The Numbers Herein.
YONKERS, NY — March 30, 2014 — The script regarding the transformation of the Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) into a department of the City of Yonkers (CoY) was orchestrated and smartly shepherded by Larry Schwartz, confidante and Secretary to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano did his part, especially waiting out the clock while having grade B actors take up the deflective drama vignettes that consumed Yonkersites with fear, dread, foreboding, and tragically silence. Mayor Mike Spano also marginalized the Yonkers Delegation, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. Yonkersites were also dismissed from knowing what was happening. The Yonkers Board of Education Board of Trustees did their part in formulating and repeating a soothing message of continuity and transparency after Bernard Pierorazio’s departure and the appointment of Interim Yonkers Public School Superintendent Dr. Michal Yazurlo. The accession of Dr Yazurlo to the helm of the Yonkers Public School District brought an intended sigh of relief to all interested and watching. Yet more was happening behind the scenes.
As reported in the Yonkers Tribune weeks ago, Mayor Mike Spano directed MIS Director Robert Cacace (Internet technology), Human Resources Commissioner Paula Redd Zeeman, DPW Commissioner Thomas Meier, Parks and Recreation and Conservation Commissioner Yvette Hartsfied, and Finance Commissioner John Liszewski to stealthily review the YBoE for any savings that may be extracted from its present function for the future. In fact, Yonkers Federation of teachers (YFT) President Pat Puleo last week revealed she was demanded to at first pare $18 million from the YFT personnel; it was last upped to $24 million. The task and conduct demanded of Ms Puleo is proof that Yonkers City Hall knew and worked within the planned takeover of the YBoE despite the protestations made by Mayor Mike Spano this past fortnight (two weeks) to having given up the fight to make the YBoE a department of CoY. The Yonkers City Council’s resolution to present a majority 4-3 vote attesting to solid Republican support for taking over the YBoE and morph it into a department under city direction reveals the Republican entourage to be part of the outcome. When Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Proposed FY2014-2015 Budget is voted upon, likely meeting the deadline of April 1, 2014, the mastery of subsuming the YBoE without a derisive assault on the final outcome will have become moot. The YBoE has for all intent now become a department in structure, if not by name. For that alone, whether in agreement or not, as postulated by the Yonkers Tribune, Mayor Mike Spano has won the battle and the “war”. The semblance of any independence of the YBoE from direction by Mayor Mike Spano is an open joke from now onward.
All decisions with respect to the “new” YBoE will be controlled by Yonkers City Hall except for education concerns. Finances, construction, consolidation, Internet, legal services, etc., will be governed by and from City Hall.
The most important unanswered question regarding the final overspending has yet to be divulged. Is a shortfall of $120 million noted selectively among an esoteric few is yet to be asserted on the record. The additional $50 to $80 million shortfall on the city side of the financial ledger is also being hidden. Why? And most importantly, from what account(s) was CoY able to function financially when City Hall has noticed sheepishly that CoY was able to satisfy all employees, vendors, contracts, and more, without constraint despite the funds not being in the city coffers. Where did the money come from? How did Commissioner Liszewski access the largesse of such an account and what banking institution is the money to be found? Is there a fee that has been imposed for use of that money? How much is it? How much is left in that account? Are her more such accounts? What is the amount presently hidden from Yonkersites that hey have the right to know? It is their money!
Considering the alleged fiscal severity encountered by CoY, how do the numbers in the State budget, expected to be approved, meet the needs of CoY for the upcoming fiscal year?
A figure permitting CoY to bond specifically to reduce the debt by $45 million to cover the initial figure revealed as the “shortfall” was the rationale for the dismissal of Yonkers BoE Chief Financial Officer Joseph Brachitta and YPS Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio as one aspect of the “deal” to be approved to be part of the budget proposal.
The State of New York Municipal Bond bank agency will authorize $28 million to CoY to support public schools in the city.
A 5 percent increase, an amount to which that percentage equates to is still undetermined, will also be gained by CoY.
A state fund will permit CoY to request funds that will go toward capital improvement projects, specifically in building, or when prudent, to renovate school buildings and infrastructure. That sum is also presently kept under wraps.
Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) is expected for be $108 million for Yonkers.
A tip of the hat to Mayor Mike Spano’s conduct in outwitting all Yonkersites and elected officials to the “plan” that has come to pass. Mayor Mike Spano has chosen and succeeded in bringing about this outcome. He will also be responsible to righting all that has been wrong at the YBoE. We can only wish him success the outcome, but his backroom antics bring to question his finesse in the process. Mayor Mike Spano has proven he can be a player when directed. He must now prove he is a leader where it matters, that is in Yonkers on issues such as, economic development, ethical governance, benevolence, and so much more. The Astorino campaign effort to challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo for the office of NYS Governor will find Mayor Mike Spano making Yonkers a safe harbor for the Astorino entourage. Again, the issue will be when will Mayor Mike Spano’s “so-called” concern and hoped for benevolence by him with respect to Yonkersites takes hold? And will Mayor Mike Spano be able to mend the schism he created among the Albany Delegation for their efforts that Mayor Mike Spano has yet to acknowledge?
More numbers will continue to come out of Albany over the next few days.
Ahem, let’s keep this telling hush, hush! City hall doesn’t want anyone to know.