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
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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

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

Ann Gallelli: Making Progress in Harmon

8-11-2016 FB LTE (AG)

To the editor,

Last week many of us saw the foundation starting to be laid at 379 South Riverside Ave. ( former Nappy’s) for a new mixed use building approved under the 2013 Harmon zoning law amendment.

Soon we will see a new three story building with apartments above commercial on the first floor. This type of development, sometimes called Transit Oriented Development or TOD, has become very popular in other Westchester municipalities providing much needed housing in areas that are walkable to commuting trains and shopping.

People living in these mixed use buildings help the local businesses by providing a base of customers within their neighborhood.

While the Village eventually defeated a lawsuit launched by a small group, it was at cost to Village taxpayers of $479,000 in legal fees and two years of delayed implementation, Croton is beginning to see its results and joining other municipalities in enabling this much sought after type of housing.

Unfortunately, many of the Croton United Party’s leaders opposed this rezoning–including our current Mayor when he was a Trustee and one of their candidates this year. However, I believe that the recent site plan applications in Harmon utilizing the amended zoning and the current construction point to an economic revitalization for this area.

With the completion of the building at 379 South Riverside Ave, it will be a model for other similar development in the Harmon/South Riverside area. I look forward to it.

Ann Gallelli

 

The value of diversity

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Dear Neighbors,

It’s been only twice in the last 30 years that we’ve had an all-male Village Board. Some may ask “What’s the big deal?” Well, 30 years ago the answer probably would have been “nothing.” But decades of research tell us that diversity in organizations enhances their performance. The lack of it encourages insular thinking, void of perspective and vision.

So why is it that the Croton United Party, the “diverse coalition of Croton residents,” is unable to find a woman candidate for their slate of nominees for Village Board?

30 years on and women still run households. But also sit on boards, lead companies, and now can be nominated for the presidency of the United States.

Diversity brings creativity, innovation, & sometimes even compromise.

Do we really now want the all-male board that the Croton United Party is offering who would all think the same way?

The majority Croton United Party is already keeping us stagnant regarding the Village minimum wage and a past-its-prime Village fire truck. Not to mention the lost opportunity for household savings with Community Choice Aggregation. Let’s not go from stagnant to backward.

The Croton Democratic Party is proud to offer the effective, forward-thinking, & balanced slate of Trustee Ann Gallelli & Trustee Brian Pugh.

It really does take a village.

Sincerely,

Dianne Dowling, Secretary, Croton Democratic Party

DIVERSE COALITION ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR  ANN GALLELLI & BRIAN PUGH FOR CROTON BOARD

 

(Croton-on-Hudson, NY) – Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh, who are running as a slate for two seats on the Croton Village Board of Trustees which are up for election this year, have won the support of the Democratic Party, the Women’s Equality Party, Working Families Party, and the Independence Party. They will be appearing on the ballot lines of all four parties in November.

“The Women’s Equality Party is proud to support candidates, like Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh, who share our values and our vision for a fair New York for both women and men.  As we prepare to elect our first woman president this year, we particularly appreciate the qualities Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh bring to the ticket as active and respected members of their communities who will bring positive change to Croton residents,” said Rachel Gold, Acting Chair of the Women’s Equality Party.

“The Independence party is results-oriented and non-ideological.  We endorse Democrats and Republicans.  We have chosen to endorse Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh because they are proven, pragmatic problem-solvers.  I particularly applaud their support for 100% renewable energy for the community through the Westchester Power program,” said John Sarcone, Independence Party Coordinator for Northern Westchester.

“Having served conscientiously on both the Planning and Village Boards, Ann is a seasoned veteran of local government and familiar with Croton’s zoning and housing issues. As a sitting member of the Village Board and a recent graduate of Fordham Law School, Brian Pugh has the training to understand the issues facing the Village and be an effective advocate,” said Patrick Welsh Westchester-Putnam Working Families Party Chair, “It was clear from their interview with the endorsement committee of the WFP that they represent the values of working families. On behalf of all citizens who value these same goals, I urge you to vote for Ann Gallelli and Brian Pugh on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.”

Ann Gallelli is a 40-year village resident, has served on the board of trustees since 2006 and is former Chair of the Croton Planning Board.  Brian Pugh is a native of the Village of Croton, works at a solar training nonprofit in Westchester and helped organize the 2011 referendum campaign that moved village elections from March to November—he was first elected to the Village Board in 2014.

Trustee Gallelli on Summer in Croton

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Dear Neighbors,

“The dog days of summer” are upon us here in Croton for sure. “The dog days” generally refers to a period of lethargy and inactivity due to heat and humidity but it’s hard to be lethargic and inactive in Croton during these days.

Breezes from the Hudson River enhance our walks along the riverfront. Playgrounds throughout the Village, swimming at Silver Lake on the Croton River, hiking along the 13+ miles of trails are amenities particularly suited for these summer days. Movies and concerts on the

Hudson River, summer camps for our kids and special entertainment shows are all part of summer in Croton. And that’s just what the Village itself offers its residents. So many other groups offer a myriad of activities and experiences for our enjoyment.

Hats off to our Village Parks and Recreation staff, and those who provide other activities, who make the summer in Croton so special. I’m so glad I live here.

Ann Gallelli