Officers Named for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The Sunday News 02/02/02, 10:00 AM ESTInstallation of White Plains 5th Annual St.patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall will formally take place at Dooley Mac’s, Tuesday Feb 12th at 6:30.
John Martin, the former Councilperson has been named this year’s Grand Marshall. His aides are Marie Byrne, Patricia Douglass , Betty Foster, Mary Harnett, William Flooks, Rev John F. Quinn, Patrick Smith, and Mike O’Donnell.

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Cappelli Hedges Hotel Bid. Urban Renewal Agency Has No Problem With That.

Saturday Night News, Filed 02-02-02, 10:00 PM EST: In a hastily arranged meeting with the Urban Renewal Agency Friday, Cappelli Enterprises reserved the possibility of building a 5-floor City Center, while still keeping in play a 4-floor City Center with a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, pending whether or not Louis Cappelli strikes a deal with the Ritz.
In what the Mayor’s office characterized as simply a matter of bookkeeping with the Urban Renewal Agency, the 3-person URA passed without comment a provision in the Land Disposition Agreement with Cappelli Enterprises Friday morning.

Keeps Open Cappelli Ability to Build a 5-Floor City Center Without New Paperwork.

The provision inserted in the Land Disposition Agreement allows Mr. Cappelli to return to the original 5-floor configuration, should the hotel design collaborations and, presumably, negotiations do not result in a luxury 5-star hotel for the City Center and South residential spire.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said that the provision simply allows Mr. Cappelli to not have to resubmit all the legal paper work to submit a new LDA if he returns to five-floors.

Gretsas Makes Sense of It All.

Gretsas downplayed reading anything of great significance or precedence in the maneuver because, as Gretsas put it, “It’s not really a big deal. The LDA documents basically memorialize the agreement between the city and Cappelli Engerprises. The Common Council will determine whether it’s (the reduction of the number of floors) is a minor site amendment.”

Gretsas said that the Council may make that determination Monday, or within the next 30 days, or the next council which is Tuesday. On Monday evening’s agenda the Council will consider Information Item 32, Commissioner of Building Mike Gismondi’s letter declaring the Cappelli-requested City Center floor excision as a minor site plan amendent. Because the hotel plan, affects the residential portion of the project, not the retai, it would be presented separately by Cappelli to the Common Council, as an amended site plan.

Malmud: Sears possibility played into Cappelli request.

According to Councilperson Rita Malmud, speaking to WPCNR Friday afternoon, the circumstances around yesterday’s meeting arose Thursday evening when Cappelli Enterprises contacted city hall. Malmud said they asked if they could make the alteration in the LDA agreement preserving the ability to build five floors.

Malmud said the Cappelli organization indicated that Sears “has not signed on the dotted line” to bring their Great Indoor Store to City Center. She said that Cappelli Enterprises now reported Thursday and Friday that the new Sears Chief Executive Officer has expressed renewed interest in the project.

Previously, it had been rumored extensively in real estate circles, that the Sears organization had become cool to participation in the City Center and was withdrawing. Malmud also said that the previous Sears CEO, according to her information had set a moratorium on new commitments, now apparently being reconsidered by the new Sears CEO, Allan J. Lacy, who was promoted to CEO in December, 2000.

Friday, Ms. Malmud confirmed that Sears is now interested again, and Mr. Cappelli is still interested in Sears. However, to accommodate Sears, the hotel would have to go elsewhere, and Mr. Cappelli would need all five floors.

According to Malmud, Cappelli Enterprises sought a way to remain at five floors if Sears came through, preserving his 120,000 feet of retail. However, if he was locked into a four-floor building, he could not accommodate Sears. Consequently, Malmud says, Mr. Cappelli wanted to keep both options open.

Bank concern over scaling down the retail without a hotel committed.

Ms. Malmud added that it was her understanding Mr. Cappelli’s bank (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) was concerned that so much of the retail was being eliminated from the project. She said this concern was part of Cappelli’s request to not throw out the fifth floor option permanently. Mr. Cappelli latest date for closing on his financing is February 10.

Spokesman confirms Malmud analysis

Geoffrey Thompson, spokesman for Cappelli Enterprises said that the organization LDA request “preserves its flexibility,” and that was all that was sought. Thompson stated the Ritz Carlton project was still in play, that designs for the Ritz Carlton project were in progress. Asked if Mr. Cappelli was envisioning the Ritz-Carlton for another part of the complex or another parcel in the downtowm, Thompson said he had “no comment” on that.

The Cappelli request for a minor site plan amendment eliminating one floor from the project was first presented January 22, when he disclosed the Ritz-Carlton was interested in securing part of the City Center for one of their luxury hotels.

Things are looking up for Sears

The PR newswire reports that Sears is undertaking a national rebuilding program. Sears itself reports on its website that fourth quarter earnings per share were up 11%. CEO Lacy predicts earnings per share will be up 13% to 15% in 2002.

The company is remodeling 50 stores nationally by the end of the year, as part of an initiative to “revitalize its full-line stores, creating an improved, more convenient shopping experience for its customers while operating with greater efficiency.”

“We think customers will like the new look and feel of shopping at Sears,” said Sears Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Lacy. “Our stores will be easier to shop and the merchandise more appealing. We’ll emphasize better classic apparel while highlighting our strong appliance, electronics and home improvement merchandise,” Lacy concluded.

New looks planned. Part of 4-year plan.

Of the 15 new stores on target for 2002, seven are relocations at present locations. All will offer easy-to-shop layouts, with centralized checkouts and simplified signage and fixtures.

Throughout 2002 Sears plans facelifts of 50 stores. They are “the first wave” in a four-year remodeling program during which approximately 600 of Sears’ largest stores will be updated to incorporate many features of the new stores. The remodelings begin in April.

Information on Sears appears on the Sears website,

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“Friendly Gathering” To Gather March 9

Saturday Matinee News:The 2002 “Friendly Gathering,” the community St. Patrick’s Day extravaganza begun by former Councilperson Dennis Power will take place Saturday, March 9 at Kearney Gymnasium on Good Counsel Campus. This year the Honoree and recipientof the Msgnr. Ed O’Brien Community Service Award is former Councilman Frank McMahon, of McMahon Funeral Homes.
Reservations for the Gathering at $30 per person ($35 at the door) can be obtained by sending your check to Dorothy Schere, Friendly Gathering, Inc., 14 Winslow Road, White Plains, NY 10606.

Revelers will dine on corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, Irish soda bread. Beer, wine and soda are available at a cash bar.

Proceeds will benefit Grace Church Daycare, The Rainbow Connection Program at Good Counsel and Centro Hispano.

Since 1988, the Friendly Gathering has raised over $110,000 to supporty local community programs.

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Hockley Appeals Election Case to Court of Appeals

Morning Edition Filed 2-2-02, 10:00 EST: Glen Hockley has filed a Motion for Leave to the New York State Court of Appeals, with a Show Cause Order to have the state’s highest court review the Appellate Court decision ordering a new election citywide in White Plains.
According to Jeffrey Binder, attorney for Larry Delgado, the Hockley appeal was filed late Thursday afternoon, and Delgado’s attorneys are preparing their “answering papers,” expecting to have them in on Tuesday, February 5.

No oral arguments, Unless Requested.

Binder told WPCNR Saturday morning there would be nor oral argument in the case unless the Court of Appeals requested it. He said the judges would most likely decide the matter strictly on the court papers, however the seven Court of Appeals judges could bring in the attorneys for both sides for a hearing.

First, the Appeals Judges Have to Agree to Review

Binder said that Hockley’s attorney, Adam Bradley had expedited the matter by filing a show cause order, and having it signed by a Court of Appeals judge. Consequently, he expected the court to decide within a week whether or not the case would be taken up.

The decision to take the case higher makes the February 7 court appearance date set by Judge Francis Nicolai to determine a date for citywide election unlikely.

Binder said the Court of Appeals had to first decide to review the case, and then they would take up the matter.

Procedure, Procedure, Procedure.

Mr. Hockley is appealing the case on the grounds that court procedural protocols (specifically not filing for a new index number after animpounding order), were not followed by the Larry Delgado legal team in impounding the election machine in District 18 last November.

It has been the Hockley contention all along that the results in District 18 should be allowed to stand, making him the winner of the third Common Council and the case thrown out, despite the fact that the voting machine jammed on the Delgado line, clearly costing him votes.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hockley , while asking the court to deny a new election the purpose of which is to count that lost vote, has been reported allegedly “campaigning” around the city of White Plains appearing at public gatherings.

Was Delgado on the way to a win, or did Hockley pull it out in District 18?

As election polls rolled in on Election night, Delgado had trailed most of the evening, and took the lead over Hockley with only District 18 to go. Delgado’s supporters were confident that Mr. Delgado would do well in District 18, it being a strong Republican district in the past, despite being Tom Roach’s home district (Democrat candidate and certified elected councilperson). However, a strange result was reported, Delgado received only 47 votes in District 18 more than 100 votes behind his Republican co-candidates, Bob Tuck and Mike Amodio.

If the canvas results of election night (including the results of District 18 as recorded on Election Day), are allowed to stand by the Court of Appeals, Hockley wins the election, 6,140 votes to 6,093.

The Republicans felt something was wrong here. And there was. They asked that the voting machine be impounded early Wednesday morning after election night.

The voting machine in District 18, was determined to be jammed by Judge Francis Nicolai’s inquiry in December. The counter jam cost Larry Delgado approximately 100 votes he figures based on how the Republican Ticket had run citywide.

Mr. Delgado was leading Mr. Hockley going into District 18, 6,046 votes to 5,995 votes. It is the contention of the Delgado camp that Delgado would have taken District 18, beating Hockley by over 50 votes, had the voting machine not jammed on his line.

Will the Court of Appeals review the case?

According to John Ciampoli, Mr. Delgado’s other attorney, election cases did not fare well in the eyes of the Court of Appeals last year. He said in late January that the Court of Appeals received 50 cases involving elections last year and only decided to hear two.

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Rod Johnson Tapped for Deputy Commissioner of Planning

The Friday Night Final, 2-1-02, 7:15 PM EST: The Mayor’s Office announced today that Environmental Officer with the city, Rod Johnson has agreed to accept the Deputy Commissioner of Planning position. The appointment will be considered by the Common Council at the Monday evening Council Meeting.

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Morning Edition, Filed 1-31-02:Mark Schuyler has resigned from his position as Executive Director of the White Plains Downtown Business Improvement District, announcing he is moving on other fields related to special events, according to a Journal News report by Susan Elan this morning.
Harold Vogt, Director of the BID said a successor would be appointed with the responsibility of the position shifting to economic development. The ebuillient and always forthcoming Schuyler promoted various special events in his three years as Executive Director, including most recently, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Celebration. He also presided over the introduction of the Clean Sweep Program of cleaning the downtown streets during the day that has been greeted with enthusiasm by most downtown merchants.

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CCOS Appeals for $50,000 to Contest NYPH Biomedical Plan, Issues Talking Points

Morning Edition, Filed 1-31-02, 9:00 AM EST: Concerned Citizens for Open Space, the resident organization most identified with promoting a Central Park for White Plains is appealing to its membership and the public to fund their effort to frustrate the New York Presbyterian Hospital plan to construct a biomedical research complex on its property, now coming up for stage two of its public hearing Monday evening before the Common Council.
In a mailing to its membership this week from the 18-member CCOS Board, called upon citizens to write to newspapers and the Mayor and Common Council, and providing addresses of the public officials to do so, to advocate against approving the project.


The Board’s letter called the current situation “CRUNCH time,” saying “We have reached a crucial point in our fight to preserve this precious open space in the heart of our city…if the hospital is successful, our city will be dramatically and negatively changed forever.”

The letter calls for raising $50,000 to fund CCOS efforts to obtain “legal help, expert testimony on traffic, impact on real estate values, environmental issues, the impact of a Proton Bean Accelerator and appropriate city planning,” and asks the membership to renew their dues and “add as much as possible” to the membership fee.

Son of IKEA

The two-page letter points to the successful letter-writing that lead to the defeat of the IKEA development in New Rochelle as the reason why citizens should write the Mayor and Common Council to advise against the plan. It also advises that the 1984 hospital proposal to build “a city within a city” was defeated by overwhelming numbers of persons coming to City Hall to speak out in opposition.

The letter contains an address sheet of Common Council members and the Mayor, and a two-page yellow flyer of “Talking Points” to use against the project.

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Morning Edition, Filed 1-31-02, 7:15 AM: As temperatures hold above freezing, The National Weather Service cautions motorists about the possibility of freezing rain-sleet-to-all-rain segue this afternoon and evening. White Plains motorists should motor with caution.
341 AM EST THU JAN 31 2002





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Scarsdale Planners Raise Key Questions On Senior Housing

DRIVE TIME EDITION filed 1-30-02, 2:45 PM: The Scarsdale Planning Board raised tough questions Monday evening about the nature of the Realm LLC proposed seniors project planned for a 7-acre “wooded and wetlanded” site adjacent to the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester property off Saxon Woods Road.
Realm LLC is now responding to the Scarsdale Planning Board queries.

According to reports from WPCNR correspondents observing the meeting, the Scarsdale Planning Board members followed a line of questioning following issues raised by the City of White Plains officials when the matter was before the same board last year.

PROPOSED SENIORS HOUSING OR NURSING HOME SITE OFF SAXON WOODS ROAD: Realm, LLC is proposing a 300-unit senior citizen complex, the nature of which is yet unclear, for this 7-acre section in Saxon Woods. The Mamaroneck River and bridge in the right foreground of the picture are in the City of White Plains. An entrance road and water and electrical connections would go through this area to access and power up the site. The property beyond the Mamaroneck River, is in Scarsdale, subject to Scarsdale zoning.
Photo by WPCNR

Observers at the meeting in Scarsdale Town Hall Monday described the meeting as a “work session.” The public was not allowed to comment. The procedure followed was Elizabeth Marrinan, Village Planner, “went around the room,” asking the planning board members if they had questions for the developer, Realm, LLC.

Nature of Who Would Own Facility Raises Tax Questions.

One member raised the issue of who would actually own the site, Realm or the Jewish Nursing Home & Hospital, whether it is a franchise or an outright ownership. Another question raised was the tax status, whether it is nonprofit, or is simply private senior multi-unit housing, which is not permitted, according to our source by Scarsdale zoning code.

The WPCNR observer commented on the significance of the planning board member’s question: If it is a nursing home and a nonprofit, he said then it requires permits from the state. He said, Realm representatives are on record as stating that the facility needs no permits from the state to operate. Our reporter says this raises the issue of whether the Scarsdale Zoning Code considers a senior housing complex (for profit), or assisted living complex, as a nursing home (non-profit). Our knowledgeable reporter familiar with Scarsdale zoning observed to us that if the complex is a nursing home, this means the “Senior Mystery-Housing” does need permits from the State Department of Health to operate.

ROUGH SKETCH OF SITE SHOWING LOCATION OF SENIOR MYSTERY HOUSING: This sketch was presented to the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester (7 Saxon Wood Road) last year, by Realm, LLC, when Realm approached the Society to build a pedestrian walk to the bus stop on Mamaroneck Avenue. Mamaroneck Avenue is at the bottom of the sketch. The Ethical Culture Society reports to WPCNR that Realm owns the home on the proposed site.
Photo by WPCNR

Planning Board Notes Utilities Come From White Plains, Wants Update on Realm’s Progress with City.

Our source said that another planning board member asked about Realm contacting the City of White Plains for the permits needed to supply water and electricity to the complex, and that this needs to be addressed by Realm. Another matter is the need to widen Saxon Woods Road to accommodate the traffic to the complex, which was recommended by White Plains Traffic Commissioner Ted Gammon.

No Site Plan has Been Presented to White Plains

As of Tuesday, according to WPCNR information, Realm has not started the formal application process, which includes a site plan, for the 14 building and construction permits required from the City of White Plains.

Realm has been in contact twice on related matters involving the flood plain in the area connected with The Living Word church site, and engineering protocols involving application procedures.

ETHICAL SOCIETY HOPEFUL OF PRESERVING TREE LINE: Here is the view from the Ethical Society of Westchester property line looking into the proposed construction site. An Ethical Society spokesperson said the Society was hopeful Realm could preserve the pine tree grove that serves as a natural buffer to the Realm “Senior Mystery Housing” proposal. The Society source said the 7-acre site is filled with rocky crags, some wetlands and is heavily wooded. The spokesperson said, the Society has no problem with Realm building the project.
Photo by WPCNR

The Process Continues

According to our CNR correspondent, the next step in the process will find Realm responding to the questions of the Scarsdale Planning Board, the lead agency on the project. The Scarsdale Planning Board, supposing their questions are answered will most likely move to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and then, they have a choice of granting approval conditionally on working things out with White Plains or rejecting the project.

Village Planner of Scarsdale, Elizabeth Marrinan, told WPCNR Monday evening she would forward an official listing of the Planning Board’s concerns Realm is being asked to address before the Final Environmental Impact Statement is approved.

Planning Department of White Plains On Highest Level of Alert.

The Planning Department of the City of White Plains has issues concerning the sliver of the site that is within White Plains. This is the area from the Mamaroneck River to Saxon Woods Road. The Planning Department of White Plains considers it as environmentally sensitive, involving wetlands and the ecology of the Mamaroneck River. The proposed use for which the road gaining entry to the proposed complex, whatever its nature, violates White Plains Zoning, which does not permit either nursing homes or multi-unit housing on the site.

Westchester County Does Not Have Site In Mind for Open Space Acquisition.

WPCNR asked the Westchester County Communications Office if the Saxon Woods site was being considered for open space acquisition as part of the County on-going initiative to preserve natural areas. We were informed the site was “not on the radar scope at this time,” but that the county is standing by whenever a community requests its aid in preserving open space.

Suggested for Acquisition by County According to Website Open Space Acquisition List

In checking the Westchester County website, today, WPCNR discovered that Westchester County has listed a 2 to 7 acre site in Scarsdale in Saxon Woods as a likely target for acquisition for preservation. The site is on the list as “suggested” sites for county consideration, sent in by residents, according to the Communications Office.

On the county website, a resident of the Saxon Woods area gives a vivid description of the only 2 to 7 acre site he knows existing in this area and he describes the Realm-targeted property. The comment may be viewed at, by clicking on the Open Space Acquisition button.

A spokesperson for the Communications Office, Donna Green, said the site had been suggested originally by the Ethical Culture Society a number of years previously, however, there has been no communication from either White Plains or the Village of Scarsdale to the county suggesting the County seriously consider acquiring it for open space inventory since then.
Photographs taken for this report were executed from the Ethical Society Property with permission.

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The Search Is On! “Leadership Profile” Presented, Accepted by Board

Midnight Watch Edition:The Board of Education received Hazard Young Attea & Associates “Leadership Profile Tuesday evening. Consultants Deborah Raizes and Dr. John Whritner presented a 10-page report providing a concise, detailed mosaic of their 32 meetings with the White Plains community before 20 persons at Education House. The report draws a portrait of tje “Super Superintendent” they hope to woo to White Plains.
Deborah Raizes introduced the report to the Board of Education by saying that “the more we’ve met with your community, the more optimism we have for your district.”

She prefaced her presentation of the HYA report by saying, “John (Whritner) and I have been doing searches for four years. Never in the four years have we met with so many people. Your community is so interested in your schools.” She said this would be a very positive factor that she cannot wait to tell potential superintendents, and will attract excellent candidates to the district.

HAZARD YOUNG ATTEA CONSULTANTS DELIVER THEIR REPORT TO WHITE PLAINS: Dr. Deborah Raizes, center, and Dr. John Whritner, right, behind the podium Tuesday night, delivering their Leadership Profile sketching the kind of superintendent they would be searching for in the next six weeks. They targeted the end of March for presenting six candidates to the Board. At Left, is Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board, whom the consultants thanked for her extraordinary help in presenting the report and liaison with the community. Susan Kirkpatric, Board member is at extreme left.
Photo by WPCNR

Consistency of How White Plains Thinks is Striking
Raizes said the report was organized based on identifying consistencies and that White Plains’ unity in understanding the strengths of the district was most unusual. She said that normally their reports in previous searchers have been much longer identifying a long list of individual comments, from a number of groups with few qualities mentioned very often. In White Plains, she said, “So much of what people (from diverse groups) have said is CONSISTENT.”

A diverse sampling agrees on what they like

Raizes said that she, Dr. Whritner, Dr. Diana McCauley and Maria Cabral spoke with 658 people, had meetings with Board Members, central office personnel, teachers, union leaders, administrators, realtors, parents, students, support staff, and city government officials.

Meetings at Centro Hispano and Bethel Baptist Church lured over 200 residents at each venue. She reported they had received 179 completed questionnaires asking for strengths, concerns, and characteristics persons would want to see in a superintendent. This vast raw comment produced widespread agreement on what persons saw as strengths of the district.

Strengths Identified

Raizes identified the strengths that were “consistent,” throughout the data they collected from all groups.

The strengths are: breadth of course offerings, dedicated staff, diversity of the student body and city, extensive offerings for student enrichment and extra-curricular programs, facilities and “long-standing” community support for schools, and human and financial resources.

Some individual groups targeted specific pluses: Teachers of the district said that Staff Development was a strength, and Support Staff singled out Student Assistance programs. Parents praised the School Choice program. The Community at large praised the District Administration and, again, School Choice.

Concerns for District Raised with Consensus

John Whritner took the podium next and echoed Raizes’ comments about how “unusual” the consistency of White Plains’ responses is, and complimented the city on its sense of “purpose.”

Whritner said this carried over into the Concerns they found in the sampling, and what the community wished for in a superintendent.

Whritner said the respondents and meeting comments said they lacked trust in the Board of Education. They expressed concern about “Bright Flight,” diversity of the student body and meeting state standards with a changing student body.

The veteran superintendent, said another consistent worry was that Non-English speaking population is increasing, “with 36% of the student body Hispanic, there was a need for additional and more appropriate programs.”

State Testing was singled out “across the board,” Whritner said both the pressure it puts on students and poor results. Public relations was faulted, with the feeling the district has failed to “toot its own horn,” about its strengths.

Unique Concerns with certain groups included the Board of Education having “increased expectations for all students,” the Administration’s concerns about morale and staff turnover. Teachers and Parents noted the addition of many new staff and the “large number” of new administrators. Support Staff was concerned about State and Federal mandates.

The Community (other than parents) indicated low test scores, need for parental involvement, safety, and holding tenured staff accountable as key concerns. Students expressed the concern that the Guidance Department was “overloaded.”

What Kind of Superintendent Does the Community want? A Charismatic, Proven Persuader-Leader

The Leadership Profile finds the same consistency in the kind of Leadership and style the community seeks in the next Superintendent, and the wish list reads like everyone’s idea of the “super superintendent.” The report summary is eloquent:

In looking at Criteria, there is a majority sense that the new CEO of the White Plains Public Schools should have successful experience as a superintendent, preferably in a district with a diverse population. This was an area of agreement between members of the Board and other respondent groups.

In looking at expertise, as might be expected, people are looking for someone who can resolve conflict and is a communicator. They seek someone adept at public relations.

Healer wanted.

Interestingly, representatives from the faculty, the Board and the community, spoke of the need for someone with classroom teaching experience. These groups also highlighted intelligence and a strong academic background as preferences. Community members also want someone who will hold the staff accountable.

In looking at style, respondents noted that they want someone who truly believes that all children should learn. All groups are desirous of a healer who can bring the community and the board back together. There is great support for having an educational leader who listens to others, is collaborative in style and is a “people person.”

Community and staff are united in seeking someone who is visible in the schools and in the community. All groups spoke of wanting someone who is approachable and personable and who can create a vision for the system and move everyone toward that vision.

Community rift over Yanofsky Departure seen at a “turning of the corner.”

Whritner commented in the report and his concluding remarks that the community feeling “wounded” over the Yanofsky affair was still there, but that he “sensed a turning of the corner,” that the persons they met were concentrating on the business of selecting a new superintendent. He said the community takes great pride in the district and its “success over the years,” and it is well-deserved . Whritner said he feels White Plains is “a very attractive place for a superintendent’s consideration.”

”Bright Flight” a Concern of Minorities and the Majority

He said the whole issue of “testing” raised concerns of minorities that given the resources, and high salaries of the teachers, that they should be doing better. By the same token, parents of bright students of both minorities and the white majority were concerned not enough was being done to challenge their students. He described this phenomenon as “Bright Flight.”

Ernest Prince, President of the Urban League of Westchester, asked if Whritner did not mean “White Flight,” instead of “Bright Flight.” Whritner answered that minority parents, as well as white parents expressed concern that they were thinking of taking their students out of the White Plains schools in the higher achieving classes because they did not think they were being challenged. Whritner said this was a concern of parents who worried that the balance of the district was being lost. So, Whritner said, he coined the term, “Bright Flight.”

Prince appeared impressed with this comment, and asked if Whritner meant seeking a goal of “the best program for all levels of the system.” Whritner agreed, pointing out that the Hispanic student coming to the district had to be able to have “a quick-in to the main stream.” Prince liked the answer saying to Whritner it was important that people realize that “We (minority groups) are not talking about lowering the floor, but raising the bar.”

Candidates to remain a mystery until last possible moment

Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education, expressed lament about the candidates possibly not being revealed to the community sooner rather than later. She asked the consultants if other districts were going down this road that Hazard Young recommends, (withholding identity of candidates).

Raizes said, “:more and more, nobody likes it. We are just finishing Fairfield and Bloomfield, Connecticut and have gotten really quality slates. It’s possible (they might agree to publicity), but they might not. You may lose some great people. Some (candidates) won’t even fill out an application.”

A feeling of a beginning

After just 35 minutes, the meeting ended and broke up with a pleasant atmosphere of discussion among the twenty parents and one reporter on hand. Most appeared quite impressed by the breadth of concerns and depth of detail the report presented. There was no comment from the Board of Education about the report, but another WPCNR operative attending said she had asked a Board member why they had not commented, and they had replied that they had received the report last Friday and discussed it with the consultants at that time. Our colleague added that the Board member said they expected to be coached by the consultants as to how to interview the candidates presented.

The Search is On.

Dr. Whritner, speaking to WPCNR after the meeting said three or four superintendents had been contacted already for leads on possible interested superintendents. He said that William Attea, a partner in HYA was President of the Suburban School Superintendents Assocation, an organization of 100 superintendents, which he felt may provide some strong leads. He reports that HYA representatives will be going to the School Adminstrators Association convention in San Diego, armed with the Raizes Whritner report and will be scouting for candidates. Whritner said he would be available to comment on the progress of the search to WPCNR throughout the process.

Raizes, a “get-it-done doer” if this reporter has ever seen one, earlier expressed the most optimism, saying, “the superintendents we will be contacting are very happy where they are. That’s why we’re headhunters. We’re on the more aggressive side. We will keep working on them. They took our phone call, and that’s a yes.”

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