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No Need for an Information Blackout After a "Listening Session"

July 9, 2006

In her comment to “Please Light a Candle, Mr. Mayor,” ex-trustee Georgianna Grant reminds Crotonblog of the story of the fat lady trying on shoes in a shoe store. She sought a shoe that was small on the outside and large on the inside. Mrs. Grant cannot have it both ways. Her complaint about our call for the Mayor to disclose to the public what was said by Regus CEO Andreas Gruson to village representatives at the recent so-called “listening session” only clouds the issue.

As Croton residents know only too well, Mayor Schmidt has not delivered on his campaign promise of open government. His administration has been as secretive as the Bush administration and just as brashly absolute in its refusal to negotiate on any matter.

Mrs. Grant justifies an information blackout about what was said by Mr. Gruson at the “listening session” by incorrectly comparing it to truly adversarial negotiations between the village and Metro Enviro in which she participated as a trustee. Crotonblog would point out that in announcing the village’s participation at this session, Mayor Gregory Schmidt assured agitated, unhappy citizens that the village would do no more than listen to what Mr. Gruson had to say. Mrs. Grant’s statement that questions of legal strategy or tactics were involved is questionable, since doing so would have contravened the mayor’s assurances.

It escapes Crotonblog how reporting to Croton’s citizens what Mr. Gruson said at this “listening session” could be of any assistance to what Ms. Grant alludes to as “the enemy” since “the enemy” was present at the meeting and doing all the talking, while Croton’s representatives, we were assured, would do nothing but listen. Far from persuading Trustee Thomas Brennan, as Ms. Grant hopes, of the need for secrecy, we expect that this incident will only reinforce his past calls for more openness in government and cause him to reiterate them.

Crotonblog was designed and created to fill a large void in Croton news coverage left by the traditional media. We can only fulfill that mission if village government is timely and totally transparent in its dissemination of information.

On July 10, 2006 12:00 PM, bojangles said:

Metro Enviro is history. Regis and BSOR are todays news. We face different issues with this new company than we did with the old one. Metro Enviro is beginning to look better and better. We soon may wish we had Metro Enviro back and that we had taken the settlement offered. Metro didn’t deal in smelly live garbage. This new business is reported to be able to do pretty much what they want without being restricted by the 45 or so conditions attached to the Metro Enviro permit.

Even more to the point, we’ve lost the 3/4 million dollars a year that would have been paid to the village. On top of that we’ve spent over a million dollars to close Metro down and that opened the door for Regis.

Looks like the village has been the big loser so far.

On July 10, 2006 9:39 AM, weewill said:

Ah! And herein lies the real beauty of Crotonblog. Reasonable people can disagree and one doesn’t have to be angry or insulting to do so.

I stand by my opinion that there are good reasons not to disclose details of the “listening session.” It’s enough to know that it took place. I’m hoping the Mayor and Trustees did exactly as advised by our very expensive attorneys. It’s reasonable to assume Mr. Gerrard cautioned the board about commenting on these very preliminary discussions.

The healthiest guide to follow is to ask oneself “what would be achieved by having sensitive discussions analyzed by the public and/or the press?” If nothing other than personal satisfaction and possible political points would be achieved, then it simply makes no sense. I have confidence that the Board has listened, is assessing all the angles, and is taking direction from Mr. Gerrard. Nothing has happened that will stop us from continuing to urge the board to negotiate or not, to try to find common ground or not, or to continue on with what many of us feel are costly and questionable law suits.

And now one correction … . I did not, nor did the Mayor or any Trustee, “participate in the MetroEnviro adversarial negotiations.” Only the attorneys were present and they reported back to the board as I assume they did on this occasion as well.

Further, I believe the Mayor “assured agitated, unhappy citizens” that the attorneys were not authorized to negotiate any deals but they assuredly participated in discussions that very probably dealt with legal strategy and/or tactics. No deals, no offers, no conclusions – just an exchange and dialogue. This is exactly what happened with the MetroEnviro discussions.

Finally, a question for the writer …. I don’t get the analogy of the ”fat lady trying on shoes, small on the outside and large on the inside.” Can he or she shed some light on this?

Georgianna Grant


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