Thursday, October 23, 2008

Westchester Guardian/Sam Zherka/The Court Report.




Thursday, October 23, 2008




The Court Report


By Richard Blassberg




Building At 450 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley,Purchased By County Government And Subject Of Taxpayer Lawsuit




Zherka Brings Taxpayer Suit In Federal Court Against 11 County Legislators

Last Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 15th, Guardian publisher Sam Zherka, accompanied by Attorney Jonathan Lovett and Greenburgh Supervisor
Paul Feiner, as well as several supporters, held a press conference in front of the County Office Building at 148 Martine Ave., White Plains to announce a federal lawsuit brought by Zherka, against 11 County Legislators who had passed legislation and signed off on the purchase
of the building and property at 450 Saw Mill River Road, Ardsley, in the Town of Greenburgh. The 85,000-square-foot leaky, moldy, old building, had stood vacant and unsaleable for more than five years, and its purchase was seen by most observers, as a reward to owner Jon Halpern, a friend and generous campaign contributor to Andy Spano.

Back on July 8th Zherka, one of ten speakers who addressed the Board of Legislators prior to their vote, had told them, “I want to know the urgency of spending $13 million.” He warned them that he would challenge their action in court if they proceeded to pass the necessary enabling legislation. Wednesday’s press conference was by way of informing County residents that he had made good on his warning and,
in fact, had filed a Taxpayer’s Lawsuit in United States District Court the previous Friday.

Asked why he had filed the suit, Zherka told reporters, “If we don’t step up to the plate, we will all be driven from our homes. We are talking about the economic crisis and problems with banks. But, no one is discussing predatory government.”

Attorney Jonathan Lovett told reporters , “The Legislators, taking their orders from the County Executive, split the bond issue,
more than $13 million in total, so as to sneak under the referendum law.” Under County law, any proposed capital expenditure that exceeds
$10 million must be put to a referendum. Lovett described the Legislators’ actions as “a calculated waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Responding to another reporter’s question as to how he knew what was on Legislators’ minds, Lovett declared, “If the County Legislators had used their brains, this lawsuit would not have been necessary.”

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, a leader in the movement to eliminate County Government, stated, “This purchase was a blow to the Town of Greenburgh because it took the property off the tax rolls. The County Legislature abused their authority in voting to approve a sweetheart deal.”




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