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Warren Gross's blog

"Facts" In And Of Themselves, Are Not Enough -- You Need Acceptance

March 07, 2012 - 19:03
2 comments

I am having a drawn out "debate" with a fellow blogger named "Tim Knows." It has become totally unproductive and, from my viewpoint, it needs to end and so it will now.

But, it raises a fundamental question that separates some of us from others in Talk of the Sound and this is worth airing. The question relates to whether being optimistic, hopeful, even trusting is analogous to being naive, not realistic, even perhaps harmful. I have noticed that it goes far beyond where a useful debate should go and becomes ugly and actually even masks what are substantive areas of agreement and distorts these into areas that are divisive and ugly.

Tales From The Far Side -- Forest City Story

February 28, 2012 - 17:19

I cannot let go of this story and none of you should do either. It represents both sound government and an organization, Forest City, that appears so venial and grasping, that both the development and management of our City and its moral imperative is threatened.

There are existing blogs on TOTS namely "Bribes, Intimidation, etal" and "Contemplating the Roles of Development, etal" that will give you a background into the continuing story of Forest City and its relationships to communities and, potentially, even likely if the current administration has its way regarding Echo Bay.

Dwight Worley and colleagues are doing a first class job in bringing this organization to our attention. For several years you have also read about Forest City, its principal Ratner, and others associated with their business proposition. Their methods, community disruption, heavy-handed, and questionable business practices have appeared in printo here and elsewhere concerning work in Brooklyn, Yonkers and other locations. We had a taste of it ourselves, when Abe Napersink (I think) and others steamrooled City Hall, offered a huge plan for remaking Echo Bay, took over the communication function from the City and began the process of "winnjjing hearts and minds" through selective campaign contributions and careful wooing of Council Members via two party meeting sheltere from the eyes of the community through some aberration in interpretation of Open Meeting Laws. To put a dot on the period, I think we leaned that this massive planned undertaking would provide no noticeable relief to New Rochelle regarding its property tax burden. Rather, it would further drain resources, tear down an Armory beloved by a considerable number of residents, and require the City to foot the bill on other aspects of the project and its pre-pre-preparation stages. In short, a lose, lose for New Rochelle except for the hubris attendant to those in office who favor it, possibly some longer term gain as yet unspecified, and some improvements to the recreational part of our environment.

but, along came the economy and at least it provided the blessing of delay. But, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, "they're baaaack." So, what have they been up to? You ought to read the next installment in the Journal News today under Jonathan Bandler's by-line.

Before looking at one or two points in Bandler's article, it is not at all unfair to postulate that you come away at the end with one of three end-state conclusions which are: (1) Forest City is composed of managerial incompetents, (2) Forest City was active in Ridge Hill in ways that you would, minimally ground your children for, were they guilty of something similar in the playground or (3), they received some form of immunity from the US government in favor for testifying for the prosecution against some rather benign defendents in office at the time in Yonkers. If the latter turns out to be the case, it makes one wonder whether the AG's District Office is somewhat influenced in ways I can only speculate on given what appears to be the evolving substance of this case. Maybe Eric Holder knows more, but I am not sure when this action was initiated.

But I am sure that there are several things that literally jump out from the pages upon reading this article.

1. forest City hired someone called Zehy Jereis, ostensibly, defendent Sandy Annabi's "cousin" as a "consultant." Look at this guy and read about this guy. What the hell would he qualify for as a consultant? There is only one answer and that is to get Annabi to change her opposition to Ridge Hill.

2. The two Forest City principles, EVP Bender (who said he was "uncomfortable" with the arrangement and and Cantone who said that he was hired becuse "he got them access to Annabi." Great job fellows. However you both agreed to hire this guy despite the fact that you concede being very unclear what this guy Jereis could do for you and ostensibly being concerned about how such a hiring "would look."

You perhaps take heart by Forest City's hiring of current mayor Spano who was put on the Forest City's payroll to "convince" Annabi to change her mind and to ask his brother, Senator Nick Spano to help in this effort.

Actually it got worse, as there are allegations that Jereis stated he had an affair with Annabi, his cousin, and apparently, this has something to do with something. It is more likely based on a visual inspection of the photos of Annabi and Jereis, that this is yet another way of muddying the waters while impugning Annabi. There is nothing to suggest Forest City had a part in this, but this is such a twisted and convuluted set of evil deeds and innuendo, that nothing seems out of the ordinary for these folks.

The defense clainms that Annabi changed her vote based on her ability to allegedly negotiate concessions for $10 million dollars over 3 years in real estate taxes, and a half a milllion dollars for a traffic mitigation study. Maybe so, who knows!

but, defense has a series of Emails that between Bender and, OMG, Bruce Ratner, sent prior to a June 2006 meeting with Annabi that suggests that money must be put aside for the real estate tax concession as well as other money for City Counsel President Lesnick (who after opposing Ridge Hill in 2005, came around to supporting it in 2006).

What a mess and for comic relief consider that those Forest City rocket scientists, Bender and Cantone, are shortly to form an independent consulting partnership and I, for one, would love to read their separation agreements.

Yesterday, somewhat tongue in cheek I volunteered to accept a consultant contract for $1.00 a year if 4 or 5 conditions were met by Forest City directed at restoring our downtown business district as well as bring forth a police facility to Main Street, etal. Maybe I was in the ballpark here. Only time, good lawyering by the defense, and solid reporting by the Journal News in the days and weeks ahead, will validate my offer or invalidate it.

But what do I know?

Here is what I know! We have a business and moral imperative not to do business with Ratner and his organization under any terms. If any member of the administration or the community has accepted any contributions from Forest City, they should return them immediately.

Surely what you know as citizens of New Rochelle, as parents, neighbors, and voters must suggest that support for this type of enterprise violates basic urban development need as well as community values, integrity, and decency. But, if you have seen enough of hard times and will accept help from most any level, then your only moral justification lies in the realm of the greater good and that is simply to receive ample funds for restoring downtown, providing safety and support and yes, one other thing.... no Napersink two off meetings, no taking on the communication role, and full, repeat FULL council oversight and control.

If you do not do that, you deserve the government you get period!

Can Anything Good Come Out of the City Council?

February 22, 2012 - 18:42
2 comments

This question was first posed by Herod Agrippa and concerned a carpenter from Nazareth that changed the world for all time. On a considerably more modest level, the question remains relevant as it concerns the City Council. The answer is a resounding YES!

It is tempting to discount this as possible given the many divisions that exist in New Rochelle. However, it is necessary to step back and accept that we stand on a narrow strip of land amidst the turbulance swamping our nation and world. It has reached epidemic proportions and has traveled down to our City, our leaders, and even ourselves and our neighbors.

But, either Providence or happenstance has given us an opportunity to extend this narrow strip of land. The proposed development we call the Albanese Project is this opportunity. It is a rare moment in time to come together as a community, a confederation of "one"; not restricted by ideology, self interest, or expected gain.

To succeed, it needs a unified voice. Albanese is that point in time; perhaps an effort for future state. it cannot occupy current state; there is no room for it in any rationale priority scheme. It is at best, what the French call a divertissement. It is not in any critical path and the time is at hand to look at it from the focus of what is important for the entire community overall.

Councilman Hydin has a clear insight into the Albanese situatiom and expressed this durng the January Council Meeting. It seems that based on Bob Cox's report, that he continued to laser into the real issues of restoring a downtown business district. He apparently would not approve the Albanese Project. I believe it is clear that Councilman Trangucci would share this view. Their reasons may differ, but the end result would be the same. Both are small businessmen and have that unique point of view.

Councilman Tarantino is also a small buinessman but it is not clear where he stands on Albanese. Counclman Rice is not a small businessman. He is an attorney. However he shares legislative ownership of segments of the business district and likely sees the necessity of shoring up and restoring this critical part of our City. I hope, no actually pray that these men will resist all attempts to bend to party pressure of any form, resist all verbal rationalizations and do the necessary and right thing. That is simply to table Albanese. I also reach out to our other councilmembers to see this without the typical ideological or party blinders that affect too many decisions. Shari, you showed the ability to frame a very thoughtful set of inquiries about the Cabaret license project and I think you have the right stuff to look at restore and revitalization of our downtown business district.

Once a project is "tabled" voice come out of the woodwork to influence and twist good reason. It has always been this way and it remains on our narrow little isthmus of land we call New Rochelle. But bear in mind that these voices have missed somethings vital in transition. They no longer speak about the needs we face in current state. However, they still infect the process of preserving and consolidating scarce assets while diminishing cost overrides.

For every Sheldon Silver there is a Newt Gingrich. The infection knows no party, no income level, no other demographic. Every citizen is affected, and runs the risk of being infected. If you reside up north a ways, you got to be concerned about property values, resale values, school district issues. Down these parts, you have more visceral immediate concerns of crime, deterioration, being marginalized, even ignored. It is more than endemic; it qualifies as pandemic.

So who will step up and support a man with no axe to grind. That man appears to be Ivar Hyden. Will he stand on the isthmus alone? Will he see further draining of city scarce resources off of the main line of current state need? Where will Al, Jared, and Shari stand? The thing is every right thinking, strong willed and compassionate member of this community knows the answer to that question. This is a community test and I do expect you to stand and be counted and inform your councilmember of where you stand and why and not through some three minute exercise lumped together with ruminants and other matters of lesser importance.

Form is not substance. When you sit around the dining room table with your spouse, do you incur more credit card debt by making operating expense payments? Likely not if this is avoidable. Simpler yet, will you plan a vacation to wherever if your children lack primary needs, or the refrigerator is on the blink, or the mortgage payment is due. Maybe this is compounded by the Refuse Tax payment. No you do not!

But you don't seem too troubled about the growing crime rate, quality of life issues downtown like panhandlers and graffiti. You turn away from the incessant creep and crawl of non profits or the tentacles of Monroe grabbling up any and all available space. You seem apathetic to the lack of sound zoning laws, deaf and dumb to the failing fortunes of Avalon, Trump and others. You can see these for yourselves. You will find all sorts of internal and external issues if you care to look.

And, down these parts, how much better citizens are we? We talk, write, accept the anomoly of a city government totally running against City Code. Let me tell you what the famed humorist Sam Levinson said concerning the pedagogic infrastructure many years ago. He cites those courageous teachers, the equivalent of front line infantrymen, who challenged the educational infrastructure on prescribed ways and means to teach the 3 R's. He goes on to share the sad fact that the best and brightest, those exposed to risk, were soon weighed down by the forces of bureaucracy and forced to conform. Levinson instructs us that these brave souls had to abandon the critical 4th R which is really the crux of the matter. That is R e s p o n s i b i l i t y. How could they exercise that without support.

So how can Ivar and his council mates come together on this little isthmus of land and begin the journey towards restoration and renewal. It requires support..... all of you out there must support and reward doing the right thing; actually the only thing. That is to go beyond "tabling" Albanese to putting in off into the future. We have 7 Council Members -- the fact is we do not have a strong mayor, we have a ceremonial mayor, so call him what he really is, a councilman at large; one who leads the city council. His job is extremely difficult, but with this recognition comes responsibility. This becomes our fourth R, roles, relationships, restoration and renewal. Not to put aside personal ambitions or liking structure is a lack of duty to perform.

I contend that some things, critical path things; matters that do not need one of our incessant committees, or in camera work groups, must be done and done in daylight. You must be aware of these and hold our elected officials responsible.

I want you to think about what we have in the context of the City Code. While doing so, you might elevate your consciousness to ask a simple question. Why do all your elected County and State officials ignore the realities of New Rochelle? The "home room" argument is not compelling at all. Yet, it can be said that many of you do not hold them accountable for their lack of service to the community. Remember that the next time you are confronted with the effects and consequences of a decison made by a Sheldon Silver. If you are not willing to be part of the solution, you are the problem!

What are the minimum immediate needs to build or rebuild a commercial downtown business district base? Here are some:

1. Immediately step in and take responsibility for the zoning codes, fee based actions and activities, police protection, and lack of decentralization of city functions downtown. You are the City Council and as such, you serve analogous to an organization's board of directors. Read about yourselves in the City Code. Start with Article X. Task your City Manager to address each of the above and put a time line on each. Have the City Attorney help. Waht you want in a timely way are (1) recommendations to change the zoning laws, (2) way to incent landlords to lighten up on their lease renewal demands, (3) identify a property on Main Street and move in a uniformed 24 hour administration, technical, clerical function with bold signage and have Carroll adjust patrol car drop ins to reinforce this sight line in the eyes of residents, (4) have Strome develop a plan to move several departments from 515 North again with appropriate signage... (5) move BID from the desert of Westchester Place to the bright lights of Main or North, and while you are at it, (6) have the School District open up an office as well, (7) have a contigency tactical plan to reduce head office exmept management and supervisory, longer term dedicated, or consultant staff instead of the excessive threats to further pare down first providers from police or fire. Tell Strome to move away from the right hand of the City Council Head over to a seat in the back of the table area or against the wall. That is how you set up a visible connection of authority and responsibility for viewers. City Council, you bear the ultimate responsibility and it is in the hands of the current ceremonial mayor because you have generationally in council, allowed that to be the case.

Of course there is more. Activate the BID in a different fashion. Bring them into the sunlight. Di Bart does pretty well, but this is a multi hundred member organization. Put them to work. Get Iona and Monroe interested in internships.... you use them to critically examine current issues with your residential high rises and determine what you can do to help. BID should also establish and on-going call program a calendar that determines who is to be visited and for what purpose.

The community is concerned about the failing reputation of our City in the market place; residential and commercial. An immediate step is to come up with adult financial management methods. You dont manage the affairs of a small city through fee income and hopes and prayers for grants, federal, state, or county member items or whatever is the soup de jour of the day. It is time for meaningful fiscal responsibility.

There is more, but this is enough for openers. Pencil in placing some formal arrangement over the school district in the year to come.

My summary involves going back to the risk and consequence of "tabled" Albanese. You need to, you must, demand that your Council do the right thing in the right way. Albanese like Echo Bay is future state, not current state. Surely you can see that as well as the linkage between the restoration and renewal of New Rochelle to your equity, well being and even social connection.

I think Ivar is right when he also said he was comfortable in leaving matters in the hands of the Council. I will buy into that if you will. That means giving your best, your active participation and your non-negotiable position that the City Council has an interest and responsibiility above any other in the governance of New Rochelle.

Something extraordinary came out of Nazareth. I hope His spirit is in these words to a degree. Something of real value can come from the next council meeting. Let it happen on this little isthmus of land among the turbulant times.

God Bless you all and guide this City of ours.

Keep Calm and Carry On

February 16, 2012 - 00:49

I watched the most recent Council meeting on Channel 75 today. It was revealing, perhaps even indicative of both Council past and Council present. I saw some progress; Louis was tenacious, Al upped his game, Ivar gave a real sense that he understood the main street corridor, Jared was strong in his inquiries on both Albanese and Beechwood, and Shari was assertive on certain issues including the NYS upcoming North Avenue project. Barry, of course, was Barry while Noam showed some improvements in managing dialogue. Unfortunately, his summary statements lacked a sense of real expected outcomes.

I am saying this because there may be some reason for optimism. Perhaps not, but I encourage each of you to view the tape and draw your own conclusions. Let me give my perceptions (there is that damn word again) and hope they make some sense and I will try to be fair and stick to the themes I stated in my "Confessions" blog.

Two major issues were discussed: (1) the Albanese project and (2) the City Yards. The City Yard project seems to be something that is at the decision point. The site selection alternatives, etc. were established a while back and I cannot comment on how the 4 or 5 sites were chosen and why Beechwood was chosen. I can say that I have seen the breakout of costs, the evaluation summary of each site, but I cannot attest to whether the Engineer firm selected was the proper choice given what I believe is the presence of a senior ex New Rochelle in the cadre of the Engineer firm. I just don't know if that had any effect; what I did not like was a lack of explicit information on what constituted each line of comparative expense. It likely exists; if not, it should exist.

Noam did the right thing by having Tergis explain what happens in the City Yard and to what degree garbage may accumulate. That was helpful. However there are still some concerns on the part of residents and others from the area or representative of the area and that is both understandable and natural. It really doesn't matter how often these are raised if they are felt; that is part of the political process. It may be less than effective communication, "noblesse oblige" or even a feeling that people down these parts are unreasonable. They are not!

Given the history of what has transpired with the DPW project, I probably would reluctantly agree that it is at the point where little more will be done. However, it should be a "teaching moment" as President Obama would tell us; this is a community who view a divide between north and south and feel the presence of some potential insidious series of environmental or quality of life issues that emerge from this feeling. It is insensitive and foolish to wash one's hands of this and adopt the current philosophy in City Hall that these parts are inundated by naysayers; that is bunk! These are people no different in sum and substance than those who risk very little in having a City Yard placed in their backyard.

City Hall needs an attitude adjustment. Do the will of the Council but do other things as well; communicate until you become hoarse, or you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Do not do what I observed at the Council Meeting.

First Noam's lecture on land having no meaning in the sense of value until it is identifed as what its usage will be is correct. However why lecture Councilman Tragucci on this? He likely knows this as well as you. What he might want to discover is putting the value of each site up to still another use; for example, residential. What would the value of each be if homes or apartments, etc. were built? Although a theoretical exercise on the surface, in a business policy environment, it is quite traditional and seen in Harvard Business School Case Studies. Of course, that could have and perhaps should have been done a lot earlier. In any case it does not affirm or deny the broader question of WHY can't the settlement work until the MOU comes in as that may add something to the equation. Of course, the yard needs to be upgraded or moved. Louis knows that, Shari knows that, well Barry is another issue and here is what I mean.

Louis Trangucci did something that every council member should do actually must do, in terms of representing his district. In fact he must do this in terms of establishing a record in the event he runs for re-election a few years out. It is called establishing a record. Surely Noam knows this, but Barry actually impugned Louis Trangucci's motives or reasons for asking for a vote. It is on tape and you can hear it for yourself. Noam fumbled a bit on the dreaded "Roberts Rules of Order" but said the right thing about the call for a vote going forward.

It is uncalled for and I am asking every reader of this post to be charitable; perhaps Fertel doesnt' realize what he did. But what I would like is for every citizen to insist that all key issues are put up for a vote so we can have a record per office holder and make informed judgments in the future.

Here is something else that troubles me greatly, no actually two things. The first is why the Council or at least some members equate any expense change or potential loss of revenue as requiring a reduction in our fire or police cadre. That is sheer inexcusable horse spit. We have many, many other alternatives that never get raised. Any sensible business goes after fat and not bone. Our fat would certainly be at 515 North Avenue. Supervisors, Administrators, Managers, staff people, and consultants must come before first providers. Good Lord why is this even up for discussion!

I will try to give you a perspective that does carry over from highly control oriented private industry and alas, it is true here. Executive management like to have lots of direct reports and one and two level down reports. They are immune to the realities of street life, first provider morale, quality of life crime, etc.... this happens often in financial industries who are heavily invested in fee income. Guess who else is heavily invested in fee income?

You know my issues around our inability or unwillingness to follow the dictates of our own City Code. Again, read Articles X-XII. Unless I am not aware of subsquent changes, I know what I am reading and so do a number of attorneys that I asked to go to the library and read the same information. My question is why? It is also an issue that consumes me as I cannot understand why men and women of high intellect, strong ethical values, and even bloodthirsty political leanings, let this happen without a shout or even a whisper. But people do...it is paradigmatically expressive of who we are and how we are managed.

It rubs off on Council Meetings. Let me be explicit here. The ruling authority in this City is seven elected officials. Six represent districts, the seventh is a "ceremonial mayor" who by fact is actually the head of the council and in practice, has created the additional fact he is a "strong mayor." I would love someone to forward me a copy of the 10 year + referendum on "strong mayor" that the voters turned down.

So we have a fact, now how to we prevent this fact from doing unwarranted damage to the democratic process? We begin by acknowledging the power of the Council and insist they exercise this power for the greater good of the community. The City Manager reports to the Council and you would never in business see he occupy the seat to the city council head that he does at his right hand. he belongs elsehere either down the table or against the wall and the same for the City Attorney. It is not symbolic; it is a practical matter of proper exercise of roles, relationships and responsibilities. We have not elected either, they serve at the pleasure of the Council and frankly, the City Manager is too often argumentative or clearly majority biased.

The Albanese project should, by simple common sense, be tabled. How could we in good conscience even consider putting this into play? It is pure folly.

The priorities should be clear. We need to concentrate on current state; on the building of a revenue stream and managing the cost curve and not by picking the wrong fruit from low hanging branches meaning first providers. We need to know more about the growing power and influence of Jerome at Monroe. He has the BID chair, occupies as much empty space as possible, has damaged any chance we have (slim or otherwise) by occupying the prime portion of New Roc Center. How and why? I am sure some of you will speak eloquently on this point if I can ever wrap up my blog.

I congratulate Ivar for a most impressive and impassioned defense of defining and building our main street corridor. He understands the priorities. The Council has been negligent for too many years in proactivity management. They let things happen, they have never managed the change delta. How could they not? Al Tarantino was very effective at this meeting but he still avoids substance on this area. Jared Rice has a grip on it, but the shining light today was the one councilmember most impacted, that is Ivar Hydin.

Noam has trouble with discussions and disagreements on high end residential initiatives. Echo Bay is a prime example, and now, Albanese's proposal. It allegedly is a 60%/40% in terms of income levels via occupy and there is some comfort in eschewing any 3 bedroom apartments. But it is 100% wrong at this time. Noam gave a summary on its value which was well off the mark. He compared it to the Avalon development years earlier citing the library development and other works. However, the logic is flawed. The library was not part of the Avalon construction; it came about for other reasons. Avalon actually contributed nothing of substance to downtown main or its proximate locations. That was not their job; that was ours as a City. Albanese will not construct new commercial businesses or provide any migration of police and other services to the area. That will be our job again.

In Avalon is in dire straits. The management changes, the increases in rental fees, the growth of section 8 and occupancy of college students from Iona and likely Monroe, tell us a tale of a city in distress with a growing negative reputation throughout the real estate community based on crime growth, lack of viable tax and budget structures, deteriorating value of our education system and more. In fact this enormous deficiency in viable assets in our downtown community is palpately detrimental to the rush to comparing us to Mt Vernon and Yonkers. Make no mistake about it, this is a fact.

So, what value is the construction of Albanese? Is it a memorial to the diffusion of Avalon? Is it a commitment to the unwillingness to respond to the needs mentioned so often here and elsewhere to build the downtown business district, gain some meaningful control over the school district, and firm up how we are governed. We cannot afford both a full time ceremonial mayor and a city manager. One or the other.

I want this all to work. I want Noam to understand his legacy, like Reverand Hudson's, is in restoration and renewal. I want Bob Marrone not to be concerned with negative input about the state of the city. Infections require strong medicine.

we have to be calm and carry on. Blame doesn't get us far. We need to be one community. If a small group of small business owners express needs and conerns, why label them as "negative." They are anything but. Nor am I!

We can come back. Let me invite every reader, every correpondent to come down these parts and meet, even join Mario at Retrofit. Go to Avalon and have some great artisinal wine and meet the wonderful couple who own this treasure of a shop.Go next store for your auto and other insurance at meet Charles Brown. He is a great gentleman and a fine citizen. Then reward yourself by dropping in for coffee and tea at the R Patisserie on Huguenot close by.

These are our new heroes. People who come here to invest in our community. People of character, courage, commitment. Come on down from the north end and up from the south. you will be glad you did.

And I am more optimistic about New Rochelle's ability to be calm and carry on. I think there is a reasonable chance that our newer council members, coupled with one or two of our veterans, can get the job done.

Are we a community or not. Shout it out and live it.

Confessions of a Fool

February 13, 2012 - 17:18
6 comments

I am a fool, pure and simple, a somewhat trusting soul who thought that New Rochelle was led by a brilliant young man whose vision and sense of love of community would reach out and fulfill the euphoria we all felt when times were better and our nation was on an economic and emotional high.

I saw this blog, the skeptics and critics, simply as people who didn't get the obvious. There would be hope, change, and people of all spectra in the demographic family of New Rochelle would have equal access to government; be they black, white, brown, yellow, jew, catholic, protestant, muslim, uptown, downtown, somewhere in between.

So, I reached out, touched base, supported as best I could people inside and outside, of New Rochelle, expecting that my serendipity would be realized and that we would be one community, united in the common cause of a better world for all of us..... then.

Things went south but not geographically in New Rochelle. The economy soured and with it, the failure of our leaders to lead, to prioritize, to understand even the most rudimentary and fundamental needs brought about by economic and yes, social upheaval, went to hell in a handbasket.

Democracy and Diversity in Action in New Rochelle

February 10, 2012 - 15:02
18 comments

Last night I was blessed to see how democracy should work in New Rochelle and further, how a proper and real form of diversity works in the context of a neighborhood. It wasn't the insincere pap we get from those who paternalistically look down and blather about brotherhood while practically otherhood.

The site was St Josephs RC Church in the West Side and the event was a community meeting held by the Councilman elect. The agenda covered a presentation on topical events plus an open floor to cover topics of interest. Besides the Councilman the head table including an aware, informative Community Service Officer from the City who reminds us of the absolute necessity of having police of this quality and character serving us and we can double down on that for this particular Councilman; a man of character and quality well-loved and respected by his constituents.

Walter Lipow's Liberal Agenda and its Negative Role in New Rochelle City Planning

January 21, 2012 - 20:29
12 comments

Today I woke up to both snow and a snow job. The Journal News featured an Op Ed piece of all things covering the heroic liberal view that it celebrate diversity, this makes the city great, and by implication, those who are members of other than the liberal wing of the democratic party are divisive, anti-establishment and, by reasonable extrapolation of the unbundling of code, we, thus, are racists, anti-feminists, homophobes, anti-semites, and God knows what else. The Author, Dr. Lipow, a practicing dentist I believe, must be sniffing some random nitrous oxide that has led to delusionary thinking.

Lohud.com: New Rochelle is able to take pride in its diversity

Say a Prayer for a Wonderful Lady

January 18, 2012 - 20:01

Yesterday during a luncheon attended by Jim Killoran, community clergy and others, the wonderful Mary Bonner suffered a stroke. As of this posting she remains among us. Many of you know Mary as the rock of Habitat, the woman who is on the board and manages the downtown store.

Mary would ask for your prayers for others and I feel she would surely prosper from the prayers of all that participate in any way with Talk of the Sound; visitor, blogger, it doesn't matter.

If prayers are not your cup of tea, simply turn inward and think warmly of this fine woman who is truly a light in this darkened community. She is truly Jim's rock and she has been instrumental in helping me see the world in a different way. That is not easy given the selfishness, the mean spiritedness, and ugliness we experience daily.

To me the luncheon at Coromandel has spiritual significance because people of good will and faith were meeting to discuss what we talk about daily; how to make this community a better place for all people regardless of where they live, what their political views are, and well, you can fill in the blanks.

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Latest posts from Warren Gross

Citizens -- Do the Right Things and Do Them for the Right Reasons

"I have found the enemy and he is us." Pogo is right; but to be fair, there are degrees of fault as their are degrees of sin. My purpose today is not to indict, but to state that things do not remotely work in New Rochelle because we act or do not act in ways that encourage and support these outcomes.

I don't see any real value, except to ventilate anger and frustration, to do little but excoriate office holders for acting the same as most office holders have learned to do over the past half century or so. Noam Bramson is mayor of New Rochelle, yet by the authority explicit in the New Rochelle Charter/Code, he as assumed power and responsibility that is not explicit in the Charter and has taken the lead set by his predecessor and to a degree, those who came before the predecessor. There is no value in labeling him as sinner, or for that matter, even saint. He is acting well outside of role; he has assumed power not granted to him, and you must conclude that the City Council has tacitly permitted this to occur and his community support base, has done this as well through apathy, ignorance, or tacit support.

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Charter Revision or Charter Recognition

EnigmaMachineMy recent blog titled, The City Charter A Mystery Inside an Enigma -- You Decide?, takes you on a journey through both the New Rochelle City Charter and the NYS Guidelines on Charter Revision. Minimally, the New Rochelle City Charter/Code should be required reading for all citizen especially members of our municipal government.

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An Apology for Typos on an Important Blog

Yesterday I presented a blog that I wanted everyone to read. It is long, filled with information, and alas, error. Even the title, "The City Charter A Mystery Inside an Enigma -- You Decide was unspared.

I had to finish it despite vision issus and 2.5 hours of oral surgery that I just returned from an hour earlier.

I saw more pain at the Tuesday night meeting coupled with indignation and anger. Most of the pain was on the podium; the anger in the audience.

I take zero pleasure at this. While happy that the community found their voices, it also renews a respinsibility to heal.

I created my blog to present opinion, questions and yes, facts about how we became governed as we experience it today. In a better world we would all profit from this and move on and forward.

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The City Charter A Mywtery Inside an Enigma -- You Decide!

Fankly one of my frustrations in wrking toward substantal City change is that farm animals, bicycle lanes, or sporting events seem to mean more to both our elected officials and our electorate.

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You Get the Government You Deserve

I recently published a blog on Facts, etal that put even me to sleep. The position was correct, the explanations properly drawn, but it was pedantic, boring and not responsive. It was so poorly presented that you had to search well into TOTS to even locate it and it deserved that editorial reluctance.

I marked my calendar for the end of March for submitting another blog. However, I am an open book and if you were one of less than 200 readers who read the blog or what prompted it, postings on the "state of the city" speech, you would have noticed that I left information where I lived, where I went after Retrofit in the morning, and I am glad I did that.

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"Facts" In And Of Themselves, Are Not Enough -- You Need Acceptance

I am having a drawn out "debate" with a fellow blogger named "Tim Knows." It has become totally unproductive and, from my viewpoint, it needs to end and so it will now.

But, it raises a fundamental question that separates some of us from others in Talk of the Sound and this is worth airing. The question relates to whether being optimistic, hopeful, even trusting is analogous to being naive, not realistic, even perhaps harmful. I have noticed that it goes far beyond where a useful debate should go and becomes ugly and actually even masks what are substantive areas of agreement and distorts these into areas that are divisive and ugly.

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Tales From The Far Side -- Forest City Story

I cannot let go of this story and none of you should do either. It represents both sound government and an organization, Forest City, that appears so venial and grasping, that both the development and management of our City and its moral imperative is threatened.

There are existing blogs on TOTS namely "Bribes, Intimidation, etal" and "Contemplating the Roles of Development, etal" that will give you a background into the continuing story of Forest City and its relationships to communities and, potentially, even likely if the current administration has its way regarding Echo Bay.

Dwight Worley and colleagues are doing a first class job in bringing this organization to our attention. For several years you have also read about Forest City, its principal Ratner, and others associated with their business proposition. Their methods, community disruption, heavy-handed, and questionable business practices have appeared in printo here and elsewhere concerning work in Brooklyn, Yonkers and other locations. We had a taste of it ourselves, when Abe Napersink (I think) and others steamrooled City Hall, offered a huge plan for remaking Echo Bay, took over the communication function from the City and began the process of "winnjjing hearts and minds" through selective campaign contributions and careful wooing of Council Members via two party meeting sheltere from the eyes of the community through some aberration in interpretation of Open Meeting Laws. To put a dot on the period, I think we leaned that this massive planned undertaking would provide no noticeable relief to New Rochelle regarding its property tax burden. Rather, it would further drain resources, tear down an Armory beloved by a considerable number of residents, and require the City to foot the bill on other aspects of the project and its pre-pre-preparation stages. In short, a lose, lose for New Rochelle except for the hubris attendant to those in office who favor it, possibly some longer term gain as yet unspecified, and some improvements to the recreational part of our environment.

but, along came the economy and at least it provided the blessing of delay. But, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, "they're baaaack." So, what have they been up to? You ought to read the next installment in the Journal News today under Jonathan Bandler's by-line.

Before looking at one or two points in Bandler's article, it is not at all unfair to postulate that you come away at the end with one of three end-state conclusions which are: (1) Forest City is composed of managerial incompetents, (2) Forest City was active in Ridge Hill in ways that you would, minimally ground your children for, were they guilty of something similar in the playground or (3), they received some form of immunity from the US government in favor for testifying for the prosecution against some rather benign defendents in office at the time in Yonkers. If the latter turns out to be the case, it makes one wonder whether the AG's District Office is somewhat influenced in ways I can only speculate on given what appears to be the evolving substance of this case. Maybe Eric Holder knows more, but I am not sure when this action was initiated.

But I am sure that there are several things that literally jump out from the pages upon reading this article.

1. forest City hired someone called Zehy Jereis, ostensibly, defendent Sandy Annabi's "cousin" as a "consultant." Look at this guy and read about this guy. What the hell would he qualify for as a consultant? There is only one answer and that is to get Annabi to change her opposition to Ridge Hill.

2. The two Forest City principles, EVP Bender (who said he was "uncomfortable" with the arrangement and and Cantone who said that he was hired becuse "he got them access to Annabi." Great job fellows. However you both agreed to hire this guy despite the fact that you concede being very unclear what this guy Jereis could do for you and ostensibly being concerned about how such a hiring "would look."

You perhaps take heart by Forest City's hiring of current mayor Spano who was put on the Forest City's payroll to "convince" Annabi to change her mind and to ask his brother, Senator Nick Spano to help in this effort.

Actually it got worse, as there are allegations that Jereis stated he had an affair with Annabi, his cousin, and apparently, this has something to do with something. It is more likely based on a visual inspection of the photos of Annabi and Jereis, that this is yet another way of muddying the waters while impugning Annabi. There is nothing to suggest Forest City had a part in this, but this is such a twisted and convuluted set of evil deeds and innuendo, that nothing seems out of the ordinary for these folks.

The defense clainms that Annabi changed her vote based on her ability to allegedly negotiate concessions for $10 million dollars over 3 years in real estate taxes, and a half a milllion dollars for a traffic mitigation study. Maybe so, who knows!

but, defense has a series of Emails that between Bender and, OMG, Bruce Ratner, sent prior to a June 2006 meeting with Annabi that suggests that money must be put aside for the real estate tax concession as well as other money for City Counsel President Lesnick (who after opposing Ridge Hill in 2005, came around to supporting it in 2006).

What a mess and for comic relief consider that those Forest City rocket scientists, Bender and Cantone, are shortly to form an independent consulting partnership and I, for one, would love to read their separation agreements.

Yesterday, somewhat tongue in cheek I volunteered to accept a consultant contract for $1.00 a year if 4 or 5 conditions were met by Forest City directed at restoring our downtown business district as well as bring forth a police facility to Main Street, etal. Maybe I was in the ballpark here. Only time, good lawyering by the defense, and solid reporting by the Journal News in the days and weeks ahead, will validate my offer or invalidate it.

But what do I know?

Here is what I know! We have a business and moral imperative not to do business with Ratner and his organization under any terms. If any member of the administration or the community has accepted any contributions from Forest City, they should return them immediately.

Surely what you know as citizens of New Rochelle, as parents, neighbors, and voters must suggest that support for this type of enterprise violates basic urban development need as well as community values, integrity, and decency. But, if you have seen enough of hard times and will accept help from most any level, then your only moral justification lies in the realm of the greater good and that is simply to receive ample funds for restoring downtown, providing safety and support and yes, one other thing.... no Napersink two off meetings, no taking on the communication role, and full, repeat FULL council oversight and control.

If you do not do that, you deserve the government you get period!

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