Brian Pugh: Unity Trumps Bigotry

9152016-bp-lte-imageTo The Editor,

At Sunday’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at Croton Landing, as I sat with Mayor Dr. Greg Schmidt and Trustee Ann Gallelli, I was struck by how speaker after speaker recalled the sense of unity and common purpose in days after 9/11. Although I was only a high school student at the time, I too remember a bipartisan commitment to tolerance and mutual respect for our fellow Americans.

I hope that 15 years later, people of good will remember and continue to speak out for these principles.

“The attacks of September 11 were intended to break our spirit, instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom,” said NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani in December 2001.

“America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we’re one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country,” said President George W. Bush, in April 2002.

Yet today, I feel that there has been a tragic turn by some politicians, from the presidential level on down, towards exacerbating xenophobia and pandering to prejudice.

And these words have consequences. “Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion. When Western politicians propose blanket discrimination against Islam, they bolster the terrorists’ propaganda,” warned former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus earlier this year.

This rhetoric also emboldens homegrown extremists. Hate crimes in America dipped across the board–except in the category of anti-Muslim crimes, which rose about 14% percent over the prior year, according to the latest FBI statistics.

I hope that we will continue to keep our community safe and speak out against prejudice when we see or hear it.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: A Thank You

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To the Editor,

The 9/11 Remembrance ceremony at Croton Landing was a beautiful and moving event. The three communities that have established this memorial did a wonderful job in creating a meaningful ceremony.
Although, they were recognized individually at the ceremony, I think it is worth remembering that without the efforts of the Volunteer committee which came together to create a 9/11 memorial in our town, the beautiful ceremony we had this week, and have been having for the past few years, would not have happened.

The members of the committee show what a group of people committed to an idea can achieve. Thank you to every one of them.

Ann Gallelli

Ann Gallelli: Ban the barges.

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To the editor,
Last week I attended a meeting organized by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef regarding the proposal to designate additional anchorages in the Hudson River for barges moving between Albany and New York. Ms. Galef had invited two representatives from the Maritime industry and the barge owners and operators to attend the meeting. Representatives from other municipalities were there as well from Riverkeeper, Historic Hudson River Towns (HHRT), and the Sierra Club.
While the industry representatives provided some new information about how existing and proposed cables in the river are affecting them, overall what I came away with was disturbing. The representatives were adamant that their request was totally about physical barge safety irrespective of the product being transported, which they admitted is mainly crude oil. They were tone deaf on why people would be concerned about what is on the barges.
More significantly to me, was a clearer understanding from them that barge traffic is increasing on the Hudson River, that most of what is transported is oil, and that there are really no external controls on the barge industry limiting the number of boats that may be on the river at any time. As more oil is exported out of New York Harbor, increasing barge traffic on the River will be needed to support it. There appears to be no controlling agency that limits the amount of such traffic, only the influence of supply and demand.
Safety is the concern of all parties on or adjacent to the river, not just barge operators. It is one thing if a barge loaded with sugar has an accident, but quite another if it is loaded with oil. It is not possible to separate the shipping method from the product being shipped when considering the proposed new anchorages.
The Coast Guard has extended the comment period for 90 days. Please submit your comments on line to http://regulations.gov and enter USCG-2016-0132 on the home page.
Ann Gallelli

Brian Pugh: Village Board Should Honor Its Commitments to Open Government

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Dear Neighbors:
This week, you may have received the Village’s new “quarterly newsletter,” which is taking the place of the Village’s monthly newsletter. The monthly newsletter was abruptly cancelled by Mayor Dr. Greg Schmidt of the Croton United Party without public discussion or input.
The termination of the monthly newsletter runs counter to the principles of public information and clearly contradicts the campaign promises of the Croton United Party.
“[We] will keep you informed, in a timely manner, regarding the actions your village board is taking in your name. We will institute a policy of proactive disclosure of public documents…We will also provide periodic public updates of the status of all significant issues affecting the village,” reads the Croton United Party web site.
How can that pledge be squared with the elimination of the Village’s monthly newsletter?
The cancellation of the monthly newsletter, which amounted to a few thousand dollars out of a Village budget of approximately $18 million, was ostensibly done in the name of economy.
Yet, Mayor Dr. Schmidt and his CUP colleagues did not feel similarly restrained by economy when they approved a payment of taxpayer dollars to their largest campaign donor for “reparations” for a claim that was denied by the Village’s insurer.
I hope that the majority on the Board will soon revisit the decision to cancel the monthly newsletter and act to ensure that the public gets the information that it deserves and which it was promised.
Sincerely,
Brian Pugh

Brian Pugh: The Village of Croton Should Pay All Village Workers At Least The NYS Minimum Wage

The NY Minimum wage is currently $9/hr, but a loophole allows local governments to pay less. Croton can and should pay the NYS Minimum.

By Brian Pugh
Dear Neighbors:

At last Monday’s Village Board work session, Dr. Mayor Greg Schmidt and his Deputy Mayor Bob Anderson of the Croton United Party, opposed bringing the starting pay for Village workers up to the state minimum wage of $9 per hour.

At the start of this year, the NYS minimum wage increased to $9 (and will now gradually rise to $15/hour by 2021). The Village of Croton, as a local government is not required to pay the state minimum wage due to a loophole in state labor law.

Indeed, according to Village records, some Village workers were being paid as little as $8.25/hour as of June 2016. For comparison, the inflation-adjusted value of the 1970 minimum wage would be over $12/hour in current dollars.

Establishing a minimum wage for Village workers of $9/hr would cost the Village roughly $1,000. The Mayor and his Deputy Mayor insisted that this tiny sum would overburden on the Village treasury.

Yet, the Croton United Party majority was able and willing to find $5,000 in taxpayer dollars to pay their largest campaign donor as “reparations” for a claim that was denied by the Village’s insurance plan.

While we celebrate the dignity of all work this long weekend, I hope that the Mayor and his Deputy Mayor spend some time this Labor Day reflecting on the decisions they have made and the positions they have taken.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

Croton Village Trustee

Further Reading:Video of the November 23 Work Session: http://view.earthchannel.com/PlayerController.aspx?&PGD=crotononhudson&eID=550
Agenda (and Backup Documents): http://crotononhudson.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/MeetingView.aspx?MeetingID=343&MinutesMeetingID=-1&doctype=Agenda

August 22, 2016 Work Session
Video of the August 22 Work Session: http://view.earthchannel.com/PlayerController.aspx?&PGD=crotononhudson&eID=589
Agenda for Work Session: http://crotononhudson.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/MeetingView.aspx?MeetingID=352&MinutesMeetingID=-1&doctype=Ag

Ann Gallelli: Reclaiming Our Waterfront

To the Editor,

Now that summer is almost over many of us here in Croton-on-Hudson, New York can probably reflect on some nice days or evenings spent along the Hudson River. Maybe a concert or movie at Senasqua Park, a picnic, or a walk, or just quiet time at Croton Landing Park, or perhaps a run along the entire riverfront from north to south. Maybe just looking at the sunsets from any number of locations.

For those who have been here after 2007, full access to the Hudson River is a given. For many, however, the change is nothing less than remarkable. Just 12 years ago, access to Senasqua and the Croton Yacht Club was across the railroad tracks at grade level from Senasqua Road. Alternatively, cars proceeded cautiously through the one-lane tunnel now used for bikes and pedestrians. These two alternatives were the only means to get to Senasqua Park and the Yacht Club.

Once you crossed the tracks, the Yacht Club was literally the end of the road. To the north were some 18 acres of overgrown land filled with the detritus of years of neglect, dumping, and the remains of businesses and industries from years past before Route 9 was built and stretching back to the 19th century.

While Half Moon Bay bridge provided access to the HMB development, there was no road to the north. Now who can imagine not having Elliott Way? It provides a beautiful scenic access for cars, bikes, and pedestrians as they make use of the 4+ miles of accessible Hudson River waterfront; nearly 100% of the Village’s Hudson River coast line.

Our Village has come a long way in being able to access and enjoy our river assets. These improvements came after long and difficult struggles within the community as to whether they were needed or should be done at all. I was fortunate to be involved in some of these efforts, and looking back, it’s hard to believe there was opposition.

Now that we have these important assets, it is so important that we keep looking ahead to see where improvements can be made and, just as importantly, to protect what we have.

Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas – August 22, 2016

Below is the latest installment of Decoding Village Agendas, an annotated guide to the agendas for Village meetings prepared by Trustee Ann Gallelli.  To subscribe, write her at: anngallelli@gmail.com

Dear neighbor, Here is the 334th installment of Decoding Village Agendas to keep Croton residents informed of the actions of the Village Board at their meetings. I continue to add recipients to this email update on agendas so you may be receiving it for the first time. I enjoy getting your feedback and hope to continue to hear from you. If you do not wish to receive these periodic email updates from me, please reply to this email and your name will be removed from the email list.
Ann Gallelli

Decoding Village Agendas –   August 22, 2016

Work Session of the Village Board

7: 30 p.m.

 (Open to Public and Televised)

 

 

  1. Discussion of creating a Village Towing Law that would strengthen enforcement for people who repeatedly fail to respond to parking summones issued for violations of parking orders, rules and regulations at the Croton-Harmon train station.  The proposed change to the law would authorize the Police Chief, in his discretion, to immobilize or tow vehicles, with three or more unanswered parking summons, located at any Village operated parking lot or from public streets.  Towing or immobilization would be at the owner’s expense.  There would be an additional $100. Administrative fee.
  2. Review of affordable housing ordinances passed by Westchester County municipalities and discussion of a potential affordable housing ordinance for the Village.  The Board will review the County’s proposed Model Ordinance.  This ordinance was proposed as part of the steps taken in response to the County settlement in the 2009 Affordable Housing lawsuit.  Several municipalities have passed their own versions of the Model Ordinance which the Board will review and discuss.  The ordinances to be reviewed and compared are from Hastings-on-Hudson, Town of New Castle, Town of North Salem, Town of Pound Ridge, Irvington and  Rye Brook.
  3. Discussion of increasing the starting salary rates of Village seasonal employees.   Under the standards that apply to a Village, non-exempt Village employees must be paid at least $7.25/hour.  Currently 11 part-time seasonal employees earn under $9/hour.  The cost of increasing these positions to $9/hour would be $1,021.50 annually. Currently 26 part-time employees get paid $10/hour up to $13.25.  50+ seasonal employees earn from $9/hour to $9.75/hour. If all seasonal employees earning less than $9.75 were brought to that level, the net increase would be $10.294.88. Most seasonal employees work in one of the following four capacities, Silver Lake lifeguards, Day Camp and Tiny Tots Camp, Gate attendants, DPW and Parks labor.

Brian Pugh: Energizing Croton

Brian Pugh 8-18-2016 FB LTE Image.pngTo The Editor:
The Village of Croton has long partnered with Energize New York’s “Energize Croton” campaign to provide homeowners and businesses with information about how they can make energy saving improvements to their homes.  Starting on September 1, New York State will be increasing the interest rates for these home energy efficiency upgrades.
Working with Energize Croton can make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, save money, increase the value of your home, and reduce your carbon footprint.  Energize will arrange for a free energy (or low cost) audit and connect homeowners with qualified contractors and fair financing.
If you sign with a contractor of your choosing by August 31st, you will still receive the 10% consumer rebate and the interest rate for the financing of the project will remain at 3.49%. After September 1st, the 10% consumer rebate is going away and the interest rates for financing will be 4.99% to 6.99% for most homeowners.
Even after this deadline, energy efficiency projects are still a good idea–but those that can act now should to get the best possible deal.
Dozens of residents have already made their homes more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly by working with Energize Croton.  Those who are interested in joining them should contact Energize’s Lauren Brois at 914-302-7300 ext 8102.
Brian Pugh

Ann Gallelli: Tell the USCG to “Deep Six” Hudson River Oil Barge Proposal

Ann Gallelli 8-18-2016 FB LTE Image.pngTo the Editor,
Is the Hudson River going to become a floating oil storage facility and floating fuel pipeline?

Recently, and unexpectedly, Hudson River municipalities became aware that the United States Coast Guard is considering a proposal to add 10 commercial/industrial barge anchorage locations in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston. These would accommodate 43 barges.

Closest to us are proposed anchorages in the Hudson off Montrose and by Tompkins Cove Others are off Yonkers and Dobbs Ferry.

The Village Board passed a resolution of objection to the proposal at its last meeting. To the extent that our Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) can help influence the outcome we should do what we can to influence the NYS Dept. of State which administers the Coastal Zone Act and its policies.

The purpose of the industry-proposed anchorages is to provide “waiting space” for barges along the river as they move to deliver and pickup cargos. Much of this cargo is the volatile Bakken oil from North Dakota being exported to overseas customers.
Beyond the obvious scenic and aesthetic impacts, other impacts could be severe. The anchorages would be adjacent to the main shipping channel increasing the potential for collisions and fuel spills. Recreational boaters in the Hudson River would be forced around these sites into the busy main channels or into the shallower water closer to shore creating safety issues for them. Unmanned and unlit fuel-loaded barges could be navigational and security hazards. This is not an exhaustive list of potential problems but it highlights the problems which need to be studied.

For everyone and every “River town” that has worked hard to restore the Hudson and reclaim our riverfront, this is a slap in the face.

As my colleague Trustee Brian Pugh wrote last week, the Coast Guard is only accepting comments until Sept. 7. Submit your comments athttp://www.regulations.gov using the USCG-2016-0132 docket number at the site.

Ann Gallelli

Brian Pugh: Community Action to Protect Our River

8-11-2016 FB LTE (BP)

To The Editor,

The US Coast Guard proposes that sites in the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston serve as “anchorage grounds,” what have been described as “parking lots” for commercial ships, as reported in last week’s Gazette.  As a river community, Croton is particularly affected by this proposal.

Riverkeeper, the nonprofit environmental watchdog, has expressed concerns about the impact of the anchorage grounds with regards to:  the danger presented by crude oil to the river; “scarring” of the riverbed habitat by anchors and anchor chains; and noise and light pollution.

On the basis of public safety and aesthetics, the Town of Cortlandt has passed a resolution of opposition to the plan and has requested a public hearing on the issue.

Residents still have time to make their voices heard. The federal government is currently taking comments on the anchorage plan at regulations.gov (Docket ID: USCG-2016-0132).  Comments are due September 7, 2016.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh