March 20, 2006
Response to Website Responses
Mr. Rush quite amazingly details that the Larchmont website involved countless months of Tech Committee involvement, which only amplifies concerns about just what we were paying for from taxpayer funds. His ruminations about “political agendas” get weary in this, a political battle for the imminent election in which he politicized the building of the website as a great political accomplishment. Sounds faintly familiar in terms of "political agendas."
Coupled with Ms. Fichtel's entreaties that this cost little to Larchmont. I'll note that what I wrote was "taxpayer-funded." If money from Albany is somehow free, then we’ve entered a very curious state. Irrespective of the number of pockets the money passes through, it originally came out of ours, the New York State taxpayers.
The issue remains that the site cost a tremendous amount of money. That a bunch of good folks worked hard on the thing is admirable yet amplifies the original concern over just what was paid for and how it arrived in less than professionally-done status.
(Mr. Coleman served as a volunteer in the Larchmont Fire Department for 20 years and attained the rank of Captain. He designed and secured funding for the department’s Rescue One rig. He received Letters of Commendation for Meritorious Duty from both the career Firefighter’s Association and the Larchmont Police Department. He served as Larchmont’s representative to the Westchester Rent Guidelines Board. Nevertheless, he is very mean.)
March 20, 2006
Website Letters Omit $27K Grant
I find it interesting that both Mrs. Mumma and Mr. Coleman, in the search for truth, claim first that the website cost $50,000+, and now $35,000+; however, they conveniently omit a grant received for $27,000.
Rosita Fichtel, Chair
March 19, 2006
Bialo Claims Undue Credit on Website, Streetscape
As a former trustee and deputy mayor (1996-2001), I have found it infuriating that some of the claims Ken and his supporters have made during the campaign are simply not true or exaggerated.
Let's look at the website first. It was initiated and maintained during Cheryl Lewy's administration, at no cost to the Village, by volunteers who were both Democrats and Republicans. One of Ken's first acts was to "fire" the Democrats on the committee and alienate the other members. He stated that he was depoliticizing the committee. Why then did he name the Republican committee's webmaster (who continues to play a role in Ken's re-election bid) as chair of the new committee? The result of this change was to hire consultants to redesign the site, at a cost to the state and Village taxpayers in excess of $35,000. The original committee members had volunteered to do the same thing at no cost. Is that any way to save money?
Now, for the streetscape. Ken would like us to believe that he was responsible for the concept and execution. The truth is that it was under Mayor Lewy's administration that the project was conceived and started with two highly qualified landscape architects who were in the process of presenting plans. Again, one of Ken's first acts was to fire these people and run the project himself. As a result, there were problems with his micro-managing and here we are - 4 years later with only the Boston Post Road side partially completed and no work started on the Palmer Avenue side.
These are only two examples among a number of claims for which Ken takes undue credit.
Bottom line: Ken's micro-managing everything is inefficient, sometimes costly and has resulted in discouraging community participation.
Liz Feld, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein represent a true coalition open to effective and respectful use of Village resources, employees and volunteers of all political persuasions. They merit our trust.
Mary Ann Mumma
Village Trustee 1996-2001
March 19, 2006
Mayor Politicized Website, Police
Mayor Bialo claims as one of his accomplishments, the revamping of the Village website when, under his administration, the site sat effectively dormant for years. Providing website design services as part of my practice, I was disappointed at the state of the site during that time frame.
Peter Rush echoes the virtues of the revamped site in his letter below. This would be the site done not by any of the many Larchmonters who do sites for a living, nor anyone in the county; nor the state. No, this thing of beauty was shopped to a Florida firm for an eye-popping $35,000 in New York and Larchmont taxpayer money.
A basic, fully functional municipal website template is around a hundred bucks on the web these days. If my team were creating this and generating all the copy from scratch we’d have a hard time justifying much more than five thousand for an uncomplicated/unsophisticated non-profit organization project, such as was produced here.
Net, the Village went from a proficient volunteer team with a functional and engaging site to tossing all that pro bono talent out when Mr. Rush moved in as Technology Committee Chair (flushing the pesky Democrats while the original chair resigned in disgust), to an outrageously expensive site that we’ll write politely, won’t win many design awards. A design focus on usability is paramount for informational sites and this thing looks more like a cut-and-paste ransom note.
Additionally, it is worth noting that Mr. Rush further claims the high ground that the dismissal of the Democrats was required since they were trying to “politicize the activity of revamping the site.” Cognitive dissonance anyone?
In closing, I will briefly address another topic...
I was a lieutenant in the Fire Police Company of the Larchmont Fire Department on the night Police Officer Arthur DeMatte (a man I knew and highly respected) was gunned down. We were called to light the scene and help search the area between the tracks and I-95 for a possible second perpetrator. The thousands of law enforcement officers who attended his funeral, on that sad day when Larchmont wept, continue to bear witness to his dedication. There is a special place in hell reserved for those aspiring to be civic leaders who for nothing more than political gain have suggested the Larchmont Police Department is less than outstanding in their professionalism and commitment to the community they serve.
Thomas C. Coleman
March 19, 2006
Re-elect Bialo to Keep Costs Down
It is very important to re-elect Ken Bialo for mayor of Larchmont. The costs and expenses have been kept down because of Ken’s conscientious efforts. When I asked for my street to be repaved, Ken told me that it couldn’t be done right now because it wasn’t allocated in the budget, and the costs were up because of the increase in oil prices. When I explained the garbage truck was stopping three times a week in front of my house, the street was disintegrating, and cinders were being thrown onto my lawn, Ken had sections of the street repaired within a week. Before I could write a thank you note, Ken called to ask me if the work was satisfactory. Ken is totally involved in the day to day operations of the Village. He keeps the costs down.
Larchmont does not need a Village manager that Liz Feld said she would hire if elected. The firefighter and police contracts are being discussed during this election. That does not seem right to me.
This is a village of 6,700 people living in a square mile. We are not a city. At the present time, the position of mayor is that of a volunteer with volunteers chairing committees to run the Village. Changing the volunteer status of the Village will drive costs up.
I am afraid that retired people, such as myself, and those on a fixed income will not be able to afford to live in Larchmont if Ms. Feld is elected. We have a choice between changing our Village and staying with a very effective Mayor Ken Bialo.
Larchmont, New York
March 19, 2006 -rubeo
Police Bashing Slights Larchmont
I have grown up in Larchmont and do not hesitate to say that there is no better place to live and raise a family than here. Some might attribute Larchmont's prosperity to a variety of things, like the people or the school district. But these things do not make Larchmont great.
It's really the men and women of its Police Department that make Larchmont a wonderful place. Although my view may be biased due to my father's position as police chief, over the past 23 years of my life I have come to know these officers personally. I believe no other village has a better police department, due particularly to the strong sense of community Larchmont’s police help to develop and maintain.
For example, eleven years after Chatsworth DARE, my friends are still asking about Officer Carney because he showed concern for them and their well-being. I remember Officer Greco telling me how he wanted to start a bike unit so he "could interact with the citizens and get to know them better." Coming back from a lacrosse game in NJ, I got off the train at the Larchmont Station at 2:00am to see a Larchmont Police vehicle. One of my troubled friends found someone he trusted so much, Detective Cristiano, that he asked him to be his sponsor at his Confirmation at St Augustine's. Det. Cristiano really dedicated a part of his life to helping my friend, teaching him right from wrong and showing him that there was someone out there who cared about him.
I can go on with stories of each Larchmont officer, but that is not why I am writing. I try to keep up with Larchmont’s current events and what I have seen recently has truly upset me. The blatant bashing of the Larchmont Police is a slight to the people of Larchmont and to me.
The propaganda spread that these officers would not do their duty because of contractual issues disgusts me. As a sworn officer in the US Military, I can tell you that when you take an oath, you do not just repeat it - you take it. You take it with you everywhere you go, with everything you do, and under no circumstance do you break that oath. These men and women would never break their oaths. I can guarantee that they would give their lives to protect every person in the Village and outside of it.
People should be able to see the good that these officers have done for the Village. I am sure that most of you have. Unfortunately, a few unthinking persons will take these officers and others for granted; these persons should not hold any positions of leadership because their selfishness may endanger something great. I urge you to think about these officers, and when you see them, thank them for everything that they do. Nothing is worse than feeling unappreciated when you are willing to give your life for others. Trust me, I know.
Lt. Stephen Rubeo, USMC
March 19, 2006
Response to Millstein Claims
I would like to answer the misinformation and poor logic contained in the March 16 th letter sent out to Village residents by the Democrat candidate Jim Millstein.
First, Mr. Millstein claims that taxes have risen 24% since Mayor Bialo took office. In two previous letters, I set the facts straight when I clearly explained that these large tax increases were forced upon the Village by the state of New York to cover state-mandated pension payments. All governments in the state were forced to make these payments and had no choice but to raise taxes (unless they were able to use some excess cash/surplus to reduce the tax burden, which Mr. Millstein implies in his letter he would not do!). My letters showed that Larchmont did not have the highest increase by any means ( Rye’s increase was 44%, County’s 34%, Scarsdale’s 22% and the Town of Mamaroneck’s 26%).
Second, Mr. Millstein claims debt is up. Under Mayor Bialo the Village has borrowed twice. First, in June 2002, $1,355,000 was borrowed long-term at 5.06%, of which $1,010,000 was used to refinance short term borrowings left by the previous Democratic-controlled board. The new money of $340,000 was used to buy two much-needed trucks for public works. The second borrowing, $2,200,000 in August of 2004, funded the required matches that enabled the Village to receive $1,276,000 in grants that are being used to renovate Flint Park, repair storm sewers, complete the streetscape, replace a sewage pump station, replace a garbage truck and replace a shovel truck. The funds were borrowed at a very low long-term rate of 3.54%. If the Village did not borrow this money, it would have had to (1) void the projects, (2) drastically raise taxes or (3) use its cash surplus. And, the reason this new debt seemed like such a large percentage increase was that Larchmont had so little debt to begin with. These are all things that good governments do: keep things running and fund their needs at the lowest possible cost, as Bialo has done.
Third, Mr. Millstein claims that the surplus is down. Some of the surplus was used to keep the pension-driven tax increases down, a good thing! We had excess cash before and our $1.7 million-plus surplus today is still more than sufficient for the Village’s needs.
Finally, Mr. Millstein acts as if not having a staff engineer costs us money. Well, even when we had a full-time engineer we were still forced to go out for consultants’ services. For example, the last year that Joe Morgan was Village Engineer in 2002-2003 his salary was $118,000 with benefits of $38,000. That year, the Village paid over $81,000 in consultant fees. The total 2002-2003 expenses of $237,000 (cost of the engineer plus consultants) seem a lot higher to me than the $125,000 that the Village has budgeted for outsourced expert services, including engineering services, in its existing budget.
Mayor Bialo has been doing the right things.
Bruce A. Cauley
March 15, 2006
Board Under Bialo Lacks Communication, Opennness
At Monday night’s LWV debate I discovered that I had “Free Speech Time” during Board meetings. Our Trustee Reports, for years an agenda staple used to report on committee assignments, were really an opportunity to bring up new policy initiatives, without consultation with other Board members!
In its own way, this declaration by Mayor Bialo illustrates the essential problem which triggered the creation of the Larchmont Coalition Party and this extraordinary election campaign.
The problem is that the Board has not had the communication, the openness, the transparency necessary in a system where input and discussion are the foundations for deliberation.
During the past three years I have seen opportunities where we could have informed the community sooner, involved our volunteers more effectively, considered more attentively the advice of our career professionals, and taken action more decisively. Important Village projects have taken too long and had too many difficulties.
For example, we made almost no headway on the dangerous "cold weather flow" that ices our streets. We are missing the access to and continuing attention of a full-time Village Engineer who can be held accountable for administering our projects.
Larchmont can do better. We need to elect Liz Feld as mayor and Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein as trustees to produce a Village Board that works together as a team - with each other and with the volunteers and career employees. With Liz, Jim and Marlene, Larchmont will do better.
Anne McAndrews, Trustee
Village of Larchmont
March 15, 2006
Why PBA is Supporting Feld Team
The Larchmont PBA has endorsed Liz Feld and her running mates in the upcoming Village election.
Although the Larchmont PBA has historically remained uninvolved in the political affairs of the Village, and the decision to break with this tradition was not made lightly, Mayor Bialo’s irresponsible and mean spirited conduct forced the PBA to speak publicly. Mayor Bialo did not treat the PBA membership fairly during the recent prolonged contract negotiation, or with respect during the many presentations made before the Board of Trustees. During Board of Trustee’s meetings, the residents of the Village had the opportunity to observe the mayor’s blatant disregard and disrespect for constituents and taxpayers who happened to disagree with him.
pparently, the mayor’s running mate, Michael Bucci, shares this disrespect for the police officers serving Larchmont when he stated that officers would respond differently to calls for service based upon citizen's political beliefs. Such a statement is insulting, irresponsible, and untrue. This is not the Larchmont many of us have come to know so well.
Public comments by the mayor and his running mates regarding the lengthy contract negotiations endured by the PBA and the residents of the Village unfairly blamed the delay on the PBA. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, trustee candidate Fanelli posted a sign on his property for many months supporting the position of the PBA, and trustee candidate Bucci’s wife signed a petition backing the position of the PBA. Now they have changed their position. The PBA agrees with Trustee Kolbert when she stated that the agreement could have been reached much sooner if not for the tactics of the mayor, which succeeded in increasing the cost to the village and alienating the PBA membership and many residents.
The mayor has also been misleading the public about last year’s salaries of police officers without explaining that over 10% of those salaries were retroactive payments for the 2 prior years worked without a contract or that the increased overtime was caused by 2 officers out because of sickness and injury. If the truth is being told, it should be the whole truth, not the current mayor’s “truth” of convenience.
The PBA supports Liz Feld and her running mates in this election and urges all residents to exercise their right of franchise by voting on March 21.
Larchmont Police Benevolent Assoc.
March 15, 2006
Bialo, Bucci, Fanelli Team "Plays Well With Others"
Mayor Bialo’s opponents in the upcoming Village election tout themselves as bringing something new to Village politics – a coalition party that claims its strength is reaching across party lines to represent all residents. This isn’t new. This is already what Larchmont is all about.
As a team, Bialo (Republican), Fanelli (Democrat) and Bucci (Independent) represent real coalition leadership. Throughout this campaign, they have proven that Mayor Bialo has done an outstanding job running the Village and have shown that the addition of Mike Bucci and Peter Fanelli as trustees will accelerate this positive trend. Mayor Bialo’s leadership record and unparalleled experience as a village official are invaluable assets. Mike Bucci’s legal, financial and tax expertise will help keep taxes down and streamline the Village budget process. Peter Fanelli has been instrumental in our streetscape project and chaired the Facilities and Maintenance Committee. A life long resident and local business owner, he is committed to protecting and enhancing our overall quality of life in the Village.
Most importantly, they gel as a team. They personify the kind of strong, non-partisan leadership that will continue to build on what Ken Bialo has accomplished in his first four years as mayor of Larchmont. They have the support of a huge cross-section of residents from all parties and will realize their goals by pooling their expertise with the many talented individuals we have here in our community.
As mayor, Ken has gone out of his way to involve more Village residents on volunteer committees than ever before. Time and time again, Ken ignored party affiliation and appointed residents based solely on expertise, enthusiasm and experience. In fact, a majority of new appointments over the last few years have been Democrats. Ken has championed and executed on a spirit of inclusion and cooperation. From his opponents, I see this commitment to “reach across party lines” as nothing more than empty rhetoric.
Mayor Bialo has demonstrated his ability to build consensus and is a proven leader who gets things done. In the four years that Ken has served as mayor, a Village Board comprised of both Democrats and Republicans has reached unanimous decisions 97% of the time. This kind of success can only come with open discussions, consensus-building and effective leadership.
Ken also has excellent working relationships with past and current Town and Village of Mamaroneck leaders, as well as with county, state and federal officials. The Village received 22 grants totaling almost $1 million during Ken’s administration – more than ever before. How can the other team accuse him of not going after public funding? Take note – Ken’s record speaks to his exemplary cooperation with senior levels of government.
I encourage you to focus on how this team truly represents “people before politics” and offers nothing short of accomplished, impassioned and experienced leadership for our Village.
Vote Bialo, Bucci, Fanelli on March 21!
March 14, 2006
Why We're for Feld, Kolbert, Millstein
On March 21st, we strongly urge you to vote for the Larchmont Coalition Party candidates: Liz Feld for mayor, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein for trustee.
Marlene is a two-term, Democrat trustee whose public service accomplishments are well documented and far-reaching. She is neighborly and well-respected by our county, state and federal officials. A wonderful role model for all generations, Marlene is out there encouraging our friends, with deftness and conviction, to work together for the betterment of Larchmont. With her trademark vigor, Marlene is building a bridge from our past to our future leaders. We trust her decision to unify across party lines in this election.
Jim is an acclaimed investment banker who offers a resume that is too good to pass up. Having restructured many public companies, Jim will bring to the Village Board a needed set of financial and managerial skills. His admirable service as trustee on the Library Board qualifies him to be our Village trustee. With all that, Jim has an integrity and honor that inspired us to support not just his candidacy, but his decision to run on a bipartisan slate.
Our choice for mayor is Liz Feld. For years we heard that Liz was the consensus Republican choice to replace the mayor when, as most expected, he retired this year. Our Democrat friends have watched Liz grow as deputy mayor and come to accept her as a solid partner for those genuinely concerned about our community. The best testament to her governing abilities is her collection of endorsements from our police, firefighters and respected Democrat and Republican volunteers who serve on virtually every Village committee. With that as a backdrop, we ask: If Liz has become the true choice of Larchmont’s Republicans and Democrats, why should residents be forced to wait for the mayor everyone wanted and now wants? Isn’t our Village more important than one man?
Larchmont needs a talented Board to reverse our skyrocketing Village taxes. To us, it is no surprise that our part-time mayor caused Village taxes to soar 24% in 3 years, expenses to grow 40%, and our reserve fund to drop 33%. Mayor Bialo blames these on external forces, although he admits in advertisements that Scarsdale managed better than he did! We blame his failures on four years of gimmicks, and his lack of financial and listening skills. The former treasurer warned him years ago of the state retirement mandates we are paying. Mayor Bialo did absolutely nothing to plan ahead, and actually dismissed the warnings as “a parade of theoretical horribles.” How wrong he was!
Whatever the reason, “the buck stops with the mayor” and Ken Bialo’s record screams for change. We welcome that change because we believe Liz will deploy the talent on our Board and Budget Committee to create a fiscally prudent expense, capital and financing blueprint for Larchmont. That will get our fiscal house and taxes back on track.
On March 21st, you should vote: Feld, Kolbert, Millstein.
Michael and Lauren Gottfried
March 13, 2006
Ken Bialo is the Real Deal
Overheard at a cocktail party two weeks ago: “You know what really kills some people about Ken Bialo? He’s just so good at what he does.”
As Larchmont gets dragged into its last week of food fights before the mayoral election, let’s put down our cream pies and admit the facts: things work in this town, and Ken Bialo gets it done.
He gets results through leadership, the kind that ruffles feathers once in a while. But I’ll take leadership and its critics over the alternative any day.
We only have to go back to Ikea to relive the bad old days of an AWOL mayor who left it up to citizens to do the heavy lifting. I think we’re all too busy for that.
Ken has solved many difficult issues as mayor: having to fund over $900,000 of additional employee pension contributions jammed down from the state onto the Village; standing up to overzealous municipal unions with jaw-dropping contract demands; and managing complex development and infrastructure projects; all while protecting citizens’ honey pots.
If someone like Ken isn’t around to fight the good fights, what then? We can all hold hands and sing Kumbaya with predatory contractors, unions, developers and state agencies until we get taxed like a pack of Marlboros in Utah. We can hire a clown car of administrators until Village Hall operates with the efficiency of a Soviet-era DMV. Bad idea.
Being mayor is not like being a greeter for the Lollipop Guild: it’s about long meetings, tough choices and designer antacids. We are lucky to have Ken Bialo breaking eggs in committee meetings and in government negotiations so we can enjoy the omelet.
Of course, Ken has had to build consensus with talented agency and committee members to get things done. Most importantly, he knows that successful consensus-building is measured by results for constituents, not for those who treat taxpayer funds like an ATM. Beware the rhetoric here.
So let’s save the warm and fuzzies for Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. Larchmont needs a leader with a backbone under the cardigan to meet real-world challenges. Ken Bialo is the real deal - reelect him Mayor of Larchmont on March 21.
March 9, 2006
Bialo Has Turned Board into "One-Man Show"
For six years I had the privilege of being the sole Democrat on the Larchmont Village Board of Trustees. Leo Goldsmith, Jr. was the mayor during that period.
Under his leadership, we four trustees had ample time to give our reports, bring up new matters, ask for progress on various problems, and engage in lively discussions. Leo Goldsmith would then nicely sum up what had been said and ask for a vote when necessary. He never voted except when there was a tie. There were few, if any, partisan votes.
On the other hand, under the mayoralty of Ken Bialo, it has been another story. He dominates the meetings, treats the trustees as necessary adjuncts and votes even when not needed. In short, he has made meetings of the Board of Trustees into a one-man show. The trustees and the public are treated in a quite peremptory manner.
He has failed to replace the Village Engineer, a position which badly needs to be filled in view of all the construction and remodeling going on and the constant needs for repairs of streets, sewers and street lighting. Since we do not have a village manager, the trustees, all volunteers without pay, have had to endure unnecessarily long meetings which are counter-productive.
When the question was raised as to whether after fifty years, the Morris family could re-swap the vacant lot next to Sotheby's on Palmer Avenue for the dedicated park space just 150 feet down the block, Mayor Bialo was apparently far more interested in making the requested swap to please one family rather than preserving the present park.
Liz Feld, Jim Millstein and Marlene Kolbert care deeply about our Village and want it to be run as it was six years ago. They will listen to the concerns of the residents, give them the attention they deserve, and make them feel welcome at meetings.
Edmund S. Purves
Former Larchmont Village Trustee
March 8, 2006
Larchmont Doesn't A Need Village Manager
The local paper reports that the person opposing Mayor Ken Bialo in the March 21st Village election, Liz Noyer Feld, has called for the hiring of a village manager to run the Village. This old chestnut has been around the track more than a few times but fortunately has never had any legs. It’s generally brought up around election time when some candidates, in the absence of any real issues, try making it into one, but without success.
For over one hundred years Larchmont Village has functioned nicely without anyone filling the office or holding the title of “Village Manager.” Why? Because it has one, namely the mayor, who along with the trustees, is elected to do just that -- run and manage the affairs of the Village and be held accountable. In giving unselfishly of their time these elected officials have been saying that if you want the job, do the job. That’s still the case with Mayor Bialo and his trustee running mates, Peter Fanelli and Mike Bucci.
Interestingly, both political parties have had majorities on the Village Board, at different times of course, and sometimes the mayor has been a Republican and at others a Democrat. Yet, none of these administrations saw fit to change the character of our Village government by introducing the bureaucracy of a village manager or incurring the very substantial costs of this new position to be paid by you, the taxpayer.
Mayor Ken Bialo and his trustee running mates, Peter “Bubba” Fanelli and Mike Bucci, are ready to do the job they are asking the voters to elect them to do on March 21. Unlike their opposition, they don’t plan on hiring a village manager to do their work. Remember, the buck stops with Ken, Peter and Mike.
Richard E. Mannix
Former Larchmont Village Justice and NYS Assemblyman
March 8, 2006
Feld Decisive, Focused on Long-Term Issues
From the first day of Liz Feld’s candidacy for mayor, I knew she was the right person to lead Larchmont. She was decisive that our Village government needed to head in a new direction. She was clear in her conviction that running alongside Jim Millstein and Marlene Kolbert was in the best interests of our residents. She wasn’t focused on political party lines, but who would actually embrace the Village, had the skills, expertise and demeanor to bring together all of our residents. These are the qualities we need in our mayor. This is also what we’ve been missing for the last several years.
As someone who has been closely involved with the Board and its activities for the last five years, let me share certain facts that Larchmont residents should know:
While Mayor Bialo has worked hard on the Board, there have been clear signs, over and over again, that his indecision and ‘micro-managing’ style have not been in our best interests. Did any of us expect, after receiving a grant of $120,000 in 2002 for the expansion and environmental project in Flint Park, that in March 2006 the project still would not have gone out to bid? That the mayor chose to borrow $650,000 for this project in September 2004 that we’ve been paying interest on for 18 months, again without any work having begun? Or that the streetscape improvements, which the mayor announced in March 2003 should get done that summer, would be dragged out until 2005? In the mayor’s LMC-TV “Meet the Candidates” show, he went so far as to congratulate himself for how much time he spent picking the cement color for the sidewalks. Is this what we want from our mayor?
This election has highlighted the urgency in dealing with our budget and tax woes. Taxes have risen over 24% the last three years under Mayor Bialo. While no one disputes that our pension/retirement and healthcare costs have significantly increased, wouldn’t you think that during these times the mayor would want to work with the Village Budget Committee in looking for long-term solutions? As a member of that committee, I can tell you, with the exception of the annual budget reviews with department heads, the committee has not been engaged by the mayor for the last two years. I’ve not heard any recommendation from the mayor in dealing with the long-term issues weoghing on our budget. Reining in consultant costs and payroll overtime, long-term planning to deal with infrastructure and retirement costs: these are items I’ve heard repeatedly from the Feld/Millstein/Kolbert ticket.
This is not the way to run a Village government. I believe that Mayor Bialo is a smart man, but that doesn’t mean he can manage the Village on his own, be our engineer, our treasurer in his part-time volunteer capacity. Liz Feld understands this.
Larchmont must address long-term issues, think creatively, and we can’t be satisfied with the status quo. I strongly encourage you to elect Liz, Jim, and Marlene.
March 8, 2006
Feld Helped to Restore Morale While Cutting Costs
In 2004, the Larchmont Police Department (LPD) had been working without a contract for approximately eighteen months. Negotiations had stalled and turned acrimonious between the mayor and the police union. We looked into it and determined that the LPD ranked 14th out of 15 in salary and last in retiree health insurance (RHI) compared with 14 other villages in Westchester County.
Our position was that salary and RHI benefits should be increased to place the LPD in the middle of the pack as compared to other Westchester villages. The vast majority of people we spoke to supported this concept.
Our reasons were that the LPD was experiencing an unprecedented amount of resignations of officers going to neighboring communities for financial considerations. This was a problem because it is expensive to hire, train and school officers only to have them leave. Because the force was not fully staffed, large amounts of overtime were being paid. In addition, the low salary and RHI made it difficult to hire quality officers. Finally, it seemed to us that it was in the residents interests to attempt to keep hired quality officers for their careers.
We got involved and urged the mayor to move off the existing status quo and reach a negotiated settlement. The residents would benefit because it made financial sense and the morale of the force would be better resulting in improved services to the citizens.
A contract was signed running through 2008. Both sides compromised. Progress was made, however LPD is still in the bottom 30-40% in salary and near the bottom in RHI.
Hopefully, most of us will never have to call 911. However if you do have to report a crime at your home or a medical emergency, the LPD will probably be the first to respond. That individual should be an intelligent, motivated and qualified professional. They help make our Village safe for ourselves and our children. They are the ones that left their loved ones on 9-11 and reported to work here to protect us.
We found an ally for our position in Liz Feld. She was the first board member to publicly disagree with the mayor and support our position on this issue. It took courage for Liz, as deputy mayor, to do this. Her influence and support were important factors in getting the deal done. She is motivated by what is in the best interests of Larchmont. Liz is well informed, she is able to have a cordial dialogue with residents from all perspectives of the political spectrum, she is receptive to different ideas, she is a consensus builder, an innovative thinker, a problem solver and enthusiastic. As mayor, she will be firm, fair and tactful.
We hope you will join us in voting for our next mayor, Liz Feld.
March 6, 2006
Bialo Promotes Citizen Involvement
This past year I had an opportunity to experience effective Village government in action. I was concerned about the proliferation of unwieldy school buses and traffic congestion near the French-American School that was adversely affecting safety and quality of life in our community. I did not know if the Village would respond to a local issue if raised by a common citizen. In any case I called a Village clerk who explained that Mayor Bialo schedules Saturday morning meetings to give residents an open forum for such issues and offered me a time slot. It was an easy beginning to a positive experience.
Mayor Bialo and the three trustees in attendance listened to my points in a courteous and professional manner. Despite routine requirements, I was amazed at how quickly the issue moved from the Village boardroom to Traffic committee involvement and eventually to a combined team of volunteers and Village officials.
At the direction of Mayor Bialo, the head of the Traffic Commission navigated a series of delicate negotiations between the school superintendent, traffic committee members, police officers, crossing guards, senior citizens, clergy and neighbors to create procedures to resolve the disorder.
The end result is a safer and environmentally superior solution that benefits hundreds of French-American School patrons and local residents, including many children walking home from our public schools or to the Larchmont Temple for religious classes.
I am confident that such quality of life problems would rarely get solved were it not for the Saturday morning sessions established by Mayor Bialo for direct dialogue with citizens. This is a mayor who is receptive to Village issues and has proven his ability to marshal the resources to solve these problems effectively.
I know first-hand how valuable it has been for Larchmont to have a mayor who promotes citizen involvement, provides responsive leadership and gets results. I believe it is vital for the future of Larchmont residents to keep such an action-oriented and respected mayor in office.
Larchmont , NY
March 6, 2006
Is Feld Camp More Concerned With Employees than Taxpayers?
Mayor Bialo's opponent and her supporters in the upcoming Larchmont mayoral election are praising Liz Noyer Feld's and her running mate's "support' of our police union in the labor negotiations last year.
The obvious implication in all of this is that by not "supporting" the union, Mayor Bialo doesn’t support our fine police officers. This is neither fair nor accurate.
A union's role is to achieve as much as it is able for its members, and our elected officials’ function is to provide effective services as economically as possible. Both of these sometimes conflicting roles are appropriate and necessary, and the process works. We achieved a fair contract, but one which will not burden future generations with suffocating pension and health costs. Even Ms. Noyer Feld and her running mate, Marlene Kolbert, voted for it.
Such a result often requires a little pain to achieve and no one ever described labor negotiations as a tea party.
One could conclude that the Feld camp believes that the elected officials' first obligation is to Village employees rather than to the taxpayers. One could further conclude that they believe that spending more of the taxpayer's money than is necessary to provide essential services is to be admired.
This novel approach appeared to be celebrated at a labor rally of paid firefighters supporting Ms.Noyer Feld with placards outside the Republican caucus. Might this have had something to do with the expectations created by her campaign rhetoric and the fact that the firefighters' labor contract is up for renewal next year? Which of the candidates would you most trust with your tax dollars?
If results count, Mayor Bialo deserves to be congratulated and thanked for the job he has done in conducting these negotiations, not criticized
Larchmont , NY
March 6, 2006
Feld, Kolbert, Millstein Work Well Together
I recently had an opportunity to hear the candidates of the Coalition Party speak, and was struck by the collegial attitude and respectful tone that they all had for each other. Liz Feld is a natural leader, and has the energy and willingness to work with others for the common good of the community. Marlene Kolbert has a wealth of knowledge and experience from which she has been able to draw, and offers invaluable perspective and insight on the Board. Jim Millstein has the financial acumen and business smarts that we so desperately need to help handle the many complex issues facing the Village today.
On the local level where party affiliations are irrelevant, it is refreshing to see a group of people who recognize that and are committed to working together and using all of the assets available to them to better our community. It concerns me to hear that the current Mayor has not even spoken to his Deputy Mayor for the past year. On a small Village Board like ours, every voice should be heard and we need a leadership that will rise above politics and party affiliations and act solely for the betterment of Larchmont as a whole.
The Larchmont Coalition team of Liz Feld, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein can provide that leadership and I encourage everyone to come out and support them on Election Day.
March 3, 2006
Liz Feld Best Qualified to be Larchmont’s Next Mayor
As a member of our Village Zoning Board of Appeals, I have had an opportunity to work closely with Liz Feld, who in her capacity as Village trustee has been the liaison to the Zoning Board. As many in our Village would agree, zoning laws and their implementation are of ever increasing importance to Village residents.
Liz Feld made the review of our outdated zoning code a top priority when she first campaigned for office in 2002. Like many Village residents, she recognized that overdevelopment and poor planning affect qualify of life in our Village as much as any other issue. Upon being elected trustee, she delivered on her promise and convened a meeting of members of all three land use boards to help identify means to improve communication between the land use boards while urging fellow Village Board members to find ways to streamline the building permit application process.
Liz Feld shares my view that a building department consisting of one full time building inspector cannot possibly adequately handle the approximately 360 building permit applications submitted annually. It has been my concern for some time that our building department, though diligent and talented, is understaffed. This problem was only exacerbated in August 2004 when our then Village Engineer, Mike LePre, quit. To date, this position remains unfilled.
There are those who believe that the position of Village Engineer is superfluous and, at best, the responsibilities of the job can be handled on an ad hoc basis by use of outside consultants. This could not be farther from the truth. Having a full time Village Engineer makes sense from both an administrative and fiscal point of view.
Anyone involved recently in the problems raised by demolition and construction at 96 Willow Avenue could attest to the need for a Village Engineer in the Village of Larchmont. Many of the issues presented before the Zoning Board in this case would have either been avoided completely or at the very least have been aided by the experience of a full time Village Engineer. In my opinion, the outcome of that case was unsatisfying for all involved, including me as both a Zoning Board member and as a Village resident.
I have always found Liz Feld to be dedicated, intelligent, open-minded, hard working and a person who has the gift of building consensus among people with varying ideas and ideologies.
I look forward to voting for the team of Feld, Kolbert and Millstein on March 21, 2006 and urge my fellow Village residents to join me in making the Village of Larchmont an even better place to call home.
February 28, 2006
Bialo Should Continue as Mayor
I strongly support Ken Bialo as mayor of Larchmont for two more years and with him as trustees:Bubba Fanelli and Michael Bucci.
I have seen and heard Mayor Bialo interact with neighbors, Village volunteers and Village employees. He is consistently patient, knowledgeable, smart and more than willing to take in all points of view.
As a college teacher and counselor I know how important it is to listen; to be sensitive to the thoughts and ideas of others; and to offer do-able and satisfying solutions to problems. So I am especially respectful of Mayor Bialo’s style and “voice.”
I urge all of us in our wonderful community to consider all of the mayor’s past achievements from re-zoning to new sidewalks and streetscape to the fight against IKEA to the work on Lorenzen Park and Flint Park and many attentive and immediate remedies to neighbors’ own personal concerns like bike parking at Metro North, flooding problems on residents’ properties and many, many others.
Fifteen years of experience and leadership gives our mayor an extraordinary ability to understand the Village and how it runs and how to get things done.
Vote for Mayor Bialo and Trustees-to-be Bucci and Fanelli.
February 28, 2006
Bialo, Fanelli, Bucci: Commitment Support & Balance
Being a friend and fan of both of the mayoral candidates, it required a great deal of thought before I decided to unconditionally support the re-election of Mayor Ken Bialo in the March 21st Village election. I also fully support the election of his trustee team, Peter Fanelli and Mike Bucci.
The reason is that Ken has demonstrated the kind of commitment over his four years as mayor, and Peter (a registered Democrat) and Mike (a registered Independent) provide the support and balance we need to work through the concerns and opportunities facing our Village now.
Ken’s record of accomplishment as Mayor is impressive indeed, and he has led a Village Board that has voted unanimously over 95% of the time. Anyone who knows Mike and Peter understands that they are extremely creative and independent thinkers and will help our community to find bold new solutions to the issues facing us.
What has been accomplished? When first elected Mayor in 2002, Ken set out to make Village government more open, responsive and candid - and it is. You can go to office hours, you can go early to the Board meetings, you can call the Mayor any time for help and you will get straight answers. And our Village committees have more volunteers than ever working together to make our Village better.
The list of projects and changes Ken has spearheaded is too long to list here. They include aesthetic improvements -- new streetscape, new trees; infrastructure improvements – railroad station, stormwater control, Village Hall improvements, Village website modernization; quality of life improvements – zoning laws under revisions, construction noise regulations, outdoor dining regulations, litter control and more frequent trash pick-up in business districts – the list goes on and on.
For the future, there is much more to do – a new streetscape for the Palmer Avenue business district, reduce flooding and stormwater problems, fight to reduce airplane noise, build the Flint Park expanded playing fields and conservation area, protect our Village’s unique character through better zoning, and keep the lid on Village property taxes..
Ken has done a great deal for all of us through dedicated hard work and he can do more to help make our community the best it can be. Peter and Mike will assist him tremendously to achieve these important objectives.
I urge you to support Ken, Peter and Mike in the March 21 Village election.
Charles L. Crowley, Jr.
February 28, 2006
Bialo: Firm Hand on Contract Negotiations
I am a registered Democrat; have been since I first voted. So this is not about Republican or Democrat or Independent. In fact I find the whole idea of “political party” being any part of the Village political scene ridiculous. But that’s another letter to the editor.
This letter is about perspective and facts. Ken Bialo is being challenged in the race for Mayor of Larchmont. As part of that challenge, the opposition has attacked Ken’s handling of last year’s contract negotiations with our police union. As a recent member of the Budget Committee, I would like to make two statements about Ken:
1. In the 2002/03 Village Budget, over half ($5.7M) of the General Fund Budget was spent on 3 Budget items – Police, Fire and Employee Benefits. The 2005/06 Budget calls for 55% (7.25M). The cost of employee benefits has almost doubled from $1.46M to $2.8M in the same period. These items have more impact on what we all end up paying in taxes than any other items being funded. Ken Bialo knew this when he was leading the way in negotiating with our police union. He knew this when he was being accused of not being fair and reasonable by his current opponent. Ken Bialo was doing what he was supposed to be doing as our elected representative. He was making sure that these three items were taken as seriously as possible and that these three expenses were controlled and balanced. Did he lead the negotiation with a firm hand? Yes. Should he have lead the negotiations with a firm hand? Absolutely.
2. Over the 11 years Ken has served as a Village Trustee, and four years as Mayor, he has often been the lone voice speaking for Village residents who believe in strong fiscal control. He has often been the lone voice in stating that a few hundred dollars a year more in taxes a family or seniors may have to pay because of rising expenses does make a difference. He has been the counter weight to past boards that have not been sensitive to the relative heterogeneous financial make-up of our Village residents. He has consistantly fought to keep our taxes as low as possible.
I would hate to see the Village Board sway back to the times when money was a secondary consideration to many of the decisions being considered. Let’s not forget the struggle over the renovation of Village Hall and how Ken and Bruce Cauley led the way in saving us millions of dollars by fighting for what we could afford as a community rather than what some Board members wanted to spend based on their personal ability to pay increased taxes. I think Ken has done a great job opening up the governing process to all villagers. I think he’s done a great job as Mayor. It’s important that we all vote in the Village election. It’s also important that before we vote, we understand the facts and not just respond to rhetoric and grand standing.”
February 21, 2006
Larchmont Fire Department Does Not Endorse Candidates
Recent articles and letters to the editor make mention that the Larchmont Fire Department is supporting Trustee Liz Feld in her campaign for mayor against incumbent Mayor Ken Bialo. While there are members of the Career Firefighters Union supporting Ms. Feld’s campaign, the Fire Department does not and will not support one candidate over the other. Regardless of the election outcome, the Larchmont Fire Department will continue to provide the quality of professional service our residents deserve and have come to expect.
Larchmont Fire Department
(The Fire Council is the governing body of the Larchmont Fire Department)
February 17, 2006
Are the Village Employees Truly Unhappy?
I had to get a new parking card today, and I asked the attendant how he likes working for the Village. He said he was delighted...everything is just fine.
I commented that I was trying to understand the charges being thrown around that the elected officials have created a morale problem. He said, "I have no problem, either with him or with her. They made a good decision to hire me!"
I don't know how many other employees there are in the Village, or how to get to them, but it would be interesting to get a candid opinion.
Paul T. Lennon
February 14, 2006
Bi-Partisan Household Supporting Feld, Kolbert & Millstein
This Democratic and Republican household supports the Larchmont Coalition Party ticket of Liz Feld for Mayor, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein for Trustee.
Mary Ann and I have lived in Larchmont for 42 years. We served as trustees on the Village Board and have seen the best and the "not-so-best" of Larchmont politics. I served on an all-Republican board in the mid-70''s and Mary Ann served with Ken Bialo in Cheryl Lewy's administration.
Having governed from "both sides of the aisle," we feel strongly that Larchmont needs to change directions quickly in order to preserve our community's heritage. Simply stated, we need a mayor who will listen and who will lead the wealth of talent that wants to work for and contribute to our community.
We regret seeing how morale has plummeted at Village Hall. That's not how it was when we served. The fact that Larchmont cannot hire a building engineer (after one of the most qualified in Westchester County resigned after a year) or inspectors is symptomatic of a larger problem. We, like many of our friends and neighbors, are ashamed of how our mayor treated the men and women of our police force during the last contract negotiation. It pains us to see our police and fire fighters feel compelled to take the historic step of publicly endorsing candidates in our election. We cannot blind ourselves to the underlying message of discontent.
We hope you will inform yourselves about what is going on at Village Hall and meet the members of the Larchmont Coalition Party ticket. Liz, Marlene and Jim offer a tremendous amount of talent, youthful exuberance and hope for a continuation of the heritage we all have worked so hard to establish.
Please join this bi-partisan household in supporting Liz Feld, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein on election day, March 21, 2006.
Mary Ann and Dick Mumma
January 29, 2006
GOP Chair: Apology & Clarification
I want to begin this letter by apologizing to Liz Feld for the fact that her information is missing from the Larchmont Republican website. I have asked that the website be closed down until her information is replaced. Liz has clearly played an important role in the Village of Larchmont Republican Party.
I would like to clarify two statements made by Linda Banta in her letter dated 1/29/06.
After Ken Bialo’s 2004 re-election as Mayor in the Village of Larchmont, he never told me whether he would or would not run again. Therefore, I could not tell other people what he planned to do.
Last spring I met with Liz Feld twice and she told me that she was thinking about running for mayor. She said nothing further to me about this until early January when she told me she was going to run for mayor.
I join Linda Banta in encouraging all Republicans to come to the Republican Caucus at 8 pm on Tuesday, January 31, 2006, at the American Legion in Flint Park. Please bring a driver’s license or equivalent identification. The Republican caucus will be run in a fair manner and the participants will decide who will be the Republican Party’s candidates in the March 21, 2006 Larchmont Village election.
Marian B. White
Chair, Village of Larchmont Republican Party
January 29, 2006
Caucus is About Choice: Support for Feld
Larchmont has been fortunate to have talented individuals volunteer their time to make this community a wonderful place to live. The Village has made strides over the past years, but there is more work to be done.
On Tuesday, my fellow Republicans will be faced with a choice: continue with our current practices, or make a change.
It is ridiculous that some have criticized Liz Feld for running for mayor. Caucuses were established for exactly this reason, so that members of the party can consider who is the best person for the nomination, not rubber stamp the incumbent.
While I respect the job that Ken Bialo has done, it is time we work to build bridges. Our government needs to be less focused on party loyalty and more focused on what is right for all residents - Democrats, Republicans and the large independent group. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were all working toward the same goals and created a cooperative environment to reach those goals.
Liz Feld is a natural leader. She has a unique ability to bring people together. She has demonstrated time and time again that she is willing to make tough decisions.
My vote for Liz Feld is not a vote against Ken Bialo. It is a vote for moving our community to a higher level of cooperation. We need a fresh start to forge better relations amongst the parties. Liz Feld is absolutely the right choice for the job.
January 28, 2006
Bialo Reason For Thriving GOP
Ken Bialo is the reason there is a vibrant and thriving Republican Party in Larchmont. He has contributed leadership, dedication and huge amounts of time to building the party as well as enriching the Village as both mayor and trustee. All Republicans should support him as their choice for mayor - because without him there would not be a Republican Party nomination to contest.
We need his proven leadership and sound fiscal policy for the Village.
January 28, 2006
Larchmont Best Served by Retaining Mayor Bialo
We sincerely regret that the stage has been set for our village to have to lose the dedicated service of either Liz Feld or Ken Bialo. We don't see how losing Ken's service to this village will benefit its residents.
Ken has worked tirelessly on behalf of the village and the Republican Party for many years. He is a direct and straight-talker. Any of us may agree or disagree with him on one issue or another, but we all know where he stands and can always count on him doing what he believes is best for the Village and its residents.
We express our continued gratitude to all our volunteer public servants for their hard work and give-and-take on many difficult issues. We regret having to make a choice for Republican party nominee, but still think Larchmont is well served having Ken Bialo in our party and as our mayor.
Cindy and Bruce Habig
January 26, 2006
Larchmont's #11 Rank Has Many Factors: Not Just Mayor
Over the last year Larchmont was designated the #11 best place to live in America. This was determined by many factors that were not necessarily related to actions by our current mayor. Larchmont is located on the Long Island sound, which alone contributes to making it aesthetically beautiful. Larchmont is also an easy commute to New York City. There were other contributing factors but I don't think that the rate of our property tax rise, our shrinking surplus or our contentious Village contract negotiations were taken into consideration.
That being said, I am thrilled that someone with Liz Feld's expertise and experience on the Village Board and her love for her life long community would agree to run for mayor and give us all a choice. I believe that is the American way and that no one has "a right" to any office. I also believe that it insures progress and not stagnation which is very much at risk here.
In the past year or so our Mayor Ken Bialo seems to have developed a "Penny Wise and Pound Foolish" mentality, cutting costs where we should spend for quality and spending foolishly, which will certainly have an impact on our future.
Although many wonderful projects are ongoing in Larchmont, these were the product of board decisions and not solely the mayor. I am sure that all will be seen to successful completion under the leadership of Liz Feld, as she has been instrumental in their inception.
It is time for a change and Liz Feld can provide a healthy experienced voice.
January 26, 2006
Call to Boycott Mamaroneck Until Day Labor Site Resolved
As a life long resident of Mamaroneck and Larchmont I am appalled by the actions of the Mamaroneck Village board to close the day labor site and by the words of board member Joseph Angilletta. Mr. Angilletta’s obvious racism, ignorance and xenophobia surface Mamaroneck’s dirty little secret for all to see and it’s not pretty. I wish to remind the board that all of their families were immigrants to this country. As disgusting as referring to neighbors as locusts, Mr. Angilletta should remember it was not too long ago that the community pejoratively labeled Italian immigrants as “WOPs” (Without Passport). Mr. Angilletta must be removed from office as we cannot tolerate a bigot in our midst.
I find it disturbing that Mamaroneck Village claims that Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck have no locations for workers to meet employers and therefore they won’t either. Let’s see: a very troubled police department, rampant nepotism in Village hiring policies, zoning decisions based on self-interest and now renewed racism. If this Village board considers secession, I say good riddance.
All three municipalities are run by Republicans and seem to be unable to communicate. That’s something we voters should remember. I will no longer shop in Mamaroneck or do business with Mamaroneck-based contractors until this matter is resolved. I urge all members of our community to boycott Mamaroneck businesses.
Edward J. Merians
January 26, 2006
Cauley, Bialo Are Hiding Bialo’s Record on Tax Increases
Contrary to assertions made in Mr. Cauley’s recent letter to the Gazette (See: Bialo Has Improved & Opened Village Government), Liz Feld did not vote against last year’s budget because she wanted to spend more money. In fact, one of the reasons she opposed the budget was she objected to the excessive borrowing proposed by Mr. Bialo to cover pension costs for Village employees. (See: Final Larchmont Budget Passes 4-1 With 7.7% Tax Rate Hike.) The additional borrowing increased the level of overall Village debt and was only done so Mr. Bialo could claim credit for keeping Village taxes artificially low.
The reality is, over the past 3 years under Mayor Bialo’s stewardship, Village taxes have increased over 24% and the Village surplus has dropped nearly $1 million, solely to fund operating expenses.
The other reason Ms. Feld objected to the 2005-2006 budget was because of the mayor’s refusal to fill the vacancy left by the Village engineer. Instead, the mayor is relying on an outside consultant, at the same cost, for part time service. With increased residential construction, greater environmental regulations, and a building department already overloaded with work, Ms. Feld did not feel an outside consultant could adequately manage the Village’s work. She still feels this way.
During the budget vote last year, when other board members confessed that they voted for the budget with “a heavy heart” Ms. Feld was the only member with the courage to vote against it.
January 25, 2006
Bialo Has Improved & Opened Village Government
I heartily support the nomination of Ken Bialo as mayor by the Republican Party of Larchmont. Ken has been mayor of the Village of Larchmont for four years, during which time the administration of the Village has been significantly improved and the process of governing brought much more into the open. The transparency that now exists in Larchmont due to Ken Bialo’s efforts is almost unrivaled in small town government in Westchester County.
Ken Bialo has governed as mayor in a very cooperative and intelligent manner. That is readily seen in the consensus voting that the Village board has shown, including the votes of his recent rival for mayor, Liz Feld. Mrs. Feld has voted with Mayor Bialo well over 90% of the time. (Unfortunately, Mrs. Feld was the sole negative vote against approving the 2005-2006 budget, publicly stating that she wanted a larger budget and higher taxes; the fact that the Village is financially right on target except for some police overtime shows how wrong she was on that issue.) Now, Mrs. Feld’s tactic to undermine the Republican party in Larchmont by inserting herself into the caucus as a candidate for mayor will only hurt the party.
The Republican party in Larchmont remains the minority party by voter registration, and has prospered only through the efforts and good governance of long-serving Republicans like Ken Bialo. Ms. Feld is again showing her go-it-alone, self-serving attitude in the manner in which she has unilaterally jumped into the mayoral race. The only real issue Ms. Feld is espousing, that of hiring a full-time Village administrator, has never been proposed to the board for a vote by Ms. Feld during her tenure, and is an issue rejected by all of the previous Village boards for a good reason: the Village is better off run the way Ken Bialo is running it.
Mayor Bialo’s efforts to improve the streets and parks of Larchmont while holding down costs have required cooperation and great skill in dealing with the many facets of public administration that can only be learned from over ten years of service. Mayor Bialo deserves reelection and the nomination of his party. Mrs. Feld does not.
Bruce A. Cauley
January 22, 2006
Bialo Does Right Thing at Right Time in Right Way
Ken Bialo always…
Does the right thing at the right time in the right way…
He does things better then they were done before…
He eliminates errors…
He knows both sides of the question…
He is courteous…
He is an example…
He loves our work…
He anticipates requirements…
He develops resources…
He recognizes no impediments…
He masters circumstances…
He acts from reason rather then rule…
He is satisfied with nothing short of perfection…
This is Ken Bialo…
March 20, 2006
Misinformed & Mean to Volunteers
I will respond for the entire Technology Committee (Esteban Gonzalez, Rosita Fichtel and myself) at the mean and misinformed letter by Thomas Coleman. If denigrating the hard work and countless months of involvement to get a job done is the political agenda of Mr. Coleman and those he supporst, I doubt very many people would volunteer to work in the Village.
Let’s start with the facts. The new platform and design of the Village website cost $35,000. Of that, the Village of Larchmont paid only $8,000. Why? Eileen Finn, Village Clerk, identified a potential New York State grant. I wrote the grant application and the Village received $27,000 for the project.
How was the contract for the work awarded? The committee developed a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) for the web site that included requirements for a secure site for e-commerce for parking permits, debit cards and other future applications. The RFP was reviewed and approved by the Village attorney and the Village Trustees. It was distributed to a wide range of companies and individuals including several from Larchmont. Thanks to the hard work of that pesky Democrat on the committee Esteban Gonzalez, the committee ranked all of the proposals received based upon technical competency, completeness and responsiveness to the RFP. The committee recommended to the Board of Trustees a vendor. The Board of Trustees reviewed the proposals and voted unanimously (including current candidates, Feld, Kolbert and Bialo) to hire the recommended vendor.
All the Technology Committee meetings were open. In fact, we would have welcomed additional hands for the hours of copy editing and writing it took to put the information up on the site. And the committee is still open to anyone who wants to volunteer.
Finally, to make certain there was no appearance of any conflict, I resigned as chair of the committee prior to the commencement of the campaign so that I could work to help Larchmont retain an excellent mayor, Ken Bialo.
March 20, 2006
Town Supervisor: Bialo Stands Out
As Supervisor of the Town of Mamaroneck, I work with public officials from the Village of Larchmont, the Village of Mamaroneck, and throughout Westchester County and New York State. Ken Bialo stands out among his peers as a particularly talented and hard-working mayor.
In addition to capably handling the many day-to-day issues affecting Village residents, he is always out front in recognizing situations coming from outside the Village that could have an impact on residents. I worked closely with him and other colleagues in defeating the IKEA project on our borders in New Rochelle, where as then-Trustee, Ken was a brilliant public spokesman for preserving the suburban character of Larchmont.
He has been a leader throughout his public service career. I have observed Ken push, nudge, and cajole Metro-North officials to see that the Larchmont Train Station was rebuilt with the amenities that best serve our citizens, not to mention his insistence that construction be conducted with the least annoyance to residents and that the project stay on time. And as liaison to the Tri-Municipal Cable TV Commission, Ken personally negotiated with the cable company to obtain for us the highest franchise fees and the highest cable company funding for LMC-TV of any cable franchise in Westchester County.
Ken is keenly aware of the importance of working closely with other municipalities and government officials. He has worked productively with local officials in Larchmont and Mamaroneck to increase shared services. He has been out front on many issues affecting our joint municipalities, most recently in trying to find a solution to the day laborer issue.
Last week Ken was endorsed by The Journal News, which cited his “hands-on administration” and acknowledged that there is “substance to his stewardship”.
As long as I have known Ken he has only had Larchmont’s interests at heart. And on a personal note, I know of Ken’s quiet and unsung assistance and kindness to scores of residents who have called on him personally over the years. I am glad to count him as my friend and collaborator in working for the residents of Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck.
Ken has put together an outstanding team of Trustee Candidates Michael Bucci and Peter Fanelli. Both of these gentlemen will bring energy, optimism, and keen insight to Village affairs.
Please give Ken Bialo, Michael Bucci, and Peter Fanelli every consideration on Election Day, March 21, 2006. They are on Lines “A” and “C”.
Valerie M. O’Keeffe, Supervisor
Town of Mamaroneck
March 19, 2006
Democrat Supporting Bialo
I am writing to fellow-registered Democrats about the upcoming Village Election on Tuesday, March 21st, and asking that you re-elect two-term Mayor Ken Bialo.
Ken has given the Village four years of outstanding leadership. His accomplishments are well-known, including plans for expanded Flint Park playing fields and waterfront conservation area, the Boston Post Road streetscape, the new website, and the renovated railroad station.
Ken’s opponent in this election, Republican Liz Noyer Feld, announced in early January that she would challenge Ken for the Larchmont Republican nomination at their caucus. She made conflicting statements about whether she would run for mayor with formal Democratic Party support if she failed to get the Republican nomination. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of Ken, 162 votes, to 93 for Noyer Feld.
When our Party announced that Marlene Kolbert would be seeking re-election, joined by Jim Millstein, Democrat Party leaders were quoted as saying that they were “considering” whether to offer Ms. Noyer Feld the Democrat line for mayor. Ultimately, at the Democratic Caucus held on January 31, our party did not nominate a candidate for mayor, thereby leaving the spot open for Ms. Noyer Feld to run with our trustee candidates on our party’s traditional “second line,” the Coalition Party.
As a Democrat, one of my biggest concerns is Ms. Noyer Feld’s political agenda, especially given her deep involvement up until last December as personal advisor to Jeanine Pirro in her failed attempt to unseat Senator Hillary Clinton.
Ken Bialo has proven that he can be trusted to make the Village’s interests paramount, without regard to political affiliation. For example, he has appointed more registered Democrats than Republicans to Village committees and commissions in the last four years. He has made the Village’s environment a first priority, along with its safety. He has worked to revive the Senior Center. Currently, he is working with the local clergy to find a solution to the day laborer problem, and he is sponsoring the first meeting of the Communities That Care program to deal with issues affecting our teens.
Most importantly, he has kept Village taxes from exploding. Faced with huge increases in state-mandated employee pension contributions and health insurance costs, Ken led the way in keeping our tax increases as low as possible. While property tax increases in some neighboring communities were as high as 44% (City of Rye), the total increase over 4 years in our Village property taxes was 24%, in keeping with the Town of Mamaroneck (26%) and Village of Scarsdale (22%). Fully 65% of that increase was due to those increased pension and health costs – so Ken did a good job of keeping the tax rate increase down.
You know where Ken stands on the issues. You know his agenda is to do what is best for the Village, especially trying to keep taxes as low as possible.
I hope you will agree and vote for Ken on March 21st.
March 19, 2006
Bialo, Bucci, Fanelli A True Coalition
This week, the editorial board of The Journal News separated fact from allegation in the Larchmont Village election. Their endorsements stated, there is “substance to his (Mayor Ken Bialo’s) stewardship,” and Michael Bucci “demonstrates the necessary energy and willingness to apply his professional background to the board.”
The Journal News should also have endorsed Peter Fanelli of the Republican/Independence team, recognizing that he will bring a unique perspective to the board. Peter, like his grandfather who came to Larchmont in 1923, is a member of the local business community, founding United Stage Associates which provides lighting and design services. He is also a union member and thus understands both sides of labor negotiations.
Since his youth, Peter has been an active volunteer in all areas of Village life and thus is able to bring people together. In 2002, he was named Chair of the Facilities & Maintenance Committee. As such, Peter used his professional training and experience to help with the design and lighting of Village Hall. Through his knowledge of state “dark sky” laws he helped guide the Post Road streetscape project and he also identified money-saving solutions. This is particularly important as the Village nears launching the Palmer streetscape project.
Peter understands the long term effects of rising property taxes on seniors since his mother lives here and he hopes that his children will have the choice to settle here, as he did.
This is the true coalition team – a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent.
Marian B. White
March 15, 2006
Police Chief's Wife: Apalled at Bialo
Contrary to my husband Police Chief Stephen Rubeo’s wishes, I interject my “2 Cents” into the Bialo-Feld contest. Through him I have come to know almost every police officer, their spouses and children. My own judgment has caused me to conclude that they are talented, honest, hardworking and dedicated. Kind is too much of an understatement. A more thoughtful group would be almost impossible to find. They are good people.
I like Ken, but I am appalled at his statements on LMC-TV that Larchmont police work is not “that dangerous.” I have met Alice DeMatte and can’t imagine the pain she’s had to endure after her husband was shot and killed on duty in Larchmont. How “not as dangerous” as the Bronx is that? I know Officer Tim Brennan and know that if it were not for his gun belt deflecting a gunshot, he too would have been killed on duty. Ken, you and I both know my husband has made three arrests for murder. Maybe they were “non-dangerous” murderers. I know there are many instances my husband doesn’t share with me and it’s probably better he doesn’t. I worry enough.
Watching the debate, I was beside myself as I heard the remarks that the police might not show up as fast when called for help, implying that their lesser pay and benefits would compromise their integrity. Please listen to yourselves. It’s not only preposterous but downright mean-spirited. To scare the public into believing that these fine officers would violate their sworn duty is absurd. You should be ashamed.
It is incredible how some have spun the PBA Contract issue without any regard for the facts, convincing others that the PBA is an “overzealous municipal union with jaw-dropping contract demands”. I am intimately familiar with the issues. As a banker I am also intimately familiar with the economics involved here. I have seen the data and educated myself on the police healthcare issue. Truth Time: The Village of Larchmont with all its affluence and social conscience ranks at the very bottom when it comes to present and retiree employee health care contributions for its police. The very bottom. Not just the very bottom of Westchester but of the entire tri-state region, almost dead last as opposed to all police departments in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and NYC. This is inexcusable for our village. Our cops are brave, dedicated, caring and generous by nature. To attempt to justify it, wear it as a badge of honor and slander the dedicated men and women of the Larchmont Police should appall everyone.
To whomever may be elected, if you want to continually underpay these good souls with your “real-deal” tough guy tactics to pander to a few voters, just remember your cops are people with feelings and needs too. This town is truly a Norman Rockwell picture and cannot continue to be so without the great men and women in blue. God bless them all and please vote Coalition Party. As a Republican, I will.
March 14, 2006
For Bialo; Concerned About Feld
As a resident of the Village of Larchmont for almost 30 years, I am writing to support Mayor Ken Bialo in the Village elections to be held on March 21. I have concerns about his opponent, Liz Feld.
After she announced she was running for mayor in January, Ms. Feld said that she would challenge Ken for the Republican nomination rather than running for mayor as a Democrat. Similarly, at the Republican caucus in February, which endorsed Mayor Bialo’s re-election by an almost two-to-one margin, Ms. Feld reiterated that she was a life-long Republican and would not run as a Democrat. But rather than abiding by the democratic results of the well-attended caucus of her own party, Ms. Feld announced within a day or two after losing the Republican nomination that she would instead run on a coalition party with the Democratic candidates for Village Trustee. Conveniently, the Democratic Party elected not to field its own candidate for mayor, thereby permitting the coalition with Ms. Feld. Does anyone really believe that this deal was not pre-cooked?
As Mayor Bialo’s longstanding record of achievement speaks for itself, Ms. Feld and her supporters have made the peculiar accusation that the mayor bargained too toughly with the police on their most recent contract. The impropriety of the deputy mayor (Ms. Feld) publicly disagreeing with the mayor’s negotiating stance with Village employees should be obvious. By declaring that the Board can do better, Ms. Feld appeared to be more generous than the mayor -- with our taxpayer money. Similarly, her recommendation that the Village hire a full-time manager would also result in increased spending and taxes. Any Village of Larchmont voter who is in favor of paying even higher taxes should therefore support Ms. Feld. The rest of us, who are appreciative of Ken Bialo’s consistent efforts to limit increases in the Village’s spending and taxes, should vote to keep Ken as the mayor.
March 14, 2006
Bialo: Would Keep Taxes, Expenses in Check
This has certainly turned into an interesting Village election, with Republican running against Republican, Democrat running against Democrat, and Republican, Democrat and Independent candidates all running on the same ticket. So if the party affiliation has gone away this year we must elect our next Board members based on specific issues that are important to Larchmont.
One such critical issue that I believe separates the two candidates for mayor is the need to keep property taxes and Village expenses in check. Ken Bialo’s track record has been to keep budget and tax increases as low as possible, and to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s money. His opponent, Liz Feld, on the other hand has voted against the Village budget while supporting larger increases and higher taxes. She is advocating the additional expense of a Village Administrator and full-time Engineer. I expect our mayor to look for opportunities to reduce expenses, and not increase them; to be independent and work in the best interests of all in the Village. I believe that Ken Bialo best fits this profile.
Larchmont is a wonderful place to live and my family is fortunate to have resided here for 33 years. But I am concerned about the future attractiveness of the Village (recently recognized as one of the best places to live in the US), particularly if our property taxes get out of hand and only the very wealthy can afford to live here.
I feel strongly that Ken Bialo has the experience, professionalism and proven track record to keep Larchmont an affordable community for all its residents. He deserves our vote in the upcoming election.
March 13, 2006
Liz Feld: First Among Equals
It is unfortunate to see two people that I have worked with so closely and respect greatly differ over the direction of the Village of Larchmont. Like Liz Feld, I was once Ken Bialo’s running mate, and like Liz, I served as Ken’s deputy mayor. I also had the honor to serve with both of them at the same time on the Board of Trustees. I therefore can offer a fairly unique and objective perspective, and perhaps provide some insight into an opportunity that had such promise.
No one can question the dedication and sacrifice Ken Bialo has made over the years in service on behalf of our Village. It is that dedication that was one of the compelling reasons that inspired and motivated me to get involved and seek public office.
But this election is not about any one man or one woman, or how a mayor interacts with any one resident, employee or volunteer. This election should be about how we as a community want our Board of Trustees to be run and represent our interests. No one individual could possibly be all things to all people in a diverse and multi-faceted Village such as ours. Therefore, we should strive to achieve a Board of Trustees where each member brings their own particular strengths and talents, and participates in an environment of mutual trust and spirit of cooperation. It is apparent to even the most casual observer of the televised meetings that this is not how our Board of Trustees is currently run.
Liz Feld recognizes that she does not have all of the solutions to the many complex issues facing our Village, and respects the opinions of others around her to achieve answers to these numerous questions. She has the proven ability to energize and empower people, so that in the end the best result can be achieved for the greater good of the Village. Liz has a thorough understanding of the issues facing the Village today and tomorrow, and offers a fresh and dynamic perspective to address them. She has the vision and character to draw from her own experience and build upon the success of others like Ken Bialo to lead the Village into the future.
Our Village will be in good hands with Liz Feld as our mayor, and I encourage you to support her in the upcoming election on March 21st.
Former Deputy Mayor
March 10, 2006
Thanks to Mayor, Traffic Commission
I am writing to publicly express my gratitude to Mayor Bialo and the members of the Traffic Commission on the expedient response to my request for handicap parking near 1880 Palmer Avenue in Larchmont Village. Within four days of my notifying Mayor Bialo of the lack of handicap parking near our building, a spot was created on Franklin Avenue. Recently, Mayor Bialo also assisted my husband and me on another matter. He responded to our request while on vacation with his family and was able to seek resolution in a timely manner.
We are impressed with the mayor's responsiveness and concern for us as citizen's of Larchmont.
March 9, 2006
More Volunteers Than Ever Working for the Village
I am writing to respond to one of the many misleading undercurrents in Liz Noyer Feld’s campaign against Mayor Bialo – that “he’s too hard to work with”, and that volunteers are leaving Village committees because of his “demeanor” and his “micro-management”.
After his election in 2002, during which he pledged to increase residents’ participation and stake in Village government, Ken made a big push to tap into the huge reservoir of professional expertise and experience in our Village, regardless of political affiliation. I was asked to Chair the Telecommunications Committee, a position that I took with some reluctance because the previous administration tried to politicize the activity of revamping the Village web site. However, Ken appointed a great committee of new volunteers from all political parties. Since then, many new appointments have been made. We currently have 132 volunteers serving on the Village’s committees and commissions, the largest number ever. And I understand that we have new appointments just in the last few weeks!
Ken’s style in dealing with volunteer committees and boards is very professional. I can speak from personal experience on the Telecommunications Committee – Ken does not interfere, and he is always available to help. He hands off new ideas for our consideration, and he has brought issues up for joint consideration of more than one Village committee where additional input and feedback is appropriate. In fact, when we came to him with the idea of trying to obtain a grant from the State of New York to help fund the web site overhaul, he was quick to offer his assistance. The Village received the grant and we have a great new web site.
I urge residents to reject these silly assertions that have no basis in fact regarding Ken’s style. Just look at how inclusive this ticket is - a Republican, Democrat and Independent running together - to keep Larchmont the exceptional place that it is.
March 9, 2006
Bialo Cares About Village, People
I am a registered Democrat yet I will vote for Mayor Bialo, a man I consider very decent, in this upcoming Village election.
My decision to do so is based on my own experiences with him. I went to him with concerns I had about traffic and blocked driveways near where I live, which is across the street from Village Hall. At Village events, parades and meetings there can sometimes be a great many cars.
Mayor Bialo assured me that there would be no problems. All through my discussions he was a gentleman.
I know he’s a man who cares very much about our Village and cares about the people who live in it. He certainly has my support.
March 8, 2006
Kolbert Responds on Engineer, Police Contract
Recent letters to the editor have distorted some of the facts and taken a nasty tone about me and my running mate, Liz Feld, and made assertions about how we lost our engineer which simply do not tell the true story. Civil discourse is one of the major themes of the Larchmont Coalition Party.
I believe that the exact police contract to which five Board members agreed could have been achieved much earlier in the process without the acrimony it engendered in our community. And I think the work Liz Feld and others did behind the scenes finally made a contract possible. There was unconscionable delay throughout the process.
With respect to our engineer, many people in our community believe he was one of the best engineers in the County with specific expertise in water issues. His unhappiness with the micromanagement of his tasks was apparent to everyone in the Village. He was open and accessible to the Village employees and residents and respected around the County. His departure was a real blow to Larchmont.
This election really does point up differences between the Republicans and the Larchmont Coalition Party. We believe that relationships between the people who work for the Village and the citizens of the Village are intricately tied together. And respect all around is essential for the well being of our beloved Village of Larchmont.
Trustee, Village of Larchmont
March 8, 2006
Respect for VOL Workers & Residents Not Mutually Exclusive
We write both to urge you to elect Liz Feld as Larchmont’s next mayor on March 21, 2006 and to respond to the letter submitted by Tom Constabile.
Most residents know that the Larchmont police and firefighter’s unions endorsed Liz Feld for mayor. Many know that the police worked loyally and professionally, without a contract, for 2 out of the current mayor’s 4 years in office. Some were shocked (as we were) by the acrimony that the current mayor fostered during contract negotiations last summer. One trustee, Liz Feld, had the courage to speak out publicly and unequivocally against the mayor’s hardball tactics against our police, She took offense, as we did, when the mayor disrespected our officers — even in the presence of their families. The respectful discussions she ultimately fostered yielded a fair compromise and contract.
To counter the police and firefighter’s endorsement of Liz Feld, Mr. Constabile is fueling the same disharmony amongst residents that led to the 2 year impasse with the police. Not only is this adversarial approach terribly wrong, it is misguided.
Maybe the mayor believes that being loyal to the residents and the employees are mutually exclusive alternatives? We disagree. Larchmont has a history of treating its employees and residents with dignity and respect, something that is obviously missing now. If, however, loyalty is at issue, Larchmonters will bestow their loyalty to those who have served them with integrity and with honor for years, not to a man who uses his power as a weapon to disenfranchise the voices of others.
Similarly, Mr. Constabile suggests that the police vote was financially motivated. We again disagree; this was not about money. While Larchmont is the eleventh best place to live in the country, its police officers were 14 out of 15 in salary and last in retiree health benefits compared with 14 other villages in Westchester County. Most felt it was reasonable for them to be in the middle of the pack in these categories. While the mayor was entitled to disagree, his divisiveness just fueled hard feelings. It also caused substantial legal and other costs for the Village and the police union. Some qualified officers, who were otherwise happy on our force, opted to leave reluctantly because there was no contract in sight. Retraining, overtime and legal fees were hidden costs of the two-year impasse that are omitted from Mr. Constabile’s letter. As we see it, the same contract would have happened sooner, cheaper and without lingering bitterness if the mayor had dealt fairly and considerately with our police.
This is an important election. Our vote on March 21st will decide the future not just of our residents but also for our Village employees. That is why we are asking you to take a stand with us and demand that dignity and respect be a requirement in the Village workplace. You will do so by supporting Liz Feld for mayor on March 21, 2006. We urge you to do so.
Damian P. Riordan
March 6, 2006
Village Engineer's "Demise" Greatly Exaggerated
I have been a trustee on the Village Board since April 2002, and I am writing to set the record straight with respect to the status of the position of Village Engineer. In her bid for mayor, Trustee Liz Noyer Feld has been trying to create a non-existent campaign issue about the fact that the Village does not currently have a full-time Village Engineer.
In early 2003, following the retirement of long-time Village Engineer Joe Morgan, the mayor and Board hired a replacement through the Civil Service List, which we are required to use. He joined our staff in March 2003 and left in August 2004 to accept a job as top engineer for the Town of Greenburgh, which offered him a higher salary and supervision of six other professionals.
After he left, the entire Village Board interviewed several candidates from the Civil Service List to fill the position, but none of the candidates was considered suitable. Consequently, no replacement was hired.
As an interim step, the mayor and Board retained Dolph Rotfeld Engineering to provide engineering services to the Village. The Rotfeld firm has been consulting engineer to the Village for more than a dozen years; they also provide similar outsourced services to Mt. Kisco and Mamaroneck Town, among others. They have the expertise on staff to make all the regulatory filings that are a big part of the Village engineer’s day-to-day work. In fact, the last Village Engineer spent 50% of the short time he was with us attending trainings to be able to make those filings.
In the 2005-06 budget, the Village Board budgeted approximately ¾ of the prior Village Engineer’s salary to pay for the outsourced work to be performed by the Rotfeld firm. (To date, only about half of this money has actually been spent, raising the question of whether it is in fact more cost-effective to outsource these services rather than keep a full-time Village Engineer on staff.) However, if a decision is made by the Board to hire a new engineer from the Civil Service List, most of the salary for that position will already be in the budget, and thus will require only a small increase in expenses.
Mayor Ken Bialo and the Village Board did exactly the right thing under the circumstances, given the lack of suitable candidates for the job. In spite of what you might hear from Ms. Noyer Feld, no decision was ever made to eliminate the Village Engineer position, or to not hire someone from the Civil Service List should a suitable candidate become available.
Trustee, Village of Larchmont
February 28, 2006
Kolbert, Millstein, Feld Offer Perspective, Experience
In the upcoming March 21st election, I am supporting the Larchmont Coalition Party candidates: Liz Feld for mayor, Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein for trustees. I hope you will too.
As a sitting member of the Larchmont Library Board, I have worked closely with Jim, a fellow Library trustee, and Marlene, who is the Library Board’s liaison to the Village Board. They are solidly committed to the Library and their contributions both in time and energy are exemplary. Because the Library is funded by both the Village of Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck, there is always a little bit more to be considered when dealing with budgeting, capital expenditures and other related issues. Jim’s ability to grasp quickly complex financial, inter-municipal, and operational issues - and to come up with creative solutions - is impressive and will serve him well as a Village trustee. Larchmont will be in great hands with Marlene and Jim on the Board.
I have watched Liz serve as trustee and deputy mayor over the last several years and believe she has demonstrated that she is ready to be a highly capable leader for our community. She is qualified to serve, grasps issues well and has a pleasant way of bridging differences and galvanizing the support of a broad array of constituents. Voting for Liz offers Larchmonters an opportunity for a seamless transition and a return to our historically mutually respectful relationships between Village Board members, our wonderful municipal employees - including our firefighters and police officers - and residents. Like all villages, Larchmont has significant financial and quality-of-life issues to address in the coming years. We need Village Board members who bring perspective and experience from the past and who will lead Larchmont forward in the challenging years ahead. In my view, the Larchmont Coalition candidates, Liz, Marlene and Jim will work as a great team for our Village.
I hope you will join me on Tuesday, March 21st in voting to elect Liz Feld as mayor, and Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein as trustees.
Harri V. Taranto
February 23, 2006
Larchmont Professional Firefighters Endorse Liz Feld for Mayor
The Larchmont Professional Firefighters have been serving the Village of Larchmont for over 100 years. We are the firefighters who are at every call; we bring the fire apparatus to the scene, and initiate the response to any emergency, as well as being the designated first responders to all emergency medical calls.
On January 16, 2006 the Larchmont Professional Firefighters unanimously voted to endorse Liz Feld for mayor. This endorsement didn't come lightly; it came as a response to a 15-year political influence that has negatively affected the Village of Larchmont Fire Department and the morale of its employees.
Historically the Larchmont Professional Firefighters do not get involved in local elections. However, due to the present political climate, we feel compelled to make the following statement: For the past four years, Liz Feld has served the Village of Larchmont as trustee and deputy mayor with integrity, dedication and the courage of her convictions. Whether it's our annual budget discussions, pushing to renovate and upgrade our kitchen facilities, or on day-to-day matters of the Fire Department, Liz is responsive, fair, candid and good humored. While we may not always agree, we are grateful for her commitment to keeping an open dialogue. Her service on the Village board and dedication to the community has been a tremendous asset to the Village.
We, The Professional Firefighters, believe that the Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who does not operate on the "you're with me or against me" style of management. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who is concerned with the needs of the Village resident's first and political agenda second. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who will govern with an open mind, balanced with compassion and fiscal responsibility. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who will stand in front of all decisions made not hide behind a department head.
That is why The Larchmont Professional Firefighters are endorsing Liz Feld for mayor.
Bryan E Doherty, President
Larchmont Professional Firefighters Assoc. Local 895
February 21, 2006
Zoning Board Chair: Bialo More Qualified
In my 20 plus years as a Village resident, I have written only one other letter for a candidate who happened to be a Democrat though I am a Republican, and the reason for writing that letter was that I thought he was the one much more qualified for office.
It is in that same spirit that I am writing this letter. I have had the opportunity to work with both Ken Bialo and Liz Noyer Feld, both good people, as Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the past three years.
In my opinion, however, Ken is much more qualified and experienced, and has made such an exceptional contribution to the Village as mayor for the last four years, that this race should not even be close if everyone considers the facts. Further, I think that the derisive and subjective comments being employed by some members of the opposing faction smack of a run for student council rather than a Village election.
Here are a few of my observations:
- I have had the pleasure of working with Ken on the Zoning Revision Task Force and he has been an enthusiastic and effective leader of a collegial effort. Ken has not micromanaged or dealt with anyone in any way but professionally and courteously.
- As far as losing the Village Engineers because of Ken, I find this statement ludicrous. The Village Engineer at that time, who I worked with, left because he was uncomfortable with the challenging workload and procured a less stressful job in another community for a $10,000 increase in salary....and to infer that this was an unsustainable loss is to insult the hard working people currently doing a good job in the Building Department, and elsewhere in the Village. Our Village staff is committed from what I have observed, and morale is high.
- I am also proud to serve with some of the most talented and committed colleagues on the ZBA, and I believe the same enthusiastic volunteerism is found everywhere in our Village Committees and Boards. Ken’s approach is to be entirely supportive but hands-off unless help is needed.
All I am asking is that we familiarize ourselves with the real facts. Ken Bialo doesn’t need a negative campaign because he has a record of great results. He is our mayor and deserves strong reelection.
Mike Bucci, an Independent, and Peter Fanelli, a Democrat, complete a very distinguished team with Ken. They will do a terrific job as trustees in this Village.
If it ain’t broke…
Here’s to Larchmont!
February 15, 2006
Coalition Party: Offers Talent + Temperament
I encourage you to vote in the upcoming election for the Larchmont Coalition Party candidates: Republican Liz Feld for mayor, and Democrats Marlene Kolbert and Jim Millstein for trustee. This trio offers us tremendous talent, broad diversity of views, a proven record of public service, and, most importantly, an even and friendly temperament.
For five years, I served as Chairperson on the Traffic and Safety Committee at Chatsworth, dealing with safety issues near and dear to every family in our community. In that capacity, I developed a strong relationship (and friendship) with the Chief of Police and the officers who diligently serve our community. It gave me great satisfaction when Liz and Marlene supported the Police Department during recent contract negotiations.
When the Larchmont Police endorsed Liz Feld for mayor last week, I took notice of its truly historic decision. When members of the Fire Department stood in formation outside the Republican caucus holding placards supporting Liz, I took notice. These are good people who care for us and keep us safe. We must hear their message, for we all expect our mayor and trustees to treat our residents and village employees with dignity and respect.
Liz, Marlene and Jim are extremely talented individuals with a simple goal: the preservation and betterment of Larchmont. They have the skills, intellect, energy and optimism that are needed to handle the day-to-day management of our Village. They’ve chosen to unify across party lines because they know that a truly successful Village Board is collegial: 5 conscientious trustees who appreciate each other’s strengths, rationally discuss differences of opinion and philosophy, respectfully listen to residents and each other and work closely as a team.
On Tuesday, March 21, please make an educated decision. Accept those invitations, meet the candidates and learn about the issues. I hope you will join me in supporting the Larchmont Coalition Party: Feld for mayor, Kolbert and Millstein for trustee.
February 14, 2006
Disappointed at Kemper Ruling
I was very disappointed to read of the appellate court's ruling concerning the Kemper Memorial Park. Although I am by no means a legal scholar, it seems to me that this is another case of an activist court overreaching and an attorney general desiring some free populist publicity in his quest for the governor's chair. Given the recent outcry over eminent domain abuses, you would think that the parties involved would be sensitive to the wishes of the Kemper family.
I dropped out of Mamaroneck High School to join the Army in 1979 for economic reasons (namely, the GI Bill). I served my country for almost 25 years in the US Army and Army Reserve and have retired. Although I didn't graduate from MHS, I remember it fondly. It saddens me to think that the sacred ground donated by the Kemper family for a memorial to America's greatest generation can be violated for something as trivial as a soccer field.
Members of the school board, you should be ashamed!
February 8, 2006
Chatsworth Basketball Creates "Auditory Assault"
For nearly nine years, I have made my home in a fourth floor apartment across Addison Street from the Chatsworth playground basketball court.
Before moving to Larchmont, I was aware my home would be located in an area of shops and traffic, with a basketball court across the street. "No problem," I thought, "what’s a bouncing ball and the odd sneaker squeak?"
Never did I dream that the cacophony from the basketball court would drive me to wit’s end. On clement days I might leave my windows open, but for the perpetual screaming from across the street.
Several years ago, I set a tape recorder in my living room and captured a sample of this auditory assault. I submitted one copy to Village Hall, and one to the administrator of school recreational facilities, accompanying the recordings with letters. I heard nothing from either. (Later, however, I was told that one Village employee asked the super of my building - who is also employed by the Villag - if I’d recorded it courtside, such was the din!)
In a relevant quote from another Gazette article concerning the possible construction of a skateboard facility at Flint Park:
“…the board did show concern with the level of activity and resulting noise level that accompany such a facility, especially with the park’s close proximity to homes… ‘Noise will be an issue,’ Mayor Bialo concurred…‘the associated exclamations of joy might not make for an ideal next door neighbor to the conservancy area’…”
Whether they be "exclamations of joy," profane arguments over plays, or (as occurs most frequently) guttural, unworded screams, it makes no difference: blasted from the lungs of dozens of adult men, the clamor turns what might be a peaceful day at home into hour upon hour of misery.
Yes, I’m a renter, not a homeowner. But I pay a goodly sum to live in this “peaceful” Village. I love Larchmont, I contribute to its economic health by trading here, and I am a good citizen. Rent or own, my little corner of Larchmont should be given the same consideration as the area adjacent to Flint Park–or any other Larchmont neighborhood, for that matter.
I am entitled to engage in quiet activity at home if I so choose. If I am denied this, where am I to go? Is it really necessary for me to move away because others continue to be inconsiderate? I cannot believe that the Larchmont Board of Trustees, who work tirelessly to shield Larchmont from unnecessary noise - whether from jets or traffic accompanying putative superstores - would reply in the affirmative.
The basketball courts at the Chatsworth playground, unlike public park courts which are buffered by large expanses of open ground, are located far too close to homes to remain open to throngs of screaming men who clearly have no consideration for those who live a stone’s short toss away.
February 1, 2005
VOL Election Is Breath of Fresh Air
The upcoming election in Larchmont (albeit, a tempest in a teapot) reminds me of Thomas Jefferson's thoughts on politics:
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical…”
You know - like when the Long Island Sound is refreshed with oxygen after a good Nor'Easter.
New Rochelle, NY
January 30, 2006
Pushing Out All Laborers Hurts Mamaroneck Residents
While I appreciate our local politicians' efforts to protect their citizens, the trustees’ decision to oust all day laborers from Columbus Park takes "Not in My Backyard" syndrome to new lows.
Yes, as a mother of two young girls I understand that some people don’t feel comfortable about having a group of men milling around in a public park near the playground (not coincidentally, across the street from the site of a new housing development under construction). And yes, I agree that Larchmont and New Rochelle's laborers should not use the Mamaroneck site to look for work.
But our trustees’ decision (except for Tom Murphy, who has faithfully represented the village’s Hispanic community) to just push all the day laborers out of the place where they go to find work is cruel and discriminatory. Clearly no effort was made to find a compromise solution that would address safety issues while not depriving these men of their livelihoods.
My children attend Mamaroneck Avenue School, where many of their Hispanic classmates are the children of these laborers. Won't these kids be better students if their fathers can ensure they're well cared-for? Won't we have lower crime if our residents can find work and don't need to seek desperate measures?
I don't understand why no one is investigating any alternatives. For example, to address the location issue, the day laborers could be moved to a more appropriate place, such as the Fenimore Road industrial area. To address the outsiders issue, identification cards could be issued to Mamaroneck residents so that only they are allowed to use this new area.
(And the ID issuance should not be used as an excuse to root out illegal aliens or find overcrowded living situations -- simply to establish
We call ourselves “The Friendly Village.” How about if our trustees remember that in the way they treat all our Mamaroneck village residents -- including the Spanish-speaking ones, who deserve the same opportunity to make a decent living as the trustees do.
January 30, 2006
Feld's Last-Minute Decision Precludes Debate
I am a registered member of the Independence Party and have lived in the Village of Larchmont for about five years. I initially met both Ken and Liz when they were campaigning together during his first run for mayor. Since then, the Village has flourished and, among other things, been recognized as among the best places to live in the country. Although it is questionable whether this can be attributed solely to Ken’s tireless efforts, there is no question that Ken is an honest, straightforward and thoughtful person...and a credit to the office.
Had Liz not suddenly decided to challenge Ken, I might not have given the mayoral election a second thought (after all, Ken ran uncontested two years ago). But because of her decision I have become engrossed in the campaign. I have read the various comments by and on behalf of both candidates, listened to the visceral reactions of residents and friends on both sides of the fence, and pondered who might really best serve Larchmont going forward.
In the final analysis, I keep coming back to the same troubling event: Liz’s secretive decision – and last minute announcement – to challenge her former ally Ken. By waiting until just two weeks ago to make her announcement, she effectively precluded (intentionally or not) any real public debate or open discussion of the issues prior to the Independence and Republican caucuses (which are being held this Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively). I don’t think that is fair to any residents of the Village.
Ironically and unfortunately (particularly given all of Ken’s and Liz’s mutual friends), Liz’s “short-fuse” strategy seems to have fueled “a campaign based on personal and baseless attacks that will divide this very special Village,” something she expressly “urged” Ken not to do himself in her January 20, 2006 Gazette article.
Michael A. Bucci II
January 29, 2006
Feld is Loyal to Village and Party
I firmly support Liz Feld for the Republican nomination for mayor of the Village of Larchmont. She has proven in her tenure as deputy mayor and Village trustee her abilities as an effective leader, negotiator and consensus builder. The fact that her desire to be mayor came as a surprise to both Ken Bialo and Marion White, head of the Village Republican Party, still surprises me. I know that after Ken’s uncontested 2004 run, he told many supporters it was his last term. Marion personally told me that fact as well. Moreover, Marion met with Liz to talk with her numerous times in the spring and met in early January to discuss it further. The unfortunate fact is that this was all handled very badly and now has led to where we are today. All of our hard work to build the Republican Party into a stronghold that led to Ken’s election as mayor has come down to divisiveness and squabbling.
Since announcing her run for mayor, Liz has been the target of a vicious smear campaign complete with personal attacks about her character and family. She was kept in the dark about the venue and protocol for the upcoming caucus. She has also been mysteriously ”deleted“ from the Larchmont Republican website, even though she is still a Republican trustee. All of this baffles and angers me.
Liz has a track record that solidifies her commitment to the Republican Party. After moving back to Larchmont in 2000, Liz immediately became involved with the Republicans. Soon thereafter, she was elected as a trustee. It is worth recalling that Liz was an integral part of the ticket that returned the Republicans to a majority position on the Village Board for the first time in over a decade. Perhaps this fact was lost on my fellow Republicans who question her loyalty. As the candidate who gathered the most votes in that election, I think it would be foolish to challenge Liz's determination to serve both her party and the entire Village.
Liz is the future voice of the party. She has the leadership ability to bring people’s different perspectives together and work out a viable solution to “get things done.” The Republican Party and the Village need a candidate for mayor that will set a tone for inclusion, not confrontation and contention. Really, the future of the Village depends upon drawing on the tremendous resources of today's Village residents. As mayor, I believe Liz will create an atmosphere that will foster such involvement. It is time for a change.
I encourage all Republicans to come and hear Liz’s ideas for her candidacy at the Republican Caucus at the American Legion Hall at 8:00 pm on January 31. Sign in starts at 7:30 pm.
January 28, 2006
Response: Taxes Not Kept Artificially Low
I feel that I must respond to my friend John Rote’s letter of January 25 in which he made a number of points related to fiscal matters that I believe were misleading or incorrect. Since I am the co-chair of the Village Budget Committee and took part in most of the budget discussions applicable to these points, I feel that I am qualified to set the record straight.
Mr. Rote first claimed that Ms. Feld objected to the “excessive borrowing” that “increased the level of overall Village debt” and “was only done so Mr. Bialo could claim credit for keeping Village taxes artificially low.” This statement is wrong on several accounts. The borrowing Mr. Rote referred to would have been under a special program offered by the state that would allow municipalities to phase-in the monster increases in employees’ pension contributions forced on the municipalities by the State. A more gradual increase in taxes to meet the new pension burden would be especially helpful to those on fixed incomes for whom increased taxes are a terrible burden. The board (excepting Ms. Feld) and the bi-partisan Budget Committee agreed that, if the then unknown 2005-2006 pension expense would be large, we would borrow part of it to smooth out our taxes and preserve surplus.
This was certainly not an artificiality to keep taxes low but a device to ease the burden on, among others, the Village’s elderly and retired. Ms. Feld apparently objected to that.
The other error in Mr. Rote’s statement is that no borrowing occured! The actual pension bill in the current fiscal year turned out to be lower than feared and thus no borrowing under the special state program was needed.
The next misleading statement in Mr. Rote’s letter was his comment that taxes increased by 24% under Mayor Bialo. While it is true that taxes have increased, the culprit was mainly the aforementioned and unavoidable extraordinary pension costs. While the Village’s tax rates increased by 24.6% during that three-year period, other governments had higher increases: 32.5% for the City of Rye and over 30% at the County, while the Villages of Mamaroneck and Scarsdale were lower at 17.0% and 19.3%, respectively. The Town of Mamaroneck’s tax rates increased 22.3%.
Finally, Mr. Rote stated that the decrease in the Village’s
surplus since Mr. Bialo was mayor was “solely to fund operating
expenses”. This is not true. The Village of Larchmont had
an excessive surplus for quite some time, at the expense of its
taxpayers. The Village’s surplus was reduced from $2,329,000
to $1,733,000 at 5/31/2005. $275,000 was used to avoid borrowing
to cover excessive pension costs, apparently something Mrs. Feld
and Mr. Rote otherwise approve of, and $150,000 was spent on unbudgeted
payments made in settling the police contract dispute in 2005, an
amount that would have been even higher had Mrs. Feld had her way
on the police contract issue. The remainder was used to reduce the
need to further increase taxes.
Bruce A. Cauley
January 26, 2006
Feld as Mayor Would Be Boost for Businesses
I have been made aware, through the Larchmont Gazette and members of the community, of the upcoming mayoral race. It’s hard to believe that it was 30 years ago that I began to build my business in the Village of Larchmont. I remember standing before the then mayor - Maurice Noyer - to voice my complaints about the deplorable lack of parking in the village. Mayor Noyer viewed me, I believe, as an upstart and a new generation of retailer and admonished me, to my surprise. I look back on that moment as the beginning of my involvement in the community.
Thirty years later, Liz Feld, Mayor Noyer’s daughter, will be running for mayor and I must say her enthusiasm and her support for the retail community, which I'm still proudly part of, will be a shot in the arm for the business district. Ken Bialo, in fairness, has also been a supporter of the retail community, has worked diligently to bring about change and has been both a friend and supporter of the Merchants Association.
The upcoming election, in my view, should not be about partisan politics, but to seize the opportunity and to take advantage of a gifted individual in Liz Feld, who will bring a fresh vitality and a unique perspective in leading our village.
Eric Newland -
January 25, 2006
Bialo Has Earned Right to Be Renominated by His Party
Ken Bialo, a five-term Village trustee and two-term incumbent mayor has earned the right to be nominated for mayor at the Larchmont Republican party caucus on January 3lst at the American Legion Hall in Flint Park.
Ken had the rare distinction of serving as mayor at a time when Larchmont was ranked the 11th Best Place to live in America by Money Magazine, a first for the Village. It is no accident that it happened during Ken's administration. Here are just a few of his achievements:
-- Ken brought together the diverse interest groups required to reach agreement on the Flint Park expansion plan. They included Beautification, Traffic, and Parks and Trees Committees, as well as the Coastal Zone Management Commission. The youth soccer, baseball, and lacrosse groups also participated.
--Ken initiated the first major revision of our zoning ordinance since 1968.
--The streetscape improvements accomplished during Ken's tenure are obvious to all of us and contribute to an improved quality of life for all village residents.
Ken's past achievements are not the only reasons why he has earned his party's nomination. Perhaps, more importantly, there are ongoing projects which Ken has initiated and would very much like to see through to completion. They include:
--Two new baseball and soccer fields equipped with sprinkler systems and effective drainage at Flint Park.
.--The development of a conservation area along the waterfront in the rear of Flint Park.
--Completion of the zoning ordinance revisions mentioned earlier.
--Improvement to our storm water management system.
--Completion of the renovations at the Addison and Palmer Avenue parks.
--A review of federal air space in our region is under consideration and Ken will make certain that our voices are heard and taken into account in the future debate of this issue with the objective of reducing air traffic noise.
All of the accomplishments I' ve mentioned, as well as many others, were achieved with minimum tax increases.
Ken has expended an enormous amount of time and effort for the
village with such measurable and impressive results that there should not be the slightest question raised regarding whether or not he has earned his party's nomination for a third term. I urge all registered Republicans in Larchmont to attend the caucus on January 31st and demonstrate to Ken their appreciation for all of his efforts on behalf of Larchmont over the past fourteen years.
Thomas R. Constabile, Jr.
January 20, 2006
Feld Provides Mayoral Choice, Shows Courage
Political elections, whether at the national or the village level, are meant to give us a choice in who our leaders are. So why is it that Liz Feld’s decision to give us a choice for mayor in Larchmont has a former Republican board member resorting to calling her a “back-stabber” and “disloyal”? (See: Larchmont Mayor, Trustee Races Heat Up.) It is appalling to me that Tom Constabile would stoop this low and suggest that restraining democracy would be the preferable course of action. Providing a choice, whether it is two Republicans, or a Republican and a Democrat, cannot be a bad thing.
I realize that for the last two years there has not been a contested election in Larchmont, and unfortunately the fallout from this is diminished interest and knowledge of what’s really going on. Mayor Bialo spent many years as the sole Republican trustee on the board, and his combative and contentious style served him well as the sole voice of the Republicans. However, this is certainly no way to lead as mayor with a Republican majority, and certainly not the approach that is going to encourage participation in Village affairs, or as candidates for the Village Board.
Liz Feld, as mayor, would be a huge boost for Larchmont in restoring unity to our village, and creating an atmosphere of cooperation. Liz’s efforts in campaigning and joining the board four years ago had gone a long way to this end. Somewhere along the road for the last four years this seemed to fade away under Mayor Bialo’s stewardship.
Larchmont Village Board seats are not an ordained right. Politics, at most levels, have “primaries”. In villages, there are caucuses to serve the same purpose. When did differing opinions and visions, and a party run-off, become backstabbing or disloyal? Who is entitled to be handed a board seat, much less as mayor, without earning it and allowing the voters to make that choice? We should all applaud Liz Feld for giving us that choice.
One of the telling traits of a true leader is courage, and no one is more courageous than Liz for stepping forward for Larchmont. As a lifelong resident of this Village, I will be supporting Liz’s efforts in every way I can. I encourage all Republicans to support Liz at the Republican caucus at 8:00 pm, January 31st, at the American Legion in Flint Park.