George Washington: The First and the Role Model for an American President. Apprentices, Take Notes!

WPCNR MILESTONES. Reprinted from the WPCNR ARCHIVES. February 22, 2017:

Today is George Washington’s Birthday again. The time when we remember the first leader and the best. It is instructive to look at our first leader, George Washington, the father of our nation.

One cannot help be reminded of the snowy winter at Valley Forge, when the bedraggled, poorly equipped rebel army suffered but held together, and attacked the Hessians in Trenton on Christmas Eve, 1776, crossing the Delaware River at night. What kind of man was he that George Washington could inspire his troops against all odds?

Washington was a man of tremendous character. Of principle.

Where did he get this character?

He specialized in self-control at an early age. That congressmen, lobbyists, and pundits and yes, Presidents,  means mind-control, reason and responsibility.

According to  the book, The American President, Washington, at sixteen, had formed a code of conduct. He had written a book of etiquette with 110 “maxims” to guide his conduct in matters. In this etiquette book he had written,

Every action done in company ought to be done with a sign of respect to those who are not present. Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not when others stop;…Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave…Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

The character sketch provided by the authors of The American President, indicates this personal “rulebook” was a book that Washington wrote over the years and referred to it often, for, they write, for the following reasons:

“for self-control, to avoid temptation, to elude greed, to control his temper. Reputation was everything to him. It had to do with his strength, his size, his courage, his horsemanship, his precise dress, his thorough mind, his manners, his compassion. He protected that reputation at any cost.”

Earning respect by example. Quelling rebellion with a few words.

Washington inspired by example. He lived with his troops. He shared hardships with them, and there was so much respect for him that he was able to talk them out of armed rebellion at the end of the American Revolution.

Washington had been asked by the army to join them to overthrow the Continental Congress, and make himself King.

Washington had been asked by one of the officers of the rebels to join them, and he wrote them,

You could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. Banish these thoughts from your mind.

Hearing that the rebels who were planning insurrection against the new country due to not having been paid by the Continental Congress, Washington rode to Newburgh, New York, on March 15, 1783, to meet with the dissident insurgents. Washington spoke to the rebellious group, saying,

“Gentlemen, as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common Country; as I never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty; as I have been the constant companion and witness of your Distresses…it can scarcely be supposed …that I am indifferent to your interests. But…this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our Country in the extremest hour of her distress, or turning our Arms against it…has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts from the idea…I spurn it, as every Man who regards liberty…undoubtedly must.”

The would-be rebels fell silent, digesting what he had said. Then Washington withdrew a letter from Congress, but could not read the text, withdrawing some eyeglasses from his tunic, remarking,

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

The men present were reported to have tears in their eyes at this gesture of Washington’s and abandoned their plot out of respect for their leader.

Washington retired from the military, surprising the entire new country. His action surprised King George III of England, who was astonished that Washington had refused to hold on to his military authority and use it for political or financial gain. The defeated King of England, remarked, “If true, then he is the greatest man in the world.”

Seeker of Diverse Views. How to pick a cabinet.

As President, George Washington invented the Presidential Cabinet, whom he referred to as “the first Characters,” persons who possessed the best reputations in fields and areas of the jobs he was filling. Washington said on political appointments, “My political conduct and nominations must be exceedingly circumspect. No slip into partiality will pass unnoticed…”

Washington tolerated the relentless clashes between Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, but lectured them on the necessity for tolerance and moving beyond partisanship:

“I believe the view of both of you are pure, and well meant. Why then, when some of the best Citizens in the United States, Men…who have no sinister view to promote, are to be found, some on one side, some on the other…should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowances for those of the other? I have great esteem for you both, and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk.”

The Constitution Should be Protected

When George Washington left office after two terms, he made a farewell address which warned future generations of Americans about foreign entanglements and partisanship in the republic:

I shall carry to my grave the hope that your Union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the Constitution may be sacredly maintained; and that free government…the ever favorite object of my heart…will be the happy reward of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.”

Washington died in 1800, three years after leaving office in 1797. He was saluted on the floor of congress as being “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

He was the first and best. The ultimate role model for any leader.

Note: The American President By Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt (Riverhead Books. Penguin-Putnam, Inc.,1999) is the source for this information on George Washington.

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Selling of the Airport Will Be Number 1 Westchester County Issue, Columnist Predicts.

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Westchester County Airport–Issue of the Year-2017

Conservationist worries over Environment, Loss of  County Control, if Airport Privatized

WPCNR WESTCHESTER COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. By John F. Bailey, February 21, 2017:

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David McKay-Wilson, the Journal News columnist and Carolyn Cunningham, Co-Treasurer of the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County gave about 70 persons a comprehensive overview of the issues at stake as Westchester County prepares to lease its airport for 40 years.

The hour and a half comprehensive update unfolded at SUNY Purchase last night just as the county voted last week to hire a consultant for $550,000 to draft a new Request for Proposals for operation of the Westchester County Airport  to attract firms that  might offer the county “a better deal,” (as County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky told WPCNR after the meeting).

Oaktree the giant investment firm the county originally negotiated a lease of the airport last fall has had the deal temporarily on hold by the Board of Legislators.

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Ms. Cunningham (above) gave a comprehensive overview of the growth of the airport since 1984 when the limit of 240 passengers per half hour and voluntary curfews and noise control was put into effect through the efforts of the County Board of Legislators.

She said that Oaktree had proposed building a sewage treatment plant on the airport property. Currently the effluent (which includes the de-icing runoff used for removing ice from aircraft), is moved offsite by truck. She said she could not imagine building a sewage treatment plant adjacent the Kensico Reservoir.

Ms. Cunningham expressed concern that the county could lose the right of approval of hours and traffic limitations in any new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, (the limitations have been in effect since 1984). She cautioned, “There is pressure today” (to increase air traffic) and changing any part of the law could be disasterous and it was in the county’s best interest “to keep direct control of the airport.”

Cunningham said the deal has been introduced without the County having completed their master plan for the Westchester County Airport. “To do anything (before the airport master plan is complete) doesn’t make any sense at all. It is bad policy.”

The Astorino Secret Deal to balance his $15 Million shortfall

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David McKay-Wilson, (above) the “Tax WatchDog” Columinist for The Journal News has been following the County Executive Robert Astorino-Oaktree deal since it was sprung on the County Board of Legislators last fall and informed the audience where the issue is now.

“The airport will be Westchester County’s Top Issue of 2017,” McKay-Wilson began. He said that Ms. Cunningham’s concerns about the environment and the 240 passengers a half hour restriction were legitimate concerns, but he focused on “how much money is at stake here. (The deal) is a boon to investors, wallet-emptying for travelers. It is selling a  public asset to keep his (Astorino’s) no tax increase “brand” intact. It also allows the county to get its hands on airport revenues (which stay with the airport under FAA rules).”

McKay-Wilson described Oaktree (the lone airport suitor so far) as a giant fund that specialized in “distressed debt,” purchasing troubled companies at a low price, and “flipping” them at the first opportunity. He said Oaktree received funds from 75 of the top 100 pension funds; 350 Endowment Funds; 400 corporations; and  38 of 50 state pension funds. (It is big).

He said, “Westchester Airport is not distressed, why are they interested in it?”

He said the Oaktree-Astorino deal was “a secret deal. It was not determined in an open process. It is front-loaded: $15 Million to the county in the first year; $5 million to the county each year for 4 years and $2 Million for 35 years. ($105 millon total).”

He pointed out that the $15 Million Astorino budget shortfall could have been fixed by a 3% tax increase

He theorized that if you paid $10,000 in county property taxes that would be a $300 increase. For the more realistic view, WPCNR points out if you pay $2,400 in county taxes as you do if you own a $650,000 median valued home in White Plains, and the county legislature raised the county tax 3%, this computes to a $72 tax increase.

He said the county has now hired a consultant for $550,000 to vet possible new applicants to lease the airport. The consultant is now formulating a new request for proposals.

McKay-Wilson noted that he has been informed the County Master Plan for the airport is now due in April. It was supposed to be in to the Federal Aviation Administration by December 31. His requests for a copy of the interim stages of the plan has not been met yet after numerous Freedom of Information Requests. Wilson said public input has not yet been taken for formulation of the plan though airlines and professional parties and government entities have been consulted. He believes that public comment would be taken in April.

McKay-Wilson said that Oaktree has plans to upgrade the airport with restaurants, which he questioned the need for.

Mr. McKay-Wilson pointed out that the big prize at the airport is the parking garage, which generates $10 Million in annual revenue.

The parking “take” is parceled out as follows: $4 Million is paid for debt service; $3 Million is paid to the county; and $3 Million to the owners of the garage. In 2024 the garage is supposed to go over to Westchester County. McKay-Wilson noted that once the garage goes over to Oaktree there is no telling what will happen to the parking rates. He observed the airport parking garage when it opened charged $11 a day in 1994. Today, twenty-three years later, it is $30 a day ($7.20 an hour).

McKay-Wilson noted that the $105 Million the county receives in the deal over 40 years paled in comparison to the $10 Million (and up)  the parking garage would generate over 40 years, ($400 Millon) and (potentially much more with parking rate increases).

McKay-Wilson advised Westchester to “fasten your seatbelts, make sure your gear is comfortably stowed beneath your seats, or the above storage racks, and enjoy your flight.”

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Mary Jane Shimsky, (above)of Hastings-on-Hudson of the County District 12, asked by WPCNR if the county board was willing to sell the airport, said that Oaktree had not provided all information the Board of Legislators had asked for, and therefore the board opted to furnish a new request for proposals to take over the airport to get a better deal.

 

During the meeting, she said the county was very concerned that the curtailment of flights (240 passengers able to load per half hour) covenant in effect since 1994 be agreed to in any final agreement approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, no matter what company leases the airport, if it is leased at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Trump Report After One Month

WPCNR WHITE HOUSE WIRE. From the White House. February 21, 2017:

We are officially one month into President Donald J. Trump’s Administration, and it has been a very successful start.

President Trump has focused on jumpstarting job creation and saving taxpayers money, by withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and clearing roadblocks delaying the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Along with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, President Trump created the United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, to ensure that all Americans have ample opportunities in the workforce.

In a first step to unraveling the Obama-era regulations, President Trump signed two bills to roll back regulations and issued an executive order requiring that for every new regulation created, two must be eliminated.

President Trump has successfully coordinated with several companies to bring thousands of jobs back to America, and saved Americans over $700 million by negotiating lower costs for the F-35 fighters.

President Trump has also taken great strides in domestic security by signing executive orders that focus on reducing crime, restoring public safety, dismantling transnational criminal organizations and protecting our brave law enforcement officials.

Looking to national security, President Trump has directed his Secretary of Defense to devise a strategy to defeat ISIS, overseen the imposition of sanctions on more than 25 individuals and entities that threaten America’s national security, and strategized with more than 30 foreign leaders about our shared security concerns.

Lastly, following on the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Trump nominated the brilliant Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

President Donald J. Trump has spent the last month fulfilling promises and helping the American people. He’s looking forward to the many more successful months and years of action to come.

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Rally in Support of Immigrant Protection Act Passed by County Democratic Legislative Caucus.

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Democratic CAUCUS.February 17, 2017:

Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) is the Primary Sponsor of the Immigrant Protection Act. The Act was introduced by the Democratic Caucus on Wednesday, February 8th and referred to the Committees on Public Safety & Social Services, Budget & Appropriations, and Legislation on Monday, February 13th when additional Democratic Legislators agreed to co-sponsor.

Borgia will be speaking at a rally in support of the Act on Monday, February 20th at 12pm in White Plains on the Intersection of Main Street and Mamaroneck Ave.

“In the days since the Immigrant Protection Act was written and introduced, we have seen a huge swell of grassroots support. We worked hard with advocates and experts to make sure we crafted something that will show the ideals that we as a County stand for. At a time in our Nation when divisions run deep, it is encouraging to see so many of my neighbors ban together to say we must pass this bill to help our immigrant brothers and sisters.

“I am looking forward to the continue the legislative process on this Act that is already well underway. I encourage members of the Board from both sides of the aisle to take a hard look at this piece of legislation and work together to pass something that helps ensure the safety of all Westchester County residents.

“We will work hard to make sure all voices are heard during the upcoming committee process and I am eager to speaking with members of the public on Monday about this important piece of legislation.”

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Gedney Association: Appellate Court Decision Irrelevant in Current FASNY-CITY OF WHITE PLAINS SITE PLAN REVIEW

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. From the Gedney Association. February 17, 2017:

The Gedney Association has released the following statement commenting on The French American School of New York news release sent to WPCNR Thursday afternoon. The Association writes:

“The recent decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court concerns a procedural matter regarding the environmental findings adopted by the City of White Plains more than three years ago in connection with the French-American School of New York (FASNY) project

Even more importantly, this appeal was related to the earlier site plan (Editor’s Note: plan now defunct) review process.

This court decision has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the current site plan that is being reviewed by the Mayor and Common Council, a process that still needs to be completed and will involve a future public hearing that will allow the voices of the community to be heard.

The Gedney Association, representing more than 1,500 local residents, will continue to vigorously oppose FASNY’s ill-conceived plan because this development, if built, will create dangerous and hazardous traffic conditions to drivers, bikers, school children and pedestrians as well as increased response times for emergency service providers.  The project will also cause environmental, and economic/quality of life issues that will adversely affect citizens throughout the White Plains area.

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Appellate Court Finds in Favor of City of White Plains in Gedney Association Suit Contending City Violated Open Meetings Law

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL From the French American School of New York February 16, 2017:

For the fourth consecutive time, the Courts of the State of New York have rejected attempts by the Gedney Association (GA) to obstruct construction of a School for the French-American School of New York (FASNY) on a portion of the former Ridgeway Country Club in White Plains.

In a decision filed yesterday, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Supreme Court ruling that that there was no basis to the Gedney Association’s claim that the White Plains Common Council’s December 2013 vote violated the State’s Open Meetings Law.  The Council voted 6-1 in December 2013 to issue a findings statement under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in favor of the FASNY School proposal.

In a two-page ruling, the Appellate Court stated that the vote on December 19, 2013 by the Common Council to adopt the positive environmental findings statement for the planned School was “publicly voted upon. Accordingly, no violation of the Open Meetings Law occurred.”

The Appellate Court also ordered the Gedney Association to pay FASNY and the City for the costs of bringing their failed legal action.

John Botti, a member of the FASNY Board of Trustees who is overseeing the planning for the new School and Park said:  “Once again the Gedney Association leadership has brought frivolous and ill-conceived litigation that is a complete waste of time, energy, and money – the City’s taxpayers’ money, and their own members’ money.  The Gedney Association is 0 for 4 in Court.”  The Honorable Joan Lefkowitz previously described efforts to block the School as “a war of attrition.”

Botti continued:  “This was an absurd claim from the beginning.  Clearly, the City followed a process and had been fully transparent in its discussions and voting on the Environmental Findings.  For the Gedney Association to file their initial lawsuit and then, even after being admonished by the Supreme Court, to file a costly appeal, is simply a continuation of the legal harassment the Gedney leaders have resorted to in a misguided effort to obstruct and delay the School’s legal rights.  FASNY is pleased with yesterday’s Appellate Court victory and remains confident in the merits of our application.  We’re fully committed to our School and Park and to becoming a vital part of the White Plains community.”

Earlier attempts by the Gedney leadership to overturn actions taken by the City to allow the project to move forward have been soundly rejected by the Courts.  Indeed, Judge Lefkowitz would not even allow the Gedney Association to intervene in FASNY’s suit against the Council’s actions in August 2015, finding that its participation would only “unduly delay” the matter.

With the latest ruling against the Gedney Association, Botti, a White Plains resident, said “Hopefully this will bring an end to the Gedney Association’s pointless and obstructive lawsuits and the Common Council will abide by the Stipulation and approve the reduced plan for the School as outlined in the Settlement Agreement.”  The reduced plan includes the Middle and High Schools and limits development to only the 28-acre portion of the property where the former country club buildings and parking lots are located.  Under the Settlement Agreement, FASNY further reduced the traffic by 42% and reduced the number of students from the original 1200 to 640 students.  FASNY has also placed a Conservation Easement on 51 acres of the property, which was recorded with Westchester County in August 2016. The publicly accessible Park will feature over 2 miles of walking and biking trails and be fully open to the public and maintained by FASNY at no cost to the City’s taxpayers.

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Carol Van Scoyoc, Chief Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of White Plains for 22 Years Passes Away

WPCNR MILESTONES. From McMahon-Lyon and Hartnett Funeral Home. February 16, 2017:

Carol Lynn Van Scoyoc, of White Plains, NY, passed away February 12, 2017. She was 56. Carol was born February 16, 1960 in Englewood, NJ to Elaine H. Pasqua and the late William E. Van Scoyoc.

For the past 22 years, from April 1995 to the present, Carol served as the Chief Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of White Plains. She received the Above the Bar Award in 2011 for Outstanding Public Service Attorney. She served as past president of the Westchester Bar Association, and she served as an Executive Committee member of Municipal Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.

Devoted daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and friend, Carol had two passions in her life, love of family and the law. Her professional acumen and excellence were only surpassed by her dedication and kindness to all people.

Besides her mother, Elaine, Carol is survived by her brother, William F. Van Scoyoc, and her sister, Susan J. McDonald. She is also the loving aunt to Melissa McDonald, James McDonald, Morgan Van Scoyoc and John McDonald.

In lieu of flowers please send donation to either Pace Law School, Pace University – Gift Processing Center P.O. Box 419268 Boston, MA 02241-9268 www.Pace.edu/givetopacelaw or Westchester County BAR Foundation c/o WCBA 1 N. Broadway, White Plains, NY 10601

Visiting hours are Thursday 2-4 & 7-9pm and Friday 4-8pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday 10 am at St. Eugene’s Church Yonkers, NY. Interment to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

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White Plains Democrats Invite Candidates for Mayor and Common Council

WPCNR MAIN STREET JOURNAL. From the White Plains Democratic City Committee. February 15, 2017:
The Nominating Committee of the White Plains Democratic City Committee will be interviewing candidates for Mayor of White Plains and three seats on the White Plains Common Council beginning in late February and continuing into early March.
Any person interested in seeking the endorsement of the White Plains Democratic City Committee for those positions — which are up for election in the November 2017 general election –should contact Vicki Presser, the Chair of the Nominating Committee, by e-mail at vpresser@aol.com by February 22, 2017.
The recommendations of the Nominating Committee are not binding.  The endorsement will be decided on at a meeting of the full White Plains Democratic City Committee, to be held on March 30, 2017.
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