At a time when the likes of Xi Jinping in China and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil are leveraging crisis to disenfranchise, the town of Greenburgh has similarly decided to capitalize on the suffering and uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic to further its campaign to strip Edgemont of its right to vote.

With a tin ear to the ugliness of their strategy, town officials have taken to this paper to unabashedly tell us that they are “doing us a favor” by thwarting our right to vote [“Supreme court overturns Feiner’s incorporation ruling,” May 29, p 1]. This would be laughable if it were not tragic.

Americans are entitled to the government of their choosing. Our leaders serve at the pleasure of their constituency and are expected to place their needs above personal objectives. Many have died so that we are ensured our right to vote. These are American ideals that do not change when there is a crisis.

Soon it will be five years that Edgemont has been trying to secure a vote. Mr. Feiner has used the power and prestige of his office, as well as hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and a variety of dirty tricks, to prevent voters from being heard. Is it because petitioners have not followed the rules to bring a vote? No. Is it because he has legitimate concerns about the effects Edgemont’s incorporation might have on others in the town? No. Mr. Feiner has engaged in these ham-handed tactics solely to protect and consolidate his power, and to ensure his continued reelection despite poor performance as town supervisor of Greenburgh. Wasting Greenburgh taxpayer dollars pursuing his selfish and misguided objectives is no favor to town residents.

Should Edgemont further postpone the improvements that will come from incorporation because of the COVID-19 crisis? Quite to the contrary. It is now more important than ever that we make smart decisions for strong policy in our community, so that we can survive and thrive in the challenged economic environment we face. By preventing our community the ability to self-govern, the town is doing us no favors.

Should the town continue to waste taxpayer money on legal costs simply to delay the inevitable, at a time when many are hurting and the money could be used to improve the quality of resident’s lives? Absolutely not. If Mr. Feiner has a shred of decency, he would stop wasting taxpayer money with stall tactics that have no benefit to anyone but himself, and refrain from having his supporters insult us with ludicrous justifications for their misdeeds.

DAVID DEPIETTO

Walbrooke Road

(2) comments

HughSchwartz

The analogies put forth in Mr.Depietto’s letter above are simply nonsense. Comparing either President Xi reneging on a promise to allow Hong Kong some independence, or the fascist President of Brazil threatening martial law, with Edgemont getting to vote on incorporation demonstrates a total lack of perspective. What has happened is simply that the petition must comply with the law before the issue gets on the ballot.

The first time around, Mr. Feiner rejected the petition on legal grounds. The petitioners then filed an article 78 and that Court overturned Mr. Feiner’s ruling. The Town, along with numerous other objectors, appealed the ruling to the 2nd Department who unanimously overturned the lower Court ruling and reinstated Mr. Feiner’s decision. Well before the lower court had even decided their article 78, the petitioners started a second petition finally filing it almost 2 years later. Mr. Feiner rejected that petition on similar grounds (plus other grounds) to the first. The petitioners again filed an article 78 and again the lower court ruled in their favor. The Town (and other objectors) are now simply exercising their legal right of appeal.

Mr.Depietto’s assertion that Mr. Feiner rejected the petition for personal gain is equally suspect. First of all, Edgemont’s incorporation would not change the voter base since the election is Town wide anyway. The only way incorporation would hurt Mr. Feiner is because of the damage it would do to the Town. While even the petitioner’s own analysis demonstrated that significant damage to the Town that is likely to happen if Edgemont Incorporates, this was clearly not the basis for Mr. Feiner’s decision as upheld by the 2nd department the first time around and yet to be decided this time. Mr Feiner’s decision was based on the insufficiency of the petition relative to the law. That is all.

Finally, assertion that I, in my previous letter (written by me personally not the Town), was using Covid as an excuse not to have a vote does not stand up either. The economic impact of Covid is a reality already and its long term economic impact is largely unknown. It is having a severe direct impact on our businesses and consequently our tax base. That effects the Town, as well as the school and fire districts. We need all hands on deck to deal with this issue. Trying to formulate a new government from scratch at this time would only detract from this effort and run up additional debt the community simply cannot afford. Further, incorporation, even if it were a great idea, cannot and would not have a positive impact on the Covid crisis. It would be two years or more before a Village government would be formed, village trustees elected, services completely taken over from the Town, and a new village code drafted and implemented.

It is simply not the right time for incorporation.

Hugh Schwartz

Sherwood Place

halmarc

Let me respond in atypical fashion...brevity from a johnny come lately. I agree with Mr. Schwartz; I disagree with Mr. Depietto.

That said, whatever Supervisor Feiner spends to make incorporation self combust are dollars well spent. Every dollar spent yields the continued retention of many more Edgemont tax dollars which pay not only justify the unincorporated operating budget but capital outlays as well. By rough estimate, spend $1 to keep $30. That works for me.

As for disenfranchising voters (Edgemont species only), currently Edgemont is one part of a family of geography-based body parts together comprising unincorporated Greenburgh. All parts pay into one Town Budget and do so in shares proportionate to property assessment wherever located. Collected taxes are disbursed through annual Budget outlays to fund programs and essential services benefitting all -- regardless of background and/or diversity. Even so, the whole remains the sum of its parts. Using the "body" as a talking point, if a leg is removed or even an arm. can the remaining parts function at the same high performance level as before? If not, then wouldn't it be fair to allow the remaining parts, adversely affected by the departure of one, to have the final say on permitting a surgical procedure that will effectively leave the remainder crippled for life?

Finally in crisis, it is the Doctor on the scene and not the husband or the wife who chooses to save the baby or the mother; not some Judge in chambers pouring over case law.

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