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Post Partisanship

worktogether(This is the opinion of site founder Joanne Wallenstein) On the way into the Scarsdale Village Board meeting last Tuesday evening, I heard one of the village trustees, who was fighting a terrible cold,  appeal to outspoken and long-winded resident Bob Harrison to please keep his public comments to a minimum.

But instead, it seems that Mr. Harrison took that plea as a challenge to see how long he could speak beyond the five minute limit. When the public comments period started, Mr. Harrison approached the podium with a disorganized pile of papers and bulging folders ready to hold forth. For the next twenty-one minutes, he touched on many topics that had already been thoroughly discussed, managing to insult almost everyone in the room, including me. In the course of his rambling, he called an analysis of data published on Scarsdale10583 "bogus." Pointing at me in the audience, he claimed that "10583 has published misinformation," and attributed this to the tax assessment on my home.

When Trustee Stern sought to respond to Harrison, a screaming match ensued and it was impossible to hear either one as they each yelled louder and louder.

I was so shaken by being called out on television that I could barely focus on what should have been the headline of the meeting. Myra Saul from Lincoln Road was attending to call attention to the need to protect undocumented residents and workers in Scarsdale. She said, "There is a palpable fear of deportation," and asked Scarsdale to formalize policies to protect immigrants, first by supporting a proposed bill before the county legislature that would prevent county police from investigating immigration status. She said she would come forth with additional proposals in the weeks to come.

Good for Ms. Saul and the others who came to the meeting to support her! This is just the kind of public discussion that warrants our time and energy. We've spent the better part of a year focused almost entirely on the tax roll, while other important issues have been neglected. Let Ms. Saul be an example of what we can accomplish if we rise above petty differences and harness the substantial talents of our residents to move forward and make Scarsdale a model for the meaning of community.

Just consider the caliber of our residents. Among our taxpayers are Richard Garwin, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama for his work as a physicist and scientific advisor. We've got Irving Picard, who untangled the mess left by the Madoff Ponzi scheme and Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, who address global issues such as poverty and human trafficking. We have John Harris, who recently wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League opposing President Trump's immigration ban that may have been instrumental in the recent decision from the state court in Hawaii to block its implementation. Among our residents is NYS Legislator Amy Paulin, who has championed legislation for the rights of children, teens and women, and much more. And we've got all of you – bright, engaged and accomplished citizens --who care about the future of our Village and the world.

We have real issues - both local and national - to confront, and if we can rise above partisan politics and bickering we can make a difference.

Just look at what the Board of the Scarsdale Library has accomplished. Recognizing the need for an improved library and meeting center, they researched, visited other libraries, interviewed planners and architects and formulated plans for a state of the art facility. Overcoming substantial opposition, they rallied supporters and presented a workable a plan for a public/private partnership for the project and ultimately won the backing of the Village Board.

For similar reasons, when the Scarsdale School Board got friction on plans to improve the district, the Scarsdale Schools Foundation was born. Their efforts have made it possible for the district to replace obsolete and unused areas of the high school with a new design lab and a fitness center that are already under construction.

What about our empty downtown storefronts? Can this issue be addressed? In addition to what the Scarsdale Forum is already doing, can residents help? With so many top lawyers among our ranks, would it be possible to negotiate with our Village landlords to lower rents and increase incentives to fill the empty retail spaces? With reasonable rents these spaces would be workable for both mom and pop stores and national chains like Sweetgreen and Papyrus . The initiative to build a mixed used project at the Freightway site is a first step forward and I am hopeful that this initiative will also reinvigorate our downtown.

But as Myra Saul points out, we can do more than improve our own lives. For example, in addition to safeguarding undocumented people within our borders we can consider national issues such as gun control and pass local laws on gun ownership, gun sales, gun security and safe storage. As Scarsdale residents Michelle Sterling and Ron Shulhof are already doing, we can support conservation and sustainability by recycling, conserving energy and saving trees and natural resources. These initiatives benefit Scarsdale but also set an example for other communities. What else? It's high time we passed local legislation to preserve historic homes, safeguard trees and prevent overbuilding.

In short, we have wasted the better part of a year arguing over a single issue and squandered the time and energy of our village volunteers and village managers who were forced to spend countless hours reviewing over 30,000 FOILED emails and defending all of us against what may very well be a meritless lawsuit.

There's so much more at stake in Scarsdale and in our country than potholes. The reason our predecessors established a non-partisan system in Scarsdale was to offer a framework to minimize conflict and forge consensus. This election is demonstrating just how divisive partisan politics can be... and how a pothole can expand into a sinkhole.

When you go to the voting booth on Tuesday, think about which party will build bridges and move us forward -- and cast your vote accordingly. Use your voice and considerable talents to make a difference in Scarsdale and beyond.

Comments   

+1 #13 La La Land 2017-03-21 13:53
Are we living in La La Land?
The voting results will reflect: demographic trends in Scarsdale, whether majority believes in Accountability, Change, or Keeping Current Political System
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+1 #12 La La Land 2017-03-21 13:36
Are we living in a La La Land?
Voting results will be determined by (based on the people joined voting): demographic trends in Scarsdale, what majority of Scarsdale residents believe is important. Is it Accountability, Change, or Keeping a political system...
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+7 #11 Jack Greenspan 2017-03-20 16:32
Quoting Tim Foley:
I fully support Myra and the residents who came to the Board of Trustees Wednesday night for beginning this conversation in a thoughtful and deliberate way. For those who think this won't affect our suburban haven, eventually the Scarsdale police will pull someone over and determine that they have no driver's license or other low-level offense. They will take that individual to HQ for routine booking. In short order, they may also receive a phone call from ICE with an order of detention for 24 hours or more. Suddenly the routine stop is not so routine.

Under the previous eight to twelve issues, priority for detention and deportation was given to those who represented an imminent threat to public safety or were apprehended by local police for a criminal or violent offense or were suspected of terrorism. With the recent Department of Homeland Security memorandum, all of that is out the window. The priority is everyone is a priority. That means, whether we want it or not, eventually Scarsdale Police will have a choice.

It makes sense for us to have the public debate now on how we want to handle it, since it probably will take time for the community to be educated on the issue and the risks it poses to our police being able to effectively do their job vs. the risk of non-compliance (although luckily we rely very little on federal grants, and so are in a better position to consider the right path than others). It may take us a while to come to agreement, but communities here in Westchester and across the country are already tackling it, and so should we.

I am less sanguine that tackling issues like this will help move the community past what will surely be lingering divisions that have existed since June, as I'm sure that drama has a few more acts left to unfold, no matter who wins on Tuesday. But government is the tool by which reasonable society explores and examines our differences and, either by persuasion or resignation to the majority, finds a way to move our community and our society forward. So lets move forward.


Tim, I agree that this is an important issue, but could we discuss this AFTER tomorrow?! :lol: It's the day before Village elections, so instead of suddenly shifting towards national issues that affect maybe one or two people, let's focus on the issues that affect us ALL in the community!
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-2 #10 I disagree 2017-03-20 09:39
Jack, I don't agree with you. Below is just one example of how Ms Kirkendall Rodriguez responds. Some people may think it's a fine was to run a campaign - but I do not - and I can tell you that it has caused me to change my vote.

Quoting Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez:
Joanne,

I sure would like to know what this anonymous troll has ever done for Scarsdale or anyone for that matter. Quoting Not all or none:
I support Bob Berg but was startled by Brice Kirkendall-Rodriguez's lack of Scarsdale experience. I bring this up to remind people that they don't need to vote strictly for one party or the other - they can vote for the individuals they think would serve the village best.
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+1 #9 Jack Greenspan 2017-03-20 08:25
Quoting Thank you Joanne:
Ms. Wallenstein,
What I will also be considering is the tone of the public discourse. I am truly appalled by the way that spokesperson of the Voters Choice Party denigrates anyone who disagrees with her, often calling them "trolls." She may be able to bully others, but not me.


Please trust me when I say that Mayra does not mean to denigrate you. She, as well as a lot of other people, get reasonably upset when someone slanders their candidates but doesn't take responsibility for it. For the future, I think a lot of people would appreciate it if people started using their real names in this forum.
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+3 #8 Looking for the video 2017-03-20 07:57
Did Mr. Harrison really talk for 21 minutes at the last village board meeting? If so, that is ridiculous and should be curbed. Is there a video that I can see to check this out for myself?
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-1 #7 InterestedResident 2017-03-20 00:43
Despite living in Scarsdale for 40 years, I had never heard of Scarsdale10583. com. I met a woman at a Chase who told me I had to read 10583.com to be well informed. I forgot to follow up be honest, but given the upcoming elected election, I decided to check in. Yikes. Why was she recommending you? Of course, you will not publish my comments.
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+8 #6 Voter 2017-03-20 00:18
Thank you Joanne for your article but I think you are deeply out of touch with the normal people living in Scarsdale.
As illustrated by the rejection of the school budget a few years ago, people are feeling the crisis and want leaders, not people looking to please everybody to avoid ruffling any feathers. This was bound to happen: taxes cannot go up forever, and we have entered a phase where taxes levels are reaching a point that is not sustainable. We see that in the focus of a lot of people on the growth rate. A %4 raise on 20k was ok in a booming economy, the same of a now 35k in a stagnant economy feels very different to many. This is the adverse effect of compounding.
While we all understand the plight of undocumented immigrants, or neighborhoods under gang control, or misery all over the world and even in some communities not so far from Scarsdale, I believe we will be choosing the best team to carry Scarsdale forward in the future, addressing pressing local issues.
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-6 #5 Tim Foley 2017-03-19 22:37
I fully support Myra and the residents who came to the Board of Trustees Wednesday night for beginning this conversation in a thoughtful and deliberate way. For those who think this won't affect our suburban haven, eventually the Scarsdale police will pull someone over and determine that they have no driver's license or other low-level offense. They will take that individual to HQ for routine booking. In short order, they may also receive a phone call from ICE with an order of detention for 24 hours or more. Suddenly the routine stop is not so routine.

Under the previous eight to twelve issues, priority for detention and deportation was given to those who represented an imminent threat to public safety or were apprehended by local police for a criminal or violent offense or were suspected of terrorism. With the recent Department of Homeland Security memorandum, all of that is out the window. The priority is everyone is a priority. That means, whether we want it or not, eventually Scarsdale Police will have a choice.

It makes sense for us to have the public debate now on how we want to handle it, since it probably will take time for the community to be educated on the issue and the risks it poses to our police being able to effectively do their job vs. the risk of non-compliance (although luckily we rely very little on federal grants, and so are in a better position to consider the right path than others). It may take us a while to come to agreement, but communities here in Westchester and across the country are already tackling it, and so should we.

I am less sanguine that tackling issues like this will help move the community past what will surely be lingering divisions that have existed since June, as I'm sure that drama has a few more acts left to unfold, no matter who wins on Tuesday. But government is the tool by which reasonable society explores and examines our differences and, either by persuasion or resignation to the majority, finds a way to move our community and our society forward. So lets move forward.
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+3 #4 scarsdale 2017-03-19 22:31
I agree with Jack Greenspan. Somehow there is an assumption that we all agree on what to do with the illegal immigration. How can the Board of Trustees take a view on that without a lengthy discussion or maybe even a referendum? Why should we be telling the county police what to do and what not to do?

Now - I am not saying that I support the current reval lawsuit. The ongoing discussion is largely fruitless as there seem little interest to find a reasonable solution. Whether it is one side or both sides that are not listening is a different point. But bringing in another VERY contentious issue does not make much sense.
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