Gedney Association Concerned About FASNY Tactics prior to Council deliberations on the Environmentally Sensitive designation.


(Editor’s Note: Two weeks ago, March 10, the Gedney Association put out this press release expressing concerns about the latest Common Council action last week, voting 5-2 to keep Ridgeway Country Club Parcel A classified as an “Environmentally Sensitive Site,” requiring the same 5-2 “Super Majority” margin for a positive decision on the alternative site plan the French American School of New York has presented to the Common Council that will be given a public hearing on April 5, one sentence has been deleted from the news release, as inappropriate in the judgment of the editor:)


The Gedney Association, one of a growing list of civic associations opposed to the proposed French American School of New York (FASNY) project today questioned whether a “secret deal” has been made between FASNY and Mayor Roach’s administration and City staff to supports its “alternative plan” to build a new school on the former Ridgeway Country Club property.

According to John E. Sheehan, president of The Gedney Association, concern about a possible “back-room” agreement stems from a letter recently submitted by FASNY’s law firm, Zarin & Steinmetz, that was responded to by Avrutine & Associates, PLLC, the law firm representing The Gedney Association.

The corresponding letters are in reaction to a Stipulation of Settlement reached in September 2016 that resulted from a lawsuit filed by FASNY against Mayor Roach and the Common Council back in September 2015. That lawsuit challenged an earlier decision by the City that denied the discontinuance of a portion of Hathaway Lane and FASNY’s original attempts to secure a special permit and site plan application approval for a school on the site.

As stated in the Avrutine letter: The Zarin letter appears to suggest that a “secret deal” exists between FASNY and the Common Council which is not set forth in the Stipulation of Settlement entered into by the parties. In that regard, Mr. Zarin states that a failure by the Common Council to “delist” Parcel A as an Environmentally Sensitive Site or Feature (hereinafter “ESS”)…“would undermine one of the essential premises of the Stipulation of Settlement that FASNY’s limitation on its reduced Alternative School Plan to Parcel A would only require a majority vote”.

By that statement, Mr. Zarin has taken the position that the Stipulation of Settlement requires (i) that the Common Council “delist” Parcel A as an ESS; and (ii) that it approve the Alternative Plan by a simple “majority vote”. This assertion is particularly alarming because the Stipulation of Settlement sets forth no such “essential premise”.

Instead, it states at paragraph 2(c) that the Common Council shall “determine whether the Alternative Plan is on, involves or affects any ‘Environmentally Sensitive Site or Feature’ as defined in Section 2.4 of the City Zoning Ordinance.”

It in no manner contains a directive that the Common Council “delist” Parcel A. Instead, it requires only that the Common Council consider the issue.

“While we were always suspicious about the Stipulation, given the strong legal position of the City in defending against the FASNY lawsuit, we are nonetheless shocked by the FASNY attorney’s letter suggesting that Mayor Roach made a private agreement with FASNY despite The Mayor’s statements indicating quite the opposite,” Sheehan said. This is deeply troubling and frankly throws the entire Stipulation into question.”

The Avrutine letter also points out FASNY’S veiled threat to the Common Council, should its demands not be met: The Zarin letter also purports to threaten the Common Council with litigation should it not accede to FASNY’s demands.

This cynical attempt to intimidate the Common Council is causing great consternation in the community. It is truly a sad circumstance that FASNY has now degraded the process to the point of attempting to bully the Common Council into approving its ill-conceived project.

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New York State Medicaid Director Details Repeal and Replace Bill Anticipated Affects on New York Medicaid

WPCNR ALBANY  ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Office. March 22, 2017:

Yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held a briefing to discuss the devastating impact that the American Health Care Act and the Collins/Faso Amendment will have on New Yorkers. Following the briefing, New York State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson released a video to explain the significant damage that residents of New York State would face under the proposed Republican health care plan.

In New York, 2.7 million New Yorkers would face substantial loss in their current health care coverage while the quality and availability of health services across the state would be jeopardized.

The reduction in Medicaid spending will have a significant impact on funding for nursing homes, home care, and hospitals, putting 7 million New Yorkers at risk.

Congressmen Chris Collins and John Faso have introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act that would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion. When added to the $4.5 billion cost of the ACHA over the next four years, the total cost to the State would rise to $6.9 billion.

A transcript of State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson’s video is available below.

This act is going to be devastating. 24 million Americans are going to lose health insurance because of this act. 2.7 million of them living in New York State. It’s going to be a massive budget buster for the state of New York, devastating impacts to health care access, and real life implications for thousands- in fact millions of our fellow citizens.

The Collins amendment is really a war on New York and unfortunately it’s being waged by two Republican members of our own congressional delegation. It actually targets New York and only New York with a 2.3 billion dollar cut.

That 2.3 billion dollars, on top of the other cuts already contained in this act, are making this probably the biggest step back in health care access in New York’s history. And as a result of this we are really seeing not only 7 million people who rely on Medicaid and the other programs created under the Affordable Care Act- their health care access threatened, but actually the health care system itself in New York State, that serves 19.5 million New Yorkers.

All of us as New Yorkers—our health care system is now at risk because of that particular action that was taken by those two members of our own congressional delegation.

The best thing to do is call your members of Congress. Send a message that Ryan’s aggressive, radical, conservative agenda is not what we need in New York.

The people who are elected by you, the citizens of New York, to represent you in Congress, should be representing your interests, but unfortunately those who vote for this act, those who vote for this amendment, are not in fact doing that. They’re voting against your interests and you need to make your voice heard and call your representatives in Congress to tell them what you think about this horrific piece of legislation.

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The Case for Gorsuch

WPCNR WASHINGTON WIRE. From the White House. March 21, 2017:

Yesterday, Judge Neil Gorsuch began his 4-day hearing to become the next Justice of the Supreme Court. After months of meeting with 72 Senators from both sides of the aisle and creating a lasting impression on lawmakers and media alike, Judge Gorsuch will finally get his chance to show exactly what kind of asset he will be to our Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch has spent his career fighting for plaintiffs and defendants alike, carefully applying the law to each situation, and staying clear of any kind of politics or favoritism. In 2005, after a successful career as an attorney in private practice, Judge Gorsuch devoted his time to serving his country as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department. There, he continued to serve the needs of the American people in civil litigation.

Several of Judge Gorsuch’s opinions are well known for their style, steadfast commitment to constitutional principles, and the fundamental principle of equal justice for all. In one opinion, he warned, “something distinct, different, and more problematic [is] afoot when the government selectively infringes on a fundamental right.”

President Donald J. Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch because he knew he would embody all the qualities of the late, great, Justice Antonin Scalia; equal justice under the law, steadfast commitment to constitutional principles, and justice aside from people or politics. A strong and knowledgeable Supreme Court is essential to our country’s success. To that end, we must have the most qualified jurists on the bench—people like Judge Gorsuch.


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PRELIMINARY SCHOOL BUDGET: $216 Million, up $7.2 Million with Maybe More School Aid to Come. Assessment Roll Windfall Cash to Fund Construction.

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey March 21, 2017:

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Dr. Howard Smith, Acting Superintendent of White Plains Schools, presented the Superintendent’s Preliminary School Budget Monday evening and with more school aid possible the budget as it stands is at $215,972,750 an increase of $7,222,750, 3.5% over the current year budget of $208,750,000.

The budget at this time figures a 1.75% Tax Rate increase (from $613.74/$1,000 to $624/$1,000 of assessed valuation) .

The actual levy goes up 3.46 %, because of the increased tax revenue from two Payments in Lieu of Taxes properties (Bank Street Commons and 1133 Westchester Avenue) returning to the tax roll.

The amount of new taxes those two properties will pay in new and expected increased taxes in 2017-18 has yet to be calculated by the city finance office.

Tax Rate

The school property tax an individual homeowner would pay on a $650,000 assessed house in White Plains would be approximately 10,180, up from $10,111 in 2016-17. The total Levy however goes up to $176,898,823, thanks to two large PILOTs returning to the Assessment Roll.

A total of $5 Million of the increase is provided by the increased White Plains Assessment Roll which went up 1.7% from $277 Million to $281.6 Million, the $4,730,371 increase is the largest increase in the city assessment role in 19 years.

The Superintendent said the $5 Million increase which he described as fund balance would be used to address a series of construction projects. Asked why the $5 Million wouldn’t be used to hire as many as 50 teachers, Mr. Smith said the same amount of revenue might not be available next year to fund all the teachers that could be hired.

However, a PILOT is a payment in lieu of taxes, so the property that receives a PILOT, actually pays less during the course of the PILOT in proportion if it were a completed project.

Therefore, the assumption on the new tax bill on these two properties still needs to be calculated by the city.  WPCNR  would think it presumably go up in tax year 2017-18, and unless the city gives the properties a tremendous tax break by calculating a value less than the PILOT, one might expect the revenue from these properties would be up considerably, since they are now fully functional.

Unlike school aid ( which has to be spent for a specific purpose) this approximately $5 Million in new money could have been used to lower school taxes in a one time year; pay for projects as they have chosen to do; or deposited in the capital reserve fund established last April by the district; or used to supplement any decrease in school aid in coming years.

School Aid

Whatever the district gets in school aid for next year might increase the budget. Last year the district received $2.2 Million additional school aid from the state budget, the most increase in a single year in 25 years. The district budgets at this preliminary stage, $22.5 Million  in State funds and $50,000 in Federal Aid.

It should be noted that the $5 Million in increased Capital spending is allowed because if revenues go up from sources not from increased taxes, they do not count against the tax cap, according to Timothy Connors. Connors just completed his 5 week stint as Interim Superintendent as Dr. Smith returned to the district last night.

According to Frank Steffanelli, Buildings and Grounds Administrator, $3 to $4 Million of the $5 Million will fund  reroofing the second half of the White Plains High School , installing an intercom and clock system  at the high school and renovation of the auditorium rear wall, and The Church Street School roof.

Cap Compliant, Teachers New Contract to Come Allowed for

The operating budget is increased 1.06%  (cap is 1.26%) ($2,222,750), plus the $5 Million in Capital Projects to equal $215,972,750, a 3.5% increase.

The budget includes the potential cost of the first year of a new teachers contract which expires in June. Dr. Smith said negotiations had not begun yet on a new contract, and the head of the Teachers Union, Kelly Broderick told WPCNR the union and the district are in the process of  establishing preliminary meetings.

The district is hiring 21 new teachers and 4 new Teacher Assistants.

The district is also restructuring Special Education Administration due to the growth in Special Education students.

Elementary school recess programs are being changed to improve the recess experience.

A Bowling Team will be added to the sports choices.

New Security Review 

In the general meeting after the budget presentation, John LaPlaca, Managing Partner of Altraris Emergency Management Group explained how his firm will evalutate security procedures, security equipment, and district personnel preparedness for possible emergencies in all district buildings.

The procedure will cost $50,000 through BOCES, and the district will be reimbursed $10,000 from the State of New York for using the program, Frank Stefanelli told WPCNR. New York State Stefanelli said now requires all districts to file a security plan for all their facilities. Those security plans have to be approved by the state.

The complete presentation can be viewed Thursday evening on the White Plains Education Channel Altice Cablevision Channel 77 or Verizon FIOS Channel 46.




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Governor Cuomo: New York State Medicaid Would Lose $7 Billion Over 4 Years if Repeal and Replace Plan is Passed

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. Statement from the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on the Repeal and Replace Act (Edited) March 20, 2017:

“The Repeal and Replace Act would block grant money to the state in the name of local flexibility but at the same time it would dramatically cut that funding. Over four years New York State would lose $4.6 billion and lose at least $2.4 billion a year by fiscal year 2020.

If this were not bad enough Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman John Faso have offered an amendment that would stop the counties from paying a share of Medicaid.

Historically, the federal government paid 50 percent, the state paid 25 percent, and local governments – counties – paid 25 percent. The state has already absorbed much of that burden, but even so the reduction to the program from the loss of the counties’ share outside of New York City is $2.3 billion.

The cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in Upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated. How a county executive could believe their county could prosper while losing hundreds if not thousands of jobs and seeing the decimation of their health care system is beyond me.
“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets. The repeal and replacement is exactly what the Trump Administration promised that they would not do. It is the classic Republican program referred to during Reagan’s time as “passing the buck without passing the bucks.” Congressman Paul Ryan and the radical conservatives are having their way. Congressman Ryan brags about “cutting entitlements by billions of dollars.”

That is precisely what he is trying to do to New York’s Medicaid program. The conservatives have long lamented that New York’s Medicaid program was “too generous.” They scoffed at our health care proposal that provided dental care and one conservative even said when questioned about the denial of dental benefits, “soup is good.”

“Congressmen Collins and Faso are calling their amendment a “tax savings plan for the county.” Really it’s a deathtrap as there is no way to make up the shortfall. The Upstate New York and Long Island economy will falter or collapse if the health sector is damaged.  

“It would be nice if Congressmen Collins and Faso actually tried to help their districts rather than hurt them. These health care cuts are on top of a dizzying array of cuts to real New Yorkers.

The Republican budget cuts housing assistance, food stamps, heating projects, community development funds – all at the expense of the middle class and working families – while they cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

They won’t get away with it. They can’t play New Yorkers as fools and New Yorkers will remember. The bill for Congressmen Collins and Faso’s rabid conservative zealotry will be paid by Upstate New York’s hard working families, and those families will know exactly who to thank.”

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Children of Undocumented immigrants in Westchester County Expected to be Left in Westchester if the Parents are deported.

WPCNR COUNTY-CLARION-LEDGER. From Catherine Borgia, Westchester County Legislator. (Edited) March 20, 2017:

“There are approximately 60,000 undocumented immigrants that live in Westchester County, most of them are the parents of US citizen children,” added Carola Bracco, Executive Director, Neighbors Link. “To have these parents live in fear of deportation has a profound negative effect on their children’s ability to succeed academically and emotionally.  If parents are deported, we know from the Migration Policy Institute that most of these parents will leave their children in the United States. Westchester County will be faced with a significant challenge and cost to ensure these children, mostly US Citizens, thrive without their parents,” concluded Bracco.

Bracco made the remarks last Friday, where close to a hundred direct service care providers from all over Westchester County convened at a meeting of the Board of Legislators Families Task Force to learn more about how to best serve their immigrant communities.

“We created our task force to work on issues that have a large impact on Westchester County’s families and in light of what is happening to our immigrant brothers and sisters, we felt this was a needed workshop to host,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia, who has recently introduced the Immigrant Protection Act, a bill that would restrict the use of County funds to assist in federal immigration enforcement. “Thank you to all of the panelists who joined us and shared their expertise. I, as well as many others who attended, learned a great deal of new information and best practices that we can work to institute. Westchester County is a welcoming community and we all must work together to ensure it stays that way,” added Borgia.

Professor Vanessa Merton of John Jay Legal Services emphasized: ”By far the most effective way for Westchester County to ensure the just and accurate treatment of all its noncitizens – those with various types of visa as well as those who are nondocumented – is to help make competent, ethical legal representation available to those who cannot otherwise obtain it.  Without quality representation for immigrants, the federal government will continue to break its own law and make terrible mistakes that destroy the lives of those qualified for and deserving of lawful status in this country.”


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Adolf Hitler’s First Three Months.

WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. March 18, 2018:

According to the book, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ADOLF HITLER by Robert Payne, Adolf Hitler’s first moves after assuming power in Germany were:

  1. He eliminated 7 clauses in the German Constitution, eliminating privacy of postal,telegraphic and telephone communications, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of the press, freedom to hold one’s own opinions and the right to be secure from arrest.
  2. All State Governments were taken over by National Socialists(the Nazi Party), officials of the governments were arrested.
  3. Trade Union leaders and officials were arrested.
  4. The Ministry of Enlightment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels was formed. It controlled the press, publishing, radio, motion pictures and entertainment.
  5. He established Special Courts to try political offenders with no jury and no legal representation.
  6. He gave government power to arrest people for malicious criticism of government and the party.
  7. He persuaded President Von Hindenberg to sign Article 2, “Law for the Relief of the Distress of the People and the Reich, that according to author Payne, “The Laws decreed by the Reich government can deviate from the Reich Constitution in so far as they do not apply to the institution of the Reichstag.Article 2 meant that Hitler’s laws could deviate  from the German constitution whenever he pleased.

Payne writes, “All through the (first) year …where previously he had spoken of himself with a certain modesty, now he permitted his ego free rein and celebrated himself with fervor, luxuriating in the absolute power…in three months, all that was free and generous now vanished at his orders, and there came into existence a harsh mechanical world of senseless commands and equally senseless punishments. Only one enthusiasm was permitted—enthusiasm for Hitler. What was strange and ominous was that few people protested.”


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County Airport Lease Review Process Explained by County Legislator

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators. March 18, 2017:

At a recent Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, Legislators met with Doreen Frasca, Ken Cushine and their staff from Frasca & Associates, LLC.

Frasca is a Transportation Consulting and Financial Advisory firm which was hired by Westchester County to conduct a Request For Proposals (RFP) to select a new private operator for Westchester County Airport. In public-private partnerships, Frasca works exclusively for the municipal entity.
Frasca & Associates has expertise in lease negotiations for facilities with airlines and other airport tenants and developing public/private partnerships. Frasca was selected from 12 firms who responded to a preceding RFP to conduct the search for a private operator at the county airport. The firm was chosen by the Westchester County Airport Advisory Task Force.

The Airport Task Force will continue to work with Frasca and the County Executive’s Office as the RFP process continues.

Frasca proposed a bifurcated RFP that would contain an explanation of each firm’s technical capabilities and expertise. Those firms whose capabilities match the technical requirements for a private partnership will then be evaluated based on their financial proposals.
During the COW meeting, Frasca presented a plan to solicit proposals from possible private operators. The proposed schedule envisions a deadline for responses to the RFP around the middle of July.

The date for Westchester County to choose an operator would then fall in mid-September. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would then review the final lease- a process that takes at least 75 days. By Frasca’s estimate, contingent on a timely FAA review, Westchester County could have a deal in place with a new private operator by the end of November 2017.
Following the meeting, Legislator David Gelfarb, in whose Legislative District the Westchester County Airport is located said, “As always, I expressed my concern about the impact of a possible transaction on the neighboring communities. I am especially concerned about increased traffic, noise and water pollution, and the impact on the overnight curfew and of new capital projects. I also want to ensure that the neighboring communities are given an opportunity to be heard and to meet with the County’s financial advisor. Lastly, I am concerned that there is real competitive bidding, that the transaction be financially fair and beneficial and that the length of the contract be fair to the County.”
Legislator Francis Corcoran, serves as a member of the three member Airport Advisory Task Force and has been working in the financial/capital markets arena for 30 years. “With tens of millions of dollars in revenue virtually trapped at the county airport because of FAA regulations I believe the County’s proposal to partner with a private company to unlock those airport revenues for general budget use is a smart and resourceful plan.” Corcoran said. “There aren’t a lot of companies with the experience, expertise and capital to take on a partnership of this scope and length. I look forward to hearing the proposals that result from this RFP.”

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Board of Education Elections: Call for Petitions

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the City School District. March 17, 2017:

The Annual White Plains Board of Education Budget Vote and Election will take place on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Noon to 9 P.M., at six voting districts.

Two Board seats will be up for election, each with a three-year term of office, beginning July 1, 2017.

Candidates must be United States citizens, 18 years of age or more and residents of White Plains for at least one year.  Petitions are available from Michele Schoenfeld, District Clerk, at 5 Homeside Lane.  They must be signed by 100 qualified voters and returned by April 26th.

Registration, for qualified voters new to the City, or those who are not registered to vote in general elections, will take place on Saturday, April 29th, Noon to 5 P.M., at Mamaroneck Avenue School, Nosband Avenue.  A resident who has moved within White Plains during the last year may also change his/her voting address at that time.

Absentee ballots will be available by application to the District Clerk, for any voter who will not be in White Plains during the hours of the election.

For further information, please call 422-2071.

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