WPCNR CITY DESK. From Rick Ammirato of The Mayor’s Office. August 26, 2002:Mayor Joseph Delfino has announced plans for a citywide remembrance ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the tragic events that took place on September 11 of last year.
The Mayor has invited the public to participate in a Memorial Walk and Ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, September 11.

THE MAYOR’S WORLD TRADE CENTER REMEMBRANCE planned for September 11 will be a reprise of the spontaneous community tribute September 16, 2001 when approximately 7,000 citizens marched from the Trans Center to City Hall down Main Street holding candles. The Mayor is shown leading the interfaith service on City Hall steps that evening.
Photo by WPCNR

The group will assemble at the front of City Hall at 6:00 p.m. and will begin walking at 6:30 p.m. The Walk will go from City Hall to the steps of the Public Safety Building.

At the City’s Public Safety Building a Memorial Ceremony to remember all those affected by the events of September 11, 2001 will then take place. The ceremony will include remarks from the Mayor, a reading of the names of the White Plains residents lost, and a presentation of wreaths in their honor.

The route will proceed down Main Street, making a left onto Martin Luther King Boulevard then turning right onto Martine Avenue and finally making the left onto South Lexington Avenue and the steps of the Public Safety Building.

The City’s ceremony will be followed with an “Interfaith Candlelight Gathering for Remembrance, Healing and Hope” organized by the Ministers Fellowship Council and White Plains religious leaders. This multi-denominational gathering will include musical offerings, poems, prayers and readings by various religious leaders. Participants are urged to bring flowers and candles.

Parking for the event will be available at the Hamilton-Main Parking Garage, the Sears Garage and the Galleria. Main St (N. Broadway to Lexington), Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (Hamilton to Quarropas), Martine Ave (Mamaroneck to Bank St), Lexington Ave (Main to Quarropas), Conroy Dr (Hamilton to Main), and Church St (Hamilton to Main) will be closed from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Posted in Uncategorized

White Plains Public Schools Open September 5 with 6,657 Students

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS REPORT CARD DISPATCH. By John F. Bailey. August 26, 2002: Timothy Connors will be leading the White Plains City School District into a new year beginning next week, when he addresses the educators and administrators of the School District September 3. He expects to make his first statements of school district policy since taking over the post of School Superintendent July 15. The district expects 6,657 Students grades K through 12 to report for the first day of school on Thursday September 5. The District will spend an average of $19,065 to educate each student as it begins to spend its highest school budget ever, $126,919,919.

LANDSCAPING IS being applied to the high school grounds over the weekend as high school construction slowly finishes up.

The high school on North Street will welcome 1,806 students under new principal, Christine Robbins, the first woman principal in the school’s history. The $28 million high school renovation project is now one year late in completion.

Construction crews worked on Sunday clearing up some materials in the courtyard staging area on the south side of the school adjacent to the softball field. The North House which underwent window replacement over the summer is expected to be ready for classes by opening day. Heating and electrical work still needs to be completed on certain new sections of the South wing through the fall.

Tile replacement in the new main entrance hallway is being reinstalled because of an “unforeseen condition” on the concrete base, which caused the new marble tiles to crack in less than a year. That condition is being corrected for an additional $30,000, by the contractor.

Middle School Under Microscope.

The Middle School will welcome 1,548 students to grades seven, eight, and nine. As of this week, the Eastview athletic fields are being resurfaced by the City of White Plains.

POPULAR TRACK & SOCCER FIELD BEING REFURISHED BY CITY: The scene Monday as work was progressing on the Eastview Middle School Campus athletic track and soccer oval.
Photo by WPCNR

Academic Swat Team

The Middle Schools will be receiving an injection of budget money bringing more special efforts to Highlands and Eastview to prepare eighth graders in writing, comprehension and math skills. This will be closely watched because of the performances on the tests in 2001, where less than 50% of White Plains eighth graders scored in the Level 3, “Satisfactory” level of the English Language Arts and Math tests. The district is determined to raise these scores. Most school districts across the state performed substantially worse.

The State Achievement Tests of last spring have not been issued yet by the state, and will not be until spring, 2003.

Jury Out on Curriculum Enhancements to Meet the Standards.

One of the frustrations the school district has had in coping with the New York State Achievement Tests is the standard year delay the state takes in grading and releasing the tests. Unless the state begins to get results out sooner by the fall, or start of the school year, the district will not know if steps taken to help students in their areas of comprehension and study skills are making the difference they want them to make. For example, last year the school district instituted measures to help middle school and high school students. But, with the results of the 2002 Achievement tests not available yet, there is no indication yet that the efforts are having results.

On the Regents Exam level, that is not the case. High School special task forces to aid students at the high school level on passing Regents exams have been very successful in helping seniors, who have failed to pass Regents, pass them the second time they take them.

The present eighth grade in the Middle School is the last eighth grade that did not receive the benefits of the District’s newly configured elementary school curriculum, instituted four years ago. The District is confident that future classes of elementary students who have benefited from three years of fine-tuning to the new state standards will result in steadily improving state achievement test scores.

Schools Filled to Brim.

In the elementary schools, George Washington School will host the most students with 640, followed by Mamaroneck Avenue School with 639, Church Street School with 632 and Ridgeway School with 613, and Post Road School with 478. Alternative programs carry 221 students and 80 students are educated out of district.

Board of Education to Meet Twice A Month

By now all parents should have received the White Plains Public Schools Calendar for 2002-03. The Calendar though does not note the Board of Education’s endorsement of Timothy Connors’ first new initiative: more Board of Education meetings.

Mr. Connors asked the Board to meet twice a month beginning in September. He also asked for a new public forum to be staged before agenda items are discussed. The Board readily agreed, and in September there will be two meetings on September 9 at 7:30 PM (new time) and and September 23.

Facts About the District

The last page of the Calendar cover notes some interesting positive facts about the quality of education in White Plains:

• The District has received over $30 Million in state, federal, and foundation grants in the last seven years.

• In 2002, the District placed 4 National Merit Scholar Finalists, 13 were Commended, and there were 2 National Achievement Scholarship Finalists, 6 National Hispanic Scholarship Students, and 1 Honorable Mention.

• The Midde and High Schools are recognized as National Schools of Excellence.

• The District has 29 Advanced Placement and Honors Courses, 5 Foreign Language Courses.

• In 2002, there were 122 National Honor Society Members, about 7% of the high school student body, and 81 National Junior Honor Society Members, 5% of the Middle School student body.

• White Plains was ranked 7th in the Nation in Music Education.

• There were 85 students in Authentic Science Research Program, one of the largest in the state.

• The Sports Program features 230 New York State Scholar-Athletes participating in its 60 interscholastic sports teams, and 50 High School Clubs.

Posted in Uncategorized

County Senior Women’s Men’s Golf Tournaments at Sprain Lake, Maple Moor

WPCNR PRESS BOX. From Mary Kaye Kock, Westchester County. August 23, 2002: The County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation will sponsor the Senior Women’s Amateur Public Golf Championship at Sprain Lake Golf Course in Yonkers September 18, and the Senior Men’s Champion at White Plains’ Maple Moor Golf Course, September 25. Registrations are now being accepted for both tournaments.

Registration is open to women and men 60 and over. All players must be residents of Westchester County. No player who is a member of any private golf club is eligible.

Players must enter in their respective age division. Awards will be given for first and second place in each of the five age divisions for low gross and low net scores. Awards will be based on the first 18 holes of play, and no one player will receive awards for both low gross and low net scores. A modified Callaway system of automatic handicapping will be used for scoring.

All participants must pre-register for the tournaments. A $14 greens fee must accopany each entry blank. Applications may be picked up at any of the five county golf courses and must be postmarked by September 1 for both tournaments. Starting times will begin at 7 A.M., and will be assigned in the order in which they are received by mail.

For a Registration Form by mail, or more information on the women’s tournament, contact (914) 231-3481, for the men’s, (914) 995-9200.

Posted in Uncategorized

Latimer Makes His Move

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From George Latimer. August 24, 2002:George Latimer of Rye City has announced his intent to seek the post of Chairman of the Westchester County Democratic Committee at the upcoming County Convention, scheduled for September 30th at Woodlands H.S. in Greenburgh.
Latimer, a member of the Westchester County Legislature – serving in his 11th year – has previously served two terms as the first Democrat to Chair the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He has also served as a member of the Rye City Council.

The unpaid post has been most recently held by David Alpert of Mt.
Vernon, who announced he would not seek a prior term. Past Party Chairs include current County Executive Andy Spano, and Dennis Mehiel, who is running for NY State Lieutenant Governor with H. Carl McCall.

Latimer, 48, was considered the proponent of a bi-partisan cooperation
in the Legislature during his Chairmanship. He has indicated his focus
as Party Chairman would be to strengthen the party’s internal infrastructure and organization over the coming two years, if successful in his bid.

Other Democrats competing for the post are Mt. Vernon Democratic City Chair and Board of Elections Commissioner Reginald LaFayette, and Clinton Smith, a local lawyer who has served as Town Supervisor in New Castle.

Posted in Uncategorized

Council Greases Skids for Sears Galleria Move

WPCNR MORNING SUN. August 23, 2002: The Common Council last night, with only five Councilpersons present, took care of some legal protocols, reading the ordinances and resolutions that will when passed by the full council, adjust the B-6 zoning to allow Sears to move into The Galleria.
Rita Malmud, acting as President Pro Tem of the Council, calling the “short council” to order, the council set a public hearing for their regular September 3 Council meeting to consider the zoning change allowing Sears to operate a motor vehicle repair service out of the ground floor of The Galleria.

The council also agreed to set a public hearing on the resolution for Tuesday, September 17, at 6 PM, at the request of Paul Bergins, representing Sears.

Bergins said Sears is planning to begin demolition of the former JC Penney store interior onSeptember 19 to prepare it for occupancy by the retail institution, and did not want to invest any funds in construction until they had Common Council approval.

It was revealed to the Council’s surprise that Mayor Joseph Delfino was “on vacation,” and Benjamin Boykin was not present.

Friday, the Mayor’s Office contacted WPCNR to report that Mayor Delfino was vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachussetts.

Posted in Uncategorized

Grassroots Vigilantes: Councilman, Octogenarian Cut County’s Grass.

WPCNR HIGH NOON HERALD MAIL. By John F. Bailey. August 22, 2002:Two White Plains citizens disturbed about the overgrown medians on county roads around town took Guy D’Antona’s lawnmower and an historic scythe in hands and made the North Street median safer for drivers making turns Thursday evening, mowing down grass that approached a foot high.

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE TAKE ON THE NORTH STREET MEDIAN JUNGLE: Councilman William King, left, and Jack Harrington, right, trim the grass on the overgrown median-divider strip on Westchester County-maintained North Street Wednesday evening below White Plains High School. The two were caught taking median maintenance into their own hands last night at sunset.
Photo by WPCNR

White Plains Common Councilman William King, long a critic of Westchester County maintenance of its public lands, and 83 year-old Jack Harrington, President of the White Plains Historical Society, in sultry evening heat, took their personal time to do what county public works do only once a month, according to a county spokesman: trim and maintain grass on the medians on county roads in the city.

CHAIN GANG: Harrington, right, said Thursday morning he was okay after about an hour and forty-five minutes of mowing down the high chaparral of North Street. “We had to stop at dusk,” he said, because it was getting dangerous because cars couldn’t see the pair. He said he is used to yard work, since he and his Historical Society volunteers maintain the shrubs and plantings at the Purdy House, Washington’s Headquarters on Chatterton Hill.
Photo by WPCNR

He said they had a clean-up there recently, “taking an awful lot of stuff out,” noting that the city cuts the grass for the property only.

Mr. King said he and Harrington, also of the White Plains Beautification Foundation which plants and maintains the gardens on the medians around the city, were tired of how the North Street gateway to the city was is not being maintained by the Westchester County Department of Public Works.

“Mamaroneck Avenue doesn’t look like this,” King said showing the mini-prairie he and Harrington were harvesting.

Thursday, Harrington reported that he and King were going to come back in a few weeks to take care of the median again.

White Plains: Not Our Job. County: We Mow Once A Month.

A spokeswoman for the White Plains Department of Public Works said that Westchester County is responsible for maintaining the grass on North Street and other county roads in the city.

The Westchester County Department of Communications reported that the County Department of Public Works cuts the North Street median once a month.

It is not the first time Councilman King has dramatized lack of a commitment to maintenance on the part of Westchester County towards its own property located in the city. King sponsored a clean up of the highly littered Silver Lake waterfront property last spring.

HOW DID THEY DO? The North Street Median between Havilands Lane and Robin Hood Road, trimmed by Councilman King and Mr. Harrington as it looked Thursday morning. The pair plan to come back to cut the median between Havilands Lane and Ridgeway on North Street in a few weeks.
Photo by WPCNR

WPCNR observed Thursday morning that the median extending from Robin Hood Road up North Street between the YWCA and the high school was freshly cut, with grass droppings left on top of the freshly mowed median.

The Westchester County Department of Communications said the County had scheduled a crew to cut North Street Thursday. However, the crew did not proceed down North Street to cut the rest of the median from Havilands Lane to Ridgeway.

STILL TO COME: The condition of the North Street median between Ridgeway and Havilands Lane Thursday morning. On the median are unruly stalks of weed, litter, and high grass getting higher.
Photo by WPCNR

WPCNR was expecting a call from John Hsu of the County Department of Public Works for more insight on what medians the county maintains and how often.

Posted in Uncategorized

Physicist Paints Nervous Indian Point Scenario. Says Shutdown A Public Decision.

WPCNR Morning Sun. By John F. Bailey. August 22, 2002: New York State Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow’s Forum on Indian Point at New Castle Town Hall in Chappaqua Thursday evening put into perspective the sobering choice the public faces about Indian Point.

CONCERNED NUCLEAR PHYSICIST, Dr. Jan Beyea, a nuclear physicist, with twenty years of experience accessing nuclear consequence and risk calculations, and Senior Scientist with Consulting in the Public Interest, of Lambertville, New Jersey, spoke about the best case/worst case Indian Point scenarios. His assessments of possible terrorist attacks on Indian Point, where even a very small release of radioactivity, is not worth the risk, in his opinion.
Photo by WPCNR

He urged the public to make its own decision on Indian Point, and not leave it up to government, regulatory agencies and politicians to make it for them. He called on county, state and federal government to convene an impartial panel of scientists and experts to hammer out an energy policy that would make bipartisan recommendations on the future of nuclear power plants and how the state, and, ultimately, the country can meet its energy needs without nuclear power.

No free lunch.

Candidly, he said there is “no free lunch,” for the energy consuming public. He rejected fossil fuel plants as an alternative power source because of their documented history of causing respiratory diseases by polluting the air. He said the public had to be realistic about considering natural gas pipelines, and purchasing electrical power off the “energy grid” at market prices to replace Indian Point capacity.

“The public has to grow up and make choices.”

He said he thought “cold shutdown” of Indian Point, would have “relatively minor impact,” and that replacing Indian Point power could be achieved by buying power off the national power grid.

Feels Entergy Is Compromised Because It Has to Make Plant Appear to Be Safe

He passionately admonished the audience that no one can be sure the Indian Point scenarios he described in his presentation, would not happen.

He said it was a “no brainer” that government should be studying now how they would handle a worst case Indian Point terrorist attack, where radiation spreads over a wide area, and his demeanor indicated his concern that such a study was not being done.

He said it was also a “No Brainer” to place fuel rods now in pools to dry casks, vastly reducing the danger of a fire, and pay Entergy, the owner of Indian Point for the costs of doing so, even for losses should it be decided to close the plant.

He called on the public to demand a national study to develop a plan to cope with a terrorist strike on Indian Point and its possible aftermath. Currently he said the National Academy of Sciences and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have not considered doing such a nuclear terror coping study.

UNITED IN CONCERN: Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow, with Dr. Beyea. Ms. Matusow said she was so impressed with Dr. Beyea’s presentation to county and state leaders last June 20, she invited him to present this forum because she felt the public should have a chance to hear his analysis. About 40 persons attended the talk in Chappaqua at New Castle Town Hall Wednesday night.
Photo by WPCNR

Matusow: Electrical Power Off National Grid Can Replace Indian Point Shortfall

Speaking after the meeting, Assemblywoman Matusow told WPCNR that Indian Point could be shut down and its power replaced by buying electricity off the national energy grid at market rates.

She said that while Indian Point 2 was shut down for eleven months, there was no power shortage, and prices only went up two cents after Indian Point 2 was brought back on line, as evidence for the ready availability of excess electric power without excessive price increases.

Ms. Matusow, asked if her recent call for an immediate shutdown of Indian Point in the news release for this forum was a change in her position, said it was not, that in November, 2001, she had called for Indian Point’s decommissioning.

Ms. Matusow said to her knowledge, the Assembly Energy Committee was not conducting any studies on the business of replacing Indian Point energy at this time, but she called on Governor George Pataki to take the lead in spearheading the feasibility of switching to alternative energy sources in New York Metropolitan area. She also said conservation measures had to be taken seriously by the public in event of an Indian Point “cold shutdown.”

TAKING WRITTEN QUESTIONS ONLY FROM THE AUDIENCE, Dr. Beyea answers a wide range of questions on the effects of Indian Point radiation plumes.
Photo by WPCNR

Dr. Beyea soberly spelled out the Indian Point risk of a radiation release from a terrorist attack.

He said he began to think seriously after 9/11, what a “knowledgeable terrorist group” might do to a reactor and spent fuel rod pool to spread terror.

Beyea took the media to task for revealing too much information which he feels actually makes the terrorist’s ability to attack Indian Point easier. He said “it is quite possible a terrorist attack will be spectacularly unsuccessful, but it may not.” Meanwhile, he said, the media is saving them time by writing and saying too much.

Warns About the It Cannot Happen Syndrome.

He cautioned about being over confident about Indian Point security, construction and ability to withstand a World Trade Center type of attack. He chillingly noted that on September 10, if you asked about the danger of a fire in the World Trade Center, or its ability to withstand an 747 crashing into it, might have been met with very reasonable assessments that the building was too strong, its fire extinguishing systems too widespread, and the likelihood of a plane crashing into it negligible.

The audience was very quiet when he finished that analogy.

He calculates that there is a 1-in-5 chance that a major attack would succeed, odds he said “are too high to ignore.”

Disputes Radiation Plume Drift Risk.

Dr. Beyea showing a complex series of charts noting the amount of deaths possible, depending on the amount of radiation drift. He commented wryly that we are told not to worry that any accident or release will be small, that plans in place will work, that authorities will have perfect information, even in a terrorist attack, that the spent fuel rod pool will not be breached, causing the fuel rods to overheat and burn.

He said that evacuation and response plans in place deal with only a small radiation release, but he pointed out that there could be multiple releases, wind shifts, that could spread the radiation over a much wider area than the 10 miles envisioned by the county evacuation plan. He also said a second wave of radioactivity would drift across the area within the first week, spread by wind.

Potassium Iodide should be taken 5 hours before a release to be maximum effective.

He noted that most deaths would occur from thyroid cancer, and said that immediate notification of a possible release was needed to make potassium iodide an effective antidote to the radiation in the air. He worried that warning of an Indian Point attack would not be given in time to make maximum use of the potassium iodide medication. Beyea called for more dosages of the drug to supplied to residents.

Anticipated deaths from “delayed excess cancer fatalities” in a worst case release, he estimates would be from 5,000 to 50,000 persons).

Panic Another Fallout from the Attack.

He grimly said that the region could be crippled for years, calling a bad release from a spent fuel rod pool fire “unthinkable,” with the radiation contaminating three times the area envisioned by the Evacuation Plan. He said the region would suffer a $100 billion loss for a start in such a “bad case.”

He said the panic, the inability to return home, with radiation “everywhere,” would be another awful side effect.

Calls for Beefing Up Response Plan; Cold Shutdown; Cask Storage.

Beyea completed his talk by beefing up the response plan, citing too much reliance on information from the Indian Point site. He said Entergy cannot be faulted for putting forth a case that the plant is safe and prepared for anything, because it is unfair to put them in the position of being “in conflict with their financial health.”

He urged supplying citizens with Hazmat masks (personal filter equipment), to avoid inhalation of radiation particles, by which radiation is absorbed by the thyroid gland.

He called for a National Research Council study of a response to a nuclear plant attack.He asked that the county and state continue to move ahead on measures to prepare for disaster and limit risk, even though Entergy and the National Research Council say the present plans is adequate and stronger measues unnecessary.

He warned officials and the public against being paralyzed by conflicting technical arguments, urging a balanced panel of experts.

What he Would Do.

His solution to the problem is to put Indian Point in “cold shutdown,” simply stopping the ongoing nuclear reaction for good. Cold shutdown, he reports, immediately begins to limit the amount of radiation created. He called for place fuel rods in small quantities in concrete casks, which he said will all but eliminate the danger of the fuel rods (now concentratede in the fuel pools) burning and releasing a steady radiation release.

Calls for the public to make the call.

Dr. Beyea’s final words to WPCNR, in chatting with him after the program, was his concern that the public act in its own self-interest, and not leave the decision on Indian Point up to the experts, or the government. He urged the public to evaluate the risks which he feels are enough to warrant a shutdown permanently.

Posted in Uncategorized

White Plains Housing Authority Sues White Plains. Carter: New Sites Considered

WPCNR Afternoon Trib & Post. August 21, 2002: The White Plains Housing Authority has filed a law suit in Supreme Court against Mayor Joseph Delfino and the White Plains Common Council. The court papers filed Monday ask the court to approve the building of its new headquarters on open space at the Winbrook complex, noting that the Mayor and Common Council have failed to act on the proposal for six months, in effect, killing the project.

Meanwhile, Mack Carter, new Executive Director of the Authority, told WPCNR today the Housing Authority is working “to amicably resolve” the situation with the city, and was considering new sites suggested by city staff in two meetings held prior to filing of the lawsuit.

PROPOSED SITE FOR THE NEW HOUSING AUTHORITY HEADQUARTERS is on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard bounded by 223 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, the Bethel Baptist Church, (in background) and the Thomas G. Slater Center (not shown, and to the right of the tract), shown as it appeared in March of this year.
Photo by WPCNR

THE BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH PRESENTED A PETITION to the Mayor’s office Wednesday signed by 400 persons stating they are opposed to the building of the Housing Authority Headquarters on the site. Here is an overhead of the plans for the new headquarters, showing its proximity to the Bethel Baptist Church.
Photo by WPCNR

Meanwhile, Mayor’s Office Identifies New Sites in Quiet Discussions with WHA Board Members.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said today, in his first comments to WPCNR on the lawsuit, said city staff had been in direct discussions with Housing Authority board members in an effort to find an alternative site for the headquarters.

“We have had staff working on some ideas for alternative sites,” Gretsas told WPCNR. “They have had meetings with members of the Housing Authority Board, dialoging to see where there are some areas of flexibility (on the part of the Housing Authority).”

Gretsas would not say how many meetings had been held, but said there had been at least one with some Housing Authority board members. The meetings were held before news of the suit surfaced Tuesday, according to Mack Carter in an interview with WPCNR Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Carter, formerly of the White Plains Planning Board, is the newly appointed Executive Director of the Housing Authority.

Carter: Sites Identified, Housing Authority Working to “Amicably Resolve the Issue.”

Mack Carter, Executive Director of the White Plains Housing Authority contacted WPCNR Wednesday afternoon at the request of Lawrence Salley, Chairman of the Housing Authority, and confirmed to WPCNR that the Housing Authority was in discussions with the city to “amicably resolve the issue.”

Carter said he could not divulge locations of actual new sites suggested by city staff, because “we were in discussions.”

Carter said he anticipated another meeting would be held with the city shortly to continue the dialogue.

Suit an Attention-Getter.

Mr. Carter confirmed that the lawsuit had been filed with the Supreme Court. WPCNR
asked if the White Plains Housing Authority was directed to file the lawsuit by the Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Housing Authority parent agency. Carter said it was not.

He said the Housing Authority filed the suit on its own “on advice of our legal council” to “get the Common Council to pay attention to this matter.”

THE HEADQUARTERS NOBODY WANTED: The proposed designs for the headquarters proposed for the Bethel Baptist Church courtyard.
Photo by WPCNR

Gretsas Regrets Lawsuit. City Proceeds on Two Tracks.

Mr. Gretsas characterized the Housing Authority’s lawsuit with a sigh of regret: “The filing of the lawsuit…it wasn’t very nice. It didn’t do anything to contribute to the relationship between the city and the housing authority.”

He said the city was proceeding on two tracks, first dealing with the lawsuit, but simultaneously continuing to work with the Housing Authority to find alternate sites, as the Mayor had proposed in July.

Lawsuit Disclosed to Media Before Served on city?

From what WPCNR has been able to determine, the city first learned of the intentions of the suit by letter from the Housing Authority Monday, when apparently, a member of the Housing Authority Board of Directors notified a media outlet the suit was being filed.

The Lawsuit Analyzed

A WPCNR legal expert, a seasoned professional in municipal zoning matters, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the suit filed Monday asks the court to rule that the new building be built on the proposed site.

According to the papers filed, On or about February, 2002, the Petitioner (Housing Authority) submitted an application to the Council for site plan approval…The proposal complies in all respects with the requirements of the City Zoning Ordinance…Thereafter the Council referred the proposed site plan out to its various boards and commissions for comment…on May 10, 2002, the Petitioner submitted additional detailed drawings to the Council in order to respond to the questions raised….

The Council referred the Supplemental Drawings out to its boards and commissions…The comments received from the City boards and commissions with respect to both the original plans and Supplemental Drawings were favorable…The Council held a hearing on the proposal in June of 2002, but failed to take any action….At the hearing several members of the public spoke against the project raising various issues which were not based upon any facts or expert analysis but merely generalized concerns over theproject…One site the petitioner considered (WPCNR NOTE: On the present parking lot to the South of Winbrook’s 223 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) was previously submitted to the Council and the Council failed to take any action on the request.

The Council has now followed the same tactic with the present application. The Zoning Ordinance…states that if the approving agency (in this case the Council) fails to take action on an application within 90 days of submission the application is disapproved…More than six months have passed…The Council has failed to act and instead has denied the application by deliberately defaulting on the 90 day time period in the zoning ordinance.

Pulling the Trigger

Our analyst told WPCNR that the suit’s trigger statement demands the court reverse the alleged denial-by-delay. The papers ask,

The Petitioner is entitled to judgment reversing, annulling and setting aside the adverse determination of the Council and granting the Petitioner site plan approval for the Administration Building as proposed by Petitioner.

The attorney WPCNR interviewed said, the court could grant the site plan approval, rendering the Common Council bystanders on the issue.

Mandamus Asked Within 30 days of Decision.

The WPCNR analyst noted that the suit has a fallback position, should the court decide they do not have the authority to approve the headquarters construction on the proposed site. Our commentator isolated the section in the brief, that they described as a “mandamus” section, that asks the court to compel the Common Council to meet and make a decision on the issue within 30 days of the court decision.

“A Writ of Mandamus” according to Putnam’s Handy Lawbook for the Layman is an act of law to compel one to do something.

In the Housing Authority brief, failing the court approval of the preferred site, it asks of the court:

“In the event the Court determines that the failure of the Council to act upon the application of Petitioner is not a denial of the application then in that event Petitioner alternatively seeks judgment ordering the Council within thirty days of service of the judgment of this Court, to render a decision on the application of the Petitioner for Site Plan approval for the Administration Building.

Suit filed but not Assigned Yet.

The actual suit has not been served yet on the City of White Plains. The Supreme Court Calendar Office has no index number for the case yet, and a judge not assigned. The clerk WPCNR spoke to said such a suit is filed with the County Clerk’s office in County Courthouse at 110 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and that it “takes anywhere from 7 to 10 days” for the papers to make their way upstairs to the eighth floor to be put on the calendar.

Steven Silverberg, of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, the Housing Authority attorneys, confirmed to WPCNR Wednesday that the suit had been filed Monday of this week. Silverberg said it usually takes a couple of days for the process server to serve the papers.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hold on, Mr. Bloomberg, Say Spano, Legislators: No way on Commuter Tax

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION CHRONICLE. From Westchester County Department of Communications:County Executive Andy Spano and the Democratic members of the Westchester Board of Legislators expressed Tuesday, their unequivocal opposition to any effort by New York City to re-impose the so-called commuter tax.
The tax – an income tax imposed on suburbanites who commute to New York City for their jobs – was eliminated in 1999 by the state Legislature. But now New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and others have spoken of it as a way to help deal with the city’s budget problems.

Spano called that an “unacceptable solution.”
“We in Westchester will fight any effort to re-impose this commuter tax,” Spano said.

He added, “Westchester’s commuters are already helping the New York City economy. They shop in the city and eat in the city, helping keep retail businesses going and adding millions of dollars in sales tax revenues to the city. To ask Westchester residents and those from other suburbs to subsidize New York City further is just not right.”

Spano noted that as many as 58,000 residents of New York City “reverse commute” each day into Westchester. “We wouldn’t impose an income tax on them, and we don’t think it’s right for New York City to impose such a tax on our residents.”

Spano added, “I am keenly aware of the city’s financial situation. We in Westchester face a deficit next year of $102 million due to state-imposed programs. However, I would not ask city residents to resolve our deficit problems, and the city should not be asking Westchester residents to resolve its crisis.”

These feelings were echoed by the leadership of the Democratic-controlled Board of Legislators.

Lois Bronz, chair of the board, called the possibility of re-imposing the commuter tax “a very troubling development.”

“Westchester has its own fiscal difficulties, many of them similar to New York City’s,” Bronz said, citing such things as unfunded mandates. “This is a quick fix that imposes an undue burden on the people who are already helping to sustain the city’s economy. It’s totally unwarranted and unfair.”

Bill Ryan, the Legislator for White Plains, and vice chairman of the board and a former state assemblyman, said, “Putting an additional tax burden on the suburbs is clearly wrong – we shoulder enough. New York City’s extraordinary funding needs must be met by increased state aid, not from our county commuters’ pockets. Mayor Bloomberg is going after the little guys when he should be focusing on Albany which is really in a position to help New York City. Bloomberg and the suburbs need to join forces to get Albany to stop its policy of shifting costs to local governments while withholding adequate financial assistance.”

Clinton I. Young, Jr., the board’s Democratic majority leader, said that it was “outrageous” for Mayor Bloomberg to look to Westchester for financial assistance.

“He should look further north, to Albany and the Governor’s Mansion, and get assistance from the cause of his troubles and he should start by demanding that the state assume the costs for Medicaid,” he said. “Westchester has always been supportive of New York City. We’ve always gone the extra mile for New York City. But now the Mayor wants our residents to go that extra mile barefoot through a thicket of fiscal thorns, and we’re not prepared to do that.”

Posted in Uncategorized

West Nile Virus Lurking: 3 More Birds Found

WPCNR COUNTY CHRONICLE-LEDGER. From Westchester County Department of Health.:The Westchester County Department of Health today received notification from the New York State Department of Health that three crows, one each found in Mamaroneck, Pound Ridge and White Plains, have tested positive for the West Nile virus. With the addition of these three birds, there have been a total of thirteen positive birds found in Westchester County. The three birds were collected for testing on August 6, 7 and 8.
To date, 91 birds have been tested for West Nile virus, 78 have tested negative. No positive human cases of West Nile virus have been detected in the County. No spraying is planned at this time.

Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Lipsman again urged residents to take personal protection measures against mosquito bites while in their homes and when spending time outdoors. “It is particularly important that residents remain vigilant in their efforts to reduce their risk of West Nile virus during the late summer months because this is peak mosquito season,” said Dr. Lipsman. Dr. Lipsman recommends that residents take the following personal protection measures against mosquito bites:

• Avoid being outdoors in places and during times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.

• Use insect repellants with no more than 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when outdoors in such areas at those times. Use 10% or less DEET for children. Do not use DEET on infants. Insect repellants should be used especially at dusk and evening hours when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

• Wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks when outdoors in areas and at times where and when mosquitoes are active and feeding.

• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

Eliminate Habitats!

Mosquitoes capable of carrying West Nile virus lay their eggs in stagnant water. The eggs can develop in any pool or puddle of water that stands undisturbed for more than four days. Mosquitoes will breed in any untreated water, so the County Health Department recommends doing the following around your home:

• Rid your property of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers

• Remove discarded tires

• Drill holes in the bottoms of all recycling containers that are left outdoors

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use

• Change the water in birdbaths at least twice weekly

• Sweep your driveway after it rains so that it is free of puddles

• Keep storm drains and gutters clear of leaves and debris

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas and hot tubs and drain water that collects on their covers.

Under County Executive Andy Spano’s mosquito control program, Operation Mosquito S.T.I.N.G. (Stop The Insect’s Next Generation), the County has applied larvicide to catch basins countywide to kill immature mosquitoes and have been collecting mosquitoes and dead birds for testing.

Since West Nile virus is in the area, it is important that residents take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes and help to eliminate standing water in their neighborhoods that can serve as mosquito breeding sites. The Health Department is encouraging residents to report dead birds and large areas of standing water through its Public Health Information Line at (914) 813-5609 and through its internet site, www.westchestergov.com/health.

Posted in Uncategorized