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November 2010

Dick Morris is the anti-Thomas Paine

November 14, 2010 - 18:26
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Dick Morris is the anti-Thomas Paine

We strongly protest the giving of an "In the Spirit of Thomas Paine Award" to Dick Morris, the right-wing Republican consultant and pollster, Fox news commentator and author. Mr. Morris' political views are totally opposed to those of Thomas Paine. The award will be given by the Huguenot & New Rochelle Historical Association, on November 17 at the VIP Country Club in New Rochelle, where Morris will be the keynote speaker.

Here are three of Dick Morris' key positions diametrically at odds with those of Thomas Paine.

Mr. Morris and others, aided by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, are flooding our elections with money from the super-rich and corporations, overwhelming our democracy and bringing on a plutocracy. In contrast, Paine is one of the creators of our modern democratic form of government.

Second, Dick Morris supports free markets, smaller government, less regulation and lower taxes, which will result in the dismantling of what remains of our New Deal- created welfare state. On the other hand, over 200 years ago, Paine argued for a welfare state and showed how a progressive tax on inheritance would pay for it.

Speech Topics for Middle School

November 13, 2010 - 07:47
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The elocution or a speech making competition is among the most typical competitions for varsity students. So what are the coolest persuasive speech topics for middle school? Read on in finding it out.

Once I was at school , there would always be this one kid annually inside the annual elocution competition, who would belt out that overdone bit about ‘I Have a Dream'. No offense meant to Martin Luther King or his rather soul stirring speech, but I must admit that it used to get slightly too irritating hearing an analogous thing over and over. And I used to think back then, why don't people give you some original persuasive speech topics for middle school as opposed to the done and dusted ones about coming to bury Caesar and not to praise him?

New Rochelle School Union Shows Fortitude and Futility in Union Negotiations

November 12, 2010 - 19:00
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FUSE.pngEvery employer, including schools, hire folks in similar fashion: Impressive credentials on paper, they interview well and their references check out. Every unionized employer envisions having poor performing employees and because of this, there is always a section in the collective bargaining agreement whereby progressive discipline is in place so that an unsatisfactory employee is warned several times up to and including termination. I have been involved in this process a thousand times in 20 years. Public schools are different, even here in New Rochelle. Since we are not accustomed to firing poor-performing teachers, we don’t even think of doing anything new or different about poor performing teachers. Year after year, principals and senior school administrators endure the cry of parents, students and even their own staff about what to do about these bad teachers. Please note that the overwhelming majority of teachers in our schools are good teachers. I just find it hard to believe that FUSE would honestly say that ALL of the teachers continue to be good after they attain tenure.

WVOX Talk of the Sound Radio Friday 11 AM; Ron Tocci, Former NYS Vet Affairs Commish, City Budget, Sheep, School Safety Issues

November 12, 2010 - 14:43

WVOXLogo.jpgTalk of the Sound Radio will air Friday from 11am to 12pm with your host Talk of the Sound Managing Editor Bob Cox along with Talk of the Sound Editor Matthew Pryce.

PODCAST

This Friday, Talk of the Sound Radio will review of some of the top stories on Talk of the Sound from the previous week. Will have our newsmaker interview. This week we have on Ron Tocci, Former NYS Assemblyman and NYS Commissioner for Veterans Affairs. Tocci will discuss the New Rochelle Veteran's Day service held yesterday in downtown New Rochelle and his controversial remarks on the infiltration of our country by extremist Muslim zealots.. As always, Matthew will run down the Talk of the Sound Community Calendar. We may even get a call from Abdul from Division Street and his "tip of the week".

Sound Shore Medical Center Offers Expanded Imaging Services

November 12, 2010 - 02:53

SSMC (2)

Sound Shore Medical Center (SSMC) marked the beginning of November with a new partnership that enhances its Imaging Services for both inpatients and outpatients. These services are now being provided by New York Radiology Alliance of Bedford Hills, NY. This highly-regarded local company is supported by Virtual Radiologic – a well-respected, national network that provides imaging services to over 1,300 hospitals.

New Rochelle Veteran's Day Ceremony Honor's Our Brave Men and Women Who Served

November 11, 2010 - 13:52
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VeteransDay2010 - 05.jpgThe United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association of the City of New Rochelle held a Veterans Day ceremony this morning at the Veteran’s Memorial Monument, Memorial Plaza, on the corner of Memorial Highway and Main Street.

The sky was a deep blue as Veterans gathered in downtown New Rochelle this morning with not a cloud in the sky. Event organizer Peter Parente made some introductory remarks then introduced WWII Veteran and Chaplain Bill Moye gave the invocation. From memory, the 95 year-old Moye recited a lengthy prayer and gave some brief remarks.

VeteransDay2010 - 09.jpg

Parente then introduced Mayor Noam Bramson who made a stirring speech noting how much the "many" who do not serve owe to the "few" who do and offering this thanks for the men and woman who have served in the military.

VeteransDay2010 - 22.jpg

In Yet Another Gun Incident, New Rochelle Taxi Driver Flees After Being Threatened with Rifle

November 10, 2010 - 20:48
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Taxi - Union Taxi.jpgShortly after midnight last night, a taxi driver responding to a call at 22 Earle Place was confronted by a man holding a rifle. The man ordered the driver out of the car. Rather than comply, the driver got down low in the front seat and drove off, said New Rochelle Detective Captain Joseph Schaller. No shots were fired. The driver works for the Union Taxi Company of New Rochelle.

This is the sixth gun-related incident in New Rochelle over the past two weeks.

The description given to the New Rochelle Police Department is of a male black dresses in a black jacket and black pants. Earle Place is located near Potter Avenue and 5th Avenue in the vicinity of WVOX.

Several drivers at a dispatch for Union Taxi questioned by Talk of the Sound were unaware of the incident. Drivers for other taxi companies were likewise unaware of the incident and upset that they were not being informed of situations that might put them at risk. Two drivers mentioned other incidents which occurred last night involving Union Taxi drivers including a collision in which a driver was injured in the face and a robbery at knifepoint on Hilltop Avenue near Iona College.

Live Blogging: New Rochelle City Budget Presser with Chuck Strome, Howard Ratner

November 10, 2010 - 19:01
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2011 BudgetPresser.jpgCity Manager proposes tax increase is 3.9%, no layoffs, some service reductions.

2011 Proposed Budget (NOTE: This is a 12.9 MB PDF File and may be slow to open/download)

Operating fund expenses decrease $1.38 mm.

Tax Levy increase is less than 1% (similar to Westchester County)

Overall impact of tax increase on property owner's tax bill, including school and county, is less than 1%. City is 18% of all "local" taxes. Average tax bill will go up $113.

Budget meetings

11/16 - Special Meeting on Budget: City Manager Presentation to City Council

11/17 - Special Meeting on Budget: DPW, Development, Smaller Departments Make Presentations to City Council

11/30 - Special Meeting on Budget: Additional Discussion, Q&A from City Council

12/7 - Public Hearing on Budget 7:30 PM

Since August 2008 hiring freeze City has eliminated 57 positions (9% of workforce); 2011 budget eliminates 26 positions.

No new revenue for the City in this budget.

Three major sources of tax revenue for City: Property Tax (down), Mortgage Tax (down), Sales Tax (Up but Reduced)

74% of budget is personnel and 3/4 of that is personnel in core services (Police, Fire, DPW)

Only CSEA (office workers) and Local 663 (DPW) have contracts; all other unions working without a contract.

Impact on Core Services

Operating hours at Hudson Park Beach will be reduced in the summer; beaches closed on Monday and Tuesday, as Westchester County did with Glen Island Park.

Fire Department -- eliminated rescue company, reduced overtime/minimum manning, reduced fire prevention efforts. 6 positions are funded for just 6 months, City applying for SAFER grant to fund those positions for the second half of the year. If the grant is not approved (and last year it was not) then those positions will be eliminated or alternative funding needs to become available.

Police Department -- 189 in 2008 down to 173 in 2011. Suspending Explorer program, GREAT (gang-resistance) program, move away from community policing, great focus on car patrols, losing 7 CSO positions through attrition.

NOTE: Contrary to statements made at the Reform Club meeting last week, the budget does not call for an additional 5 police officers.

Public Works - down 12 positions, reduction in sidewalk cleaning, pot hole repair, storm drain cleaning.

Parks -- Hudson Park closes 2 days a week over the summer

Avalon/IDA Advance. City got $3mm 7 weeks ago for 2010. In 2011, $1.5 will go into Fund Balance.

Reserve Fund is dangerously low, leaves little margin for unexpected expenses, State recommends 5-10% of budget or about $6mm so the reserve is well below the recommended minimum.

QUESTIONS ASKED BY TALK OF THE SOUND

1. Will the issue of Crossing Guards no longer working during the middle of the day due to school district move to full-day K be addressed

City is evaluating alternative methods, expects something by early next year, residents will not see crossing guards working corners where no kids are crossing during the middle of the day.

2. Will the budget impact on the Fire Department cause an increase in response time, put the City's ISO rating in jeopardy?

Fire Commissioner should be the one answering that question but there should be no impact on response time and ISO rating.

3. What about borrowing to pay for pension contribution increases?

The City has no control over pension costs. In 2002, pension contribution was $200,000. In 2010, pension contribution about $9.2 mm, a 4600% increase.

4. What do you say to residents facing not only local tax increases but bonding on water treatment plan (about $600 per household), United Water increase, the 30% of property owners who pay no taxes?

The Public Service Commission ignored the City, gives residents a "double whammy" -- paying for the rate increase and paying through their taxes for the increase in fire hydrant rental fees. City already pays $1mm to have hydrants, the costs of which are not borne by non-tax paying entities. City does not write the Constitution or make the laws regarding who pays taxes.

5. What about pension financing? Risks in that?

Borrowing to pay pension costs is not something we wanted to do. We have to start paying that next year. We're in serious trouble, we need pension reform, cannot borrow forever.

PULL QUOTES:

"Best of a lot of bad choices we had" - Chuck

"We are on the borderline" - Howard

"On multi-year projections, we don't see things getting better" - Chuck

"We're in serious trouble" - Chuck

VIDEO

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 2 of 3

City of New Rochelle Press Release

2011 Proposed Budget Released

New Rochelle, NY – New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome III today released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011. In the face of the worst economic environment since the Great Depression and despite reduced revenues, a diminishing property tax base and large increases in employer pension and health insurance costs, the budget calls for a property tax levy increase of less than one percent. The average homeowner in New Rochelle will see an increase to their tax bill of $113 for the year.

“Our property tax base continues to be the victim of the global mortgage crisis that began in late 2007,” said Strome. “Falling real estate prices have led to a record number of assessment grievances, which in turn has reduced our taxable roll this year by over $9 million. Consequently, our proposed 3.9% property tax rate increase generates no additional tax revenues in 2011.”

Many of the City’s historical major revenue sources, such as sales taxes, mortgage taxes, building permits and State aid, have been negatively impacted by economic conditions, necessitating greater reliance on the local property tax. Additionally, huge increases in employee pension costs set by the State Comptroller, along with lesser increases in health insurance costs, have strained the City’s budget.

“We will continue to aggressively reduce expenditures that we can control, but mandated pension and health cost increases, as well as the havoc caused by the global economy, are areas over which we have no control,” added Strome.

The budget proposes to eliminate 26 full-time positions in 2011 through attrition, for a total of 57, or 9% of the workforce, over the past two years. The budget also calls for reduced operating hours of the Hudson Park beach, a cut in storm drain cleaning and tree trimming services, elimination of funding for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration and the day laborer site, and defers most capital improvements and equipment purchases.

“These are not easy times,” concluded Strome. “The entire City must work together to ensure that the high level of essential services we presently deliver are not materially diminished.”

Copies of the proposed budget are available in the City Clerk’s office, at the New Rochelle Public Library and on the City’s website www.newrochelleny.com/budget The City Council will conduct budget review meetings in November and hold a public hearing on December 7th in advance of the adoption of a tax rate in December.

Developing...

New Rochelle Police Arrest High School Student After Vicious "Bridge" Assault

November 10, 2010 - 00:13
7 comments

NRHS_Bridge.jpgBrandon I. Williams of 278 Lincoln Avenue, 18, was arrested Friday November 5th by New Rochelle Police Department and charged with Assault in the 3rd Degree. Witnesses tell Talk of the Sound that Williams viciously assaulted his girlfriend, punching her repeatedly in the face.

Williams is a student at New Rochelle High School where the incident took place.

Exactly how the police got involved is not clear. Talk of the Sound received a message Friday at about 2:30 PM from a source who listens to the police scanner that the dispatcher had put out a call around 1:30 PM about a "fight on the bridge at the high school". The NRPD Event Report says "How Received: SELF INITIATE" which sounds like the victim called the police. In either case the called is listed as ANONYMOUS. Although it is not clear who called the police, what is clear is that school officials did not call the police.

Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Williams was subdued and taken to the high school main office where he again became violent again at which point Williams was taken by police to the New Rochelle Police Station. While in police custody, Williams became violent a third time, sources say.

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