August 2008

Mount Vernon Tramples Upon Parents "Free Speech" Rights

August 31, 2008 - 23:23

The Mount Vernon Board of Education has responded to an incident involving criticism from irate parents, unhappy about poor performing schools, by suspending their First Amendment rights to free speech and their right to petition their government on the specious grounds that children might be harmed by "cursing" and harsh tones or loud noises.

The Journal News reports:

The city school district has released a new set of rules for public participation at Board of Education meetings that ask the public to fill out speaker cards, end a custom of sharing minutes, and warn speakers about disruptive or rude behavior.

The Board of Education announced the revised policy at a work session and special meeting Wednesday. Board president Charles Stern said the changes were aimed at making meetings more orderly and setting a better example for young people.

Georgia Governor Removes Board of Ed Members for Violating State Open Meetings Act

August 31, 2008 - 23:14

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

A new member of the beleaguered Clayton County school board accused his colleagues of meeting illegally Friday, the same secrecy that led Gov. Sonny Perdue to remove four other members.

On Thursday, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked Clayton schools’ accreditation, citing a dysfunctional board, among other reasons. Perdue removed the four members hours later for violating the state Open Meetings Act and state code of ethics.

‘I can’t participate in an illegal meeting,’ said King, an attorney sworn in to the District 4 seat earlier this week. ‘SACS was concerned about deceptive tactics, and we need to put a stop to that.’

New Rochelle Schools Implement "User Tax" on Cash Strapped Parents

August 31, 2008 - 18:10

What began as a way for teachers to apprise students of what supplies they would need for the upcoming school year has morphed into what amounts to a hidden, regressive "user tax" presented under the guise of "community supplies". Gone are the days when parents bought notebooks and pencils for their child along with new shoes and a lunch box. Parents are now expected to collectively pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to provide supplies such as cleaning fluid, paper towels, pencils and paper and the deliver them, no questions asked, to schools with no system in place to track inventory or prevent theft.

District 6 Council of Neighborhood Associations

August 31, 2008 - 00:28

Through the District 6 Council of Neighborhood Associations, I meet quarterly with representatives of the neighborhood associations within the District. I would like to exchange ideas with representatives of the entire District at these meetings. However, there appear to be areas which do not have neighborhood associations and are not represented If you would like to participate, and your neighborhood is not among those listed below, please let me know. If you would like to form a neighborhood association, please contact Richard Sosis, President of the District 6 Council, at 632-5151

Residential Traffic-Calming Program

August 31, 2008 - 00:27

We all know that speeding on local streets adversely affects the quality of life in our neighborhoods. In 2007, the first year of the competition for the City’s new traffic-calming program, one of our District 6 neighborhoods was selected as the first of two neighborhoods in our City to participate. It is the area sometimes called Huguenot Lake, which is located “behind” New Rochelle High School, and includes Clove Road, Parcot, Otsego and Flandreau Avenues, and Argyll Avenue. The neighborhood’s application to participate ranked highest on the application criteria evaluated by our independent traffic consultants. By the time of this writing, the consultant has met with neighborhood representatives, designed proposed modifications to the streets, met with a large group of neighborhood residents to review the proposal, and prepared further proposed changes based on the neighbors’ responses.

Wykagyl Shopping Center

August 31, 2008 - 00:26

The owner of the Wykagyl Shopping Center has applied to the Planning Board for approval of an addition to the Center. The proposal would expand the building behind the Houlihan Lawrence office and Big Top and add a second story in that area. The Zoning Code permits an expansion to the size and height of the building, provided the property owner satisfies numerous requirements, including adequate parking, prescribed setbacks from adjacent properties and roads, emergency access, loading docks, mitigation for adverse traffic impacts, and architectural compatibility (based upon the analysis of the Professional Architectural Review Committee). The Planning Board has jurisdiction over the application to require modification to comply with requirements and/or approve subject to conditions necessary to reduce impacts, or reject the plan. While as a Council Member I have no role in the Planning Board’s determination, I am concerned about the impacts of the proposal.

Dickerman’s Pond

August 31, 2008 - 00:26

You may not have known it was there, but the heavy construction equipment at Pinebrook Boulevard just north of the Quaker Ridge Road overpass indicates the location of Dickerman’s Pond. (Dickerman was the owner of the farm later sold to theWard family who renamed it Hillanddale Farm.) The project now under way consists of removing invasive weeds and silt from the Sheldrake River and the pond area, planting grasses and other natural water-friendly plants, and improving water quality and flow. A forebay will be constructed to trap debris and to be accessible for regular cleaning. Funded by the County, the result will be an visually and environmentally improved natural-looking pond area.

Tax Relief

August 31, 2008 - 00:26

Rising tax bills are a major concern to all of us. Each of us as homeowners may take advantage of the Small Claims Assessment Review program to have our own property assessments reduced. Since our taxes are calculated based on the tax rate per $1,000 of our assessment, if your property is assessed at an amount which does not reflect its accurate current market value, the Board of Assessment Review can reduce your assessment. I urge all taxpayers in District 6 to consider whether they should apply for a reduction in assessment this year. Take a look at your most recent tax bill and note the full market value shown. This has been calculated based on the residential assessment ratio and your home’s assessment. If it seems too high, you may ask the City’s Assessor’s office at 654-2054 or for the application forms, or contact a local real estate broker who will represent you at a fee which is usually a percentage of your first year’s tax savings.

Greetings from Marianne Sussman

August 31, 2008 - 00:25

Dear Residents of District 6:

Thank you for re-electing me last year to serve as your representative on City Council by a vote of 65%. I appreciate the opportunity to continue to participate in the important decisions which are shaping the present and future of New Rochelle.

The rest of this newsletter relates to downtown, waterfront and citywide news, but here I take pleasure in addressing matters of special interest and concern to the residents of our Council District, the issues upon which I focus a large part of my day-to-day work. They range from emergency services to traffic safety to park development and protection, to new developments in our area and, above all, the protection of the beauty and quality of life of our neighborhoods.

Please let me know your thought on these, or any other, city issues by contacting me at MarianneSussman or at 740-7385.


Marianne Sussman
City Council Member
District 6

Behind the Scenes

August 31, 2008 - 00:03

While I am actively working as an advocate for my neighbors, many times I work behind the scenes to benefit our community. I recently met with representatives of the New York State Department of Transportation to expedite the reopening of the Division Street entrance to the train station, as part of my continuing effort to ease traffic congestion in the vicinity of the train station. I also communicated with residents near the McDonalds on North Avenue to quash an effort by the owner to convert that location to a 24 hour drive-thru. I have worked with many residents to arrange for street repairs, street light repairs, and the improvement of a host of municipal services. Working behind the scenes for residents of District 5 is as important as public advocacy for the needs of our residents.