NEW POLL: Tell Consultants Issues Facing the School District

The consultants from Hazard, Young & Attia, the search firm hired by the City School District to present candidates for a new Superintendent of Schools are coming to town January 10, 11, 13 and 16 to hear White Plains speak out.

The new WPCNR Poll at the right gives you a chance to target the issues of most concern to you. Simply click on the premier issues you care the most about. You can vote more than once, but only once a day.
Next week two consultants will be in White Plains to hear the people of White Plains speak at four Superintendet Search Public Forums on January 10, at the High School at 7:30 PM, January 11 at Education House at 10 AM, January 13 at St Bernard's Church at 12:30 PM, and at Bethel Baptist Church on January 16 at 7 PM.
WPCNR hopes the community attends these forums and gives the consultants a lot to think about what is unique about White Plains and needed in the school district as we chart a new course.

Dr. Deborah Raizes and Dr. Richard Whritner from Hazard, Young will alternate at these venues to hear from parents, citizens, students, about your concerns for the school district, the qualities, skills, expertise and extraordinary specialties a new White Plains superintendent should have.

WPCNR thought we would stimulate your thinking and invite you to tell us your first thoughts on 12 general areas we think might be on your mind.

Students — you be sure to vote, too.

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“Dunphy Doctrine” Convinces CC to Stay at 5. Delgado No Holdover

Special to WPCNR A crash Common Council meeting held in Executive Session Thursday night, resulted in the Common Council holding off appointing a sixth interim councilperson to fill the seat currently being contested in Appellate Court. The Council will conduct Monday evening’s meeting with five councilpersons and the Mayor with one seat vacant.
A 9-page Confidential Brief by city Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy, drawing on 5 cases from 1837,1926,1951, 1964 and 1972, cites city inability to determine which council seat is vacant, (former Councilperson Pauline Oliva’s seat or Larry Delgado’s seat) as the crucial factor in preventing Larry Delgado from continuing on the Common Council.

This ambiguity of whose seat it is, prevents the Public Officer’s Law from kicking in, allowing Mr. Delgado to holdover, in Mr. Dunphy’s analysis of these five decisions.

According to the key conclusion of the “Dunphy Doctrine,” The fact that Mrs. Oliva (Pauline) did not seek re-election is not controlling. The controlling principle is that there is more than one incumbent and as a result, a vacancy is not capable of being identified and there cannot be a (Delgado/Oliva) holdover. This result might have been different if one of the incumbents had resigned. This last consideration is not before us and is of no consequence.”

The Public Officers Law holds that in a vacancy occurring through a normal expiration of term, with successor not chosen an incumbent holds over. (See previous WPCNR article on the holdover issue.)

Confidential Brief Delivered Thursday Morning to the Seating Five

The confidential brief analyzed the issue of a Delgado “holdover,” or a council interim appointment, was hand-delivered to all five seating councilpersons Thursday morning: Benjamin Boykin, Jr., Robert Greer, William King, Rita Malmud, and Thomas Roach. All but Robert Greer agreed to an Executive Session Thursday evening to discuss the issues with Mr. Dunphy. Mr. Greer, according to our correspondent, had a prior commitment he could not break.

Our correspondent advises us that the meeting apparently was held off until 8 PM, because city law requires that there be six hour notice before any meeting of the Common Council is held.

Dunphy brings Council Up to Date on Election Case

The meeting began in the Mayor’s council room, with Edward Dunphy taking center stage. Dunphy reported that as of 8 PM no decision had been reached in Appellate Court regarding the Adam Bradley-filed appeal of Judge Francis Nicolai, Jr.’s call for a continuation of the election. Dunphy, our reporter says, revealed that in the early years of his career, he was a law clerk in the Appellate Division.

Dunphy said, the Appellate Division usually moves very quickly in an election matter. He expressed surprise that the court will have had the Delgado/Hockley matter before it for three weeks as of Friday morning.

Dunphy is reported saying that no matter what the Appellate Court decides, it was likely that the losing interest would appeal to the Court of Appeals in Albany. Then the Council moved to Executive Session to discuss Mr. Dunphy’s brief.

After executive session briefing, Council releases “Dunphy Doctrine” to Public. Basis for their decision.

According to our CNR reporter, “The vote that was taken, after the public was invited back into the room (Mayor’s Council Chamber), at the conclusion of the executive session, was for the Common Council to waive the attorney/client privilege and to now authorize the release to the public of the heretofore confidential memo prepared by Corporation Council Ed Dunphy and which was distributed solely to the Common Council.

Boykin says no action contemplated. Awaiting Appellate Court Decision.

Our correspondent reports that after the executive session ended, Councilman Benjamin Boykin told reporters that “Dunphy’s memo spoke to the inability of former Councilman Delgado to take the position that he is a ‘holdover’ councilman and further (Boykin stated) that the Council would not be moving in the direction of appointing an individual, themselves, to fill the empty seventh seat on the Council.”

Our reporter adds that “the White Plains Common Council will be further instructed and guided by the eventual decision which will be issued by the Second Department of the New York State Appellate Division.”

Short Council has to vote ordinances twice to put them into law.

WPCNR’s correspondent reports Dunphy strongly urged the council not to appoint an interim councilperson. Our man on the scene advised that the Council will have to hear ordinances twice before they can be voted into law, as a consequence of having a “short” council. A meeting as been scheduled for 8 AM Wednesday, he says to hear a second reading of an ordinance on the Monday Council agenda.

Mr. Dunphy’s conclusion to his brief confirms this:

…When is a vacancy created, is not a novel issue; nor is the invocation andinterpretation of the controlling provision of the Public Officers Law, a question of recent vintage. Importantly, you can see, the holdover provision is not nearly as clear cut as first envisioned. As we have seen, its operation is very fact specific and it can be concluded that where the vacancy is identifiable, an incumbent can holdover. But in the facts confronting the City of White Plains, the vacancy certainly is not identifiable. Consequently, there can not be holdover.

Mr. Dunphy further reasons against vacancy identification,

An attempt to argue that a vacancy is identifiable in White Plains because incumbent Rita Malmud was re-elected and candidate Thomas Roach was elected and both certified by the Board of Elections, can be made. Mathematically it could be seen that these two were successful, in that they have filled two of the three positions on the Common Council, therefore, the third position is open and identifiable.

This argument has surface appeal, but when that strata is pierced, that argument evaporates rapidly.

And makes his play–

The vacancy is unidentifiable because two incumbents remain, Mrs. Oliva and Mr. Delgado. The fact that Mrs. Oliva (Pauline) did not seek re-election is not controlling. The controlling principle is that there is more than one incumbent and as a result, a vacancy is not capable of being identified and there cannot be a (Delgado/Oliva) holdover. This result might have been different if one of the incumbents had resigned. This last consideration is not before us and is of no consequence.

A nod to the Appellate Court…

Additionally, we must also recognize that the Appellate Division instructed that Messrs. Delgado and Hockley are presently barred from taking any steps towards the filing of an oath of office. This directive must be tempered by the realization that a holdover is not required to execute and file an oath of office…

Mr. D. Concludes With a Strong Advisory Not to Appoint an Interim Replacement Councilperson

As a final matter, a controlling consideration is what does the City do without its full complement of legislative officials? This answer is proved by the Foley Court, wherein Special Term noted that this fact was of little consequence because the government does not fail to function with less than seven members. The work will proceed with six, until a successor is chosen and there will be no interruption in government.

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Zoning Board Bulletins: Swimming Pool Agony, Schechter Day Care.

Updated, New Information 1/6/02:On a light calendar Wednesday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals appeared willing to consider a variance in a setback to accommodate a modest swimming pool.

Solomon-Schechter School of Westchester made progress on establishing a day care center at their Rosedale campus for on-staff teachers only.
In a variance request being closely watched by residents who long for swimming pools, (if only they had a bigger yard), the Zoning Board of Appeals doggedly attempted to defend the 15 foot setback restriction in the request of a resident on Sterling Avenue hoping to build an above ground swimming pool.

The resident is seeking to install a 15-foot diameter pool, (owner had mistakenly referred to this as a 15-foot radius, as first reported), creating a setback of 8 feet instead of 15 feet, which the ZBA calculated to be a 45% variance they were not comfortable with approving. Paul Landesman , ZBA member, cautioned that the Board was reluctant to give such a variance because “every one else would want one.” Larry Fleischman, another ZBA member, pointed out that the Board has never given this large a variance.

The owner already has a 3-car garage on his property and seeks the 15-foot wide pool in a position by his outdoor deck, in order to preserve his workshop already existing in one of the garage bays, along with two bays where his antique cars are stored, to avoid consistently moving his two vehicles which he parks in the driveway.

He advised the board that the 15-foot wide pool could not be built into his existing off-the-house deck because of structural supports under the existing deck. His next door neighbor, and the owner’s mother, (an employee of the Planning Department, who administers Community Development funds and lives next door to the owner’s yard), testified on the owner’s behalf that the 8-foot setback would not bother them, and that the resident had done a lot to improve the appearance of his property.

The ZBA suggested several alternatives: 1.) Switching the workshop from one garage bay to another. 2.) Making the pool part of the housedeck. 3.) Decreasing the size of the pool from 15 feet wide to 12 feet wide.

After discussion, the owner said he would look into reducing the size of the pool to a diameter of 12 feet (6 foot radius), (suggested by a representative of the Building Department), which the zoning board appeared to agree to be willing to consider.

The 12-foot diameter still would result in only a 3-foot variance. The matter was continued to the February 6 meeting.

Solomon-Schechter Nears Day Care Approval February 6.

The ZBA closed the public hearing on the Special Permit to allow operation of a staff-only day care center. Cecilia Bikkal, Chairperson of the ZBA, promised a resolution at the Board February 6 meeting which would put “teeth” in the traffic management agreements the school has made with the Rosedale Residential Assocation and the city.

Elliot Spiegel, Headmaster of the school, said the school had agreed to the requests of the neighborhood association regarding the establishment of the Day Care Center.

He said the Day Care Center would be for no more than 12 children. All twelve would be offspring of staff employed by Solomon-Schechter. He said the center would be open only on a first-come, first-served basis, and that he would be willing to limit it to six children from the Greenburgh campus and six from the Solomon-Schechter Rosedale campus, or a 4-8 mix respectively.

Linda Harelick, Vice President of the Rosedale Association, pushed for tying the Day Care Center approval to enforcement of the Traffic Management Plan. (Solomon-Schechter agreed with the city to no standing or parking on the Dellwood and Elm Street right of ways leading to the school.) Harelick alleged these rules were violated flagrantly during September of 2001 when Solomon-Schechter began the current school year.

Hillary Markowitz, Solomon-Schechter parent liaison to the neighborhood, who personally educates Solomon-Schechter parents on the school-city policy towards public streets in the area, said the violations occurred as a result of parent World Trade Center anxiety after September 11, when more parents than normal wanted to pick up children personally. Ms. Harelick said the violations continued at least through September 25. Ms. Markowitz said the situation was now back to normal.

Ms. Bikkal, ZBA Chairperson, said there seemed to be great movement on both sides towards a solution, and the Zoning Board would craft a resolution regarding establishment of the Day Care Center at the February 6 ZBA meeting.

White Plains Honda put on Hold

White Plains Honda, seeking to rent a vacant building for a showroom at 350 Central Avenue, was told it had to work out a resolution of Traffic Commissioner Ted Gammon’s concerns that the proposed driveway into the facility had to be widened, and was continued to February 6. Honda legal representative, William Null, citing the fact that the paperwork on the facility had been in since October, pleaded with the Zoning Board to approve the usage, since his client was attempting to sign a lease. The Board refused.

Commenting to us afterwards, Ms. Bikkal, said that White Plains Honda application had had to be reviewed by the Building and Traffic departments. She reported the Zoning Board had just received those comments Wednesday, and therefore had to review them with Mr. Gammon, and could not in good conscience, approve a usage without knowing Mr. Gammon’s concern.

In other matters of note

The German School request for a Special permit to increase their student cap and Special Permit to configure an access drive through 800 North Street was continued to February 6.

Metro Auto Tech, Inc. on 7 Intervale Street to February 6.

Ronald Presser’s deck variance at 57 Ethelridge was postponed to February 6.

The Starr family room variance at 82 Havilands Lane did not appear. The representative from the Building Department gave the opinion that they had revised their plans so as not to require a variance.

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FLASH! Dunphy Issues Secret Ruling on Council Seating. Council Meets at 8

Special to WPCNR:The Mayor’s office announced Thursday that Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy has issued his opinion on Common Council right to appoint an interim councilperson in a hand-delivered letter to each Council Member. The letter presents Mr. Dunphy’s opinion on the composition of the first Common Councilmeeting of the new year Monday evening.
The Mayor’s Office announced a special meeting of the Common Council for 8 o’clock Thursday evening in Executive Session to discuss Mr. Dunphy’s opinion and the issues it raises.
George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, told WPCNR Thursday morning that Mr. Dunphy’s legal opinion on whether or not the council had the right to appoint an interim councilperson to fill the contested third seat on the Common Council, had been hand-delivered to members of the Common Council Thursday morning: Rita Malmud, Tom Roach, Benjamin Boykin, William King, Robert Greer.

Executive Session Called to Mull Dunphy Directive

Gretsas told WPCNR, “The Common Council will meet Thursday night at 8 to discuss the letter and ruling, and if they agree the letter (Dunphy’s) will be made public.”

City Hall refused to release the contents of Mr. Dunphy’s letter, citing attorney-client (Common Council being the client) privilege.

Delgado Oliva Not In Meeting

Asked if Pauline Oliva and Larry Delgado, previous incumbents of the Council, whose terms expired Monday evening at midnight, had been invited to the meeting, Gretsas said they had not.

Asked whether Tom Roach would be on the council, Gretsas said that Mr. Roach, and Rita Malmud, technically started their terms at midnight January 1, and that swearing in was strictly a formality. On the other hand, he said, Oliva and Delgado terms had officially ended at the same midnight hour.

The Dunphy Directive

Dunphy’s letter was expected to touch on a range of issues raised by the historic contested third seat which is currently unfilled by order of the Appellate Division, New York Supreme Court, Second Department, Brooklyn.

The Appellate Court is still reviewing Judge Francis Nicolai’s decision calling for a continuation of the November 6 election and a revote in White Plains District 18. A decision is expected either Thursday or Friday of this week

Armchair analysts think Delgado may “holdover.”

Legal analysts in the city, Jeffrey Binder, Delgado attorney, and John Martin,a former Councilperson who was himself appointed a councilperson by the Common Council, believe by virtue of the Public Officer’s law that Mr. Delgado could legally “continue” in his seat or “holdover,” until the seat is filled by a new election or a court ruling.

Other issues speculated as being covered in the Dunphy Letter are: whether the council has the right to appoint an interim councilperson (sources have told us that the Democratic council caucus would prefer reappointing Pauline Oliva); the mechanism for removing such an appointee; how long they would serve; and whose seat is vacant.

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WP Little League Requires In Person Parent Signups Jan 12 & 19

Special to WPCNR:The White Plains Little League will conduct In-Person Registration for children, ages 5 to 15, who want to play in the 2002 WPLL on Saturday January 12 and Saturday, January 19.

Registration will take place at Ridgeway School Cafeteria from 9 AM to 3 PM, both Saturdays. Registrations will not be accepted at the Department of Recreation and Parks, or be accepted by mail, as in previous years.
The Registration fee is $65, or a maximum of $150 for a family of three or more. Scholarships are available, based upon need. Parents registering their children should bring proof of residence in the form of a utility bill, or driver’s license. Children who played last year will be on our records, so there are no complicated forms to fill out.

It is important, in order to achieve orderly composition of teams that parents register their children on those two days. Registrations will only be accepted in-person on January 12 and 19. If registration is missed, you will be placed on a waiting list, and subject to a $35 late registration fee, in addition to the $65 fee.

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White Plains Bravest Choose New Leader

The White Plains Professional Firefighters have elected Jim Donahoe as their new President, replacing Adrian Scapperrotti, according to WPCNR Fire Department Correspondent, Duncan MacRae. MacRae reports Mr. Donahoe edged out Scapperrotti by one vote.
Duncan MacRae, White Plains Firefighter, reports to WPCNR that Donahoe took the reins of the firefighters union as of January 1, by virtue of one vote in a secret ballot that was recounted three times. Donahoe was previously Scaperotti’s Vice President.

Asked about Donahoe’s plans for the firefighters union, McLain writes,

“He wants to become more personally involved with the membership. He wants to be a physical presence rather than a voice on the other end of the phone or the sender of a fax.”

McLain was asked his own personal reaction to the departure of John Dolce, previous Commissioner of Public Safety, and what it might mean for the department, he writes,

“Well as we all know John Dolce was ‘Public Safety’ to a lot of people and politicians in town. He lost a bit of his luster with some politicians when he didn’t support pay parity for police and fire. With his retirement, we hope that the city leaders can look at the structure
of the Public Safety Department.

McLain continued, “A separate police and fire commissioner are definitely needed. The demographic of this city is changing with its skyline. It would be in the best interests of the citizens if this were to happen and it wouldn’t cost a dime.”

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Downtown Gala Sold Out. Dance, Ball & Fireworks “Beautiful”

Special to WPCNR: The New Year’s Eve Gala staged by the White Plains Downtown Business Improvement District was a complete sellout and success according to BID spokesperson Darlene Gardner Wednesday morning.
She reports 175 persons officially attended the dance, buffet, and ball drop celebration held underneath the “Big Top Tent” erected, complete with dancefloor, reception area and rest rooms on Mamaroneck Avenue Monday evening, enough, she said to cover the expenses of the event.

“It was like being at a wedding,” Ms. Gardner told WPCNR today. “You had a vestibule, a place to hang your coats, restrooms, but you’d look out the windows of the tent, and see you were on Mamaroneck Avenue.”

Ms. Gardner described the actual ball that was dropped from White Plains Fire Department’s largest Hook N Ladder as “a beautiful thing,” and said the fireworks launched from the Cappelli City Center were “a once-in-a-lifetime show.”

She said people called most of Monday, but the number of attendees were held at 175. She anticipates that the event will be staged again next year. Ms. Gardner said the avenue attracted a large crowd for the ball drop and fireworks by midnight and that it was well attended by city officials and dignitaries from City Hall and the community.

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SPANO, BRONZ AND ABINANTI URGE PRESERVATION OF TAXTER ROAD PROPERTY

Special to WPCNR:County Executive Andy Spano and County Legislators Lois Bronz and Tom Abinanti today pledged the county’s support to help preserve 200 acres of land in Greenburgh that represent the last major parcel of open space in Southern
Spano said he would work in partnership with the state, the Town of Greenburgh and land preservation groups to purchase the Taxter Ridge property on Taxter Road as part of his administration’s open space preservation program.

“As we have done with the Gaisman Property in Greenburgh, Hilltop Hanover in Yorktown and Davids Island in New Rochelle, we will work in partnership with local government, the state and others to preserve this environmentally sensitive property for future generations,” said Spano. “This is an especially important piece of land because it is one of the last really large parcels in what is a mostly developed area of the county. We should not miss out on an opportunity to save this property from development.”

Bronz and Abinanti, who represent Greenburgh, said local residents were deeply concerned about the future of the Taxter Ridge Road property.

“Adding Taxter Ridge to the acres of green space demonstrates this administration’s commitment to preserving the environment,” said Bronz. “This property has trees, streams and wildlife that is not found anywhere else in this county. It is an important asset to Greenburgh and Central Westchester. Preserving Taxter Ridge is essential to helping to maintain our quality of life in Westchester.”

Abinanti said, “Once again Westchester County is rescuing must-save open space. Preserving Taxter Ridge is crucial to the continued environmental health of Greenburgh and all of mid-Westchester.

“Development on the Taxter Ridge site would destroy environmentally significant open space and pour traffic down Taxter Road into the already overwhelmed 119-9A intersection.”

A haven for amphibian, reptile and dozens of species of birds, the Taxter Ridge property bordered by Route 9 is currently owned by the Unification Church.

The Trust for Public Land and the Westchester Land Trust have taken an option on the property through the middle of next year, but area residents, who have so far raised more than $25,000 to help preserve the property, fear that it will be developed if a permanent arrangement is not negotiated soon.

While no purchase price has been named for the property, Spano said he was hopeful that a deal could be negotiated as it has in similar circumstances across Westchester.

Upon taking office in 1998, Spano made a $25 million commitment over five years to open space acquisition for passive recreation. Under his new Legacy initiative, announced in his last State of the County address, he doubled that amount to $10 million a year over a five-year period, also including funds for active recreation such as ball fields.

So far more than 2,300 acres of open space has been preserved with county government assistance since Spano took office. This includes the Gaisman and Glenville Woods properties in Greenburgh, the Hillpoint Property in Cortlandt, Hilltop Hanover in Yorktown, Davids Island and Glenwood Lake in New Rochelle and the Haibershaw property in Yonkers among others.

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City Corporation Counsel Mulls Council Ability to Appoint 6th person.

The Mayor’s Office reported Friday that city Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy is still studying the city charter to determine whether the Common Council has the right to appoint an interim Councilperson to fill the still vacant, undecided Sixth Councl seat.
A spokesman for the Mayor’s office advised WPCNR that in the last meeting of the Common Council for the year last Thursday that the council pressed the Mayor as to a ruling on appointing an interim councilperson.

Insiders around the White Plains holiday party circuit have confirmed that the council has asked Pauline Oliva to remain on as a councilperson. Ms. Oliva also let slip in the December 20 work session, she would vote for the south end FAR, Setbacks Zoning ordinance in January, indicating she expects to be on the Council next Monday evening.

Maybe, maybe not.

However, Corporation Counsel Edward Dunphy, is delving into the city charter. According to the Mayor’s office, he has not yet determined whether or not, it is legal for the council to appoint an interim member.

John Martin says “No.”
John Martin is the councilperson who was appointed by the Common Council in 1994 to replace Sy Schulman on the Council. (Schulman was elected Mayor in 1993.)

Martin wrote WPCNR last week in reaction to our The Scoop column, quoting the section of the charter dealing with vacancies on the Council.

Martin says, in his opinion, the council does not have the right to appoint, the way the city charter reads:

Martin wrote, Section 14 of Article I states that “if a vacancy shall occur in any elective office of the city otherwise than by expiration of term, the common council shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy…” (emphasis added) Since the vacancy here is by expiration of term I see no authority for the council to fill this vacancy!

What does having an interim councilperson mean?

The Common Council meets one week from today on January 7 to take up the critical New York Presbyterian Hospital DEIS on their Plan B project. The council obviously would like to appoint a person, most likely, Pauline Oliva, to fill the seat remaining vacant due to the Delgado, Hockley election case now before the Appellate Court in Brooklyn.

The Mayor’s office indicated Friday that Dunphy had not yet reached an opinion on the Council right to appoint.

Issues at large

Issues Dunphy is reported to be grappling with are:

One, a mechanism by which an interim council appointee would be removed.

Two, whether or not Mr. Delgado or Ms. Oliva would “holdover.”

Three, whether in absence of a specific procedure in this type of situation (an undecided election), the Mayor might have a right to appoint a sixth councilperson.

Four, the sanctity and legality of decisions, resolutions, and votes taken by the council with an appointed member, or a 5-person council.

Five, the validity of hearings and procedures before a “short” council.

Six, should the council appoint a sixth member in lieu of a Dunphy opinion, it raises the question of whether the Mayor’s office would allow that sixth appointed member to be seated next week.

In other Council action last Thursday

The council authorized spending $2,000,000 to execute the road improvements to Bloomingdale Road and Maple Avenue in connection with the Fortunoff project approved December 20.

They also authorized transfer of a liquor license to facilate a sale of a local bistro.

The Council authorized a pay increase for city Economic Development Officer and city hall media relations contact, Paul Wood.

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M. D. Anderson “Cancer Blaster” Doesn’t Have “Jing” Yet

Private fundraising efforts are underway to raise money to construct a proton accelerator facility at M. D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston, Texas. It is a model for the New York Presbyterian Hospital Plan B project. WPCNR interviewed Dennis Valencia of Optivus Technology in San Bernardino, California, on December 21 on the “cancer blaster’s” progress.
WPCNR has been keeping track of the progress of the proton accelerator cancer treatment apparatus as its proponents attempt to bring its technology East of the Mississippi River, most notably to New York Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains. It has been cleared for installation at M. D. Anderson Medical Center at the University of Texas, a big hurtle.

On the eve of the DEIS Public Hearing

The public hearing on the New York Presbyterian Hospital Plan B, which proposes to bring a proton accelerator to the White Plains campus, is scheduled for the first Common Council meeting of 2002 on January 8. One of the objections of opponents of the technology have is its cost: $100 million for construction.

Funding is not currently available, and appears in doubt since Governor George Pataki of New York State has slashed funding for biomedical research to a mere $10 million statewide. New York Presbyterian Hospital had been counting on a state grant of some $50 million to help fund their proton accelerator.

It should be noted that the source of the proton accelerator facility funding is not an issue covered in the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be considered January 8.

Valencia updates WPCNR on the M. D. Anderson facility progress

When last we spoke with the articulate proton accelerator crusader, it was last spring when we discovered there has been a deliberate effort by the East Coast medical establishment to ignore the effectiveness of the proton accelerator in treatment of breast and prostate cancer. Urologists and cancer surgeons understandably have been reluctant to recommend proton accelerator treatment because it is not in their best interest (read financial) to do so.

This was confirmed by testimony of persons at public meetings last Spring, determining the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement coming before the Common Council January 8.

Private funding efforts are under way. A model for New York Presbyterian Hospital?

Last spring, M.D. Anderson the cancer treatment center in Houston, Texas was seriously considering the proton accelerator. Now, Mr. Valencia reports, the Board of Regents of the University of Texas has approved a proton accelerator facility of the scope proposed for the White Plains New York Presbyterian Hospital property.

Mr. Valencia, who is Vice President of Sales & Business Development for Optivus Technology, the developers of the proton accelerator, reports that fundraising efforts to pay for the facility have begun.

Calling Movers and Shakers

“A group has been formed to raise the entire $100 million to construct the facility,” Valencia reported to us December 21. “The group consists of M. D. Anderson, a banking and financial consortium, and management consulting group which is working to secure the complete funding within a finite time period.”

Typically, Valencia told WPCNR, “The way a public-private financing operation works is that a facility makes a commitment for about 50% of the project, then works to fund the deal completely by organizing a financial structuring. We do not have the full funding of the proton accelerator yet (at M. D. Anderson).”

We asked Valencia, if he could describe the stage of the funding and the backers involved. He said it was “premature.”

Proton therapy gaining momentum.

However, Valencia said, “We’re gaining a lot of momentum now. Proton therapy is winning over many groups.”

Asked about local experts describing the gamma knife as a far less expensive alternative to proton therapy, Valencia dismissed the gamma knife as “a subset finite application.” He pointed out the gamma knife still exposed the patient to extensive excess radiation and side effects, that the proton accelerator did not. The accelerator, as Valencia has explained to us in the past, can deliver higher doses of protons, maximizing cancer kill on the tumor target, without affecting surrounding tissues, the cause of most radiation therapy side effects.

“Proton therapy is in its infancy, and is exploding into so many more applications,” Valencia said, citing its use in Taiwan, Japan, Switzerland, and Germany. He said that in a recent meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, Herman Suit of Massachusetts General Hospital and Jay Loeffler, presented evidence of the proton accelerator “higher degree of success” in treating cancerous tumors over the gamma knife and traditional x-ray treatments.

Valencia added that New York Presbyterian Hospital traditional expertise in psychiatry would compliment treatment of cancer patients because of the psychological trauma involved in experiencing the disease.

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