Category Archives: Columns


Column: A whole new Game

On April 6, HBO premiered season four of the hit series Game of Thrones. Sports Editor Mike Smith sees a lot of similarities between fans of the program and sports nuts. Photo courtesy

On April 6, HBO premiered season four of the hit series Game of Thrones. Sports Editor Mike Smith sees a lot of similarities between fans of the program and sports nuts. Photo courtesy

Before you read any further, I want to give you fair warning. This is not a column about sports. But given the way that people talk about this week’s subject, it’s not far off.

On April 6, just one week after Major League Baseball celebrated its 2014 Opening Day, fans of a different game anxiously awaited their own premiere.

While MLB officials have seen their Opening Day ratings continually speak to an increasing regionalization of fandom, the astonishing international numbers for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is proof people all around the globe are tuning in to see their favorite clans duke it out to see who will grab a prize more coveted than the Commissioner’s Trophy, The Iron Throne.

Since its debut in 2011, “Game of Thrones,” adapted from the fantasy novel series written by George R.R. Martin, has become one of the most watched and debated cable shows in the world. But the success of the show—and the best-selling novels—far outstrips the fantasy niche.

The show has become part of the cultural conversation, a phenomenon that has attracted viewers who might not necessarily be fans of the whole medieval swords-and-sandals type drama. And maybe it’s the sportswriter in me talking here, but I can’t help but think that a big reason for the show’s success is that people tuning into the show are watching each week, not only to get their fix of violence, political intrigue and witty dialogue; a lot of them are watching the show like sports fans.

While the plot or the series might be too complex to boil down in one column, here’s the basic gist.

In a country divided by civil strife, warring families struggle to ascend to the throne. But what sets this epic apart from other fantasy series is the unclear delineations between the heroes and the bad guys. If you rooted for the baddies in similar franchises—say, the Empire in Star Wars or the forces of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings—that pretty much made you a cretin. But within the gray-shaded morality of Game of Thrones, if you’re rooting for the rich and ruthless Lannisters—who are often positioned as the villains on the show—it doesn’t make you a bad person. It probably just means you’re a Yankees fan.

Any discussion of Game of Thrones—online or otherwise—has a tendency to devolve into the same sort of flame war that you would often get in the world of sports discourse. During the MLB playoffs last year, Cardinals fans, who appointed themselves arbiters of baseball propriety, decried the lack of “professionalism” exhibited by the Dodgers and their talented—and widely despised—outfielder Yasiel Puig, not unlike the devoted fans of House Stark deriding the actions Jaime Lannister, a morally ambiguous character on “Game of Thrones” who scoffs at the old traditions the Starks hold dear.

And just like MLB’s Opening Day, each season premiere of “Game of Thrones fills series fans—at least those who haven’t read the books—with hope this might be the year for their favorites.

Maybe this is the year Daenerys Targaryen takes her dragons back to Westeros to reclaim her usurped throne.

Maybe this is the year the Night’s Watch beats back the advancing horde of wildlings.

Maybe this is the year all the bad stuff stops happening to the Starks.

I read the books, and I wouldn’t count on it, sorry.

With “Game of Thrones” and the baseball season now in full swing, I’ve got a pretty full docket over the next few months. As a fan of both, I’m expecting my fair share of twists, turns, upsets, upstarts and intriguing plotlines to emerge as the narratives drive forward.

“Games of Thrones” should be good too.

If there’s one difference between the two, it would be I’m expecting far fewer public executions during the baseball season this year.

Sometimes, I miss George Steinbrenner.


Follow Mike on Twitter,


Column: Warmer weather at last

careyNow that the first robin has hopped across the lawn, where a sprout of green grass can at last be seen, and even while we await the overdue forsythia blossoms with their golden brilliance, we can rejoice it was no colder than it actually was since winter began in December.

But also overdue is a tribute to those hardy souls who have labored in the outside air despite the freezing temperatures, Department of Public Works drivers and loaders, crossing guards, first responders, construction workers, letter carriers and others.

There seem to be more new houses going up in Rye, despite the weather, than at any time in the past 58 years. Each new house owes its timely completion to the hardiness of those who put it together with freezing fingers.

The sight of people toiling outside when the mercury is far below freezing brings to mind a memorable scene in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s graphic tale of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.”

Ivan has run afoul of the Moscow KGB, he knows not why, and, despite his protestations of innocence, is shipped off to a labor camp, known as a gulag, in northern Siberia. He has no idea why he is there or whether he will ever get home again to his family in Moscow. Six days a week, he is marched to a construction site, there to work an eight-hour shift outside in bitter cold, building some sort of Soviet-style structure.

Ivan’s only benefit is he and the other inmates are permitted, while marching to their work site, to cover their faces with cloth to prevent frostbite. The armed guards who march the inmates to and from their work are not allowed to cover their own faces, and so they too must suffer, at least a little.

As for me, the only time I have worked outside in cold weather was near the end of 1942. I had left New Haven to spend a few vacation days with my parents in Boston. But I knew that unskilled workers were needed at the New Haven freight train station. While enjoying the warmth and love of my family, I heard how Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and his B-17 crew of five had run out of fuel en route from Hawaii to New Guinea and crash landed in the sea. They were adrift on a raft for 24 days with little or no food before being rescued.

I concluded that I could not sit idly by while so many Americans were suffering in our year-long participation in World War II. So I took a train back to New Haven and signed up to lift heavy freight out of and into box cars. While the loads were heavy, it was the cold that got to you.

Fortunately, I was able to get into my closed college dorm to sleep at night, the deep sleep of exhaustion. And I was not compelled by anyone else to work there in the cold, but could leave at will. My consolation was a feeling of being useful, while waiting to be called-up for active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve, which I had joined in July 1942.

In the spring of 1943, I still felt the need to be useful while yet in college, so I worked four hours a day in a local munitions plant, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. I stood on an assembly line, pulling down a lever on a drill press, to help make M-1 rifles for the army and Marines. I recommend anyone spend some time on an assembly line; it will make any other kind of work seem fascinating by comparison.

The following winter, 1944, I was at sea doing anti-submarine warfare, protecting friendly freighters from being torpedoed and sunk.

Others who were not compelled to be where they were at the time included George Herbert Walker Bush, who was born the day after me and was scheduled to be a member of the same college class as me. But he went straight from school into the navy for flight training in June 1942, when he turned 18. And the rest is history.



Column: Emerging from our long, cruel winter

Mayor-MarvinAs spring weather will hopefully grace the village soon, it is time to put the shovels away and think about plants and lawns and green.

On the municipal level, the village continues to care for all lawns and open spaces by mulching in place, leaving grass clippings as fertilizer and keeping all of our properties pesticide and chemical-free so children can sit on the grass and dogs may roam.

Many of the lawn chemicals used by local landscapers and first popularized in the 1960s are just byproducts of chemicals produced for use in the war and are now only being tested for their true toxicity and duration of potency. Pesticides remain on lawns long after the little yellow flags are removed. The toxic time period on those signs is simply a legislative compromise between the regulatory agencies and the chemical companies and is not based on scientific studies of the life of the particular chemicals.

If you choose not to use grass clippings for mulching or composting, we ask that you bag them for disposal. We can remove bags much more frequently and cheaply as well as eliminating the pungent smells that emanate from the decomposing grass piles that fill the streets, leading to slippery road conditions.

Of even greater importance, after rainstorms, these piles clog our sewers, severely impeding needed drainage runoff. As a benefit, if grass clippings are bagged, twigs and other yard waste may be comingled in the same bag.

As soon as the weather warms up, hundreds of lawn sprinkler systems will be reactivated. Given the almost obscenely high cost of water in our area, it is incumbent that we find ways to conserve both our wallets and a diminishing natural resource.

Environmental experts recommend watering lawns only once a day and in the early morning when evaporation is at its lowest, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the water. Sprinklers should also be carefully calibrated to ensure water is never directed onto sidewalks or driveways. Any other property runoff from gutters or sump pumps needs to be directed to grassy areas and not onto the roads or into storm sewers. Pet waste must also never be placed in our sewers as it is a major contaminant to our entire water system due to the growth of a dangerous bacteria.

Spring also brings out more residents as cabin fever finally ends. The proper maintenance of sidewalks is the first step to making the village more pedestrian friendly. Homeowners are responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of the sidewalks adjacent to their homes. If in disrepair and not remediated, our Public Works Department will issue a “duty to repair” notice. In turn, the village is responsible for all curbing throughout the village.

The incredibly inclement weather kept so many of us home and the traffic in our village stores suffered in consequence. As the weather improves, please use our sidewalks to head to our business district.

Keeping purchases local keeps needed monies local, contributes to our sales tax revenue, saves on fuel and ancillary transportation costs, encourages a walking environment, fosters a human connection between merchant and customer, reduces local property taxes and increases home values.

As illustration, for every $100 spent in one of our locally owned, independent businesses, $68 returns to our village. The same amount spent at an out-of-town mall returns $48 home and if purchased on the Internet, nothing is returned to Bronxville. With equal importance, it is plain to see none of the Internet merchants are donating to our schools and churches.

In the same spirit of local conservation and stewardship, Westchester County now allows us to recycle cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons and detergent bottles in addition to the obvious materials.

Similarly to shopping locally, this village stewardship practice translates into significant tax savings. Our cost of dumping non-recycled garbage into landfills or burn facilities costs upwards of $180,000 and rising yearly.

In contrast, there is no removal or tipping fee for recyclables, rather we receive money from the county’s material recovery facility based on the amount of goods we deliver to be then sold to

Ending on the same theme, the village’s Green Committee will have a take back day on May 10, which is also the opening day of our outdoor farmers’ market.


Column: How about these Harrison events?

belmontI would like to take this time to acknowledge Harrison Avenue School’s recent accomplishment.

Last November, the school was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Congratulations to principal Valerie Hymes and the school faculty, students and staff for this impressive achievement. I was honored to attend the community-wide celebration for this
highly-distinctive award and am very proud of the education offered in our community.

The Friends of the Purchase Free Library are sponsoring an author meet-and-greet at the Purchase Library. On Thursday, April 3, at 1 p.m., Nancy DeRosa, author of “A Penny’s Worth,” will share and discuss her writing experiences and give advice on the creative writing process. I encourage residents to attend this very worthwhile event.

Ten eighth-grade boys from National Junior Honor Society have created a 5K fun run for pancreatic cancer to take place on Sunday, April 27. Residents and their families and friends are invited to join this very worthwhile fundraiser. The run begins at 9 a.m. at the Park Lane Clubhouse in West Harrison. After the run, there will be a free brunch for participants and a silent auction.

I look forward to being there and participating in this wonderful event. To sign-up for the run, visit

As part of the fourth-annual RecruitNY statewide initiative, the Harrison Fire Department will sponsor an open house showcasing the duties and responsibilities of a volunteer firefighter. Recently, many fire departments have found it challenging to recruit and retain volunteers. Like most volunteer fire departments, the Harrison Fire Department needs to fortify its emergency responder crews so it can continue to provide an optimum level of protection.

On Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—rain date April 27—the Harrison Fire Department, located at 206 Harrison Ave., will host a recruitment drive in an effort to raise public awareness about the need for volunteers. Throughout the day, the Harrison Fire Department will conduct tours of the station and firefighter apparatus, allow visitors to try-on firefighter gear and provide activities and stations throughout the firehouse for visitors.

Following the open house, the department is hosting a pasta dinner, from 6 p.m. to midnight, to benefit the department’s scholarship fund.

Donations are as follows: $20 per person, $15 seniors, $10 children under 12, children 5 and under are free.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion and buffet hosted by News 12. Janine Rose, Scott McGee, Chelsea Edwards and Lisa Salvadorini were on-hand and gave a very informative presentation to local officials and municipal leaders. It was a pleasure meeting the staff, news anchors and local leaders as we discussed current events in Westchester County.

In closing, I would like to bring your attention to some upcoming spring Recreation Department activities. April 14 to 18, the Recreation Department will run a mini-camp for first through fourth grade students, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Sollazzo Center. The registration deadline is April 7.

On Saturday, April 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be egg hunts, rides and an opportunity to meet Peter Cottontail at Passidomo Park in West Harrison.

For more information on both events, call the Sollazzo Center at 670-3179 or the Mintzer Center at 949-5265.

The next “Lunch with the Mayor” is on Friday, April 11. I will be at Sofia’s, located at 212 Harrison Ave. in Harrison. I will be at this location from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and look forward to meeting with residents and talking about issues facing our community.


Column: Lois Lane doesn’t write for the internet

Jason-Column2This is the second week in a row I’m writing to you in absentia, so to speak. Feels weird, doesn’t it?

At the risk of making an ass of you and me, I’m going to assume you’re reading this on or about the Review’s publication date this week. If you are, I—along with just about everyone in the masthead on page six—am attending the New York Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest and conference as you do.

I don’t think either of us is going to end up an ass due to that statement because, if you’re reading the Review at all, you’re very likely a big fan of newspapers and what they can do.

So are we.

Last year was my first trip to the NYPA conference. There are awards, of course—your newspaper has won many over the years—a gala, lunches and dinners, and classes about every aspect of the weekly community newspaper business.

Bob Freeman’s class on open government is always well attended.

What I noticed last year, though, was, more than anything else, the NYPA conference is a celebration of newspapers themselves. Everyone there was excited about newspapers. They were excited about what newspapers are, and they were excited about what, through newspapers, we can do for the communities we serve.

I’m not talking about websites, mind you; I’m talking about newspapers. Actual newspapers.

When I joined this company as a reporter in the fall of 2012, the idea my stories would be published on the internet excited me just about zero. I’d had fiction published on the internet. I’d posted hundreds of thousands of words about movies, comic books, action figures and other nerdery to the internet for years. Anyone can put words on the internet these days; you probably put some words on the internet this morning, or last night.

If you haven’t and you need to, go ahead. I’ll wait.

While I understand the importance of the internet in our changing, evolving, freight-train-going-down-a-mountain-with-no-brakes media culture, the prospect of seeing my byline on our website didn’t do much for me.

I loved seeing my byline in the newspaper. Every week. Even more than I love the dopey mug shot at the top of this column.

There’s magic in a newspaper byline for everyone on this end of them. I’m not sure I can explain it, but I’ll have a go, yeah?

It may seem counterintuitive, and perhaps a bit romantic, but there’s permanence to the printed byline, and the newspaper itself, the internet doesn’t provide. Even though we all know the internet is likely to outlast every copy of every newspaper in existence or yet to exist, there’s nothing truly permanent about the internet; anything can be changed.

I can go back and change any aspect of any of these columns on our website, any aspect of them, in as long as it takes me to strike the keys.

That, to me, is probably at once the internet’s greatest strength and weakness, its

A newspaper, on the other hand, is an indelible, unalterable snapshot; a collection of moments grabbed and shaped as the world flew by and collected in one place, just one, so you’ll know what’s going on around you.

That’s pretty cool, you ask me.

It’s also why, on the-—let’s be clear, pretty rare—occasion we had to run a correction to one of my stories I was one gutted reporter.

Sure, we can correct the record about anything, to any degree, but we know on this end it means that particular newspaper, that rigid, physical thing we all worked hard to craft perfectly, is flawed.

It’s always a bitter a pill. Always.

But that’s also the beauty of newspapers, I think, and the reason our printed bylines are so magical and so dear to us. Every byline you see in this paper is someone walking a tightrope; trying to strike the right balance between fact, flow and flare to get you, and him or herself, to the end unscathed.

When it all comes together as it should, as we all know it can, the stories sing and those printed bylines become badges of honor and pride because, on that paper with that ink, the job was done right and the newspaper itself is a monument to that effort.

At least that’s how I felt about it. I hope I speak for everyone here when I say that.

Looking at the masthead on page six, yeah, I think I do.

We’ll all see you back here next week.


Reach Jason at and
follow him on Twitter @jasonchirevas

Lisa Jardine

Column: Parents need test prep, too

owlSpring break means the official start to standardized testing season.

If you have a high school student, you may have some of the same questions I do: Whom should I use to help my kids prepare and, with so many options on the market, which one is the right one for my child?

When I was in high school, I remember one or two test preparation companies, but not everyone used one. And when I sat down to type my college application, I was lucky if one of my parents read the essay before I mailed it in.

These days, getting into college is big business. Kaplan and Princeton Review are the market leaders in a $1 billion industry, but there are so many other choices it’s best to do your research before plunking down what could be thousands of dollars.

I did a very unscientific survey on Facebook and came away with a list of service providers friends in our area have used in the past. These ranged from the new and groundbreaking companies that use technology instead of tutors to the smaller, hands-on companies that feel the quality of their teachers makes them the obvious choice.

After my research, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no right answer for everyone, but there could be better ones depending on what type of child you are dealing with.

Here is a very brief synopsis of some of the more popular choices in our area:

Carnegie Pollak is celebrating its 30th year serving Westchester and Fairfield counties. Starting out with one SAT class taught by a verbal teacher, Bud Pollak, and a math teacher, Lynn Carnegie, it has grown into a full-service test prep and tutoring company that continues to grow larger every year.

“People choose to work with us because our students are not just names; we work closely with each student to determine the most successful and most efficient course of action. The classes and tutors shouldn’t add stress to the student’s life, they should help alleviate it,” Carnegie said.

Carnegie Pollak credits their teachers who make subject matter come to life, bringing energy and excitement to something most students and their parents’ dread. They offer courses to prepare for the PSAT, the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests, the ACT and AP exams. They also offer private in-home tutoring for many academic subjects, reading and writing skills and the private school admission tests, ISEE and SSAT.

For more information, visit

TestRocker says they are the best of both worlds—private tutoring and technology. was created by Suniti Mathur, an SAT and ACT tutor with more than a decade of experience tutoring thousands of students around the world. She has adapted her simple and intuitive approach for the online space. After a one-time payment, students begin by taking a diagnostic online test to assess their strengths and weaknesses and gain access to a customized study plan, which they can follow to study smarter, not longer.

“Having a personalized game plan reduces students’ anxiety and gives them the confidence to attempt any question because they feel adequately prepared,” Mathur said.

Every question on the TestRocker program comes with a video explanation done by Suniti. It’s the private tutor experience at a more affordable price.

“Students today are extremely busy with extra-curricular activities, academics, leadership positions, etc. Most of them don’t have time in their day to schedule private or group tutoring. The reality is that they usually have a few spare moments at night, when in-person solutions are closed. Most of our students, no matter where in the world they are, log-on to TestRocker after 9 p.m.,” said Urvashi Mathur, co-founder and chief operating officer of TestRocker.

For more information, check out

Regents Review is a teacher-owned-and-operated company that provides test preparation for middle and high school students for Regents, AP and SAT II exams.

“Regents Review is unique because our programs are set up as one-day courses. Students arrive in the morning, spend the day with us as we review the entire curriculum and then practice with actual past exams. We show them tricks and give them tips and strategies for excelling on their tests. Our programs provide a comprehensive review at a fraction of the cost of a private tutor,” said Michelle Zakarin, director.

With the introduction of the Common Core curriculum in math, Regents Review is seeing increased demand for its algebra 1 review and its global history review, which covers two years of material.

For more information, visit

Private Prep has served Westchester families since 2009 and works with hundreds of students each year.

They offer personalized one-on-one programs for a full range of K-12 subjects, standardized exams like the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, private school admissions exams such as the ISEE and SSAT, New York State Regents and AP Exams as well as college admissions. The program’s philosophy recognizes all students learn differently and have varying strengths and challenges, so it takes the time to truly get to know families, allowing the program to craft personalized plans for each individual student.

“We are not only invested in helping students achieve their academic goals, but also teaching them how to learn and develop study skills that they can take with them beyond a particular course or test,” Stephanie Loeb, director, said.

Private Prep prides itself on lending personalized, professional support, not only for their students but also for parents and tutors.

For more information:

Educational experts debate whether you can study for a standardized test like the SAT or ACT, so why spend all the time, energy and money?

“Every test in life needs preparation, otherwise it is just an IQ test. In the case of the SAT/ACT, it means strengthening topics of weakness and clearing up hazy concepts. It also means increasing speed and reducing the tendency to make careless mistakes. Preparation also increases confidence, which is a big factor in performance on such tests,” Mathur said.

Carnegie feels very strongly about taking the time to prepare.

“Based on decades of experience, I can say confidently that dedicating time and energy to test preparation makes all the difference. We, as teachers, focus on the ‘three Cs,’ learning the content, improving concentration and building confidence,” she said.prep


“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant,
an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”
To contact Lisa, email
And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand


Column: Bracket busted

Sports Editor Mike Smith’s showing during March Madness has been less than stellar. His picks have been so bad, in fact, he’s starting to wonder about his job security. Photo courtesy of

Sports Editor Mike Smith’s showing during March Madness has been less than stellar. His picks have been so bad, in fact, he’s starting to wonder about his job security. Photo courtesy of

This may be nothing more than wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that, in my time here at the paper, I’ve at least demonstrated flashes of insight into the sports world.

From the sports I grew up knowing and playing, to the sports I’ve come to better appreciate through my work—such as volleyball and lacrosse—I’m generally confident in my ability to hold a conversation with coaches from a wide berth of athletic pursuits about the intricacies of their chosen field.

That is, until I completely obliterated any shred of sports credibility I’ve ever earned in these last two weeks.

A few weeks ago, I let the readers in on my plan to win a billion dollars by filling out the perfect March Madness bracket. It didn’t take long for that dream to fall by the wayside. Now, I’m just holding out hope that Warren Buffet—in his infinite generosity—decides to compensate me for my dumpster-fire of a tournament by at least throwing me a sawbuck for filling out what has to be the worst college basketball bracket in America.

By the end of the first weekend, both Wichita State and Syracuse, my picks to play in the championship game, were done. I picked Mercer over Duke, but lost just about every 6-11, 7-10 and 8-9 match-up on the board. Not a good start, for sure.

If the pain of losing out on a life-changing sum of money—to be fair, not one person’s bracket was perfect this year—wasn’t bad enough, I currently hold the distinction of having the most broken bracket in our Home Town offices.

Beat reporters, graphic designers, sales people; everyone in the building has proven their basketball IQ far outshines that of the resident sports guy—an utterly humiliating situation for me to be in.

I’ve currently predicted less than half the games correctly. I would have been better suited to pick my teams using the tried-and-true eeny-meeney-miney-moe method.

I had Michigan State—currently still alive—losing in the first round because I thought it would rankle my boss, a big Spartans fan. I had Villanova—my team—going to the Final Four. This didn’t work out so well for me, as it turns out. What I should have done this year was enter two brackets, with the second one running completely opposite to my gut picks. This way, I could have at least maintained some shred of dignity in the face of this disaster.

But what happens now?

Will my editors lose faith in my ability to do my job?

Will I come into work next week only to find that Chris Eberhart, our Eastchester reporter, who is currently 18 points ahead of me in the March Madness standings, is now the point man for Bronxville’s lacrosse season? Or to find publisher Howard Sturman—whose bracket was nearly perfect through the first two rounds—is going to try his hand at game reporting?

Hopefully the blowback isn’t too harsh.

Maybe they’ll even allow me to continue on as the sports editor. I’m guessing if the powers that be contemplate moving me to some other area of reporting, they’ll be too terrified of what off-base predictions I might make in other spheres.

“Record snowfall to hit in July?”

“Harrison potential home for new Area 51?”

Maybe there’s still time for me to turn this around. My basketball bracket might be busted, but there are other sports and other contests that might help me prove my worth.

That’s why, as soon as I file this story, I’m going to be printing out the men’s NCAA hockey brackets and passing them out to the rest of the people I work with. If I can win that pool, it could go a long way in restoring my spot as the go-to sports maven here at the office. I just have to be smart with this one, maybe pick a perennial ice hockey favorite to go all the way.

Like Hawaii.

Follow Mike on Twitter,


Poetic License 4-4-14

Children are symbolic of the beginning and of abundant possibilities.


To a former foster childpoetic

Solange De Santis,
Chairman of the Mamaroneck Arts Council

Tell me,

How does a spirit rise

From a place so fragmented

A young heart so bruised?


If a million hurricanes

Flood the Rockaways

From sea to bay,

Would Neptune appear

To gather the children from all the homes

And float them to safety

On a boat of shells?


Or could new life arise

From the mud and silt

In a world

Corrupt with humanity?


Pause on the shore

And listen, as the sirens of the deep

Weave a rope line of music

Around a community

Of like-minded souls.


Mary Louise Cox, poet laureate of the Town and Village of Mamaroneck


Column: Does Putin’s Russia threaten us?

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal of March 22-23 on page A4, Hillary Rodham Clinton has likened Putin in Ukraine to Hitler before World War II. That sounds like what was suggested in this column a week ago under the title “Is Crimea a new Sudetenland?”

The comparison can only be carried so far.carey

Yes, both men have used protection of compatriots as a pretext for occupying another country’s territory, but there is a significant difference when it comes to how we in the United States need to react.

In the 1940s, especially after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941, France fell and Britain was heavily bombed and threatened with cross-channel invasion.

President Roosevelt and other U.S. leaders felt that conquest of Britain would be followed by a trans-Atlantic attack. Therefore, Hitler had to be kept from crossing the English Channel.

It is hard to imagine any similar threat from Putin’s Russia. Even if they were to recapture all the areas that used to be in the Soviet Union, they would not be in a position to take us on, other than in a mutually-destructive nuclear catastrophe.

So, we do not have the same reasons to come to the rescue of any threatened east European nation like our reasons to shore up Britain’s defenses in 1940 and earlier.

As regards our sanctions against Russian leaders and its responsive sanctions against U.S. leaders like John Boehner, all they seem to accomplish is to create anger and hostility.
We need more calm talk and less shouting.

Some may suggest I am sounding like one of the 1030s America Firsters, who lobbied against our aid to Britain, lest it drag us into war with Germany.

America First was headed, among others, by a Yale undergraduate Kingman Brewster, editor of the Yale Daily News and years later president of Yale University. Charles Lindbergh was on that side of the debate, though he was largely discredited because of his German connections.

America First fell out of sight after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. Germany made it easy for us to get into the war in Europe by declaring war on us right after Dec. 7, the “day of infamy.”

What we need to get across to Putin is that we will scream our heads off whenever he nibbles at another piece of Russian-speaking territory or even seek to have his government condemned in the United Nations General Assembly where there is no veto for him to use in blocking action, but we have no interest in a military showdown unless he threatens us or one of our key allies. We need to mobilize our most skillful diplomats, not our armed forces.

I have seen no picture of Putin smiling, but Russians can have a sense of humor.

There used to be a Soviet man named Romanov living in Rye on Midland Avenue near Playland Parkway; same family name as the last Czar. I knew Romanov a little from the U.N. and ran into him one day at the Rye Y. He asked me if I lived in Rye. I don’t believe anyone as shrewd as Romanov would have failed to notice that I was then the local mayor.

Another interesting encounter occurred shortly after my first appearance at the U.N. as Alternate U.S. Member of the Human Rights Sub-Commission. An elaborate reception was held one evening at the U.N. Mission of Poland, hosted by the elegant Polish man then chairing the sub-commission. He was beautifully tailored and spoke impeccable French so far as I could tell.

At the reception, the Soviet member of the sub-commission approached me and said, “You are new to the U.N. aren’t you, Mr. Carey.”

“Yes, Sir. That is correct,” I said.

“Are you from the U.S. Mission across First Avenue?”

“No, sir, I‘m not from the U.S. Mission.”

“Then are you up from Washington, the state department?”

“No, Sir, I am not from the state department,” I said, wondering if he would next ask if I was from the CIA.

The Russian’s quick response was, “Well, Mr. Carey, then just what are you?”

“Just a simple New York lawyer, Sir,” I said.

“So,” he said, “Does that mean that if I get into trouble, I can come to you for help?”

“Sir, it would be a pleasure,” I said.

“What? Does that mean it would give you pleasure to see me in trouble?”

This was an agile mind at work, and one with impressive facility in a language not his own.

We are dealing with sophisticated people, proud of their country. Let us be wise enough to treat them respectfully and seek to develop channels of communication, which can help get through the inevitable periods of annoyance, anger or worse.


Column: Moving forward on Kensington Road

Mayor-MarvinThis past week, on behalf of the Village of Bronxville, I officially signed the agreement to develop the Kensington Road property by Fareri Associates of Greenwich, Conn.

Believe it or not, development of this property has been 30 years in the making with several false starts.

Probably the last blighted piece of property in the village due to its former uses as a gas station and a power plant, Fareri will start the project by removing more than 20,000 cubic yards of polluted soil.

In addition to cleaning the property at a cost of $7 to $10 million, the village will be receiving a $3.85 million check to turn over the title to Fareri, $500,000 of which was received upon contract signing.

Due to recent stricter rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the village, going forward, would have been required to clean the property for the same cost and pay for it via village taxes, so this agreement has a huge financial benefit as one of its many positive components.

In addition, all of the utilities on Kensington Road up to Beechtree Lane will be buried underground by Fareri, enhancing the look of the road as well as benefitting nearby homeowners during storms.

Fareri will landscape the property and lay new sidewalks the same length of Kensington Road. The contractor is also adding a drainage system/retention basin below the newly enclosed parking garage, further benefitting storm drainage in the area.

Not only will we recoup all of our present open air parking spaces, 18 new spots for residents will be added to the inventory, no small amount
given the needs of our residents. The same residents whose cars are parked out in the elements today will automatically receive a covered spot in a clean, secure and camera-monitored garage.

Fareri has also reached an agreement with the MTA—Metropolitan Transit Authority—to have the platform extended on the rear of the new structure for easy access from the garage.

Fareri Associates have been working very collegially with the MTA, United Water and most importantly, our own Christ Church. They are fully aware and respectful of the church’s unique artifacts as well as the very valuable organ.

The concerns of the residents of Kensington Terrace will also be paramount as Fareri rolls out the clean-up and construction schedule. We know the disruption will be major and we will work as a team with the neighbors to mitigate the consequences whenever possible.

When completed, the project will generate more than $600,000 in new village taxes on a lot, which is currently producing none, as well as an additional $350,000 in taxes to the county, town and fire district.

This project is the same one approved by the Zoning and Planning boards during an extensive two-year review back in 2007 and 2008 where every detail was discussed including the type and quality of the stucco surface.

The units will all be for sale to own and are designed to attract the empty nester with formal dining rooms for family holidays as well as small office alcoves. There will also be 24-hour concierge services.

The design has already generated great interest from village empty nesters who no longer need their multi-bedroom homes but want to stay in Bronxville. Based on the design, amenities and pricing, studies estimate the project could generate four to six school age children.

Thanks to a very strong and professional negotiating team led by Deputy Mayor Underhill and Trustee Longobardo and aided by Village Administrator Harry Porr as well as the business expertise of village residents Charles J. Urstadt and Frank Sica, we all feel we have a very beneficial deal for the village with a partnership with a very reputable, quality and community-minded developer.

Mr. Fareri, who endowed the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the Westchester Medical Center, grew up in Yonkers and knows our village well. As he said to me when he toured our village and visited some of the 100-plus-year-old co-ops, “I want my project to be as well-built and attractive to stand the same test of time.”

We have been burnt before, so we all are headed into this project with eyes wide open and are a tad jaded, but I truly believe we have picked the right man and the right company for our village.

Added to the hospital project, the school auditorium and the dispute regarding the Parkway Road Bridge, the Kensington Road project will contribute to the state of flux and lack of calm in the village in the near future, but I believe it is our duty as elected officials to look long term and I truly believe these very demonstrative short term inconveniences will put the village in the best possible position for our future and hopefully our children’s return.

Please contact me directly if any of the above causes undue and unforeseen disruptions. We are in this together.