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A Satirical Report on Croton's Feb. 5 Village Board Meeting

February 7, 2007

“Not much fun” was humorist Dorothy Parker’s answer to a bartender’s question, “What are you having?” That response also could be used to describe Croton residents’ reactions to the performance of what has become Croton’s Little Theater Company—the hackneyed, moth-eaten group that braved the cold to turn out and give another listless presentation of golden oldies at Monday night’s meeting of Croton’s board of trustees. In the eyes of this critic, it was no Ziegfeld production.

Not only did not much fun result from the show they put on, not much light was cast on an issue of crucial importance to the village. Exhibiting their usual feelings of superiority to those who do not share their political philosophy, they all played dual roles—except Croton’s diva, Madame Maria Cudequest, who always folds her tent and departs after her star turn. As predicted by Crotonblog (see: “Desperate Campaign to “Pack” Monday Night’s Croton Village Board Meeting”), when not onstage and performing, they served as their own noisy little claque—taking in each other’s wash, applauding loudly and approvingly at each performer’s solo reading. Despite the noisy little group’s efforts to generate loud applause, the sound level barely reached what might be heard from a pair of ham-handed attendees applauding at a convention of Turkish bath masseurs.

This was no memorable routine by a group of enthusiastic fresh-faced young players. Rather, it was another boring replay by the same tired group mouthing lines so familiar those watching at home could have said them as they were being read. So regularly does this hectoring crowd make a travesty of board meetings by reading from prepared scripts and lecturing patient, long-suffering village board members that Crotonblog now refers to them as “the usual suspects,” the classic phrase from the film Casablanca, Verily, their tactic is that of dripping water that can wear away a stone. Sensing the lackluster, repetitive tone of the evening, Trustee Tom Brennan simply could not resist playing enthusiastic ringmaster, injecting his own self-promoting comments after each player’s soliloquy. Heaven help us if we are to be subjected at village board meetings to another month of the Brennan brand of electioneering on steroids.

Amid the old familiar faces was one faded has-been performer resurrected from the past for an unbilled solo: Charles W. Trendell, 69 (see video clip below). For a change, a Barrymore not in his cups, he is more putty-nosed vaudeville clown than seasoned actor. All he needed was the baggy pants and the bladder and the slapstick to bring back memories of the old Minsky days. His chief claim to fame is that he served one term as trustee a quarter-century ago before voters got wise to him and turned him out to pasture. Carried away by his own sense of self-importance, he rambled on, wagging an accusatory finger, libeling Democratic trustees and charging them with accepting bribes. Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, as he had done all evening, sat passively at the center of the horseshoe-shaped dais. Never once did he reach for his gavel to control the forced applause nor did he caution Mr. Trendell about his defamatory remarks. Such is the loose rein exercised by our illustrious Bürgermeister.

The Croton Little Theater Company players presented an end-of-days scenario they claim is taking place because of the village’s reasoned attempt to protect itself from unexpected turns of events arising from litigation now in progress. To them, Croton is already awash in noxious fumes and coated with dust containing every contaminant and poison known to science. Residents, it seems, are also at risk from every disease and condition that affects mankind, ranging from asthma to yellow jaundice. In their eyes, the village is already so contaminated as to be barely habitable, if not uninhabitable. To spice up the threat, they also threw in a couple of rumors and some urban legends for good measure. Example: Contaminated automobiles are the Typhoid Marys of Croton.

These scare tactics are identical with the scare tactics the Republicans have used nationally since 9/11 to retain their stranglehold on the government. As the November election showed, fear tactics have lost their usefulness to guarantee reelection of Republican candidates. Having recited their litany of alleged pollutants and impurities already coating surfaces of the village, they then raised the specter of falling real estate values, proving that their mock anxiety about health issues is merely a cloak for their real concerns: the dollar value of their homes. Yet by their wild, irresponsible allegations—unsubstantiated charges that would never be permitted to be uttered in a court of law—they have already done irreparable damage to real estate values in the village.

One statistical number ran like a thread through their unfounded allegations: the specter of “20,000 trucks rumbling through the village annually,” spewing death and destruction everywhere. The authority of and source for this monstrous number was never cited. Nevertheless, speaker after speaker repeated the ominous mantra-like phrase. It still rings in Crotonblog’s ears like a Buddhist chant. Om mani padme um. Twenty thousand trucks a year. Om mani padme um. Twenty thousand trucks a year.

Crotonblog barely scraped through mathematics at school, but retained enough common sense and skepticism to detect that this astronomical number of 20,000 trucks a year had a strong odor of baloney. A few simple calculations enabled Crotonblog to convert it into a realistic number: Assuming continuous operation at 1A Croton Point Avenue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and deducting only for national holidays, 20,000 trucks a year translates into one truck entering 1A Croton Point Avenue, being unloaded and exiting every six minutes! What masterful scheduling and process control that would take. Yet the Croton Little Theater Company players want you to believe their unbelievably fanciful number of 20,000 trucks a year has validity. Even auto manufacturers Toyota and Honda, known for their carefully timed scheduled delivery of automobile components to their assembly plants, cannot boast of such quick delivery turnarounds.

And so Crotonblog is compelled to ask the Croton Little Theater Company: If your astronomical numbers have been so blatantly inflated, how can you expect residents to give credence to your other unfounded allegations? In the guise of citizen participation at a village board meeting, Croton was subjected to nothing short of an electioneering event staged by the desperate Republican Party. For their appalling takeover of Monday night’s meeting, these abysmally bad actors should be prevented from ever again using the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building as a stage for such shabby theatrics. They should be banned from repeatedly wasting the valuable time of village officers and residents at village board meetings. If they want to engage in electioneering, let them pull up their socks, get some new material and put together an election platform that is free of fear, hokum and deception. But whatever platform they come up with, it should be presented as street theater—not on village property masquerading as honest comment.

Video Clip:

Download this video clip of “Charles W. Trendell Charges Croton-on-Hudson Officials with Accepting Bribes” to your video iPod (how to guide).

Video transcript:

Charles W. Trendell: “Good evening. Chuck Trendell, 39 Batten Road, Croton on the Hudson. Ah, Ms. Gallelli, when Mr. Moore first came up here he mentioned about the suit with Regus and you said you are talking to these people and you want to seek alternatives. What are these alternatives?”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “I don’t know. Thats why were are—”

Charles W. Trendell: “You’ve been talking to these people.”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “That is why we are seeking information.”

Charles W. Trendell: “You’ve been talking to these people and they haven’t told, I mean what is your idea of an alternative? For the village?”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “I just can’t tell you any more about the talks. I would, I have no idea what the alternatives are right now, so.”

Charles W. Trendell: “You’ve been talking to these people but you don’t know what the alternatives are? Ho about you Mr. Kane?”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “That’s correct. We are in discussions at this point and I am not going to say any more about it.”

Charles W. Trendell: “Why not?”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “Because I don’t think it is appropriate.”

Charles W. Trendell: “But why?”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “Because we are in a legal case right now and I don’t think it is appropriate to discuss the case itself. I’ll refer all questions to our attorney”

Charles W. Trendell: “I know that. The case, the case, is the case, the alternatives have nothing to do with the case.”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “I stand by my statement Mr. Trendell.”

Charles W. Trendell: “So, in other words, you don’t want to answer my questions is that it?

Trustee Charlie Kane: “I’ll refer your question to our attorney.”

Charles W. Trendell: “Alright.”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “All of these discussions take place in executive session. We are not at liberty to speak about them.”

Charles W. Trendell: “So, you have these clandestine meetings.”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “No, they have—”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “They are not clandestine. They are executive sessions.”

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “There are minutes. There are the topic that was discussed and all of the attendees are listed.”

Charles W. Trendell: “Well, to me if the only alternative is. There are two alternatives. Number one is that the village is going to get money if we have to bring the dump back. Is that a good alternative?”

Trustee Leo Wiegman: “I don’t think that dump is the correct word Mr Trendell but I’ll leave that again up to—”

Charles W. Trendell: “Well yeah, I was a trustee in 1981 when we got rid of the old dump. And now you guys want to bring in the new dump. And I ask why? So, there is only two reasons okay. Either one or two or three of you people are on the take, being bribed or else you are gonna come up and say well the village is gonna gain tax money by bringing in Regus. Let me, let me tell you. We had the golf course was supposed to lower taxes, never did. Half Moon Bay, we built that, taxes supposed to come down, never did. So, there is no alternative. You have to reject it. And let me ask you, let me say this last statement. When you leave office, what is going to be your legacy? That you brought back the new dump to replace the old dump? You people should think about it.

On February 7, 2007 4:17 PM, weewill said:

I have long decried the lack of civility and decorum at public meetings. I hate it that I’m responding in kind to what took place at Monday’s board meeting but the seriousness of the issue demands to be addressed.

The appalling behaviour of the same old crew at Monday’s meeting has continued to fester in my soul all day. The more I think about it the more repugnant it becomes. Mr. Trendell was particularly obnoxious. I addressed his shabby performance in my previous comment. I’m trying hard to find any rational for such actions and can only conclude that it was all political posturing for the upcoming elections.

It was apparent that Mayor Schmidt and Trustee Brennan were delighted at the speaker’s rudeness. Since all nastiness was directed at the Democratic board members who have the courage to stand up for residents in this village. Unfortunately neither Schmidt nor Brennan demonstrated that same courage. The Mayor is particularly to blame as he is charged with control of such meetings. He not only allowed personal attacks to go unchallenged but sat silent as repetitive speakers made accusations and assumptions that were completely out of line and in some instances, libelous. It was a poor charade of a village board meeting and the Mayor should be censored for allowing it to go on.

It’s not even worth mentioning that Trustee Brennan’s self-congratulatory, macho-big-man-on campus statements were political electioneering and nothing more. Does he really believe his table-pounding, fist slamming statements contribute anything whatsoever to the issue of 1A Croton Point Avenue. Poor guy, I almost feel sorry for him.

Please Mayor Schmidt, demonstrate some leadership in preventing such obnoxious outbursts that detract and delay attention to important matters.

On February 7, 2007 2:35 PM, dors said:

Why do the ‘band of blabbermouths’ continue to spew misinformation? They act as if all of Croton is stupid and only they know the truth and the way. I’m tired of their righteous indignation. They need to move out of Croton. If the fabled toxins don’t kill them their misdirected anger may.

Let me go on record as saying I understand the issues, I read everything I can get my hands on, and I agree with the majority on the board that negotiations are the way to solve this huge dilemma.

Susan Dorien

On February 7, 2007 11:22 AM, weewill said:

What a despicable performance! Mr. Trendell needs to rethink his nauseating accusation that “one or two or three of you people are on the take, being bribed…”

Where does he get off making such a rotten and evil statement about courageous and dedicated public servants? Since his weak, ineffective term as a trustee, he has been conspicuous by his absence from village affairs.

And he has the unmitigated gall to come before the television cameras and accuse good dedicated people of being “on the take.” Is this the price of running for office and serving the public? Did he suffer the political wrath of residents when he sat on the board? Could he not take the insults he throws around so blithely when he slept his way through board meetings? Is this why Mr. Trendell has been hidden from public view for so many years; why he is crawling around in the muck and slime now? Does he think his nasty innuendos will influence village residents?

I beg to differ Mr. Trendell. Croton is a village of good, fair-minded and decent people who can see through your shabby attempts to make political hay. But be assured that you and your sidekick’s antics will not sway these same good and decent people. This is truly bad theater at best and malicious slander at worst.

Croton will vote on the facts and the record and deplore your heinous behavior.

On February 7, 2007 9:05 AM, Stu said:

The blog makes some interesting and thoughtful comments about the citizen input process being taken over by a small group of people who dominate week after week. The point about their own effect on housing values is worthy of consideration as well.


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