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SOUND &TOWN Serving Mamaroneck & Larchmont

Vol. 15/Number 9

March 8, 2013

Wild goose case: Contract to slaughter geese causes controversy By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER

The Board of Trustees announced its plan to euthanize a large part of the village’s goose population in order to combat the ongoing problem of droppings left in public parks. These geese were photographed in Mamaroneck last summer. File photo

Community members support local activist By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER

Local activist and author Luis Quiros appeared in village court on Feb. 28, facing disorderly conduct charges which he said were the result of racial profiling. Quiros was arrested on Feb. 14 outside of his home at 144 Rockland Ave. by Officer Patrick Nadolske, who allegedly told Quiros he appeared suspicious while sitting in his car listening to music. An altercation between Nadolske and Quiros followed in which Quiros said he was pushed against a car belonging to Guisela Marroquin—another local activist and friend of Quiros’—and then forced into Nadolske’s police cruiser, causing his nose and lip to bleed. According to Quiros, one of

Following a Feb. 14 arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Luis Quiros, center, appeared in village court Feb. 28. Community members, activists and friends outside the courthouse said a lack of police accountability and racial profiling were to blame for Quiros’ arrest and alleged mistreatment. Photo/Alma Reyes Evans

the officers also touched his genitals while frisking him and, when Quiros asked why, the officer responded, “You wish.”

Quiros was detained in the village courthouse for six hours, durQUIROS, continued on page 11

The Village of Mamaroneck has stepped in it for the last time. The Board of Trustees has signed a contract with the USDA to have a large number of the village’s geese euthanized in order reduce the level of droppings scattered throughout Harbor Island and Columbus parks. As Sound and Town reported in November 2012, the Board of Trustees purchased a Toro Rake-OVac, a machine designed to remove droppings from large outdoor areas, but found that more drastic measures needed to be taken to keep the village’s parks clean. Animal rights groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Defenders of Westchester have protested this decision. The euthanization will take place this summer, when geese enter their molting stage-an annual process that renders geese unable to fly due to a temporary loss of their wing feathers. USDA workers will also conduct a widespread search for goose nests and coat any goose eggs they find with corn oil to prevent them from hatching. After the geese are euthanized, the USDA plans to donate the meat to local food banks. Preventing excess waste from accumulating in the village’s parks has been a concern for nearly three decades, according to Mayor Norman Rosenblum, and the decision to euthanize geese is only one part of a larger program to combat the issue. “If you go down there, you can see Columbus and Harbor Island Park literally covered in goose waste,” Rosenblum said. “I believe it to be a health hazard, and it is not conducive to the best interests of residents not

to remove the waste.” The mayor, a Republican, also told The Sound and Town Report that, while this is an emotional issue that has met with some opposition, the decision has also garnered significant support by many residents in the village. Kiley Blackman of the Animal Defenders of Westchester said that the situation disgusts her. “I will go to court if I have to,” she said. According to Blackman, killing geese sends the wrong message to people about animals, and the methods used to do so are cruel. “The public is told that the slaughtering is humane, but it isn’t. They crate [the geese] all up with their babies and use gas to choke them to death,” she said. However, according to USDA Spokesperson Tanya Espinosa, “Geese are placed alive in commercial turkey crates, and are taken to a poultry processor, where they are humanely euthanized and processed for human consumption following the guidelines set by New York State Agriculture and Markets, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Wildlife and New York State Health Department.” An additional criticism the board faces is the added cost of euthanizing geese via the USDA, in addition to the $30,000 that was spent on the Rake-O-Vac. Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff, pointed out that the village has tried other methods to keep goose droppings out of the parks, and that the euthanization has become the only option. “We’ve tried a lot of things,” said Sarnoff, “and nothing has worked.” GEESE, continued on page 8

Concerns emerge over development plans By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER

A study on commuter-targeted development around Mamaroneck’s train station was presented to the Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees on Feb. 25th at Village Hall. But, several residents expressed concern that so-called transit oriented development may encourage overdevelopment and increased traffic in the area. BFJ Planning Consultants was contracted in 2011 to conduct the development study, which aims to futher diversify the Washingtonville area of the village, help its businesses grow, and improve living conditions for residents in the area. The development would cover areas within a half-mile of the Metro North Station. A $38,500 grant was issued to the village by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign in 2012, and since then, BFJ Planning has worked closely with the village and a civic group called the Washingtonville Housing Alliance to amend zoning laws as well as devise reasonable changes to areas located in close proximity to the Metro-North Station. The grant funded a study that sought to build support from the community for transit-oriented development and support mixed use developments, including retail, office and mixed-income housing with eco-friendly building designs. BFJ Planning defines transit-oriented development as, “a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other commerical development and amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of public transportation.” One of the main goals of the development is to benefit those living in neighboring areas as well by allowing for reduced traffic, lowering transportation costs, lessening the demand for parking spaces and reducing total greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the proposed development would integrate the areas existing retail infrastructure to the rest of the village. There were some issues that some felt needed to be considered before making the development a reality, though, and many of these potential road blocks were brought to the attention of the Board of Trustees. A major concern was the possibility of fast food restaurants taking advantage of the zoning changes associated with the development. “I know that some people have petitioned the board in the past in changing our fast food restaurant law,” said resident John Hofstetter, who is a former village trustee. “What I don’t want is a loophole to be created where we have fast food restaurants running up and down Mamaroneck Avenue.” Hofstetter pointed out that fast food restaurants typically add a lot of traffic to neighborhoods, which is something that the village is attempting to cut down on through its development plans. Another issue that caused some disagreement was the amount of parking spaces that would be added to the new development. Hofstetter argued that more parking should be made available in the Washington Square area because residents are currently dissatisfied, but Frank Fish of BFJ Planning pointed out that there is a large apartment building with no parking that is the real cause of the problem. “The parking ratios, with the garage that’s been built, we think, works quite well,” Fish said. Hofstetter agreed that the garage had done some good to remedy the parking problem, but he said TOD, continued on page 8

The Village of Mamaroneck is considering a new development in its Washingtonville neighborhood and believes the new plans will improve the quality of life for residents living within a quarter-mile radius of the Metro-North station. However, there are still some questions in the proposed development, including how much parking should be added as well as how village traffic will be affected. File photo

4 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013

Town Council rejects Homestead Tax option By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER

After vocal opposition from residents, the Town of Mamaroneck voted against the adoption of the Homestead Tax option at a public hearing on Feb. 27. The hearing was attended mainly by residents living in condos and apartments, a demographic that would have been directly affected by the passing of the Homestead Tax. The Homestead Tax is an option offered by New York State for local governments to collect a higher tax rate from individuals who live in condos rather than residential After receiving widespread opposition to the state’s Homestead homes. In the Town Tax option, the Town Council decided not to adopt the measure. The of Mamaroneck, the tax could have potentially raised property taxes for those living in law would have only condominiums by as much as 150 percent. File photo raised taxes for those residing in condominiums that were originally built solely as condominiums. Any resident living in a condominium that was converted from another facility or a co-op would not have been affected by the tax. The Homestead Tax option is only offered to municipalities that have recently undergone a revaluation of their properties, which the Town of Mamaroneck is in the process of doing for the first time since 1968. The purpose of the option is to fairly distribute taxes throughout a municipality and to ensure that the taxes paid by residential homeowners are not disproportionate after a revaluation. The Town of Mamaroneck recently revalued its homes at 100 percent of their market value through a study conducted by GAR Associates, making the Homestead Tax an option. According to a presentation by GAR Associates, there would have been an 8 percent tax increase for single-family homes based on a median increase in reassessed value from $845,000 to $913,000. Condominiums previously assessed at a median value of $193,000 increased in value to $299,000. However, if the Homestead Tax had been enacted, condos valued at the median amount of $193,000 would have been revalued at $505,000, indicating a 150 percent increase. Many residents voiced their concerns with these proposed increases, alleging that such changes would make living in the town too expensive for them. “Effectively, if you pass the Homestead Act on most of the condos in Pine Ridge, you’re going to be increasing them by 60 to 110 percent,” Resident David Silverstone said. “At that point, I’m very nervous as to whether or not I can continue to even visit our grandson...You’re cutting into a huge amount of our annual income.” Silverstone is a senior citizen, and told the council that he has less and less income as he ages, and a tax increase would make living in the town increasingly more difficult for him. Roger Stavis, another resident of Pine Ridge, mentioned residents who sold their homes but remained in the community and the effect the tax would have on them. “They have great debates in Washington D.C. over raising marginal tax rates 4 percent,” said Stavis. “You’re talking about raising 100 percent, on people that moved from their homes and have fixed incomes...That’s not fair.” After determining that residents of the town were strongly against the Homestead Tax, the board closed the hearing. Councilman Ernest Odierna, a Democrat, said the issues had swayed his vote. “I had been in favor of the Homestead option until I started to read all the communication we got, and heard from so many individuals,” Odierna said. “It made me reflect and see how what we were going to gain wasn’t worth what we were going to lose.” Despite the widespread opposition to the tax option, Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson, a Democrat, believes it could have turned into a complicated process. “I will say that it has been a tough decision, because without the numbers it was a question of fairness. There are definitely two sides to it. If it was a huge change that would have put an increased burden on the single-family residential homeowners, that would have been a more difficult situation to look at.”

March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 5

Fundraiser supports volunteer firefighters By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA STAFF REPORTER

Molly Spillane’s Bar and Restaurant hosted a fundraiser on Feb. 28 to raise money for Mamaroneck’s volunteer firefighters. Volunteer firefighters-along with village Mayor Norman Rosenblum-took turns guest bartending, spoke with residents wishing to offer their support, served drinks and encouraged attendees to make donations to the fire department. “The whole idea is to make people aware of the value of the volunteer fire Molly Spillane’s hosted a fundraiser to benefit the village’s firefighters on Feb. 28. Village firefighters took turns guest department and quite volunteer bartendering at the event. Photo/Chris Gramuglia honestly raise funds,” Rosenblum said. “The reason this is most im- but we recognize their families.” portant is because the volunteer fire department Mike Hynes, the owner of Molly Spillane’s, is the largest volunteer group in the Village of told The Sound and Town Report that a big Mamaroneck; not only do we recognize them, part of his philosophy as a business owner in

the village is giving back to the community. “A big premise in this bar, is that neighbors should watch over neighbors,” Hynes said. “These guys are our neighbors, and we thought it would be a good way to give back.” The Leary Firefighter’s Foundation also played a large role in helping the fundraiser come together, and was represented by James McCaffrey at the event. The Leary Foundation was established in 2000 by actor and comedian Denis Leary, who lost both a cousin and a childhood friend—both volunteer firefighters—to a fire in Worcester, Mass. The charity has raised money for firefighters in Boston, Worcester, New Orleans and New York. “Mike Hynes called about getting in touch with the Leary Firefighter Foundation—which I thought was a great idea—to support the local firefighters, and then Guinness [beer company]

jumped in. And I said to him, ‘well if it’s you and Guinness and the Leary Foundation, I’m in too,’” said McCaffrey, who has also worked with the Leary Foundation in the past. Fire Chief Chris Szymanowski was also making the rounds at the event, and expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support shown by the village and by the sponsors of the event. “It’s nice to see a charity as big as this, caring about the little guy, so to speak. It’s a great cause, and an even better turnout,” Szymanowski said. The fundraiser will continue throughout the entire month of March, allowing for residents to make donations while frequenting Molly Spillane’s, and representatives from Guinness will return to the bar on March 17, St. Patricks Day, to continue their support of Mamaroneck’s Firefighters.

Correcting the Record In the March 1 edition, in the article “New home brings flood concerns,” we reported that village resident Carina McCabe was uncertain of the Zoning Board of Appeals’ jusdiction regarding flooding issues on North Barry Avenue and intended to question it at an upcoming meeting. It was, in fact, the Zoning Board itself that will evaluate its jurisdiction over the matter at the meeting.

6 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013

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Purchase, N.Y. Spring 1995. I go down into the woodpaneled basement of my grandparents’ house, where they still have an old table-sized stereo system with a record LUNGARIELLO player. This kid, Jon, who is in my English class at Iona AT LARGE Prep, lent me a record by some punk band he swears by Mark Lungariello called The Queers. I put the record on and cringe. The first song, an instrumental number called “Steak Bomb,” is so fast that I check the RPMs on the record player, thinking I have it set to 45 instead of 33.3. The settings are fine. When the vocals start, it still sounds wrong to me. I give up on it and lift the needle after about 10 minutes. Harrison, N.Y. Summer 1995. Jon and I manage to get back to Westchester on the MetroNorth with 47 cents between the two of us after a two-day journey to a place called The Tune Inn in New Haven to see The Queers and some other bands. I think the Queers performed poorly. We decide when we get back to his house we’ll make a punk song about our adventure called “47 Cents.” We never do though. White Plains, N.Y. August 1996. Jon, my younger brother Matt and I buy the new Queers record “Don’t Back Down” at the Vinyl Solution in Port Chester and drive home to my parents’ house to listen to it. It came out on vinyl a few days before it will be released on tape and CD, so we get the vinyl, but then have to wait the whole drive home where there’s a record player to listen to it. We head upstairs into my room to use the player there. It’s a big deal that we’re even upstairs, and my mother would kill me if she knew we didn’t take our shoes off while walking on the carpet. I declare that I have never been this excited about a new album in my life. We mostly love it, and we memorize the lyrics to as many songs as we can before their gig at Coney Island High in New York City a few days later. We want to be able to sing along to their new songs the same way we would their older tunes. After the show, one of our friends, Ian, is sweating so much from dancing and running in circles in what they used to call “mosh pits” that it looks as if he’s had five buckets of water dumped on him. The Lowdown, Mount Vernon, N.Y. October 1999. The new band I formed, Team 13, plays its first gig at this small dive, which is essentially in a basement off the Cross County Parkway. Legend had it that a few cars had crashed into the entrance and gone down the steps. I play guitar and sing and there are three other guys in the group, including the bassist, who is my friend from high school English we now call Jon Ruckus because all punk rockers have nicknames like that. Jon comes out on stage wearing an Easter Bunny head and handing out baskets of hard-boiled eggs. He uses butane to light his pants and bass on fire when he plays. None of the rest of us knew he planned to do this. A hard-boiled egg fight ensues immediately once we start playing, which is past 1 a.m. People are being kicked out for throwing eggs at us and each other before we even hit the first chorus of our first song. Four songs later, the sound guy cuts the power to the stage and shuts us down. The owners of the place complain about the hard-boiled eggs all over the bar. “Anyone have any salt?” I yell into the crowd. The Lowdown, Mount Vernon, N.Y. Feb. 2, 2001. One of the songs we play has to be stopped and started over to get it right. Someone pukes on stage. Mid-song, Jon smashes his base, then covers its remains in rubber cement. The three other members of the band continue to try to finish the song we’re playing. Then Jon lights the bass and his hand on fire. The flames reach higher than my head and a half dozen people run on stage to try to stomp out the fire, but the flaming cement sticks to their sneakers and they run off in a panic. People are moving away from the stage, ready to run for the exit. I think calmly, “Not good: we are going to burn this dump down.” But soon the flames die down, though Jon has sustained third degree burns which will require surgery. Still, we play two more songs and Jon joins us on stage to sing harmonies on one of the numbers. My brother Mike, who isn’t into punk rock, is seeing me play that night for the first time. I apologize to him, slightly embarrassed. He doesn’t understand what I’m apologizing about, because he thinks the almost-burning-the-entire-place-down thing was part of the show. New York City, 2013. I stand in the back of a club called Santo’s Party House, which is so oversaturated with people that it’s not a crowd so much as it is a bunch of people standing in a really long line that never moves and leads nowhere. Two punk bands, The Queers and Teenage Bottlerocket, perform and I’m glad the show starts at 7 p.m. so I can be in bed at a decent time. It’s Saturday. I’m also glad I’m not the oldest person at the show though I still feel self conscious pumping my fist on the sing along parts. On the Metro-North heading back to Westchester, both my girlfriend and I doze off but luckily wake up in time for the White Plains stop. Two days later, she still complains of her ears buzzing from how loud the bands were.

March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 7

Astorino leads school safety symposium at SUNY Purchase By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER

More than 300 school and police officials gathered inside the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase on Feb. 26 for the launch of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s “Safer Communities” initiative. “Senseless acts of violence can never be completely eliminated...but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” Astorino said. “There are public safety concerns, mental health issues and all sorts of societal influences at work...the good news is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” Astorino, a Republican, formulated the initiative in the wake of the school shooting last December at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The goal, he said, is to keep Westchester schools safe from acts of violence. “Like a disease, [violence] can be treated, it can be avoided, and it can be cured,” Astorino said. For the first of several sessions, Commis– sioner of the Department of Public Safety George Longworth coordinated a school safety symposium to provide educators with Members of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety provide a real-time demonstration of standard evacuation protocol in the event of an “active shooter.” Four county police officers, pictured here, are suited up in full protective gear and use replica firearms in order to demonstrate how they would approach a suspect in a hostile environment. Photo/Daniel Offner

practical guidance on making schools safer as well as enhancing the coordination between law enforcement and school districts. The symposium included a keynote address from former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, three presentations from security experts on school-based violence, a demonstration of county police tactics and a panel discussion focusing on strategies and real-time decision-making in actual situations. “Community policing in New York clearly emphasizes a partnership that is critical to school safety,” Bratton said. “We cannot continue to operate in silos...there is too much at stake.” Bratton highlighted several key components of the plan to make local school communities safer, including working towards building a better partnership between school officials, local police and parents, understanding and helping solve issues affecting today’s youth and prevention of criminal behavior,which involves understanding how to spot warning signs and notifying the proper authorities of any potential indicators. For his demonstration, Westchester County Department of Public Safety Chief Inspector John Hodges brought out explosive-detecting dogs with the county’s K-9 unit, a remote operated bomb-disarming robot and demonstrated evacuation procedure in instances where there is an emergency, such as an “active shooter.” ASTORINO, continued on page 13

8 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013 GEESE, continued from page 1

Powell sentenced to life Parolee Reginald Powell, 56, has been sentenced to life in prison for the 2010 murder of Jennifer Katz, a Mamaroneck resident. Westchester County District Attorney, Janet DiFiore made the announcement on Feb. 28 Powell murdered Katz on Dec. 30 2010 by stabbing her once in the throat, and was stopped by police at approximately 9:20 p.m. for making an illegal left turn in Central Harlem. Powell stepped out of the car and ran from police for a short time before he was caught and arrested. He had been driving Katz’s 2006 Toyota Highlander at the time and had two bags of heroin on him as well as four rings that also belonged to Katz. While in custody of the NYPD, he mentioned Katz’s body in the Village of Mamaroneck, claiming he had found it while he was at the house to shovel snow. The village police department was contacted by the NYPD and found Katz’s body in her home shortly thereafter. Detectives McNally and Carroll conducted the village investigation. Katz was a 49-year-old mother of two. Powell claimed he had been working as a handyman in her home at the time of the murder. Powell previously served 24 years for murdering a cabdriver while addicted to crack cocaine in 1982. -Reporting by CHRIS GRAMUGLIA

At a recent work session, Trustee Leon Potok proposed several alternatives to euthanizing geese after consulting with Steven Garber, president of Worldwide Ecology. Potok’s proposal aimed to solve the problem while also preserving the village’s public image. “If we can solve the problem with more humane treatment, than why wouldn’t we?” Potok said. “We will see results immediately, as opposed to waiting until July for the USDA, and this proposal will stop the erosion of our village’s reputation.” The proposal involves training the geese to

TOD, continued from page 3

builders should strive to provide more parking or shared parking if the development is truly going to benefit the community as a whole. According to Vernonica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the cost of adding parking spaces would be problematic for the larger goals of the development. “With regards to parking spaces, I was actually very encouraged to see a reduction, which is both a benefit to the village residents and also developers,” Vanterpool said. “Each parking space costs a developer between 20 to 30,000 dollars, and that impacts the level of affordability of the housing development.”

leave the village, and relies on hiring high school and college students to chase them out of its parks. Mayor Rosenblum disagreed with Potok’s decision to devise the proposal, claiming that he should have discussed it with the board first. Potok told The Sound and Town Report that he felt he was simply trying to take an initiative to solve the problem. “For [the mayor]to see that as a negative is preposterous,” Potok said. Neighboring villages like Scarsdale have overturned similar efforts to slaughter geese, and the City of Yonkers has announced that it is unlikely it will continue the practice of slaughtering this year.

According to Vanterpool, cutting back on parking spaces is a way for developers to save and subsequently reallocate money to improve communities in other ways. Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, pointed out that the main purpose of the proposed development is to improve the community, not to add parking to the village. “This is not to create parking lots, but it is to create a new and better environment for that section of the Village of Mamaroneck, and in essence extend the downtown Village of Mamaroneck beyond the railroad bridge.” The Board of Trustees plans to review the zoning study in the upcoming weeks, before bringing the proposal to a public hearing.

March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 9

Library ‘friends’ hope fundraiser spells success By ALEXANDRA BOGDANOVIC STAFF REPORTER

It is still a month away, but members of the Friends of the Larchmont Public Library are already “abuzz” about their latest fundraising effort. According to publicist Syl Morrone, this is the first time the organization is hosting a spelling bee in order to raise money for the library. “We think it would be a fun event that reaches across a lot of different areas of the community,” said Morrone. “All of the funds [from the team entries] will be used to better the book collection and make the library a better resource than what it is.” Ellie Fredston, who is co-chairing the event along with Jackie Pare, said the organization’s board came up with the idea during brainstorming sessions and figured it would be “an appropriate thing” to do. In order to generate interest, the Friends of the Larchmont Public Library have circulated “fun promotional teasers” throughout the community, Fredston said. The spelling bee is open to teens and adults, and the entry fee is $50 per team, but high school teams can participate for free. Organizers hope to attract 20 three-person teams to vie for different prizes. “I think we’ve got about 10 teams or so

signed up, so far,” Fredston said. “We’re just about halfway there.” Some former library trustees have already signed up, and a team comprised of local school board members may also participate, Fredston added. Entries are still being accepted for the bee, which will be held in the social hall at the Larchmont Temple at 3:30 p.m. on April 7. Teams can register by visiting the Friends of the Larchmont A spelling bee to raise money for the Larchmont library will Public Lib– be held April 7 at the Larchmont Temple. rary’s website Contributed photo

at “We’re encouraging people to pick a name for their team [when they sign up],” said Fredston. “We really want this to be a fun event.” According to the website fundraisingideascenter. com, spelling bees are not only fun, they are also profitable and relatively easy to organize. “People love spelling bees, and it is even better when it is benefiting a group with a

good cause,” a portion of the center’s website reads. “With the same old fundraisers over and over, the spelling bee is a good way to break up the monotony.” The contest rules and scoring vary. Typically, a caller will give the word and teams will have a set amount of time to write it down. All of the answers are then shown at the same time. In some cases, a team is disqualified after it misses two words in a given round. The winning team advances to the next round and the last team left standing wins. In other cases, such as one outlined on the website, each round consists of approximately 10 words and points are awarded for each correctly spelled word. The team with the most points wins. “Key to a great spelling bee fundraiser is having a good master of ceremonies,” according to “He or she needs to be able to run the event from the stage, keep spectators engaged and deliver the words.” Michael Zuckert will serve as the MC at the Larchmont spelling bee. Larchmont Mayor Anne McAndrews, Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson and New York State Senator George Latimer will be the judges. The spelling bee is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served beginning at 3 p.m. “We are hoping it becomes an annual event,” Morrone said.

10 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013

Investigator’s report: Fraud, theft by Rye Golf Club manager By CHRISTIAN FALCONE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

The results of a far-reaching probe into the Rye Golf Club show calculated actions by the club’s former manager, who the report accuses of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city over a six-years span. The investigation, which spanned nearly five months, was released on Feb. 27 and outlined orchestrated efforts by former manager Scott Yandrasevich to run numerous shell companies, which, in turn, appear to have bilked the city out of money since 2007. Without many checks and balances over Yandrasevich’s management of the cityowned golf club, the former manager was able to funnel money from the club to his shell companies unhindered and with a minimal paper trail. Some residents have questioned how the city’s management oversight personnel failed to recognize Yandrasevich’s alleged misdeeds. The case has been referred to the county district attorney’s office. Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the district attorney, said the office is in the process of reviewing the matter. It is likely that a criminal probe will soon begin. Mayor Douglas French, a Republican, said the investigation showed that Yandrasevich was able to manipulate the system for more than six years with a scheme that spanned many roles and individuals. “It is the city’s Madoff moment where wrongdoing went unnoticed, and where there wasn’t one break in the chain, but several,” French said. The mayor said the city would pursue all avenues for restitution, and work to restructure its enterprise fund models to restore credibility. The city may also look to collect on its employee theft insurance policy. The investigation has cost the city approximately $280,000. There were 29 witnesses interviewed in connection with the investigation. Yandrasevich, through an attorney, declined to be interviewed for the investigation.

Moving trucks carried off the last of Scott Yandrasevich’s belongings from his house last week. The former golf club manager, who resigned in mid-January, agreed to vacate the city grounds by the end of February. File photo

The controversy at the club first surfaced last summer when it was uncovered that roughly $2.2 million in salary costs had been paid out to RM Staffing and Events, Inc., a company that had provided labor for the golf club. Of that total cost, approximately $400,000 was billed as employee overtime. The relationship between Yandrasevich and the staffing company raised further questions when it was reported that his wife, Anne, worked for the company and Yandrasevich himself did consulting work for RM Staffing. Rye Golf Club, under Yandrasevich’s direction, agreed to a deal with RM in 2007, prior to the company even being incorporated. The former club manager was also scrutinized for his role in negotiations that would allow RM Staffing to take over operations at Oak Hills Golf Course in Norwalk, Conn. Yandrasevich argued at the time that he

had only done consulting work for the RM Staffing and only received about $1,000 in compensation. However, investigators discovered that his involvement with the company was much deeper. Yandrasevich was involved in most, if not all, material aspects of the relationship between RM Staffing and its employees, according to testimony given by Suzanne RuggieroMadeo, the owner of Studio Y and RM Staffing. The report states that Yandrasevich told Ruggiero-Madeo which employees to hire, what to pay them, what to charge the golf club for them and when to raise RM’s rates. It was determined that Yandrasevich controlled RM Staffing, and that, over a six-year period, he used RM and Studio Y “to steal many hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city,” according to the report. In one email cited by investigators, Ruggiero-Madeo refers to Yandrasevich as her “boss.” The investigators also discovered that RM Staffing did not perform any of the functions of a traditional staffing company; it did not recruit employees nor screen candidates. It did not conduct background checks, nor did it supervise or train employees. It was actually the golf club, under Yandrasevich’s authority, that performed those functions. The golf club even drafted ads and paid the charges for running the ads. These revelations suggested to investigators that RM was simply a shell company created by the Yandraseviches and others. From April 2007 to September 2012, RM Staffing invoiced roughly $7 million and received payments from the city totaling that amount. Investigators found that Mrs. Yandrasevich, working for RM, received a salary totaling nearly $175,000 from November 2009

to September 2012. She also received other payments from RM Staffing, including several checks and wire transfers in excess of $70,000. During the years of ongoing allegedly fraudulent activity, Mr. Yandrasevich bought two boats as well as a house for his mother in North Carolina. In April 2010, he used an RM Staffing check to pay off a personal debt. Red flags were first raised during a 2010 audit of the golf club, although there was no illegal activity suspected at the time. The report states that early that year, former City Manager Frank Culross expressed a concern to the city’s outside auditors regarding a potential ownership relationship between Ms. Yandrasevich and RM Staffing. However, it does not appear that the auditors or anyone else were able to substantiate the concern at the time. This week, moving trucks were seen outside the home of the Yandraseviches. The former manager resigned from his post with the club on Jan. 18 and agreed to vacate his home by Feb. 28. He and his family lived rent-free in a house on club grounds as part of his employment agreement. Mr. Yandrasevich was hired by the city in March 2002. With his hiring, he was given reign over the operation and management of the golf club. In retrospect, it seems there was little oversight from the club’s Golf Commission or city management of Yandrasevich’s handling of the organization. In May 2006, when a contract expired with Restaurant Associates to operate the club’s restaurant, snack bar and catering operation, the club assumed operations internally in a move overseen solely by Mr. Yandrasevich. The day after RM was incorporated in 2007, the company began billing the golf club for staffing services. The early invoices lacked basic details about what staffing services had been provided, according to investigators. “There were no names or dates or hours tied to specific workers,” the report states. In 2010, Mr. Yandrasevich formed Ansco Inc., which submitted unspecified monthly invoices to Studio Y. Ruggerio-Madeo was unable to describe the nature of the work provided except for two invoices from May 2010, which totaled nearly $17,000. In two years, Ansco made more than $211,000 off invoices to RM and Studio Y. The report released this week did not uncover evidence that any other former or current city employees benefited financially, though those in charge of the city’s operations are already facing questions for allowing the mismanagement to occur for an extended period of time. At the center of the scrutiny is City Manager Scott Pickup, who suggested during a September 2012 Rye Golf Club Commission meeting that the relationship between RM Staffing and Mr. Yandrasevich had been vetted by the city attorney and found to be above board. Pickup told investigators that his comments were made in an effort “to calm everyone down.” Pickup told investigators he knew the city attorney had not reviewed the staffing contract when he made that remark.

March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 11 QUIROS, continued from page 1

ing which time he said he was never read his Miranda rights, and was not told for what he had been arrested. Quiros’ arrest and subsequent court appearance has attracted considerable attention from other activists, as well as members of Mamaroneck’s Hispanic community, who believe that this incident is part of a much larger, countywide problem with police accountability. Members of the community gathered outside the courthouse, holding up signs that read, “Dark Skin ≠ A Crime.” Social worker and activist Alma Reyes Evans attended the demonstration and told The Sound and Town Report that the arrest of Quiros is an indicator of a fundamental unfairness in the way people of varying ethnicities are treated by law enforcement officials. “There is a movement developing calling for accountability and justice in the interactions among police and community members who are people of color. We’re here because we want to demonstrate that we are paying attention, that we are not comfortable with these things happening in our communities anywhere in Westchester...and that each citizen deserves to live without fear,” Evans said. Quiros’ attorney is Mayo Bartlett, the same man who represented the family of

Kenneth Chamberlain in a recent high profile case in White Plains. Chamberlain accidentally triggered a medical alert pendant that falsely signaled an emergency, causing police to respond. Two officers arrived, broke the door down to Chamberlain’s apartment, allegedly mocked him with racial slurs after he refused to cooperate and eventually shot him to death. Bartlett said he believes that there is a clear pattern indicating a lack of police accountability in Westchester County that requires attention. “We have established a network for police accountability, which is a coalition of different organizations and individuals who think that this is unnaceptable,” said Bartlett. “I think that too often there are efforts to divide people and to make it seem like your issue is not my issue. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your background is; this is unnaceptable.” In his recent court appearance, Quiros had his case postponed. “It’s important to send a message to the police department that we want transparency,” Quiros said. “Police have to be much more conscious of their behavior. What if I resisted arrest at two o’clock in the morning? I could have been dead.” Quiros also said that, regardless of the outcome of his charges, he hopes this incident serves as an example to younger people in the community, specifically high school students. Quiros is due back in court on March 14.

Authors meet and greet at the library Meet Vicki Addesso, Susan Hodara, Joan Potter and Lori Toppel who will speak about their new book “Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers.” in the Community Room of the Mamaroneck Public Library on Sunday, March 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The book grapples with the true nature of mother-daughter relationships and reveals the individual circumstances that brought these four women together, and then presents each of their stories of their mothers. “Hopefully, women who read this book will see it as a gateway to revisit treasured moments, pass by the anger and resentment, and discover their mothers’ good intentions,” said Toppel. The authors are all Westchester residents from very different backgrounds, as were their mothers. They joined forces through a writing group in 2006 and in the process of writing about their relationships, they deepened their understanding of one another and their perceptions of their mothers transformed. The authors will also explore the following topics: The mother-child relationship, the ins and outs of an enduring writing group, how writing can alter one’s understanding, and publishing with a small press. There will be signed copies of the book available for purchase. The book will be available on March 1 at,, or on the authors’website at StillHereThinkingofYou. com. Join them for a group reading. To sign up, please call the reference desk of the Mamaroneck Library at 698-1250*3. No Fee.

12 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013

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March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 13

L etters Beach and Yacht’s status?

To the Editor, If Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club [“Beach and Yacht permit still pending,” Feb. 22 edition] has not satisfied the Village Of Marmaroneck Planning Board by clear and convincing evidence that the club is a membership organization with the right for a number of non-membership events, then the club lacks legal standing and should not be allowed to waste the board’s time. This initial and simple legal concept could perhaps be explained by the village attorney to all those who have an interest in this matter. Michael Rosenbaum, Mamaroneck

Get along with the geese

To the Editor, Mamaroneck, “The Friendly Village?” Maybe not so much, at least not for Canada geese. As a Mamaroneck resident for over 30 years, I am saddened by the mayor’s recent decision to kill the Canada geese here. We are a beautiful waterfront community, and enjoying the rich variety of waterfowl and other water birds is one of the great joys of living here. I find it all the more disturbing that our elected officials are making this decision after spending taxpayer money on a Rake-O-Vac to clean up goose droppings. Our officials need to give this machine a chance to work before spending even more taxpayer money on an expensive USDA contract to kill geese. Canada geese are here to stay. Unwittingly or not, we provide them with a perfect habitat. They are attracted by our suburban lifestyle: manicured lawns, open fields, and golf courses. Like a small number of other species, they have adapted to survive in spite of human overpopulation and pollution. Many other species have not been so adaptable, and have simply died out. It is upsetting that we respond to this resiliency with a death sentence. Most communities who have had these roundups report that the vacuum created by the absence of geese is short lived. More geese return, eventually. Intelligent communities who are wise stewards of taxpayer funds find humane, long-term ways to live alongside geese. Some have referred to the goose roundups as “euthanasia.” This is not correct. Euthanasia denotes putting an animal out of its suffering. The only suffering these geese will endure is at the hands of the USDA workers. They will be rounded up when they are flightless and defenseless. They will either be sent to a slaughterhouse, or gassed in crowded containers as they fight to breathe for several agonizing minutes. This is not what my community stands for. This slaughter is made all the more tragic by the sheer senselessness of it. There are practical ways to address concerns that some residents may have about geese. I urge our elected officials to take a more intelligent, compassionate approach. Claudia Leff, Mamaroneck ASTORINO, continued from page 7

In the months since Newtown, the term “active shooter” has been used as a term among law enforcement officials to identify an individual that is discharging a firearm in an attempt to kill. “Discussion of these issues tends to help lessen the shock when it occurs,” Hodges said. “It is important for law enforcement to remain dynamic as the plans may change.” The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring County Executive Astorino, law enforcement officials and education leaders such as Harrison Central School District Superintendent Louis Wool. Wool, who also serves as the President of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, an organization including over 82 school officials in the area, explained while the local police have been actively involved in working with the schools to prevent these events from occurring, it is not enough to simply beef up security around the schoolyard. “We often wonder what would’ve prevented [the Newtown shooting], but fortifying schools is an unrealistic concept,” Wool said. According to Wool, school safety is reli-

ant not only on police response to emergency situations, but to identifying disaffected youth in the community. For Detective Martin Greenberg with the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the implementing of school resource officers is also important for student safety, not only to protect children and teachers from incidents caused by active shooters, but also to take a proactive approach to stopping a situation from developing in the first place. “In schools, on top of everything else, it is important to show face,” Greenburg said. “Be present and be available...collaboration is important to learn more about the students too.” The county executive announced in a release following the event that for the second portion of his “Safer Communities” initiative he plans to meet with mental and physical health professionals at the Westchester County Center on April 9. The program will also coincide with the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to emphasize violence as a public health concern affecting all local communities in the country.

14 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013


A shot in the arm for sports fans It’s not that I don’t love sports–it would be hard to work in my profession if I didn’t–but it just seems like each day, fans are inundated with negative stories. From athletes using performance enhancing drugs to millionaires squabbling with billionaires over who gets a bigger slice of the revenue pie, it’s easy to become disenchanted with something that is supposed to be a pure endeavor. But every now and then, something happens that can make even the most cynical observer believe in the majesty of sport. It just so happens that the most recent affirmation of everything sports can be occurred right in our backyard. By now, I’m sure you have seen what transpired at the Westchester County Center on March 2. In the Class AA section finals, New Rochelle, facing certain defeat at the hands of perennial power Mount Vernon, pulled off one of the most miraculous last-second wins ever. Down by two points with 2.9 seconds left, the Huguenots turned the ball over, and just about everyone in attendance–except for New Rochelle’s Khalil Edney–thought the Knights had won yet another section crown. But Edney stayed alert. He intercepted a lazy, ill-advised Mount Vernon lob and fired the ball towards the basket 60-feet away with one-tenth of a second left to play. You know the rest. The ball went in, but was initially ruled no good by one official before the referees huddled at half-court and eventually overturned the call, giving the Section I title to New Rochelle. You’ve seen the reactions, from the intial hysteria, to Edney being mobbed by fans and teammates alike, to New Rochelle head coach Rasuan Young overcome by emotions, tears of joy streaming down his face. Conversely, Mount Vernon’s Bob Cimmino, one of the finest coaches that Section I has ever

seen, stared forlornly across the court, trying to comprehend exactly what transpired in the game’s final seconds. Not surprisingly, the story blew up on social media and found its way into the national news. Those 2.9 seconds–and their aftermath-were broadcast on ESPN, alongside highlights of Lebron James. New Ro’s conquering heroes found themselves on “Good Morning, America” and CNN. There’s a reason that this game went ‘viral’ and it’s not just because of the Two New Rochelle players react to the referees’ decision to let Khalil wild finish. It’s because Edney’s last-second shot stand on March 2. The thrilling finish to the the entire thing–while a Mount Vernon-New Rochelle Section I Championship game became once-in-a-lifetime scea national story, in part because of the emotional celebration. nario–was so relatable. Photo/Bobby Begun The fans storming the court weren’t some college student body with little connection to the Huguenots besides the name on the front of New Ro’s jersey, they were the players’ friends, classmates, family members and teachers. Edney’s shot–while it will be with him for the rest of his life–won’t be used as a bargaining chip in a future contract negotiation. Sure, that Hail Mary heave meant that New Rochelle could call itself section champs, but, at its purest, that shot gave Edney and his friends the chance to play at least one more game together before their high school careers come to an end. It was a miraculous shot, an indelible moment, and a true testament to what magic can come from a simple game. It was the kind of reminder that Americans need, every now and again, to remember why they fell in love with sports in the first place.


March 8, 2013 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • 15

Sarachelli, Castiglia both win at Golden Gloves By MIKE SMITH ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR

On March 5, local boxers shined at the Golden Gloves, as both Chris Castiglia and Paul Sarachelli proved victorious in their bouts at the Harlem PAL, using their guts-and their fists–to advance to the next round. Castiglia, 35, is a New Rochelle police officer fighting in his first Golden Gloves this year. Fighting in the 201plus pound Novice Division, Castiglia took on a powerful opponent in Ken Nolan, but the Champs Boxing Club heavyweight was able to withstand a couple of big shots en route to a unanimous decision. Despite taking standing eight counts in both the first and second rounds, Castiglia was able to force the action for most of the fight and completely dominated the third round, landing punches at will. New Rochelle police officer Chris Castaglia poses with his trainer, Ryan O’Leary, following his March 5 win at the Golden Gloves. Castaglia won all three rounds of his bout on each judge’s scorecard. Photos/Mike Smith

Paul Sarachelli awaits the judges’ decision in his corner on March 5. He would win the wild fight 4-1.

“He hit me with a couple of good shots,” said Castiglia. “But that’s what I needed. Each time I come out, I’m afraid I’m going to get knocked out, so once I take a couple of shots I know I’m going to be OK.” Fighting out of Larchmont’s Main Street Boxing Gym, another New Rochelleian, 17year-old Paul Sarachelli, wowed fans with an impressive, action-packed win over Judah Brother’s BC boxer Joseph Alvarez. Dubbed “Thunder” by his fans and drawing the largest contingent of supporters on the night, Sarachelli lived up to his nickname, throwing punches continuously from the start of the fight to the closing bell and picking up a 4-1 win for his second victory in the tournament. Although both Sarachelli and Alvarez connected with plenty of good punches, most people in attendance thought that Sarachelli had clearly won the fight even before the judges’ scorecards came in. “I thought I was ahead coming into the last round, but I had to keep pushing,” said Sarachelli. “I knew I needed to keep punching.” Sarachelli remains one of the more intriguing young fighters in the tournament, as well as one of the more popular ones, which–according to his father, Paul, Sr.–is a testament to both Paul’s fighting style and his demeanor outside the ring. “Outside the ring, you’d never know Paul was a fighter, he’s a quiet kid who gets along with everybody” said the elder Sarachelli. “Watching him in the ring, knowing all the hard work and sacrifice he has put in, I’m the proudest father in the world.”

Main Street Boxing’s Paul “Thunder” Sarachelli stalks down Joseph Alvarez on March 5. Sarachelli and Alvarez put on one of the most entertaining fights of the night.

16 • THE SOUND AND TOWN REPORT • March 8, 2013

Sound and Town Report, 3-8-2013