Albany Voting System Task Force Setup Flawed. Bradley Seeks Reform

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WPCNR’S ADAM IN ALBANY. By District 89 Assemblyman Adam T. Bradley. August 16, 2003: Florida’s dysfunctional voting system took center stage during the November 2000 presidential elections and ultimately led to a new federal law to overhaul the nation’s voting standards. Like other states, New York is in the process of reforming the way its citizens vote. Our election system relies on antiquated procedures and equipment. In fact, the two companies that manufactured the machines we’ve used for the last 60 years have stopped making them and now even replacement parts are scarce.


 


It’s time we streamline the voting process and restore voters’ confidence in the system. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) gives New York that opportunity by providing federal aid to modernize the election process. Unfortunately, the state Task Force responsible for bringing this reform drafted a short-sighted plan that leaves our state unprepared for this important restructuring.


 


 


HAVA is supposed to help states create a uniform, computerized voter registration list and assist states with establishing standardized, electronic voting machines. In order to receive federal funds, each state must design a plan, pass enabling legislation, and appropriate state funds. The process must also include citizen participation and public review. While the Task Force’s draft plan meets the bare minimum requirements, it does not provide an adequate level of detail on several key issues.

 


Voting machine standards


 


The Task Force’s plan vaguely states that New York will undertake a statewide effort to replace lever voting machines currently used in all counties. But the plan offers no further detail of the machine selection process, how they will be phased in by January 1, 2006, or whether or not the new machines will be uniform statewide. The plan alludes to accommodating the needs of the disabled community, but falls short of ensuring statewide compliance and accessibility. I firmly believe that voting machines must be uniform statewide and that there must be accessibility for the disabled. The task force’s plan must address these issues.


 


The plan also needs to address how poll workers and voters will be educated on using the new machines. After all, the first time many voters are going to see them will be during the next presidential election and that could be disastrous if voters don’t know what to expect. The plan’s ambiguity in machine selection and poll training denies the public its opportunity and right to provide meaningful input addressing these issues.


  


Implementing a statewide voter registration list


 


     The plan fails to describe how the centralized registered voter list will become available to county election officials. Other than the Department of Motor Vehicles, the plan does not list any databases that will be used to lessen the need for voter identification at the polls.


 


        This plan misses the opportunity to include detail on how these databases will be selected and how agreements for access can be reached. Again, by not including this in the draft the public can not fully judge if it achieves its goal.


 


Developing a comprehensive statewide training program


 


     The Task Force’s plan needs to provide further information about how the voter outreach and education campaign will be implemented. There is no detail on how it will be developed, what the costs will be, or how the information will be distributed to the public. This campaign should be developed with the help of community organizations, state associations, election officials and literacy experts.


 


     The Assembly addressed some of these problems by approving a package of legislation that ensures New York’s compliance with the Help America Vote Act. The package would:


 


·        consolidate election operations at the county level to ensure elections are run consistently, and polling places are adequately staffed with well-trained workers (A.8833);   


 


·        create a computerized, centralized, interactive statewide voter registration list with proper privacy protections easing confusion at the polls, ensuring that voters get in and out of the polls quickly, and helping crackdown on voter fraud (A.8842);


 


·        ban punch card ballots and encourage counties to adopt a single type of electronic voting machine that will be accessible to all citizens – including persons with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency – and easily audited in order to assure voter confidence (A.8847);


 


·        provide instructions for paper ballots to avoid over-votes and ensure voters are aware of their right to a replacement ballot (A.8831); and


 


·        require a posting at each poll site of information relating to voting, the ballot and voter rights (A.8840).


 


     We want a system that works for the voters. It’s time we end the confusion at polling places, increase voter turnout and empower all New Yorkers to participate in the process.


Elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust. HAVA offers New York state the opportunity to increase voter participation and modernize the voting process. It’s the Task Force’s responsibility to provide the specific detail needed to bring 21st century technology to the public and ensure the integrity of our elections.


 



 

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Cantatore Chides Ryan on Childrens Museum Rivalry

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS STREET. From The Cantatore Campaign. August 14, 2003: White Plains candidate for Westchester County Legislator in the Fifth District, Frank Cantatore, Wednesday called for his opponent William Ryan, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Legislators, to put a stop to a County plan to build a Children’s Museum at Playland. According to Cantatore, the County plan directly competes with an initiative by White Plains to build a Children’s Museum in its downtown and undermines the City’s overall economic development plan.
 “Children’s museums are a fun and exciting way for kids to learn,” said Cantatore. Westchester County needs a Children’s Museum and White Plains is the perfect place for one, with its central location and with all of the new offerings that will be available in the near future; not to mention ample parking and transportation to it from all corners of Westchester.” Cantatore said that he hoped that Ryan would introduce his resolution to the full Board immediately. “The resolution I am proposing is a general statement which simply says that the County government can not use County property to directly compete with local government initiatives”, Cantatore said. “The County was well aware as was Ryan of White Plains intention to attract a Children’s Museum and should not have been offering to lease property at Playland to lure Children’s Museums away from White Plains.”


The Children’s Museum belongs in White Plains”, Cantatore said. “The City of White Plains has been making tremendous progress in its efforts to revitalize the downtown and the Children’s Museum, like the movie theater and retail project, has been an important part of that effort. It is inconceivable to me that Bill Ryan, who is supposed to represent White Plains, has stood by and done nothing to protect the City’s interests.”  


Cantatore called on Ryan to adopt a resolution of the Board of Legislators restricting the County from using County from using Playland to directly compete with the City for a Children’s Museum. “Westchester County is acting like an 800 pound gorilla here, using its substantial resources to stamp out the competition,” Cantatore said. “The County’s role is to provide assistance to local governments, not compete with them.” Cantatore said that establishing a Children’s Museum in White Plains is an important priority and said that as County Legislator, he would work closely with Mayor Delfino to accomplish the City’s goal. According to the Association Children’s Museums, national attendance at children’s museums has boomed in the last decade, as the institutions have become “a new kind of town square”. In the year 2000, 33 million children and families visited a children’s museum in the United States, up from 8 million in 1991. Visiting children range in age from preschoolers to 6th and 7th graders at some locations. These museums complement efforts in schools, childcare centers, and homes to enrich the lives and education of children.


 

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Shakespeare in Harrison Thursday Evening!

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An Evening of Shakespeare and Poetry
Thursday, August 14th, 2003 7PM

Harrison, NY…Harrison Council of the Arts and Piper Theatre Productions have collaborated to present an evening of Shakespearean Poetry. The company will be made of performers from the Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Piper Theatre Productions is the only summer stock theatre company based in Westchester County.

Scenes will be directed by company member, Tal Aviezer. Mr. Aviezer performed in July’s production of Taming of the Shrew, and is the founder and Artistic Director of the Westchester- Based Red Monkey Theatre Group. Recent Directing credits include Merchant in Venice, Cymbeline, and Hamlet. Mr. Aviezer will be directing Julius Ceasar this Fall.

Performances will be held at Ma Riis Park, Harrison, New York. The park, is located next to the Harrison Train Station. Performances will begin at 7pm, blankets and lawnchairs are encouraged.


Rain Date Location will be at the Veterans Building, located on the corners of Broadway and Halstead Avenues, Harrison, New York.

This was the third season of free and accessible Summer Shakespeare in Yonkers historic Untermyer Park. Piper Theatre Productions Inc. was founded by John and Rachel McEneny this season’s productions drew audiences in the thousands through the month of July.

Last year, Piper Theatre Productions was approached by Jean Kelly of the Harrison Council of the Arts to produce free Shakespeare for the people of Harrison and Westchester.

Scenes will be from The Tempest, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Julius Ceasar, and Cymbeline.

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Starbucks Is the One. The Nation’s Coffee Is Coming to Renaissance Plaza

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WPCNR CITY HALL CIRCUIT . Interview with George Gretsas From the Mayor’s Office. August 12, 2003: Official notice went out from City Hall Tuesday night calling for a Special Meeting of the Common Council Wednesday evening at 6 P.M. naming Starbucks, the Seattle-based coffee brewers chain, as the “vendor of choice” to run the “Open Space Incubator” kiosk in Renaissance Plaza, the water fountain park being built by Louis Cappelli.


Wednesday the council will take the first of two votes on the Letter of Intent to sign an agreement with Starbucks to run the kiosk, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, George Gretsas said tonight, who said the city’s Paul Wood (Economic Development Officer) had worked very hard to bring the popular coffee brewers to the city. Gretsas said the kiosk, to be constructed by Louis Cappelli, the developer of City Center, will cost $575,000 with construction capped at that figure. Gretsas added that the construction cost of the 20 foot by 55 foot building targeted for the corner of Court Street and Main would be capped at the $575,000 figure, with Mr. Cappelli paying any overruns.


The city has raised $260,000 of the $575,000 thanks to a $90,000 grant from Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a $50,000 federal economic development grant secured by Paul Wood, the city’s Economic Development officer, and an additional $75,000 already allocated for the kiosk by the city. The balance of $360,000 will be bonded for, Gretsas said and the terms of the Starbucks “deal,” which was not disclosed “make the project profitable in the first year,” Gretsas reported. Gretsas said the Open Space Incubator concept allows the city to build open space acquisition funds, by paying off the debt service through profitable operation of the kiosk, rather the city simply devoting money to open space, which would not “grow” as fast because of the debt service, he said.


Gretsas said  the bond would cost $50,000 a year for 10 years and would return a profit in the first year.

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City Picks A Vendor for Kiosk at Renaissance Plaza to Hold Special Meeting Wed.

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WPCNR CITY HALL CIRCUIT. August 12, 2003: The Mayor’s office announced this evening that the Common Council will hold a Special Meeting at 6 PM Wednesday evening to vote on a Memorandum of Intent  to enter into agreement with  a vendor to operate the coffee kiosk, a 20 by 50 foot building to be constructed on the Court Street side of Renaissance Plaza. The candidates to operate the Kiosk are being kept confidential until the Common Council votes on the Letter of Intent which they will do at Wednesday night’s meeting. The second vote on the ordinances will take place Friday night along with the appropriation of funds to build the kiosk (approximately $550,000).

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Judge Finds in City’s Favor in CCOS-NY Hospital Article 78 Action

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WPCNR CITY HALL CIRCUIT. From The Mayor’s Office. August 12, 2003: The Mayor’s Executive Officer George Gretsas announced today that Judge Richard Molea of the New York State Supreme Court has ruled in favor of  the city in the Article 78 action brought by Concerned Citizens for Open Space against the city and New York Presbyterian Hospital last September, after approximately a three month review. (Final papers in the suit were filed at the end of April, 2003.


Mr. Gretsas said the ruling “throws out the suit, though Concerned Citizens for Open Space has the right to appeal.”


Gretsas made no other comment. The suit sought to deny the city’s approval of the Special Permit  paving the way for New York Presbyterian Hospital  to build biomedical research and proton accelerator complex on the grounds that a zoning change was needed. That approval came last August, and CCOS filed their Article 78 suit in September, 2002.

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Adam In Albany: We Must Protect Seniors’ Quality of Life

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WPCNR’S ADAM IN ALBANY. Weekly Column By 89th District NYS Assemblyman Adam T. Bradley. August 12, 2003: Seniors have helped make Westchester the great place it is today. That is why one of my top objectives as a State Assemblyman is to help them spend their retirement years in the comfort of their own homes, with access to the health care and prescription drugs they need. We must ensure that seniors are able to remain vibrant members of our community.



Adam Bradley on the Campaign Trail, 2002 WPCNR  News File Photo


 


Keeping health care affordable


 


Many Westchester seniors already spend too much of their income on out-of-pocket health costs. That is why I have been working to help seniors receive the vital medications they depend on by blocking the governor’s fee increases to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) Program and by sponsoring legislation to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions, which would prevent co-payments from exceeding the cost of the prescribed drug (A.6851). I also sponsored a bill to establish a senior vision program within the New York Office for the Aging, which will provide services to seniors who suffer from visual impairments (A.2345).


 


Protecting hospitals and nursing homes


 


The governor called for major cuts to Medicaid and other health care spending, including imposing a “sick tax,” when hospitals and nursing homes are already losing money and facing severe staffing shortages. I refused to accept the governor’s budget and voted to override his vetoes, restoring over $40.5 million to local hospitals. Furthermore, the Assembly’s refusal to go along with the governor’s so-called “Medicaid swap,” saved Westchester County over $8.3 million.


 


Additionally, I worked for a budget that restored $2.5 million to the Westchester County Department of Health, which serves as a frontline defense against emerging diseases like SARS, West Nile and potential bioterror attacks, and continues to assist in the battle against Lyme Disease.


           


Fighting for property tax relief


 


We already pay some of the highest property taxes in New York State, and the governor’s budget would have made it even worse by freezing the STAR tax relief program. That’s why I voted for a budget that saved the STAR program. I also sponsored legislation that will help seniors get the STAR school tax relief they are due. The bill (A.7873) allows seniors to use 2002 income tax returns instead of 2001 returns to meet the income requirements for this year’s enhanced STAR program, providing immediate relief for this year’s retiring eligible seniors, who may have seen their incomes drop off this year. I urge the Senate and the governor to do what is right and pass this bill.


 


Working together we can keep improving our community and quality of life. I will continue fighting for Westchester’s seniors to ensure that their retirement years are filled with families and friends, not high medical expenses and property tax bills.


 

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Cantatore Holds News Conference Chiding Ryan on Campaign Literature

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WPCNR CAMPAIGN TRAIL. From Press Office of Frank Cantatore. August 7, 2003: County Legislative candidate Frank Cantatore (R – White Plains)  called on Legislator William Ryan to stop misusing public funds by distributing taxpayer-financed communications for his own benefit.  Such activity violates the spirit of a key Board of Legislators rule that specifically forbids misuse of taxpayer funds.


 


“Mr. Ryan must learn that the hard working residents of Westchester County do not struggle to pay their taxes in order support Bill Ryan,” said Cantatore.  “It is clear that he is using taxpayer dollars in a futile attempt to save his re-election campaign.  When the spotlight is on, Mr. Ryan claims to support campaign finance rules, but sadly, when he thinks the people are not watching, he helps himself to taxpayer resources.”


 


 


Ryan’s plan to use taxpayer resources for his personal gain was discovered when many citizens, who were upset at Ryan’s misuse of public funds, complained that Ryan and / or his assistants were distributing misleading flyers at various public places around the district including several busy shopping centers in White Plains.  The flyers, produced by Westchester County Board of Legislators staffers, using county resources, featured a dated picture of Ryan and contact information for his legislative office in White Plains.


 


“Unintentional misuse of public resources for personal gain is bad enough,” Mr. Cantatore continued, “however, Mr. Ryan, with full knowledge that the rules of the Westchester County Board of Legislators specifically prohibits the use of taxpayer resources for personal advancement or gain, has chosen to ignore the rules and thereby hurt the taxpayer, again.”


 


 


A rule entitled “Activities Prohibited During Political Campaigns For County Office” adopted by the Board of Legislators in 1998 specifically forbids incumbents who have filed designating petitions for a county office from using county resources to finance, prepare and mail newsletters “for the purpose of communicating Board activities and achievements to residents of such member’s legislative district.”  Ryan voted for the rule.


 


Mr. Cantatore’s campaign staff has filed a freedom of information request with the Board of Legislators to uncover extent of the misuse of public funds. 


 


“Ethics and the high public trust that a Legislator must adhere to and protect cannot be conveniently disregarded.  Again, Bill Ryan must learn, apparently the hard way, that the taxpayer’s money is not his own; he should pay back every cent that he misused with money from his campaign and pledge, as I have done, to put the taxpayer first,” Cantatore demanded.


 


The Cantatore campaign, in contrast to his opponent, has pledged to use only private donations to finance his election effort.  All donations to Mr. Cantatore’s campaign, and related expenses, are open to public review.


 


“Career politicians too often forget that government was not invented to provide them with a salary, a pension and every perk imaginable; hard earned taxpayer dollars must be diligently protected, unfortunately, sometimes even from elected officials.”  Mr. Cantatore concluded, “when elected, I will protect the public trust and ensure that each and every taxpayer dollar is appropriately spent, or perhaps more importantly, saved and as a first step if elected I will not accept a salary from the county. Those monies I will ask go towards defraying any future tax increases.”


 

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Pleasantville’s Newman Theatre Holds Auditions for Lion In Winter

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WPCNR CASTING CALL. From John Arco,  Newman Theatre. August 10, 2003:The Herbert Mark Newman Theatre of the Richard G. Rosenthal JCC is pleased to announce auditions for it’s fall 2003 production of The Lion In Winter, by James Goldman.  The production is under the direction of Thomas Kramer, with performance dates set for November 1, 2, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16.  Auditions are scheduled for September 3 and 4, both beginning at 7PM at 600 Bedford Road, Pleasantville. Candidates will be seen on a first-com-first-served basis, and no appointments are needed.  Candidates should be prepared to read from the script.


Character breakdown for the piece is as follows:

Henry II, King of England, 50 years old, powerful energetic and a man
having his last moments of greatness before the beginning of the decline.
       

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry’s estranged wife. She is his equal in every
way.

Richard Lionheart, the oldest son and Eleanor’s favorite. Strong; determined to be Henry’s successor.  

Geoffrey, the middle son. The brightest of a very bright family. Generally overlooked when the question of succession arises.

John, the youngest son and Henry’s favorite. Unsure of how to attain the throne. Will follow whoever leads him.  

Alais, beautiful. 25 years old. French princess betrothed to Richard for 18 years, and is currently sharing also Henry’s bed.

Philip, crowned King of France. Alais’ brother, determined to see Alais wed to Richard.

The play takes place at Christmas, 1183 AD, at Henry’s castle in Chignon, France.  King Henry II has summoned his rather dysfunctional family for the holiday season and plans to guarantee his successor to the throne. His wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has imprisoned for the past 10 years, has her own thoughts on who should follow Henry, while the three Princes all scheme to be named heir. Into the family mix, Alais and Philip (along with the power they possess) add to the political and personal maneuvering, and make for a very volatile holiday celebration. This is a
family that makes the Ewings of DALLAS look like THE BRADY BUNCH.

For more information about The Newman Theatre, please visit our website at
www.newmantheatre.org.  For directions or specific questions, contact John Arco at 914-741-0333×626 or send an e-mail to john@newmantheatre.org.

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Girls Fastpitch Explodes in White Plains

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WPCNR PRESS BOX. By Chris Kulk, Coach White Plains Explosion 14-Unders. August 7, 2003: The sport of girl’s fastpitch softball is one of the fastest growing sports in area.  Interest in the sport has lead to the organization of the White Plains Girls Softball Association, which now sponsors three summer fastpitch teams.  The White Plains Explosion.  14 & Under, 12 & Under and 10 & Under age groups.           



2003 WHITE PLAINS EXPLOSION 14-U


Left to Right: Christine Portillo, Juliana Bailey, Jill Gordon, Tracy Avery, Jen Gilch, Molly Gottshal, Kailey Meccia, Lauren Kroutil, Lisa Tompkins, and Laura Cedrone. Madalyn Petralia, not pictured. The team won 12 out of 16 games this summer.


Photo by WPCNR Sports


 


The Explosion is a select travel fastpitch team playing other teams as far north as  East Fishkill and south as Bronx.  The players are selected from the best White Plains female athletes during tryouts in the fall.  The selected girls each have a strong commitment to learning the game of fastpitch softball. They commit to playing approximately 18 games starting the last week of June and lasting until the end of July.  The Fastpitch season is resumed again in the fall for an extra six weeks when the Explosion teams enter fall leagues.  Fall fastpitch adds another 12 games as the teams compete in weekly Sunday double headers.


          The Explosion teams, now in their second year have found their success in the philosophy of teaching fastpitch fundamentals in a positive atmosphere through competitive play.    The teams limit the number of players accepted on the team in order to ensure a maximum amount of playing time for each of the girls.


 


          The interest in the sport has driven demand for softball clinics.  Ted O’Donnell White Plains High varsity softball coach has filled that demand over the years by offering both pitching and skills clinics to White Plains girls 4th grade and up.  Ted O’Donnell’s  White Plains Fastpitch  also sponsors it own team.  The White Plains Stix.  The Stix are a 16 U tournament level travel team traveling weekends throughout the tri-state region  The Stix end each season by traveling to a week long National tournament, this year held in North Carolina.


 


          .  The White Plains business community has reached out with financial support to make this a big success.  Many thanks to Stephen Sules State Farm Insurance, Kent Plumbing Supply, Dooley Macs Pub, Smith Barney, Remodeling Consultants, Klhar Glass, Frank Gambelli of City Line Deli, White Plains Firefighters, Statewide Title Insurance, and Radel Corp. all off of which gave freely to support girls fastpitch softball in White Plains. 


          Girls interested in softball clinics or playing for the White Plains Explosion can contact the organization via email WP.Explosion@verizon.net


 

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