New Rochelle, Part Two: “an eagle doesn’t catch flies.”
I am printing this POST for “He who shall remain nameless”. But many of you that have been around will be able to figure out who the writer is. Many have from my conversations in the streets.
You can read Part One Here:
New Rochelle “POISONED BY IMPORTANCE”!
‘aquila non capit muscas’ or “an eagle doesn’t catch flies.”
The regularly scheduled Council Meeting held weekly are too often a game of philosophical or theological “shirts and skins.” Production on too many key items are inefficiently delayed as our resident Jesuits or Hebrew Scholars attempt to see who can put a finer edge of a pencil. The Romans had a saying for this; ‘aquila non capit muscas’ or “an eagle doesn’t catch flies.” We too often have a room full of attorneys or business people looking to perfect the “on the other hand game.” Toward the end of the matter, our Council President delights in summarizing what he heard said, but this has to be carefully vetted to ensure that he didn’t unconsciously add something to the mixture.
Last week I wrote about a ceremonial mayor, who disliking what he seemed to consider as “vacuums”, saw fit to add considerable responsibilities to his position that were not explicit in the City Charter. This week, we will discuss the City Council which appears to lean in the opposite direction. There are very important Council opportunities that are left unattended or lie fallow on the management field. As you should know, our ceremonial mayor is actually a councilman at large and by charter, assumes the role of the City Council. The Mayor is not at all shy in allocating himself extra helpings of committee appointments as the “mayor.” That ability should be nipped in the next Referendum bud; more salary may be merited but not a bigger voice than his colleagues on City Council.
It is hard for me, Thomas Paine Not, to grasp the unwillingness of The City Councils then and now to take the reins of The City Council and work in harmony to improve the wellbeing of their constituents and the community overall. Let me tell you as clearly as I am able that The City Council in New Rochelle is akin to a Corporate Board of Directors. They have the general powers of “Oversight and Policy” and by any reasonable definition represent the power and the potential strength of The City of New Rochelle. They do not exercise these powers and as this is written we are shortly going to be beset with two form over substance presentations; not surprisingly directed at the Waterfront and The Transit Center.
Once more form will compete with substance and want with need. We need even a smidgeon of new residential construction like a Vampire needs daylight or a clove of garlic. I gently cautioned you that the pattern of voting and the presented opinions denying Forest City Ratner; while representing the right church placed the nether parts of 6 representative City Council Members in the wrong pews. If at this point in 2014, The City Council does not recognize that we require a renewed downtown district, a renewed North Avenue and many other business amenities such as vertical parking. A blind man even without a guide dog to direct him should be able to see that immediately. Guaranteed, the dog will get it.
SECTION 11, 13 for example, says the following – the City Council shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of all pertinent books, records, and papers. This is a critical responsibility which, at best, has only been gently used. It seems almost obligatory, whether majority or minority, Republican or Democrat, that Council decline to approve any action suggesting a residential building plan for the Transit Center or the Waterfront. Do that quickly and decisively and call for the budgets, operating ledgers, likely “developers of interest, Strome and Aragon, and go over “where we are” as a City in terms of our resource and expense bases. It will not take any reasonable, intelligent, moral steward to see and internalize personal responsibility for the community.
The other day we witnessed a “Korniption” concerning leaf baggage. Kudos to Brother Fertel, but do you wish to get into anything even more invidious? To approve even any form of “go ahead” borders on fiscal insanity.
The Board also has the power to determine its own rules, order of business, keep a journal of proceedings of The Council, can compel the attendance of absent members and may punish its members for disorderly behavior or violation of its rules. I surely think my good forbearer, Tom Paine, would have enriched this responsibility by demanding both allegiance to the well-being of the community as well as the application of critical thinking. Use your Oversight powers by asking, under oath if you must, whether Strome and Aragon consider new construction with little expected early fiscal value to favor these initiatives over the critical need to renovate, restore and bring The City of New Rochelle back to some semblance of its former self. If you cannot accept this, have political ambitions beyond your immediate role as servant of the people or fear retaliation just fish or cut bait. If you remain in office know what that portends. If you resign, you would do so with honor.
The City Council must talk to the owners/managers of La Rochelle, Halstead and all the other high rise landlords or agents and involve them into the planning of The Downtown and Fifth Avenue locations. They need to strengthen their business propositions and plans by being able to offer lessees now and to come with amenities in walking distance, safety, security and visible symbols of New Rochelle City pride by showing symbols of its business commitment in these locations. Put The New Rochelle BID and The Chamber of Commerce where they can be seen and move some parts of vital City Services down on Main Street to show our colors. What we have now in actual fact is a form of CHRONIC CITY CANNIBALISM. The City of New Rochelle’s Administration has an insatiable appetite for fee based revenue and expenses. What a crude anachronistic form of fiscal management and what a lifeless capitulation to inefficiency, ineffectiveness and just plain inexpert and moral defunct stewardship. A merchant cries out for new business as the hovering blue uniformed traffic control guys and girls wait to gobble up a harried commuter rushing to order a latte before his train comes. Another merchant wants to place a few chairs outside his shop in the summer and is stunned to face an appreciation of last year’s fees by 100 percent, Hello Mamaroneck?
What about the outrageous rise in costs to be part of the Farmers’ markets. What the hell is wrong with this City Council, especially the two or so of you who actually have retail business? What are you thinking; the seven of you who quibble over minutiae at City Council Meetings while our Commercial Business structure burns? As Joseph Welch said to Joe Mc Carthy many years earlier, “have you any decency”. Yes you do, but where is your damn courage. It is your City; you have the power, not the not our presuming Ceremonial Mayor. Use your power; go back to the 1996 Comprehensive Plan and do what not only is right, but what is obligatory.
What are you afraid of? Is it a reassessment process? Probably but it is inevitable. Live with it and embrace it as stolid irrational inertia that is going to continue to erode our property values base. Come on, do it now, not later... Do I understand that The City of New Rochelle is going to hire a person to “sell” New Rochelle to businesses and residents outside of New Rochelle? THINK OF WHAT YOU ARE SELLING! You might as well list it on Craigslist.
The North End is full of reasonable people and they will continue to drive to Eastchester, White Plains or employ the Internet for what they want or need. These are people who are not idiots; if they wish to remain or leave they know that their asset value is affected by the quality of our local amenities. They would want a safe and mobile downtown. They would want a School District that both works and is on the rise. The men and woman who made the case for defeating the Echo Bay Proposal are in some good number, residents up north. They don’t appear to favor Cannibalism. They will readily see the inevitability and even advantages of a sensible reassessment process that would position them properly on the market while providing some real selling advantages, Ask any good agent. While you are at it, ask them about New Rochelle and stand back to avoid the spittle. Please include our zoning rules and the landlord base who delight in empty store fronts thinking that somehow New Rochelle transmogrified into SOHO. Pathetic, not made part of the urban interest of New Rochelle, shame on them and on you.
Do you think you should take it anymore? You like walking gently into this dark night? Better not or the man or woman intent on doing you harm is right around the unlit corner will.
I suppose you are at the point of accepting whatever comes your way. You muddle through leaves and like Oliver Twist, you watch the slim dark haired man with a beggars bowl asking for MORE. More of what? It is always a version of Déjà vu anew. How cruel to all of you overburdened taxed citizens and pity the underserved tenant base downtown asking, “What the hell possessed us to come here?”
It is not really an unfair question because the solutions are relatively simple. Try this………. Call upon your City, County, and State representatives to task and hear the echoes of ENOUGH. Truly it is enough. All of our public servants should exchange their name plates announcing WHO THEY ARE, for name tags that say WHAT THEY ARE.
Frankly, New York State needs to preserve and protect this part of the Union. Maybe Rob Astorino can drop around and see for himself how doves cry. So, George, Amy, Steven, Jim and each Council Member take a breath, and look about. They are doing this in Ossining and White Plains. Why not here? Just walk through Library Plaza and you should see why. It is time for character building not assassination. So, let me call on every business owner, property owner, tenant, mother or father of school age children, senior citizens and our slumbering clergy to stand up. STOP THE BLEEDING NOW!
The spirit of Thomas Paine is embedded in Thomas Paine “NOT”. We share more than a name, an asterisk in some slightly worn monograph. Some of us served our nation; others raised families and produced value for our nation. I will NOT rest until Halstead and La Rochelle link arms with John at Patisserie, Anthony in his jewelry store, Bobby at Sutton, the great citizen Mr. Cohen and so many others. Can someone down here link our brethren at Young Israel, Trinity St Paul and Blessed Sacrament together walking in the spiritual shadow of Dr.King and put an end to this shame. If the lion can lie down with the lamb, so can GOP with Democrat.
What the hell is wrong with us? Is this the government we deserve?
It ends now.