Saturday, June 07, 2008



Dear Andy,

You and I have had our conversations in recent years, and I have read every one of your columns since you started writing for the North County News. We rarely agree on the issues, but we have always agreed that signing one’s name to one’s public comments is the acid test of personal integrity. I have always taken that to mean that we agree on a fundamental principal of civility, of human society.

I was very moved by your tribute to your father in last week’s NCN. I am even more conscious now that I am lucky to still have my father, a veteran of WW II now in declining health, a man’s man who taught me so much as I grew up, as your father taught you.

My sincere condolences to you and your family.

Jim Knight

Hi Andy,

The Putnam County Legislature voted last night (6/3) on the adoption of a Putnam County Domestic Partner Registry. This vote was carried with 6 ayes for the Domestic Partner Registry, 1 absent (Dan Birmingham), 1 abstention (Anthony Fusco) and 1 no (Tony Hay). As is this registry -which allows couples who are not married to receive governmental recognition for their relationship- will go on the books in about a month. I was very proud of our Legislators last night because I personally consider this legislation to be one of the most important measures Putnam County has enacted in years. It is fair, equitable and about time. I have no comment to make on the 3 alternate votes. Our 6-3 majority is veto proof and I believe this majority vote truly reflects the will of the people.

Thank You,Andy

Sam Oliverio
Putnam County Legislator Dist. #2

With $353 Million At Stake, Assembly Candidate Bill Gouldman Delivers Letter to Assemblywoman Sandra Galef Urging Assembly to End Tax Rebates to Those Who Have Not Paid Property Taxes & Demands Assembly Remain In Session to End Abuse & Cap Property Taxes Now!

Ossining, New York:

Bill Gouldman Candidate for State Assembly in the 90th District, hand delivered a letter to Sandra Galef, the Chairwoman of The New York State Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation demanding that Legislature remain in session to vote on a property tax cap for homeowners throughout New York State.

Gouldman's letter came on the heels of testimony given by The New York State Association of Counties which disclosed that $353 million of taxpayer monies were handed over to property tax delinquents in 2007. "At a time when New York is in financial duress the Legislature must immediately act to fix this outrageous situation. I am calling upon you as the Chair of the Assembly's Committee on Real Property Taxation to see to it that the Assembly does take its summer recess until it passes legislation that ends this irresponsible abuse. I further urge that you insist that the Assembly vote on the recommendations made by the Suozzi Commission before it adjourns,' wrote Gouldman.

Two weeks after school districts throughout the state voted on budgets that raised school taxes across the state, Tom Suozzi, the chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief released the findings of his Commission which call for a cap on homeowner's property taxes. The report was delayed to allow the State Assembly to adjourn once again without acting on the problem that is driving thousands of people from their homes.

Sandy Galef is the chair of the Assembly Real Property Tax Committee, she has held the job since 2003," said Bill Gouldman, the Republican Candidate for the 90th Assembly District which is currently represented by Mrs. Galef. ""What more does the Assembly need before it will act," asked Mr. Gouldman? For five years as chair and nearly 14 years as a member of the Assembly, Sandy Galef has had the chance to do something about these outrageous taxes. I call upon her to join with me and insist that the Assembly not leave Albany until it votes on legislation to cap property taxes," Mr. Gouldman demanded.

"We didn't need a study group to tell us what we already knew, our taxes are too high, Mr. Gouldman asserted. "People are being financially squeezed, facing hardship that has been unseen since the Great Depression; Sandy Galef must get Sheldon Silver and the members of the Assembly to acknowledge their pain. Too much is at stake to allow politicians to talk themselves off the hook. You don't stall the people in the name of helping them. You don't ignore their hardship and the tough times they face by asking for more of their hard earned dollars, "declared Gouldman, a Putnam Valley resident.

Throughout all of New York taxes are driving people from their homes. The New York State Comptroller's Office reports that local property tax levies throughout state have risen by 60 percent from 1995 to 2005, more than twice the rate of inflation.

Since he declared his candidacy last winter, Mr. Gouldman has proposed a simple tax cap formula that has worked in other states: Cap property taxes increases at either at 4 percent or at the rate of inflation, and do it at whichever is lower.

14 other states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and West Virginia have enacted similar proposals.

Gouldman also referred to testimony given on June 2nd by the New York State Association of Counties which shockingly disclosed that people who are delinquent in paying their property taxes were given tax rebate checks by the State Legislature in 2007.

"Where else but New York can you be financially rewarded for not paying your taxes," wondered Mr. Gouldman? As chair of the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation Mrs. Galef has an obligation to all of us to keep the Assembly in session until this problem is fixed. We're talking about $353 million of taxpayer money that just went down the drain."

Gouldman concluded, "Our homes are worth fighting for. Our children deserve to have schools and an education that is worthy of them, one that prepares them for 21st century jobs and responsibility. The solutions to the problems we face today and the challenges of tomorrow cannot be found if Albany continues to do business as usual. Albany urgently needs a dose of reality and common sense. Property taxes must be capped immediately."

Assemblywoman Galef invites Tom Suozzi to discuss Property Tax Relief Recommendations at
First Public Town Meeting Following Report’s Release

(June 3, 2008)

In an effort to take immediate action and begin the work that needs to be done, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has invited Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi to speak at her forum this Monday, June 9th at Putnam Valley High School from 7-9pm to discuss the recommendations the Commission on Property Tax Relief released today. This forum will be the first opportunity the public will have to hear the recommendations firsthand, and to respond directly to the commission’s chairperson.

“Now is the time to hear from the public, get input, and develop grassroots support for changing our system so we can alleviate some of the high tax burden our New York State citizens have had to bear,” said Assemblywoman Sandy Galef. “We must move quickly to address the growing struggle our public is experiencing in these tough economic times.” The Commission’s recommendations call for a 4% property tax cap, mandate relief for schools, and a circuit breaker. Galef, along with the Senate sponsor Senator Betty Little, have been working hard to get buy-in on a circuit breaker (A1575A/S1053A) which would give a tax break to people based on the relationship between their property taxes as they relate to their income.

“The Commission’s work has been thorough. It is time to start moving on these recommendations,” said Galef. “I look forward to garnering public support for a plan that works to get us out of this tough spot.”

County Executive Suozzi said: “These recommendations are monumental and will make a tremendous difference for the economy and taxpayers of our state for generations to come.”

For more information or directions to Putnam Valley High School, located at 146 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley, contact Sandy Galef’s district office at:
(914) 941-1111
Contact: Matt Neuringer (845) 222-9494


Both Westchester County GOP and Dutchess County Conservatives Support Ball in 2008

State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R – Patterson) earned the endorsements of both the Westchester County Republican Committee and the Dutchess County Conservatives last night. Both votes were unanimous in support of Ball’s re-election efforts.

“I very much appreciate the sincere support of both the Westchester GOP and the Dutchess County Conservatives. Two years ago I promised to shake up Albany, and I know that by sticking to my word, I have ruffled some feathers. That is why I am so very honored to know these two Committees have applauded my efforts and taken a stand to support me. I will continue to stand up for the working people of my district and against the corruption and special interests in Albany once re-elected,” said Ball.
A Statement from Assemblyman Greg Ball (R – Carmel)

Last week’s editorial in the New York Post exposed a dirty little secret in the halls of Albany – voodoo math. And if anything should have been front page news, and should still be front page news, this is it. By refusing to embrace the long overdue and necessary reforms that would be instituted with an independent budget office, Albany has once again beaten Washington, D.C. to the bottom of the financial barrel. The inside interests in Albany refuse to institute necessary reforms to ensure that taxpayer’s dollars are spent wisely. Why?

Because this dysfunctional, corrupt, and sadly backwards institution thrives on hidden pockets of money, funny numbers and backroom slush funds. And rank and file members are able to subsidize their incumbency with government mailers and backroom deals, therefore never having to face an angry constituency. Recent reports prove that hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, of taxpayer funds have been squandered by politicians relying upon “voodoo numbers” supplied by partisan and financially corrupted analysts.

Hard working men and women across this state are now faced with increasingly tough choices. Taxpayers are being squeezed for every dollar they have, and a few that they don’t. Seniors are being taxed out of our communities and being forced to decide, in some instances, between healthcare, food or paying their tax bill. This is not rhetoric.

Yet one group in New York State seems to be insulated from a world of tough choices: the New York State Legislature. Last year, I stood up in the New York State Assembly and described the institution itself, and the processes it thrives upon, as “dysfunctional”. Well, two years have gone by, and now that I have grown a little wiser I would like to refine my comments. The New York State Legislature is not only “dysfunctional”, it is systemically corrupt and in desperate need of comprehensive reform.

Albany works for the three men in a room. Albany even works for some lucky Majority Senators and Assemblyman who use their public positions for private benefit. And yes, Albany works for the lobbyists and special interests that buy and sell the public trust like it is a commodity. Outside of that, Albany embodies a taxpayer funded boondoggle where legislators spend as if the flow of public funds will never end, nor ever wane, and blatantly refuse to make any tough decisions for fear of losing a constituency that has been appeased and pleased one handout at a time.

Fellow taxpayers, it is now time to say enough is enough. I am asking you to call upon the State Legislature to immediately enact an independent budget office to independently and professionally estimate the financial costs and economic impacts of pending legislation. We must put in place processes that encourage bipartisan approaches to common problems by creating a central non partisan review body -- similar to the Congressional Budget Office -- to provide state leaders with serious and accurate analysis.

Voodoo math, while convenient to tax and spend legislators looking to empty the public coffers and fund their pet projects, is a complete violation of the public trust and should be made illegal. What most New Yorkers do not realize, and what most legislators do not want you to know, is that Legislators are voting on bills without having a clue about what the financial implication on taxpayers will be. Sound crazy? Yes, and dysfunctional too, but don’t juts take my word for it, call your Senator and Assemblyman and ask some tough questions. It’s about time.
Ball ready to roll, faces illegal alien activist
Independent Media Center | May 9, 2008

SOUTHEAST, NEW YORK. New York State Assemblyman Greg Ball, an Air Force Captain and former business executive, says he "welcomes the challenge" after acquiring his first challenger for reelection yesterday. John Degnan, former Mayor of the Village of Brewster, New York, received the ceremonial endorsement of a group led by former Assemblyman Willis Stephens Jr., whom Ball ousted in 2006.

Degnan is remembered for his failed 2007 sanctuary city initiative to grant ID cards to illegal aliens, when he invited the Guatemalan consulate to come to the village to offer its mobile ID card service to distribute identification cards to illegal aliens. Assemblyman Ball, who opposed the measure, also orchestrated the defeat of a similar plan by ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer to grant driver's licenses illegal immigrants.

In his 2006 state of the village address, Degnan promised that the village would construct a hiring site for Brewster's day laborers, which was defeated by a protest led by Assemblyman Ball that included agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement agency and hundreds of residents of the tiny village. Former Mayor Degnan told The Journal News that he had felt "enthusiastic" about playing an "integral role" in the failed sacntuary measure to secure a work shelter site for undocumented residents of Northern Westchester and Putnam Counties.

During an unsuccessful 2007 campaign for office, Degnan left the Republican party to run as a Democrat. Hispanic residents of Brewster complained of a decline in their quality of life during Degnan's mayoralty, citing overcrowding and joblessness. The ex-Mayor's opponents labeled Degnan a "slumlord", a charge which he rejected. Although he later hired a worker to fight the overcrowding, even Degnan's own supporters concede he did little to tackle the immigration issue.

Ball, fresh off a recent legislative victory to provide free college tuition to veterans of the Armed Forces, is known as "Albany's most ardent supporter of legal immigration". He is a state chairman of Lawmakers for Legal Immigration, an immigration reform group, and achieved prominence for his work with 9/11 Families for a Secure America, enacting the 287(g) program to empower state law enforcement officers to act as ICE agents to crack down on crime and deport incarcerated illegal aliens, as well as a series of immigration bills that passed in the State Assembly to crack down on contractors breaking state labor laws. Illegal immigration costs New Yorkers more than $5.1 billion per year for education, medical care, and incarceration.
Learn More About the Failed Mayor of Brewster:


Sign the NY State 287G Petition Today!

Tired of the media distorting the facts?

Here are the facts.

In summary, for a GAO study population of 55,322 illegal alien criminals:

* They were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about
8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-
eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent
(about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about
15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after

* They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses,
averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may
include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly
one and half times more offenses than arrests.[Footnote 6] Almost all
of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly
more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10
offenses. About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration
offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as
burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage.
About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery,
assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other
offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence;
fraud--including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and
obstruction of justice.

Sign the NY State 287G Petition Today!

Be informed! Read the full report for yourself:


Supports State Commission on Property Tax Relief’s Recommendation That

The State Immediately Enact Property Tax Cap

A vocal advocate for property tax relief, Assemblyman Greg Ball (R – Patterson) applauded the recommendation made by the State Commission on Property Tax Relief that the State immediately enact a cap on property taxes. The recommended proposal is similar to the Assemblyman’s own proposal to enact a cap, Assembly Bill 8775-A.

“The time has come to comprehensively overhaul the way we collect school taxes in this state. Period. End of story. Taxpayers in our community are already burdened with the highest taxes in the nation and this epidemic is causing residents and business across the state to flee for greener pastures. Two million New Yorkers have voted with their feet, leaving New York. This state is squeezing them for every dollar they have and a few that they don’t. I have been calling for the State to enact real, meaningful property tax relief and my tax cap proposal which includes dynamic mandate relief is a serious option. I am pleased that the Commission supports, at least in part, my initiative. I hope that with bi-partisan support for this measure, the Democrats will heed our calls and the millions of over-burdened New Yorkers who need tax relief will know that help is finally, and actually, on the way,” said Ball who is a co-sponsor of A.8775-A, which would enact the Assembly Republicans’ Property Taxpayer Protection Act.

Ball’s legislation would also put in place a 4 percent cap on property taxes, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Additionally, the act calls for mandate relief on local governments to help keep local budgets in line, in order to prevent large growth in school budgets. Although the legislation is supported statewide by legislators and the public, who signed petitions in support of the plan, the bill was just recently held by Assembly Democrats on May 29, 2008.

Despite this, Ball is continuing to advocate for this bill’s immediate enactment and gathering support for the measure. In fact, the Assemblyman is hosting a School Tax Reform Convention this Thursday at the Lathrop Building in Pawling. Joining Ball will be members of his local Task Force on School Tax Reform and representatives from local school districts, unions, and elected officials from six area counties. Members of the public and the media are invited and encouraged to attend.

June 4, 2008 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828


The Republican Conference calls upon Chief Advisor to the Chair of the Board, Gary Kriss, to take an immediate unpaid leave of absence. In light of recent developments regarding unaccounted and questionable spending practices, an investigation has begun by the District Attorney. Until the DA completes the investigation, Mr. Kriss should remain on unpaid leave. Upon completion of such investigation further action may be demanded by the Conference.

The Conference is calling for an immediate outside audit of the Board of Legislators’ expenditures from 2004 to date, the tenure of Chair Ryan. One of the reasons the Republican conference did not support Chair Ryan’s selection as Chair this January, was his insistence upon pay increases for Board leadership and a lack of inclusion of all members in Board decisions.

In addition, once the audit is complete, its findings must be made public. There must a quarterly report of all expenditures by the Board of Legislators made public through the Budget and Appropriations Committee. The Board’s budget must return to a line by line itemized budget to restore the public’s faith in the Board of Legislators’ integrity.

Mr. Kriss’ actions and the Chair’s defense of same have harmed the reputation of the entire Board of Legislators. The public has lost trust. The public must know that no members of the Republican Conference ever requested, received or availed themselves of any such perks as travel out of state or overseas or of County issued cell phones or Blackberrys. The over reaching activities of Mr. Kriss and the Chair have diverted the Board’s attention from important issues. The Board’s communications office has issued statements in the name of “the Board” when, in fact, members of the Republican Conference were never informed of or consulted about - let alone consented to such statements. This runaway train must be stopped now before more of the Board’s public trust is crushed or run over.

George Oros James Maisano
Gordon Burrows
Contact: Doug Colety
914-497-2876 or

Westchester G.O.P. Holds Annual Convention
Chairman Colety: Republicans Ready for Victory!

White Plains, New York (June 2, 2008) – The Westchester Republican County Committee continued its convention this evening, following last Thursday evening’s annual convention to endorse candidates for public office in this November’s election. Candidates were endorsed for United States Congress, New York State Senate and New York State Assembly over the two evenings.

Receiving endorsements on May 27th were the following candidates:

United States Congress, 18th District – James C. Russell, Mount Pleasant
New York State Senate, 35th District – John Murtagh, Yonkers
New York State Senate, 37th District – Liz Feld, Larchmont
New York State Senate, 40th District – Vincent Leibell, Putnam County
New York State Assembly, 90th District – William Gouldman, Putnam County
New York State Assembly, 91st District – Rob Biagi, New Rochelle
New York State Assembly, 99th District – Greg Ball, Putnam County

Receiving endorsements this evening were the following candidates:

United States Congress, 17th District – Robert Goodman, Bronx County
New York State Senate, 34th District – Daniel Fasolino, Bronx County
New York State Senate, 36th District – George Rubin, Bronx County
New York State Assembly, 88th District – Anthony Pilla, White Plains

Said Westchester G.O.P. Chairman Douglas A. Colety: “Our committee proved tonight that the Republican Party, and more importantly, the two-party system in Westchester, is alive and well. We are fortunate to have a great slate of candidates who not only reflect our Party’s principles, but will proudly and ably serve the residents of Westchester County next year.”

In addition to rousing speeches from the candidates endorsed on Thursday evening, those in attendance also heard a passionate speech from Kieran Michael Lalor, who was endorsed as the Republican candidate for United States Congress, 19th Congressional District, at a joint five-county convention the prior week.

The Westchester G.O.P. adjourned the convention until Monday, June 9, 2008 when Colety pledged candidates would be nominated for County Court and Assembly districts not yet filled.

Concluded Colety: “This is the first step on our road to victory in November. I am energized by the enthusiasm of our party faithful and look forward to working with all of our candidates and District Leaders over the coming months to get our message out to the voters of Westchester County.”
Dear Fellow Republican:

I am writing to thank everyone who participated in the 19th Congressional District nominating process. As you are now aware, the 19th Congressional District Convention endorsed Kieran Michael Lalor on Thursday, May 22, 2008 and I congratulate Kieran on his victory and am proud to have him as our candidate. The Republican Party, however, was fortunate to have three impressive candidates to choose from, any of whom I believe would have defeated John Hall and recaptured the 19th Congressional District for our Party.

In particular, I would like to thank two valued members of the Westchester G.O.P. family. Board of Legislators Minority Leader George Oros and former Congressman Joseph J. DioGuardi each ran great campaigns and everyone involved in the process came away with nothing but the utmost respect for each of them. I know that they each will continue to stay involved to serve our county and Party, as they have always done.

All Westchester Republicans should be grateful to the contribution they made during their campaigns this year. Our Party is stronger because of them, and Kieran Michael Lalor is a better candidate and better prepared to take on John Hall because of George Oros and Joe DioGuardi. I have no doubt that both gentlemen have bright futures in the Republican Party in Westchester County and I know I can count on both of them as we work to rebuild the Party.

I acknowledge that both George Oros and Joe DioGuardi could have waged a Primary campaign this year, but both believed and conveyed to me that doing so would not be in the best interest of our Party and country. Both are committed to winning this seat, and I appreciate their selflessness. Now, however, is the time to unite behind Kieran Michael Lalor.

For those of you who have not yet had the chance to meet Kieran, I am sure you will come to realize that he represents a serious challenge to John Hall, who was elected on the coattails of disgraced former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Kieran is a former Marine and a District Leader in Peekskill. His strong Republican message will resonate with the voters of this district, which we must remember is still a Republican district. With the support of the entire Westchester G.O.P., Kieran can win this November. Regardless of whom you supported during the convention process, I am asking that you sign up today to help elect Kieran Michael Lalor as our new Congressman from the 19th Congressional District.

Please visit to learn more about Kieran’s campaign. You can send an e-mail directly to me at or contact me at (914) 497-2876 to become involved with this important campaign.

Thank you for your continued support of our Party and our candidates, and I look forward to working with you this campaign season!

Douglas A. Colety

Sunday, June 8, 7:30-10:00 pm
Chris Merwin

Chris combines different musical styles featuring cool acoustics and slide guitar. You never know where Chris will lead his audience.

Wed, June 11, 8:30 - 11:00
Pete Levin Jazz Trio

Pete begins his CERTIFIED ORGANIC TOUR at 12 Grapes with John Cariddi & Harvey Sorgen. Pete has performed and recorded with hundreds of Jazz and Pop artists including Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, and John Scofield.

Thu, June 12, 8:30 - 11:00
Open Mic Night w/ Adam Vitolo

Discover all that's great about 12 Grapes at our Open Mic night. New talent is always surprising, always interesting. The winner of our June 12th Open Mic will receive a $100 Gift Certificate to 12 Grapes, courtesy of D. Bertoline & Sons, and will be invited to perform at our next Singer/Songwriter Showcase.

Fri, June 13, 9:30 - 12:30
Petey Hop's Blues Tones

Petey and his band are back! We love their rich, cool sound, and you will, too. Come check out this cool blues band. There'll be dancing and hootin' and hollerin'.

Sat, June 14, 9:30 - 12:30,
"Storm Front" a Billy Joel Tribute Band--$10 Cover

Get in a Peekskill NY state of mind! Storm Front hails from the Albany area, and is made up of six guys who've all had successful musical careers, and grew up "loving and playing the music of Billy Joel". Make your reservations early! Please note the $10 Entertainment Fee.

Sun, June 15, 2:00 - 5:00
John Basile Jazz Duo

Jazz up your Father's Day! Join us for an afternoon of Jazz with John's classic duo. Brunch 11:30 am - 3:00. Dinner from 3:00 on.

Wed, June 18, 8:30-11:00
Bob Meyers Jazz Trio

With Bob on drums and his Jazz trio doing their thing, it's always an entertaining evening.

Thu, June 19, 8:30-11:30
Johnny Fedz Bluez Jam

Johnny promises "Wicked high energy kick-ass blues!" and hasn't let us down once. This band always has the place on its feet, and when the Bluez get going, it's one of the most fun nights you'll ever have.

Fri, June 20, 9:30-12:30
The Lifesize Gorgeous Cocktails

"A high-octane concoction that's equal parts classic rock, sweat, and booze-fueled dirty martini rock n roll." Lookin' forward to shaking it up with the Cocktails. Great website, too.

Sat, June 21, 9:30-12:30
Melvin Taylor Blues Band
From Chicago, here on their National Tour! $10 cover

As Patti LaBelle rocks the Paramount, Melvin Taylor and his band will be rocking 12 Grapes. "Taylor may well be the most talented new guitarist to come along since Stevie Ray Vaughan." Don't miss out on this awesome, talented band. MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS EARLY! Please note the $10 Entertainment Charge.

Sun, June 22, 7:00 - 10:00
Singer/Songwriter Showcase

A 12 Grapes favorite. Four featured artists do two sets each of their own original music.
More info to come in the weeks ahead.
Keep checking for our entertainment calendar.


FYI: I've attached my State of the Town address if you are interested in reading it. I also have a DVD version of it if you want to view it.

Your article about your father was beautiful.


June 3, 2008.

Good evening. I welcome everyone here tonight, and I trust that many people watching on Channel 20 will take the time to listen to me talk to you about the State of our great town of Putnam Valley.
This is the annual state of the town address wherein I will discuss many aspects of Putnam Valley Town government and lay out for you the issues facing our town--today and in the future.

I say this is the “annual” State of the Town Address, although to my knowledge it hasn’t been done before. But I think it is something that the public deserves and I hope this is something that continues.

When I say that the public deserves this I mean it. You have the right to know exactly what is going on with your town’s government. Town Hall is filled with people who have been elected or hired to work for you and to make sure your services are efficient, your municipal needs are met, and most importantly, your money is wisely expended.

In the United States, Government was created to be a means of service to the people. You don’t serve us, we serve you.

In the past six months since I was sworn in, it has become very clear to me that the most pressing issues our town faces are issues where public service is required to solve a problem. I have become keenly aware that more than anything else, I, members of the town board, town hall employees and members of volunteer boards are servants. We aren’t officials, we aren’t dignitaries, we’re servants--your servants, and that’s how we should view ourselves. That’s why our jobs are described as public service jobs.

I think too often some elected representatives tend to think of themselves as public officials. Well, I guess that’s okay, as long as they remember that they are officially public servants.
But we are also elected to lead the town in a direction that will benefit the residents.

I have tried very hard to focus on why I was elected, the campaign platform I ran on, and the promises I made to you. Tonight I will discuss aspects of the promises I made, plans for implementing our vision for the town--long terms and short term--and impediments to implementing those plans.

One of the things that our town has really neglected over the years is a focus on long term planning. While we have a Master Plan, it is a general guide, and we have had Master Plans before. They are a good general guide, but general guidelines come and they go, usually every ten years.

There are several areas that need to be focused on in order to ensure the long term financial health of our town and to ensure that our municipality has the resources and infrastructure to meet challenges in the future.

First, we must do everything possible to maximize commercial development potential in our town. Though we do not have a very large area of commercially developable properties remaining--absent zoning changes, we must do what we can to bring in commercial development.

Here is a prime example of how long term planning has been ignored over the years. We have great school system that offers a lot to students. In the year 2000 we opened our new High School. We knew this would place additional financial burdens on our town, yet it was for the good of our children who sorely needed a high school. When the high school was built we all discussed the need to vigorously pursue reasonable commercial development to help defray the tax burden.

Yet, since 2001, what have we done to bring commercial development to our town? Basically--nothing. I bet the average Putnam Valley resident has not idea that purely commercial properties represent only 1.07% of the parcels in our town and only 1 ½ percent pf the total assessed value of the parcels in Town.

This makes no sense. If commercial properties represent only 1.5% of the total assessed value of the parcels in town then when you get your tax bill and it is so high, don’t ask “what is happening? Why are our taxes so high?” Ask, instead, why hasn’t anyone tried to get commerce into our town so that we can get a break with our taxes?

Look at this map: There are schools here, town hall buildings, volunteer fire department and ambulance corp. services, roads that need repaving. Now look at the commercial properties: If you expanded these zones by 100%, you’d still barely notice them. So if you hear people tell you that expanding commercial development in our town is going to ruin our rural character, remember this map. It’s from our recently adopted Master Plan.

I said when I campaigned for the office of Supervisor that we had to change this, that to do otherwise was fiscal insanity, and that’s what it is. We need to realize the town’s commercial opportunities or only the extremely wealthy will be living here. This is a serious issue. Recently, in discussing a proposed completely new zoning code--a code that was drafted by the prior administration--an engineer examining the code asked “if you pass this code, you will eliminate virtually all development in Putnam Valley. Is that what you want?” A few people said “yes, that’s exactly what we want.” Well I respectfully disagree. We need some commercial expansion. No, we don’t have to become Yorktown or Peekskill, but we have to face reality.
In the past few months I have met with developers and I’ve let them know that if they present a well thought out plan that will bring us school or town tax dollars, their plans will be welcome. I believe we will bring development to our commercial areas that will be environmentally sound and financially successful. We will start with determining how much commerce can be sustained at Oregon Corners. We will partner with neighboring municipalities and with Putnam County in order to develop our largest commercial area in a responsible manner. Oregon Corners has a lot of potential and we must tap into this potential.

As I am sure you know, a lot of Putnam Valley is hills and steep slopes. I am proposing that we exempt our commercial districts from our hillside management/steep slope laws. There a number of hills or slopes which could be terraced, developed, and used as commercial areas---and we should examine them for this purpose. Exempting Oregon Corners from these restrictions could yield us several more acres of land for commerce.
If done as part of an overall plan or theme, we could, over the next several years, develop Oregon Corners into a unique and viable commercial area, one that we can be proud of; One that could be a model for other small towns. We can do this if we have the cooperation and assistance of developers and environmentalists working together.

Putnam County is going to begin work on Peekskill Hollow Road soon, and our town must take advantage of this by working at the same time as the county. We have grant monies for sidewalks, we have plans to renovate the Bridge at Oregon Corners, add turn lanes to facilitate traffic flow, and we have the ability to add acreage to the commercial area and creatively use available property.

Because we have not implemented a long term commercial expansion endeavor, we are now facing a financial burden not only regarding high individual taxes, but also regarding our town’s ability to expend funds to protect itself concerning some important issues.

Recently I had no choice but to authorize the hiring of an attorney to handle litigation against some people in town who are in dramatic violation of zoning and environmental law. It’s going to cost the town tens of thousands of dollars to move forward with this litigation. But we have no choice. It’s ironic: if we had encouraged responsible and environmentally sound commercial development over the past several years, we would have additional funds to go after those who, out of their own selfish motivations, imperil our environment.

So, yes, we are moving forward: to expand and beautify Oregon Corners, identify other areas with commercial possibilities, and work with developers and environmentalists to bring us responsible, sustainable, and successful commercial development. It won’t happen overnight, but we can’t ignore this any more--and we won’t. I think we should set a modest goal to move our commercial tax base from 1.5 % to 3% within the next three years. From there the goal is 5%, perhaps within 5 - 7 years. Ultimately, I believe it is possible to have our commercial properties account for 10% of the total assessed properties in our town. This will take time, but if we start now, it will happen.

There is a small group of people who would have us believe that this can’t be done, or that it isn’t going to help us at all financially, or that this will destroy the environment. I believe they are misguided, and I believe they are wrong.

And let’s remember, it isn’t only for tax dollars that commerce is a good thing, it’s also for our convenience. We won’t have to travel so far for dining, entertainment, medical treatment, shopping, and other amenities which towns smaller and much more rural than ours offer their residents. I ask you to support me this endeavor, remember this map, and speak up at town hall meetings.

Regarding protecting and preserving the environment, let me be clear: no commercial development will be allowed to occur unless it is environmentally sound. And we have no intention of destroying our town’s unique habitats and woodlands. I moved to Putnam Valley because I value the quality of life it has to offer in regard to its rural character, and I am resolved to keep our town beautiful and unique.

This weekend I took a little time to do some bird watching, it’s a bit of a hobby of mine. I saw two black vultures, not the same as Turkey vultures, and not too common in this area. I also spotted a Northern Harrier, and what I believe was a Swainson’s Thrush. You don’t see these birds too often around here, but you can if you watch carefully

I received email photographs of snapping turtle hatchlings, and spent 30 minutes watching a ground hog who has decided he likes what is in my garden.

I appreciate the beauty of nature and so does your town board, and we will continue to do our best to protect it.

However, I don’t believe the residents of Putnam Valley can afford to live in a never changing terrarium, nor should we. Not all development is bad, though there are some who feel it is. Now, I am aware that there are those developers who would like to develop every square inch they can. That is one extreme. On the other extreme are those so-called environmentalists who need to be defibrillated every time someone uproots a shrub. In the middle of these two extremes are those of us who understand that we need to preserve our heritage, but we need to grow for the future.

Aside from the commercial component, there are other aspects of Long Term Planning. These involve our town hall facilities, our parks and recreation department, and our Volunteer Fire Department. Most of this has to be discussed as part of an integrated plan. For example: Our town hall is very modest by any measure. It is also old and in need of constant and vigilant maintenance. The Town Clerk’s Office is literally lopsided--as part of it has sunk slightly over the years. Our basement leaks badly during rainstorms; we have so little storage space that we have files in the hallways. Our ductwork and air conditioning is inefficient at best and in a serious need of an overhaul. Some days our tiny conference room is occupied at the same time by Assistant District Attorneys, the Animal Control Officer, our town engineer, planner, and attorney, and me. And sometimes, were all working on different things.

At the same time, the Volunteer fire department really is in need of a new building. It’s current main building is simply too small and does not serve the needs of the department. If anyone doubts this, just come by and get a tour. You’ll see how tiny and ill equipped it is for the purposes of a fire department.

If the Volunteer Fire Department can get a new building, they will give us their old one. Renovating this building would be much less expensive than building a new town hall. I am trying to get funding from the state for this. It is going to have to happen at some point and the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be. There is actually a good opportunity now because the market is so slow construction and labor is less expensive.

This is a coordinated plan that takes into account long-term expenditures and savings.

Regarding Parks & Recreation: Our Parks & Recreation Dept. needs summer camp facilities so that they don’t have to waste money every year renting a facility.

We also have a little league program that is growing exponentially. So we have been looking into the possibility of working out an agreement with various property owners or developers. I have been actively pursuing this for months now, even before I took office, and we now may have a plan that could give us over 20 acres, free. Working with a developer who wants to put in 13 homes, we may be able to work together to bring little league fields, basketball and soccer facilities, and set aside land for an eventual town pool, or a pool for the high school, or one that fits the needs of both.

This plan also provides a significant opportunity for open space preservation. If we can reach an agreement in these regards, perhaps two or three years from now we’ll have our own summer camp facility (which would mean we wouldn’t have to rent one); and in five years we might be able to break ground for a pool. And by the way, programs such as this can bring revenue into the town coffers. It has great potential. We will talk about this more in the coming months, but it could be a wonderful opportunity for out town. This entire project will also take long term planning.

Recycling/garbage transfer station

The town board has been actively looking into acquiring property which could give us a recycling center and a garbage transfer station. We currently pay $30,000 dollars a year for a transfer station and it may make sense for us to purchase property so that we don’t have that annual expense hanging over our heads. True, we would be encumbered with a mortgage, but it wouldn’t be much more, perhaps slightly less, than what we are now paying in annual rental fees. And down the road, there would be no payments. Again, this is long term planning. We might also get the added benefit of a recycling center, something that is bound to be important in the years to come as recycling is becoming and indispensable and necessary part of our everyday lives.

Well, enough with potential purchases and expenditures over the next 5, 10, 15 years.
We have worked on other things just as important.

With the help of our department heads, we’ve initiated cost saving measures which will save us thousands of dollars this year and next.

We’ve just signed a contract with a new phone company which will save us almost $700 dollars per month;

Frank DiMarco at the Parks and Recreation Dept. has reviewed his budget very carefully and may be able to institute cost saving measures which could trim perhaps as much as $20,000 - $30,000 dollars from his expenses.

I’ve put an end to all overtime, except emergency measures and when the Highway and Building Superintendent deem it necessary for the safety of the town. There is also a

hiring freeze in place which will stay in effect for the foreseeable future. No positions will be filled as a result of retirement or an employee leaving for another job.

I’ve also put an end to the use of a town car to travel to and from work for some employees. Beginning next week, those people using town cars can only use them once they get to work. After work and on weekends, the cars stay at town hall. I realize this is a benefit that was expected as a result of past practices, but it is a luxury that we cannot afford in these difficult financial times.

Today we looked into the possibility of making all town purchases up to $350 dollars with a special purchasing credit card. The reduction in paper costs and the ease of tracking expenditures could result in significant savings for the town in the course of a year. This information has come to us from the NYS Comptroller’s office and looks very promising.

Along with doing the very best we can to plan for the future and make sure we use your money wisely, we do provide services. Our departments have worked very hard over the past few months to make sure that people are treated in a professional, friendly, and courteous manner. I know many people have taken notice of this. Our assessor’s office has received many words of praise for the job they are doing. I know this because a lot of people have contacted me about the job Sheryl and Anthony are doing. It’s refreshing and rewarding to know that their hard work is not going unnoticed.

Our building department is now providing detailed monthly reports so that we can more easily track cases involving environmental and quality of life issues. Code enforcement is vigorously pursuing code violations.

Our court personnel was recently awarded a $25,000 grant to be used for renovating the court room, the court’s office space, and the conference room. This is not a matching
grant, so it will not cost the town taxpayer anything. Special thanks to Carol Pasalides for going after this grant money and getting it.

Our planning and zoning boards are taking a very active role in making sure that applicants stick to their plans and stated goals; they are vigilant regarding environmental protections; at the same time they take a real world approach to applicants who need to expand their homes for an office, a nursery, a finished basement or deck, etc.

Speaking of Public Service, no groups do more by way of public service than our Volunteer Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance Corps. No matter what the weather or time of day, holiday, thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever: they are always on call and always respond to emergencies. They actually save people’s lives and property. I know it for a fact. They also need new members. Our town has a different demographic than it used to have and we are more of a bedroom community than we used to be. But, if you are one of those people who work out of town and basically spend only your evenings or weekends here, they can still use your help. Falling enrollment could have disastrous consequences for our town. A paid fire department or ambulance corp. would cost ten time more in taxes than what you currently pay. Please consider it part of your donation to the quality of life in Putnam Valley by joining the Volunteer Fire Department or Ambulance Corp. The members are a fine group of people, some of the best in this town.

Speaking of safety issues, you should know that we are about to begin working with the county bureau of emergency services and members of our highway dept. to put together an emergency disaster mitigation plan. It will take about a year, but it will make our town much safer.

I’d like to tell you a true story about our Clerk’s office working in conjunction with the assessor and the county. About four months ago an elderly woman came into town hall with a serious tax problem. She thought she would lose her house. She lives alone, and was, understandably, extremely upset and very worried. Eileen Royael and her staff worked on her behalf with the County, the assessor, and the woman’s family--and the result was that the woman still lives here and will continue to do so. It took a little extra care and work, and the result was truly wonderful.
That’s what we are striving for here: Public Service.

Regarding unexpected problems and expenditures, I would like to briefly talk to you about unplanned costs and revenue shortfalls that have come up in the past few months that pose challenges to me, the town board, and our town employees:

We have had to engage in two Supreme Court cases in order to protect our neighborhoods and preserve our environment. We had no choice. These cases could cost us over $25,000 dollars this year alone.

In addition, about 6 weeks ago we were informed by the DEC that petroleum storage tanks installed in the early 1990’s are not in compliance with current regulations. As a result we have to remove them, purchase new tanks, replace or renovate existing concrete pads to house the new tanks, and put in place a program which will bring us into compliance with all record keeping activities. This process will cost us perhaps $50,000 dollars.
Oil and gas costs, as you know, have gone through the roof. This effects town government as much as, if not more than, town residents. As a result, the cost to repave a road is well over $100,000 dollars per mile

Finally, we have a revenue short fall of over $100,000 dollars as a result of the very slow housing market. Our share of mortgage taxes is greatly diminished and the rest of the year does not look good in this regard.

It’s not a disaster, to be sure. And the town will remain fiscally responsible and sound. But these unanticipated problems cannot be ignored and present real challenges. As I said earlier, had we put into effect a plan for viable commercial development 8 to 10 years age, we would be better equipped to deal with these problems.

You should know that I am a firm believer in the phrase “The Buck Stops Here.” Ultimately, it is my job to see us through these difficult economic times. Someone said to me recently that I became Supervisor at the worst possible time. I don’t believe that. I think I became Supervisor at the best possible time. This isn’t about politics. It’s about working for the community, and that’s what I intend to do. That’s why I got into this in the first place: to help bring responsible and responsive government to the town.

I try to deal with the nuts and bolts of municipal government. Keeping focused on the daily things that affect the town’s residents is the most time consuming and important aspect of being a Supervisor. I also strongly believe that a Supervisor should be accessible. My door is always open, just come in anytime. Many people do.

In closing, you should know that there are many more things I could talk about, but much of the issues involve the individual districts or departments and I could go on all night--and I’m sure you don’t want that. I will speak with them individually.

I hope if you hear things about what is being planned that you will contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns. I’ve noticed that there is a lot of disinformation out there for whatever reasons. Remember: Just because someone writes something in a blog or sends out anonymous mailers with wild accusations doesn’t mean it’s true.

Please don’t hesitate to call me directly at 845-526-2121 or email me at

I look forward to hearing from you, I look forward to the challenges and planning that lies ahead, and I look forward to working with all of you to accomplish goals which will make our town an even better place to live in than it is now.

Thank you very much for listening. Good night..

Former Peekskill Mayor John Testa has started his cable show "On Topic with John Testa". It airs Thursdays 9:30PM on chanel 15 in Peekskill and Cortlandt. In Yorktown and Putnam Valley Tuesday's at 8:30 chanel 74 This week he covers the hot topic of the Centenial Fire House


here is the upcoming schedule of guests and when the shows will air.
Volpe Report- hosted by Domenic Volpe
Public Accces Channel 15
Thursdays 8:00pm

John Sloan, Town Coucilman- Cortlandt
June 5, 12, and 19


Thursday nights at 9PM on Cablevision Channel 74.

Tomorrow's guest is Darren Rigger, a political analyst working with John Hall and Charles Rangel, talking about local and national politics.

Next week's guest is David Gordon, an environmental attorney who worked for Riverkeeper for 14 years, and as Town Attorney for Putnam Valley for 2 years. He will be discussing watershed agreements, Riverkeeper, and the obstacles faced by municpalities in their planning process.

Both programs are lively conversation with interesting guests. Check them out.

Also the line-up of shows will be broadcast in the Peekskill Cablevision area, on Mondays at 8PM. When we know whether they will start broadcasting on this Monday holiday, we will let you know.

And coming soon, The Issues on ComCast. We'll keep you informed.


Dear Readers:

This week I discuss GREG BALL. You can read my column on this topic exclusively on line(see link below)or 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.

Dear Readers:

This gives me a chance to plug my business ATOM TAXI INC. As you are planning your holiday or business or vacation travel? 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 LaGuardia Airport the cost is Ninety dollars plus tolls. The cost to JFK and Newark Airports is one hundred-twenty-five dollars plus tolls. The tolls are $10.00 Westchester County Airport and Stewart cost $75.00. 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: 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 channel 15 (Peekskill only)

DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM channel 74
Hosted by: DON PETERS

YORKTOWN WATCHDOG: Every Friday at 9:30 PM on channel 74

LEGISLATORS REPORT: Saturday and Sunday at various times on chanel 20

THE VOLPE REPORT: Thursadys at 8PM chanel 15 (Peek. and Cort.) 74 (York.)
Hosted By: Dominec Volpe

THE ISSUES: Thursdays at 9:PM chanel 74
Hosted by; Sam Davis

ON TOPIC WITH JOHN TESTA: Thursdays at 9:30PM chanel 15 (Peekskill & Cortlant)
Yorktown & Putnam Valley 8:30 chanel 74
Hosted by: John Testa

CARS & US: Fridays 10 PM chanel 15(Peek. & Cortlant) 74(York. & Put. Valley)
Hosted By: Dennis Tate
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 06/07/08

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