Noam Bramson on Overwhelming Opposition to Echo Bay: "Democracy Not About Counting Heads, or Will of the People "

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Noam Bramson on Overwhelming Opposition to Echo Bay: "Democracy Not About Counting Heads, or Will of the People "

July 26, 2013 - 00:35

Hearing Duration 3 hours
Total Speakers* 56
Aye Comments 9 16.0%
Nay Comments 45 80.4%
No Opinion 2 3.6%

Noam Bramson Candidate for Westchester County Executive in 2013 will "listen to your Ideas" but he sure doesn't give them much weight.

In his Arrogant closing speech Mayor Bramson told citizens of New Rochelle, not to question his Motives even though he has received "Campaign Contributions" for his previous re-election from Forest City's owners; the Ratner Family, That he publicly denied and challenged the public to look up, which they did. While not illegal the contributions are unethical, given the fact that Forest City was then given exclusivity and numerous extensions extensions over 6 years:

"Forest City has been involved in the bribes that led to the conviction" of Council Woman Sandy Annabi for Bribery in their last major development in Westchester County.

Earlier that a Forest City Rep "let slip" that council was going to be paid off in an epic Freudian slip.

Mayor Bramson also told us that he knows what is best and that we are just being emotional and that he knows what is the best rational choice for New Rochelle, even though highly educated residents of the entire city of New Rochelle of every relevant profession including a Former Mayor, Current County Legislator and Former long time State Assemblyman have publicly exposed the Forest City Plan not to be in the best interest of New Rochelle.

There are 8 Comments

This is not a fair process where no advantage is shown to either side,

Two weeks to review the FEIS is troublesome. The timing of the Public Hearings was unacceptable. This puts the citizens at a disadvantage and is not fair and equal treatment. Two Public Hearings on the Proposed Changes to Main/Echo Urban Renewal Plan are held at the same time, on the same night. One with The City Council and one with The New Rochelle Planning Board is another prime example of how residents aren’t allowed to play on a level playing field. Five Public hearings on the same night, Why?

The FEIS wasn’t even voted on yet, why the rush? Any changes to zoning and approving special permits without a plan or road map are putting the cart before the horse, why?

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in a new book released, wrote that "self-importance" can lead to a "dangerous arrogance" that often ends badly. He boils down his philosophy on Wall Street transgressions to the view that "companies, when competing, will not properly observe the rules of ethics as we want them to all the time; we need vigorous enforcement." I wonder if he has ever been to new Rochelle.

The much-touted success of Forest City’s bustling upscale Ridge Hill Mall has seen some of its own problems, and controversies. Developer Forest City Ratner was cashing in on meter fees and payments of privately issued parking tickets for more than a year - despite the council's request for it to stop.

Ridge Hill has agreed to pay at least $50,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by customers who claim the shopping center duped them into paying bogus parking meter fees. Forest City needs more parking to support the development. More meters I guess! As part of Ridge Hill, The Half-occupied Monarch condomini­um at Ridge Hill had to cut its prices and resort to rentals.

David Marom of the Horizon Group said his company has rented some units and there have been two price cuts since sales began. He said, 2011 wasn’t strong and you have to do what you have to do to maintain sales and pay the banks back,” He also didn’t rule out additional price reductions once new partners join the development.

Developers buy land, finance real estate deals, control and orchestrate the process of development from beginning to end. They build the structure, lease, manage and ultimately selling it. Their people do the studies and responses for the FEIS. Their response, a statement, not answers with facts to back them up, just that a response, which is all that is required of them. The questions were not answered.

We heard many residents from the north, south, east and west, parents, businessmen, lawyers, organizations. As stated truly a full representation of New Rochelle’s diversity, including comments from U.F.F.A. Local 273 President Byron Gray of the New Rochelle Fire Department who spoke of their concerns with the DEIS that were not addressed in the FEIS.

I mean no disrespect to the members of The New Rochelle Police Department, they deserve a new contract. The Police Association of New Rochelle signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of New Rochelle in June I believe. During the Public Hearing for The DEIS back in March Ray Andolina, The President of The New Rochelle Police Association had expressed the continued and increasing concern regarding the safety of their members, the safety of the public and they are now down an unacceptable 40 police officers since 2010. They anticipate losing another 5 officers before year's end and another 30 over the next 5 years. What happened to those concerns?

One raises the question, "why would a multi-billionaire developer; Barclays, Ridge Hill, likely Nassau Coliseum and others, be interested in a mudflat in New Rochelle?” Maybe they will get some lucrative housing projects and other developments in the future in other parts of the county. Like with Ridge Hill and Albanni, follow the money. Remember that "self-importance" can lead to a "dangerous arrogance" that Eliot Spitzer wrote about.

The City’s vision for the redevelopment of Echo Bay is no longer clear as it has changed like so much here in New Rochelle. There are still too many questions, to many challenges and objections. The answers are eagerly awaited by the vast majority of residents of New Rochelle. New Rochelle understands that value of a revitalized waterfront, at what cost and with which developer?

Many believe that a new Request for Proposal should be done. First, New Rochelle needs an updated plan for the area. We don’t seem to follow the 1996 Comprehensive Plan and we haven’t finished the new Comprehensive Plan. We can’t fail again with yet another parcel of city owned property.

How can The Echo Bay Project go from 26 acres to the current 6 acres and no new Request for Proposal? A Request for Expressions of Interest was limited to The Armory site. The process is flawed, for that reason Forest City Echo Bay and their FEIS should not be accepted.

New Rochelle needs a coherent, forward-looking strategy to attract jobs, strengthen communities, and reform government to cut costs. This isn’t it. The City of New Rochelle is borrowing millions of dollars while our tax burden goes up, failing to plan for the future of our economy and is out of touch with the community and its mainstream values.

New Rochelle must take care of New Rochelle, first and for most!

Your comment explains what is happening. It seems our mayor has taken on the character of The Wizard of Oz. Like that character, he believes he is the only man capable of solving our problems. At the public hearing, we were granted an audience and were allowed to voice our concerns. Like the character Noam has been using a lot of elaborate tricks to make himself seem great and powerful. I am very concerned that he will become the supreme ruler of Westchester county and sustain the myth of listening to our ideas and openness to good ideas from any source.

The one good thing that has come out of the process, citizens of New Rochelle are slowly coming together.


As you said, he makes himself seem great and powerful. He is not able to keep up this appearance without help. You have a gate keeper, town council and all of the support staff it takes to run and maintain The Land of OZ and The Emerald City. All of these people have enabled him to build and maintain this great and powerful image. They all work so diligently for OZ that the towns and villages people believe he is truly great and powerful. What do they have to lose; they get to live the same life of fantasy with nothing to lose. Now that’s a horse of a different Color! Go to him he knows the way home Dorothy!Not really, it’s only a dream remember! We need our own tornado of hope. We need to change and to get things right back here in Kansas. OOPs New Rochelle.

I have said several times that the issue does not just lie at the feet of Mayor Bramson. While he may be the one pulling the strings, we have a City Manager, City Council and an entire staff at City Hall to blame. We lost our voice in New Rochelle Development Commissioner Michael Freimuth over all of these backroom games. I believe the new Development Commissioner can stand up for the people and make independent decisions that are in the best interest of The City of New Rochelle. Oh yes, don’t forget the voters and taxpayers of New Rochelle bear some of the responsibility for everything he and the others do. Complacency and lack of involvement does not remove you from the responsibilities you have as a voter and citizen for The City of New Rochelle. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Like Ann Landers says, “Someone can’t take advantage of you unless you let them.”

The personal attacks on the mayor should and must stop. These personal out bursts take away the positive steps and momentum we build. Some may not like it, but he is still the mayor. Keep the conversation professional while moving in a forward direction. We can then stand firmly on our thoughts and beliefs, as many have shown they are quite valid and strong. We need to let the merit of the Public Hearing comments and the data given by Citizens for a Better New Rochelle and the many other qualified speakers stand out and be heard. That is the message that needs to be spread, not the hate mongering. As one person said, what other developers would want to come to New Rochelle seeing some of the antics that go on. Our response needs to be driven by the facts and the evidence before us. To the same merit, the mayor to must stand up and show physical facts to back up his comments for the overwhelming support of the project. We haven’t seen any of that. How can he validate his statement that the project has overwhelming support? He can’t and he doesn’t.

I sound like a broken record, it is time for all The City Council and city staff to step up and work for the entire City of New Rochelle and its future that looks so bleak. Otherwise, we will not be a city any more. We will be but a few giant colleges and some unoccupied buildings downtown with a dilapidated Armory and a State Of The Art City Yard. Insist on following the City Charter and stand on your own two feet. We can’t wait, you can’t wait any longer. The City Council must Stop the never ending Five to Two Votes! Step up and do the right thing! Our future depends on it.

“Common sense for the Common Good”


Berating the Mayor is not the right thing to do, nor is it going to solve our problems. But, unfortunately, people in this city, as well as the country, are fed up with the rising cost of living and the decline in wages for the working class. The mayor has become our punching bag because of inability to listen, and his sidestepping of the issues that are at the root of our frustration.

The mayor thinks he is going to solve NR's economic problems by turning the City into a "walkable" community. He envisions these high end apartments surrounding a high class retail hub that people can walk to, and pass by, on the way to the train station--excuse me--intermodal center. To fulfill his goal, he plans on creating 2500 new residential units, and filling them with 5000 new residents, many of who are single, young professionals with disposable income; people who don't drive but commute by foot or mass transit. He envisions buildings surrounded by green spaces with roof top gardens where people can grow their own food. High class shops and boutiques will then begin to sprout up all along Main Street and North Avenue. These will then miraculously create the sales tax revenue that will save our City from financial despair while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases and saving our planet.

There is one basic problem: The plan will take an enormous amount money to bring to fruition and it will take years, if not decades for it to work--that is--if it works at all. In the meantime, property taxes will keep rising so the police, firefighters, and municipal workers can get annual pay raises, their pensions paid, and so the City can maintain and replace infrastructure.

The rise in property taxes will continue to deplete the resources of the already struggling middle class property owners from Lincoln, Jackson, Rhodes and Pratt Streets. From Echo, Bayview, Soundview and Franklin Avenues. And other similar areas across the City. You see, these were the communities that made downtown NR a "walkable" community back in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Back when we had Sears, Bloomingdales, Arnold Constable, Macys, Woolworth, Grants, and many other fine stores. People walked from these areas to get to the downtown to do their shopping. They didn't have to commute by car to White Plains or Pelham Manor. Indeed, many families only owned one car so traffic wasn't as bad, and the greenhouse gas issue wasn't as great. It was a wonderful time.

But beginning in the 1970s, things changed dramatically, and those problems persist to this day. Americans began to lose their jobs due to computerization and globalization. Jobs were ship overseas where labor rates are extremely low. Many jobs were eliminated and people were replaced by computers. There began the beginnings of a work force surplus, which was then exasperated by the influx of women and Latin-Americans into the workforce. All combined, these forces created a huge surplus of workers which allowed American corporations to stop giving wage increases. The end result: Since the 1970s, Americans have seen their wages run flat. Lower wages, less money to spend.

To make up for the lower wages, Americans began to borrow money to "get ahead." As such, we have more people trying to pay off massive amounts of debt with fewer resources. Less money to spend among the middle class people who comprised downtown NR, meant less money for the retailers, and so they left and went to more fertile ground.

To add insult to injury, Ronald Reagan deregulated the economy in the 1980s which led to demise of the labor unions, and then Clinton eliminated banking regulations which allowed people to borrow more than they could ever pay back. There we have the banking crisis. Add this to the rising wages of municipal workers and the pension costs. Unlike private sector workers, public service workers have not seen there unions go bust or their wages decline which results in higher taxes for the already strapped property owners in the areas like I previously mentioned.

Now factor in Noam Bramson. Instead of joining together with other governments and trying to reverse what essentially is the decline of capitalism in this country, Bramson is off on his own tangent and wants to give scarce tax dollars to wealthy developers who he thinks will ultimately bring NR back to its former glory. In other words, throw more money at the situation which does little if anything for a starving middle class and give the money to the rich. Bramson would do much better if he would work towards putting more money in the pockets of the middle class so our debt could be reduced and we could enjoy the prosperity we once did in this country. More money in our pockets, the more we have to spend, the better for NR and the nation as a whole.

Say what you want about Rob Astorino, but at least he is moving us in that direction. He trying to bring the wages of government workers in line with the ability of the private sector to pay.

Now I know there are those who support Bramson. But here's what we need to remember: We are not experiencing and economic recovery. The government might want you to believe that, but we aren't. Over the last 5 years, corporate profits increase dramatically, and the CEOs and corporate bigwigs managed to secure themselves nice hefty bonuses and pay increase. But the wages of the working class haven't risen. We are making up for the higher cost of living by working longer hours, which enables the corporations to make more money off our sweat. In addition, our spouses have to work, not for additional income, but necessary income so we can pay our bills and send our kids to school. Two adults in the family that must work means that we now need two cars--one for the husband and one for the wife. The equates to more traffic and more greenhouses gases.

Some say higher wages will increase the cost of goods and services. Not so. Costco pays their employees and average of $20.89 an hour while its CEO earns far less than the CEOs of any other US corporation. Walmart pays $12.00 while the Waltons are earning millions for themselves annually. McDonald's earned record high profits while paying people minimum wage. In short, we are working our backs off to earn corporate executive millions and we are not seeing a dime of it. This is American capitalism at its finest. This is why the so-called economic recovery in this country has only been for the top 1% of wage earners. This is why Detroit is bankrupt and it is why the middle class, working families of NR and Westchester County are fed up with people like Bramson. We want our elected officials to put money back in our pockets-not theirs or the pockets of wealthy developers

Holier than thou
all leads to Boss Tweed Running the City.
When he continues to run the city for his purposes instead of the good of Residents and Tax payers with all of the above he opens himself up to abuse and shining the light to who he actually is.
He has gone after Parente and the UV for years over a section of property and land given to the City for the people of New Rochelle yet he avoids the facts and uses others to present his dirty work.
There is no let up no mercy he has way too many people laying wake for him.
In the end his belief that he is smarter put him in this position. We have smoke sooner or later we will find some fire until then its open season.
The group gets larger " Every Move your make will be watching you."


I am not saying the mayor doesn't need a good spanking. All I am getting at is that he is blind to the real problems facing our community. His know-it-all attitude doesn't help any. That said, insulting him isn't going to change things. It sure does feel good though.

My mother told me to get respect, you must give respect. The way the citizens of New Rochelle are responding is due to total frustration. If they feel it is necessary to launch a personal attack, so be it. Noam has done his share of personal attacks and knows how to play dirty to get his way. I stayed to the very end of the July 23rd meeting, not to hear his prepared speech about how proud he was of the people who spoke, but because I have respect for the office of mayor.

Since Noam and some members of council have adopted the mantra "numbers do not count" it is time to take the gloves off and make sure numbers do count.

How could we allow this type of government to continue? Do we really want our young people to inherit this or do we stand up for our rights?

Laraine, John and Ken,

Facts, Information and Dialogue that is what will bring change, I believe change is coming. It just need a little bit bigger of a push. It can, is and will happen if we keep up the good fight. The wheels of justice are turning. The change we need may take a while but it is in sight.

The three of you make great points. Those points were well made as part of a conversation in a professional forward direction all while sending a strong message with back up detail and information. That is what gets the attention and the message out to those that haven’t made up their minds. We see groups like Citizens for a Better New Rochelle forming and the many other qualified speakers that spoke and are now stepping up. Many of these people were friends and supporters of the mayor. They come from both sides of the aisle and many parts of New Rochelle. This shows the diversity of people that no longer believe in The Echo Bay Project or The Mayor. The way many of the citizens of New Rochelle are responding is due to total frustration and yes we are all fed up.

I fully agree that in order to get respect, you must give respect and the way the citizens of New Rochelle are responding is due to total frustration. I agree with the descriptions of his being Manipulative, Machiavellian, Hubris and that he speaks with a Holier than thou condescending tone. He also acts out in frustration at times. We have seen it. People point out these out bursts; he uses the negative attacks to say the points are political attacks. Well, they aren’t political, at least from me and many of the people that are now speaking out against the Echo Bay Project and the way The City of New Rochelle is being run into the ground.

My comments weren’t directed specifically at you. I still however don’t feel it is necessary to launch a personal attack. He doesn’t use personal attacks which is another of his grand illusions, he says enough to get peoples blood boiling. He doesn’t cross the line. My point is when certain comments cross the line. They may seem funny to some, but they will hurt the cause in the long run.

My other point was that The City Council Members are culpable when they don’t step up and speak as representatives of their districts. There is no accountability. The City Council must look for and talk about accountability going forward. But they can’t without holding themselves accountable first. All of the people around him have enabled him to build and maintain this great and powerful image.

Where is there a vision or in-sight? Who asks how and why? Is it done by Donations, friendships, pet projects? Monroe, Iona, Capelli, Trump, Forest City seem to get what they need. Why not the average New Rochellian? New Rochelle and its citizens are their first and top priority. Not politics and favors.

The City of New Rochelle has been pushed to the brink in all areas. It is time for this City Council to step up and govern as they promised when elected. They need to follow the City Charter and return to working with The 1996 Comprehensive Plan. New Rochelle is perceived as failing! We need to bring the people together, not separate them as has happened over the years. We need leaders with a vision for the future of New Rochelle and its citizens.

In order for New Rochelle to succeed, we must all work as New Rochellians. As One!