Sunday, February 11, 2007



3 trees in Shrub Oak at center of dispute

By Robert MarchantThe Journal News(Original Publication: February 11, 2007) YORKTOWN

- A stand of old oak trees has turned into a long-running and acrimonious dispute between the town and a local homeowner.
It may not reach Dickensian proportions, but Attila Papp's campaign against Yorktown's Public Works Department has all the elements of a long-running suburban feud, with narratives and counter-narratives piling up like autumn leaves.
Papp says the trees in front of his home on Crestward Avenue in Shrub Oak, which occasionally drop branches, belong to the town. He says a car parked near them was damaged when a branch fell on it last year and says the town is being negligent for not taking responsibility for them.
"It damaged my car, and a huge branch came down on Thanksgiving. If it hit me, I wouldn't be here," said Papp, who was working as a sanitation worker until he was sidelined last year from his job by a hand injury.
Papp maintains that the trees, standing between 10 and 20 feet from Crestward Avenue, lie within the town's jurisdiction.
"I want the town to take responsibility for them, so I'm not liable if something bad happens," he said.
He points to a survey from the town's Water Department, indicating the trees lie within the town's right-of-way on Crestward.
But the town's public works superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, disputes Papp's claims and insists the trees are on Papp's property. He says the town's right of way extends only 3 feet from the edge of the road, and he called Papp's assertions baseless.
"It's not on town property, and the trees are not dead," said DiBartolo, who described himself as exasperated by the homeowner's campaign over the past few years to have them removed. DiBartolo said he had doubts that a branch damaged a car parked in Papp's driveway and added that he looked at a police report indicating the car was damaged by someone's fist, not a branch.
DiBartolo said three arborists, two on staff, one a private contractor, had inspected the trees and found them to be in no danger of falling down or posing any danger to the public. If they posed any public threat, he said, they would be removed quickly - whether they were on public or private property.
"I've been there a hundred times," DiBartolo said, and his staff had determined the trees were not on town land.
The three trees have been spray-painted, as if marked for removal. Papp said the paint was put on by town workers last year after they indicated they would, in fact, come down.
But DiBartolo says the homeowner put the paint on, not his staff.
DiBartolo said he thinks Papp wants the trees removed to add more parking to his property and doesn't want to spend the roughly $5,000 that a tree company would charge to do it.
"I'm not going to have a crew working all day to take his trees down," he said, "This municipality is not in the business of being a tree company."
Papp said he had all the driveway he needed and insisted the town was ignoring a safety hazard.
The three oaks may have a long life ahead of them. The feud between Papp and the town is also likely to thrive.

Dear Readers:

I put this article in this blog entry for only one reason, that is found in the portion of this article dealing with the boundary dispute. The town's public works superintendent says that being that the trees are THREE FEET onto the owners property they belong to the property owner, they are not on the towns right of way. This is where the "life is not a Vacuum" part comes in. During last years election cycle and the year before local election cycle the town said the police had the right to come TEN FEET on to your property to remove political advocacy signs, as that is the towns right of way. One of the reasons given in an article last year was for snow removal, the town was given that right of way. I found that strange for having lived in this town for fifty-two years I don't remember it snowing in August or September and only once the last week of October we got a dusting of snow. So, it seems if you have a tree, the towns right of way is tree feet, but if you advocate for a person running for office not an incumbent, the town's right of way is ten feet.

What is really interesting is that last November this issue of eminent domain was brought before the town board and by January we had a new law regarding eminent domain(thanks to Councilman Nick Bianco). This issue of the police coming on private property to remove political advocacy signs is going on three years and they are still studying it!!!!!
The issue of free political speech is just as important and constitutionally protected as eminent domain and deserves the same attention!!!! As this year the local town officials are up for re-election, I believe it is high time to resolve this issue of the police coming on private property to silence free political speech and stop this practice.

Governor proposes DEC office on climate

By Greg BrunoTimes Herald-Record February 13, 2007

Albany - A plan by Gov. Eliot Spitzer to create a new Climate Change Office would put New York on the leading edge of national efforts to curb global warming, environmental advocates said.
Tucked in the governor's inaugural $120.6 billion budget is a proposal to add 12 climate experts to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Currently, there are two — one works full time and one part time.
Jeffrey Gordon, a spokesman for the state's Office of Budget, said it would cost taxpayers $776,000 to hire two economists, one climatologist and nine environmental program specialists.
If approved by the Legislature, the office would become only the second state-level climate change bureau in the nation, behind California.
The office's new employees would initially focus on implementing and expanding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a seven-state initiative to reduce carbon-dioxide releases from power plants and other sources by 2009.
Environmental experts said the move would redefine New York as one of the nation's leaders in addressing climate change.
"Having this institutional capability could position us to become a leader again on global warming," said Dave Gahl, air and energy program director for Environmental Advocates of New York. "California has jumped ahead of us, but New York needs to step up. Now we've got a proposal."
It wouldn't be the first time New York acted to reduce the emission of heat-trapping gasses. The state pushed the greenhouse gas initiative during the Pataki administration, and adopted California's tough vehicle emission standards more than a decade ago.
But Spitzer has vowed to do more. During the campaign, he called climate change the most important environmental issue facing his generation.
"Gov. Spitzer is not twiddling his thumbs, and neither will New York on the issue of climate change, climate change policy and effective steps to deal with climate change," said Marc Violette, a spokesman for the governor.


Dear Readers:

What I am about to write may read like political heresy, but here goes anyway. I will sate first that I do believe the Earth is warming up. I also side with the scientists that say this is a natural development in the scheme of the universe, in other words WE are NOT the major cause of this. In high school science we were taught what was called the "scientific method". That first you define the phenomenon, then you form your hypothesis to explain it, finally you perform tests to prove or disprove your theory. At this point in time, Global warming theory stops at step two and instead of step three a consensus is inserted. CONSENUS is NOT science! Their supposed step three is based on computer generated equations fed to the computers by people with an agenda.

It has been said that the scientists who do not subscribe to the "selfishness of man(particularly the United States)cause of this warming are funded by private groups(read big oil) with an agenda and thus should be ignored. However those scientists who do subscribe to the "selfishness of man(particularly the United States) cause funded by Government and benefactors(like the Heinz group) of like minded people are noble and above reproach. Hogwash!!!! When Senator Jay Rockefeller sends on Senate stationary a letter threatening "big oil" executives regulation retaliation should they continue to fund a study that says man is not the primary cause, then I have to pause and think that this smacks more of a political movement then science. I also conclude this because every solution devised is one that is designed to separate us from our money(via taxes and fees and surcharges), control our lifestyles(though not theirs) and use "environmental" concerns to usurp the "takings" clause in our constitution, by not actually taking your property but by limiting your use of it without compensation(you get to pay full taxes, but not full use). If this does not smell of politics by a bunch of frustrated socialists , nothing does. It is certainly not science.

Finally, their is the hypocrisy of the pre-eminent advocates. They wish us to use mass transit, or drive cars that you have to peddle to get anywhere, yet they get to fly charter and drive suburban's or SUV'S.
Alas we are the peons and they are the ruling elite. When they start flying coach and drive hybrids then maybe I might take them more seriously. Until I start seeing actual step three of the scientific method, less political blackmail, and less hypocrisy, I will not drink the kool-ade. Until I see solutions that are not designed to solely punish the United States while leaving the rest of the industrialized nations alone, then I say it's spinach and to hell with it.

Mayor Testa Delivers 2007 State of the City AddressNotable Accomplishments of 2006:

Revitalization Efforts Have Generated Millions in New Revenue, Eight New Police Officers are Helping Reduce Crime, and Code Enforcement Efforts Have Closed 47 Illegal Rooming Houses

Things to Look Forward to in 2007: Mayor Proposes Consolidation of Fire Companies to Enhance Efficiency, Strengthen Response, and Reduce Costs; City's Website Will Enable Residents to Pay Tax and Water Bills Online by end of year
PEEKSKILL, NY -- On Tuesday, February 13, 2007, Mayor John G. Testa presented his sixth State of the City Address in the Common Council Chambers at City Hall."2006 marked the first year that my vision for revitalizing Peekskill began to pay a handsome dividend," Mayor John G. Testa addressed the chamber audience. Since he was elected to our City's highest office in 2002, Testa has sponsored a number of measures to grow the tax base by more than $3 million; one third of that growth was achieved in 2006 alone. As a result, over $2 million in additional tax revenue was generated in 2006. This dividend from redevelopment enabled the City to deliver back-to-back 0% tax increases for 2006 and 2007. Equally important, $1.5 million of that additional annual revenue goes to the Peekskill School District. "Every time we act to increase our tax base," Mayor Testa explained, "this means more money for our schools. And this is good for our children." Testa also noted that pending plans for future redevelopment in the downtown and waterfront will generate millions more in annual revenue for Peekskill's schools, provided opponents of these measures do not succeed in derailing his revitalization plan.Efforts to reduce crime have also been paying off, Mayor Testa noted. Peekskill added 8 new police officers in 2006. Two have been assigned to a 6:00pm - 2:00am shift, focusing on quality-of-life issues. They have had a pronounced effect in making our streets safer. In fact, since 2000, total crime in Peekskill has decreased by 41%, according to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice. Most dramatic has been the decrease in violent crime. From 2003 to 2005, violent crime in Peekskill has been reduced by more than 30%, while violent crime in Westchester County as a whole has seen a slight increase during that same period.But Mayor Testa and Police Chief Eugene Tumolo have not rested on their laurels. Instead, they are working to reduce crime even further. Recently, they established the Northern County Narcotics/Anti-Crime Task Force, a coalition with neighboring law enforcement agencies, which has already netted more than three major drug arrests.2006 was also the year that Peekskill became the leader in emergency preparedness in Northern Westchester, Mayor Testa proudly remarked. The City's Emergency Operations Center received significant new equipment the past year, and formulated sheltering plans with the Red Cross, should the need arise. In addition, the Tactical Response Unit received new equipment and specialized training so they are prepared for any emergency or dangerous situation that might beset the City.Another significant accomplishment in 2006 was on the front of code enforcement. The Task Force conducted over 6,000 inspections last year, and uncovered 27 illegal apartments, 47 rooming houses, and 52 illegal construction activities. Follow-up inspections generated $400,000 in fines from property owners who did not comply with the law within the specified time frame. Tough enforcement actions are beginning to have the desired deterrent effect.Among the things Peekskill has to look forward to in 2007, Mayor Testa noted that the City should officially receive 40 acres of property previously designated for development. The land will be used to create Fort Hill Park, provided opponents do not get their way. Democratic Party Common Council members are still trying to derail the Waterfront Project, which could have the effect of robbing the citizens of Peekskill of this precious new park, as well as opening up the 40 acres of natural beauty to development.2007 will also bring improvements to the Government Channel, as well as to the City's website. Before the end of the year, residents will be able to pay water and tax bills online.Finally, Mayor Testa outlined a bold plan to consolidate the Fire Department. No less than half of the current 6 fire companies will be joined into a single, centralized house. This will improve the efficiency of responses, as well as deliver a huge cost savings to Peekskill taxpayers.

For further information about the City's progress in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, downtown revitalization, waterfront redevelopment, code enforcement and quality of life initiatives, infrastructure improvements, business growth, historic preservation, and open government, read Mayor Testa's complete State of the City Address, which is available by clicking this link.

Westchester County wants to spend money to make money at Playland

By Liz AndersonThe Journal News(Original Publication: February 15, 2007)

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano is proposing to spend $6 million to buy eight rides at the county's Playland Amusement Park in Rye that are owned by outside vendors.
Spano called the plan, just submitted to the county Board of Legislators, "the initial and crucial step in turning negative flow of tax levy dollars into revenue-generating operations at the park."
The change was recommended by a study released in July that looked at ways to improve Playland's financial picture and move closer to a day when the park pays for itself. Previous studies have made similar suggestions.
The county staffs and maintains the rides in question, but in seven of the eight cases, shares revenue with the owners. The other ride is leased outright, Parks Commissioner Joseph Stout said.
According to figures supplied by Spano, the county would earn $4.3 million from the rides over the next 15 years if the terms of the current arrangements are carried forward, but $15.6 million if the county buys them. That is an average of more than $750,000 in additional revenue for the park yearly, cutting the county's tax support by one-fifth, he said.
Stout said the figure includes the cost of the bond payments, which would total $7.8 million including interest and debt service.
The rides include Crazy Mouse, Super Flight and Kite Flyer, which are under a revenue-sharing agreement with Fitraco, a Dutch bank. Another, the Playland Plunge, is leased from that company. Four others - Catch a Wave, Double Shot, Fun Slide and Kiddyland's Jungle Jammin' - are run under a revenue-sharing agreement with the company Rides Plus, which Stout said was in the amusement park ride-leasing business.
All of the rides were added in the past five years as the county sought to change its offerings. One agreement, for Kite Flyer, just expired; the others vary, running from two to eight more summer seasons, Stout said.
The park went without a fatal accident on its rides last summer after back-to-back years of child fatalities. Stout said owning the eight attractions - which were not involved in those incidents - would not increase the county's legal exposure because it already assumes the liability for them.
Stout said the county executive would introduce two other bills in the coming weeks pegged to the findings of the consultant involved in the study. One calls for installing the technology to let park patrons buy food with the prepaid "Fun Card" system, now limited to rides. Another would be a bond to rehabilitate the property's decaying bathhouses, which might be converted into a children's museum.
Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, chairman of the board's budget committee, said he expected to schedule a hearing after all of the bills are in. He said he is receptive to the ride purchase because of its potential to save money.
"If the benefit beats the cost, unless there's something we're missing, it usually makes sense to do it," he said.
Board Minority Leader George Oros, R-Cortlandt, however, said he remained skeptical.
"I think at a time we're constantly hitting the taxpayers with tax increases and have so many other problems in the county, for us to spend $6 million for amusement rides just doesn't sit well with me," he said. Oros said he thought the board needed to dig further into the consultant's proposed "master plan" for the park and examine other options, such as running a scaled-back amusement area.
Another nine major rides are owned and operated by outside concessionaires. The county is weighing whether to buy those, but would need to add staff and take on other costs to run those rides, Stout said.
A 10th, a swing ride called the Dream Machine, is being discontinued, he said.


Dear Readers:

As both our County Legislators have made their views know in this article, I will leave it up to you to decide what is best. Questions about is this the best way to spend tax dollars and can government run a profitable business are a good starting point. I think you have read me enough to know where I would stand on this.
Dear Readers:

If you link to the Plan-Putnam site at the bottom of this page and archive February 2007, you will find my comments on where our rights come from (February 7 "The great Kent Manor Bait and Switch") and Rep. John Hall's speech on the house floor on the topic of Iraq and my comments on his speech(February 14).
Dear Readers:

Until I get approval from the editor of the North County News I cannot re-print an article dealing with the possible candidacy of Don Peters for Yorktown Supervisor. Without the reference point, my comments would not make sense.



BAZZO 02/17/07

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