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League of Women Voters of Somers, NY

PO Box 371, Somers, New York 10589



Somers Partners in Prevention

On Monday, August 10, at 10:30 am, our monthly program speaker will be Kathy Cucchiarella, Chair of Somers Partners in
Prevention, a community alliance whose mission is to build a safer community. There is an increased use of narcotics, opiates, and prescription medications among adolescents and young adults, according to educators. Somers Partners in Prevention brings together members of town government, school organizations, and law enforcement for the common goal of helping Somers youth stay alcohol and drug free. The
Board Meeting starts at 10:00am.

In her first year as Chair, Kathy Cucchiarella brings a wealth of community involvement to Somers Partners in Prevention. She is an active member of Somers Substance Abuse Council and has served as president of Primrose Elementary School, Somers Intermediate School, and Somers PTA Council. Originally from Somers, Kathy and her husband moved back to Somers in
1991 to raise their three children here. Her management and organizational skills were honed as a benefits analyst for PepsiCo, here in Somers.

Our August 10 membership meeting starts promptly at 10 am in the Somers Library, with Kathy’s presentation to follow at 10:30 am. Please be sure to join us for this timely and important discussion, which is sure to resonate with Somers community members of all ages.

Vote411 Election Information You Need

Vote411 is the LWV’s online voters guide, which is used by the national, state and local Leagues through-out the country. Candidates are able to enter their own information, including their picture, directly into Vote411. The Westchester League extracts the infor-mation and formats it for use in the Voters Guides. In July, we send invitation letters to the election candidates assigned to the Somers League. Those candidates are determined by the Westchester League and are not necessarily in the Somers elec-tion district. Last year, we were asked to enter data for 9 candi-dates of different parties and districts.

In August we start gathering information from the candi-dates to be placed in Vote411 and in the Voter Guides. After the information is complete, the LWV will print the information in the Voter Guides (100 were distributed in Somers last year). The State League cover the statewide races such as Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller and the Congressional races. The local Leagues, such as Somers, will be responsible for State and Assem-bly races in our area, District 40: State Senate candidates, district 94, State Assembly candidates and for County Legislative Districts 2 and 4.

The 2014 General Election involved 52 races with 91 can-didates, 80% of whom provided their information using Vote411. In 2014, 50,000 printed Voters Guides were distributed through-out Westchester County. The Westchester League mailed 17,400 Voters Guides to approximately 100 other locations throughout the County, such as community centers in towns and villages; in city halls, post offices and hospitals. The printed Voters Guides were also available through the County League office, at candi-date forums and on the LWV website. In Somers, you will find the Voters Guides in the Post Office, City Hall, Somers Library, and a few are left in Heritage Hills. We will mail to those who do not have internet access or those who request it.

The Butler & Mrs. Astor: A Case of Elder Abuse

At the July meeting of the Somers League of Women Voters, Chris Ely, for-mer butler to Brooke Astor, discussed his experience with the family. He came to work for Mrs. Astor in 1997 and described her as very independ-ent, well read and social woman who enjoyed entertaining.

Three years later, in 2000, when Chris noticed that lapses in her functioning were de-veloping, he spoke to her son, Anthony (Tony) Marshall about medical treatment. Unfortu-nately, Tony was very disturbed about money his mother was “giving away” with her many charitable contributions. He and his wife spoke to her attorney, concluding that she could not take care of her money. Subsequently a campaign of intimidation, neglect and insidious abuse by her son and daughter-in-law convinced her that she could not spend money while her son went after assets not left to him in the will, transferring millions of dollars.

During this time, Chris was very concerned about her increasing lack of care and spoke to her grandson, Philip Marshall, who moved to become her guardian in 1906. Her son, Tony, and the attorney were prosecuted for grand larceny Chis Ely spoke in defense of Brooke Astor at the trial and continued to serve her until her death in 2007.

Mr. Ely had a very interesting history. His first employment was at age 18 as a footman at Buckingham Palace. He was present for many major events including Prince Charles wed-ding. Since the Astor case, he has become very involved in combating elder abuse and sup-porting Philip Marshall’s website: philipmarshall-beyond brooke.org.

Chris was a last minute replacement for our scheduled speaker and skillfully highlighted the tragedy of elder abuse with an understanding of the issue and a great deal of anec-dotal material. It was an interesting and entertaining discussion.

Affordable Housing is Approved bySomers Town Board

At their one July meeting, the Somers Town Board voted approval to zoning for the Hidden Meadows development on Route #6. Town Planner Syrette Dyms had ex-plained the extensive steps taken to validate granting the overlay district called a “floating zone”. There had been Findings, that the acreage, the frontage, the square footage of units, the setbacks, the traffic access, the recreation and open space provided and storm water management all met or exceeded Town and State regulations. As the public hearing opened, three Board Members voiced their pleasure with the project. Mr. Garrity liked the proposed units for local workers, Mr. Ciriecco liked the diversity of incomes and types of housing (ownership and rental, market rate and affordable), and Mr Morrissey spoke of his confidence in the builder, Ken Kearney, with his successful Mews I and II. Two owners of local businesses spoke of their approval of the plan, citing their desire to have workers able to live nearby.

Hidden Meadows will have 53 market rate townhouses, of which 8 will be affordable. Those will each include a rental apartment, also kept affordable for 50 years.

The League observers, this time Myra Linker and Polly Kuhn, who with others had spoken of the need for affordable housing for working families in Somers at earlier meetings, were pleased to silently witness the approval. Mr. Clinchy brought out that an added advantage from the project is that it provides access to previously land-locked Town property, which might now be used by the Recreation Department.

The vote marked the near achievement of a ten year effort of the Somers League to win approval of affordable housing for families as well as seniors. The housing was promised to Westchester County in the Angle Fly agreement, in exchange for $4 million which helped buy some 660 acres of land, now preserved forever wild.

Westchester and the Fair Housing Agreement

According to the 2009 federal fair housing agreement, Westchester was required to have 450 units of affordable housing by the end of 2014 but has not met the requirement due to the failure to implement the Chappaqua Station development. The County had conditionally approved the plan but it has been opposed by the Town. According to the Monitor, the County is required to pursue fair housing even if it means legal action against local municipalities. This is a key element of the agreement, opposition to which can result in costly fines and a requirement to place $1.65 million in escrow.

The county’s ongoing resistance to the terms of the agreement has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars of federal money.


of Events

Mon. Aug. 10
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am Partners in Prevention (see details at left)

Wed. Aug. 19 Naturalization Court Ceremony, White Plains. (And again on Dec. 16). Contact Francoise (617-9011)

Mon. Sept. 28
10am Monthly Meeting Meet Our County Legislators, Somers Library

Mon. Oct. 5th
Fall Luncheon, guest speaker Andrew Farber, Somers Library Director. Le Fontaine Ristorante.

HaveYou Paid Your Dues?

Individual $60; Family $80. -- we need you!

From the County
View: Westchester Election Bosses Won't Listen by Marylou Green and Janet Zagoria, as published by the Journal News, July, 11, 2015. Read the article

Somers LWV 2015-2016

CoPresidents, Francoise Bennett and Loretta Nelson

1st Vice President, Joyce Liebman

2nd Vice President, Cindy Kennedy

3rd Vice President, Ann Harper

Treasurer, Ann Stafford

Recording Secretary, Lucille Williams

Corresponding Secretary, Myra Linker

Directors (2nd year of 2 year term
Bea Bartner
Carol Fox
Rita Gottfried
Doris Lipman
Carol Sturtz


Benefactors help to support our League with their tax deductible donation of $25.00 (+) to the Somers LWV Educational Fund.

For those of you who have generously supported us in the past, it is time to renew your donation. For others, we ask you to join in this effort and send your check to the Somers Educational Fund, Box371, Somers NY 10589.

Updated by Valerie Castleman July 29, 2015