RYE, NY and WHITE PLAINS, NY — Imagine a $2 to $5 million hemorrhage annually. Is it an anomaly or does government perpetuate the failure despite the outcry for prudence and fiscal responsibility? Imagine further that the $2 million plus burden is meant to degrade support for the entity as it is perceived to be burdened every year with accumulating debt that impacts Westchester County government as other financial concerns regress and repress the ability for the County to surmount its financial woes. As one contemplates the conundrum between promise and the growing financial hardships it exacerbates throughout the County overall, one must wonder why this financial burden cannot be cajoled from deficit to profit through commitment to its initial promise, followed by scrutiny to its present plight, and the subsequent plans to right the wrongs. This professed financial burden is made believable by make believe numerical entries in ledgers that do not reveal the hemorrhage. The intention for this “game” has many fathers. At this point it matters little who sired this alleged con. What matters now is whether Playland Amusement Park is suffering a contrived deficit or if it is in reality profitable. This telling will show that Playland is simply eviscerated by greed and design. Profit is being covered up.
It is a scheme designed to evade scrutiny. And it has worked for years. It was not designed to function as it does today yesterday, but many years ago under different administrations. Blame sits before many, but blame holds no value in this telling. Only correction matters; and with it the accolades of righting that which is wrong. Kathleen O’Connor is the most recent commissioner of the Westchester County Parks Department. Prior to her being appointed acting commissioner by County Executive Rob Astorino, who chose her to replace the retiring Joseph Stout, she held the position that Joseph Stout, after his retirement as commissioner acceded to her prior post. In other words, they switched positions and responsibilities. Joseph Stout is after 18 years of service to the Westchester County Parks Department the recently appointed head of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation (PRC). The third facet to this construct is Elizabeth Bracken, co-founder of the public relations firm Thompson and Bender, who presides over the not-for-profit group Friends of Westchester.
The Westchester County Parks Department manages Playland Amusement. In order to manage Playland Amusement, PRC engages Westchester County Parks Department personnel to collect funds from the various vendors, among the other services demanded of them. Funds collected are afforded the Friends of Westchester operation. Friends of Westchester are alleged to hold onto the funds they collect. PRC bills Friends of Westchester for the collections gleaned from the vendors, but not for the services rendered to PRC by the Westchester County Parks Department. The reason they don’t collect the full amount is because they are not billed for the services rendered by the Westchester County Parks Department personnel. In other words, Westchester County does not get reimbursed for the services rendered to the PRC, by the Friends of Westchester. What Friends of Westchester allegedly are not asked to pay grows the coffers of the not-for-profit to the amount the Westchester County Parks Department does not bill the PRC. The funds flow from one financial construct to the other with the full knowledge of Westchester County government. The yearly deficits continue to accrue without a call for a forensic audit to uncover the alleged fiscal mismanagement.
The process has permitted Playland Amusement to become the whipping boy in the public’s mind, Playland Amusement is being perceived to be a deficit-ridden disaster. It is not. It is in fact profitable. Mr Astorino can rectify this financial debacle by revisiting the ledger.