As I've reported in this column, the building at 450 Saw Mill River Road happens to be owned by Ardsley Partners III, a firm controlled by Jon Halpern, who has given much in the way of money to help Spano get elected over and over again.
You may connect the obvious dots, but only at the peril of ticking off Spano's right-hand man, Larry Schwartz, who will tell you the deal is a "financial no-brainer" that has nothing at all to do with a political payoff - and if you think otherwise, you're an uninformed, stupid scum bucket. (By the way, is there such a thing as a "yes-brainer"?)
But it's weird how Spano-Schwartz will make up any number of creative excuses to buy Halpern's albatross, er, building. The message is clear: They must have it.
As all issues do, it started with a legitimate problem - where to store 1,600 new voting machines the county must buy to comply with state and federal election reforms. Since the Board of Elections digs in White Plains aren't big enough to hold the new equipment, it made sense to keep the BOE operation intact and move lock, stock and barrel to one site.
Spano-Schwartz chose 450 Saw Mill River Road.
The idea raised all kinds of concerns, many of them articulated by Tom Abinanti, a Greenburgh Democrat whose legislative district includes the village of Ardsley. One argument was that county ownership meant the property would be removed from the tax rolls, which would cost the Ardsley school district $192,171 a year.
Another argument was that the building was off the beaten path, up a hill, hard to find and just an altogether lousy place to put the BOE.
When it turned out that Spano-Schwartz couldn't move the BOE away from the county seat without putting it to a referendum, they were stymied. But only temporarily.
They never for a minute considered the referendum idea, knowing full well that the county's voters would shoot down the expenditure of $13.6 million. So they briefly fooled around with a goofy idea to pretend that the BOE was actually staying in White Plains by, in effect, keeping a light on in the building and having someone sit at a desk with a phone.
Then they tried another idea. They'd still buy 450 Saw Mill River Road for the voting machines and for the Department of Environmental Facilities, which leased space in New Rochelle.
That didn't fly in the Queen City, which gets a piece of the county sales tax and didn't want to lose workers in its downtown.
Now Spano-Schwartz want to put the county's Department of Public Safety in Halpern's building, which presumably would save the county from spending $14.2 million to build the cops another headquarters in Valhalla. See what I mean about Spano-Schwartz? They really want it.
Their morphing of purpose for the Ardsley building may not end there. Who knows? If the public safety excuse should somehow fall apart, they'll probably come up with a scheme to warehouse all the discarded rides at Playland.
"It's so obvious, you're trying to make it look good," Abinanti said last week on my WVOX radio show. "You know the old line, the more lipstick you put on a pig, it's still a pig? That's what you're dealing with here."
Abinanti said Halpern's a "good guy but he's stuck with a problem here." Advancing the pig metaphor to describe Spano's willing assistance, Abinanti quipped. "It's pork, not ham."
The 17-member Board of Legislators could vote on the matter Tuesday. As it now stands, Abinanti looks to be in the minority, which includes three Republicans - George Oros, Gordon Burrows and Jim Maisano. It's such a big deal that even Board Chairman Bill Ryan, who is recovering from heart surgery, is reportedly anxious to show up for the vote.
Abinanti said some of his Democratic colleagues are leaning toward a yes vote because they are simply resigned to the fact that there are no other solid alternatives to 450 Saw Mill River Road and time is running out to meet the voting machine mandate. The reason for the lack of choices, Abinanti suggested, was that developers and commercial property owners didn't want to cross the powerful Spano-Schwartz by coming forth with better ideas.
But there's yet another way to torpedo the scheme, according to Abinanti. The purchase price of 450 Saw Mill River Road, he said, exceeds the $10 million state-imposed limit and must go to a referendum. The purchase price of the building is well under that amount.
The legislator explained, however, that in cases where the property isn't usable in its current condition, the cost of the renovations must be lumped in with the purchase price.
If that's so, then Spano-Schwartz will have to figure out another way to thwart the public. It's a good bet they'd be up to the task.
But it's ironic when you think about it.
After all, the whole thing started with voting machines, the most important instruments of democracy. And democracy can be a messy obstacle when you're trying to help out a pal.