Last week, Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner rejected the Edgemont Incorporation Committee’s second petition seeking a vote on whether Edgemont should become the town’s seventh village and enjoy the same privileges and responsibilities as Greenburgh’s existing six villages. Mr. Feiner’s reasoning included extreme legal interpretations. In particular, he stated that the incorporation petition, a public document, must include an attachment with the names and addresses of all children in the community, even if their parents do not provide consent for listing that information. The statute requires no such thing, and no court has ever interpreted it that way.
If Feiner’s position is now the standard for village incorporation, then communities seeking a vote on self-governance will face insurmountable hurdles. The supervisor’s message to Edgemont residents (who are not political opponents, but his own constituents who wish to exercise their legal rights) is clear: No vote on my watch.
How did we get here? In 2016, the EIC was formed to undertake research and develop a petition with the goal of holding a referendum. We believe that Edgemont — with only 8% of the vote — lacks electoral influence within the Town of Greenburgh and would be better served by a locally accountable body. Our school and fire districts have been governed successfully by our own residents for years.
Town supervisors are required to be neutral on village incorporation. From the New York State comptroller: “A town has no legal standing to oppose the creation of a village and its intrusion into the incorporation process would be a partisan political act rather than an exercise of its proper governmental power.” The comptroller used the terms “dangerous and untenable” to describe a government’s use of public funds in favor of any issue or candidate, and associated such actions with “totalitarian, dictatorial, or autocratic governments.”
Can you imagine a government official who would blatantly ignore such an important legal opinion and proceed to tell the media that a proposed incorporation is a “lose-lose”? Send private investigators door to door to dupe residents into invalidating their signatures? Attempt to sneak through last-minute state legislation, clearly targeting only one community, to make it all but impossible to vote in the first place? Trash talk constituents about their chances in court (“I think it would be a slam dunk for us”)? Use his unfettered access to taxpayer dollars ($225,000 and counting) to block a vote? Threaten to outlast a community group by warning that more litigation could cost the incorporation organizers tens of thousands of dollars, personally?
Mr. Feiner has abused his position in precisely the manner about which the comptroller warned. His actions aren’t normal or acceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated here in Greenburgh or at any level of government.
Unincorporated area residents seeking to vote on their preferred form of self-governance deserve better than strong-arm tactics from a politician concerned that the outcome of an election will be unfavorable to him. We will not be deterred by intimidation. Thank you, Edgemont friends and neighbors, for your ongoing support.
EDGEMONT INCORPORATION COMMITTEE