The Hezitorial Analysis
An In Your Face Reality Check of Yonkers and the Logical Remedial About Turns Demanded by Circumstances and Necessity for Yonkersites and City Hall
By Deluding the People with Deceitful Falsehoods, City Hall Has Diminished Its Own Political Prospects as Assuredly as It Has Robbed Yonkersites their Vision and Replaced It With a False Mirage
A Plan to Right Governance Is Not Elusive, but Likely a Non-Starter
Attempts toward corrective conduct may be said to have begun under the John Spencer Administration. The promise and passion he brought to the forefront would in time be proven to be nothing but bluster underwritten by authoritarian control. When Phil Amicone was at the last moment picked by Spencer to accede from Deputy to Mayor within months of the general election, it would take two years for Amicone to realize he was mayor. He was distrusted by Spencer and Kathy Spring Spencer who maintained control of Amicone for the first two years of Amicone’s eventual two-terms in office which evolved to become more authoritarian as he too lost control of his need to micro-manage every thing and everyone. Amicone would come to break the law but was exonerated from being personally liable as attested to by the court decision of Hon. Cathy Seibel. Even so, the Yonkers City Council would pay Amicone’s debt without a whimper or public outcry. The People’s interests were dismissed but their tax dollars went to free and exonerate Amicone his personal debt for breaking the law.
Thereafter, a younger, more dashing, and then approachable man, Mike Spano seemed to bring promise to his campaign effort. He succeeded. Upon winning the majority vote he promised governance of inclusion, transparency and brought a city together. Residents and employees alike were awash with the promise Mayor Spano espoused. Even the animosity of the disparate political parties was laid to rest. Alas, his talk was nothing more than “double speak”. Spano was quick to adopt a demeanor that found him to be minimized by the “family and friends network” he would serve almost exclusively. He exuded a sense of assuredness by professing to know how to go about governing. His “knowing” was however reduced to inane and inconsequential press releases, failed appointees, excesses in salaries and benefits while taxpayers were marginalized by decaying and disintegrating infrastructures and services. As he moved from the openness of the campaign to sitting atop a hierarchy of governance, he proved himself incapable of escaping the insecurity shown from the days of Spencer and Amicone. Mayor Mike Spano has secluded himself in the cloistered confines of Yonkers City Hall, ribbon cutting events of little or no consequence, moving further and further away from dealing with troubling financial events and failed “deals” to corporations, divisive and dismissive discord among the city’s unions which were shepherded by his administration by him or as Yonkers City Hall prefers, by people who spoke in his name.
Without a functioning media to expose his errant ways, bolstered by his administration’s ability to marginalize each media outlet by denying and not responding to legitimate inquiry of City Hall, the Spano Administration has learned they can serve themselves without the need to respond to what was a respected conglomeration of media watchdogs at one time.
Well over a million dollars is spent by Yonkers City Hall and the Yonkers Board of Education in maligning facts with denials, devoid of any proofs, only by their telling, and never on paper, at that. Yonkers City Hall has learned to be dismissive of everyone and everything. Their “successful” conduct, the antithesis of what is expected of and by Americans, has broken the back of Yonkersites, embellished their collective personal gains, and wounded Yonkers’ pride and self worth. It has become a testament to the present, similar to the disconnect alluded to among dysfunctioning familial structures.
Upon reflection over the past 22-years, inclusive of the 8-years each of Spencer and Amicone, and the present 6-plus years of at minimum 8-years for Mayor Spano in office, the stars are realigning.
Demeanor is changing by the very challenges that Yonkers City Hall governance tried to eviscerate or permitted to fester to their benefit. It has become evident now more than ever that the pushback began quietly and without malice by a few emboldened Yonkersites because they had not been restfully acknowledged. The pendulum is now swinging toward an equilibrium of greater balance, demand for answers, and the unstoppable forces of legality overriding corruption.
Yonkers City Hall Can No Longer Delude Itself
Controlling the message has failed because there are always a few within any given society that will not be marginalized or dismissed.
Yet Yonkers’ legacy dates back to the early prohibition days where the “connected” politicians had greater interest in lining their suit pockets than serving the public interest of the City of Yonkers (CoY) and Yonkersites alike. History reveals a sad and pathetic legacy that has been replicated over time, vacillating from bad to worse, albeit in degrees. Nothing much has changed. Modernity has inspired a clothing line that had at one time revealed pockets, but of late, those noticed pockets are now meant to be hidden. the transformation is now meant obscure valuables of all kind: cash, credit cards, smartphones, even contraband.
The rat infestation in the environs of Getty Square have been revealed for some time, whereas for the lone expressions for some 5-plus years by the Yonkers Tribune of “The Blue Truth Series”, it is still unfathomable that “swamp rats”, such as Yonkers Police Benevolent Association (Yonkers PBA) President Det. Keith Olsen are at minimum bilingual; yes, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
One month he dines over steaks with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano promising him endorsements and political contributions to any “sad sacks” who will elevate Yonkers Police Chief John Mueller to higher office. Attempts for Olson’s “bro-mance” with BFF Mueller have long been noted to have reached desperation as the Yonkers Police Department have avoided Mueller’s self-promoting, and unbalanced antics in Yonkers and in Westchester County. CoY will bring about change only when the disenfranchised come to realize that they can change their circumstances and those of Yonkers by making certain to register to vote and thereafter to cast their vote. The falsehood is that the disenfranchised do not have a voice over the outcome of any election; the reality is that too many who have the right to vote do not cast their vote, leaving the outcome to the “famity and friends network” of sychophants. That is the very reason Yonkers continues to be stuck in a self-induced time warp.
Besides developers enticed to build new construction seduced by many years of tax breaks, refuted only of late by words rather than facts and figures, and “fat cat” politicians feeding on free snacks and dinners while discussing how they will personally benefit, much will stay the same unless the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) take a closer look. Yonkers is not too big to fail, it continues to fail because those who should scrutinize CoY are afraid to choose to do what is right and instead play a “get along to get along” demeanor that maintains its strangle hold on Yonkers; no doubt a failed city. CoY is a city salivating over federal grants, where funds, once approved, are misused within every CoY Department; a city where current Mayor Mike Spano can pick off any opposition who might air some dirty laundry. The truth is that Mayor Spano, as well as the many brothers who dabble in controlling the financial direction of Yonkers by speaking on his behalf without formal authority are each deficient in being fiscally sound in any fiduciary capacity, as they are neither elected or appointed to any formal position. Even so, not a peep from anyone, suggestive of nepotism at its worst.
CoY is a city where too many union leaders raise cold, hard cash, wash and rinse the sums into a check, and wrap it into a donation to the Spanos for lobbying efforts or for alleged quid pro quo results, eluding law enforcement in the laundering process. Yonkers is recognizably like an old music box: the music never changes, only the sad and pitiful self-serving pathetic politicians that collude with fat union heads like the disgraced Yonkers President Det. Keith Olson who is notorious for making threats and setting up others.
Every year taxpayers get hit with increased water bills, never validated to be commensurate with rate increases imposed by and from New York City; water meters coerced upon consumers and supplied by outside companies disguised as insurance for new meters; increased property taxes, increased sanitation taxes, increased real estate taxes, increased capital gain taxes, and more too long to delineate. This is the litany of issues promulgated by a failed Mayor Spano who is devoid of fiscal knowledge and lacks fiscal responsibility. Worse, those appointed and those employed to scrutinize and audit fiscal concerns are not educated with respect to fiscal management on such a complex level, as their collective deficiencies have proven over many years of fiscal mismanagement, as well as for lack of planning, and for lack of capacity to claw back incentives and inducements afforded to investors / developers who do not abide by promises verbally made but are not codified into those contractual agreements, much less covered by insurance for lateness in beginning and / or completing projects. A free for all except for the taxpayer.
So besides getting hit in the pocket, one creates less than desirable schools, lead in the water, asbestos used as was once the norm in most of Yonkers’ decrepit buildings, city streets exhibiting huge craters, and weekly-aired Yonkers City Council meetings that Mayor Spano controls from the comfort of his second floor mayoral offices when the Yonkers City Council had previously been briefed on the demeanor, gist, and outcome of the arguments they must make to seemingly validate their collective majority and /or supermajority vote, not engaged by the present 2018 Yonkers City Council membership. In fact, Mayor Spano recently interrupted such a meeting. It came about when Yonkers City Council President Mike Khader asked some pithy fiscal questions of Yonkers Finance Commissioner John Liszewski questions toward the integrity of his fiscal oversight of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s FY2018-2019 Proposed Budget. When Finance Commissioner Liszewski became flustered at the temerity of questions asked of him, seemingly responding as to being personally attacked, Liszewski blurted out that he was not the Executive, that is, Mayor Mike Spano, but simply Finance Commissioner. The implication suggested by Khader’s questioning of Liszewski which blew his sensibility was to explain how and why Yonkers has conducted its fiscal management so terribly wrong
Past sacrificial political lambs have been paid off to depart or simply forced out. Dr. Edwin M. Quezada is the present Superintendent of the Yonkers Public Schools (YPS), he just gained a five-year contract despite litigation alleging sexual misconduct that is presently coursing through the court system. Dr. Michael Yazurlo was the prior Superintendent who departed under a cloud of allegations. Before him, Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio, dismissed for reasons unknown but are alleged to have come about because powers that be were not comfortable with the financial institution known as Macquarie, engaged by Pierorazio as part of a Private Public Partnership for Education concept that did not come to fruition. And before him, YPS Superintendent Angelo Petrone who hired his daughter’s boyfriend, a 24-year-old man with little accounting experience as a senior accountant for the Yonkers Board of Education which violated state civil service laws and created “the strong appearance of impropriety,” as then Inspector General Philip Zisman concluded. It may be said that the Yonkers Board of Education, the Yonkers Public School District and its YPS Superintendents have been at play appointment after appointment for years and years.
It seems the Spanos have kept lock step with the diminishing and ever negative connotation of the “City of Yonkers” despite the goodwill as described by Hollywood in “Hello Dolly” starring Barbara Streisand, Omar Sharif, and Walter Mathews. Instead, Yonkers, well-known throughout the nation, has earned negative notoriety from the early days of the now infamous desegregation case presided over by Judge Sands, to the systemic malignment and abuse of the Yonkers City Charter, among various State and Federal Laws, highlighted over the history of the city. The name “Yonkers” has even built up a negative reputation in State and Federal Courtrooms. The City of Yonkers is no doubt holding firm its reputation as “the city on a hill where nothing is on the level.
Nothing can define debauchery as does Yonkers. It is a city unto itself where the Spano brothers control the Yonkers Police Department, where union thugs who kick in cash can get away with almost anything with nothing more than an internal slap on the wrist. Imagine that Yonkers citizens get arrested for crimes they may or may not have committed despite alleged lack of proof, perjury, even the law, for others, that may not be the case. if you are in a state of revulsion, you are beginning to recognize the issues Yonkersites confront every day.
So year after year, CoY ratchets up the drama to deflect attention from its travails, that is, the City Yonkers asserts it is in the hole for millions and millions of dollars. Meanwhile, it is the very same city, that continues to promote “family and friends” to higher paying jobs, some requiring them to attend the job, others only part-time though paid for a full day’s worth of hours, and others no show jobs. If fact, Yonkers’ promotions within the services are non-stop just to reach a relative or friend with no regard to the cost or impact. Yonkers is the city where fat cats eat steaks, where many of the same city employees have been pension padding for four or five years, reaching almost $300,000 annually, allowing each to retire on a pension half of their last years of median average salary. Recently the Yonkers Police Department was given the green light by City Hall to make such promotions, as well as other departments. They handed out gold shields like brownies, and doubled up on supervisory positions where for years only one supervisor was required. The Spanos have hired their entire family, as well as a growing list comprising the “family and friends network”, yet when they were not hired by CoY, they were employed as part of a business agreement.
The Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) system operated as a department of the City of Yonkers is one of the worst operations in New York State. They continue to expose educators in schools that have been around since the turn of the century to asbestos dust, lead paint peeling from the walls, and lead coursing throughout the drinking fountains.
So now that CoY has hit the fiscal wall from which it cannot extricate itself Mayor Spano is ask Yonkers union membership for givebacks with the implication that if the unions do not comply, the threat of layoffs and tax hikes will come about, insinuating that it is the unions who are at fault. Were the financial stress so great, why did Yonkers City Hall hand out promotions like drunken sailors? Why are there people employed in no show jobs, or given overtime for which they do not work? Why are only those with the greatest seniority given overtime but newbies are given little or no overtime hours? Why does CoY supply cars to the City Council membership, including free insurance, reduced gas, pays for dinner at committee meetings and council meetings? Does anyone bring a meal of their own in a brown paper bag? Why not?
While there are many who work at Yonkers City Hall, few measure up to facilitating the function and capacity of most city workers. That cannot be said with respect to Mayor Spano, specifically because he has permitted too many to speak in his name, allowing much to be said without his knowledge to which he is responsible to have long ago ended, but did not to his detriment. Those employed by Yonkers City Hall have most often conducted themselves professionally but were muzzled by the threat of retribution, whereas those who spoke in his name were left unbridled to too often engage in perjury, theft, undermining colleagues with false accusations and allegations that would come to haunt Yonkers to this very day.
The City of Yonkers has for too long been operated as if it were a revolving employment agency for the “family and friends network”, as well as their boyfriends, girlfriends, their love interests, married, or single, gay, straight or bisexual. God forbid these workers and children ever got sick. Their workload would go undone despite being so necessary. Can Mayor Spano say likewise. If not, and this inference suggest it does not, his ceremonial conduct is superfluous but the Municipal workers is most consequential. This conclusion is valid because Yonkers City Hall has not shared what it professes to have done over the past six years. When asked point blank promising their identity not be divulged by name, that is, without attribution, it is suggested they do more than they tell the public. Which begs the question why it is so relevant now and was not relevant in the past to leave a paper trail of accomplishment when it took place.
Yonkers’ city fields are worn out and old, and a breathing ground for mosquitoes. Take a short drive to any other town or municipality and inspect their sports programs or fields for comparison; ours are not maintained for use. The roads are a mess and the city is dirty. Crime is rampant but goes unreported to create a sense of safety to which reality cannot attest. This is how paperwork permits “dishonesty” to promote a false narrative. Enough already.
Now after almost six-plus years, and several union contracts to which he ascribed his signature without reservations later, Mayor Spano is now desirous for union members to defer or give up agreed upon raises and benefits to which his signature has dried years ago. Blaming the union membership for Mayor Spano’s imprudently defined and designed contractual agreements. Yonkers International Association of Fire Fighters – Local 628 President Barry McGoey recognized long ago that any givebacks to Yonkers City Hall is another job opportunity for a “friends and family network” flunkie to gain employment or to embellish those looking to pad their last years of overtime to accrue a large salary ranging from $250,000 to $300,000 per annum so that upon retirement their respective pensions would be half of the sums noted above. Overtime is the responsibility of differing departments. Many such departments are threatened if they do not offer overtime to members of the “family and friends network”.
At a recent Yonkers City Council meeting at which many union leaders had an opportunity to make their concerns known to the seven members of the Legislative branch of government, the now beleaguered Spano bully, better known as Yonkers PBA President Det. Keith Olson made his meek, snail-paced approach to the podium at the Council Chambers only to whisper a few words after I.A.F.F. – Local 628 Yonkers Firefighters President Barry McGoey had blasted Mayor Spano for his fiscal mishandling of Yonkers’ treasury. McGoey’s expression to the City Council Membership, as well as to the television viewers was clear, concise, and abbreviated, simply said as, “ No give backs!
Olson’s message, consistently synonymous with City Hall, advised that “givebacks like 207c, which saved the city millions of dollars, and stripped his own members of much needed medical benefits” has forced many of his members into arbitration with the city to fight for much needed benefits. Olson has for too long sat sidelined while receiving protection from the Spanos from external and internal complaints. Olson’s sister, Kelly Chiarella, rides about the City of Yonkers by Mayor Spano’s side, taking notes at a hefty city salary. No wonder the cigar-smoking, union leader ONLY whispered about Mayor Spano. Olson’s meek message advised, “We stand with the other unions.” The message the other union heads could have told Olson is, “You SHOULD have said that before; we don’t need you now.” Keith Olson sold out every other union in the City during negotiations, which got his sister a job, and a promise to make that pleading, bought, and paid for Yonkers Police Chief John Mueller, Police Commissioner.
Go figure, $48,000 a year to the Nick Spano lobbying firm, $24,000 per annum from the Yonkers Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants Association (CLSA) annually, and another $100,000 plus for Olson’s “personal” Law Firm Andrew Quinn.
It seems Khader may definitely be onto something, but he is going to need the rest of the Yonkers City Council to make real and honest reforms in order to clean up a city wallowing in a cesspool of misguided and corrupt standards. Yonkers needs ethically driven, out of the box thinkers, not old washed-up politicians, or dynastic families that seek to perpetuate the games afoot to line their own pockets rather than devise unfettered revenue streams that will permit Yonkers to grow for the community at large.
It is inconceivable that Yonkers is bereft of Financial capacity year after year. What happened to the $3 million that was part of the Forest City Ratner agreement to build a Firehouse to protect the investment of property and limb at Ridge Hill? Where is the money Mike Spano? The money promised the YBoE to the tune of $55 million but was said to have been an accounting error forced the Yonkers City Council to agree to an Inter Municipal Agreement that permitted Yonkers the capacity to borrow $60 million dollars with New York State as guarantor. From where and by what means did Yonkers find the means to cover $40 million of the original $55 million originally promised and spent when they realized that $55 would never find its way to Yonkers. How did Yonkers pay the $40 million in salaries and services render over a year-and-a-half in time before they discovered they would not get a dime.
Mayor Mike Spano has presided over CoY for 6-plus years cutting ribbons, smiling, painting streets, and giving awards to those with the best curb appeal to what end? A Financial Revue Board often threatens will never come to pass because the unions will stand in your way by allowing you, Mr. Mayor, to fire are many as you intend to fire. And recognize that for every person losing employment, another tale of woe will not only destroy your political prospects, but also your lobbying aspirations and those of your brother Nick Spano, the former New York State Senator.
There may be some who work for Yonkers City Hall and its various departments who will continue to drink the Kool-Aide. When Yonkersites all realize that the conduct of Yonkers PBA Pres. Det. Olson has and may still have the prospect of the City coffers losing a major Freedom of Expression lawsuit, they will be tearing their hair out.
The Yonkers Tribune has learned, albeit from one source, that another shoe may drop this coming week, it will be to demote Yonkers Police Chief John Mueller.
Yonkers PBA President Det. Olson should be fired immediately. Last time he engaged in a job action, the City of Yonkers lost $2 million. He has been overheard threatening to engage in such an action within days. The City of Yonkers cannot afford another $2 million job action at the behest of Olson.
This sad, sad telling rests on your shoulders Mayor Spano.
The NYS Comptroller’s report was most critical of CoY’s fiscal mismanagement conduct. It is what irked Mayor Spano to such an extent that Mayor Spano attended a 15 minute Executive Session which became an hour in duration. At issue was that Yonkers City Council President John Khader’s questioning of Finance Commissioner John Liszewski was demeaning of Liszewski because Khader’s questions were too visceral for Liszewski to respond with his pride intact. But Liszewski was on target in one respect, one by which Liszewski threw Mayor Spano under the bus, he did so by revealing that Liszewski is the lonely Finance Commissioner and not the Mayor, inferring that Liszewski could not practice prudent fiscal conduct because he was directed to do what he did but did not believe in what he attributed his name to. How sad and pathetic for both Mayor Spano, Finance Commissioner Liszewski and Yonkersites all.
Mike Spano failed Yonkers and failed himself. He can no longer extricate himself from the mess of his doing and those that spoke in his name. Mayor Spano has personally back stabbed his own friends and robbed Peter to pay Paul. He has lost every union in Yonkers besides the Yonkers PBA and Yonkers CLSA who no longer hold as much influence as they had in the past because of how they allowed the Yonkers Police Department to be ridden roughshod by its own hierarchy at the behest of Yonkers City Hall. So will the Yonkers PBA and CLSA union heads be forced to say no to deferring any raises the City owes, or to givebacks? These Spano loyalist are stuck between a rock and a hard place because the police membership and other city workers had enough of a corrupt city demeanor. The decisions no longer rest with the two law enforcement union heads. It now rests with its membership. The members will not and could not accept anymore Spano-Olson poison pills. The Yonkers PBA president is still sticking with the Spanos.
However rumors are flying about, but not because of the potential layoffs. The latest police department rumors are that the current Police Commissioner Charles Gardner may step down or is being back stabbed by the Mayor, all in the hopes of Olson giving current Yonkers Police Chief John Mueller the bite at the poisoned apple. Sources say that Mueller was not picked for the County Job for a variety of ethical issues and a pending Federal Lawsuit, and some really troubling references. Sources lament that Mueller is not even fit to be chief within his current position with a proven track record of refusing transfers and throwing beer fest parties under his command. Sources say others took the hit, while he denied being there. This does not sound like an upright police officer let alone a candidate for a top spot.
So Yonkers is adrift, and is in need of prudent fiscal navigation, accountability and new leadership. Yonkers has allowed its name to be besmirched. Perrhaps a name change is in order. Spanoville is the lone name not being permitted for entry. At this rate those in search of taking up residence in Westchester County may not consider Yonkers, albeit it under a different name, until Mayor Spano is eclipsed by someone else. If there are going to be layoffs so be it. Olson’s other BFF Detective Sergeant Brian Moran is also rumored to be moving on and also facing a Federal Lawsuit with some real troubling allegations of setting up employees up with unauthorized investigations, as well as searching offices and the personal desks of other high ranking members. Reports say that he is bucking to work for the next New York State Attorney General’s Office. Perhaps he can search former New York State A.G. Eric Schneiderman’s Office to find out if he or anyone else may have slapped around a woman. Moran will allegedly fit right in, and he can still call his fat cat, sellout union leader Keith Olson for help. It would be shameful if New York State accepts Moran’s resume.
Yonkers at it worst. Yonkers Tribune can visualize an image of a potential candidate that holds promise. Can you?
TIP ME: Something going on readers should know about? Have a tip or a story idea? Email Yonkers Tribune Editor-at-Large Hezi Aris at eHezi@Hush.com
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