In the Westchester Herald, September 28 issue by Peggy Godfrey
There are too many plea bargains which give short sentences to people who commit serious crimes, according to Dan Schorr, Republican candidate for Westchester County District Attorney. He told the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club members he would be more friendly to victims of crimes because he finds what is happening now unacceptable. Ward Henderson asked if a person accused of sex crimes should have access to DNA testing. Schorr felt they should. In answer to a members’ questions, Schorr stated over 25% of the Westchester Assistant District Attorneys were resigning in the last few years and many of them cited the frustrating work environment and low office morale. He felt this was unacceptable.
Expressing concern over the City Manager’s suggestion that eight firefighters be laid off, Byron Gray, President of the New Rochelle Uniformed Firefighters Association, recounted some history of the service. In l973 there were 200 firefighters and 3000 calls. In 2009 there are 159 men with 8000 calls for service. He especially noted the difficulty servicing the three high rise buildings for a fire which would require more firemen than are presently on duty.
Council member Lou Trangucci had recently requested that the heavily tax abated Avalon buildings give voluntary payment of one million dollars per year for five years. Equity in services was also cited by Gray because, for example, there are many service calls for Iona College which pays no taxes.
Thanking the firemen for all they do, former New York State Assemblyman Ron Tocci cited the tax cap which he had initiated which was removed after he left office. Despite the City of New Rochelle having no tax cap on real estate, Tocci stated, the city still wants to “lay off firemen.”
Westchester County Legislator, Jim Maisano, spoke about Westchester County’s settlement agreement on the 750 mandated affordable housing units that must be constructed in the next seven years. He emphasized he had voted “no.” Three lawyers on the County Board of Legislators were asked to meet with federal authorities to try to negotiate with the Justice Department. They refused to reopen the agreement. In seven years the penalties will start if the housing is not built. He felt it would not be possible to build 750 units in seven years. The monitor, he emphasized in the agreement, “can factor in the cost of the housing,” but it is not mandated for him to consider it. Penalties will be $60,000 a month, but this could be doubled.
He was asked about all the affordable housing in New Rochelle being below Eastchester Road, and this was called de facto segregation. Steve Mayo pointed out the county has to raise money to build these housing units, but Maisano felt the developers should pay toward the construction. He closed by saying this is a county decision costing fifty million dollars and every three to four million dollar increase in the budget raises taxes by one percent.
The next meeting of the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club will be on October 22.