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I Can't Vote Yet, But...

March 8, 2007

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
On March 20, 2007, I will be one month short of 18 which means I will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming village elections. If you are thinking about not voting please vote for whom I would vote for since I can’t vote and do so by voting for Ann Gallelli, Leo Wiegman, and Sally Odland.

Ann Gallelli is probably the most qualified person to be mayor in our village. She has more years of experience in village service than years I have been alive. Gallelli in her short term on the village board so far has made me want to contribute to this village and become a better citizen. When I found out that there was a Bicycle Pedestrian Committee which she helped form, I contacted her and I eventually became a member.

As a 17 year old member of a committee, I represent the youth of Croton, which most of us even those with different political opinions believe we need more of in this village. In the 2005 election the Republicans said that there would be a youth on the Community Center Committee but that promise was never delivered upon. Sometimes when I read the letters to the editor in the Gazette I notice that a lot of people are still not fond of the job that Bob Elliott had done as mayor, but Bob Elliott was a great mayor and a lot of his successes were due to some of the great planning that took place which Ann Gallelli had a lot to do with.

Although I personally like the candidates who I am supporting I don’t think the only reason to support them is because I personally like them. I think that it is important to vote on the issues and on the issue of Recreation there is a viewpoint that you may not be aware about. The majority of Crotonites in my opinion would support having a 2nd recreation supervisor who specializes in teen recreation affairs.

When the vote came to the village board it was a 3-2 party line vote. The three votes for the supervisor were Trustee’s Gallelli, Wiegman, and Kane who believed that Sue Snyder had made a reasonable recommendation because of the fact that a program for the older teens is a good idea and because of the fact that every year the Recreation staff had to add more onto its table of things to do so it would make sense to add another staff member to help manage the work.

On the other side of that vote were Mayor Greg Schmidt and Deputy Mayor Tom Brennan who believed that it was not necessary to have a 2nd recreation supervisor and because they had to honor their fiscal responsibilities of managing the $13,000,000 budget. When I asked how much this new position paid it totaled out to an annual salary of $48,000 a year which is a very reasonable proportion of the budget. This is not a huge expense for a professional who will help manage our recreation expenditures.

Also evident in the dissenting vote was that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor do not understand that the whole Recreation budget is not necessary because we don’t need it, but the reason we spend money on Recreation is because it is a large benefit to the community to have great Recreation. The Deputy Mayor has a huge passion for having a community center but when it comes time for the cost which will be a whole lot more than $48,000 will he vote for the community center or will he abandon it because it is not necessary to have a community center?

On the issue of a skate park, is another issue where the position of the Democrats was held by the majority of Crotonites. When the closing came to a vote during the short period of Republican rule it was a 3-2 vote. The three votes were Mayor Greg Schmidt, Deputy Mayor Tom Brennan, and the soon to be Ex-Trustee Jim Steinberg. The dissenting votes were Trustees Wiegman and Kane who believed that if it was free for a year the attendance would have risen.

The GOP’s opinion was that the facility was perfectly planned, that it is the kids fault for not using it, skateboarding was a fad, and that the “taxpayers” were subsidizing a service for out-of-towners. Saying that the facility was perfectly planned is like saying that the Indian Point evacuation plan is flawless. The fact that virtually all other skate parks are unattended means that the attendant part of the plan which resulted in $15,000 a year in attendant costs should have been scrutinized more. Another part of the plan that made the park unsuccessful was the assumption that if you charge a lot of money to skate then their parents will be able to cover the tab. Of course the parents can afford it, but the fact that you have a charge gives skateboarders (who pay with allowance money) or parents a disincentive to skate there when you can skate in the CVS or Shoprite parking lot for free. Of course you did get a small number of people willing to pay the financial price but if you are looking at the population willing to pay the money it is mainly out-of-towners since every town has a few Skateboarding junkies willing to pay anything to skateboard.

When the GOP said that it was the kids’ fault it is an example of not taking responsibility and blaming on kids who won’t be able to defend themselves intellectually (except myself) against the establishment adults. Mayor Schmidt who voted for the park should have said that the plan was wrong and that if we knew then what he knows know he would not have supported it, but instead because he believes the plan was good and he blames the kids and not himself. Trustee Brennan, according to himself and old meeting minutes when he was a citizen, opposed the skate park from the beginning. I don’t remember why he opposed it but it is probably consistent with his philosophy of not paying for unnecessary expenses.

This philosophy feeds into the part of the GOP base that doesn’t want to pay taxes on anything that isn’t beneficial to them such as a skate park or a 2nd Recreation supervisor even though those things if well used are beneficial to the community. When Mayor Schmidt said Skateboarding was a fad I almost laughed out loud because I know a lot of kids and adults who still Skateboard and when spring comes you’ll be complaining about them just like you were before there was a skate park.

When I asked one of my peers for his opinion on the skate park he said “Geez Croton couldn’t even get a skate park right.” This opinion is symbolic of what happens when you have people who are enthusiastic about something until their hopes are crushed. When the kid’s hopes in this case become crushed they become pessimistic which means they are more likely to become pessimistic adults. We need to make sure that Croton can go back to the Bob Elliott days when fewer people were pessimistic about Croton. I can’t vote this year on ANY of the lines available but I hope that those who can consider these points will vote for Gallelli, Odland and Wiegman.

— Kevin W. Davis

On March 9, 2007 4:35 PM, KWilly said:

Something I forgot to point out in this letter is that I do think that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor see Recreation as a priority, but the dispute is over whether the 2nd Recreation Supervisor is a enough of a plus to pay 48,000 a year on. The Democrats believed that it was a reasonable price to pay because that job would help with alot of the functions that Sue Snyder is responsible for. Along with doing that the man who has this job John Miller is an expert in particularly Teen Recreation which most don’t know that the Teen Rec program only lasts until 8th grade. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor may want a Community Center, but for our Recreation wants to be met we need to do some small things like hire John Miller. I think that Tom Brennan really does have a passion for getting us a Community Center but i also think that when the proposed cost is given, he will be against it and spin that position into the position that he is helping the tax payers. What most don’t understand is that if you want a large fire & police department, a village manager, a village engineer, ex-employees to get pensions, and many more essential items then to lower taxes you have to cut non-essential items such as Recreation so you will always have to pay some amount of taxes. - Kevin W. Davis



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