The Future of New Rochelle is in Your Hands... Election Day, November 3rd

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The Future of New Rochelle is in Your Hands... Election Day, November 3rd

October 26, 2015 - 20:01
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This November 3rd we have a chance to break the homogeneity that has compromised New Rochelle's prosperity over the past decade.  Of the six districts in New Rochelle, three are being contested. While all three districts, plus the contested Mayoral race, are critical to our shared future, districts five and six are of significant importance because they provide a real opportunity to foster a better future for all of New Rochelle.

In district five, challenger Jeffrey Hastie is an independent running on the Independence, Republican, and Reform lines against the incumbent Barry Fertel, Democrat. I myself am registered as a Democrat but I wholeheartedly support Jeffrey in this race. I've lived in New Rochelle for more than twelve years, and have seen the city slowly deteriorate before my eyes. District Five has essentially had no representation for the past ten years that Barry Fertel has been in office. Councilman Fertel is essentially the Mayor's puppet; a rubber stamp with legs. In ten years, he’s voted against the mayor on only two occasions, leaf pickup and Echo Bay. With the swing vote already cast against Echo Bay, Barry’s "no" vote was irrelevant when cast (he changed his vote after the deciding swing vote had been cast). So, that really comes down to one vote in ten years. With roughly 200 votes per year, that's only one independent vote in two thousand-- 1 in 2,000! Hard to believe that any two people could agree on so many things for so long a time. While in office, Fertel has voted to shift municipal costs to residents time and again: Garbage pickup is now a separate fee; leaves are no longer picked up by the city; fire hydrants have been eliminated from the city budget and now being paid by residents directly through their water bill. These tricks aren’t lost on the citizens of New Rochelle. The “low” taxes touted by our current administration is a result of cost shifting; a slight of the puppeteer's hand. We must do better. Jeffrey will do better.

During his six years on the school board, Jeffrey has shown his independence and willingness to ask tough questions. He’s been the sole vote against wasteful budgets. In addition, he’s fought to make the school board open and transparent. Since he’s been on the board, the meetings have either been broadcast live or taped and aired at a later date. Social media has been embraced. He’s been responsive to any parent or taxpayer who’s reached out to him. He will work just as hard for District Five as he has as a school board trustee.

In District Six, Shari Rackman has faithfully served her residents and deserves to be re-elected. Endorsements from local police and firefighters attest to her staunch support towards public safety issues. Rackman's dedication and hard work has resulted in quality of life improvements throughout our district and the city, including re-paved roads, repaired sidewalks, and better lighting.  After losing the democratic primary to the political machine, who devoted significant money and resources against her as retribution for her vote on Echo Bay (she was the decisive swing vote), Councilwoman Rackman will be running on the Republican and Reform lines come election day. While New Rochelle is a heavily Democratic city, Rackman hopes that voters realized that, "there is no Democratic or Republican way to best pick up the leaves, collect the garbage, repair potholes, or continue to provide the essential services that the residents of New Rochelle all rely on." So true. Nevertheless, due to her allegiance to her constituents on Echo Bay (and defiance of Mayor Bramson), she will be a Democrat running on the Republican line.  Despite the political forces that are conspiring against her, Rackman stands by her vote on Echo Bay, and hopes that the City Council will pursue only smart development that aligns with the city's needs--without the need for additional tax hikes to fund it. With some significant development projects being considered for downtown New Rochelle, we are all best served if Shari's good sense and convictions remain on the council. 

Government is best served by a diversity of thought. Let’s embrace this opportunity for a better future. Lets make sure that the diversity of voices on our city council represent the wonderful diversity of people who call New Rochelle home.  Vote for Jeffrey Hastie in District Five and Shari Rackman in District Six.  New Rochelle can't afford ten more years of the same old puppet show.

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You are absolutely correct,

But it is more than the AV/Audio Visual end of things that need fixing. However, they like having the convenient excuse of poor city systems to blame poor communication on. Many kids today have a better tech set up in their bedrooms, I am sure. That’s an idea; make Council Chambers into a man-cave maybe that will motivate them.

All the IT, Audio and many other systems in this city need a makeover. Just like our Downtown Development we are far behind the other municipalities that surround us. But the other cities around us seem to find a way to get it done and thrive. This is not something we can blame on the economy because there could have been bonds and grants out there to help with this process. They seem to find them at election time or when they work in their favor. How would that be for shared services if we update our system along with the New Rochelle School District. They need an overhaul just as much as New Rochelle’s City Hall and City Council do. At least we don’t have ceilings falling down just yet.

What we do have a is as I have said for years, Political dysfunction and a failure of a Weak Mayor and City Council to follow The City Charter and the 1996 Comprehensive Plan. Mayor Bramson tried to put his own spin on it to attack his challengers and some of the challengers in the other races here in New Rochelle for the upcoming election.

Some parts of his letter:

“New Rochelle has never had a better chance to bring vitality and energy to Main Street, and I am excited by our prospects.  But we’re not there yet, and without sustained effort and focus, the moment of opportunity will be squandered”.

(Mr. Mayor, without proper leadership that encourages conversation and debate this will never happen. You have been at this for 20 years along with some of your counter parts on City Council. Some new members have helped move towards change but now you want them to go away.)

“This is when responsible political leadership can do the most good.   When the Mayor and Council share a coherent big picture view, act efficiently and decisively, speak with a clear voice, and honor agreements, then we inspire confidence in New Rochelle and attract the investment we need.”

(Mr. Mayor, if you don’t follow the City Charter and Comprehensive Plan that encourages conversation and debate this will never happen. You can’t blame past administration for this as you have held the reigns for almost 20 years.)

“The reverse is also true.  This is when political dysfunction can do the most harm.  When the Mayor and Council are badly divided, lack vision, waste time on petty conflict, or abandon commitments lightly, then confidence in New Rochelle collapses, and investment is scared away by the perception of elevated risk”.

(Mr. Mayor, You created this monster and it has been the other members of City Council pulling together and standing up for the citizens of New Rochelle that has allowed change. Not your leadership but theirs. It has been your vision and not that of the citizens for the last 20 years that has held us back. When they try to speak you put up new challengers for election and write letters like this. You are a good speech writer but we don’t need writers, we need leaders for the people.)

“Political dysfunction has other costs, too.  It produces paralysis or confusion for our professional staff who are forced to respond to conflicting direction, for higher levels of government that are forced to work through multiple points of contact, and for the public as a whole that rightly expects someone to be in charge”.

(Again Mr. Mayor with your full-time salary, office and staff right next to The City Manager you have more access and medaling powers that anyone on City Council. Follow the City Charter and be a weak Mayor as you should be and let the City Hall Staff do their jobs. Maybe we can keep them longer.)

 “The potential for political dysfunction is exacerbated here in New Rochelle by our system of government, in which the Mayor (and I don’t mean me personally – I mean any Mayor) has no formal authority beyond a single vote on the Council.  Think about that for a moment . . . the only elected official who represents the entire community and who is directly accountable to all residents for the City’s performance has precisely the same power as a Council Member who represents only one-sixth of New Rochelle and whose outlook may, simply by virtue of position, be more narrowly-focused.”

(Sounds like a push for a Strong Mayor, but a speech writer that lacks leadership could never run this city. Let City Manager Strome and his Staff do their jobs as they have been hired to do under the City Charter. Also all the great work you and some of your counter parts claim credit for has not been done by any of you. It was done by City Manager Strome and his Staff.)

“Can this kind of political dysfunction be avoided in our system of government?  Fortunately, yes.  But only through collaboration between a Mayor and Council majority who work together constructively to achieve big goals.  New Rochelle needs teamwork to succeed.”

(This is the only part of his attack letter that is stated in the correct tone and direction which is not turned around to make things look different than they are.)

As Phil Reisman said in his piece, Official is fluent in bureaucrat-ese from March 19, 2012

 “Somewhere there must be a school for government bureaucrats that features an advanced course on how to respond to questions at length and with gravitas, but also in such a way as to say absolutely nothing.”

Mayor Bramson has shown us how good he is at this. He could be a good leader for the future of New Rochelle, but like the systems at City Hall he must change his ways and get out and meet and talk to the real people of New Rochelle. Not his same cast of characters that will tell him what he wants to hear rather than what he needs to hear.  Just like Citizens to Be Heard Mr. Mayor and City Council, you have to listen to hear. Put on your Bob the Builder Hat, We can do this yes we can!

New Rochelle we need more than an upgrade of our technical systems at City Hall. I was going to say it at the last Citizens to be Heard but the Public Hearings ran very late and in the interest of time I did not speak. So here is what I was going to say. You make your own decisions and let City Council know how you feel by voting on November 3rd. If you are not being heard don’t walk away, speak louder.


Comments for October 13, 2015 Citizens to be heard:

Good evening Council I would like to speak about a few topics.

Public Hearing and Citizens to be Heard should be changed to Public Speaking and Citizens to be Spoken. Over the years there isn’t much hearing going on, just silence and contempt by those who represent us the taxpayers.

It’s time for change, you must step up and request a review of the CTBH process and make it a platform for input and review of what is said by the citizens. You must take the people that speak and the CTBH process seriously. It is our right to speak and your jobs to listen. With listening should also be response, the process must be changed.

As we go into the elections, voter question our high taxes and you do nothing. We/You council must look at the School District as they are 65-70% of our taxes and now look for a 50 Million dollar bond. We/you need to hold them accountable and get answers the citizens don’t. Request all Annual Visual Inspection Reports, Question why weren’t the AVI reports done and reviewed annually? I was OSHA certified and a Safety Coordinator while working for Coca Cola they are required. Question why nothing was done until a ceiling collapsed which could have been disastrous if children were hurt or killed. These are our/your tax dollars.

Subpoena those reports and ask questions as the citizens do but get no answers kind of like here at CTBH. Show the citizens, taxpayer and voters that you are willing to ask the tuff questions and require direct and accurate answers. As we move into the future of New Rochelle you must take control and inspect what you/we expect.

We need a Master Developer for City Hall and the School District!

Get out the Vote for November 3rd make your vote count and hold the current and future administration accountable for our city, our vision and our taxes.


“Common Sense for the Common Good”