The Hezitorial Regarding Yonkers’ Legacy of Fiscal Mismanagement
Updated and Amended June 3, 2018 @ 10am
YONKERS, NY — June 2, 2018 — New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo arrived late Friday afternoon, June 1, 2018, to Yonkers City Hall after a long day whereby he delivered eulogy at the funeral services of the esteemed Assemblymember Denny Farrell. Services lasted well over three hours. Thereafter, Gov. Cuomo saw his mother, Mathilda Cuomo, who attended the service, to her residence. By late afternoon, Governor Cuomo arrived at Yonkers City Hall. Yonkers Tribune has learned that he had an audience with Yonker Mayor Mike Spano, the Yonkers City Councilmembership, as well as City Hall appointees. Gov. Cuomo is said to have advised those in attendance that he would deliver the Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) from its financial duress by filling the gap of their budgetary needs. Toward that end, Gov. Cuomo gave his word!
Gov. Cuomo demanded the final revision of Mayor Mike Spano’s FY2018-2019 Proposed Budget first win passage by the Yonkers City Council majority and the finacial Shortfall would be filled as deduced and defined by Yonkers Finance Commissioner John Liszewski thereafter. No additional funds would be allocated for the city side of the ledger.
Gov. Cuomo’s magnanimity cannot be questioned though there will be many who attempt to rationalize his assistance as self-serving. An expected response from detractors and naysayers of political wankers who have nothing more than a need to pontificate in one direction or another.
What is pertinent is for the City of Yonkers to recognize that the eventual and final infusion of funding to meet the needs of the Yonkers Public School District be conducted in a forthright and honest manner. Has the Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) expunged the 170 vacant positions from its payroll—positions lost through either attrition, retirement or death of an employee. Will Finance Commissioner Liszewski attest to a list of truly vacant positions? Further, where do the funds for these positions appearing in the Executive Budget? Yonkers capacity to cheat their way to the bank is legendary and must not be permitted. Every aspect of this largesse must be validated. Anything less than honest conduct by anyone must be met with arrest and eventual legal incarceration.
Gov. Cuomo’s bailout of the City of Yonkers (CoY) is an opportunity to study the demands and requirements of a city that continues to beg with cup in hand for funds from Albany when those in the know have known of the legacy of corruption that has consumed Yonkers of better days by its own doing.
From one administration after another, going back 50 some years, the City of Yonkers (CoY) became an employment agency that would only serve the “friends and family” network. In time, in order to garner so-called loyalty from the unions, one administration after the other increased salaries that were unsustainable. Yonkers City Hall was logically tasked to increase its revenue stream to meet the impending and growing financial burden. Yet one administration after the other pivoted from their responsibility. Instead, they used their administrative governance for employing the love interests of existing employees and the riff-raff that often defined the “friends and family” network. Federal and State grant funds designated for one purpose were many times used for purposes to which it was not intended, such as allowing for pension padding, quid-pro-quo, false arrests and incarcerations, and so much more. The list is vile and seemingly endless. Yonkers Inspector General Brendan McGrath, Esq., is mum on all such concerns yet the Office of Inspector General costs the taxpayers short of $1 million per annum. Even the Yonkers Board of Ethics, required by the Yonkers City Charter to meet at minimum every 3 months to sustain its integrity as functioning Board of Ethics has not met for over a year. Outrageous.
Lest anyone forget, CoY’s legacy of corruption and fiscal mismanagement has all been accomplished under a veil of silence, cover-up, and the subterfuge now known as the antics of “denial, denial, denial”.
CoY has long fostered a culture of “pay to play” and a false narrative for public consumption, and even among those in higher office. This deceit was meant to keep those beyond the borders of Yonkers in the dark. The Westchester County Executive, the New York State Legislature, the Office of the Governor, as well as U.S. Congressmembers and Senators distanced from knowing the shenanigans afoot.
The reader you may inquire why the history is presented though any attempt to suggest it is histrionics is in fact impertinent and off the mark. This Hezitorial suggests it is relevant and pertinent. This why…
How much longer can “hope” be the elixir required for change?Yonkers puppet masters who have maintained their hold on Yonkersites for decades continue rape and pillage the city they assert to serve yet conduct has proven otherwise. Yonkers’ excesses have been revealed in varying degrees by the debauched greed of those in office. The selective permissions granted one media outlet over another is indicative of the thin-skinned control freaks that are fearful of transparency, delighting instead to an insulated, opaque world they control. The most recent Mayoral Administrations, that of John Spencer, Phil Amicone, and now Mike Spano, 22 plus years in office collectively are each responsible for this most recent outcome, though it is well-known to have grown by any measure to be a calamity of purpose, failed best practice, and graft. And yes, all under the guise of a vision that continues to be nothing more that a mirage. In CoY, even “hope” is dead.
Gov. Cuomo’s gallop to save CoY must be the last time Yonkers is saved from its own undoing. Before the final budget proposal is presented for adoption sometime this next week, the entire City Councilmembers, the elected and appointed members of the Office of the Mayor of Yonkers must attest to their studying, deducing, defining, and instituting remedies to the travails they have historically permitted to linger all these decades. Whether it was Yonkers not getting its so called “fair” share of funding from Washington, D.C., Albany, White Plains, and from within its own borders, “hope” is deficient as remedy of any kind. Remedy can only be constructed by open discourse that is intentioned toward a plan for remedy of the travails that have been permitted to assault and suffocate Yonkers all these years.
Yonkers Tribune trusts the words, integrity, promises, and deeds made by Hon. Andrew Cuomo. At issue for all Yonkersites is whether they can trust our elected and appointed officials to study the issues publicly so as to garner as much input and know-how from all who will eventually contribute toward the challenges of remediation our collective self-centered milieu has yet to wrestle. And the discourse must be inclusive of all Yonkersites.
Without a promissory note from those noted above, Yonkers does not deserve even a dime. Spending the money has been too easy in Yonkers. What is required now planning and prudent fiscal conduct.
An ancillary aspect of Gov. Cuomo’s promise to fill the funding needs of the YBoE must be commensurate purpose and conduct of governance from Yonkers City Hall’s Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano has been responsible for a week shy of seeing 6 budgets approved under his failed guidance, aided and abetted by tenured members of the Yonkers City Council, that is, Corazón Pineda-Isaac (D-District 2), Michael Sabatino (D-District 3), presently Majority Leader, and Michael Breen (R-District 5), presently Minority Leader.
Nick DeSantis, auditor for the Yonkers Board of Education and for the City of Yonkers has failed to warn the the City of Yonkers of its impending doom, even while scrutiny of this budget has taken place, his language has been unclear with respect to the dire straits that confront the “City on the Hill” where nothing is on the level. DeSantis should be fired for not being forthright with Yonkersites. Whether his intent was to maintain hold of his contractual agreement with the YBoE and CoY, or whether he was told to maintain his silence is irrelevant. When he addressed the Yonkers City Council in televised session to those viewing the proceedings, he failed to give heed to Yonkers taxpayers of the plight facing them. Ouch! He has been conducting himself in this manner for years. Another “friends and family” member.
Will the City of Yonkers cease and desist from being the employment agency it has grown to be in serving the select few known as the “family and friends” network? Will that be formally written and ascribed by both the office holders of the Executive and Legislative Branches? Yonkers Tribune suggests this take place before Gov. Cuomo ameliorates the state of fiscal affairs at the YBoE.
The conduct by Yonkers Police Benevolent Association President Det. Keith Olson must be relieved his stipend as union leader for having squandered the taxpayers’ funds by calling for job actions that cost CoY $3 million plus this year alone.
Benefit allowances for cars, insurance for those cars, reduced gasoline costs for those who receive such benefits must be taken away. Those very vehicles must be sold, the insurance costs saved, and the purchase for gasoline for those getting those benefits must come to a halt. They are unaffordable and undeserving. Those that have crashed one vehicle after the other should be fined and costs recovered.
The recent stipend afforded Yonkers Board of Education Trustee Rev. Steve Lopez must come to a halt. The position is a voluntary one. If Rev. Lopez was incapable of financially conducting the responsibilities he chose to accept as a volunteer, he must step down and he must not be allowed further financial gain.
The “no-show” jobs, and those hired for one purpose, but are instead fake positions that find such “employees” working on one political campaign or another must stop. Why should taxpayers who mat not be supportive of one political aspirant or another pay for such undisclosed operatives. This too must end.
Yonkers is a swamp. It must be emptied, dried, and cemented from ever being resuscitated in any fashion.
Lastly, but, most importantly, thank you Gov. Andrew Cuomo for your sensitivity, and kindness to Yonkers student population who have suffered the plight and challenges of school infrastructure that has been permitted to deteriorate due to lack of upkeep: the lead that courses through the water pipes of the Yonkers Public Schools, and the asbestos to which the YPS claim were never used, and the molds that are consuming the walls within many of the schools.
The takeaway: Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you, again Gov. Cuomo! Without your helping hand, Yonkers would not be able to get out of its own way.
FYI … Read the June 1, 2018th Hezitorial