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Your Letters: Ken Rilander and Jonathan Lewis Support the Non-Partisan Party Candidates

FingerRossCallaghanDanHochvert

From Ken Rilander, former Trustee of Scarsdale Village:

To the Editor:
I am writing this letter because of my family's passion for the lifestyle offered by the Village of Scarsdale and the possible threat of relatively short term and inexperienced residents possibly winning a contested election without the skills to guide Village governance as successfully as it has been managed historically. We are on the eve of an important election on March 21st where our governance and lifestyle within our Village may change. Every vote in a contested election is important. It is critical that you read this letter, go to the polls and cast your vote.

Contested Election

Typically, in a regular Scarsdale election there is apathy because of our historical CNC pre-approved non-partisan selection of candidates. Therefore the number of votes cast is not important to the outcome of the election. In contested elections turnout is critical and where hundreds of votes is the norm in a Scarsdale election , thousands are expected to vote on March 21st. The only other instance in the past 35 years of a new party and full slate of candidates was when there was a single issue, the building of a bridge over the railroad tracks and the obstruction of a limited number of home views. This time it is decidedly different. This time a small group of residents who tried and failed in having their voices heard loud enough by the Citizens Nominating Committee members to secure their endorsement and a nomination.

The new political party, Scarsdale Voter Choice Party's (VCP) members' and candidates' and surrogates have posted claims of Village fiscal mismanagement which are simply unwarranted and untrue. These claim reflects the members' and candidates' lack of involvement in Village governance or any formal governance at all and their naive (academic like-non real world) understanding of municipal fiscal management. For most understanding our fiscal management process begins with participating in our lengthy and detailed Village budget process.

This process begins with a public notice of the lengthy and detailed budget proposal to the Village Manager, Mayor and Trustees on how each department runs fiscally and how cash needs changed over the past year. This proposal is made months before the budget is adopted allowing ample time for Village Board and public review. Full transparency (supported by public television broadcasts that are available on the Village website and offered free to the cable television operators) is provided during this lengthy process and is easily accessible by the public.

Our successful fiscal process (a model for many municipalities) and years of successful fiscal results are discussed in detail in the publicly available review of the Village's finances by Moody's, the major independent rating agency focusing on municipal debt. Applicants for a rating like the Village are required to pay a rating agency fee for its review. The Village engages only one agency, and is a sign of its credit strength and modest fiscal prudence to pay for a single and the most highly respected rating agency in municipal finance. Moody's regularly (since 1986) reward the Village (and its residents through lower borrowing costs) with the highly coveted and rarely received Aaa rating, which is particularly unique nationwide for a Village of our size. The reason the Village tax levy exceeds the NYS tax cap (albeit modestly) another of their poorly understood claims has more to do with array of quality services the Village provides its residents. This ranges from an active recreation program for children of all ages, a well attended community swimming pool which one can join at modest cost, summer camp for hundreds of children and a high quality library system that is the envy of other nearby communities. There are many more high quality Village services too numerous to mention. The Village could easily comply with the NYS tax cap, but we would live in a very different Village with fewer and/or lower quality services which most of us don't want. At the extreme this might cause some residents to leave and home values to fall as the Village loses its appeal to our traditional constituency.

Inexperienced VCP Candidates

The VCP again displayed its members' lack of experience and involvement in our system by flip-flopping positions on major issues when they found themselves out of step with the community. This occurred recently with their position on our approved highly innovative public/private partnership for the renovation of our public library. Months ago VCP candidates were highly critical and suggested the library renovation project should not proceed because of cost. Since the Village Board approved the plan and donations to the project have increased rapidly they realized their mistake in judgment diametrically switched their position to avoid their embarrassment of appearing to be out of touch with community sentiment during this election.

Highly Qualified Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party (SCNP) Candidates

I've intentionally kept the most important part of this letter last. The strength of the SCNP candidates. Their experience and demonstrated history of success in Village governance is the reason each and every resident of our Village should vote for all of these candidates.

I don't know of any candidate for Mayor in my tenure in the Village who has the skill, experience and a desire to commit time to a better Scarsdale than Dan Hochvert. I had the distinct pleasure of serving 3 years on the Village Board with Dan. We were lucky we had a great Board that had the objective of getting it done" right" every time. We accomplished a great deal. Among many other accomplishments our Board helped put the finishing touches on the most successful public/private partnership in Village history, the Christie Place parking garage and condominium development. Without any Village capital committed, it provides a significant regular annual cash flow to the Village through both parking permit revenue and property taxes. It also provides residents with highly desirable commuter parking (inside-warm and sheltered on the worst snowy and cold winter days-unique in Westchester) with close proximity to the train station. As a result applications for parking permits (the most expensive in our system) are oversubscribed and wait-listed annually. It also offers high quality condominiums for those who desire low maintenance in the downtown Village lifestyle.

Dan regularly stood out among a group of talented Trustees as a person who asked the best questions, wanted to listen the hardest to all regardless of their issue, researched each issue well beyond normal detail and looked for the "ideal" solution for all involved. He is not a lawyer, but can read and write with the best of them. On quantitative issues, Dan absorbed and processed information at among the quickest pace and anticipated multiple outcomes.

The Future

I currently have three generations of family members living in the Village. It is my hope that my grandchildren will have the same great experience my children did growing up in Scarsdale.

Help me deliver a better Scarsdale to my children, grandchildren and all future generations of Scarsdalians. More than any recent election every vote counts!

Please get out and vote for Dan and the SCNP slate on March 21st and assure all residents of the lifestyle they deserve!

Thank you

Ken Rilander
Fox Meadow

Scarsdale Village Trustee 2005-09
Chair, Scarsdale Village Board Finance Committee 2007-08
Chair, Scarsdale Village Board Law Committee 2008-09
Scarsdale Fire Commissioner 2007-08
Scarsdale Police Commissioner 2008-09
Citizens Nominating Committee 2010-12
35 year resident

(From Jonathan Lewis: former member of the Scarsdale School Board)

Why I Support the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party

I will vote for Dan Hochvert for Mayor and the Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party slate of candidates because I believe voting for them is in the best long-term interest of Scarsdale. The non-partisan process is fair, thoughtful, and is in the best tradition of New England town hall democracy. Candidates are chosen by our neighbors in a technocratic manner based on their skills and ability to serve us. Our system does not pit neighbor against neighbor, or promote mud slinging, or exaggeration (so common in politics), but asks the best in our community to serve in the common interest. Voting for the Citizens' Non-Partisan Party is a vote for these values.

In our non-partisan system, each neighborhood votes to send delegates to a meeting to select the candidates for Mayor and Village trustees. In this democratic process, the chosen delegates are generally those who have demonstrated commitment to the community on many levels and have the background to evaluate a candidate's fitness for a particular role. Certainly, it would be better if more people volunteered to participate in this stage of the process, running to be a delegate, but the process remains open and fair. As a former President of the TVCC, now the Scarsdale Forum, I had the honor to chair those meetings in a prior election and I was deeply impressed by the seriousness of the debate. Our neighbors take these duties seriously. The dialogue was respectful and well considered.

At the same time, I applaud Bob Berg and the candidates running for office on behalf of the Scarsdale Voters Choice Party. It takes courage and commitment to stand up for one's beliefs in a public manner and Bob deserves our respect for his effort. He has devoted a great amount of personal time arguing for what he believes is best for our village and everyone should thank him for this service.

While I believe the non-partisan system serves us best, I think we must acknowledge that to those unfamiliar with its thoughtful selection process, it can feel like a closed system. I hope that the candidates' meetings that are being held by the Citizens' Non-Partisan Party this year and the open houses that are being offered by the party candidates at their own homes, remain a part of our electoral landscape for years to come. These changes enhance the sense of open New England town democracy that is so wonderful in our village and underscores the mutual respect that exists between voters and candidates.

I encourage all of my neighbors to support Dan Hochvert and the Scarsdale Citizens Non- Partisan Party because it is the best way for us to show our support for the unique form of government that makes Scarsdale great.

Jonathan Lewis
Woods Lane
Scarsdale, NY

LWVS Encourages You to Attend Candidates' Forum on March 7 and to Vote on March 21

To The Editor:meetcandidates
The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale encourages informed and active participation of Scarsdale citizens in our local government and election processes. This year, the Scarsdale Village election is contested, and the LWVS is hosting a Candidates Forum on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 from 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm in the Scott Room of the Scarsdale Public Library. Two candidates are running for the position of Village Mayor, and six candidates are running for three Village Trustee positions. All eight candidates for the upcoming Village election will be participating in the Candidates Forum. We encourage all citizens to come hear from the candidates and provide questions to be asked of them. For those who cannot attend, the event will be recorded for playback on Scarsdale Public Access TV.

We also encourage all registered voters to vote in the Village election on March 21 at the Scarsdale Public Library from 6:00 am – 9:00 am and 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Absentee ballot, registration, and voter information can be found at www.lwvs.org .

Amy Cooper
LWVS, Candidates Forum/Voter Services

A-Schoolers Experience the World of Work

DonatScarsdale's A Schoolers got a taste of the working world in January when they left the classroom to pursue internships at businesses and non-profits. The Scarsdale Alternative School Internship Program was created in 1973 to give students hands on experience in the workforce and to increase student freedom and responsibility. A-School classes are suspended during the month of January to allow time for students to complete an internship. Thirty-five hours of work per week are required, but the more regular high school (non A-School) classes a student takes, the more hours they subtract from that required number. A-Schoolers participate in a wide variety of internships.

For her internship this year, Lindsay Donat '19 worked at Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship, a non-profit in Mount Kisco that uses horses to help people with special needs. Lindsay noted, "One cool thing I've learned from my internship is that after interacting with a horse just once, that horse will remember you for up to five years."

Hannah Spitzer '18 shadowed a surgeon for her internship. She loved her internship, and now knows that she would like to be a doctor: "I have always been interested in the medical field but now I definitely want to be a doctor. The doctor I have had the privilege of shadowing helps so many people and for all the right reasons. Everyone there is so genuine and they all truly care for their patients. They have demonstrated how important empathy is in the medical field and how much good a doctor can do. I leave internship everyday so happy and excited for the next day and hope that one day this could be my job."

Alex Wilson '19 worked with a charity in New York City called Girls Write Now that mentors underprivileged high school girls to help them go to college and become writers. Alex, like many A-Schoolers, commuted on the train to Manhattan every day. Alex said, "I definitely learned a lot about independence; it's the weirdest feeling to commute with adults and my friends' parents on the train, but I like the sense of freedom that comes with it."

For his internship, Evan Braun '18 worked at the JCC Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the community by providing cultural, social, educational and recreational/fitness programs, human services and Jewish identity-building opportunities to people of all ages, backgrounds, religions, or sexual orientation. This internship allowed Evan to work in a wide variety of fields: "What I love with my internship is that I have so many areas to work in which allows me to interact with different types of people, and learn many new things. At the JCC have interacted with people whose ages range from three to ninety."

Hannah Glickenhaus '18 worked at the popular Levain Bakery in Harlem. Many A-Schoolers, like Hannah, consider turning their internship into a job after the month of January is over. Hannah said, "I am considering getting a job at the bakery over the summer! I am very interested in fashion merchandising, and I have been trying to get an internship doing that, but being able to merchandise for a bakery has been a wonderful experience too!"

Camila Tardiff '18 worked at the Sandbox Theater in Mamaroneck. Camila loves working with kids, acting, and directing, and has learned several new skills in each of those fields. She noted, "I have learned a lot of new directing skills; for example, a director needs to be able to be extremely flexible with the number of cast members, size of the stage, the amount of set pieces being placed on stage during specific scenes, and the amount of time the director has to rehearse the show."

Chloe Gold '17 worked at the Doughnut Project, a doughnut shop doughnutsin Manhattan. Chloe discussed the cooperation between small businesses in NYC: "I learned about how the surrounding businesses in NYC really care for each other. My employer buys a majority of their ingredients from stores within a few blocks of them. Every Sunday my boss sends doughnuts to this olive oil shop a few stores down. All the local businesses really support each other and want the others to succeed."

Paige Barlow '19 worked at The Little School, a preschool in Scarsdale. Paige loved the kids she worked with, and was shocked about the maturity of the three-year-olds: "I am surprised at how well behaved and smart beyond their years they all are."

By the time they graduate, A-Schoolers will have completed three internships, or four if they opt to do an internship for their senior project. Thus, they enter the workforce with a great deal of preparation.

A First Look at the 2017-18 Scarsdale School Budget: What's In and What's Out

headcountWhat's in store for taxpayers next year? At the Scarsdale School Board meeting on Monday night February 13, Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey gave the community a first look at the 2016-17 school budget. The estimate shows a total school budget of $154,300,765, which is a budget-to-budget increase of 2.56% over 2016-17 and will mean a 1.46% increase in the tax levy. The projected tax levy limit for this year is 1.55%, so the increase would fall below the tax cap.

See the presentation here:

There will be $3.8 million budget to budget increase that includes a $2.8 million transfer from this year's reserves to pay for a shortfall in the 2014 bond project which is underway now.

Included in this projected budget are some additional staff members requested by the administration.

staffingrequest

Among the additions will be 2.5 early reading teachers so that each of the five elementary schools has a full time reading specialist to help some of the youngest students who are struggling to learn to read. A half time Learning Resources teacher is needed as well.

At the middle school, the district is proposing .to add a .2 to .4 Mandarin teacher for a new program that will be offered before school if there is sufficient demand from incoming sixth graders. Each section would have 24 students. If students drop-out during the year and enrollment falls below 18 students the program would be disbanded mid-year. Lynn Shain estimates that the cost for this new program will be $22,000-$44,000, depending if one or two sections are needed.

At the high school, the administration will add a full time STEAM coordinator.

Director of Special Education and Student Services Eric Rauschenbach said a second school nurse was needed at the high school to care for the school population of 1,521 students. The second nurse would be available after school, and also do scoliosis, vision and hearing screenings, keep forms updated, issue gold cards and help fulfill a wide variety of state mandates. The New York State Nursing Association recommends one nurse per 750 students and the high school has double that number.

Other staff additions include two more cleaning people at the high school to help with the expanded facilities.

The administration is also proposing to convert the five Teachers in Charge at the elementary schools to Assistant Principals, which will cost the district $75,000 this year.

If enrollment projections are correct, two additional elementary school teachers will be needed at Fox Meadow, as well as a special education co-teacher at the kindergarten level.

According to Drew Patrick, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel, the total additional cost of these staffing increases will be $1,051,000. This would bring the total district staffing (without part-time civil service employees) to 619.21 employees – which is the highest level of staffing in the past nine years.

staffingchart


Teen Center
:

This projected budget does not include a $65,000 allocation for the Teen Center that is traditionally included.

Formed in 1999, funding for the Teen Center has been in question practically since its inception. It was formed by a letter of agreement between the School and Village Boards to fund it jointly with annual allocations from their budgets. As usage of the facility as waxed and waned over the ensuing 17 years, both Boards have had questions about its usage, vitality and importance to families and students.

The Board invited the leadership of the Teen Center in to discuss the funding.
Teen Center Director Ellen Tiven Moore, and Teen Center Board Members Dan Hochvert and BK Munguia spoke at the meeting and called the center a safe, drug and alcohol-free place for kids to drop in or attend scheduled programs. BK Munguia argued that the classroom is not the only place that children learn skills and that the center captures "the needs and concerns of the community." She said the Teen Center has been on "life support" these past few years and used up their reserves.

Dan Hochvert said, "It the board does not support the Teen Center, the Teen Center will close. These funds cannot be made up by anything we can do."

Lee Maude called the process of deciding on annual funding "dysfunctional" and said that representatives from the school and village boards had met last year to review the Teen Center's finances and find a way to change the business model to be self-sustaining. However the Teen Center Board pushed back on the idea that programming fees alone could fund the center. A successful "Escape the Room" program had helped the bottom line this year, but it's not clear that income-generating programs alone could fund the center that pays rent and pays one and a half employees. School Board member Pam Fuehrer questioned whether the Teen Center was being used primarily as a venue for activities such as moving up ceremonies and young men in leadership meetings that formerly occurred in school facilities. She suggested that taxpayers were already paying for facilities that could be used for this purpose.

Bob Harrison said that many contributed the $250,000 that was used to launch the Teen Center and warned the Board, "you're going to have some bond issues – you'll want our support – don't turn your back on these issues."

Transportation to Religious Instructional Programs:

Stuart Mattey announced that the district had discovered it was transporting children to religious instruction programs after school, which is not in compliance with state law. This started when Quaker Ridge Elementary School was under construction and has been continued since that time. The district will notify the parents of 15 students who attend Westchester Reform and seven students who are transported to St. Pious that after school bus service will no longer be available.

SFCS Gala to Showcase Local Businesses: It Takes a Village

teenfashionScarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services (SFCS) will showcase local Scarsdale businesses at its annual fundraising gala, May 11, 2017. In addition to dinner and dancing, this year's groundbreaking gala entitled, It Takes A Village, will feature a fashion show where clothing, shoes and accessories, along with merchandise available at local Scarsdale stores, will be modeled by Scarsdale middle and high school age students. SFCS, a local community service, is focused on supporting families and, by extension, local businesses that serve them.

In the coming weeks, local businesses will be contacted by SFCS Board members and invited to participate by providing clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry and other merchandise that can be displayed on student models during the fashion show. SFCS Board members will also be reaching out to parents of Scarsdale middle and high school to enlist students to volunteer for this great cause.

"We are honoring local businesses this year because Scarsdale is very community-oriented and interconnected," said James Genova, LCSW, executive director, SFCS. "We care about supporting each other, whether that is nurturing the emotional well-being of families and their members, as Scarsdale Family Counseling Services does, or fostering the viability of our neighborhood businesses. The health and vibrancy of our whole community is important to us all."

The annual SFCS Spring fundraising gala will be on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at Scarsdale Golf Club. For more information about tickets for the gala, go to www.sfcsinc.org/sfcs-news-events. To offer display merchandise to be featured in the fashion show or to volunteer as a model in the fashion show, go to info@sfcsinc.org or call SFCS at (914) 723-3281.

SFCS is a voluntary, not-for-profit family counseling agency. SFCS has provided service since 1920 to those who live or work in the greater Scarsdale area. The mission of the Agency is to be a center for family growth and learning, a place where families, couples and individuals can find help with the normal problems of daily living, as well as crises; to enhance the functioning of the family and its individual members through family life education; to stimulate social thinking and action to better social conditions; and to cooperate with other organizations for this purpose.

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