Son of City Center: Cappelli’s Back! Proposes 34 Story Hotelondo & 28-Fl. Office

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WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By John F. Bailey. October 25, 2002: Louis Cappelli presented his plans for the former Halpern property on Main Street Thursday evening at a marathon Council work session still going on at midnight. He unveiled plans for a 34-story hotel and condominium fronting Main Street, backed by a 28-story state-of-the-art office complex overlooking Hamilton Avenue.

The Council got a first look at the new Community Theater planned for the City Center.



THE SUPER DEVELOPER PRESENTS MAIN STREET MAKEOVER: Cappelli said he has financing in place from four banks for a $320 Million Hotel-Convention-Center-Condo-Office Palace planned for “221 Main Street,” formerly owned by Jon Halpern, which Cappelli purchased for $16 million last month.
Photo by WPCNR

The first 10 stories of the “Hotelondo” will be devoted to a Four-Star Westin Hotel with ballrooms, conference facilities and 200 rooms, topped with 24 more floors of high end condominiums. The office complex on Hamilton seen behind the Bar Building to the left will be designed for one corporate entity occupancy. He said The New York Stock Exchange was definitely a tenant “within the realm of possibility.”

The hotel’s grand entrance on Main Street will be flanked by upscale retail.

Court Street Extension at Last!

Court Street is planned to be extended through to Hamilton Avenue, which Cappelli will finance. Entry to the hotel complex will be made from the newly expanded Court Street. Parking will be below the hotel and office building. The rear portion of the Bar Building is planned to be condemned to make way for the project.

The Super Developer points to the Main Street view of the complex. The whole shebang depends on Cappelli being granted the right to transfer 550,000 square feet of development rights from the City Center project, which is contingent on Council passage of transfer of development rights zoning.



CURTAIN GOES UP ON WHITE PLAINS CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS, as Kip Bryant, architect from Shapiro, Petraukas, Gelber showcases the spectacular 415-seat, two-level theater complex integrated into the third floor of City Center.
Photo by WPCNR News


The Theater will present a 40-foot stage, with 20-foot high proscenium with dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms, offices, and multi-purpose rooms below the stadium-seating.

It is planned to open in October, 2003, together with the new “dancing lights” Main & Mamaroneck fountain at a cost of $7,000,000 maximum. Louis Cappelli has agreed to contribute an additional $1.6 million to his $500,000 (for a total of $2.1MM) stake already pledged to the fountain.

Mayor Delfino and Benjamin Boykin said they had a pledge from County Executive Andy Spano to provide funds for the fountain plaza makeover, plus other state funding. George Gretsas, Executive Officer, said aid to compete the $7MM stake was pledged by state officials.

Mr. Bryant, in the picture, points to the lobby design which will be entered from the skywalk from the new City Center Parking Garage, or from Mamaroneck Avenue. The council will be asked to approve ordinances authorizing the $7MM expenditure shortly to keep the project on track for an October, 2003 debut.

The council is under pressure to pass both the transfer of development rights legislation and the $7MM theater and fountain agreement shortly.

Cappelli Announces he has bought the Corner Nook, bookstore and Deli string.

Cappelli told the Common Council the City Center was on schedule for an October 2003 opening, but that he was redesigning the former EJ Conroy drive area between the City Center and the new City Center Garage. The reason for the redesign is to incorporate the use of the property adjacent to the A & P on Main Street which he had just purchased Thursday evening for $2 million.

He announced plans to help tenants such as the Corner Nook and the bookstore and the delicatessen that occupy the site now to relocate to either the City Center or the new retail complex in his new Main Street Hotel complex.

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Robert Greer Hospital Vote Found Not a Conflict of Interest.

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WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. October 24, 2002: The White Plains Board of Ethics found Councilman Robert Greer to not be in conflict of interest in voting on the New York Presbyterian Hospital biomedical complex and proton accelerator facility proposal last August, in an opinion released Wednesday.
The ruling was in response to a criticism leveled by Lynn Huber of White Plains that because Mr. Greer’s wife works for the New York Presbyterian Hospital, he should not have been allowed to vote on the hospital proposal.

The Board of Ethics rejected Mr. Huber’s contention on two grounds: 1.) That the Board has no jurisiction, because, according to city code, “advisory opinions (of the Board of Ethics) are to on ethics-relateed matters involving prospective conduct and may be requested only by the individual officer or employee (Mr. Greer) whose conduct may be called into question.” Therefore, only Councilman Greer would have standing before this Board to seek an advisory opinion as to his prospective conduct.

However, the Board said, it was allowed “to receive from any person a written complaint questioning the compliance of any City officer or employee with the Code of Ethics,” and agreed to consider Mr. Huber’s letter a complaint, making the following accessment.

The Board of Ethics pointed out to Mr. Huber that Mr. Greer sought an opinion from Edward Dunphy, City Corporation Counsel, on just this ethics issue, and received an opinion from Dunphy at the time in 1998, in lieu of the Board of Ethics being operational at the time. The Board of Ethics noted to Mr. Huber that Mr. Greer, acting on Dunphy’s opinion disclosed his wife’s duties to the Council on April 6, 1998, and did so again at the August 5, 2002 meeting where the most recent NYPH proposal was considered and passed.

The Board in its letter to Mr. Huber concluds that, given Councilman Greer’s reasonable reliance on the Corporation Counsel’s opinion, the absence of any change in circumstances since the opinion was rendered, and his consistent disclosure on the official minutes of the Common Council’s meetings of his wife’s part-time employment with New York Presbyterian Hospital, there is no basis for an investigation of Councilman Greer’s vote…

The Board dismissed the complaint by a 3-0 vote, Gerald Stern, Nancy Barry and James Noonan voting for, with Mark Elliot abstaining. William Vrooman was absent.

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JEWISH HEALING CENTER WORKSHOPS PLANNED

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WPCNR NEWSREEL. October 24, 2002:As a first step in developing a Jewish Healing Center in the county, Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) will be presenting a Jewish Healing Center Workshop Series this Fall.

“Our vision is to partner with Jewish institutions to create programs and services that promote the spiritual, intellectual, physical and mental health of Westchester’s Jewish community by infusing all the offerings with the intrinsic power of Judaism’s teachings and tradition,” explains Ann Yerman, MPA, Director of Jewish Program Development. “This series is a first step toward a program that will complement the secular options available for individuals who seek a link to Jewish tradition, Jewish roots and Jewish spirituality.”

The workshops will be held at WJCS Headquarters, 845 N. Broadway, White Plains at 7:30 PM. Each workshop is $10 per person. Participants are welcome to attend all four for $36. The schedule is as follows:
 November 7
A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE ON DEATH AND DYING
Presented by Rabbi Shira Milgrom of Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains.

 November 13
JEWISH PERSPECTIVES ON HELPING FAMILIES DEAL WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS
Presented By Dr. Herbert Nieberg, Director of Behavior Medicine/Psycho-oncology at Four
Winds Hospital & Director of Student Counseling Service at The Jewish Theological
Seminary.

 November 21
KABBALAH
Presented by Rabbi Michael Paley, Executive Director of the Jewish Communal Network
Commission and Co-Director of the Jewish Resource Center for UJA-Federation of New
York.

 December 5
LOVED ONES IN ISRAEL & OTHER COUNTRIES IN CRISIS: HELPING PEOPLE COPE
Presented by Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel Center in White Plains.

For a Registration Form or more information, contact Roberta Robinson at 761-0600, X227.

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Jewish and Italian Leaders Deplore Assemblywoman Paulin’s Remarks. Fois Speaks

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WPCNR High Noon News. From the Sayegh Campaign (EDITED) with John Bailey Reporting.October 23, 2002. UPDATED:Three community leaders in the 88th Assembly District came out strongly criticising Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s conduct Wednesday, in drawing attention to the ethnicity of her challenger’s financial supporters, said a news release from Tony Sayegh’s Campaign.

Thursday, the Journal-News endorsed Ms. Paulin as their choice over Mr. Sayegh in the 88th Assembly District three days after the introduction of Ms. Paulin’s anti-Arab remarks.

In related fallout from the “Amy Tape” released by Mr. Sayegh Monday afternoon, the Journal News printed a correction Wedneday to its report that the reporter heard on the “Amy Tape,” Robert Fois, who conducted the interview, was fired. The Journal-News today printed a correction on page A-2, saying he was on “leave of absence” from the Eastchester Town Report. WPCNR interviewed Mr. Fois Tuesday on “his side of the story.”

The news release from the Sayegh campaign says, “Miles Ehrenkranz, Jewish community leader in Scarsdale and New Rochelle, said today that Assemblywoman Amy Paulin should issue a full apology for her remarks.

Ehrenkranz’s sentiments were echoed by Sam Spady, New Rochelle civil rights activist and Sebastian Bulfamante, who is president of the New Rochelle Italian-American club.

“Unacceptable.” Pursued Ethnic Issue.

“The Assemblywoman’s response thus far is unacceptable and falls short of what the public deserves,” said Ehrenkranz, “The tape is clear: Amy Paulin raised the issue of ethnicity, she continued to pursue the issue of ethnicity, and she suggested that race should be a consideration in the campaign for the Assembly.”

Sayegh’s release notes that “Ehrenkranz, Spady and Bulfamante noted that Paulin attempted to defend her remarks rather than acknowledge they were inappropriate.

“Appalling.”

“It is appalling that Assemblywoman Paulin would raise the ethnicity of Tony Sayegh’s supporters under any circumstances,” said Spady, “Those of us who have devoted years to erasing ethnicity as an obstacle to achievement know that nothing short of an apology will do.”

Spady went even farther in the news release: “This time Amy Paulin was complaining about Lebanese-Americans. Perhaps next time it will be African-Americans or Italians,” said Bulfamante, “The whole idea is repugnant.” In the taped interview, Paulin compained that many of Sayegh’s supporters were Arabs. “The sad thing is that Tony’s parents, who are Lebanese Christians, personally know the scourge of discrimination and thought that in America they had left it behind.”

Jewish leader particularly offended.

The news release goes on to quote Ehrenkranz extensively, taking Ms. Paulin to task:

“Unfortunately Amy Paulin is trying to hide behind the motive of a reporter or arcane rules of what is on the record and what is off the record. But there is only one motive that counts, which is Amy Paulin’s, and so far it seems devoted to playing upon ethnic divisions. As a member of the Jewish faith, I am embarrassed by her remarks and feel that Ms. Paulin should have known better than to take issue with people’s ethnic backgrounds.”

Paulin Does Not Issue Statement on WPCNR Request. Fois claims she screened his stories.

WPCNR contacted Amy Paulin’s office Tuesday, after learning from Mr. Fois, the reporter on the tape, that he was on Leave of Absence taken at his request, and had not been fired. Mr. Fois also reported that there was more conversation on the “Amy Tape” he was uncomfortable in releasing.

WPCNR requested a statement from Ms. Paulin on the matter and requested she contact WPCNR because WPCNR wanted to verify that there was more of the taped conversation that had not been released by Mr. Fois to Mr. Sayegh.

WPCNR wanted to find out whether or not she had repeatedly gone over and complained about Mr. Fois’ stories about her before as they appeared in the Town Report, actually prescreening them with Eastchester Town Report editors, as reported to WPCNR by Mr. Fois, and as alluded to in the Journal News report.

However, at this point, (Wednesday afternoon), Ms. Paulin has not responded to clarify whether she said more on the telelphone that day in July, and whether she did complain to the Eastchester Town Report about Mr. Fois’ reporting and went over the stories with the editors.

Reporter vs. Editor

After speaking with Mr. Fois twice Tuesday, WPCNR learned from Mr. Fois that he decided to take the tape to Mr. Sayegh in early September when his editor Mike Moritz twice refused to listen to the tape, once in July and again in August. Mr. Moritz denied to WPCNR that Fois offered to let him hear the tape.

“That is 100% incorrect,” Moritz said in a phone interview with WPCNR. “Lynda Wyssing, (another editor) asked for the tape. He never produced that tape. Never brought the tape in. We (he and Fois) had a conversation that he had serious concerns about what Amy Paulin said, containing “derogatory” comments about Mr. Sayegh made “off the record.”

Moritz told WPCNR that he advised Fois if it was “off the record” he did not want to hear the tape:

“I asked, well what is it? On the record or off the record, and he indicated it was off the record.”

At which point, Moritz said he did not want to know about it.

Unethical action.

Moritz advised WPCNR that he considered Fois’ turning over the tape to Mr. Sayegh unethical:
Fois shocked.

Mr. Fois was distrubed to hear this recollection of his two approaches to Mr. Moritz on the matter. Fois said, “I told him the tape contained remarks derogatory to not only Arabs, but Jews, Catholics, all ethnicities,” saying he was very explicit about the contents. He said that Mr. Moritz and Ms. Wysing were always “too busy” to listen to the tape.

Took it to another editor for an opinion.

Fois said he was so disturbed about what Paulin had said on the tape that he spoke with Mr. Sayegh about it in July, but did not divulge the contents of the tape.

He also said he took it to another newspaper editor, whom he did not identify, for an opinion on how “on the record,” or “off the record” the first portion of the tape was. After review, the editor advised Fois that he was within his journalistic ethics to release a portion of the tape.

Matter of Conscience over alleged “Whispering Campaign.”

Fois told WPCNR he agonized over whether or not to release the tape. He said he felt Mr. Sayegh’s family, his background, had been hurt and unfairly maligned, especially when he encountered evidence of a “whispering campaign” against Mr. Sayegh circulating within the Assembly District 88 confines from Ms. Paulin and Jim Maisano.

Asked if he could bring forth persons who had heard these “rumors of Arab-funded” involvement, Fois said he did but would not identify them because they were “fearful.”
Mr. Moritz, Eastchester Town Report Editor said he had heard nothing of such a “whispering campaign.”

Scarsdale Today editor, Sean Cover, of the Westchester Network said he had heard nothing about a whispering campaign, and said Paulin, a resident of Scarsdale, had Scarsdale all locked up, but he did not know how strong she was in Eastchester or New Rochelle which were more Republican.

Fois said he worried greatly about what he called “the tragedy of the untold story, that never appears,” and that was why he ultimately decided to release the tape to Sayegh. He said he agonized over it.

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White Plains Performance Meets Interim “No Child Left Behind” Pace

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS REPORT CARD. From Timothy Connors, Superintendent of Schools. (Edited) October 23, 2002: A letter to parents of children in the White Plains School District from Timothy Connors, the Superintendent of Schools, reports that the New York State Education Department has informed the City School District that all of the White Plains schools met the federal achievement targets in 2001-02. The letter includes comparisons of White Plains test scores in Grade 4 and 8 English Language Arts and Mathematics scores to all the public school districts in the state, and scores for each child’s school compared to other district scores.
Connors’ communication includes graphics comparing White Plains results to the entire state. They show that in the Grade 4 State English Language Arts tests, White Plains students outperformed the average of other districts with 69% of White Plains 4th graders meeting the state standards (scoring in the Levels 3-4) compared to 62% meeting the standards statewide. A total of 24% of White Plains 4th graders exceeded state ELA test standards by placing in the highest level of performance (Level 4) compared to 21% of students statewide exceeding the ELA Standards.

In the Grade 4 State Mathematics Standards, White Plains 4th graders performed slightly above other state 4th graders, 69% meeting standards to 68% of the rest of New York, with 28% of those White Plains Fours exceeding the state standards, compared to 23% statewide who exceeded the standards (i.e., scoring in Level 4).

Less than Half of New York State Middle School students Statewide Meet the ELA Standards.

In the critical Middle School tests, a concern statewide, where the city school district is working hard to raise test scores, the White Plains Middle School mathematics scores were ahead of the ELA results. Yet, White Plains Eighth Graders are performing better than their peers statewide.

In Grade 8 Math tests, 56% of White Plains Eighters met state standards compared to 48% passing statewide. A total of 18% of those White Plains students meeting the math performance standards actually exceeded the state standards, scoring in Level Four, compared to 11% exceeding standards statewide. Population figures were not supplied.

On the Grade 8 English Language Arts tests, 52% of city Eighth Graders met the state standards (achieving level 3-4), compared to 44% of all New York Public School Eight Graders. Of those students exceeding state ELA standards scoring in the Level 4, 13% of White Plains students meeting the standards exceeded those standards compared to 10% statewide.

Twelve Years to Pass ‘Em All.

In Mr. Connors letter, he writes: “The new legislation (“No Child Left Behind”) also established yearly achievement targets for schools: schools have to implement new programs to ensure that, within the next 12 years, all students will pass the state exams. We are pleased to report that the New York State Education Department notified us that all of the White Plains schools met the federal achievement targets last year.”

Parents play part.

Connors took the opportunity to encourage parents to take a more active role: “Parents can play a critical role in their child’s learning. We urge you to continue to review your child’s work every evening, read to or with your child, discuss books that they are reading at home, and involve yourself in school acitivities.”

Connors invited parents to contact him at 422-2019, or the Office of Testing, Evaluation and Funded Programs at 422-2425 with any questions about the state tests, or the new “No Child Left Behind” law.

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The Amy Tape(s): Was Reporter Baiting Amy? Or Amy Baiting Reporter?

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WPCNR Afternoon Trib & Post. October 22, 2002: Tony Sayegh, Amy Paulin’s challenger in the 88th Assembly District, played a cassette tape on television Monday evening, which revealed Amy Paulin, in her own voice, the incumbent Assemblyperson, making what Mr. Sayegh characterized as “a display of blatant racism and discrimination.”

Here is the complete transcript of that tape recording. This was a telephone conversation between Robert Fois, the reporter, whose comments are preceded by the prefix “RF.: Ms. Paulin’s comments are identified by the suffix, “AP.”

According to Robert Fois, there is more incriminating comments from Ms. Paulin on the tape (that was agreed to be off the record at the time the conversation was recorded in July) that he has not made public.

Fois is debating whether or not to disclose to WPCNR, in light of Ms. Paulin’s remarks in today’s Journal News report, the rest of that conversation. Here is the transcript of the tape disclosed so far, which was disseminated at Mr. Sayegh’s Monday evening news conference to all media:

When we join the beginning of the telephone conversation, Mr. Fois (RF) and Ms. Paulin (AP) are about to discuss the Financial Disclosure Filings just filed in July. Let’s listen by way of the printed word. WPCNR identifies the documents in question, all characterizations of interruptions and speech are part of the transcript. Here we go:

RF: So what’s up?

AP: Oh, nothing much, what’s up with you?

RF: You have the filing?

AP: Uhh my filing is filed, but I actually haven’t seen a copy of it yet, so I’m waiting to get a copy from my treasurer.

RF: Ok I just need the numbers that’s all.

AP: Yeah, I actually called him (Paulin’s Treasurer) today to see if he could get it faxed to me but his fax wasn’t working so you know we keep having…. I mean the checks keep coming in so that’s why I don’t know what he actually…you know because there was a cutoff date what we got in before the cutoff date and what came in after. So, probably it’ll get posted by tomorrow.

RF: All right, the problem is my deadline is tonight.

AP: I said to him what does it look like I have? You know, actually cash in hand, which is your first question.

RF: Right.

AP: He estimated probably somewhere like almost $100,000 of cash in hand.

RF: Okay.

AP: So, uhh but it’s rough, you know, but he wasn’t sure.

RF: Any loans? Is it just general donations?

AP: It’s a combination loans, it’s a combination of you know [unintelligible] and contributions.

RF: Let me ask you, have you heard about his (Sayegh’s Financial Contributions) filing at all?

AP: I only heard that he had $100,000 roughly also, something like that.

RF: Right. I mean, what’s your reaction, I’m just curious.

AP: Well, I haven’t had a chance to look at the filings yet but uhh, you know, but what I hear most of the money is from outside the district.

RF: His (Sayegh’s) money?

AP: Yeah.

RF: Interesting I didn’t know that.

AP: Yeah.

AP: In fact somebody just said they left it here. Let me see if it’s in my pile (Sayegh’s July Financial Filing). Uhh, yes…yes, here it is. Let’s see I can sit down and do a breakdown but it does look as though most of the money is outside the district.

RF: Now let me ask you in terms of what you’d (Paulin) expect to raise…[she cuts him off]

AP: Bobby you have to take a look at these filings.

RF: Really?

AP: Yes.

RF: What do you mean?

AP: Just take a look. I don’t want to say anything…you know on the record.

RF: Why is it that bad as far as the money?

AP: No. When you see the names, you’re gonna want to take a look at the filing. Okay?

RF: What kind of names are we talking?

AP: Just take a look.

RF: I mean, are we talking questionable individuals?

AP: No. Just…I’m telling you just take a look. Okay?

RF: Okay.

AP: Okay take a look and I don’t know if you’ll see the same thing I see here but take a look.

RF: All right.

AP: All right, take a look. I mean without…I’m literally looking at it with you for the first time but I don’t want to put a number on it…I’m gonna do these numbers but it looks as though, you know, maybe up to 75 percent is outside the district…maybe more. I mean it’s uhh…I’m finding very few district names.

RF: Are you inferring that this is more of a candidate that’s getting sort of a Washington beltway type then a Westchester type?

AP: It may be family and friends I don’t know who these people are.

RF: Okay.

AP: You know I don’t know who these people are but they’re outside the district and uhh and there’s a lot of um…look…just look, just take a look…you know.

RF: Does it become an issue for you as far as the fact that he has money out of district?

AP: No. You know what money…

RF: Or where his roots and obligations will be or is that more of the focus there?

AP: You know I have been very proud that most of money has come from uhh grassroots support from people who live in the 88th Assembly District.

RF: Ok. Is that more of a issue of a Republican party locally that’s not giving…[she cuts him off]

AP: Can I say something totally off the record? Then maybe you’ll need to know why you have to take a look. It’s probably…50 percent are Arab names. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen this.

RF: Really?

AP: Yes. 50 percent. It’s more than…50 percent are Arab names…and I’m Jewish. Uhh, you know, I, I, uhh…and they’re maxing out on him. It’s unbelievable.
RFh: What do you mean they’re maxing out?

AP: [repeats] $3,100. $3,100 from all these Arab names. Now a lot of them are family members you know…and they may all be family members.

RF: Right.

AP: But you know, but I’m telling you, Bahari, Jahaba, I can’t even say these names. [laughing]

RF: No, no, and I understand what point you’re making in that respect but you know when you say Arab it’s a generalization. I believe he’s Lebanese.

AP: He’s Lebanese, so they may all be family and friends but he’s probably got 300 names on here and 150 of them are you know, or a lot of them, maybe 100, you know I don’t want to exaggerate.

RF: Okay.

AP: You know, so, you know but that may not be your issue, but I’m gonna look at this. God…


So ends the released portion of the transcript of Mrs. Paulin’s conversation with the Eastchester Town Report reporter, Robert Fois, recorded by Mr. Fois last July. The audio of the tape may be heard on the Sayegh campaign website, www.tony2002.com/tape.

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NYPH Lead Paint Inquiry Old Stuff Says Hospital. Timing Questioned.

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WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. By John F. Bailey. October 21, 2002: New York Presbyterian Hospital has released a statement noting that a Environmental Protection Agency fine of $324,060 for failing to disclose presence of lead paint in their on-campus housing for hospital workers is a condition that they have corrected.

Hospital sources questioned the timing of the release of news of the EPA fine, one month before New York State Supreme Court is to take up an Article 78 suit brought by Concerned Citizens for Open Space on November 18 against the City of White Plains for approving the NYPH proton accelerator and biomedical facility in August.
According to the statement released by the hospital,

When New York Presbyterian Hospital became aware of this issue in the spring of 2000, we immediately began an extensive series of actions that meet with EPA standards, to seal and secure lead paint in our housing units, including all units in which children under six are living. Additionally, any housing unit that is vacated, whether or not children will be living there in the future, is now made lead secure before it is reoccupied.

This is a matter that we take very seriously and we have been cooperating with the EPA for more than two years with regard to the lead paint contained in pre-1977 housing units on our Westchester Division campus.

The issue that has been raised by the EPA relates to notification of the presence of lead paint, and is not related to any medical conditions.

The residents of the on-site housing are all employees and staff with whom the Hospital traditionally had informal housing agreements. All residents of this housing are now notified of the presence of lead paint at the time new agreements are signed, and lead paint disclosure forms have been provided to all existing residents.

After the issue of notification was called to our attention in the spring of 2000, we brought physicians on campus to discuss and provide practical information to all staff about lead paint. At the same time we began on-going work with an environmental consultant to test all residential units and to undertake an appropriate remediation program.

Timing of Fine Release Questioned.

Hospital-connected officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the timing of the EPA announcement of the fine was suspicious, suggesting it might influence Supreme Court Judge Richard Molea now reviewing the Concerned Citizens for Open Space Article 78 action. Their thinking is that the environmental fine might cast a shadow of doubt over White Plains officials’ review of the project.

Medical Center Chairman’s legal partner represents CCOS in the suit against city.

WPCNR in backgrounding this story has learned that Thomas Whyatt, attorney for Concerned Citizens for Open Space, is a legal partner of Mark Tulis, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Medical Center. According to the Medical Center website, Mr. Tulis is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Health Care Corporation which oversees the Medical Center.

Whyatt and Tulis are partners in the law firm of Oxman, Tulis, Kirkpatrick, Whyatt and Geiger, 120 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, which is representing Concerned Citizens for Open Space in their Article 78 action.

That Whyatt, a Tulis partner, would manage a lawsuit that could conceivably benefit the Westchester Counting Medical Center when his partner is connected with Westchester County Medical Center is a coincidence, considering the Medical Center is an organization in competition with New York Presbyterian Hospital for biomedical research funds from a very budget-sensitive New York State.

Governor Spreads Manna Upstate

Governor George Pataki is now rapidly dispersing millions of biomedical research dollars upstate, leaving less money available for medical facility development in the Westchester-Hudson Valley region. The stakes in the race for state funds for biotech between the two hospital giants, Westchester County Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital are getting higher and the availability of money to the two giants, lower with each Pataki grant.

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Pilloring Pirro: Autupsy of Castro-Pirro Beats “Sopranos”

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WPCNR White Plains Variety. Book Review By John F. Bailey. October 20, 2002. Updated. The Jeanine Machine was delivered in plain white box from Hudson House, (ViviSphere Publishing, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 158 hot steaming pages), to WPCNR Friday, within one day after WPCNR purchased it by phone. It was left by an unidentified courier who somehow eluded the countywide dragnet to intercept shipments of this book.



Photo by WPCNR News


This lift-you-right-out-of-your chair book rivets the reader by naming sources and telling all about how, in S. Richard Blassberg’s opinion, Tony Castro lost the 2001 election for District Attorney to Jeanine Pirro.
The Jeanine Machine is a white heat of indignant resentment written in the searing humiliation of defeat. It bristles, bleeds, festers with personal invective and character judgments of county officials, politicians and his primary target. Blassberg is in a fine rage. There is no attempt at genteel, literary style. He slices, dices and filets reputations. He fires in a staccato style like a Sergeant Joe Friday, relentless in his prosecution of Westchester’s top prosecutor.

He has Jeanine Pirro and the Westchester power brokers, whom he calls “The Cabal” for lunch here. It’s a book of an individual who feels he and his man Castro were wronged by a rigged system. It’s made sobering by a marshaling of incidents, coincidences and accounts of Ms. Pirro’s alleged actions during the campaign which are not comfortable to read, and raise questions about her motives and her use of District Attorney powers.

Upton Sinclair returns.

If you remember the relentless cadence of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, you will recognize the uncompromising attack style affected by S. Richard Blassberg, former Campaign Manager for Tony Castro.



S. Richard Blassberg
Photo from Book Jacket by WPCNR

Ms. Pirro defeated Mr. Castro by 52% to 48%, a closer-than-expected race, that Blasberg says cost her nomination for Lieutenant Governor with George Pataki on this year’s ticket.

Blasberg tells, in a fascinating countdown of the ill-fated campaign, how he feels his man, Tony Castro, was defeated by Ms. Pirro’s alleged behind-the-scenes maneuvers. He charges she perceived favored treatment of her candidacy by The Journal News which calls her “public relations arm.” Rarely have I ever read such a direct attack on major media outlet news judgment.

If you admire Jeanine Pirro, don’t open this book.

From the former attorney’s first sentence in the preface, (“I come to the task of producing this manuscript with several objectives, the most compelling of which is to expose finally to the full light of public scrutiny the oppressive, malicious, and criminal regime that is the Jeanine Machine,” ) to the last, (“Thus, the removal of Jeanine Pirro from the District Attorney’s Office, by whatever lawful means, at whatever moment, will bring a new and brighter day to the people of Westchester County.”) Blassberg pulls together in one place a documentation of Ms. Pirro’s perceived transgressions since emerging in the public eye in 1994.

Reminiscent of Hell to Pay, the “inside” story of Hillary Clinton, this book is shorter, punchier, and reads with the reckless abandon of a Walter Winchell broadcast, without the “Commentary” key slide disclaimer.

Lawyer-approved.

The scholarly thoroughness of these events and his observations of them, we have to take his word, and the word of the persons he quotes by name and attributes to, with 32 footnotes. At any rate, if he is ever sued for libel by Ms. Pirro it should be a dandy trial requiring 24-hour coverage, with a parade of witnesses everybody knows. He quotes and names and describes who did what to whom, and how he thinks they did it. Ronnie Brokaw, spokesman for ViviSphere Publishing said the manuscript and its documentation had been screened by the firm’s lawyers. WPCNR hopes they are good ones.

The Pirro Affair and a Cast of 95

There are 95 real people appearing in this book: all familiar personalities you read and hear about daily in the media: every Spano you can think of, Larry Schwartz, Reginald Lafayette, Dennis Wedra, Jay Hashmall, Robbie Schlaff, John Spencer, Al Pirro, Anthony Mangone, Mike Edelman, Dr. Giullio Cavallo, Kieran and Sarah Gaffney Mahoney, Gary Sherlock, and some of your favorite attorneys, too.

The book provides a one-sided view and critique of Ms. Pirro’s public position during the course of her husband Albert Pirro’s tax case, and his Peekskill Hospital conflict of interest affair. After documenting the findings of the tax case, Blassberg goes on to the far more juicy Jeanine Pirro-Tony Castro contest. He details the events leading up to Castro’s nomination, and the six months of the Castro campaign, where it went wrong. If you are looking for a balanced view of Ms. Pirro, this is not it.

Ba-da-bing!

In Chapter One, Blassberg tells how he became acquainted with “Westchester Law,” Jeanine Pirro style, in 2000. He picks apart as “demoralizing” the way in which the Pirro D.A.’s office drags out court proceedings, calling for multiple postponements, and filling up court calendars, he alleges, abusing the rights of defendants. The effect, he charges is to demoralize defendents into copping pleas to lesser charges to up the D.A.’s conviction rate.

He first learns of the Pirro prosecutorial style in a case he describes about an indigent, mildly retarded man he defended in 2000. He found that Ms. Pirro’s office withheld exculpatory (exonerating) evidence extending the criminal proceding to attempt to obtain a conviction.

Ba-da-boom!

Just warming up, Blassberg refreshes the federal income tax fraud case against Ms. Pirro’s busband, Albert Pirro, pointing out federal evidence which he feels shows Ms. Pirro knew the tax frauds Mr. Pirro was orchestrating.

He is at his best in making his case for Ms. Pirro’s using her power as District Attorney to first punish, in his opinion, Andy Spano for allowing a strong candidate (Mr. Castro) to run against her in 2001, in violation of the Spano style of pursuing apparent non-aggression pact with the Republicans.

Blassberg charges that Pirro was irritated that Jay Hashmall , the Deputy County Executive and Robi Schlaff, his assistant, both Democrats were working hard for Mr. Castro, a Democrat. The way Blassberg tells it, Pirro used the power of her office to punish Hashmall for his work on behalf of Castro, by leaking to The Journal News a story, alleging improprieties in Hashmall’s awarding four no-bid contracts while Spano was unavailable to sign off on the contracts. Hashmall was not prosecuted. Blassberg charges that the threats of a Grand Jury involving Hashmall were trumped up and could not have taken place in the time interval from when Pirro announced them and The Journal News reported them.

Pirro Media Pressure?

Blassberg charges that Pirro’s influence squashed a Castro policy statement scheduled to appear in the New York Law Journal involving the reporter, Lori Tripoli, that was to carry Castro’s “perspective” of what happened to Hashmell. The Law Journal even plugged the fact that Castro, “promising Tony’s (Castro) response.” And, it did not. Blassberg says, “within 24 hours, Tony was called and was told that once Jeanine got wind of the fact that there would be a forthcoming article, she contacted someone very high in management, and quashed the piece.”

After the Law Journal “stuff,” Blassberg adds to that coincidence, with a report of a New York Times reporter, Dorothy Samuels, who was instrumental in interviewing Mr. Castro which lead to the Times endorsement of him over Pirro, strange behavior:

“Immediately, upon learning of the New York Law Journal’s knuckling-under to Jeanine’s pressure I attempted to contact Dorothy Samuels of the New York Times, the editor who had interviewed Tony prior to his receiving their endorsement. She couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. I was left with a sick feeling.”

Blassberg shares his feeling that “Jeanine had reached them, too. My fears were fueled by the fact that, although Tony had received the prized Times endorsement following a 90 minute interview, which I had attended, that endorsement was eight days in coming. Further, it appeared just three days before election, leaving us little time or opportunity to capitalize on it.”

The Independence Party Endorsement that Never Happened.

Another intriguing matter is Blassberg’s story of how he feels Ms. Pirro used her power to prosecute to scare Dr. Giullio Cavallo of the Independence Party to switch that party’s endorsement to herself.

Blassberg charges Pirro threatened Cavallo with prosecution over doctored absentee ballots in the Dennis Wedra case. Blassberg says this is the story Cavallo told him to explain why he switched the Independence Party’s endorsement to Pirro. Cavallo has later denied making this statement, according to the book.

The Independence Party line gave Ms. Pirro the election, delivering 7,821 votes, which would if they were votes for Mr. Castro, have given him the election by some 3,000 votes.

Ridicule, Invective Weaken Narrative.

Mr. Blassberg’s anger at the all-too-real events he describes, leads him astray from his compelling story of the campaign. He makes value judgments about Ms. Pirro’s public appearances, fashion sense, motives, and lapses too frequently into insult: (“She suffers from the malady known as being a legend in your own mind.”)

Questioning Ms. Pirro’s appearance in court, for example, is a petty recurrence, referring to her penchant for wearing miniskirts, patterned stockings and 4-inch stiletto heels.

His interpretations of Ms. Pirro’s actions in public are unflattering, based on his observations and those of others at the events he describes. He names persons who saw the behavior to corroborate. Can we really believe Ms. Pirro, “with veins in her neck popping, she screamed into the camera, “I’ll debate Mr. Castro, anytime, anywhere!” This was supposedly on televison, so you could probably check it.

Tricks. Acting. Alleged Media Manipulation.

Political buffs will feast on the inside story of Castro’s fundraising, and Mr. Blassberg’s uncompromising charge that the Journal News was not printing his candidate’s press releases because they favored Pirro. Now, on this matter I, as one who receives press releases from candidates, do not print them verbatim, unless I think they are news worthy or have a news angle, so I don’t buy that. Every campaign writer thinks their releases are works of art and very compelling. But, I have to tell you, most are not. Blassberg gives you numerous examples on how he feels The Journal News slanted campaign reporting in Pirro’s favor.

The charge of Ms. Pirro leaking stories to the Journal News regularly during the campaign seems plausible based on his documentation in the book of how the stories appeared, and what stories were covered and which were not. But, it is circumstantial. You be the judge.

Serious allegations about Pirro being soft on organized crime.

Perhaps the most disturbing indictment Blassberg makes is what he calls Pirro’s failure to prosecute cases against organized crime, and makes an intriguing case for it, which should raise eyebrows.

His principle evidence for her “softness” is the string of prosecutions initiated against alleged mob-influenced construction deals in Westchester by the U.S. Attorney, Mary Jo White.

He feels she manipulates the District Attorney’s Office to promote her own career, of which he notes a number of examples. He charges that her internet sting operation was created to get the public’s mind off her husband’s tax conviction and the public’s perception of her knowing of the frauds being committed. And, there’s more.

D.A.’s Office a little empire?

Blassberg reserves serious criticism for the way Ms. Pirro operates the District Attorney’s office. He writes, “One need only speak with respected members of the Defense Bar to grasp the functional burden Jeanine’s persona has imposed upon the criminal justice system in Westchester. She refuses to entrust ultimate decision making authority to anyone other than herself, irrespective of how serious or mundane a case may be. Her objective is always the same, to obtain a conviction, and thus enhance her record and public image.”

He draws a series of circumstantial examples to illustrate this: the internet sting operation, her pursuits of high profile murder cases, the Hashmill case, and issuing supeonas as a weapon to get her way and create an impression. However, there is no identification of any individuals or attributions documenting this opinion of D.A. office operations. His criticism of her conduct of the D.A. office operations is weak, because of this troubling lack of documentation and attribution. He offers his opinion only, and the results he perceives. Of course, getting a person to speak out against the person he or she works for, or represents clients to, in litigation is next to impossible, as a reporter, no one wants to go on record as being critical of anybody in power.

The Janine Machine draws a disturbing picture. He closes by suggesting several ways Ms. Pirro can be removed from her stronghold of power: 1.) Defeat in 2005. 2.) Appointment to higher office (by Governor Pataki), or 3.) a Federal Investigation.

Not Benefit-Chic

This is no cute, tasteful, palatable, scholarly, cleared-by-a-battery-of-$500-Dollar-an-Hour-Libel-Attorneys- weekly news magazine expose that puts you to sleep.

Blassberg shakes you up. The Janine Machine is a tough in-your-face muckrake. It is not boring. What it means for residents of Westchester County raises more questions than it answers. You will be scared reading this one and you will read it in one night. It takes your breath away.


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Historian to Retell Battle of New York at Miller House Nov 2

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. From Westchester County Department of Communications October 25,2002:Find out why New York City and Westchester were so important to victory in the American Revolution during a presentation by historian and author Barnet Schecter on Saturday, November 2, 1 p.m., at the Miller House Farm House (Washington’s Headquarters Museum) in North White Plains.
Schecter’s talk will describe the invasion of New York City, paying special attention to Westchester’s critical role in the winning of American independence. His presentation will include the landing of British forces at Throg’s Neck, the Battle of Pelham Bay, the Battle of White Plains, and the protection offered to Washington’s army by the hills of North White Plains after the battle. The presentation will be preceded by a self-guided tour of the historic Miller House and it will conclude with a walk to Miller Hill, where Schecter will discuss its strategic importance.

On September 15, 1776, the British army under General William Howe invaded Manhattan Island. George Washington’s Continental Army had by then retreated north to Harlem Heights, leaving New York in British hands. Control of the city was Howe’s primary objective; located at the mouth of the strategically vital Hudson River, it had become the centerpiece of England’s strategy for putting down the American rebellion. However, as Schecter will reveal, far from furnishing a key to the colonies, New York proved to be the fatal albatross that strangled the British.

Schecter is a Manhattan-based writer, historian and sculptor, who recently authored The Battle for New York, which tells the story of how the city became the pivot on which the American Revolution turned
Parking is free. There is a suggested donation of $3 per person. Pre-registration is required. Please call 914-864-7177.

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Governor Creates Amy Paulin’s “Peace at Home” License Plate.

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WPCNR NEWSREEL. From Assemblyperson Amy Paulin’s Office. (EDITED) October 21, 2002:Legislation sponsored by State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has been signed into law by the Governor, creating a new Peace at Home New York State Automobile License Plate, now available to purchasers for $25 to help combat domestic violence by funding information programs. It is the newest in the Assemblywoman’s two-year crusade to deter and increase awareness of domestic violence.


Paulin noted that the $25 annual fee for those who choose the new license plate will go directly to a new domestic violence awareness fund to pay for education and prevention programs.

“The need exists for programs that help enlighten people about this crime, and to let victims know there are places to go for help,” Paulin said. “Domestic violence devastates families and ruins lives, this program will increase awareness and fund programs designed to prevent domestic violence, which is occurring far too often and in too many homes.”

The measure is the newest achievement in Ms. Paulin’s legislative initiatives to curb domestic violence. In her 22 months as Assemblywoman, Ms. Paulin, former director of My Sister’s Place, has written two laws expanding victims’ protection.

The first provides greater latitude in prosecuting abusers who make threats over the telephone by extending jurisdiction to anyone who makes a threat over the telephone regardless of whether they initiated the call. She has has also authored a law which went into effect this year empowering the courts to suspend, revoke or deny a firearms license, or conviscate a gun from women abusers.

Ms. Paulin is now sponsoring a bill to increase the length of court orders of protection, currently 3 years in Family Court, and 5 years in Criminal Court.

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