to Westchester County. The Legislator added the plant paid 20% of the Town of Cortlandt’s property taxes, and approximately 40% of the town’s school taxes. He noted it employed 3,000 persons.

Oros: Three Issues to Consider About Closing Plant.

Responding to WPCNR’s question about possible closing of Indian Point, Legislator Oros told WPCNR—

“Knowing what we know now,” Oros said,“the plant should have never been there to begin with. That considered, we have to address three issues if we consider closing it: one,The loss and subsequent replacement of energy. We have to start working on that now. Two, How do you cushion the bow to the tax base, and, three, The loss of 3,000 jobs. We have to be working closely with federal and state officials to address these issues.”

The legislator said he has not been advised how long it would take to close down Indian Point. However, Mr. Steets, the Entergy spokesman spoke to that issue.
Steets told WPCNR that he was not familiar with the procedure, but felt the procedure would “take years,” most likely require special legislation, and direction from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

County Executive Moved to Act Because of Gannett “Meltdown” Article, Calls it “Not Responsible Journalism.”

WPCNR contacting the County Office of Communications on another matter learned that the County Executive office felt compelled to issue a news release detailing county confidence in Entergy Indian Point safety procedures and reassuring the public. (See earlier “Nuclear Builder” story on this site). A spokesperson for the County Communications Office said the County felt it had to respond with a news release to the story published in a Sunday Gannett news article on the front page, raising the possibility of a meltdown at Indian Point.

A spokesman who works in the County Communications Office, and a former Gannett reporter, told us on the record that the County Executive felt the article was “very alarmist, one-sided, and needed to be responded to. It was not responsible journalism.”

Entergy described as “unreachable.”

WPCNR has also learned that Entergy, the owner and operator of Indian Point, was never contacted about the premise of the Meltdown Sunday article which alleged that Indian Point would produce a radiation cloud similar to the Chernobyl disaster that appeared in Gannett papers.

WPCNR has a report that the Gannett Editor responsible for approving the Sunday Meltdown Story said the preparer of the article told her Entergy was “unreachable.”

However, Mr. Steets said a person involved in preparation of the report was on the grounds of Indian Point speaking and talking with him personally scant days before the article appeared with every opportunity to ask questions on these issues, and the individual did not.

WPCNR called up Entergy cold after six phone calls within one hour (and four of those were to information),Tuesday morning. We even got to a spokesman, Mr. Steets.

The Sunday Meltdown article has resulted in “more than normal calls,” to the County Executive’s office about the safety of Indian Point according to the County Communications office. Oros, our County Legislator interviewee, said he had received heavy phone calls because of the Gannett Sunday Meltdown article.

Posted in Uncategorized