Tag Archives: Bazzomanifesto

Bazzo Says: Has Albany’s Corruption Time To Go Finally Arrived?

Bazzo Says:
BY ANTHONY J. BAZZO

OF YORKTOWN NEWS

TITLE: Has Albany’s Corruption Time To Go Finally Arrived?

Maybe, just maybe I will have to re-assess my comments regarding Governor Cuomo’s actions in the wake of the cesspool that is Albany. Maybe. Unlike the leading women’s advocate groups and women Assembly members, particularly Assemblywoman Sandra Galef who have still remained silent now that no reform bills or the so-called women’s agenda proposals have been passed by the legislature, Governor Cuomo has put his money where his mouth is. He has created as promised (finally political promise kept) a 25 member Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

This commission has 10 sitting District Attorneys (both sides of the isle represented) plus New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as a special advisor. It has subpoena power to compel testimony and uncover documents. Plus, and this is where this commission is different from those that came before it, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has deputized all 25 members as Assistant District Attorneys. This gives them the power to investigate all branches of Government INCLUDING the Legislature. This commission’s mandate is to according to the Governor is to probe systemic public corruption and even the appearance of corruption in state campaigns, state government (meaning pay to play) and the elections themselves, (the buying of political backing of party lines). They will have the power to follow the money.

This is real power to uncover corruption. The Legislature, particularly their leadership, can not ignore, stymie, stonewall, or stack the deck with cronies who will protect them as they have done to past investigative commissions. How scared is the leadership of this power? Even before the Governor named who will be on the Commission, State Senate Leader Dean Skelos threatened to investigate the Governor with the powers invested in the Legislature. This is where the Governor did not blink. This is where the Governor doubled down on this commission by having the Attorney deputize the members.

Andrew Cuomo is a liberal. That however does not mean he can not read. Leading polls show his numbers tanking. They show that the public feels corruption is the number 1 issue. They show the public holds the Governor accountable for the inaction regarding reform. They show the public knew public financing of campaigns (his idea of reform) was just another means of allowing the purveyors of corruption to get their hands on more of our money. The public wanted none of that. They wanted heads to roll (mainly Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver). They were tired of our government being a laughing stock.

This did not happen in a vacuum. As I said the Governor’s poll numbers are tanking. The Legislature passed no reform. Did not even try. They thought the Governor was bluffing and with good reason. He made these threats 7 times before and did nothing. The difference this time is that unlike members of the legislature that only have to answer to their districts, the Governor has to answer to the state, ALL of it, not just New York City, his liberal base. He knows history. He can not even dream of Washington as long as New York is awash in malfeasance. He know’s a New York Governor’s path to D.C. rests in being a reformer. If he wants any chance to fulfil his dream, he must clean up Albany and have the scalps to prove it was done at his direction, not the Federal Attorney’s as has been the case. He can not claim credit for their work.

A Couple Of Side Bars:

You have to ask yourself, what is the Senate Leader afraid of? That Albany is corrupt is not debatable. That there are corrupt Senators is not debatable. That the corruption happened on his watch is not debatable. You would think that if he had any pride of leadership, he would welcome getting the dirty laundry out there. So what is he afraid of? Maybe it that like his counter part in the Assembly, he is part of a major tort law firm. Maybe it is because of that , he like his counter part has stood against any tort reform legislation. All common sense says that his reaction shows he is afraid of something. Maybe like Silver, his time has come to go also. Memo to Senator Greg Ball. If this commission adhere’s to its mission, and believing you are not part of the corrupt,cabal, speak out in support of this endeavor. My suggestion is you do not hitch your wagon to Skelos. You proposed true reform legislation. Be that reformer now that the Governor has given you cover to do so. There is no upside in supporting this present leadership. History is not on his side.

As for Assemblywoman Sandra Galef,. She pretty much kicked the throw out Silver can down the road by stating that she will wait to see what kind of reforms are enacted. None were. Nor was any of the Governor’s women’s agenda. Nothing, nada, zilch. So by her silence in the wake of these developments, her silence means she is okay with the cover up. More the pity. She among Assembly members has the cache to do something. As long as she wants that office, she is in no danger of ever losing it. She herself is incorruptible. If she spoke out, others would find the courage to back her. She could get enough hand full of Democrats and all the Republicans ( I believe you will find an ally in Assemblyman Katz if you ask) to enact change of leadership. Putting party first no longer means protecting Silver. What she thought he could do, he could or would not. Party first now means getting a new Assembly Leader. The women who were abused after the cover up deserve no less. This is what I say, what say you?

Yorktown Town Board okays Energy Loan Program 07/02/13

Citizens for an Informed Yorktown

Town Board
July 2, 2013

Meeting highlights. For a summary of all agenda items, visit ciyinfo.org.
(The meeting lasted for only about one hour.)

1. Courtesy of the Floor
a. Drainage issue. A Mohegan Lake homeowner questioned the location of a newly installed catch basin..

b. Water Quality Report. Howard Frank commented on the annual Water Quality Report and asked the Board what the town was doing to reduce its annual water loss, i.e., water that is used but which isn’t accounted for in billings.

c. Foreclosed property. Susan Siegel asked how the Board plans to dispose of the 23 properties the town recently took title to in a foreclosure proceeding.

d. Sports subsidy. Ed Ciffone said that in light of the $50,000 offer from one of the sports clubs to help rehabilitate the field behind the YCCC, the club should return the subsidy it receives from the town each year.

2. Sustainable Energy Loan Program – Public Hearing
The Board voted to close the hearing and unanimously adopt the law.

3. Selected resolutions pass unanimously
a. Tax certiorari. Approved a settlement for Roc-Shrub Oak Associates for the years 2004-2012.

b. Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. Authorized the building inspector to issue a TCO for Best Plumbing at Crompond Crossing.

Note: Future meeting schedule
July 9: A previously unscheduled work session, to start at 6:30pm.
July 16: outdoor meeting at Hilltop Hanover Farm, to start at 6:30pm.

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Citizens for an Informed Yorktown
PO Box 193
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Bazzo 07/04/13

Galef Announces Topics for her Senior Forum in Cortlandt 07/24/13

Contact: Sandy Galef

(914) 941-1111

Assemblywoman Galef to Host 2013 Senior Forum

Experts will Focus on the STAR Program, Unclaimed Funds, Federal Health Care, and More

(July 2, 2013) Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has announced that her 2013 Senior Forum will be held on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, from 9 am- 12 noon at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street, Cortlandt Manor. Galef’s Senior Forum is sponsored by Hudson Valley Hospital Center who will provide breakfast for those who attend. This year’s forum will spotlight a variety of issues that affect the residents of the 95th Assembly District including changes made to the Basic STAR program, unclaimed funds, and federal health care.

The first speaker, John Wolham, from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, will inform attendees of the changes that will affect the Basic STAR program and property tax exemptions. Yolanda Robinson, a representative from the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, will talk about the millions of dollars in unclaimed funds available in Galef’s district and how the assemblywoman’s constituents can find out if they are entitled to them. Chris Widelo, of AARP New York, will discuss how the new federal health care law affects seniors. William Fallon, of AAA New York, will share safe driving tips. Brandy Jones, a registered nurse, will speak about Alzheimer’s disease. Jesse Beller, a constituent from Croton-on-Hudson, will provide musical entertainment.

“I am looking forward to my annual Senior Forum and learning from these insightful speakers, as well as hearing my friend Jesse Beller play the piano. These are topics that affect all seniors in my district. It will be a very informative morning and I encourage all those interested in these important topics to attend,” said Galef.

In addition, many local senior groups co-sponsor the Senior Forum. The co-sponsors are: Buchanan Senior Citizens, Cortlandt Seniors, Crompond Seniors, Croton Senior Citizens, Nor-Cort Seniors, Ossining Golden Age Club, Ossining Senior Center, Ossining Senior Citizens, Peekskill Senior Citizens’ Club, Philipstown Seniors, Putnam County Office for the Aging, Verplanck Seniors, and the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services.

###

Bazzo 07/03/13

Public Notices] Yorktown Public Meeting Notice 07/09/13

Public Meeting Notice

PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE

The Town Board of the Town of Yorktown will hold a Town Board Work Session meeting on July 9, 2013 at the Town Hall, 363 Underhill Avenue, Yorktown Heights, New York 10598. The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM.

Diana L. Quast
Deputy Town Clerk
Town of Yorktown

Bazzo 07/03/13

Democratic Westchester Legislators Say Astorino Announcement on Yonkers Court Deal is Premature_2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 2, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Democratic Legislators Say Astorino Announcement on Yonkers Court Deal is Premature

Bad deal would forgive $1.6 million due to taxpayers

White Plains, NY – Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) questioned today County Executive Rob Astorino’s proposed plan to move the Yonkers Family Court, now located at 53 South Broadway, into the i.Park Hudson Complex at 131 Warburton Avenue because the County has an active legal case against the i.Park landlord to recover $1.6 million in a rental dispute at the very same location. In addition, the legislators feel the i.Park location, which also houses a branch office of the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS), may not be suitable for the Family Court.

“It is understandable that the Astorino Administration feels the need to have a solution to a longstanding problem, but to rush a deal that has real workflow problems is not the answer,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), whose legislative district encompasses the two buildings. “There is over six million of square feet of available rental space in Westchester, so this really requires a two-step approach: Immediate temporary space for the Family Court, as the building now is unsuited for daily court business, and then a Request for Quotation concerning real estate space to house the court in the future.”

The Astorino Administration, which had promised in 2011 the BOL a plan to rehabilitate the County’s three family court facilities, as deteriorating building conditions were posing safety risks to Westchester families, residents, police officers and court personnel, finally announced in April 2012 that it was hoping to move the Yonkers family court facility to an i.Park building that houses the Yonkers District Office of the Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS). George Oros, Astorino’s chief of staff, noted at the time that some of the 15,000-square feet office space in the rented building could be freed up after “downsizing” and consolidation at DSS take place in the near future.

“While I appreciate the move out of the present Family Court facility in Yonkers could save the County $600,000 in yearly rent paid in the existing family court building, the landlord at i.Park still owes the County a significant amount of money,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL Government Operations Committee. “Also, major renovations will need to be made to the space before the court can convene there. This deal actually creates a lot of important questions that should be answered before the County moves forward with a contract. Putting Family Court and DSS in the same building may have unforeseen consequences.”

The i.Park dispute goes back to 2009 when the BOL unanimously approved an Act to institute legal proceedings on behalf of the County against I.Park Westchester LLC (as successor-in-interest to Hudson View Associates LLC) for non-payment of money as part of a written agreement in 2007 to reimburse the County for rental payments it made while waiting to take possession of the premises at i.Park.

Also, the landlord’s reluctance to work with Con Ed to install a New York Power Authority (NYPA) meter to help the County recoup electric costs was also a point of contention, and continues to cost taxpayers extra in money spent on electricity.

The Astorino Administration negotiated the $1.6 million owed by the landlord down to $250,000, but has not allowed County Attorney Robert Meehan to address the BOL Legislation Committee regarding the rationale for the settlement, which only returns a fraction of what the County has spent back to its coffers. The request for the BOL to approve the settlement has remained in committee as a result.

“The Astorino Administration has decided to cut a deal with this landlord that appears to cost county taxpayers more money,” said Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains), chair of the BOL Legislation Committee. “This landlord has not kept his word in previous dealings with the County, and is on the hook for more than million dollars. The Administration needs to provide an acceptable rationale for this deal before it moves forward. Thus far, they have not come clean.”

When Ryan was chair of the BOL Public Works, Parks, Labor and Transportation Committee (a precursor to the Government Operations Committee), he led the BOL to add $1.5 million dollars to the 2011 Capital Budget over the objections of County Executive Astorino to address the Family Court space issues, a cost mandated by the State. The Administration never moved forward any court rehabilitation projects, however.

The New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) and the BOL must approve any proposals submitted by the Astorino Administration regarding the moving of the Family Court in Yonkers. OCA would also have to approve moving or closing of present court facilities.

“The County Executive’s announcement today is premature, at best,” concluded Ryan.

#####

Additional news and photos available at http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/newsroom

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=Bazzo 07/03/13

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND URGE FEMA TO SWIFTLY APPROVE MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION FOR NEW YORK STATE, 15 SEVERELY IMPACTED COUNTIES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Meredith Kelly (Schumer) 202.224.7433

July 1, 2013 James Rahm (Gillibrand) 202.224.3873

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND URGE FEMA TO SWIFTLY APPROVE MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION FOR NEW YORK STATE, 15 SEVERELY IMPACTED COUNTIES

Schumer & Gillibrand Write to FEMA in Support of a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of New York; Cite Dangers of Significant Rainfall, Wind And Flooding From Heavy Storms in 15 Severely Impacted Counties

Major Disaster Declaration Would Allow for Emergency Equipment and Crews to Be Dispatched To Counties Including Herkimer, Oneida, Madison and Montgomery Among Others to Help Contain Flooding, Protect Homeowners and Minimize Damage

Schumer, Gillibrand: Localities Need to Know ASAP That the Federal Government Has Their Backs

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to swiftly approve New York State’s request for a federal state of emergency declaration in light of the severe flooding in the Capital Region, Central New York, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley after days of heavy rainfall. In their letter, the Senators pointed out that the power outages and significant damage to businesses, homes and public property clearly warrants the disaster declaration. Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand are requesting approval of the state’s request for FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, Categories A-G, for 15 severely-impacted counties in the State of New York: Individual Assistance for Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, and Oneida Counties; Public Assistance for Chenango, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, and Otsego Counties; and Hazard Mitigation statewide.

“Upstate New York has been hammered with severe flooding and dangerous debris after days of heavy rainfall, and the Mohawk Valley, foothills of the Adirondacks, and portions of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley have borne the brunt of the damage,” said Senator Schumer. “It is critical that we get federal resources on the ground as soon as possible, so that they can rebuild after this severe weather. This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will give reassurance to our communities that the federal government will be there to help respond and recover, and we urge the President and FEMA to grant this designation and approve New York State’s request as quickly as possible.”

“These heavy storms and floods swept away homes, businesses, roads and highways all the way from the Adirondacks to the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier,” said Senator Gillibrand, who toured flood-ravaged areas of Herkimer and Montgomery Counties on Monday. “These communities are suffering and need every available resource from the federal government without delay so we can clean up, rebuild, and stand strong.”

Herkimer, Oneida, Madison and Montgomery County have been hit particularly hard by the heavy rainfall of July 27 and July 28. At the height of the storms, over 13,000 New Yorkers were without power, including the entire village of Herkimer, whose power substation was inundated by 10 feet of water. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations, and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged. In addition to infrastructure, many citizens of the State of New York have been gravely affected. In four of the hardest hit municipalities, there are 44 destroyed homes, 75 with major damage, and more than 757 with minor damage. Areas in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley were also impacted and are in need of aid. In their letter, the Senators argued that prompt federal assistance was required for many of these communities which are still recovering from the damage incurred by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and while the state still recovers from Superstorm Sandy.

A copy of the Senators’ letter appears below:

Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:

We write in strong support of New York State’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of New York as a result of severe storms and major flooding which impacted the State on June 27, 2013 and June 28, 2013. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations, and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged. Powerful bursts of rain falling in already saturated areas swelled rivers and caused waters to cascade from hills and contribute to sudden floods that destroyed and demolished homes in a matter of minutes.

On June 28, 2013, the State declared a State Disaster Emergency for 15 impacted counties and 15 municipalities were also declared local states of emergency because of the storm’s severity. At the height of the storm, more than 13,000 people were without power, 475 New Yorkers were evacuated from their homes, and many towns and villages were inundate between five to ten feet of water. As a result of the levee failure in the City of Oneida, for example, the city’s waste water treatment plant is completely under water. The Village of Mohawk in Herkimer County, which has a population of 3500 people, is entirely without power because the substation was inundated with ten feet of water. Roads remain without access in Montgomery County, and the New York State Canal System has been severely affected by debris and flooding. This is just a sample of the damage to public infrastructure.

In addition to infrastructure, many citizens of the State of New York have been gravely affected. In four municipalities, there are 44 destroyed homes, 75 with major damage, and more than 757 with minor damage. Damage assessments in some parts have not begun because the flood waters have not receded and they remain under water. The State has requested technical assistance from FEMA and just after one day, the State has estimated that there is already more than $13 million in damages in nine out twelve affected counties, and much of that represents only one or two communities in each county. This is only a fraction of what the damage is likely to be when more complete assessments can be made. This number does not include damages to State owned property such as the canal system or the cost of debris removal or other emergency measures. Until the waters recede, we will not be able to fully grasp the extent of this disaster.

Without approval of this support through the powers afforded to you in the Stafford Act, the state will have an even more difficult time recovering from the constant impact of a recent string of disasters. The State has yet to fully recover from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, and believe that federal assistance is necessary to preserve safety of our citizens and infrastructure against future disasters. We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve the state’s request.

Bazzo, 07/02/13

Cox in the NY Post: Cuomo’s Tax Troubles

July 2, 2013

Cox in the NY Post: Cuomo’s Tax Troubles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Laska

dlaska@nygop.org

518.462.2601

NYGOP Chair Ed Cox wrote in the New York Post today about “Start Up NY,” Governor Cuomo’s optimistically named economic program that provides tax breaks to a select few businesses while ignoring thousands of others.

It’s classic Cuomonomics: all politics, no substance.

Here’s the full piece:

Cuomo’s tax troubles

The New York Post

By Ed Cox

July 2, 2013

Coincidence? Gov. Cuomo has changed the “Tax-Free NY” misnomer on his new economic plan to another optimistic label, “Start Up NY,” after Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointedly called the plan “small ball.”

Problem is, under any name it still smells.

Texas has neither a corporate nor a personal-income tax. Under “Start Up NY,” New Yorkers will still be crushed by the most burdensome taxes in the nation – the highest local tax burden per person in the nation, the eighth-highest top personal-income tax rate and a median property tax more than double the national average.

The program just lets a very few select businesses benefit for a few years from some tax exemptions. And even those firms will have no incentive to stay in New York when the exemptions expire after Cuomo’s re-election.

The governor’s political instincts were right in the first instance: New Yorkers yearn to be more “tax free.” But his plan was mugged by the reality that it didn’t actually touch taxes for virtually any New Yorkers.

Yet, rather than summon the political guts to deliver what New York desperately needs – relief from crippling taxes – he just changed the label.

According to the IRS and the Census Bureau, more than 1.5 million New York residents have moved out of state since 1995. That amounts to a loss of more than $58 billion in taxable income.

The top destination for those “refugees” was Florida – a state with no personal-income tax. This is no statistical fluke – the top 10 most popular destinations for those who’ve left have an average personal-income tax of 2.9 percent, six points lower than New York’s top rate.

Cuomo has said that lowering personal income tax rates is “impossible.” Instead, he’s extended tax hikes on high-income New Yorkers as well as the utility tax on all New Yorkers. The former is an incentive for New York’s job creators to relocate; the latter is a hidden tax hitting New Yorkers’ paychecks.

Meanwhile, “Start Up NY” won’t even do much for startups. It’s too limited in scope and too subject to political manipulation to be effective.

Startups just don’t pay much if anything in taxes – they’re consuming capital, building toward the day when they have big revenues. They compensate employees with relatively low cash pay, supplemented by equity in the company (“if we succeed, you’ll cash in – but until then, we can’t afford to pay much”). They rarely have that much income to tax, let alone net revenues.

So Cuomo’s tax benefits will be only marginally helpful – and any small benefit will be negated by the hoops they’ll have to jump through to get that benefit.

Similar political gimmicks have been the hallmark of Cuomo’s tax policy. Most notable is his oft-made claim that middle-class New Yorkers are paying the lowest tax rate in 60 years: This is technically true, but hollow.

Under the new tax brackets that Cuomo rolled out in 2011, New Yorkers saw their income-tax rate dip marginally from 6.85 percent to 6.65 percent or 6.45 percent. The average Empire State taxpayer saved $155 a year – hardly the radical tax code overhaul needed for New York to become truly competitive.

More meaningful proposals, like cutting the tax rate for capital gains (which are now treated as ordinary income) haven’t won serious consideration. The federal government and most states tax cap-gains at a lower rate than ordinary income, encouraging capital investment and spurring job growth. The historical record demonstrates that government revenues rise as capital-gains-tax rates are cut.

This trivial program won’t help the governor in the economically hardest-hit parts of New York. Upstate voters have been losing faith in him all year. A recent Buffalo News poll showed that 52 percent of upstate voters prefer “someone else” to Cuomo in 2014. A June 17 Siena College poll shows his statewide favorability and job-approval ratings at their lowest level since he took office.

To turn those numbers around, Cuomo will have to offer effective economic policy – not pure political theater.

Ed Cox is chairman of the New York State Republican Party and former chair of the SUNY Finance Committee.

Bazzo 07/02/13

Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins Asks Congressional Reps for Help to Save Fed Transit Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins Asks Congressional Reps for Help to Save Fed Transit Funds

White Plains, NY – Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) has asked members of New York’s Congressional delegation for help in saving $19 million in federal assistance for the County’s bus transit program that may have been jeopardized by not opening up the $100 million-plus bus contract for competitive bids.

The Astorino Administration is in discussions with the present bus transit operator, Liberty Lines, Inc., over whether it was going to exercise the County’s option and extend the bus contract for another five years. Unbeknownst to the BOL, however, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) earlier had contacted the Astorino Administration to say that the $19 million in federal funding for the bus program could be lost.

In his letter dated June 28, 2013 to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, as well as to Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressmen Eliot Engel and Sean Patrick Maloney, Jenkins notes that the “unique characteristics” of the Westchester County “Bee-Line” Bus system, and its historical development into a consolidated County-wide system, have led to the County’s use of sole-source procedures allowable by FTA guidelines and regulations in procuring these services from Liberty Lines.

“The County’s sole-source procurement of bus operating services continues to be warranted, as to competitively procure such services at this time would require the County’s acquisition of tangible and intangible assets held by Liberty Lines, believed to be valued at prohibitively high levels,” Jenkins writes. New York City’s acquisition of assets of several private bus companies in 2005 was valued at $37 million.

“I urge your good offices to contact FTA and / or U.S. Department of Transportation to emphasize the County’s continuing need for federal formula assistance and its present conformance with federal requirements,” Jenkins writes.

The complete letter to the five members of New York’s Congressional delegation is both attached to this press release and below.

#####

Additional news and photos available at http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/newsroom

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June 28, 2013

Via Electronic Mail and Facsimile

The Honorable Charles Schumer

The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

The Honorable Nita Lowey

The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand

The Honorable Eliot Engel

The Honorable Sean Patrick Maloney

Subject: Urgent Request for Assistance; Federal Funding for Westchester County

Bus Transit Services

Dear Honorable Congressional Representatives:

As you may have recently learned, the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) has publicly

stated that $19 million in federal assistance for Westchester County’s bus transit program will be

withdrawn unless the County alters its procurement of services for bus operations.1 The timing

of this announcement is critical, as the County must notify the present bus transit operator,

Liberty Lines, Incorporated, no later than June 30th on whether to extend the current operating

agreement for an additional five years.

The unique characteristics of Westchester County “Bee-Line” Bus system, and its historical

development from approximately 20 independent routes into a consolidated County-wide

system, have led to the County’s use of sole-source procedures allowable by FTA guidelines2 in

procuring these services from Liberty Lines. The County’s sole-source procurement of bus

operating services continues to be warranted, as to competitively procure such services at this

time would require the County’s acquisition of tangible and intangible assets held by Liberty

Lines, believed to be valued at prohibitively high levels.3

The County authorized the present five-year agreement with Liberty Lines in 2008, with the

County’s option to extend the contract for an additional five years. The County’s exercise of its option will not change the scope of services or introduce new services. FTA has actively monitored the County’s delivery of transit services associated with this contract, most recently through an audit completed in 2012. In fact, the County followed FTA recommendations from this audit and amended the Laws of Westchester County and policies concerning procurement.4

The County relies on the Urbanized Area Formula assistance (49 U.S.C. § 5307) to fund preventive maintenance on the County-owned bus fleet. This is consistent with legislative intent in 1998 under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to provide federal assistance for non- operational aspects of transit, thus reserving decisions on management and operational aspects to local recipients (grantees).5

I urge the use of your good offices to contact FTA and/or U.S. Department of Transportation to emphasize the County’s continuing need for federal formula assistance and its present conformance with federal requirements.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. If I can be of assistance, please do

not hesitate to contact me at (914) 995-2800.

Very truly yours,

Kenneth W. Jenkins

Chairman, Board of Legislators

cc: Hon. Robert P. Astorino

Board of Legislators

1 David McKay Wilson, County Risks $19M in U.S. Aid, THE JOURNAL NEWS, June 28, 2013, at 1A, available at

http://www.lohud.com/article/20130627/NEWS02/306270100/Tax-Watch-Westchester-risks-19M-federalaid?

odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|s .

2 Federal Transit Administration, Third Party Contracting Guidance, FTA C4220.1F, Sec. 3(i)(1)(b) at VI-15 to VI-

18 (Nov. 1, 1998) [describing sole source procurement criteria].

3 New York City’s acquisition of assets of several private bus companies in 2005 was valued at $37 million.

4 Westchester County Board of Legislators, Act No. 93-2012, “An ACT amending the policies and procedures that

govern the County’s procurement of goods and services that are not required by state law to be made pursuant to

competitive bidding requirements, in order to specify the policies and procedures applicable to federally-funded

procurements.”, available at http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5320 ; Westchester

County Board of Legislators, Act No. 94-2012, “An ACT amending the rules and procedures that govern the

prequalification and selection of architects and engineers as consultants to the County in order to specify the policies

and procedures applicable to federally-funded procurements of such services.” available at

http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5321; Westchester County Board of Legislators,

Local Law Intro. No. 5322-2012, “A LOCAL LAW amending Chapter 836 of the Laws of Westchester County by

adding a new Section 836.22 to specify requirements for federally-funded purchases.”; available at

http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?&ID=5322 [all adopted by County Board Aug. 6,

2012, approved by County Executive Aug. 14, 2012].

5 Transportation Equity Act of 21st Century, Pub. L. No. 105-178, § 3007 (1998). See Jeffrey Brown, Paying for

Transit in an Era of Federal Policy Change, 8 J. OF PUB. TRANSPORTATION 3 (2005) [describing TEA-21 changes].

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Westchester Legislator Shimsky Calls for a Major County-Wide Flood Mitigation Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 1, 2013

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)

Westchester Legislator Shimsky Calls for a Major County-Wide Flood Mitigation Initiative

BOL Chairman Jenkins and Shimsky propose changes to stormwater legislation

White Plains, NY – Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), chair of the Saw Mill River Watershed Advisory Board (SWAB), called today for a major county-wide flood mitigation initiative that would include immediate dredging efforts, an accelerated schedule for Watershed Reconnaissance Plans and creation of an Office of Stormwater Management.

Also, BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) joined Legislator Shimsky in calling for a change to existing stormwater legislation to allow approved capital projects to alleviate flooding to move forward without municipalities first being required to match fifty percent (50%) of the project cost.

“Damaging flood waters plague county residents and business owners even after ordinary rainstorms, and now real action has to be taken by all of the levels of government and pertinent agencies to tackle the problem,” said Shimsky following a SWAB meeting that took place today at the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL). “Comprehensive efforts to mitigate flooding in problem areas will help in the short-term, but forward-looking decisions need to be made to ensure our communities are protected for years to come.”

A county-wide flood mitigation initiative needs to include the following courses of action said Shimsky:

Ongoing dredging and debris removal efforts, plus culvert clean-ups: Municipalities, plus the County and State, need to identify places on rivers, streams and tributaries that need dredging or debris removal to allow the proper flow of stormwater. Also, culverts and storm drains need to be regularly inspected and cleared. Problem areas may require dredging and debris removal, plus troublesome culverts and storm drains need to be catalogued for easy reference and sharing among government entities and agencies.

“The debris removal projects done after Hurricane Irene in 2011 were helpful in a number of locations around Westchester,” said Shimsky. “The debris is accumulating again, however. We need to regularly maintain a removal schedule to keep our waterways clear.”

Accelerate the schedule for completion of the County’s Watershed Reconnaissance Plans: The stormwater legislation approved by the BOL and signed into law in 2011 required the County’s Planning Department to complete a Reconnaissance Plan for each of the county’s six watershed by October 2012. This spring, two plans were finally completed—for the Saw Mill and Bronx river watersheds. A number of flood mitigation projects have been stalled because these plans are not yet extant—“A real Catch-22,” said Shimsky.

Eliminate the 50% Municipal Match for Flood Mitigation Projects: Both Legislator Shimsky and BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) point to this initiative as being crucial for real flood mitigation efforts to begin. The County’s existing stormwater legislation, passed in 2011, requires a 50% financial match first from local municipalities before capital projects can move forward. But this law went into effect before Governor Cuomo’s 2% budget tax cap was passed, causing most municipalities to refrain from starting sizable flood mitigation projects.

“The stormwater legislation needs to be amended so the fifty percent municipal match needed for flood mitigation projects is eliminated,” said Shimsky. “Another possible solution is for the State to grant an exemption for municipalities regarding the tax cap when funding goes toward flood mitigation.”

“The compromise to require municipalities to have their matching funds in place has clearly not worked, as all of the flood mitigation projects are stalled,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), who noted that County Executive Astorino initially vetoed the stormwater legislation. “The legislation now needs to be modified to allow projects to move forward while municipalities secure funding.”

Install river and stream gauges to pinpoint areas for flood mitigation: Acquiring the gauges and putting them in place have been discussed at recent SWAB meetings. The data will be able to measure the effects of proposed flood mitigation projects through computer modeling. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently referred to tributary gauges in announcing $500 million in hazard mitigation grants for communities impacted by natural disasters like flooding.

Office of Stormwater Management—A Proposal

Legislator Shimsky suggested also that it is time to consider the creation of an Office of Stormwater Management (OSM), which would report to the County’s Planning Department, to track flood problems and mitigation efforts, as well as monitor new large-scale developments and consequential stormwater issues. “This centralized sub-agency of sorts could act as an important resource to municipalities while also serving to prioritize mitigation efforts,” Shimsky noted.

“Every substantial rainfall brings the threat of flooding to the entire county, and the situation is only getting worse because of sprawl and the increasing number of severe storms,” said Shimsky. “Finding sustainable solutions to the flooding problems, with projects that do not overly burden our taxpayers, has to be our objective, but we must agree that infrastructure investments that mitigate flooding can no longer wait because of bureaucratic snafus and intentional inaction. Too many residents and business owners need help now. Finger-pointing and waiting for someone else to pick up the ball can no longer be tolerated.”

“I’m calling on the County Administration to work closely with the Board of Legislators and local municipalities on the flood mitigation initiatives I am proposing today, or immediately set forth on another course of action to solve the problem,” said Shimsky.

Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL Government Operation Committee, in noting her support for her BOL colleagues’ flooding initiatives, added: “It is imperative that Westchester County take the lead in flood mitigation planning, instead of placing the burden of leadership on the local municipalities and taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude about how and when these critical projects move forward. Kicking this responsibility down the road places the lives and property of Westchester residents in real risk, as recent storms have clearly illustrated. It’s time for smart leadership, long-term planning and good governing to maintain Westchester’s environmental and economic success.”

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=Bazzo 07/02/13

Galef TV Show Highlights Local Music Series Start-up in Public Library

Contact: Sandy Galef

(914) 941-1111

Assemblywoman Galef Discusses Free “Words & Music” Concert Series at Ossining Public Library on Her “Dear Sandy” TV Show

(July 1, 2013) The latest installment of Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s television program “Dear Sandy” highlights the efforts made by members of one of her communities, Ossining, to bring talented musical performers – for free – to their local public library for the community and those nearby to enjoy. Galef is joined by Alan and Ellen Marzelli, founders of the “Words & Music” concert series, which is currently funded by Ossining’s Public Library Foundation. The Marzellis recount with Assemblywoman Galef the process of funding and organizing their series, and tell some stories about artists and musicians that have appeared at the library in the past.

The Marzellis founded the concert series after realizing that the 200 seat theater located on the lower level of the Ossining Public Library, had been largely under utilized by the community. “I certainly hadn’t heard of it,” explains Mr. Marzelli in describing how he and his wife came to make use of the theater. They negotiated with the library to secure access to the theater on certain dates and to set to work finding the right equipment, support, and, most importantly, musicians. Mr. and Mrs. Marzelli initially funded, organized, and ran the series on their own; they learned to operate sound equipment, film and photograph live music, and book musical acts. The series, now in its third year, draws hundreds of people, often even beyond the theater’s small capacity, for its Sunday shows spread throughout the year. While they “look for artists that inspire us with their music,” notes Mr. Marzelli, the Marzellis aren’t worried about booking musical acts. “People do want to perform in this theater,” said Ellen Marzelli, “it’s a wonderful space.”

“The ‘Words & Music’ concert series draws impressive performers and widespread support for the Ossining Public Library,” says Assemblywoman Galef, “It was wonderful to talk with the Marzellis about how they built this series from the ground up. I hope others will watch and be inspired to try something similar in their own communities, or come to one of the great free concerts in Ossining.”

To learn more, tune in to cable television at the following dates and times.

“Words & Music” airs as follows:

Cablevision

Fridays, July 12, 19, 26 & August 10

at 9:00 P.M. on

Ossining and Peekskill Channel 15

(Briarcliff, Ossining, Scarborough, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton, Garrison, Montrose, Peekskill, Philipstown South, Verplanck)

Wappingers Falls Channel 21

(Cold Spring, Philipstown North)

and

Yorktown Channel 74

(Lake Peekskill, Putnam Valley)

Comcast

Fridays, July 12, 19 & 26

at 9:00 pm

Carmel, Kent, Mahopac & Putnam Valley Channel 8

*Please check your local listings as the air dates for this channel may change

Verizon FiOS Customers

Please check your local listings for specific air times.

Bazzo 07/02/13