Makeshift Legal and Political Scaffolding of SFC Project Robs Yonkers its Future Success by Hezi Aris

eHezi Archives 24 Comments


The legal and political wrangling has taken four years to define and construct. Its structure, originally the vision of Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, languished in thought for years.Before evaporating into a mirage, a triumvirate of developers were courted into our realm, enticed with the promise of Yonkers' booty and treasure. They would come to relish the vision; they would extrapolate its concept into one of a grander scheme to the tune of $1.5 billion, only to rescind their word by $1 billion less, resting "their" vision at $500 million.. 

Exhausted by the hotly contested battle for Ridge Hill, Yonkersites tended their wounds after fighting Forest City Ratner, as well as the Benedict Arnolds of Yonkers City government, both from the Executive and Legislative branches of government, who fought The People's battles for their greater personal power, all the while permitting The People their own deaths for battles they urged they fight. The People would in time be abandoned under relentless public relations assault to their character, and the unforgiving subterfuge lost in the legal battlefields, bloodied, gasping for relief, eventually to succumb in defeat before his "Lordship" Bruce Ratner and his minions of salivating greedy wannabees. Surrounded by the sycophants at City Hall, Lord Ratner sang his delusional praises to the accompaniment of Mayor Amicone and the Second Floor's off-key rendition to calling the boondoggle a success. Mayor Amicone continued to sing, bolstered by economic development czar Ed Sheeren, who has never forgotten how to wag the tail, to Mayor Amicone's delight.

The most important aspect to be gleaned by the Ridge Hill development project is that is has not unfurled as promised. It was and continues to fall short of the bill of goods sold to Yonkersites. The financial debacle that originated in the United States only exacerbated the folly still being built; now delayed years into the future without a tenant in sight, and concerns of alleged bribery, among other alleged illegalities, that may be revealed as part of the investigation by law enforcement agencies that was City Hall's convenient excuse for the forced resignation of a Yonkers Senior Housing Inspector whose purview was Ridge Hill.

More importantly still, is the fact that our legal team, as good as they believe themselves to be and as erudite as we would hope them to be, are childlike in their ability to comprehend the multilayered complexities of negotiating contracts with Fortune 100 firms and those whose legal team is comprised of such largesse as to reveal our puny equipment. We should have learned then, yet are in denial still, that our legal eagles have yet to fledge. They have been proven unworthy of sitting across the negotiating table against the likes of Forest City Enterprises, and the likes of SFC Yonkers. Comprising the now departed Struever, the still existent Fidelco, and Cappelli, of SFC Yonkers Inc., SFC Yonkers has long engaged the legal acumen of Al DelBello, by the hiring of his law firm, and formally  contracting the lobbying talents of former New York State Senator Nick Spano, among a cadre of others. 

If so far in this reading you only see the names of those who have or presently wield power, you may safely infer that economic development in Yonkers is nothing more than the passing of wealth from one generation of insiders to their progeny, next of kin, or families and friends network. Now that wasn't such a leap, was it?

Yonkers resolve  was undercut by its inept leadership in the Executive Branch; and further, equally suffered the clumsy  inability to translate opportunity, experience, and education into a palatable formula of success for The people by the Legislative Branch of government.

One could suggest that collective action is the only alternative to the dysfunction that has been nurtured within our borders but it has never been easy to achieve or sustain. Success has been fleeting and eventually flaccid. One could argue that among a clique of so few interested parties, the Executive, Legislative Branches of government, and some, but not all tangential hangers on, the challenge of returning value to The People would and could be garnered among the cooperation of like minded thinkers. Alas, as difficult as it may be to write, it is likely harder to read and comprehend, that not all in Yonkers are concerned about the survival of fellow Yonkersites with equal consideration. In fact, many Yonkersites are marginalized in the equation of economic development or given short shrift for political consumption at best. The crumbs of inclusion are few , and wanting, and most of all, telling of our failures.

Under the various circus tents constructed to deflect attention of every adversary and cynic, the other "team" is called nothing more than a misfit or a miscreant. Reckless rhetoric and provocative actions of a few within different facets of any given perspective and equation dominate the news cycle in order to overshadow the meandering skullduggery of the few who hope to maintain their stranglehold of power of Yonkers "potential." Continuing the deceit are stirring speeches, ensuing press releases, and the blame game finger pointers who embellish each others' nighmares into hysterical heights of frenzy.

Passage of the SFC Yonkers Inc development project looks to win the day despite our leaders' inabilities to speak earnestly and with intelligence, moderation, and insight into Yonkers plight, and its need for more than what is "agreed" contractually. Unfortunately for Yonkers, the peer pressure and the high stakes before the City of Hills continues to be non-existent; neither is there a robust Fourth Estate whose collective gravitas is sufficient to set a tone  and convey the concept that Yonkers deserves to succeed for its own sake and for the sake of Westchester County for the county to maintain and grow. Without Yonkers, Westchester County cannot thrive, much less be viable in the 21st Century. Westchester County would like Yonkers not to get that reality.

The financial return postulated for approval in one week's time will go very little in transcending Yonkers precarious financial instability and economic woe for years to come. Yonkers deficit will suffer financially as it will likewise come to infect every sinew of our city. From the lack of funds for our police force, which will atrophy, relegated to being undermanned for years to come as needs for security heighten their load. Despite the soon to be hired Firefighters, for which an allocation has yet to be devised, we continue to lie to ourselves when future financial growth and planning is the requisite for good government, not political plotting and playing a blame game.

Yonkers gaping budget deficits, the taxing burden on our elder community of citizens who built and continue to sustain Yonkers  suffer the burden as they are pushed out of the equation for consideration by those with the power to vote them relief. Our children and grandchildren fight to stay close to home only to eventually  abandon the environs they love and the family to which they wish to maintain proximity because the economic environment has robbed them their option otherwise by government action. The  decayed infrastructure deteriorates as the seconds tick away only to be mentioned when politically expedient. Similarly, the Yonkers Board of Education remains in "our" collective thoughts as a political football of value in times needing a deflective moment of pity, sorrow, scandal, or coverup; rarely over educational excellence. 

The makeshift scaffold before Yonkers is rickety at best. The future success will require collective leadership and thought. The personal governance Mayor Amicone has afforded is  proven  to be inadequate, the pandering posture of lesser offices equally inadequate. Pushing SFC Yonkers forward will promote the gloating utterances of the thin-skinned leadership that brought us to the precipice of failure with few if any options left before Yonkers. I suspect they have robbed us of all choice once considered viable.

eHeziMakeshift Legal and Political Scaffolding of SFC Project Robs Yonkers its Future Success by Hezi Aris

Comments 24

  1. Show me the Money? SFC has 0 ability to finance a 2 family home, let alone the downtown.
    Mous and any like minded people out there, approvals may mean game on…in 5 years or so. Then come back to me in 10 years and let discuss what the difference is between the renderings we bought into and the reality…then in 20 years when the next generation is up to the plate, we will finally see what this Vote meant to Yonkers.
    destroying the downtown is easy, its already destroyed…fixing it will take everything this city has got…including the open ended deals, the change orders the city foots the bills for, the delays, and most likely the shoddy construction.
    Good luck

  2. Anon E. Mous
    Tell the property owners and business in the downtown– whose investments are locked down for easily the next ten years by these greedy bastards — what a great deal this is.

    “Mayor Phil Amicone makes good by finally resigning!”
    This would be the happiest day Yonkers had since one day before Sands issued bussing.
    Amicone will continue tell you whatever he wants in order to get you to believe HIS NONSENSE. EVERYONE MUST USE THEIR HEADS. THIS GUYS IS NOT A LEADER AND NOT A MAYOR.

  4. agree with 12:17
    mous has now committed a mortal sin….even worse than his steadfast refusal to face oposing views, he has now become the quintessential bore.

  5. again Mous, you can put any spin you want on your choosing not to answer questions you consider “ridiculous”. That is a basic coward’s response when he or she doesn’t HAVE a valid retort, and speaks to the fact that you don’t ever have answers, period. I even wonder if you even went to school at all. Did you never debate anything in a classroom? You simply can’t refuse to answer a point made because YOU have decided that you don’t like the question. You are simply an ill-informed pontificator who just throws out opinions without ever responding to valid challenges. This is just another of your evasive answers du-jour in a long line of evasive answers. You’re out of your league.

  6. Mous, MAGIC FARIES AND MONEY TREES. This project will cost TAXPAYERS MILLIONS, So spending MILLIONS OF TAXPAYER MONEY giving away the house with NO SET RETURN!!!!!SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!

  7. Anon E. Mous contributes interesting perspectives but disappoints when he adopts the p.o.v. that those who push, prod and question are “anti-development”. He is not the only one capable of nuanced thought.

  8. I haven’t been proved wrong yet, Anon at 8:48. And I choose not to answer posts I regard as ridiculous.
    As I said, this project isn’t great. I think the ballpark is a bad idea, for instance. But I think getting things moving now is better than more stalling and delaying, for which I primarily blame Lesnick and the Council.
    I don’t like Al DelBello, and I don’t like the backroom dealing. But without something getting started, downtown Yonkers is dead. In case you haven’t noticed, right now downtown is a disaster area. So at this stage, even a late and less-than-ideal “fix” is better than no fix.
    The next step should be to take on all the unions, who have been bleeding Yonkers dry for a very long time. But the local pols are too timid to do so. They’d rather just continue to shaft the taxpayers. That has to end.

  9. Mous, WERE IS THE MONEY. We just loaned Cappelli 4.6mill to pay the city back for a lloan they already could NOT repay. How do you give them more, You are a rodent! odviously you fit in great with our local hack morons.

  10. You fools who call it anti development are clearly clueless! THERE IS NO MONEY!!!!! DOWNTOWN WILL WITHER AND DIE FOR YEARS TO COME!! The yonkers team going up against profesional developers is like a Ferrari raceing a dodge dart and thinking the dart will win. YONKERS IS SCREWED!!!! FEDs FEDS feds feds………

  11. oh God there you are again mous showing your ignorance…did you read the comments under 5:25 about the nightmare this project would have been had the council voted it any sooner — getty square full of dormant excavation and equipment with no money for these three to continue. YOu are truly a cyclops and latch on to one idea, no matter how inane or how you have been proved wrong, and don’t answer to the people who do prove you wrong. You are truly incapable having a two-sided blog, and actually address the statements others make to prove your statements wrong. Please go away and blog on the Journal News where nothing is ever reported anyway and your shallow and baseless comments will be just as meaningless.

  12. Excellent post by 3:42. And to 6:13, you got it right. Hezi and the anti-development crowd LOST. And now, the whining will continue.
    This development deal isn’t great by any means, but it’s a lot better than nothing. And if Lesnick and the Council didn’t screw around for two years longer than necessary, a better project could have been built from “Day One.”

  13. Hezi and all his anti-development buddies lost. That’s the bottom line. All his favorite candidates lose, and now the projects he’s against are going to get built. Hezi, you are a loser. Get used to it.

  14. capelli is broke?
    So is Yonkers!
    but don’t tell the city council
    they need to approve this crap
    a better deal!
    thats funny i never looked at the idea of having a vacant downtown for the next decade as a “better deal”!

  15. The project may or may not happen but the Council is right to approve the LDA with limitations that will keep the property in the hands of the City until certain milestones are meet. The Council has negotiated a better deal for Yonkers.

  16. Will Pierorazio be included with the investigation of the FBI ? He was deputy when money exchanged hands for IDA and the city. We will soon see.

  17. to anon at 3:42 – I don’t really think you know the deal here.
    First of all, let me clear up the first misconception about the city council’s having stalled this project. The administration finally admitted that Ridge Hill is two years behind schedule. That interprets to its probably being about four years behind, since their hand was finally forced to even admit there is a delay. If the downtown project had been approved in the timeframe called for by the mayor and his team of cheerleaders, Getty Square, too, would be full of vacant holes and languishing equipment, but worse than the stalling of Ridge Hill because it is in the middle of a living and breathing area. But, you all conveniently downplay that significance.
    Moreover, I was at the mayor’s town hall meeting last week and he actually had the audacity to say that this project would be up and running IN A COUPLE OF YEARS. An outright lie, since the last version of the LDA called for 1-2 years of obtaining financing and up to three years for buildout, i.e. FIVE YEARS BEFORE ANYTHING IS UP AND RUNNING. But, leave it to the mayor to continue lying to the public which is his trademark.
    Last but not least, I hardly think that the city council got any kicks out of these “televised meetigs” that you seem to equivocate to being on America’s Got Talent. Maybe 7 1/2 people actually watch channel 78 and I think it narrows down to 1 1/2 at 1:00 in the morning, which is the time that they were usually there vetting this project. Yeah, I’m sure that they got a lot of kicks out of those nights. I myself stopped watching 78 since I can no longer stand the sing-song voice of that gum-snapping little girl who does the leaf-blower ads and is always taking pictures of the mayor at public functions – not exactly primetime TV.
    Last but not least, Hezi is dead on about this countil and their counsel (with absolutely no disrespect intended) being out of their depth competing with the likes of DelBello and other private sector development pros. They are a part-time city council, which nobody really wants to recognize, with the limitations it symbolizes, and their lawyers are politically obtained, and I don’t need to tell you what that means. They are not negotiators and negotiators is what was needed. Perhaps any businessman worth his salt would have been a more appropriate counsel, but it is not the way it turned out. Let me assure you, when these guys give you something in one hand, they are taking something else from you with the other, and this council doesn’t have the savvy to figure out from where it will be coming.

  18. People who are for this project clearly have not got a clue. Taxes will rise downtown will get worse. They will say woops in a few years and millions of dollars later. If they vote yes it is only for there own political gain. Not for the benifit of Yonkers.

  19. When did “development” develop into a Politician’s Platform instead of a means of growing the City’s economy?
    Never did the discussion about the SFC approval process focus on how to stop the one-shot budget “fixes”, what skill-training is needed to employ those who make up the disproportionally high unemployment level in Southwest Yonkers, and what related private investment would occur if SFC was built.
    Instead, the conversation is always about “what’s in it for me?”
    The Firefighters didn’t argue for replacing worn out, wooden buildings with new structures with improved fire safety. They didn’t fight for SFC to improve traffic flow and light synchronization so they can better combat fires. They didn’t do anything but ask, “what’s in it for us?”
    The Police didn’t argue for after-school jobs to discourage gang activity and Getty Square loitering. The Police said SFC would create MORE crime, not lessen the problems of urban decay in the downtown. They didn’t do anything but ask, “what’s in it for us?”
    And those politicians…from the past (Robertson, Spencer), the present (Amicone plus Lesnick, McDow, Barbato, McLaughlin, Annabi, Murtagh), and the future (fill-in-the-blank). The SFC project wasn’t about what was best for the City but what was best for their political careers. The “negotiation” should have taken days but with TV cameras in City Council chambers, press releases from the second floor, the IDA, and others, the army of consultants being paid for creating more work for themselves…this has always been about “go slow / take more time” – not “get going and help our city”. It is ALWAYS about, “what’s in it for me?” with these politicos.
    So what is the average taxpayer left with when it comes to SFC?
    How about a “negotiated” deal that is probably not build-able by any developer in any economic climate (forget about the fact that 2-3 years ago this could have been a slam dunk but it may take 2-3 more years before a re-created plan is buildable).
    How about 2-3 years of lost property taxes, sales taxes, jobs and employment taxes, etc.? Nothing really has changed by the delay period…other than the project hasn’t started.
    If everyone knew SFC was eventually going to be passed and most people thought it was a good project for the City, why wasn’t it fast-tracked and approved years ago so the developers could have been started.
    The Council issues a press release before they even have a scheduled vote. What sort of joke is that? Pat yourself on the back for a projected, future vote? Congratulate yourself for doing your job?
    What a joke this all is.
    Forget about the merits or problems of the SFC project.
    The process around here is terrible`

  20. Wow, After all this time Lesnick finally brings it up for a vote.
    He and his new buddies are salivating to give him something to run with the last 5 weeks.
    Pathetic and obvious.

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