It’s said that people get the government they deserve. That’s true in many ways here in Croton. Last year, the long-time Democratic majority was voted out of office in spite of what, in my opinion, was and is, an incredible record of positive accomplishments (notably the purchase of the parking lot and Croton Landing property, the millions of dollars in federal grants to improve the village, and the amazing success to date of the opposition to the Millennium pipeline). Yet all those accomplishments were ignored because they were overshadowed by the issue of Metro-Enviro.
If Croton has the government it deserves, it got it because residents chose not to believe their elected and appointed officials and outside consultants. It chose instead to believe the misinformation, distortions, and outright lies of a handful of Republican partisans led by a notorious hate-monger and vandal. It took the Crotonblog to finally expose to a wide audience that person for what she is. Of course, I’m hardly unbiased. I’m one of those who was called a liar (in letters to the Gazette) and accused of being on the take not just in regard to Metro-Enviro, but the Millennium pipeline as well.
I served the Village of Croton for more than ten years as a member of the Planning Board, the Water Control Commission, the Greenway Committee, and as a Library Trustee. I served my community because I believe in the importance of public service and because I wanted to set an example for my children. For those reasons I tolerated abuse which included having my property vandalized multiple times, being slandered by a sitting Republican Trustee during a Village Board meeting, and having to deal with hang-up calls at 3AM. I resigned from the Planning Board last year because I was unwilling to work under an administration that has repeatedly failed to publicly reject the support of individuals who carry out or condone such tactics. But that wasn’t the only reason.
Before last year’s Village election, I attended the public meeting at which the Metro-Enviro settlement was proposed. At that meeting I pleaded with the Board to delay a decision until it had investigated possible outcomes of a rejection including the possibility of using eminent domain to acquire the ME property. I was promptly attacked from the audience by the then Republican Party chairman who demanded that I say if I was for or against the settlement. I replied that I wanted more information. At that point, Trustee (now Mayor) Schmidt said he had already made up his mind and didn’t care what I had to say. That certainly presaged the Schmidt-Steinberg-Brennan my-way or the highway approach to government.
Tomorrow’s election is the most important one since I’ve lived here. Republican stalwarts say the Democrats are crying wolf about the financial dangers of eminent domain. I disagree. They’ve attacked Trustees Kane and Wiegman for proposing we get some expert legal advice on the matter. They prefer to stick their heads in the sand and hope that a court will rule that the ME site is worth only $5,000,000 rather than a possible $50,000,000. Either way a new public works garage, the purpose for acquiring the ME property, will cost according to the Village Manager at least another $5,000,000. (I won’t even mention legal costs).
The Republicans are advocating the Village take on a minimum of $10,000,000 in additional debt. That’s almost a doubling of our present debt. How will that affect property taxes? They haven’t said. What happens if condemnation costs come out closer to $50,000,000? The Republicans are willing to role the dice. I don’t want them gambling with MY future. No one deserves that kind of government.
— Joel Klein