Saturday, Jul 02nd

ukarinianflagThis letter was written by Max Grudin of Scarsdale:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Thank you for your support of the Ukrainian people.

The conflict in Ukraine has not ended, we are all aware of the suffering: over 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced, every second child does not live under the home roof, and Russia routinely targets civilians.
I want to focus on other aspects: the situation with Russia, the end game, and ways to help.

Here are a few snippets from the Russian media - they read like an upside down world:

● “This is not a war just against Ukraine. This is a war against all the rot inside Russia that has been betraying our country over the last few years”: Dmitry Rogozin, Director of the Russian Space Agency.
● On a popular right-wing show “Solovyov TV” it was claimed that Russia needs the
Ukraine land, and “all that filth that escapes to the West might as well stay there”.
● On the same show other presenters discussed potential nuclear strikes against Europe.
Russian politicians make calls to “denazify” Poland and other neighboring nations.
● Putin has mentioned that “national traitors” will be “spat out like gnats” during the
“necessary self-cleansing of society”.
● Some Russian media claim that both sides are to blame for the casualties.

At this point many people in Russia know what is happening. It is scary when people continue to support the war despite seeing the bloodshed. Members of the economic and political elites are undoubtedly aware of the horrors on the ground. I call on people who are in touch with Russian elites to remind them of their responsibility to guide Russia. I have heard of a wealthy Russian who wanted to donate to a Ukrainian humanitarian cause, but he preferred to remain anonymous and he wanted to avoid any mention of Ukraine on his social media. It is important for such people to act like leaders.

People from many nations and ethnic backgrounds have reached out to me with their support and donations. Yet 35 of the 193 governments abstained from the UN resolution demanding an end to the Russian invasion. We live in an educated and international community - it is fair to ask those governments to stop turning a blind eye on the ongoing slaughter in Ukraine.

What is the end game?
Just a couple of days ago Russia declared that its focus will shift to the east of Ukraine. That does not mean that Russia would not want to take over the entire country if an opportunity presented itself. On the other hand Ukraine does not have enough weapons for a major counter attack. The discussion of the end of hostilities assumes no major changes on the battlefield.

Historical connections between Ukraine and Russia go back 1000 years or so. Ukraine that is West-oriented contradicts Putin’s vision of it being a part of the “Russian world”. It is tragic that the Russian leadership views Ukraine only as a sacred “territory” that must make Russia stronger in its struggle against “the West.” Those historical ties and the prior aggression against the Crimea and Donbass mean that at the very least the Russian leadership aims to make some territorial gains in order to declare this war a success. There is a full expectation on the Russian side that as one condition for the end of conflict is for Ukraine to recognize Crimea, annexed since 2014, as part of Russia. The Donbass status is less clear.

The territorial dispute is hard to resolve. I understand that the vast majority of Ukrainians are against making any territorial concessions. They feel they have had enough war over the last 8 years and they would like peace on their terms rather than on terms of a war criminal. The Ukrainian leadership has injected a degree of pragmatism and any agreement will have to be accepted by the people. The people of Ukraine will come together to rebuild their country as a modern European society.
Even past the immediate cessation of hostilities Putin will be viewed as a war criminal by most in the West and likely a loser when the Russian public realizes what has transpired. That is not a way forward. In the long term Russia needs a leadership that can navigate the country out of this terrible situation.

What else can be done?
I want to emphasize the gratitude people of Ukraine express to all the support and donations. “Razom for Ukraine” is a US charity that helps with humanitarian supplies as well as tourniquets and protective equipment for territorial defense such as knee pads, bulletproof vests, etc. Things like that are sorely needed, as people are defending their land, their families and lives. As the situation on the ground changes I will be happy to let you know other most effective ways to donate.
Please call our political leaders about helping Ukraine with humanitarian supplies as well as with weapons. Also, if you are from Russia or other countries whose governments did not oppose this slaughter, please reach out to people there.

Max Grudin
mgrudin@gmail.com

gratitudeThis Letter to the Editor was written by Deb Pekarek

As we celebrate Social Work Month, we want to shine a light on all the
Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counselling Service’s
consummate social work professionals

This year especially and beyond you …

Care, care, care
Are devoted
Have high standards
Listen carefully
Provide resources, support and comfort
Are selfless
Work with heart and passion everyday

You are essential!

The Board of Directors of Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counselling Service recognizes and is inspired by your professionalism, expertise, compassion, energy and empathy as you address all the mental health needs of our community

Your work is truly unique and your presence in our community is crucial to our wellbeing and so much appreciated

Thank-you for becoming a social worker!

Thank-you for all the work you have accomplished during the Pandemic!

And thank-you for being an essential part of the
Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counselling Service’s Family!

You are the best!

stern walterA memorial service for Walter P. Stern is scheduled at Westchester Reform Temple on March 4 at 10:45 am.Longtime Edgemont resident Wally Stern passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, Feb. 27. He was 93 years old and had lived in Edgemont since 1962. A titan in the international investment community, Stern also had a profound effect on events at home and abroad through his leadership in many organizations, most notably those dedicated to the survival of the State of Israel and policies that favored American exceptionalism, in the U.S. and overseas. Still, he frequently said that his greatest achievement was raising a quality family. Stern gave credit for his family to his surviving wife of 64 years, Betsy May Stern, an active community resident and former president of the Edgemont School Board. Two of Wally’s children live in Edgemont and also served as School Board presidents.

Public tributes to Wally have arrived from near and far. In a letter to Trustees earlier this week, Westchester Community College described Wally as an “advisor to presidents, international heads of state, ambassadors, and a model of integrity in the investment business,” adding that “Wally cared deeply about making education accessible and equitable.” John Walters, President of Washington D.C.-based think tank Hudson Institute, expounded in a press release, “Through his leadership, Wally served as Hudson Institute’s ‘North Star,’ guiding the organization through the administrations of 10 U.S. presidents. As a result of his guidance and support, Hudson has become one of the world’s most respected policy organizations, dedicated to promoting American leadership for a secure, free, and prosperous future.” Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained in a press release, “In his quiet, unassuming way, Wally — as he was affectionally known by all — was a pathbreaking pioneer in the world of finance and then again in the world of ideas,” adding that he was “a consistently wise source of counsel, a remarkably generous patron who never sought credit for his philanthropy, and a true gentleman, unfailingly warm and kind. Wally was a great and good man.”
Stern was born on Sept. 26, 1928, in Manhattan. He graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1946. In 1950, he received a bachelor’s degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from Williams College. In 1952, Stern received an MBA, with distinction, from Harvard University. He then served his country as an Air Force officer. For the next two decades, Stern worked at Burnham & Company in New York, where he was responsible for research, institutional sales, and investment management. In 1973, Stern joined the Capital Group Companies. He served as chairman and a director of Capital International, Inc. and chairman of the New Perspective Fund and the Emerging Markets Growth Fund. Stern had responsibilities for following financial and political developments worldwide.

Stern was Chairman of the Institute for Chartered Financial Analysts and the Financial Analysts Federation, where he pioneered the CFA examinations. He taught investments at several universities and was a longtime board member at Temple-Inland, Inc. Stern also became a mentor to countless investment professionals and others.

Outside the investment community, Stern was most passionate about Hudson Institute, which he helped bring to prominence in the 1970s with his close friend Herman Kahn. Stern served for decades as Hudson’s Chairman. Among the many other organizations that he served as board member and investment advisor were The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Known for displaying fairness and deflecting credit for his good deeds, Stern lived by the motto: You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in life if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Stern’s local public service included stints as president of the Longview Civic Association, member of the Edgemont School Board Nominating Committee, and coach of many youth sports.
Stern’s grandchildren recall his often chronicling on his birthday that, “When I graduated from college, I set four goals: (1) Earn the respect of my professional peers; (2) Gain financial stability; (3) Make the world a better place; and, (4) Raise a good family.” He hit for the cycle!

In addition to his wife Betsy, Stern is survived by his children Sarah May Stern (Mark Rosenblatt) of Edgemont; William May Stern (Ann Shapiro) of Nashville; and David May Calhoon Stern (Mary Elizabeth Calhoon) of Edgemont; by his grandchildren Judd Rosenblatt (Melanie Plaza), Rebecca Rosenblatt (Ben Manson), Tom Rosenblatt, Zachariah Stern, Phoebe Stern, Kasey Stern, Gavin Stern and Fiona Stern; by two great-grandchildren Trent Rosenblatt and Leo Manson; and by his younger brother Richard Stern (Phyllis Edelstein). He was preceded in death by his parents Leo and Marjorie Stern and his brother Robert Stern.

A memorial service is scheduled at Westchester Reform Temple on March 4 at 10:45 am. Proof of vaccination and booster is required. The service can be live-streamed at wrtemple.org. In lieu of flowers, please consider gifts to Hudson Institute or Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

MarkerTagIllustration(This article and illutration, were submitted by SHS Senior, Sydney Piccoli)
Marker tag, once known as assassin, is a senior class tradition at Scarsdale High School with no ties to the administration. Seniors pay an entry fee, which is then divided by the marker tag facilitators into first, second, and third prizes. Although there are several rules about perimeter and safe-conduct, the game’s general gist is that each participant is assigned a “target” that they must slash with a washable marker, which represents their elimination. The participant then assumes a new target and so forth until three people remain to claim their respective prize.

The Scarsdale High School administration has a long-established history of condemning marker tag. But is it a harmless tradition that restores the energy of a slumping senior class? Or is it a symbol of the ignorance that persists in Generzation Z, which has experienced a historic number of school shootings? Does the game incentivize violence or is it just that—a game?

Generation Z has grown up watching news reports of school shootings, mourning victims, and re-evaluating how safe they feel in schools. The last thing anyone would expect is for Scarsdale High School seniors to make light of school shootings. Over the years, marker tag has undergone dramatic changes to adapt to the current political climate and become more sensitive toward mass shooting victims. A few years ago, Scarsdale students transitioned from referring to the game as “assassin” to “marker tag.” Whereas assassin has commonly been used to describe school shooters, marker tag has no ties to school shootings and clarifies that it is indeed a game that should not be perceived as anything else. Furthermore, Scarsdale students now use markers as “weapons” compared to neighboring schools, who use water pistols and Nerf dart guns.

One could easily see how students running around wearing all black, holding toy guns, and shooting one another could easily prove insensitive and cross the line from enjoyable to inappropriate and malicious. But, students hiding behind lockers and trees trying to draw on each other’s hands with markers feel innocent enough. If more changes are made, such as not referring to the people as targets to be killed, but rather participants to get out, what is the harm? How would that differ from elementary school students playing tag on the playground?

Teachers and administrators have cited that seniors coming in fully covered makes it difficult to decipher whether or not they are a student or a person intending to harm Scarsdale High School seniors. The organizers and participants of the game have made changes, limiting where a person is allowed to be marked to prevent students from covering their faces in school. Furthermore, those opposing marker tag believe that the act of students killing one another can be too closely likened to school shootings. If it’s just an issue of how the game is being perceived, it seems as though it would be better for seniors to adjust the language they use for the game as opposed to not playing it completely.

Spanning decades, marker tag has become a staple tradition for Scarsdale High School seniors alongside prom, homecoming, and senior chalking. After three and a half years of hard work, students look forward to the rare opportunities they have to escape the chaos and stress of school and rejoice in time spent with their classmates. Marker tag fosters bonding as seniors form alliances with their friends and complain to one another how wearing long sleeves and sweatpants in the middle of March for the competitive edge is “totally worth it.” By the time marker tag rolls around, seniors are already mentally checked out, so it seems like banning the
game because it is “a distraction” feels obsolete. Students are also allowed to play marker tag or not, which means each individual can dictate whether or not they would like to sacrifice their time and money to join in.

Although Scarsdale High School seniors playing marker tag has remained a tradition, the world has and will continue to change. There was a time when a school shooting proved to be an anomaly, but it is 2022, and there have been 103 school shootings since 2018. The actions we take must reflect the current circumstances of the world. As of right now, outlawing marker tag seems to be an unreasonable course of action considering how many students enjoy the activity and form a community around playing. Scarsdale students have also taken proactive steps to make the tradition more sensitive to the victims of school shootings and appropriate overall, which should be recognized. If the administration continues to voice specific concerns and the student body works to adjust them, it seems as though the Scarsdale High School tradition of marker tag could continue for years to come.

PropertyTaxThough it is now six years after the contentious 2016 tax revaluation in Scarsdale, a court decision on a case to contest the revaluation was released this week.

Attorney Bob Bernstein represented a group of petitioners who formed an unincorporated association that brought a suit against Scarsdale to void the 2016 tax assessment roll charging that “the Town’s methodology failed to assess a uniform percentage of value to all real property within the Town. According to the complaint, the tax assessor used a “square root formula” which resulted in larger homes being valued at less than 100% market value and smaller homes being valued at 100% or more of their market value.

The Village of Scarsdale was represented by Terry Rice of the Vincelette Law Firm. A group of residents who believed that the committee did not represent all Scarsdale residents intervened and were represented by the law firm Quinn Emanuel.

The 2018 case was originally dismissed because the court found that the association did not have standing to sue. However in the appeal heard by the Supreme Court of the State of New York appellate division on October 5, 2021, Judge Betsy Barros found that the petitioners did have standing to seek a declaration that the revaluation had been conducted in violation of the Real Property Law or the US or New York constitutions. The appeals court wrote “An association or organization has standing when ‘one or more of its members would have standing to sue,’ ‘the interests it asserts are germane to its purposes,’ and ‘neither the asserted claim nor the appropriate relief requires the participation of the individual members.’”

However, the appeals court affirmed that the association did not have standing to seek any damages or refunds from the Village. The court explained that to seek damages, individuals would be required to prove the market value of their homes to determine whether or not they would be entitled to a refund. Since the petitioner is an unincorporated association with no tax assessment from the town, it lack standing to assert a claim against the town and therefore could not claim a refund or damages.

The appeals court made clear that it was not finding that former Village Assessor had violated the Real Property Law or the equal protection clause. Instead, the appeals court simply allowed the association the opportunity to attempt to produce evidence to show such a violation. Therefore, the appeal court remanded the case back to the Supreme Court of Westchester County. If the association wishes it can pursue a declaration, but even it proves its’ claims, the court cannot order any damages or refunds.

Commenting on the ruling, Marc Greenwald who is a Scarsdale resident and attorney at Quinn Emanuel said, "As counsel to a group of Scarsdale residents, we are pleased that the appeals court recognized that this association is not entitled to any refunds or damages, which would have come out of the Village, School Board and County budgets. Individual homeowners have the ability to grieve any unfair assessment. Homeowners should follow that process rather than sue the Village because the assessor chose a methodology they don’t like.

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