croton blog for croton-on-hudson new york

Section: What's Up Doc?



Croton's Delightfully Cool and Unchanging Weather

June 2, 2008

Why go to San Francisco, where you sleep under a blanket every night and the daytime temperature seldom gets above topcoat weather? Here in Croton the weather each day ranges between 47.2 degrees and 57.3 degrees. The wind is always an invigorating 9.9 miles per hour. Rainfall is nil. How do we know? We’ve been looking at the village’s “current weather statistics.”

The village is a perfect spot for tourism. The temperature in Croton at the moment is 54.5 degrees—a little too cool to plant tomatoes—and it’s always 7:45 a.m. How can the village pull off this meteorological and chronological miracle? It’s easy. What Croton has done is to freeze everything in the way of a meteorological statistic as at May 14. That’s right. Anyone checking Croton’s weather statistics since May 14 has been shown the same numbers, frozen at 7:45 a.m.

This does not speak well for Mayor Gregory Schmidt’s vaunted attention to village details. But what can you expect from someone who is so technologically backward that he does not answer citizens’ e-mails? He obviously doesn’t check the village’s own website either—from which the following screen capture has been made.

Croton-on-Hudson's broken weather station reporting system

So, Crotonblog is once again compelled to ask, “What’s up, Doc? Isn’t someone supposed to be monitoring the weather station regularly? Now, thanks to management inattention, we’ve got another screwed-up period of weather statistics.

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Croton Fails to Enforce Its Own Code

December 19, 2007

Wintry weather reveals yet another consequence of Croton’s business recession. In Harmon, one of three village “gateway districts,” the hazards posed to pedestrians by unshoveled sidewalks serve as an additional blight to the sorry conditions already pictured in Crotonblog’s “Album of Shame.”

Moreover, because the sidewalks in front of several vacant commercial properties were not cleared of snow and ice (see following pictures taken on December 19, 2007), pedestrians are forced to risk walking in streets busy with automobile traffic or navigate the slippery and treacherous sidewalks.

unshoveled-croton-sidewalk-1.jpg
South Riverside Avenue

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South Riverside Avenue

unshoveled-croton-sidewalk-3.jpg
Croton Point Avenue

But according to village’s own code, the requirements are clear:

§ 197-15. Snow and ice on sidewalks.

A. Every owner or occupant of any house or other building, every owner, occupant or person entitled to the possession of any vacant lot and every person having the charge of any church or other public building in this Village shall, during the winter season and during the time the snow shall continue on the ground, keep the sidewalks in front of such house, building or lot free from ice and snow.

B. Every person neglecting, failing or refusing to comply with this section shall pay a penalty as provided in § 1-1 2 of Chapter 1, General Provisions, for each day of such neglect, failure or refusal, and every person who shall refuse or neglect to clean said walk, after receiving six hours’ notice in writing from a police officer, the Village Code Enforcement Officer, the Director of Public Works, the Village Manager, or their designees, of said Village to do so, shall pay, in addition, the cost of cleaning said walk by the Village, the cost thereof, after being duly audited, to be added to said penalty per day and recovered and collected at the same time and manner as said penalty is collected. [Amended 5-7-1990 by L.L. No. 2-1990; 2-15-2000 by L.L. No. 1-2000]

So, for the safety of pedestrians, with dangerous snow and ice accumulations on these sidewalks and a law on the books, Crotonblog is compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt what is being done about enforcing the code? Whose responsibility is it to see that these dangerous sidewalks are cleared? It’s only another example of sloppy management. Once again Crotonblog is compelled to ask, “What’s up, Doc?”

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'I Didn't Know What Time It Was...'

November 8, 2007

That was the title of a great Rogers and Hart classic, but hey, Mr. Mayor, Doctor, whatever! Have you been so busy trying to pollute Croton’s water with additives you forgot to turn back the Village’s clocks when we changed back to Eastern Standard Time? You always insist “the buck stops here.”

Well, despite all the money spent on the village’s high-tech super-precise weather station, you carelessly neglected to set the system’s clocks back at 2 a.m. last Sunday. And they are still showing the wrong time at this writing. See for yourself if you don’t believe us. Congratulations on another example of your due diligence.

No big deal, you say? Weather experts will tell you it’s a very big deal. Failure to set the timing mechanism back one hour means that all the weather statistics for Croton collected this past week are wrong. And that means weather statistics for the month of November will be wrong. Every temperature reading is wrong. High temperatures were recorded as having occurred an hour later. Low temperatures, too. Precipitation figures and every other measurement are wrong. In the words of George W. Bush, “You’re doing a great job, Schmidtty!”

Are you going to be this careless in injecting additives into Croton’s water, as you seem hell bent on doing? Frankly, we’re extremely worried about the low level of supervision in this village. It seems to be going to hell in a hand basket.

Crotonblog is forced to ask once again: “What’s up, Doc? Who’s minding the store?”

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Croton Violates it Own Litter Laws at Commuter Lot

May 19, 2007

In a telephone interview with Journal News reporter Caren Halbfinger for a story titled “Commuters confronted over fliers protesting parking rates at Croton station,” that was published on April 6, 2007, Croton village manager Rick Herbek said, “…We don’t allow any type of documents to be left in the windshields of cars because it all ends up on the ground and then we have to send a crew to clean it up. It’s clearly a violation of the village litter law…It’s littering the parking lot.”

Yet, on Thursday, May 17, 2007, village employees placed payment reminder flyers on the windshields of every car in the parking lot which had a monthly pass.

croton-flyer-on-car-windshield-harmon-parking-lot.JPG

The flyer said:


Reminder

This quarter’s monthly permits expire at the end of this month, May 2007. Please send in renewal payments now to avoid a lapse. There is only a one day grace period. Enforcement will start ticketing on the second day of the new quarter starting June 2007.
Thank you.
Croton Daily Parking
914-271-6800

NEW PERMIT RATES AS OF JUNE 1st 2007:

Residents $150.00 quarterly
Non-residents $265.00 quarterly
Preferred $150.00 monthly or $450.00 quarterly


Yet again, Crotonblog is compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, “What’s up Doc?” Why was it that when two lot customers recently placed flyers on cars to notify fellow parkers of your impending rate increase, they faced arrest after a heated confrontation with Mr. Herbek? Shouldn’t the village’s policies and be procedures be reflective of its own laws?

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Meet the Gang that Can't Do Anything Right

March 4, 2007

How to lose an election.

1. Put signs on lawns directing people to a website, www.progressforcroton.com, that doesn't exist.

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progressforcroton.com.png

2. Create a new www.crotongop.com website that includes a heisted reproduction of the village's $20,000 logo, thus implying official sanction.

3. Neglect to correct a misspelled word.

4. Do not deliver on your promise telling residents to "Check back soon for news and updates..."

Egregious mishandling of a simple process like creating a website is unforgivable. So, Crotonblog is again compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, "What'€s up, Doc?"€ Is your administration trying to commit political suicide by displaying such ineptitude?

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The Gang That Couldn't Spell Straight

February 19, 2007

Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: What’s going on in the Republican party? Are things getting out of control?

Acting on the prodding of Crotonblog, Croton Republicans have propped up the corpse of their website, applied some make-up and tried to infuse it with life, sort of.

croton-gop-republican-website.png
Click to enlarge screenshot image in a new window.

First, as the predominant color, they appropriated the color blue. But this is the Democrat’s color—New York is a “blue state”—remember?

Next, they revealed themselves as “the gang that couldn’t spell straight.” It is a measure of the Republicans’ sincerity that they misspelled the word “sincerely” on their website.

Moreover, having lost the Republican line on the ballot, they coined a new slogan as a cover-up: “Vote village before party on March 20th.” The truth is it will be impossible to vote Republican on March 20th. To reinforce the impression that the new party somehow has achieved official blessing of the village, the new website has illegally appropriated Croton’s official logo for political purposes, giving the impression that the website and the candidates have official endorsement of some kind. They don’t, so remove the logo.

The entire effort smacks of desperation. What would you call it, Mr. Mayor? And it all happened on your watch. So, Crotonblog is compelled to ask once again, “What’s up, Doc?”

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Is the Party Over?

February 17, 2007

Eh, Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt… We hear around town that the Croton Republicans are in deep doo doo. As titular head of the local party, you should know of the unhappy questions that are being floated around town;

The term GOP used to stand for “Grand Old Party.” In Croton today, it’s not so grand, not much of a party—just old. Once again Crotonblog is compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, “What’s Up, Doc?”

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No Longer Mum, Croton Official Addresses Water Bill Scam

January 16, 2007

Instead of apologizing to village residents for the unethical behavior in sending phony water bills to 34 residents “to get their attention,” the Village Treasurer papered over the unfortunate incident with an attempt to justify it at the Village Board meeting on Tuesday evening, January 16, 2007. Reading from a prepared statement, Mr. Abraham Zambrano tried to show how effective the scam had been in causing residents to respond and sign up for water meter installation. He finally reached his monotoned crescendo with a rhetorical question that asked, “Could the village have handled these 34 cases differently?” And, acting as his own interrogator, he promptly answered by saying, “Absolutely.”

That’s it. Left unsaid was any information about what steps had been taken to prevent an unseemly incident like this from ever happening again. Did Village Manager Rick Herbek, who sat glumly throughout the reading of the statement, reprimand Mr. Zambrano for his unprofessional action—or was he a party to the whole sorry affair? Crotonblog is again compelled to address this question to Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “What’s up, Doc? Do you call this performance an acceptable apology to the residents who were victimized and upset by the scam?”

Download this video clip of “No Longer Mum, Croton Official Addresses Water Bill Scam” to your video iPod (how to guide).

See also:

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Village of Croton-on-Hudson Officials Mum on Fake Water Bill Scam

January 4, 2007

Crotonblog has posted two pieces on the fake water bill story that originally appeared in The Journal News called "What Were Croton Officials Thinking When They Faked Residents' Water Bills?" and "Are Croton's Officials for Real—Or Do They Just Play at Being Officials on TV?." On Tuesday evening, January 2nd, the Mayor and trustees marched into the Board meeting with a quite obvious understanding and agreement not to mention the matter of the fake water bills. Whether this was because of Village Manager Richard Herbek's absence, attributed to illness, we'll never know. Nevertheless, this curious affair will not go away. On Thursday, January 4th, The Gazette published a letter from two victims of the Village's scam. A day ealier The Journal News had published a shortened, edited version of this same letter:

To the editor,

Phony water bills; this was not creative, but vindictive. I am ashamed to think our Village of Croton could stoop so low to do something this underhanded, sneaky and obnoxious, not to say illegal. How can our village think it is O.K. to send $1M water bills to anyone this time of year? What a scam.

The letter sent by Mr. Abraham Zambrano did not make any action mandatory. It said, “We would like to extend to you, at no charge, the opportunity to have a remote reader installed." Nowhere in the letter does it say you have to! This is the holidays, when people are thinking of shopping, spending time with friends and family, not about water meters.

I have lived in Croton all of my life and have never been witness to behavior such as this from village officials to our community. Mr, Zambrano intentionally falsified a village document, and this is a violation of the law. Mr. Zambrano's smug remarks on Channel 12 News, saying if people don't pay their bills, we will just add it to their taxes; I am sure there is something illegal in that statement. What about the folks who pay the bill? Are they going to get their funds returned? Somehow I think it will be when the village gets around to it.

Living in the Harmon area, our friends and neighbors have suffered for many, many years from constant water main breaks, icy and muddy streets because of this; dirty water, yellow clothes, and bad tasting water, which resulted in the need to buy bottled water. Needless to say the village took their time about remedying the cause saying "they were working on the problem." If the village was so fired up about installing new meters it should have been done in conjunction with this project. I add, that the meter I had, was only 6 or 7 years old. I have never had an estimated bill, and always sent the card with the meter reading. So again Mr. Zambrano does not know what he is talking about.

Of note, Croton made national television with this stunt. What a shame; the village suffered such embarrassment. Our politicians and village officials need to take a look at what is really important in this village; they talk about communication, but to me it is all one-sided. The politicians and village officials first! Seems to me they forgot who pays their salaries.

— Caryl and Michael DePalma

It is apparent that there is more to this affair than the Village has been willing to reveal. Residents of Croton-on-Hudson deserve to know exactly what happened and what steps are being taken to prevent it from happening again. In the absence of any discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting, once again Crotonblog is compelled to ask Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, “What’s Up, Doc?”

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Are Croton's Officials for Real—Or Do They Just Play at Being Officials on TV?

December 22, 2006

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Years ago a major accident occurred on the Union Pacific Railroad a hundred miles from Omaha. Two trains, one eastbound and the other westbound, collided head-on, causing many deaths and injuries. At the inquest that followed, the not-very-bright towerman responsible for switching trains to their proper tracks, took the stand.

“Please tell the court what you observed on that fateful day,” the district attorney asked. “I saw the westbound City of San Francisco streamliner barreling down Track 2 at about 65 miles and hour.”

“And please tell the court what else you saw.” The towerman replied, “I saw the all-Pullman Overland Limited heading eastbound on the same track at about the same speed.”

“And what did you think about that?”

“What did I think? I thought it was a helluva way to run a railroad.”

Croton-on-Hudson also has some not-very-bright towermen. Recently 34 residents of the village were sent phony water bills—all in the randomly chosen astronomical amount of $1,096.45. Their purpose, conceived by non-elected, non-resident officials of the village, was, in their own words, to “get taxpayers’ attention.” In order to create the offending water bills, the figure of $1,096.45 was arbitrarily selected by Abe Zambrano, Village Treasurer, with the blessing of Richard Herbek, Village Manager. Presumably, too, a fictitious amount of water usage also had to be calculated to justify the fictitious dollar amount.

Crotonblog thinks that this shabby, heavy-handed action is a helluva way to run a village or to treat residents. The village created spurious billings for the sole purpose of coercing residents in whose homes the village had not installed electronically-read meters to make arrangements for such installation. The village’s elaborate scam—and there is no better word to describe it—resulted in rapid response from about half the number of residents who were concerned, upset and angry. They had every right to be unhappy.

But before the officials involved throw their shoulders or spines out of joint patting themselves on the back and require the Mayor’s chiropractic ministrations, Crotonblog would like to point out that mailing inflated invoices demanding payment for undelivered goods or services is a fraudulent act. False billing is a clear violation of law and is adamantly prosecuted, most notably in the health care industry. If the village’s computerized billing system can be so wittingly manipulated by officials, what protection does the village have against felonious acts?

Politicians are fond of making campaign promises to run government “like a business.” But any business that did what Croton officials did would quickly find itself enmeshed in the toils of the law. What the village did resembles nothing more than a mindlessly malicious Halloween prank belatedly played by village officials on residents. The technique has all the subtlety of a whoopee cushion or an exploding cigar. In keeping with the tone set by this low-class performance, perhaps we can open Village Board meetings with a round of fart jokes. Surely the village had not exhausted conventional avenues of communication before embarking on this elaborate swindle. How about the old-fashioned method of ringing a bell or knocking on a door?

We’ll skip the mention of the mental anguish or fright that intentional false billing could cause in elderly, infirm or ill residents. The village can collectively breathe a sigh of relief and count itself lucky if no recipient of one of these phony inflated water bills brings an action against the village for its callous, intemperate act. To underscore that Crotonblog is not alone in being concerned about this unhappy incident, the story has already been picked up by major newspapers and news services (see: Google News), making Croton the laughing-stock of the entire country.

Crotonblog has to wonder whether this official scam was put before the Mayor, the Village Board of Trustees or the Village Attorney before being carried out. The inherent deceit underpinning this sorry affair is bad enough, but the unseemly public chortling and exultation at the effect their scam had on unsuspecting residents was inexcusable. We repeat: This is a helluva way to run a village. Perhaps the proper coin of the realm with which to pay counterfeit water bills would be counterfeit money.

What is unintentionally humorous about the whole affair is that in the past the village has frequently overbilled water users erroneously for incorrectly calculated water usage. Now that the village has given its blessing to the creation of intentionally fictitious water bills for punitive purposes, residents cannot be blamed for wondering whether future village-generated bills are authentic or only another example of creative municipal accounting—mere figments of Abe Zambrano’s imagination.

Under the circumstances, Crotonblog is again compelled to ask Mayor Doctor Gregory Schmidt, “What’s Up, Doc? Who’s minding the store?” Your attention to this municipal embarrassment that took place on your watch would be appreciated at the next Board meeting.

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