Yonkers, NY — The re-emergence of gang related issues, violence and killings in the streets, plus quality of life concerns coupled by budgetary shortfalls fostered people's fears, and diminished their patience culminating in the emergency meeting called to order last night. The previous emergency meeting last took place four years ago emphasized 3rd Precinct Police Community Council President Bob Stauf. Police representatives were in attendance, specifically 3rd Pct. Captain Charles Fara, Captains Lieutenants and Sergeants Association President Lt. Tom Phelan, among others. Some elected officials were in attendance, specifically Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Sandy Annabi, Councilwoman Joan Gronwski, Councilwoman and Budget Co-Chair Patricia McDow, Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick, and Westchester County Board Legislator José Alvarado. Candidates vying for office and in attendance included Virginia Perez, José Roman, and Wilson Terrero, yet not one mayoral representative respected the emergency meeting held by the Yonkers Third Police Community Council Meeting last night to have attended despite officially requested to do so. The lack of respect by Mayor Phil Amicone toward the community underscored their adherence to believing they have been relegated little importance to the city's value of them.
Bob Stauf, who led the discussion, valiantly attempted to keep a balanced discussion by warning all in attendance, specifically the politicians, that their responses be devoid of self-promoting political soliliques when responding to the public's concerns and fears. Mr Stauf delineating the parameters of the meeting were trespassed by some and adhered to by others.
The agenda was fraught with sink holes. On some levels, the catalysts that brought about this meeting were on opposing poles of extreme, founded by agenda rather than public concern. Police overtime concerns held onto one facet of the argument; public safety held sway over another facet; the election year politicking added another nuance to the discussion, or lack thereof; while the lack of planning for Yonkers' financial hardship has yet to respond to the public's need and its ability to pay the ever increasing burden of taxes. The lack of a return on investment (ROI) with regard to economic development projects past and planned have added little to Yonkers coffers or its vision of itself.
Still, Mr Stauf's effort to find a balanced perspective, gleaned from the attending residents concerned enough to bear the sweltering heat of the evening, while commendable, will require a larger scale discussion that should have already taken place under the aegis of Mayor Phil Amicone or that of the Yonkers City Council President. Mayor Amicone's lack of attendance last night underscores his lack of concern; President Lesnick's arriving at 8:02 pm, an hour after the doors were open to the venue is likewise, not good enough. It time to raise the bar rather than continuing to lower it.
What was distilled last night was that money, or the lack thereof, is the basis by which the public's concerns may finally be mitigated, or if the society in general will need to financially plan to climb out of its present circumstances. Majority Leader Annabi offered to be the first to re-evaluate the financial circumstances swirling about Yonkers budget constraints. Councilwoman Gronowski re-iterated that the financial burden shouldered by the taxpaying homeowners was too great to have increased the tax burden to satisfy Mayor Amicone's onerous request for a bigger budget when voting over the budget.
Mayor Amicone's first political defeat has seen him cloistered within an ivory tower, emboldened by a vindictive demeanor rather than tempered by an effort toward greater outreach.
True to her word last night, Councilwoman McDow has today advised that she has requested an up-to-date financial statement from Finance Commissioner James LaPerche to ascertain the city's most recent financial standings and numbers vis-a-vis sales tax revenue, among other revenue, to ascertain if allocation(s) may be moved from one line to another; a process that may only be initiated by Mayor Amicone.
The meeting came to a close at 8:50 pm, a victim to the budget crisis that has gripped the city and challenged its ability to survive, much less thrive. The public can expect another meeting of the
Third Precinct Police Community Council by September 15, 2009, as noted by Vice-President Catherine Marshall, or sooner, if the urgency exposed by the need to call the emergency meeting will be publicly reviewed and remedied by a meeting of the Yonkers City Council or the office of the Executive, Mayor Phil Amicone sooner than the regular monthly meeting date.