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PoliceMatturoThese remarks were delivered by Scarsdale Police Chief Andrew Matturro at the Village Board meeting on Tuesday, February 27, 2018.
Good Evening Mayor Hochvert and Board of Trustees: In discussions with Village Manager Steve Pappalardo, and in light of the recent tragic events effecting our nation's schools, I would like to take this opportunity to speak briefly about the ongoing efforts of the Scarsdale Police Department relative to this issue.

Our Department has been training our officers for years in the latest Rapid Response techniques and continues to equip our officers appropriately. Approximately 17 years ago we instituted the Rapid Deployment and Response Program, where every member of the department is trained in in the latest methods of a tactical response to a school emergency. This ongoing training is conducted at the various schools throughout the district. In addition to this hands-on practical training, we also participate in table top scenario based training.

To ensure that our training and tactics are up to date and relevant, members of the department serve on our School Safety Tactical Response Committee which convenes to discuss current trends, training and equipment needs. Each of our patrol vehicles is equipped with the tools necessary to respond immediately, to an incident at our schools.

Over five years ago, in cooperation with the district, our department instituted the Random School Visit Program where our officers are assigned, to randomly visit and conduct a walk-through of the Senior High School, Middle and Elementary schools. This continues on a regular basis.

Our department also serves as a member of the School's District-Wide Safety Team and regularly participates in the district's exercises and drills.schoolsafety

In regards to the investigation of complaints of suspicious behavior, persons or events, we investigate each complaint immediately and take every complaint seriously. Our patrol officers and investigation personnel use every law enforcement resource available in pursuing an investigation and although
we would like to provide information to the public immediately, we must thoroughly follow up every lead and do not want to risk presenting erroneous information that ultimately does more harm than good.

On that note, I would encourage members of the community to contact the police directly when they believe they have information that would be helpful to our investigations.

Be mindful that there is often quite a bit of misinformation shared on social media that does not serve to address these situations and does not give us the opportunity to conduct a proper follow up.

Lastly, I assure you that our department will continue to work closely with the school district to address school safety.

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marchforourlivesThe heartbreaking mass shooting on Valentines Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida has refocused the country on the need for stronger gun control laws. Though at time like this, we sometimes feel helpless, we can all be inspired to advocate by the students at the school who have become instant and effective activists for gun control.

Here in New York, we have strong gun control laws and politicians who stand up to the NRA, but advocates for gun control say that more work is needed.

Here are statements on the shootings from State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Governor Andrew Cuomo and advocacy group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. If you have ideas on how to prevent further tragedies, share them in the comments section below (include your name) or send your letters for publication to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin

Every time there is an unspeakable tragedy, like yesterday's shooting in Parkland, Florida, we hear too quickly, "But there's nothing we can do." Some people mean there's nothing we can do because common sense laws to curb gun violence won't work, and others mean the gun lobby is too strong to be overcome. I can say with confidence that both groups are wrong. I have made fighting to protect our children and our residents from gun violence a priority since I joined the amypaulinAssembly 17 years ago, and was an advocate myself on this issue long before then.

Today, New York has done more than nearly any other state to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and we did it over the fierce resistance of the gun lobby. You cannot legally buy an AR-15 or a high-capacity magazine in New York State because of the laws we passed. You must undergo a background check to buy guns, as well as to buy ammunition. These laws have not been universally popular. Sometimes, I've had to endure some rude shouting when I've talked about preventing gun violence. But there's not a doubt in my mind the fight has been worth it and that these steps have saved lives.

There is still so much more that we need to do. Senator Diane Savino and I have fought for a bill to take guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence. I am also sponsoring Nicolas's law, which would require the safe storage of firearms to prevent more injuries and deaths, particularly of children. In New York, the fight continues.

But our state cannot do it alone. We need Congress to show some of the resolve that we showed here in New York. We need our federal lawmakers to reject the notion that commonsense gun laws won't work, to refuse to be cowed by the gun lobby, and to realize that thoughts and prayers needs to be followed by action. How many more of our children will be lost before Congress finally comes together to protect our communities?

Governor Andrew Cuomo

cuomo5"In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, Washington has responded with the same appalling complacency and inaction it provided to the hundreds of mass shootings that have devastated our country since Sandy Hook.

"Now, instead of taking action to keep our children safe, President Trump is trying to make it easier for individuals who commit serious crimes and those who are dangerously mentally ill to buy guns. It's as shocking as it is dangerous. The President's proposed budget slashes critical funding that states like New York use to strengthen background reporting on potential gun buyers. This reckless measure would undermine the very safeguards that protect us and put the American people in harm's way.

"In New York, we are doing the exact opposite. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, we actually did something and passed the strongest gun safety law in the nation. As of December 2017, 75,000 people deemed to be dangerously mentally ill by a licensed mental health professional have been added to a database to keep guns out of the wrong hands. This year, we are taking new steps to keep guns away from dangerous people by proposing to remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes.

"Instead of cutting funding for critical security measures, the President should follow our lead and advance common-sense gun safety legislation. The American people have waited far too long."

County Executive George Latimer

It should also be noted that one of George Latimer's first moves as Westchester County Executive was to sign a law banning gun shows on all county-owned properties, including the Westchester County Center, where gun shows had previously been held.

In January 2017, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a similar ban but it was vetoed by former County Executive Rob Astorino.

 

Commenting on the ban, Latimer said, ""We will lead, we will take action, we will be strong and (take) effective action, and we are not afraid to stand behind the things that we believe in."

New Yorkers Again Gun Violence

NYAGVNew Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a legislative advocacy group, had this to say about actions you can take to limit access to guns:

Yesterday in Parkland, Florida, at least 17 high school students were massacred by a gunman with an AR-15 assault weapon and multiple rounds of ammunition. Once again, easy access to guns caused senseless death, trauma, and grief. The "thoughts and prayers" of elected officials have done nothing to prevent mass shootings and they won't prevent the next massacre. Or the next. Or the next.

The truth is, much can be done to stop the carnage that Americans fear each day, whether they're in school, at church, at work, or on the street. We grieve for the victims and their families. And we must demand action from our lawmakers.

Please take action today on these measures:

1. Federal Assault Weapons Ban

While the purchase of military-style assault weapons is banned in New York State, we need a federal ban on these weapons to prevent mass shootings nationwide and to reduce the trafficking of these weapons into our communities. A federal assault weapons ban law would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Call your U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and call the President at (202) 456-1111 and demand that they support Senator Dianne Feinstein's bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines (S. 2095).

2. Extreme Risk Protection Orders

The New York Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill would enable family, household members, and law enforcement to petition a court to suspend the access to guns for an individual in crisis. ERPO laws are an effective way to prevent mass shootings, domestic violence, suicide, and other gun deaths and injuries.

Sign the petition to tell state lawmakers to support the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill.

Do you have ideas about what we can do to end gun violence? Please share your ideas below and remember to include your name.

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Winterfest 20181The Scarsdale Forum welcomed over 100 members and guests to Winterfest 2018, its tenth annual membership party at the Scarsdale Woman's Club on Saturday, February 3. Party goers were greeted at the door by Forum President ML Perlman and Vice President Jonathan Mark as jazz pianist Angelo Di Loreto set the mood for the evening in the festive music room. Bruce Wells held court at the popular beer tasting station featuring his home brewed beers and hot dogs steamed in Yeungling Black & Tan beer for the adventurous. Plates catered a delicious buffet dinner while Forum member Merrell Clark took to the keys to entertain the Winterfest 2018guests during the dinner hour, followed by former Scarsdale resident, pianist and composer Neil Klein. A singular moment in the evening was the musical performance of Counterpoint, an a cappella group led by pitch pipe Prentice Clark in the library. The evening ended sweetly in the dessert room where guests enjoyed the home baked goodies of several Forum members and friends and a fruit platter donated by Standing Room Only.

The Forum thanks local vendors Blair Interiors Group, Club Pilates Scarsdale, Lange's of Scarsdale, Moscato Restaurant, Parkway Café, Beer StationPeony, Popojito, Scarsdale Metro Restaurant, Serenity Nails, Setsuko and Vintology for generously donating door prizes for the event. The Scarsdale Forum's Sustainability Committee donated a food composting kit as a door prize in recognition of the Village food composting initiative.

The Scarsdale Forum is a 114 year old charitable organization dedicated to improving life in Scarsdale through its educational programs and activities. The Forum offers programs of interest to our community, engages in studies of the issues affecting Scarsdale and sponsors public events such as the Sunday Speaker Series. This year's Winterfest 2018 was a zero waste event thanks to the efforts of the Forum's Sustainability Committee. All Scarsdale residents are welcome to join! Visit the website here
Photo Credit: Lisa Van Gundy

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BobBerg(This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Robert Berg of Tisdale Road)
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my views about Scarsdale issues on Scarsdale10583. The resounding passage of the $65 million school facilities bond by a 2-1 margin on February 8 hopefully will be a new beginning for the entire Scarsdale community. There are many challenges ahead for our Village, and we must confront them with strength, smarts, and solidarity. Personal discord for discord's sake is unnecessary and counterproductive. Scarsdale10583 should and can be a trusted platform for news and exchange of diverse opinions.

I am honored to be running for Village Trustee in the Village election on March 20, 2018 as the candidate for the Voters Choice Party (VCP) to serve the residents of Scarsdale and to provide them with a fully independent and principled voice.

What do I stand for?

(1) Free speech for all Scarsdale residents irrespective of political views or party. Thanks to US District Judge Nelson Roman, as of early Wednesday morning, February 7, 2018, Scarsdale residents now can freely and without fear of criminal prosecution post political signs on their lawns within the 13 foot Village right of way without having opponents of their political views co-opt our wonderful, hard-working Scarsdale police officers, using our tax dollars, to violate our Constitutional rights to free speech protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

I am very proud that as soon as I learned that certain residents were using our police officers to confiscate or remove "Vote Yes" pro-bond signs from residents' lawns under threat of criminal penalty, I jumped into action. I contacted the Village Attorney, and pleaded with him to have the police stop this illegal violation of residents' free speech rights. When the Village Attorney, Village Manager, Mayor, and Village Trustees refused to discontinue this unconstitutional conduct, acting as my own attorney, I filed a federal lawsuit against the Village and the Police Department. I sought and obtained emergency relief from the federal court, which found the Village's ordinance to be unconstitutional and enjoined the Village from interfering with residents' right to post political signs on their lawns within the Village right of way. I will stand up for what's right for our residents and I won't just talk about it. I will take appropriate action!

(2) Smart investment in our schools like the school bond that just passed. While the schools are governed and funded completely and independently from Village government, their health and value clearly affect our property values and community. All our residents, whether newcomers or empty nesters, have a great stake in ensuring that our public school system spends our tax dollars wisely and provides the finest education possible for our students in a rapidly evolving world.

(3) Fair property assessment to minimize property tax volatility and uncertainty for residents and to reduce the havoc that property tax case settlements and judgments wreak on our school and village budgets and planning.

(4) Respect for our residents' property rights and pocket books. The proposed Tree Ordinance will impose new fees and burdensome restrictions on our residents. The real and only problem with trees in our Village (if, indeed, you believe there is a problem) is with developers cutting down too many trees when replacing tear downs or creating subdivisions. With subdivisions, the Planning Board can require a tree plan that can adequately deal with the issue. With respect to tear downs, the tree problem can be easily remedied by fixing the long broken FAR (floor area ratio) law which allows developers to game the system through loopholes in the FAR and build 10,000 square foot mansions on ½ acre plots. That's why all the trees are being cut down on those properties. Rather than address this long-standing problem with developers – which is also largely responsible for the rapid demolition of scores of houses over the past decade -- the Village Board plans within the next few weeks to enact an even more restrictive Tree Ordinance which will forbid residents from cutting down more than 2 live trees with a diameter greater than 24 inches over a 2 year period unless they pay large fees to the Village or plant expensive new trees on their properties. Let's solve the real problems first the right way instead of burdening our residents, who already pay the highest property taxes in the country with more nuisance laws and fees and unneeded hurdles over how they use their private property.

(5) Fund badly-needed and long-overdue Village "catch up" road repair with a modest $4 million 10 year bond which would fund the paving of 11.5 miles of Village roads in one season in a fiscally responsible manner.

(6) Institute sensible and cost effective sanitation pick-ups that increase re-cycling while preserving backyard pickup of recyclables needed by physically challenged residents and our large population of older residents.

(7) Build a Village dog park, which will be a wonderful community spot for our furry friends and residents to meet and build relationships.

(8) Continue planning for an integrated downtown revitalization/Freightway development that will create a new mixed use parking/retail/residential complex at Freightway offering connectivity with Scarsdale Avenue and Downtown Scarsdale, provide a substantially enhanced commercial and residential tax base for the Village and Schools, and impact Scarsdale school enrollment only slightly.

Thank you, once again, for giving me the opportunity to address the Scarsdale10583 community, and I hope that the changes you have made to require personal identification of contributors and commentators will make your website a real and civil community forum to exchange views on important local issues.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Berg
32 Tisdale Road
Scarsdale, New York 10583
(914) 522-9455
robertbergesq@aol.com

chilepepperWant to post a comment? Please include your REAL name and street address.

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BenSchwartzWhen we found out that we had a cartoonist for the New Yorker in our neighborhood, and that he was also a doctor, we were curious to learn more about Benjamin Schwartz. He gracioulsy agreed to share his story and some of his artwork below. Enjoy this profile of one of Greenacres most talented and creative residents:

So, you grew up in Scarsdale ... When did you discover your love of drawing and art?

I grew up in Greenacres and I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't doodling.

Who helped to nurture your talent?

My family and friends have always been very supportive of my creative interests. I think my parents recognized fairly early on that cartooning was something more than a hobby for me.

When did you adapt your artistic talent to cartoon drawing?

I've pretty much always been focused on cartooning, so I actually had to figure out the opposite—how to adapt my skills away from cartoon drawing and towards something more lifelike. And that's because cartooning is all about exaggeration and abstraction. You can develop a passable visual vocabulary by studying other cartoons and comics, but to really understand how to cartoon something, you need to know how to draw it realistically first.

What were some of your interests in high school – did you pursue both science and art?

I've always been a bit torn between science and art, even before high school. In BenSchwartzelementary school, my answer to the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "either a comic book artist or a doctor." (I even have an old elementary school yearbook where it says that in print—see below.)

In high school, I got to stretch some of my cartooning muscles drawing for the Maroon, the school newspaper.

Having gone through medical school, how did you decide that you also wanted to seriously pursue a career in cartooning?

Well, I always wanted to seriously pursue a career in cartooning, I just didn't think I could; I didn't have confidence in my artistic abilities and I had no idea how to get my foot in the door of the industry. So I put that dream aside and focused on my other dream, to become a doctor.

Medical school wasn't without its challenges, but at the end of the day, it was school, and—thanks in large part to growing up in Scarsdale—I knew how to handle school. When it transitioned into the hectic world of residency, I learned how to handle that, too. And yet, the further I moved along in my training, the more I felt unfulfilled. Medicine was something that interested me, but cartooning was my passion. At some point it dawned on me that if I put as much time and work into pursuing a career in comics as I had in medicine, maybe I could become a good enough artist, and maybe I could figure out how to get my foot in the door.

It sounds like you play a very unique role at Columbia Hospital. Explain what you do.

As an assistant professor in Columbia University Medical Center's Department of Medicine, I teach medical students how to better empathize and communicate with their patients. I do this by having students study and produce art—comic art in particular. My classes are part of a larger program called Narrative Medicine, which started at Columbia but has since spread to medical schools around the country and world. Traditionally, doctors learn to understand illness as a collection of discreet signs and symptoms, yet the way people actually experience illness is narratively—as a story, a chapter in their lives. Art allows students to practice and develop their storytelling skills so that they can eventually provide better, more holistic care to their patients. Here is an example of a cartoon made by one of my students:

cartoon1

How did you apply to have your work published in The New Yorker? How often do you go to the offices and how do they decide what to use?

I found out that Bob Mankoff, the New Yorker's Cartoon Editor (at the time) held weekly open office hours to find new cartooning talent. That kind of direct access to such a major gatekeeper is pretty unheard of, so I knew I had to seize the opportunity. I put together a batch of cartoons and went down to the New Yorker offices to show him. He very graciously looked through them and gave me feedback. He rejected them all but told me I had talent and asked me to come back the next week with more cartoons. So I did, and he rejected those, too--but again he encouraged me to come back. I showed up weekly and got rejected weekly for about six months before I finally broke through and sold my first cartoon. I kept at it, and eventually I became a regular.

The way it works at the New Yorker, each cartoonist sends in around ten original cartoons each week. Between the regular contributors and unsolicited submissions, the Cartoon Editor (now Emma Allen) winds up with a few thousand cartoons on her desk. She whittles that pile down to something more manageable, and then she, along with magazine's head Editor and some others, chooses 15 or so cartoons to be included in the magazine.

Cartoons get sent in via email these days, so I don't tend to go into the offices very often, though it's nice to touch base with Emma from time to time. Here is my first published New Yorker cartoon: firstcartoon

What inspires your cartoons?

Everything! Being a cartoonist means I'm always looking at the world a little sideways, trying to find the humor in everyday objects and interactions. I never really thought of my cartoons as being particularly personal, but I've noticed that I've been making a whole lot of parenting cartoons since I've become a father.

With Trump in the White House is it more difficult to find humor in politics and everyday interactions?

Yes, for a couple of reasons.

First, I can't say I'm a big fan of his, so most of what I read in the news makes me feel depressed and deflated—not really a great mind-space to create funny cartoons. In fact, one of the toughest challenges I've faced as a cartoonist was coming up with a cartoon the day after he was elected. I was in the middle of a run as the Daily Cartoonist for the New Yorker's website (where I was responsible for producing a topical cartoon every week day), so I had to make something, but the election night outcome left me so numb that it was hard to find any humor in it. I was close to asking my editors for a pass, though I did eventually up with something (see below)

The other challenge with Trump is, even if you want to make jokes, he's already such a heightened, cartoonish figure that it's tough to really top the reality. unclesam

Have you ever drawn any cartoons that comment on local issues?

Local as in Westchester? Not really. I once submitted a cartoon that referenced Scarsdale to the New Yorker, but they didn't go for it. It was set in an Old West saloon. An angry-looking stranger has burst through those swinging saloon doors, but he's wearing a sweater vest, short-shorts, and holding a tennis racket instead of a pistol. The caption reads, "Which one of you bastards thinks you can take the Scarsdale Kid?"scarsdalekid



Why did you decide to return to Scarsdale?

My wife and I knew we'd probably wind up in the suburbs once we had kids (we had been living in the city). We initially looked all around Westchester, but we kept gravitating towards Scarsdale because of the schools and the proximity to family.

What do you like about living here?

Our house has space to store all my rejected cartoons.

glutenHow has it changed since you grew up here? Do you find that children's artistic skills are encouraged?

So far, it seems remarkably familiar (although the food delivery options are a lot better than I remember), but I almost feel like I can't really answer that question yet; so many of my Scarsdale experiences and memories centered around my education—I don't think I'll really understand how much the place has changed until my kids have entered the school system.

That will probably also give me a better perspective on the towns' encouragement of children's artistic skills, thought between annual events like the Halloween window painting contest and local programs like Young At Art, I can already tell that there's a supportive environment here for kids to make art.

donaldevilcartoonORcartooncat

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