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With the political implosion of Governor Paterson; with New York economy reeling; with a State budget deficit of $8.2 billion; with a State where no one has confidence in our government's ability to get anything done or get anything done right, it's time to call for a time out. David Paterson should cede the gubernatorial reigns to Richard Ravitch. And then, both the Democratic and Republicans parties should right now announce that they will cross-endorse Richard Ravitch to be Governor of New York State -- not just through the end of this year -- but for the following four. At 77 years old, Ravitch doesn’t want or need this. But we need Governor Ravitch now. He's the adult in the room. Ravitch has the gravitas, trust and respect of elected officials from both parties. And we need him to pony up for one term for the next four years to salvage the New York ship of state which is in a state of crisis, economically, structurally and politically. He should be a nonpartisan governor, and immediately call for a nonpartisan constitutional convention. The convention’s primary piece of business should be to discard our bicameral legislature, and in lieu, adopt and construct a one-house nonpartisan state legislative body. This can no longer be viewed as some absurd pie in the sky notion -- but the beginning of a path to restore trust in New York State government. There's no rational reason to have two legislative houses in New York State government.

Richard Ravitch has a storied and serious background. In many ways he was responsible for seeding the rebirth of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s that bore fruit. Heading and revitalizing the Urban Development Corporation and then the MTA -- Ravitch had almost as much of an impact on the physical and fiscal revitalization of New York as Robert Caro had earlier last century -- but without the arrogance of power. He's a realist -- and we're already hearing bipartisan calls for Governor Paterson to hand off the budget football to Ravitch now. The other announced pretenders for Governor, Andrew Cuomo and Rick Lazio are dwarfed by Ravitch. And even better, Ravitch doesn't want the job or need it. That's why we need Governor Ravitch now more than ever.

David A. Singer is a former political consultant/campaign professional and political junkie currently toiling as a lawyer in Westchester and managing real estate and media investments.

As the semester comes to a close, SHS students find themselves in a mess of midterms, projects, and presentations.  In response to student complaints about scheduling, the school has come up with a new policy. Enter testing days – a system where two subjects share two days when a test can be given or a project can be due.  This system was devised to alleviate the amount of work a student has each day at the end of the quarter...a time when teachers often give large, cumulative tests.  So how did I end up taking three tests in one day?
    


The testing day system has loopholes that teachers find and exploit.  For example, a teacher might say “Oh, I’m being nice by giving you a test before testing week starts.” This “nice gesture” results in mass testing the week before testing week, as well as during testing week.  Other teachers say, “We could have this assignment due on my testing day but it’s really better for you to have it due before.  But you guys can pick the due date.”  This leaves students in limbo, wanting to please the teacher but keeping in mind their workload.  And in practice, kids don’t always want to have an awkward conversation with a teacher to let them know they are breaking rules and need to move a test date.



In my case, I had a field trip planned the Tuesday before testing week, and since there are no make-up tests given during testing week, I was forced to take both exams that were planned for that day on one day before the trip in addition to the tests scheduled for that day.  There are also several gray areas in the rules – can larger homework assignments or textbook notes be due on another subject’s testing day? Can you have a reading quiz on someone else’s testing day?



Clearly, the system is flawed, and teacher and students alike know it.  The administration has been trying to find an alternate method of controlling testing, such as the block scheduling system used in other schools. 

In the interim, Mr. Klemme, Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Hamm and Mrs. Peppers have seriously considered suspending testing days for a quarter to see what happens.  Things certainly work out during the quarter without school regulation, and I think most students and teachers will be able to arrange a schedule where no one has more than two tests or large assignments due any given day.  With more flexibility, teachers will be more amenable to changing their schedules to meet student needs.  Also, teachers may be willing to cooperate with students in the hopes of abandoning testing days, which are a nuisance for teachers too.

Melissa Tucker is a sophomore at Scardale High School

Dear Scarsdale10583 Readers: The Scarsdale Farmer's Market needs your help. As the Manager of the market, I know you love the market because you tell me all the time. But due to dwindling attendance, it has become difficult to keep the vendors coming back every week.

The mission of the Scarsdale Farmer’s Market is to support local, regional and sustainable commercial farms by providing an outlet for direct sales of agricultural products. Please think about the food chain in our country and shop local. Farm-to-table freshness is available to you so why would you want it any other way? Show your support for the Scarsdale Farmer's Market by joining us in the Christie Place Garage every Saturday from 9 am to 1:30 pm.
 
Carol DeLisa
Market Lady
http://localmarketlady.blogspot.com

Recently, Scarsdale10583 wrote a piece about AFYA. I am pleased that Greenburgh residents responded.

On Friday, January 29th the lobby of the Greenburgh Town Hall was the scene of a unique fundraiser for the victims of the horrible Haiti earthquake. Musicians donated their talents and performed in the lobby of Town Hall from 11 AM to after 6 PM. The effort was organized by Town Clerk, Judith Beville and we raised about $2600 for the victims.

All proceeds will go to AFYA--an organization based in Yonkers (and founded by Danielle Butin of Hastings) that sends medical supplies to Haiti. The Greenburgh police department also donated unneeded supplies to Haiti.

The effort to help the Haitian victims is not over. AFYA needs tents and sleeping bags. Many victims of Haiti are without shelter. AFYA and other organizations are trying to help create temporary villages. If you would like to donate a tent or a sleeping bag you can drop the items off at Town Hall and AFYA will pick them up.

Please e mail me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com if you would like to donate these specific items. One community helping another.

Also, AFYA desperately needs pilots to help fly supplies to Haiti. If you are a pilot or know people who fly --ask them if they would like to help.

We can all make a difference.

Paul Feiner

Other Scarsdale residents have expressed their feeling about the “Heathcote Manor” development now being built on Weaver Street, not far South of the Five Corners and the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps building.  I want to join in their dismay, and emphasize some additional issues.

To use President Obama’s phrase in connection with the recent security lapses on the airline flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, what has happened and is happening at the Heathcote Manor project reflects a “systemic failure” of Scarsdale’s oversight of development.

First, as others have noted, “the Wall” is an abomination.  I find it ironic that it was built just about on the twentieth anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin Wall, to which it bears some resemblance in appearance.  If a Scarsdale homeowner had proposed building even a miniature version of such an ugly wall, the Planning Board and Board of Architectural Review would have stopped it in its tracks.  Indeed, there have been cases in which wither the Planning Board or BAR have required the tearing down or painting over of four foot high fences that weren’t the right color.  Not only is the Weaver Street Wall incredibly ugly and inconsistent with the character of Scarsdale, it appears to violate the setback requirements for structures bordering State or County roads such as Weaver Street/Route 125.  The Wall also constitutes an “attractive nuisance” because it presents a temptation for children and teens to “test their mettle” by jumping from it or even merely trying to paint graffiti on such an inviting canvas.

Second, how could the Planning Board have approved clear-cutting almost three (3) acres of woods, including some trees well over two feet in diameter?  Again, had a homeowner proposed anything even roughly analogous, the Planning Board would almost surely have denied permission.

Third, our local law seems to allow a developer to apply for site plan approval, allow that approval to lie fallow, and then start to build twenty (20) years later, when conditions have changed significantly, without ever undergoing an updated review.  That is precisely what has happened at Heathcote Manor.  Environmental conditions – primarily traffic congestion – along Weaver Street have indeed changed (for the worse): There are currently under construction a number of residential subdivisions on the New Rochelle side of Weaver Street, which can only increase traffic flow, adding still more volume to the highly congested stretch of Weaver Street north of Quaker Ridge Road, the retail development at the Citgo site at Five Corners is moving through the Planning Board approval process, and there is a proposal to build an apartment house next to the Bistro Citron (formerly Heathcote Tavern), also on Weaver Street, and SVAC has moved its expanded headquarters to Weaver Street, all since the Heathcote Manor subdivision and site plan were approved. 

I submit that the Board of Trustees and its relevant committees or the Planning Board consider amendments to local law to impose an expiration date – say three years – on any permit or site plan approval and to require re-application if an issued permit or approval has not been “activated” by genuine efforts to build the proposed project.  I use “genuine” to avoid a developer obtaining approvals, sitting on them until just before expiration, then starting – and quickly stopping – some merely token activity to keep the permit “alive.”

I suggest that the Village Board and the Village Planning Board become more proactive with respect to regulating significant development projects, and not merely react when the community expresses outrage.  I also suggest that the Village authorities be as “hard nosed” and vigilant in monitoring the activities of professional developers as they are in policing the small additions or modifications of owners of single family homes.

Sincerely yours,
Martin S. Kaufman

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