Aspects of Yonkers Bailout Derided by Locals By President LIAM J. MCLAUGHLIN

Hezi Aris Governance 11 Comments

McLaughlin_Liam J.Albany Dysfunction Fails Students; Maxes Out Credit Card On Their Behalf

YONKERS, NY – March 31, 2014 — The Yonkers City Council Majority, Yonkers City Council President Liam J. McLaughlin, Majority Leader John Larkin, Councilmen Dennis Shepherd, and Michael Breen) say an Albany power grab has muddled the message they sent last week when passing a resolution that called for Albany to immediately address Yonkers school funding deficit. The Councilmembers say the Yonkers State Legislative Delegation, Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, have opted instead to institute a virtual control board of city finances while providing little to no financial assistance.

“Funding was provided, but not the way it should have been,” says City Council President Liam J. McLaughlin, who believes that the responsibility for the error rests mainly with the Yonkers state legislative delegation.

“Rather than taking an opportunity in this budget to rectify the long standing underfunding of education in Yonkers, our state delegation is now trying to run City government on a credit-card from Albany,” McLaughlin said. “Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the most dysfunctional conference of the most dysfunctional Legislature in the country, and her former counsel, now Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, are looking to take over city government when they know nothing about it.”

A 2007 New York Times article previously pointed out that the Yonkers legislative delegation was “asleep at the switch,” according to one Albany power-broker, when it came to funding Westchester schools. Council President McLaughlin said the Yonkers state delegation’s current proposal for school funding was “akin to a band-aid on a mortal wound.”

Majority Leader John Larkin said the Albany funding solution did not even provide a band-aid, and felt the state delegation could have pushed harder for additional spin up aid as was done with the Ramapo school district.

“For four years, the State has starved the school systems through the Gap Elimination Adjustment in order to create a $2 billion surplus,” Larkin said. “Yet now we are forced to borrow $45 million at taxpayer expense, which only compounds the problem for ten years. Borrowing to pay this deficit is not what our resolution asked for. It is not an option we would like to entertain and it does nothing to address the inequities to Yonkers caused by the 2007 school funding formula change.”

Albany’s plan is to have the City borrow $45 million, access to which is overseen by a de facto control board consisting of the state budget director, the state comptroller and the state education commissioner, who is indirectly appointed by the legislature.

“The state created this mess in the first place by certifying the school district’s budget, and now they seek to put more controls over the City when they don’t utilize the ones that are already in place,” Councilman Mike Breen said. “Perhaps if our Albany Delegation had been listening more to the public instead of hiding behind closed doors, they would have understood that this was about funding our schools and ensuring local control. Who does our Albany Delegation represent, the people of Yonkers, or the status quo?”

Following the public outcry over a $55 million accounting error caused when the former Yonkers Public Schools Administration overestimated state aid payments, the Council Majority had joined with the Mayor in calling for a new management structure for City schools. Since then, members of the Council Majority had attended countless public and personal meetings with stakeholders to determine the best course of action for the school district.

Members of Yonkers state legislative delegation, especially the State Senate Minority, opposed a new governance structure for city schools and would have preferred to focus solely on funding, according to their published statements. Yet rather than providing funding, the Albany delegation has chosen instead to put the bill on the credit card, the Councilmembers say.

Councilman Dennis Shepherd responded, “Give us the money, settle down, be quiet and go on your way. By borrowing to cover a deficit you make the deficit even larger and pass the bill to our kids and grandkids after years of underfunding our schools.”

Last week, the Council Majority voted to support the new governance structure after hearing from a majority of parents and taxpayers who demanded local accountability of school finances. This seems to have been instituted in the budget despite opposition by Yonkers State Delegation.

“From day one we have said that a new management structure for our schools will increase accountability and accessibility for the entire educational system,” Council President Liam McLaughlin said. “Our resolution was meant to give us a legal basis to end duplication and share services and invest those savings back in the classroom. We saw past the scare tactics from special interest groups and demagogues who manufactured the illusion that this was about ceding control of the classroom to the Mayor and instead listened to the majority of stakeholders.”

The language contained within the State budget allows the City to assume all current City school district finance and budget functions and most other non-academic functions, in line with the proposal supported by the Council Majority. It also includes a state aid increase of 7.67% and a one-time funding sweep of $28 million from the State Mortgage Insurance Fund, plus the additional revenue from bond anticipation notes preceding the sale of $45 million in serial bonds that the Council Majority says shortchanges Yonkers in the long run.

However, a separate stand-alone provision says that in order to access much of these funds, the entire City Budget must now be signed off on by the State Education Commissioner. “The Council Majority is asking Governor Cuomo to break out his line-item veto pen and remove this careless language from our State Delegation that was at best, crafted, and at worst, missed entirely,” McLaughlin concluded.

The author, Liam J. McLaughlin, Esq., is president of the Yonkers City Council.

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Hezi ArisAspects of Yonkers Bailout Derided by Locals By President LIAM J. MCLAUGHLIN

Comments 11

  1. Breaking news

    Councilman John Larkin and councilman Dennis Shepard are both strongly considering opposing Shelly Mayer for assembly.

    They met with the Yonkers GOP leader and will be traveling to Albany next week to meet with the assembly committee.

  2. Happy Spin

    Statement on Passage of 2014-15 State Budget

    Inclusion of Financial Options and Governance Reform to Help Yonkers Schools

    Two months ago we learned that Yonkers Public Schools had overstated $55 million in state education aid within their budget that never existed, leaving students and taxpayers with the possibility of massive cuts or tax increases to cover the shortfall. I committed to work with our Governor and state delegation to help the Board of Education find a solution to the problem, but also insisted that any financial assistance must come with the necessary reforms and protections to assure that an oversight of this magnitude never happens again. After all, this problem was caused by a failure in a system of governance that allows the Superintendent and Board of Education to spend over half a billion taxpayer dollars without any accountability or oversight by the City which allocates their funding.

    I thank Governor Cuomo and especially our state delegation for passing a budget on-time that includes both the financial options to be considered to offset much of the shortfall caused by the Yonkers Public School’s overstatement, as well as the governance reform we had fought for that will provide the City unprecedented controls needed to bring accountability for students, parents and taxpayers.

    There should be no mistaking that the assistance provided to the Board of Education still falls short of a complete solution to their massive deficit. In order to balance their budget, Yonkers Public Schools still have tough decisions to make, and the city and state must continue to stand in support of our students for quality education.

    Over the last two years Yonkers has moved forward on so many fronts – passing on-time, balanced budgets within the tax cap, providing historic city investment in our schools, growing our economy, reigniting development, assuring affordable housing for working families and attracting new industries to our city. We cannot allow for this failure of governance by an unaccountable Superintendent to undo the great progress we’ve achieved as a city.

    While there have been differences of opinion over how to best address the problems facing our schools, we are a city united and we work best when we work together, in a bi-partisan fashion, on all levels of government. Now is the time to get to work, utilizing the resources we have to provide the students, parents and taxpayers, who are relying on their leaders, the results they need and deserve.

  3. Dumbo's on first, Jumbo's on second

    Not a fan of Nick Spano but the amount of wool he’s pulled over the head of McLaughlin/Spencer/Spring (MSS) and the Irish majority of the City Council (IRCC), in this matter, is amazing.

    Sadly, for them, they don’t see it, don’t understand it and are oblivious as to that which Nick has planned for them down the road.

    First, understand that Nick and his crew never, never, never forget betrayals of the past and their avowed revenge for those past betrayals is as if etched in stone – unchangeable, permanent, forever and as severe as they can make it.

    In this case MSS, etc. believe that Nick wanted to partner with them to take control of the schools. He would never partner with them – he hates them, politically speaking (hate to sound like Spencer, but he does).

    Nick has managed to obtain contol of the “administrative” functions of BOE and place it in his hands, alone. Mikey does the day to day work, but Nick and Papa Len control it all. MSS and the IRCC have no share whatsoever of that power.

    In fact, this plan takes away any power that they had beforehand. The most important part of the plan for Nick is to control the Human Resources office at BOE. Hereafter, every single job that is given (or taken away) will be given (or taken away) by Nick, not by MSS or by IRCC and they will have nothing to say about those jobs. Unless, of course, that they ask Nick to bestow a job or two upon them. Nick will do that but the pound of flesh to be given for each such bestowal will be more like a ton of flesh.

    In the end, MSS and IRCC will be so deeply indebted to Nick that they will be on a short leash, more like a “choker” leash and they will be ordered to do as Nick says, in all ways and at all times. They will be nuetered. They have been nuetered.

    Compound this by general spending (contracts) and capital projects (more and bigger contracts) which MSS and IRCC will have nothing to say about. This one will especially dissapoint Spencer since he loved the good old days with Andre Hornsby (now in a Fed lockup for corruption) when he doled out hundreds of millions in capital projects with the naked backyard pool jumper as the front man.

    Could go on and on, but Nick has even got McL blaming the Albany delegation for the double cross. How dumb can you get.

    If MSS believe that Nick has big political futures in store for the team, they are even dumber than first thought. When Mikey’s time is done, Nick will install one of the Spano faithful. That won’t be McL, for sure.

    When Nick finally does pull the carpet out from under McL, he will land so severely on his bald head that he’ll lose the remaining red hairs left there.

    Nick will never forget the year after year of MSS berating him over inadequate school funding. That eventually cost Nick his senate seat. He will never forget and he will never forgive.

    Nick will never forget the “Dumbo & Jumbo” nomination that Spencer and McL and Spring tagged him and Mikey with, over and over again.

    Good luck. You are no match for Nick. Watch your backs at all times. Brush up on the Godfather movie and the Sopranos series.

  4. LIONS AND TIGERS AND MAYORS, OH MY

    Excuse me, Mr. CC President but it was not the NY Times writer who used the ‘asleep at the switch’ phrase but Skelos. EVERYONE knows that Long Island got the tax relieve simply because there was a fit of pique at the Reps losing Sen. Spano – epitome of an egomaniacal mindset. Don’t make me laugh.

  5. CUOMO

    No local hearing or input is EVIDENT that NYS believes parents, teachers, and average taxpayers are INDIFFERENT and don’t deserve a voice. Unbelievable!

  6. threesidesto truth

    Yes , it is now official, all the yonkers state delegates are useless. This is a perfect storm for Mayor Spano to take the lead in anything he wants. Good luck Mayor, have your way, you deserve it because nobody else can do a thing. I would say if you do have enough influence with the Governor, have him veto this loan and make it funding. You don’t need this monkey on your back.
    If the price is Pirazio, then give it, he deserves it anyway.

    1. YO

      Your right. The Albany delegation is useless but that’s who we keep voting in. It’s all about power in Albany. To quote one of our local reps in Albany “We know what is best for Yonkers”. The funding will never be straightened out, if it was we would not have to go to Albany and wine and dine these useless politicians. Def. of a politician “a seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles. 1. A person who practices politics.

      “Politics” is derived from the words “poly” meaning “many”, and “tics” meaning “blood-sucking parasites.”

      2. One who was perfected the art of lying.

      3. A highly paid yes-man.

      This is also all about Coumo taking over everything because he knows best!

  7. You asked for it. You got it.

    The Mayor and the Republican Council Majority went around the local delegation and worked out this deal with the Governor’s office and the NYS Senate Republicans. This is the deal you got. If you don’t like tell the Senate Republicans to vote against it tomorrow. Of course you would not have to bond the money if you raise taxes 15% like Amicone and a previous Republican Majority did in 2004 when we last had a crisis. People will complain for a few weeks but then you have built a strong foundation to fund the City this year and beyond and you can blame it all on Bernard.

    1. enough is enough

      You most be kidding, the only strong foundation will be in Spano and Co’s pockets. He will have more money to hire more friends and family. All of then unqualified GED holders professionals.
      Taxes shouldn’t go up. Before doing that, he should let go of a bunch of parasites he hired, starting with the Deputy Major, Susan Gerry, from Bedford, the Park’s Commissioner, from Florida, HR commissioner, Paula Redd, from Connecticut, the new Assessor Jackson, from White Plains, the list is long. Once those individuals are gone, then let’s talk about raising taxes. By the way, you are not from Yonkers. So, get lost too.

  8. Standing up for the children

    “Following the public outcry over a $55 million accounting error caused when the former Yonkers Public Schools Administration overestimated state aid payments, the Council Majority had joined with the Mayor in calling for a new management structure for City schools. Since then, members of the Council Majority had attended countless public and personal meetings with stakeholders to determine the best course of action for the school district.” -Are you kidding me, Liam? The Council had one public meeting on this and no one in the Council Majority was even happy when Education Chairman Michael Sabatino called the meeting. Talking to your friends who don’t use the schools at events and participating in one open discussion in two months is not: “countless public and personal meetings”.

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