Voices Emerge in Favor of a New School at Greenacres
- Category: On Our Minds
- Published on 05 May 2016
- Written by Zoe Frishberg
After strong opposition from Greenacres residents who wanted to preserve Greenacres Field, the Scarsdale School Board appeared to have closed the door on option C, which was to build of build a new Greenacres Elementary school on the field. However, at a May 4 School Board meeting, a new group of people emerged supporting a plan to build the new school. Though they appeared late in the game, there was a vocal group who asked the Board to re-consider.
The first to speak was Jennifer Corriggio from Brite Avenue. Corriggio urged the board to make the children's education their first priority when deciding between Option B1 and Option C. She explained that Option B1 seemed like a "band aid" to the problem, and that Option C seemed like the better solution. Corriggio explained that the people most affected by this decision are the children, who are mostly voiceless throughout this process. Mitchell Kahn from Brewster Road also spoke out in favor of Option C. Kahn started his speech apologizing to the board on behalf of the community for the last public hearing, where, "people came up and screamed at [the board], I think that's completely unacceptable". Kahn urged the board to consider Option C as the best option. Kahn explained that the people who have, "banded around the field" must reevaluate the priority of the project. "We are talking about [losing] one baseball field versus [gaining] a school that is designed for the 21st century". In addition, Kahn argued that Option B1 could have serious risks for the children attending Greenacres School during the construction. "You're introducing a possibility of dangerous chemicals to small children and... you're asking five to twelve year old kids to live through a construction project for two to three years".
Rona Muntner from Fairview Road also came out to speak in support of Option C. She argued that gaining "beautiful new fields and a state of the art building" outweighs the detriments of losing the existing field. She explained that people who live in Scarsdale, "are here for the schools", and that we should prioritize the school over the field. Muntner reasoned that our New York climate and cold winters do not allow the children to be out in the field for most of the school year, so most of their time is spent inside the building. She believes the current building does not have enough open space for the children, and renovating the current building would mean even less space. "There will be dust and noise the children will be living through for half of their elementary school experience". Rona's husband Michael Muntner also spoke to support option C. He pleaded for the children's safety to become a priority in the process. "No one has any intentions of doing anything wrong... But there are chemicals that come out [during gut renovations] that you have no idea". Mr. Muntner explained that the construction in the same building as the children could mean serious risks. He also asked of the board that the community be given a comparison of the two projects side by side. "Let's make an informed decision understanding all of the risks and rewards and all of the facts."
Amy Hosseinbukus also supported the reconsidering and reopening of Option C. She explained, "The dropping of option C is lamentable". She explained her confusion over the support of the field, when the school needs so much work. She urged the community and the board to question "why we would pick renovating and retooling something" over building an entirely new school. Hosseinbukus stressed that she, "thanks god that [her] kids will be out of Greenacres" by the time the construction starts. She argued that "to study and learn under the conditions that you're asking [the children] do for years... is more than unfortunate".
Many people discussed the popular petition to save the Greenacres school that now has over 850 signatures. Madeline Hauptman from Brewster Road has been one of the most vocal advocates for preserving the existing Greenacres school. Hauptman created a sign when the issue was first presented to the community, which many Greenacres families have displayed in their yards. The sign urges the district to "Keep the green in Greenacres". During this public hearing she urged the board to consider that "the people who have no kids are not represented" in the decision whether to rebuild Greenacres. Hauptman reiterated that the petition has gained huge weight in the community, with "more than half the community" supporting it. Hauptman urged the board to consider the opinions of those who have no kids in the Greenacres school.
Michael Muntner, who spoke after Hauptman, respectfully disagreed with Hauptman's conclusion that those with no kids should be equally represented. He explained that, the "person with the loudest voice who created a sign has the least vested interest in the actual school itself". Muntner debated that the board should primarily consider the safety and education of the children. Mitchell Kahn also spoke about Hauptman's petition, claiming that those who signed did not have all of the information. "The petition that was signed was signed before there was any other option available... nobody knew that the other option was to renovate that building", explained Kahn. He reiterated that people signed the petition in order to work on an option that preserved as much field space as possible, and not in support of Option C. Kahn explained that many people who originally signed the petition have written to him regretting their decision to oppose Option C. Wendy Shi from Brewster Road expressed a similar sentiment as Mr. Kahn. Shi explained that she originally signed the petition to preserve the existing field, not understanding the alternative. "I realized I shouldn't have signed the petition. And I asked a lot of other moms who signed the petition, and they regret they did it also", explained Shi. "We will sign another petition to save our children, instead of saving the field".
Peter Gelfman from Brite Avenue spoke to oppose Option C. Gelfman recognized that many people had come to support Option C at this board meeting, however they had not been present at the other meetings. Gelfman explained that there were two prior "well publicized" hearings before the May 4th hearing, and that the board should be able to "draw their conclusions as to the sentiment of the community" from the prior hearings where many opposed Option C. Gelfman debated that Option B1 is cheaper and will overall allow the entire community to improve. "With B1 you are able to help Greenacres... and also help the other areas". "Option B1 makes the most sense for the children and for the community", said Gelfman. Barbara Wenglin from Brewster Road also spoke in support of Option B1. She explained that the proposed renovations can adequately update the school to fit the guidelines. "We can bring the model program that we all aspire to for the future of our kids by doing a thoughtful and thorough renovation and expansion". Gregory Loten from Montrose Road echoed this opinion, stating,"We can achieve a great education for our kids in a renovated building".
Gabriel Streche from Brewster Road was last to speak. He urged the board to hear more community feedback before making a final decision. Streche debated that out of the 921 households in Greenacres, the board has only heard from a relatively small percentage of those families. Streche claimed that even though at the last two hearings those against Option C were aggressively protesting, that does not necessarily reflect the views of the community. "What a group of the most vocal people want is not what the community wants". Streche urged the board to survey all of the households in Greenacres, and make a final decision based on these findings instead.
Open Houses for April 30 - May 1
- Category: On Our Minds
- Published on 27 April 2016
- Written by Lori Gertzog
8 Murray Hill Road, Scarsdale
Saturday 4/30, 1-4pm
Price reduced on grand Murray Hill estate. Walk to High School and Library; 5 minute drive to Village. Gracious Entrance Hall, Formal grand sized living room with fireplace, formal dining room. Library with wet bar. Custom Chef's kitchen with all high end appliances and Granite counters. Six bedrooms, six full and two half baths. MBR suite with his and her spa bath and rainfall shower, fireplace, dressing room, walk in closet, office/sitting room. High ceilings, distinctive period details and abundant windows throughout. Convenience of Elevator and two sets of back stairs. LR, DR and Library lead to deck for ideal flow for entertaining. Two-car attached garage. Beautifully landscaped .7 acres with private fenced-in yard, salt water, self-cleaning, heated gunite pool, professional putting green and expansive double tiered deck. Great opportunity to live in highly desired Murray Hill. For more information, click here.
List Price: $2,600,000
5 Fox Meadow Road, Scarsdale
Sunday 5/1, 3-4:30pm
Picturesque, sun-filled and airy Colonial perfectly located in coveted Fox Meadow. Set on .29 acres of lush property, this residence is an easy stroll to Scarsdale village, shops, restaurants and Metro North train (32 minutes to Grand Central Terminal). This beautiful home has been impeccably renovated over time with the finest materials and quality of care. Enjoy spacious rooms including family room with high ceilings and fireplace with new mantle. Eat-in kitchen with high-end appliances, den/office with built-ins, new crown moldings, wall mounted lighting in the dining room, master bedroom with dressing area, luxurious master bath. Highlights include gorgeous, solid oak hardwood flooring throughout, multiple built-ins. The property features recent extensive landscaping that includes new bluestone patio and stone wall, cobblestone pavers surrounded by mature evergreens offering great privacy. This is the perfect combination of stylish living and a great location. Make this home yours! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,895,000
130 Carthage Road, Scarsdale
Sunday 5/1, 12-2pm
Bright, updated and expanded Ranch home on 2/3rds of an acre in the Heathcote section of Scarsdale. Close to the Scarsdale pool, Crossway field and tennis, elementary school. This home with open floor plan has large spaces for comfortable living and easy entertaining. The large entry foyer opens to the living room, the gourmet kitchen which boasts quality cabinets, professional style appliances and large center island, and is completely open to a big family room on one side and dining room on the other. There is a fantastic deck overlooking the property beyond the dining room. The paneled den has a fireplace, and there is a covered porch as well. Additionally on the main floor is a wonderful master bedroom with large master bath and generous closets, two additional bedrooms and full bath as well. Upstairs are two bedrooms, and a full bath and the lower level has a big laundry area, playroom with natural light, storage and garage. For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,895,000
81 Walworth Avenue, Scarsdale
Sunday 5/1, 1-3pm
Vintage sun drenched Mediterranean Gem in desirable Greenacres brimming with details offers 9' ceilings, hardwood floors, meticulously restored windows, built-ins, doors, moldings and hardware and is lovingly maintained with a host of thoughtful and energy efficient updates in keeping with the its' architectural grace and spirit. Fabulous oversized kitchen (2001)complete with outfitted butler's pantry complements the formal dining room, inviting Library and gracious Living Room which has a handsome beamed ceiling, an impressive Rumford fireplace and leaded glass built ins. With a stylish outdoor loggia, stone patios and perennial gardens to enjoy, this seven bedroom jewel of a home, offers comfortable elegance with delightful privacy yet a most convenient location with train, school and shops all within a short stroll. A great opportunity to own this special much loved home in most desirable Greenacres! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,778,000
14 Beechwood Lane, Scarsdale
Sunday 5/1, 2:30-4:30pm
Classic stone and shingle center hall Colonial on tranquil cul-de-sac in Sherbrooke Park. This four bedroom home has incredible curb appeal with great architectural features like a slate roof, bay windows, updates, and central air. The generous backyard is level and very private. A great home. For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,375,000
50 mph Winds Rattle Scarsdale
- Category: On Our Minds
- Published on 04 April 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Freaky April weather brought high winds, lightening, hail and snow to Scarsdale this week, resulting in the cancellation of the Scarsdale Road Race on Sunday and the women's tennis team tryouts on Monday morning.
After temperatures climbed into the 70's on Friday, a cold front swept in with 50 mph winds on Saturday night, rattling roofs and bringing down trees and power lines.
Anthony Di Domenico from the Scarsdale Recreation Department said the decision to cancel the race was touch and go. As it was cancelled early Sunday morning, many runners showed up anyway.
In a comment to Scarsdale10583 he said, "Due to the unsafe weather conditions (very high wind gusts), we were forced to cancel yesterday's race. We had a plan in place for the Scarsdale Police Department to check out the race route for us overnight into the morning hours. A small crew from the Public Works Department was on call in case any tree limbs fell. As of 7:00am Sunday morning we were scheduled to keep the race on despite the snow, rain, and winds because the race route was clear of debris. It wasn't until about 7:30am that high gusts of wind caused a large tree limb and electrical wires to fall on Harwood Court/Brite Avenue, right near the starting line for our 4-mile race.
It was then decided that we risked the safety of our runners, and staff. High winds were expected to continue into the later part of the afternoon, so with that in mind we decided to cancel the event and not put anyone in an unsafe environment.
At this time the Recreation Department is looking into a rescheduled date, There are a few things we need to consider before choosing a date but we are looking into it."
Many trees and powerlines fell on Sunday morning. Here's a list from the police blotter:
- At 6:56 am on Sunday morning a large tree limb fell, blocking Greenacres Avenue. The limb also took down a power line that ignited a fire. The fire department put it out and some residents lost power.
- At 7:05 am a large tree fell and blocked Eton Road.At 7:45 am police received a report that a tree and wires were down on Lincoln Road.
- At 7:49 am a large tree fell at 22 Brookby Road.At 7:51 am a fire was reported on power lines at the intersection of Heathcote Road and Morris Lane.
- At 7:53 am the Department of Public Works cleared a tree blocking the roadway at the intersection of Park and Oxford Road.At 7:56 police received report of a large tree that fell on Sheldrake Road – see the photo above.
- At 8:27 am a large tree branch fell onto the power lines at the intersection of Broadmoor and Griffen Roads.At 9:23 am a Brown Road man saw the power line spark and then lost power.
- At 12:27 pm a tree fell on Gatehouse Road and blocked the road.
April Featured Listings and Open Houses
- Category: On Our Minds
- Published on 20 April 2016
- Written by Lori Gertzog
There's lots on the market in Scardale. Take a look at our featured listings and full schedule of open houses for you to view this weekend.
44 Meadow Road, Scarsdale
Masterful design and modern luxury are uniquely embodied in this one of a kind custom rebuilt home. Every detail was carefully selected and quality crafted including architectural detailed millwork, mahogany flooring and doors and custom vanities with various natural stones such as limestone and onyx. The grand entryway with a sweeping staircase draws you into an ideal layout for entertaining. The kitchen will inspire your inner chef with huge center island with seating, custom cherry cabinetry, granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Enjoy gatherings in the two-story family room with double sided fireplace with glass doors to the backyard, a billiard room with antique mantel and generously sized dining room graced by a fireplace. The divine master suite presents a sitting area with fireplace, dressing room, walk in closet and and opulent ensuite spa bath with soaking jacuzzi tub, custom vanity, and relaxation area with mini bar. There are 4 additional bedrooms including a guest suite with sitting room and ensuite bath and a newly renovated laundry room on second floor. The lower level features a large rec room, bedroom and workshop. Exquisite landscaping and outdoor lighting highlight the nearly half acre level property. Living is easy in this impressive, generously spacious residence within walking distance to elementary school and houses of worship. For more information, click here.
List Price: $3,895,000
56 Old Orchard Lane, Scarsdale
This beautiful 2011 Fox Meadow Colonial offers the best of both worlds! Serenely set on a tranquil lane, yet easily accessible to school, village, train and shops. This quality built home has the ideal open floor plan for today's modern living. Special features include high ceilings, custom millwork, stunning architectural details, three fireplaces, and a finished lower level (1417 square feet included) with expansive multi-use space. The fully appointed gourmet eat-in kitchen hosts a center island, professional grade appliances, breakfast area with panoramic views of the professionally landscaped back yard. The eat-in kitchen opens to the family room complete with wood burning fireplace, French doors to the patio/gas barbecue. Upstairs: gas fireplace, two walk-in closets, and luxurious bathroom in the coveted master suite. 3 more bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (one en-suite), laundry complete the level. Bedrooms on the first floor and lower level. This is the perfect home in a premium location! For more information, click here.
List Price: $2,650,000
12 Carthage Lane, Scarsdale
Meticulously crafted by Outstanding Home Builders and designed by admired architect. Classic center hall layout integrates a modern floor plan featuring 9 foot ceilings on the first level and an expansive kitchen with center island and marble countertops with seating for 4 opening to a generous breakfast area (22′ by 17′) with French doors to deck and property and large family room with fireplace (20'by 13'6″) with scenic property views. An attached 2 car garage leads to mudroom and pantry with direct access to the kitchen. The second level features a grand master bedroom with his and hers walk-in closets, luxurious master bathroom with free standing tub, separate shower, double vanities and toilet closet, three additional bedrooms and two full baths. The walkout lower level features a second family room with glass doors to patio & property, gym, playroom, bedroom, full bath and storage. For more information, click here.
List Price: $2,595,000
12 Salem Drive, Scarsdale
Completely renovated luxury residence on .5 acre of lush property in idyllic Scarsdale Quaker Ridge location. This 6 bedroom, 5.1 bath home has been rebuilt both inside and out using the highest quality materials by a respected local builder. Spectacular kitchen boasts custom cabinetry, Subzero/Wolf appliances, and breakfast area with direct access to new deck overlooking expansive level backyard – ideal for grilling and entertaining. Magnificent master bedroom suite has 2 oversized walk in closets, soothing master bath with double vanities, soaking tub and shower. Great room with fireplace, powder room, additional bedroom and full bath round out the 1st floor. 2nd floor has 3 family bedrooms, 2 baths and a laundry room. Walk-out lower level features large playroom, bedroom, full bath, mudroom and 2-car garage. Serene location in Murdock Woods nearby prestigious golf courses. Choice of Scarsdale or Mamaroneck Schools. Bus to all Scarsdale Schools. 29 minutes to Grand Central. Occupancy August 2016. Still time to add your own personal touches! For more information, click here.
List Price: $2,395,000
32 Kent Road, Scarsdale
Luxury, location and light! Bright Soho loft like 5 bedroom home in an ideal Scarsdale location. Walk to train, school, shops, playground and more! This stylishly renovated home was professionally designed with custom oversized windows, soaring ceilings and many skylights. Enjoy the spacious entry foyer with custom wood double doors, family and living rooms with 2-sided fireplace and custom Jerusalem gold stone, custom mahogany frosted glass French doors and built-ins, renovated eat-in-kitchen with custom cabinetry and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances, butler's pantry and dining room. Refinished hardwood floors and recessed lights. 1st Floor bedroom and full bath (1/2 level lower) with separate entrance. The 2nd floor boasts a very expansive landing with skylights, an amazing Master Bedroom Suite, with updated full bath, private balcony, sitting area and walk-in closets. There are three additional bedrooms on 2nd floor, with renovated hall bath and en-suite bath. A rare chance to own a renovated modern-day home in Fox Meadow! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,898,000
164 Boulevard, Scarsdale
This sophisticated young Colonial is endowed with the perfect flow for today's modern lifestyle and is ideally located close to village shops, train, restaurants, and park. Set on .25 acres of lovely landscaped property, complete with privacy plantings and mature trees, this beautiful home has been impeccably maintained and renovated with the utmost quality of care, finest finishes and attention to energy efficiency. Recent upgrades include a breathtaking brand new kitchen featuring Leicht custom cabinetry, Miele and Thermador professional grade appliances, caesarstone counter tops, all new Marvin Ultimate Clad windows and doors, whole house gas generator, new chimney flue, upgraded ADT security system with four cameras, insulated attic and garage ceiling, extended patio, terraced retaining walls, two new A/C condenser units, re-paved entrance walkway and steps, interior/exterior painting, California closet systems, and so much more. The perfect blend of stylish living in a prime location! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,800,000
11 Rural Drive, Scarsdale
Don't miss this dream home set on nearly half an acre of beautiful private land. Built to an uncompromising standard of excellence, the exceptional finishes provide a gracious setting for entertaining in the two-story entry, formal living and dining rooms. The chef's kitchen, offering sub-zero/wolf appliances and silo stone counters, opens to a spacious family room with gas fireplace for relaxed everyday living. The breakfast area features sliders to a mahogany deck, perfect for outdoor dining overlooking the beautiful woods behind the yard which afford quiet and privacy. Guest room/full bath, powder room and mudroom complete the first level. The second level boasts a magnificent master suite with luxurious bath, two walk-in closets and tray ceiling, three more bedrooms, two baths plus an enormous bonus room. 9 feet ceilings on upper levels. The huge lower level includes a bedroom/full bath and versatile rooms for gym/play/media. Generator-ready. Sleek and inviting, this home has it all! For more information, click here.
List Price: $3,195,000
161 Brewster Road, Scarsdale
Come visit this sun-filled classic home on a tranquil tree-lined street in the heart of Greenacres within walking distance to elementary school, town and train. This home blends old-world style and a clean-lined modern feel to provide a light-filled, gracious setting for elegant entertaining and everyday living. The first level features an expansive living room for large gatherings, beautiful dining room, a large family room overlooking the level yard, eat-in kitchen with newer stainless appliances, an office and powder room. There is a patio accessible from the family room and kitchen, perfect for outdoor dining. The second floor boasts a master bedroom with master bath, a versatile dressing room/study/nursery, 3 additional spacious bedrooms and hall bath. The lower level has laundry and the potential to be finished space if a buyer so desires. This home combines character and charm with modern upgrades, wonderful curb appeal and a phenomenal location. Don't miss this Greenacres gem! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,675,000
38 Claremont Road, Scarsdale
Absolutely the brightest Tudor you will ever come to meet! Privately set back off this quiet Greenacres street with stone patios,fruit trees and a lush green front lawn!
The sunken living room has dramatic high ceilings and beautiful windows, marble fireplace,French doors to a library. The updated eat-in-kitchen was redone in 2008 with a Subzero refrigerator and Wolf range,marble counters and sliders leading to a stone patio making summer entertaining pleasurable.A very sophisticated heating system with 6 zones,new roof, ductless central air conditioning, exterior was just painted! 5 spacious bedrooms and 3.5 updated baths! The basement is finished as a playroom. Close proximity to Hartsdale Train and town! For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,399,000
3 High Point Terrace, Scarsdale PO, Greenburgh
Sun-filled, enticing Mid-century Modern home with gorgeous updates on a truly magnificent .79 acres with a breathtaking pool and beautifully rendered gardens and trees. Easy living with a large French kitchen/family room and another family room on the lower level. Master with a balcony sports a terrific dressing area and bath. Spectacular views from most rooms. Winter views of the Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge and the Palisades. Additional building lot of .69 acres available at $985,000 see listing at 3 High Point Road. Stakes show approximate property line. For more information, click here.
List Price: $1,395,000
17 Westminster Road, Scarsdale
Classic sun-filled Tudor with slate roof has a spacious entry foyer with decorative front door. The entry opens to the living room with an impressive stone fireplace. The adjacent sun room serves perfectly as the first floor family room. Nicely updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances has sufficient working space for any chef in the household. The oversized dining room can accommodate the largest of tables. The second floor has the master bedroom with a walk-in closet and a master bath with a glass-enclosed shower, plus two additional bedrooms and hall bath. On the third floor is the fourth bedroom and full bath, plus a finished space being used as a den. Laundry is in the lower level, where there is also access to the two car garage, and good storage space. Fabulous slate porch in front or the side yard with stone wall and slate patio are great entertaining areas. Easy commute to railroad, walkable to shops, schools. Greenburgh Recreation and Greenburgh Nature Center nearby. For more information, click here.
List Price: $929,000
50 Argyle Road, Scarsdale
Charming four bedroom Colonial in mint condition on a tranquil, beautiful street convenient to all. Walk to elementary, middle and high schools. 100 yards to bus or train. Two full baths renovated in 2015, kitchen and powder room renovated in 2010 and sunroom added in 2005. Level private yard and two car garage. Immaculate condition, recently painted and floors sanded. Wood floors throughout. Generous sized bedrooms and a huge fourth bedroom being used as family room/office. Sunshine streams through new windows. Truly turn key! For more information, click here.
List Price: $899,000
49 Winding Ridge Road, White Plains
Carefree Living! Bright-Sunny-Spacious-Open Layout! The main level offers an oversized living room w/fireplace and dining room, eat-in kitchen with breakfast area, with a pass-thru to the dining room & sliders to the deck overlooking serene woods, a powder room and convenient entry to two car garage. The second floor boasts a master bedroom with cathedral ceiling, walk-in closet and spacious master bath. Two more bedrooms and hall bath complete this level. The third floor has a delightful loft with skylights and additional storage. There is a fantastic walk-out lower level with patio, a family room, bedroom/office, full bath, laundry and additional storage. Relax and play at the pool, tennis court, fitness center and playground. Convenient to multiple parkways, restaurants, shopping and public transportation. For more information, click here.
List Price: $769,000
84 Strathmore Road
4/24 1-3 pm
If your looking for the low taxes but still want a gracious center hall colonial, this is it! Spacious and so bright! The living room has a perfectly centered fireplace and bay window, an updated large eat in kitchen with French doors to the lush level backyard,3 huge bedrooms a master suite,walk up attic and finished basement for the overnight guests! Gas fired furnace and central air conditioning too! The brick paved circular driveway offers plenty of parking. So conveniently located only 1.1 mile from Scarsdle train and town. For more information, click here.
Yonkers Schools/Scarsdale PO.
List Price: $749,000
How Dark Money Affects Political Outcomes
- Category: On Our Minds
- Published on 23 March 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
What happens to democracy when the public can't "follow the money" in elections? The community will have a chance to ponder this and other questions about so-called "dark money" now flooding into U.S. political campaigns at an upcoming jointly sponsored League of Women Voters – Scarsdale Public Library event.
On Thursday, April 7th at 1 pm in the Scott Room of the Scarsdale Public Library, librarian Nancy Zachary will facilitate the discussion of journalist Jane Mayer's new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday 2016). The Library has copies of Mayer's book available for borrowing and registration is free and open to the public on the Library's website or by clicking here.
What is "dark money" and should voters be concerned about it? Federal campaign finance law requires political candidates to identify all Political Action Committees (PACs) and party committees that contribute directly to a candidate's campaign, and each individual who contributes more than $200 to a campaign in an election cycle. However, "dark money", contributions to tax-exempt nonprofit corporations, such as 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations, many of which exist solely to influence election outcomes, is not subject to spending limits or disclosure requirements so long as the organizations do not coordinate directly with a candidate.
The proliferation of 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organizations and sharp rise in "dark money" spending in recent elections followed the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which overturned a century of U.S. campaign finance legislation and now allows all corporations, nonprofit "social welfare" organizations, and unions to spend unlimited money from their general treasuries indirectly supporting political campaigns.
Since Citizens United, the number of groups applying for 501(c)(4) status has more than doubled and the money they are spending on politics has "skyrocketed," according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. They estimate that in the 2012 election, 501(c)(4) groups spent at least $333 million, an increase of 53 percent from 2008. And this year's election is expected to set a new record for secret donations. Already, on January 28, 2016, Bloomberg news reported: "Groups that don't have to disclose their donors have accounted for almost two-thirds of political ad spending this [election] cycle."
In Dark Money, Jane Mayer focuses specifically on a relatively small number of wealthy individuals -- the Koch brothers, the Olins, the Scaifes, the Bradleys and others – who have funneled millions of dollars in donations through "social welfare" groups to influence elections while avoiding public scrutiny. But Mayer's investigation goes beyond campaign finance to document such billionaires' comprehensive plans, simultaneous funding publications, think tanks, academic fellowships and university research centers, which, she argues, have played an equally pivotal role in furthering their political goals, as well as their business interests.
The New York Review of Books (March 10, 2016) calls Dark Money "absolutely necessary reading for anyone who wants to make sense of our politics." Whether or not you agree, come join what is sure to be a lively discussion on April 7th.
This article was submitted by Mary Beth Evans, Chair, Money in Politics Committee and Deb Morel, President of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale.