WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. Filed by John F. Bailey, September 3, 2003: In the shortest Common Council meeting of the Delfino Administration, just 51 minutes, the Common Council set dates for significant pubic hearings. The Council also passed a resolution reaffirming that speakers at Common Council meetings would be held to five minutes at future meetings.
“OFFICER IN THE SCHOOLS” HOWARD TRIBBLE NAMED EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: Detective Howard Tribble, graduate of White Plains High School accepts the prestigious award from Mayor Joseph Delfino. With his mother, wife and children in attendance Detective Tribble said, “when you honor one officer from the White Plains Police Department, you honor them all, I accept this honor on behalf of each and every member of the White Plains Police Department. Mayor Delfino said that F. Thomas Eaton, Administrator of North House at White Plains High School, said that Detective Tribble “is doing a tremendous job increasing security,” and interacting with the students, and that “the students feel comfortable speaking to Detective Tribble. He is truly an asset to the WPPD.”
Photo by WPCNR
In taking care of the people’s business, the Common Council set September 17 for the Hearing on the Special Permit for the Sears/Sears Auto Shop move to the Galleria; a public hearing on the Calvary Baptist Church Sanctuary Project (October 7); another public hearing on acquisition of the Dellwood Property (October 7); a public hearing on permitting overnight parking on Old Mamaroneck Road in the Highlands (October 7), and a hearing on Transferring Development Rights in the Core Downtown area, also October 7.
The Council also passed a resolution reaffirming that speakers at Common Council meetings would be held to five minutes at future Council meetings.
No more Passionate Soliloquys
Each member of the council weighed in in favor of the resolution re-affirming the provisions of Section 2-3-20(B) of the White Plains Municipal Code which allows five minutes for individuals addressing the Council.
Cary Gouldner was the lone resident to appear, protesting the time limitation. However, his arguments that questions could not be answered within five minutes were dismissed by the council.
“Your Five Minutes Are Up.”
Thomas Roach said the council’s purpose was to be fair to all, by allowing all to speak by limiting long-winded speakers, “assuring everyone who comes (to the council) has had the opportunity to be heard anmd to say their piece.”
Councilman Robert Greer said he felt the five minutes was fair, being that speakers could submit supplemental written material to the council to be read into the record. Greer ventured that council members should limit their comments, perhaps to five minutes, too.
Councilperson Rita Malmud said the Gettysburg Address which lasted less than five minutes was an example of how a strong point could be made in a short period of time, saying, in five minutes, “they can get their point across.”
Benjamin Boykin said enforcing the five-minute rule would “assure fair and equitable treatment for every member of the public. It is a reasonable process for everyone to be heard.”
Boykin noted that the council has had one meeting run until 3:45 AM and another run until 2:30 A.M. on August 5, noting the how unlimited speaking time drags out meetings.
Councilman William King noted that there should be some flexibility, but he appreciated the reasons for the limitation, noting the 3-minute time limit in effect at the County Board of Legislators.
Minieri The Time-Reaper
Mayor Delfino assigned City Clerk Janice Minieri, the task of determining what device would be used to signal speakers at future council meetings when their five minutes was up. Minieri would also be in charge of timing each speaker. Ms. Minieri’s first thoughts on a timing/signaling device were to install a buzzer arrangement. She said she would be investigating possibilities.
Rampant Media Speculation
Speculation was rampant among the assembled media, (which at one time outnumbered the gallery, 3 to 2), what method would be used to rein in 5-minute violators.
Mayor Delfino ruled out the use of an oriental gong chime to WPCNR. Council President Benjamin Boykin suggested to WPCNR that a sequence of green, yellow, and red lights be rigged up similar to a traffic signal to cue the speaker silently and visually to wrap it up.
One reporter suggested a siren, and a trap-door behind the Council lectern for long-winded litigants.
A technical expert for the city, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested theme music similar to a talk-show break be played about 30 seconds before the five-minute mark was reached. Thanks for the Memories was suggested by this reporter as the appropriate tune.
WPCNR will follow up with Ms. Minieri on development of the media-dubbed, Speaker Intensive Limiting Early Notification Countdown Editor or “SILENCE” device.
Bergins Catches a Moment of Council Zen
Paul Bergins, attorney for The Galleria, caught the Common Council in a procedural gaff, jumping up unexpectedly, striding to the lectern. Mr. Bergins, former Corporation Counsel for the city, noted to the Mayor, that the council was approving setting a public hearing (on the Galleria Sears Auto Shop), before they had approved the zoning change for it.
GALLERIA SEARS MOVE ZONING APPROVED: Paul Bergins at the Common Council podium, gives the details on the Sears Auto Repair Shop design targetted for the lower parking level under the former JC PENNEY space. Bergins said Sears’ present store would remain open until August 2003 when construction of the new Galleria Sears complex was scheduled to be completed. Wynnette Peltz, Director of Marketing for the Galleria, observes in the foreground.
Photo by WPCNR
Mayor Delfino thanked Mr. Bergins for catching the procedural error, saying with a smile “You lawyers….even when you’re winning…” and shaking his head.
Zoning Change approved allowing Sears to operate auto shop in Galleria.
After disposing of the consent agenda, the Council saw a layout of the proposed ground floor auto repair shop in the Galleria, and approved the zoning change (limited to the Galleria’s custom specifications), by unanimous vote.
SEARS AUTO BAY: The configuration of the new Sears Auto Repair Shop on the ground floor underneath former JC PENNEY location. Main Street is at bottom of the picture. Lexington Avenue on the right. Cars enter from West off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Photo by WPCNR
In other action…
The Council approved street closings for various city events…a contract with the Housing Authority bringing $10,901 for a Computer Learning Center at 120 Lake Street from September to June 2002…set a hearing for Special Permit to operate a cabaret at 15 South Broadway (October 7)…
Citizens to be Heard
In the Citizens to be Heard Forum, Cary Gouldner suggested to the Common Council that the city modernize its method of recording and billing water. He noted that Harrison and Greenburg both have computer plug-in reading devices that more accurately tabulate water consumption. He said White Plains still reads the meters by hand and bills residents only semi-annually as a consequence.
Gouldner said that New York City bills the city quarterly, for White Plains residents’ use of water, and said the city was essentially extending six months credit to consumers by the archaic personal meter reading system. He urged computerizing the water billing readings and more frequent billings. He also encouraged raising rates for commercial wpcnr_users.
Two residents of Hillair Circle spoke again complaining about the Amodio’s mulching business, pleading with the city to take action about what they allege is an increase in trucking activities there.
A city official contacted by WPCNR after the Citizens to be Heard forum said that the city had already sued Amodios once and lost on the issue, but that the city was “looking into a few things.”
MAYOR DELFINO SIGNS OFF AT 8:22 PM: The Mayor bids the council and White Plains good night at the shortest formal Common Council meeting of the Delfino Administration. The Mayor asked all residents to join in the White Plains Walk of Remembrance next Wednesday, September 11 at 6 PM when six residents of White Plains who died in the Trade Center Towers attack would be honored.
Photo by WPCNR