Thursday, Oct 29th

Last updateThu, 29 Oct 2020 10am

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TrusteesSwornInTrustees Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone were sworn in on September 18.Halloween, fall leaf collection, the Village election and kind words for departing Trustee Jane Veron and retiring Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure were all discussed at the Scarsdale Village Board meeting on Tuesday September 22, 2020.

The three trustees who won the election, Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone were sworn in on September 18, and the Mayor welcomed Whitestone to his first Village Board Meeting. He said Whitestone was collaborative, open minded and a creative problem solver and looked forward to working with him.

The Mayor congratulated 2020 Scarsdale Bowl recipients Jon Mark and BK Munguia who will be honored at a small reception on Thursday night September 24. He said, “It’s not the honor they envisioned but it recognizes the outstanding work Jon and BK have done for the Village. We owe you a debt of gratitude and congratulate you on receiving the Scarsdale Bowl, our communities highest honor for volunteers.”

He continued, “Also on Thursday, we will hold the first meeting of the Police Reform and Reinvention Committee as mandated by the Governor’s orders. He has tasked each Village with reviewing their police department and making recommendations that are in keeping with the municipality. That effort will begin on September 24 and must be completed by April 2021.”

The Mayor said that the Board will hold an organizational meeting and Trustee Justin Arest will be named Deputy Mayor. Samwick plans to implement portfolios for trustees and invited input before the meeting.

Halloweenhall136

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo announced that the Village had just received guidelines from the CDC about Halloween, and asked residents to follow them. He said that Halloween “may take place in Scarsdale for those who wish to participate. It is an individual decision for children and their parents.” He cautioned, “The CDC says trick or treating is a high-risk activity for spreading the virus and recommends that residents also avoid trunk or treating where candy is handed out from car trunks, attending crowded parties, and going on hayrides with people outside your household.”

Instead, the CDC recommends lining up individual treat bags for families to grab and go while maintaining social distancing or engaging in moderate risk events like attending an outdoor costume party while wearing masks. Low risk activities include household parties, outdoor pumpkin carving, outdoor scavenger hunts, virtual costume parties and a Halloween movie night with your family.

Pappalardo said, “The Village recommends that families follow the CDC recommendations for low risk activities.”

However he said if you do decide to treat or treat please:

Do it in small groups or with your family.

Do not wear a costume mask over a protective mask as it will be difficult to breathe.

Wear bright reflective clothing and consider armbands

Trick or treat during daylight hours or no later than dusk

Carry hand sanitzer and use it frequently after receiving candy at individual homes

Follow all COVID safety protocols and traffic rules.

Leaf Pick-up

Fall leaf collection begins October 19 and will end on December 11, 2020. The Villlage will collect leaves, loose at the curb using vacuum trucks. Collections will be done 3-4 times during the season at each home. Tree branches must be tied or bagged and placed at the curb for weekly collection. Leaves can be brought to the recycling center and the fees are waived if landscapers pre-register with the Village. Recycling bags are available at the recycling center at a discounted rate. Loose leaves on the street are a traffic hazard and can cause flooding. Residents are encouraged to mulch/mow their leaves on site. It will fertilize the loan and help the environment.

mcclureVillage Treasurer Mary Lou McClureMary Lou McClure and Jane Veron

Several speakers had parting messages for retiring Village Treasurer Mary Lou McClure and the Mayor spoke first saying, “She deserves a lot of kind words for the outstanding work she has done. We just finished work with our auditors who said a number of times how strong our finance department is and that begins with Mary Lou. She is the bests of our Village and our employees. She shows enormous dedication, intelligence and we are better as a Village because of all she has done for us.”

Village Manager Steve Pappalardo said, “I could wax poetic about Mary Lou. I am still hoping that the retirement party for Mary Lou that has been planned and cancelled twice will take place and I can make my comments at that joyous occasion.”

Trustee Justin Arest said, ““Mary Lou, I have not kept my admiration and appreciation for you a secret, especially recently, but I would remiss if I did not thank you again and tell you how much you will be missed. You have gone above and beyond, and not just over the past year, but especially over the past year. You have guided us in your retirement when we needed you most and allowed us to find someone worthy of your role. I also want to note that your accessibility and kindness is known not only to Trustees but to residents as well, as clearly evidenced in the comments made during public comments. And I was the grateful beneficiary for years prior to my service on this Board and cannot thank you enough for helping me and teaching me so much.”

Trustee Lena Crandall echoed the comments about McClure and thanked her for answering all her questions over the years and told her to “enjoy life.”

Trustee Seth Ross said, “A more than deserved tribute to Mary Lou. Your management of Village finances has been lauded by many and certainly deserves all the feedback. On a personal note I remember going to you with questions about expenditures and receiving not only clear responses but each time an education in the facts underlying your responses. I am a more knowledgeable trustee as a direct result of your willingness to go above and beyond what is asked of you. Best of everything in your retirement.”

Trustee Jonathan Lewis said, “Mary Lou, without good data and reporting we could not do our jobs properly. Your hard work is the foundation of civic dialogue about important issues. Thank you for your service and dedication to Scarsdale.”

Trustee Rochelle Waldman echoed what the other residents and trustees said and wished McClure well. She said, “You have taught me an incredible amount, including the meeting we had this morning to go over the bills I audited this weekend. Good luck to you in your retirement.”

Randall Whitestone called Mary Lou McClure, “top knotch.”

Dara Gruenberg added, “Mary Lou thank for your exceptional service and dedication to our village. Working with you had been such an honor and a pleasure. I know I speak for many volunteers when I say we do our work not just to better our community but also because of the relationships we foster. You are one of those individuals. You went above and beyond to help me personally two years ago when I chaired the League’s budget portfolio. I must admit one of the reasons I volunteered to take on that daunting role was because I knew I would be able to go to you for support and help. Your grandchildren are very lucky to be able to have more of your time. Their gain is our loss. Thank you again for caring for our village so meticulously.”

Speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Leah Dembitzer said, “The League Board wishes to extend thanks to our Village Treasurer, Mary Lou McClure. Mary Lou is our Village’s secret gem. Mary Lou, you are smart, professional and giving with your time and knowledge and, according to our Board, you are one of the nicest people with whom we have had the pleasure to work. Your financial acumen, attention to detail and organizational skills have served our Village well for these many years. Mary Lou, the League Board will miss you dearly and we wish you much happiness in your future endeavors.”

Margot Milberg thanked McClure on behalf of the Board of the Scarsdale Library saying, you are “patient, calm and helpful, with wonderful attention to detail and a steward of library funds. We want to wish you must success in your retirement.”

Robert Berg thanked Mary Lou McClure, patient, calm and helpful, wonderful attention to detail and a steward of library funds. We want to wish you much success in your retirement.

About Trustee Jane Veron, who just completed four and half years of service on the Village Board, Milberg said, “Speaking on behalf of the Scarsdale Public Library Board of Trustees. Jane you have always been an ally, advocated and trusted advisor for the library. You were instrumental in getting the library approved by the village. You believed in the project and shared the vision in what a reimagined library could look like. You are a true friend of Scarsdale and the library. We look forward to seeing you at 54 Olmstead.

Leah Dembitzer said, “The League Board would like to extend thanks to Jane Veron for her years of dedicated work on the Village Board. Jane, I hope that you are listening so that I may speak directly to you. Jane, you have worked tirelessly for our community with a dedication to revitalizing our Village Center. You are a unique community leader: poised, thoughtful, patient and professional. Your ability to reach out to the community, to ask questions and to listen thoughtfully has served us well. The League Board is deeply grateful for all of your work as Trustee in service of our village and community; and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.”

Madelaine Eppenstein congratulated Trustee Veron and Mary Lou McClure for everything they have done for the Village over the many years. She said, “I want to express my gratitude to both for their generosity and their effort, Their cordial approach to helping residents and community groups is without equal. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.”

Public Comments

Calling in during public comments, Robert Berg and his daughter Zoe Berg spoke about the election that took place on September 15, 2020.

Robert Berg thanked Village Clerk Donna Conkling for running a safe, contested election on September 15. He said, “It was wonderful to see nearly 2,000 residents come out to vote. We are proud to bring democratic elections to Scarsdale, complete with traditional lawn signs, doorhangers, and door to door campaigning. I congratulate the winners and wish them well and want to thank our supporters for letting the Village know that there are critical issues that are not being addressed by the Village Board and staff. They are watching and we will continue to hold the Village accountable to the public.”

He continued, “We are facing extraordinarily challenging times and need transparency in our Village government. I am very disturbed by the lawless acts of the Village in refusing to produce the documents that we requested under the FOIL law in April until the Friday before the election, September 11 even though the Village attorney advised the Village that there was no basis under the law for withholding those documents nearly five months earlier. I am referring to Mr. Selvaggio’s FOIL request for the Notify Me email list. He served that FOIL on April 24 which was precipitated by the Mayor’s attacks on the VCP’s candidate on April 23 using the Notify Me system. We heard nothing for months. We followed up in July and were told that the Village was seeking an opinion from the Committee on Open Governance. In September we followed up again and were told that we would get the documents as long as Mr. Selvaggio signed a certification that he would not use the materials for solicitation or fundraising. “

“….There are no ifs, ands or buts about the FOIL law and yet you tried to delay, you did delay and then you sat on it for another two months. You violated the law. I saw that Marc has requested a change in the law. Was this a resolution from the Village Board? I hope the new board acts in a much more open manner.”

The Mayor responded to Berg and explained that the FOIL request was more complex than Berg had indicated and involved issues of cyber security, privacy and public trust in government. He said, “It was not taken lightly as our primary function is to protect our residents and that includes their privacy and their email addresses. We explored whatever avenues were possible to protect our residents”

Berg’s daughter Zoe also spoke and said she would have hoped that “the little town of Scarsdale would have been a place of refuge.” She said, “That has not been the case since we started challenging Scarsdale’s broken nominating process. As many of you know, my dad ran for trustee and we worked hard to raise awareness about serious issues. One way to raise awareness is to use political signs. My dad and I drove around placing signs only to realize that some of the signs had been stolen, thrown on the ground or stepped on. I would shake my head thinking, “are we in middle school?” In the end my dad filed three police reports and had hundreds of dollars of signs stolen.”

“On election day my dad and I had some complications voting because we had just moved to Quaker Ridge and our March absentee ballots were no longer valid. We had to wait about 20 minutes before we could vote because the election inspectors had to resolve the complications. As we were waiting, a young man walked uncomfortably close to me and said in my ear, “You know, my penis has been bothering me lately – it must be the 5G.” He and his mother walked off before I could say anything. Both my dad and I were speechless.”

“Minutes after the incident by dad and filled out his ballot and waited for me so we could walk out of the polling place together. After casting my vote I looked for my dad, only to see a poll watcher who will remain nameless screaming at my dad saying he was canvassing at the polling place and would call the police to escort him out. All he did was vote and all he wanted to do was walk out of the polling place.”

She concluded by asking, “Are we Scarsdale?”

The Mayor responded and said no one on the Village Board of Trustees was involved in the voting incident. He said, “This is an elected board and we respect the law.”

Later in the meeting Trustee Lena Crandall apologized to Zoe Berg for the comment and thanked her for her advocacy around the 5G issue. Crandall said, “Voting is our most precious right.” She thanked everyone for coming out to vote and said, “we represent everyone.” She recommended that voters take advantage of the early polling dates for the November election.

Trustee Lewis said to Zoe Berg, “I am appalled by what you described and very disturbed to hear about this incident.”

In other business, Trustee Justin Arest provided a statement of expenses and revenues.

About Village finances he said, “We had a meeting with our Auditors, PKF O'Connor Davies, prior to this meeting at 6pm, regarding our FY 19-20 financials statements. PKF presented its findings with the results being positive. I encourage anyone who might have been unable to attend the 6pm meeting to watch the recording and as always feel free to reach out with any comments or questions. Some items that were highlighted included our unassigned fund balance at the end of the FY compared to 20-21 expenditures was just above 14%. Our policy has been to keep that number between 10 and 15% while the GOA recommends something closer to 17%. Our debt service is approximately 3% of our budget. PKF advised that many other municipalities they work with have that figure at 8% or higher and commended our use of fund balance for capital projects. We also discussed GASB 75 and how even though OPEB liabilities are treated as pay as we go, they must be accounted for into the long term despite the lack of an allowable funding mechanism. If that does not make sense to anyone, please feel free to reach out. Bottom line, understanding that we are living through challenging health and financial times, we are in good financial health.”

Investment Policy

Trustee Arest read a resolution adopting the 2020-21 Village Investment Policy. All trustees voted aye with the exception of Trustee Lewis who voted no to the resolution because the trustees no longer have a finance committee to review the investment policy.

Lewis said, “The proposed investment guidelines govern how we invest public funds, monitor compliance with the guidelines, and implement a governance structure for the investment of public money. Process drives governance, compliance, and performance. I disagree with the language in the resolution that states the changes are primarily housekeeping in nature - there are changes that are substantive and from my perspective weaken governance, compliance, and reduce the probability of performance. The proposed guidelines eliminate a standing investment committee and a standing finance committee. Those committees ceased to meet regularly in early 2019, and in my view the ad hoc work sessions that have replaced them have not fully met all of the objectives of good governance with its emphasis on public discussion, debate that improves ideas, and public deliberation. There should be board discussion about whether or not the experiment of eliminating committees has improved governance or not, and if there should be further reform. We have not met to discuss investments or discuss compliance with guidelines at any point in 2020 as a board in a working session or as a committee. We have had no substantive, public conversations in 2020 about the limitations we set for the institutions we can use, how those limits relate to either credit quality, or return. I believe the revisions to these guidelines institutionalize an ad hoc approach to governance and weaken the Treasurer's requirement to establish written procedures. I believe the experience of the past year and half suggests we need finance and investment committees that meet on a regularly scheduled basis, especially in a financial crisis. I cannot vote for an ad hoc approach when it comes to the oversight of public money. I vote no.”

Sidewalks

In other business, the Village Board will hold a public hearing on October 13 on amending Village Code on sidewalk cafes to allow them to operate through December 31, 2020 and to allow the sale of merchandise on sidewalks through the end of the year.

Water System Master Plan

Trustee Lewis read a resolution to execute a professional services agreement for the development of a water system master plan comprised of hydraulic modeling, water distribution system mapping, and development of a 25-year capital plan, The plan will identify the most efficient means of connecting our water system with other resources. Much of Scarsdale’s water system is over 100 years old and is badly in need of attention. The agreement grants the work to Woodard and Curran Engineering for a fee of $79,400.

New Village Treasurer

The Board appointed a new Village Treasurer to replace Mary Lou McClure. Anne Marie Scaglione was appointed Village Treasurer. She is a CPA and has served as the Comptroller of the City of Peekskill since July 2014.

Gifts

The Village accepted a gift of $500 from Mr. YeWang and Mr.s Helen Ni of 7 Church Lane for the Scarsdale Fire Department.

ceremonyflagsThough almost every other event is being cancelled or held virtually, the Scarsdale Fire Department did not permit the pandemic from interrupting their annual September 11 Memorial Service, held this past Friday.

The ceremony began with the posting of colors by Honor Guard Unit of the Scarsdale Fire and Police Departments. Following a moment of silence, the Fire Department Bell was tolled 5-5-5-5 which signifies death in the line of duty.

Reverand Kelly Rogers from Scarsdale Congregational Church gave the invocation and Scarsdale Fire Chief Jim Seymour and Police Chief Andy Matturro lowered the flag to half staff accompanied by the national anthem, sung by SHS Senior Emily Hansen.

RogersReverand Kelly Rogers from Scarsdale Congregational church

Mayor Marc Sanwick and Police Commissioner and Trustee Justin Arest spoke and wreaths were placed at the base of the American flag and the Police and Fire memorial stones.

hansenChief Matturro, Emily Hansen and Chief Seymour

The ceremony concluded with Amazing Grace, sung by Emily Hansen and a benediction from Reverend Rogers. The Honor Guard Unit retired the colors shortly after 9:00. The ceremony was coordinated by Fire Captain Christopher Mytych and about 50 people attended the service, all wearing masks.

samwickMayor Marc Samwick

Photos by Jonathan Thaler. See more here: 

HandsUpThe Procedure Committee invites Scarsdale residents to run for a position on the nonpartisan Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC). As one of 30 volunteers on the CNC you will interview, evaluate and select candidates running in the March 16, 2021 village-wide election on the nonpartisan slate for positions on the village board, including a new mayor and trustees.

A candidate for membership on the CNC must be a qualified voter (U.S. citizen and 18 years of age or older), and a resident of Scarsdale for at least two years. The filing deadline for two simple CNC application forms is Wednesday, September 30. The CNC election will be held by mail-in ballot (unless otherwise feasible at Village Hall on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 from 7 AM to 9 PM).

The CNC meets 5 or 6 times on weekday evenings beginning at the end of November. CNC meeting dates for 2020-2021 are: Monday, November 30, 2020 (Organization Meeting); Monday, December 7, 2020; Wednesday, December 16, 2020; Wednesday, January 6, 2021; Monday, January 11, 2021; and if necessary, Wednesday, January 20, 2021. If in person meetings are not feasible, the CNC will meet virtually on the Zoom platform instead.

For more information contact the Chair of the Procedure Committee, Sarit Kessel Fuchs, Quaker Ridge, at kesse17@hotmail.com or Vice Chair Becky Bach, Edgewood, at beckyhbach@gmail.com. The members of the 2020-2021 Procedure Committee, the nonpartisan group of Scarsdale volunteers who administer the nonpartisan election of a new group of 10 members of the CNC annually, are: Becky Bach – Vice Chair, Heedan Chung-Goh, Susan Duncan, Madelaine Eppenstein, Sarit Kessel Fuchs – Chair, Dan Gerardi, Sal Jain, Jon Leslie, Barry Meiselman, Michelle Lichtenberg, BK Munguia, Jeannie Rosenthal, Andrew Sereysky, Adie Shore, Greg Soldatenko, Peter Tesler, Gabrielle Wise, and Bob Wolloch.

We received many letters this week in support of the Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Party slate of candidates for Village Trustee nominated by the Citizens Nominating Committee. The election is on Tuesday September 15 and you can vote at the Scarsdale Congregational Church at 1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale from 6 am to 9 pm.

Here are the letters:

Diane2Diane Greenwald
Support Candidates who Give Back, not Give Grief
To the Editor: Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randall Whitestone each exhibit an abiding sense of service that comes when decent people are inclined to give back. It’s no wonder they received the nomination for Village Trustee by the Citizens Nominating Committee (CNC), the body of 30 elected residents entrusted to nominate candidates for us.

Scarsdale runs well under a non-partisan system – meaning no one is elected to the Village or School Board based on Democratic or Republican affiliation. The premise is that many excellent volunteers may be deterred by partisan campaigning. The CNC hears individuals present their qualifications, then reviews their history of volunteerism and references in lengthy deliberations over many meetings. This due diligence is confidential, not furtive, to broaden participation and facilitate candid conversations, but transparent protocols are followed.

It’s more thorough than relying on a self-serving campaign ad, and more respectful than the mudslinging.

For a small, well-run town of busy residents, having a dedicated committee empowered to make educated nominations is an efficient approach. Voter turnout can be lower, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a fair contest. Of course, individuals are allowed to challenge the CNC nominations, as is happening now. But we shouldn’t pretend this is actual party politics or that open campaigning improves the quality of our already strong leadership.

Non-partisan committee membership and leadership changes annually, yet challenger Bob Berg with Selvaggio and Cohen, and campaign manager Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez, bad mouth the process as rigged, seeking to erode our trust in our neighbors’ integrity.

They are running as a slate of the “Voter’s Choice Party” (VCP) that Mr. Berg and Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez appear to have founded, though there is no leadership board or nomination process disclosed. It is hard to figure what the ‘choice’ is with Mr. Berg always on their ticket. Without these few individuals driving efforts, it’s unclear how their ‘party’ would be sustained.

The VCP frequently dismisses complex issues as debacles, disasters and fiascos absent balanced consideration, and they leap to blame, or worse, to sue the village, instead of to problem-solve. I often wonder, where do they live?

I live in Scarsdale. We work hard to be here and are grateful for it. I support the non-partisan system not because it’s perfect, but because it’s fair, efficient, dynamic and encourages civil civic engagement.

We know that decisions are better when diverse viewpoints are considered. We should be working together to improve diverse representation by welcoming participation. That objective is thwarted when a handful of furious, disgruntled residents relentlessly blame and falsely accuse qualified, decent volunteers of wrongdoing.

The divisive, self-aggrandizing rhetoric disseminated by the VCP is simply counterproductive to building community.

We are Scarsdale. We are all in this together. I encourage residents to run to be elected to the CNC and the SBNC. In the 15 years I have lived here, over 450 voting residents have served. Give it a try. (learn more about Citizen’s Nominating Committee and School Board Nominating Committee.)

Trustee Arest, Trustee Crandall and Mr. Whitestone were nominated based on character and good judgment. Let’s get them back to work for us by voting for Row B. Vote now by absentee ballot or in person on September 15 at Scarsdale Congregational Church at One Heathcote Road. Where your mask, please. (Link to more info about the candidates and voting.)

Respectfully,

Diane Greenwald
Oak Lane

JonathanLewisJonathan Lewis
I support Randy Whitestone, Lena Crandall, and Justin Arrest for Village Trustees because I believe in them and I believe in the non-partisan system that nominated them. For nearly two decades I have lived in this village in a park, and I’ve had the honor to serve as President of the Scarsdale Forum, a Trustee of the Scarsdale Board of Education, and as a current Trustee of the Village of Scarsdale. I understand and value the system that nominated Randy, Lena, and Justin.

In my years of service, I have been impressed by my neighbors’ commitment to service in support of the qualities that maintain Scarsdale as the special place we all believe it to be. Randy, Lena, and Justin represent the values of Non Sibi that are at the core of our shared community heritage, and have demonstrated in their volunteer service a willingness to engage in the kind of debate so necessary for our village government to evolve and respond to the changing demands of our time.

It should be clear that Randy, Lena, and Justin, were chosen after careful deliberation by our neighbors. Thirty independently elected volunteer neighbors compose the Citizens Nominating Committee. These thirty neighbors meet on multiple nights and weekends to evaluate and consider candidates for office, the neighbors they believe are most qualified to sit on the Board of Trustees at this time. Randy, Lena, and Justin were chosen by our neighbors because their skills and temperament suits them to a non-partisan style of government where we may disagree with each other, while respecting each other’s views in debate.

In these uncertain times, we need debate now more than ever and it’s important we elect trustees who can both express their views respectfully, and at the same time hear other voices. Debate is an essential part of the process that allows us to refine policy ideas and to arrive at better outcomes. We should not expect trustees to agree at all times, or vote unanimously at all times - that would be groupthink. When I voted against the budget this spring, and as I have debated my fellow trustees to adopt a more conservative approach with more frequent planning workshops, I have never doubted that my colleagues are well intended in their viewpoints though they may differ from my own. This cognitive diversity is good for the board so we can learn from each other and arrive at a better outcome. We need Randy, Lena, and Justin on the Village Board to ensure that the debate continues, respectfully, and that once solutions are identified, they are implemented collaboratively.

We are in a crisis. We need steady hands. I support the non-partisan system and Randy, Lena, and Justin.

Jonathan Lewis
Woods Lane

JonMarkJon Mark

To the Editor: With regard to recent criticism by their opponents that the non-partisan candidates lack “a platform,” it may be helpful for residents to understand what the non-partisan system is and what it is not. The non-partisan system, Scarsdale’s longstanding consensus approach to nominating and electing Village and School Board Trustees, is not issue-based. It is a system premised on the precept that we share a community and many community-wide values. The system seeks clear thinking, open-minded individuals who demonstrate that they are able to put aside their personal preferences, consider input from a variety of sources and points of view, and make reasonable judgments in the best interest of the Village as a whole. No system is perfect, but the non-partisan system is meant to be inclusive -- and over the years has grown more so. Residents who serve as Board members volunteer their time. Day-to-day Village operations are delegated to a paid professional staff.

On the subject of long-term financial planning: Scarsdale is a mature Village, mostly built-out, and is about 98% single-family residential. We are known for our schools and to a lesser extent, for our well-maintained appearance. Each year the Village operating budget and the capital budget (which looks several years ahead) are prepared in a public process that extends over many months. Underpinning that process is a well-defined long-term financial plan, namely: delivery of the municipal services – police, fire, water, sanitation, public works and recreation -- residents expect year to year at a cost they are willing to pay.

Long-term financial planning positing a variety of “what if” hypotheticals is useful in managing businesses as they develop and grow – or prepare for downturns. On the other hand, the long-term financial objectives for Scarsdale are well defined by years of experience. While the details and scope of the services provided may change over time in response to residents’ desires, changes are always vetted against the issue of affordability.

Scarsdale clearly has a good plan, as folks continue to move here -- and apparently increasingly wish to do so as some abandon the City in the face of the pandemic. Resident turnover is a natural result of the occurrence of life-cycle events in residents’ lives and more recently for some, as a result of the harsh economic impact of the pandemic. It is still the case that more than a majority of residents are empty-nesters -- evidence that staying here is an attractive option for many.

Scarsdale is a community that is at its best when we work together for shared goals in the preservation and enhancement of our Village in the Park. I urge residents to support continued good governance in Scarsdale by voting Row B for the very strong non-partisan slate nominated by the Citizens’ Nominating Committee: Justin Arest, Lena Crandall, Randy Whitestone and Joaquin Alemany.

Jon Mark,
Co-Chair: Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Campaign Committee
Brookby Road

JohnMccannJohn McCann
To the Editor, Since the original election day we have all learned and experienced many things, some expected, most unplanned. More importantly, I think we all know we still have much more to learn. This continuing journey has shown us the kinds of skills we need in our Village Board of Trustees. Justin Arest, Lena Crandall and Randy Whitestone have those skills.

The impact of the pandemic will be long lasting. Randy, Lena and Justin are thoughtful, work efficiently, are open to innovation, ask the right questions and are team players. These attributes will be imperative as the Trustees examine and balance all the benefits and costs of every village service and program.

On a personal note, I have known Randy for more than 20 years as a friend, neighbor and fellow Edgewood resident. In the years ahead, his common sense, streets smarts and inclusive demeanor will be a positive addition to the BOT and all its deliberations. BTW, Randy has already rolled up his shirtsleeves and has been attending every Board meeting and work session and offered on the record insightful public comments.

As we move forward as a community, the Village needs people like Lena, Randy and Justin.

Please remember to vote on September 15th!

John McCann
Edgewood Road

spivakMelanie Spivak
To the Editor: A volunteer is someone who dedicates their time and energy towards the goal of helping others, without compensation but rather for the joy and satisfaction of making a difference in someone else’s life. Scarsdale is very lucky to count Lena Crandall as a Village volunteer and Trustee.

Lena has dedicated her time living in Scarsdale, for the past 28 years, to her family and to our town, most recently as a member of the Board of Trustees. Looking at the myriad volunteer activities she has chaired over the years, Lena focused on her love for children and senior citizens, the environment and our town at large. Lena was a dedicated leader even before she was elected as a Trustee. Her time serving and chairing local committees such as Friends of Scarsdale Parks, Scarsdale Adult School, Scarsdale Forum and PT Council, enabled her to gain important knowledge and experience that she uses as Village Trustee today, serving on many of these same committees representing our entire community.

She is a Trustee who listens to the residents. As an attorney, she knows how to ask the right questions to help bring about rational answers, especially during unprecedented times like these. Trustee Lena Crandall, and the rest of the board have been responsive to the needs of our community in the wake of the pandemic, weather emergencies, electric outages and social change. They have steered our budget through rough waters, and shown a steady hand in bringing our village through unsettled times. Most importantly, Trustee Lena Crandall has taken the time to get to know many of the residents of Scarsdale, making her a more effective leader. I have personally worked with Lena on neighborhood association concerns and saw first-hand that her quiet, methodical demeanor was a key to solving issues in the best interest of all the residents. I support Lena Crandall along with Trustees Justin Arest and Randall Whitestone for re-election in September. Vote Row B, Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan slate.

Melanie Spivak
Bradford Road

Steve Pass
The candidates of the “Voters Choice Party” imply that by electing them to office they will lower our taxes. Their pitch is to everyone, but they especially focus on empty-nesters who have seen their taxes rise dramatically since moving here many years ago.

For some background, our taxes are split into three parts: village, school, and county, and each are controlled by separate elected bodies. The Village Board is responsible only for the village budget, which makes up 19% of our total taxes and covers essential services such as police, fire, and sanitation. Roughly 80% of the village budget is allocated for employee compensation and benefits, most of which is subject to union contracts.

Rising taxes is not just a Scarsdale phenomenon; property taxes have risen dramatically over the past 20 years in every town in Westchester, largely driven by increases in the cost of healthcare and retirement benefits for public employees. A review of percentage tax increases of village taxes by town since 2002 shows that some towns have gone up a bit more than us, and some have gone up a bit less, but Scaradale is not an outlier.

The “Voters Choice Party" had never indicated how they planned to lower taxes until a few months ago, when they claimed to have found over $2 million in “easy” cuts to the Village budget and furiously circulated emails and a petition with their proposals. Many of these proposals were impractical and indicative of a lack of understanding of how Scarsdale works. Four examples:

First, their biggest cut called for defunding the budget by $1 million by removing overtime expenses for our professional fire department. They suggested our volunteer firefighters (residents) work the overtime shifts instead. This “easy” proposal would be challenging for Scarsdale in the best of times, but completely overhauling our fire department at the height of a pandemic -- which their proposal would have necessitated -- could have endangered lives.

Second, they called for reneging on $500,000 in raises to our police officers promised in a pre-crisis negotiated collective bargaining agreement between the village and Scarsdale's police union. This would surely have led to litigation, and probably ended up costing quite a bit more than $500,000. (Agreements and contracts aside, one may assume that our police officers are already the highest or close to the highest paid in New York and therefore should not have been offered a raise to begin with. This is not accurate; per Empire Center's "What They Make 2018-19," at least twenty police departments in just the Mid-Hudson region in NY have a higher average pay than Scarsdale's.)

Third, they suggested we ask our hard-working Village Justice to donate his salary to the village because he is a "wealthy and generous man."

Fourth, they proposed we cut $29,000 on resources for the village attorney, because "We do not have one anymore; we have an outside law firm." This is wrong; we still employ a full-time deputy village attorney (which helps bring down the expense of the outside law firm).

These were not “easy,” creative, out-of-the-box ideas. They were ill-conceived, impractical ideas, some of which, if enacted, would have put the health and safety of residents in jeopardy.

If you think that by voting for the “Voters Choice Party" your taxes will go down and you will continue to enjoy the services you currently receive, think again. We don’t need them to “ask the hard questions” since the hard questions are already asked during the many hours of budget meetings (all public) where trustees grill staff and make them justify expenses at a granular level.

Our community needs steady leadership focused on prudent solutions that balance values and resources, not a disruptive force offering empty promises. Please vote Row “B” for Arest, Crandall and Whitestone.

Steve Pass
Shawnee Road

ArtRublinArt Rublin

To the Editor:

There are many reasons I support CNC nominees Arest, Crandall and Whitestone, but I feel compelled to write today about their character and temperament. I have gotten to know each of these three nominees and have been impressed not only by their ability to think through community issues, but also by their ability to work well with others. Interpersonal skills are critical to the work of a Village Trustee.

One of the worst things that can happen in any campaign is when “they go low.” We have seen on the national stage how corrosive and destructive coarseness in politics can be. Perhaps we are numb to the impact of ugly personal attacks at this point, but I don’t think we should be. In fact, it is an understatement to say that Scarsdale is better than that. We all expect in our community that disagreements can and should remain about issues, and that lively debate can and should remain civil. We are neighbors, volunteers, colleagues, and often friends.
Trustees Arest and Crandall and Mr. Whitestone, nominated by elected representatives through a robust and time-tested process, are facing a contested election this year, and we are experiencing the campaigning right now. In recent days, and as a pattern over the years, the VCP challengers have demonstrated that they do not play well in the sandbox. They are running a campaign that lacks decency.

I will not dignify the VCP’s approach or their hyperbole and misinformation by repeating examples in my letter, but what we see is wholly inappropriate, including jaw-dropping personal attacks that have no place in our small Village. The VCP’s ‘go low’ tactics show us something about the character of the challenging candidates. If Messrs. Berg, Cohen and Selvaggio sling mud in the course of campaigning, how would they govern?
I hope that voters turn out to demonstrate the priority that our Village places on good character and civil engagement. Residents can vote either by absentee ballot (applications by mail need to be sent by Saturday September 5th to be received by the Tuesday September 8th deadline for receipt of absentee applications by mail) or in person for Row B – to reelect Trustees Arest and Crandall, and to elect Mr. Whitestone. For decency, civility, and good government.

Arthur Rublin
Donellan Road

BillSternBill Stern
Why The Scarsdale Voters Choice Party Is Not a Choice In The Village Election For Trustee

The spokeswoman for the VCP has always criticized the Scarsdale Citizens Non-Partisan Party for not having a person of color as a nominee for Trustee and she claimed that is one reason why their role as elected selectors of Trustee candidates is flawed. The VCP does not have a person of color for any of their nominees! This smells of the hypocrisy of the VCP.

The same spokeswoman mobilized an article 78 lawsuit against the village and lost. The village has spent tens of thousands of precious tax dollars defending the lawsuit. The lawsuit is being appealed wasting additional taxpayer's money.

One VCP candidate Bob Berg is an inappropriate choice because of his temperament and one-sided view of issues. He has lost two elections but keeps coming back. Unlike the SCNP, which rigorously vets all candidates, the Party's spokeswoman said that the voters will vet the candidates. They already have. Bob lost twice by a good margin in two previous elections.

Mr Berg was quoted in the New York Times by Joseph Berger on Jan 26, 2015 in an article called the "Appraisal," and not out of context; “Mr. Berg, of Scarsdale’s assessment review board, said older mansions like those on Heathcote were hit hardest because they had not been assessed in decades. They deserve to be hammered,”

Hammer Scarsdale residents? Is that governance and fairness? Is this a quality we want in a Trustee. I don't think so.

As recently as May 12 2020 Bob Berg said at a Board of Trustees meeting that "loan shark late fee payments are a pretty despicable practice" something he has said before despite the fact that he had been informed that this penalty is stipulated by the state and county and are implemented by all government entities in the state. This type of aggressive, insulting judgmental approach is not befitting a trustee.

If the VCP can choose a candidate so inappropriate as Mr. Berg then it makes me wonder about their other two candidates.

On the other hand the two Trustees Arest, and Crandall, chosen by the SCNP have sterling records of dedicated service and leadership during these trying times and have earned re-election. The third, Randall Whitestone has been extensively vetted as an even-handed, clear thinking, smart choice. Judge Alemany, candidate for reelection as Village Justice has shown his masterful and Solomonic leadership of the Village court.

Scarsdale is a precious gift which should not be put in the hands of disgruntled , inappropriate VCP candidates.

Keep Scarsdale as the Village we all love and vote for the SCNP Row B Trustee slate of Arest, Crandall ,Whitestone and Judge Alemany for Village Justice. The election is at the Scarsdale Congregational Church, 1 Heathcote Road on Sept 15 from 6 am to 9 pm. Absentee ballots are available by mail at from the Village Clerk at Village Hall.

Bill Stern
Rural Drive

mindfulness“What a long, strange trip it’s been.” Yes, it most certainly has and the words of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead have never rang more true. It began in March when our schools closed, followed quickly by a full-blown lockdown, and right as we started to feel confident about re-opening, hurricane force winds wreaked havoc in our community and beyond ...Life, to say the very least, has felt like a roller coaster. Through all the ups and downs, the one thing that seems to have remained constant is a great sense of uncertainty.

Not that any of us needs an explanation of just how uncertain times are, but take for example my sister who lives in a small town in Northern California. After much back and forth and months of planning by their district, last week my sister sent her son to school for his first day of in-person learning. By the end of that day however, the county closed all the schools because of a rising number of Covid cases in the area. This week, after she rearranged their home and schedules for virtual learning, my sister was informed that they needed to evacuate their house because of encroaching wildfires. After packing up and heading out for a few days, she is now safely back home and considers herself incredibly blessed, especially while so many others are in a far worse place.

I couldn’t help but wonder, how is my sister managing to stay so positive in such a topsy turvy world? In her words, “These times call for flexibility...and gratitude for the things that matter most”. Indeed they do. But for some of us, remaining flexible and grateful in the face of stressful situations, is easier said than done. For many, a flexible state of mind is something that may need to be cultivated and practiced. So how does one go about cultivating flexibility? Read on for a few quick suggestions to start us on the right path.

One avenue to a more flexible attitude is through incorporating mindfulness into our daily schedules. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, defines Mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” By practicing mindfulness we learn to focus on what is happening in the present moment rather than forming expectations of things to come or worrying about situations that took place in the past. In turn, mindfulness makes it easier for us to focus on, and adapt to the current state of affairs. Daily practice of mindfulness also helps to strengthen the part of our brain called the amygdala which is responsible for our Fight or Flight response. When we strengthen this area of our brains we are able to put a pause between the stimulus of a situation and our reaction to it. In other words, rather than reacting angrily when we hear bad news, mindfulness training helps us pause and choose how to respond rather than react with the Fight or Flight response our amygdalas encourage us to do. Moreover, practicing mindfulness helps us strengthen segments of our brain that allow us to choose to remain flexible and adapt to ever-changing circumstances. For more information about mindfulness and for some easy exercises to try today, please click here.

Another way to gain flexibility is to regularly challenge ourselves to see things from another perspective. Whether it is working to understand another person’s point of view or trying to understand all the varying circumstances that led up to a particular situation. For instance, when we take a moment to contemplate why a person is behaving in a certain way rather than judging their behavior or reacting to their behavior, we begin to break down our own mental barriers and preconceived notions. When we begin to open our minds and our hearts, we can more readily adapt to ever changing conditions. Even if we are still upset by a given situation, trying to understand other perspectives, can help us soften our own rigid thinking and thus create space for more flexibility.

One last suggestion to encourage flexibility is to try practicing gratitude on a daily basis. As I have written about in another article for Scarsdale10583, “ gratitude is strongly linked to mental health and life satisfaction.” But even more than that, when we look for things to be grateful for rather than focus on the negatives or the things that upset us, we begin to realize that no matter what life throws our way, there are always things to be thankful for. From giving thanks before meals to journaling about your daily blessings before bed, the great thing about this practice is that there are just so many ways to be grateful!

So as the topsy turvy world and all the uncertainty continues to whirl around us, maybe a little mindfulness, considering other perspectives, and practicing gratitude will help us to remain flexible, adaptable and to, as Mr. Garcia would say, “Just keep on truckin."

Wendy MacMillan is a former teacher and a proud mom of two children. While her background is in psychology and education, Wendy was recently trained in mindfulness at Mindfulschools.org. She has long been passionate about wellness, and as an active member of the Scarsdale PTA, Wendy helped to bring mindfulness to her children's elementary school. In addition, Wendy helped establish and is an acting member of the school's Wellness Committee. For more information about mindfulness check out this site: mindfulschools.org or Watch the video of Jon Kabat-Zinn explaining what mindfulness is ... or contact Wendy MacMillan at wendymacmillan@gmail.com.

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