League of Women Voters of Scarsdale
April 2020
BULLETIN

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale (LWVS) is a volunteer, nonpartisan political organization that promotes political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government.  The League is nonpartisan in that it does not support or oppose any candidate for public office; it is political in that it takes positions on selected governmental issues after serious member study and consensus.  
In This Issue
CALENDAR 


April 2020
  • 4/20, Monday:
    • 9:30 a.m. Board Meeting via Zoom
May 2020
  • 5/8, Friday: 
    • 9:30 a.m. Annual Meeting via Zoom
June 2020
  • TBA:
    • School Budget Vote and Board of Education Election
    • Village Election
  • 6/15, Monday:
    • 9:30 a.m. Joint Board Meeting via Zoom
  • 6/23, Tuesday:
    • General Primary Election

Message from the President



To all of our members, as the world has changed with the current health crisis of COVID-19, please know that you and your families are in my thoughts.  For safety purposes, the LWVS has cancelled our March and April events.  

Information about the School and Village Budgets can be found on our website, www.lwvs.org , including recent School District answers to League Information questions regarding the School Budget.  The League Board issued comments on the School Budget at both the March 23 and March 30 Budget Forums.  Our Budget Study Portfolio Chairs, Elissa Ruback and Alissa Baum, will continue to follow the budget process and pose additional questions as well.  If any League members have thoughts, comments or questions on the School Budget process, please write to the  LWVS , and additionally, write to the Board of Education

Regarding the Village Budget, please see our website for the current proposed budget .  The LWVS has received responses to our Information questions to the Village Board and Administration

As of late March, all households in Scarsdale should have received a mailing from the Census Bureau inviting them to take part in the 2020 Census. The LWVS encourages all Scarsdalians to take part in the Census, which plays a central role in allocating congressional seats and funding various programs based on the population and needs of villages, towns and cities across our country.  For further information on the U.S. Census, please view our LWVS webpage  with additional details.  Census Day was on April 1, 2020 and the last possible date to respond for a household is now August 14, 2020.

As 2020 is an important year for voting, the LWVS would like to refer all of our members to two recent statements from the League of Women Voters of the United States. The first statement calls for a nationwide expansion of no-excuse absentee and mail-in voting; the second statement urges lawmakers to adopt additional safety measures for voters during the 2020 election cycle.  Please see as well the Letter from the League Board to the editors of The Scarsdale Inquirer and Scarsdale10583  regarding voter information and advocacy.  As of March 31, New York State does not currently have no-excuse absentee voting.  

The LWVS Board supports the LWVUS call for nationwide no-excuse absentee voting during the 2020 election cycle.  The LWVS Board is looking to clarify the use of absentee ballots or mail-in ballots in the context of the current pandemic and the associated state of emergency.  Our Voter Service co-chairs will continue to keep the Scarsdale community updated on voter information as it becomes available and is further clarified by New York State. 

This issue of the LWVS bulletin announces our proposed slate for Officers, Board Members and Off-Board Nominating Committee Members for 2020-21. In addition to the proposed slate of Board members, we will also welcome the following appointed Board members for the 2020-21 League year: Renée Baylor, Heedan Chung-Goh, Kitt Rosenthal, and Jessica Zellner .  

The April bulletin also includes a link to our Proposed Local Program 2020-21.  The LWVS will vote on the proposed slate and local program in May. We plan to hold an Annual Meeting via Zoom, as scheduled for May 8, wherein we hold our Business Meeting and vote.  Please stay tuned to LWVS blasts for current information as we update information regarding School and Village Budgets as well as Voter Service.

Wishing all of you well during these difficult times. 


Best wishes,
Leah Dembitzer


Voter Service



Voter Service Update on Elections and COVID-19


Almost all dates for elections have been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The elections are governed by New York State Election Laws and are changed by directives from Governor Cuomo.  This information is constantly changing and as of publication, this is the most current information from the most recent Executive Order.
  • Village Trustee Election originally rescheduled for April 28th is postponed until after June 1st
  • School Board & Budget Election originally scheduled for May 19th is postponed until after June 1st
  • NY State Presidential Primary originally scheduled for April 28th is now June 23rd
  • General Primary Election originally scheduled for April 28th and rescheduled for June 23rd is unchanged
This is an evolving situation and we will keep you updated with further details as they become available.    

The League of Women Voters of the United States is calling for a nationwide expansion of no-excuse absentee voting and mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will keep you informed of these much-needed changes.

The Scarsdale League is working with the local Westchester Leagues to coordinate virtual Candidate Forums for the local primary election.  Stay tuned for further information.

If you are interested in hearing from the candidates for the upcoming Scarsdale Village Trustee Election, please view the LWVS Candidate Forum held on March 5th .

If you have any questions, please contact LWVSvoterservice@gmail.com.

Updates

 

2020-21 Village Budget Update


The proposed Village Budget levy increase is 1.986% with a $128 increase per home for the average Scarsdale homeowner.   As per Village Treasurer McClure, in the regular budget process, the primary drivers of the budget were moderation in health insurance premiums, the flattening of building permit and mortgage tax revenue, sales tax revenue, the settlement of some bargaining unit contracts and pension payments. As priorities have changed based on the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Administration and Board are intensively focused on issues related to Village operation, the safety of residents and monitoring the various ongoing and changing aspects of the crisis. 

According to Village Manager, Steve Pappalardo, the Village is focused on "maintaining essential services as we continue to navigate through this emergency." The Village has moved to austerity spending, which will remain into the 2020-21 fiscal year.  In addition, department heads have been directed to restrict spending to essential items required for the operation of the Village and for their response to the current pandemic. 

As of the March 24 and March 31 meetings, the Village has created a COVID-19 contingency account and has reallocated $340,000 from the 2020-21 budget into this account. From the current year's budget, $1.255 million from the general fund has been reassigned to the COVID-19 contingency account.  Ten of the thirteen general fund departments have been impacted by the fund reassignment. Altogether, as discussed by the Village Manager at the March 31 meeting, there will be $3,485,000 total funds available to the Village. As per Trustee Arest, the "Village is reducing unused funds and potential discretionary projects in the current fiscal year and putting that money into a COVID-19 contingency account to keep us prepared. Staff has also identified capital projects that will need to be eliminated or reduced in the upcoming fiscal year."   At the March 31 budget work session, Treasurer McClure discussed revenues most likely impacted by COVID-19.  The Village Treasurer went through two potential 2020-21 budget scenarios. As per the Mayor, the Village Administration and Board will continue to evaluate and look at the budget as the year progresses. The Village Board has the ability to modify the current fiscal year budget as necessary throughout a given fiscal year. 

Regarding capital projects, the Board has paused the Freightway Redevelopment Project; the Village Hall repair/replacement will need to be addressed in planning stages over the next four to five years; and needed renovations to the Scarsdale Pool will be addressed following a Recreation Department survey of the community's interest and needs. 

To read Village Administration and Board responses to League questions, please follow this link .

As discussed at the March 24 Village meeting, the deadline to file the draft budget was Friday, March 20, and as per New York State law, a public hearing needs to be held on or before April 15, with a vote no later than May 1, 2020. The League continues to monitor the Village Budget process and will update information as it becomes available.

 

2020-21 School Budget Update


At the March 23 Board of Education (the "Board") meeting and Public Budget Forum, the Administration proposed $3.7 million dollars worth of potential reductions to the 2020-2021 school budget in light of economic concerns associated with the COVID-19 crisis. These potential reductions, put forth at the request of the Board, brought the current budget proposal down to a range of $162,871,436.

The Board's initial preliminary proposed budget, released on February 3 and updated on March 9, totaled $166,289,850 and represented a 3.43% increase from the 2019-2020 school year. Key among the reductions proposed on March 23 is a deferral of the High School auditorium renovation project which was originally slated to cost $1.9 million.

The High School auditorium renovation was originally included in a bond proposal approved by voters in December 2014 but was never completed as promised due to cost overruns on other bond projects.

Other significant budget reductions proposed by the Administration include the deferral of: security gates/bollards work and phase 2 of glass mitigation ($143,800); the installation of ceiling fans in elementary school gymnasiums ($60,000); and the installation of LED lighting in school hallways ($25,000).

At the March 30 Board meeting, the Administration discussed some of the reductions it had proposed as well as delivered a presentation on the feasibility of reducing staff levels. The Administration presented information on district-wide staffing in response to Board discussion on the matter, which had taken place on March 23.

The Administration explained historical district-wide staffing changes, concluding that eliminating positions through attrition or the delay of replacing anticipated vacancies would be detrimental to the school's core mission. The Board took community comment but declined to make any final budget determinations at the meeting.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Cuomo has suggested that there will be a decrease in the state aid provided to all New York schools. Scarsdale receives approximately $7 million in state aid, and the amount of any aid reduction is unknown at this time. In any event, the Governor delayed the school budget vote to June 1 at the earliest. The Board concluded that it would take additional time to watch the changes in the financial landscape and receive additional community input before presenting a final budget.

The League Board of Directors has released two statements thus far in the budget process. Click to view our March 23 Board Statement and our March 30 Board Statement. We continue to monitor the school budget process and will release further League Board comment as the budget is finalized.

Click the link to view District answers to LWVS questions.

Questions? Please email Leah Dembitzer at LWVSpresident@gmail.com.

Recent LWVS Events

 

Scarsdale Middle School Presidential Primary Vote


On Super Tuesday, March 3rd from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., the League came to Scarsdale Middle School for the second time this school year to assist with the Social Studies Department's mock presidential primary election.  The goal of this mock election was to create a culture of civic engagement by raising awareness about the election process as well as the importance of knowing the candidates and their positions on current issues. This mock election was especially interesting for students as they watched the large field of candidates narrow before and after election day.

Prior to the mock election, the League provided voter guides which listed the name, political party, and positions of each candidate. The students were able to discuss the candidates and learn about the presidential delegate process in their Social Studies classes. 

On election day, students had the option of participating in the Democratic or Republican primary in order to vote for the candidate of their choosing. The middle school's Great Hall was designed to resemble an actual polling place. League members helped with the event by manning the polls. They checked in students by their house, assisted with any technological issues, and ensured that every voter walked away with an "I Voted Today" sticker and a mint.

The mock election was a great way to introduce the importance of primary voting to students. They will be able to consider how their votes impacted the candidates on the November 2020 presidential ballot--civic education in action!

The middle school election results did not exactly resemble the actual vote on Super Tuesday. Of the 1,122 students who voted, 79.6% voted as Democrat, 10.6% voted as independent, and 9.8% voted as Republican. 

The result of the Democratic primary was as follows:  Michael Bloomberg 46.1%; Joe Biden 27%; Bernie Sanders 11.8%; Elizabeth Warren 10.3%; Tulsi Gabbard 4.5%; and Amy Klobuchar 0.4%. The result of the Republican primary was: Donald Trump 73.6% and Bill Weld 26.4%.


Village Trustee Candidate Forum


On Thursday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Scarsdale Village Hall, the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale held a Candidate Forum for the Scarsdale Village Trustee Election, which is currently scheduled for sometime after June 1

There are 6 candidates running for 3 Trustee positions. The position is a two-year
term. The candidates are:
  • Justin Arest, Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party
  • Robert Berg, Voters' Choice Party
  • Sean Cohen, Voters' Choice Party
  • Lena Crandall, Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party
  • Robert Selvaggio, Voters' Choice Party
  • Randall Whitestone, Scarsdale Citizens' Non-Partisan Party
The candidates answered questions posed to them by the moderator, which were drafted by the LWVS, and questions from the audience. 

A link to the video recording of the Candidate Forum can be found on the homepage of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale.  

LWVS Annual Meeting



League of Women Voters of Scarsdale
Annual Business Meeting

Friday, May 8, 2020
9:30 a.m.

This meeting will be held via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 679 632 676
Password: 023885


AGENDA



I
Call to Order & Welcome to All
- Introduction to Parliamentarian


II
Introduction to Secretary


III Adoption of Order of Business


IV
Motion to have Annual Meeting minutes adopted by the LWVS Board


V Treasurer's Report


VI Budget Presentation 2020-2021
- Budget Adoption


VII Local Program Presentation 2020-2021 (No Non-Recommended Items)
- Adoption of Local Program


VIII
Report of the Nominating Committee
- Nominations from the floor


IX Election and Installation of 2020-2021 Officers, Directors, and Nominating Committee


X Directions to the Board


XI Other Business


XII Adjournment



LWVS Nominating Committee Report:
Proposed LWVS Slate 2020-2021



President ( 2019-2021)
Leah Dembitzer

First Vice President (2019-2021)
Elissa Ruback

Second Vice President ( 2020-2022)*
Anne Lyons

Recording Secretary ( 2020-2022)
Diane Baylor

Corresponding Secretary (2019-2021)
Amy Cooper

Treasurer ( 2020-2022)


Erika Rublin

Two-Year Term Directors (2020-2022)

Alissa Baum
Beatrice Gibney
Dana Matsushita
Deb Pekarek


Two-Year Term Directors (2019-2021) Joan Bowen
Karen Brew**
Claire He**
Debbie Miller**


One-Year Term Director (2020-2021)
Suzie Hahn


Nominating Committee (2020-2021)
Chair
Off-Board Members

Deb Morel
Jingqing Chai
Dalya Khan

Names in blue are nominated for election at the 2020 Annual Meeting; those in black are returning to fill their current elected term.

*For compliance with bylaws, which requires that election of the President, 1st VP and Corresponding Secretary be on alternate years from 2nd VP, Recording Secretary and Treasurer; the 2nd Vice President was nominated for a one (1) year position last year and will now be in a two (2) year position.

**Directors nominated to fill the remaining term through 2021 of departing directors (Diane Baylor, Cindy Dunne, and Erika Rublin, respectively).

Submitted by:
Pam Rubin (Chair)
Dara Gruenberg (Off-Board)
Claire He (Off-Board)
Erika Rublin (Board)
Amber Yusuf (Board)

LWV of Westchester



Infodemic: Inoculating Against Coronavirus Misinformation

On March 24th, news literacy trainer and League member Andy Katell, a former journalist, presented a one-hour webinar with tips for identifying false or fake news and finding reliable information on the pandemic:




LWV of New York State



League of Women Voters Applauds Governor Cuomo for Postponing Primary 

"The League of Women Voters of New York State applauds Governor Cuomo for his prudent decision to postpone the April election until June. Not only will this give election officials more time to prepare for the increase in absentee ballot requests, it will also ensure voters do not have to congregate at poll sites during the peak of the infection. We look forward to working with election officials to educate voters about this change and any other changes that may occur because of COVID-19." 

Other Announcements


Students Inside Albany

We are sorry to report that the Students Inside Albany Conference has been cancelled for this year. With schools currently closed and future plans uncertain, the New York State League of Women Voters made the difficult decision to cancel the Conference at this time. 

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale had selected two outstanding candidates to send to the SIA Conference. Megan Niu and Michael Waxman, both Juniors at Scarsdale High School, had inspiring achievements in their school and community. The SIA program had generated significant interest at Scarsdale High School and all applicants had impressive involvement and qualifications.

The NYS League staff offered a Zoom/Webinar meeting on Thursday, March 25 th to provide students with information about state government, legislation and public policy, helping to communicate the goals of the Students in Albany Conference. 

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale looks forward to offering the opportunity for Scarsdale students to attend the Students Inside Albany Conference again in 2021.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

The League is grateful for the support of all of its donors. Please note that the annual updated listing of our many generous supporters for 2019-2020 will appear in the 2020 Spring Bulletin.
LWVS CALENDAR


LWVS 2019-2020 Calendar

April 2020
4/20 Mon 9:30 a.m.
Board Meeting via Zoom

May 2020
5/8
Fri
9:30 a.m.
Annual Membership Meeting via Zoom

June 2020
TBA


School Budget Vote and Board of Education Election
Village Election
6/15 Mon 9:30 a.m.
Joint Board Meeting via Zoom
6/23
Tues

General Primary Election


Items in bold are election events.
Items in red are open to all members and the public.
THANK YOU


The LWVS thrives with the support and hard work of a community of volunteers.  I would like to extend thanks to the League volunteers who contributed much time and energy during the month of March.

Thank you to Ronny Hersch, Beatrice Sevcik, Amy Cooper, Alissa Baum, and Diane Baylor for their work in planning the March Candidate Forum for Scarsdale Village Trustee.  An extra thanks to Ronny and Beatrice for their work on Voter Service this month.

Thank you to Elissa Ruback and Alissa Baum for their work on SMS Mock Election and School Budget Study.

Thank you to Joan Bowen and Erika Rublin for their work on Students Inside Albany.  Thank you to Dana Matsushita for her highly detailed and hard work on the LWVS Bulletin.  Thank you to Amy Cooper for staying on top of event publicity and eblast communications.  Thank you to Diane Baylor for her work on the LWVS website.

Thank you to Anne Lyons, Karen Brew, and Amber Yusuf for all of their thoughtful advice and Board work.  Thank you to Renée Baylor for being our liaison to the LWVW.  Thank you to Kitt Rosenthal for bringing coffee to all of our Board meetings.  Thank you to Debbie Miller for all of her great work as Treasurer. Thank you to League Recording Secretary, Joanie Frankle , for capturing our meetings with her minutes!  

Thank you to the LWVS Nominating Committee:  Pam Rubin (chair), Dara Gruenberg, Claire He, Amber Yusuf, and Erika Rublin for their work on the 2020- 21 slate.  Thank you to the Budget Committee:  Nancy Michaels (chair), Debbie Miller (Treasurer), Erika Rublin, Diane Baylor, Anne Lyons, Karen Brew, and Suzie Hahn for their work on the 2020-21 budget.

I look forward to all of the positive work that lies before us!

 
All my best,
Leah Dembitzer
THEY REPRESENT YOU



Village of Scarsdale

As of March 2020



BOARD OF TRUSTEES*

BOARD OF EDUCATION**

Marc Samwick, Mayor
   Term ends April 2021
Jane Veron, Deputy Mayor
   2nd term ends April 2020
Justin Arest
   1st term ends April 2020
Lena Crandall
   1st term ends April 2020
Jonathan Lewis
   1st term ends April 2021
Seth Ross
   2nd term ends April 2021
Rochelle Waldman
   1st term ends April 2021

* 2020 terms to be extended as per Governor Directive 

Pamela Fuehrer, President
   2nd term ends June 2021
Alison Tepper Singer, Vice President
   1st term ends June 2021

Karen Ceske
   1st term ends June 2022
Carl Finger
   1st term ends June 2022
Christopher Morin
   2nd term ends June 2020
Ronald Schulhof
   1st term ends June 2022
Scott Silberfein
   2nd term ends June 2020

** 2020 terms TBD




League of Women Voters of Scarsdale
2019-20


Officers

President: Leah Dembitzer

First Vice President: Elissa Ruback

Second Vice President: Anne Lyons

Recording Secretary: Joan Frankle 
Corresponding Secretary: Amy Cooper

Treasurer: Debbie Miller



Committee Chairs

Advocacy: Alissa Baum* and Elissa Ruback*

Audit: Jacqueline Irwin

Budgets
LWVS Budget: Nancy Michaels

School Budget: Elissa Ruback*

Village Budget: Leah Dembitzer*

Communications
Bulletin Editor: Dana Matsushita*

Eblast/Publicity: Amy Cooper*

Social Media: Joan Bowen*

Website: Diane Baylor*

Development
Finance Drive: Anne Lyons*

Winter Fundraiser: Diane Greenwald

Elections
School Election: Amber Yusuf*

Village Election: Diane Baylor*
Environment/Sustainability: Deb Pekarek

Hospitality: Kitt Rosenthal* 

Luncheons: Anne Lyons* 

LWVW Liaison: Renée Baylor* 

Membership: Erika Rublin* 

Membership Statistician: Diane Baylor*

Nominating Chair: Pam Rubin

Planning & Zoning: Deb Pekarek

Program/Education: Cindy Dunne

Voter Service: Ronny Hersch* and 
Beatrice Sevcik*

Youth Engagement: Elissa Ruback*
Students Inside Albany: Joan Bowen* and Erika Rublin*


* Board members