THE HEZITORIAL: Fomenting a Crisis of Deflection By HEZI ARIS
Former New York State Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and former NYS Assemblyman Richard Brodsky were invited to the City of Hills by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano to warn Yonkersites of the perilous fiscal plight that foretold of a doomsday scenario that beset Yonkers with debt that would exceed $450 million plus over Mayor Spano’s first term in office. Yonkersites have for decades heard the same admonition year in and year out. The scenario has been and to this day continues to be played out every year despite no one advising where and how the deficit was overcome.
The “crisis” takes on the drama of a suspense thriller only to dissipate like the morning fog under the spell of the ever-increasing heat of a fiery sun. It is as if Yonkers City Hall believes Yonkersites are like deer caught in the intensity of headlights ablaze with high beams switched on for affect rather than need. Once mesmerized by the influence of the high beams, and stunned by its effect, or reeling from the admonition of financial collapse, one would expect scrutiny of the budget in search of relief. Instead, Yonkersites are warned once, and left to meander aimlessly, without further input from the doomsayers who shock the populace into not knowing what to do or where to turn. In time, even the resilient Yonkersite is lost in the intensity of the drama.
Not one moment has been focused on the budget crisis foretold since its telling again in 2012. Whereas in the past, the drama would give way to silence, and the issue forgotten by its not being mentioned, this year may prove to be different. The marionette masters who pulled the strings in days gone by have had their strings cut. No longer do they control every movement of the puppets within their realm. The marionette masters now answer to a bigger, mightier master. He may be thought of as Governor Andrew Cuomo, or Larry Schwartz, Secretary to Governor Cuomo, or the local gofer / surrogate, Yonkers Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry. Their agreed charge is to exact a toll of $5 million in savings from the Yonkers Fire Department.
In light of a $100 million contemplated deficit for FY 2013-2014, excising $5 million in savings from the Yonkers Fire Department would only be rational if the entire City of Yonkers would share in the burden of righting the fiscal concerns that threaten to destroy the City of Gracious Living. Yet City Hall’s conduct does not speak to the dire consequences that are said to be our imminent ruin, leading to our eventual, collective, doomsday epitaph.
The directive is simple… demean, diminish, belittle, enrage, and disrespect the members of the Yonkers Fire Department. Espouse that they do not work to serve the public good, that they do not answer every call, that they spend all day shopping for food to feed the crew, that they sit around, shoot the breeze, work out with gym equipment, work less than others, watch TV, are lazy, arrogant, and are not needed. All bunk, BUT seemingly palatable to too many in CoY.
The negative diatribes and epithets hurled at the YFD membership is appalling in its deceitful, conniving lies. Where are those among our elected officials who will stand by the YFD to speak to their relevance to the sustenance of the city, its neighborhoods, its civility, and respect for all people for whom they care. I know they get paid; so does everyone else. Why the silence? Has the Yonkers City Council President lost the dexterity of his tongue and function of his mind revealing his unwillingness all these years to serve the public good because he cannot muster the testicular fortitude to speak truth to power. Instead, be engages in gossip and tales to sustain his “relevance” by being part of the plot of subterfuge. Where are the Democratic and Republican members of the Yonkers City Council? Will they find umbrage behind the propitious celebration of Black History Month rather than speak to fiscal concerns? Have all who delight in celebrating Black History Month so quickly forgotten that it took but one voice to set things right. Have they forgotten that one voice was joined by a second, a third, eventually by hundreds, thousands, and millions? Evidently so. The expression of thought by Yonkers elected officials regarding the travesty of conduct by Yonkers City Hall has been etched into the collective psyche of Yonkersites for too long. Even so, the embarrassment of knowing that even those outside CoY's borders are aware of the plots and ploys perpetrated on our citizenry is not sufficiently embarrassing to put an end to the con game Yonkersites endure for lack of other options. To our collective shame, there is not even one “sheriff” upon which we may call upon for remedy, instead, injustice prevails unabated.
The fact that Yonkers City Hall has eviscerated the well-earned respect of the Yonkers Fire Department by the silence of Yonkersites for their fear of loss of employment, or being ostracized, or their children threatened loss of employment, speaks to the illegitimacy of this ploy to defile people, Yonkers Fire Fighters, who put their body and mind to serve the public good every time they depart the firehouse on a call. It doesn’t matter when the victim is someone else’s mother, or father, or child. It doesn’t matter whether they live or die. It doesn't matter when a Firefighter dies in the call of duty. What does matter? Does it matter only to express politically correct phrases of respect and feign appreciation for lives saved, houses kept from burning to the ground, or medical emergencies attended by Firefighters life saving minutes before any ambulance service responds. Seemingly not. It only sounds good to care, but it seems easier for too many not to give a damn. The only issue is when your mother may suffer a stroke, your father may suffer a heart attack, your child succumbs to an allergen and falls into a coma. I am starting to believe even that concern will soon be gone.
Must the Yonkers Fire Department shoot off a press release to divulge that their arrival at a scene saved an infant from suffocating to death or worse a palsy due to the lack of being able to breathe? Are these the required bona fides demanded of the Yonkers Fire Department? If so, why do we not have a daily report from every department and worker? What have the Yonkers Police Department done to earn their salary? What is the basis for the Yonkers Federation of Teachers getting a small contractual pay increase over the next three years? What have DPW done to underwrite their pay? Human Resources Commissioner Paula Redd Zeeman commutes to work digitally. Why? Is that how she validates her bloated salary? She is a terror and a liar but she gets away with it because everyone is afraid to challenge her BS. When will City Hall demand restitution for her past conduct of not complying with the demands of the job? Another enabled scammer thriving in the cesspool of silence.
The YFD aren’t scamming, yet they are being targeted. Why? Is it simply an Albany contrived lust for blood? Is the end game to bring the YFD to their knees in order to chop their heads off? Is it fiscal concerns? If so, what is City Hall doing to ameliorate the distance created between the contractual agreements signed without duress by Yonkers City Hall’s past administrations, former Mayors John Spencer and Phil Amicone specifically, and the union membership? Is Mayor Mike Spano doing an end run around Deputy Mayor Gerry? Will Mayor Spano throw Deputy Mayor Gerry under the bus? Why the lack of respect? Is everyone at each other’s throat in Yonkers City Hall? Is the wrath exacted on the YFD membership the byproduct of the exasperating climate within Yonkers City Hall?
If Yonkers needs to get its fiscal house together, why aren’t all delinquencies ameliorated with greater urgency? Why are “deals” being concluded behind closed doors that exact more subsidies from the taxpayer rather than those that choose to build a business in Yonkers because this IS the city where riches are made? Why does City Hall continue to be an employment agency to friends, depleting Yonkers City coffers when Yonkers must replenish its coffers by collecting for services rendered?
Even if CoY was not in a bad way financially, Yonkers must collect all monies due. If we are in a bad financial state, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano must lead. He can lead by cutting 25 percent off all the salaries paid City Hall employees. The salaries are bloated. Every perk must be closed. Gasoline for vehicles that are not driven from Yonkers must be the only ones permitted access to “Gasboy”. Perhaps the limousine services should no longer be provided at taxpayer’s expense. Every other vehicle can take off expenses through the annual taxes filed with the city, state, and federal government. Every home and business must pay their own water, electricity, traffic ticket, and other outstanding fines without being dismissed.
Yonkers must focus on serving the public good, not individual needs or wants.
Many in government will need to answer to their conduct should they fail, choosing instead to enable by ineptitude, lack of concern, ineffectiveness, or lack of study of the People’s issues.
So what will it be Yonkers? Have you had enough abuse or can you take more?
An old sage said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”