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Letter to the Mayor: Nullify the 2016 Reval

letter-to-the-editorThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Linda Killian of Forest Lane:

August 12, 2016

Dear Mayor Mark and Trustees:

A number of Scarsdale taxpayers have raised compelling issues about the 2016 JF Ryan reval, producing extensive evidence showing that this very small firm has unilaterally undone the comprehensive and rigorous reval completed in 2014 by nationally recognized Tyler Technologies. Using a questionable methodology, JF Ryan shifted the tax burden from newer and larger properties to older and smaller ones. The record also indicates a troubling lack of appropriate supervision and accountability by the Village and Trustees of JF Ryan's procedures and methodology.

In the face of mounting evidence of the JF Ryan reval's lack of integrity, the Trustees have largely dismissed legitimate taxpayer concerns with platitudes and responsibility shifting. By defending the indefensible, you are inflicting substantial financial harm and inequity upon some Scarsdale taxpayers as well as undermining the Scarsdale community's confidence in the Village Board's judgment and transparency. This is very wrong but reversible.

Unlike the 2014 Tyler Technologies reval, the JF Ryan 2016 reval never had community support. It was opposed at the outset. As more facts and emails accumulate about its questionable genesis, irregular design and sloppy execution, it is highly likely that the JF Ryan reval will generate even more righteous community opposition along with unfavorable publicity. Even if the BAR corrects these massive assessment errors on a case by case basis through the grievance process, it is possible that the integrity of Scarsdale's tax base will be compromised.

Trustees, instead of digging yourselves deeper by defending JF Ryan's flawed, unvalidated and minimally supervised 2016 reval, you should consider remedies that will restore the comprehensive baseline established by Tyler. Given the copious evidence from emails, statistical analyses performed by knowledgeable Scarsdale residents, the deviations from good practices and flagrant omissions of sales data, Scarsdale taxpayers are well justified in demanding that the Trustees nullify the illegitimate JF Ryan reval and seek redress against him and his firm on their behalf. In fact, that is your duty to Scarsdale taxpayers.

Sincerely,

Linda Killian

Home Sale Prices Proving Higher than Assessed Values

56 Old Orchard LaneHow are Scarsdale home sale prices measuring up to assessed values in the 2016 revaluation? The most current data shows that sale prices are exceeding the new assessed values by significant amounts.

For the 13 most recent sales, sale prices are on average, 16.5% higher than assessed values for homes ranging in price from $857,500 to $3,875,000. A similar analysis published on July 6 also showed that sales prices have been outpacing assessed values.

assesssmentsThough critics have voiced concerns about the 2016 revaluation, arguing that homes on the low end are being overtaxed to compensate for reductions on the high end, this small sample of sales data does not support that assertion.

On the other hand, what the data may show is that the overall assessment for all Scarsdale real estate may be lower than true market value.

Do you have thoughts on this? Send us your comments!

The Day I Was Born

nytimesThis piece was submitted by writer Linda Ellenbogen who participates in the Writers Critque Group at Scarsdale Library:

"Go to the school library and look up the New York Times for the day you were born. Then write about it ." That is how Prof. Kresky ended English 401, Sec. D on a September day in 1966. It was the English composition course required of all freshman and transfer students. I was a transfer student. Why I had to repeat English Comp is a tale for another day. However, Mrs. Kresky and the topic she assigned that day, "The Day I was born," had a tremendous impact on my confidence in my ability to put words to paper.

According to my mother, I was born at 4:39, on the morning of Thursday, October 16, 1946. The operative word here is Thursday, as you will soon see. So, off I marched to the Pace (then college) library in Pleasantville, New York, a bucolic satellite campus of its much more prestigious mother campus located near City Hall in Manhattan.

I learned how to use a newspaper for research, which really was the purpose of the assignment. I found what I thought was the day I was looking for. Across the top of the never wrong, New York Times, I read the day, Thursday. Then my eyes traveled across to the date..."What???!!!" I couldn't believe my eyes, the date read October 17, 1946. I looked at Wednesday's paper. Yup, Wednesday, October 16, 1946. Back to look at Thursday's paper, October 17, 1946, back to Wednesday, October 16. How could my mother not know my birthday. Maybe I was adopted and she wasn't really present at my birth.

Now remember, this was in the days well before cell phones. So, home I went. "Mom, was I born on October 16, or 17? You always told me I was born on Thursday, October 16, but the 16th was Wednesday not Thursday." I explained the assignment to her. Frighteningly, she looked puzzled, verging on tears. "I'm not sure," she said, "Your father named you the day you were born. They take the Torah out on Thursday, so, I always thought it was Thursday. I don't know now." Then she regained her composure. "I'll call Gertie, she remembers everything." My father's eldest sister was the unofficial family historian, and she didn't even have to write any of these facts down. My mother immediately made the call and asked the all important question. As I listened to my mother's side of the conversation, I realized that my aunt did not miss a beat and answered October 16. It was Shemini Atzeret, (the last day of the Succot holiday). They took out the Torah that day and that's why Leonard could name her that day." The mystery was solved, I was born on Wednesday, October 16, 1946. Thank you, Aunt Gertie for your phenomenal memory.

The next day I went back to the Pace Library; went back to the archives and looked up the headline for Wednesday, October 16, 1946. From that headline, I found out that Wednesday, October 16, 1946 was not only a day that would live in the annals of the Marks and Weintraub families, but also an historic day that would live in the annals of world history. Perhaps, it was this day that marked the real end of World War II and the final end of the Nazi regime. And, so we begin:

THE DAY I WAS BORN

Goering Ends Life By Poison, 10 Others Hanged in Nuremberg Prison For Nazi War Crimes; Doomed Men on Gallows Pray For Germany

The world rejoiced. The most powerful men in Nazi Germany were dead. As radio announcers throughout the world proclaimed the highly anticipated news, Goodman Marks bounded up the stairs to wake his brother Leonard. Wake him and tell him some of their own highly anticipated news. Now, for just a few moments, the Marks and Weintraub families could forget the sadness that had befallen them less than a month before with the untimely death of two and a half year old Jacob, Leonard and Frieda Marks' first child. Once again, they were parents. At 4:39 AM on Wednesday, October 16, 1946, just a few short hours after the death of the murderers who had killed many of her cousins, a daughter was born---Linda Joy, beautiful happiness---their first daughter and second child.

She was named after Lena Weintraub, her maternal grandmother, who had died that April shortly after they had received the diagnosis of young Jacob's very rare form of cancer. Linda was given several reasons for the choice of Joy as her middle name. The first was that she was the only good thing that happened that year. Second, was that she was named after her grandfather, Jacob Marks. Her father's father had died when Leonard was just 15. The third reason, and the one she most liked to believe was that she was named after the brother she would never know.

The time of death was not given to the ten men until one hour before it was scheduled to happen, just as the time of death was not given to six million Jews until they turned on the gas filled showers they were unknowingly sent to, and as the time of birth could not be accurately predetermined. Ten men could not turn back as they approached the gallows that would cause their deaths. However, the expectant father, especially in those days, was told to go home and wait perhaps even to sleep. This was the scenario that took Leonard to his mother's home, Not being one to argue when it came to sleeping, he went back to the place where he could find peace. So, as his mother sat by the window in the rocking chair her granddaughter would always remember her in, and prayed for a safe delivery and a healthy baby, Leonard slept. She prayed in much the same way that a priest prayed for Wilhelm Keitel's soul to be delivered to the Gates of Heaven. And, when the child was born, and Eva Marks was sure all was well, she thanked G-d for giving her a healthy granddaughter. " Please G-d let this one always be well." She thanked G-d just as Keitel thanked the priest as a noose was being slipped around his neck.

As the prisoners entered the electrically lighted execution chamber with its three gallows, their hands were tied behind them and their feet were bound with army belts. They could carry nothing and could not walk without the aid of the two American army men who assisted each prisoner.

Leonard Marks needed no assistance as he walked proudly and deliberately up to the reading table in the synagogue where a rabbi and not a hangman waited to receive him. His hands were free. Free, to shake the hands of the 10 men, the minion, who witnessed the naming of this new life. Many who had witnessed as he buried his son a few weeks before and recited the mourners Kaddish over the child's grave.

The prisoners at Nuremberg recited their last words in loud booming voices. The new father announced his new daughter's name—Leah bat Lemel---Linda daughter of Leonard. The Rabbi stopped him from giving her a middle name. "Gannuk, enough," he said in Yiddish. You'll have another son to name after your father." Irene, one of his four sisters had told him not to do that to Frieda, not to name this child after "the boy." The Nazis prisoners would be spoken of and written about forever, but "the Boy" would never be spoken of again by his father's family and only rarely by his mother's family. This boy who carried the true name of their father---Jacob Marks broke their hearts. Perhaps this new life would help the healing begin.

The Nazis had a last meal before their lives ended. The congregation had wine and cake to celebrate the new life.

The cold, distorted, white body of Herman Wilhelm Goering was brought into the execution chamber on a stretcher after Arthur Seyas, the final prisoner, was declared dead. The cold white feet stuck out from under the blanket. The body was uncovered and plaed beside the others. Hermann Wilhelm Goering joined his comrades in being declared legally dead.

She lay so still and was so quiet, "Is she all right," her father asked his mother, who stood by the glass window with her son. A nurse, knowing what the family had been through and sensing the new father's concern, picked up the newborn infant. She immediately began to kick and scream. She was fine. Her tiny, red, wriggling body proved that.

Sitting in the old rocking chair his mother had used for prayer just a few hours before, Leonard Marks picked up a copy of the New York Times. He glanced at the headlines and nonchalantly tossed the paper across the room. He was tired. The tired that comes when one is happy and pleased with the events of the day. He smiled a contented smile and lay his head back. He slept. His cares left him. The Nazis were dead and his child had been born. It had been quite a day.

Writer Linda Ellenbogen was born, raised and raised her family in Westchester, and is now retired from teaching in the Bronx after 35 years. She has been married to Paul Ellenbogen for 46 years and has 3 children and 5 grandchildren. She has taken writing courses at Sarah Lawrence and continues to enjoy and refine her writing with Barbara Josselson's group at the Scarsdale Library.

Sidewalk Sale: Thursday July 28- Saturday July 30

sidewalksale2012Mark you calendar: the annual sidewalk sale is coming to Scarsdale from 10 am to 5 pm on Thursday July 28, Friday July 29 and Saturday July 30. There will be tables of merchandise on sale, a live radio broadcast, and entertainment for kids on Saturday from 11-4.

Plans for Saturday include a free kids concert, a balloon man, animals from the Greenburgh Nature Center and a DJ in Chase Park from 12 p to 4 pm.

Here's the schedule:
-Songs for Seeds Free Summer Concert at Chase Park Saturday 11:00am-12:00pm
-DJ Entertainment from JD Sounds Entertainment Saturday 12:00am-4:00pm
-Balloon Fun with Scott Kazan Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm
-Greenburgh Nature Center's Special Wildlife Presentation Sat

On Thursday and Friday there will be metered parking on village streets and in the Christie Place Garage – and on Saturday there will be free parking on the two lower levels of Christie Place Garage.

Here's the line-up of participating businesses:

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Westchester Properties
Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Flywheel Sports
Great Stuff
GYMGUYZ
Holsten Jewelers
Jewels By Joanne
Julia B Fee Sotheby's International Realty
Korth & Shannahan Painting
La Dentelliere
LF
Mixology Scarsdale LLC
Pamela Robbins
Petticoat Lane
PlushBlow
Pookie & Sebastian
Redginji
Rothmans
Sand Accessories
Scarsdale Spencer Pharmacy
Scarsdale Symphony Orchestra
Skinny Buddha Organic Cafe
Soul Cycle
Total Form Fitness
Wilson & Son Jewelers
Wyatt Lily Children's Boutique

Scarsdale Writers Critique Groups Offer a Safe Haven

writing-300x181The Scarsdale Library runs Writing Critique Groups to encourage local writers to explore new writing approaches, gain new insights and to provide them with a warm and supportive writing community. Lynn Beville, one of the participants, shared these thoughts on what the experience has meant to her:

As a nine year old in the 1950's, attending North Broadway School #2 (now a site of corporate offices), I used to slip, undetected into the second floor school library. This library was tiny, situated above the school nurse's office on the first floor. My plan was to be alone in the little space, lined with shelved books. I managed to do so, intent on reading the then controversial picture book about "Little Black Sambo". What an intrigue it was to peruse the pages of a story I knew both my parents and teachers would rather I not know about. How did I know this? Children pick up on grown-up's secrets and they grasp the innuendo too.

As children morph into adults, they sometimes harbor and deeply cherish the inclinations to read and write stories that have been sheltered in intrigue. But it seems both vaguely and imminently dangerous to do this, unless one can find a safe little place where uncovering or leaking secrets can take place. This is especially significant in post-adolescent adulthood because that is where the longest held stories are hovering.

I cherished for many years, both the intrigue and potential for re-visiting the quiet secret feeling I had in that tiny school library. I cherished concealed meaning in the writing of symbols in poetry. I relished the withholding of my life's secrets, and some leaking of them too. I found outlets for uncovering and catacombs for burying revelations in writing. Public and university libraries became favorite places to find refuge and solace.

Considerable vulnerabilities lurk wherever stories have been held back. Thus, a lot is at stake when the amateur writer opens up the backwash of untold tales and lets them flow out into the light of scrutiny.

I've ventured into several writing circles to gingerly leak out held back stories, some written, some circling, in the belfries waiting to be released. Workshops and writing circles are where writers can sharpen their talons of skill, toughen their skin for critique and advance their standing from amateur to professional; from obscure to recognized, in the coveted realm of being published. My experience in workshops over the years has varied from shockingly frontal to gently awakening. In some, peers have been supportive, in others the instructor has been supportive.

In semi-transition from a large writing community to a smaller one, I've discovered a writing group at the Scarsdale Library, facilitated by a working and published author. This branch of the Westchester Library system offers a welcome refuge from the hectic world we occupy. Although I am surrounded by staff and patrons when I arrive there, I am able to recall the quiet place feeling I had in my Elementary School library.

Barbara Josselsohn, a much respected instructor manages to encourage growth and literary mobility among the ranks of writers who trust their development to her. She instructs through skillful orientation, taking inspiration from, and giving inspiration to the process.

Very fortunately for me, the writers who have been drawn to this Scarsdale Library Club (one of several, by the way) are especially supportive to each other. They show respect for the challenge writing poses to the writer. I have found the safe haven for leaking out secrets that ride waves of vulnerability.

lynnbevilleLynn Beville is a retired school social worker (Westchester systems: New Rochelle, Yonkers, Mt. Vernon). She is also a veteran of Westchester Child Welfare systems and NY State Dept. of Mental Health. She used art and children's literature extensively in her work and has written and performed poetry with live music for many years. She has been a member of Sarah Lawrence Writer's Institute since the 1990's.

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