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A-Rod, Joba, Girardi and Past Yankees Stars Appear at Illegal Event at New Rochelle Club as City Officials Stand Idle

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A-Rod, Joba, Girardi and Past Yankees Stars Appear at Illegal Event at New Rochelle Club as City Officials Stand Idle

November 25, 2009 - 20:40
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5C5E3539-6C54-4DD3-9895-5F55F9E288C3.jpgNew York Yankee stars Alex Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain along with their manager, Joe Girardi, greeted fans and signed autographs at an illegal, for-profit event held at a beach club in New Rochelle, NY. More than 1,500 fans paid up to $475 a piece for the chance to take pictures and collect autographs from the celebrity athletes. The six-hour event netted event-organizer Steiner Sports Marketing hundreds of thousands of dollars, money then shared between the company and the players. Also on hand were former Yankees David Wells, David Cone and Don Larsen.

The event was held on Saturday November 14th at the Greentree Country Club on Davenport Neck. Like all of the beach clubs in the area, the Greentree is prohibited from holding non-member, for-profit events. Despite news accounts of the event beforehand in the Journal News and Westchester magazine the City appears not to have taken any steps to force the club to cancel the event. The Journal News is the official paper of record for the City of New Rochelle. City officials did not return emails requesting comment.

The club has been cited for similar violations in the past. In the past year the Greentree was cited after local wrestling promoter Paul Sarachelli sold tickets and ran a for-profit "Oldies Night" event. Residents of the neighborhood around the beach clubs have been complaining for years about these and other similar for-profit events. City Council member Albert Tarantino has announced plan to place the beach club issue on the City Council agenda for January.

Some residents believe Greentree Country Club is getting special treatment because Charles Strome, New Rochelle's City Manager is among the club's more prominent members. The City of New Rochelle has a weak-mayor form of government under which the City Council appoints a City Manager who runs the day-to-day business of the City. All city departments including those that might enforce event violations -- police, fire department and the buildings bureau -- report to Mr. Strome.

Revenue from events at the club help defray the cost of membership dues and member assessments which directly lower Strome's cost to belong to the club. This is more than the "appearance" of a conflict of interest as Strome directly benefits from the revenue generated by these events in the form of lower dues and assessments. Strome declined to comment for this article.

The Yankee event was sponsored by Last Licks Ice Cream which bills itself as “The Sports Bar For Kids". Last Licks is owned by Brandon Steiner, founder and chairman of Steiner Sports Marketing which is headquartered in downtown New Rochelle. The company is the largest sports memorabilia company in the United States.

The event became widely known on November 12th, based on a story by Gary Stern appeared in the Journal News: At $250 to $475 apiece, A-Rod autograph tickets are sold out. Stern learned of the event from a sign at the Last Licks store in Rye Brook, NY.

Fresh off their World Series win, Yankees Alex Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain and skipper Joe Girardi will come to the Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle on Saturday to sign autographs and pose for pictures for free-spending fans. A-Rod's 90-minute appearance from noon to 1:30 p.m. is already sold out. Close to 400 ticket-holders are putting down between $250 and $475 for A-Rod's John Hancock.

The story was picked up on the news web sites and blog including Westchester magazine and this site.

greentree.jpgThe event generated a large amount of revenue, none of which, according to the Journal News, was going to charity. The Journal News estimated that Alex Rodriguez would be paid between $100,000 and $200,000 for his 90 minute appearance. The paper reported that an autograph on a photo or paper cost $250, on a jersey $350, $400 for items used during a game or a "500th home run item. Tack on another $75 for a personalized autograph and $10 for Steiner to certify the signature as genuine.

Joba Chamberlain's autographs were $90 to $130; Girardi $60 to $130; David Cone $75 to $130; David Wells $75 to $140 and Larsen $50 to $135. Of course, Steiner was also selling memorabilia at the event which could then be signed by the current and former Yankee stars.

There is no indication that anyone at Steiner Sports Marketing or the New York Yankees knew that the event was illegal.

Stephen Costello, a corporate vice president at Steiner Sports Marketing who runs the Last Licks Ice Cream business for Steiner, told Talk of the Sound his company was unaware of any legal issues surrounding the event but thought residents concerns were misplaced.

"New Rochelle is not exactly the most burgeoning town" Costello said. "In this economy they should want them to have events like ours."

Alex Rodroguez photo courtesy of Keith Allison

There are 10 Comments

City officials got their Christmas stockings stuffed, pure and simple.

This is standard operating procedure for the city administration; the beach clubs have been deteriorating the quality of life on Davenport for decades. The City has neither the will nor the intestinal fortitude to enforce the law. The fines are so miniscule that they are factored in by the club owner as the cost of doing business. Who wouldn’t absorb $500 worth of fines on an event where multiple entities were feeding at a trough worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Property owners of multi-million dollar estates must put up with noise and an increased risk that medical emergency first responders may be too late due to bottlenecking traffic on narrow two lane roads from illegal beach club events. The beach clubs thumb their noses at the City by expanding illegally and playing the catch me if you can game. It’s time for the City Council and Administration to grow a pair and either;
A enforce the current laws
B raise the current fines to discourage future illegal events
C enact new legislation to prevent illegal events

Alas, as indicated the membership is a who’s who of elected officials, high ranking city employees and prominent citizens who pull strings for each other much like the assessor’s decision not to recover thousands of dollar$ lost by the City from illegal school tax relief (STAR) given to New Rochelle’s Civil Service Commissioner.

New Rochelle taxpayers are facing a 13% tax increase while the wealthy and connected are allowed to break the law and get away with it. When you factor in the $2 million dollars taken from the fund balance (4% tax increase in addition to the 8.9%) in the 2010 proposed budget the property tax increase is actually 13%. Fund balance is a taxpayer’s savings account from previous budgets. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s all a shell game played by the New Rochelle power-brokers.

Anthony Galletta

Members of the shore clubs do not necessarily constitute the wealthiest segment of the community. While they are not inexpensive, they are significantly cheaper to be a member of as opposed to those belonging to country clubs such as wykagyl, bonnie briar, siwanoy, pelham or Quaker Ridge.

If the shore clubs want to continue operating as they always have, and provide their members with the facilities they have always expected, then they should be able to. Those who built the new homes and purchased them have no right or reason to complain

Robert Cox's picture

Baxter,

auto did not write that the members of the beach clubs "constitute the wealthiest segment of the community."

auto wrote "the membership is a who’s who of elected officials, high ranking city employees and prominent citizens".

As for what the clubs and the local residents should do, it seems to me that as a nation of laws, the way to resolve differences is though the legal process. We have laws on the books. If the clubs do not like them laws they can seek to change the laws. What should not happen is that laws are ignored by the clubs because the club members are people charged with faithfully executing those laws.

In Mr. Strome's case, he took an oath. He has a legal and moral obligation to make sure that the club's follow the law, ESPECIALLY his own club.

In this instance I was responding to content of this particular posting rather than the broader 'Greentree illegal event' topic. The posting, titled 'Beach Clubs Thumb Their Nose at the City', criticized all of the beach clubs as having a negative effect on the quality of life for those who live on the neck, a statement which is unfair and inaccurate. The clubs have been there as long as most of the residential development has. A majority of the homes along the neck are not directly effected by the beach club traffic. The effects of two events held at one particular club are minute when one takes into account the busy summertime season. The events were indeed illegal and should be addressed directly, not through malformed generalizations that encompass additional innocent parties.

This can also be applied to the postings comments directed at the 'wealthy' / 'connected' segment of the community. One shore club (and specific individuals associated with that club) does not serve as a reflection of the city's wealthy segment. While the author did make a direct connection to the GCC in one statement - "the membership is a who’s who of elected officials, high ranking city employees and prominent citizens", they neglected to do so elsewhere in the posting. I had previously made mention of the 'wealthier' clubs within the city to help illustrate the inaccuracy and inappropriateness of such a generalization ( again encompassing additional innocent parties considering that most of the 'wealthy' within the NR community have no direct connection to city government or to private clubs, and certainly no connection to the issue involving Greentree CC ).

It is depressing to read the negativity that this site pushes on an hourly basis. I wonder why you guys haven't just moved to another town or if you're impression of New Rochelle is always negative.
(My apologies in advance for the spelling mistakes as I am in a crowded train typing this.

I question how accurate the claim of being 'New Rochelle's number one website since 2008 with over 100,000 visitors' really is. Perhaps the tally of visitors to the site is correct but I have yet to see proof that the assertion is anything more than a manipulative way garner reader support.

Most of the articles I see on here appear to follow the same questionable pattern. . . "shocking headlines" and stories (directed against the city establishment) are reported as actual "news" stories . The stories might be an accurate reflection of the authors viewpoint and that is fine for them. Mis-reporting of issues is unethical. Intentionally doing so to sway the opinions of others is even worse.

This articles is yet another example such selective reporting. It so perfectly works to authors convey what is clearly the authors personal opinion that that dishonesty and abuse of power / money plagues local government and the 'elite' of the community.

As an outsider looking in I wonder why a function at the county club is illegal like you say. The clubs market themselves in the off season as prime locations for galas and weddings. Who or what exists with the authority to prohibit these private clubs from holding non-member events?? Club owners whould no reason, neither would club members who dont use their facilities on weekday evenings during the wintertime. (Aside from possible noise issues, the city government and police would have no reason to make such events illegal at the clubs which are all well established parts of the community , not to mention important sources of tax revenue. If they even had the authority , it makes no sense why they would ever enact such legislation and then ignore it.)

The entire midsection of the article - in which you discuss Mr.Stone and his connection to the city council, to the Greentree club itself and the steiner event - is nothing other than a conspiracy theory built on your assumptions. The claims being made are significant yet you fail to provide any shred of supporting evidence.
A) you proceed to critique the council-manager form of government which a has existed in New Rochelle for decades. It is also the form of government used by most cities within New York State.
B) you definitively state that the reason this party was held at the Greentree was so that Strome, our city manager and member of the club, could use his influence to have the party illegally, avoid getting into trouble from whoever it is that deems these parties 'illegal', then pocket at least some of the money paid to have host the party at greentree (if not all of the money), not to mention deferring his personal membership fees to the club????? The entire theory is beyond ridiculous!!!!
C)You assert that the neither Westchester Magazine nor the Journal News, the "official paper" of the city, made any mention of this "illegal party" despite the fact that they both had prior knowledge. So these publications turned a blind eye an bc they too are puppets of the city?? You state later the Journal news reported that none of the money raised by the event was eated going to charity as claimed. Why would they report on that? who was it who claimed it was for charity in the first place? and who was that claim made to , and why was it made? The party was illegal after-all, correct?

So much of this story does not add up. There was a more widely publicized event at the club during the afternoon hours, and for the kids, yet this clearly "illegal" event was allowed to continue? Yet you claim there is no indication that Steiner Sports or the New York Yankees knew that this event was illegal. They then unknowingly held another illegal event at the club at which large sums of money were raised that went to the players etc.. instead of the alleged charity it was meant for. So who is lying or acting dishonestly then? Steiner Sports Memorabilia is a highly successful company built around the sale and merchandising of autographed sports memorabilia and the marketing of top players and teams. Any event that they are involved with is most certainly understood as to be promotional and revenue generating.

The only solid piece of info that I have gathered from your report is that at some point a neighbor(s) must have verbally complained about the events at the club. Even that bit of information requires so much more back-up to help explain the true nature of the events held at the club and what, if anything, was done wrong. Additionally, the only homes dajacent to the club are those in the new riviera shores development. I wonder why any resident living in a multimillion dollar home in a gated neighborhood would ever feel compelled to complain about the events at Greentree.

So many other topics could have New Rochelle covered by your site including the elimination of the thanksgiving day parade due to budget constraints, the newly created Davids' Island resource on the westchester county vuirtual archives, or the current performance of the high school football team.

Robert Cox's picture

I can certainly understand why you find it depressing to learn that many of the government officials in New Rochelle are engaged in corrupt or unethical behavior. It would certainly be easier to move away and just leave the City to rot -- and many people do. I might ask you a similar question, if you find this web site so unpalatable why don't you ignore this site and read other web sites. There is no shortage of "feel good" sources of "news" about New Rochelle -- Sound Shore Report, New Rochelle Review, Journal News and many, many others.

Talk of the Sound provides links to EVERY store we can find about New Rochelle -- the good, the bad and the ugly. In addition we link to YouTube videos, Twitter tweets, and more. You can find plenty of "positive" stories on the site if that is what you seek.

Our traffic data is displayed right on the home page -- at the very bottom of the home page and in the right rail.

You can read it here: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s50talknewrochelle.

As you can see, we are now approaching 150,000 unique visitors. Sitemeter, by the way, is the industry standard for blog web sites to track traffic. In either case, I am not clear why you think we must "prove" that we have had 100,000 readers since 2008 but there is your proof. In fact, the figure is about 50% more than that now.

As for the rest, I can only figure you wrote this comment after one too many glasses of wine because you obviously did not read the article very carefully. Working backwards: (1) this site has published posts about the Thanksgiving Parade and the football team; (2) residents who live in the area around the beach clubs have filed complaints about the beach clubs for years but this is not the main thrust of my article; (3) you will have to ask Davenport Neck residents why the traffic and noise from the beach clubs bothers them: (4) the issue of whether this was a charity event goes to the ordinances which were cited by the City when they issued the Greentree a court appearance ticket for the event because the City does not allow non-member, for-profit events at the clubs: (5) there was ONE event that was broken into several sessions not multiple "events"; (6) I said that both the Westchester magazine and Journal News DID write about the event BEFORE the event also, the Journal news covered the event and wrote a story about it the day after; (7) I did not say that ANYONE claimed that the event was charity event only that the Journal News interviewed the organizer and he told them that as far as he knew none of the money was going to charity; (8) I never said the Journal News or Westchester Magazine turned a "blind eye" to the event, in fact, I said the exact opposite of that and credited Gary Stern of the Journal News for first reporting about the event a few days before; (9) I did not "critique" the form of government in New Rochelle but rather explained it so readers would understand that Mr. Strome is the person with the ultimate executive authority in the City government as opposed to the Mayor who has none; (10) I never said that the event was held at the Greentree so that Strome could do anything; (11) I never said Strome pocketed any money but rather that he is a direct beneficiary when the Greentree is paid money to host events because it reduces member dues and assessments and he is a member; (12) There is no "conspiracy" theory, the Greentree was cited AFTER the event and appeared in court earlier this week; (13) as for providing "evidence", what evidence is that you feel need be produced and why. This is not a courtroom. The event really happened, the Greentree was cited for holding the event in violation of the City Code, Mr.Strome is a member of the club. What part of that do you feel requires "proof"?; (14) as for why the City has ordinances on the books that do not allow these sort of non-member, for-profit events you would have to ask the City Council members because they pass these ordinances all I know is that there are ordinances and the Greentree event violated them making the event an illegal event. Whether that is fair or not is beyond the scope of my article; (15) the police do not make events illegal they do not make laws they enforce the laws; (16) the City has the authority to make rules for the clubs because they offer dancing, musical entertainment, catering and sell wine, beer and alcohol which are all regulated. There are zoning laws and building codes throughout the City. The State Liquor Authority has a say too; (17) I am not sure why the headline is "shocking" but it would seem to me that it is certainly news when the New York Yankees comes to New Rochelle for a high profile event, that event violates City ordinances, the chief executive of the City is a member of the club but does nothing about it until AFTER the event (the fine involved is trivial).

There is at least one point on which we can agree. You note "it makes no sense why they would ever enact such legislation and then ignore it." I would agree. Either change the law or enforce it but do not have the law and ignore it.

This is not complicated.

The event was prominently reported beforehand in the official paper of record for the City of New Rochelle. Mr. Strome is the City Manager of New Rochelle and is the person who designates the Journal News as the official paper of record and authorizes payments to them for running official announcements from the City. For that reason alone, I believe, Mr. Strome knew or should have known about the event. In either case, it was an event at his club with very high profile current and former professional athletes. It is hard to imagine that Mr. Strome did not know about the event beforehand. I asked Mr. Strome to comment about all this and he declined but I believe that Mr. Strome knew of the event in advance, knew the event was illegal and allowed it to proceed anyway. I do not know why exactly he would do that but it is simply the case that Mr. Strome benefits, as do all other members, when the club earns money from hosting events. Even if he did not know about this particular event, this is hardly the first problem with the Greentree. That the club is routinely violating the law and the head of our local government is a member raises the rather obvious question of whether the City Manager is giving special treatment to the club.

All that said, my favorite part of your post is your supposed concern for "negativity" and "journalistic integrity". I get this fairly regularly -- people who do not like a story that highlights some sort of wrongdoing will either complain that the story is "negative" and should not be reported or that reporting the story is somehow violates some mystical "journalistic code".

"Mis-reporting of issues is unethical."

I think you mean INTENTIONALLY mis-reporting a story is unethical, right? Otherwise, mis-reporting is just an error that can be corrected. In any case, you have repeatedly mis-stated what I wrote in the above article so I cannot sort out what you think was "mis-reported" or what you think I know to be false or incorrect but reported as true. There is nothing in the article that is, to the best of my knowledge, untrue but I welcome any specific requests for corrections you might care to make.

"Intentionally doing so to sway the opinions of others is even worse."

Since I do believe there is ANY mis-reporting any claim as to my intentions is misguided. If readers are "swayed" by my story to ask questions about whether a certain "elite" in New Rochelle get special treatment then so be it.

"This articles is yet another example such selective reporting."

All reporting is "selective" so I cannot argue this point.

"the authors personal opinion that that dishonesty and abuse of power / money plagues local government and the 'elite' of the community."

I am going to have to please guilty to this last point. I am of the opinion that "dishonesty and abuse of power / money plagues local government and the 'elite' of the community." I also believe this is a bad thing. You are welcome to believe that such dishonest and abuse should be tolerated and that those who find it distasteful should keep quiet of move away just as I am welcome to believe it should not be tolerated and exposed.

Ain't America grand?

The original article addressing this issue brought a significant amount of substantial information to the attention of the sites readers. Perhaps it was a little too much to convey in such a short article?? After reading your reply, much of my initial confusion has been cleared up. My previous post, which was filled with questions and associated commentary, was directed at the multitude of supporting data which was missing . . and was intended to reflect the degree of confusion which resulted.

Robert Cox's picture

The article was quite clear and what you call "questions and commentary" was, in fact, a series of uninformed, misdirected criticisms of the article based on a complete misreading of the content of the article.

I again suggest you re-read the article. It should be quite clear that you have fundamentally misunderstand even the most basic facts. Your response is then a response of statements that were never made. It is as if you were responding to an entirely different article.

In either case, there is a central point to the article and your "questions and commentary" are as inaccurate as the are off-the-mark.

Let’s interject some facts which BaxterNR appears to be clueless of.

“The clubs market themselves in the off season as prime locations for galas and weddings. Who or what exists with the authority to prohibit these private clubs from holding non-member events??”

FYI: The New Rochelle zoning code prohibits non-member for profit events regardless of how much advertising a club does. The building, fire and police departments have the authority to write violations and or shut these illegal events down.

“you proceed to critique the council-manager form of government which a has existed in New Rochelle for decades. It is also the form of government used by most cities within New York State.”

FYI: WRONG! There are only a handful of cities in New York State which have the city manager form of government. Most cities have a strong mayor or variation there of form of government.

“I wonder why any resident living in a multimillion dollar home in a gated neighborhood would ever feel compelled to complain about the events at Greentree.”

FYI: People invested in million dollar homes with the expectation that city zoning laws would be enforced as written thus guaranteeing a high quality of life. It is obvious that you never attended an event of this size on the neck and witnessed the traffic nightmare which would greatly inhibit emergency response time putting lives and property at great risk. There is a citywide noise ordinance which takes effect at 10 PM which the beach clubs routinely ignore not to mention multiple illegal expansions which put the city at risk for allowing any event legal or otherwise without a certificate of occupancy for the illegal enhancements.

In closing, it is obvious that you’ve never been south of the train station to see exactly what goes on for yourself. You make what you believe to be common sense assumptions devoid of facts or knowledge of the situation which exists or the laws and codes which apply. Your sole purpose is to make a personal attack on the website and its founder. I especially enjoy your verbal diarrhea, “I wonder why you guys haven't just moved to another town or if you're impression of New Rochelle is always negative.” I for one am born and raised in New Rochelle (52-years) and moved out two years ago; my heart will always be in New Rochelle and I have family residing there. I am in New Rochelle weekly and frequent New Rochelle businesses and am not ashamed or afraid to sign my name to my posts. I have debated many like you and when your opponent can’t refute the facts they employ a personal attack. You are probably one of the administration’s shills and or a Steiner operative who has mastered the blue smoke and mirrors game but remember when the smoke clears you are exposed for who and what you are. I have attacked you after refuting your assumptions because everyone knows when you assume you make an ASS out of U and ME! I dare you to prove me wrong with facts!

Enjoy the train ride.

Anthony Galletta

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