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Release Date: December 18, 2004

In recent days I have expressed concern about the Town Board scheduling a referendum on the 20 million library expansion in March @ a cost to the taxpayers of $30,000 (cost of running a special referendum). I indicated that the referendum should be held in November to provide the public with more time to review the proposed plans...to ask questions. I also feel that more people will vote in a November referendum than in a March referendum.
MIchael Conte was hired by the Library to conduct the poll the library took on the proposed expansion. The following is his response to an e mail I sent out complaining that some of the people who were polled will not be paying for the cost of the expanded library.  PAUL FEINER

From: Michael Conte <mconte@syntaxcom.com>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:47:05 -0500

Dear Resident of Greenburgh,

I am the 'pollster' Mr. Feiner referred to in his email earlier today. There
are two points of clarification that should be made to his well-meaning

1. The poll that my Research Director conducted on behalf of Greenburgh
Public Library included a sample of 232 residents. 73% of those surveyed
live in unincorporated Greenburgh, and will be able to vote on a library
referendum. The report that was presented to the Town Board included this
fact, and clearly demonstrated how 'unincorporated' Greenburgh perceived the
project, as opposed to those who live in incorporated Greenburgh. (For the
record, unincorporated Greenburgh residents overwhelmingly supported the
project; incorporated Greenburgh residents also did, to a lesser extent,
which actually pulled down the overall level of support). The reason we
polled a small sample of those who won't vote is that there were questions
with regard to the Town Hall property - commercial development,for one, as
well as use of the 'Town Hall' property - that directly affect incorporated
Greenburgh residents. This was an honest effort to elicit real feedback, and
residents should feel a degree of comfort in the fact that at least SOME
real, quantitative feedback was gathered.

It should also be noted that this sample size, and its composition, provided
an adequate test of the community's reaction to the conceptual plan. While
some may say the sample was too small, it should be noted that NATIONAL
opinion surveys (e.g. Gallup surveys) typically consist of 1,000 or so
registered voters.

2. On the question of voter awareness and a March or November election: some
interesting numbers from survey help to tell us whether the public is
'informed' or 'uninformed.' Fully 65.4% of UNINCORPORATED Greenburgh
residents (the actual voters on this proposition) told us that they were
'aware' or 'somewhat aware' of the library initiative. And 77.8% of
UNINCORPORATED Greenburgh residents 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that "the
project has been talked about for a long time and should be decided as
quickly as possible, within legal limits."  A mere 13.5% disagreed or
disagreed strongly, and the balance were unsure.

Both anecdotally and quantitatively, there is a strong case to be made that
the voting public of UNINCORPORATED Greenburgh feels it is relatively
well-informed about the library initiative and would prefer to vote on it
sooner, rather than later. Of course, the Library Board reported to the Town
Board that it will conduct an extensive information campaign in January,
February and March to further enhance the voting public's understanding of
the issue, which prompts one to ask what more could be done beyond this date
to further educate the public so they can cast an informed vote. After all,
there is also an obligation on the part of voters in a democratic society to
educate themselves on this important matter, and the library board has
pledged to do all it can to effectuate this in an open and transparent
manner. "Disenfranchising the voters" by holding a special election in March
-- to quote Mr. Feiner -- is little more than inflammatory political
rhetoric. Schools, libraries, fire departments, and, yes, even
municipalities, hold special elections throughout the year on a regular

Finally, one must always assess the cost-benefit in the equation currently
under review. There is a (relatively) modest cost of $30,000 to run a
special election. The library Board's position, underscored by the
professional opinions of the architect and construction manager, is that
this investment is prudent, given that a delay to November would add at
least $500,000 to the cost of the project, based on construction scheduling
and cost escalation. Weighed against the relative benefit to further inform
the public in the months between April and November, this seems to be an
awfully expensive information campaign.

If anyone has questions or comments on the poll, or requires further
information on it, I would be happy to respond to emails.

------ End of Forwarded Message

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