October 18, 2013

Bramson for county executive

“The values Rob and I apply to public life are quite different,” said county executive candidate Noam Bramson last week in The Record-Review offices. The mayor of New Rochelle, who is challenging Rob Astorino for the county’s top legislative office, was presenting his agenda should he win election on Nov. 5.

“I happen to be a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose; Mr. Astorino happens to be an opponent of the woman’s right to choose,” said Mr. Bramson. “He vetoed clinic-access legislation that would have protected women from harassment and bullying when they accessed medical care. I’m in favor of common-sense gun-safety regulations, like bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips; Mr. Astorino opposed those measures and brought gun shows back to the county center after a 10-year ban. I support marriage equality measures; I was proud New York State took the lead in seeing that we all are treated equally. Mr. Astorino opposes those. Each of those issues has a nexus in terms of regional and local policy-making. They speak to the values we apply to public life and they speak to the advocacy we offer to the people we represent.”

These issues, of course, are part of a larger panoply that even more directly impact Westchester residents. Primary among them is the county’s fair and affordable housing settlement, which was put into place at the conclusion of the Andy Spano administration.

Under Mr. Astorino’s stewardship, the county has lost millions in community block grants and spent hundreds of thousands in legal bills in fighting elements of the settlement, including the provision that gives a fair shake to applicants receiving federal assistance. By fighting source-of-income rules, Mr. Astorino wasted two years and drew the settlement out into what will inevitably be the next four years. The county lost that battle in court — one that should never have been undertaken. This year, Mr. Astorino elevated pulses in parts of the county by declaring that the federal government would not be satisfied unless the government created more than 10,000 affordable units, and was intent on “dismantling” local zoning laws. Why is it that the county has failed to provide an adequate analysis of impediments as required by the settlement — now in its eighth try? It is true that HUD documents are often contradictory, but how contradictory was it when representatives of HUD, along with the housing monitor, James Johnson, came to White Plains in September and definitively stated that the number of homes requested would be no more than 750, and that local zoning laws — protected under New York state law — would be preserved intact?

But this is not just about Mr. Astorino and the housing settlement. Mr. Astorino’s attacks on Mr. Bramson just don’t hold water. Just ask the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee, which dismissed nearly every claim made in a recent Astorino mailer. Mr. Astorino’s inadequate response to the decisions was that the committee was partisan — despite the fact that in the past it has ruled with both Democrats and Republicans.

As mayor New Rochelle, Mr. Bramson has been elected five times, and in last election was re-elected with 78 percent of the vote. We share his stated commitment of establishing “a coherent plan to strengthen our economy and protect our environment.” The county’s plan needs to extend beyond tax incentives or low-cost financing for particular deals, and encompass a broader approach. He presents strong ideas on how to increase shared services among communities. He wants to strengthen Westchester’s planning department, health and social services programs, and social services administration, denuded under Mr. Astorino.

As for the housing settlement, we share Mr. Bramson’s goals: “I think it’s time to get this divisive, expensive mess behind us,” and Mr. Astorino has needlessly prolonged the dispute, costing us $20 million and counting and withheld public grants and legal expenses without in any way advancing the interests of the communities that he serves.

We endorse Mr. Bramson for Westchester County executive.


Vote for Pete Harckham in District 2

The issues in the Westchester County Board of Legislators’ race are in many ways the same as that of the county executive race — only more directly applicable to our towns. District 2 consists of Bedford, Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, North Salem, and parts of Lewisboro and Mount Kisco. The vision of the candidates on the environment, the housing settlement, the budget and social services reflect the basic core of what is important to residents of northern Westchester.

Peter Harckham has held the job since 2007, while he is being challenged by Andrea Rendo. To be sure, Ms. Rendo is energized and well-versed on the issues. We welcome her introduction into our county’s politics. But she has tough sledding going up against an established, well-versed and accomplished legislator like Mr. Harckham.

Mr. Harckham is no stranger to controversy. Building affordable housing in Pound Ridge with A-HOME was no easy task. Facing a housing settlement that he and fellow legislators inherited from the previous administration, he has developed a strategy for helping Westchester out of a potential morass and consistently stood up to the voices of intransigence who would expose Westchester to further penalties and potential loss of zoning controls.

Mr. Harckham is among the most qualified to work with federal officials of the unique qualities of our community. As a legislator, he’s been endorsed in the last two elections by the New York State League of Conservation Voters because of his work in the watershed. Mr. Harckham won millions in funding throughout his district, including a study in Bedford for its wastewater needs. He teamed with Mr. Astorino’s administration to bring $49 million in financing for their new operating suites at Northern Westchester Hospital. Without question, Mr. Harckham earns credit for saving funding for the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation’s Trailside Nature Museum, and Pound Ridge’s Deer Management Committee — both targeted for the axe by the county executive. At the same time, he’s helped to reduce taxes 2.2 percent.

While last year’s late-night budget confrontation at the Michaelian Office Building in White Plains between legislators and the county executive was not one of our county’s shining moments, there’s more than enough blame to go around. At the end of the day, Mr. Harckham plays well with others, including Republican supervisors in Bedford and Pound Ridge.

And as Mr. Harckham likes to point out, 90 percent of what gets passed in White Plains is passed in a bipartisan way. “We take the time to build compromise, to build consensus around the committee table,” he told The Record-Review. “We’ve gone through some very difficult issues. We’ve made some important compromises in a bipartisan way and we’ve passed bipartisan legislation.”

In a world hobbled by partisanship, Mr. Harckham’s commitment to our community, our environment and the quality of life for all earn our vote on Nov. 5.


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NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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