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Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens

Approximately 50 people attended the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force presentation, Parents: Today’s Unsuspecting Drug Dealers, held at the Scarsdale library on Tuesday night 2/8 to learn more about teens and drug abuse. According to Mary C. Korman from the Westchester District Attorney's Office, reports of prescription drug abuse among Westchester teens and college students has increased dramatically in the past several years,

For some background on this widespread issue, here are some national statistics:

  • Every day, 2,500 teens ages 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the first time
  • Teens abuse prescription drugs more than any illicit drug, except marijuana
  • In 2008 more that 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs
  • Among 12 and 13 year-old, prescription drugs are the drugs of choice
  • Because these drugs are so readily available, and many teens believe they are a safe way to get high, teens who wouldn't otherwise touch illicit drugs might abuse prescription drugs.
  • Few parents are talking to teens about prescription drug abuse, even though teens report that parental disapproval is a powerful way to keep them away from drugs. *

According to Korman, abuse of Adderall and Ritalin as study drugs is on the rise and far more common than many parents may realize. If your child uses these medications for ADHD or another disorder, expect him or her to be asked to sell their meds at some point. Prepare your child for this situation by having conversations about the need for a medical evaluation and possible dangers of casual use such heart attack, stroke, hallucinations and paranoia.  According to Korman, on college campuses, the use of study drugs is “rampant”. Reports of teens and older students abusing anti-anxiety medications are also on the increase.

She also discussed reported abuse of painkillers (oxycodone), sleep aids (such as Ambien and others), cough medicines, diet pills and inhalants including household products that emit fumes.   

Andrea Fallick, from the Student Assistance Services Corp., was also on hand and spoke about what parents can do to keep their kids safe. She told the audience to appreciate that our children’s’ lives might be far more complicated than we think, and that pressure to succeed can become overwhelming for some students. The temptation to use prescription drugs from peers and the media is very present, and because these substances aren’t illegal, some kids rationalize their use and experiment with pharmaceuticals.

Fallick advised parents to have regular conversations about the topic, and be mindful of what’s in the medicine cabinet as reports of missing medications are all too common. Over prescribing by some physicians and the ease of internet purchasing can lead to the accumulation of old prescriptions, like pain killers from a prior dental procedure.  She urged the audience to get rid of these drugs. To avoid flushing pills down the toilet and risking pharmaceutical pollution in our water, many Westchester pharmacies will take back unused drugs. 

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009

My Son the Athletic Supporter

"He's more spazzy than sporty," I'd explain when moms would ask me which soccer-football-baseball team my son was playing on. I felt a little bad putting him down like that, but it was meant to be shorthand for "my kid's a non-athlete and I'm totally ok with it." 

Even if I wasn't sometimes. 

One part of me, (the incredibly lazy part), was thrilled not to have to schlep my kid to mid-week practices and get up early on the weekends to go to travel games against other 3rd and 4th graders. All of whom were clearly professional athletes in the making.

The other part of me felt bad, because it made both him, and me, outsiders to a major aspect of the social network in our community.

His being non-athletic, or should I say completely disinterested in athletics, expanded far beyond the sports fields. Last year, while others kids played kickball during recess, he was content to dig holes or make up games like "fire pit" where you have to stay on the rocks or risk falling into the pretend moat of lava. Behavior that made him, how do I put this nicely, not exactly unpopular, but definitely somewhat invisible.

So last summer my husband and I decided, in an effort to put him on the social radar, that he needed to be tudored in "Sports as a Second Language. (SSL)." We figured even if he couldn't play sports, the least he could do is be able to talk about them.

Our first step was to start recording Sports Center on ESPN. Each day we'd put it on for a few minutes so that he could see the highlights reel. That way he'd get the basic gist and at least a few phrases to pepper his conversations with. Like, "The whole free agent system is really corroding the integrity of the game," and such.

The two stories that grabbed his attention immediately were Michael Vick's conviction and Brett Favre coming out of retirement. The next day he went to camp armed with this new information, and Voila! came home thrilled that he was able to talk about it with a bunch of boys. "They couldn't believe that I knew about Brett Favre!" he said proudly.

Well, success breeds success and by the time he went back to school he knew enough to hold his own during the school yard discussions about A-Rod, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. Kids started looking at him a little differently, and suddenly he wasn't "the kid who stands on the rocks during recess." He was "the kid who stands on the rocks during recess who knows a thing or two about the Yanks' chances in the World Series."

Then, with football season approaching we took his sports education to the next level. We realized, even if he would never don a cup and shoulder pads, he should understand the ins and outs of the game.

That's where the Wii came in. I went and bought a used copy of Madden '08.

Read more....

Trustees Say NO to Tavern Owner

At a special meeting on Monday night, the Scarsdale Village Trustees indicated they would vote unanimously against Frederick S. Fish’s proposal to purchase land adjacent to the Heathcote Tavern to facilitate development of 2-4 Weaver Street into a multi-use complex of residential and retail space. Residents were braced for a fight and turned out in force to voice their objections to Fish’s demands that were outlined in a January 20th letter to the Trustees. The meeting, originally scheduled for the third floor meeting room of Village Hall had to be moved downstairs to Rutherford Hall to accommodate the overflow crowd.

However, the fight never materialized. Trustee Sharon Lindsay, who had made a convincing argument in favor of a deal brokered with Fish last year, presided over the meeting, which was attended by the Heathcote Five Corners Coalition, representatives for Frederick S. Fish and a host of other interested parties.

She opened by giving the group a recap of events to date to provide background and perspective on the negotiations that go back to 2006. She explained that in 2008 Fish had a “pre-app” meeting with the Planning Board to discuss the development of senior housing on the site. At that time the Planning Board recommended that Fish ask the Village for a long-term lease or the right to purchase the contested strip of Village-owned land. During this period the Land Use Committee fully considered Fish’s proposal and commentary from concerned residents.

Based on these discussions, Fish came forward with a proposal for age restricted housing and agreed to maintain the façade of Heathcote Tavern and to investigate ways of ameliorating the traffic impact of the project by applying to Westchester County for access to the Heathcote Bypass from the rear of the property. His plan at the time called for fourteen residential units and a building no larger than 27,000 square feet.

In response to considerable resistance from the community, the Village Trustees voted in June, 2009 to return Fish’s proposal to purchase the strip back to the Land Use Committee for further study. At the time, some warned that if Fish was denied the Village land, his next proposal might not be so accommodating.

Fish’s representatives met with the Village Trustees again in the fall of 2009 to address concerns, including clarification on age-restricted housing, preservation of the façade and the timing of the contract and covenance. However, according to Lindsay, communications came to a halt after November and Fish failed to indicate whether or not he would sign a re-negotiated agreement if one could be hammered out. On January 20, 2010 a new proposal was received by the Village that outlined three scenarios.

Lindsay turned the meeting over to Michael Zarin, Fish’s attorney, who was invited to review the proposal and present the scenarios. Zarin mockingly told the group that “it was good to be back,” and said that he was here in the “hope of arriving at a reasonable agreement.” “We have been at this for almost two years,” he stated, and expresseing his desire for closure and for no “finger pointing.” However, he warned that if the Village could not consent to a land sale, “then we all have to do what we have to do.” With that ominous claim he went on to tell the group that “the world has changed since 2008 and it was now difficult to get financing for deals with age restrictions.” He went on to add that the restaurant was now empty and the property was generating no income. He added, “If we could have closed this prior we would have been in a different position.”

He presented no evidence to support why it would have been easier to get financing in June 2009 than today and did not supply any information to demonstrate that Fish had applied for, or been denied funding for age-restricted housing.

Zarin went on to review the three options presented in the proposal. Versions A and B were contingent upon the land sale and Version C is what Fish claimed is their “as of right” plan if the Village did not cooperate. Both A and B called for larger properties than outlined in the prior agreement, and did not provide for age-restricted housing. With fourteen new units, Zarin claimed that averages showed that only seven school-age children would be added to the Scarsdale Schools, a figure that raised eyebrows around the room. With proposal B, where two residential units would be built in the Tavern Building, Zarin danced around how the façade could be kept intact if these new apartments required windows. Even less clear was why Fish could no longer apply to Westchester County for access to the Heathcote Bypass. Making a vague claim about the sentiments of the “powers that be,” he told the group they would not pursue this option.

However, when he turned to explain Option C, the fallback plan, he seemed to be describing virtually the same size buildings as outlined in options A and B. This four story “as-of-right” building would contain 12 apartments in 27,000 square feet of space plus a 10,000 square foot retail space on the street level that he claimed could be rented to yet another drugstore. The developers assert they can meet the requirement for 100 parking spaces by having parking on two subterranean levels.

With that, Zarin ended his presentation, reminding the group that this has been a “dynamic process” and that they have “tried their best.”

Trustee Lindsay spoke first on behalf of the Trustees and in stern tones told Zarin that she did not find the new proposal to be within the spirit of the original agreement, which provided benefits to the Village in exchange for the land sale including senior housing, access for traffic to the bypass and a building of limited bulk and density. Since neither of the proposals provided these benefits to the Village she said, “I cannot recommend that we even consider this and recommend to the Board that they vote 'no' to proposals A and B.” Trustee Richard Toder concurred, saying that age-restricted housing was an important piece of the original plan and that he would vote against it. David Irwin reminded the group that he was against the proposal in June ’09 and added that without provision for age-restricted housing, the limitations on building size or protection of the façade the proposal was not in any effect “more favorable.” Trustee Hochvert felt no need to amplify what had already been said and at that point Lindsay indicated that a motion to deny the sale would be unanimously approved by the Trustees.

Though it was a temporary victory for neighborhood residents, Fish will certainly return with the plan to develop the site. As the owner, he does have the right to build within our zoning code and this was just one more step in a very lengthy process. However, there are many questions about how much can be shoehorned into the existing footprint and to date Fish has not provided site plans to back up his proposal.

The Heathcote Five Corners Coalition is already urging the Village Planning Board to “fully enforce all existing parking, setback and zoning requirement without variances” if Fish should apply to build on the site. They are also asking the Village to “identify and implement any action that can be taken to preserve the Tavern building” that would not be protected under our current preservation laws for another fifteen years. According to the Coalition, if Fish did want to demolish the Tavern he would need to apply to the Committee on Historic Preservation who would consider eight criteria for preservation, among which age is only one. Furthermore, the building is already listed in the Westchester County Inventory of Historic Places

In the interim, it surely would seem easier for Fish to lease the space to another restaurant and generate some income rather than leave it empty. Heathcote Tavern ran a very successful business for many years and it is puzzling why they left, and why so many others have failed in their wake. Mario Batali – can we interest you in a restaurant in Scarsdale?

Photo courtesy of the Heathcote Five Corners Coalition

Reading the Tea(bagger) Leaves from Next Week's New York State Assembly Special Elections

At the start of 2010 there was a minor exodus of members from the State Assembly --dropping out to take jobs that in some cases were a step up from the assembly-- and some that seemed less like a step up than an opportunity to just get the hell out - an indication of just how powerless members of the State Assembly feel about their clout regardless of party affiliation. Governor Paterson called for special elections to take place next Tuesday, February 9th to fill vacancies in 4 assembly districts. Two seats look to be solid holds for the previous incumbent party -- and two races may be viewed as harbingers of what may happen in November 2010 election -- and particularly whether the New York State Senate will revert to Republican control or enhance the bare Democratic majority. Those who win the seats on February 9th will have the privilege of running again in November for full 2-year terms. The party candidates were not chosen by primary -- but by the respective party district leaders (read party bosses....)

Here are the 4 contests:

Westchester County
-- Assembly District 89 (covers Harrison, White Plains and parts of northern Westchester – though not Scarsdale): Adam Bradley resigned this assembly seat to become mayor of White Plains in January. The Democratic party candidate is current Westchester County legislator Peter Harckham. Harckham has a background as an affordable housing developer and won election to the Westchester county board in 2007. Harckham has also received the backing of the Working Families Party and has won an endorsement from the AFL-CIO. The Republican in this race is former Lewisboro Town Board member Bob Castelli, a Vietnam veteran and former New York State trooper. Castelli unsuccessfully ran for the assembly once before in 2004 garnering the endorsement of the New York Times when it was on an oust-all-incumbents rampage. Both Harckham and Castelli vow to fight property tax increases, with Castelli vowing to fight against state mandates but also aligning himself with the populist tea party movement. Castelli has also been an active blogger and user of Twitter for the campaign. The Democrats have a 10,000 registered voter edge over the Republicans, but in a special election all bets are off. Harckham and Castelli are known in the northern Westchester part of the district -- but have limited name recognition in the higher populated southern end. This too is a jump ball and will depend on the GOTV effort waged by each candidate.

Suffolk County
- Assembly District 3: Democratic incumbent Patricia Eddington decided to abdicate her assembly seat to run and win election for Brookhaven Town Clerk (state assembly to town clerk??). An aide to Eddington, Lauren Thoden was selected by the Democrats to succeed her former boss. Thoden is a lawyer who pledges to be a full time assembly member and work to cut state spending, reduce taxes maintain school aid to her district. In addition to the Democratic line, Thoden is backed by the Working Families Party and the Suffolk Independence Party. She has also been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Her website is The Republican candidate is businessman, Dean Murray, who ran and lost a race for the Suffolk County Legislature last November against Jack Eddington, Patricia Eddington's husband. Murray owns a long island based advertising and publishing company, and is aligning himself with the school tax cap advocates -- and filed petitions to run on his home-grown School Tax Relief Party line. Murray's website is This race will be all about the get-out-the-vote effort. The party registration split in the district is relatively even between Democrats and Republicans. This is a jump-ball election.

Nassau County - Assembly District 15: The Republican incumbent Rob Walker resigned his assembly seat in order to become the Deputy County Executive to surprise the winner of the Nassau County Executive race, Ed Mangano, who defeated Tom Suozzi. The Democratic candidate in the special election, Matt Meng, is a self-described environmentalist, owns a foreign auto repair shop, and heads a civic association in East Norwich. Meng ran and lost a race last year for Oyster Bay Town Board and previously ran and lost a race for the State Senate. Meng advocates capping property taxes and reforming unfunded mandates and promotes new mass transit projects for the Long Island Railroad. Meng says he will vote to control taxes, help small businesses, and protect the environment. Meng has a campaign website at The Republican candidate for the special election is Michael Montesano, a lawyer and former New York City police detective. Montesano, who is also running on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, ran and lost a competitive race last year for the Nassau county legislature. Montesano vows to vote against any tax increase and wants to roll back the MTA tax and restore cuts to school districts. The assembly district registration gives an edge to the Republicans and they should hold onto this seat. A good summary of the candidates can be found here courtesy of the Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot:

Queens County
-- Assembly District 24: Here we find a game of dynastic family musical chairs -- via New York City council term limits. This is a Weprin family legacy seat. Term-limited councilman David Weprin will be sliding over to the assembly seat formerly held by his brother, Mark, who ran and won the city council election---for David's term limited council seat last November. Mark Weprin secured the family assembly seat in a 1994 special election to succeed his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. For this special election, David Weprin is running on the Democratic Party, Working Families Party, and the Independence Party lines. David Weprin's opponent for this assembly seat, Robert Friedrich, was Mark Weprin's Democratic primary opponent in last year's city council race. Friedrich is a registered Democrat running on the Republican Party line. The Democratic party holds a strong registration advantage here --and given Weprin's name recognition this race will be no contest.

While Montesano and Weprin should win their races, if the Republicans take back AD#3 with Murray and AD#89 with Castelli -- this will be a sign of trouble for the Democratic party up and down the line -- likely accelerating the exit of David Paterson from the gubernatorial race -- and giving better odds to the Republicans retaking control of the State Senate in November.

David A. Singer is a former political consultant/campaign professional and political junkie currently toiling as a lawyer in Westchester and managing real estate and media investments.

Scarsdale Students Perform Beauty and the Beast at Tarrytown Music Hall

A group of Scarsdale students are among the cast of the Random Farm Kids’ theatre production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr. that will be presented at the Tarrytown Music Hall, January 29 – February 7th.

This 90-minute adaptation of the play includes all the well-known songs and characters from the Disney production, including illusion and dancing flatware. The production includes over 120 young people who are divided into four casts. They come from throughout the tri-state area and bring a wealth of theater, film and television experience.

Tickets for the play are $16 for children under 12 and seniors, and $18 for adults. To reserve tickets, go to or call TicketForce at 877-0840-0457. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, visit the theater’s website at

Show times:
The play runs from January 29th – February 7th
Showtimes are: 
Friday at 10 am and 7 pm 

Saturdays at 1 pm

Sundays at 1 pm

Tarrytown Music Hall
13 Main Street

Pictured here are the Scarsdale students who will perform in the show:
Top row:  Sarah Cammarata, Rebecca Jacobs, Matthew Seife, Andrew Wang, Margaret Gandolfo

Middle row:  Julia Rutkovsky, Alex Rossano, Shira Zisholtz

Bottom row:  Sophia Roth, Lily Spitalny