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Scarsdale Police Report: Burglary: A Hillview Road man found an open kitchen skylight and dirt on the table beneath it when he returned home on 5/5 around 5 PM. It appeared that someone got in through the skylight and entered the master bedroom where they tossed the room and took jewelry valued at $2,200. The burglars also rifled through another bedroom and a home office and pried open a lock box. Though the house is alarmed there was no alarm on the skylight and the motion sensors where not on at the time of the incident. The residents had their gutters cleaned the previous week and police tried to reach the workmen.

Gone: a green 2009 Toyota Highlander, valued at $41,000 was taken from a Clarence Road home during the night of 5/2-5/3. The car was locked and keys were inside the house. There were no apparent signs of force and the man’s Honda Accord was untouched.

A Heathcote resident came to police on 5/5 to say that $62,000 in jewelry was missing from his home. He said that his wife reported that the jewelry was missing from her jewelry box but that he did not suspect anyone of stealing it. He provided the police with photos of the jewelry which included a diamond engagement ring, a yellow diamond ring, a ruby ring and diamond stud earrings.

Arrest
: Police stopped a man driving a 2002 Acura at 1 am on May 9 while doing routine traffic enforcement. They found that the car smelled of marijuana, the driver’s eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. They asked the man to get out of the car and found several plastic bags of marijuana in the car. The man admitted to smoking pot and was arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana and unlicensed operation of a car since his license was suspended. Shkelzen Zherka, age 19 of Garth Road was taken to police headquarters for booking, given a court date and released on $100 bail.

Diaquane Williams, age 21 of New Rochelle was pulled over by police after her ran a traffic light on East Parkway on Friday afternoon May 7. A computer check of his license showed that he had 8 suspensions. He was arrested and released on $100 bail.

Tree Damage: A Popham Road woman parked her car on Authenreith Road on May 8th. When she returned to the car later that day, a tree branch had fallen on the 2002 Chrysler and damaged the roof, trunk and rear window. Police removed the branch from the car and it was towed to Ted Herman’s auto shop for repair.

Car break-ins: Vandals broke the rear drivers side window of a car parked in the Crossway Parking lot on Friday evening May 7. They made off with a pocketbook, textbooks and personal papers.

The front passenger window of a 2007 Acura parked in the Alternative School Parking lot was smashed n the morning of May 5th. Missing from the car was a black tote bag valued at $1,500 containing a driver’s license, credit card, keys and $60 in cash.

Stolen Bicycle
: A $600 bike, parked and locked on East Parkway was stolen on May 3rd.

A Verizon worker called police to say that a crew from Pioneer Valley Cable was working in a Verizon manhole without authorization on May 4. A utility coordinator for Cablevision arrived and said that Pioneer had been hired by Cablevision and claimed to have permission from Verizon. Police attempted to reach Verizon but were unable to verify that the workers had permission to be in the manhole so they left.

Argument – an Edgewood Road man called police on 5/6 when he was trying to get the car keys back from his drunk wife. He did not want her to drive. Police arrived and mediated.

A Benedict Road woman called police on 5/6 to report that someone had placed items including doors, garbage bags, a hot water heater and a toy castle in her dumpster. In addition, lawn furniture that she had placed in the dumpster had been removed from the container to make room for these items. She noticed that work was being done across the street and suspected that workers there may have been depositing refuse in her container.

On Saturday afternoon and evening high winds whipped up and brought back memories of the big storm in March. Many trees and branches came down with incidents reported on Walworth, Taunton Road, Circle Road, Fenimore Road, Stratton Road, Overhill Road, Post Road, Brambach Road and Mamaroneck Road. A newspaper vending machine blew over and struck a car on East Parkway and wires were down on Boulevard, Ridgecrest East, Madison and Montrose Roads. The winds continued on Sunday morning where another tree fell on Brewster Road and a tree limb leaned on a power line at Chesterfield Road.

Greenburgh


A 2005 black Mercedes Benz disappeared from a Fort Hill Road driveway sometime during the night of May 5. The resident awoke on the morning of May 6 to find the car gone, though he had left if locked in the driveway. The man also reported that he was three months behind in his lease payments however after making some calls he found out that the car had not been repossessed by the bank.

An Evandale Road resident found a stranger in her yard when she returned home around 4 pm on Friday May 7. She asked him if he was there to read the meter, and he replied “yes” and left the property. However a few hours later she called Con Edison who said that the meter was not due to be read until the following week. The man was described as a black male, 5’11”, age 30-35 years old, wearing a black button down shirt and gray slacks.

An iPod touch was taken from the backpack of a Withington Road boy while he was at school at Edgemont High School. The incident was reported to police on May 8.

Luis Evangelista, age 40 or New York City was caught stealing four bottles of cologne from Marshalls on Central Avenue on Saturday May 8th. The security officer saw the man conceal the bottles and leave the store. Evangelista was stopped outside the store and brought back in for questioning when he admitted the theft. He was taken to Greenburgh Police for booking.

Ramonita Ortiz, age 42 of Yonkers was spotted taking 4 X box games from Best Buy and concealing them in a foil lined bag on Saturday night May 8. The foil-lined bags are used because they block store sensors. She exited the store, the security officer stopped her and she was taken to the Greenburgh Police for booking.

A live rooster was found on Fox Glen Drive in Hartsdale on Sunday May 9. Animal control personnel responded and caught the bird.

The non-partisan system for the election of school board members in Scarsdale and Edgemont is now being challenged. In both districts, independent candidates who did not receive the committees nomination are vying for a seat on the district school board.

In Scarsdale, the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) has been selecting candidates to run for the school board since 1965 and in recent memory no candidates have run without the committee endorsement, In Scarsdale, the SBNC members are elected by residents of each of the five elementary school areas and serve for three years on the committee, followed by tenure on the administrative committee. Six representatives from each of the five areas are elected by the general population, for a total of thirty voting members. Four non-voting members, the chair and vice chair and representatives from SNAP and the TVCC are also on the committee.

In Edgemont, two representatives from each civic association are nominated to serve on the committee. The SBNC nominates candidates to serve on the Board, but sometimes independents do petition to go on the ballot and recently one ran and won. After the candidates are nominated, the Edgemont SBNC runs an Open Forum where each candidate is asked questions submitted by the community to allow residents to learn about the candidates, their qualifications and views.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the current system?

Among the benefits are the following:

• The SBNC seeks out candidates for school board and reaches out to a wide swath of the community to find suitable candidates.

• The committee vets the candidates, reviews credentials, checks references and assesses their ability to work with others and build consensus. In Scarsdale, any comments made about a candidate must be attributable to the source, preventing hearsay. In Edgemont, where the committee is smaller, this is not the case.

• The committee considers the composition of the current board of education and selects candidates that offer needed skill sets. They strive to nominate a balanced board.

• Since meetings are private, candidates are shielded from public review and commentary. It is believed that more residents are willing to put themselves forward for candidacy since they are shielded from the strain of an open election.

• The committee seeks to prevent candidates with an agenda or single issue from being nominated and looks for those that are open-minded and can balance the needs of the entire community.

• The committee works to nominate a collegial board that can work together effectively.

• The non-partisan system has diffused heated elections and divisiveness as in the past only one slate of candidates is presented for election

• The system avoids expensive campaigns

What are the disadvantages?

• The SBNC may choose not to put forward a candidate who advocates for a single issue, which may inhibit diversity of opinion on the board

• It may deter individuals who are not selected by the committee from running though they have the right to do so

• The system discourages open debate about candidates’ qualifications as committee meetings are not open to the public

• Since only one slate of candidates is proposed, the community is not given a choice in the voting booth

• As residents vote for SBNC members, not the school board candidates the selection of the candidates is somewhat indirect, similar to the Electoral College system.

• The SBNC administrative committee often has trouble finding residents to run to serve on the nominating committee and therefore, some of the seats may not be contested.

Until now, the system has served both communities. All indicators show that the school boards have worked effectively with administrators, parents and students to provide an exemplary education. The Districts receive nationally acclaim, parents seek to move to the area and year after year students are admitted to top colleges.

With strained financial resources and cuts in state aid, school budgets are now under intense scrutiny. As the school board is responsible for fiscal decisions, and the budget is under the magnifying glass, members of the board are being closely examined as well.

Residents feel strongly about the process. In the words of the membership of the Edgemont SBNC, “The Board of Education is a crucial link in the chain of teachers, programs, administrators, staff and dedicated parents that support our School District, and the mission of the SBNC is to select from among qualified candidates those individuals who, in the Committee’s judgment, can best serve the School District’s needs. Edgemont’s SBNC is made up of volunteers nominated and elected by members from each of the civic associations as well as a high school representative. The SBNC is charged with interviewing and endorsing candidates for the School Board. As SBNC members we are required to attend School Board meetings and to be informed about school matters so that we can conduct a thorough interview and make an informed recommendation about a candidate. It is a time consuming process, but one that has served our community well by providing an intensive vetting process for selecting School Board candidate.

What do you think? Does the current system serve the community in tough times? Please add your comments below.

Here is a letter from past committee chairs of the Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee: To the Editor: As past Chair and Vice Chair of the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) we would like to strongly endorse the current slate of candidates for the School Board election on May 18th: Suzanne Seiden, Jill Spieler, Liz Guggenheimer and Lewis Leone, Jr.

Through Scarsdale’s non-partisan election process (the same process the Village of Scarsdale has conducted for almost 100 years) the community elects 30 members, representing the five elementary school neighborhoods, to the SBNC charged with identifying, evaluating and selecting candidates to fill open School Board seats. The process is both rigorous and thorough with the exclusive goal of putting forward the most qualified members of our community to serve on the Board of Education. This year’s slate of candidates strengthens the legacy of the SBNC’s success in putting forward a group of highly qualified and outstanding individuals. We urge everyone to vote on May 18th and to fully support the group of candidates put forward by the SBNC.

Sincerely,
Andrew Simon, past Chair SBNC
Madeleine Feldman: past Vice-Chair SBNC
April 26, 2010

After a period of silence from developer Frederick Fish, it appears that the fate of the former home of Bistro Citron at 2-4 Weaver Street is again in play. Recently, large “for rent” signs were posted on the empty façade, renewing the hopes of some residents that the building would again become a restaurant and that plans for a housing development had been shelved.

However, it has now come to light that the Village received a letter from Fish on February 25, 2010 asking for a 49 year lease on the village-owned strip of land that is used as a driveway to the site parking lot, along with a 49 year option to renew the lease. Without use of that land, the developer cannot provide access to the parking lot, and the current lease expires on May 31, 2010.

An April 29th letter from the Heathcote Five Corners Coalition to the Mayor and Trustees notes that the current lease, dated 2005, requires the developer to use the strip of land “in conjunction with the operation by it of a restaurant and cocktail lounge.” Since there is no restaurant or cocktail lounge in operation, the Coalition contends that the 2005 Lease has automatically terminated.

Furthermore, the proposal from Fish asks for permission to use the premises adjoining the Land for “any lawful use ... permitted by Village of Scarsdale zoning code, and not be restricted to restaurant use only” in exchange for agreeing to maintain two exterior facades (the Weaver and Wilmot Road facades) for the term of the lease or “as long as the building can be used in an economic manner.”

However, this implies that if the building cannot be used in an economic matter, the facades could be sacrificed.

In early February, 2010 the trustees voted down the sale of the land to Fish in response to residents who wanted clear restrictions on the use of the property. By proposing a 98-year lease, with no restrictions on the use of the building, this new proposal would bypass the need for a land sale and give Fish freedom to use the building as he chooses.

In closing, the Coalition wrote, “It is not in the best interests of the Village to agree to a new lease that contains terms or conditions any more favorable to the Developer than the terms and conditions contained in the 2005 Lease” and asked the village to keep them apprised of any future developments.

The Trustees Law Committee discussed the proposal in executive session on Monday night May 3rd, but have not made their discussions public.

The Scarsdale Board of Education proposed their final budget for the school year 2010-2011 and Board President Barbara Kemp was pleased to announce a 2.87% increase in the school budget, translating to a 2.56% tax increase for Scarsdale residents and a 5.77% tax increase for those in the Mamaroneck Strip. Kemp did express her frustration with the disparity in the tax rates between Scarsdale and the Mamaroneck Strip, but said that was a matter for legislators. The total proposed school budget is $134,743,938.

She credited the community, teachers and administrators for helping the Board reduce the budget increase from the original projection of 8%. Through community education, listening to feedback and re-examining every component of the budget, the Board was able to bring the increase to manageable levels.

The budget does include restored funding for both Scarsdale and Edgemont Family Counseling and the Scarsdale Teen Center, two organizations who faced severe funding cuts. The new budget also includes full-day kindergarten for all, a move that will save the district $50,000 in transportation costs but was met with skepticism from some parents of Pre-K students. The $2 million savings offered up by the Scarsdale Teacher’s Association has allowed the district to maintain the educational program, save district jobs and maintain class sizes. The Board will also retain 4% in undesignated reserves.

To those with “tunnel vision” who called for a 0% budget increase, Kemp warned that the consequences would have been teacher layoffs and severe cuts to the program. In Kemp’s words, the proposed budget provides a desirable education that is fiscally feasible. Though she understands that some have suffered job losses and face economic uncertainty, she asked that residents consider the sacrifices that their parents, grandparents and great grandparents made to assure their children a quality education and asked today’s parents to do the same.

She urged everyone to vote for the school budget on Tuesday May 18 at the Scarsdale Middle School.

Superintendant Michael McGill addressed parents who remained uneasy about the district’s move to all-day kindergarten. Citing days when he was a young parent faced with a son with learning difficulties he assured parents he could empathize with their concerns. However, he has absolute confidence that their children will flourish, regardless of the schedule, due to the committed and supportive staff. He also outlined goals for program evaluation in November, 2010 and March, 2011, when parents, teachers and administrators will be questioned about the program, and feedback will be shared with the community. On the subject of kindergarten, Board member Jeff Blatt added that he had been accused of having blind faith that the new program would work. He answered that charge by saying he had faith, but not blind faith, based on what he has seen as a member of the Board for the past six years.

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