Uber Lyft Negotiations began 3 days before Ride Sharing Was Scheduled to Begin: Boykin

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER From County Legislator Benjamin Boykin. June 28, 2017:

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, as County spokesperson, Gerald McKinstry told WPCNR, the Westchestery County compromise with Uber and Lyft creating a voluntary fingerprinting procedure to screen Uber and Lyft drivers, old and new applicants to come, the compromise talks began 3 days before, according to County Legislator Benjamin Boykin.

County Executive Robert Astorino announced the agreement with Uber and Lyft yesterday afternoon (see previous story below) in a news conference announced at 11:30 A.M., for 2:30 P.M. the event’s telecast was not even announced on the county website as of 2 PM. The news conference was televised on Facebook, but that was not displayed on the county website either as of 2 PM.

The inception of talks coincided (by WPCNR’s analysis) with the strong broadcast and local media advertising by Uber on LoHud and News12 and WVOX backed by a telephone robo call blitz and an encouraged call-in campaign to the County Executive by the public to tell the County Executive to approve Uber.. 

County Legislator Benjamin Boykin today confirmed the last minute nature of the compromise Fingerprinting in this statement emailed throughout district 5  this morning:

The E-Mail Statement from Legislator Boykin:

“Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, will begin operating legally in Westchester County on Thursday, June 29.

The Board of Legislators did not vote this morning to opt-out of ride-sharing.

As Chair of the Public Safety and Social Services Committee (PSSS), I welcome safe ride-sharing to Westchester County. The last minute “deal” negotiated between the Astorino Administration and Uber and Lyft provides for voluntary fingerprinting for the drivers.

I have repeatedly asked the Administration to come to the PSSS Committee to have an open discussion on how to best bring ride-sharing to Westchester.

The first such meeting with all stakeholders (Administration, Board of Legislators, Uber, Lyft, Taxi and Limousine Representative and the traveling public) took place on Monday, June 26, just three days before the start date for ride-sharing.

Since the State Legislature passed a law in April permitting ride-sharing in New York, I have been looking forward to the benefits that companies like Uber and Lyft bring to our communities.  Across the country, ride-sharing has proven to be a significant driver of economic opportunity, a safe and affordable transportation option, and a means of reducing traffic and pollution.

Not only will consumers benefit from ride-sharing services, but Uber and Lyft have thousands of potential drivers interested in signing up. Ride-sharing companies provide a flexible and innovative way to provide jobs for people across all communities, including students and retirees. The benefits to ride-sharing far outweigh the potential downside.

Under the New York State law that regulates ride-sharing companies (outside of New York City which regulates ride-sharing under its Taxi and Limousine Commission):

  • 4% of each ride will go to NY State without any revenue sharing with counties or local municipalities
  • Counties and local municipalities are prohibited from regulating ride-sharing companies
  • Any changes to the regulations for ride-sharing companies must be done by NY State law
  • Fingerprinting is not required under the NY State law
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the regulating agency for ride-sharing companies
  • A county or municipality (with a population greater than 100,000 people) can opt out of ride-sharing at any time through a local law/ordinance.  Likewise, opt back in can happen at any time

I want to thank each of you for your emails, phone calls and meetings to provide your comments on this very important transportation option for Westchester County.

While I welcome ride-share apps in our communities, it will be on us as legislators to stay vigilant and work with Uber, Lyft and New York State for the best safety options and financial arrangements for ride-sharing in Westchester.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Uber and Lyft Good to Go with Astorino Voluntary $90 a Driver Fingerprinting Program to Establish a “Safe” Pool of Drivers. UBER AND LYFT LEGAL IN WESTCHESTER TOMORRO


WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Department of Communications. (Edited with additional reporting by The CitizeNetReporter) Photo, Courtesy Westchester County Department of Communications. June 27, 2017 UPDATED, June 28, 2017 with Uber and Lyft application website addresses:

Joined by executives from Lyft and Uber, County Executive Robert P. Astorino today announced an innovative solution to allow ride-sharing companies to operate in Westchester while increasing rider safety by creating a voluntary pool of fingerprinted drivers from which companies like Lyft, Uber and others could hire.

A spokesman told WPCNR that Uber and Lyft had not guaranteed they would hire only fingerprint-checked drivers, or require present Uber and Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted.

A Lyft email received last week by WPCNR last week shows that Lyft does do extensive criminal background checks on Lyft potential drivers before hiring them.

The press release continues:

“New state regulations, which go into effect on Thursday, contain a major flaw that put the safety of Westchester residents at risk because they do not require ride-sharing drivers outside of New York City to be fingerprinted.

Working with Lyft and Uber, Astorino developed a plan that will enable Westchester residents to know whether their ridesharing driver’s background screening includes a fingerprint check.

“Our goal was to find the right balance between safety and convenience,” said Astorino. “Ride-sharing companies provide the public with an important transportation option. But if that convenient ride is not safe, it’s not really an option at all.”

The new program, the first of its kind in the country, is called “Thumbs Up.”

Participating drivers whose fingerprints show they have no criminal record will be issued a “Thumbs Up” decal by the county to be posted on their windshield to alert customers that their driver has undergone this critical level of screening.

Gerald McKinstry, press spokesperson for Mr. Astorino told WPCNR that a potential Uber or Lyft driver had to be hired first by Uber or Lyft, then apply for the fingerprinting process. Asked how one applies to Uber or Lyft to be a driver, McKinstry said you would have  to contact Uber for how one does that.

Editor’s Note,June 28: In a Lyft email received by WPCNR last week, the company explains how you apply to be a Lyft driver for the first time, and notes the apparently thorough effort Lyft makes to screen drivers and new potential drivers. That link to this information is


On the Uber website, there is an application on how to become an Uber driver (you simply copy the following and place it in your browser) at


WPCNR asked if a potential Uber customer wanted a “Fingerprint Cleared” driver, could get such a driver, McKinstry said Uber and Lyft were “working on that.”

He said the program has just been hammered out within the last 24 hours. Asked if this had anything to do with Senator George Latimer’s press release earlier this week criticising the county position, McKinstry said no, that the county was aware of the worldwide popularity of ride-sharing services and wanted assurances that Westchester residents using a ride-sharing service could be assured they were riding with confidence in the driver they received.

According to the County news release on the news conference,

“While no screening can be 100 percent foolproof, law enforcement officials say fingerprinting provides the best safeguards. Not only does fingerprinting offer access to the best data bases of criminal activity, but those data bases are constantly being updated. This means law enforcement can be alerted to criminal activity that occurs after a driver is hired, not just before.”

“Ride sharing is not supposed to be hitchhiking with an app,” said Astorino. “The public has the right to know that the driver picking them up has been fully screened for a criminal record. The ‘Thumbs Up’ sticker in the windshield will tell riders that their driver has gone through the most complete background check. That’s a level of protection Westchester riders deserve.”

       Lyft and Uber said they will encourage their drivers (already on staff) in Westchester to participate in the program and thanked County Executive Astorino and his team for bringing ride-sharing to Westchester.

“The agreement with County Executive Astorino and the Westchester County Legislature ensures that residents and visitors will have access to safe, affordable transportation options,” said Sarfraz Maredia, General Manager, Uber Tri-State. “By working with Uber to bring the benefits of ridesharing to Westchester, County leaders recognize the importance of technology and innovation in their community.”

Airport Options to be Encouraged

In addition to supporting the “Thumbs Up” program, Lyft and Uber said they would make their technology available to the county to help with traffic management and would work with the county on potential revenue opportunities at county facilities, such as the Westchester County Airport.

Here’s how the “Thumbs Up” program works:

Starting today, interested (Uber/Lyft and would-be Uber/Lyft) drivers can go to the county’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to be finger-printed for $90.

Within 48-72 hours, the results of the background check will be returned and entered into a database of fingerprinted drivers. Drivers who pass the check will be issued a “Thumbs Up” certificate and decal for their window.

Starting in August, drivers can go to Morpho Trust, a New York State authorized fingerprinting service, and have a report run for $102. The results will be sent to the TLC. The county will receive a $15 administration fee for each check it administers.

The efforts to balance safety and convenience also have the bi-partisan support of Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz.

“I appreciate the County Executive’s compromise to create a pool of properly vetted rideshare drivers in Westchester County,” said Kaplowitz. “New York State has passed a terribly flawed TNC bill that compromises the safety of Westchester County residents and puts the County Legislature in an untenable situation. It is also clear that the residents of Westchester County want to have Uber and Lyft operating in Westchester and the County Executive’s plan to place decals on the cars of drivers who have submitted to and passed criminal background checks with fingerprinting is in my opinion the best scenario that could be reached with Uber and Lyft at this time.”

For years, companies such as Uber and Lyft have lobbied the state to allow for ride-sharing throughout New York. The state’s new ride-sharing law stipulates that the Department of Motor Vehicles has oversight over ride-sharing services, as opposed to local governments, which have oversight over taxicabs and limousines.

Under the law, Westchester County can opt out of the state law at any time. To help ensure the smooth operation of the law, Lyft and Uber have agreed to work with the county and participate in regular oversight meetings.

The county is also going to continue to work with the taxi and limousine companies already licensed in Westchester to ease their regulatory burdens so there is a level playing field for all types of for-hire transportation.  The county has also asked Uber and Lyft to develop the technology to put the “Thumbs Up” certification into their app, so that riders will know ahead of time if they’ve been fingerprinted.

Edward Stoppelmann, president of Red Oak Transportation, said his company and others will work with the county on this effort to ensure safety remains paramount in the industry.

“The Livery Industry Council of Westchester, which represents the for-hire companies in the County, will continue working with the County Executive and TLC leadership to ensure that public safety remains its top priority,” said Stoppelmann. “TLC licensed drivers have always been subject to mandatory fingerprinting and drug testing, and are an integral part of the ground transportation system here in Westchester serving our residents, corporate citizens, and visitors.”

Editor’s Note June 28: Uber and Lyft are now legal ride options beginning June 29 (tomorrow-not July 1) according to state law, and the County press release. White Plains taxi regulations  previously banned Uber/Lyft pickups in White Plains. WPCNR has asked the White Plains Mayor’s Office if this policy is now definitely obsolete. (No statement from the Mayor’s office as of 4 PM today.)

Press spokesperson Gerald McKinstry told  WPCNR that Uber Lyft operations are now legal throughout the county based on the new state law. He also said that the county still could opt out of the state law at a future date because counties with a population of over 100,000 (not 500,000 as previously reported) have that right to opt-out under the law.


Posted in Uncategorized

County Executive Announcement on Uber and Lyft not Streamed Live on County Government Website. No live coverage by News 12


The Westchester County Department of Communications announced a news conference this afternoon at 2:30 in the County Offices, 9th Floor, Michaelian Building, however the announcement that was billed as “a major announcement” on the county policy on the Uber and Lyft app-based ride-sharing services was not available via live video streaming on the Westchester County Government website.

Asked by WPCNR is the new conference was going to be streamed live, a press representative said the video person was not in and they were trying to locate one.

As of 2:30 when the news conference was supposed to begin, it was not available on the county website. At 3 PM, on News 12, there was no update and no live coverage of the event being shown.

WPCNR  has learned that the news conference was televised on Facebook, but there was no indication on the westchester.gov website as of 2 PM that the news conference was being held, or that it could be view on the Westchester Facebook site.





Posted in Uncategorized



Dear Mayor and Common Council,
We ask the above headline question because in our 38 years of living in White Plains. . .as we recall the Democratic Party only started to dominate City politics in the last 15 years or so.  We believe because their platforms of preserving Open Space, protecting Neighborhoods and fighting unwelcome development that would change the Character of our neighborhoods. . .connected and resonated with White Plains residents and voters.  We remember back on November 11, 2011 Liz Shollenberger, head of the Democratic Party in White Plains, even saying “We’re the party that cares more about people”.
Unfortunately around the same time Liz Shollenberger was making this statement the outside developer FASNY purchased the old Ridgeway golf course property and proposed a 53-acre school development that was the largest Construction project ever proposed for a White Plains residential neighborhood.  And almost immediately some of our White Plains elected officials started to help FASNY behind-the-scenes. . .and strangely for 6 years never asked any probing questions of the FASNY Representatives in any Public Meetings.
If the connection as the “people’s party” caught on with the White Plains voters and is responsible for the Democratic Party’s recent success. . .maybe it’s not a good idea for our FASNY-leaning elected officials, Mayor Roach along with Council Members Martin, Kirkpatrick and Smayda, to abandon the Democratic “people party” principles that they originally campaigned on. . .to switch their support to FASNY-type large developers. . .who are interested in zoning changes and behind-the-scenes political deals while circumventing laws and regulations.  With White Plains Citizens looking for elected officials who support the issues important to residents. . .and also having officials who are willing to solve problems. . .going forward we can see the Democratic Party and individual political careers being hurt in the process by some elected officials shifting to favor large developers away from ordinary people issues and concerns.
NYS SEQR regulations on land use, which coincide closely with the Democratic Party principles of protecting Open Space and Neighborhoods, were originally put in place to protect Citizens and the Environment.
And SEQR has a broad definition of the Environment to include Community Character, preventing significant Traffic increases, potential Water Flooding issues and other significant adverse impacts caused be a proposed development.  In other words SEQR’s goal, like our local Democratic Party’s original platform, was to look out for the “people”.
SEQR regulations require looking at the “whole action” of a development project including future expansions and land sales while also prohibiting a developer from breaking up a project into smaller parts to hide future expansion plans. . .which FASNY is doing by submitting their latest plan for only 28 acres where all their prior plans were for their full 130 acres.  While common sense tells all of us this Segmentation tactic is wrong. . .unfortunately our elected officials supporting FASNY have been silent on the issue.
In addition SEQR requires Mitigation reductions for Student Enrollment, Traffic and Construction to be “permanent” in order to protect the Public and Community from future developer-caused adverse events. . .not the short-term make-believe cosmetic changes as our FASNY-supporting elected officials have allowed FASNY to submit over the past 6 years.
SEQR regulations also require a developer to prepare and include accurate and complete information in their plans, similar to our own City’s Zoning requirements for developers. . .which unfortunately with all their multiple plan submissions over the past 6 years FASNY was never able to do.  Again all of the FASNY (Editor’s note: alleged) factual inaccurate plans were submitted under the guidance and support of Mayor Roach and Council Members Martin, Kirkpatrick and Smayda.
How else could this FASNY project drag on for 6 years. . .unless it had the support of these elected officials trying to push a “round peg into a square hole” where the rest of us could see it would never fit.
As the City is approaching a final vote we ask all our elected officials, including our FASNY-leaning ones, to reject FASNY’s latest plan. . .that is incomplete. . .that contains no “permanent” caps on Enrollment, Traffic, future land sales, etc. . .that violates WP laws & SEQR regulations. . .has 10-year Construction with Flooding issues in a residential neighborhood. . .and brings extremely dangerous Traffic Safety concerns for WP School Children, Seniors and their families. 
And for Mayor Roach and Council Members Martin, Kirkpatrick and Smayda. . .who stopped listening and showing respect to residents when FASNY appeared 6 years ago. . .we ask you to reconsider your support from FASNY. . .and change back to the core principals of the White Plains Democratic Party as being the “party of the people”.
And stop looking for your personal legacies in all the wrong places. . legacies of turning your backs on your neighbors, the Democratic Party and the law.  If you originally ran for office on the a platform of being the “people’s candidates” who support “neighborhoods” now is the time to follow up on your political promises by rejecting FASNY and supporting the people of White Plains.
Vote “no” on zoning changes and special permits for large developers in residential neighborhoods. . .reject FASNY.
Your Truth Police. . .Team Rhodes
Marie and Ron Rhodes
Posted in Uncategorized

If Senate Bill Passes, NY Forced to Raise Property Taxes–GOVERNOR

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. July 27, 2017:
“The Congressional Budget Office score of the Senate health care bill confirms what we already knew. Republicans in the Senate are choosing to put millionaires over the middle class, cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of the health care of millions of Americans. This bill will leave 22 million more Americans without health care coverage, including 15 million more Americans by next year alone.

“Just like the House bill, this legislation is a death trap for New Yorkers. The Senate bill will jeopardize health care coverage for millions of New Yorkers, raise premiums on the poor and the elderly, and eliminate more than $7 billion for New York’s health care system, including life-saving funding for the fight against the opioid crisis. It also specifically targets New York, threatening to withhold federal tax credits for New Yorkers because of our support for women’s reproductive rights.

“And by including the reckless Faso-Collins amendment, this bill will force every resident of this state to pay a “Faso-Collins Federal Tax” added onto local property taxes to make up the $2.3 billion shortfall created by their proposal.

“Earlier today, I called on our Congressional delegation to do everything within their means to protect this state. With the CBO report confirming the intolerable consequences of this bill, I call on all New Yorkers to make their voices heard and join me in opposing this terrible legislation.”

Posted in Uncategorized




WHITE PLAINS, NY – A gem is defined as a semiprecious stone, especially when cut and polished or engraved. 

Sixty-eight human versions of a gem took part in the YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester annual end of year celebration for Girls Empowered through Meaningful Support (GEMS), on Thursday, June 8.

GEMS, a free program established over 40 years ago, strives to assist African-American and Latina girls in the White Plains community in becoming self-reliant, competent, caring and healthy. It does so by providing relevant engaging activities in the areas of cultural awareness, health and wellness, college and careers, and self-esteem. 

The Gems Program has three components for three distinct age groups: Little Sisters and Big Sisters (grades 1-5); Faize (grades 6-8); and Strivers (9-12 grades).

This year’s ceremony included a video presentation that illustrated all of the activities the girls participated in during the school year.  Some of the activities were coding of aerial drones and a create an app competition. 

A representative from each grade level had the opportunity to talk about some of these activities.  There was even a demonstration of a drone to the delight of the audience of family members and friends.

Co-Directors, Candida Poinsette and Rhonda Brooks looked on with all the pride a parent might have. 

“Each year brings new experiences to prepare them for the future,” said Ms. Poinsette, “It’s our great pleasure to have helped pave the way of opportunity and growth for these young ladies.”

YWCA CEO, Maria Imperial, was so impressed with how the young ladies presented themselves.  In her remarks, she said,

“I am so proud of our Girls Empowered through Meaningful Support girls – they are all women warriors.  The YWCA since our earliest days has been guided by a commitment to young women.  Our mission and vision for social change brings together younger and older women to share ideas, deliberate, advocate and ultimately to celebrate and support each other.  Strong alone, fearless together.”

A highlight of the evening was Keynote Speaker, Brittany “Bre” Scullark, a fashion model and actress.  She urged the girls to stay strong and to be true to themselves.

GEMS receives financial support from the New York State Office of Children & Family Services through the Westchester County Youth Bureau, the St. Faith’s House Foundation, the Jandon Foundation, individual and other corporate supporters.

Registration is limited to girls attending White Plains Public Schools. Enrollment is for the academic year and past participants are given priority registration status. For more information visit www.ywcawpcw.org.


Posted in Uncategorized


2016318wpw 004





2015327wpw 010
White Plains Week  for 6-23 has been posted  the YouTube link is
the whiteplainsweek.com link is


OR www.wpcommunitymedia.org





Posted in Uncategorized


2017910 005

2017910 004




www.whiteplainsweek.com  and








Posted in Uncategorized

White Plains Acting Superintendent on the District Approved Contract with the Teachers and Why it Was Settled in 2 MONTHS


WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. Special to WPCNR. June 21, 2017:

Acting Superintendent of Schools for the White Plains City School District, Dr. Howard Smith, (pictured above) asked by WPCNR how the district and the White Plains Teachers Association came together so quickly on this week’s just-approved contract for two years through June 30, 2019, issued this statement on the contract that was teacher approved by a 411 to 60 (87% in favor) Tuesday:

 ”This was made possible by a mutual acknowledgement from the beginning that each party had goals with regard to the outcome of the process that were important to them.
The District had concerns about maintaining a sustainable rate of growth in the cost of teacher compensation that was proportional to the limited capacity of the District to generate new revenue under the tax cap.
The teachers association wanted to see a highly competitive increase in their compensation.
Both parties worked together to find a creative way of making sufficient funds available to support a competitive total compensation increase in a manner that moderated the long term sustainability implications for the District.
 It was noteworthy that this round of negotiations coincided with the celebration of the 100th year anniversary for the White Plains Teachers Association.
The resulting agreement honored a long tradition of active partnership between teachers as an organized group of professionals and the school district administration in White Plains.”
Posted in Uncategorized

Teachers Accept New 2 Year Contract (through June 2019) 411 to 60. 1% Raise in Step Levels Across all Steps Creates 3% to 5% Raises for Teachers Now on Staff. Teacher Health Care Share Goes up 3/4 of a per cent


WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the White Plains Teachers Association. June 20, 2017:

Kerry Broderick, President of the Teachers’ union of the White Plains School District reports to WPCNR this evening:

“The WPTA membership ratified the (Board of Education) memorandum of agreement today (411-60).  I am grateful to the membership for their confidence in the settlement.  It is a settlement that addresses the concerns and needs of the the WPTA membership and the district, the board and the community.”

The contract approved in voting that began Tuesday afternoon at 4 approved the following arrangements:

The contract is a 2-year contract beginning in 10 days, July 1, 2017. It increases all Step Salary levels 1% and in addition elevates all present teaching staff to the next step level, in their next year.

New teachers beginning July 1st will receive the 1% increase applied across all 20 Step  levels. This raises the salary of a 1st year teacher with a Bachelor of Arts to $56,161 (from $55,605,currently).

Teachers already on staff today will receive 3 to 5% more salary next year, because their status will be raised one step above what they would be eligible for in the previous contract. They get a year’s increase in step pay which they would not have gotten until next year under the previous contract.

The contract increases teachers’ payments of their health insurance portion .75% the next two years from 13.5% this year to 14% beginning July 1, and 14.25%, July 1, 2018.

Asked if pensions were affected by the advancement in the step status of present staff, Dr. Smith explained to WPCNR they were:

“Pensions are determined by a formula based on years of service at the time of retirement in a position covered by the State Retirement System and an average of highest salaries earned by the retiring teacher during their service.  So a teacher’s future pension will increase as a result of step movement on the salary schedule in 2017-18 representing both another year of service and a higher salary.”

The contract  increases teachers’ payments of their health insurance portion .75% from 13.5% this year to 14% beginning July 1, and 14.25%, July 1, 2018.

The cost for the portion of payment a family health  plan the teachers are responsible for is $3,458 , s single plan is $1,544, beginning July 1. On July 1, 2018, those costs go up to $3,672 and $1,639. These shares of currently on staff teachers paying the cost of their health insurance are partially and sometimes completely covered by the effects of the automatic step to the next increased step level they will be receiving, a level of salary  they would not have been eligible for until July 1, 2018.

The contract gives them better compensation than if they chose to continue to work under the Triborough Agreement (in lieu of a contract in place).

One example:  if you have a Master of Arts and are eligible for Step 2 salary, under the new Memorandum of agreement you receive $69,702 beginning July 1. If the Triborough plan is opted for (by rejection of the contract proposal), that M.A. would only receive $69,012. On July 1, 2018, that MA now at Step 2, would be more ahead, because they would receive $73,111  compared to $71,671 under the Triborough agreement.

The  holder of a Masters of Arts now on staff who would reach Step 4 as of July1, 2018 is $2,130 ahead of what they would receive if the Teachers Union votes to turn down the Memorandum of Agreement  The presently on-staff teachers  receive approximately the salary  increase equivalent of one  year more of service under the former contract.


Posted in Uncategorized