To the Editor: On Town Board, ‘Zip Code Irrelevant’

11 Feb, 2014

By Loop Reader

town of mamaroneck sealTo the Editor:


We read with great interest the comments by two former Town Supervisors, Valerie O’Keeffe and Elaine Price… regarding the vacancy on the Mamaroneck Town Council, and their concern that geography should play a role in the selection of a new Council member to fill the seat of Phyllis Wittner, who served so ably for so long. While we respect the opinions of our two former Supervisor colleagues, we respectfully disagree. The only relevant requirement for the next Town Board member is that he or she is talented, community-minded and willing to serve all the residents of the Town. Their zip code is irrelevant.


We have both served in the same position, Town Supervisor, and we have worked with talented residents in all capacities: not only Town Board members, but those who serve on the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, and on numerous other boards that affect traffic, coastal zone management, recreation, LMC-TV, sanitation and as liaisons with our police, fire and EMS services. In every single case, the individual who steps forth to serve the community does so with unique talents and experience – no two are alike – but share a common commitment to serving all of us.


The unincorporated portion of the Town extends over a significant distance; residents of Marbourne Drive may have never made their way to Pryer Manor Lane or Dillon Road, or vice versa. Residents of Howell Park may not intrinsically know the backyard problems of Murdock Woods, and vice versa. But in each and every case, a Town Board member rises to the occasion: they learn the budget specifics, the delivery of service specifics, the people and concerns of each neighborhood or incorporated village.


It is always tricky for former elected officials to publicly advise their successor: we know all too well the balancing act that goes into every Council discussion and decision. We have confidence that current Supervisor Seligson and her board colleagues will do their duty well, weighing all factors, and will pick the best possible Council member to serve for the balance of the year. Then, the voters of the Town, every village and neighborhood, will have their say this November and next November, on who should hold the seat for the future.


The interests of the Town will be best protected by selecting the best possible candidate, regardless of geography or another such arbitrary factor.


Dolores A. Battalia


Caroline Silverstone


 
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  • oreo

    No, the authors of the letter has misinterpreted the situation. This is a basic American issue of taxation without representation and a fight for the right of the residents of the Unincorporated Area to control their own destiny.

    For 2014, the average Town tax for a Villager was only $517, a reduction year-over-year of 4%; that tax paid for shared-services negotiated between the Villages and the Town. The average Town tax for an Unincorporated Area resident was $6,083, an increase year-over-year of 1.4%; that tax paid for shared-services and mostly for Town only services (e.g. police, fire). Villages provide their own equivalents to Town-only services within their boundaries and of their own choice for their own residents only.

    Village residents can lower their Town tax burden even further by opting-out of some shared-services.

    Why would anyone object to residents of the Unincorporated Area having the same control over their own taxes and services as residents of the villages. With no reflection on Mr. Murphy, that any would say they can determine the fate of Unincorporated Area residents, by serving on their government, better than those residents can themselves, is incomprehensible.

    And how can any here tolerate the government in secrecy of executive sessions held in opposition to the law? Have we not seen recently too much of government secrecy? Has the judge read the Supreme Court decision as put forth by former Supervisors O’Keeffe and Price? At least the Queen’s new clothes are being exposed, and hopefully the people or their courts .. or simply one innocent child .. will soon announce an end to this madness in the Town of Mamaroneck .. for the sake of the children’s futures.

    • Frank Drebin

      Former Supervisor Elaine Price and Valerie O’Keefe state that Mamaroneck Town has only 12,000 residents in their letter.
      I would imagine that the other 18,000 residents of the Town should feel somewhat put off by that statement by officals that were previously elected to represent ALL 30,000 people in the community.
      Perhaps that attitude is at the core of the issue here.

  • Frank Drebin

    Oreo –

    You should note that the “taxation without representation” claim cuts both ways.

  • oreo

    IF: “The interests of the Town will be best protected by selecting the best possible candidate, regardless of geography or another such arbitrary factor.”

    Would not the corollary then be: That the interests of the villages would be best served by including residents of the unincorporated area in the pool of available persons to serve on the village boards?

  • Norman S. Rosenblum

    The real test for the Town of Mamaroneck is not who will be the replacement for Phyllis Wittner, rather it will be whether the democratic process in the Town will ever become active once again. The past several years of unopposed candidates is a sad reflection of apathy and lack of true discussion and positions that should be offered to the electorate. Whomever is named as Phyllis’ replacement that individual will be required to run for that office in November.

    Will there be anyone who cares enough to put themselves forward for consideration to give choice to the public, or will apathy reign supreme and the democratic process stays dormant in the Town of Mamaroneck with no surprise to the continuing apathy of the electorate. There is no requirement for exclusivity of the “standard” political parties to name candidates. Anyone may collect enough signatures and have their name on the ballot for choices by the electorate. The bottom line is not whether one agrees with Valerie & Elaine or Dolores & Caroline, it is will this healthy difference of opinions by the former Supervisors translate into a real discussion of positions and opinions during the next election or will the “Good Old Boy” network continue to the demise of the democratic process in the Town. Only time will tell …

    Norman S. Rosenblum
    Mayor
    Village of Mamaroneck

  • Elaine Price, Valerie O’Keeffe

    We do agree with Dolores and Caroline that zip codes do not matter–but governments sure do. Mamaroneck Town residents should have majority representation in its own government.

    We believe it’s a basic tenet of all representative government. The number 3 matters: three village residents will be the majority of the Town Board. They do not live in Mamaroneck Town; they are not bound by the rules, regulations, and laws of the Town; and they do not pay Unincorporated Town taxes: but they will legislate, formulate policy and set tax rates for Unincorporated Town residents. This matters no matter how well intentioned and public spirited they are.

    The Villages of Larchmont and Mamaroneck have full and fine representation on their respective Boards. Just imagine if 3 Mamaroneck Town residents (highly qualified) wanted to become the ruling majority in Larchmont Village because the Town has funding for the Larchmont Library or a similar situation in Mamaroneck Village. Well it would never happen nor should it. It’s not the way government. functions. All of our boundaries are unwieldy and the Town has at least 3 zip codes (still counting) but that changes neither the structure nor the role of local government. And the Town has never been greedy about full representation for the Town.

    While Elaine was on the Board, we always made sure that we had 1 or 2 Village residents because the Villages pay about 2 and one half percent tax to the Town. A small tax but a tax nevertheless. And we had fine and diligent Village representation. (Paul Ryan quickly comes to mind).

    Majority representation for taxing and legislative authority must always be the cornerstone for a truly representative government. Mamaroneck Town has over 12,000 residents and I am sure that from that pool, capable citizens exist to serve their community. And yes if you have to bang on every door in Town-that’s ok- no one ever said that government is easy-Just ask Phyllis Wittner who resigned after 16 years of incredible diligence and stewardship for the Town.

    In our view to turn one’s back on majority representation is poor governance and reflects a disservice to the community the government purports to serve.

    Elaine M. Price, Former Mamaroneck Town Supervisor

    Valerie Moore O’Keeffe, Former Mamaroneck Town Supervisor

    February 12, 2014