Sunday, May 20, 2007



Westchester airport parking frustrates fliers

(Original publication: May 20, 2007)

Scoring a spot in the Westchester County Airport garage can almost be as tough as getting into the hottest nightclub.
The difference is, here the question isn't whom you know, it's how long you plan to stay.
A friendly bouncer guards the gate. Give him the right answer and the gate goes up. Give the wrong answer and you're sent to Siberia. That's the overflow parking lot on the outskirts of the airport where you'll have to board a shuttle bus for a five-minute ride to the passenger terminal.
David and Rebecca Hunter of Fairfield, Conn., and their children, Maggie, 4, and Declan, 2, were among the 100 or more airline passengers who had that pleasure the other day. After being waved away from the garage, they were directed to retrace their route on the approach road to find the overflow lot.
Next to Building 2, the lot is marked only for motorists heading in the other direction, with an arrow pointing to "long term parking." Sometimes it takes two loops around the airport and a second set of oral directions to find it. Those extra minutes spent circling don't put travelers in a good mood. Attendants say they are cursed at, spit upon and verbally abused during the course of a typical day, parking about 100 cars there.
After loading their car seats, strollers, luggage and children on and off the shuttle bus, the Hunters were a bit annoyed but good-humored enough to talk about it. Other passengers were seen bullying the parking attendant and storming off the shuttle bus and into the terminal in a huff.
"We could have flown out of La Guardia, but we picked here because we figured it would be easier and faster, and we could both put in a half-day of work," Rebecca Hunter said, laughing at the irony as she and her husband tried to maneuver their car seats, strollers and suitcases into the terminal without luggage carts, which are not available at Westchester.
"I think if they're really going to service Westchester County and Fairfield County, then they probably ought to have more parking."
Her husband, David, called the lot "a rip-off" at $120 for two cars for four days.
Instead of building more parking - yet - Westchester plans to add a new express bus service to the airport from White Plains before the fall holiday season. That is on top of the county's efforts to persuade people to get a ride to the airport and leave their cars at home.
The public information campaign was launched before spring break but after JetBlue had joined AirTran in offering low-cost flights from Westchester, which attracted more leisure travelers to the airport.
Transportation Commissioner Larry Salley said the new Airlink bus service would run every half-hour from early morning to late evening to accommodate airline schedules and would loop between the White Plains TransCenter and the airport. He said the bus should appeal to college students flying to Florida; visitors to New York City, who could take a Metro-North Railroad train to White Plains and then catch a bus to the airport; and airport employees.
"We're looking at every possible alternative to building and driving," Salley said. "Building more parking is not something we want to do if we can avoid it."
But that might not be enough.
"Adding more mass transit to the airport is good, but I think ultimately more parking will have to be built," said Marsha Gordon, president of the Business Council of Westchester. She said her members had complained about having to "park in Siberia."
"This an issue that needs to be addressed," Gordon said.
Westchester County Association President William Mooney Jr. also has asked County Executive Andrew Spano and legislature Chairman William Ryan to improve and expand airport parking.
"Typically, this is the most convenient airport, and part of the reason is because I can drive here and park,' " said Ken Black, a Norwalk, Conn., resident who tried to argue his way into the garage before giving up, driving to Siberia and taking the shuttle, all for an overnight business trip. "I'd like to see them have enough parking to accommodate the flights and passengers."
Funding isn't the issue. For every passenger who boards an airline, the county collects $4.50. It has amassed some $7 million that it can use only for airport projects. This year, boardings are already rising significantly because of AirTran and JetBlue. In March, 62,363 people boarded planes at the county airport, up from 28,780 a year ago. During the first two weeks of April, boardings were already at 54,675, up from 32,256 for the entire month of April 2006.
But political will probably is a concern. Building any additional parking would be opposed by vocal airport neighbors, who view the construction of any more paved surfaces as expansion and worry that it will encourage more traffic, which could add to pollution that could threaten the adjacent Kensico Reservoir. With the whole Board of Legislators up for re-election, it could be a political hot potato.
But Salley said any new parking should not be considered airport expansion because it would be built, as a last resort, to accommodate the growing number of travelers. The number is still well within the passenger cap of 240 airline travelers per half-hour. That's the rate agreed to by the county, the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Meanwhile, a draft environmental impact statement for other airport projects, which had been scheduled for a public review this month, has been put on hold by the county for several more months.
Salley said the county would wait until later this year to complete the draft to determine whether to add the construction of new parking to the list of proposed projects, which involve baggage screening, security and de-icing of planes.
Right: Passengers ride the Airlink shuttle bus.

Reach Caren Halbfinger at or 914-694-5004.


Dear Readers:

This article gives me a chance to do what I have not done, that is plug my business ATOM TAXI INC.Instead of the headache of trying to find parking, we do Airport Service to The Westchester County Airport(and ALL other airports) 24/7. Just call 1(914)879-6121 and my partner Tommy, will be glad to take you in our Airport Taxi. You will also be provided with a free copy of your local paper of record The North County News. If this is a business trip we also provide a professional receipt, just tell Tommy at the time of booking. The cost of a one-way trip to the Westchester County Airport is seventy dollars. To Laguardia Airport the cost is Ninety-four dollars which includes all tolls. The cost to JFK and Newark Airports is one hundred-twenty-five dollars which also includes all tolls. We do not take credit cards, sorry.



Dear Anthony,

Wish you had checked with me after conferring with Legislator Kaplowitz. He is partially correct. What happened was this: A change in Washington's medicaid reimbursement allowed the WCHCC to collect $70 million provided they put up the so-called local share ($30 million). WCHCC did not have that type of cash so the County taxpayers transferred $30 million to WCHCC which WCHCC shipped to Washington, WCHCC received $70 million from the feds then WCHCC re paid the $30 million we fronted. Do the math: seems they are $40 million ahead.

The missing piece: For the past five years, the County, through its taxpayers, have performed various services (i.e. snow plowing, public works functions, police services) to the tune of about $7 million a year. The County has billed the WCHCC for these services, but has never collected. Without interest or penalties the tab is around $35 million in services paid for by County taxpayers provided to WCHCC. If we provided these services to another Public Benefit Corporation (say New York Power Authority) billed them and never got paid, believe you me my colleagues would be up in arms.

Let me try to illustrate what happened with this $70 million in simple terms.

This would be like one of your fares telling you "I have no money for your $15 fare, but if you lend me $5 I can get $25 from this guy I know. You give him the $5 and he comes back and repays you the $5 but keeps the $20, while he still owes you $10." Yes, you are square for the money you lent him, but he stills owes you for your services.

The financial mess that the WCHCC has become did not have to be. If you are interested at a mutually convenient time I would like to detail for you how this fine institution was driven to the brink by an administration that showed contempt and then neglect for the Med Center.

George Oros


One more note on this subject of the $70 million to the WCHCC: If they did give us the entire $70 this year, it is true it pays of the millions owed for past years. However, since the money is being paid in a lump sum in 2007 to wipe out prior debts, it does means that the 2007 County budget has that much more revenue this year. That means, that it can be needlessly spent or used a a built in surplus. If you read our news release closely, we simply asked for a hearing on this money so we can know exactly what happened. It is interesting that the request we made has yet to been given a response.




Thanks for including me on your blog. I will, of course, be interested in your comments on issues. Although at times I might disagree with your positions as I did today on getting rid of junk food in our schools and replacing them with healthier foods and beverages. As a school student a number of years ago, we never had the resource called vending machines and I believe we were healthier and thinner because of that fact.

It was a pleasure meeting you last week.


Dear Readers:

This week I admit to my bias in my commentaries. You can read my column on this topic exclusively in this weeks NORTH COUNTY NEWS on sale now. I am worth the seventy-five cents. Look for my column IN MY OPINION(pagew 10) in the editorial section. Better yet as this column is exclusive to the North County News on a regular basis and will be covering the local political scene, take out a subscription. Click on the North County News link below and go to Subscribe. Between this blog and The North County News you will have all the information to make a vote based on substance.


Changes may be coming to Peekskill artist's district
(Original publication: May 23, 2007)

City officials may be taking a new look at the downtown artists' district this year, prompting concern among some local artists that changes to the zone could water down or weaken the neighborhood's distinctive character.
City Councilwoman Mary Foster, who is running for mayor, has been looking to open a new discussion on the future of the artist's district with other lawmakers. One possible outcome may be a broader classification of people who can live in the downtown district, a zone created by the city in the 1990s that allowed space to be rented out above retail stores to people who work in the arts. The hope was that the designation would turn Peekskill into a Soho on the Hudson.
Foster, a Democrat, said she was looking to increase downtown redevelopment even further, and the artist's district was a key factor in that process. She said she was interested in hiring someone to help attract and bring new businesses into the downtown area, and she also wants more coordination between the local business community and the artist's district.
Foster said she wants to look at the requirements that only allow people in the creative fields to live in the district and whether that category should be modified to be less restrictive, opening it up to people not involved in the arts or other creative fields. She noted there have been units in the district that have not been rented.
"We're talking about how to build on what's already in the downtown, and how we take the artist's community to the next level," Foster said. "We want to get a dialogue - what is the definition of an arts community."
No specific legislation has come forward, and the discussion on the Common Council has been preliminary. But arts professionals have been hearing about talk at City Hall regarding new downtown initiatives, and it is causing some worry that their district's definition could be revised and that affordable housing might be added to the mix. There's been much debate in Peekskill over whether the city already has too much affordable and low-income housing or whether it's forgotten that segment of its population as it embraced gentrification.
Ed Burke, an artist who owns a building on Division Street, said he was not opposed to broadening the criteria for people who live in the artist's district, as long as any new legislation was done carefully and with consultation from the arts community.
"Broadening the scope isn't a bad thing," Burke said. "But they have to analyze it closely and see what the input is." Burke said it would be unwise for the city to lose the character of the artist's district that has been carefully built up through the years.
Another local artist, Jo-Ann Brody, said the artist's designation in the downtown has worked well for the city and needs to be upheld. She was concerned that market-driven considerations would become the force behind new initiatives to change the district.
"If it's watered down or eliminated, I would definitely be opposed to that," she said. "It's become market-driven, the revitalization. I'm afraid that the baby will be thrown out with the bath water."
Foster said concerns about a drastic alteration of the artist's district were unfounded.
Besides the artist's designation in the downtown area, lofts that were subsidized with state grant were built on Central Avenue and South Street.
Reach Robert Marchant at or 914-666-6578.


Dear Readers:

This is what elections should be about. A candidate running for elected office (in this case Mayor of Peekskill), discussing an issue (affordable-low income housing rules) that affects a group of citizens (people in the artist district). Councilwoman Foster, Democrat candidate for Mayor should be commended for bringing this issue to the forefront of the discussion. By sticking to real issues, the voters will be able to make their choice on election day on substance.

The problem I find with this Democrat press release masquerading as a news story is the reporter showing bias decided a point of view by other Peekskill elected official from the Republican Party was not germane to the story. I would think that Mayor Testa, Deputy Mayor/ Councilwoman Pasini, Councilman Bolden, Councilwoman Matinez or presumed announced/ unannounced candidate for Mayor Schmidt would have had a thought or two on the subject for the voters to ponder.


Westchester Republican leader stepping down
(Original publication: May 25, 2007)

Westchester Republican Chairwoman RoseMarie Panio announced yesterday that she will step down from her party position and run, instead, for Yorktown supervisor, a move that's likely to trigger a fierce battle for control of the county GOP.
Panio, who received the Yorktown Republican Committee's nomination for supervisor on Wednesday night, said she intends to resign from the county GOP early next month, as soon as the nominating petitions for this year's candidates are completed. Vice Chairman Bob Amelio, leader of the Harrison GOP, will then take temporary command of the party.
"All decisions are tough, but the overwhelming decision for me was that I was concerned about my town," Panio said. "I'm excited about (the campaign). It's a new challenge."
Panio is running for the job held by Republican Linda Cooper, who announced earlier in the year that she would not seek re-election. The Democratic candidate is expected to be Don Peters, who nearly defeated Cooper in 2005.
Though Amelio would take over as acting county chairman once Panio steps down, he said yesterday that he's not interested in running the party for more than a few weeks. It will be up to the county GOP's executive committee to choose a new chairman to fill the remainder of Panio's term, which runs through September.
One top contender is New Rochelle GOP Chairman Doug Colety, who sought the post in 2004 but lost to Panio. Other names being circulated as potential county leaders include former Yonkers GOP Chairman John Jacono and Jeanne Martinelli, vice chairwoman of the Yonkers GOP.
The leadership change comes as the Westchester GOP struggles to maintain a presence in a county it once dominated. The Republicans have suffered a string of key election losses - especially last year's defeat of state Sen. Nicholas Spano - and Panio has faced a torrent of criticism that she did not do enough to revitalize the party.
"She's a really nice person, but she is not a leader," said Dan Sadofsky, chairman of the Cortlandt Republican Committee, who supports Colety's bid to become chairman.
Sadofsky and other Colety supporters say Panio's decision to step down offers Westchester Republicans the best chance they've ever had to break the dominance that Spano and the Yonkers Republican Party have had over the county organization for decades. Panio was widely viewed as a close ally of Spano.
"There's an opportunity to move the party beyond being an insiders club dominated by the Spanos," said GOP strategist Paul Noto, a former county legislator and former Republican executive committee member from Mamaroneck. "Now there is an opportunity to open up the party and get new blood and rebuild."
Yonkers Republican Chairman Zehy Jereis said he was uncertain whom he would back for county leader but was leaning toward Martinelli.
"We are going to look to put the best candidate forward," Jereis said.
Despite the criticism, Panio said she was proud of her work as chairwoman, saying she returned more authority to local party leaders and grassroots organizers. She blamed the party's recent losses on the Democratic Party's surging enrollment in Westchester and voters' resentment of President Bush.
"I probably didn't come into this at the best time for Republicans," Panio said. "But I kind of made lemonade from lemons."
Reach Glenn Blain at or 914-694-5066.


Dear Readers:

As the leader of the Westchester GOP who in her home town presided over a one time 3-2 majority on the Yorktown town Board to a now 4-1 minority, I would suggest whoever she backs would be the one candidate that should NOT head the Weschester GOP. I find it personally offensive that she would blame President Bush on the loss in local elections. The only possible races that I believe Bush would be a leading factor would be Congressional and Senate races. This utter lack of personal responsibility in presenting a compelling platform and recruiting the proper candidates who could persuade the local electorate to vote for it shows why her term as leader was ineffective except for the Democrats. Leaders except responsibility for their actions and DO NOT pass the buck.

************************************************************************************THIS WAS IN THE NORTH COUNTY NEWS:

Somers, Yorktown Republicans to announce slates
By Sam Barron

Nine-year Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy is expected to headline the ticket for town supervisor when the town’s Republican Committee announces their slate of candidates later this week. Meanwhile, the Yorktown GOP is prepared to decide its nominees at a special fundraiser Wednesday night (May 23). It is anticipated that Committee Chairwoman RoseMarie Panio, who is also the county GOP chair, will head the ticket and be accompanied by three-term Councilman Nicholas Bianco and Yorktown school Trustee Mark Drexel.Murphy, who succeeded former supervisor William Harding in May 1998, will be joined by longtime Councilman Richard Nicholson and challenger Thomas Garrity. Town Clerk Kathleen Pacella will be running for re-election.The two incumbents, Dennis Timone and Michael McDermott, are running for Town Judge, while current Highway Superintendent Thomas Chiaverini seeks re-election.Rounding out the list are Terrence Murphy and Wendy Gerber Friedman who are running for the County Board of Legislators.Joining Panio and the Yorktown Town Board candidates are Charles Rubenstein for town justice and George Oros and Murphy for county legislature. ************************************************************************************

Putnam Valley: Emerald RidgeRoad rejection puts Santucci project in limbo
By Martin Wilbur

A critical Putnam Valley Town Board decision that rejected making an extended cul-de-sac a municipal road has placed the future of developer Val Santucci’s revamped Emerald Ridge project in doubt.In a split 3-2 vote, the majority decided the 3,900-foot road would be too long and steep to build 13 new homes with no alternate access route.“In my opinion the road is simply too long,” said Councilwoman Priscilla Keresey, who sided with Supervisor Sam Davis and fellow council member Wendy Whetsel to put the brakes on the project. “We have guidelines in place for a reason. I understand it was a guideline and a recommendation but it was almost like it was being disregarded,” Keresey added.The town guideline recommends that no dead-end road be longer than 1,200 feet or have more than 13 homes on the street, Whetsel said. With five existing houses, the total would have reached 18, she said.“I just felt it was stretching our (guidelines) a little too far,” Whetsel said. “Twelve hundred feet was reasonable and 3,800 feet was stretching it.”Santucci’s lawyer, David Steinmetz, responded that the vote was likely laced with politics, with the Democratic majority playing to the anti-development crowd in an election year.Steinmetz said his client would study his options, leaving open the possibility that he may return to a proposal that could increase the size of the project to as many as 22 lots with a private road. A private road would exclude the Town Board from the process but would require Santucci to once again rework plans before the Planning Board. The developer was granted final approval on the project last month.Whatever the new proposal, Steinmetz warned that the offer to preserve 31 of the parcel’s 84 acres for open space was now off the table.The developer first thought a compromise was in place last year. Santucci and his representatives huddled with town officials in the fall, which resulted in him reducing the original 25-home subdivision to 13 houses.Steinmetz said he has never seen a scenario where the town’s advisor’s, including its highway superintendent, emergency service responders and engineers, signed off on a proposal and receive Planning Board approval before being denied by the Town Board.He suggested palpable pressure exerted leading up to the May 16 Town Board meeting played a key factor.“There was a clear spirit of coercion in the air at the meeting (last Wednesday) and I can’t explain why people keep doing flip flops and about faces,” Steinmetz said.He stated that environmentalism probably played a key role in their decision but it could backfire because more homes could be built.But Davis countered that the dangers presented to future homeowners, especially in bad weather, was too great for him to ignore.The supervisor was also disturbed with issues that were never addressed or misrepresented in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), like the true fiscal impact on the Putnam Valley School District.“We, as a town, need to enforce our laws and provide for the safety of our residents and future residents and also have to think about economic justice,” he said.Republican councilmen Robert Tendy and Dan Ricci said they were disappointed at the opportunities lost for the town. Not only was the 31 acres of open space for passive recreation squandered but Santucci had also planned to make extensive intersection improvements at Marsh Hill Road and Peekskill Hollow Road.Tendy said the town had negotiated hard with Santucci and Steinmetz last year and felt awful that a mutually beneficial compromise had fallen by the wayside.Now the vote gave Davis the chance to boast that he fought back the pressures of a well-heeled developer, Ricci said. In the May 2007 issue of the Lake Peekskill Civic Association newsletter, Davis refers to an applicant before Zoning Board of Appeals decision in an unrelated matter as having the same lawyer as Santucci, Ricci mentioned, a clear attempt to make him a villain.“I thought it was a very good compromise,” Ricci said, “and I really thought it was a model for smart development.”Keresey and Whetsel said they understood there is the chance more homes could eventually be built on the site as a result of their decision.Both thanked Santucci for the generous offer of 31 acres but said they were uncomfortable over the safety concerns.“Even if it results in more homes I’m comfortable with that because of the guidelines we have in place,” Keresey said.


Dear Readers:

It seems that Councilman, and Republican candidate for Supervisor Tendy believes that town codes regarding safety should be sacrificed for 31 acres of open space. There is probably no one "greener" now in elective office than Supervisor Davis, and if he was able to forego 31 acres of open space in the name of safety, then one would have to conclude how unsafe the project was. Leadership is doing what is best for everybody you represent even if you have your own personal beliefs(the desire for more open space) that are at odds with your responsibility(the safety of the public). I have no doubt that Supervisor Davis would have gone the extra mile to secure those open spaces if the public safety was not such an overriding concern. The Supervisor made the right decision on this issue and Councilman Tendy did not. The voters should keep this in mind come November



The Congressional Budget Office has issued a report stating that the highway fund fueled by the Federal Tax on gas is running out of money to keep up with the necessary road work. They are proposing an increase in the Federal Gas Tax. It should be noted that the recent Ticket blitz on seatbelts was paid for with thirty-million dollars from this highway fund. Remember that when the subject of increasing the Federal Tax on gas comes up.



Dear Readers:

It has come to my attention the difficulty in posting a comment on this blog. If you wish to comment, e-mail me at the link posted below, putting "Manifesto Reader" in the subject matter, and I will "cut and Paste" your comments myself. If you DO NOT wish your comments posted, but just wish to comminicate withm me, please make your wishes known in the e-mail.

LINKS: (as this a yahoo adress make sure you put an unerscore (-) between atom and taxi)

For immediate reply:










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BAZZO 05/26/07