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The more City Council meetings I watch, the more dismay I feel at our local government’s lack of responsiveness. 

 

I attribute this to Mayor Joe Sack, who appears to favor commercial interests over residents’ quality of life. For example, he ignored massive rock chipping projects, Starwood’s United Hospital Plan, and Crown Castle’s wireless proposal — until citizen outrage forced him to take notice. 

 

In a single, typical meeting (December 7, 2016), Sack said he wanted a solution to Crown Castle proposal that “benefits the entire city and not [the 64] individual property owners” who are upset at the prospect of being forced to host wireless mini-cell towers on their lawns. He interrupted resident Josh Cohn, who was speaking politely and appropriately, with a long, angry, and utterly inaccurate tirade. One resident told me she found Sack’s treatment of Councilwoman Emily Hurd in the closing section of that evening so distressing that she had trouble sleeping that night. 

 

If Mr. Sack decides to run for re-election, I predict that he will suddenly appear more interested in residents’ opinions. Voters should not be fooled. This November, we should choose a Mayor who works for the benefit our community all the time, not just when running for office. 

 

 

— Meg Cameron, Rye Democrats chair

 

With Respect

 

As a neighborhood, we are writing to express our disappointment—and frankly, dismay—with the way the Crown Castle cell phone tower issue has been handled by our local government.

 

We understand that this issue is a complex and nuanced one.  We understand that the City Council is weighing many factors: federal law versus the capabilities and limitations of local law; risk assessments of various courses of action and the implications of each; technology infrastructure in various permutations both now, and conceivably in the future; precedential issues; citizen concerns.  We understand that this is not a clear cut or simple topic.

 

What we don’t understand, however, is the manner in which this topic has been addressed by (some of) our elected officials. For an issue of such obvious concern, why hasn’t a committee or task force composed of local officials and citizens been created? Why is there such opacity to the work the Council has done to evaluate our options? The lack of open communication is concerning. And of even deeper concern is the open contempt with which the concerned citizens of Rye—City Council’s constituents—have been treated. The disrespect shown the citizens is unbefitting the community we have built and seek to preserve and is simply unacceptable.

 

There must be a way to govern more respectfully. More cooperatively. More effectively. We implore Rye’s City Council to find a better way.  The formation of a joint committee would be a good first step.

 

 

 

– <Loudon Woods Neighborhood Association>

I was struck by School Board President Katy Keohane Glassberg’s remark that “We all acknowledge that we live in a tax-cap world” (“School District Proposes $86.9 Million Budget, 2.64% Tax Levy Increase,” February 17, 2017). I’m not sure what bothers me more — the sense of resignation that this comment conveys or the fatalistic message it condones. 

We may, indeed, live in a tap-cap world, but we don’t have to like it or accept it as a permanent condition. I regard Governor Cuomo’s tax cap as a prescription for the slow death of quality public education in Rye. The extent of the damage is not always noticeable right away, like a slow leak in an automobile tire. But, when “the tire” starts to wobble and you lose control, the results can be dangerous and the damage too late to repair.

To be clear: I’m not advocating higher taxes. What I wish our community members, school officials, and elected representatives would fight for is a return to “home rule.” As in the past, the citizens of Rye alone should decide the size of the school budget, based on what’s needed to continue to provide our children with a first-rate education, not by having to overcome an arbitrary limit set by politicians in Albany by extraordinary means. 

— John E. Stafford