Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Candidates Respond...

Editor’s note: The following statements from Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Nicholas Spano, candidates for
State Senate in the 35th State Senatorial District, are in response to our editorial in the August 17, 2006
edition of The Westchester Guardian.

Statement by Democratic State Senate Candidate Andrea Stewart-Cousins

I would welcome the United States Department of Justice providing monitors for the upcoming State
Senate election. In Yonkers in 2004, just as in Florida in 2000, the Republican Party worked very hard to make sure that thousands of votes from registered Democrats were not counted, yet somehow, 23 voting machines in Yonkers were all misread in favor of Republican Nick Spano. Justice Department oversight is a much-needed step in ensuring fair elections, but it will take far more to clean up the mess in Albany left by Republicans Pataki and Spano.

Statement by Republican Incumbent State Senator Nicholas Spano

I welcome the monitoring of this year’s election. If this had occurred in the last election we would have
prevented many irregularities and fraud, that was conducted on Election Day by my opponent’s campaign.\
There were 8,000 paper ballots, 5,000 of which were thrown out.

In Our Opinion...

Two weeks ago we called upon the United States Department of Justice to “provide monitors and U.S. Marshals for the upcoming election for State Senate in the 35th Senatorial District, to ensure a fair and totally honest outcome.” We had contacted Mr. Herbert Hadad spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office
for the Southern District of New York, expressing our concerns that the upcoming rematch between Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Nick Spano might produce the kind of monumental dispute that was witnessed two years ago following their first contest.

Believing that each of the candidates would not wish to go through that kind of ordeal again, and that whomever would win would certainly not want to be viewed as having achieved anything less than an honest victory, we approached Mr. Spano and Ms. Stewart-Cousins seeking their individual endorsements of our proposal. Their responses appear opposite.

Having received the endorsement of each candidate, we intensified our enlistment activities with the Justice Department, this time going directly to the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C., where we were informed that there certainly was a strong interest in maintaining the integrity of the election process, and that they would definitely respond to voters’ concerns.

This is not a partisan issue. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Conservatives alike must all recognize the importance of a secure, uncorrupted election process, not merely in the 35th District, but everywhere throughout the Westchester community.

We are calling, once again, for monitors and enforcement personnel to closely observe and regulate the activities near, and at, polling places, as pertains to the casting of ballots, recording and reporting of results, on both the first, and second canvass, as well as the handling of voters, and issues that may arise.

The Justice Department, having assured us that they will be “sensitive, and responsive” to citizens’ concerns, we now call upon our readers to take the time to communicate your feelings on this issue to:

The United States Department of Justice
John Tanner, Chief of the Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20530

Our Readers Respond...

Dear Editor:

Your article on New Rochelle expounds on Mayor Noam Bramson’s views of the city’s high rise buildings. His characterization of New Rochelle’s dramatic “transformation” does not address the many quality of life issues which have been detailed in the recent Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) and sharply contrasts to other views expressed which criticize these high rise buildings as out of place and architecturally undistinguished. (“Just How High Should Progress Go” by Joseph Berger, New York Times, August 6, 2006, and “Is Westchester Missing an Opportunity?” by Cheryl Winter Lewy, The Sound Report, August 18, 2006).

In the DEIS for the LeCount Square proposal, taxpayers are told that more police officers, firefighters and officers and another part time ambulance is needed. The DEIS for the proposed Church/Division garage also cites the need for more city service workers, but adds to this mix that the Department of Public Works would require an additional two workers, a motor equipment operator, and a vehicle. The Fire Commissioner stated a taller ladder is needed for “vertical response.” Noise levels in the areas of both projects are already at unacceptable levels according to HUD guidelines and city ordinances. Our sewage processing plant is
operating above its permit level and backups have occurred in cellars, especially during heavy rain storms.

To add to all this mix, in the August 20, 2006 Journal News (“Changes May Come to North Avenue” by Ken Valenti) it is stated that New Rochelle is seeking a consultant who will be given directions to “consider allowing taller buildings” to six stories for the North Avenue corridor (mentioning from the train station and Iona College). Why is the city seeking a consultant? Intersections with unsatisfactory traffic conditions have been described
in these recent DEIS’s and North Avenue has always been consid-ered a bottleneck. So how can a consultant honestly recommend more density on this avenue, and why is a consultant even asked this question?

Instead, don’t the taxpayers of New Rochelle deserve some historic preservation of the city and a return to “Common Sense?”

Peggy Godfrey
New Rochelle

Dear Editor:

You recommendations for a twin to the Tappan Zee Bridge is mistaken. More traffic lanes will encourage more cars, which will increase pollution and greenhouse gasses. More traffic lanes (including access roads for the bridges) will mean paving over more land, and too much of our natural and architectural heritage has already been lost to pavement. In addition, taking property for traffic lanes will decrease property tax revenues and add to housing problems. Furthermore, building a new bridge will be at least as expensive as the alternate you scorn.

Instead, we should seek to increase river-crossing capacity without bringing in new vehicles. A good solution would be a light rail on the existing bridge. Two light rail tracks (one for each direction) can fit into the space of a single traffic lane. The light rail could run from Rockland County to Port Chester, eventually, but at least it should cross the bridge. The light rail can be built during rehabilitation of the existing bridge.

And if rehabilitating the existing bridge means temporarily reducing its capacity less than the end product will have, there can be ferries across the river with shuttle buses instead of massive parking lots to bring people to them. Some of the ferries can keep operating even after the bridge’s lanes are put back in service.

Jeanette Wolfberg
Mount Kisco

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