Bucks for Buses, More Staff, Benefits Drive 8.8% Hike, $129MM Budget

Milkman’s Matinee News Filed 2/7/02 2:15 AM EST UPDATED 1:30 PM EST:The Annual Budget Committee learned Wednesday night the School District is looking at an 8.8% increase in the 2002-2003 school budget, pending anticipated trimming by the citizens committee.

The 02-03 projected budget is now sitting on $129,184,227 up $10,597,541 from the 2001-2002 expenditures of $118,686,686.

Salaries make up 60% ($78MM) of the new $129MM “Cabinet Budget.” Salaries for proposed new staff and scheduled step increases for present staff, make up $5.8MM, of the $10.6MM year-to-year increase.

Transportation (buses) is seen increasing at least $1.454MM or 13% of the increase. Benefits, pegged to increase $3.18MM, constitute 30%.

Yanofsky identifies the vulnerabilities

Situations driving the budget are the negotiation of a whopping new bus transportation contract yet to be determined. There is a sharp increase in fringe benefits, and need for sustained upgrading of curriculum and specialized staff. Staff growth is necessary to upgrade state assessment test performances and enable students to pass new Regents requirements for graduation at the high school, Yanofsky said.


YANOFSKY WRAPS IT UP FOR THE ANNUAL BUDGET COMMITTEE WEDNESDAY NIGHT as the Board of Education, in background watches him introduce a budget to the community for the final time. Yanofsky was optimistic more cuts could trim the projected increase. He said “Response to the state mandates has been extremely costly for us,” and that “There’s not an adequate safety net for kids who turned out to be in the middle of this.” (the institution of Regents exams).
Photo by WPCNR

Yanofsky and Lasselle make their case

Dr. Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools and Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, took turns unveiling the new preliminary budget to the 30-member Annual Budget Committee of White Plains residents. The distinguished gallery is drawn from the PTA, Rotary, League of Women Voters, city organizations and concerned citizens.


LIKE SUMMERALL AND MADDEN, Richard Lasselle teamed with Dr. Yanofsky to present a $129MM school budget for 2002-03. Lasselle listens to a question from a Board of Education member.
Photo by WPCNR


The lucid two hour and 10 minute presentation, identified the money pressures dictating the increase which is 1.9% more than the 7.9% increase overwhelmingly approved by voters last year by a 4 to 1 margin.

ABC given a challenge

The Superintendent expressed hope that the committee would give the District ideas on where they could cut the budget to bring the budget down to last year’s level of increase. Yanofsky urged Committee members to give feedback on what areas they wanted more information and understanding on before next Tuesday, and to bring questions to the next session of the ABC on Tuesday evening, February 12 at 7:30 PM.

Increased staff to raise performance makes up half the increase.

Yanofsky said that before the ABC convened, there had already been three go-rounds by the Superintendent’s Cabinet of Assistant Superintendents on December 5, January 7 and January 9. The superintendent and the Board and the school leaders were able to bring down the budget increase from an original 11.3% hike, down to the 8.8% level. They eliminated 17.85 new Certified teaching positions and 10 new Classified positions to bring the budget down $812,155 as of Wednesday evening. Now it was the ABC’s turn to guide them where to prune and shape the budget next.

Enrollment swells at high school.

The new budget is designed to deal with natural enrollment increases at White Plains High School as the school population bulge, now in the Middle School, works its way into the high school. Because part of that population came in before the new state regents standards were instituted, the school district is having to provide increased special services to bring that population up to standard to pass the Regents examinations in Math, Science, English, American and World History required by the State Education Department for a high school diploma in “2 to 3 years.”

Addressing the Regents Challenge for Students Not Ready for Regents Time

Yanofsky said the district fears many high school students may not pass the Regents the first time they take them, raising the spectre of the student population swelling with fifth year high school students staying in school to get their Regents diploma. The new budget now adds 5 new high school teachers in Science, and a combination of Social Studies, Reading,ESOL/Psychologist, Special Education and Foreign Language to work with at-risk students to them Regents-ready.

The Middle School at Highlands is scheduled to add a third eighth grade team by adding 1 new ELA teacher and 2 Special Support Teachers and a parttime psychologist to upgrade skills in eighth grade students whom teachers identify as not ready for high school level work. Eastview will receive a new ESOL teacher and 2 new teachers in the ELA/Science/Social Studies fields to bring down the average of Eastview classes to the 24-25 student level.

Staffing increased to cut Special Education out-of-district costs;
address achievement skills in grades K to 8

In the elementary schools, the District plans to institute a “Passages” program to keep special education students within the district, saving on BOCES tuition. Hiring one teacher and an aid to conduct the Passages Program across the elementary schools is less expensive than paying BOCES $45,000 per student to educate special education students out of district. Three Instructional Specialists and one occupational therapist are scheduled to be hired to serve in all the Kindergarten to 8th grade schools to provide special services to students needing to strengthen skills to reach appropriate grade level.

In Civil Service Employee Union positions, the District proposes adding full-time security aides at the two middle schools and three teaching assistants for technology support in the elementary schools and three new custodians.

A total of 34.4 new positions are projected in the new budget at a cost of $2,231,817.

It will be the Annual Budget Committee’s unenviable task to pick and choose which newly proposed positions should be kept and which cut as the budget process moves forward. A budget including no staff increases was also submitted. When you keep staff levels as they are now, (adding no staff at all), the 2002-03 budget still increases 7.0% to $126,952,410. This is because the budget is taking hits in other places.

Cost of bus transportation out of control

The cost of Transportation is projected to rise $1,453,899 to $6,592,890, up 28%. This increase is unavoidable because White Plains Bus Company informed the district they could no longer serve the district under their present contracts. The district has put out Requests for Proposals to a number of bus companies and has been shocked by the numbers coming back. Dr. Yanofsky said he would provide more detail on this at next Tuesday’s meeting.

Fringe benefits Rise Sharply.

Dr. Yanofsky, in his patient lucid, “what can we do style,” told the sober audience Fringe Benefits which are the second largest slice of the budget pie were projected to go up $3MM or 17.6% due to increased health care premiums (“It’s killing us,” Yanofsky said).

Another factor driving up the benefits bill is the lowered return on state pension funds. Yanofsky said the state is now billing the district 4% of $45 million, an extra $1.8 Million to pay the cost of district pensions.

Lasselle explains new state pension payments to WPCNR.

WPCNR interviewed Richard Lasselle Thursday afternoon to clarify the matter of the new pension payments required by the state. Mr. Lasselle told us that in recent years, though the School District is required to fund pensions based on the salaries of teachers and district employees, the District did not have to contribute to the state.

Lasselle said in the investment markets of the late 90s, the state was able to sustain its portfolio return on investment so well that it did not require school districts to replenish the pension fund.

Now, Lasselle says the weak investment market has forced New York State to require replenishment from the School District.

“This year is different than that,” Lasselle said. “ Because of the budget shortfall, the state is passing on the costs to organizations. A new expenditure we had not had to budget before.”

Lasselle amplified Yanofsky’s statement on the pension payment of Wednesday night. Lasselle reported the district is obligated to make a payment to the state of 1-1/2%, approximately $705,000 to the Teachers Retirement System, based on the $47 million in White Plains teacher salaries. There is also a 4% payment of $800,000 to the Employees Retirement System, based on the $20 million in White Plains district employee salaries, creating an increase in benefits costs of $1,505,000, about $300,000 less than what was said last night.

Hope for a cut to the 7.6% Level

Wrapping up the evening, Dr. Yanofsky offered encouragement to the Committee, reporting that at the first Budget Committee meeting last year, the budget was looking at a 9.1% increase and it wound up being eased down to 7.9%. He noted at at 8.8% now, the increase is just about where it was last year, and if the same process were to happen it would put the finished budget at 7.6% “which might be where we want to be.”

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Hockley Claiming He Was Denied a Jury Trial in His Appeal

Drivetime News Caravan, Filed 2/6/02 3 3:00 PM EST:The Glen Hockley appeal raises a new issue as a basis for appeal. Today the Hockley matter of the ongoing District 18 Machine Jam Case awaits a Court of Appeals evaluation as to whether New York’s highest court will review his case. The brief states they were denied a jury trial at the Trial Court level where Judge Francis Nicolai ruled for a continued election in District 18, in addition to raising the familiar procedural matters as basis for denying a new election.
Another new wrinkle that Hockley’s brief raises in his appeal cites one of John Ciampoli’s former cases as evidence that the Delgado camp should have filed a new index number before filing their second step in obtaining an examination of the voting machine in District 18. (John Ciampoli is Larry Delgado’s specialist in election law).

Ciampoli explained to WPCNR that the Hockley brief simply lifted part of his former case to show that the Delgado camp should have filed for a new index number. Ciampoli said this was taking a case out of context, because this case involved absentee ballots and was not as time-sensitive as the events on Election Night, 2001 in White Plains.

If you recall, results did not look right after District 18 totals came into Republican Headquarters, and the Delgado camp filed for impoundment of the voting machines suspecting an election machine had jammed on the Delgado line. Attempts to get the court to examine the machine were contested by the Hockley camp, as not being allowed under election law.

When Judge Nicolai refused to deny an examination of the machine, and ordered it, the machine was found to have a jammed Delgado counterwheel. On the basis of “having identified a wrong, the court is forced to manufacture a remedy,” Judge Nicolai ordered a continuation of the election in District 18. The Hockley camp sought a stay from the Appellate Court in Brooklyn to stop this election from taking place.

The Appellate Court refused Mr. Hockley’s appeal by a 3-1 decision. On Thursday of last week, January 31, Mr. Hockley appealed to the Court of Appeals. This is where the case stands today.

Ciampoli said Wednesday regarding his response brief to Court of Appeals on the Hockley matter, that “We replied at this point, and nothing else is in play.”

Ciampoli also said that the jury trial denial piece to the appeal was strange, because according to the practice of law you cannot use an issue as a basis for appeal, if you did not ask for that relief at a lower court level. Mr. Ciampoli says at no time did Mr. Bradley ask for a jury trial in Judge Nicolai’s court.

Two Week Wait Possible.

Asked how fast the Court of Appeals might move on deciding to take up the case, Ciampoli thought two weeks at the latest before the Court of Appeals would make the review-no review decision.

Thursday, February 7 was the date when Judge Nicolai, Administrative Judge of the New York State Supreme Court, Ninth District, had set to bring the parties back to set an election date. Unless the Court of Appeals rejects the case today, the parties will not reconvene.

Ciampoli said the Hockley brief prepared by Bradley recites his previous arguments on procedural issues. Ciampoli reviewed the events in question on Election Night: “He (Adam Bradley) managed to convince one (Court of Appeals) Judge that the case had technially concluded after the machine impoundment proceeding (requiring a new index number). But, he cannot produce anything (document) from Judge Perrone (the Judge ordering the impoundment) that says the (impoundment) case was concluded. I do not see how you can end the impoundment until you get results of the recanvas (to check for reporting errors). All he (Bradley) has is his letter to Binder about a court appearance.”

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Opening Night for School Budget Process

Hign Noon News, Filed 2/6/02 11:30 AM EST: The citizens’ Annual Budget Committee begins deliberations on the 2002-2003 School Budget this evening at Education House. The meeting begins at 7:30 PM.
The ABC Committee meeting brings together 30 citizens, 16 from the PTA Council, Area 4 Realtors, service clubs, neighborhood associations and the Council of Ministers. The balance are volunteers or selections made by the Board of Education.

This year’s ABC members are: Dianne Averill, Carl Barrera, Kevin Barry, Peter Bassano, Ann Bernstein, Frank Cantatore, Al Dold, Eli Fritz, Octavio Gomez, Michael Graessle, Nikki Gray, John Harrington, Marilyn Harris, Libby Hollahan, Peter Jensen, Garry Klein, Beth La Torre, Judy Lee, Reverend Odinga Maddox, Melissa Morello, Eileen Oleet, Louis Petralia, Marc Pollitzer, Jonathan Rodney, Sarina Russell, Ronald Shakeridge, Betsy Steward, Robert Tuck, Gloria Vasquez, and Nick Wolff.

Tonight we expect to see the outgoing Superintendent of Schools Saul Yanofsky present the first go-through on the new budget which has been developing internally since November. Members were briefed last week on budget nomenclature and categories. Tonight they will see the blanks filled-in. It is expected through the process that members of the committee will raise questions and articulate community support or lack of support for key areas of fiscal sensitivity.

Observers of the meeting will get a broad view of current and longterm District needs, key expenditures, revenue expectations, areas that cannot be cut, and plans to expand or introduce programs and, the bottom line, tax increases.

The ABC meets again next Tuesday, February 12 at 7:30, and Wednesday, March 6 at 7:30. Following these three meetings, after each the cabinet retires and adjusts the budget, the Superintendent’s cabinet prepares the “Preliminary Budget” that a Public Hearing will be conducted to discuss on March 18. Following the consideration of concerns voiced at the Public Hearing the Final Budget will be prepared and presented to the Board of Education April 1.

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Council: Study Waller Decks. Malmud Veto Stymies McMansions, Cappelli

Midnight Special Edition Filed 2/6/02:Rita Malmud refused to agree to allow inclusion of an environmental resolution newly attached to the “McMansions” zoning ordinance, or to allow the new Cappelli site plan compromise to be considered because the paperwork had not reached her until 5:15 PM.

The Council agreed, 4-1, to spend $70,000 on a feasibility study of adding decks to the Waller & Maple Parking lot, over William King’s objective.
After meeting until 20 minutes to 1 o’clock in the morning, Monday, White Plains “Short Council” reconvened Tuesday evening in the Mayor’s Conference room for what they expected as the weekly routine big Cappelli Change, and to pass finally the “McMansions” new expanded FARs Zoning Ordinance for the outer neighborhoods.

It was not to be.

Paperwork to go with the McMansions ordinance and extensive resolutions executing the Cappelli site plan amendment matter were submitted late Tuesday. The documents for the Cappelli matter were created by the city Corporation Counsel, Edward Dunphy working the night early Tuesday morning and most of the day. Susan Habel came in off a sickbed Tuesday afternoon to finish the McMansions Zoning Ordinance environmental piece (when it was discovered missing), in time for the meeting so the Council could execute the agreed-on agenda from Monday.

Malmud needed time to reflect

Rita Malmud expressed her concern that she had not gotten the new paperwork for the agenda earlier, saying she had only time to review them quickly. She pointed out these were new collateral paperwork items added to the pre-agreed on agenda (which should have been there last night) extended from Monday evening.

The Mayor said he was “learning about working with these continued meetings.” The second meetings are made necessary by the unfilled seat on the Common Council.

Mayor Delfino said that the legal work on the new compromise on the Cappelli request for dropping a floor off the Cappelli Center took Mr. Dunphy longer to research case law than expected, because the “parameters” of the Cappelli proposal were just presented Monday, the Mayor said.

The McMansions paperwork consisted of a letter from the Environmental Officer and an EnvironmentalFindings Resolution to be attached to the new anti-McMansions Zoning Ordinance which has been lurking on the Council agenda unchanged since September, 2001. In September, an architect who stands to lose a project in the Highlands if the McMansions ordinance is passed before the Zoning Board of Appeals approves the project, orchestrated a small group of neighbors to protest the new outer neighborhood FAR restructions. The Council, with the election campaign in full swing, tabled it.

Southend neighborhoods have been clamoring for this to be passed and really pressuring the Council to get it done. Once more on Tuesday evening, the same architect appeared. He is designing the subdivision next to Mary Ann Keenan’s home in the Highlands that would not be legal under the new FAR’s. Tuesday he submitted a letter protesting he needed more time to review the FAR with the environmental resolution. He is currently, at last report redesigning the placement of the garage on the property he is working on to develop, and is due next month on the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda.

The Cappelli paperwork was more extensive, and Mr. Cappelli was present for the second evening in a row to present the plan to the Council.

Ms. Malmud refused to add the new items she had not seen before 5:15 PM to the agreed-on-in-advance agenda.

Malmud is not comfortable reviewing on the spot

“Our rules and laws we’re supposed to operate under, we’re supposed to publish what we’re doing,” Malmud scolded the Mayor.

In the first confrontation of the new term between the Mayor and Ms. Malmud, Mayor Delfino quietly asked, “How would you suggest I do it better? It took that long (to create the documents). You think I wanted to give this to you Tuesday at 5:15?”

“Don’t take this personally, Mr. Mayor, but when you start adding things we should have had…”

Delfino muttered slowly, speaking slowly, “Every day something changes…every day. We’re trying to meet expectations.”

Mrs. Malmud concluded the exchange, saying, “Process or procedure is just as important as the end.”

Malmud is unyielding. Unanimous vote necessary to proceed. She vetoes

With that the role was called, and Ms. Malmud voted “no” very quietly to adding the new paperage to the agenda. Tom Roach, William King, Benjamin Boykin, Robert Greer and the Mayor voted “yes.” An uncomfortable silence followed for 15 seconds, and the Mayor started to proceed, when Mr. Dunphy said, “Mr. Mayor, you need unanimous consent.”

The Council requires a unanimous vote in these circumstances to add material to an agreed-on agenda, so Malmud’s vote delayed action on these measures.

The Mayor then, showing aplomb and professionalism polled all councilpersons on when they could come back for the third time in the week to pass the McMansions item and finally listen to Mr. Cappelli’s minor site plan compromise. The cast-aside matters were agreed on to be taken up Thursday at 5 PM in the Mayor’s Conference Room.

Benjamin Boykin however will be unable to attend, so there will be only four Councilmen present plus the Mayor. Mr.Cappelli who has spent six hours in City Hall in two days cooling his heels cheerfully said he’d be there, and declined comment on his hotel romance with the Ritz-Carlton.

Work is Done.

The Council did hear an impassioned plea by Juan Camacho of United Financial Corporation of New York, a business with offices at 5 Waller Avenue. Mr. Camacho told the Council that building more parking was “a must that an expansion of some sort (of parking)” be constructed.

William King said office workers had plenty of unused space in garages at the old Macy’s and the Galleria which always have space in them, that they could walk the 3 to 5 long blocks to their offices.

Mr. Camacho did not see it that way at all, saying it was very hard for him to retain $30M to $50M a year office workers if he could not offer them convenient parking. He said the city parking duration limitations forced them to move vehicles to find new parking slots elsewhere in the middle of the day which were hard to find. He also advised that he had to interrupt meetings to feed the parking meters of parked clients.

Tom Roach said he strongly supported the Waller Avenue Constructibility Study before them authorizing $70,000 to determine how many decks could be incorporated into a parking structure envisioned for the openair lot stretching from Kinkos to the Christian Science Monitor offices on the corner of Waller and Maple. “The reality is this is a suburban city, people in this area drive.”

Robert Greer admitted, that he too often added to traffic by cruising for parking spaces and supported the measure.

The “Short Council” passed the study, 4-1.

Beth Roach appointed Commissioner of Common Council Commissary?

Tom Roach passed around some brownies and oatmeal cookies made by his wife, Beth, and this was the highlight of the meeting.

WPCNR reports the brownies were tastefully rich and creamy textured with balanced nut-to-cake ratios, not too heavy and not too light. The cookies were of delicate, hearty Pennsylvania Dutch crumb that reminded the consumer of warm country kitchens, counterbalancing sweetness with soul.

Edward Dunphy, Corporation Counsel, is drawing up a resolution appointing Mrs. Roach, Confectionairress to the Common Council.

Upon consultation with the Editor of Westchester County Business Journal, WPCNR has chosen to spell McMansions with one “c.”

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The Scoop:Knights Without Armor in A Savage Land

The kidnapping of Dan Pearl, Wall Street Journal reporter highlights the world’s most dangerous profession: reporter. Of course, the inquiring press are not police, soldiers or private detectives, but those heros and heroines carry protection. The inquiring reporter ventures into enemy territory unarmed with pencil, tape recorder, and digital camera, and has only his or her faith in the reliability and dubious decency of their sources as protection.
The reporter is not greeted with good cheer when we approach subjects. Nervousness ensues. Ingenuousness is not uncommon. A number of subjects have something to hide, or a personal agenda that might be compromised by the truth, and, shudder, the very concept of giving a reporter a “straight” answer.

I have to tell you that no one likes the truth because it puts them in the true perspective in the public eye. Why does the press make errors? Because subjects are not forthcoming. They use the reporter when they feel like using him. Leak stories to other media when they feel it is to their advantage. Ask you to hold stories, tell you things off the record, and do everything, including lying to hide the truth of virtually every matter, (regardless of how mundane or harmless) from you, the public.

Reporters only are respected after they have discovered a universally accepted “spin.” Woodward and Bernstein, the Watergate reporters, became famous after the Watergate hearings had vindicated their original reporting. Karen Silkwood, became martyred after she was murdered. Victor Riesel had to be blinded by an acid-throwing mob attacker before the public believed his crusading reporting on the corruption of the Teamsters in the 1950s. Walter Winchell was severely criticised by the Liberal press for his early “outing” of Adolf Hitler as anti-Semitic and dangerous.

Sadly, the lonely investigative reporter is not welcomed at all, and is only mourned by the press who realize just how dangerous real reporting is. Pearl is the latest example of a reporter trying to get at the truth and perhaps paying for it with his life.

What Pearl was doing in Pakistan when he was abducted was trying to get an exclusive interview, and he went alone to meet some less than savory Pakistani types. Now he is among the missing. You cannot imagine how hard that is to do to expose yourself like that not knowing who you are dealing with. I liken it to undercover work, with one exception, they know who you really are. Sometimes the reporter can hide the fact he or she is a reporter. I do sometimes, but it’s hard to be believable. You have to ask just a few questions, and not too many.

On the other hand, there is a thin line between investigating and conducting a vendetta to prove a point. Following avenues of inquiry wherever it may lead may uncover some things that hurt everyone. Judgment has to be used.The art of investigative reporting to expose wrongdoing before people were hurt by the wrongdoing, has been lost, thanks to the legal profession.

Nowadays, swarms of reporters are turned loose on stories after the damage has been done. It’s amazing what they find out with just a little digging. But, isn’t it surprising that they never find out before a disaster hurts everybody? Major media specialize in investigative reporting after the horse has left the barn.

Enron: Where was the press before Enron went down? Mesmerized by glamour and glitz no doubt. Today’s press at the major papers is naive. Remember the Dot.Com boom? I cannot remember any critical articles predicting the dot com business plan did not make sense.

Generally what passes for investigative reporting today is a vendetta. Reporters are told to collect information supporting a certain point of view, which is really easy to do. However, when a reporter goes out to find out about something, he or she has to examine all sides of the issue.

Examine claims, see if they hold up. Let facts do the talking, ignore giving speculation the same gravitas as fact. You can make a case for any speculation if you talk to activists against the issue. You have to check their statements.

The latest Indian Point controversy was fueled shamelessly by politicians seeing a way to curry favor with voters by showing concern for their welfare. Ever since a local story wrote of Indian Point “melting down,” it has brought anti-nuclear power interests back from their graves like a legion of long dead Draculas.

According to Entergy and a nuclear engineer source of WPCNR’s, Indian Point cannot melt down because the fuel is not “weapons grade,” and there are backup systems in place that were not at Chernobyl. That was not reported in the original “meltdown” scare in September.

Talk has escalated to the point where the politicians want to replace Indian Point with a natural gas powered plant and purchase electricity from other power regions without any handle on how this would affect electricity rates. How irresponsible is that? Study it, yes.

The folly is that even if Indian Point were to close tomorrow, as Governor Pataki pointed out, and Comptroller H. Carl McCall agreed with him, Tuesday, the fuel rods would still be there for around a decade for any cowboy terrorist to dive a plane into for ten years. Converting the plant will not eliminate this threat until the United States figures out where to ship the fuel rods, and how.

To do that they have to get past the same environmental elitists who will complain bitterly about how the rods are shipped to the caves in the West, that the government wants to store them in. Oh, did I tell you the “Enviros” still to do not agree that is the right site? And, oh, yes, we, the taxpayers would have to pay Entergy for the conversion.

I have a solution: Let’s put anti-aircraft guns on the domes. Manned 24 hours a day. That should do it. But, I’m sure the anti-rifle people would be up in arms.

Indian Point is a bogus issue, sustained by “what if?” speculation fanned by self-righteous favor-currying politicians to rouse the public who have not done their homework. Arousing hysteria is not investigative reporting or responsible leadership.

Not once has the fuel rod storage problem that makes Indian Point a target regardless of whether it’s working or not, been explained in the media. Except when WPCNR wrote it last fall. The New York Times reported it in its Westchester Section Sunday (and Governor Pataki mentioned it in a speech recently), that closing the plant does not remove the threat posed by the fuel rods. That is not good investigative reporting not to have revealed that little old problem of fuel rods lying around all along.

Evacuation plans? Of course they are going to be hard to execute. Perhaps the one good thing that has come out of the evacuation plan criticism is the revelation of the County directive that parents should not drive to schools to pick up their children. This ignores human nature. How does evacuation work? It worked pretty well during the Twin Tower disaster. People just walked North.

Reporting is not what it once was. Because there is not as many of us. In fact, reporters might be actually liked more today by the public than they were in the early years of newspapering in this country, when they asked tougher questions, were suspicious of all they were told, and received far rougher treatment from officials than they do today.

There were a lot more reporters with twelve newspapers in New York alone.

Real investigative reporting is a dangerous job. It does not mean interviewing advocates for a point of view, it involves digging out facts over a period of time. And, you are often running against a “storylife” in doing so. Putting yourself at risk as Mr. Pearl did. And, sometimes, dying for the truth.

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Common Council President’s Address on 2002 Goals and Objectives for City

For the Record, 2/5/02, 11:30 PM EST: WPNCR is pleased to present the complete text of Council President Benjamin Boykin, Jr.’s Address to the Common Council on Monday evening, February 4, 2002 discussing the Common Council legislative agenda for this year:
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR CITY OF WHITE PLAINS 2002


BENJAMIN BOYKIN, JR. COMMON COUNCIL PRESIDENT, delivering his address Monday evening.
Photo by WPCNR


ONCE AGAIN, THE BEGINNING OF A NEW YEAR PROVIDES US WITH THE PERSPECTIVE TO ANALYZE WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN THE PAST YEAR AND TO LOOK FORWARD TO WHAT WE IN THE COMMON COUNCIL WISH TO ACHIEVE DURING THE COMING YEAR. ON BEHALF OF THE FIVE CURRENT COUNCIL MEMBERS – MR. GREER, MR. KING, MRS. MALMUD, MR. ROACH AND MYSELF – I WISH TO OUTLINE OUR GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR 2002.

DESPITE DIFFERENCES WHICH ARE A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE OF HONEST AND CONSCIENTIOUS BUT DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW, THE COUNCIL AND THE ADMINISTRATION WORKED TOGETHER TO ACCOMPLISH MUCH ON A TIMELY BASIS DURING 2001. THESE INCLUDE:

■ SITE PLAN RENEWAL, WITH CONSTRUCTION CURRENTLY IN PROCESS, FOR 500 UNITS OF HOUSING (30 UNITS WHICH WILL BE AFFORDABLE TO MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES) AND A 180 ROOM HOTEL AT THE SITE OF THE FORMER “HOLE IN THE GROUND” BY THE RAILROAD STATION,

■ SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR 600 UNITS OF HOUSING (36 UNITS WHICH WILL BE AFFORDABLE TO MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES), A MEGAPLEX CINEMA, A COMMUNITY THEATER AND SEVERAL FLOORS OF RETAIL AND RESTAURANTS IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN,

■ SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR CONSTRUCTION OF A FORTUNOFF AND OTHER RETAIL AND RESTAURANT USES AT THE FORMER SAK’S SITE,

■ ACQUISITION OF THE D’ELIA PROPERTY AS PASSIVE OPEN SPACE,

■ APPROVAL OF THREE APARTMENT PROJECTS: CLAYTON PARK, THE JEFFERSON AND PAPPAS PROPOSALS FOR AN ADDITIONAL 652 UNITS OF MARKET-RATE RENTAL APARTMENT UNITS (36 UNITS WHICH WILL BE AFFORDABLE TO MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES), AND

■ APPROVAL OF 42 UNITS OF HOUSING FOR LOW- AND MIDDLE-INCOME FAMILIES AND SENIORS AT SOUTH KENSICO AND HADDEN.

THESE WERE ACCOMPLISHED WITH ALL DUE SPEED BY A COUNCIL AND AN ADMINISTRATION WHICH WORKED COOPERATIVELY IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CITY. WE LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUING THAT PROCESS DURING 2002.

DURING 2002, AS THE CAPPELLI PROJECT MAKES FURTHER PROGRESS, WE FORSEE ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS COMING FORWARD FOR DOWNTOWN. WHILE WE LOOK FORWARD TO ADDITIONAL DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT FURTHER DEVELOPMENT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE VISION FOR A VIBRANT AND LIVABLE DOWNTOWN. HAVING APPROVED 1752 UNITS OF RESIDENTIAL HOUSING IN AND NEAR DOWNTOWN WHITE PLAINS WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT FURTHER DEVELOPMENT DOES NOT OVERLOAD THE CITY’S INFRASTRUCTURE. WE MUST TAKE A HARD LOOK AT POSSIBLE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF INADEQUATE PARKING AND GRIDLOCK DOWNTOWN AND SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASED TRAFFIC THROUGH OUR RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS AND OTHER UNKNOWN AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FROM FUTURE DEVELOPMENT. WE NEED TO ENSURE THAT LONG TIME BUSINESSES IN THE DOWNTOWN REMAIN VIABLE ENTITIES. SOME TYPE OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE THROUGH LOW INTEREST LOANS AND/OR GRANTS MAY BE NECESSARY TO RETAIN THESE STORES IN OUR CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT. WE ALSO WISH TO EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY OF CREATING SOME GREEN OPEN SPACE IN THE HEART OF OUR CITY.

IN TERMS OF DEVELOPMENT, WE WANT TO WORK WITH THE ADMINISTRATION TO CONTINUE TO ELIMINATE THE “WHITE PLAINS FACTOR” WHICH POSSIBLY INFLATES CONSTRUCTION COST TO THE ECONOMIC DETRIMENT OF THE CITY. IN PARTICULAR, WE NEED TO RE-EXAMINE THE NECESSITY OF THE CITY’S SUPPLEMENTAL BUILDING CODES AND TO REMOVE OUR UNIQUE REQUIREMENTS WHICH ADD DEVELOPMENT COSTS WITHOUT PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SAFETY OR BENEFIT TO THE FUTURE OCCUPANTS OF THE BUILDINGS.

THE RECENT RETIREMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER JOHN DOLCE AFTER THREE DECADES OF EXEMPLARY SERVICE TO WHITE PLAINS PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXAMINE THE ORGANIZATION OF THIS DEPARTMENT. WHILE WE ARE PROUD OF THE FINE PERFORMANCE OF OUR POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS, WHITE PLAINS IS RELATIVELY UNIQUE IN NEW YORK STATE IN NOT HAVING SEPARATE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS REPORTING DIRECTLY TO THE MAYOR. DOES OUR PUBLIC SAFETY STRUCTURE PROVIDE BETTER SERVICE AT LOWER COST THAN THAT PROVIDED BY OTHER CITIES IN THE REGION OR STATE? ALTHOUGH WE DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, WE BELIEVE NOW IS AN EXCELLENT TIME TO EXPLORE THE ISSUE BY CONVENING A PUBLIC SAFETY REVIEW COMMITTEE TO EVALUATE THE PRESENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF OUR UNIFORMED SERVICES IN TERMS OF SERVICE DELIVERY AND COST. WE WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE WITH THE ADMINISTRATION IN SELECTING A PANEL OF RESIDENTS AND EXPERTS TO FIND THE ANSWER TO THIS LONG-STANDING DEBATE AND THEN EITHER PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO OR CHANGE IT.

PRESERVING THE HIGH QUALITY OF RESIDENTIAL LIFE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS IS A PRIMARY CONCERN. IN LIGHT OF INCREASED DEVELOPMENT DOWNTOWN, NEW MEASURES TO CALM TRAFFIC AS IT PROCEEDS THROUGH CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS SUCH AS BATTLE HILL, FISHER HILL, THE HIGHLANDS AND NORTH BROADWAY SHOULD BE EXAMINED AND, IF ACCEPTABLE TO RESIDENTS, ADOPTED. THESE MEASURES COULD INCLUDE SPEED HUMPS, MORE STOP SIGNS, RESTRICTED ACCESS AT SPECIFIED TIMES AND STRICTER ENFORCEMENT.

ILLEGAL OCCUPANCIES ARE ALSO A MAJOR THREAT TO CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS. WE INTEND TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION WHICH WILL INCREASE MINIMUM FINES FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS OF THE CITY’S OCCUPANCY CODES AND TO PROMOTE THE HIRING OF MORE CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

IN VIEW OF THE LACK OF ACCESS TO OVERNIGHT PARKING IN SOME OF THE CITY’S APARTMENT DISTRICTS, WE WILL INTRODUCE LEGISLATION WHICH WILL PERMIT OVERNIGHT ON-STREET PARKING IN CERTAIN WELL-DEFINED DISTRICTS AND EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY OF ISSUING PERMITS TO RESIDENTS OF APARTMENT BUILDINGS WHO HAVE NO ACCESS TO PARKING IN NEARBY GARAGES OR LOTS.

THE HEALTH OF OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IS A CRITICAL COMPONENT FOR THE OVERALL SUCCESS OF THIS COMMUNITY. IN ORDER TO FOSTER A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CITY GOVERNMENT AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT, WE URGE THE ADMINISTRATION TO RESUME REGULAR INFORMAL MEETINGS OF THE COMMON COUNCIL AND SCHOOL BOARD TO DISCUSS ISSUES OF COMMON INTEREST AND CONCERN.

THE PURCHASE OF THE D’ELIA PROPERTY IN 2001 WAS A WELCOME FIRST STEP IN ADDING TO THE CITY’S OPEN SPACE INVENTORY. WE STRONGLY SUPPORT ADDITIONAL PURCHASES OF OPEN SPACE AND/OR ZONING CHANGES WHICH WOULD PROTECT OPEN SPACE BY PRECLUDING DEVELOPMENT. WE LOOK FORWARD TO A ESOLUTION OF THE NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL PROPOSAL WHICH WILL BOTH ENHANCE THE FUTURE SURVIVAL OF THIS PRE-EMINENT HEALTH CARE INSTITUTION AND SAFEGUARD AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE OF THE MAGNIFICENT OPEN SPACE ON THE HOSPITAL’S PROPERTY. WE ALSO LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THE COUNTY IN ORDER TO GAIN ACCESS TO SILVER LAKE FOR WHITE PLAINS RESIDENTS.

WE NEED TO DO MORE TO INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR MIDDLE-INCOME HOUSING.

WE WILL PROPOSE AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING ORDINANCE THAT SPELLS OUT THE REQUIREMENTS AND INCENTIVES FOR THE PROVISION OF MIDDLE-INCOME HOUSING BY DEVELOPERS WISHING TO BUILD IN WHITE PLAINS.

THE DIVERSITY OF OUR CITY IS ONE OF ITS MOST VALUABLE ASSETS. WE MUST WORK TO SEE THAT OUR CITY’S WORKFORCE, AT ALL LEVELS, AND OUR BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS, REFLECT OUR RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY.

WE NEED TO DO MORE TO IMPROVE THE RESPONSIVENESS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT. QUARTERLY REPORTS TO RESIDENTS MUST BE PUBLISHED AND CIRCULATED ON A REGULAR AND PREDICTABLE BASIS. THE CITY’S WEBSITE NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED. NEWS ON SITE MUST BE CURRENT, DOWNLOADABLE FORMS SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE, AND THE SITE SHOULD BE EASY TO NAVIGATE. ALSO, PROGRAMMING ON THE CITY’S GOVERNMENT ACCESS CABLE CHANNEL SHOULD BE EXPANDED TO PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION ON THE RANGE AND DEPTH OF SERVICES PROVIDED BY WHITE PLAINS GOVERNMENT.

IN CONCLUSION, AT THE START OF THE NEXT 4 YEARS OF THIS ADMINISTRATION, THERE IS MUCH TO DO. WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING TOGETHER TO FURTHER ENHANCE THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS GREAT CITY.

THANK YOU.

FEBRUARY 4, 2002

Posted in Uncategorized

100 Hear Boykin’s Council Goals and Objectives. 38 Speak on Hospital Plan.

Milkman’s Matinee News Filed 2/5/02, 4:00 AM ESTThe Common Council President Benjamin Boykin outlined the Common Council Goals and Objectives for the City of White Plains Monday evening calling for formation of a Citizen Committee to study splitting the Police and Fire Departments, promising financial aid to long time businesses in the downtown, and assuring a “hard look” at new developments coming into the city to “not overload the city’s infrastructure.”

The public hearing on the New York Presbyterian Hospital resumed and lasted 4 hours and 22minutes with 38 persons speaking and 8 who wanted to speak leaving before they got a chance to take the podium. Speakers against the project outnumbered those speaking for the building of the biotech facility.
A number of speakers demonstrated a distinct lack of knowledge about the hospital plan. They raised questions that are answered within the DEIS itself which indicated they had not really read the document thoroughly.

Others took the position that the hospital should apply for a zoning change and not try to achieve approval for a biotech research center through a Special Permit.

Hospital says there is a precedent case for the Special Permit

When asked about this course of action during a break between speakers, Constance Hildesley, Vice President for Real Estate at the hospital told WPCNR, “We believe a Special Permit is an appropriate vehicle.” Ms. Hildesley cited the city’s 4-month approval of a research facility at Burke Rehabilation Hospital in White Plains in 1986 as a precedent for the hospital’s proposed action.

All Traffic All the Time

Opposition dwelt on skepticism about the traffic generated by the project. They worry it will overrun neighborhoods like Gedney Farms, create traffic backups on Bryant Avenue, and deteriorate quality of life in Bryant Gardens, the cooperative complex across the street from the proposed site.

What Kind of Research Is it, Anyway

One after another demanded specifics on what kinds of research would be conducted in the buildings, and who would do it. They raised questions about partnering with commercial pharmaceutical companies, making the hospital no longer tax exempt, and calling the project an “industrial park.” Marc Pollitzer and Allan Teck were just two persons who called for a specific Master Plan spelling out in detail plans going out a number of years.

House Value Effect Discounted by Two Realtors

They painted fears of decreased real estate values and were anwered by two real estate brokers. One was Nick Wolf, the local prominent realtor, who informed them that housing values would rise, not deterioriate should the biotech facility come to White Plains.

Medical Community Supports Project

The New York Presbyterian Hospital was supported by Edward Leonard, Chief Operating Officer of White Plains Hospital Medical Center speaking on their behalf, and several medical personalities, including a nurse at St.Agnes Hospital.

Hospital CEO and Dean of Research Provide Detail

Dr. Arthur Klein, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Presbyterian Hospital system, asked White Plains to “partner with us,” and he was supported by Dr. Lisa Staiano-Coizo, Professor of Microbiology and Associate Dean of Research at Weil Medical College, an affiliate. Dr. Staiano-Coizo spoke to the need for opening up the flow of research findings to practicing physicians as a goal of the new facility. She said one of the focuses of the new facility would be gerontological research to aid in the treatment of diseases of the aging.

Call for Negotiation

Thomas Whyatt, the last speaker of the evening, legal counsel to Concerned Citizens for Open Space raised the most intriguing statement of the evening. After challenging the hospital to withdraw the plan and apply for a zoning change, Whyatt said,

“This is wasting a lot of time with nothing happening. Withdraw this plan, apply for a zoning change and negotiations can begin.”

Allan Teck, President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space, when asked what Mr. Whyatt meant by this statement, and what Mr. Teck and CCOS would consider acceptable on the site, Mr. Teck said “something that is environmentally acceptable to White Plains.”

When asked whether a biotech center on an alternate site, would be acceptable, Teck said, “It depends on what they want to do (what research goes in the building). They can’t just ram it down our throats. We’re not a bunch of hicks.”

Larry Delgado, the “Councilman-on-Leave,” actually took the podium and appeared to oppose the proposal, saying the major question was what the “hospital use,” was. He said determining hospital use should constitute a major part of the Council consideration of the proposal.

At the top of the meeting some hours before, Dr. Staiano-Coizo, with a beaker and chianti bottle demonstration, had carefully described how research goes in hand with medical treatment in the current hospital and health research environment.

Michael Gerard of Arnold & Porter, the Common Council environmental law firm said two reports on the proton accelerator’s safety prepared by a nuclear physicist, and a report on the New York Presbyterian Hospital grounds commenting on alleged waste dumps on the property were in and were available today. Edward Dunphy said these key reports would be available with the City Clerk tomorrow. Mr. Dunphy also officially affirmed at Ron Johnson was the new Deputy Commissioner of Planning who was arranging for these reports to become available.

Robert Cassidy, and Englishman, and new citizen and resident of Bryant Gardens, expressed most poignantly, the feelings of most residents. While walking around the hospital property, he and his wife were wondering what the property was. Mr. Cassidy said he kept saying to his wife, “It looks like a park. It should be a park.” A sentiment many residents had expressed.

The hearing was kept open, to continue March 4.

Council President Boykin calls for prudent growth and exploration of festering issues

The Honorable Benjamin Boykin began the evening with a statement of the Common Council goals and objectives.

Mr. Boykin reported that “despite differences which are a natural consequence of honest and conscientious but different points of view, the council and the administration worked together to accomplish much on a timely basis during 2001,” listing six accomplishments: Bank Street Commons, the City Center, Fortunoff, Clayton Park, The Jefferson and Pappas proposals, and a low-income housing project on South Kensico and Hadden, and acquisition of the D’Elia property.

Hedging on development.

The Council President cautioned that “we need to make sure that further development is consistent with the vision for a vibrant and livable downtown…we want to make sure that further development does not overload the city’s infrastructure.” He promised, “a hard look at possible negative consequences of inadequate parking and gridlock downtown and substantially increased traffic through our residential neighborhoods and other unknown and unintended consequences from future development.”

Council Aid for Downtown Business, Easing White Plains Building Code

Boykin raised the interesting issue of aid for downtown businesses: “We need to ensure that long time businesses in the downtown remain viable entities. Some type of financial assistance through low interest loans and/or grants may be necessary to retain these stores in our central business district.”

In the same spirit, Boykin said the council wanted to continue to “re-examine the necessity of the city’s supplemental building codes and to remove our unique requirements which add development costs without providing additional safety or benefit to future occupants of the buildings.” He did not elaborate.

Calling all Cars; Public Safety Review Committee to be formed

The Common Council also feels it is time to study splitting the Police and Fire departments now that Public Safety Commissioner John Dolce has retired, according to Boykin, speaking for the Council: “Does our public safety structure provide better service at lower cost than that provided by other cities in the region or state? ….We believe now is an excellent time to explore the issue by convening a Public Safety Review Committee to evaluate the present organizational structure of our uniformed services in terms of service delivery and cost.” Boykin said the council would work with the Mayor in selecting “a panel of residents and experts to find the answer to this long-standing debate and then either preserve the status quo or change it.”

Illegal Occupancies, Traffic Violations, Overnight Parking Zones and Permits Proposed

Boykin wrapped up his message by promising the council would introduce legislation to raise fines for repeat violators of the city occupancy codes and hire more code enforcement officers. He flirted with the idea of installing speed humps, stop signs, restricted access at certain times and stricter enforcement to deal with traffic. He said the council would create legislation to “permit on-street overnight parking in certain districts and the issuing of permits to residents of apartment buildings who have no access to parking in nearby garages or lots.”

Closer cooperation with School Board a goal

Boykin called for resuming scheduled informal meetings with the Common Council and the Board of Education “to discuss issues of common interest and concern.”

Promulgates ‘affordable housing ordinance’

Other objectives the Common Council will be working toward are, according to Boykin, increased opportunities for middle income housing through an “affordable housing ordinance that spells out the requirements and incentives for the provision of middle-income housing by developers wishing to build in White Plains. He also called for the make up of the city workforce, boards and commissions to “reflect our racial and ethnic diversity.”

Public Relations to be enhanced

The Common Council wants the administration to be more “responsive.” Boykin’s message called for quarterly reports to r esidents and improvement to the city website. He wants more current news, more downloadable forms and easier navigation, and expanded informational programming on the city government access cable channel.

City receives $1,000,000 in back taxes and interest from The Galleria

In other council news, a settlement with The Galleria was announced, awarding the city $1,000,000, which Rita Malmud said would be shared with the School District, not specifying how.

The Council heard and spread the first readings of ordinances and will hear them a second time tonight, Tuesday evening at 6 PM. One of the ordinances is the new Floor Area Rations for the surrounding outer neighborhoods aimed at preventing “MacMansions.”

The Council will also hear Louis Cappelli who has some “new thoughts” on his City Center he wants to share with the Council this evening. The Council will also deliberate on Mr. Cappelli’s request to eliminate a floor from his project as a “minor site plan amendment.” Mr. Cappelli cooled his heels in the Mayor’s office for five hours Monday evening awaiting his site plan amendment to be called. The Council adjourned without hearing it, so Mr. Cappelli will return this evening for the deliberation.

It was also announced that the Interim Financial Report for the second quarter for the city is now available from the City Clerk, as is the Capital Improvement Program for 2002-2003, and the Annual Report of the Budget and Management Advisory Committee, and the Second Quarterl;y Capital Projects Status Report for Fiscal 2001-02.

Hernando Guerra, Public Safety Aide, Code Enforcement, was named Employee of the Month.
The Invocation of Reverend Stephen Geckeler characterized the evening that was to unfold over 4 hours and 52 minutes perfectly, praying,
“Here we go again, mixing politics with religion…”

Posted in Uncategorized

WPCNR Presents: The Superintendent Profile Developed by Hazard, Young Attea

PM Extra Filed 2/4/02, 2:00 PM:The Board of Education has released to WPCNR the complete text of the Hazard Young Attea & Associates Superintendent Profile presented to the Board last week on January 29. WPCNR is pleased to present the report in its entirety.
Leadership Profile
White Plains Public Schools
White Plains, New York

Introduction

This report represents the findings of the Leadership Profile Assessment conducted by the Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, Ltd (HYA) for the White Plains Public Schools on January 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16 and 17, 2002.

Upon appointment of the firm as consultants to the Board in its search for a new superintendent, an assessment instrument was prepared to structure data collected from Board designated individuals and groups. 658 people were interviewed by or had meetings with Deborah Raizes, Diana McCauley, Maria Cabral and John Whritner over the seven days the consultants were in the district.

In addition to individually interviewing board members and other central office personnel, the consultants met with teachers, union leaders, administrators, realtors, parents, students, support staff, and representatives of local government. Four community forums provided lively dialogue with members of the community. Meetings at Centro Hispano and Bethel Baptist attracted over 200 residents apiece. 179 completed questionnaires provided equally valuable information.

In developing the leadership profile, the consultants sought opinions,
recommendations and general comments with respect to the preferred candidate traits and qualifications as well as District strengths, issues and concerns. All of these are factors that could bear upon the future
leadership requirements and influence the selection criteria for the next superintendent of schools.

It was agreed at the outset that the consultants would report the findings to the Board in written and oral form enabling the Board to use the data as it proceeds to define the qualifications sought in the next superintendent.

At the interviews and meetings, the consultants noted that the Board was seeking the views of a wide range of people so that the Board could determine the leadership characteristics and selection criteria to be used in the search. The Board extended their invitation to these sessions to a far wider listing than has been the norm in other searches we have conducted. Given the large response to the questionnaire and the number we met with and interviewed, the consultants feel comfortable with their findings.

The assessment instrument and the interviews provide the framework for reporting views expressed to the consultants. To highlight broad themes within each topic, data was aggregated into response groups. Under the category “consistent” are comments heard frequently from most of the groups. Comments raised by only one or two groups are listed under the respective groups designated on the Leadership Profile Assessment Form: Board, administration, faculty, support staff, students, community, and parents. Under each of these groups, the comments heard or provided with some regularity are
listed alphabetically. It should be emphasized that the data are not a
scientific sampling nor should they necessarily be viewed as representing the majority opinion of a group.

Items are included if, in the consultants’ judgment, they were repeated
sufficiently often to warrant the Board’s attention.

We wish to express our appreciation to those with whom we met for their cordiality during our visit to the White Plains Public Schools. We
especially want to thank Michele Schoenfeld, the Clerk of the District and the Board, for her invaluable assistance in this project. We thank the Board of Education for expanding our opportunities beyond the norm enabling us to meet with large numbers in the community. Also, our thanks to the many respondents whose concern for the schools and commitment to educational excellence were evident as they provided us with their perspective on their community and their public schools.

Maria Cabral
Diana McCauley
Deborah Raizes
John A. Whritner
January 29, 2002

Strengths of the District

What do you consider to be the most significant strengths of the White
Plains Public Schools?

Consistent
Breadth of course offerings, Dedicated staff, Diversity of the student body, Diversity within the community, extensive offerings for student enrichment and extra-curricular programs, Facilities, Long-standing community support for schools, Resources – human and financial

Teachers
Staff development, Support Staff, Student assistance programs

Parents
School Choice, Community.

Administration
School Choice

Throughout this report, comments listed under “Consistent” were provided by most or all groups. The comments listed under the respective groups are in addition to those under “consistent.” Items are listed alphabetically.

Concerns

What do you consider to be the most important issues or concerns facing the White Plains Public Schools?

Consistent
Board of Education – Trust lacking because of non-renewal of current superintendent, Bright flight,
Diversity of student body, Meeting State standards with a changing student body, Non-English speaking population increasing – need for additional and more appropriate programs, Public relations, State testing – the pressure of and poor results.

Board
Increasing expectations for all students

Administration
Morale, Staff turnover
Teachers
Many new staff, Large number of new administrators

Support Staff
State & Federal mandates

Parents
New (to district) administrators

Community
Low test scores, Parental involvement, Safety, Tenured staff – holding accountable

Students

Guidance Department overloaded

What kind of administrative leadership should the next superintendent offer in terms of special expertise?

Consistent
Board/Superintendent relations
Communicator – written and oral
Experience as a superintendent
Increasing test scores
Public relations
Working with a diverse student population

Board
A proven track record
Choosing and mentoring administrators

Faculty
Classroom experience
Intelligent/articulate

Community
Experience as a teacher and administrator
Experience in a large, diverse district
Hold self and staff accountable
Knowledge of Spanish
Strong academic background – proven intelligence

Students
Has a plan of action for improvement of the system

What kind of administrative style should the next superintendent offer?

Consistent

Approachable/personable, Believes that all children can learn, Healer,
Listener, People person, Prefer that the candidate live in White Plains,
Visible, Visionary

Board
Educational leader, Proven intelligence

Administrators
Decisive, Team Builder

Faculty
Believes education is more than testing, Child centered

Parents
Committed to academic excellence, Effective leader, Innovative

Community
Appreciates diversity and understands different cultures, Courage of convictions, Love of kids – a student advocate, Politically savvy

Summary

The Board of Education of the White Plains Public Schools is to be
complimented for reaching out to the community and encouraging a widespread response to the Leadership Profile Assessment form and to attendance at various focus groups. Four consultants were in the district over parts or all of seven days. Interviews were held with individuals and large groups.

Four community forums were held at different times of the day and in
different venues. 658 members of the community and staff had their voices heard directly in this process. This is an extraordinary number of people who came forth to express their views. Frankly, in the four years that we have been doing searches in a variety of communities, this represents the largest overall turnout that we have witnessed.

This is a credit to the Board that enabled this number of meetings to be held and to the community for the way it responded. We also received 179 completed questionnaires which also is a relatively large number. Because of these numbers we have greater assurance in our report being reflective of large segments of the White Plains community.

The consultants were impressed by the knowledge of the schools and the passion for school success exhibited by those with whom we met. Many in the community are interested in bringing an outstanding educator to White Plains to succeed Dr. Yanofsky.

There were many strong points highlighted by those with whom we met and those who responded to the survey. There is pride in the community’s socio-economic and racial diversity and the success the schools have had with students of varying abilities and from various backgrounds. There has been tremendous community support for the schools through passage of annual budgets at very adequate levels and through passage of recent construction bonds. The facilities are viewed as being in good shape and meeting current codes and needs. The teaching and administrative staff are seen as exemplary. Much work has gone into recruiting and training staff and the results have shown. Staff have plentiful resources available to do their
job. There are extensive offerings available to students of varying
backgrounds and abilities and at all levels of the system. School Choice is an accepted part of the schools and we heard strong support for this program.

White Plains takes great pride in its schools and their long tradition of
success. The 6,700 students in the district have been the beneficiaries of strong community support over the years. The district has many of the issues created by a diverse student population but is almost unique in its ability to generate resources to respond to student needs and still maintain a relatively low tax base.

There are certainly many positives that make White Plains Public Schools very attractive for superintendent candidates. In looking to Issues and Concerns, the concern over the non-renewal of the current superintendent’s contract still looms large in many minds. However, it was not as great as we anticipated. There is still residual anger but also a general turning of the corner. People were, for the most part, able to concentrate on what we should be seeking in the new superintendent.

Diversity is recognized as a two-edged sword. Many parents move to White Plains believing the school population represents the “real world” their children will face as adults. However, this also increases demand for programs to meet the needs of “all” children. With over 36% of the student body Hispanic, there is a need for programs to quickly acclimate these students to the American language and culture. Likewise, there is a need for programming for the “average” and excelling students to hold onto parents and maintain racial balance. It came under many terms but the idea
of “bright flight” is a concern to many, particularly in light of White
Plains’ exemplary record at maintaining balance over many years.

Diversity is also a concern relating to testing. Many believe that given
the commitment of resources, test results should be better. There is a call for accountability, particularly given what some see as high teacher salaries in the district. Others counter that there is too much of a focus on testing and this sometimes interferes with worthwhile educational goals.

There is no doubt that these arguments will intensify as the Federal
government gets into testing and the stakes conceivably move higher and the time devoted to testing extends further.

Another consistent concern is the districts’ perceived failure to toot its
horn. There is a sense that many of the successes in the schools are not known because they are not told. Realtors were open in feeling that White Plains was losing the PR war to surrounding districts.

Another concern that surfaced among several groups was the large number of new teachers coming into the district due to new programs and retirements, and the significant number of administrators relatively new to the system.

All of the new players need mentoring and supervision so that the high
quality of education is maintained.

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.

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 staff accountable.

In looking at style, respondents noted that they want someone who truly
believes that all children can 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.

A parent spoke of wanting someone who would serve as “a voice for the voiceless.” There needs to be a push for academic excellence. All groups are looking for leadership.

There is a preference that the new superintendent live in White Plains.

There is certainly pride in what has been accomplished in the schools of White Plains. The district has been blessed with educational leaders who have had longevity and leadership skills. Great strides have been made over the past few years and people feel good about how resources are being used.

However, there is also a realization that the perception of quality schools is a battle that must be continually fought.

It is the view of the consultants that the pride in past accomplishments is more than justified. Some members of staff and community feel wounded by the Board’s action but there is also a looking ahead to the kind of leadership the community needs as it enters a new era.

We wish to thank the Board, the staff, the students and all in White Plains who have been so open and helpful in their comments. We have a strong understanding of what is needed to move the schools forward. We will keep the Board of Education fully informed on our progress in finding your next superintendent and know that they will share this information with the general public as is appropriate while maintaining candidate confidentiality.

The White Plains Public Schools will offer any candidate many challenges and opportunities. We believe the successful candidate will find a community supportive of its schools and eager for educational improvement for the benefit of all of its children.

Sincerely,
Deborah Raizes
JohnWhritner
For HYA – (Hazard Young Attea & Associates, Ltd. January 29, 2002

Posted in Uncategorized

CitizeNetReporter Introduces News Links

In order to furnish readers with background information on our news stories, CNR introduces this week the concept of “NewsLinks” featuring websites of organizations, businesses, and institutions mentioned in WPCNR stories.

WPCNR has added 34 key links that will augment your knowledge about the movers and the shakers in the news, click on the blue White Plains Links button in the column on the left.

If you would like to add your site to the links just write WPCNR.

Under Media, you will be able to link to the Associated Press and United Press International news wires, the Nova Weather Service, Suburban Street, White Plains Watch, Westchester County Business Journal, the Journal News, News12.

Under Businesses, Hotels, you’ll go to key players on the White Plains scene like Cappelli Enterprises, JPI, LCOR and others.

Check “White Plains Links” daily. WPCNR will add links we believe are newsworthy.

Posted in Uncategorized

WPW Analyzes City Center Intrigue; Superintendent Search; School Testing

White Plains Week Program Notes:The first show of the second year of White Plains Week brings you up to date on three newsfronts, including the City Center hotel possibilities at 7:30 PM Friday day evening on Public Access Channel 71.




The “Associated Press” of White Plains: Alex Philippidis, Editor of Westchester County Business Journal, Jim Benerofe, Editor of SuburbanStreet.com, and John Bailey, Executive Editor of White Plains CitizeNetReporter will be speculating and reporting on the latest on the Cappelli City Center which continues to be tweaked and adjusted by Mr. Cappelli.


The “Associated Press of White Plains:” L to R, Alex Philippidis, Host John Bailey, Jim Benerofe. The inquiring trio have just taped their 50th White Plains Week program which airs Friday evening at 7:30 PM.
Photo by Stephen Morton, Suburbanstreet.com


The three “News Brothers” will bring you up-to-date on the New York Presbyterian Hospital (complete with exclusive photos of the proposed sites).

Also on the program will be coverage of the superintendent search in the school district, the high stakes testing attitude in White Plains, the confusion over astro-turfing the Eastview school fields, and the turmoil at the BID.

Posted in Uncategorized