Thursday, November 13, 2008

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Readers Respond.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Our Opinion...

“The American People Have Spoken, And They Have Spoken Clearly”

Last Tuesday night, an event occurred in Chicago that will forever re-order our political memories of that city in a wonderfully positive and hopeful way. Moments before midnight, Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two sweet daughters, who will soon be chasing their new puppy Daddy promised them all around the White House, stepped out on the platform at Grant Park before a combined crowd, both inside and outside the fences, of more than 160,000 cheering supporters, not to mention the World. It was a moment for all but the most cynical of observers, pregnant with irony and historical significance; a moment to be savored and somehow wrapped up in a flag to be carefully preserved for revisiting whenever situations might arise, casting doubt upon the American Dream.

There stood a new breed of President, a Renaissance Man, a vibrant, articulate, passionate yet calm under fire, Chief Executive; a cool and collected leader, ready for whatever the Office and the vagaries of historical fortune might hurl at him and the collective family of Peoples, three hundred million strong, known as the United States.

He was deeply moved, but well within himself. His voice and his words were clear, and especially reassuring as he stood on new ground in an old, familiar city, the words “Yes, we can” in the hearts and on the lips of those smiling before him. His grandmother, his mother’s mother who, perhaps, more than anybody else, had grown him, loved and nurtured him from childhood through adolescence, helping to mold the man he would become, had passed away just the day before. The bittersweetness of the moment was palpable.

Barack was not yet born when the City of Chicago, through the liaison of Joe Kennedy and Mayor Richard Daley, somehow “conceived” the plurality that helped make John Fitzgerald Kennedy our first Roman Catholic president in 1960. Barack was all of seven years old when “The Chicago Seven”, originally “The Chicago Eight”, before Black Panther Bobby Seale was separated from Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, John Froines, Rennie Davis, and Lee Weiner, by Judge Julius Hoffman, for purposes of trying them in federal
court for Attempting To Incite A Riot. Their indictment had come under the then-newly enacted Federal Anti-Riot legislation for their activities in attempting to disrupt the Democratic National Convention at the Chicago Cow Palace, and allegedly planning and threatening to destroy several Chicago buildings and landmarks in their protest against the Vietnam War, and in furtherance of their counter-culture movement.

Now, Barack Obama, exactly 40 years later, stood before the Nation and the World, poised to assume the reins of control, having been thrust forward by the grandchildren of those who had risen up in rebellion, only to face, toe-to-toe, the Chicago Police in riot gear, with water cannon and clubs and snarling dogs. Now that same youthful energy and idealism had made the dream once spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a reality.

They had helped ring a bell that could never be unrung. They had made a man, half-Caucasian and half-African, the next President of the United States. And, who could blame them if they, and those parents and grandparents standing with them, People of every hue and ethnicity, were so happy they were crying under the gravity of their’s, and their candidate’s, accomplishment.

President-elect Obama, no doubt, must have mixed feelings with regard to his predecessor, George W. Bush. On the one hand, he is being handed the controls at a time of serious economic and military over-commitment; not to mention domestic insecurity over heightening unemployment. On the other hand, he knows that the rapidly deteriorating economy in the closing months of his 21-month campaign, significantly aided his effort in relation to his opponent, Republican John McCain.

Here, in Westchester, we must keep in mind the vastly disproportionate majority enjoyed by the Democratic Party, and, the potential for exploitation of the aggregate. There will be those who would try to cloak themselves in Barack Obama’s dignity and decency, his transcendency and humility. We must be mindful, and vigilant, with respect to such counterfeits, political parasites who change their party affiliation without ideological awakening; politicians who are first, last, and always, all about themselves.

It is no overstatement that, with the election of Barack Obama, a new day has dawned in America. And, as Senator McCain rightly declared, “The American People have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.”

So-called politicians and officeholders would do well to take heed. The old ways, once exposed, will not work any longer. Predatory Government, the likes of what Andy Spano, Larry Schwartz, and Company have been perpetrating for years, no matter under what political label, simply will no longer be tolerated. Actions speak louder than words, and each and every aspirant to public office will be held accountable for their behavior, Larry, Andy, Janet, Tim, Ken, Bill, etc.

We cannot speak for others, but we will have no shortage of ink.

Our Readers Respond...

Dobbs Ferry Officials Unbelievably Unresponsive To Residents

Dear Editor:

Your prior letter from an anonymous person from the Dobbs Ferry Department of Public Works has prompted us to write to you in the hopes of getting some help. The residents that live on Southfield Avenue, Dobbs Ferry are having difficulty in dealing with the situation of having a strip mall on our street and being ignored by Village Officials who ignore our concerns, complaints and zoning regulations. Among other issues, parking is an insurmountable situation which is created by the restaurant together with the stores.

We have contacted every Village Official that we could including the ex-Village Manager, the ex-Mayor, the current Mayor, Trustees, Village
Attorney, the Fire Department and the Police Department. We must give credit to the new police chief. We contacted and met with her regarding
the illegal parking that was being previously ignored by the department and she assured us that things would change and they did. Unfortunately,
our other problems have been ignored by the remaining officials. Our question is why?

The Mayor contacted us and wanted to set up a meeting with the owners to discuss what could be done to alleviate our problems. Scheduling was
difficult but we called his office at least 3 times to schedule same and did not receive return calls and this was his idea. Again, why?

The owners of the mall do not allow employees to park in the lot as they are too many and would take most of the customers’ spots. So the
employees now park on Southfield together with the customers. As residents, we have no parking for ourselves or company.

It is our opinion, based on a letter dated October 13, 1967 from a professional engineer addressed to the original owners of the mall property, (a FOIL document) that the retail sales or personal service area required 13 parking spaces and the restaurant, which at that at time had 85 seats, required an additional 4 spaces (Dobbs Ferry Zoning Ordinance at that time which, we believe this property has been ‘grandfathered’ in) for a total of 17 parking spaces.

In addition, after 3 years of searching, the officials cannot locate the original approved site plan or a Planning Board document of approval at the time. It is also our belief, that the current site plan also violates the buffer provisions of the Zoning Code as it applies to commercial parcels abutting residential parcels. The current use has 8 parking spaces (or a portion thereof) in these required buffer zones, non-permitted garbage dumpsters and recently, a patio was constructed (without permits) which serve outdoor diners in the buffer zone.

Village Officials have totally failed to enforce this requirement of the zoning regulations. Despite what the owner claims, there is no demonstration that any waivers or variances were ever issued for any of these items. We would expect that after 3 years that the municipality would come up with a factual finding and have the violations removed.

At present, the restaurant has taken over additional spaces and have added additional tables and seats to the original 85 seats; we have a Dunkin Donuts on site and a deli. When all these people converge on Southfield Avenue, parking and traffic is unbearable and not sufficient to withstand
all these cars. The owners have painted more parking spaces in the lot, in further violation of the zoning code and in the required buffer zone. It is our understanding, that these spaces, in addition to the constructed patio, are to be 10 feet away from the Ashford Avenue Bridge, the Southfield
Avenue street and the residential house located adjacent to the spaces after the deli.

They are not and all of these facts, pictures and additional facts have all been brought to the attention of the Village Officials and again have been ignored. Why? After living in our home for more than 25 years, we were given a violation for our shed in the back of the house due to the fact
that it was not placed the required 6 feet from the property line. We moved it. In addition, after approximately 44 years after the house was built, we were given a violation for a cement wall next to our garage door for being over 4 feet. We needed to get an affidavit from a tenant from when our parents purchased the home to state that the wall was existing when they moved in.

We also got pictures showing the wall when our parents purchased our home. Why is it that the mall owners need do nothing to correct the violations on that property? We are now facing an additional dilemma. We were just notified that the owners of the lots located next door to our home (which, upon information and belief, one or more of the owners of the mall may be partners in that property) are pre-submitting to the Village Planning Board plans to construct a 4 story structure consisting of offices, residential apartments and parking areas.

Where exactly do they think this 4 story structure would fit into a residential area and where do they think people will park when they cannot get up the steep hill of Allen Street in the winter months? Correct, on Southfield. We will be attending the Village Planning Board meeting on November 6, 2008 to see what exactly they are thinking and where the Village stands on this project. It is interesting to note that a 4 story building was proposed by a property owner with property owned in the Village of Dobbs Ferry (the ‘Gateway’) and after many years and a lot of money spent, he was told to scale it down.

We are asking if you, your readers or a Village Official can help us get done what obviously needs to get done that you let us know. We are at the end of our rope and not getting any help from anyone. We hope you can print this letter in its entirety. If any additional information is needed,
please feel free to contact us.

Saccoccio/Barbieri, Dobbs Ferry

Mature Reader Laments Decline Of The Times

Dear Editor:

I share your sadness at the decline of the New York Times. For me, the reasons are its reduction in news coverage and the migration of editorial opinion to the news pages.

The Times, until maybe 30 or so years ago, had very thorough coverage of news in many places in the world, daily, when something big was going on. Now it does not follow up on what happens from one day to the next. It mentions someone in an “exciting” situation and then does not follow
up the next day. It skims over key anniversaries.

Some international news is covered more by other papers than the Times. In addition, the Times struggles between an old-fashioned objective newspaper and two types of subjectivity:

1) Being an activist crusader for abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and some recreational drug use;

2) Serving its corporate sponsors with articles like “in India and Bulgaria, before it becomes impossible to buy non-salted food and non-iodized salt, children were so dopey they couldn’t say their names.” At least the Times struggles. The Post unabashedly lets its opinions color everything.
And the Times, like other papers, in August 1990 obeyed the corporate dictum to cancel all international news not related to Iraq and Kuwait.

Recently the Times did score a brownie point. It diverted some rah-rah glorifying China’s Olympics material to headlining the Russia-Georgia conflict, despite the Times’ till-then China cheering. One reason might be the Times’ reporter who was arrested. Still, I’m away for several weeks and, when I get back, I’m not going to cry for every Times I’ve missed. It’s the old Times I miss. The current Times I have no commitment to.

Jean Wolfberg, Mount Kisco

Reader Expresses Concern Over Displaced Octogenarian

Dear Editor:

I’m writing to you in regards to a incident that occurred on the 16th of October at 43 Calton Road, New Rochelle. This is one of the older apartment buildings in New Rochelle and houses many long-time and elderly residents. One of those residents happens to be a relative of mine. His name is Robert Brandt and he has lived in the building for approximately 40 years, making him the longest residing resident. A week after
turning 80, he was awakened by the sound of water flowing into his apartment. A major water main broke, destroyed 2 apartments and partially destroyed another. His, unfortunately, was one of the apartments totally destroyed. To make matters worse, the ceiling collapsed, causing a gash to his head and injury to his back.

With no place to go, the Red Cross provided a hotel for 3 days. After the 3 days, I drove him to the Emergency Room at Sound Shore Medical Center because he was complaining of excruciating back pain. Mr. Brandt has been recovering at Schaffer Extended Care Center for the past 3 weeks.

To this point Maxx Management, the group that manages 43 Calton has never contacted my relative to inquire about his condition, offer an apology, nor offer any substitute living accommodations. I find this despicable and irresponsible. I also find it amazing that they have not returned any of my calls.

Could it be that they want my cousin out of the building due to financial reasons? Perhaps it is because my cousin is in a rentcontrolled situation and they would much rather have this apartment converted to a cooperative. I can’t help but think this is the reason why no action has taken place.

I have contacted Mayor Bramson and City Manager Strome and I’m pleased to say that they have responded and have referred the matter over to the City Housing Authority.

John Schwartz,
New Rochelle

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