Tigers Drub Mahopac, 6-0, Move on to Bowl Saturday.

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Spencer Ridenhour’s 5 yard bull-ahead touchdown run in the early going in the Third Quarter was the only score as White Plains stymied Mahopac all afternoon at Parker Stadium. The Tigers 6-0 win puts them in a game with a team to be determined. It was not as close a game as it sounds.
After a scoreless first half, Ahmad Warren recovered a Mahopac fumble on the Indians 27 in the opening minutes of the third quarter to set up White Plains with a scoring threat in the red zone.

TIGERS CHEW UP THE INDIANS in the autumnal showcase of Parker Stadium Saturday. The Orange and Black did not allow Mahopac to penetrate past the Tiger 30 yard line all day. Unofficially, Mahopac had to be well under 100 yards total offense.WPCNR PHOTO

With a first and 10 on the Mahopac 28 after Warren’s timely recovery, Eric Dickey rumbled offtackle to the 17 for a first down. Ridenhour lugged for 3 more to the 14. Spencer took it again to the 11 yard line. Dickey was stopped at the 10.

Then came the key play. On 4th and 3 at the 10, Spencer Ridenhour burst around right end to the 5 for a first and goal to go, and lugged it in straight up the middle on the next play, 6-0, Tigers with 9 minutes to go in the third quarter. It was all they needed.

Orlando Cruz punts, averaging 34 yards a kick, kept Mahopac in poor field position most of the afternoon, and the 4-4 Indians simply were no match for the seasoned Tiger defense. Even when they got the ball to midfield with a minute to go. The fans were not worried.

On the other hand, the Tiger offense had one of its worst performances of the season. With Jeff Lee unable to catch passes because of his left wrist being in a cast, the Tiger offense has become one-dimensional. They only had one sustained drive of the day, which stalled on downs at the Mahopac 11. (This was on the Tigers first possession of the game.)

“Mr. Jet,” the football fanatic from Section 234 at Giants Stadium attended the game. A long time Jet sufferer, he analyzed the game this way: “This was one of those games when there was more action in the stands than on the field. (A scuffle in the stands in the south end of the Parker bowl occurred in the third quarter, but order was restored by the combatants.) But a win is a win. White Plains played great defense. But this game was really what they mean when they describe a game as ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.'”

“Mr. Jet” is right. Against an very unimaginative Mahopac offense and an undistinguished defense, the Tiger offense was predictable. Not as inept as a Mahopac, but they are predictable. Their first series was superior, but when Mahopac realized all the Tigers were going to do was run (with Jeff Lee out of commission on offense), it was look for Dickey, McKoy or Ridenhour.

The Tigers raised their record to 6 wins and 3 defeats. The contest saw the Tigers take the most penalties of any game this season there were three clips, and two offsides which stalled out drives.

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Board of Ed sees 3 Search Firms; Will See More Tues. Saul Letter Out Nov. 17

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Larry Geiger of the Board of Education told WPCNR Friday that the Board of Education will see two more search firms Tuesday afternoon as the Board seeks a firm to guide the School Board in seeking a new Superintendent of Schools.
Mr. Geiger reported by telephone to WPCNR Friday morning that the Board of Education met with three executive search firms Monday afternoon, and had “very encouraging” discussions with all three.

He said the Board is expecting some confirmations of phone calls and expects to review two more firms next Tuesday afternoon. He said the Board of Ed expects to name a search firm at the November 19 public Board of Education meeting.

He also confirmed that School District Parents will be sent a letter defining in more detail the motivations behind the decision not to renew the contract of present Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Saul Yanofsky. Geiger said the letter would be out towards the end of next week.

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Fred Bland Plays City Hall Again Wednesday. Supertect to Show Enhanced Apts

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The Mayor’s Office announced today that Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle has been drawing, and together with Louis Cappelli will present enhanced designs of his apartment towers for the City Center next Wednesday at City Hall to the Common Council. Time for Mr. Bland’s second appearance has not been set yet.
The Mayor’s Office, coming out of post-election “lock-down,” announced that Cappelli Enterprises is tentatively scheduled to present Frederick Bland’s enchanced design for the residential apartment towers for the City Center project.

MORE BLANDISHMENTS TO DEBUT WEDNESDAY. Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle will play the stage at City Hall Wednesday unveiling new, enhanced, detailed designs based on this original sketch he presented in September before the Common Council. Bland’s first take was warmly received by the Common Council and the audience seeing them. Bland’s new design requires moving residential parking underneath the new parking garage to be owned by the city, and the city reports it will be negotiating a payment from the Cappelli organization for those subterranean rights.WPCNR PHOTO

The Mayor’s Office advised WPCNR Friday that Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Bland have announced that Mr. Bland’s enhanced design for the Martine Avenue & EJ Conroy place apartment tower necessitates placing residential parking underneath the new parking garage, adding another lower level.

Previously, the City Center design incorporated complete parking for residents underneath the residential tower itself. George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said that the reasons for adding another underground level of parking beneath the ground floor of the parking garage will be explained by Bland and Cappelli Wednesday. He also said the city has been negotiating with the Cappelli organization for payment for those subterranean rights, and air rights over the garage.

Speculation that underground and air rights raises speculation of further acquisitions in the downtown by the Super Developer

Seasoned developer sources familar with the motives behind purchasing of air and underground rights, speculate that this may be a dual-edged intiative by the Cappelli organization.

Cappelli may be looking to acquire property adjacent to the new city parking garage he is building to add to his City Center centerpiece. He may be looking to acquire the property on Main Street previously eyed by other developers for a cooperative apartment tower and hotel which would be adjacent to the to-be-owned-by-the-city parking garage.

The Halpern organization owners of the buildings adjacent to Grace Church on Main Street, for example, own the air rights over Grace Church. This enables them to develop the property adjacent to the church, over the church airspace.

VIEW TO A BLAND: Another look at the Frederick Bland concept for the residential towers for the Cappelli City Center. WPCNR PHOTO

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FLASH! RECOUNT of Council Race Begins Tuesday. Board of Elections: Hockley UP!

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As of 3 PM Wednesday afternoon, the Board of Elections is reporting Glen Hockley the winner of the third Council seat by 159 votes over Larry Delgado, reversing Mr. Delgado’s unofficial 19-or 119 – vote lead of Wednesday morning taken from City Clerk-generated figures.

The City Clerk office reports all voting machines have been impounded by court order at 3:30 AM Wednesday, and an official recount of the council races will begin Tuesday.

The Board of Elections results had not been updated since 1:20 AM Wednesday morning. They were finally updated approximately 13 hours later well into Wednesday afternoon.

The Board of Elections show a distinct change from District totals reported last night from the District-by-District Machine counts supplied by the City Clerk’s office relied upon by Republican Headquarters.

The Board of Elections reported to WPNCR at 3:10 PM today at their offices that the final unofficial totals with all 46 election districts with 82% of absentee ballots counted were:

Rita Malmud 6,656 (up 193 votes)

Tom Roach 5,985 (No change from totals)

Glen Hockley 5,971(up 84)

Larry Delgado, 5,812(DOWN 94 from original city supplied total of 5,906)

The totals for the Mayor’s race went up slightly, too:

Joseph Delfino 7,206 (up 78)

Robert Greer 5,261 (up14)

The totals for the other two Republican candidates did not change and still stand thusly:

Robert Tuck,5,394

Mike Amodio,5,312

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Flash! It’s The Champ by a Knockout!

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Mayor Joseph Delfino was reelected Tuesday to a second term as Mayor of White Plains, defeating Robert Greer by 1,881 votes. Rita Malmud won her fourth term as Common Councilperson, and was joined by first time candidate Tom Roach on the new Council. Larry Delgado appears to have retained his seat on the Common Council by 119 votes over challenger Glen Hockley.

County Legislator William Ryan won reelection to a third term by almost 2 to 1. Andrew Spano won reelection as County Executive, and Jeannine Pirro was reelected as Westchester District Attorney.
Rolling up strength in the White Plains southend of town, Mayor Joseph Delfino took an early lead in a flurry of punches in the early rounds of returns. “The Champ” kept piling up the points on his challenger Robert Greer, polling 7,128 votes to Mr. Greer’s 5,247 with all 46 White Plains districts reporting in at 11:10 PM Tuesday night.

THE CHAMP SHAKES HANDS ALL AROUND, as he makes his way to the podium at the Crowne Plaza Ballroom Tuesday night, with Neil Diamond’s America blaring on the sound system. The Champ, Mayor Joseph Delfino said he was “overwhelmed’ by the victory. It took him 5 minutes to make his way to the podium through the hugs.WPCNR PHOTO

In the Common Council marathon, Democrat Rita Z. Malmud handily won reelection to her fourth term on the Common Council, with 6,463 votes, setting her up for a run for the Mayoralty in 2005.

She will be joined on the Common Council by newcomer Democrat Tom Roach who rolled up 5,991 votes.

DELGATO COMES FROM BEHIND IN LAST THREE DISTRICTS TO TAKE THIRD COUNCIL SEAT BY 119 VOTES. Larry Delgado at the podium at the Crowne Plaza Ballroom last night telling the jubilant crowd, “I’m so-so-happy…we’re going to complete the job Mr. Mayor. I’m so happy I’ll be there.”WPCNR PHOTO

Republican Larry Delgado narrowly nosed out challenging Glen Hockley with a strong showing in the last three districts reporting in, Districts 10, 25 and 8. Trailing Mr. Hockley by 44 votes at 10:40 PM, Mr. Delgado snatched an apparent narrow victory from the jaws of defeat with a strong showing in those last three districts to defeat Mr. Hockley for the third Common Council seat by a mere 19 votes.

Republican spokesmen noted a misread error in the George Washington School polling machine reporting. They are confident will add 100 votes to Mr. Delgado’s total, sealing the narrow win by increasing his margin to 119.

Misread at George Washington School

The final unofficial total, if you count the error is Delgado 6,006 votes, Hockley, 5,887, a 119 vote victory margin for the first Hispanic Common Council.

The voting machine error, according to Mayor Delfino, occurred at George Washington School where Tuck and Amodio had approximately 139 votes each, and Delgado was reported as having 39. It is assumed that the reporter at George Washington simply miscounted by 100.

“WE HAVE 4 MORE YEARS TO FINISH THESE PROJECTS AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW NOTHING’S GOING TO STOP IT,” a jubilant and overwhelmed Mayor Delfino proclaimed last night. He said “I don’t know how to express my feelings to each and every one of you. I am overwhelmed and humbled,” upon being elected Mayor by 1,881 votes.WPCNR PHOTO

Ryan solid in District 5

The Westchester Network’s Scarsdale Today is reporting in that with the Scarsdale vote in, County Legislator William Ryan has defeated Candyce Corcoran by almost 2 to 1.
With over 86% of the votes counted and 46 of 53 electoral districts reporting, Ryan received 6,555 votes (64%) to Corcoran’s 3,627 votes (35%).

In White Plains, Ryan outpolled Corcoran by 5,929 votes to 3,267.

Robert Greer arrived at the Crowne Plaza at approximately 11:45 PM Tuesday evening, and embraced the Mayor, and is reported to have said to the Mayor, “we’re going to have to work together.”

The WPCNR Unofficial City Results

The Mayor’s Race

Joseph Delfino 7,128

Robert Greer 5,247

The Common Council Marathon

Rita Z. Malmud 6,463

Lorenzo Delgado 6,006*

Thomas Roach 5,991

Glen Hockley 5,887

Robert Tuck 5,358

Mike Amodio 5,190

For County Legislator District 5

William Ryan 5,929

Candyce Corcoran 3,267

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NY Presbyterian Hospital BioMedical Facilities Dealt Financial Blow

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The announcement that New York State will devote only $10 Million towards development of Governor Pataki’s Centers for Excellence and biomedical research, takes away funding that New York Presbyterian Hospital had counted on for development of their proton accelerator facility on their White Plains property.
Alex Philippidis, Editor of Westchester County Business Journal broke the story in WCBJ Monday, and on White Plains Week last night. Speaking on the popular Public Access Channel 71 television program Monday, Philippidis said state economic development statewide had been cut to $100 million, and state aid for the biomedical, biotech development was cut to $10 million.

New York Presbyterian Hospital, the medical giant based in White Plains, had been counting on at least $50 million in grants from New York State and $50 million from the federal government in order to build their proton acclerator and biomedical research facility as part of their Plan B proposal now in Environmental Impact Statement preparation.

Geoffrey Thompson, spokesman for the hospital, said that biotech was still considered a desired use for the hospital site by both the state and Westchester County, but that funding would have to be sought privately.

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Illegal Housing Reports Double in 4 years: Common Council

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The Common Council voted to add another code enforcement officer to increase illegal housing enforcement efforts with use of community development funds. The Council adjourned hearings on Tri-Kelly, Fortunoff’s, and Fenway maintenance buildings to December 3.
In discussion of the Code Enforcement Officer hiring it was revealed that illegal housing citations had increased from 146 in 1996-97 to 365 in 1999-2000, with the majority of violations perpetrated in the Battle Hill and Fisher Hill Neighborhoods.

Robert Greer, candidate for Mayor, said, “If it’s one way you can hurt a neighborhood quickly, it’s illegal occupancy. Is it (one more code enforcement officer) enough? Maybe we need more.”

Population Growth Contributes to Rise in Violations

Mayor Delfino attributed the increase in illegal occupancies to what he called “large population growth in the city over the last 5 years.” He cited Battle Hill and Fisher Hill as the primary areas where the illegal occupancy codes were being violated.

Pauline Oliva, Councilwoman, pinpointed the lower end of Main Street in the Eastview section as another area where considerable violations are known to exist.

Gismondi: Night enforcement dangerous to Code Enforcement Officers. Three Month Investigations Common.

Mike Gismondi, City Commissioner of Building, interviewed by WPCNR after the Common Council meeting said that citing illegal occupancy violations is dangerous work. First, he said, inspections have to be done at night, and because of past experience, police officers are needed to accompany the Code Enforcement Officers. The Code Enforcement Officers have not been treated well by the residents, and are often denied access and surveillance of the property.

As a consequence, night inspections have been instituted, which require accompanyment by a White Plains Police Officer.

Gismondi said, that in order to inspect the properties, the Code Enforcement Officers have to be given permission to enter the homes. Second, if entry is denied the Code Enforcement Officer, evidence has to be compiled, which can also be dangerous work. Cars have to be counted. Garbage analyzed. Persons entering house surveyed.

“Often it can take three months to compile the evidence to take homeowners to court,” Gismondi reports.

Three hearings adjourned

The Council heard for the second time in a week, Tri-Kelly Thirsty Turtle application for an outdoor dining facility behind the Thirsty Turtle on East Post Road. Again, the hearing was adjourned to December 3.

After having met the objections of The Esplanade senior citizens complex immediately adjacent, Thirsty Turtle was met with complaints by the owner of the Sloan-Bar Building across Post Road about illegal parking by Thirsty Turtle patrons in their behind-the-building lot, as well as piles of beer bottles in their trash receptacles.

In a lengthy 45-minute discussion, while the owners of Fortunoffs looked on, the minutiae of nightlife was examined.

A White Plains Police Task Force by vigilant enforcement has cut down on the rowdiness and number of citations to overindulging patrons in the East Post Road area.

Mayor Delfino quietly suggested perhaps a gate could be put up to block access to the Sloan Bar parking area.

Pauline Oliva suggested sale of beer could be limited to draught beer only (eliminating bottle discarding).

No one from either the Thirsty Turtle or the Sloan-Bar Building seemed to know who employed the gentlemen waving cars into the Sloan-Bar parking lot. (Though the Thirsty Turtle owner, said he had given them pieces of pizza.)

The Council voted to adjourn this to December, giving the time for the two businesses to work out the parking controversy.

Two More Continuations

The hearings for the Fenway maintenance sheds at the Fenway Golf Club and Fortunoffs were adjourned to December 3.
All members of the Council were quite welcoming to Fortunoffs.

Some residents of Hale Avenue immediately West of the proposed Fortunoffs site expressed concern about the loading bays for the complex with the entrance for deliveries immediately adjacent to their backyards.

William Null, the attorney presenting for Louis and Andrea Fortunoff (who were present in the audience), said the residents would be contacted and more details of shielding and landscaping fo the bays would be explained to them. He felt this would make them more comfortable with the situation.

Hospital Senior Convalescent Facility renewal referred

In a routine consent agenda item, several councilpersons skirmished over the Mayor’s decision not to allow Barbara Benjamin to speak on the New York Presbyterian Hospital request for a renewal of the Special Permit to build a senior convalescent facility.

The Mayor said that if he allowed persons to speak on one consent agenda item, there would be no purpose of having a consent agenda. He said that when the matter came up for a public hearing, residents would have an opportunity to speak on the issue.

Long awaited Recreation Master Plan submitted

Councilmembers received “just printed” copies of the Administration Recreation Master Plan, though none were yet available to the media. Pauline Oliva commented she wished there had been more “history” of the properties included in the report.

Other reports submitted and now available to the public were the Department of Budget Annual Report for 2000-01 and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the City of White Plains Fiscal Year, ending June 30, 2001.

The Mayor closed the Council Meeting urging all to go out and vote today, Election Day.

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“Fruitful Discussion” with Saul to be disclosed. Search Firms Review

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The White Plains Board of Education meets Monday to interview two executive search firms to find a new Superintendent of Schools. Details surrounding Dr. Saul Yanofsky’s departure will be made public before next public meeting. “Search” is on schedule. There is competition: 15 school districts in the tri-state area seeking superintendents of schools.

Larry Geiger of the White Plains Board of Education told WPCNR Friday that the Board of Education met with Dr. Saul Yanofsky last Monday afternoon. Geiger said the Board and Yanofsky had what he characterized as a “fruitful discussion.”

New Letter to Come

Geiger said the two parties would inform the public in more detail about the reasons for Dr. Yanofsky’s contract not being renewed. Geiger reports the new information would be sent to parents in a letter shortly before the next scheduled Board of Education meeting (November 19, 8 PM).

Search firms being interviewed.

Meanwhile, Geiger reports the Board of Education will interview two search firms, specializing in conducting national searches for school superintendents. Geiger declined to reveal the firms being considered. The Board member, speaking from his New York City office said the board anticipates choosing the search firm and naming the firm at the November 19 Board of Education meeting.

Twelve to 15 Superintendent positions Open in Tri-State Area

WPCNR talked to a pair of independent observers of the school superintendents’ world. They represent the Montclair, New Jersey School District, a district very similar in population and demographic makeup to White Plains.

The Montclair, New Jersey, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Osnato, formerly the Pearl River, NY, superintendent told WPCNR that he felt White Plains would have to be very competitive in terms of salary to attract an executive of Yanofsky’s stature to take the position. He said White Plains is searching in a tough market.

Osnato, being active in superintendents’ organizations, familiar with school board activity around the metropolitan area said there are 12 to 15 towns actively searching for new superintendents.

WHITE PLAINS STARTING SEARCH AT RIGHT TIME, says Dr. James Patterson, PersonnelAdministrator, for the Montclair School District in New Jersey, a specialist in superintendent searches. Interviewed by WPCNR in Montclair, a district similar to White Plains, and one that recently hired a new superintendent, Patterson encouraged community involvement by their being able to meet and interact with finalists for the superintendent position, to involve the community input in the final decision. WPCNR PHOTO

White Plains expected to pay a premium

Dr. James Patterson, who is Personnel Administrator for the Montclair school district, a specialist in school superintendent searches, said that White Plains would have to offer approximately a $200,000 salary to attract a superintendent the Yanofsky class. The Elmsford School District, according to Patterson landed its new superintendent at a salary of $165,000 a year.

Stiff Competition from Toney Towns

Osnato also told WPCNR that there are very attractive school districts searching for superintendents simultaneously. He pointed out that Ridgewood, Tenafly, Clifton, Fort Lee, Livingston, and Millburn, all of New Jersey and all “attractive” districts – are searching. He also reported that Southern Westchester BOCES and Rockland BOCES are in superintendent search, too.

Superintendents drawn from three states.

Osnato advised us that there is a “musical chairs” situation with many New Jersey superintendents switching to Westchester County, and vice-versa. He pointed out the new Chappaqua superintendent came from New Jersey, and the new Mount Pleasant Superintendent came from Fairlawn, New Jersey.

White Plains starting at the right time.

Both Patterson and Osnato said White Plains was on schedule and is starting its search in time. Patterson said, ideally, White Plains should have candidates ready to present to parents by the end of January in order that they can have a new superintendent in place by April 1.

Advises presenting finalists to the community.

Patterson said, in view of the White Plains controversy over Dr. Yanofsky’s departure that, he felt it would be in the best interest to involve parents and the community. He suggested presenting the Board’s final choices to the public informally before a decision is made. He points to a recent search he conducted where a finalist for a superintendent’s position was presented to the community who just “skewered” him with questions, and the candidate declined to take the position.

“Secret Agenda,” syndrome need to be defused.

“When a community feels that their Board of Education has a secret agenda, candidates can sense that, and will not take the position,” Patterson said. “The Board’s motivation will be second-guessed. The secret agenda of a School Board is always an issue.”

Patterson suggests picking two finalists.

Patterson advised also that the Board of Education decide on two finalists to maintain a strong negotiating position.

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CIBC Confirms $222MM Cash for Cappelli. Excavation Imminent.

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A spokesman for Cappelli Enterprises confirmed to WPCNR Wednesday that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has signed an agreement in principle to fund the Cappelli City Center project. Demolition is almost complete, and the project will proceed immediately to the excavation phase shortly.

Geoffrey Thompson, Louis Cappelli’s official spokesperson, told WPCNR Wednesday that $222 million in financing for the City Center project was in place. The funding of the project has been an object of critical speculation on the part of political candidates in recent weeks.

Cappelli personally guarantees it.

However, Thompson reports Louis Cappelli has confirmed it was agreed in principle by the CIBC World Markets Corporation Tuesday afternoon with a letter of intent. A letter of intent has been signed and a final closing date set for November 21, 2001, Thompson says.

CIBC true to its word

The development demonstrates what a CIBC spokesman had told WPCNR in September, that CIBC “would stick by its commitments,” despite the World Trade Center attack that disrupted world financial markets.

“The agreements in principle were fundamentally in place back in September,” Thompson said, explaining the delay in announcement. “Just some details needed to be worked out.”

Thompson added that Cappelli Enterprises would contribute $50 million of its own equity towards the $319 million project. Thompson reported it was his understanding that other financial partners are loaning the balance of the $47 million in seed money.

Cappelli Express is Full Steam Ahead. Steam Shovels Licking Chops.

The official announcement explains why major engineering teams from National Amusements (the theater builder), a retail design firm, and the residential partner have been working closely with the City of White Plains Building Department in recent weeks on detailed construction plans. (This activity always accompanies a “greenlighted” project, according to veteran observers.)

Thompson tells WPCNR that the demolition of the Macy’s site is “almost completed,” and Cappelli Enterprises is planning to proceed very shortly to excavating the foundation for the 34-story apartment towers, and retail/entertainment extravaganza.

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Update:Resignation Demanded. Yanofsky Short-term Contract Denied.

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Saul Yanofsky never intended to stay with the School District another four years. When he indicated this to the Board of Education last April and explored a short-term contract, the School Board said “They didn’t want to do that,” according to Yanofsky. Yanofsky, is however, open to staying on, if the Board wants him back, according to a White Plains Watch report on their website.
Yanofsky:”No specific discussion about the length of the contract.”

Yanofsky clarified to WPCNR Friday saying:” I never mentioned my age in discussions with the Board. There are things I want to do while I can. I was not looking for a job. I felt the timing was right for a lot of things. I said I felt it was a good time for the Board to consider when would be the best time for a transition in leadership. I did not make a request for a certain extension. We never talked about a specific number.”

White Plains Watch interview confirms this.

On the White Plains Watch website Monday, Susan Chang confirmed that Yanofsky said he would take another job when he left White Plains and preferred to stay with White Plains “another few years.”

Saul Leaves Door Open.

Ms. Chang quotes Dr. Yanofsky, as indicating he would continue as Superintendent, if the Board of Education wanted him:
“There is a lot of water under the bridge but I would not preclude any options,” he is quoted as saying on the Watch website. He also supports what he told WPCNR last week: “I had never wanted a full extension of my contract but I didn’t feel that this year was a good time for change given the number of new administrators and the prospects of others leaving. I would have felt guilty leaving the district this year because of that.”

Board Denies Him.

According to what WPCNR has pieced together, a short-term extension of any duration was rejected by the Board, and no four-year extension was offered. Yanofsky denied flatly that he had requested a one-year extension (from June 2002 to June 2003) in his letter to the Board declaring his intentions last Spring.

WPCNR has been told by a close friend of Dr. Yanofsky that Yanofsky had told him the Board of Education refused to grant him a one-year contract extension, which he had wanted. (This had been learned by WPCNR one week ago, but Dr. Yanofsky denied to us that he had asked for a one-year extenstion). WPCNR asked the Superintendent what the Board reaction was to his plans, implying a short-term contract extension request, he said,
“I was told they weren’t going to do it.”

WPCNR asked if the Board told him why:“No reason. They said it was a good time for me and them to move on.”

Yanofsky asked to resign.

We asked the Superintendent what happened next:“We agreed that April was not a good time to announce this and that the fall was a more appropriate time.”

WPCNR asked him one last question, what he made of Ms. McLaughlin’s statement about having “vigorously encouraged” him to “communicate his departure.” He said,“They asked me to resign.”

WPCNR learned last week the hard decision the Board of Education wrestled with last April.

27 Words Indicate Board Pressed Yanofsky to Announce His Plans. Could Not Wait.

“We vigorously encouraged Saul to pursue other options for communicating his departure from the district. . It was his decision that we pursue the one that we did.”

So said Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education in her Monday night statement to the concerned, critical audience at Education House, there to hear about curriculum. The audience gave Dr. Saul Yanofsky a standing ovation as he entered the room that lasted for several minutes.

In light of what WPCNR has learned, McLaughlin’s statement becomes very significant. The 27 words we quote indicate the Board felt their hand was forced into making the announcement they released by letter last week.

They needed to begin the search for a new superintendent. The words indicate they appeared irritated that the Superintendent had not officially resigned yet. They did not believe the announcement letter they issued, would be perceived the way the public perceived it, and are aghast at the reaction of the community.

Board Thinking:

Reading Ms. McLaughlin’s entire statement against Dr. Yanofsky’s statements to us Wednesday, the dilemma the Board faced is apparent. They faced the prospect of a potentially volatile negotiation confronting Yanofsky’s successor in his or her first months on the job ( approximately July 2003), if they granted Yanofsky a one-year extension, which Yanofsky denies he asked for.

Let us look at the entire text of Ms. McLaughlin’s statement presented to district administrators and teachers at the beginning of the Monday evening work session this week. (Document was released to WPCNR by Michelle Schoenfeld of the School District, at the request of Board Member Larry Geiger):


Thank you for coming tonight. While the primary purpose of tonight’s long-scheduled meeting is for the Board to receive a Curriculum presentation from our new Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, JoAnna Maccario, we recognize that most of you are here to express your reaction to the announcement last week that the Board is initiating a search for a new superintendent.

Accordingly, we will reorganize our schedule and accept public comments, but in fairness to the administrators and others, who have prepared for and come for the curriculum presentation, we will keep the floor open only until 9 o’clock.

We understand that the decision to seek a new superintendent was, and is, a surprise to the community. Like you, the Board is proud of the district and proud of our staff. We have been fortunate that Dr. Yanofsky has been our Superintendent for the past 12 years. We recognize his many fine qualities as an educator and administrator and appreciate the many initiatives which have been implemented under his leadership. That’s why he was selected in 1990 and why the Board has extended his contract on three occasions.

Please be assured that the Board continues to support cornerstones of the district that have been instituted while Saul has been superintendent, such as the Controlled Parents’ Choice Program, the multi-year technology plan and our many enrichment programs.

So, you may ask, if things are so good, why rock the boat? Why move to change leadership now when things are quote, “fine,” and life in America has suddenly become so unsettled? First, I want to make one thing perfectly clear – there have been no improprieties on the Superintendent’s part, nor any single event which precipitated this decision.

The Board has a responsibility for planning and evaluation. Choosing a superintendent is one of our foremost responsibilities. The decision not to extend Saul’s contract was made after months of deliberation, and some of the issues that contributed to the decision have been discussed with the Superintendent for years. While clearly the easiest course of action for us would have been to make no change, we believe that it is in the long-term interest of our schools to seek a new superintendent who can take a fresh look at the district.

Just so everyone will understand the timing, we were required by contract to notify Saul of our intention to extend his contract by the end of April of this year. So he has known since April that we would not be extending his contract. We vigorously encouraged Saul to pursue other options for communicating his departure from the district. It was his decision that we pursue the one that we did.

The announcement was made at this time to provide us with sufficient time to conduct a comprehensive and thorough superintendent search, casting a broad net to attract the best candidates possible. And the short letter we distributed was written in conjunction with the Superintendent and reflects his input.

We hope and expect that this year will continue to run smoothly and efficiently, with all programs continuing. Saul remains our superintendent, with the full scope and authority of that position…and he has our full support. We look forward to engaging the school community in the search for a new superintendent who will join us next July.

While we understand that many people would like a detailed explanation, the Board and Saul have agreed not to discuss “the significant differences” we have. The Board is committed to maintaining that agreement. We believe that it would serve no purpose to do so. We are all interested in looking ahead, not back.

Thanks for your patience. Now we’re ready for comments. Please state your name and address. And, in the interest of time, please limit your remarks to no more than five minutes so many different speakers have a chance to be heard.

“Apres-Moi, le deluge.”

When Ms. McLoughlin finished reading, she and the six other members of the Board, were met with a passionate barrage of criticism from administrators, educators, and parents from a crowd reported to be fifty persons. This attendance, WPCNR can assure you, is astounding for a Board of Education Work Session.

One instructor, passionately advocating for Yanofsky, stood out from among others. She said she had served in good superintendent districts and poor superintendent districts, and she knew the difference. She questioned how persons who were not educators could possibly not involve educators on deciding that a new superintendent was needed.

Another parent, blushingly indignant, trembling with anger, said, “I am outraged,” prefacing her comments, focusing on the board not consulting parents or PTAs on the decision.

One night a standing “O,” the next, quiet acceptance by the district’s teachers.

Despite the passion for Dr. Yanofsky on Monday night, it was not lasting. On Tuesday afternoon twenty representatives from all the White Plains Schools, the leadership of the White Plains Teachers Association met.

They discussed the matter, and issued an unexpectedly neutral and supportive statement to WPCNR: They wish Yanofsky well, and accept the Board of Education decision.

This appears to be a WPTA attempt at healing the ugly rift caused by the community perception of the school board effort to communicate the departure.

Statement by Teachers Issued to WPCNR

Jerry Gorski, President of the White Plains Teachers Association read the somber statement over the telephone to WPCNR Tuesday at 6:40 PM:

“The White Plains Teachers Association has had a good working relationship with Dr. Saul Yanofsky over the past twelve years. We are sad to see this relationship come to an end. We wish him success and happiness.

The White Plains Teachers Association is committed to assuring the current quality of education offered in White Plains is maintained in the future. To that end we will continue to work with children, their parents, the community and the Board of Education.”

Gorski said the WPTA group of twenty made several drafts of the statement and approved it. In answers to WPCNR questions, he said the group understood from Monday evening that “The Board of Education made this decision, and they’re sticking to that decision.”

Board of Education Dilemma?Contract negotiations start in Spring, 2003

WPCNR in the course of interviewing Mr. Gorski learned that the teachers union plans to open negotiations on their next contract with the school district in February, 2003.

This date, WPCNR believes, is significant in the decision not to give Dr. Yanofsky a short-term deal. According to insights into Board of Education thinking told under deep background, the practical Board of Education thinking went like this:

Did Board agonize over their icon’s fate?

If the Board of Education extended Dr. Yanofsky for two years (June 2004 when he would be 63), they would have to have him conduct negotiations. Negotiations conducted under the Yanofsky perception. The teachers union would be negotiating with a “lame duck.” The union could even have extra bargaining pressure on their side, developing clout the closer they got to Yanofsky’s departure. Did the Board fear chaos?

Whatever new directions the Board wanted to address would be handled by Yanofsky. Was this what they were trying to avoid?

If they extended Yanofsky for one year, (ending June 2003), they could not realistically start the search for a new Superintendent until next year at this time.

After all, topflight administrators rarely search for a job two years in the future.

Did the Board Not Want to Get a New Superintendent Off to a Rocky Start?

However, the one-year extension (reportedly requested or most considered by the Board) of Dr. Saul to June 2003, creates another problem: If Yanofsky failed to complete negotiations when his contract expired in June, 2003, you have a brand-new superintendent walking into an acrimonious labor negotiation when they have not even had time to analyze the situation.

More to the point, the Superintendent starts off in an adversary situation with his or her teachers.

Could the Board take a chance that negotiations would bog down into acrimony, thus creating the worst possible way to start a superintendent’s tenure? (Remember when John Lindsay, Mayor of New York, started his term with a New York City Subway strike? It ruined the potential for Lindsay’s entire term.)

Yanofsky: negotiations not a factor in decision not to short-track him.

We asked Yanofsky about this “spin.” He downplayed the role the superintendent plays in negotiations, saying the Board has its representative, and a paid negotiator, as well as the superintendent. “That never came up,” he said.

Gorski: Board did not ask teachers about rescheduling 2003 negotiations.

Just curious as to whether the Board explored rescheduling talks, WPCNR asked Mr. Gorski several innocent questions:

WPCNR: “Did the Board ever contact you about moving negotiations forward into the fall of 2002 or deeper into 2003?” (Enabling Yanofsky more time to negotiate)

Gorski: “No.”

WPCNR: Did the Board ever ask the teachers about a one-year extension of their current contract, an interim contract, (to bridge a new superintendent on board in late 2003)?

Gorski: “No.”

WPCNR: Did the Board seek any accommodations from the teachers at all to reschedule negotiations?

Gorski: “No.”

This suggests to WPCNR, if they were afraid of making it rough for a new superintendent, that the Board never explored with the teachers how they could eliminate negotiation pressure.

On the surface, it appears the Board never seriously considered Yanofsky’s request for a short-term contract and its feasibility. They appear to have determined to end the Yanofsky era long in advance of April, 2002.

Speculation on reasons for dismissal:

We have heard relayed to us, various comments from parents that they wanted more “honors” programs for high achieving students. Others were unhappy with test scores (which just came out today and Middle School scores are not good). The handling of the Highlands violence incident last year was mentioned as another negative.

However, thousands of parents were very happy with District response in the face of the World Trade Center disaster, and communicated this. Dissatisfactions expressed have been overwhelmingly countermanded by the shockwave that has gripped parents and teachers at his dismissal news one week ago.

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