Thanks — not — to GN Plaza

Thanks — not — to GN Plaza

Let’s be thankful that in a village made up of almost 100 condo’s, co-op’s and rental apartments; about 150 single family homes; 250 plus merchants; dozens of office buildings; a few hotels, nursing and assisted living homes; and more than 6,500 residents, we have been blessed with a local government similar to that of an absolute monarchy with Mayor Celender as our part-time queen, and the four trustees as our court jesters.

Let’s be thankful that since 2000, this village has not elected a trustee that wasn’t first appointed by Mayor Celender. Those appointments include: Gerry Schneiderman in 2000; Shelly Goodman in 2007 (he resigned in 2008); Rafe Lieber in 2008 (he resigned in 2009); Pam Marksheid in 2009; and Marion Green in 2010.

Let’s be thankful that Trustee Schneiderman was the person responsible for pushing through a 60 percent increase in salary for part-time Mayor Celender.

At the same time, we should offer our thanks to the village’s appointed attorney Richard Gabriele, who, according to the transcript of the meeting in which that raise was granted, Mr. Gabriele is on the record as boldly supporting such an increase. It’s just too bad that the same transcript didn’t mention that the village attorney’s law firm receives about $72,000 a year from the Plaza for his services. Given that Mr. Gabriele is appointed each year at the Plaza’s annual organizational meeting by Mayor Celender, doesn’t it appear to be a conflict of interest when a vendor recommends a raise for the person who renews his contract…things that make you go hmmm.

Let’s be thankful that our part-time elected and appointed officials cost village taxpayers more money than any other village in the Great Neck peninsula. With more than $200,000 a year in salary and benefits for the part-time mayor and her court jesters, which happens to be among the highest of any incorporated village in New York State, we should also be thankful that the mayor, who earns $40,000 a year, spent nearly $55,000 last year on an executive assistant. What’s more, since it appears that all of the part-time elected officials in the village are entitled to free health insurance, local taxpayers were responsible to foot a $720,061 bill (which also included health insurance for all village employees) in the last fiscal year.

Let’s be thankful that the paper of record for the village never scrutinized the most recent financial statement of the Plaza and spotlighted some of the reckless spending habits of our village officials, which include tens of thousands of dollars for a village historian, organized walking tours (please stop for oncoming cars when walking through the village because they won’t stop for you!), and celebrations. Since there was no footnote in the financials about what these celebrations were for, I encourage people to contact Village Hall if there is a birthday party, anniversary or graduation celebration that you want them to pay for!

Let’s be thankful that the village continues to add hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in unexpended funds from tax dollars to its fund balance that now totals $2,516,165 – and no one knows what is happening to this money. Given that the village is predicting that 2011 real property tax revenue will decrease, let’s also be thankful that our local officials continue to dole out funds for senseless projects, like an e-newsletter that was conceived to miraculously generate new business for the store owners in the Plaza. If only it was that easy!

Let’s be thankful that the proceedings of the meetings of our village government are not easily available to the public. And that they only exist in the form of 200-plus page transcripts.

Having read most of the transcripts of the past year myself, I encourage everyone to visit Village Hall and request one of these mini-novels to garner a first-hand account of just how dysfunctional our local government is (July 21, 2010 is one of my favorites). While there, pay close attention to Trustee Green’s contributions since her appointment and you too will be thankful for how masterfully she uses the words “yeah” and “right,” which probably explains why she has not been appointed by her colleagues to represent the village on any “authority, commission, or committee” since those assignments were given out earlier this year.

And finally, let’s be thankful that as a community we are starting to come to our senses and ask questions about who is minding the store.

With a new publication available to village readers (this publication), a soon to be acknowledged uptick in voter registration, and a new focus on the antics of our local government, I am thankful (and hopeful) that the full potential of our village can be realized in the days ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael S. Glickman

Great Neck


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