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Bronxville Government and History

{jcomments off}{jcomments on}Bronxville government and history

Max McGrath: Is the 'News Fit to Print'? PDF Print Email


June 29, 2011:  Historically the news has generally been written by those trying to win admiration or to create a positive legacy often by using falsehoods or by committing the sins of omission.  The spin factor in today's news stories is no exception.  It is abundant nationally and in the local arena.

Story-spinning has been around since man learned what a paintbrush could be used for.  The Egyptians chiseled pharaoh "spins" on every wall available.  Caesar had "Sallust the Historian" (86-35 B.C.) for his very own spin publicist.  To the Romans, the Gauls were the modern equivalent of Libya--a common annoyance.  Sallust's illustrious fabrications placed Caesar on the seat of Rome.  Who says "history doesn't repeat itself"?

This "spin" factor today is so bad it has wormed itself into the reporting of modern-day "big business" to influence stock prices.  Jeff Immelt, GE's chairman, sent a large percentage of GE jobs overseas at a time when employment is so needed in this country.  He was rewarded with an appointment by the present administration as Czar of Job Creation.  Makes perfect sense.

It all ends with the question, "Can citizens, anymore, believe reporting from the news media"?

This is not how I remember news reporting in the '50s and early '60s growing up in the village.  I just had this conversation with "Rocket" Fouch ('62) and Tom "Attila" Hinkel ('61) late last week.  We agreed the Fourth Estate has constitutionally let us down.

The Fourth Estate was written into our Constitution to report to the citizenry what Congress and local legislators were up to.  It placed a sentry on the wall guarding against any power or tomfoolery being plotted.  It was never meant to take partisan stands but left room for free individual opinions of political points of view.

In today's world it appears it's all partisan stances resulting in "spins of omissions" to gather votes over one party versus the other.

Most of you know I was voted by the BHS faculty the most "renowned unproductive student in its history."  I fess up.  It was deserved.  But I was also an ace at current events, which were discussed and debated endlessly at the family kitchen dinner table.

Fred (dad) spent much of his life as a village public servant, and he volunteered during war.  His civic duties as well his responsibilities to the funeral home ensured a busy guy.  He was a moderate Republican on social issues and was honored by then-Governor Rockefeller by being appointed to the committee for the hearing impaired in Albany.

My political bent is Conservative, and when joining that party the political fur flew over the mashed potatoes at dinner.  My mom had to set up a 38th parallel over the butter dish.  Fred and I never agreed on my choice of party or social issues.  He favored some responsible unions, always invoking child sweatshops that hadn't existed for eighty years.  I'm not a supporter of unions that could result in the pop and fresh dinner rolls occasionally taking flight.  I had to be armed with facts to hold up my opinion.  Fred was a master of calling on history for dispute.

It seemed that in that era of Murrow and Cronkite there was no hint of partisan slant being interjected.  These great commentators, like Jack Webb's Sergeant Friday character, wrote "just the facts" in reporting; foreign were personal attacks over viewpoints.

In BHS classrooms there were many current-events "point/counterpoint" discussions, especially during the height of the cold war and those scary Cuban missile crisis days.  The educators of BHS promoted open discussion among the student body even though my opinion and others' were opposite from many of the teachers' progressive bents.  It held great value to me as a student.

My most productive classroom was the dinner table with Fred.  Fred had many kitchen sayings, but my two favorites were: "If you need to boast, there is untruth in the tall grass," and "truth is thicker than water."

Supervisor Tony Colavita Announces Bid for Reelection with Town Councilmen Glenn Bellitto and Joseph Dooley, County Legislator Sheila Marcotte, and Other Running Mates PDF Print Email


June 22, 2011: Supervisor Anthony S. Colavita announced his bid for reelection as Eastchester town supervisor last week, accompanied by his running mates Town Councilman Glenn Bellitto, Town Councilman Joseph Dooley, Town Clerk Linda Doherty, and Receiver of Taxes Rocco Cacciola, who will also be on the Republican ticket.

In addition, the two town justices, Domenick Porco and Janet Calano, and County Legislator Sheila Marcotte will be running on the same ticket.

In making the announcement Supervisor Colavita recited an extensive list of accomplishments over the last two years, including the "remake" of the Mill Road/White Plains intersection and an excellent tax record despite skyrocketing mandates and plummeting revenues.

"Many elected officials would be satisfied with the record of accomplishments that we have accomplished," Colavita stated, "but that has never been our way. We will continue to make Eastchester better together as our community progresses."

He also discussed the ticket's vision for the future of the town and its two villages. "Tough economic times call for competent leadership," Colavita added, "and that is exactly what this ticket will provide the good citizens of Eastchester, Bronxville, and Tuckahoe."

Councilman Glenn Bellitto focused on his accomplishments as a town board member and leader in our community. He pledged to continue his hard work and determination to make Eastchester even better. "I want to do my part to maintain and enhance the quality of life in Eastchester, Bronxville, and Tuckahoe, while keeping taxes down. We need to continue to look at ways for our three communities to share expenses to lower taxes."

Councilman Joseph Dooley, who was recently appointed to the town board, pledged his commitment to use his professional background and community involvement to make wise decisions for the community. He stated, "I'm honored to have this opportunity to serve the Town of Eastchester and look forward to leveraging my background and abilities in helping to push forward the great work being accomplished by the administration. I look forward to a vigorous campaign, meeting with residents, and finding out their concerns."

Pictured here: (l to r) Eastchester Town Councilmen Glenn Bellitto and Joseph Dooley; Eastchester Town Clerk Linda Doherty; Town Supervisor Anthony S. Colavita; Town Justices Janet Calano and Domenick Porco; Receiver of Taxes Rocco Cacciola; and County Legislator Sheila Marcotte.

Include Yogurt Cups, Shampoo Bottles, Buckets, and Even Flower Pots in Recycling Bins Now PDF Print Email

June 22, 2011:  As of June 1, residents of Bronxville and throughout the county may recycle many more plastic products than previously allowed by Westchester County.  The county has final say over allowing such things since recycling products collected by Westchester municipalities are taken to county resource recovering plants for disposal.

The increased expansion of recyclable goods now includes plastics marked one through seven.  The additional numbers include such items as medicine containers, yogurt cups, shampoo bottles, and even buckets and flower pots.  The caps and lids of containers are also now recyclable as well as empty aerosol cans.

Bronxville has been one of the consistently high-volume recycling municipalities in Westchester, and it is anticipated that the recycling bins will be packed even further.

Max McGrath: New Pal 'Ike' Enjoys Jarring Adventure in Florida's Back Horse Country PDF Print Email



June 22, 2011:  This story isn't about B'ville this week.  It's about my new friend, Ike--a tale of a second chance for "Man's Best Friend."

I drove down to Palm Beach the other day, not to hobnob with the lime green country club set, but to show a client a home in horse country.  I took Ike with me down miles of badly rutted dirt roads that could have necessitated the replacement of shocks for the Explorer along with four car washes.  Still, it was a very interesting trip.

The area was like driving back to old Florida in the late forties.  The Ford 150s were newer, and there was a noticeable lack of telephone polls, but the ranch houses and miles of livestock enclosures seemed unchanged from the way I remembered them as a kid.

The smells brought back memories of driving old military trail--the sniff of hard water wells pumping into the animal drinking tanks, blooming flowers, a distant brush fire, the pungent odor of manure in the air as we bounced over the natural speed bumps called a road.  I think I lost three fillings and cracked a bridge.

I was headed to meet a client who had placed earnest money on a three-acre plot unseen with three out buildings, listed as a foreclosure for $80k.  I tried to warn him it was too good to be true; however, my concerns went unheeded.

It turned out that I was right.  The place looked like a hideout for a South American guerrilla band attending a tenth anniversary of a foiled revolution reunion.  Lots of empty wine and beer bottles rested in unkempt fields, and the pool looked like they had hosted a pig roast in it.  He withdrew his offer, and I was released from any future possible guilt.

Still, the trip was worth seeing what I consider the ever-dwindling coastal region of old Florida.  It was hard to believe nine miles west of Palm Beach this back country area has remained unchanged from the way I remembered it to be in the early fifties.

I enjoyed the jarring adventure, and best of all, so did my new friend, Ike.  Ike is my new rescue pal, and a ride in the truck is his favorite hobby.

Ike was very attentive to the grazing livestock passing by the open backseat window.  He displayed keen interest in the cows--either they were just other four-legged critters or giant bacon bits on hooves.  We are still trying to map each other out.  His thoughts are still a mystery to me.

Ike has had a rough time since he was born fourteen months ago.  Like my former pal, Buck, Ike was also abused, but Ike endured a far worse beginning.  The story is a great case for adopting rescued critters languishing in kill shelters or from an owner who has been witnessed abusing their pet.

His original owner never let Ike in the house, and he was forced to fend for himself as a pup in the direct Orlando sun with little shade.  The only shade was under a few wrecked cars in the backyard.  The result was a sun-damaged nose, which now requires application of baby sunblock every morning by me.  By the way, human sunblock has zinc, which is toxic to dogs.

One day Ike had had enough and escaped the slam.  While walking down the street, workers from animal control nabbed him, returned him to the unemployed owner, and charged the owner a $200 fine.

Later in the day, after polishing off a few half quarts, the owner appeared with his trusty 9 mil and started shooting at Ike.  The neighbor witnessed this and spirited Ike away to his house.

Ike freaked out and began throwing up unwrapped Snickers bars, which was what he had been fed that day.  Brutal story; it certainly has my Irish up.

Here's the good news.  He is sitting beside me as I write this column, calm and happy, but he can't help me with spelling yet.  He's studying, however.  He's wonderfully smart and, despite his beginnings, an extremely good-natured puppy.  He's a full white shepherd who, at fourteen months old, already weighs 89 lbs.




Bronxville Planning Board Hears More Arguments For and Against Lawrence Hospital Addition PDF Print Email


By Carol Bartold

June 15, 2011: The Trustees Room of Village Hall in Bronxville was filled almost to capacity for the regular meeting of the Village Planning Board on Wednesday, June 8. Of prime interest to residents was an update on the plans for Lawrence Hospital's expansion.

Edward Dinan, Lawrence Hospital president and chief operating officer, stated that the hospital's proposed addition represents much more than a cancer center. "The pressures on health care are significant," he said. "Keeping up with them and addressing them is important for patients."

At issue for the hospital is its ability to thrive and attract top-quality doctors and nurses in expanding the ability to treat patients. The proposed addition includes plans for six new operating rooms to replace current outdated facilities, built in 1949 and updated once in the 1970s. The construction footprint has been squeezed to the minimum possible square footage to facilitate the new operating rooms.

Primary egress for cancer center radiation patients, originally designed to exit on Pondfield Road West, would be modified. There would be a new lobby, and patients would now exit toward the parking plaza. The modification would hide the exit from Pondfield Road West residents and provide privacy for cancer patients.

Board member Anna Longobardo asked about the viability of having patients exit via the hospital's existing corridors, which are already public space and wrap around hospital offices.

Dr. Peter Rizzo of Lawrence Hospital explained that the privacy provided by the new lobby addresses the issue of immunosuppression, which renders many cancer patients susceptible to disease and infection. Segregation from the general hospital population ensures maximum protection. To guarantee effective segregation, the hospital would have to make significant programmatic changes to its existing building.

The passageway from the new lobby to the parking plaza exit would be built at the limit of the proposed structure and not extend beyond the current perimeter borders of the hospital. Thick landscaping is proposed along Pondfield Road West as an additional shield for nearby residents.

As proposed, construction would provide space for a second linear accelerator for radiation therapy should the hospital need to increase its capacity for treatment. "We have one chance to build these vaults," Dinan said.

Planning Board Chairman Donald Henderson asked about the additional number of patients the expansion would serve.

Dr. Anthony Provenzano of Lawrence Hospital stated that radiation can accommodate four patients per hour. The typical radiation patient would receive one series of treatments over a specific number of consecutive days and then return only occasionally for further therapy. The cancer center would probably serve twenty to twenty-two patients per day.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, cancer survivors spoke to the need for a local cancer center. They related hardships they have encountered in having to travel into the city or across the county to receive therapy. "Getting to distant treatments and therapy becomes taxing and exhausting," said one patient. Another speaker speculated that patient compliance with protocol is probably better at a local comprehensive cancer center where the doctors and patient records are all in the same location.

Representatives from Alger Court presented a petition, signed by two hundred residents, opposing the hospital expansion. "There is a viable alternative for the expansion on Palmer Road," a Westbourne resident said. "Why aren't they looking at that? Once construction starts, it's too late to consider alternatives."

Several Alger Court residents expressed concern about construction noise as well as ongoing long-term noise after the expansion is completed. The new building would have several air conditioning units and vents as well as chillers and condensers, which residents feel would produce additional noise and possibly fog. "Construction noise is one thing, but the residual noise will never go away," stated a Westbourne resident.

Per a Lawrence Hospital representative, noise levels in apartments across Pondfield Road West have been monitored during the day as well as at night. The representative stated that the improvements planned for the expansion would not significantly raise existing background noise. Residents questioned the veracity of that assessment. Chairman Henderson said that the noise report is available to the public.

Residents expressed dissatisfaction about the general unavailability of public documents at village hall. Despite notification that the documents are available, speakers related their frustrations about filing requests for the documents only to receive copies of permit applications rather than reports, or being told that no documents are available. Chairman Henderson promised to address the problem and see that all documents are on file and available to the public.

"Our concern is the size of the project in such a small area," said a Westbourne resident. "Although the project would be well-meaning, it will be a scar on the community."

Pictured here: A model of Lawrence Hospital Center's proposed addition on display at the June 11 Planning Board meeting.

Photo supplied by Lawrence Hospital Center.

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