Butterfield Lawyer Makes His Case

Refutes Planning Board members’ claims

By Michael Turton

The Butterfield development was not on the agenda; however developer Paul Guillaro and his attorney, Steven Barshov, attended the Nov. 10 (Monday) meeting of the Cold Spring Village Board and while the former said nothing, the latter had plenty to say.

Barshov began an impassioned presentation “to answer unanswered questions” raised by Trustee Stephanie Hawkins, who acts as liaison to the Planning Board. Hawkins has echoed concerns raised by four Planning Board members — that Anna Georgiou, special counsel, and consultant Chuck Voss had led them to believe they could discuss the “mass and scale” of the Butterfield project during site planning, but that when that process got underway they learned that such a discussion could not take place.

Barshov used a controversial Oct. 14th letter from Georgiou to the Village Board as the basis for his commentary. It was the first public airing of the letter’s contents.

Attorney Steven Barshov refuted claims that Planning Board members were confused about the site plan process for Butterfield.

Attorney Steven Barshov refuted claims that Planning Board members were confused about the site plan process for Butterfield.

The letter disputes claims that mass and scale were not considered during the Planning Board’s SEQRA (New York State Environmental Quality Review Act) work on Butterfield. Barshov pointed out that the SEQRA “negative declaration,” indicating that the project will have no significant environmental impact on the village, has never been challenged and that the statute of limitations for challenging it has long since passed.

Reading from Georgiou’s letter he was emphatic, underlining that “potential community character impacts, potential visual impacts, and the mass and scale of the Butterfield redevelopment were reviewed throughout the SEQRA process…” He added that review included the then-proposed B4A Zoning and the concept plan proposed for Butterfield, an analysis that looked at “the worst case scenario” or maximum development allowed.

Even at that maximum scale he said, the Planning Board concluded that the project “would not have the potential to generate a single adverse environmental impact.” Conversely he said, if the project were developed at a lesser size than shown in the concept plan it would have even less environmental impact. “This entire thing is a non-issue,” he said.

‘That’s the way democracy works’

Barshov also pointed to a key memo that the Planning Board sent to the Village Board expressing its concerns about the then-pending B4A zoning and concept plan, along with its recommendations on suggested improvements. He again quoted Giorgiou’s letter which states that “the Planning Board acknowledged that its ability to modify … the concept plan during site-plan review was significantly constrained and restricted under the proposed B4A zoning amendments” and it asked that the Village Board give it greater ability to make modifications.

Barshov was very clear in his opinion regarding any unanswered questions raised by Hawkins and members of the Planning Board. “Is there a question that remains unanswered? No,” he said. “The Planning Board knew exactly what their authority was under the proposed B4A zoning and they weren’t happy about it. And they told you [the Village Board] … in no uncertain terms. And you adopted a law that did not give them the discretion they wanted … and that is where we stand today. “

In a reference to Hawkins, the lone trustee to vote against the B4A zoning, Barshov added: “You voted and the one … that didn’t go along with that … has to accept that decision — that’s the way democracy works.”

While Barshov stopped short of threatening legal action against the village he came very close. “My client has a right … to vest his rights under the applicable zoning by proceeding in a normal fashion to get his application heard and reviewed,” he said. “…There is liability when people attempt to turn around and stop the applicant from being able to do so. This is getting perilously close to that.”

An intense exchange

Hawkins interrupted: “Are you here to threaten us … with legal action on behalf of your client?” Her question led to a brief but intense exchange between the two.

Attorney Steven Barshov, left, and Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro attended Monday's meeting.

Attorney Steven Barshov, left, and Butterfield developer Paul Guillaro attended Monday’s meeting.

“Miss Hawkins, when I’m here to threaten you with legal action I will say the following words: ‘You are threatened with legal action,'” Barshov replied. “Did you hear those words come out of my mouth? No. I want to avoid legal action. I want to tell you what the law is so you can comply with it and we can go on with reviewing this application. This is all a side show for the purpose of obfuscating the review of this application and preventing it from going forward in a normal way.”

Hawkins repeated her concern that “Planning Board members from our community, volunteers who worked very hard on this, were … very surprised … to realize that they did not have the authority that they had been told that they would enjoy at the site-plan review.”

Barshov shot back. “When they sit down and say what they have to say at an open Planning Board meeting I’ll be happy to address it. Right now it’s ‘he said; she said; they said,’” he maintained. “I’ve given you the answer … you may not be satisfied with it, but it is the answer.”

“I’m not looking for an answer from you,” Hawkins replied.

“You asked questions that were unanswered — I’ve given you the answer,” Barshov concluded.

Calls for three to be ousted

Resident Michael Robinson weighed in, repeating claims that Planning Board members had been misled. “I do not see how you can proceed in this process with [Planning Board Chairman] Barney Molloy, Anna Georgiou and B&L [consulting firm Barton and Loguidice], given their … proven record of misguidance,” he said.

Speaking directly to the Village Board he added: “If you guys were CEOs and you had advisors that screwed up and led you down a road like this … you would fire them. And that’s what you should do with these three people.” He also responded to Barshov’s claims that the Butterfield application is not being handled in a timely manner.

“I’m sick to death of this obfuscation stuff … that we don’t want this project to happen,” Robinson said. “I have not spoken to one person … that does not want this thing to happen. I’m going to go even further. I want it to be big … as long as it is Cold Spring big … not Westchester big. “

Michael Robinson called for Molloy, Georgiou and Voss to be fired.

Michael Robinson called for Molloy, Georgiou and Voss to be fired.

When questioned by Trustee Michael Bowman, Robinson said he had not attended a meeting at the firehouse at which of the Planning Board presented its recommendations on the B4A law. “It was very clear to us what that document meant,” Bowman said. “[But] instead of discussing mass and scale we spent 45 minutes arguing about a coffee counter.”

Bowman also said he had watched a video of last week’s Planning Board meeting and that one board member had actually corrected the attorney for the developer regarding the limitations of the B4A zoning. “I don’t see where there’s confusion,” he said. When Robinson asked about the questions raised by Planning Board members, Bowman said that none of them has approached him with their concerns.

Greg Miller read a letter by Cold Spring resident John Plummer, who could not attend Monday’s meeting. Plummer also called for the removal of Molloy, Georgiou and Voss who, he said, “have made a colossal error in guidance that has left Cold Spring without authority over the size and density of the Butterfield development and disastrously exposed to legal action.” He urged the Village Board to “amend the B4A zoning to either redraw a smaller concept plan or … revise the language that describes the density.”

The Village Board took no action following comments from Barshov or residents regarding the Planning Board and the Butterfield project.

In a related issue, the law firm of Wormser, Kiely, Galef & Jacobs closed its White Plains office earlier this month. Georgiou has been an associate in that office. An article in StreetInsider.com, dated Oct. 14, confirmed that the Wormser-Kiely will maintain its New York City office and that Georgiou and three former partners in the firm are establishing a municipal law and land-use planning practice at the White Plains firm of McCarthy-Fingar.

When resident Kathleen Foley asked what impact that might have, Hawkins said she believes the village contract was being transferred to McCarthy-Fingar and that Georgiou will continue in her role as legal counsel to the Planning Board — but that the Village Board should discuss the matter.

Liaison, lawyer and West Point ferry

While Butterfield dominated the public comment period, the board did deal with a number of other issues beforehand, including appointing Trustee Bruce Campbell as liaison to the newly formed Code Update Committee. They also approved the new committee’s proposed officers and meeting schedule.

Village Attorney Michael Liguori submitted his resignation, effective Dec. 5. Liguori said he has been retained by a “very significant client,” describing it as an opportunity “too good to pass up.” He also cited his need to spend more time with his young family.

Village Accountant Ellen Mageean reported that pension contributions for village employees, including the police department, were some $23,000 less than expected. The surplus will be discussed at the next workshop, with part of the windfall likely going to upgrade the village government computer systems.

Mayor Ralph Falloon reported that officials at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point are considering using Cold Spring as the terminus for its ferry service that shuttles cadets to and from Metro-North trains. It currently operates between West Point and Garrison. Falloon also said that organizers were very pleased with a pilot program for residents of the West Point community that brought four ferryboat excursions to Cold Spring earlier this year.

Trustee Cathryn Fadde said the Parking Committee will soon remove a number of street signs not covered by the Village Code. Mayor Falloon commented that there will be a process for residents to request certain signs, such as “Children at Play” on village streets.

Trustee Bowman reported that he has viewed concept drawings for a new fire station to replace the aging building at the corner of Main and Church Streets. The plans will be presented to the Village Board before year-end.

Photos by M. Turton

26 thoughts on “Butterfield Lawyer Makes His Case

  1. Distilled version of this Butterfield interaction (from the article):

    “Barshov began an impassioned presentation “to answer unanswered questions” raised by Trustee Stephanie Hawkins”

    “I’m not looking for an answer from you,” Hawkins replied.

    At question here is not the actions or rights of the developer, or of his attorney, but the actions and the competence of the consultants to the Planning Board, and of the board’s chairperson. Presumably the developer’s attorney cannot directly answer questions concerning the content, the intent and the warrant of the closed door “executive session” at the Planning Board’s Sept. 17 meeting, immediately prior to its vote to accept the site plan (for more context, see the Sept. 19 article in the Phillipstown.info).

  2. This article and what was said in this meeting raises for me two big questions:

    (1) Are there grounds for legal action against the village to reverse the Planning Board’s decision and the Village Board’s approval of the B4 zoning? If there are grounds, who can bring this suit? Any village resident? That four of the five planning board members feel that were deceived suggests to me that there is a call for such a reversal and that — at the very least — there were serious errors in the process. Getting an outside, and competent, attorney to look into what has occurred here might be our only chance at having the fact properly represented — as it’s obvious that the Village Board has no desire or intention to do so. Did the mass and scale discussion occur? A few hell-bent people say yes. Four Planning Board members – who so far no one has accused of suffering from delusions or having hallucinations – say no. Let’s let a lawyer who has not been breathing the strange air of Cold Spring figure it out.

    (2) Are there factions in the village? Yes and no. If someone makes a credible claim that I can lower taxes in the village or reduce heating costs, is there an opposition? Does the village start to break down into two camps, with one for this person and the others against? No, the mere idea of it is ridiculous. There are not two factions in the village. There are about 2,000 people with, when it comes to our local government, relatively modest needs. The idea that there are factions is a mental convenience: it allows someone like the mayor to dismiss outright a person’s statement without even looking at its substance. Michael Robinson raised an important point in the meeting and even substantiated his claims with quotes from members of the Planning Board. Yet the mayor only shook his head, dismissing outright every word that just came out of Robinson’s mouth, and said there are “factions” and people are just going to oppose the Butterfield project. That he subscribes to this notion of factions is a problem — and his shortcoming, not the shortcoming of those who might make a valid point in a village meeting.

  3. If the four Planning Board members feel that they have been mislead with regard to the Butterfield project, as Michael Robinson (who has zero creditability, in my opinion, due to the letter he wrote at village election time), let them appear before the Village Board and state what they perceived to have been the facts. There is nothing like hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and not through third parties. Nothing will ever get done by he-said, she-said, etc. Let’s get this over with and let’s get started on enhancing the gateway to our Village with this project.

  4. Ms. Bowman writes what I fear is the position of four out of five of our elected village officials, “Let’s get this over with.” Is that honoring the responsibility given them by the voters? “I’m tired of this, let’s just let him have his way.” Like everyone else in the Cold Spring, I’m tired of it too. But regardless of how you feel about donut shops, church bells, fire sirens, the PCNR, The Paper, newcomers, which church you attend or don’t attend, or any other differences that have been used as wedges to make Cold Spring into us vs them — we are all in this together. Our elected and appointed officials are supposed to represent and protect our interests. Our property values will be mightily affected by this development. The entrance to our beautiful village will be defined forever. Even if Barshov’s version of events were true and the Board of Trustees knowingly declined to grant the Planning Board adequate authority over the project, then the Board of Trustees, whom we elected, may yet take action to correct their negligence.

    Or are we just a bunch of rubes? “Let’s get this over with?” This is how it works? If a man has enough time, money and a loud enough lawyer, the whole village cowers and he has his way with us? Nobody is saying not to build the thing. But all of us should demand that our own Planning Board have complete authority over a project that will dramatically affect the look and feel of our village and impact property values and taxes in perpetuity. Who is going to pay for the infrastructure upgrades that it will necessitate? We have an ancient water system so overburdened that it limits our fire-fighting capability. Where will the upgrade money come from? Taxes paid by 800 property owners alone, that’s where.

    Yet our elected officials have decided not to constrain the builder with apparently trivial worries of that nature. And the developer’s lawyer waves around a thick mysterious book while publicly mocking our trustee and calling these concerns “a sideshow.” That’s carny language. Carnies look for marks. Is Stephanie Hawkins the only one among us who has the courage not to be played for a rube?

    Of course she is not. But there is a deafening silence. I believe many of us have been worn down by the length of the campaign and are ready to take the path of least resistance. And we have a habit of taking the usual sides on issues that, compared to this development, are trivial. Please speak up and fight for our village.

  5. I can’t believe that this issue is still being re-litigated, rehashed and regurgitated! Mr. Guillaro has jumped through every hoop that’s been put up and then some. There are thousands of pages of studies, findings and information that’s been put out there. How many meetings, votes and resolutions do you have to have before you will allow this man to invest millions in your community?

    Last time I looked, Cold Spring was still part of the USA (although sometimes I wonder) and it seems that Guillaro does have at least some rights to develop his property after spending all that money for property taxes.

    I think some of you should be honest and admit the truth: that no matter what Guillaro does, no matter how much he spends on approvals, no matter what contortions he goes through to try and satisfy you, you don’t want to see the Butterfield project ever come to fruition. I would have a lot more respect for the nay sayers if they would admit what they’re all about.

  6. When you call the Butterfield EAF a “thick, mysterious book,” you have said all that needs to be said. That book is hundreds of pages and over a year’s worth of work (done in open meetings) by our Planning Board that people would like to lead others to believe doesn’t exist. Ms. Villanova’s comments point to something I have noticed as well. It seems that many of those in the sideshow are the same people who have been working against Butterfield for the past two years and who supported certain candidates in the last two election cycles. This seems to be the same old tactic of throwing everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    For those of you who believe that my son, Mike, writes my comments for me, well, you are dead wrong. Yes, I am a senior but not yet senile and I write my own comments – just saying, I don’t need anyone speaking or writing for me. I will say it again, enough is enough. Let’s get on with this project.

  7. Our Planning Board is tasked with helping to assure that development in our village is complimentary and an actual improvement, and not a long term negative to the stakeholders of Cold Spring. It has recently become clear however, that the Village Board made a serious error and improperly limited the Planning Board from fulfilling its mandated functions in oversight of the Butterfield development. By insisting on strict adherence to the concept plan in the B4a law, the Village Board took on a major planning role for itself even though its members are unqualified and were not elected for that task. It is the members of the Planning Board that were appointed for that role because of their appropriate skill set, not the Village Board. We have learned that Planning Board members were informed early on that their Butterfield project concerns would be addressed in the normal course of fulfilling their Planning Board duties – except that the Village Board deviated from the standard way development occurs in Cold Spring with this one particular project by creating an extraordinary and inflexible concept-locked law.

    This simple error in the law has a simple solution. The Village Board can pass an amendment to the B4a zoning law that restores to the Planning Board its traditional oversight role, and allow this project to move forward without delay and with the increased confidence of Cold Spring residents that the mechanisms put in place to protect us are not being circumvented to our detriment.

  8. I wanted to mention that I am dismayed by those who try to discredit the veracity of other’s comments by casting doubt on a person’s (or group of persons) character or motives instead of considering the factual basis and truth of the presentation. At best this is extremely unhelpful and at worst, it’s gasoline thrown on the fire of our community’s strife and division with the express purpose of promoting factionalism. It insists on perpetuating the “us and them” posture even though the election is long over. These negative characterizations attempt to instruct the reader “don’t even think about whether this statement makes sense and is truthful because this person is bad.” This is an intellectually lazy and false way to mount an argument against someone’s factual (or not) statement, and reflects badly on the commentator.

    We are adults. We should be able to do better than a discourse worthy of a middle-school playground. Not being able to do so will impact all of us – and not in a good way.

  9. Trustee Bowman has repeated this “45-minute lunch counter” point, his rebuttal to my public comment, no less than three times in this past month. It seems the Planning Board frivolously spent that entire meeting talking about a small restaurant instead of the real issues of Mass and Scale. I know why Bowman repeats this so often. It’s a clever comment, which both nullifies my argument and makes it seem like the Planning Board was more worried about their skim lattes than the scale of these buildings.

    Unfortunately, the actual memo of that meeting tells a different story than Bowman’s. The very first item of this Planning Board memo is “1) Massive Scale.” So why does Trustee Bowman demean the Planning Board and the public’s concerns with this obfuscating and misleading point?

    As Mike Turton reports, in response to my asking for his reaction to the Planning Board member confusion, Bowman said, “They had not expressed confusion to me.” So, if there’s a problem, and this particular public official isn’t aware of that problem, than the problem doesn’t really exist. That’s good governance. “If a tree falls in Cold Spring and I didn’t hear it, then that tree didn’t actually fall.”

    • Only Trustee Bowman can speak to his intentions around reframing 45 minutes of a 1-and-1/2 hour meeting as simply a discussion about a coffee shop. I have personally heard him do this on at least two occasions now. But regardless of his intent, it trivializes the serious concerns raised by these four Planning Board members. Further, it is a disservice to anyone hoping to gain understanding on how the actions, roles and authority of the Planning Board and Village Board, with respect to Butterfield mass and scale could be so misunderstood by so many, both residents and elected officials alike.

      It is important to note that the campaign promises and later pledge of personal funding from both Trustee Fadde and Bowman to film all Village Board meetings would certainly provide the answers on exactly what transpired at this particular Village Board meeting. I urge them to make good on this pledge as I am sure we are all only interested in the truth.

      Finally I am deeply troubled by Trustee Bowman’s repeated denial of knowledge of this issue. He states “They had not expressed confusion to me.” Clearly he had knowledge when he presumably read and posted several comments to this papers Sept. 19 coverage of this meeting titled “Mass and Scale.”

      As a fireman, I would ask if he would only act on a fire that had been called in? But I don’t need to ask as I am certain that is not the case and he would selflessly, bravely act to save life and property. So why does this need to be called in personally to each trustee to have any merit or get any meaningful attention? Clearly Mr. Barshov felt it deserved his very expensive attention. So why does this not deserve the attention of the full leadership of the Village of Cold Spring?

      It is my opinion that Mr. Barshov came here with a singular purpose. But I caution the Village Board that leadership will not come from a place of fear and lawsuits can come from either side. So I implore each of you to do what you feel in your heart and conscience is best for the residents of Cold Spring who will bear all the downside risks of this project for generations to come.

  10. I am still, unfortunately, thinking about this performance by Mr. Barshov. What a shameful display. It was pure bullying in my opinion. If anyone has the temerity to question this still very muddy process of vetting the Butterfield development, this is the response. This is what you get — spittle all over your microphone.

    The questions are clearly and sadly still unanswered. Only Stephanie Hawkins is considering them; and is still the only board member, as far as I know, who has watched the video of the September Planning Board meeting. The shoulder-shrugs from both Mayor Falloon and Trustee Bowman are incredible. “No one has come to us with a complaint” is their answer. If there was strange smoke coming out of a building across the street, would the response be to wait for a phone call or to see some flames coming through the roof?

    There are no bad questions. It is the duty of our public officials to respect the concerns of the people they represent. Instead, they have sat back and allowed Guillaro’s attack dog in to shush the room. They need to show some leadership.

    One other puzzling aspect to this. If the process has been as perfect as attorney Barshov has insisted, why all the anger?

  11. I obviously agree with Tom and Matt above. But not discussed by any of us is the great point made earlier by Marlene Bowman, who asks why the Planning Board, who is at the center of this discussion, is being so silent. As she points out, they could clear the whole thing up very quickly. I keep finding myself going back to that same point, as I’m sure many others do.

    Watch that September 17 Planning Board meeting again. All four members, except Molloy, are animatedly saying that they thought they had more authority. They get taken into an apparently illegal executive session with attorney Anna Georgiou and Barney Molloy (who makes no motion to go into this session), and they come out… silent.

    The question becomes not “Why they don’t speak up?” but “What was said to them?” in that session that, thanks to Molloy, the public has no access to.

  12. Matt Francisco wrote, “It is important to note that the campaign promises and later pledge of personal funding from both Trustee Fadde and Bowman to film all Village Board meetings would certainly provide the answers on exactly what transpired at this particular Village Board meeting. I urge them to make good on this pledge as I am sure we are all only interested in the truth.”

    Francisco, as I recall, promised $4,000 to the Village for video equipment last August. It’s reported in the 8-28-13 edition of the PCNR. Also, there are at least two, and sometimes four, cameras at every meeting lately. I personally have seen every meeting in its entirety (no editing) on the PCNR website. Anyone who is interested in the truth can view the video as I did.

  13. I join Matt Francisco in calling on Trustees Bowman and Fadde to honor the commitment they made to the community to provide funds to record meetings if they were elected – $1,000 each. Well? Eight months later, still no money, and still no video. They have made it necessary for me to provide reliable meeting videos as a volunteer to fill the gap.

    The PCNR also films meetings but in my opinion, citizens should not have to rely on low-quality videos from a right-wing political organization masquerading as a newspaper and posted at their discretion. Unfortunately I cannot continue to devote the time to filming every meeting, and it’s way past time for these two individuals to step up.

  14. Steve – Unless the PCNR is editing the videos of the meetings, their policital affiliation or views are irrelevant. I don’t see Philipstown.info taking video and posting it – so at least one news outlet for our small Village is doing it. It is certainly your right to choose where and how you view videos, however I fail to see the logic in your argument regarding the viewing of PCNR videos of the meetings.

    However – I do believe that the people who promised contributions toward the funding of recording meetings should indeed pony up. Mr. Francisco’s offer to contribute certain supersedes any pledge by BOFA. As noted in the 8/28 edition of the PCNR Bridget mentioned: “Later in the meeting Francisco said he thought it would be a good idea to use video conferencing for the village. According to State law, if video conferencing is used, the public must be noticed to the location and have access to the location to where the person is calling from. The Mayor said that it would cost upwards of $4,000 to equip the village with the technology needed. Francisco offered to donate the $4,000; no further action was taken.”

    Your move Mr. Francisco.

  15. Quoting from the PCNR’s notoriously unreliable right-wing political newsletter on what a former Trustee may have said or did not say is not at all relevant, and again, descends into middle-school discourse — pointing the finger at others instead of addressing the topic at hand.

    We have two sitting Trustees who made a promise to the people of Cold Spring, a promise that we can now consider shamefully broken and a dishonorable stain on their reputations.

    The hundreds of people who watch my meeting videos demonstrate that political affiliation is very important. Instead of viewing the PCNR’s fuzzy images, they prefer watching my HD videos and avoid the shameless propaganda headlines on the PCNR website, which I personally find disgraceful.

    Until recently the PCNR did not post all meetings. They could reinstate that practice at any time, decide to edit, or simply not post a video when contrary to their narrative. The people of Cold Spring deserve a reliable source of meeting videos, and it is most certainly not the PCNR.

  16. It certainly amazes me when people blame one side for finger pointing, shameless propaganda or mudslinging. This Village and it’s politics has turned into nothing but finger pointing on BOTH sides. I believe the “middle-school discourse” began when people on one side chose to ignore Francisco’s offer to contribute to point the blame solely at Mike and Cathryn. The finger pointing has brought this Village and many of the people who choose to serve it to their knees. I understand Mike or Cathryn may have made their promises but so did Matt Francisco.

    To be clear: The point of my comment is not to excuse anyone from broken promises but that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones – Mr. Francisco included. He made an offer and didn’t stick to it, long before BOFA.

  17. Bridget and Toni– It’s true that I offered to pay for video teleconferencing equipment for “virtual” meeting attendance — not video equipment for the recording of meetings as you allege — and the $4,000 was only an amount the mayor threw out off the top of his head, not an actual figure, and further, it was for recording meetings, not a video teleconferencing solution for meeting attendance. In any event, that amount was irrelevant then as it is now.

    What is relevant is there was no majority support from the Village Board for pursuing teleconferencing equipment, even with my underwriting it, so it went nowhere. Such is the democratic process.

    Trustees Fadde and Bowman, on the other hand, had the unanimous support of the Village Board when they pledged a portion of their stipend to fund video recording equipment at their first meeting eight months ago. In doing so they were making good on their well-publicized campaign promises.

    It’s ironic that you conflate my offer of video teleconferencing equipment with their broken campaign promise in response to an article about serious issues with the Butterfield State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process. Ironic because I made that offer to further support the nomination of two highly qualified applicants to the Planning Board. Both of these candidates have years of experience working with the State on large senior housing projects and their related environmental impact reviews. The Mayor opposed both of their nominations. He opposed one because she traveled for work; thus, I suggested video teleconferencing as a way to allow the Village to take advantage of her highly relevant, invaluable experience at a time when we needed it most. The Mayor was adamant and made three appointments of good, smart people — but with no discernible planning or SEQR experience. Their first task? The SEQR process for the Butterfield redevelopment project, the largest and most complicated project (with unprecedented conditional zoning) that the Village has ever undertaken.

    • As I noted before, Mr. Laifer, my point was not to say promises should not be kept. I do agree that BoFa should keep their end of the bargain, my point was there are broken promises all over. I fail to see anything inflammatory on what I quoted from the PCNR – the quote clearly states “No further action was taken,” and by Mr. Francisco’s own admission the offer was made so the PCNR seems to have accurately reported that the offer was indeed made and went no further. I’m confused as to where there is any inaccuracy or “misreporting” was in this instance.

      Nowhere in any of my comments did I make any accusations that Philipstown.info has done any poor reporting, misrepresenting or published any form of propaganda. In fact, I prefer to read Philipstown.info for several reasons and for the most part find the reports to be somewhat neutral. However, I was always taught to hear both sides of any argument, so I read both publications in an attempt to get all points of view and form my opinion. I think this is a good practice that most people should take on – maybe we can begin to understand where the divide is and move on if we work to understand each point of view.

      I find residents on both “sides” of politics in Cold Spring have done their fair share to further the divide. To assume that it is only being done by one side is very narrow-minded. Mr. Miller was right in his above comment: “But regardless of how you feel about donut shops, church bells, fire sirens, the PCNR, The Paper, newcomers, which church you attend or don’t attend, or any other differences that have been used as wedges to make Cold Spring into us vs them — we are all in this together.” It seems our Village has turned from neighbors working together towards a common goal to people who are constantly attacking each other, both politically and personally. And that certainly does go for both “sides”. If video equipment was the only reason Mike or Cathryn were elected than we are really in trouble – one promise does not a campaign make. This is certainly no longer the Village I grew up in. What a shame.

      • The point I made in my post was regarding newspapers and why the PCNR is an undesirable source of meeting videos, not about what individual residents have to say, which is another conversation.

        There is this common but false perception of the situation in Cold Spring — that both “sides” are to blame for constant political fighting, because, well, it’s always both sides, right? Ms. Valentine stated it would be narrow-minded and unfair to think otherwise. However, this assumption is incorrect (although the PCNR would like you to think so), and Ms. Valentine even admits that Philipstown.info is more even-handed. What is mistaken as both sides arguing or finger-pointing typically begins with an unfair attack by the PCNR in which the target needs to defend themselves — is this both sides then?

        In reality, we have a newspaper that was once a beloved publication of the village for over a century. It is now an overt political organization which engages in political and character assassination to further its political goals but still retains some of the community’s fondness and its past credibility.

        Week after week, the PCNR acts as a provocateur to misinform, cynically manipulating some folks to be angry at others by printing unsubstantiated accusations and twisted interpretations of events directed against those it considers its political enemies. Ms. Valentine laments the loss of the Cold Spring of her youth (and I feel her pain) yet continues to ignore the elephant in the room that escaped and pooped all over town.

        As long as the political organization the PCNR has become continues to manufacture false anger and act as political provocateur, and their loyal followers don’t question their tactics and motives, things will never change in Cold Spring.

  18. No, Ms. Valentine, it is only one side with week after week purposeful distortions of the facts. This week it is “Bait and Switch by Hawkins Results in Hefty Bill from Greenplan Firm” in the PCNR, a patently false statement if you understand the facts of this issue. There is at least one false or misleading story in most issues of the PCNR.

    However you claim “it’s both sides.” What recent purposeful misinformation, fact distortions or propaganda do you have for the “other side,” which I presume means Philipstown.info/The Paper?

    • I would hardly call reading a personal blog written by Ms. Hawkins as “fact,” but rather her point of view. If Mr. Bowman had a personal blog and posted his own position – should that be considered facts? I think not. Facts would look more like a contract signed with Greenplan by the Board for the specific services being billed, or minutes from a meeting confirming a majority of the Village Board agreed to hire Greenplan for the services they are invoicing for. I have no opinion as to whose fault it is and honestly, fault is not going to solve the issue at hand – it’s just more blaming from one party to another.

      I looked at the blog linked in the comment and it seems like quite a bit of finger pointing at only Cathryn and Mike. Any action taken by the Board has to be decided by a majority – which by my count would be a minimum of 3 votes. Why are Mike and Cathryn singled out as the problem on her blog? Why does it seem like an attack on only two of the four Trustees that voted against her? She was the only member on the Board who dissented on the vote, yet Bruce and Ralph aren’t named in her blog post as being at fault for anything. It would seem to me that her post is more “middle-school discourse” complete with finger-pointing and negativity towards Mike and Cathryn rather than simple “facts of the issue.”

      • Toni, you’re right, in addition to aggregating links to meeting minutes and recordings, and other primary sources like Philipstown.info/The Paper my blog documents my point of view. And you’re right again — where I express an opinion — that is not fact, but opinion. I think Steve was referring to the timeline in the middle of the post. But, yes, you’re right, I do lay blame at the feet of my freshman colleagues for the consequences we now face because it was their insistence to undo what the Village had unanimously agreed to a year earlier. You are certainly as entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine, and I’m glad to see yours here. As to discussions about the un/reliability of the PCNR — I can’t help but contribute because, as you may understand, it’s close to me on a weekly basis. 🙂 I reject their coverage of issues because after they threatened me with groundless claims of libel, “tortious interference.” demanded my apology under duress (among other things) and, after launching their weekly “loaded for bear for Stephanie Hawkins” campaign against me and my work for the Village, I agree with Steve Laifer and many, many others that the PCNR is not at all a credible source of news.

  19. How interesting that we are engaged in a real-time and ironic example of damage done by the PCNR’s misreporting: it is the very reason earlier commenters in this thread are misinformed and put forward the false equivalent of Mr. Francisco’s offer of teleconferencing gear (declined by the Village Board) with the Bowman/Fadde broken promise of video equipment (Village Board accepted).

    Now that Ms. Valentine knows it is not true that Mr. Francisco “made an offer and didn’t stick to it, long before BOFA” and that the Bowman/Fadde promise was the only offer of money for recording gear, I hope she reiterates her previous statement: “I do believe that the people who promised contributions toward the funding of recording meetings should indeed pony up.”

  20. Video conferencing was neither instituted nor invested in because the Mayor and majority of the Village Board did not want Village business conducted by video conferencing. And yes, had there been majority support for video conferencing, the Mayor and Trustees would have appointed a professional planner to our Village’s planning board.