Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano won the hearts of Yonkersites with his penchant for discourse and the sincerity of his smile while battling for his political survival and polishing the Spano name for posterity further into the future. At issue is just how much time does he have? Is it a full 4-year term or only a part thereof, that is, at the helm as a strong mayor in government, or hobbled by a financial review board to which he will be demanded to answer? Will Mayor Mike Spano be able to tackle the issues permitted to fester at the sinew of the City of Yonkers (CoY), or will he have the mindset and the staff / team to devise a cohesive vision for CoY?
Too often, analysis is conducted in hindsight, awaiting the vision to be postulated, and thereafter awaiting the steps or protocol that will have to be engaged in order to reach the goals set. While the cry of “be patient” is the mantra uttered to appease criticism, it also suffocates the distilling of goals and thereafter the sustained maintenance of prudent direction and the setting up of defined metrics of performance standards. It is those standards of appeasement too often espoused to satiate those who hunger for solutions, yet too quickly dismissed when the metrics meant to measure performance are not met. The standard of duality, easily molded into doable goals or standards said, are too often dismissed after they are mentioned. The con game of duplicity that is seemingly tolerated under the guise of double-speak.
Conventional wisdom suggests Yonkersites are tired of the talk, the games, the cover-ups, the patronage, the sweet deals for the “family and friends network,” and the mountain of debt that has ravaged CoY of every cent and mounting debt. At the top of this heap of ineptitude and the permissiveness afforded the protagonists of past administrations to get away with the outright theft of the past, is the public still being kept in the dark by the new administration. When will they let us know what transpired over the last 16 years of Phil Amicone’s tenure
When will Yonkers’ legal counsel, that is, Yonkers Corporation Counsel claw back the approximately $400,000 in personal debt exacted by the ploy of extortion from the 2011 Yonkers City Council by former Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone? When will Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Patricia McDow pay for the theft of services accrued over a 7 years timeframe by the storage of her BMW at the Buena Vista Parking Lot that was permitted her by the Yonkers Parking Authority despite it being specifically not permitted in tenets written into the Yonkers City Charter?
When will the December 28th meeting of the Yonkers Board of Contract and Supplies rescind or retract the $50,000 contract afforded the former Yonkers City Council Minority Leader John Murtagh and now the senior counsel for the White Plains law firm of Gaines, Gruner, Ponzini & Novick that is understood to be used to defend the misconduct of former Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone’s Chief of Staff Lisa Mirjaj’s son Nikolai on the taxpayer’s dime? When will Yonkers Corporation Counsel find the legal acumen to nullify the $600,000 plus benefits contract under which now Yonkers Parking Authority Executive Director Lisa Mirjaj maintains employment?
When will services rendered to businesses operating under hefty P.I.L.O.T.s (payment on lieu of taxes) benefits, or even those who do not receive such benefits pay for the services they contracted? We have only learned of late that P.I.L.O.T.s can be renegotiated if the will exists or is demanded by circumstance.
When will Cappelli Fidelco pay the $2 million signature loan afforded them during their financial crisis be paid? CoY gave them a $2 million loan that continues unpaid way beyond the 2-years maximum terms they were given. Yonkers is out the $2 million and we are out an additional $2 million that needed to be returned to H.U.D. from whom the money was afforded. Yonkers is out $4 million in total because of the conduct, or lack thereof, by Cappelli Fidelco, yet CoY still maintains Cappelli Fidelco under the status of Master Developers for the Yonkers Downtown Waterfront that has atrophied throughout their ever-changing corporate restructuring since the days of elaborate renderings / drawings of their mirage which have since blighted Yonkers of plans to which Cappelli Fidelco did not have the wherewithal to complete. Cappelli is still stymied; Cappelli Enterprises are for all intent and purpose bankrupt; they are all talk and have no financial muscle to underwrite their verbose posturing. They are not shovel ready on any project, including a smaller imprint.
When will Joe Cotter repay the largesse afforded him through Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (YIDA) and CoY funds and other “wink, wink” deals to which he is in arrears? Despite the reality kept “hush, hush,” but known to the “family and friends network,” he still demands rent from CoY. He owes Yonkers much more than CoY owes him? When will he be taken to court to get the taxpayer’s money? Or, why are we paying him when he hasn’t paid CoY?
When will those afforded not to pay real estate taxes for 10, 20, 30, even over 40 years, be demanded to pay up or forfeit the property for which non-payment has been allowed to be forgotten, or has been specifically dismissed, “wink, wink.” The Milio Management operation in which the owners Antonio and Franco Milio admit to never paying any taxes of any kind, including not paying Yonkers City Tax for 15 plus years of their operation is the template afforded those in the “family and friends network.” When will CoY be permitted to chase these delinquents to fill the city coffers to overflowing?
Has former Yonkers Inspector General Dan Schorr been afforded a “parachute” upon his exit last week? He is not entitled to anything. How much has he been permitted to fleece the Yonkers taxpayer?
When will the cushy subsidy deals between restaurateurs and CoY be reduced, or better still, totally dismissed. $250 per month to park as many cars as one can at the Buena Vista Parking Lot, as is similarly done at other YPA Lots is absurd and fiscally unacceptable. Also, why is the Yonkers Parking Violations Bureau not permitted to ticket cars parked on Main Street from 5 p.m. onward? The restaurants do not own the street. This, too, must stop.
Why does present Mayor Mike Spano’s administration not investigate the alleged business investments afforded former Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone? He is an alleged part owner of the Brio Tuscan Grill franchise operating in the Ridge Hill complex. Can anyone say, “quid pro quo” three times?
What can be done about the “friends and family network” deals that encumbered CoY in contracts for rentals that are outrageously inappropriate for the proposed purposes engaged and worse, alternative city owned property remains unused? When will this misconduct be corrected?
Patronage was permitted to penetrate the embryonic days of Mayor Mike Spano’s building his administration staff. While it is accepted as route for most, it is simply not appropriate and should be reassessed for what it is, a decadent, outrageous, and unseemly conduct by those who do what they do because they can. Mayor Mike Spano can do better than abide by those who believe Yonkersites can continue to be browbeaten into the submissive, quiet lot indicative of the Stockholm Syndrome hostage, or of those who suffer battered spousal abuse. To be berated and treated with outright arrogance will not last forever. Perhaps it will last beyond Mayor Mike Spano’s first term, perhaps even his second, but it will not last. The ship at which Mayor Mike Spano is at the helm must not be permitted to list. It must be set upright. The best way to do that is to learn the definition of transparency.
Yonkersites do not need a father figure; they need and demand an adult capable of delivering the honesty and benevolence of Mayor Mike Spano’s smile and the veracity of his very being. It is the only way to knot a cohesive city supportive of its present Mayor Mike Spano.
Mayor Mike Spano must exude confidence in himself to inspire all Yonkersites to do their share to right a ship that even he has forgotten was initially built to float upright. That must change. We are only 100-plus days out in a treacherous and murky political sea. We must start bailing out the putrid waters of the past and dry the decks from the slime permitted to adhere to our very being.
These concerns will only be mitigated by infusing growth through prudent investment validated by incorruptible data founded by metrics. Politically, Yonkers must learn to find mechanisms of consensus building rather than the imposition of the strong mayor form of government over a bickering feudal network of disparate districts, political agenda among their representatives, and their being quick to stymie discussion amongst themselves of pertinent issues. American democracy is messy, that it is America’s strength; stopping the discourse is anathema to “good” governance.
Consumed by many failed years in governance, Yonkersites are still in search of the person who will bring a levelheadedness to the office of mayor to which they may turn in difficult times. It is his demeanor that must bring political and fiscal coherence. He must not be consumed by immediate results, inane announcements, or the need to impress his interlocutors to prove he has taken action. He must however delegate his vision and forge a strategic vision yet to be articulated to the public.
He must further confront the problems that have caused the deterioration of the quality of life concerns often spoken about yet are conveniently only illusory reference points onto which some still cling.
Past failure has resulted in sustaining and imprisoning hackneyed social standards averse to the liberalism demanded in building a successful alternative model that will permit Yonkers to thrive in times of modernity without disregard of our collective history.
The problems that have culminated in the failure in Yonkers will not be jettisoned overnight. That is why the public must be included in knowing the direction they are to be led. Economic development, education, rule of law in the streets and the boardrooms, and fiscal responsibility must be made to answer to the needs of Yonkersites because Yonkers can no longer afford talk.