Saturday, June 30, 2007



Dear Readers:

At a recent fund raiser for Incumbent candidate for Yorktown Council James Martorano, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Ryan, head of our County Legislator. I brought up the topic of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposed tax on (in this case) Westchester residents who commute to NYC, the infamous congestion pricing fee. This will on average cost the Westchester commuter about $40.00 per week. This fee is NOT in spite of what the Mayor says a way of reducing traffic(people have to get to work), but a way to raise money to create a new bureaucracy.

I asked him why our County Representatives have not spoken out on this assault on our wallets. After all it is our County Representatives job to assault our wallets. He told me NONE of our representatives had this on their radar, that their plates were already full. I find this totally unacceptable. Their job is first and foremost to fight for us. They are not suppose to be so parochial as to believe this is not part of their job. Who but they can put pressure on Assemblywoman Galef, Assemblyman Ball, and State Senator Leibel to stop this dead in it's tracks. Our County Representatives, speaking for us will be heard a lot louder than we would individually.

As our County Representatives are up for election this year, it would behoove them to speak up now on our behalf. It would be wise for Legislator's Kaplowitz and Oro's not only to make their feeling known to our State Representatives, the head of our County Representatives but also to us via the NCN, The Journal News and this blog and you over five hundred and fifty readers. It would also be a good thing for their challengers, Murphy and Volpe to weigh in on this issue. With all the taxes this County collects(the highest in the nation), we have a right to be fought for and they have a duty to fight for us.

Dear Readers:

One of the complaints about the NCN was their lack of investigative journalism. I will concede in the past this was valid. However under Publisher and Editor in Chief Apar this has been changing. To date there have been two articles relating to the Peekskill School District. Both articles should have given you the tax payer pause for concern. Both articles should have had you demanding more stories and more information. Yet there is silence. This is why school systems operate like fiefdoms, lack of tax payer involvement.

The last line in the first article(posted in my last update) stated that school employees' jobs were threatened should they speak out. How the hell could you still be silent after reading this. People's lively hoods threatened if they exercise their right of speech, outrageous!!!!!! Yet you are not outraged.

The Peekskill Guardian(linked below) has been following this story. However a news paper can not print without proof for they can be sued without it. With out proof of the truth or falsehood of what the Peekskill Guardian is saying, this story can not go forward. If there is truth to these posts, then your silence is only helping those who are hurting your system. Do you who pay those high school taxes want the truth one way or another? Only the light of day can give you the satisfaction you deserve. You must demand that satisfaction.

Peekskill Community Wide Tag Sale Tremendous Success.
Dozens of Homeowners Make Hundreds of Dollars Each; Visitors Explore Downtown and Grab Bargains.
Two More Tag Sales Scheduled for Later in Summer July 25 and August 28th.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Contact: Mayor John Testa

PEEKSKILL, NY— Participants on all sides report Peekskill’s community-wide tag sale was a roaring success and say they can’t wait to take part in the two other sales scheduled for this summer on July 25 and August 28th.
Participants reported that the sale succeeded at generating spare cash for salespeople, giving visitors a chance to scoop up some bargains and showcasing areas of Peekskill the surrounding communities rarely see.
Goods were on sale at close to three dozen registered sites, and many homeowners participated without registering.
“I definitely loved the tag sale,” says Jennifer von Molnar, a Peekskill resident who lives in a condo in the historic Beecher House who shopped at many different sites during the day. Molnar doesn’t come downtown that often, and she was impressed with what she saw.
“Everything was beautiful. The neighborhoods seem to be improving and people seem to be working on their houses,” Molnar says. She also succeeded at her shopping goal—finding a bunch of fireplace equipment that perfectly suited her needs.
For many, the feeling of being part of a positive community was as important as the sale itself. “I've never had a tag sale before and I enjoyed the people coming by; there's just a neat feeling to it when you feel your whole city is involved,” says Kim Grethen, another Peekskill resident. In the last five years, the city has come alive with vivid events and other positive activities, Grethen says. The Halloween event and parade her son participated was another positive Peekskill event, she says.
Showing off Peekskill was one of the primary goals of the tag sale. Another was to give homeowners a chance to earn some extra cash and shoppers and dealers opportunities to see what treasures might be lurking in the attics of one of the region’s oldest and most historic places. Founded more than 350 years ago, Peekskill has entire neighborhoods made up of historic homes.
Despite an official start time of 10:00, dealers started showing up at 7:30 a.m. and action was brisk throughout the day, with those selling said they had seen half their wares sold by mid-morning. Takes for the day of $200-$300 or more were reported.
Even those who hadn’t taken part in the official sale and just set up tables in their front yards did well because of all the dealers and visitors who came into town to scope out the sales. “If you’re having just one sale, it’s not worth it to make the effort to come by. But when you have three dozen, they show up,” says Peter Buchanan, a Peekskill resident and antiques dealer himself. Buchanan registered with the city and did well during the sale, he says.
Those who didn’t participate on Saturday will get two more chances to take part in community wide markets. Other sales are set for July 25 and August 28th. The impetus for the tag sales came from City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick. The program is a sign of how energetic Peekskill’s city government is, Mayor John Testa says. “Getting a lot done with a little is a key strategy of Peekskill’s right now. It’s impressive to see how our staffers have taken the challenges we’ve given them and run with them,” he says.
Two more tag sales are scheduled over the course of the summer. Participation is easy. All anyone who wants to be involved has to do is to call 734-7275 and register. Their tag sale will then be placed on a master list that will be available at such locations as City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Field Library. Maps with the locations of each sale pinpointed will also be provided.
Advertising in The Pennysaver and The North County news worked, participants say. Numerous customers mentioned the ads as they traveled from sale to sale. Ads will be placed again for the sales that occur later this summer, officials say.

For more information, contact Mayor John Testa at 914-734-4105.

Putnam Valley officials consider solar energy
(Original publication: June 25, 2007)

PUTNAM VALLEY - The town supervisor wants to put solar panels on a nearby roof and harvest the sun's energy for cheaper electricity at Town Hall.
For the second time, Supervisor Sam Davis is bringing the $70,000 photovoltaic technology proposal to the Town Board's attention and is hoping to get its approval.
"If there is technology that will help us save energy, we should be exploring it," he said after a board meeting last week. "We could be saving money, resources and setting a good example in the town."
Davis, a high school science teacher on leave while serving as supervisor, ran two years ago on a platform of environmental friendliness and is seeking a second term. He drives a hybrid car.
The plan calls for a system of roof-mounted panels angled to the south. They are expected to produce an estimated 70,000 kilowatt hours a year.
Putnam Valley's Town Hall uses slightly more power - 70,258 kilowatt hours a year - based on statistics collected for a state grant application. The town has approval for $44,000 in aid from the state Energy Resources Development Agency and, though it would have to fund the remaining costs, it could seek grants from other sources.
Davis said the town could save $3,000 to $4,000 on its $10,000 annual utility bill.
Russ Pessina, a Putnam Valley resident since 1979, cautioned officials to consider how long it would take to recoup the investment of roughly $25,000.
"These things are fine, but taxes are going up every year," he reminded the board Wednesday.
He said he was concerned about the financial impact on residents and whether the cost would justify the savings.
The panels would have to go on the firehouse roof. Town Hall's roof and structure are unsuitable for the equipment, engineers said. The adjacent firehouse has an unshaded, flat roof.
Fire Chief Bruce Johnson said that department officials have agreed to cooperate on the project and that an engineer has deemed the 1973-built structure a reasonable site for the technology.
Town Board members plan to discuss the topic further at a 7 p.m. meeting July 11 at Town Hall, Oscawana Lake Road.
The proposal should be considered in conjunction with a review of a state-conducted energy audit of Town Hall, which considered a variety of energy-saving initiatives, including using fluorescent-type light bulbs, Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel said.
"We want to make sure we don't lose the grant money and that we would see a cost savings from this and other alternatives," she said, adding that, as time goes on, the technology might get cheaper just as prices for computers and cell phones went down with greater consumer demand.
Councilwoman Priscilla Keresey agreed that solar panels were worth strong consideration from an energy-savings standpoint as well as affordability for the town.
"We may need to wait and consider when is the best time," she said.
While it would be one of the first municipal buildings in Putnam County to use the technology, a smattering of municipalities in Westchester have embraced the energy alternative.
Greenburgh installed solar panels at its Town Hall last year, and Cortlandt is planning to use a $75,000 New York Power Authority grant to furnish and install them on a youth center this year.
Reach Barbara Livingston Nackman at or 845-228-2272.


Dear Readers:

You should remember that when the Supervisor first proposed applying for a grant for this, Councilwoman Whetsel voted yes. Then last November, after the Town been awarded the grant, Whetsel voted to remove the item from the budget. That meant that the money paid to a grant writing fund to prepare the grant application was wasted. Whetsel, at that time, maintained that she was looking after the tax payers, even though the photovoltaics would save the taxpayers money. She also has claimed that she is concerned about the environment which would be protected by the photovoltaics. Now that she is gearing up to primary Supervisor Davis she once again seems to believe this a good idea. However, since it was removed from the budget, it is now more difficult to come up with the funds for it. Perhaps, for primary purposes she thinks just talking about this is good enough. She talks, the Supervisor acts; who should lead Putnam Valley?

Yeshiva expansion proposal draws fire in Cortlandt
(Original publication: June 27, 2007)

CORTLANDT - Community opposition is mounting against a yeshiva aiming to upgrade and modernize its operation at 141 Furnace Woods Road.
A large crowd turned out at Town Hall last week, a petition with 300 names has been circulating and dozens of letters have been generated by opponents of a plan by Yeshiva Ohr Hameir to rehabilitate its operation and build housing to accommodate about 50 more students.
Neighbors of the secondary school have said it has been a bad neighbor through the years, citing substandard maintenance and traffic problems associated with Ohr Hameir, and they say the proposed construction is likely to cause more problems for the community at large.
Representatives of the school, meanwhile, say they are looking to improve local relations and fix the site to make it more appealing to the community. They note the law is on their side.
The school, originally founded in New Rochelle, took over an old dude ranch in the 1980s but has done little to modernize the old ranch buildings, which have fallen into disrepair. The school is looking to create a new facility on the footprint of an old building, and once completed, the school's enrollment would go from 210 to 250, a number it had reached in the past.
A local resident who has been following the case, Greg Gale, questioned whether the school even had legal permission to board students.
"The basic problem is it's in a residential area. It's not a good fit for the neighborhood, and they want to make it bigger. It doesn't appear they should have live-in students at all. And the safety violations are ludicrous. The town should step back and say they've made a mistake in the past, and they need to take it seriously," Gale said.
Neighbors have complained that students walk on the narrow road in front of the school in complete disregard for traffic, and local residents have bristled over what they called visual blight at school grounds.
Building inspectors uncovered many violations at the school this year, including fire-code violations and significant structural problems.
Neighbors also cited numerous false-alarm calls and service calls to the Fire Department. There are also concerns that a new sewage system, as part of the construction plan, could cause problems to the community.
A neighborhood resident, Phillip Tumbarello, told the town administration: "The more I learn, the more concerns I have. There are real and legitimate safety and environmental issues."
The Zoning Board of Appeals is considering the case, delving into the legal issues and deciding whether the school needs a special permit for the dormitories on campus.
"The zoning board has to adjudicate it, whether it falls under a special permit," said Ed Vergano, the town's engineer. "It's not a simple application."
If the zoning board gives its authorization, the Planning Board would examine the proposal for traffic and environmental issues.
A legal dispute as to how and when the yeshiva allowed students to board there, and whether that practice was officially authorized, is central to the case. Yeshiva Ohr Hameir representatives insist the town had authorized the dormitories and cite a record of building permits that have been issued.
Dan Richmond, a lawyer representing Ohr Hameir, said it was their contention that the school did not need any special approvals for the continued use of the campus or new construction.
"It's been there for 25 years," he said. "We're saying it's a permitted use, as of right, as a religious use and an educational use."
The school is going through the zoning board process, but it is keeping all of its legal options open. The law makes it clear that religious schools have wide latitude when it comes to land-use issues, he said.
Richmond noted that the school was looking to work with a community liaison, and it was seeking to be a better operation, both environmentally and visually.
"The yeshiva is trying to be a good neighbor," he said. "The goal is to modernize and improve existing conditions."

Reach Robert Marchant at or 914-666-6578.


Dear Readers:

I believe the only issues before this board should be will the proposed building be up to codes of safety(ie: sewars, electricla, structure and plumbing). If they comply then the building should be allowed to move forward. The school is here and getting rid of it is not an option. They should be allowed to improve the quality of their property.

Yorktown officials unable to decide perk’s future
Board stalls on car policy
By Adriane Tillman

The Yorktown Town Board stalled on making a decision this week to revise a policy governing which town employees can take home town cars.A proposal initiated by Councilman Louis Campisi to reduce the number of employees who drive to and from work with town vehicles bogged down Tuesday night when discussion centered on Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jennifer Fava’s use of a municipal car.Any chance of an agreement also dissipated when it became unclear how to issue cars to Water Department foremen while insuring broken water pipes are switched off in the shortest time possible. “There’s no way to come up with a policy to cover everything,” said Assistant Water Superintendent Bradley Lewis. Campisi’s proposal, based on recommendations from the Fleet Committee, would cut the number of workers with town vehicles from 30 to 19.According to the proposal, only employees who live within 10 miles of the town’s borders would be allowed to take a car home.Town Supervisor Linda Cooper and Councilman James Martorano expressed reservations about snatching town vehicles from employees who were hired with the understanding they would be able to commute in the vehicles. “Like my mother always said: ‘To bite your nose is to bite your face,’” Martorano said. “You’re creating a lot of ill will among [town employees] who desperately need to roll up their sleeves and work hard.”Discussion centered on Fava who commutes from her Connecticut residence every work day in a 2006 Chevy Blazer that gets about 18 miles to the gallon. Assessor Robert Killeen also has had a car to travel and from work for the past 30 years. The Town Board made individual agreements with department heads about town car usage, but nothing exists in writing, according to Cooper. “This is part of the compensation package,” Cooper said, suggesting Fava be put into a more fuel-efficient car next year that at least gets 35 miles to the gallon. Killeen said he drives just nine miles from home in the town vehicle, and that he does much more than his job requires. He’s taken no personal days and works evenings and weekends. After his long career, Killeen will retire at the end of the year.“My only perk is the nine miles out and back; everything else comes back to the town,” he said.Councilman Nicholas Bianco sympathized with the assessor who was told 30 years ago he could drive a town car to work. Bianco, who favors the 10-mile rule, said he would support permitting Killeen continue his use of the town vehicle until his retirement at the end of the year.The next assessor would then have to use his or her own car starting in 2008, Bianco suggested.If Campisi’s proposal passed, the site manager for the Nutrition Center, meter reader, auto mechanic and tree trimmer would have to drive personal cars to work and pick up town vehicles for municipal business at their departments. It’s not so clear cut, pointed out Cooper. While Nutrition Center Site Manager Mary DeSilva may not need to drive to work in a town car, she picks up seniors along the way and brings them to town, she said.“If you take that away, she [the director] won’t do that,” Cooper said. “You lose a major driver for senior citizens.”The town spends $600 to $700 per employee each year on gas. Plus the wear and tear and maintenance on the vehicle, Bianco pointed out.In the long run the expense is comparatively minimal.“It’s never been an economic problem for the town,” said Comptroller Joan Goldberg. Bianco said appealed to the board to review the matter on a case-by-case basis. Even though he has just six months left in Town Hall, Killeen said he doesn’t want special treatment.“If you don’t believe department heads should have cars, I will give the car back,” Killeen said.


Dear Readers:

Look for my comments on this issue in the new issue of the North County News. It is the topic of my IN MY OPINION column on sale Thursday 07/05/07



Dear Readers:

This week I discus the reality regarding Indian Point. 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(page 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.
************************************************************************************FYI: ATOM TAXI INC. AIRPORT SERVICE:

Dear Readers:

This gives me a chance to plug my business ATOM TAXI INC. Instead of the headache of trying to find Airport 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 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 communicate with me, please make your wishes known in the e-mail.

(as this a yahoo address make sure you put an underscore (-) between atom and taxi)

For immediate reply:


ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)
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

BAZZO 07/01/07

Sunday, June 17, 2007




Committee to Re-elect Nicholas Bianco
Nick's Nomination Acceptance Speech
May 23, 2007

Thank you all for your nomination this evening. Many of you started with me twelve years ago, some I met three years ago, and some of you are new….but all of you are the reason that I am pleased to accept your nomination for another term as your councilman. Having served the Town of Yorktown I thank you for continuing to review my credentials, recognizing my achievements but most of all understanding my intentions. I intend to continue to demonstrate that I will be the best councilman in Yorktown and to never put personal politics above the good of the Town and its citizens.
Once again, I humbly thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve. I have he knowledge; I have the experience; I have the passion. Yorktown is and will continue to be the greatest place to live and raise a family.
At issue are taxes; at issue is controlled development; at issue is traffic; at issue is integrity; at issue is constituent’s service. Some on the town board love to raise taxes; some on the town board love development; some on the town board love traffic; some on the town board love not to answer constituents. During my tenure we balanced budgets, kept taxes low and made many cuts. I have and will continue to answer constituents in a timely manner.
Join with me in the next six months. I promise to work hard to get the message out! It’s time to keep REAL LEADERSHIP and EXPERIENCE IN.

Thank you,
Nick Bianco


Monday June 11, 2007

Today, I am officially launching my campaign to be the next Supervisor of the great Town Of Yorktown.
Along with me stands a great team of candidates prepared to serve the people of Yorktown.

I've served on boards, committees and activist groups at the forefront of every major issue that this town has faced for over thirty years. I have dedicated myself to public and community service. Between us, we have over a century of experience, leadership and commitment.

I am proud to announce that Sen. Vincent Leibell has accepted the role of honorary Chairman of my campaign. I look forward to his guidance and support.

I plan to run a campaign based on issues, and focus on the needs of Yorktown and its residents. My teammates and I will knock on every door in an attempt to meet every voter possible and ask for their support and their vote on Election Day.

I stand ready to confront every issue in every part of town. I am committed to keeping Yorktown safe, beautiful and affordable.

As the campaign unfolds, I will lay out many concerns and ideas.

By working together, we can safeguard the wonderful quality of life we expect to enjoy in our great town.

Thank you...see you on the campaign trail...

RoseMarie Panio




Monday, June 11, 2007

Contact: Darren Rigger
Chairman of the City of Peekskill Democratic Committee
Cell phone: (845) 598-3971
Michael Monfils
(914) 788-1180

The Working Families Party (WFP) has endorsed the whole Democratic Party slate for Peekskill including Dominic Volpe who is seeking the District 1 seat in the Westchester County Legislature.

The WFP has endorsed Mary Foster for Mayor, along with Don Bennett, Patricia Salvate-Riley, and Joe Schuder for Peekskill City Council. The candidates are honored to receive the endorsement and will work for the concerns of working men and women in Peekskill.

This will give the Democrats a second ballot line for voters to choose in November. The WFP is a grassroots, community and labor based political party.

Darren Rigger, Peekskill Democratic Party Chairman, was elated. “The Working Families Party recognizes that the time to elect fresh new faces is right now. Peekskill is a working class city and our Democratic candidates know that working families need help now.”

Patricia Salvate-Riley comes from a proud union household. She is a union representative for the Lakeland Federation of teachers and her husband Kevin is a member of the United Auto Workers. “Now is the time to stand united with working men and women in the city of Peekskill. I am proud of this important endorsement” said Patricia Salvate-Riley.

Joe Schuder, who was once a member of the Communication Workers of America union, was equally happy about the endorsement. “Today, more then ever, we have to fight for worker’s rights and especially their right to a livable wage” said Schuder.

Domenic Volpe said that he has continued to work to earn the legislative seat since the last election, never giving up. “This endorsement goes right along with our plans to return the legislative seat to the working men and women of Northwestern Westchester."

One additional Democrat on the Common Council would give the Democrats the majority.









Dear readers:

The choices for Peters for Supervisor and Volpe for Legislator are not only upsets, but make those races two of the most contested in this years local elections. This is good for the voters in those districts as all the affected candidates will have to spell out why you should pull the lever for them. They will have no choice but to run a positive campaign on what the will do or have done and what their plans are fro moving forward. For political junkies like myself, you could not ask for more. Issues and vision, this is what campaigns should be about.



Cortlandt Town Board race features 3 candidates for 2 seats
(Original publication: June 11, 2007)

CORTLANDT - Democrats in town are looking to take full control of the Town Board this year, with a Republican incumbent trying to fight off the challenge.
Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi, a Democrat, is once again running without opposition.
Her party has nominated Councilman Francis Farrell, an incumbent seeking his fourth term on the board, and a first-time candidate, Dr. Richard Becker, now a member of the town's Zoning Board of Appeals.
Farrell, 52, who runs a printing business, is looking to take on a number of new initiatives.
"I feel like I can make a useful contribution to the board," he said, and wants to concentrate on the construction of a new youth center in the Crugers section of the town and make the swimming area at Sprout Brook Park "more appealing."
A long-term goal, he said, was to promote new partnerships with the villages that fall within the town's borders, Buchanan and Croton-on-Hudson.
"I'm really interested in trying to promote more shared services between the villages and the town. I think the climate is right," Farrell said. He said his concepts were still preliminary, but he wanted to develop a program of shared services that could save taxpayers' money.
Becker, a cardiologist, said he was motivated by conservation in seeking a seat on the Town Board.
"My main intent is to prevent over-development. The town has a rural feel all its own, and over-development will ruin that," he said. "The town has done a lot to preserve open space, but not enough."
Becker, 53, helped form the Dickerson Mountain Preservation Association to prevent development at a vacant 128-acre parcel known as the Abee Rose project near Maple Avenue. The town has denied the application to build 30 houses there on environmental grounds, and recently won a court decision in its favor.
Besides working on land-use issues that block suburban sprawl, Becker said he was interested in fostering affordable housing. Noting that other members had been on the board for more than a decade, he said he brought "fresh ideas" to town government.
Joseph Cerreto is the only Republican on the five-member board and he is seeking his fourth term. He works as the principal law secretary to a state appellate judge, and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.
He ran unsuccessfully last year for the state Supreme Court.
Cerreto, 57, said he had been involved in a number of recent projects - such as waterfront revitalization in Verplanck, energy-savings initiatives, recreational improvements and a master plan update - that he wants to continue. He also pointed to a large number of state grants that he has helped steer to the community.
"This board works together in a bi-partisan fashion for the benefit of the town," he said. "I am proud to be part of it and want to continue to work to complete the ongoing projects and continue to be innovative in looking at other projects."
No other Republican has been nominated to run for the Town Board. Town Board members serve four-year terms and are paid an annual salary of $14,621. The supervisor, the town's full-time administrator, serves a two-year term and is paid $101,766 a year.

Reach Robert Marchant at or 914-666-6578.

George Oros
Legislator, 1st District

June 13, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828

Let’s START Helping Taxpayers Save Money
Oros proposes plan to tie excess sales tax revenue to property tax reduction

Westchester County Legislator George Oros (R, C/Cortlandt) is calling on his fellow colleagues on the Board of Legislators to join him in passing legislation that would set aside a portion of excess sales tax received by the county to offset any tax hike for property owners.

Oros, the minority leader of the Board of Legislators, whose district covers Cortlandt, Peekskill and Yorktown, said Westchester would be wise to follow the recent lead of the New Jersey State Assembly in allocating funds to help taxpayers.

“As a Jersey boy growing up, I was proud to see elected officials there recognize the need to assist taxpayers with rising property taxes,” Oros said. “There’s no reason we can’t do the same here in Westchester, where, as we all know, taxes have a stranglehold on so many.”

Oros said in the first quarter of 2007, sales tax revenues have already exceeded budget projections by $11.7 million, which, at the same pace, would result in a nearly $50 million increase over 2006 in sales tax income. Sales tax revenue has increased nearly 10% annually. That equates to about $55 million or 10% of the real property tax levy.

Instead of simply putting additional revenue in the general fund, as has been done in the past, Oros would like to see a law adopted mandating a certain percentage of any increase in sales tax revenue be returned to property taxpayers.

Oros has dubbed his proposed plan START (Sales Tax Augmenting Real property Tax).

“It’s a never ending battle that we face trying to balance keeping our services and reducing the tax burden. In Westchester, we can do better, and we should START now,” Oros said. “This county has a $1.7 billion budget. Using a small portion of additional revenue that was not budgeted to help our hard working residents is not asking too much. It’s the least we can do.”

Oros also noted that “property tax reduction is not a democrat or republican issue” but every elected officials concern. As proof, the Trenton, NJ born Oros pointed out that it is democrat Assembly members in New Jersey who have introduced a similar measure there.

The proposal was submitted to the Legislation Committee for consideration.

George Oros

Mystery shrouds principal’s departure
By Sam BarroN

Peekskill Middle School Principal Walter Chadwick was abruptly forced out from his post last month, triggering questions in the community about the nature of his departure.Chadwick, who has been principal at the school since 2004, left in mid May with little explanation from the district.In a brief telephone conversation with North County News around the time of Chadwick’s departure, Peekskill City School District Superintendent Judith Johnson said Chadwick was out due to “health reasons.”Johnson did not elaborate on his condition, only to say that Chadwick has not been suspended. She also did not say when the principal may return.The district released a brief statement on Tuesday, saying that “federal and state laws on an individual's right to confidentiality prohibit us from speaking about personnel issues.”Repeated calls to Board of Education trustees and Chadwick were not answered. At about the time of Chadwick’s leave, a letter was sent home to parents and staff members explaining the reasons for the sudden departure, which also referenced health issues but with no further explanation, according to one district employee.Requests for the letter were denied by North County News citing the individual’s right to confidentiality.The shuffling of principals has raised suspicions in the school community that the district is withholding information regarding Chadwick’s situation. Another district employee, who asked not to be identified, said central administration may be keeping the details of Chadwick’s departure under wraps because there may be more details that Johnson does not want to become known.The employee said the superintendent’s office remains tight-lipped over the circumstances and that Johnson has threatened to press charges and fire any middle school staff member who speaks publicly about the matter.


A letter sent out to the parents is now an in school personel problem and not available to the press? Staff being intimidated into silence? The lesson of Watergate was it is always the coverup. This stonewalling of the press, whose duty is to inforn the public is unacceptable. The tax payer has a righ to know. This is what I meant about school districts operating like fiefdoms in my last IN MY OPINION column in the NCN. These are public servants payed by tax dollars and THERE ARE NO SECRETS. They work for us damnit! It is my hope that the NCN will continue to probe and give the taxpayers the information they have the right to know.

Westchester County expands list of shady contractors
(Original publication: June 13, 2007)

One consumer was stunned to learn that a chimney company from Yonkers had installed an aluminum liner in his chimney and the liner was leaking and had to be replaced immediately.
The news was surprising because the consumer's contract with Reliable Chimney Service said the $2,600 liner was stainless steel. The homeowner had to pay another company $2,300 to replace the liner, according to a consumer protection complaint.
Another consumer described how a representative of Larchmont-based Frontier Fence Co. told her he could install a fence in her yard for $2,000 and have it done in time for her daughter's birthday party, a day when 20 toddlers would be in the yard. The woman, who is from Eastchester, gave the man a check for a $1,000 downpayment and didn't hear from him again until months later when he called to say he hoped he would be able to give her back her money some day, she said in her complaint.
Reliable Chimney and Frontier Fence are on the Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection's "Renegade Renovators" list, an online black list of unlicensed home contractors the department believes are the worst in the region.
The list, which is at, has swelled to 22 contractors, with last week's addition of a small company named Bill Morris Locksmith, run by a William A. Morris.
"The goal is to warn people that these are contractors to avoid," said Gary Brown, director of consumer protection. "Certainly, this makes it harder for these contractors to do business in the county but unfortunately it doesn't cut them off completely."
The department started posting the names in early 2004 under the former director, Elaine Price. Since then the department has added eight names to the list, including Frontier Fence and Bill Morris Locksmith.
A pattern of repeated complaints that a contractor does not resolve will get the contractor's name on the electronic list.
The contractors added to the list since the department started posting it also include: Russell's Door Service; U.S.A. Roofing Inc.; Marotta's Home Improvement; Mighty Joe Young's Contracting; Tim-Ron Fence Co. and Capital 1 Construction.
Brown said policing the home contracting business is his department's top priority and with good reason. It's because the department receives more complaints about home building jobs than any other kind of business transaction, he said.
The department received 375 such complaints last year. They accounted for 25 percent of the complaints the department received, records show.
And Brown noted that the amounts of money in dispute can be large.
Perhaps the most notorious contractor on the list, Gjon Gazivoda, who ran Well Built Construction & Renovation Inc. of Yorktown Heights, took $94,860 from a Yonkers couple and $45,000 from a woman in Pound Ridge. He never did any work on either home and was sentenced last year to 2 1/3 to seven years on felony fraud and cocaine charges and has also been sentenced to prison in Bronx and Orange counties and faces sentencing in Ulster County for similar offenses.
Records show the contractors on the list are magnets for complaints. Frontier Fence Co., which the lists says was run by Peter Schoembs and Nicole Auffarth, was the subject of 12 complaints in 2005 alone, for instance.
The pattern seemed to be the same. Consumers complained that the company took their money and then did not perform any work. The department referred complaints about Frontier to the county's district attorney's office, which busted Schoembs last June. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of scheme to defraud and was sentenced in March to five years of shock probation, which includes a short stint in the county jail.
The phone number listed for Frontier on a company invoice now belongs to someone else. The numbers listed on an invoice for Reliable Chimney are out of service.
Complaints on file with the consumer protection department show it's not unusual for contractors to take customers' money and then fall out of touch. Schoembs took a total of $20,000 from 12 customers, the court said.
"Some of them take the money and run," Brown said.
The woman who hoped to have fencing for her little girl's party said quotes other fence contractors gave her were for thousands of dollars more. Those contractors all said there was no way they could order and install a fence in time for the birthday party.
The woman said a company representative - identified in the complaint as "Peter" - was uninterested in hearing details such as where she wanted the gates but insisted he needed a check for $1,000, the woman said in her complaint. She gave him the check and did not hear from him until months later when he called to say he would pay her back eventually, the woman said.
The list is one weapon the department has in its fight to protect consumers against getting scammed by home improvement contractors.
In April, the department and county police arrested 16 people, including two who were already on the list, for violating the licensing laws. Detectives posed as homeowners and sought out unlicensed contractors willing to work on a vacant house in Yorktown.
Brown said the department is involved in other investigations to nail unlicensed contractors but would not elaborate because he did not want to tip his hand to the targets.
"There's more to come," he said.

Reach Allan Drury at or at 914-694-5069.

Westchester's warning list
The Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection warns consumers to avoid the following home contractors.-Tom Antonucci, Handy Randy Handyman Service/ T. H. Randy Contractor-Anthony Blasi, Classic Builders Inc.-Russell Bohringer, Russell's Door Service-Robert Comblo, C & C Paving-James Connors (also known as Larry Connors), Precision Paving/Landmark Construction *-Rocco DiNardo, U.S.A. Roofing Inc. -Benito DiZenzo, DiZenzo Contracting/R.B.D. Inc.-Gjon Gazivoda, Well Built Construction & Renovation-Joseph Indiviglio, Indiviglio Const. Corp./JP construction-John Lindsay, Royal Chimney & Gutter Service-Stephen Marotta, Marotta's Home Improvement-Shlomo Michtavy (also known as Steve Michtavy), AAA Contracting/American Contracting-William A. Morris, Bill Morris Locksmith-Ronald Niebuhr Jr., Tim-Ron Fence Co.-Daniel Porteous, Reliable Chimney Service-John Porter, Porter's PMB/Westrock Electric-David Rabius, David Rabius Roofing-Vincent Ricciardelli, CVC Contracting Inc.-Raymond Russo, All in One Maintenance-Peter Schoembs and Nicole Auffarth, Frontier Fence Co. Inc.-Christian Sisti, Mighty Joe Young's Contracting-Capital 1 Construction* (Not to be confused with Landmark Construction of Yonkers Inc., which is not on the list.)



Bypass, parkway extension studies endorsed
By Martin Wilbur

Cortlandt Town Board has endorsed DOT studies planned for the Bear Mountain Parkway (pictured here) and the proposed Route 6 bypass in Mohegan Lake.
The Cortlandt Town Board accepted resolutions Tuesday night endorsing two state Department of Transportation studies that regional planners hope some day will ease a significant portion of the area’s traffic congestion.Council members supported the concept of studying the extension of the Bear Mountain Parkway from Route 202 to the Taconic Parkway as well as examining the possibility of a Route 6 bypass through the congested Mohegan Lake business district.Councilman John Sloan said the board’s action only represents a commitment from the town to support DOT’s review of conceptual plans for the two thoroughfares and does not endorse a specific plan. “These are in the very preliminary stages and we’re working together very hard with neighboring towns t,” said Sloan, cautioning the public about the long-term nature of the proposed projects.Cortlandt now joins Yorktown in passing resolutions supporting major initiatives of the Sustainable Development Study, where the two towns and the city of Peekskill were linked together in a traffic and land use project that searches for solutions to common problems.Earlier this year, Yorktown passed the same resolutions as well as another measure supporting no limits on truck traffic on the Bear Mountain Parkway. Currently, trucks are allowed on the parkway between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Peekskill has only endorsed the latter resolution, since city officials’ major concern is the heavy truck traffic rumbling through downtown.Cortlandt would continue to oppose any move toward round-the-clock truck traffic on the Bear Mountain Parkway, said Supervisor Linda Puglisi. Puglisi also tempered her enthusiasm for the Mohegan bypass, stating that she would support that project only if it didn’t hurt Cortlandt residents and business owners.“This is being proposed and I would hope that it would be moved closer to (the existing) Route 6 so it would not impact our good citizens,” Puglisi said.A bypass would allow drivers the option to continue unimpeded along Route 6 via a new roadway that would be built somewhere between Route 6 and Strawberry Road in Yorktown and come out somewhere on the Cortlandt side in the northeast quadrant of town. Its purpose would be to take drivers off the current Route 6 who do not have to make stops on the commercial strip between Strawberry Road and Lexington Avenue, the scene of frequent bottlenecks.Meanwhile, a Bear Mountain Parkway extension would link that road with the Taconic State Parkway, a move that experts say would reduce traffic on Route 202.Yorktown Supervisor Linda Cooper, the Sustainable Development Study’s most vocal supporter, said she is pleased there has been headway endorsing the study’s major plans.Support from multiple municipalities will increase the area’s chances to receive federal funding when money becomes available for the prohibitively expensive projects, she said. While there have been many rumored estimates, each project could run close to $100 million.“When you all back a resolution in support for them, it helps them become reality sooner,” said Cooper, who visited a Cortlandt work session last month to help convince a skeptical board that the resolutions were necessary to have a shot at future funding.She said the Bear Mountain Parkway project is tentatively in the proposal for fiscal year 2016-17. While some cynics might mock the long-term, it represents a similar length of time that it took the Taconic Parkway widening project to go from public hearings to completion.“That’s a glacial timeframe for most of use but at least it gets it into the process to make it make it happen,” Cooper said.Cooper said she hopes to make a visit to Peekskill’s Common Council, similar to her appearance at the Cortlandt Town Board, to convince officials there it is in their interests to support the Bear Mountain extension and Mohegan bypass resolutions.



Debate rages while Yorktown officials look for solution
Car policy scrutinized
By Adriane Tillman

Yorktown Councilman Louis Campisi, right, makes point during heated discussions Tuesday night over the town’s vehicle policy, which included (l-r) Councilman Nick Bianco, Supervisor Linda Cooper and Councilman Jim Martorano.
The future direction of Yorktown’s policy allowing employees to drive town vehicles home overnight caused heated discussion at Tuesday night’s Town Board work session.At issue for officials was which town employees should be allowed to take cars home.Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo presented the Fleet Committee’s recommendation that only town foremen who live within 10 miles of Yorktown’s borders should drive municipal vehicles home and that there should be a town-related use. Town foremen include six employees in the Highway Department, two in the Water Department, and one each with Parks and Recreation, the Sewer Department and one with central garage.“If you take vehicles away from the foremen it will hurt the operations of the town tremendously,” DiBartolo said. Employees considered on-call around-the-clock should have a town car at all times and were not included in the policy. They include the town supervisor, highway superintendent, water superintendent and police chief. DiBartolo charged the Town Board with reviewing which department heads should be granted the privilege. “The Town Board has always had a special agreement with department heads,” read the three-member committee’s recommendation. “We feel that both sides should meet in a closed discussion and discuss why some people have taken cars home for over 20 years.”DiBartolo, who serves on the panel with Comptroller Joan Goldberg and Patrick Lofaro, the superintendent for environmental conservation, specified one town vehicle that concerned him: an employee who tacks on 30,000 miles a year because car is taken home regularly.“That’s an issue,” he said. The issue has been simmering for about a month since North County News first reported that some employees were spotted well out of the vicinity with town cars.
Review and assess The board agreed to review the practice, speak with department heads and consider the Fleet Committee’s recommendation.Comptroller Joan Goldberg assured the board there was no widespread abuse in the town’s vehicle practice. Councilman Louis Campisi felt the town could tighten its belt. “There are some people I don’t believe should take town vehicles home like the meter reader and mechanic,” he said. Campisi said foremen are capable of handling the problem and can call for help if needed. He believes too many people are driving out to tackle situations.“I don’t believe there is anything in this town that is that much of an emergency that people can’t go back [to their departments] and pick up vehicles,” he said. An open nerve was struck when discussion turned to an employee who drives a town car home to Connecticut each night.Supervisor Linda Cooper said she had objected in that instance but was overridden by the board. Councilman Nicholas Bianco said he had no idea the vehicle was going all the way to Connecticut. The board seemed in agreement that town vehicles should be marked. Campisi cited one truck with a plow that was reported seen in Fishkill, although DiBartolo quickly stated it was not a Highway Department vehicle.DiBartolo also said it would not be uncommon to see his department’s vehicles parked at the Home Depot parking lot on a Friday evening or on Saturday as employees will pick up tools before shifts. Cooper wants input from the all the departments before decisions are made.“We can’t make decisions in a vacuum,” she said. “Maybe we’ll see some changes but we can’t make decisions based on a few anonymous phone calls. That would be irresponsible.”


Dear readers:

The question as brought up by Councilman Campisi comments is " how many unannounced emergencies are there to jusify people taking town cars home, or the real need for them anyway?" Other than the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Emergency Medical Chief and Highway Superintendent I really do not see the need for this town expense. This sounds like ego(I get to take the car home) then sound policy. I purposely left out the Supervisor for I do not see any emergency that the Supervisor will assist in other than face time on the news. The Supervisor is certianly not making arrests, putting our fires, administering CPR, or removing downed trees. Look at Peekskill and Putnam Valley and their heads of goverment do not have town paid for cars. I guess they do not have emergencies. What I would really like to see are the candidates running for election's postions on this issue. It would go a long way in determining whether they are for the status-quo or really for change and watching out of the taxpayer. It is my hope that the NCN will not let this issue die on the vine.



Dear Readers:

This week I discuss Goernor Spitzers assult on the taxpayers. 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(page 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.

************************************************************************************FYI: ATOM TAXI INC. AIRPORT SERVICE:

Dear Readers:

This gives me a chance to plug my business ATOM TAXI INC. Instead of the headache of trying to find Airport 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 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 communicate with me, please make your wishes known in the e-mail.LINKS:
(as this a yahoo address make sure you put an underscore (-) between atom and taxi)

For immediate reply:











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All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

BAZZO 06/17/07

Monday, June 04, 2007




In response to your article about the Bill Schmidt nomination and your own semi-endorsement of the GOP slate, I would like to take issue with your own remarks about the fact that GOP ticket is rife with school teachers. Apparently you think this is just great and claim that the only true small businessman is Domenic Volpe, choosing to ignore the FACTS and the REALITY of what it means to be teacher, aka a "Member of the Elite" in one of the Westchester/ Putnam school districts. As a small business owner with stores in Peekskill and Carmel (Side Effects/ NY) I will tell you that Testa, Pisani, Bolden and now Ms. Dias Stewart are 100% clueless about what it's like to own your own business, and what really astonishes me is that YOU YOURSELF should know better since you own a similar small business, Atom Taxi and know first hand what it's like to be walking that tightrope, spinning plates, with no safety net below in case you fall.

Here are just some of the reasons why NO teacher should ever be allowed to hold public office that involves unlimited spending of other people's money:

1. They only have to work 180 days a year, basically a part time job with full-time pay and Cadillac benefits.

2. They have over 3 months vacation, sick days, holidays, teachers conference days, etc. ad nauseum- paid for by small business owners like us (among others) who can't IMAGINE such a lifestyle.

3. They have health insurance that is the envy of every working class stiff in the area, again paid for by the tax-slaves of their district. In Put Valley, the teachers screamed bloody murder at the idea of contributing even a few pennies on the dollar to their health benefits while many of us, myself included, can't afford even basic health insurance. Yet we are FORCED to pay for theirs.

4. They have no idea what it's like to work 7 days a week, 10 hours or more a day to keep a business going, with no guarantee of success and no guarantee of a paycheck at the end of the week. It kind of gives you a whole other perspective on life.

5. Their continuing education is paid for, by the tax-slaves, FOREVER. This is known as a "step increase"in their salaries and is an integral part of their contracts. By the way, have you ever actually READ a teacher's contract for your district? If not, it behooves you to do so before you start spouting their propaganda. Where do you live, Yorktown? Get yourself to the District Office and tell them you want a copy of the latest teachers' contract. READ IT CAREFULLY and then tell me how great it is to have these people double dipping into political office. Oh, and while you're at it, take a look at the Superintendent's contract and the other administrators' as well.

I don't have time to continue with this posting because I have to get back to work, which is something I do 7 days a week these days since I now have two stores to run. With no financial help from the taxpayers except those beloved customers who patronize my stores. God Bless them all and sc--- Testa, Pisani and the other elites who don't even shop in the town that feeds them.

Patty Villanova


I have always believed small business people should be populating elected office. Not just owners but employees who walk the same tight rope. As a reader you are aware I have tried to join "the club' but was rebuffed. I singled out Mr. Volpe for that reason. It is why I champion Don Peters for Yorktown Supervisor. Both are willing to make the financial sacrifice to their business' to make the run, as was I. Have you been willing to try? As they won't let me play from their court, I through my blog and column will try to play on the court left to me, and that is the court of public awareness. BYW: The post you refer to was not a semi-endorsement nor any kind of endorsement. While it is true I have my political leanings(limited government), I will make my choice on who I feel best will serve the City of Peekskill w/ the choices given, not who might have been. The slates have been chosen, those are the choices. If one wants better choices, get more active or try a run at it yourself.

Spano takes aim at phosphorus fertilizers
(Original publication: June 4, 2007)

WHITE PLAINS - Attention Westchester homeowners: Maintaining that lush suburban lawn could get a bit more complicated if Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano gets his way.
Spano, in a move his administration says will safeguard drinking water supplies, has proposed a law that would largely ban the sale and use of phosphorus-based fertilizers for lawn care in Westchester. Such fertilizers are widely used by landscapers and do-it-yourself homeowners to keep their grass thick and green.
"What we want to do is have the product off the shelves," said Susan Gerry, a senior assistant to the county executive. "And we want to have that product information campaign on site with the retailers."
The Spano administration believes that the ban would lower the amount of phosphorus that runs off into reservoirs and spurs excessive algae growth, Gerry said. The algae depletes the supply of oxygen in the water and endangers local plant and animal life.
"It upsets the whole balance of the water body," Gerry said.
But the proposed law, which is before the county Board of Legislators and is the subject of a public hearing tonight, has raised the ire of local retailers, landscapers and even a few scientists who argue that it is based on faulty or incomplete scientific data and could actually increase the amount of phosphorus in bodies of water.
"It's just like the decision to go to war in Iraq," said John Knutson, owner of Lawn King of White Plains. "All the information is saying it doesn't make any sense. ... It's emotional rather than science."
Westchester's proposed ban was modeled on a similar law enacted by the state of Minnesota in 2002 and on prohibitions adopted in a handful of counties in Wisconsin. It forbids the application and sale of commercial lawn fertilizers "containing more than 0 percent phosphorus" in all but a handful of circumstances.
The law would be enforced by the county Department of Consumer Protection, with violators facing fines that range from as much as $50 for a first offense to $150 for subsequent offenses.
Phosphorus fertilizers, under the bill, could still be used in newly established turf or lawn areas during the first growing season or in lawns that certified laboratory tests show are in need of the substance. The product could also be used for agricultural purposes, in vegetable and flower gardens and for trees and shrubs.
"We do not want to compromise healthy lawns by implementing this law," said Gerry, who added that substitute, nonphosphorus fertilizers are available on the market, often for less money than phosphorus-containing products.
Since Spano proposed the law earlier this year, the county has received letters of support from several governmental agencies and environmental organizations, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverkeeper and the state Attorney General's Office.
Yet landscapers said Spano is pushing legislation that is not supported by any firm scientific data and ignores other sources of phosphorus, including animal waste - such as droppings from Canada geese - and decaying leaves. They also argued that phosphorus fertilizers foster thick, healthy lawns that actually restrict storm-water runoff.
"They are dealing with a very small source of phosphorus in the environment, and a healthy lawn actually traps that fertilizer," said Larry Wilson of Lawrence Landscape Design in Yonkers.
A. Martin Petrovic, a professor of turf grass science at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said there's little scientific data to show that such bans - including the law enacted in Minnesota - do anything to improve water quality. In fact, Petrovic argued that Westchester's proposed ban could increase the use of organic fertilizers, such as manure or compost, which contain higher levels of phosphorus.
"If the intent is to improve water quality, I don't think it is going to do it," Petrovic said, adding a few moments later that: "It could actually make the situation worse."
A report delivered to the Minnesota Legislature in March from the state's Department of Agriculture concluded that "changes in water quality" could not be documented and recommended further research.
"We just think it is political bowing to a number of environmental groups," Donald Burton, leader of the New York State Lawn Care Association, said about Spano's proposal. "The data that we have right now suggests that the phosphate overload is not coming from the landscape community."

Reach Glenn Blain at or 914-694-5066.


Westchester Legislators expand enforcement power of Human Rights Commission
(Original publication: June 5, 2007)

WHITE PLAINS - Westchester's Human Rights Commission is getting the "teeth" it wanted to punish those it finds guilty of discrimination.
The Board of Legislators, in a unanimous vote last night, approved a measure that expands the enforcement power of the commission, including the ability to impose civil fines of up to $100,000 in housing discrimination cases and the power to seek punitive damages of up to $10,000 for any discriminatory behavior it deems egregious.
"They've given us the sufficient teeth that we've needed," Delores Braithwaite, executive director of the commission, said of the legislature's decision.
The commission handles cases of discrimination in the workplace, housing, lending and businesses of "public accommodation," such as restaurants and theaters. Its protections span such categories as race, disability, national origin, religion, gender, marital status and sexual orientation. Last year, its protections were extended to victims of domestic abuse.
Last night's move by the legislature followed weeks of debate on, and revisions to, the bill. Lawmakers repeatedly refined the bill's language and reworked the actual process that the commission would need to follow in imposing big fines and seeking punitive damages.
In the end, the board adopted the measure with little debate. County Executive Andrew Spano is expected to sign it into law.
"I think it is a very good step," said Legislator Vito Pinto, chairman of the board's Legislation Committee. "The commission, when it was established, was a living body that was subject to change, and now we have done so."
Passage of the Human Rights Commission legislation came on a busy night that also saw lawmakers approve 22 percent raises for Westchester's two elections commissioners and hold a public hearing on Spano's proposal to greatly restrict the sale of phosphorus fertilizers for lawn care.
The two commissioners who received raises, Republican Carolee Sunderland and Democrat Reginald LaFayette, would see their base salaries go up from $127,125 to $155,245 - the same amount paid to commissioners of other county departments.
"It just puts us on a par with the other commissioners," LaFayette said.
The increase was part of a series of otherwise minor pay-and-title adjustments Spano submitted to the legislature earlier this year. Money for the changes was included in this year's budget.
Spano's proposed ban on phosphorus fertilizers, which his administration says is intended to protect drinking water supplies from tainted runoff, raised the ire of local landscapers, several of whom attended the hearing and argued that it would do little to improve water quality.
Legislator Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, chairman of the board's Committee on Environment and Energy, said the issues raised by landscapers would be reviewed by his committee and the bill could be altered.
"It is a little bit more complicated than we would have hoped for, but we'll get it done," Abinanti said.

Reach Glenn Blain at or 914


Dear Readers:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote for my NCN column IN MY OPINION about the County Legislators races (see I told you it was worth the seventy-five cents to purchase the paper). In that column I talk about the cynicism regarding County Government and how many in the northern county region believe that County Government is rank with redundancies and a waste of tax payer dollars and should be abolished. The above articles prove my point.

The first article regarding phosphorous is what I describe in my column as "justifying my existence" legislation. As you see in the article there is serious disagreement on the affects this law might impose. Still instead of tabling this legislation till more accurate information is gathered, our Legislator's in order to justify their existence are going to enact it anyway. It is this rushing to appear to do something without fully venting the issue, that encourages the public cynicism, and will make it all the harder for the incumbents to retain their seats.

The second article is what I described in my column as "me too" legislation. Our federal and State taxes already pay for this kind of bureaucracy. This redundancy paid for with our tax dollars is not necessary. This is designed by our legislators so they can say, "see, we care", don't you feel good, now vote for me. Now I know I run the risk of being labeled in favor of discrimination, but that is the kind of rhetoric politicians will use to silence dissent. What I am against is our tax dollars paying for redundancy. It is redundancies such as these that the challengers will have to point out, even if they run the risk of being smeared, if they have any hope of unseating the incumbents.

Go Panio,’ say Yorktown Republicans
Town, county GOP chief to run for supervisor
By Martin Wilbur

Republican nominee for Yorktown Supervisor, RoseMarie Panio, (foreground) with other members of her ticket, (left to right) Terrence Murphy, Mark Drexel and Charles Rubenstein.Match-ups for Yorktown’s November elections were officially set last week as the Republican Committee announced that longtime chairwoman RoseMarie Panio would succeed outgoing Supervisor Linda Cooper as the party’s choice for supervisor.Panio, 65, will be joined on the ticket by three-term incumbent Councilman Nicholas Bianco and Yorktown school trustee Mark Drexel.Panio immediately stepped down from her post as head of the town GOP committee after serving as the chair for the past 14 years. She will do the same at the Westchester County Republican Committee by mid June, a move she said she was planning to do anyway later this year. Panio held that position for four and a half years.In explaining her decision to put herself on the line against Democratic nominee Don Peters, Panio, one of four candidates considered for the nomination, said the committee had been looking for a variety of qualities and she seemed to best fit the bill.“We were looking for commitment to community, we were looking for lots of experience in volunteering and it started to sound more and more like me,” said Panio. “I felt I would be the best person for the job.”Once she decided to become a contender, the departing party chief said she was not involved in the interview process of other hopefuls.This marks Panio’s first run for town office. She made two unsuccessful bids for the County Board of Legislators within the past decade.Panio said if she is elected she is prepared for the task, having been involved and gaining knowledge in a series of key topics facing the town. Traffic, sewers and development pressures are some of the chief issues.She explained that her nomination is in no way a sign that the Republicans were unable to find another candidate.“If I didn’t want to run I wouldn’t put myself into this,” Panio stated. “If I didn’t want to be supervisor I would not put myself through this.”Her candidacy follows Cooper’s announcement about three months ago that she would not seek another term. This will be the first time since 1991 that someone other than Cooper has been the Republican’s nominee for supervisor.Bianco, 62, a registered Conservative who once again received the Republican endorsement in bidding for his fourth term, called the slate “an interesting ticket” and looked forward to the challenge of the campaign.He and Drexel will be up against four-term Democratic incumbent James Martorano and district leader Vishnu Patel. “I’ll support the ticket like I have supported the ticket previously,” he said.Bianco, who is scheduling to walk the entire town door-to-door starting in early July, said because there will be a new administration, stability will be essential among the council members.“I think experience is needed,” said Bianco who resisted the lure of running himself for supervisor. “I have the experience and it becomes much more important because we’re going to have a new supervisor no matter what.”Drexel, 51, a department manager for emergency management for Con Edison, joins the slate after serving since September 2005 on the school board in his first run for a political office.He has long been motivated by public service and volunteer works including a stint on the Planning Board, service with the ambulance corps, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and the Yorktown Athletic Club and sees service to the town as his calling.Drexel said his emergency planning and engineering expertise would be a strong addition to the public service records of Panio and Bianco.“The issues that affect our community are local and need the most capable local people to provide the needed leadership,” Drexel said. “I am very confident that the Republican team is best for Yorktown.”With another two years remaining on the Board of Education, Drexel said if elected to the Town Board he would take the uncommon step of serving on both boards simultaneously.The Democrats announced their ticket about two months ago. Like in other municipalities in the county, the Democrats have made serious inroads in Yorktown. In 2001 the party took back the majority on the Town Board when Councilmen Matthew Metz and Louis Campisi each won the first of their two terms.Two years ago Cooper held off Peters by less than 100 in an election that required a recount of the machine votes.Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Apicella said he was confident that with his party gaining steam and with the popular Peters and Patel joining Martorano, the Democrats will have a formidable ticket.Apicella also mentioned that he believed that Panio was unable to find another suitable candidate and made the decision to sacrifice her roles as party chairwoman to provide opposition.“They didn’t have anyone else to run for supervisor,” Apicella contended. “I think she stepped up to the plate to put together a slate.”Filling out the rest of the ticket, the party nominated Charles Rubenstein for town justice and endorsed George Oros and Terrence Murphy in the two county legislature races contested in Yorktown.


Yorktown: Early campaign
Democrats talk up November ticket
By Martin Wilbur

The slate of Yorktown Democrats are all smiles this week as they talk about their campaign for the November election. Pictured (front row l-r) councilman James Martorano, supervisor candidate Don Peters, council candidate Vishnu Patel, (back row l-r) county legislature hopeful Dominic Volpe, Yorktown Town Clerk Alice Roker, Yorktown Justice Ilan Gilbert and County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz.
Brimming with confidence and optimism, Yorktown’s Democrats wasted little time in launching the 2007 campaign season this week in what party leaders hope will bring greater majorities on the Town Board and County Board of Legislators.Members of the town’s Democratic slate gathered outside Town Hall early Tuesday evening with an event that could be described as part press conference and part pep rally.It occurred less than two weeks after the Republicans officially announced that longtime town and county committee chairwoman RoseMarie Panio would run for supervisor. She will be joined by popular three-term incumbent Nicholas Bianco and school board trustee Mark Drexel.Democratic Chairman Joseph Apicella called the town ticket of Don Peters, opposing Panio for supervisor, incumbent Councilman James Martorano and council candidate Vishnu Patel “an extraordinary team” that is ready to serve Yorktown.“This is the best team ever assembled and the people of Yorktown have a clear choice,” Apicella said proudly of the trio who appeared with county legislator Michael Kaplowitz, Town Clerk Alice Roker, Yorktown Justice Ilan Gilbert and Dominic Volpe, who will taken on take on Republican incumbent George Oros for the county board.Incumbents Matthew Metz and Louis Campisi also joined to show support and unity.“Do they want to go backwards and have a political party boss manage the day-to-day activities of the town or do they want a professional, seasoned, local businessman who’s never been in politics in his life given a shot at managing the job,” Apicella continued.Panio, who served 14 years as Town GOP Committee chair and four years as the party’s county chief, is relinquishing both roles.Peters said being a lifelong resident of the town and a former cop gives him a leg up on his competition.“We know the town the best because I’ve lived here all my life, worked in the police department and with the great councilmen we have behind me and delegating authority we’re going to do great here,” Peters said.Volpe, who lost a competitive race two years ago to Board of Legislators’ Minority Leader George Oros, said his 2005 performance opened eyes and is giving him greater support in Yorktown.“We’re aggressive, we’re starting sooner, we’re going to raise more money,” Volpe explained. “I think the results will be different this time, especially with the help of the Yorktown committee.”Kaplowitz vowed a united effort from the ticket that is comprised of a strong mix of veterans like himself, Martorano and Roker and political first-timers such as Patel.“Every single one of us is ready to roll up our sleeves and work together to deliver the services people need and demand here in Yorktown,” he said.

Peeskill: Bolden, Martinez, Dias-Stewart join Schmidt
Republicans announce full slate for November
By Sam Barron

The Peekskill Republicans officially unveiled their slate last week, headed by Bill Schmidt running for mayor.Schmidt, whose candidacy was reported two weeks ago by North County News but was not confirmed by the Peekskill GOP, was introduced by current Mayor John Testa and accompanied by the Tina Turner song Simply the Best. “Never before have the choices been so clear as to what future direction our city should take on key issues of growth, taxes, safety and quality of life,” said Schmidt. “Do we, for example, encourage responsible development of our downtown and waterfront that will in turn expand our tax base and bring new middle class families to our city that will revitalize our commercial businesses? Or do we delay and dither and let Westchester County decide our future for us?”“It’s very important that the city of Peekskill grow in a responsible way,” continued Schmidt, who would like to add more middle class to the city.Incumbents Milagros Martinez and Mel Bolden, along with newcomer Selma Dias-Stewart, complete the slate for Common Council.They will face Democratic Councilwoman Mary Foster, who is running for mayor after serving two years on the board, and incumbent councilman Don Bennett. The remainder of the Democrats’ ticket is Patricia Salvate-Riley and Joe Schuder.Schmidt made it clear that he is strongly against Westchester County subsidizing houses for Peekskill and forcing the county’s burdens onto the city.“Our opponents only want to depend on strings-attached handouts from the county,” he said during the Republican’s dinner May 31 at Taormina’s Restaurant on Hudson Avenue. “We will never agree to that approach, and we will always insist that Westchester County require every community to shoulder its fair share of the county's services burden, including the homeless.” If elected mayor, Schmidt also proposed free two-hour parking on all streets in downtown Peekskill and the elimination of metered parking. Testa, who is bowing out after three terms, admitted it was strange not seeing his name on a campaign sign and praised his party’s slate while taking several swipes at the Democrats.“I think it’s a great slate. It will being a perspective similar to what we hope to accomplish,” he said. “To have Milagros Martinez and Mel Bolden, to have someone like Selma, it’s really refreshing and exciting.”“We’re not going to skip a beat,” said Testa. When referring to the Democrats he said, “Have you heard anything they’re going to do? You’ve heard everything they’re against.” Testa said residents enjoy the flat property taxes, which Democrats opposed. Their opposition also voted down waterfront and downtown development and the addition of the Target department store. He also harped on the Democrats’ lack of experience.“They’re people with no ideas, manipulating information,” Testa continued. “We don’t talk about ourselves, we talk about Peekskill.” “At stake is the future of the city of Peekskill. If the Democrats are elected, get ready to pay high taxes and see a lot of for sale signs,” Testa warned.Peekskill Democratic Chairman Darren Rigger wasted no time in responding to the outgoing mayor’s barbs.“Clearly Mayor Testa has a high opinion of himself; if he’s not mayor, people will pack up and leave the city,” Rigger said. “The city of Peekskill is bigger then one person.”Even though he is not up for office, Testa said he will be heavily involved in this year’s election. If the Democrats manage to gain a majority on the Common Council, “everything we worked for will fall apart,” Testa said, including stoppage of the waterfront and downtown revitalization. “They’re not a group that looks out for taxpayers, they’re more of a special interest group. “Joining Schmidt is Martinez, 52, who is running for her third term as councilwoman, as is the 38-year-old Bolden.“I promise I will not give up,” Martinez said. “I believe in the people in the city of Peekskill. I want to make Peekskill greater then what it is today.”“We will succeed,” she continued. “The Target store is my top priority. It will bring 300 jobs ranging from high school students to any age.” Martinez also had high praise for her running mates, calling it “diverse” and “focused” on the citizens of Peekskill.Dias-Stewart, 52, is running for council for the first time in her career. The Peekskill Middle School guidance counselor is not even a registered Republican. “Thank you for accepting me,” she said at the dinner. “I’m not a registered Republican, but I’m so much in tune with the vision of our city. This is the best team to get the vision done.”Despite the fact that there’s no elephant on her chest, Dias-Stewart who is a political novice thinks she fits in well with her slate. Living the American Dream, she said she had an obligation to help.“I see a vibrant downtown and the waterfront restored. This will be a place where I want to live,” said Dias-Stewart, a Cornell graduate. “My father was an immigrant, my mother’s Native American. It’s a very worldly vision.” “She will really bring a perspective of freshness,” said Testa, who praised her involvement in the community. “She really relates to people, she’s a positive influence.” Testa also praised her involvement in the community.Bolden, 38, like Martinez, is running for his third term as councilman.“We’ve moved Peekskill forward tremendously,” he said. “We cannot lose ground we have fought for.”“We have people who wish to stall progress,” Bolden added. “We need to move it forward. We have to keep it going. We have a lot more plans on the table. I want to be here to see them follow through and completed. I don’t want to go backwards.”He also praised Schmidt, calling it a big loss when he was voted off the Common Council in 2005.Foster, the Democrats candidate for mayor said could not be reached for comment.But Rigger said he was not surprised by the Republicans slate, calling it the “Pataki Posse,” which has grown stale.“It’s the same old-same old, recycling failed politicians. I can’t figure out what has changed,” he said while chiding the Republicans. “Martinez works for the Board of Education, Testa is a teacher, Pisani is a teacher, Bolden is a teacher and now they added Selma Stewart, a guidance counselor at the high school. They can hold a council meeting in the teacher’s lounge of the high school.”Rigger also explained his party’s reputation of opposing progress.“They’ve (the Republicans) had the majority for decades,” he said. “Anything to complain about it’s their fault. We can’t stop anything from passing. The accusation that the minority Democratic Party has ability to stop something from passing is misleading. Because they’re the majority party, they have no one to blame other then themselves.”While the Republicans talked up their experience in public office, Rigger thinks the Democrats’ experience in the private sector is more important. “We’re pro-business, we’ve worked with business. They can’t hold a candle to our business slate. They really are government workers,” he said.“We’re going to make it an issue: they have no private sector experience.” Bennett said it would be an uphill battle for Schmidt. “I think he’s going to find it difficult to convince the public that he’s more different then John,” he said.“Unfortunately you get labeled as a party, it’s difficult to break out of the mold, to break the chain by what has been set by the current administration.”Bennett called Bolden a formidable candidate, but said of Martinez, “We’ll have to let the public decide whether she’s been an effective legislator for her constituents.”Salvate-Riley called the Republicans slate “same old face, same old ideas.” She thinks the Democrats have a wonderful chance at taking back the Common Council. “The city residents want a change,” she said. “We’re really organized, I’m expecting victory.Schuder, the other new face on the Democrats ticket, added that he was “a little surprised that there wasn’t more freshness. The City of Peekskill needs a fresh look, fresh ideas. I’m coming to government to see what I can do about business development.”The Common Council used to be all Republicans, but they have lost one seat in each of the last three elections. If the Democrats gain a seat without losing any seats, they will capture the majority.

New law to protect online shoppers
(Original publication: June 5, 2007)

ALBANY - Gov. Eliot Spitzer yesterday signed a new law designed to protect shoppers who make purchases online.
The new law, which unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature two weeks ago, requires online retailers to ship orders within 30 days or offer a refund, prominently display information about the company, and maintain records of all complaints regarding the failure to ship merchandise.
The measures are already in place for phone and mail orders, but a mounting number of complaints convinced legislators to apply them to Internet shopping as well.
"Businesses were not being responsible, but our hands were tied because there were no laws," protecting consumers online, said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose office received more than 1,000 complaints last year regarding online shopping. "The Internet is no longer the Wild West of commerce."
Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group said the new regulations will ultimately benefit retailers because they will give people more confidence in online shopping.
The specific provisions of the law, which takes effect immediately, include:
- Retailers cannot accept orders unless the merchandise can be shipped within 30 days.
- Advertising and promotional material must feature the name and address of the merchant, as well as conditions for refunds.
- If merchandise is not shipped after 30 days, the retailer must give the shopper the opportunity to cancel the order.
- Companies must maintain records of complaints or failures to comply with the new law so the Attorney General's Office can monitor and investigate claims, a spokesman said.
"This new law will give Internet consumers the same protections as those who make purchase by mail or by phone," said Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, Nassau County, who sponsored the bill. "With more and more New Yorkers making purchases online, they need assurances that the merchandise they buy arrives at their door, and in a reasonable amount of time."
Big-name companies that made their reputations off-line have already implemented such protections, but the new law will "bring everyone else along," said Ted Potrikus of the state Retail Council.

Contact Dan Wiessner at daniel_wiessner

Ban on licenses for illegal immigrants upheld
(Original publication: June 8, 2007)

ALBANY - New York has the right to deny driver's licenses to immigrants who can't prove they are in the country legally, the state's highest court ruled yesterday.
A lawsuit brought by immigrants and their advocates claimed a state Department of Motor Vehicles policy created by the Pataki administration "is essentially an effort to deny driver's licenses to immigrants not legally present in New York," the Court of Appeals decision said.
"To state the obvious, undocumented aliens lack documents," wrote Judge Robert Smith in the 5-2 decision. "And the DMV's right to insist on such documents is undisputed."
At issue was a rule issued Sept. 6, 2001, just five days before terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, requiring driver's license applicants to provide federal immigration documents to prove they were in the country legally. Some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had obtained driver's licenses. Seven of the terrorists exploited loopholes in other states that allowed people to obtain driver's licenses and ID cards by submitting sworn statements instead of proof of residency or identity.
"If you give licenses to illegal aliens you are inevitably giving licenses to terrorists and you are inviting another Sept. 11," said Peter Gadiel of Kent, Conn., the president of 9/11 Families for a Secure America who lost a son in the World Trade Center attacks. "I can't comprehend those people who want to give illegal aliens and unknown terrorists among them driver's licenses."
The state has long required applicants who don't have Social Security numbers to submit a Social Security Administration letter stating the person wasn't eligible to work in the U.S. so wasn't issued a Social Security number, but was present in the country legally. The 2001 rule made immigrants provide more proof.
The lawsuit was launched after the state started cracking down in 2004, an effort that was expected to result in the loss of driver's licenses for 300,000 illegal immigrants.
In 2005, a state Supreme Court justice in Manhattan sided with the immigrants and ordered the state to stop seizing the driver's licenses of immigrants without Social Security cards, arguing in part that the DMV couldn't enforce immigration law.
But in July 2006, the appellate division overturned that ruling and allowed the state to require that immigrants prove they are in the United States legally to get a driver's license. The Pataki administration defended the rules, saying they were put in place to combat fraud and terrorism.
"One of the most important things we can do to keep our country safe is to make sure that the people who do come here do so legally and abide by the laws," former Gov. George Pataki said yesterday.
The issue may not be over. As a candidate in 2006, Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer said he would change the rule because it doesn't improve security and instead keeps immigrants from rising from "the shadows" and creates a class of people with no public records.
A spokeswoman for Spitzer said the court decision doesn't change his plans to alter the DMV rule.
"The governor feels strongly that the state's driver license policies should not unnecessarily keep people who should have licenses from getting them, and the administration's efforts continue in earnest to review the considerations involved in making any policy change," said Christine Anderson.
Two judges dissented in yesterday's decision, saying that although the state Legislature could enact such rules, former DMV Commissioner Raymond Martinez couldn't.
"An administrative agency may not use its authority as a license to correct whatever societal evils it perceives," Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote for the minority.
"These policies have been implemented by administrative fiat," said Adam J. Pessin, attorney for Maria Cubas and the other immigrants. He said providing driver's licenses to immigrants with documentation is better for a community - it results in more insured drivers and a way for people to openly be part of society. It's not an effective way to fight terrorism, he argued.
About a dozen states deny driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

PHS Class of 76/77 reunion
Meet and Greet July27,2007
Crystal Bay 8pm-10pm

Dinner Dance
Sat, July 28,2007
Holiday Inn, Fishkill, NY
$85 per person

Picnic on Sunday
July 29, 2007
Riverfront Green

If you know of anyone from the classes of '76/77 who has not been contacted please call
Contact person: Domenic Volpe 737-9184
or E-mail DC9184@aol

Dear Readers:

This week I dicuss real reform of school taxes. 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.

Dear Readers:

This gives me a chance to plug my business ATOM TAXI INC.Instead of the headache of trying to find Airport 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 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)

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BAZZO 06/09/07