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Very, Very Comfortably Under 5 Million Dollars

April 5, 2006

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
That title, which is an exact quote from village attorney Stecich, doesn’t exactly sound like “near 5 million to me” but who wants to debate the minutia? After all, it’s just the facts we’re talking about, they’ve never mattered before… The real question here is posed to trustee Kane and trustee Wiegman along with newly elected trustee Gallelli. The three of them sent out not one, but two mailings to Croton residents erroneously “informing” voters that the price of the property was going to be anywhere from $30 to $50 million dollars!

This information came from an admittedly un-researched attorney with a political agenda by the name of Bruce Kauderer. Since Mr. Kauderer did not do research on this matter, his “dooms day” outlook for Croton moving forward with the eminent domain proceeding was most likely conceived in the smoke-filled rooms of the Croton Democratic Party.

It has also been rumored about that anywhere from one to two weeks before the election the mayor and board members were told the exact same information attorney Stecich informed the public of last night. For obvious reasons the board members could not reveal this information to the public because Andreas Y. Gruson, Michael Steinmetz, etc. all qualify as the “public” and it would not be a sound legal move to put our cards on the table first.

So here is the question to Kane, Wiegman, and Gallelli: why did you intentionally mislead residents with inflated figures and a “dooms day” (rising taxes, lowering home values, disappearing services) outlook for this village?

You were told (at least trustee Kane and Wiegman were) that the cost of the property was no where near $30 or even $50 million dollars yet you still decided to send out the mailing filled with lies!

Your election or at the very least, part of it was based on these lies, fear-mongering and totally unethical behavior!

You can be honest with residents and answer the questions they ask or you can sit back now that you’ve been elected and remain silent about what shady tactics you employed to get where you are. Based on what transpired at the village board meeting we now know the latter is your choice.

And to Croton Blog: why not video-stream these residents asking the questions to our elected officials? Why not show our elected officials silence on such shady behavior? You have no problem video-streaming some guy who asks not to be video-streamed Please do the right thing.

This is not a small, bogus issue that is going away any time soon. This type of behavior came from a two-faced group that commented on this very blog about all kinds of alleged “unethical” behavior by the local GOP, however it was actually them (Kane, Gallelli and Wiegman) who orchestrated what was perhaps the most misleading “Karl Rove” style of electioneering not seen in this village in a long, long time.

Answer the questions!

— Frank Simpson

On April 8, 2006 5:22 PM, Just The Facts said:

Frank,

Exactly where do you get off stating what my opinion on something is? Where exactly did I communicate anywhere what my opinion on this issue is?

You are so far off base, that it makes no sense even trying to have a rational debate.

The voters of Croton communicated loud and clear that radical elements like you and Mrs. C. have no place in Croton government — thank god! I realize that this must be terribly upsetting, but that is what happens when you fabricate absolute lies.

Here is some advice, if you want people to take you seriously, don’t lie about your oppponents. Such tactics do not work in the long run.

On April 8, 2006 5:12 PM, weewill said:

“We need to strike the best deal possible for this village and hard as it is to do, this board may need to sit down with Regis and explore all legal avenues of cooperation.” That’s a far cry from “making a deal”.

The responsibility of every board, “hard as it is to do” is “to strike the best deal possible for this village.” To do less than that is a clear abdication of duty.

And I say to you Mr. Simpson, it’s not rocket science to recognize it might have been better for this small village to have succeeded in negotiations with the former Metro Enviro attorneys. We were very close to an agreement but unfortunately it wasn’t “the best deal possible for the village.” It was not for lack of trying. Believe me when I tell you we were close. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide the assurances we insisted upon. Because it wasn’t “the best possible deal for the village” the four democrats and one republican terminated the discussions. And now hundreds of thousands of dollars later, we’re forced to face the possibility of having a for-real garbage transfer operation, 24/7, totally unregulated coming into our village. Yes, given the choice, I would have preferred MetroEnviro.

Unfortunately, I believe we’ve blown all chance of sitting down with Regis to “exploring all legal avenues of cooperation.” Discussions now are very probably too little too late. Doom and gloom and fear mongering? God help us all!

Georgianna Grant Worried X Trustee

On April 8, 2006 12:00 PM, Stu said:

It seems to me that Mr. Simpson and others are failing to make a distinction between an appraisal of value and what the actual cost of the site might be. The village’s appraisal essentially represents the starting price. The owners will no doubt have their own appraisal with a different value. The actual price will be determined by a judge only AFTER the village has actually committed to take the property and holds title to it. It is the difference betwen the two appraisals that will be the subject of further litigation.

What is the risk involved in the final price being much higher than the Village’s appraisal?

On April 8, 2006 11:34 AM, dors said:

(Mr. Simpson, I’m beggin’ ya - please stop screaming. You do know that typing in all caps signifies screaming, right?)

Now as for your statement “those who will have total disregard for the environment” where do you get this stuff? A C&E site is nothing but a transfer station but that is such old news I won’t bother repeating it. Can you for a moment imagine that the previous administration voted to permit ME to stay in Croton because it was more prudent to keep ME here than pay for years of litigation? Come to find out they were right. This problem is not over by a long shot and we’re still talking about spending millions of dollars dealing with it. For heaven sakes the buildings are there, the place is ready for operation and it’s NOT a slime spewing sewage dump. Let’s stop all the screaming and use our heads. Reopen the site and monitor, monitor, monitor. No more tax money for lawyers. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

On April 7, 2006 11:02 PM, waffels said:

Mr. Simpson Please, you are obviously one of the screaming minority of our village. Every post you have made on this blog has leaned a little to far right of right. I am sure her heighness Cudaquest appreciates it but you and ours are sending this village down a very dangerous path. ME has never been the issue that you all have made it out to be. The railroad, Karta and even Indian point are a bigger threat to this village than ME will ever be. Your ploys have been all for the political gain and it needs to end. It’s time for you and yours to fade away. If you are looking to protect the village march on Metro North, Indian Point or Karta Demolition up rt. 9 stop messing with my tax dollars……see ya……..

On April 7, 2006 10:06 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

Mr. Simpson, Metro Enviro is no longer in existence. It is no longer part of any equation, so why would the Dems talk about it in the recent election. Check your facts - You repeat the lies put forth by Cudaquest, Minett, Aarons, Wintermeier etc. that this was a waste transfer station - it was NOT. It was a Construction & Demolition transfer station, a place where construction debris was recycled - something which most environmentalists approve of!!

On April 7, 2006 8:51 PM, FrankOnline said:

HERE IN THE COMMENTS OF DORS, WAFFELS, REALITY CHECK, BINFORD, JUST THE FACTS AND WEEWILL LIES THE COMPLETE RALLYING POINT FOR THE CROTON DEMOCRATS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS.

THEY WANT TO STRIKE A DEAL AND BRING A WASTE-TRANSFER STATION BACK TO CROTON!

THE MOST TELLING OF THE TALE IS A POST FROM WEEWILL ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2005 AT 10:27 AM IN WHICH THE AUTHOR WRITES “WE NEED TO STRIKE THE BEST DEAL POSSIBLE FOR THIS VILLAGE… THIS BOARD MAY NEED TO SIT DOWN WITH REGIS AND EXPLORE ALL LEGAL AVENUES OF COOPERATION.”

AT THE TIME THIS STATEMENT WAS NOT ALL THAT SURPRISING BECAUSE THERE ARE ALWAYS THOSE WHO WILL HAVE TOTAL DISREGARD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT OR THOSE WHO WILL SUPPORT SUCH A DEAL FOR PURELY ECONOMIC REASONS.

THIS STATEMENT BECAME ALL THE MORE INTERESTING SOME 55 DAYS LATER WHEN THE CONTUMELIOUS POSTER “WEEWILL” WAS REVEALED TO BE NONE OTHER THAN FORMER TRUSTEE GEORGIANNA GRANT WHO VOTED IN FAVOR OF ISSUING THE ORIGINAL SPECIAL PERMIT TO METRO-ENVIRO IN 1998.

YOU SEE, THE STRATEGY HERE FOR THE ELECTED DEMOCRATS HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO STAY TIGHT-LIPPED WHEN DISCUSSION ABOUT A WASTE-TRANSFER FACILITY COMES UP DURING THE CAMPAIGN SO THAT ONCE ELECTED THEY CAN STRIKE THAT DEAL.

ANN GALLELLI DID NOT ONCE ACKNOWLEDGE A POSITION ONE WAY OR THE OTHER ABOUT METRO-ENVIRO WHEN SHE RAN FOR MAYOR IN 2005 AND IN THIS LAST CAMPAIGN SHE ONLY SAID THAT SHE SUPPORTED THE VILLAGE’S POSITION BEFORE THE STB, NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS.

AS USUAL, THE CAT HAS PERMANENTLY GOT TRUSTEE KANE’S TONGUE ON THIS AND SO MANY OTHER IMPORTANT VILLAGE MATTERS.

LEO WIEGMAN SAT BY IN 2004 AND 2005 WHEN MAYOR ELLIOTT AND GEORGIANA GRANT RALLIED BEHIND STRIKING A DEAL WITH METRO-ENVIRO FOR A SECOND TIME! HE HAS BEEN SO OBSERVANT OF THE TIGHT-LIP POLICY THAT ONE CANNOT UNCOVER EVEN ONE STRONG STATEMENT IN EITHER DIRECTION FROM HIM ABOUT METRO-ENVIRO, REGUS, THE STB DECISION, ETC. BRAVO TRUSTEE W, YOU HAVE MASTERFULLY EVADED PUBLIC INQUIRY!

TO MY FELLOW CROTONITES: IT’S TIME TO WAKE-UP!

THESE PEOPLE WANT TO BRING A WASTE-TRANSFER FACILITY BACK TO CROTON AND THEY WILL NOT REST UNTIL IT HAPPENS!

FRANK SIMPSON

On April 7, 2006 4:33 PM, waffels said:

Dors is right….the thing has been in the village for over twenty years, It was a clean operating waste managment facility. Head three mile north on Rt. 9 and look at Karta to see what a messy, polluting operation is. Karta as well as Metro North Railroad in Croton pollute more than ME ever has and the loud mouths never mentions them. Too many local railroad votes perhaps. I have always believed the ME attackers were all politically motivated and still do. Re-negotiate with the powers that be. Have all the restrictions put back into place plus some, collect the big $$$ that was originally talked about and have them donate 3 acres or whatever for the new DPW site. It’s really a win-win for all. It doesn’t pollute, it never has, Rt. 9 is the major N/S highway for this part of the county so no matter what happens we will always have trucks traveling through our town many heading to Karta. It’s time to stop the BS, step up and take the situation by the horns and make something happen that will benefit the village instead of cost us more money. The loud mouth opponents of this place are truly a politically motivated minority no matter what they scream.

On April 7, 2006 12:58 PM, dors said:

As one who has said out loud and in public that Metro Enviro (ME) should remain open I say again, keep the damn thing open and let the people work! Why pay millions of dollars to change its usage? I can’t afford one more dollar of taxes. You’d think ME was a dump with festering waste and open sewage running through it. It’s a TRANSFER STATION! Materials come in, they get crushed, and they get TRANSFERRED out. Giant homes keep being built and people keep adding on to their homes. Where do all those materials go? To places like ME. I have not seen one shred of evidence to support the doomsday environmental horrors that some would like us to believe. I have more trouble getting around Sears delivery trucks then from all those supposedly gargantuan C&E trucks barrelling through our town. All this talk about $5M or $20M; give me a break. The whole issue has become so politicized rhetoric abounds. Keep the damn thing open, let everyone continue to do their jobs, and monitor the heck out of it but DON’T raise my taxes.

On April 7, 2006 11:20 AM, Reality Check said:

Time for another Reality Check.

Why don’t we all take a deep breath, relax a little, and take a look at the facts.

Charlie Kane and Ann Gallelli campaigned on the premise that the Schmidt approach to eminent domain - as to all things - was seriously lacking in public information and public input. Nothing more, nothing less. Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Kane accurately pointed out that the projected final cost of condemnation of the former Metro Enviro property was conspicuously absent from statements by our mayor and the then majority. In short, we - the public - were operating in the dark. More to the point, we were being asked to make electoral decisions without any solid information forthcoming from the Schmidt team.

Thus, Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Kane accurately pointed out that ultimately, a court might well put the price tag on this condemnation proceeding and that it could range as high as 50 million dollars by some private estimates.

Personally, I am in favor of condemnation and I urge the Village Board to pursue it with diligence. But I welcome information as to the potential financial exposure of the venture. Given the Schmidt administration’s penchant for secrecy and acting solely for political advantage, information from the Village was sorely lacking during the campaign.

Enter Charlie Kane and Ann Gallelli. Two of the most dedicated public servants to ever grace the Village. In the vacuum created by the Schmidt motif of hiding everything from the citizens in an effort to gain political advantage, they bravely exposed the potential worst case scenario. Bravo.

So what is the beef now? Frankly, there is no legitimate beef with their statements. Merely the grumblings of bitter political opponents who preferred the darkness of the Schmidt administration to the light cast by the Gallelli/Kane/Wiegman team. The ‘appraisal’ of less than 5 million merely stakes out the Village’s opening position in the long battle to come. A battle I believe we should fight and win. But nonetheless, let no one believe that will be the final cost.

When legal expense and construction costs of the new DPW facility are factored in with a court determined purchase price, let’s see who is closer to the final number.

And that, my friends, is a Reality Check.

On April 6, 2006 12:02 PM, weewill said:

Whoa! Let’s back up, take a deep breath and stay focused on the real issue here. The elections are over.

WHAT WILL THE FINAL COST OF EMINENT DOMAIN PROCEEDURE BE FOR THE TAXPAYERS OF CROTON?

No lies; no scare tactics, no fear mongering here. If the Mayor and Board will level with us about the projected TOTAL costs of condemning, purchasing, demolishing, rebuilding, remediating and all the resulting litigation – only then will we know if it’s good or bad the village.

And a note to Mr. Frank Simpson: “INDEFENSIBLE, HIGHLY DISHONEST AND UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR” Indeed! I think not!

On what do you base the above charges against Ann Gallelli and Charlie Kane? Who are you? Have you been at meetings and work sessions? From where or from whom did you get your misinformation? Who’s feeding you such dribble? Did you deduce it all by yourself from what you read in the newspapers or letters to the editor or the crotonblog? Have you been involved in anything at all in Croton? Have you attended any meetings? Served on any boards? Supplied any input or made any contributions whatsoever? It’s clear from your posts, Mr. Simpson, that you don’t understand either the mathematics or the possible consequences of ED. I hope your apparently new- found interest will continue in a more positive vein as you see the whole picture before attacking such valuable and dedicated people as Ann and Charlie.

Georgianna Grant Realistic X Trustee

On April 6, 2006 11:53 AM, Binford said:

Everyone seems to be forgetting that paying for the property is only the beginning. The minimum extimated cost to construct the DPW facility is $5,000,000. Even if the $5 million appraisal for the property is upheld, that still means the Village has to come up with $10 million. Hasn’t the mayor said that if the cost was more than $10 million we won’t proceed? Did that include the costs of new construction?

We don’t need to wait for the court to decide on a final value to calculate what adding $10 million to the Village’s current debt would mean. That’s roughly $5000 per household. Can someone calculate how big a tax increase would result? At least then we’ll know what the MINIMUM cost to residents will be.

On April 6, 2006 10:06 AM, Just The Facts said:

Frank,

The residents of Croton are smart enough to realize the difference between “would” and “could”, even if you are not. In simple terms, the village’s appraisal is not determinative. It is based on many assumptions - many of which the ultimate arbitrator (the judge) may decide are wrong. Note what the village attorney said “the appraisal is comfortably under 5M” - even she didn’t say that the “property value is under 5M”. She of course is smart enough not to make that claim.

Answer this question Frank. Are you willing to pay my increased taxes if the judge decides to go with a much higher value? You seem to possess a level of certainty absent of anyone else. Either you know something no one else know or you are being foolish.

With regard to waiting for a statement of defense from the democratic board members, all I can say to you is get in line because I am waiting for some statements and explanations from the GOP board members. I and others have asked for explanations and repudiations regarding: (i) the GOP chairman’s slimey attack on Ms. Galleli as a failed candidate (wouldn’t this apply to Steinberg -twice?) - despite being asked to repudiate, Schmidt and Co. never did distance themselves from this GOP sponsored attack, (ii) illegal distribution of campaign materials by the GOP for two straight years! (iii) out right lies distributed by chairman Rob (many examples, best includes last years flyer regarding low income housing on N Highland) and (iv) Mayor Schmidt’s ugly attack letter posted here on the blog on election day (great coat tails, huh?) which personally attacked people who volunteered their time and effort to village matters. NONE OF THESE ACTIONS WERE EVER EXPLAINED OR REPUDIATED - SO YOU GO LOOK IN THE MIRROR BEFORE YOU START CALLING NAMES.

So, lets start talking facts. The Dems point during the election was that in a matter that COULD cost $50M (and note, NO ONE is saying that ED could not still cost 50M despite the appraisal), we owe it to ourselves to: (i) get the public’s view via a scoping session and (ii) retain a lawyer experienced in ED. NOT ONE WORD OF THIS PLANK OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES IS INCORRECT, MISLEADING OR DECEPTIVE.

On April 5, 2006 10:45 PM, Donald Duck said:

Frank, you make some great points but I have just one question.

The Mayor now tells us he wasn’t going to progress with eminent domain if the price came in too high (10 million dollars too high to be exact), shouldn’t he have communicated this to residents before the election?

It certainly would be in following with open government and it would have been a very smart political move to blow-away the misinformation that was spread by the other campaign.

Politics is politics and negative campaigning is part of the process. I can accept that, but what I cannot accept is double standards. Both the Republicans and Democrats went negative during this campaign, but for some reason the Democrats excuse their behavior as being necessary at the same time they label Republican attacks as venomous and hateful.

The hypocrisy is too much to handle.

Quack!

On April 5, 2006 8:42 PM, FrankOnline said:

WOULD, COULD – CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE DEFINITION OF “IS” IS?

THE FACTS NOW SHOW THAT, AT THE VERY LEAST, TRUSTEE KANE AND TRUSTEE WIEGMAN KNEW THAT THE VILLAGE ATTORNEY RECEIVED THIS ASSESSMENT OF UNDER $5 MILLION BEFORE THEY SENT OUT THE MAILING.

THIS ASSESSMENT CAME FROM AN INDEPENDENT VILLAGE-HIRED APPRAISER BY THE NAME OF NORMAN BENEDICT. INSTEAD OF LISTENING TO MR. BENEDICT’S WELL-RESEARCHED AND REAL ASSESSMENT OF THE PROPERTY, THE CREW DECIDED TO INSTEAD GO WITH BRUCE KAUDERER’S OPINION.

MR. KAUDERER’S OPINION WAS TOTALLY UN-RESEARCHED AS HE OPENLY ADMITTED TO THE VILLAGE ATTORNEY AT A BOARD MEETING AND COULD HARDLY BE CALLED INDEPENDENT. YOU SEE, MR. KAUDERER IS AN OPERATIVE IN THE CROTON DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND PRESENTED THIS TOTALLY FABRICATED INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC AT BOTH A BOARD MEETING, IN A GAZETTE ADVERTISEMENT AND THROUGH THESE UN-ETHICAL MAILINGS.

THE QUESTION THAT KANE, GALLELLI AND WIEGMAN STILL NEED TO ANSWER IS, WHY DID YOU SEND OUT THIS TOTALLY MISLEADING MAILING THAT STOOD IN DIRECT CONTRAVENTION TO THE REAL, RESEARCHED AND INDEPENDENT NUMBERS YOU WERE GIVEN?

I HAVE TO THINK THAT DELIBERATELY MISLEADING RESIDENTS IS A BIG DEAL.

WHAT I FIND EVEN MORE DISTURBING IS THAT THE MAYOR NOW TELLS NORTH COUNTY NEWS TODAY THAT THE BOARD IS STILL IN THE EARLY STAGES OF THE PROPOSAL AND THAT “IF IT CAME BACK $10 MILLION WE WERE NEVER GOING TO DO IT, ITS JUST A PROPOSAL. WE’RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO LOCKED-IN.”

GEE, THAT’S CERTAINLY A DIFFERENT TALE THEN KANE, GALLELLI AND WIEGMAN TOLD IN THAT MAILING.

THIS IS INDEFENSIBLE, HIGHLY DISHONEST AND UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR. TRUSTEES KANE, GALLELLI AND WIEGMAN OWE THE PUBLIC AN APOLOGY FOR “JUMPING THE GUN” AND MISLEADING THEM.

AT THE VERY LEAST, THEY NEED TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS!

FRANK SIMPSON

On April 5, 2006 4:10 PM, Just The Facts said:

Mr. Simpson,

It is you who are actually mischaracterizing what was said. And it is the repeated mischaracterizations of you and your fellow Croton GOP buddies that is worthy of Karl Rove.

At no point in time did any of the democratic trustees indicate that ED WOULD cost $50 million dollars. What they said is that it COULD cost $50 million dollars. This is not semantics, and there is a very, very big difference between the two.

All along the point being made by Trustees Kane, Weigman and Galleli was that no one knows how expensive ED would be to our village. And guess what, WE STILL DO NOT KNOW. If you have followed any of the information about ED, you would know that the village’s appraisal is NOT DETERMINATIVE. In fact, this is the scary part of ED, we will not know for sure how much it will cost, until we have already committed to buying the property and a JUDGE, not our side’s apprasial sets the price. How much you want to bet that Regus has their own apprasial that states the property value MUCH, MUCH, MUCH higher than $5 million?

Let me give you an analogy, the best I can make of ED is that it is like going into a car show room and you pick out a car without being shown the sticker or the price. You have an idea about how much a car like that “should” cost, but you don’t know for sure. Would, you sign a contract to buy it without being as certain as you could be that the price was something you were willing to pay? I don’t think so…

Mr. Simpson, you go to the next board meeting, you ask Mayor Schmidt and the village attorney if they are so certain that the price of ED would be below $5,000,000 if they are willing PERSONALLY to cover any amount above $5,000,000 that the village may end up having to pay. I THINK NOT.



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