THE HEZITORIAL ANALYSIS: The City of Yonkers Legally Required to Financially Serve the Needs of the Yonkers Board of Education without Question! By HEZI ARIS

eHezi Hezitorial 16 Comments

Ehezi_charicatureWho, What, When, Where, and Why.

UPDATED February 13, 2014 for Greater Clarity.

WHO: The protagonists are the Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE), the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees (YBoE Trustees), YBoE Trustee President Dr. Nader Sayegh, Esq., Yonkers Public Schools (YPS) Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio, YPS CFO Joseph Bracchita, CPA Nick (Nicholas) DeSantis, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Secretary to the Governor Lawrence “Larry” Schwartz, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NYS Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, NYS Assemblymembers Gary Pretlow and Shelley Mayer, Yonkers Finance Commissioner John Liszewski, among other less consequential actors.

WHAT: Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s revelation on January 17, 2014, of an accrued shortfall valued at upwards of $55 million in the combined Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 respective budgets pertaining to the Yonkers BoE. 

WHEN: The budget shortfall was divulged on January 17, 2014, by a communiqué (press release) on the cusp of the Martin Luther King Jr long weekend commemoration at approximately 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: The New York State Legislature,the State Capitol City of Albany, and the City of Yonkers

WHY: Why did the $55 million (plus or minus) shortfall come about?

The revelation of a $55 million shortfall allegedly expressed to Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano by Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio, asserted to have been the case by spokespeople for Mayor Spano, contested instead by Yonkers Tribune that it was indeed CPA Nick DeSantis who advised Mayor Mike Spano, is only relevant for the telling of the telling to be understood as the beginning point of this crisis. As dramatic as this “crisis" seems, once the onion is peeled, and the facts revealed, there is much blame to go around. At issue is whether heads will role for past mistaken errors or intentioned misconduct. Once the contrived or “unintentioned” errors are officially revealed, what standards of remedy can be construed to mitigate a repeat of this costly “crisis”.

On the Wednesday, February 12, 2014, “Westchester On the Level with Narog and Aris” BlogTalk Radio show hosted by Hezi Aris, New York State Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins advised that the New York State Legislature, among which are the four total members of the Yonkers Delegation, advised no one had requested a two-year sum total of $55 million to cover FY 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, and are adamant that they did not authorize any funds whatsoever. More damning is that the audit attesting to the actual figures and their impact on CoY may even be greater than $55 million, but that is yet to be the case.

Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio and Chief Financial Officer Joseph Bracchita designed the budgets for the onkers Public Schools in which over a two-year time frame were listed a total of $55 million in never authorized and unsubstantiated funds listed in two separate proposed budgets. One of the responsibilities of the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees, Dr. Nader Sayegh is its president, requires the nine-member board to conduct due diligence over the proposed Yonkers Board of Education budgets in their roles as trustees. The YBoE Trustees obtained the financial input devised by Pierorazio and Bracchita throughthe men individually and in tandem upon their presentations to the YBoE Trustees. The YBoE Trustees trusted the information they received of Superintendent Pierorazio and CFO Bracchita, to be unimpeachable. Despite the expectation, something went wrong; very wrong. 

The funds were not authorized for either fiscal year!

The procedure for creating a budget fell on Pierorazio and Bracchita. They in turn substantiated their proposed budget to the YBoE Trustees. In the very telling and substantiation of the proposed budget to the YBoE Trustees, both Pierorazio and Bracchita should have noticed the “error”. The information afforded the YBoE Trustees was flawed, yet they would not learn of it for over a year’s time later. And so it came to be the proposed education budget, based on some "flawed" and “erroneous” information given to to the YBoE Trustees endorsed the proposed budget and had the proposed budget presented to Mayor Mike Spano and subsequently thereafter to the Yonkers City Council (YCC). Once approved by the YCC, the documents were returned to Mayor Spano who presented it to NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli who approved the budgets for the two years in question, seemingly unaware and unperturbed by the two respective false entrees. 

Albany dispensed the funds over the entire year as governed by the fiscal year (FY) of CoY and the FY of the YBoE with respect to each budget, the total of which approaches $1 billion every year. Yetthe amount reecieved from Albany was deficient each year to the amount specified in the "flawed" items requested in the YBoE proposed budget. In other words, the $55 million was never received by CoY. The FY for CoY begins at a different time than it does for the YBoE; the money received for each overlaps the other. If someone had added the money allegedly approved by Albany for the YBoE, they would have realized that over the two years in question, $55 million listed in the budgets were missing from the money received from Albany. A red flag was not raised in horror until first notice of the debacle was revealed on January 17, 2014.

Since all funds are received by the CoY, even those funds for the benefit of the YBoE, Yonkers Department of Finance dispenses the funds to the YBoE when the YBoE requests it from the CoY. CoY is not authorized by law to ask the purpose for the funds requested, or how it will be spent. Most importantly, CoY cannot withhold or deny payment to the YBoE… ever. 

The $55 million shortfall, plus or minus, though never authorized by Albany, was  however "used and/or spent" by the Yonkers Public Schools for paying for supplies and services rendered. Once the actual funds authorized and spoken for were exhausted, the issue of how the YBoE was able to fund a $55 million shortfall arises. Because the funds specific to the YBoE were not kept separate from the funds designated for use for and by CoY, the cash flow of the YBoE and the CoY would be such that it covered any shortfall from the “approved” budget of the other. In a sense, one can say the Department of Finance was ignorant of the ticking time bomb that was their responsibility to know and manage. In most cases, cash flow can maintain a budget shy of $1 billion in value each year. The bubble burst on January 17, 2014. The situation is so dire, and so politically charged, that little has come to light from official sources.

City Hall advise the Yonkers Commissioner John Liszewski of the Department of Finance when in receipt of funds from Albany presents an opening sum to the Yonkers BoE so that they may satisfy their purchases of services and other responsibilities. The YBoE continues to request money as they must to operate throughout the year, requesting sums as they are needed. CoY is said t wire the funds to the YBoE when they are requested to send funds to the YBoE. CoY may not ask any questons of the YBoE as for what the money is spent and with whom. CoY must meet the financial demand of them by the YBoE. The YBoE may not be denied fund, allegedly stipulated by New York State Law.

In a 7-0 ruling the Yonkers City Council on February 11, 2014, authorized an Inter Municipal Agreement (IMA) unanimously. The IMA was adopted devoid of any discussion or insight into the rationale for the Resolution being authorized. The Agreement was signed into effect on February 3, 2014, by Yonkers Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry and YBoE Trustee President Dr. Nader Sayegh, Esq. The Agreement demands the YBoE provide all resources, materials, documents and other information of any kind to assist CoY in uncovering the deficiencies of accountability that have been revealed, with all costs borne by the YBoE. The IMA shall take place from the moment of signing on February 3, 2014 and be terminated no lated than June 30, 2014.

Most importantly are the Indemnification and defense clauses:

“That except for the amount, if any, of damage contributed to, caused by or resulting from the negligence of CoY, the YBoE shall indemnify and hold harmless CoY, its officers, employees and agents from and against any and all liability, damage, claims, demands, costs, judgments, fees, attorney’s fees or loss arising directly or indirectly out of the errors, omissions o unlawful or negligent acts hereunder by the YBoE or third parties under the direction or control of the YBoE; and

“To provide defense for and defend, at its sole expense, such claims, demands or causes of action directly or indirectly arising out of the Agreement, as described in subsection” (above), “and to bear all other costs and expenses related thereto." 

Not being a lawyer, I am uncertain whether those involved in any “error, or other wrongdoing” are liable to face prosecution. That is a decision which may and can be made by NYS Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, among others. 

What is evident is that the protocol and / or standards of scrutiny heretofor have been lacking and went previously untested. Authentication and rationale for a specific line in any budget has been lax at both Yonkers City Hall, YBoE, and the Yonkers City Council (YCC). Accounting standards adopted by CoY must be seamless with respect to the YBoE and transparently defined. Safeguards to deny and deflect erroneous or intentioned subterfuge must be engaged post haste. CoY and YBoE must present their budget proposals in the most succinct and understandable manner before the public and not hidden from The People

CoY must also not co-mingle funds intended for CoY with money intended for YBoE. Lawyers are known to set up “escrow” accounts for the purpose of serving a specific entity or individual. This must likewise be done for the benefit of the YBoE. 

Further, once funds have been allocated to the YBoE, there must be redundant mechanisms to advise the YBoE CFO (finance officer) through the YBoE Trustees that the account is depleted and public notice to that end must be noticed. In so doing, accounts could not and would not be overdrawn. 

Many suggestions to mitigate this “crisis” must be given voice.

Moving forward, Dr. Michael Yazurlo, a Yonkers resident who earned accolades of accomplishments as Assistant Principal at Roosevelt High School, and as Principal at Hawthorne Pearls (Grades 4-6), Hawthorne Jr. High School (Gifted and Talented Magnet), Roosevelt High School, and as Superintendent of Schools at Tuckahoe Union Free School District is favored to be chosen interim YPS Superintendent. 

YPS Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio is expected to relinquish his responsibilities without further remuneration as previously noted at the end of the business day of Februray 16, 2014 and Dr. Yazurlo is to wtep into the role of YPS Superintendent on February 17, 2014. 

The audit explaining what transpired, and for how many years, remains unknown keeping all interested parties in limbo.The audit was said to be concluded by January 31, 2014; the audit was not expected to be divulged this Wednesday, February 12, 2014 either. February 12, 2014, was the second date in the timeline to be off. Conclusion of the audit is now unlikely to be divulged until its very telling.

YBoE Trustee President Dr. Nader Sayegh has for many months immersed himself in gaining access to information of protocol and validation of facts in deference to his appointed responsibilities. He was beginning to gain insight when this revelation shocked CoY by its enormity and possible ominous consequences financially and politically.  Comprehending the protocols skirted, maligned, or overwhelmed will bring about standards to mitigate such calamity from our future. Dr Sayegh is systematically shepherding the investigation and study of what transpired toward a much more respected standard. Dr. Sayegh is expected to continue at the helm as YBoE Trustee President.


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eHeziTHE HEZITORIAL ANALYSIS: The City of Yonkers Legally Required to Financially Serve the Needs of the Yonkers Board of Education without Question! By HEZI ARIS

Comments 16

  1. keith broken record

    Keith sorry to say you are an absolute disaster as a union leader. You sound like a useless, scratched up broken record. Please stop repeating yourself, you sound like a crazy old fat coot.

  2. sad

    Ole Mikey the magnificent has gotten exactly what he wanted in the beginning. Dr. Yazurlo is a Spano stooge from way back, with a super close relationship with several members of the Spano clan. I don’t doubt he is a good administrator, but the problem remains that he is in no way independent. Take it to the bank that decisions will be primarily approved by good ole Mikey the magnificent before Dr. Yaz opens his mouth.
    The puppet is in place. The strings are in place. Now the show begins. I do have one question for Dr. Yaz, especially given the fact that ole Bernie is a longtime friend and confidant;
    Dr. Yazurlo…. Is there anybody you won’t stab in the back for a little cash and to kiss Spano butt?????

  3. threesidesto truth

    You will not hear from the pta , they were being appeased. Yazurlo will be the same ole, same ole.
    You will hear from nobody as they try , in vain, to make this just business as usual.
    The Gov. does not like it and will not bail yonkers out unless perazio goes and probably gets replaced with someone Cuomo wants.
    I don’t blame him, enough of this.
    Can you imagine if the p-3 program got going?
    Everyone attached to maintaining and planning physical plants for the schools should be defrocked for even bringing up such a scheme.
    No wonder KPMG was interested, clean out yonkers and Phil Mickelson gets to wear a newer hat!
    Private industry(not really industry, they make nothing)just robbing public funds, legally of course if our elected officials are brain dead enough to accept deals like the p-3.

  4. NY

    How about stop giving multi year deals when hiring a superintendent. 1 year deals that’s it!! The problem is every new Super is connected somehow and they are just being taken care of. Same old crap year after year and the only one’s who pay are the TAXPAYERS or should I say suckers.

  5. reality check

    even more simple. year after year the city council approve a budget. On what factual basis is this even possible? It’s clear they have no idea what they are approving. this problem is far beyond the head of the BOE. I’m convinced this corrupt city needs to be completely dismantled.

  6. reality check

    the boe fought to not have the books opened. how can there be any reasonable audit without any transparency? how could the state comptroller approve a budget? this smells.
    bottom line should be the books are open and on the table. anything short is just more game playing by elected officials.

  7. SOYO

    How ’bout Hornsby….great job he did for his in-law who had the account to replace ALL school computers….hmmm this sh!t never ends. Then, Petrone and his appointed positions of unqualified friends family. How about the ousted head of finance Lutz? Jay Hvisc. No wonder SUE GERRY is in YONKERS as per spa-ching CUOMO! YO is a JOKE!!!

  8. If Bernard must leave then Yazurlo is a good choice.

    I hate to see Bernard go but Dr. Michael Yazurlo is a good choice. Like Pierorazio he is homegrown and a professional educator with the interests of the children at heart. I hope that he hires a good budget director.

  9. Payback is a bitch

    In 2005 in the wake of the Petrone scandal Bernard Pierorazio became Superintendent and began cracking down on Principals who over-reported their hours and abused the system. Three were relieved of their duties and the forth, Nader Sayegh retired from School 13 before the sh-t hit the fan regarding his appearances as a lawyer before Yonkers City Court Judges during the school day and his misuse of school personal to support his legal practice. Now this guy gets to determine the fate of the man who forced him to retire.

  10. threesidesto truth

    It is somewhat confusing, but in the end you need to know that the BOE and or school administration has misinformed everyone.
    Imagine we fund the school system and then are not allowed to know how they spend our money.
    I bet that if we look at reports even the BOE members were told misinformation, otherwise, how do you give teachers a new contract with 55 mill. missing from your assets?
    Notice how quiet the teachers are lately. Got the contract, no noise from anyone, like it never happened and now a shortfall.
    I believe they also knew, but not their job to worry about where the money comes from.
    Know this, the schools will get their money no matter what, it is the way the system is set up.
    Your local tax base will loose if the mayor does not toss the superintendent because the governor will not fill the gap if he does not.
    If you have no children in the schools it could mean less other city services to you if it must come from the city, so the mayor must remove him.
    Finally, does anyone really wonder why the council is trying to get control of the school system?
    Once the BOE members are appointed it is like they pledge omerta and don’t speak to the public again.
    Nice to play Caesar with our money.

  11. totellthetruth

    About a month since Lesnick is gone and City Council is trying to take over the Board of Ed. There is probably ONE person that really wants to do the right thing – ONE person left – Sabatino. Everyone else is blowing smoke up your butt people. They are true politicians. Free thinkers …I think not.

  12. totellthetruth

    It’s hard to focus on the message of these articles because it’s writing is so convoluted and there are so many typo’s and grammatical errors. Additionally, PEARLS Hawthorne School(it’s actual name and as indicated on a sign outside of the building) is Pre-K – Grade 8 and IS a academically Gifted and Talented Program. That’s it. ONE SCHOOL, ONE name. There is no 4-6 only (why would there be?!) and there is no school named Hawthorne Junior HS. Pre-K through 8th grade…one school, one name. If you’re going to write – be accurate.

  13. Where is the Council on this

    In a 7-0 ruling the Yonkers City Council on February 11, 2014, authorized an Inter Municipal Agreement (IMA) unanimously. Devoid of any discussion or insight into the rationale for the Resolution being authorized. The Agreement was signed into effect on February 3, 2014, by Yonkers Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry and YBoE Trustee President Nader Sayegh. How did they sign the IMA on 2/3 /14 if the council did not authorize until 2/11/14 or was the agreement contigent upon council approval. What if the council had wanted to modify the agreement. Oh wait, that would require some independent thinkers and Lesnick, Gronowski, Barbato and Robertson are not there anymore. Even the old McLaughlin would have questioned Amicone in this circumstance.

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