The Schmidt-Brennan-Konig election flyer being distributed at various sites in Croton claims the following as “ACCOMPLISHMENTS.” This list of Republican claims is so replete with deception, I cannot allow them to stand unchallenged. My clarification follows each statement. I (Leo Wiegman) address #10 first as it is the “elephant in the village” and deserves priority.
“10. Continue the fight to keep Croton free of waste facilities”
LW: Actually, Schmidt-Brennan-Konig think that if we “win” in Washington, the waste transfer station will go away forever. THERE IS NO BASIS FOR THIS BELIEF. For these 5 reasons, it may be impossible to prevent a waste transfer operation at the site: (1) The federal government and Congress both want more truck-to-rail transfer sites; (2) New York State has already issued a permit for waste transfer at the site; (3) Governor Spitzer wants more rail freight; (4) The County has already issued a license for hauling waste to the site and also favors rail freight; (5) Even a ruling favorable to the Village by the federal agency still leaves the door wide open for any other railroad to load waste there 24/7.
Schmidt and Brennan’s Plan A is to fight everything in court and “Never Negotiate.” Their Plan B is to make their Plan A work. But that leaves any environmental controls for the site in the hands of a federal judge or agency. We feel very strongly that a better Plan B is to have as much control in the hands of the Village.
While the legal issues are complex, our approach is not. We believe that if we don’t resolve this matter through negotiation, the courts are likely to resolve it for us in ways which will be disastrous. We certainly should litigate hard until we reach a settlement, but our goal should be a settlement which gives Croton full control over the facility. We believe our opponents’ “no negotiation” strategy makes no sense. It has already cost us $1.4 million in tax dollars. If we keep following it, we’ll be throwing our taxes down a black hole for years to come with no clear outcome.
“9. CLOSED DOWN Metro-Enviro and…”
LW: Actually, the closure of Metro Enviro at 1A Croton Point Avenue was due to legal work that long predated the Schmidt administration and even predated Schmidt’s 3 years as Trustee. The morning of the site’s closure in September 2005, Schmidt held a TV press conference at the site with GOP candidates for County office, blatantly politicizing this issue.
“8. Worked with Verizon and Nextel to improve cell phone service in the Village”
LW: Actually, BRENNAN ACTIVELY OPPOSES THE CELL TOWER. Cell phone service has not yet improved. The cell tower plans long predate the Schmidt-Brennan administration and are the initiative of key Village staff (Police, DPW, Engineer, Treasurer) who have long recognized the need for improved cellular coverage. The cell antennas do NOT yet have needed approvals.
“7. Implemented traffic calming devices in high need areas”
LW: Actually, one stop sign was installed on Old Post Road at Hunter upon a resident’s initiative. Other traffic calming measures such pedestrian crossing signs on center stripes long predate the Schmidt-Brennan administration. In 2005, SCHMIDT AND BRENNAN CANCELLED THE TRAFFIC CALMING IMPROVEMENTS for the highly congested train station commuter lot for which work the Village previously obtained a $500,000 federal grant.
“6. Committed to additional affordable housing for our senior citizens”
LW: Actually, in the 2005 mayoral run, the SCHMIDT-BRENNAN CAMPAIGN SMEARED ANN GALLELLI for her approval of affordable housing with inflammatory flyers delivered to neighbors on N. Highland Place and Ackerman Court of a non-existent proposal. See the “Low Income Housing Coming to Our Neighborhood” flyer they used. The Symphony Knoll project for 11 new senior apartments advanced through purchase and rezoning in 2004 prior to the Schmidt administration. This project moves us toward Croton’s target of adding 32 new such dwellings. Other units already completed include Bank Street (4 units), Westwind (2), Mt. Airy Woods (12), Brook Street (2), Half Moon Bay/Discovery Cove (4).
“5. Finalized plans with Westchester County for major improvements to Croton’s waterfront”
LW: Actually, the Village-County Riverwalk plans at Croton Landing predate Schmidt-Brennan administration by 5 years. In 2005, SCHMIDT AND BRENNAN ACTIVELY OPPOSED the Village’s contributing toward the County’s construction of the Riverwalk. Schmidt and Brennan were unaware the Village had already been actively working with the County to produce a high quality new walking path. Charlie Kane and I were able to insist the Village continue talking to the County. The forthcoming agreement between the Village and County for the 2,300 foot Riverwalk is a testament to the skill and diplomacy of Croton’s Village Manager, Rick Herbek.
“4. Moved forward with a Community center by formulating a Committee that is investigating all possibilities”
LW: Actually, a whole year went by before Schmidt and Brennan did anything and then they formulated a committee.
“3. Solved the Brown Water problem in the Harmon area”
LW: Actually, the water main replacement project in part of Harmon was planned, designed, and contracted long before Schmidt–Brennan administration. The fact that the project has gone so smoothly is a testament to the hard work and professional insights of Village Engineer Dan O’Connor, Water Foreman Tom Brann, and Special Project Consultant Jan Wines. This initial project only fixed the water mains in part of Harmon. The whole problem will take longer to solve.
“2. Implemented fiscally responsible measure resulting in an $800,000 surplus in our second year”
LW: Actually, SCHMIDT–BRENNAN VOTED AGAINST the final 2006-2007 budget that achieved this “surplus,” but are now trying to claim credit. The Village’s 2006-2007 fund balance (“surplus”) benefitted greatly from higher than expected real estate transfer tax and state sales tax sharing for which Schmidt and Brennan can claim no credit. Village Manager Herbek deserves credit for lobbying the state to share the sales tax income with municipalities. The ‘surplus’ would have been much bigger, if we were not so over budget by $100,000 in our legal expenses for second year in a row.
“1. Reduced the projected tax increase of 18% to below 10% in our first year”
LW: Actually, every year the board produces a final budget with a much smaller tax increase than staff’s initial proposal. In 2005, the NYS Comptroller lowered our tax increase by c. 6% by reducing the mandated contributions to employee benefits. Sewer tax “swap” reduced it another 1%. Schmidt and Brennan canceled badly needed commuter parking lot improvements as well to further reduce the budget that year. Kane and Wiegman voted against Schmidt’s first year budget, precisely because it canceled urgently needed work at the commuter parking lot.
— Leo Wiegman, Trustee, Village of Croton and Candidate for re-election as Trustee on March 20th.