By Tom McDermott

At the April 5 City Council meeting, Rye joined a number of New York State and Westchester County municipalities in trying to create a policy towards immigrants. To that end, City Councilmember Danielle Tagger-Epstein, liaison to Rye’s Commission on Human Rights, introduced a draft resolution regarding Rye and its “Policy Towards Immigrants or Citizenship Status.” Both Public Safety Commissioner Michael Corcoran and Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson assisted the Commission in drafting the resolution.

In opening the discussion, Tagger-Epstein said, “Clearly there’s an unease with what’s going on at the federal level and we are seeing the effects in Westchester.” The resolution, as currently drafted, states as one aim to “alleviate any tensions between various groups within and outside the City,” wording that has already raised some questions from other Councilmembers and residents.

Since much of the resolution sets forth Rye police policies and procedures, Commissioner Corcoran was called upon to give his perspective. He stated that Rye police currently have no policy on immigration enforcement; that the draft is “very much in line with what Westchester County police are doing, but that it goes further in regard to when a Rye police officer could actually inquire about a person’s immigration status; and, “it is important to make sure that serious offenders are not slipping through the cracks.”

Addressing the Council, Anthony Piscionere, Chairman of the Rye City Republicans, said that certain portions of the resolution made a lot of sense, but certain others made no sense whatsoever. He pointed out his difficulties with the section which defines when a Rye police officer “shall not stop, question, interrogate, investigate, or arrest an individual.” An officer would not be able to stop someone solely on the basis of “actual or suspected immigration or citizenship status” <or> a national crime database or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer or administrative warrant that did not have a judicial warrant. A Rye police officer, however, would not be limited from inquiring about status when the officer makes an arrest for any felony under NYS penal law.

According to Piscionere, requiring a judicial warrant might allow a person that has already been deported to come back into the country and to possibly commit a crime and be let go by Rye police. He cited a recent chase incident in Rye and said, “This is tying police officers hands to enforce the law. I’m not sure what problem we’re addressing here.”

In a pointed discussion, Tagger-Epstein told Piscionere that the resolution closely followed the New York Attorney General’s guidelines, and that a recent judicial decision meant ICE detainer requests can no longer be made without a judicial warrant.

Piscionere cautioned the Council to take its time and carefully review the resolution before voting.

A number of residents spoke fervently in favor of the resolution, urging the Council to protect law-abiding people and to allow police to focus on other more important duties. Alison Relyea told the Council that there was no intention to allow serious criminals to avoid being detained. “We have to protect one another,” she said. There was a general concern for immigrant residents of Port Chester who might be employed in or visiting Rye who might hesitate to call emergency services, although no actual incidents were described.

The discussion among Councilmembers was tense at times, with Mayor Joe Sack, Julie Killian, and Terry McCartney voicing displeasure with Tagger-Epstein at what they viewed as negative comments on their attention to the resolution.

This week, Killian told the paper that the resolution “seems to have general support; but it’s a matter of getting the language right.” Kristen Wilson confirmed that the resolution closely follows the guidance of the state’s Attorney General and what other Westchester and New Jersey municipalities have done. Wilson, Corcoran, and Tagger-Epstein shared the information with the Commission. “Our version is much more specific, and may be more restrictive,” she said.

Discussion of the resolution will continue at the May 3 Council meeting.

By Peter Jovanovich

At its February 7 meeting, the Rye City School Board, Interim Superintendent Dr. Brian Monahan presented his proposed budget for the 2017-2018 year. The budget assumes all current programs will be maintained with a net increase of nine new faculty positions. A 2.64% increase in the levy is compliant with New York State’s Tax Cap law.

For the average Rye property owner, the levy equates to a $649.20 increase in taxes.


“We are pleased this proposed budget is tax-cap compliant while maintaining the programs and levels of excellence that this community values so much,” said Board President Katy Geohane Glassberg. Dr. Monahan, who joined Glassberg in an interview with the paper last week, explained his budget adds positions in the areas of English Language Training, Occupational Therapy, Art, Music, Foreign Language, and Physical Education, as well as a security guard at Rye Middle School.


As is often the case, the School District holds its breadth each year regarding school enrollment, which often exceeds demographer’s forecasts. Nevertheless, Dr. Monahan thinks 2017-18 school enrollment will be flat, around 3,467 students. The District expects no increase in State aid (currently $3.6 million), nor does it expect relief from the many New York State mandates it labors under, despite the tax cap.


Salaries and Benefits represent 77% of proposed spending of $86,930,075. Total salaries, including additions to staff, increase approximately 4.4%, employee/retiree health costs will grow 3.3%, and, projected pension costs will decline by about 10%. (The rise in the stock market over the last five years has enabled the State to reduce school districts’ contributions to its pension system.) Overall, total spending increases, budget to budget, by 2.19%.


As in previous years, the District proposes to use some of its undesignated fund balance to fill the gap between revenues and expenses. In 2016-17, $2,330,000 of the fund balance was utilized; the Superintendent’s budget for 2017-18 uses $2.1 million.


The Board of Education will hold hearings on the proposed budget beginning March 21. The public votes on the Board Adopted Budget May 16.


Rye Teachers Association Signs Contract with District


As the 2017-2018 budget was being proposed, the Rye City School District announced the signing of a three-year contract with the Rye Teachers Association, covering 2015-2018. Dr. Monahan described the agreement as being “fair to both sides.” 


Among the changes in the new agreement, salaries will “rise a bit more slowly,” two more teaching days will be added to the school year, there will be a five-minute gap between class start times, and teachers will get a ten- minute break after three hours of teaching. 


Board President Glassberg praised the cooperative approach the RTA took in the negotiations. She remarked, “We all acknowledge that we live in a tax-cap world.”



— Additional reporting by Tom McDermott 





March 28 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day and the Rye YMCA is urging everyone to take action to prevent the disease. An estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 10 percent are aware of it. 


Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. 


 “Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by eating healthier and increasing physical activity,” noted Tanya Stack, the Rye Y’s Director of Membership, Health, and Wellness. “Our Prevention Program can provide the support needed to make those lifestyle changes.”


The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based, yearlong, small group program where participants learn about behavior changes that can improve overall health. Working in partnership with Open Door Family Medical Centers and Hudson River Healthcare, the Rye Y offers classes in Spanish and English at locations in Rye, Port Chester, Ossining, Peekskill, and Yonkers. 


Program participant Fernanda Carillo remarked, “As my lifestyle coach always reminds us, we are not on a diet; we are making life long changes for our health. I have lost over 20 pounds. I am so thankful for the program. Now I am an active, healthy person.” 


To learn more about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program or enroll in an upcoming class, contact Tanya Stack at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 967-6363, ext. 107.



Fernanda Carillo, a participant in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, with Rye Y Community Health Worker Heidy Barros