Saturday, March 26, 2011

Special Elections Are Dangerous

Adam Bradley's resignation last month triggered a special election to choose the next Mayor of White Plains. While many called for Mr. Bradley to step down, few considered the dynamics of a special election.

Short lead time and low turnout could make the outcome unpredictable and unrepresentative.

The Common Council, including Acting Mayor Thomas Roach, the Democratic majority candidate, could have chosen any date between March 31 and April 19.  They picked the earliest, prompting cries of foul from Republicans.

The partisan outcry notwithstanding, the minimal lead time lessens the information available from media coverage, websites, social media, debates, and forums.  It also lowers the candidates' ability to raise consciousness and money with lawn signs, rallies, commercials, and fundraisers. But the short lead time might work to the advantage of minority candidates, equalizing deep majority pockets.

While short lead time throws dirt on electoral tracks, low turnout can derail the train.  The electoral percentage voting in special elections is typically small, often under 10%. This enables a small, but committed minority to determine the outcome, disenfranchising the population at large.

In next Thursday's special mayoral election, if turnout is low, as in school budget referendums with about 2000 voters, and Mr. Hockley can mobilize most of the voters who wrote him in when he ran against Mr. Bradley, about 1800 partisans, Glen Hockley, the underdog, could win by a landslide.

One thing is sure.  In a low turnout special election, your vote counts more than ever.  Please vote on Thursday, March 31.

Friday, October 29, 2010

WPCNA and Ridgeway: A Case Study

WPCNA Co-President Lou Bruno talked to Ms. Susan Brumer's government class at White Plains High School yesterday about how neighborhood associations work with the City and other civic groups. Lou explored the process with a discussion of the City’s possible purchase of the failing Ridgeway Country Club.  See slideshow below.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ridgeway Watershed Committee

Here is an abridged version of the letter sent today to Mayor Bradley and the Common Council by the Ridgeway Watershed Committee. 

The Committee urges concerned citizens to attend the special Common Council meeting on Ridgeway, Tuesday, October 26, and to communicate their opinions to the Mayor and Council members by post and email.

Ridgeway Watershed Committee
3 Partridge Road
White Plains, New York 10605

24 October 2010

Mayor Adam Bradley
The White Plains Common Council
255 Main Street
White Plains, NY 10601

Re:  Ridgeway Country Club

The Ridgeway Watershed Preservation Committee believes the Ridgeway Country Club property should be preserved as open and natural as possible in perpetuity.  To this end, we urge you to devise with all deliberate haste a practical and durable means to preserve the 128.6 Ridgeway acres.

Our urgent recommendation is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan of the City of White Plains which has as a goal the preservation of the Ridgeway Country Club as Open Space.  The goal is predicated on these facts:
•    The Ridgeway property runs through the watersheds of the Mamaroneck & Sheldrake Rivers.
•    Preservation of the property is important to regional water quality and flood control policy.
•    White Plains has a responsibility to act consistently with Federal, State and County water quality and flood control plans, and to consider the impact on other communities.

Given these facts, we recommend the re-zoning of the property to Recreational Use, and urge you to adopt an economic model for the use and upkeep of the property that is both responsible and sustainable.

We look forward to your response and stand ready to assist you in your efforts.

Sincerely,
Bob Meyerson, Chair
Joel Rudikoff
Francis Jones
George Jones
Bice C. Wilson
Riena Kaplow
Louis J. Bruno
Alan Gassman
Dan Seidel

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Haiti Relief: More Urgent Than Ever

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians were killed by the January 12th earthquake. Hundreds of thousands more were left homeless and are now living in tents.

Pitched on marshlands, those tents are about to be demolished in rivers of mud as Haiti's rainy and hurricane seasons get underway.

The need for aid is more urgent than ever! Please contribute to Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, or a charity of your choosing.

The cycle of devastation in Haiti won't stop without your help.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Special Report: Bus Rapid Transit

By Joel Rudikoff, Old Oak Ridge Neighborhood Association President and WPCNA Treasurer

A meeting was held on May 17 in the Common Council chambers on the subject of "Bus Rapid Transit," the NYS Department of Transportation's proposed multi-route service intended to connect locations in Rockland County with MTA train service in Tarrytown, White Plains and Port Chester as well as with connections to existing Bee Line bus service to other parts of Westchester, Putnam and Fairfield counties.  Attendees included five representatives from various state agencies, six members of central White Plains neighborhood associations (Fisher Hill, Battle Hill, Old Oak Ridge and Havilands Manor) and two representatives of the Mayor's Office.  Mayor Bradley welcomed the group but then had to leave to attend a budget work session with the Common Council.

The DOT presentation was an abbreviated version of the talk which was given before the March meeting of the WPCNA.  For the most part the issues raised by the neighborhood representatives were similar to the ones that had been raised at that meeting: selection of the route within White Plains; disruption of traffic flows; the potentially negative impact on entrance to and egress from Battle Hill and Fisher Hill; the set-aside of dedicated lanes for the BRT buses; the uncertainty as to ridership; and the ultimate cost of the project, including that for new structures at stops along the route(s). 

Neighborhood representatives suggested two alternatives for bus traffic other than the proposed Tarrytown Road/Hamilton Avenue/Westchester Avenue: North Broadway from Exit 6 of I-287, proceeding to the Transit Center, which it was said would have less impact on traffic flow; or Exit 8 to Westchester Avenue/Hamilton Avenue and the Transit Center, which would be essentially a one-way route through White Plains.  The need for the bus to proceed from White Plains to Port Chester was also called into question.  The state representatives agreed to study these proposals.  In addition they conceded that a route which last March they had presented as being under consideration but which would have meant a major disruption of the County Center parking lot (which is controlled by Westchester County) is now a virtual non-starter.

The key points stressed by the DOT representatives was that the plan would proceed only after local "buy-ins" (toward which meetings like this one are an integral component), and that the plan could be implemented only after the replacement for the existing Tappan Zee Bridge was opened.  They said that the most optimistic time-frame for the bridge project would result in a completion date of 2017/2018.  Funding for the bridge is believed to be in place, but ...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Leading by Partnering

Dr. Christopher Clouet, White Plains new Superintendent of Schools, and Adam Bradley, New York State Assemblyman for the 89th District, and White Plains mayoral candidate, were the guest speakers at the September 2009 WPCNA meeting, the second in a series on Leadership in Governance.

Both Christopher Clouetmen are acknowledged leaders in their Adam Bradleyfields.   Dr. Clouet (left) is credited with helping to turn around a difficult New London, CT district with a large immigrant population and a small budget.  Mr. Bradley has a distinguished record in the Assembly, having authored significant legislation in a diversity of areas, from healthcare to environment to family.

Partnerships

Dr. Clouet, talking about Leadership in Education, and Mr. Bradley about Leadership in Legislation, both talked about themselves not as leaders – which entails followers – but as partners.  Clouet, who was accompanied to the meeting by Donna McLaughlin, President of the Board of Education, and Kerry Broderick, President of the White Plains Teachers Association, said his success in White Plains will depend on his ability to create partnerships within his administration, with teachers, with community leaders, with parents, and, of course, with students. Obviously, Dr. Clouet has made a good start!

Bipartisanship

Young woman listening intently.Mr. Bradley said his success as a leading New York State Assemblyman stemmed in large measure from bipartisanship, which he characterized as collegial, even genial, discourse between legislators on different sides of the aisle or different sides of an issue.  He believes a good leader is a good listener, willing to examine and be nurtured by divergent opinions.  If elected Mayor, he envisions an administration of inclusion and openness to people and positions.

Clouet and Bradley, who obviously like and respect each other, spoke about working together for a better White Plains.  Even in these difficult and troubled times, much good could come from leaders who seek partners, not followers.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Getting Education Right

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Bumper Sticker

President Obama has made education a central focus of his efforts, and rightly so.  The future of America depends on getting education right.

Here in White Plains we have an opportunity to "get it right" by voting in the upcoming Board of Education election, when three of the seven seats -- almost half the Board -- are up for grabs.

Two of the candidates are current Board Members.  Attorney Peter Bassano, who has been the Board's representative in contract negotiations, and Board President Donna MacLaughlin are both seeking re-election.

The other candidates are
Jim Hricay, former White Plains Deputy Budget Director, now with the Stamford Budget Department;
Elsie J. Lahrmann, retired Director of Emergency Planning and a natural medicine practioner;
Reynolds Longfield, a former cosmetics sales and marketing executive, now an educator;
Augie Zicca, Jr., a retired Westchester County Correction Officer and former system analyst.

With the economy reeling, several of the candidates are sure to campaign on the power and precision of their budgetary axes.  But axes are for chopping, and education is about nurturing, pruning and, most of all, growth. Make sure the candidates you vote for have a plan for education, not just a plan for the budget.

You can help find the right candidates for the White Plains Board of Education by attending the Candidates Night, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of White Plains, which will be held Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm in Room B-1 of White Plains High School. The proceedings  will also be broadcast several times on Channel 77.  Consult the channel guide for times.

And when you've selected three strong candidates, be sure to VOTE! The White Plains Board of Education Election and Budget Vote will take place on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, from noon to 9:00 pm.  To find your polling place and for further information, please call 422-2000.