Again demonstrating that the mills of government not only grind exceedingly slow but also extremely small, the evening was marked by an extended discussion that created little light but very much heat. Half of this evening’s long village board meeting was given over to a presentation about two local laws mandated by the state. Under the circumstances, the resulting exhaustive comments really had about as much pertinence as medieval theologians’ niggling arguments over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin or on the point of a needle.
The laws were titled “Wetlands and Watercourses” and “Storm Water, Drainage, Erosion and Water Pollution Control.” The main sticking point was the rules intended to govern the application of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers to properties in buffer zones adjacent to wetlands but it all seemed academic when the village engineer testified that similar existing rules in the village code were never enforced—in fact, he could not find that requests for permits to apply such materials were ever made. Moreover, it seems that wetlands may exist on some properties without their owners being aware of that fact.
It was quite evident that the mayor wanted the laws passed that evening and without significant changes. Planning Board member and Finney Farm resident Fran Allen fought a determined but losing battle against the stipulation that it must be demonstrated that professional applicators of chemical substances exceeded manufacturers’ recommendations before action would be taken. Trustee Charlie Kane was equally unsuccessful in convincing board members that homeowners should not be allowed to apply such materials to their properties “as a right.” The twin laws were finally approved largely on the strength of the argument that it is better to have laws on the books that may be unenforceble than to have no laws at all. Trustee Brennan characterized the proposed laws, as “living laws” subject to change at a later date—but isn’t this true of all laws?
Crotonblog suspects that the long friendship between Ms. Allen and Ms. Gallelli may have been severely strained by the stubborn attitudes each displayed about the new laws. Ms. Gallelli went to extraordinary lengths to explain how conflicted she was and to justify her vote by recalling the anguish she went through in making her decision. Anyway, the Mayor pointed out that the laws may be ineffectual since water contaminated by deleterious substances obeys the laws of gravity, not of man—a comment that rendered most of the evening’s discussion moot.
The pre-vote discussion was also enlivened by Trustee Brennan’s coinage of a new verb converted from a noun. Comparable to similar abominations, “The bride was gifted with a silver service” and “He authored three books in a single year,” Trustee Brennan’s latest contribution to the English language was his conversion of herbicide from a noun to a verb in his depiction of “people who herbicide after it rains.” To the Mayor’s visible relief, an incipient bout of indecision that swept board members was quelled and the two laws were passed,
During so-called citizen participation on agenda items Phyllis Morrow, Nordica Drive resident and eager fan of the Mayor, came to the microphone. She was highly complimentary of the proposed legislation and suggested that a committee to educate the public about the new law—until the Mayor suggested that she chair such a committee. Watching Ms. Morrow speak is a sight to behold. Her arms wave in the air so rapidly and with such complicated and sinuous motions, one could easily confuse her with the multi-armed Hindu goddess Durga. One Crotonblog staffer compared Ms. Morrow’s performance to someone translating a vociferously declaimed political speech into American Sign Language, adding that, from the vigor of her motions, the text seemed to be rendered in boldface and all capital letters with many exclamation points.
Lest Crotonblog be accused of picking on Ms. Morrow, we should point out that the Mayor has the habit of using the phrase “you know” to distraction as verbal punctuation, introducing as many as two or three “you knows” in every sentence while he gathers his thoughts. Crotonblog wonders what would happen if the offender were forced to listen to tapes of his own “you-know” statements repeated again and again. That, in W.S. Gilbert’s phrase from “The Mikado,” would indeed be a punishment that fits the crime.
For his part, Trustee Kane has the annoying habit of placing his right hand on his chin every time he makes a statement of any length. This gesture, which may psychologically serve a seemingly defensive or shielding purpose, happens whether he has an object in hand or not. Crotonblog only mentions this peculiar and distracting habit lest one evening Trustee Kane inadvertently poke himself in the eye with pen or pencil.
Next came resolutions, among them the yearly resolution giving real property partial tax exemptions to senior citizens over 65. The Mayor once again demonstrated his desire to rewrite history by jokingly observing that in the past “we missed a year” in failing to keep the village’s income numbers abreast of inflation. For the Mayor’s—and readers’—information, Crotonblog would like to set the record straight. The Mayor is lying. The failure to adjust senior citizens’ exemptions did not happen in “one missed year.” It began in 2003 when he was a board member and the effects of this failure extended after he became mayor until 2006, when the village’s malfeasance was revealed in a column in The Gazette and reiterated in Crotonblog. The village board hastily rectified that omission with a belated resolution in 2006, but the change intended for Croton to catch up with other communities did not take effect until 2007, effectively missing not one but four years. So much for the Mayor’s “skipped year.”
The village manager next revealed that Croton may lose the ability to truck organic waste, largely the village’s prodigious production of leaves in the fall, to Putnam Valley, whose town supervisor has been making noises to that effect. The fall back position would be to make an IMA (intermunicipal agreement) with Westchester County similar to those signed by other Westchester communities have done. Crotonblog wonders whatever happened to the highly touted scheme that was tried ever so briefly. In this, Croton’s leaves were placed in plastic “tunnels” and warm air was circulated through them to produce rich, black organic mulch. Further discussion of the possible leaf problem was postponed for a future work session.
The meeting’s self-described “audience of one,” Phyllis Morrow, again came to the microphone, to suggest that it might be too much to ask that the village to make “a birthday present” (hers, presumably) of a more appropriate trash can that the one placed the Nordica Drive entrance to Mayo’s Landing. The village manager pointed out that the trash receptacle in question was a standard type used in all village parks and raised the bureaucratic specter that if the Mayo’s Landing receptacle were to be replaced with a different container, “then everyone will want one, too,” and demand that their containers be replaced.
She also suggested that the log placed at Nordica Drive to discourage parking was too far from the road to serve that purpose. Because it was now functioning as a “bus stop” at which parents pick up children, she urged the Public Works Department to remove it. Crotonblog suggests that one solution might be to cut the log into two portions, hollow them out, and stand them on end to make two trash receptacles rustic enough to satisfy Ms. Morrow.
Next, Ms. Morrow brought up the subject of what she described as the “dark orange water problem” that afflicts the residents on the dead-end water line serving Nordica Drive. Her complaint in a nutshell: “I live in Croton but I can’t drink the water.” Crotonblog wonders if more frequent flushing of a hydrant or hydrants at the end of the Nordica Drive water line would not remove some of the accumulated contaminating rust that seems to afflict Nordica Drive’s pipes. During her peroration this time, Ms Morrow’s hand motions seemed more restrained and more under her control. This time her gesticulations resembled those of a sculptor in clay, a masseuse or a chiropractor—take your pick.
During the reports by board members, Trustee Brennan brought up the subject of the community center survey, pointing out that an analysis was now available and expressed the hope that the village would post it on its website. This analysis, which cost $1,500, was posted on the village website the following day. Crotonblog will be publishing its own analysis of this singularly unremarkable and uncritical analysis in the near future.