Category Archives: Columns


Column: Divided allegiances

Scarsdale quarterback Michael Rolfe tries to elude New Rochelle’s Tyler Cohen on Oct. 31. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, a former Scarsdale football player, covering a game between the Huguenots and Raiders was a task that was both a welcome and a challenge. Photo/Mike Smith

Scarsdale quarterback Michael Rolfe tries to elude New Rochelle’s Tyler Cohen on Oct. 31. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, a former Scarsdale football player, covering a game between the Huguenots and Raiders was a task that was both a welcome and a challenge. Photo/Mike Smith

This past weekend, I was forced to stand by and watch as a team I swore my allegiance to in my youth fell to a superior squad in a postseason elimination game, thus ending a spirited playoff run.

Amazingly, I don’t mean the Mets.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, despite several intriguing sectional matchups, I headed to McKenna Field to cover the Huguenots’ Class AA semifinal game. The reason I chose to cover this game over the others on the schedule is simple: I used to play for Scarsdale.

I know that there’s no rooting in the press box, or on the sidelines where I can often be found taking photos. And when it comes down to it, when I do have a rooting interest, I’m usually throwing my support to our local teams. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch my Raiders compete in a semifinal game, something that seemed like a fairy tale, at least back when I donned the maroon and white.

See, the Raider teams of my year were not exactly what you would call “good.” We weren’t pushovers by any stretch of the imagination, but we weren’t world-beaters either. We were a middle-of-the-road team with a stingy defense and a lot of pride in what we did on the field.

We were convinced back then that we were building something, a bridge of sorts between the program’s glory days of the late 1980s and a bright future where battling for a section title wouldn’t seem like such an impossibility.

Sure, it took a little longer than we had hoped—11 to 12 years to be exact—but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride as the No. 3-seeded Raiders took to the field last Saturday, ready to take on the top dog in Section I.

And then, the game started.

If there were any questions about New Rochelle being as good as advertised, they were quickly put to bed as the Huguenots outran, outhit and outplayed the Raiders from start to finish, beating them 33-7. And as much as I had hoped that Scarsdale would make it a game, I couldn’t help feel ecstatic for New Rochelle’s players, who have approached this season with truly refreshing enthusiasm.

New Rochelle deserved to win; they deserved to make the Class AA title game, and, bias aside, I think they deserve to beat John Jay on Saturday, Nov. 7.

But as happy as I am for the Huguenots and their fans, I was equally as happy for the Raiders. It was a great year for the kids, a great year for the program, and hopefully, a sign of things to come.

Maybe in another 12 years or so, some of those Scarsdale seniors from Saturday’s game will come back to watch the Raiders celebrating a section title.

Hopefully, though, it won’t take quite that long.


Follow Mike on Twitter


Column: Debates in name only

As a teenager, I joined my school’s debate team. We had both intramural and interscholastic debates. The format was simple: each side, composed of one to three students, would argue for or against an announced proposition. You had to be prepared to argue either side of the issue.

A favorite proposition when I was about 16 years old was: “Resolved: that the United States must at all costs avoid involvement in the war between Britain and Germany.” Families with members who had actually fought in the “1914–1918 war,” as some called it, felt particularly strongly, either for or against U.S. involvement. But your own feelings were not to control your position in debate, where the object was simply to be as persuasive as possible.

Later, in college, I participated in the Yale Political Union, where I was chosen to head the Conservative Party. The format imitated the British House of Commons, but the startling backbench catcalls heard in Westminster were not permitted in New Haven, I’m happy to say. We had an issue to argue, and we were expected to stick to it.

How different are the rowdy rough-houses we witness these days among candidates in both parties. In particular, the vicious Benghazi attacks against Hillary Clinton were disgraceful. Fortunately for her, she was able to smile while keeping her would-be tormenters at bay. Her self-discipline revealed some of the toughness required to cope with the endless irritations of the highest office.

I do not believe the present wrangling, both among candidates and also on the part of self-appointed inquisitors, is worthy of our country. If people want to yell at each other, they should visit some bar where anything goes. Apparently, it is decent manners that has propelled Dr. Ben Carson to the top of the Republican candidate heap. His rivals should take heed. What we have seen so far does not deserve to be called by the honorific title of “debates.”



Column: Pay-by-phone parking option coming soon

I am pleased to announce that the village will be rolling out a pay-by-phone option for village parking meters beginning early 2016. In preparation, village staff is meeting with constituent groups to explain the mechanics of the new app system. The first of such meetings took place on Oct. 22 with members of our Chamber of Commerce.

The system is owned and operated by PANGO Inc., an Israeli company headquartered in New York City. An industry pioneer, PANGO holds many of the patents in the mobile parking technology field. With coverage all over Israel and Germany, PANGO also operates in many American cities including Harrisburg, Penn., Philadelphia, Phoenix, Scranton, Penn., Alexandria, Va., and nearby Mount Vernon.

In essence, the PANGO service is a downloaded app that allows parkers to pay their meter charge by phone. This alleviates the need for a pocketful of coins and allows people to add time remotely if running late up to the allotted hour limit on the meter. For example, if I prepaid for an hour in a two-hour parking zone, I can add an additional hour while in a waiting room or under a hair dryer.

PANGO programs its systems to recognize the rules of each parking zone in the village as well as each meter number entered by the user. As a result, the system knows what to charge and how long the user may park. Parkers may also opt to receive an automated alert that notifies them that their meter is about to expire. The alert is typically 15 minutes before expiration but may be adjusted to the needs of the particular app user.

There is a fee of 25 cents per transaction. Although parkers may use PANGO to pay their fees at all metered spaces in the village, the coin payment option will never go away. PANGO is simply a second way to pay.

The app may be downloaded via the App Store or by accessing PANGO via Users complete a brief form entering the license plate numbers—and can register an unlimited number of vehicles—and credit card information. The sign-up process takes approximately two minutes and there is no fee for the download. PANGO works with iPhone and Android, but not BlackBerry devices. Once the app is installed, customers just have to open the app, choose their vehicle and enter a meter number. It can even be done on the run or from a train seat if pressed for time. Those who choose not to use the mobile app may still pay by credit card with PANGO by calling the company’s dedicated phone line at 1-877-697-2646.

Our parking enforcement officers will have synchronized hand-held devices to monitor both coin and app payment methods. Should an app user experience a glitch or confusion at the time of use, they may call a staffed call-in number and receive assistance within 60 seconds.

We expect to have instructional forums for any interested groups including our senior citizens and school families. PANGO will provide several thousand brochures with all the prompts for new users as well as on the ground helpers during the actual roll out period.

Not only is the system an advantageous alternative for village parkers, it also has built-in services that can assist our merchants and our chamber. Merchants can advertise sales, extended hours of business, or offer free patron parking in the app format. The messages can also be almost instantaneous in nature. For example, as you type in your parking space number, you may read that your favorite store is having a sale that afternoon or is offering free parking if you come and shop or dine that day.

The Chamber of Commerce can also use the app to announce local events including street concerts or sidewalk sales.

Ideally, the village plan was to simultaneously roll out the PANGO app with the evening changes in parking meter enforcement. However, due to an unforeseen glitch in the synchronization of computer equipment, PANGO is delayed.

In the interest of fairness, we will not be enforcing the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. meter payment until the non-coin option is available. We will make sure all will be informed of when the new program app and concurrent enforcement takes effect.

Due to the increase in staffing throughout the village, businesses and institutions, as well as the increase in service-oriented businesses versus the traditional soft goods stores, parking is at an all-time premium.

The completion of the Kensington Garage in the spring of 2016 will alleviate some of the parking stress and we hope PANGO can too. To learn more about the application, log on to or call Village Hall at 337-6500.

Mara Rupners

Column: The legend lives on: Dizzie Gillespie



Musicians may pass away, in the physical sense, but they never really leave us. Their legacy lives on in the music they wrote, in their recordings, and in the musicians they played with, trained and inspired.

Such is the case with Dizzie Gillespie, who would have celebrated his 98th birthday on Oct. 21. At the age of 12, Gillespie, the youngest of nine children, taught himself how to play trombone and trumpet, and the rest, as they say, is history. He traveled the world, jammed with all the greats, made numerous recordings, and is remembered today as an elder statesman of jazz, one of the most influential jazz trumpet players of all time.

In 1977, Gillespie was playing impromptu gigs throughout the Caribbean with saxophonist Stan Getz, and landed in Cuba. In Havana, he met a local man, Arturo Sandoval, who offered to show him around the city. Later that night, Sandoval, a trumpet player himself who idolized Gillespie, managed to play for the jazzman—and blew him away.

So began a lifelong friendship and musical collaboration, a story of jazz, travel and musical innovation. Gillespie was key to helping Sandoval gain political asylum in 1990; to this day, Sandoval lives here in the U.S. He continues to tour, and has evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer. And when he takes the stage, you can be sure that the legendary Dizzie Gillespie is right there with him.

Be a part of their story. Arturo Sandoval will perform for one night only on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. Tickets are $45, $50 and $60, and good seats are still available.


Mara Rupners is the director of marketing at The  Performing Arts Center.
The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, N.Y.
10577 Box Office: 251-6200 Hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon to 6 p.m. and on weekends
before performances Website: 


Column: The controversial trial of Anne Hutchinson

A depiction of Anne Hutchinson on her way to trail.  Photo courtesy Richard Forliano

A depiction of Anne Hutchinson on her way to trail.
Photo courtesy Richard Forliano

With George Pietarinen,
author of “Anne Hutchinson,
A Puritan Woman of Courage.” 
This is the third in a series 

of articles on the Colonial
and Revolutionary History
of Eastchester.


While the Puritans left Europe to escape religious persecution, this did not lead to a belief in tolerance for others. The Puritans, like many true believers, felt that their way was the only way.

But soon, dissension and strife were threatening the unity necessary for the colony to survive. A protracted, bloody and tragic struggle against the Pequot Native American tribe created tensions between those who supported the war and those who did not. Ministers like Roger Williams and John Witherspoon who held views opposed to the ruling theocracy found themselves banished into the wilderness. Anne Hutchison had lived in Boston for only three years when she too ran afoul of the authorities.

Deputy Gov. Thomas Dooley tried to place sole blame on the strife that was dividing the colony on the actions and beliefs of Anne Hutchinson, saying, “Three years ago we were all in peace… Mrs. Hutchinson from the time she came has made a disturbance.”

In the late fall of 1637, Anne Hutchinson was brought to trial in a court presided over by Gov. John Winthrop and the most powerful ministers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The charges against Anne were serious. She had troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches by holding meetings at her house. Moreover, she had counselled her followers not to participate in the struggle against the Pequot.

The trial began in November 1637 as winter was approaching. During the first days of the trial, this proud, brilliant and educated woman outmaneuvered the accusers who were attempting to prosecute her. She had learned theology and a command of scripture in England from her minister father, Francis Marbury, who had also been imprisoned for religious views that were similar to the very men who were prosecuting her. Anne cleverly avoided confessing to the charge leveled against her. She insisted that the ministers leveling accusations against her take an oath on the Bible to tell the truth. Effortlessly quoting scripture, she avoided the most serious charge of accusing ministers of advocating a covenant of works over a covenant of grace.

Acquittal seemed like the clear option when Anne made a very damaging statement to her accusers, saying, “You have no power over my body; neither can you do me any harm—for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah, my Saviour…I fear none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I do verily believe that he will deliver me out of our hands. Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.”

She claimed to have received direct revelations from God and was exempt from the mandates of the court, blasphemy to the Puritans of that time. The final source of all authority was the Bible. It was the function of the clergy to guide their followers in the paths of righteousness. Anne claimed that God spoke to her directly, which cast into doubt the need for clergy. In a sense, she had confessed to her guilt.

Why at a moment of triumph did Anne make such a colossal blunder? Did she simply crack under pressure, or was it a matter of not being able to speak the truth? Either way, she was doomed. Anne spent the next four months under house arrest, unable to see her children. In March 1638, weakened and sickly, Anne recanted some of her views following the advice of two ministers she respected. But in the end, the court not only banished Anne but cast her into eternal damnation by excommunicating her. In a long, six-day April snowstorm, Anne and her children made the arduous trip to join her husband in Providence, R.I.

What do prominent historians say about the legacy of Anne Hutchinson and her trial? Daniel Boorstein, one of America’s prominent 20th century historians, claimed that if the court had treated her differently, “they would have merited praise as precursors of modern liberalism, but they would not have founded a nation.”

Anne was saying that the minister and the church were no longer needed. Edmund Morgan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who granted the unfairness of the trial, said, “Once Hutchinson proclaimed a belief in immediate revelation, it was quite impossible for her to remain part of the Puritan commonwealth.”

Eve LaPlante, a direct descendant of Anne Hutchinson and author of “American Jezebel,” a best-selling work of nonfiction in 2004, believes it might have been better for the judges to banish her without a trial.

“By carefully recording and saving her extensive testimony, the judges inadvertently gave her what few women of her time enjoyed: a lasting voice. The trial that led to her imprisonment lets her speak to us nearly four centuries later,” LaPlante said.

The divisions caused by the trial of Anne Hutchinson gave rise to the establishment of America’s first college. Hutchinson was the true midwife of Harvard. To paraphrase an article in an issue of Harvard Magazine published in 2002, the colony determined to provide for the education of a new generation of ministers and theologians who would secure New England’s peace from future seditious Mrs. Hutchinsons.

Hutchinson had taken on the Puritan theocracy and although she lost her trial, centuries later we can only admire her strength of conviction and courage. With the establishment of Harvard College, ministers received better training and the colony continued to survive.


Please contact us at about
any comments or questions you might have about this column.


Column: Hidden gems

Sports Editor Mike Smith, as evidenced by this photo from 1987, used to be a big fan of the Mets. But with no memories of the team’s title run in ‘86, he’s hoping the Amazin’s produce some great moments during this Fall Classic. Contributed photo

Sports Editor Mike Smith, as evidenced by this photo from 1987, used to be a big fan of the Mets. But with no memories of the team’s title run in ‘86, he’s hoping the Amazin’s produce some great moments during this Fall Classic. Contributed photo

A few months ago, I was looking through old family photo albums and found incontrovertible proof that I was once an honest-to-goodness Mets fan. I’m not talking about the kind of Mets fan I am today, one who recognizes a great sports narrative after years of suffering, and temporarily shifts his allegiances over to the surging New York baseball team. I’m talking about a dyed-in-the-wool, wear-the-whole-uniform-just-because type of fan.

Also, I was 3 years old.

Looking back on it now, it’s not surprising that I showed such an affinity for the team in my younger years. If I was 3 in the photo I found, that meant it was right around 1987: the Mets were just coming off their miraculous 1986 World
Series, and they had two of the game’s undeniable young stars in Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Like they are now, the Mets in the mid-to-late 80s were “cool.”

But here’s the thing: I can’t remember anything about the Mets during that time. Of course, being the baseball fan I am, I’ve gone back and devoured books and articles about the ‘86 Amazin’s, read clippings from the wild series against the Houston Astros and done my best to fully understand the “Met-mania” that gripped the Big Apple that autumn.

Thanks to YouTube, I have not one, but two songs released that year celebrating the accomplishments of that team currently on heavy rotation on my iTunes. And for the record, “Get Metsmerized,” a rap song recorded by George Foster, Rafael Santana, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl, Dwight and others, remains the far
superior track.

But as for actual memories of that team? Alas, I was too young.

My only World Series memories of the Mets come from the Subway Series in 2000, when they fell to the Yankees in five games. But while the series may have lacked in drama—Piazza’s near-blast in Game 5 notwithstanding—it did provide me with one of my favorite World Series moments of all time.

I was a high school junior at the time, and Game 1 of the series coincided with a friend’s Sweet 16 party. Because the soiree was held on a boat cruising around New York Harbor, I had pretty much resigned myself to not catching any of the action live. But sometime around 9 p.m., I found myself, along with maybe 10 other guests and various members of the ship’s crew, huddled in the captain’s cabin, gathered around a small portable TV watching Al Leiter and Andy Pettitte trade zeros into the sixth inning. It was one of those surreal moments, seeing the skyline of New York City lit up as its two baseball teams were battling for the sport’s ultimate prize.

I do, however, feel somewhat guilty that the game robbed some of the female partygoers of their dance partners for the evening.

So here we are, once again, on the eve of another World Series appearance by the Mets, 15 years after the last one. By the time most of you will be reading this, we will be two games in and the series will be headed back to Citi Field for a three-game Mets homestand.

Baseball is a funny sport and there’s no way to predict what’s going to happen this week. I just hope it doesn’t lack at least a few cool moments.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have a shot at fitting into that old uniform anymore.


Follow Mike on Twitter


Column: Parking advice from the past

I was cleaning out a cupboard last week at Village Hall and came across a newspaper from 1939 with a lead article entitled, “What Do We Do About Parking?” I immediately stopped to read the article looking for the elusive answer only to learn the title was rhetorical, not solution-oriented.

Issues come and go in Bronxville, but not parking. Since schools have reopened, residents have returned from vacation, store traffic has increased and service organizations have geared up, the issue is again front and center.

The parking needs of the many constituent groups in the village require the most delicate of balancing with the domino effects often unforeseen. I am quite sure that the trustees and I don’t always make the best or most popular decisions in this arena, but we do truly look hard at the needs of all the stakeholders we are elected to represent.

In light of the valid, but often divergent and conflicting needs of each constituent group, I thought it might be helpful to understand our thought processes as we try to balance the needs of each group, while being mindful that every one of them is integral to the rich fabric that defines Bronxville. The following are just a few vignettes that illustrate some of the conundrums we face:

The complaint of the merchant tired of their fellow merchant or employees feeding the meter all day in front of a neighboring store and impeding the free flow of parking for potential customers versus the doctor, restaurateur or hair salon owner on the same block pleading that their clientele needs the meter-feeding option to complete their services.

The restaurateur, movie theater owner or gym owner who desires free evening parking meters for their businesses while not recognizing that the same free meters entice folks to park in our business district and then head to Manhattan for the evening via train in order to avoid $40-plus city garage fee.

The West Side beauty salon owner or restauranteur who needs lengthy meter time for their customers to enjoy their services while not making the time interval so attractive that it becomes an alternative to the more expensive hospital parking garage.

The fact that the increasingly tight parking situation is also an outgrowth of the success of our institutions. In the recent past, our nursery schools have added sections, our senior citizens’ group has grown in size and offerings, our refurbished library has attracted new patrons and our public school’s enrollment and footprint has expanded significantly, all without the needed additional parking spaces in the equation. (As a point of interest, after surveying my fellow Westchester elected officials, Bronxville government officials were the only ones who are perceived to have a role either historically or de facto in finding parking for school employees.)

The above leads to Bronxville school teachers being frustrated as they circle the blocks looking for parking and competing with postal workers who have an inadequate staff lot, or their very own students who drove to school. Paid parking placards have offered a partial solution but other village groups that are integral to our village makeup—be it religious institutions, private schools, seniors or hardworking merchants—would like placards as well.

It goes without saying that many people move to our village precisely for our outstanding public school. As government officials, we need them to stay post-school and continue to support the tax base and contribute to village life. Bottom line, if every resident in the village housed a school family, we could not financially or structurally survive. That being said, it is vital that our government provide services and amenities, including parking, to keep folks in the village.

Everyone should continue to advocate for their constituency’s parking needs. On any given day, a resident library patron will call frustrated that they couldn’t park to use the facility; a school parent with the same frustration will call as they seek to park to volunteer or catch a student performance; a senior citizen will go home because parking options were too far from the activity; a resident will not be able to unload groceries or have a friend, relative or babysitter park near their home because someone parked there at 7 and left at 5.

These all very valid but often competing interests of our constituencies must be treated as fairly and as even-handedly as possible, hence some of the patchwork parking regulations whose logic isn’t immediately apparent.

Not only do we need to increase our inventory, which will somewhat happen with the building of the Kensington Road project. In the interim, all of our stakeholder groups must work with us to most effectively use the supply at hand, be it incentives for parking at a distance, walking to work or school, or using Metro-North. I am confident there are solutions out there if we work together as a village.


Column: What it can be like to be Rye’s mayor

Mayor Joe Sack, whom I like and supported for election, published a column called “What it’s like to be Rye’s mayor” in the Oct. 16 issue of this newspaper. I would like to add to what he said, based on my own eight years as mayor, plus six years before that as a member of the city council.

A significant problem in City Hall today is the one-party government. Yes, there is one registered Democrat on the dais out of seven people in total, which is not a situation conducive to competition. Local government needs competition, in order for new ideas to be put forward, analyzed and voted on. No single council member can get a vote on any issue without the help of a seconder. A single minority member is powerless.

In the 1960s, there was one four-year term with a two-party council. That was after Tom Butler and I were the first people to be elected on a Democratic ticket. But it didn’t last, and it was not until 1971 that Rye again chose a two-party council, with the election of Dan Spaeth and myself. Two years later, I was elected mayor, and served for eight years, until 1982.

In the past 30-plus years, Rye has often had the benefit of a two-party city council, in which new ideas were welcome and given serious consideration. But in very recent times, with our one-party council, I have been deeply disappointed by the out-of-hand rejection of two proposals that I have put forward. No studies made; no interest shown.

I am referring to the council ignoring, without even an explicit brush-off, my proposals for a city ombudsperson and for a community emergency response team, CERT, as outlined by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The concept of ombudsperson goes back hundreds of years in Sweden. A single official, then called Ombudsman, was designated to hear citizen complaints against government action. The ombudsman would talk with the government officials involved and then would mediate. The aim was to reach an agreed outcome without public debate.

I thought of this approach particularly in connection with the problem our late neighbor Bob Schubert had with the city. He repeatedly attended public city council meetings to plead his case and always left frustrated. It was pathetic to see this aging veteran of the 1944-45 Okinawa Battle being refused not only what he was asking for but even the courtesy of a fair and open-minded  hearing.

How much better for all concerned would it have been for the problem to be privately mediated on by a Rye ombudsperson? That is not to say the city council need not listen to complaints. They most certainly should. But private mediation through an official ombudsperson should be an option open to all.

Where the ombudsperson was unable to bring the parties together, they could render a report to the council on the situation, subject to the public records law. This is a proposition that a two-party council would be likely to study seriously; not just ignore.

The other proposal that I have been disappointed in the city council about is for the creation of a cert. I outlined an explanation published in this newspaper on Oct. 16 of how CERTs work across the country, specifically in the nearby community of New Canaan, Conn.

Several weeks ago, I turned my entire CERT file over to a member of the city council who expressed interest in the idea. So far, I have heard nothing back and have to assume that the council is not interested. That is deeply disappointing, after hearing about 150 mph winds hitting Mexico because of Hurricane Patricia.

I am convinced, based on my own experience with one-party and two-party city councils, that Rye will be much better off if our Nov. 3 election produces a two-party Rye City Council. The election of Democratic candidates would provide us all with healthy competition in our local legislative body.



Column: Get Metsmerized

As of press time, the New York Mets are just six wins away from a World Series title. Sports Editor Mike Smith urges local Yankee fans to put aside their biases and root on the Amazin’s. Photo courtesy

As of press time, the New York Mets are just six wins away from a World Series title. Sports Editor Mike Smith urges local Yankee fans to put aside their biases and root on the Amazin’s. Photo courtesy

Here’s a piece of unsolicited advice for you Yankee fans out there: It’s OK to root for the Mets.

Right now, the Mets are in the midst of a historic run. As of press time, they are up 2-0 on the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, with ace Jacob deGrom taking the hill in Game 3. Regardless of how this postseason turns out, however, the Mets—with a phenomenal group of young starting pitchers—seem poised to be in control of the NL East for the next five or six years.

All told, it’s a pretty good time to root for the Amazin’s.

But over the last few weeks, there’s been no shortage of blowback from Yankee fans who seem to be openly rooting for the Mets to crash and burn in spectacular fashion.

I, for one, don’t get it.

We’re not living in the 1950s anymore. The vicious intra-borough rivalries between the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees are a thing of the distant past. I mean, sure, there have been a few notable meetings between the Yanks and Mets. The 2000 World Series, Clemens vs. Piazza; these things add a bit of spice to the Battle for the Big Apple. But really, the “rivalry” has been so one-sided since the Mets’ inception in 1962, I can’t believe it’s something that even weighs on the mind of the Yankee faithful.

It’s amazing to me that Yankee fans, whose team has been at the pinnacle of the New York sports scene since 1996, are so insecure that they begrudge the Mets for the success they’re having this year.

“They won a weak division!” they’ll cry, oblivious to the fact that the AL East is no longer the juggernaut it was in the
early 2000s.

“It’s still a Yankee town!” they’ll say, as the Empire State Building radiates blue and orange.

And yes, maybe it is; at least for now.

But I think many Yankee fans see their team’s precarious position atop the city’s pecking order and are hoping against hope that continued Mets success doesn’t relegate them to second-class citizens.

It’s a valid fear, trust me. As a lifelong Red Sox supporter, I saw my team go from the plucky underdogs whose postseason run captured the attention of a nation in 2004, to a sort of Yankees-lite, an organization and fanbase that was spoiled, entitled, and worst of all, inescapable.

But really, that’s a fear for another day. Right now, the Mets are the upstarts, a young, talented team with some homegrown stars, clicking at the right time and putting on a show just about every night.

Put your Yankee bias aside and root for them for the next few weeks, will ya?

If they win the series, it’s only a matter of time before the Mets—and their fans—become insufferable.

Then, maybe this rivalry will really start to heat up.


Follow Mike on Twitter


Column: Snacks and a laptop at the library?

This anecdote will come as a complete shock to anyone who can remember when water wasn’t permitted in the library, never mind snacks. Earlier this year, my fifth grade daughter climbed the stairs to the teen section at the Rye library in search of a book for her book club. After helping her find the book, the librarian suggested that the book club meet at the library and bring snacks. I know. Snacks? At the library?

Like me, many of you may find this surprising, but libraries nationwide are undergoing a transformation. Gone are the cubicles and dark, narrow corridors between dusty book stacks. In an effort to stay relevant during the digital era, libraries are creating more welcoming environments with open space, laptop bars, comfortable seating, meeting rooms and, yes, snacks.

An article in the New York Times published in March 2014, called “Breaking out of the library mold, in Boston and beyond,” highlights the Boston Public Library as “breaking out of its granite shell to show an airier, more welcoming side to the passing multitudes. Interior plans include new retail space, a souped-up section for teenagers, and a high-stool bar where patrons can bring their laptops and look out over Boylston Street.” A study of the Pew Internet & American Life Project indicated that 59 percent of library users want more comfortable reading areas.

The Rye Free Reading Room has already made part of this transition with respect to digital access and programming. It offers free Wi-Fi, computer sessions and is continually expanding its e-book collection. You can even download music to keep. Not only has the number of programs increased 15 percent to 1,143 over the past two years, but the programming is more varied. It includes more traditional offerings like story time for children and meet-the-author events as well as Science Fun club for elementary school children, computer classes and lectures on photography and healthcare. And if you consider that our library is closed on Sundays and most holidays, the 1,143 programs offered by our library in 2014 translates to nearly four programs each day. That’s impressive.

Our library serves all the segments of Rye’s population. It is a great place for kids to find homework help and meet to do group projects after school. It’s also a gathering site for seniors.

The next step in our library’s ongoing effort to meet the evolving requests of its patrons is to provide the physical space to support the community’s needs. This will require a substantial capital investment. Our library has plans for renovation that, once completed, will include 1,400 square feet of additional flexible seating and program space, two private study rooms available for tutoring sessions or book groups, a laptop bar and charging station, a double height atrium that restores original light and windows overlooking the Blind Brook. The project will continue the library’s evolution toward becoming a community center, not just a place to borrow books.

As with any other capital-intensive project, the question of funding arises. And as with most projects involving the library, the answer is with a capital campaign. The city contributed $1.2 million to the Rye library in 2014, roughly two-thirds of the library’s total budget. If that seems low, on a relative basis, it is. Surrounding communities typically contribute a much larger portion of their libraries’ operating budgets. Larchmont and Chappaqua, for example, contribute more than 90 percent of their libraries’ budgets. This means that our library already relies heavily on fundraising and grants to fund its operations and programming.

The next time you or your kids are searching for something to do, stop by or log into the Rye library and check out the new offerings. And when our library conducts its capital campaign, remember that only $75 per person from our annual tax dollars go to the Rye Free Reading Room.