NEED FOR CIVILITY RE: EDGEMONT INCORPORATION DEBATE
Dear Supervisor Feiner:
The EIC completely agrees that the discussion on Edgemont's incorporation should be civil and respectful.
Since it began, the Edgemont Incorporation Committee has conducted a fair, open, information-based, transparent process. The thousands of Edgemont residents who have attended the dozens of meetings, forums, open houses and petition-signing events over the past year can attest to the depth of the discussion, the sincerity of the views held (on all sides), and the genuine spirit of civic engagement that has animated the entire process. Thousands of visitors have examined, analyzed and debated the detailed information assembled by Edgemont volunteers and experts on our website.
Edgemont's residents are not "at each other's throats" -- we are discussing, debating and challenging each other to build a better community. What we are attempting -- with no help from you and your regime -- is to exercise our rights under state law and under the constitution.
But let's be clear about what Edgemont has gotten in return from you, your board, your hired investigators and some of your anti-incorporation supporters:
- a consistent pattern of obstruction, deception, and delay at every step in the process.
- a secret and outrageous scheme (revealed through emails to which you were a party) to organize and support an opposition campaign, including false allegations of intimidation.
- vulgar gestures directed at Edgemont residents in a public meeting
- the active solicitation of false objections to Edgemont's legitimate petition.
- the use of Town funds for private investigators to deceive petition signers into disowning their signatures.
- and most recently, an attempt to thwart democracy with an unconstitutional home-rule bill.
The EIC endorses any call for civility in this process. But even more importantly:
We call for DEMOCRACY. After months of assurances that you were merely trying to follow the law, it turns out you could only pretend to care about the law as long as you were winning. So last week, you decided if you couldn't win an Edgemont vote, you would try to have Edgemont's right to vote taken away altogether - by ramming a "home-rule" request through the legislature in Albany on the last few days of the legislative session. With no notice, no debate, and then a sham last-minute meeting on Father's Day, you had your Board of Supervisors rubber stamp your anti-democratic end-run in Albany. It was only thanks to the very civil appeals of hundreds of Edgemont residents to their legislators in Albany that your scheme was halted.
We call for HONESTY. Don't hide behind your hired guns to disclaim responsibility for the private investigator fiasco. It was your responsibility and your decision. Don't tell us, with a straight face, that the home-rule legislation you tried to ram through the legislature had nothing to do with the Edgemont incorporation effort.
We call for RESPECT. The Edgemont community has expressed its clear will to hold a vote on incorporation. The EIC has expressed its clear intention to promote a fair and cooperative process between the Village of Edgemont and the Town of Greenburgh. You have rejected the community's petition based on fabricated technicalities and outright falsehoods, and you have rejected any possibility of a constructive, cooperative dialogue with the Village of Edgemont.
The Scarsdale Inquirer's editorial page this week called you "a desperate man" and said your latest attempt to stop Edgemont was "manifestly desperate," seeking "new, totalitarian authority to keep [Edgemont] and their money right where they are." This week's Lohud article calls your "failed effort to change the rules in the middle of the game seems desperate, if not vindictive."
Mr. Feiner - the CIVIL thing to do would be to honor the will and the right of Edgemont's citizens to hold a vote on incorporation and to accept the outcome. If you insist on fighting, do so on the facts. Argue the merits. Accept the voters' will. That's civility.
One more thing:
It is not a fact (as you continue to state) that Greenburgh will lose $17-million in revenue when Edgemont incorporates. The EIC has consistently, repeatedly, emphatically laid out many scenarios in which the Village of Edgemont might find it advantageous to contract with the Town of Greenburgh for a variety of services. What is a fact is that after Edgemont incorporates, you - Paul Feiner -- will lose your personal control over that $17 million in revenue. You will no longer be free to use that money, among other things, to pay multi-million court judgments for your unconstitutional actions (Fortress Bible) or to hire private investigators to come into our homes and trick us into surrendering our constitutional rights.
From: Paul Feiner <email@example.com>
Date: June 27, 2017 at 10:32:16 AM EDT
To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com>
Subject: NEED FOR CIVILITY RE: EDGEMONT INCORPORATION DEBATE
As many of you may have experienced, the debate related to Edgemont’s proposed incorporation has produced a level and intensity of rhetoric which has inflicted real damage on every segment of the Town’s population and staff, as well as the outside world’s view of both our Town and its Hamlet of Edgemont.
At this time, the attacks on the Town Board, our staff and on me have become increasingly personal and in many cases cruel and hurtful. I have not reacted previously to the ever-mounting, non-stop barrage of vicious commentary, as I believed that acceptance of criticism comes with the “turf” when you choose to be a public servant. However, this process, which I truly believe is an orchestrated plan by the pro-incorporation group to discredit every aspect of the Town, comes with a severe cost. Residents, both pro and con, are at “each other’s throats.” Words like racism and elitism are being tossed about outside and within a community which previously had been seen as a bastion of acceptance of diverse opinions. The results of this campaign will clearly live on beyond the Edgemont referendum, both in the form of our residents’ perception of each other’s values and in the manner in which the Town of Greenburgh and its Villages are viewed by the outside world. In addition, the effect of this nasty rhetoric on our staff, who fear for their jobs and whose spirits are being broken by the constant criticism of their commitment and ability to professionally fulfill their responsibilities, is wrong and unacceptable.
I am the elected Town Supervisor for approximately 90,000 residents of the incorporated Villages and unincorporated Town of Greenburgh. In conjunction with a Town Board comprised of individuals I trust and respect, we endeavor to do the best job we can, for all residents. The Town Board and I oversee434 full time and 268 part time Greenburgh employees, who are dedicated to serving Greenburgh’s residents and have proven their competence and commitment, over and over again. The Town Board and I have great pride in these individuals and respect for each and every one, on a personal and professional level. They are the best of the best and provide the highest level of service anywhere.
At some point Edgemont voters may cast ballots in a referendum to determine whether Edgemont will become a Village. Let us be clear, the potential loss of nearly $17,000,000 in revenue will absolutely have a devastating effect on many of the more than 42,000 residents of unincorporated Greenburgh. As Supervisor of “The Town of Greenburgh,” not just any single entity, I will do my best to ensure the fairest outcome for my entire constituency.
I appeal to those Greenburgh residents on both sides of this debate, to our local newspapers and media outlets, to pursue their objectives, as is their right and responsibility, to their fullest, but to utilize restraint in their tone and presentation. Our community and our children are watching, and regardless of the outcome, it is my fervent hope that Greenburgh’s reputation for civility and acceptance can remain intact.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor