December 2009

All About ICLEI: Part I

December 02, 2009 - 19:45

This is Part I in a 7-part series "All About ICLEI"

In March 2009, Mayor Bramson announced that New Rochelle would participate in a pilot program with ICLEI.

Earlier this year, the premier international umbrella organization for sustainable communities, called ICLEI, announced an exciting initiative: a handful of cities throughout the nation would be selected through a competitive process to work with ICLEI staff to craft local versions of New York City’s PlaNYC.

New Rochelle City budget to be Discussed

December 02, 2009 - 19:34

New Rochelle City Budget to be Discussed


The New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club will meet on Thursday December 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion Post 8, 112 North Avenue,  second floor.  Guest speakers will be Howard Rattner, Commissioner of Finance, and Chuck Strome, City Manager, who will explain the 2010 New Rochelle City budget.  A question and answer period will follow.  Refreshments will be served.  There is free parking across the street at the Mormon Church lot.

New Rochelle Board of Education Votes to Begin Litigation Against Vito Costa

December 02, 2009 - 19:26

vitocosta-before-after.jpgThe New Rochelle Board of Education voted unanimously last night to begin litigation against Vito Costa and A 2 Z Heating and Air Conditioning and V & M Vending, two companies controlled by Costa.

Costa is now facing up to 7 years in prison after he was arrested in August and charged with Grand Larceny and Falsifying Business records, a story first reported here on Talk of the Sound in June.

New Rochelle School District HVAC Employee Under Investigation?

BREAKING NEWS: Finally, An Arrest of a New Rochelle School Employee

The resolution passed by the board last night authorizes lawyers to recover all amounts owing due to abscence from work to pursue unauthorized personal business done during work hours, and to recover all amounts owing due to business down with the School District through entities owned and/or controlled by Mr. Costa.

On the criminal side, Costa is currently scheduled for conference with prosecutors on February 17, 2010.

New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound Hits 150,000 Visitors!

December 02, 2009 - 18:31

We hit another big milestone this morning: 150,000 readers! Thanks folks. Keep coming back and help spread the word! One way you can do that is to email links to our stories rather than the entire story. I would note here that it took us a year to get to 100,000 readers but only a few months to get to 150,000 readers. All good stuff.

Back in August we announced plans to require registration in order to comment. At the time I wrote:

The effect, however, of allowing only registered users to comment is an initial drop in comments and traffic. My experience is an 80% drop in comments and 20% in traffic -- initially. After a few months comments will surpass the previous numbers and traffic will jump.

City Finances in "Precarious" Sitaution, Says New Rochelle Finance Chief

December 01, 2009 - 22:56

As the City Council debated a recommendation to increase taxes in order, in part, to increase the City's fund balance, City Finance Chief Howard Rattner told the City Council today that New Rochelle was in a "precarious" position and that any decrease in the fund balance below current levels risks drawing the attention of credit ratings agencies which could ultimately lead to a downgrade of the City's ratings.

City Manager Charles Strome told the City Council that the current fund balance is only about half of the recommended amount so there is no cushion in the event of unexpected expenditures.

Mayor Bramson said fund balance was at an exceptionally low level.

Councilmen Trangucci, Tarantino and St. Paul advocated for foregoing any increase to the fund balance and using that money for property tax relief for residents. St. Paul went further, pointing out that under the City Charter the City is required to keep only $300,000 in the fund balance.

I figure readers may want to weigh in on this and I do not have all the details so I invite readers who do know about this to weigh in and be heard.

One Year After New Rochelle High School Stabbing, Danger Persists

December 01, 2009 - 16:30

In has now been more than a year since the stabbing incident at New Rochelle High School and the school district has still not answered questions about the incident in which a student was stabbed twice and ended up in the hospital. The attacker was arrested by New Rochelle Police.

In a call to parents the day of the stabbing, New Rochelle High School principal Don Conetta send out a reverse voicemail to parents in which he sought to downplay the incident, failing to mention the exact nature of the attack (a stabbing) or that a student was under arrest.

Don Conetta phone call to parents on November 24, 2008

In the call to parents, Conetta encouraged parents to call with any questions but Conetta has pointedly refused to answer questions from this parent about the incident. My son was a student at the high school at the time of the incident.

Asked about this a week after the incident, Conetta stated that he would not answer any questions until after he had completed his investigation, a direct contradiction of this offer to parents on the day of the incident.

Talk of the Sound with Good Morning Westchester with Bob Marrone on WVOX 1460

December 01, 2009 - 14:27

wvox logo.tiff

I appeared on WVOX 1460's Good Morning Westchester with Bob Marrone today. The segment ran for 8 minutes. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

UPDATE: The segment went well enough that Bob Marrone asked me back for this coming Friday at 7:50 AM. Hope you will tune in later this week. Bob says next time we will talk about some of the stories on Talk of the Sound and my views on the New Rochelle school district.

City Manager Charles Strome's Country Club Biggest Tax Delinquent in New Rochelle, Over Half-Million Dollars

December 01, 2009 - 13:40

The Greentree Country Club, which counts New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strome among its most prominent members, owes more than half-million dollars in back taxes and interest making it by far the single biggest tax delinquent in the City of New Rochelle. The Greentree owes $503,905.18 on its property at 538 Davenport Avenue. The amount represents about one-tenth of all back taxes owed in New Rochelle, sources say.

PDF FILE: Greentree Country Club Tax FIle

The Greentree was recently cited by the City for holding an illegal, for-profit event which generated many hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for event organizers who are facing fines of a few thousands dollars. It is illegal for the beach clubs on Davenport Neck to sell tickets to events. The event was the third illegal event held at the Greentree over the past year.

Cookie Criminals Invade Ward School

December 01, 2009 - 02:19

Cakes at Ward copy.jpg

At least one evil purveyor of sweets will be peddling their wares at the Ward School this weekend at the school's upcoming Christmas Boutique. Cakes are well-known to be a "gateway sweet" which can lead kids to consume hardcore sweets like cookies, pies and cupcakes.

Meanwhile, the same Ward PTA that is going to selling cakes, cookies and pies at the school has issued its wellness guidelines which prohibit parents and children from brining cakes, cookies and pies to the school.

The Ward School Administration has developed Wellness Guidelines for School Food and Snacks in an effort to improve the health of our children.

Greentree Country Club and Steiner Exec Socked with Large Fines for Illegal Yankee Event with A-Rod

December 01, 2009 - 01:26

strome.jpgTalk of the Sound has confirmed that the Greentree Country Club and its owner Michael Grannmas along with a senior executive of Steiner Sports Marketing are facing up to $5,000 in fines for holding an illegal for-profit at the beach club on November 14th. The event was organized by Steiner's Last Licks Ice Cream company which sold tickets to autograph sessions with current Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain along with Yankee manager Joe Girardi as well as former greats David Wells, David Cone and Don Larsen.

Greentree and Steiner were cited for violating City Code Section 331-45 D which applies to membership clubs in the R1-WF-10 Waterfront Residence District and ordered to appear in New Rochelle City Court on November 24th. The code prohibits the use of the beach clubs including Greentree Country Club for "an activity commonly conducted as a business".