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#ThrowBackThursday: Croton United’s Greg Schmdit’s Unfair Campaign Practices

Complete finding of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee:

WESTCHESTER COUNTY FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES COMMITTEE

14 North Chatsworth Avenue #3E, Larchmont, NY 10538

914-834-0615/ faircampaign@optonline.net

http://www.faircampaignpractices.org

 

March 12, 2010 Contact: Evelyn M. Stock, Chair

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 914-472-4719

 

Findings in the Complaints of

Ann Gallelli and Richard Olver against Gregory Schmidt and Randall Swan

Candidates for Village Trustee, Croton-on Hudson, and Susan Konig, Chairperson of the Croton-on-Hudson Republican Committee.

 

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on March 11, 2010 to hear the complaints of Ann Gallelli (D) and Richard Olver (D) against Gregory Schmidt (R) and Randall Swan (R) in their contests for village trustees of Croton-on-Hudson and against Susan Konig, chairperson of the Croton-on-Hudson Republican Committee.

 

COMPLAINT:

Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver stated that their opponents in a campaign advertisement March 4 in The Croton Gazette, and in a March 6 mailer falsely accused them of planning to build apartments in Harmon and a mall at the train station.

FINDING:

Unfair Campaign Practice

The Committee determined that there was no documented proof that Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver had such plans.  

 

COMPLAINT:

Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver objected to their opponents’ mailer that said they wasted tax money to create a toxic community garden.

FINDING:

Unfair Campaign Practice

The Committee determined that the property has been tested and found safe for gardening.

 

COMPLAINT  

Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver said their opponents misrepresented the truth when they placed in their mailer a photograph of row housing that bears no resemblance to anything situated in Croton so as to portray the threat of urban blight.  

FINDING:

Unfair Campaign Practice

Committee Guidelines state that a candidate should not use campaign advertisements that depict fictional or hypothetical events; that advertising that depicts a scene that never took place undermines the distinction between true and false campaign advertising.                (More)

 

COMPLAINT

Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver said their opponents claimed they wasted money by issuing $1.9 million in new bond debt since 2009 and that there is no indication in the mailer what the purpose of this bonding was.

FINDING:

Fair Campaign Practice

While the Croton Board of Trustees had authorized bonding for five different projects totaling $1.9 million, the charge that it was wasted is not in the purview of the Committee to determine.

 

If a candidate or campaign wishes to quote from a Finding, the Committee requires that it be quoted in its entirety. The Committee regards selective quotation of its Findings as a violation of fair campaign practices.  

 

Committee Members: Evelyn M.  Stock (Chair), Miriam Cohen (Coordinator),Victor Goldberg,  LaRuth Gray, Susan Pace Guma, Ruth Hinerfeld, Milton Hoffman, Lee Kinnally, Polly M. Kuhn,, Ernest Prince, Susan Schwarz, Lorelei A. Vargas.

Ex officio: Representatives of the Republican Party, Democratic Party, Independence Party, Conservative Party, Working Families Party.

 

The purpose of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee is to promote a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The Committee encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to discuss issues, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and not to use campaign materials that distort the facts.

The Committee does not sit as a censor of political discussion nor as a body to enforce election law or make legal decisions. Its task is to accept written complaints about alleged unfair campaign practices and to determine whether the action complained about is indeed unfair. Among other things, the Committee will consider to be unfair any campaign practice that is a misstatement of a material fact or that misleads the public.

The Committee has no power to compel anyone to stop doing what it has found it be unfair. If the Committee acts on a complaint, it will release its findings to inform the public. The Committee may choose not to consider a complaint; in that case, a hearing is not held and the parties to the complaint are so notified.  

 

Statement of Principles of the Committee, as stated in its Manual, available at www.faircampaignpractices.org. The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee believes that candidates should conduct their campaigns in accordance with the following principles:

  • The candidate will conduct a campaign for public office openly and fairly. The candidate will discuss the issues and participate in fair debate with respect to his/her views and qualifications.
  • The candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with unfair or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent, nor will the candidate engage in invasions of personal privacy unrelated to fitness for office. (More)
  • The candidate will not participate in or condone any appeal to prejudice.
  • The candidate will neither use nor be involved with the use of any campaign material or advertisements that misrepresents or distorts the facts.
  • The candidate will clearly identify by name the source of all advertisements and campaign literature published and distributed.
  • The candidate will not abuse the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee process in order to obtain political advantage.

.

The candidate will publicly repudiate materials or actions from any individual or group that would violate this Statement of Principles.

 

A letter on CCA from Trustee Brian Pugh

CCA2016

 

To The Editor:

County Legislator Catherine Borgia and I organized two information and discussion sessions in June on Community Choice Aggregation for Westchester communities not currently participating in the Westchester Power CCA program.

Municipal leaders from several communities participated.  But none of my colleagues from the Croton United Party majority of the Village Board, who voted against CCA in January, attended either meeting.

Some of you may remember, the CU Party majority voted against CCA even their own treasurer, Joel Gingold, told the Board, “I believe the more likely outcome is that the program will offer modest, but real, savings to those who agree to participate.  Perhaps more importantly, it will offer customers who so choose, the option to obtain all of their electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar, hydro, etc.).”

Indeed, the CUP majority opposed CCA after Mayor Schmidt begged Sustainable Westchester for an additional 2 weeks to consider the issue, received an additional two weeks, and Mayor Schmidt again refused to place the issue on the agenda and approve CCA for our community.

The absence of any trustees from the Croton United Party at the meetings regarding future plans for CCA is troubling.  Prior to voting against CCA, the CU Party’s Board members claimed they would consider participating in CCA in the future if enough additional communities showed an interest in the program to make it possible for Sustainable  Westchester to offer a “second round.”

Since then, the Westchester Power CCA has secured a contract with Con Edison Solutions to provide participating municipalities, more than a dozen to date, with certified 100% renewable power for less than the average price of standard Con Ed electric power.  The US EPA also honored Sustainable Westchester, the  nonprofit consortium that runs Westchester Power CCA, as one of this year’s environmental champions.

In the face of the success of  Westchester Power CCA, the apparent indifference of my Croton United Party colleagues is distressing—especially since they all received written notice of the meetings and I mentioned the scheduled meeting at in my report at the June 6, 2016 Village Board meeting.

The Croton United Party’s opposition to  the Westchester Power CCA, an economical and environmentally-sound program that has won bipartisan support, is a lost opportunity for our community.  I hope that my colleagues will come around on this issue before we miss another chance to join our neighbors in Ossining and other communities in benefiting from the affordable renewable power CCA can bring to our Village.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Trustee Gallelli on fighting invasive species

To the editor,

Invasive species of several types are being tackled in the Village this summer.  While they are not new, their presence is growing and poses a threat to our parks, waterways and native species.  

The Village is considering proposals to attack Phragmites and Japanese Knotweed in several areas including Croton Landing, Kaplan’s Pond, Duck Pond and Senasqua Park.  The treatment involves use of herbicides and requires three to four years of application and management.

The NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is also planning to address a very serious invasion of Hydrilla in the Croton River this summer.  Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant that creates a green matted cover over the water and can poison fish and water fowl as well as impede use of the river by swimmers and boaters, will be treated with the herbicide Endothall.  Hydrilla is currently in both the Croton River and the Croton Reservoir.  The DEC is concerned that it will make its way into the Hudson River.  The DEC held a public meeting on June 28 at the Municipal Building to address the problem and their plans.  The full discussion and presentation can be viewed on Channel 78 and from the Village’s website.  The exact dates for introducing Endothall into the Croton River are not in place yet as a permit is still required from the Village’s Water Control Commission and weather conditions are a factor as well. Endothall would be injected into the River in the area of Black Rock Park and will flow downstream necessitating the closure of Silver Lake beach for approximately 48 hours.  Signs will be posted by the NYSDEC telling people to avoid the river during this period and the Village will send out announcements.  

Both the Village’s and the DEC’s plans for dealing with invasive species are aimed at controlling and eradicating  problems that can change our ability to use and enjoy our water-related recreation areas.  

 

Ann Gallelli

 

A letter on Rent Stablization from Trustee Pugh

oldrentcontrol

To the Editor,

Earlier this week, the Village Board discussed Westchester County’s affordable housing model ordinance provisions for local governments. While the Village looks to support new housing opportunities, it is also important that we preserve existing affordable housing.

In 2003, the Village declared a housing emergency and adopted the Emergency Tenant Protection Act. Since then, the challenges for tenants have only grown, with market rents growing much faster than the rate of inflation.

The Emergency Tenants Protection Act provides for rent stabilization, limiting increases in rent for building built before 1974 to what is approved by the County Rent Guidelines Board. Income-eligible seniors and residents with disabilities may be totally exempted from rent increases.

ETPA communities set a minimum number of units in a building to require ETPA coverage. Currently, our Village law applies rent stabilization only to buildings with 50 or more units. Most other ETPA communities apply rent stabilization to buildings with 6 or more units—the minimum allowed by the state.

At the 11/23/15 Work Session, the Board discussed expanding the law adopted by the Village in 2003 to cover more housing units. I hope that the Board can revisit the Emergency Tenant Protection Act before the end of the year.

New York’s property tax cap, which limits the growth of property taxes, was established with the objective of keeping people in their homes. Rent stabilization, by controlling the growth of rents, will do the same for our Village tenants.

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli on the Clean Energy Standard

To The Editor,

After the New York State Public Service Commission agreed to a request by the Village Board of Trustees  to hold a public hearing in Westchester on the proposed NYS Clean Energy Standard,  I attended the hearing on June 16 along with Trustee Brian Pugh and submitted the following statement for their consideration. Given the air quality alerts that we in Westchester are getting this summer, I believe it is very timely.

 

Dear Secretary Burgess,

 

I am one of the Trustees from the Village of Croton on Hudson who wrote to the PSC asking for the additional hearing on the Clean Energy Standard to be held in Westchester.  I appreciate the opportunity that you have provided our residents to learn about the CES and provide feedback to the Commission.

 

I am in total agreement with New York’s effort to reach a goal of 30% renewable energy by 2050. 

 

I am certainly not an expert on the ways in which this can be achieved.  However I understand that some areas of the state are, no doubt, in a better position to move in this direction due to energy prices and the availability of land or water resources to support renewable power projects.

 

Westchester is one of these areas which, has many waterways, some developable land and many rooftops, which could host renewable power systems.

 

Westchester County, which pays electric rates well above the state average and a growing population, has a serious need for new, clean affordable energy sources.

 

Most importantly, Westchester has serious environmental issues.  The American Lung Association has consistently given our region an F-grade in air quality.  The Department of Environmental Conservation has also made similar findings.

 

Therefore, I ask you to consider using the Clean Energy Standard in such a way as to prioritize projects, in environmentally burdened areas such as Westchester, which NYS deems would be helpful in achieving the state’s air quality improvement goals.

 

Sincerely,

Ann Gallelli

 

A letter on the Clean Energy Standard from Trustee Brian Pugh

CES2016

To The Editor:

Thank you to the League of Women Voters for your informative “hot topic” breakfast on the Clean Energy Standard, the proposal to generate 50% of NY’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and to our hosts, the Croton Deli.

Thank you also to the Croton residents, including Trustee Ann Gallelli, who attended the Public Service Commission’s hearing at the Town of Cortlandt’s Morabito Center to learn about the Clean Energy Standard and share your views. The PSC held this additional hearing, the only one in Westchester, following a letter from the Village of Croton requesting that a hearing be held in our county.

Finally, I hope that property owners interested in protecting the environment and saving on their energy bills attend the Energy Coach Talk at the Croton Free Library on Thursday, June 23rd at 7:00 pm. This presentation organized by Energize Croton will feature certified energy expert Norm Jen, who will help homeowners to understand how their homes leak energy, how they can fix them—and how to take advantage of state incentives to pay for these improvements.

While our state works to green its energy supply, let’s work together to reduce what we use.

Sincerely,

Trustee Brian Pugh

A letter from Trustee Brian Pugh

cd2016

Dear Neighbors:

I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Croton Democratic Committee. I am excited to share that endorsement with Trustee Ann Gallelli.

Since Ann and I began serving together on the Village Board in 2014, we have worked to:

  • Establish Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption to keep our community affordable for seniors and the disabled;
  • Reform the accessory apartment law to empower families to create multi-generational housing;
  • Oversee the first mixed-use developments under the Village’s new Harmon zoning law;
  • And enact two tax-freeze compliant budgets.

Although we come from different generations and different parts of the Village, Ann and I share a common sense agenda for our community:

  • 100% renewable energy from the Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation program;
  • The timely completion of the Croton Point Avenue improvement project.
    Control property taxes by developing non-property tax sources of revenue and prudently sharing services;
  • And increase transparency by making more public documents readily available;

I am proud to be part of a balanced ticket with Ann and, and I ask your support for both of us in November. We look forward to building on the progress that we have achieved.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli on Upgrading Sunset Playground

To the Editor,

At the Village Board meeting of May 23, I abstained from voting on a proposal for a replacement for Sunset Park playground equipment, for which I am receiving some grief on social media sites.  I believe that insufficient information was available for the Board to make an informed decision.

The replacement for this playground’s equipment was also on a Board agenda in October 2015 for $138,000.  At that time, several residents opined that the proposed replacement equipment was not what they wanted. The vote was postponed at their request. A Sunset Park neighborhood committee was subsequently formed to learn about what they wanted for this playground area.

After several committee meetings and four months, the resident group met with the Village Board at a February work session. At that meeting the Board reached consensus on putting out a new Request For Proposal (RFP) which addressed the committee’s goals – primarily wood structures. The Board agreed at that meeting only to issue an RFP, not on a particular proposal.

Last Monday’s meeting was the Board’s first chance to see the lowest bid (of two) at $172,000 on the newest RFP.  Since no Board members, nor the public, received the new proposed plans as part of the back up materials for the meeting, I raised several questions:

  • What are taxpayers receiving for the additional $34,000? While the answer remains unclear, it appears that the new proposal includes wood support beams on the playground equipment as well as two additional swings.  Two existing benches would be correspondingly removed.
  • What are the real costs of a 15-year life expectancy for the proposed equipment versus the longer 20 -25 year expected life for the first proposal and how do maintenance costs compare?
  • What is the opinion of the Recreation Advisory Board, which endorsed the first proposal, but was not asked to review this second proposal?
  • As all taxpayers will pay for the a Sunset Park improvement, as they do for all park improvements, should more expensive wooden equipment be standard for all playground improvements in Village parks?

These questions are not the totality of questions about the proposal, but do identify why, in my opinion, it was wise for me and my fellow Trustee and colleague, Brian Pugh, to delay approval of the project until the above information is available.  The Board will have an opportunity to revisit this project at its next meeting on Monday, June 6.

Two Board members were willing to vote without answers to these questions. I was not.  

 

Ann Gallelli, Trustee

 

Brian Pugh on New DOT Funding for CPA

To The Editor:
I am very encouraged by the Board’s vote to accept the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) grant for Croton Point Avenue’s long overdue renovation and committing to its construction in the 2017-2018 federal fiscal year.
The Croton Point Avenue project aims to improve traffic flow by upgrading key intersections and providing appropriate traffic signals and markings that will facilitate bicycle and pedestrian crossings.
I understand that some would like to see changes in this project.  As Village Manager King noted on Monday night, we have reached the point where we move forward with the current design, begun in 2009, or start from scratch.
On balance, this project will benefit our community by modernizing one of our most heavily used roadway, so I am glad that the Board voted to move forward in a 4-1 vote.
Acting now also makes economic sense.  Most of this project will be funded through state and federal grants, including the new DOT funds.  In addition, interest rates remain relatively low, minimizing the cost of financing the project.
Finally, I once again must caution against the idea of “phasing” the project, as my Croton United Party colleagues on the Village Board seem inclined to do.  Phasing would mean not only inflating the total project price due to rising construction costs, but also unduly delaying the completion of the project–leaving it half-done for an indefinite period.
As the project moves forward, I do hope the entire Board of Trustees will see the benefits of completing the entire project in a timely fashion.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Trustee Gallelli on the Comp Plan

To the Editor,

An important opportunity is coming up for residents to voice their thoughts on a new draft Comprehensive Plan.  The first public hearing, conducted by the Comprehensive Plan Committee/Economic Development Committee, will be on Wed., June 1 at 7:30 at the Municipal Building.  

The Committee, chaired by Ted Brumleve, with members Ray Clifford, Bettie Jackson, Laura Fallon, Joe Lippolis and Paul Doyle, has been working for over a year to update the Village’s existing 2003 Comprehensive Plan.  In NYS, municipalities are supposed to have such plans in place to guide their zoning and future planning and also to update their adopted plans on a timely basis.  The Committee is  updating the 2003 plan with updated goals and achievable objectives.  

The guiding principles of the 2003 plan were to Preserve traditional values, Strengthen Village assets, and Protect our resources.  Believing these will remain the guiding principles of the plan, the Committee will outline new goals and objectives they believe are in keeping with these values.

A presentation by planning consultants, Buckhurst, fish & Jacquemart will be part of the evening followed by questions and input from residents. As I know there are many residents who share my interest in Croton’s future, I hope I will see many of you there.  

 

Ann  Gallelli

Trustee