On Friday 03/02/07 Your humble writer had a two hour meeting with the Editor-in -Chief and Publisher of the North County News and he has given permission for this blog to re-print articles from that newspaper. I feel it is important to note that Mr. Apar had not seen my last posting reguarding the NCN, which made the meeting all that special to me. Your regular readers know that the primary mission of this blog is to bring to your attention articles and commentary to help you in this election cycle as your local representatives are up for election. I want to thank Mr. Apar for helping make this mission possible.
THIS WAS IN THE JOURNAL NEWS
Transportation Train noise perturbs peekskill residents Peekskill residents rail against loud train horns
•Peekskill residents rail against loud train horns
(Original publication: February 26, 2007)
At least a dozen times a day, John Cosgrove is startled by the long-long-short-long horn blasts of a northbound Metro-North Railroad train as it passes his bedroom and living-room windows at the River Bend townhouse development.
As each northbound train goes by, it is required by federal law to sound its horn there, a quarter-mile south of the Hudson Avenue grade crossing in Peekskill. While no one disputes that the trains were there first, Cosgrove and some of his neighbors would like to silence them.
At the same time, the grade crossing is a popular one. Audible reminders that a train is approaching help keep residents safe. Many village residents and workers who want to enjoy the Hudson River views or concerts at the new Riverfront Green Park cross the tracks, as do boaters heading for the Peekskill Yacht Club and some commuters who park at the city's train station. Peekskill's waterfront is undergoing a revival, and no one wants a train tragedy to spoil that.
A longtime Peekskill resident and retired educator, Cosgrove chose his townhouse when it was just a hole in the ground. He toured the site on weekends, when there is just one northbound train an hour.
"That's really why I came here - for that view," he said, grinning and gesturing out past the railroad tracks to the Hudson and the slopes of the Palisades beyond. "That's a million-dollar view, or at least a half-million-dollar view. When the train on the other side of the river blows its horn, it's romantic. When it blows here, it startles me. Sometimes it's frightening."
Cosgrove did not find out until he moved in eight months ago that having a railroad for a neighbor meant living with 27 sets of horn blasts between 7:30 a.m. and 3:11 a.m.
"People love trains. Most people get very used to it," said railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. "If you don't love trains, you probably shouldn't move next to one."
Moving out may be the path one of Cosgrove's neighbors takes. A few days after she moved in, Pat Attias packed her things and left.
"They drive me nuts," she said. "I put my house on the market the minute I moved in. I sleep in the living room because it's so noisy downstairs. At 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, every time a train horn blows, it wakes me up. If you're listening to something on the television or the radio, you can't hear. I hope they can do something. I really would appreciate it. I do like my house."
Not one to give up, Cosgrove had already persuaded the developer, Martin Ginsberg, to remove a tree that blocked his view. He reached out again to him and city officials, but both responded politely that it was out of their hands. He also recently wrote to the new chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Lee Sander, but has not yet heard back from him. Then Cosgrove contacted Going Places.
"I know it's a safety feature," he said. "There are a lot of people living along the lines and more to come. I don't want a train to hit anybody. There has to be a solution. There are other solutions than blowing the horn in residential neighborhoods."
He's right. The Federal Rail Administration has recently amended guidelines by which a community or group of communities can establish a "quiet zone" where no train horns are sounded. The quiet zone must be at least a half-mile long, and any grade crossings in it must have flashing lights and gates and may require additional safety features.
These can include photo enforcement; four-way gates; automated, train-activated horns placed at crossings and stations; or medians down the center of the road to prevent drivers from trying to cross the tracks when a train approaches. Costs can range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars for each crossing.
The Federal Rail Administration provides technical assistance to communities interested in pursuing this, spokesman Warren Flatau said. Typically, a team is assembled that includes the FRA, state transportation officials, the railroad and county planners.
Since railroads aren't obligated to pay for the improvements needed to assure the public's safety without train horns, communities often secure congressional earmark funds from their representatives and state funding for the local match, he said.
Property owners can also be charged through a special assessment. A hotel developer interested in upholding his property's value paid for the upgrades in one instance, Flatau said. Once built, the grade-crossing improvements are maintained by the railroad.
"Government has to apply to us," Flatau said. "I've seen community groups push this right through. It is an important quality-of-life issue."
Rockland County is well into the process of creating a countywide quiet zone along the West Shore Line, sparked by the tripling of freight traffic in 1998. The county's efforts had to be put on hold while the federal government spent years changing quiet-zone rules.
Susan Myer, a spokeswoman for the county's Planning Department, said Rockland hopes to begin construction in 2008 and have all 15 public and eight private crossings upgraded within a year's time. The county has $3.68 million from a federal earmark set aside for this.
Daniel Fitzpatrick, the Peekskill city manager, wasn't familiar with quiet zones, but once they were briefly described to him, he said, "I'm going to put my city planner on it right away. If there is a way we can make the lives of our citizens better, I think we're obligated to look into it."
Anders said that even if Peekskill applied for a quiet zone and made all the needed upgrades, "trains would still have to blow their horns as they approach the station to warn people on or near the platform."
Flatau said there was still room for discussion: "There is a possibility that they'd work something out and use the bells instead of sounding the horn. From where I sit, that wouldn't necessarily be the end-all. It would have to be explored."
Cosgrove said he won't give up.
"One of the nice things about being retired," he said, "is you have all this time to devote to a cause."
Going Places runs Mondays. Please send your ideas and comments to Caren Halbfinger at email@example.com or 914-694-5004.
MY COMMENTS ON THIS
The trouble with retired people is that they have tooooooooo much time on their hands. Not only has Mr. Cosgrove discovered that if you live near a train station they(the trains) actually blow their horns as they come upon a railroad crossing, I think he was also shocked to find out there was gambling in Casablanca. He thinks because he spent about a half-million dollars on his new home, they taxpayers should foot the bill for his comfort. I only have a high school education, yet I know that if I live near a railroad crossing, I am going to hear train horns. Being that he has been paid by the taxpayer all his life and now into retirement, it is no wonder he feels justified in thinking the taxpayers still owe him. To think that, he now has all that free time on his hands to continue to be annoying. Mr. Cosgrove, if you really don't like the horns, then do as your neighbor did, MOVE!!!!! It is not the taxpayer's responsibility to correct an error in YOUR judgement, nor to make your life more comfortable. I work every day at the train station and right now I find you more annoying then the horns.
MESSAGES FROM COUNTY LEGISLATOR OROS
Legislator, 1st District
February 27, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828
County continues to Invest-in-Kids
Funding secured to help City of Peekskill provide much needed programs for youth in community
County Legislator George Oros (R-C/Cortlandt) is pleased to announce $120,000 was recently approved by the Board of Legislators for the City of Peekskill Youth Bureau to continue providing after-school and summer programs for youth ages 11-18.
The funding is part of the county’s Urban Youth Initiative “Invest-in-Kids” program, which was established in 1993 to be a positive development model for at-risk youths in 11 urban communities.
Peekskill’s Youth Bureau, which started in 1994, has been part of the Invest-in-Kids program for the last 10 years.
“Invest-in-Kids is just what the name implies: an investment,” said Oros, whose district covers Peekskill, Cortlandt, Buchanan and parts of Yorktown. “It is much wiser to invest taxpayer funds to help our youth stay out of trouble than to incur the heavy cost of incarceration and other high costs to society for non-productive citizens.”
Under the direction of Valerie Swan and with the support of Mayor John Testa and the Common Council, Oros said the Peekskill Youth Bureau is “held up as a model for other municipalities in the county.”
Swan said more than 280 youth participate in various programs offered through Invest-in-Kids. She said about 80 of those youngsters between the ages of 11-13 will be part of a new initiative made possible by the funds approved by the county.
“The parents are ecstatic,” Swan said. “Those are kids too old to go to camp and too young to work. We definitely would not be able to have that program without the county’s help.”
Legislator, 1st District
February 27, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828
Secrecy surrounding federal probe at Medical Center disturbing
The Republican conference of the Westchester County Board of Legislators expressed deep concern with the lack of disclosure displayed by management at the Westchester Medical Center in regards to a federal investigation of the institution. The conference also questioned if the Spano administration withheld knowledge or information about the probe from members of the Board of Legislators.
While appreciating the gesture of Medical Center President Michael Israel to take full responsibility for the communication snafu when questioned by the Board of Legislators on Monday (February 26), Minority Leader George Oros said it was a mistake that has been repeated far too often in regards to activities and event at the Medical Center.
“For a serious matter such as this, where the taxpayer is the major financial stakeholder, it is totally inexcusable to blindside the Board of Legislators,” Oros remarked. “The minute the subpoena was served on the Medical Center on January 30, a call should have been made to the board chairman. For it to be revealed two weeks later in the media is embarrassing and demonstrates a crack in the armor somewhere.”
Thee republican conference also questioned whether the county executive’s office was aware of the investigation before it was made public and failed to inform the Board of Legislators.
“We’re all in this together,” Oros said. “There can’t be any secrets kept. The taxpayers are smarter than that and deserve better.”
The conference has renewed its call to Chairman William Ryan and the County Executive to immediately inform all members of the Board of Legislators or any relevant events or incidents that occur at or regarding the Westchester Medical Center and the Westchester County Health Care Corporation.
THIS WAS IN THE JOURNAL NEWS
Peekskill Fire Department looks at consolidating companies
By MARCELA ROJASTHE JOURNAL
(Original publication: February 25, 2007)
PEEKSKILL - The city's Fire Department has been grappling with deteriorating firehouses for years and is now pushing to consolidate three - and perhaps four - of its six companies around town.
The two buildings that house Columbian Engine, Washington Engine and Peekskill Fire Patrol are suffering from substandard conditions, including water leaks, roof damage and antiquated staff quarters, said Fire Chief John Pappas. But rather than rehabilitating the dilapidated structures, the department wants to bring them under one new roof.
"We'd like to build a central station that would accommodate our needs," Pappas said. "The buildings are just not energy efficient. Columbian (Engine) and Washington have 25-foot ceilings. We're heating dead space. These buildings have served out their use."
The structures were built in the early- to mid-1900s, Pappas said.
The Fire Department is eyeing a park-like parcel off Academy and Broad streets, adjacent to where Columbian and Washington engines are already located. That building would likely be demolished, officials said. Peekskill Fire Patrol is quartered off Highland Avenue and, while it was an engine company, it will become exclusively a rescue company starting this weekend.
The engine there now would move to the new headquarters.
The size of the proposed building has not been determined, but ideally it would have at least six bays for firefighting rigs, along with training, office and storage space, the chief said.
Mayor John Testa said he is on board with the merger and expects to have a meeting with fire officials and the Common Council early next month.
"This would be more economically suitable for the city, and more efficient to have half the city services out of one location," Testa said.
Centennial Hose Company on Washington Street, on the south end of Peekskill, would stay where it is, Pappas said, and there are no plans to move Columbian Hose Company, in northeast Peekskill behind the Beach Shopping Center. The fire company owns that building and the city pays it rent to store its apparatus, Pappas said. Peekskill is in the process of buying the Cortlandt Hook & Ladder firehouse on Main Street, which may eventually move to the central facility, Pappas said.
Consolidation would have a number of benefits, the chief said. They include lower utility costs and cutting response time by having a central station. A training center would mean better firefighters, he said.
The Peekskill Fire Department has 185 volunteer and 24 career firefighters who respond to more than 900 fire calls and 2,000 medical calls a year, Pappas said. The department has a $2.8 million annual budget, he said. The company would not lose any paid members under the consolidation plan.
Once fire officials have met with the City Council, the next step would be to hire an architect. A bond would likely be needed, Testa said.
"We would be eliminating quite a bit of cost in the long run," the mayor said.
THIS WAS AN EDITORIAL IN THE JOURNAL NEWS
Hold on a moment
(Original Publication: February 26, 2007)
Thrilling news that a new vaccine prevents infection from four common strains of the virus that causes cervical cancer has been subsequently undercut by in-your-face pressure - and resulting public unease - from vaccine-maker Merck & Co. to make the inoculations mandatory. Driving the angst in part is the fact the vaccine is ideally recommended for girls at ages 11 or 12. That fans the flames for fire-breathers who don't want to think about girls' sexuality, let alone take affirmative steps to account for it.
Government health officials haven't done a good job informing people about the virus. The public has hardly had time to weigh the implications of the vaccine. Parents need to make informed judgements about what it means for their daughters. And the vaccine's expense, and questions about its availability, make its prospective mandate all the more worrisome. Worse, at a time when drug makers' influence on lawmaking seems to far outweigh the public's, Merck has been relentless about pushing its cause. Merck backed off last week, announcing it was suspending lobbying efforts aimed at getting states to require the vaccine. Nonetheless, unease remains.
And that is regrettable. The human papillomavirus, commonly referred to as HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease, infecting an estimated 20 million Americans. About 50 percent of all U.S. adults have the virus and most don't know it, experts say. Merck's new vaccine, Gardasil, prevents infection from four common strains of the virus. Its use would be a major step in eliminating a potentially lethal cancer that affects nearly 10,000 Americans and kills an estimated 4,000 women a year. Men can't get cervical cancer, but millions of them get HPV, which they can pass to partners.
With lightning speedThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil in June. Within a few weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended its use for girls and women ages 9 to 26; more specifically, that all girls be inoculated at ages 11 or 12 or before they become sexually active. Since then, at least 18 state legislatures are considering requiring the vaccine for school attendance, similar to inoculations against other communicable diseases.
New York Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, is introducing a bill in the Legislature to require inoculation for HPV with this "amazing vaccine,'' she told the Editorial Board Wednesday. Paulin said she was an early supporter of mandatory inoculation because of the obvious public-health benefits and had not been swayed by Merck lobbying. "Merck was never really a factor for me,'' Paulin said. This month, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas issued an executive order making Texas the first state to require that school girls get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. Texas allows parents to opt out by filing affidavits objecting on religious or philosophical grounds. Health officials were directed to make the vaccine free to uninsured girls ages 9 to 18 and for those whose policies don't cover it. Perry, a Republican, ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to eligible women ages 19 to 21.
Critics in Texas note that Perry and many of his top staffers have ties to Merck, a New Jersey-based company that stands to make billions of dollars from Gardasil. The three-shot regimen costs around $375. The Associated Press reported that Perry received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign. Paulin said she had received a $500 donation from Merck well after she began researching Gardasil and drawing up her bill.
Girls overshadowed?Paulin worries that because the vaccine currently is "only'' for girls and tied to sexuality, its cervical cancer prevention attributes will get lost in bias and knee-jerk rejection. Many social conservatives contend that receiving the shots could encourage premarital sex. A spokesman for New York's Catholic Conference told The Journal News earlier this month that it would "have to read the bill before we respond to it.''
But Paulin notes that children and teens in New York already must be inoculated against the Hepatitis B infection, which is passed either directly from those who are infected or indirectly from their bodily fluids. Physicians say human papillomavirus can cause diseases that affect men, too, including genital, mouth and throat cancers. A vaccine for boys is in research. Gov. Eliot Spitzer has indicated his support of the new HPV vaccine, including $1.5 million in his proposed $120.6 billion budget to provide the shots for low-income women and those without insurance. But there's no reason to rush making such inoculations mandatory - notwithstanding Merck's haste.
Before Gardasil is widely mandated, Albany and New York families are owed a sober discussion about the HPV virus, the vaccine and Merck's conduct. That means making more information - not just lobbying spin - available to medical professionals, parents, lawmakers and others. In the final analysis, we hope the drug maker's public relations do not obscure what truly has been a medical breakthrough.
MY COMMENTS ON THIS:
If this proposed new law is not the epitome of state sanctioned nannyism nothing is. The main argument by the proponents of this law is that we already inoculate against polio, chicken pox and tuberculosis. What they fail to mention is that those communicable diseases can be acquired by casual contact. Human pappillomavirus is caused by ELECTIVE behavior. What the state is telling you is that you are incapable of controlling your 11 to 16 year old so we, THE STATE are going to interfere. I must ask again, how long are you going to sit still and be quiet while the state continues to invade your home "for your own good". By the way this vaccine cost about $300.00, and you pay for it. That my dear readers is called an unfunded mandate. God, it is "laws" like these that make me want to throw-up. I happen to believe you as a parent are more that capable of controlling YOUR child.
THIS WAS IN THE JOURNAL NEWS
Legislators like Playland ride-purchase plan
By LIZ ANDERSON THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 28, 2007)
A Westchester County legislative committee quickly gave its blessing yesterday to a proposal to spend $6 million to buy eight rides at the county-run Playland Amusement Park in Rye.
"I think this is exciting, and we're positive it will be a good thing," Legislator Jose Alvarado, D-Yonkers, chairman of the board's Public Works, Labor, Transportation and Parks Committee, told Parks Commissioner Joseph Stout.
The rides under consideration for purchase are Crazy Mouse, Super Flight, Kite Flyer, the Playland Plunge, Catch a Wave, Double Shot, Fun Slide and Kiddyland's Jungle Jammin'. They have been in place from one to eight seasons, but are run by the county under leases or revenue-sharing agreements with outside owners.
County Executive Andrew Spano is asking the Board of Legislators to approve the purchase as an amendment to the current-year capital budget.
Stout said the county was "at a historic point" in making the park more profitable.
The commissioner said the eight rides, taken together, earned $1.75 million last season; of that, $1.16 million went to the owners. The county, which operates and maintains the rides, was left with only $593,000 to spend on its direct and indirect operating expenses, he said.
In the next 15 years, however, the county is estimating the rides will average $2 million in revenue. After spending an estimated $524,000 annually to pay off the necessary bonds, and about $725,000 in operating expenses, the county could net an additional $752,000 per year in revenue, Stout said.
That would cut the amount of tax revenue needed to balance the amusement park's books by one-fifth, Stout said.
"As far as I'm concerned, these numbers are conservative," he said.
Right now, Stout said, "we're splitting the money with partners."
"That's the bottom line," he said. "This is a refinancing deal."
Legislators were amenable to Stout's sales pitch, but at least one raised questions about how the county got to this position in the first place.
"Boy, you did a bad deal - who did that contract?" asked Suzanne Swanson, C-Mount Pleasant.
Stout blamed legislators' resistance to buying rides in the past.
"We've had to make revenue-share deals in order to get rides into the park," he said. "You can't have holes in the park."
Swanson also asked whether the county was assuming more liability by buying the rides, but Stout said the county already holds that liability now.
"Another bad deal," Swanson shot back.
Stout and Andrew Neuman, senior assistant to Spano, told the committee they hoped to get a board vote quickly to wrap up the purchases before Playland opens in May.
The proposal is also before the board's budget committee, which is expected to review it March 12. It could come up for a vote by the full board as soon as that night.
MY COMMENTS ON THIS:
I guess that the County Legislators have figured that we are not paying enough taxes for them to squander. You show me one thing that the County Government gets its hands on that makes money!!!! It eventually costs the taxpayer. My God, look at the County Medical Center.
Like Thomas Jefferson once wrote "if we lookto the government to tell us when to sow the wheat and when to reap the wheat, we will soon starve to death."
THIS WAS IN THE JOURNAL NEWS
Yorktown supervisor won't seek re-election
By Brian J. HowardThe Journal News(Original Publication: March 1, 2007)
YORKTOWN - The fall race for town supervisor is wide open after Republican incumbent Linda Cooper announced yesterday that she would not seek re-election.
The news signals the end of a 12-year tenure for one of Westchester County's better-known public figures.
Saying she was comfortable that the town was on solid financial footing and that it was time to pursue new challenges, Cooper, surrounded by family, friends and town employees, made the announcement at a Town Hall news conference.
"For more than 35 years I have been involved in what might be characterized as a love affair with this town," said Cooper, 54. "This is by no means a farewell."
Cooper will serve the rest of her term, which expires Dec. 31, but offered no clue about her plans. She wouldn't rule out a bid for another elected office. She said her decision had nothing to do with increasingly close races, including her 94-vote win over Democrat Don Peters in 2005.
"I do strongly believe, had I chosen to run, I would have prevailed," Cooper said. "I have strong support from both Democrats and Republicans."
Peters said he had been gearing up for a rematch in the fall. "I really wanted to run against her again," he said. "I was really looking forward to the fight. You lose to somebody, you want to try harder."
Cooper said she timed her announcement - eight months before Election Day - to allow other candidates to step forward.
Officials from both parties, including two potential successors, called her impending departure a loss for the town.
"This is a sad day for Yorktown and a sad day for me," said Democratic Councilman James Martorano, Cooper's deputy supervisor.
Councilman Nicholas Bianco, a Conservative who ran three times on the same ticket as Cooper, admitted the two often clashed over land use and development in the town's north end.
Still, he said, her impact on the town was positive.
"I think she's a good supervisor," Bianco said. "I think we had our ups and downs. A lot of things we do see eye to eye and some things we don't."
The composition of the Town Board has evolved during her tenure from a 4-1 Republican majority to the current 3-2 Democratic edge.
Town Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Apicella, whose 1995 defeat first put Cooper in office, said he thought that change factored into her decision.
"Her diminishing margins of victory over the last two election cycles, I think, point out her diminishing popularity in the town," Apicella said. "It gets to the point where even someone who's a good supervisor or a good elected official, if you're in an administrative capacity, you begin to make enemies."
Cooper cited achievements she's proud of, from expanding the library and bringing sewers to homes to 2005's Comprehensive Plan and the construction of two pool complexes.
The former chairwoman of the town's Conservation Board made environmental protection and acquisition of open space a priority in Yorktown, environmental inspector Bruce Barber said.
Cooper's husband, Peter, said it was a bittersweet day, but he stopped short of saying he was relieved his wife would be spared the scrutiny and criticism that comes with being supervisor.
"It's been a tremendous learning curve for all of our family," he said. "And to tell the truth, we all knew what she was getting into."
MY COMMENTS ON THIS
I will leave it to the historians to debate how good a Supervisor Linda Cooper is. Suffice it to say that being elected six times says a lot. Looking forward though, what does it mean for the voters of Yorktown. For Don Peters(Democrat), if he was going to run a campaign against Linda Cooper, it means he has got to put together a new game plan and cannot till he knows who will be the Republican candidate. How ever if he was going to run for Yorktown Supervisor (there is a difference between the two options), then it matters very little who will be the Republican nominee, for this would be a campaign based on ideas and vision on how HE would lead Yorktown into the future and hope he can convince enough voters that his vision is the way to go.
As for his challenger, it would be up to Don to point out their differences in vision, but that is a minor point, for running for Supervisor, it is what HE will do, and who HE is that really matters.
The only serious threat to Don Peters being the next Supervisor would come from Councilman Nick Bianco(Conservative-Republican) Councilman Bianco has a track record being a sitting Councilman. It will be tough to discredit that record. Not impossible, but tough. Nick has been an effective advocate for the people of Yorktown and the people of Yorktown would be well served if he were Supervisor. This would truly be a race based on ideas and vision should this be the match-up. Should Councilman Bianco run for Supervisor, it would be a referendum on his service to the town just as if he were running for re-election to the Council. This would be a race to close to call.
If the Republican nominate anyone else, then I believe Don Peters will be the next Supervisor. I do not see the Republicans fielding a stronger candidate. Councilman Bianco is the only candidate the Republicans can field that has the best chance for keeping the Supervisor's seat Republican. It would not surprise me if the Republicans and Councilman Bainco knew that too.
A LETTE FROM THE PUTNAM VALLEY SUPERVISOR SAM DAVIS:
Results of lobbying Albany on School funding reform:
Since taking office, I have been very involved in lobbying the state for school funding reform. Below is a summary of our views and efforts, and Wednesday's meeting with state legislators and their representatives in Albany.
This is the most important issue affecting our communities now. I urge all to get involved in our efforts. The more people working toward this, the sooner it will become a reality.
Putnam Valley Supervisor
The Coalition for Education Funding Reform went to Albany on Feb. 28th for appointments with key legislators whom we expect to spearhead the reform movement.
The coalition groups that met with the legislators are:
The Task force
Wawarsing Reform group
Patchogue Area Civic Tax Watch Org.
N. Country Alliance for School Funding Reform
Putnam Valley Group
The leaders of the education funding reform groups in attendance at this session were:
Lydia Afia, Yvonne Allenson, Bernetta Calderone, Sam Davis, Tony Gajate, Carole Kraus, Marlis Momber, Bob Newman, Bruce Pileggi, Gioia Shebar, Joe Trapani, John Whitely.
The group met with Sen. Bonacic, Assemblyman Cahill, and key representatives of Sen. Bruno, Sen. LaValle, Assemblywoman Galef, and Sen. Trunzo.
Our coalition is supporting sweeping education funding reform.
The present system of funding education is destructive to communities and families who are burdened with regressive, confiscatory school taxes. The present system of taxation mitigates against school stability in budgeting, works against diversity, and causes conflicts about funding among different groups. It calls into question assessment methods and leads to inequality in taxation. It shortchanges education....and it is wasteful.
We are in a crisis and the coalition is looking for action NOW.
We made clear our unanimous objection to any form of STAR, enhanced STAR, Frankenstar. We asked the legislators not to consider STAR rebates in any form or amount as a solution. They have been proven to be counter productive ... a band-aid.
We asked that the Senate and Assembly work together to reconcile bills presently in both houses that would mandate a state takeover of education funding to be paid for from general revenue just like any other essential service .
We rejected any funding that could lead to the taking of people's homes to pay school taxes. This is occurring because school property taxes have risen 42%-60% in the last five years independent of income or ability to pay.
All segments of the community, renters, homeowners, city and suburb, and rural area dwellers would benefit from the ideas in the bills we are supporting.
They are A 4746 (Cahill) and S 2070 (LaValle)......
We are happy to report that every meeting produced complete agreement on the crisis in education funding.
Every meeting produced complete agreement on the wasteful and useless STAR rebate system in any form. We reject it.
Every meeting produced accord on the need to have sweeping education funding reform..not a band-aid.
We assured every legislator we were non-partisan and would not hesitate to support any candidate from any party who worked for reform.
We also would not hesitate to reject any candidate from any party who said"No" to reform or suggested reform could wait for some time in the future.
Our members want commitment to extensive reform in this legislative session.
We compliment the key "players" we met with who were extremely supportive and promised to work to bring about sweeping reform of education sooner rather than later.
We assured the legislators we would continue to tell Gov. Spitzer that STAR in any form is just an expensive, wasteful band-aid and we want his budget to reflect a substantial commitment to real funding reform.
We applaud the legislators and staff with whom we met who were forthcoming, supportive, and on the side of change.
This state-wide crisis demands a state-wide solution.
Our Coalition for Education Funding Reform is large, statewide, growing in adherents and groups .... and
We will continue speaking with legislators and the administration.
We found out in Albany today that agreement on the funding crisis is not a problem...we all agree....action is what we want....this legislative session...in this budget.
SITES TO LINK TO:
PLAN PUTNAM: firstname.lastname@example.org/PLAN PUTNAM BLOG: http://planputnam.blogspot.com/PEEKSKILL GUARDIAN: http://peekskillguardian.blogspot.com/NORTH COUNTY NEWS: http://northcountynews.com/THE JOURNAL NEWS: http://thejournalnews.com/PEEKSKILL DEMOCRATS: http://www.peekskilldems.com/PEEKSKILL REPUBLICANS: http://peekskillgop.com/ PEEKSKILL MAYOR JOHN TESTA'S STATE OF THE CITY ADRESS: 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.
*************************************************************************************CABLE SHOWS TO WATCH:
ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)Hosted by: DARREN RIGGER
DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM chanel 22
Hosted by: DON PETERS
All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.