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A Virtual Groundbreaking at White Plains Library

WPgroundbreakingThe White Plains Public Library held a groundbreaking ceremony for a major renovation of their building on Martine Avenue on Wednesday morning September 7th.

Friends of the library, BrianKenneydonors, library leaders and local politicians gathered to celebrate a successful fundraising campaign that will underwrite construction of "The Hub," a new environment to meet the needs of adult patrons from 20-somethings to seniors. The project will be financed by $1 million from an anonymous gift to the library matched by the city of White Plains as well $500,000 from the White Plains Library Association.

Plans for the Hub include updated lighting and furniture, workspaces for reading and study and increased capacity for computers and new technology such as a 3-D printer and circulating i-Pads. A community room will be available to host programs and events and a new café with seating on Martine Avenue will serve as a gathering place for patrons.

Library Director Brian Kenney thanked everyone involved and said the Hub would be a space to "meet-up, explore and unwind." He noted that plans were realized through a public/private partnership and acknowledging White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, Kenney said, "We are lucky to work in a city with a Mayor who reads." He explained that "Construction will begin in September and is expected to last a year.

roachPaulinDiane Tabakman, President of the White Plains Library Foundation thanked donors and the city of White Plains for their "transformational gifts," and noted that the library will hold its gala on Saturday night October 22 with guest speaker Frank Bruni. She also thanked Foundation Executive Director and Scarsdale resident Nancy Rubini for the creativity and enthusiasm she has brought to the job.

Mayor Tom Roach said going to the library was "Like shopping without a credit card," and said that the community is committed to the library. He explained that it was one of the first places to re-open after Hurricane Sandy, giving residents the opportunity to re-connect. He also noted that the television show "Billions" has used the White Plains Library as a filming location, generating additional funds for the budget.

Also on hand were State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins.
rubinicousins

Construction Accident on Wynmor Road

puper2The arm of a cement crane, working at a building site a 30 Wynmor Road fell on the roof of the neighboring home at 32 Wynmor Road at 4:40 pm on Monday August 29. J&J Concrete was pumping concrete for the foundation of a new home at 30 Wynmor. According to the police report, the operator said that "while the arm was still fully extended, he inadvertently lifted the stabilizers that support the truck. As a result of the weight, the truck tipped to the right and it's arm came to a rest on the roof of 32 Wynmor. Another worker on the scene used an excavator to counterbalance the weight of the truck to prevent it from tipping over. Mr. Carducci chained the front bucket of the excavator to the side of the pumper, helping to secure it in place."

pumper6The neighbors at 32 Wynmor were home at the time of the accident. A 2 year-old was asleep in a bedroom that was closest to the impact, but neither the child nor his grandmother were injured. They were taken out of the house. Since there was a language barrier, a neighbor helped translate the discussion between the residents and the police.

pumper5When the Fire Department arrived, they found that the pumper was near a power line and Con Edison was called to shut it down. Captain Gleason from the Fire Department and Danny Diaz from the Building Department checked the house for structural damage and other hazards but found no major problems.

pumper4Two heavy-duty two trucks were called to lift the pumper arm off the roof of the house and level the pumper truck.


The new house is being built by Andrew Silverstein of Castle Walk Development. He was not on the scene at the time of the accident.

Photos courtesy of Jon Thaler. See more here:

Email FOIL Reveals that J.F. Ryan Failed to Meet Terms of his Contract with Scarsdale

mayra1This statement was read by Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez at the Village Board meeting on August 9, 2016.

Good evening. My name is Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez and I am at Fox Meadow Road.

On July 12, I stated that both J.F. Ryan and the Village Assessor, Ms. Nanette Albanese had failed to meet the terms of the Ryan revaluation contract with the Village. Since then hundreds of emails between J.F. Ryan and the Village Assessor's office and a number of spreadsheets and PDF files that we acquired through a Freedom of Information Law Request (FOIL) request, unfortunately, prove that my team and I are correct. I will only highlight a few places where Ryan and the Assessor have failed the terms of the contract. In the contract, Page 1, paragraph 6, Valuation, it states that J.F. Ryan has to produce a defensible property value for each and every Town parcel. No email or PDF files, that the Village sent us show that this task was completed.

Also on page 1, 'verified sales shall be used for calibration of all valuation models, unless otherwise noted by the Contractor and Town Assessor.' Ryan discarded another 148 sales. Emails of late June all the way to July 13th show that Ms. Albanese and Mr. McEvily were not notified and had no documentation to show why the sales discarded. In an email addressed to me just yesterday on August 8th, the village stated that personnel did not have the documentation and that I would have to wait until August 17th to hear from Ryan. In other words, despite our repeated requests for almost two months, Ryan has not even bothered to respond to Ms. Albanese.

On pages 1-2 of the contract, 'all valuation testing must be reviewed and approved by the town assessor before parcel specific values are approved.' No email or PDF document show that Ms. Albanese completed this task. Moreover, I received an email from village hall on Friday, August 5th, that states that 'there is no document that shows that the Assessor verified the preliminary report. There is no document that indicates the quantitative description about the methodology' used in Ryan's model. I looked through the preliminary report and it does not contain any explanation of how the model was designed, if data were validated or if anyone backtested the model.

Also on page 2, the contractor is supposed to abide by Standard 6 of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP). He did not document excluded sales, so he did not meet the Practices or that part of the contract.

At the bottom of page 4, it states that the 'contractor's selection of personnel in performing this agreement shall also be subject to the Town Assessor's approval prior to the commencement of work and at all times throughout the term of this Agreement.' This part of the contract most definitely was not fulfilled. Not only is there not one single email or PDF document that shows that Ms. Albanese called to check Ryan's references. According to the emails in our possession, Ryan introduces himself to Albanese on April 12, 2012 stating that he wants to provide monitoring services. She responds by stating that 'she does not know his firm...and could he send his resume.' Six days later he sends his CV that states that he graduated from 'Pennsylvania State University, Masters Degree - 1978 in public finance/administration,' and earlier from 'Merrimack College, BA, North Andover, Massachusetts, Bachelors Degree, 1977 with a concentration in economics/political science.' Nothing in the resume states whether he took courses in math, statistics, or computerized mass appraisals.

Emails show they meet April 19th. JohnRyanThere is no documentation or emails to show if anyone else was at the meeting; nor do we know what questions Albanese asked Ryan. As of today, we have yet to find a single email or document from anyone writing a reference or recommendation letter for Ryan about his previous work.

Shortly after they met, Ryan send an Albanese with nothing written other than two links to articles about a man who had run his own appraising business. The man had been arrested for fraud and had to do a bit of jail time and wear an ankle bracelet. Who is this man? Why did Ryan send this email? Why do we not see an email response? From that day on, the emails between the two of them increase dramatically all the way until four years later on July 13, 2016.

To date, no document proves that Albanese or the Village Manager vetted any of Ryan's associates. In multiple documents at different times from 2012 and even until June 20, 2016, Ryan presented different people who might perform monitoring or reval services for Scarsdale. There is no proof that Ryan did a background check on any of his staff.

What then, do the emails prove thus far? The emails prove that Scarsdale Village Hall is exposed to significant operational risk, that is, a potential breach in the day-to-day running of an organization due to weaknesses in its staff, processes, technology or external threats that can happen when projects or assessments are outsourced. Email after email proves that there are significant people problems at Village Hall. Multiple managers have allowed the Village Assessor, Nanette Albanese, to run her office as if is she were an omnipotent khan in some far flung hidden corner of the Mongol empire. I have repeatedly written Ms Albanese with questions; she has ignored me. I wrote Ms. Albanese last week asking if she could attend today's meeting, and she wrote me that 'she was not available, but that she would also answer all question on August 17.'

On August 5, 2016, Village Hall sent me an email stating that 'There is no document, or current resume of the Assessor and her staff.' Hence, we cannot tell whether Albanese has the math, statistics, or expertise in computerized appraisal model assessments to be able to vet beforehand or monitor Ryan or any other appraiser who walks through Village Hall.

Back on May 22, 2012, Ryan sent his proposal to be a monitor. And on July 9, Albanese writes him 'I'm reviewing your proposal one last time and note that you have not included any time for the review, critique of the models, which is critical – that's not my expertise. Also, since you've already missed the data collection training part, the proposal will need to be modified to remove that expense – at least for the 2 training sessions that have already taken place.' This email is important because it shows that Ryan not only did not include these important items as part of his monitoring role and he missed a data collection training session, but it is also an admission on Albanese's part that she was not in a position to review or critique Tyler's model.

Also, on October 20, 2014, Ms. Albanese writes to Ryan, 'Just know that I have no intention of explaining how a direct market model works, ............ that's not my expertise.'

His start date was July 30, 2013, but Albanese starts to forward him emails written by John Valente of Tyler Tech. From July 2012-July 2014, there are numerous emails between Ryan and Albanese about the Tyler reval.

2014

The email exchanges between Mr. Ryan and Ms. Albanese starting in August 2014 throughout 2015 show an increasingly close almost cozy working relationship.

On August 6, 2014, Albanese while expressing her sympathy to Ryan because he did not get a project in Greenwich, mentions that she needs a proposal for him for either a 2015 or 2016 Scarsdale reval. 'Sorry you didn't get the Greenwich work ...... Have no fear ... Scarsdale will have to do something before long, so hope you'll be available then.'

On September 4, 2014, in responding to an email about Market Place radio report about the Tyler Assessment, Albanese writes 'Were your wars ringing about an hour ago ??? Need to talk to you tomorrow about getting a proposed plan and bid from you for an update, either in 2015 or 2016.'

On Sept 8, 2014, Ryan sends a timeline to do a reval in 2015 which would have had results ready by the beginning of January 2016. Albanese suggests going out to dinner to speak further.

The next couple of days on September 2014, emails show Ryan and Albanese discussing during working hours whether they should go out to dinner at the modest City Diner to which Ryan counters with the more upmarket Italian restaurants of La Manda, Mulino's, Tre Angelina, Buno Amici, or Sapori.
Who paid for this or other dinners? If Ryan did, is there a conflict of interest, since he was trying to get business from the Village? If we as taxpayers paid, where is our osso bucco or tiramisu. Also, emails during 2014 also show that one of Ryan's associates periodically sent bottles of wine to Ms. Albanese.

As a way to get Mayor Al Gatta to be in favor of the reval, Ms. Albanese sent a letter to John Wolham of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance's Office of Real Property on September 24, 2014 trying to convince him to look favorably upon on having a reval just two years after the Tyler one had just been completed, despite the fact that the state recommendation is that an assessment be done every 4 years. Albanese also wanted to convince him about using Ryan's "market model," Mr. Wolham expressed considerable skepticism. Mr. Wolham then conferred with his colleagues at ORPTS and found that they shared his skepticism. Indeed, no one at ORPTS could recall any revaluation projects in New York State in which Ryan's approach had been used. One colleague did recall: this approach being discussed in a class taken quite some time ago. The instructors evidently presented this as a possibility, i.e., utilizing only a regression model to value residential properties. It was stressed, however, this would require:

'1. LOTS of sales.
2. REALLY GOOD inventory and well-defined, homogeneous neighborhoods.
3. An EXPERT modeler'

"The consensus here [in ORPTS] is the conditions for this approach to be successful would be rare. Technically, an independent value from one of the three approaches is required to complete a reappraisal. While this would be a form of market, given the experiences in the initial project, I can't help but think this single approach to value would hamstring you to a degree. Where it works -- in other words, where the model does a good job predicting value for those unsold homes reasonably similar to those that sold -- no problem, but you have sufficient numbers of unique housing stock to make me question for how many homes this will work well. And what alternate will you then use? I can't help but think an additional approach would be helpful, especially a comparable sales estimate and I don't recall from our conversation why the additional use of a comparable sales approach would be problematic."

The Assessor and Ryan privately derided Mr. Wolham's expert advice, especially Mr. Wolham's suggestion that an additional approach -- a comparable sales estimate -- would be helpful. Ryan writes to Ms. Albanese, the Scarsdale Assesssor: "You very effectively exposed the idiocy of this statement by describing succinctly that comp sales in fact caused most of your problems." Ryan continues: "As you can surmise from the tone of my remarks, it annoys the h... out of me that the State has the nerve to pass judgment on your professional opinion as to how to best proceed going forward..." Ms. Albanese responds: "[N]ow they want us to do it the same old, same old way and expect it to somehow turn out better. If it was the best approach to begin with, how and why did it turn out to be such a disaster. I actually wrote it originally with the word "disaster," but decided I shouldn't put that in writing ... just in case. Funny you chose the same word."

Albanese did not write the email to Wolham on her own; at every turn, she would send information to Ryan so that he would write comments. In essence, she is but his ghostwriter. Despite what Wolham said, Albanese proceeded to be insistent with the Mayor and Trustees that a reval was necessary.

On Nov 5, 2014 Gatta and Albanese sent a memo, mostly written by Ryan, recommending to Mayor Steves the use of a direct market model. Yet, Albanese had already stated in 2012 and 2014 that reviewing and critiquing models was not her expertise. How could either be in a position to recommend any type of model?

On November 21, 2014 Albanese asks Ryan to write his own contract, which he did and sent in to Albanese; this was a little over 2 months before the reval was EVEN voted on. Albanese helped make changes to the contract.

2015

On January 29, 2015, Albanese wrote to Ryan about the Board of Trustees approving the 2016 reval 'It passed ........ !!!!!!! They want us to do our first public meeting soon. Ttyl ... Busy, busy day tomorrow, but will talk. And that she was ecstatic writing that she was 'In a tizzy ......... lol. Any other thoughts you may have on the matter that justifies doing it sooner rather than later and that you have not previously mentioned, would be appreciated. I will assume, however, that you've probably covered it all, or most of the important parts. New developments ...... will tell you all about it later. Ugghhhh ...... I definitely need a new job. Thanks.'

Why would any assessor be so excited a reval had passed when this would be months of work for her staff and she? They are public employees; they do not get a bonus.

2015 emails show Albanese worked closely with Ryan to argue against anyone asking why the reval should happen in 2015 or 2016, 'Anyway ....... we do need to put our heads together to ADEQUATELY and SUCCINCTLY respond to the questions about why now and not later, ok. Will talk .... feel better. See you Tuesday night.'

In Feburary 2015, even when Ryan was traveling through Italy with his wife, he always found time to write to Ms. Albanese. With the exception that the email exchange included mocking and criticizing two Scarsdale residents, the emails were filled with detailed passages extolling the sights and sounds of Italy, practically reminiscent of E.M. Forester's novel 'Room With a View'

2016

Emails in March 2016 show that J.F. Ryan and one of his subcontractors, both unvetted by Village personnel, worked on Village premises using village laptops, which have access to the village network. An email of March 15, 2016 showed that an Assessor's staff member even offered to let Ryan and his subcontractor use Assessor's staff passwords to connect to laptops which have access to the Village network. This is potentially a significant cybersecurity problem, particularly when contractors and subcontractors are not properly vetted.

Emails from May –June 2016 are truly disturbing in that they prove that there was little oversight in data inputs and model risk governance. J.F. Ryan and one of his subcontractors, all members of the Assessor's staff, and Michael Trapp, an IT subcontractor, all were making changes to construction grades, traffic multipliers, and other data entry elements that change the value of an assessment. The tentative assessment was supposed to be completed by June 1st, but emails show that changes were being done and errors were all being corrected all the way until June 7th.

As late as June 1st at 5:56pm, Ryan had not finished the revaluation report. Moreover, he requested remote access to the Village network to be able to work on the reval report. Again, as a contractor he should not have had remote access to the Village network.

I have yet to see documentation that Albanese verified Ryan's final report which he handed in June 3rd at 4:30 pm. How could she when no one at Village Hall imposed deadlines on him to hand over preliminary and final reports and data changes were still being made by multiple people on June 7th? The Village Assessor missed that Ryan excluded over 40% of the sales and did not document the exclusions as per domestic and international appraisal standards.

June 9th after Trustee Jane Veron recommended putting together a Frequently Asked Questions, Albanese immediately writes Ryan asking 'Would you be interested in helping us out with this?'

June 10 Patrick McEvily discovers that a resident's assessment had a pool; in this heat, I am sure that the resident would have been thrilled, but alas, there was no pool.

In a June 15 email, Albanese gloated that on June 14th when angry residents came before the Mayor and Board of Trustees, she was in the back and hence was 'unscathed.' Ironically while she criticized us, the residents for, allegedly disrespecting the Board of Trustees, she simultaneously criticized the mayor for not being able to control the meeting.

On June 23, almost a month after residents had been protesting the revaluation, Albanese asked Ryan if he was interested in handling PR on behalf of the Village. Defying chutzpah, he put together a contract offering PR services and send the contract to Albanese.

All throughout June , Nanette forwards residents' letters to Ryan. Isn't he no longer under contract with the Village? Interestingly, we do not see email responses from Ryan.

At the end of June, Village Manager Steve Pappalardo stated to me in an email on June 2016 that he 'never Googled Ryan' before he was hired. I have yet to see anything that tells me that the Village Attorney, Mayor or Board of Trustees did either. Otherwise, they would have found articles stating that Ryan had had problems in Rockhingham, Vermont, and Westport and Norwalk, CT.

On June 30, Assistant Village Manager, Robert Cole writes Ryan directly asking about missing sales because the Village needed 'to provide to ORPTS for their review of our process.' Almost two hours later, all Ryan can answer Mr. Cole is 'Need to direct questions to Nanette.' The following day, on July 1st Patrick McEvily alerts Nanette that Josh Frankel had requested information on why sales are missing. She immediately forwarded that email to Ryan. In fact, the emails we have show that from mid-June-to mid-July everytime my team and I sent an email or published an article, Albanese immediately forwarded everything to Ryan. There is no email response from him that was included in the batch that we received.

On July 6th again McEvily writes asking for specific reasons why sales were left out; we do not have an email proving that Ryan responded. On July 13th does Albanese implores Ryan to produce the documentation as to why he excluded over 40% of the sales. ''I need your help ASAP, in order to respond to public comments and requests for the sales that you DID NOT use for the 2016 reval. I would appreciate it if you would send me a report of sales ASAP that you DID NOT use in the modeling process for the 2016 tentative assessment roll. Without it, we will not be able to specifically identify this pool of data. Yes, we can run a report in PAS for ALL sales during the period and have done that, but that does NOT specifically identify the sales that you DID NOT use. Your list of sales not used will prevent us from having to spent valuable time in doing this effort manually. If you could get back to me today, or tomorrow at the latest in this matter, I would sincerely appreciate it.' No email response was in our FOIL.

You need to invalidate the revaluation, because the terms of the contract were not fulfilled. Moreover as a Board and mayor please exercise your fiduciary duty and bring legal recourse against Mr. Ryan. And please God, you are going to need a lot of detergent to clean-up the Assessor's office.

Mayor Issues Guidelines for Wednesday meeting with J.F. Ryan

JohnRyanThe much-anticipated meeting with J.F. Ryan, the man who conducted the 2016 revaluation in Scarsdale, will be held in Scarsdale Village Hall on Wednesday night August 17 at 6:55 pm.

And you don't have to come to Village Hall to follow the conversation. In addition to being broadcast on the Scarsdale cable TV channels, the meeting will be streamed live online. The Village will include a "Live Broadcast" icon on its home page, which will direct interested online viewers to http://www.scarsdale.com/live.

In response to residents' requests to question Mr. Ryan, the Mayor forwarded the following guidelines for those who pose questions during the session:

From Mayor Jon Mark:
In addition to the written question format previously reported, we recognize the desire of residents to ask questions of Mr. Ryan and Ms. Albanese directly at the meeting scheduled for August 17, 2016. Therefore, there will be a portion of the meeting following his presentation in which residents will be invited to ask their questions. Those who do so are requested to keep in mind the following:

1. Submitting questions in writing is the primary method to be utilized at the meeting.

2. The purpose of the meeting is to hear what Mr. Ryan and Ms. Albanese have to say about the implementation of the 2016 revaluation.

3. Questions should therefore be focused on what Mr. Ryan did in executing the revaluation and on the methodology and analysis he used to develop his model and derive the tentative property assessments.

4. The goal is to have an orderly meeting in which information about the revaluation process is elicited and conveyed.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: Bob Berg Responds to Dorothy Finger

letterThis letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Robert Berg: I read Dorothy Finger's letter of resignation from the Board of Assessment Review with complete and utter astonishment! It became instantly clear to me that Mayor Mark and Village Attorney Esannason have caused Ms. Finger tremendous personal angst and created major problems for the Board of Assessment Review in carrying out our Herculean task this year. Ms. Finger's ad hominem attacks on me in her letter seem based on her misapprehension that I, along with Bob Harrison, pressured the Mayor and the Village Attorney to cause Ms. Finger to recuse herself from this year's hearings.

Speaking for myself, I never thought for a moment that Ms. Finger should have recused herself from the BAR this year. I never asked the Mayor, the Village Attorney, the Village Assessor, the Village Manager, or anyone else to have Ms. Finger recuse herself. I'm sure Bob Harrison did not either. Nor did any member of the Board of Assessment Review. We had no reason to do so since Ms. Finger had ably served on the BAR last summer, and we welcomed her continued participation.

Ms. Finger's letter reveals that Mayor Mark and Village Attorney Esannason asked her to recuse herself from this year's proceedings. Ms. Finger erroneously attributes their request to pressure from me and Bob Harrison.

I am truly appalled how the Mayor and the Village Attorney are mishandling every aspect of this Ryan revaluation disaster. It's really amateur hour over at Village Hall.

So what am I talking about? On Grievance Day, June 21,2016, Scarsdale property owners had filed approximately 1050 grievances challenging their tentative assessments arising from the 2016 Ryan revaluation. That day, the Board of Assessment Review convened to begin its public hearing. Nearly two hundred property owners had scheduled themselves to appear personally before the BAR -- an unprecedented number which necessitated three days of hearings.

At the start of the June 21 hearing, Dorothy Finger appeared and announced that she was recusing herself from this year's deliberations without explaining why. I asked her why, and she fleetingly stated something like "because of this year's troubles." She then disappeared.
We later learned from Village Attorney Esannason that Ms. Finger intended to remain as a member of the BAR notwithstanding her recusal from all 1050 grievances. We asked him why and he said nothing.

Given the enormous volume of work the BAR faced this year and the need for a 3 person quorum to conduct our business, speaking for myself, I felt that Ms. Finger could not simply recuse herself from this year's grievances, but needed to resign immediately, and a replacement had to be found as soon as possible. I explained this to the Mayor and the Village Attorney.

The urgent need for a fifth active member of the BAR became clear when we tried to schedule the third day of public hearings. Over 40 property owners had signed up for a scheduled hearing of the BAR on the evening of June 29. That hearing had to be cancelled at the last moment because a quorum of BAR members could not be assembled. Instead, the hearing had to be rescheduled for the morning of July 1 -- the day before the long holiday weekend.

I implored the Village Attorney, the Village Manager, the Mayor, and the Trustees over the next month at Village Board meetings and in letters to convince Ms. Finger to resign and to install a replacement member of the BAR. After weeks of delay -- and another cancelled BAR meeting for lack of a quorum, Ms. Finger agreed to resign, and resident Jane Curley graciously volunteered to serve in her stead and was appointed by the Board of Trustees. Ms. Curley received her mandatory training and began serving on August 1.

At this point, the BAR has determined about 1/2 of the 1050 grievances. Because of upcoming planned vacations, Ms. Curley's participation will be vital to maintaining a quorum and thereby ensuring that the BAR completes its onerous job so that the final assessment roll is timely filed on September 15.

So why do I think the Mayor and Village Attorney have acted egregiously? Well, THEY NEVER TOLD MS. FINGER, THE MEMBERS OF THE BAR, OR THE PUBLIC THAT THEY (AND THEY ALONE) WERE THE ONES WHO WANTED MS. FINGER TO RECUSE HERSELF THIS YEAR. Ms. Finger understandably, but incorrectly, thought they were responding to outside pressure – and believed the pressure came from me and Bob Harrison.

As is apparent from her letter of resignation, Ms. Finger is very hurt at the criticism she has received for having to recuse herself when she was ready, willing, and able to serve, and then having to resign from the BAR. What's disgraceful to everyone involved is the Mayor's and Village Attorney's failure to set the record straight from the outset – that they, for whatever undisclosed reasons, wanted Ms. Finger to recuse herself from this year's proceedings but stay on the BAR.

Only they know what they were thinking – if indeed they were thinking – when they made that unwarranted request. But they have a hell of a nerve to leave Ms. Finger out there blowing in the wind as public pressure mounted to have a full working BAR.

I understand that Ms. Finger suggests in her letter of resignation from the BAR that I too resign from the BAR because of my purportedly "unprofessional conduct." I have a thick skin, and now understanding the misapprehension under which she was operating, I don't take personal offense. But since her suggestion is now out in the public domain, it warrants a response from me.

I have served as a member of this BAR for many years, and I have served the community well. Before I joined the BAR, previous BARs generally rubber-stamped whatever recommendations the Village Assessor made with respect to any particular grievance. The net result was that virtually all grievances submitted to the BAR were denied unless there was proof of a recent sale of the property at issue. Since I joined the BAR, the BAR has carried out its duties fully as an "independent" town board, as mandated by law, and we often come out with decisions that the Village Assessor disagrees with because we exercise our independent judgment and try to do justice where we can when warranted.

I can't speculate as to what conduct of mine Ms. Finger believes to be "unprofessional." She seems to believe that because I strongly feel that the Ryan revaluation is the train wreck I predicted, I am somehow biased. That is not the case at all. I approach every grievance with an open mind and review whatever evidence the grievant presents in support of her case. So do all the members of the BAR. Ms. Finger correctly points out that by law, the valuation a property receives on June 1 is the presumptively legal valuation. Indeed, it is, and I pointed that out many many times to grievants that came before the BAR on our public hearing days. That's why we on the BAR implored grievants to provide us with evidence substantiating their claims, including independent appraisals of their properties, so that their grievance could be properly evaluated and the presumption of the legality of the tentative valuation could be overcome, if warranted.

The Mayor and the Village Attorney really owe a sincere apology to Ms. Finger, to the BAR members, and to the residents for exacerbating an already charged situation over the Ryan revaluation and by needlessly cajoling Ms. Finger, a willing and qualified volunteer, to recuse herself from this year's proceedings. The Mayor and the Village Attorney lacked the guts to explain to anyone, and most importantly, to Ms. Finger that they (and they alone) were the ones who wanted her to recuse herself. And when the proverbial excrement hit the fan as the BAR was stymied in doing its job, they maintained their silence. You can't make this stuff up! I'm sorry, Dorothy, that this happened, and we on the BAR were clueless.

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