The Backrooms of White Plains:

Bill Ryan doing "light calling" to District Leaders, says he will return to Legislative seat if not selected, squashes "powerful brother in the union" rumor.

CSEA pushed Ryan to Mayoralty informally for over a year.
CSEA tested Ryan's candidacy in February 2001, shared results with Ryan, suggested he run.

Legislator Ryan, with CSEA support, used survey to make up mind to run.

White Plains Democratic Committee requested and paid for copy of CSEA "Ryan" Survey "for its use" prior to April 10, 7 days prior to telling CSEA to stay out of nominating process yesterday.

CSEA had several conversations with head of Democratic City Committee in late March discussing Ryan candidacy. Committee paid for copy of Survey.

By John F. Bailey, Interviews with Bill Ryan and Jason Haenel of CSEA Southern Region

CityLine -- April 18, 2001 -- WPCNR NewsLines

PCNR contacted Bill Ryan on the eve of the Democratic Committee District Leader vote Wednesday, and in answering our questions Ryan said he was "Pretty confident about it (the vote)."

He said he was making "very light" phone calls to district leaders to reaffirm his support.

"I've been trying to keep it on the high road, " he said, "and trying to explain to them we can win the election. I've heard a lot of stuff being moved out there that is untrue. It could have been kept at a much higher level. I think I'm going to win this tomorrow night. And if not, I will run for my Board seat, and make every effort to win it."

Some of the "stuff being moved out there," is the report that Mr. Ryan had a brother involved in a big New York State union which was supporting his run to promote union agendas. Mr. Ryan told WPCNR today that he has four brothers, none of whom work for a union. He also said he has no other relatives who are in any way in position to influence union support in New York.

His brother Jim Ryan works in an administrative position at BOCES in Rockland County. Joe Ryan is employed at the Bear Mountain Bridge Authority. Robert Ryan is a CPA in Eastham, Massachusetts, and Michael Ryan is a manager with CSX Transportion, the railroad.

Bill Ryan currently holds his County Legislature seat and works for Assemblyman Sam Coleman of Rockland County handling Intergovernmental Relations, as part of his official position of Legislative Associate to State Assembly Majority Leader, Sheldon Silver. Mr. Silver's Press Relations Office reports Mr. Ryan is paid $54,881 a year, for this position, which WPCNR was advised by Mr. Ryan's wife, Jo Ann at Mr. Ryan's fundraiser, as consisting of writing legislation for Assemblyman Silver's office and liaison work for Assemblyman Coleman on issues. Ryan spends approximately 3 days a week in Albany working for Mr. Silver and Mr. Coleman.

CSEA ignited Ryan Mayoral run.

Though Mr. Ryan does not have a brother "big in the union," he has earned union support from the Civil Service Employees Union, based on his willingness to involve himself in union issues and listen, according to a CSEA official.

According to Jason Haenel, Political Action Consultant, Political Action Coordinator of the Civil Service Employees Association Southern Region II, the CSEA was very concerned about the White Plains Mayoralty situation at the beginning of this year. Haenel said the CSEA was concerned specifically about the tone of the negotiations between the Delfino Administration and the city CSEA workers, recently concluded in mid-2000. The Southern Region office is responsible for union issues, relations, and positions in 7 counties, of which Westchester is one. Haenel sees the White Plains situation as heavily influencing how other counties treat union issues.

Haenel said the CSEA had been talking to Legislator Ryan informally for over a year about his possibly running for Mayor, first raising the possibility with him last spring. Haenel reports to WPCNR the CSEA has been very impressed with Ryan's work with the CSEA and Westchester County in finding solutions on several County/CSEA issues.

Haenel credits Ryan with being instrumental in forming the Westchester County Labor Committee to bring up union issues and worker issues with the County Board of Legislators. CSEA gives Ryan full credit for mediating the issue of privatization of the Westchester County Medical Center when the CSEA and the county government were at an impasse. The CSEA, he said, appreciated Ryan's appearances on picket lines when the CSEA had issues with the state.

Haenel said Ryan's ability to bring parties together and create an atmosphere for discussion and settlement was what appealed to the union about him as a Mayoral candidate. Haenel said the CSEA hit upon Ryan as a candidate possibility, due to the chilly labor relations with White Plains City Hall. Haenel said that the union was not all about wages only, but there are many workplace situations and issues that need to be addressed with any administration in any of the counties the CSEA is responsible for. CSEA, he said has some 2,000 members who live in White Plains, while the number of CSEA members employed by the City of White Plains is approximately 400 persons.

CSEA shared survey with Ryan, urged him to run.
Discussed results with Adam Bradley, Democratic Committee head.

In January, CSEA decided to survey Ryan's actual Mayoral prospects, according to Haenel. The union used their own in-house Civil Service Employees Political Action Fund Call Center, located in Albany to conduct the city survey in early February, 2001. Haenel said the survey was designed for internal use, and was not requested by the White Plains City Democratic Committee.

After sharing the results of this survey with Mr. Ryan in early March, Mr. Haenel said the CSEA again urged him to run for Mayor based on its results. Apparently the results were successful with Ryan declaring for Mayor the week of March 17. Haenel also reports that in late March he had conversations with Adam Bradley, Chair of the White Plains Democratic Committee about the Mayoral Survey.

Mr. Haenel also said that the Democratic Committee purchased this survey from the CSEA in late March, since the CSEA is prohibited by election law from performing such a service for political parties.

Contacted today by WPCNR, Mr. Bradley confirmed he had conversations with the CSEA about the survey in late March as Mr. Haenel reported.

Bradley, though, emphasized he had neither shared the survey contents in any way with members of the Nominating Committee nor given it to the Nominating Committee before they made their decision to nominate Ryan April 4. It should be noted though that since the survey was shared with Mr. Ryan, that Mr. Ryan's Campaign Treasurer, Howard Glassman, could be assumed to have knowledge of the contents of the survey. Mr. Glassman is the Chairman of the Democratic Party Nominating Committee.

A letter from Francine Turner, Director, Legislative and Political Action, for the CSEA,.obtained by WPCNR, acknowledges and confirms that the White Plains Democratic Party had ordered a copy of the White Plains Mayoral Survey, sometime prior to April 10.

Was survey conducted?

WPCNR requested proof from Haenel that the survey was actually undertaken. Mr. Haenel faxed raw data sheets created by the computer at the time the tests were taken, as well as a page of running data counts created as the survey was being conducted. He also produced the letter confirming payment of a substantial sum (which Mr. Haenel refused to disclose), for the survey by the White Plains Democratic Committee, indicating that the Committee felt the information was genuine.

Mr. Haenel said telephone billing data was not readibly available, and full accounts of the raw data sheets were in Albany and could not be forwarded to WPCNR for two months.

The contents of the survey and how it was conducted.

Haenel provided to WPCNR selected pages from what is titled "The City of White Plains Mayoral Election Survey," dated February 26, 2001.

Survey Method:

The Civil Service Employees Political Action Fund Call Center contacted 498 "likely voters" residing in the City of White Plains from February 12, 2001 through February 24, 2001 during the hours of 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday.

The "likely voters" were selected from registered voters from the Board of Elections based on Westchester County 5th (Ryan's District), 7th and 8th Legislative Districts voting in the November 2000 elections in White Plains election districts. The number of voters surveyed in each District Area, according to Haenel, reflected the actual voter turnout in each County Legislative District. Sampling was random and not based on ethnicities, which are not available on Board of Elections records, according to Haenel.

A total of 9% of the sample voted in the 7th County District; 16% sampled voted in the 8th County District; and 75% voted in Ryan's 5th District. The introduction of the survey claims "responses from each area accurately reflect the anticipated voter turnout both geographically, and by party."

The First Question asks voters to name their three most important issues facing residents in White Plains. Findings of the limited survey were that 28% listed "developing the downtown area" as their First Priority concern; 21% listed Education as their first and 14% listed City Property Tax as their First Priority Concern.

The Second Question asked how persons felt about White Plains' future, to wich 36% said they were optimistic,and 30% "Somewhat Encouraged." A total of 25% surveyed said they were "Somewhat Discouraged," with 8% saying they were "Pessimistic."

Question 3 asks "How would you characterize the pace of progress in White Plains?" 47% choose "Plodding," 29% chose "Steady," and 16% chose "Stopped." "Rapid" was chosen by only 5%.

Question Six asked "Much time and effort have been spent on the revitalization of downtown White Plains. Would you rate the results as excellent, good, fair or poor?" 3% chose "Excellent." 19% chose "Good." 33% chose "Fair." A total of 44% chose "Poor."

Another question asked asked was what parties the voters felt was responsible for "the Town Center Revitalization situation?" (This actual question was not complete on the copy we received.) The question listed the following choices as blamed by the respondents:

The Mayor: 31%
The Common Council: 30%
The Developer: 18%
Don't Know: 06%

Regarding election choices, Question 12 asked: "If the election for Mayor of White Plains were held today, and the candidates were Republican Joe Delfino and Democrat Bill Ryan, for whom would you vote?" (Today was between February 12 and February 24, 2001)

The results were categorized as follows:

Strongly Support Delfino: 30%
Somewhat Support Delfino: 12%
Lenaing Delfino: 02%
Undecided: 10%
Somewhat Support Ryan: 16%
Strongly Support Ryan: 26%

Totals: Joe Delfino: 42%
Bill Ryan: 42%
Undecided: 13%
Refused 4%

Question 14 asked, "If the election for Mayor of White Plains were held today, and the candidates were Republican Joe Delfino and Democrat Bob Greer, for whom would you vote?

The results of this question:

Strongly Support Delfino 33%
Somewhat Support Delfino 12%
Leaning Delfino 1%
Undecided 13%
Leaning Greer 1%
Somewhat Support Greer 13%
Strongly Support Greer 24%

The Totals:
Joe Delfino 45%
Bob Greer 37%
Undecided 14%
Refused 3%

Percentage of the ages of the respondents:

Survey Results
Actual Breakdown
18-29 ---- 2%
30-39 --- 8%
50-59 -- 22%
60-69 -- 19%
70+ -- 29%
Refused -- 3%

The Race/Ethnicity of those surveyed as expressed by those surveyed:

White/Caucasian -- 80%
African-American -- 10%
Hispanic -- 2%
Asian -- Less than 1%
Other -- 4%
Refused -- 4%

Question 18 asked how long the person surveyed had lived in White Plains. Results showed 23% had lived in White Plains 5 to 15 years; 16%, 16 to 25 years; and 58% of the telephone responders had lived in White Plains over 25 years.

Question 19 asked if any member of the household a member of a labor union, and 23% said they were; 76% surveyed were not union-affiliated.

Question 21 asked Party Affiliation and the breakdown was:

Democrat 47%
Republican 34%
Blank 17%
Independence 1%
Conservative 1%

Mr. Hoenal said he did not send the entire survey to WPCNR because other questions dealt with internal union issues.

WPCNR is attempting to get a breakdown of the survey makeup by election districts as to parts of town and hopes to have an analysis of that shortly.

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