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marcgreenwaldThis letter was submitted by Marc Greenwald
To the Editor - I understand that Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez is now running for Scarsdale Board of Education. I write to make sure the community is aware that in 2017 Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez spearheaded a group that sued the Village because of her view about the fairness of the 2016 Village-wide property tax revaluation. Because she represented to the court that she spoke for “all Scarsdale taxpayers,” another group of residents who thought the lawsuit was misguided sought to intervene and support the Village in having the lawsuit dismissed. My law firm represented those residents pro bono. The court did allow these Scarsdale residents to intervene, and then dismissed Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez’s lawsuit for lack of merit. All the pleadings in the lawsuit and the court’s dismissal are publicly available under the Index No. 50542/2017, and I urge Scarsdale voters to review these papers when considering Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez’s candidacy.

Four points about the suit: 

First, the suit was filled with baseless insinuation of corruption designed to inflame and sow discord.

Second, the Village spent large sums on legal counsel to defend this meritless suit. And those expenditures continue because Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez has appealed the dismissal.

Third if Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez actually obtains the relief she seeks in the lawsuit, that result could bankrupt both the Village and the Scarsdale School District because of the refunds she and her group are seeking back to 2016.

Fourth
, home sales since the 2016 reval have shown that it was, in the end, more accurate than the prior reval. But Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriguez continues her claims that the 2016 reval was unfair.


Ms. Kirkendall-Rodriquez chose to sue our Village, but there were less harmful options to effect change. Any individual taxpayer should grieve an unfair assessment. The Village has since hired a new Village assessor and I hope we can move forward, focusing on process improvements to ensure fair tax valuation for all, a community goal.

During these already tumultuous times, the community would be wise to consider candidates for school board prepared to serve with positive, inclusive approaches. This year’s SBNC process generated two great candidates for the open seats: Amber Yusuf and Bob Klein. Nominated for their temperament, integrity, and experience, Ms. Yusuf and Mr. Klein will continue the tradition of excellent leadership of the Board of Education.

My wife Diane and I support Scarsdale’s non-partisan system because we see first-hand how it promotes good government and dynamic participation. I served 3 years on the CNC and then chaired this year’s committee as a non-voting administrator. Diane this year served her third and final year on SBNC as a voting member. It is a deliberative and respectful process that nominates candidates absent individual agenda – it works.

In addition, the current school board has proposed a sober and responsible budget for these unprecedented times. I urge the community to reject divisiveness and an “only I can fix things” approach. Vote “Yes” on the budget and for Amber Yusuf and Bob Klein for school board on June 9.

Marc Greenwald
Oak Lane

letter to the editorTo the Editor: The 2020 School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) proudly presents Amber Yusuf and Robert Klein for election to the Scarsdale Board of Education.

Amber Yusuf
Amber is an 11-year resident of Scarsdale with a dynamic volunteer resume demonstrating successful leadership and civic trust. Amber is currently, a member of the Scarsdale Bowl Committee, a volunteer consultant at TAP (The Accelerated Project,) co-chair of PTA-sponsored STEAM Day, and a previous member of the Citizens Nominating Committee. Amber was a a board member on The League of Women Voters, PTCouncil President, Heathcote PTA President, chair of After School Club and many more roles.

An engineer, an MBA and a working parent, Amber is able to sift through loads of information and extract the important and fine details. She makes the most complex issues digestible to everyone making her a unique and ideal candidate for our school board. Amber and her husband have 2 children who attend Scarsdale Middle School.AmberAmber Yusuf

Robert Klein
A retired architect, Bob has been a resident of Scarsdale for 36 years. He and his wife raised two children who graduated from Scarsdale High School and are now raising families of their own. In his career, Bob focused on the “pre-planning” end of the business, helping clients articulate and frame their strategic vision. Trained as a careful listener and armed with knowledge about the built environment, Bob is sure to be a unique asset to the district.

Committed to service, Bob currently serves as a board member of the Neighbors for Refugees and Clay Arts Center. An ‘empty nester’ and a lifelong learner, Bob remains devoted to student success and will serve the community with his valuable perspective.

BobKleintjpgBob KleinNon Partisan Process
The SBNC is a dynamic committee of 30 citizens -- each serving one 3-year term, in staggered classes -- for the purpose of nominating candidates to fill vacancies on the Scarsdale Board of Education. Eligible residents are welcomed to present themselves to the SBNC in a confidential evaluation forum, answering several predetermined questions about their candidacy. All candidates are then carefully vetted in respectful and thorough deliberations and are nominated for their community experience, character, integrity, and commitment to educational values.

SBNC’s non-partisan system:
-Promotes town harmony by avoiding divisive and costly campaigns;
-Encourages potentially excellent board members to run, who might otherwise not subject themselves to a political campaigns;
-Ensures that board members’ approach issues impartially because they have not committed themselves on issues during an election campaign;
-Ascribes to the philosophy that better school board governance results in a better education for our children.

For the last 96 years, the non-partisan system has served the Scarsdale community and will continue to do so for many more to come.

Amber Yusuf and Robert Klein are highly qualified candidates bringing different backgrounds and experiences to serve the community but share a deep commitment to maintaining the excellence of the Scarsdale schools with integrity.

Look for your ballots in the mail shortly – and mail back by June 9.

Amy Lewis
2020 SBNC Chair

letter(This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Diane Greenwald)
Scarsdale Friends: I want to offer public thanks to Mayor Marc Samwick and Trustees Justin Arest, Lena Crandall, Seth Ross, Rochelle Waldman and Jane Veron for executing on a hard decision last night and passing the Village budget, one that includes a relatively small increase but also a promise of regular review for future relief.

As we all know, COVID-19 interrupted everything, including the village budget process. This budget, supported by the LWVS and the Scarsdale Forum, offers several important features, including a quick pivot by the Village to austerity operations; creation of a COVID emergency contingency fund; and immediate reductions to taxpayers generated from the Library reopening delay. It has more to go, but I am grateful this deciding body did not make rash or dangerous cuts out of panic.

I am not a finance professional but after years of community involvement, I have come to understand the Village budget. Truth is, it’s just not that complicated. Expenses, revenues, savings. The end! What gets complicated are the values that connect to our taxes and the collective priorities that can never be perfect but must respect and reflect our community ethos. Our taxes are the cost of a civil society and must be weighed very carefully.

Some in Scarsdale (the political party, the VCP) circulated a petition seeking immediate and drastic cuts to the proposed Village budget, and while I can understand the instinct, the devil is in the details. We all seek relief; no one is immune, but in truth, we have little discretion over our local budgets, which are heavily mandated by the State, and we have to be careful not to cut off our noses to spite our faces.

The VCP petition suggested cutting amounts largely from our fire and police departments, which illuminates just how tightly formed our Village budget really is. Cutting the funds of first responders (local heroes) during a pandemic is not low hanging fruit. This is not belt tightening -- it’s dangerous.

Thankfully, the Village Trustees did not act on these ill-advised recommendations. Taking into account the long-term health of our Village finances and our community profile, they acted reasonably. Our neighbors in towns like Pelham, Bronxville and Mt. Kisco, also approved budget increases; each of those towns and several other peer communities passed higher percentage increases than our own.

Moving forward, we should not frame future budget discussions in a way that pits neighbor against neighbor. We should not make sweeping assumptions about other peoples’ capacity and resources. And we should not suggest that those supporting iterative, careful, data-driven budgeting are out of touch and out to harm our more vulnerable.

In fact, our more vulnerable community members may rely on our tax-supported services most. Government provides for our collective health, our community safety and various services that improve and save our lives. This is the Scarsdale brand and impacts our investment here, the value of our homes.

We should be protective of our staff. Cuts that hurt village professionals also impact our local economy, our broader ecosystem. Beyond the mandates and legal contracts, we have some duty out of self-interest and as decent people to support our workforce – first responders and others. I want to thank all of Scarsdale’s exceptional employees who support us during these difficult times. We are with you.

I applaud our Village leaders for both their action – passing a careful budget – and for their intention – to continue to work on the budget to find the economies with careful reflection, which the law thankfully permits. As Budget Chair Justin Arest noted, “Unlike previous years, this vote… is not the culmination of our work, it is something of a beginning.”

Good luck going forward safely and thank you for your service.

Diane Greenwald

MaskedRiderBikers, runners and walkers welcomed the opening of Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway on Sunday May 3, one Westchester tradition that was not cancelled due to the COVID crisis. 

County Executive George Latimer made the call to continue this tradition to give residents an outlet and opportunity for recreation after they have been homebound for so many weeks.This year was marked by a change in the route at the north end and by the requirement that cyclists wear masks. Rather than turn around in front of the County Center at the intersection with Route 119, cyclists  had to take the exit ramp off the parkway, cross on the overpass and return to the parkway on the entrance ramp on the opposite side.

Participants were also asked to wear masks and maintain social distance, and most complied. 

We rode the parkway and saw everyone from serious cyclists, to walkers and families outside enjoying the warm weather and the open road.

Commenting on the event, and the opening of four county golf courses, George Latimer said, “People need a legitimate place to go and if we provide them with opportunities they will be much more likely to follow the rules. Latimer said that the steady drop in the number of active cases and hospitalizations shows that the county’s policies are working.

There was a large police presence and many signs posted to remind cyclists of the rules. Though participants were clearly enjoying the chance to get outside, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner made his objections known.Mask Sign

Feiner has convened a Medical Advisory Committee made up of “prestigious local doctors” that recommended that the county delay the start of Bicycle Sundays and hold more in the fall. He quoted the Governor’s order that says, “Outdoor recreational activities where individuals come in close contact with each other should be avoided” and cited studies that said that “virus-laden droplets could travel 26 feet and that more than six feet of space is necessary for social distancing.”

After Bicycle Sunday Feiner published photos showing violations of social distancing rules and pictures of people not wearing masks and suggested that the route be shortened to prevent riders from bunching up at two points on the ride.

Asked about Feiner’s objections Latimer said, “I believe he is dead wrong. It was well-managed and people were following the rules…. he has a right to his opinion but if the situation gets out of control, we will shut it down.” Latimer called Feiner’s comments an “effort to get headlines…. Paul does not believe you should have parks open and I believe that is misguided.” The County Executive continued, “It is more of a battle between ideologies.”

Latimer commeneted, “I think the Town Supervisor should work on things that are in his domain. He can work on Central Avenue or Route 119 and enforce the social distancing laws there.”

Bicycle Sundays will continue on May 10, 17 and 31 and on June 7, 14, 21, and 28 from 10 am to 2 pm.

BRPView

Gabin(Updated April 28) Scarsdale mother of 3, entrepreneur, MBA and vocalist Rebecca Gabin just released her own musical video version of “Little Girls” from Annie. She stars in it with help from her adorable brood of three little boys from her kitchen. Check it out by clicking here or on the photo above and meet Rebecca here:

What is your background? Are you a professional singer/actress?

Definitely NOT a professional! I've always loved musical theater but stopped pursuing any kind of performing around Middle School... went the "responsible" route and got my MBA. I took a few years off to stay home with the kids, but eventually went back to work and actually had just co-founded a new venture about a week before everything started shutting down. We will have to see what the climate is once the restrictions start to loosen up- hopefully we will still have a company to build post-virus!

Tell us about your experience in voice/theater?

My experience is limited. As I mentioned, I was actively performing until I was about 12- a convenient time to stop since I was spared from unnecessary scrutiny during what seemed like an unending awkward phase. I took some voice lessons in college, but just for personal enjoyment. Some of my family friends had heard me singing over the years, so I've pinch hit for charity events when they needed someone to squeak through an anthem. I had the great honor of being invited to sing Hatikvah at the U.N a few years ago and was told it was actually the first time that it was performed on the stage of the General Assembly.

Now that you’re a busy mom - are you able to continue to sing and act?

I stayed at home for a few years and was desperately in need of a creative outlet. I found a singing app (Sing! by Smule), and joined a community of really talented people, who like me, wanted to connect over music in whatever spare moments we could carve out of our busy family lives. My friends in town nicknamed me "Julie- Smuley" because they'd catch me in the car singing into my phone (don't worry- it was parked!) They were so supportive and encouraging that I actually decided to audition for some local theater- my first time in more than 20 years. It was incredibly daunting! My first audition, I got a callback but embarrassingly crashed into a piano numerous times during the dance segment...needless to say, I hobbled off without the role (or most of my dignity). But a few months later, I saw an audition for a production of Avenue Q in Wilton, CT and ended up getting cast and having an incredibly rewarding experience. It was a LOT of work, the rehearsal schedule was exhausting, and the kids complained that I wasn't there to put them to bed 3-4 nights a week. But it was 12 weeks, we got through it, and I will treasure the experience. A whole bunch of Scarsdale friends rented a bus and come out to cheer from the audience, which was really touching!

How did you get the idea for the video? On what song is it based?

I've seen so many memes about how moms in the time of COVID-19 are feeling more Miss Hannigan than Mary Poppins, and that immediately made me think of "Little Girls" from Annie. But I have 3 boys, so I had to work with what I had. I've actually done a lot of these types of videos through the app over the past few years (much too embarrassed to reveal how many!) Not all of them are parodies, but it's a way to get out some of that creative energy.

How did you get the musical background? Did you write the lyrics?

I used the singing app on my phone, it has all the backing tracks and lets you record your voice over them using just your regular headphones. I wrote some new lyrics and kept what made sense in this context from the original. I'm probably violating all sorts of copyright laws, but my cousin texted me to let me know the original lyricist had passed away, so I should be in the clear)

Who shot the video?

I just propped up an iPad, pointed it in our direction, and hoped it would look ok. Actually, I wrote a message on our pantry door, and thought that the camera would flip it so I wrote it backwards...but it turns out Apple is savvier than I am.

It looked like the boys were having fun! How old are they and what are their first names? 

The boys absolutely had fun! I had actually originally recorded this on video without them- and when they heard me singing it, I played them the original Carol Burnett clip from the movie. They said they wanted to make a video with me, so we grabbed an iPad and had a video an hour later. They helped with planning the shots, and very happily did 2-3 takes of each sequence. I also taught my oldest how to use iMovie to edit it. The boys are Ethan (9), Zachary (7), Jonah (3).

How has the video done on youtube? Have you heard from old friends far and wide?

I initially put it on youtube because the file was tricky to send to some family members, and they were not on social media to see it otherwise. It's gotten a few hundred views, not viral, but very touching since I probably only sent the link to 15-20 people who I thought wouldn't see it on my social media page, which was private. Friends have been incredibly kind- most of them didn't see it on youtube, but rather on my social media, so they've been leaving lovely comments. One very generous friend shared the video with you, which I think is a great example of the kind of community we are lucky to be a part of. Most of the emails and texts are (playfully) calling me out as a fraud, since I'm not actually a big drinker and used to spend most of my time at home with the kids anyway.

What did you like to do before the crisis?

I liked to send my kids off to school. Every weekday. That was my favorite. I am really starting to miss restaurants, theater and (the prospect of) travel- all of the experiences that are better as a shared connection.

How are you managing these long weeks at home?

We are incredibly fortunate in our resources during this time, and I think it's a great time to teach our children about perspective through the example that we set every day. Dad is working, safely at home, while so many others are either out of work or in compromising situations. We have food, and Amazon, and space to spread out and run around. Our families are healthy and able to connect regularly. There are moments throughout the day that we have to breathe through, and we are all learning how approach each other with more patience and grace. And music. It really is the greatest stress release, and I think everyone should download the App and come sing with me!

Any ideas for additional performances?

We do have some ideas in the works! We're hoping to get some of our friends and family to participate (remotely) in the next one, so we'll keep you posted on how it comes out. It makes us smile, and honestly, sometimes that can be a small but powerful thing to share.

(April 28) Gabin released a second pandemic video today, this one to the tune of "Be Our Guest." Check it out on Youtube here:

beourguest

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