Archive for May, 2006

More Blue Village Blues

I have blogged previously on the blunders of the mayor of my fine municipality. Now, he has announced his resignation.
At tonight’s board meeting, Ossining Mayor Eugene Napolitano announced that he will be stepping down as Ossining’s Mayor, a year and a half after taking the post.

Napolitano was elected Mayor in 2004 after years of serving on the board as a trustee.  His term was supposed to end at the end of this year.

The Mayor cited "Personal reasons" for his decision to a shocked audience.  Later, he said, "It was a whole bunch of things.  At some point I had to get back to my life and my family."

The Mayor said he came to the decision about a week ago.

Earlier this year, the Mayor was criticized for selling his home to a company that will be turning the house into a group home for mentally challenged adults.

The Mayor has since moved to a temporary residence at Eagle Bay in Ossining.  He said tonight that he will spend more time at a home he owns in South Carolina.

A few observations:

  • "It was a whole bunch of things." How articulate.
  • The "more time for the family" card is best pulled when one is resigning from at least a full time position. The Mayor of Ossining is a $12,000 per year part time position. How hard could it have been to stick it out until December? He had already been a trustee for 10 years, so it’s not like this was a new development in his lifestyle.
  • Part time status aside, a guy who is elected mayor has promises to keep, as well as policies and decisions to answer for. You can’t offer a "no mas" without a plausible reason. We really have no idea what other shoe is about to drop, or if the mayor is pre-emptively exiting to avoid a brewing scandal. There were only 6 months left in the term. ‘Fess up.
  • How nice to hear that Napolitano has a 2nd home in South Carolina. Don’t all Con-Ed workers?
The (part time) village board has embraced an unpopular condominium development to be built on the banks of the Hudson on land donated to "the People of the Village of Ossining." This will obscure the river view of some, but kill forever any better ideas that might have come up for the area. This is to say nothing of the fact that land donated to "the people of the village" isn’t something the government ought to seize and sell to private developers. That such a decision rests on such a flighty group of five and not on a more reliable measure of the people’s will is just one reason the mayor should be more accountable than a perfunctory throwing in of the towel. Something is rotten here.

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It is fiction. Get over it.

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Good Things

I am really busy. We are talking 12-14 hours days and more, often driving 200+ miles in a day as I grow my business. I have little to complain about- I never expected that in the first year my company would keep me this busy. So, blogging has taken a backseat. I find it far more relaxing to read and comment than to produce something at the end of most days, so my postings will most likely be infrequent for the foreseeable future. So, if you see that I haven’t added any commentary in a few days or a week, it is for a very good and happy reason.

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After a long and protracted battle played out in the local media, a 62-year-old teacher & grandmother has finally gotten Cablevision, the local monopoly, to agree to stop pursuing her for an $1126 pay-per-view porn bill.
A retired teacher’s $1,126 cable bill for porn and gangsta rap she said she never ordered will be dropped.

Cablevision will give Claudia Lee, 62, full credit and an apology for all of the pay-per-view programs billed to the Warburton Avenue resident.

"We are continuing our internal investigation into this matter, but there will be no charge back to Ms. Lee," Cablevision spokesman Bill Powers said yesterday.

Lee said she was unclear what the company means.

"He said reimbursement. He didn’t say how much, he didn’t say how soon," Lee said. "I don’t trust them. They’ve got to show me some documentation, something in writing."

The Journal News’ coverage last week of Lee’s cable trouble prompted others to step forward with similar complaints.

This wasn’t an easy battle. The charges came not long after Mrs. Lee switched to the company’s service bundle, which included local phone service. When she had refused to pay the disputed bill, they threatened to cut off her phone service. She was forced to pay $779 to keep the phone on. If she hadn’t gone to the media, the company would have extorted every cent of the bogus bill from her.

How is this for arrogance? The company hasn’t even admitted to any mistake.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Cablevision said it was continuing its investigation, but it said that "As a courtesy to a long-standing customer, we have credited the account in full for all disputed pay-per-view orders and apologized to Ms. Lee for her negative customer experience."

This story does not surprise me about Cablevision. From their customer service on, they are a miserable, arrogant company whose directors, the Scrooges Dolans, are about as popular as root canal. The company owns a number of New York institutions, such as Madison Square garden, the Knicks basketball team, and Radio City Music Hall. This past Christmas, when the musicians at Radio City threatened to strike, the Rockettes danced to recorded music. In 2002, when their dispute with the Yankees deprived customers of Yankee broadcasts that season, we switched to satellite and never looked back.

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Father Stinner

I attended John F Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, NY. I am a 1985 graduate. While there, I was, like many of my classmates, encouraged to receive the Sacraments. Mass was held daily; attendance was optional due to the long commute for most of the students in the 20-odd school districts the school served. Confession was available, and I went occasionally. I still do. One of the priests, Rev Francis Stinner, was a peculiar man. I went to confession once with him, and afterward he told me that he admired my scrappiness for the wrestling team and he encouraged me to try out for JV soccer, which he coached. So, sophomore year, I attended the first JV soccer practice. Father Stinner WATCHED us shower afterward, talking us through the damn thing in a Vince Lombardi tone.

Thus endeth my soccer career for the JFK Gaels. I stuck with wrestling and remained on the varsity for all 4 years. The coach my last three years was a guy named Bill Carney, one of the janitors working his way through college, and I and my teammates respect Bill to this day. He was a tremendous guy, and he wrote a letter of recommendation for me to Villanova that went above and beyond. He did nothing halfway.

Back to Stinner: He was defrocked for abuse recently. As this post in the local paper’s discussion forum indicates, he has never served a day in jail. Nothing in the post, a blistering condemnation, surprises me. The man made me uncomfortable but it would have been too easy to label him as an abuser-I just thought he was weird. If you asked my classmates who would be voted "Most Likely to be a Pederast," it would be Father Stinner. They would have been right all along. I wonder, of all the guys who were MIA from the last reunion (and of those who attended), who was a victim of monsters like Stinner. He remains in Westchester County, living with his mother.

It is more than a little disconcerting, especially knowing how vulnerable I and the other guys were at ages 14-17, to know that leaders of the Church shielded this man from the law and put kids in harm’s way.  We were in the presence & care of a spiritual Jack the Ripper, and he was running the religion department.

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Hitting the Fan

The sales statistics for homes sold in my area for the first quarter of 2006 are out, and sales are down from the first quarter of 2005 by 14%. This, coupled with higher interest rates means that the pool of buyers is shrinking, which suppresses appreciation. Add to this the growing inventory from the lower sales rate, and, all together now, the boom is over. Oh, one more thing: in the next 18 months, millions of variable rate mortgages which started out as fixed for 2, 3 or 5 years will hit their adjustment period. This will flood the market with even more inventory as people try to jettison mortgages which they can no longer afford. Foreclosures will spike, putting more properties up for sale, and the bank-owned REOs will elbow out a significant number of regular folks who wish to sell and who may find themselves unable to get the price they need.  Guess when this really hits the fan? 2008, which, by the way, is a presidential election year.

If you don’t want Hillary to be president, you better pray hard that they catch bin Laden, because that’s the only thing that will turn things around for this administration. 

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