Council Cool to King Cuts. Voting Machines Put Off

WPCNR Drivetime Daily. UPDATED By John F. Bailey. May 16, 2002. 1:30 PM EDT: At the Common Council briefing on the Water Report Monday evening, the Council listened to Councilman William King’s major suggestions for budget cuts, and did not act on his suggestions.
Over the weekend, Councilman King had e-mailed fellow councilmembers with what Mayor Joseph Delfino had described as 150 suggestions for budget cuts in the 2002-03 budget scheduled to be decided upon by the Council Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. King clarified his comments on money saving to WPCNR Thursday, noting to us in an e-mail, “John – This year I proposed the City turn off 1/3 of its streetlights for an annual savings of $300K which would have been equal to a percentage point on the property tax increase. Last year, I proposed turning off ½ the streetlights. I proposed and will propose again that they be turned off primarily in the Downtown and along major arterials.”

Turn off Street Lights.

King’s number one issue was turning off one-third of the city’s street lights to save on electricity. King said he felt some residential neighborhoods and even some of the downtown were “too bright.” He said, “I don’t want to create mayhem in the streets.”

Glen Hockley worried that turning off street lights would create a security problem. Rita Malmud said she did not think any parts of the city were “too bright.”

Not Purchase Street Sweepers.

King also suggested the city could do without some of the Department of Public Works Streetsweepers, which mechanically sweep the streets from 12 AM to 6 PM, suggesting that he did not think they swept up too much litter from the streets. King told WPCNR Thursday that each new streetsweeper costs “$130K plus operating costs.”

Voting Machine Funding Put Off to 2003-04 Pending State Analysis.

King, resigned about his light-saving suggestion being coolly received, said he had hoped that saving electricity on lighting the city could help pay for the new voting machines or astro-turfing the Eastview fields.

Councilman Tom Roach and Council President Benjamin Boykin approached the need for new city voting machines two different ways.

Mr. Roach said that the state was about to make a decision on the types of electronic ballot format they would allow in future elections, and that the city may very well want to consider any new formats for electric voting machines approved. He also pointed out that funding from the federal level might assist in the machine acquisition.

Council President Boykin concurred that now was not the time to commit to new voting machines, and there was not a necessity to commit funds in the 2002-03 budget. Boykin said, “I don’t feel we’ll be behind. We can bond for it (new voting machines), once we know what we’re going to do. We’re going to have negotiating power. We are an important city to get (machines) into. We ought to be in the driver’s seat”

King expressed concern that new machines if not purchased this year would not be in place by 2003, (when the seats of Mr. King, Benjamin Boykin and Robert Greer are up for reelection).

Water Report Grim.

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Budget Director Eileen Earl delivered the always popular Water Report of the Budget Advisory Committee, which called for deferring a water rate increase for one year. It noted that White Plains has the lowest average annual water charges in Westchester County ($115). This, the report says is less than a quarter of the high end water districts and half that of districts in the “middle range.”

They also recommended considering a higher rate increase for the biggest consumers of water in the city (industrial and businesses), if a rate increase is called for next year.

The Committee recommended requiring businesses to install new water meters in line with specifications determined by the city. The city reports water meters slow down with age, and “under-record” the amount of water used by businesses.

The BMC reported some $9.5 million in water infrastructure improvements underway or being contemplated which will impact the water fund.

The Land Report

Ms. Earl also presented the Land Report of the Budget and Management Advisory Committee which recommends sale of property at Havilands Lane at the extreme eastern end of Ridgeway for development, which the report feels can be developed carefully with Planning Board guidance. The Report calls for putting up two Liberty Street parcels if the $120,000 transactions are not completed “immediately.” The Committee calls for dedicating 9/11 Newcomb Place and two Cummings Avenue parcels as dedicated land, deleting them from the tax role.

The Real Estate Committee also recommends sale of 82 Sunset Drive and 128 Woodcrest Avenue, and a third parcel at Tarrytown Road and Harmon Street.

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Soccer Summit Planned with Mayor, County, School District to turf Eastview

WPCNR Daily Mirror. By John F. Bailey. May 15, 2002, 12:30 PM EDT:The White Plains Youth Soccer League under the leadership of Ken Schlinger, President of the league, Carlos Mejia, and Lee Smith have arranged a “Soccer Summit” which is planned to take place this week, to explore how the city, the White Plains School District and Westchester County might cooperate to revitalize the Eastview Middle School athletic fields with a synthetic surface.



NEW LOOK FOR CITY’S WORST FIELDS? The Eastview atheletic fields shown in February will be considered for synthetic turf by a city, county, school district “Soccer Summit” this week.
WPCNR Photo

The meeting, arranged by the soccer league officials, is expected to take place this week, according to Arne Abramowitz, Commissioner of Recreation and Parks. Abramowitz said that Mr. Schlinger , Mr. Smith and Mr. Mejia had taken the case for synthetic turf to Westchester County, theWhite Plains City School District and the city, and all three parties were agreeable to discuss how the resources of the three jurisdictions could combine to “turf” the fields. He did not know at the time, who would be representing the county or the school district at the meeting.

Abramowitz said that the Commissioner of Public Works, Joseph Nicoletti, had estimated the cost of synthetic turf for the track oval and the baseball/softball/soccer field at Eastview as being between $1.5 million and $2 million. Previous city estimates for “turfing” the oval only ran about $300,000.

Mayor Delfino said Monday evening that the White Plains Youth Soccer League had advised him that they thought the three entities: city, school district and county might split the cost of turfing the heavily used fields between the three. The Mayor said it was his understanding the County was focused on the soccer field at Saxon Woods at this time, but the Soccer League was optimistic that the county would help with the funding.

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This Old Hall: Council Mulls Millions to Upgrade City Hall for Second 100 Years.

WPCNR White Plains World. By John F. Bailey. May 14, 2002, 1:00 PM EDT: The Common Council last week received news from Joseph Nicoletti about the state of the old girl, City Hall, the stately old lady of Main Street, and her condition.



THIS OLD HALL: The White Plains City Hall at 255 Main Street, is being considered for modernization and expansion. The Common Council has requested Budget Department analysis of the financing.
WPCNR Photo

Department of Public Works Commissioner, Joseph Nicoletti advised the council they would soon have to consider financing extensive multi-million dollar renovations to prepare City Hall for its second 100 years.

Boykin: Council Taking a Hard Look Now.

Council President Benjamin Boykin advised WPCNR Monday that Mr. Nicoletti’s presentation last Thursday evening pointed out that City Hall, built in 1924, was in need of extensive renovation to continue meeting occupation standards. In addition, Boykin said Nicoletti presented an option which adds a wing to City Hall and builds an annex where the present Planning Department sits now.

$5.7MM to $14MM in Improvements to Impact Future Budgets.

According to Boykin, Nicoletti presented a renovation and modernization plan only to bring the old City Hall up to date, estimated to cost $5.7 million. The renovation would include heating, electrical and air conditioning and infrastructure improvements.

The building plan is more ambitious.

Boykin said it would not only renovate city hall and bring it up to standards, but would add a wing and erect a new complex behind City Hall, WPCNR presumes to house various departments spread around the city. The cost of the wing and annex plan was pegged at $14 million.

Budget Department to look at financial picture.

Boykin said the Council asked the budget department to “layer in” the financing needed into the entire scope of the city debt obligations, and he said the Council would be taking a look at this impact on future budgets in about two months. It would not affect the current budget, he said.

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73 Scholar Athletes Saluted by Board of Education

WPCNR School Days. By Michelle Schoenfeld. May 14, 2002. 8 AM EDT: Seventy-three White Plains High School students from five Spring Varsity Teams were honored as Scholar-Athletes by the Board of Education at its May Regular Meeting.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association awards this status, based upon a team average of 90 or better from a specified number of athletes. Athletic Director Mario Scarano presented the teams and their coaches to the Board.

Nine students from the Golf Team, coached by Joan Behrends, had a
90.32 average.

From Women’s Lacrosse, Jody Cole, Coach, 17 athletes qualified with an average of 90.25.

The Men’s Tennis Team, coached by Jeff Campbell, had 13 members qualify with an average of 90.21.

Seventeen Women’s Track Team members, coached by Ed Zemmel, posted an average of 90.15.

Finally, from Men’s Track, coached by Fred Singleton, 17 members qualified with an average of 90.33.

In addition, Mr. Scarano recognized 19 athletes who attained averages over 90, but whose teams did not qualify.

He added that for the entire year, 231 High School
students earned Scholar-Athlete status, and 23 of the 24 Varsity teams this year had averages of 88 or better.

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Fort Hill Players Are Doin’ A Show: Auditions for

WPCNR Variety. From Fort Hill Players. May 13, 2002. 12:00 Noon EDT: The Players are calling for aspiring or experienced actors and actresses aged 12 and up to audition for their fourth “Free Summer in the Parks” production of Charlotte’s Web to be staged July 9 and 11 and July 16 and 18. Auditions will be held at Rochambeau School, 228 Fisher Avenue, Tuesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 23 at 7:30 PM. Jim Brownold is the Director. For more background on this production, go to the Fort Hill Players website, by going to White Plains Links, clicking on White Plains and Westchester Arts and Entertainment and clicking on the Fort Hill Players Link.

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Rugers Rascals Silverman stifles Sherman Park, 11-8 in first-ever WSGSL Win

WPCNR Pressbox. May 11, 2002. 10:00 AM Rugers Rascals, the senior girls Little League Team beat Sherman Park Friday evening at Gille Field under the lights, 11-8, behind the sinker ball stylings of Rachel Silverman to record White Plains Senior Girls first-ever win in the Westchester Senior Girls Softball League. Rookie Manager Jack Hackbarth’s team was lead by the slugging of Emma Cornfield who blasted a 3-run homer in the first inning. Cornfield added a bases-clearing triple in the right centerfield gap later in the game.
Hackbarth’s team backed up Silverman’s pitching with slick fielding on the infield theater, producing a crisp win. Silverman kept the ball down and the Rascals’ gloves were equal to the task with slick picks and accurate throws. Righthander Silverman’s stylings were reminiscent of the great Lew Burdette of the old Milwaukee Braves, as Sherman Park hitters consistently beat the ball into the Gille dirt, rarely getting anything in the air.

The White Plains girls were playing with only 8 fielders, so the win was not only solid, but remarkable for Silverman’s ability to induce the Sherman Parkers to hit the ball on the ground. Sherman Park rallied late, but fell short.

Silverman showed great command of the strike zone, and elegant poise in pitching out of jams. She had a shutout through three innings.

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Mayor Delfino and Andy Spano Engineer Woodcrest Land Swap for City Park

WPCNR Getaway Gazette. By John F. Bailey. May 10, 2002. 3:00 PM EDT: The Mayor’s Office announced today that Mayor Joseph Delfino of White Plains and County Executive Andy Spano have negotiated an agreement where the former Dellwood Dairy property on the Silver Lake waterfront in Woodcrest Heights would be leased to the city for a passive recreation park, in return for the County acquiring the Petttinicchi property of 7.7 acres for 17 units of “affordable” housing.
Under the terms of the deal worked out personally by Mayor Delfino, with the assistance of Councilperson Rita Malmud, Chair of the city Recreation Committee, the city is able to acquire the 1.94 acre Dellwood piece nestled on the shores of Silver Lake on a 30 year nominal lease from Westchester County, the terms of which are to be worked out.

City to Lease the Waterfront for a Song.

Executive Officer George Gretsas speculated that it would be a token rental of perhaps as little as $1 a year. It would be similar to the deal the county has with Harrison’s lease of their side of Silver Lake for 99 years at a $1 a year.

Gretsas said the lease of the Dellwood property was contingent on the county purchase of the 7.9 acre Pettinicchi property, and subsequent entry into an agreement with a developer of the site to build the housing units.

Woodcrest Heights Approves.

Gretsas said the Woodcrest Heights Neighborhood Association had advised the city it was in favor of the purchase, provided that the parkland be used for “passive” recreation. Gretsas reports that all that the city plans for the Dellwood shoreline property is some paddleboats and nature trails, some park benches. No athletic fields of any kind are planned. He also said the city of White Plains would be responsible for maintaining the property, once leased from the County.

He said that the deal acquires at minimal expense the number one land preservationchoice of the Open Space Acquisition Committee, and that it completes a “lifelong” dream of the Mayor.
Malmud, Spano lauded.

Mr. Gretsas said that the agreement was “a byproduct of the cooperative relationship the Mayor has with the County Executive. The Mayor said that Councilwoman Rita Malmud partnered with the Mayor to join the effort.”

He said the plan was revealed to the Common Council in Executive Session last week and that the council supported the idea.
County Anxious to Close the Deal.

Gretsas added that the Pettinicchi family was eager to close the deal with the county.

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Connors Signs on as New Superintendent. Starts July 15.

WPCNR Daily Mirror. From Michelle Schoenfeld. May 10, 2002. 9:30 AM EDT: The City School District reports today that Timothy P. Connors, currently Superintendent of Schools in Danbury, Connecticut, has signed a three-year contract to assume the position of White Plains Superintendent of Schools, beginning July 15.



THE NEW SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS OFFICIALLY ON BOARD: Timothy P. Connors right officially inked his contract to become Dr. Saul Yanofsky’s successor Thursday evening. He is seen with his wife, Jean, left, on April 23 when he was first introduced to the community.
Photo by WPCNR

Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education told WPCNR Friday that Connors had signed a contract Thursday evening which will pay him $197,000 per year through July 2005. She said there was no housing allowance provision in the contract, but a moving allowance was provided, and that Mr. Connors would take over the Superintendent position on July 15, 2002.

Dr. Saul Yanofsky, outgoing Superintendent will serve through June 30 of this year.

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GOP Puts Up Tony Sayegh of New Rochelle to Challenge Amy Paulin in the 88th

WPCNR Drivetime Daily. Special to WPCNR. May 9, 2002. 4:00 PM EDT: A newcomer to politics, 30-year-old Tony Sayegh of Bronxville, has been chosen by the Westchester County Republican and Conservative Parties to challenge incumbent Assemblyperson Amy Paulin in the newly configured 88th Assembly District.



Photo From Scarsdale Today

The 88th now covers half of White Plains, all of Scarsdale and Eastchester, Bronxville and about half of New Rochelle.
Education, Clean Air and Water His Themes

According to the announcement of his candidacy made Wednesday on the steps of New Rochelle City Hall, “Citing his commitment to New York’s schools and working relationship with Governor Pataki, Tony Sayegh stressed his desire to help improve New York’s public schools.“

Mr. Sayegh said, “As a first generation American, I came to appreciate the fact that with a sound educational foundation, anyone can achieve the American Dream.  Unfortunately, our public schools are not providing the education that New York’s children need.  As your next Assemblyman, I will work with the Pataki Administration to ensure that our schools receive more state funding — but I’ll also make sure that we demand greater accountability from students, teachers, administrators and parents.”

In his speech, Sayegh also mentioned that he would be a strong advocate for cleaner air and water. “This campaign is about new leadership, a new vision, and new standards for New York,” Sayegh said. “Children deserve to grow up in a New York with clean parks, safe drinking water and clean air to breathe.”

“We can achieve results by working together — the Governor, the Legislature, and each and every one of us who share in our concerns with the way things are, our goals to make things better, and our vision of a better, safer, cleaner New York for generations to come.”

Salutes Pataki and Giuliani

Sayegh concluded his speech by citing two recent New York leaders who share in his optimism in improving the lives of New Yorkers. “When the critics said New York City was ungovernable, Rudy Giuliani proved otherwise.  And when the
same doubters said state spending could never be controlled, George Pataki proved them wrong.

“Now, the pessimists are saying that we cannot do better for our children’s schools, for our commitment to the elderly and infirm, for our environment.  I ask for your support as I begin my campaign and, like the two great leaders I mentioned, issue this challenge: we CAN do better, we MUST do better, and, working together, we SHALL do better.”

Republican headquarters said that Sayegh has worked in Washington, D.C., and was deeply involved with the Young Republicans. WPCNR is expecting a more detailed resume of Mr. Sayegh shortly.

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7 Weeks Later, AG Deliberates Delgado quo warranto Action.

WPCNR Dispatch News Courier. By John F. Bailey. May 9, 2002. 2:15 PM EDT: The Attorney General’s Press Office reported to WPCNR Thursday that Larry Delgado’s request for the Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to initiate a quo warranto proceeding to remove Glen Hockley from office as a “usurper” of his Common Council seat, is still under review by legal staff in the Attorney General’s office in Albany.
Mark Violette, a spokesman for the Attorney General, told WPCNR the history of the request so far:

“Our office in late March received a request from Mr. Delgado to initiate a quo warranto proceeding on his behalf. That letter has been logged into our system and has been forwarded internally to the appropriate legal staff that is reviewing it, and determining what steps we should take in that regard. All the information I have on this issue is that our office has not reached a decision yet whether or not to proceed with a quo warranto matter for Mr. Delgado. We are contemplating it and deliberating it. When a decision is made we will let people know about that.”

WPCNR asked who was reviewing the matter and whether they had the election law expertise to evaluate the matter. Violette said he could not reveal the attorney reviewing the matter. He said, “We have a wide variety of legal experts,” and said the person reviewing it was “skilled” in this field.

Attorney General Has Necessary Information.

WPCNR asked Violette if the attorney(s) reviewing Mr. Delgado’s request had all the information they needed to make a decision. Violette said, “We have the necessary information and expertise to rule. If we need more information, we’ll certainly reach out to him (Mr. Delgado).”

Delgado not contacted for further information so far.

Asked how much longer the ruling to initiate or not initiate the action would take, Violette said, “As long as it takes. I’m not aware of any timetable. Our office is not working on a timetable. We are deliberating on how to proceed.”

Mr. Delgado’s attorneys, Jeffrey Binder and John Ciampoli, said they confirmed with the correspondence office that Mr. Delgado’s formal request for a quo warranto proceeding was received, but have had no contact from the Attorney General’s office in any form since sending the request.

Attorney General’s Office Works on a Triage System.

Violette explained to WPCNR that the Attorney General’s Office receives “thousands” of requests for the Attorney General to look into matters. He said that each request is reviewed and assigned, much like a hospital emergency room on a “triage” basis.

WPCNR asked what tier of triage “disputed elections” occupied in the view of the Attorney General’s Office, Violette said he did not know the answer. He said the officer assigning the cases “uses their judgment.”

Violette said he would get back to WPCNR on how many exact “thousands of cases” the attorney general’s office was working on right now, and how many cases they received weekly, monthly or yearly but he would find out.

Violette said they were aware of the nature of the case and its sensitivity to White Plains and the staff “was acting with deliberate speed on it.”

Court of Appeals Justices Concerned About Timing on a quo warranto Remedy Track.

The Attorney General’s Office has now had the Delgado matter in hand for seven weeks, three weeks longer than the Court of Appeals took to listen and weigh the arguments of Mr. Delgado and Mr. Hockley on the Appellate Court decision converting Judge Nicolai’s decision, calling for a new election citywide in White Plains.

When the Court of Appeals heard the arguments in the Delgado case, Justices Levine and Rosenblatt expressed concern on the time a plenary action, going to court, and perhaps having a jury trial would take to decide the winner of an election as opposed to seating an apparent winner immediately, and the aggrieved party relying on the Attorney General’s office to respond to a quo warranto action.

No “Heads-Up” from the Court of Appeals.

WPCNR asked Gary Spencer of the New York State Court of Appeals Press Office if the Court of Appeals, after they overturned the Delgado-Sunderland ruling, had notified the Attorney General’s Office of the possibility of a quo warranto request by Mr. Delgado coming Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s way.

Mr. Spencer said “It’s not their role. I can tell you categorically they have not.”

Spencer said the Court of Appeals does not make it a practice of notifying other departments or branches of government of how to treat or be aware of sensitive decisions they have decided on. WPCNR was very specific. We asked Mr. Spencer if Court of Appeals Justices advise the Attorney General that he should “look into this” or “you better take a look at this,” or “Hey, Elliot this could be coming your way.” Mr. Spencer said “I can tell you categorically they have not.”

Appeals Decision Leaves Door Open.

The last paragraph of the decision written by the Court of Appeals reversing the Court of Appeals call for a new citywide election, reads , In sum, quo warranto is the appropriate remedy in this case. We need not determine at this time whether a declaratory judgment action might lie as an alternative remedy where quo warranto has ceased to be available to the aggrieved candidate because the Attorney General has declined to act.”

This intriguing sentence appears to leave open the possibility of future legal action by Mr. Delgado should the Attorney General decline to initiate a quo warranto procedure.

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