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The Minority Report

November 9, 2005

Option: Download and watch this video clip in Quicktime format (3.2mb) that highlights a lively discussion of opposing views between the Mayor and Trustee Wiegman, prior to the contentious vote.

The resolution for the Republican-backed proposed Sewer Rent Law passed during the regularly-scheduled Village Board meeting held on Monday, November 7, 2005, on a split decision, with Mayor Schmidt, Trustees Brennan and Steinberg voting in favor of the measure, while Trustees Kane and Wiegman strongly opposed it.

Despite passage, the Republican majority was forced to amend the resolution just prior to voting when Croton-on-Hudson resident Pat Barua reiterated her previous concerns, on the same issue, that she raised at the October 17, 2005 public hearing, that portions of the new legislation itself, would be in violation of Village law. She maintained that, in order to set rates for a “rent”, the Village must complete a determination procedure to calculate the previous year’s sewer costs, then issue a public notice, and schedule a public hearing, none of which was done.

Option: Download and watch this video clip in Quicktime format (6.4 mb) that notes the response to Ms. Barua’s assertion, where Schmidt says nothing, quickly initiates a last-minute and hurried sidebar conversation with Village attorney Marianne Stecich to make the resolution presentable for a vote.

Then, without any discussion with the Village Board, Schmidt announced that board was going to vote on the sewer law but “without the last two resolutions” - without public explanation of what those two resolutions were or why those resolutions were being dropped (these were the sections that actually imposed the sewer charges which were set to go into effect as of December 1, 2005).

As of now, the Sewer Rent law, as passed, will go into effect on June 1, 2006, based on rates that the Village Board will set in April and May 2006 during the annual budget process. So, the first sewer rent bills will be part of the water bills that are sent at the end of the June to November 2006 six-month billing cycle.

On November 14, 2005 4:44 PM, weewill said:

culliganman, Your statement above that there were 121 letters and emails to the board supporting the sewer rent proposal is untrue and pure fabrication. There was a total of 7 letters - a far cry from 121!

And it’s clear from looking at the names of the writers they were NOT in any stretch of the imagination representative of the diverse population in Croton. I’m embarassed for them and you, so I will refrain from publicly supplying their names on this public blog…

On November 10, 2005 9:57 PM, culliganman said:

I won’t speak to the sewer fee because I haven’t seen the Gazette.

As for Regus, while I’m certain that the board and Mr. Girard are doing what is necessary, you should know that residents in Croton, NJ and Ohio have regularly kept the STB informed by fax concerning everything from Regus’ inaccuracies to the lawsuit lodged by the Our Lives Count people, the NJ lawsuit, the investigative reports in Ohio WEWS, and USEPA Region 5’s efforts, the Ohio EPA consent order etc.

Croton residents have been especially diligent thanks to help from their sister community in Ohio. I’d tell you where to get more info but it’s considered “spam” on this blog if you mention a certain newsletter.

On November 10, 2005 8:30 PM, Pat Barua said:

The tragicomedy of errors continues…according to today’s Gazette, Treasurer Zambrano will be contacting the State Comptroller’s office to see if there is some way out of the mess Schmidt, Steinberg, Brennan & Stecich created by rushing to pass the sloppily drafted and ill conceived Sewer Rents Law Monday night without considering the consequences of being forced to withdraw the illegal funding resolutions for it…

In the meantime, perhaps the Schmidt-Steinberg-Brennan team or our village attorney could tear themselves away from that crisis and respond to the Regus letter it received on OCTOBER 24th? It only contains two serious misrepresentations, casts the village in a horrible light, and is obviously being used by Regus to win favor with the County Solid Waste Commission, which in turn may have adverse consequences in the STB proceeding — which is voting next week.

On November 10, 2005 3:58 PM, SSmith said:

hey culliganman, i find it peculiar that you know exactly how many letters were sent to the board in support of the sewer rent law. how is that?? are you a closet board member afraid to out yourself here? since you know so much of this info….please tell us how many of those letters were from republicans?

the uneasiness about this proposal is that we do not trust the calculation and amount of the fee that the board put forth as being done in the true spirit of cost containment and accuracy and fairness. it seems to have been arbitrarily contrived. pat BARUA proved it!!

if you get beyond your obvious allegience to schmitty and his gang and actually listen to what leo weigman was saying about the fund already being at least 50% under water from the get-go; you would see the flaws in this plan and the potential for a huge increase in year two of the plan to make it whole. talk about getting screwed…..

i for one would like to see the due diligence and financial anlysis that was performed on this proposal made public.

it is clear that the two democrats on the board were NOT consulted on any of this and that other alternatives WERE NOT explored by the majority on the board. why do you think schmitty and tommy-boy jumped on leo so hard??? answer: because they knew he had them in a lie.

i am one of those cross over voters who voted for schmidt who WILL NOT do so again. I think his performance has been appalling, his unwillingness to work with the democrats in town is a travesty, his two sidekicks are a joke, he in general seems very aloof and condescending to people who do not share his views, the dr. mayor and his yesmen CLEARLY do not do their homework on any issues, and it is clear that his abrasive style will continue to divide this town further.

On November 9, 2005 11:19 PM, culliganman said:

Thank you notorc. I have the work session tape when this was discussed and it was suggested by the staff. If you also look at the records in the village, this has been considered many times over the years by both local parties.

I do wish that we would stop hearing about how the Schmidt team got in by the narrowest of margins. Actually it was about 140 out and out votes and since Democrats outnumber Republicans here by 2 to one, the crossing over to the Republcans was substantially more than that and that’s alot. But that is not what is important. The sewer fee is necessary because of the neglect of the system for the last ten years. This is a horse that won’t run.

If you want, you should look at the 121 letters(emails) written to members of the board supporting this proposal. Then look at how many actually opposed it publicly. At best a dozen. Even the churches were appalled that an attempt to drag them into a non existent lawsuit took place especially the Methodism and Lutheran churches.

You see a lack of discussion in the videotape. I see a lot whining by people looking to make political hay. Another thing. If there are truly open government violations occurring, then contact NYPIRG or DOS ro report them. NYPIRG is a great organzation and it will be happy to give you an opinion.

Videos are wonderful but specially “selected” clips or “editted” emails don’t tell the whole story. Consistent attendance at meetings or watching the videotapes or audiotapes in their ENTIRETY (which are also sent to the library) is the way to go. Isolating select clips does not provide a full picture of what actually transpires at these meetings. And it certainly did not in this case.

Miss Baruan made some points. The mayor saw this and took them into consideration. That is the way it is done, publicly. Just as Ms. Baruan made good points before the other board and helped stop them from taking the M.E. settlement, Schmidt took her comments into account. That is what is supposed to happen. Sorry but I don’t mind paying this and neither do the people around me. We don’t want to end up swimming in our own ….

On November 9, 2005 10:27 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Option: Download and watch this video clip in Quicktime format (6.3mb).

As per request, this video segment includes footage of Croton-on-Hudson resident, Pat Barua, succesfully challenging the merits of the “rent” calculation and the subsequent removal of the two incorrect items, listed below, by Village Manager Richard Herbek.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the rate for the 2005-06 fiscal year for the sewer rents will be 10% of the water bill which will appear on the June 2006 water bill for the period covering 12/1/05 to 5/31/06,

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that those property owners who do not use Village Water but are located within the Sanitary Sewer District will be charged a flat rate for the 2005-06 fiscal year of $50 and this bill will also appear in June 2006 for the period covering 12/1/05 to 5/31/06.

The complete resolution can be found here.

On November 9, 2005 7:46 PM, notorc said:

I agree, it was sad to see them have to re-write the law based on the valuable input of a concerned citizen.

However, in the end, I think the sewer rent makes perfect sense. Currently, we’re getting the water pipes fixed out of proceeds from the water bill. This sewer rent mirrors the water bill and serves the purpose of “fund accounting”. The sewers need repair and it’s only getting worse.

In the end, it was the village staff that requested this sewer rent. I applaud the staff of the village for proposing this law…. once again. It seems previous requests fell on deaf ears. I’m sure the staff appreciates their leaders listening to them.

Good job Dr. Schmidt!

On November 9, 2005 7:28 PM, Gut-C said:

OUCH!! That was hardly a discussion! Apparently the Mayor feels like because he won (by the narrowest of margins) that he can rule with an iron fist - and Moe and Larry nod in unison!

He wouldn’t even let Trustee Weigman finish his sentence. Was he elected by the people, for the people? If they keep it up, they’ll be “one and done”! Let’s just hope they don’t do too much damage between now and the end of their terms.

On November 9, 2005 4:04 PM, weewill said:

Thank you crotonblog. Your video stream is a tremendous aid for those of us unable to attend the VB meetings.

This clip is very very disturbing. Yes, I’m a democrat and no I didn’t vote for any of the 3 republicans. I wish my people had won, but that’s democracy. This clip demonstrates anything but democracy. It’s pure and simple dictatorship by the newly elected Mayor - not so “new” any longer and he should know better.

Close to 50% of the voters in town did NOT vote for him and we deserve to have a voice. Trustees Wiegman and Kane try to speak for us, but this Mayor not only refuses to listen but he drags his puppet trustees along with him. It’s his way or the highway. I’m the boss…. this is MY village…. this is MY law…. this is My decision. He even went so far as to say so I don’t care; I feel very strongly about this and we will move forward. He is wrong.

It is NOT HIS board, HIS village or HIS decision. He was elected to REPRESENT all citizens NOT MUZZLE THEM. That’s why the law requires public hearings…. to HEAR the people.

And another bit of the clip was shocking. The same Tom Brennan who yelled and screamed before election about the old board agreeing after “consensus agreement” among the board members that there were not enough votes to continue with discussions with Metro Enviro. He insisted the board had no right meet behind closed doors…. it was secretive, sneaky, and he was outraged, etc., etc, etc.

Now, in this clip, he’s clearly lecturing Wiegman about the righteousnous of this board taking action based on CONSENSUS reached behind closed doors, drafting a Village law, and presenting it to the board as a fait accompli.

This board meets all the time at “advice of counsel” meetings in private and without any public notice. There are never any reports about what happens or even topics discussed.

And they promised “open government?” What happened?

On November 9, 2005 4:00 PM, SSmith said:

this is just another sorry example of the republican leadership’s immaturity and lack of knowledge. it is clear that none of the three looked, or looks, at procedures for enacting local laws. plus they didn’t even the read the actual law about the sewer rent law procedure; which i’m guessing they probably wrote. how idiotic is that?

not only do they look bad because they do not know what they are doing but they actually proved it on television in this case!! commercial free even!

that’s what happens when you surround yourself with two yesmen who follow you like puppies, a disengaged village attorney, and a serial emailer who purports that she is an expert on the “garbage industry” and is the self-appointed “clearinghouse” of public information despite the many spins she weaves in her tales. you get bad advice mr. mayor!!

take a look at your boss in D.C. he is a prime example of dysfunction and lack of attention to detail. and it is costing this nation dearly!! because in the end that’s who gets screwed: the people who’s lives are effected by the ineptitude.


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