My entire life has been conducted in Yonkers. Of all of the candidates for Mayor, I have the most experience, best credentials and greatest knowledge of how this City works. I know the neighborhoods and City Hall, inside & out. I worked as an engineer in the building department back in 1975. I’m a Civil Engineer and a Lawyer. In the past I’ve been a teacher, a truck driver, a construction worker, a pretty good carpenter (it’s still my favorite hobby), a heavy equipment operator and a pizza delivery boy, to name a few.
I also run my successful business in Yonkers – real estate development and management. I treat my tenants with respect and fairness – the same way I treat all reasonable people. That’s the same way that I have served my constituents in the past and it’s my promise to serve you as Mayor with the same approach.
I’m married to Julie for 30 years. Cristin’s a lawyer married to Brian Hughes, an assistant District Attorney in Queens. George is a Civil Engineer, Matt is too but he’s going to Law School at night. Noelle (born on Christmas Day – what other name could we give her) is in her senior year of College. She wants to be an elementary education teacher.
I love a good conversation, a few laughs and a good cigar. I play golf which is almost as frustrating as Yonkers politics. Finally, I know that I can apply my experiences, and professional abilities to run Yonkers in a much more efficient way. Having a good heart, a good brain and common sense is all it takes. I know I can do it with your help. I’m asking for your vote in the Elections.
My Record on Taxes Real Estate Transfer Tax & Income Tax Surcharge
I served on the City Council in 1998. On January 2 (my second day in office) I introduced the legislation to eliminate the Yonkers Real Estate Transfer Tax (the so called exit tax, when one sells their property) and the Income Tax Surcharge. It passed and the taxes were phased down.
Unfortunately, since I left office, those taxes have gone right back up to the levels they were at in 1998. Several of the other Mayoral candidates, running this year, have had a part in voting for and authorizing those tax increases. If I get back in, I’ll reverse their reversal and eliminate those taxes, again.
Real Estate Taxes Have Doubled Since I Left the City Council
I have always fought against tax increases. That includes my four years on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, 1980-1984. In one of those years, the County budget passed by a vote of 16 to 1. Who was the lone vote against the budget – yours truly. That budget raised your County taxes by approximately 27% in a single year. They’d have to nail me up before I supported that kind of tax insanity. In 1999 the City tax rate was $317 per thousand of assessment. This year it’s $627 per thousand. Simply put, your taxes have doubled. It amazes me that elected officials, including current Mayoral candidates, have no problem approving such outrageous tax increases. Maybe it is because they don’t feel the pain. My business owns real estate. The properties that I am involved with pay a combined total of more than $ 140,000 in real estate taxes. So it shouldn’t be hard to figure that I am not a fan of raising taxes. Of all of the Mayoral candidates, I believe I carry the greatest tax burden Here’s a promise. I will find efficiencies and savings and won’t take the easy way out by raising your already exaggerated real estate taxes. It can be done.
President Harry Truman is one of my favorite political characters in history. The man just oozed common sense. Harry had a plaque on his desk in the oval office that read “The Buck Stops Here” on the front side and “I’m from Missouri” on the backside.
The significance was that he was to be in charge and accountable for the decisions of his administration – the big ones and the small ones. My plaque will be identical except that it will read “I’m from Yonkers” on the inside. My approach to running City Hall will also be like President Truman’s. I will take charge of the matters that need to be handled and I’ll accept responsibility for the successes or the failures. As soon as it’s made I’ll show a picture of the plaque.
The Finance Commissioner Will Have to Give Me Briefings When Payments Are Made
In my private business, I know where every dime is spent. All invoices are reviewed and verified before paid. It’s the only way to have financial control. It also gives a better sense of where money can be saved, next time around. As Mayor, I will direct our “check writers” – the finance department to get my approval before writing the check. Of course this doesn’t apply to payroll, but I will demand a periodic running total of each employee’s wages, to date, and how that compares to their salary. That’s called overtime control. We just learned of a police officer who earned over $300,000 last year and is now retired. Something’s rotten in Yonkers. Without pointing any finger of blame, our “system” has developed a lot of fat over the years. This is one way that I will find it and eliminate it.
Unnecessary Cars, Cell Phones and Gasoline Distribution to be Terminated
When I worked in City Hall, 1975, the only people who had cars were the building inspectors, street inspectors, the Mayor & City Manager. Now every Tom, Dick, Harry & Mary has one with a cell phone too. In the past if an employee used his vehicle for city work, he or she was reimbursed on a mileage rate. That’s what I will implement. There will be no more big SUVs or an open gas pump for employees. I won’t take a City vehicle. I’ll take the cell phone because it’s important to be on top of things. Also, every commissioner and other key employees will have cell phones for contact purposes.
Red Light Cameras on the Chopping Block
Let’s consider surveillance cameras in high crime areas instead. It’s my opinion that the newly installed red light cameras are more so aimed at generating revenue then enhancing safety. They also present a danger, especially if drivers are aware of their presence. Some people may speed up or jam on their brakes to avoid the ticket. My approach to ensure safety at a trouble intersection is old fashioned. I would direct the Police Commissioner to place a traffic detail at that point until matters get better. Besides, as a lawyer, I believe that there is an argument as to the illegality of the red light cameras. They may violate a person’s right to due process. We’ll be looking into that. I hope the City didn’t sign a contract for these cameras that will be difficult to revoke. Too bad that one of the candidates for Mayor, this year, was the one who introduced the law in the NY Assembly which allows Yonkers to have the red light cameras. Without that law, we wouldn’t be dealing with these cameras.
Code of Etiquette for City Employees ??? While we have many courteous workers in this City (many of them are friends or people that I know), some of our “public servants” may have forgotten that they serve the public. For example, a few days ago, I called into a City department on private business and was treated in a gruff way by the person who answered the phone. There is no need or excuse for that. We will develop a set of guidelines for employees on proper interaction with and treatment of citizens. I will direct every commissioner to apply the guidelines vigorously. The purpose is not to “get anyone into trouble”. The purpose is to foster better treatment of our customers – you, the taxpayers and citizens of the City. Of course, we expect courteous conduct in the other direction.