In post-election Kittle House conversation, BoE members decide to write in support of Shapiro
Monday, June 9, 2014
Editor’s Note: In a May 28 press release, A Thank You to Town Administrator Jill Shapiro, Supervisor Rob Greenstein wrote, “It should be noted that we recently received an email from the entire school board in support of Jill.”
That same day, NCNOW requested from the Town, through the Freedom of Information Law (FOIA), a copy of the email, and—the following day—requested a copy of it from the School District. Neither entity has supplied the letter, though both have acknowledged that the requests were received. [FOIA requires an acknowledgement of receipt within five days of the request and then allows another 20 business days in which to fulfill it.]
NCNOW has since obtained a copy of the email, sent May 21, the result of a conversation among Board of Ed members and administrators at the Kittle House, where they traditionally meet up after budget votes. Last night NCNOW informed Board of Ed President Jeffrey Mester that the letter would be published today—with a statement from him, if he wished. Below is the entire text of the May 21 email sent on behalf of the Board of Ed to the Town Board in support of Shapiro. Mester’s statement appears in a separate article, with a link to it in this piece.
May 21, 2014 Email from Board of Education members to Town Board members:
From: Mester, Jeffrey [[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:53 AM
To: Robert Greenstein; Lisa Katz; Elise Mottel; Jason Chapin; Adam Brodsky
Cc: McKay, Lyn; Chow, John; Kiesel, Alyson; Messner, Warren; Mester, Jeffrey; Tipp, Vicky; Visser, Karen
Subject: Town Administrator
Rob, Lisa, Elise, Jason and Adam,
We are writing to you in light of the blog posts in NCN by Christine Yeres and Robin Murphy regarding Town Administrator Jill Shapiro. We recognize and appreciate the unusual nature of this email. It is not our intention to in anyway interfere, influence or “butt into” the Town’s business. We also do not want to set precedent of responding to every or any of the sometimes outrageous posts on local blogs.
I had originally planned on writing to the Town Board as a private citizen. I still may, but know the message will be the same. Last night, following our budget vote, as is tradition, we went to the Kittle House to wind down from the long budget process and to watch returns of other districts. Of course, local goings on also become part of the discussion. It was apparent that the entire group of school board members and school administrators were unanimously in agreement that the two blog posts had “crossed the line” (again). When I mentioned I was going to send one of my email rants for which I am sort of famous within the board for doing, to a person, we all thought it appropriate to write as a Board as well.
We are writing to offer our unqualified support for Jill Shapiro as Town Administrator and for the Town Board’s right to make personnel decisions without outside interference or influence. In fact, we believe that is the very reason the residents elect a board, to oversee the running of the Town’s business and make personnel decisions. We do not believe that every item that comes before the Board should be decided upon by public opinion or by those who scream the loudest. John Kennedy put it best when he said in his remarks to the Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Fraternity Dinner on October 27, 1955:
“I cannot believe that the people of Massachusetts sent me to Washington to serve merely as a seismograph to record the ups and downs of popular opinion. I believe instead that those of us in public office were elected—not because the people believed we would be bound by their every impulse, regardless of the conclusions directed by our own deliberations—but because they had confidence in our judgment, and in our ability to exercise that judgment from a position where we could determine what were the best interests of the voters as a part of the best interests of the nation…”
With respect to Jill, her understanding of and appreciation for all the issues that face both the Town and the CCSD and her willingness to work together with our administration has returned the relationship between the school administrators and town administrators back to its historical norm, that of cooperation and in the event of disagreement, civility. In addition, with the mandate from the state to find joint municipal savings, she is uniquely qualified to work with the CCSD to find those savings. Jill’s long time service to the community in various capacities is an asset not a liability.
CCSD Board of Education
Related: In post-election Kittle House conversation, BoE members decide to write in support of Shapiro, NCNOW.org, 6/9/14
Board of Ed response to publication of its letter to TB supporting Shapiro, NCNOW.org, 6/9/14
TB member Jason Chapin objects to appointment process for administrator position, NCNOW.org, 6/5/14
Op-Ed: Our TB has a duty to conduct an open search to fill the Town Administrator position, NCNOW.org, 5/24/14
Was Jill Shapiro appointed town administrator for six months or for two years?, NCNOW.org, 5/19/14
L to E: Transparency? The town administrator’s contract was supposed to be for six months, NCNOW.org, 5/19/14
If they aren’t trying to butt in or interfere with the Town Board’s business, what is the point of that letter?
Shame on the school board members. Not good role models. No surprise there’s so much bullying going on in our school system.
It was the school board, in their heady state of the election results that crossed the line.
If they wanted to involve themselves in the administrator’s selection, it should have been done publicly, not in secret. When they were asked for the email they should have provided it, rather than obfuscate and delay as they did. They wanted to act secretly, below the public’s radar. That is wrong. How could they not know this ?
It is very troubling that they would bash and disparage NCNow. It is very troubling that they would bash Robin Murphy who was acting in good faith, with good intentions to bring sunshine and good sense to the process.
Why would the school board argue against a free press ? Maybe because they do not want themselves scrutinized ? Troubling is the most civil word that I can find.
Mr Mester – thank you for shedding some light on this issue. A CCSD school board endorsement should be taken seriously. However, I wonder if the situation was reversed would you and your school board members feel the same. For example , if the Town Board wrote you and your board a letter of support for a principle or superintendent would it have merit and would it be appropriate.
Secondly, how would you feel if three of your school board members spoke and met privately, making decisions and appointments without the full participation of the entire school board?
While most people have nothing against Jill Shapiro , it is not the person being criticized it’s the process. When the CCSD school board was faced with finding a new superintendent a few years ago, you did a public search and interviewed several candidates. The complaint here is our town board did not conduct a search, told residents Shapiro was a 6 month transitional role when in fact she had already been given a 2 year contract, and the letter Supervisor Greenstein wrote ( mentioning CCSD endorsement) was apparently co- authored by Shapiro’s husband.
I very much support the idea that elected officials were put in office to use their best judgement and not bow to every whim of public opinion ( paraphrasing your JFK quote).
But when the circumstances raise suspicion as this certainly does we must hold them accountable. If Shapiro is best choice that’s great. Then just announce the 2 year contract and not deceive residents with misdirection. How can anybody trust a letter of support from the Supervisor when the letter was co- written by the husband of the Administrator? I hope and trust this type of shenanigans doesn’t take place under your watch on the school board.
I can’t believe this letter?!?! Why is our BOE getting involved in this matter? So they wanted discretion—or was it secrecy?
The connections between Shapiro and the Board of Education, the flaws in the process of her appointment, ghost written letters on her behalf, and her silence on these issues have become too much of a distraction. Her performance up until now may have been satisfactory but going forward everything she does will be scrutinized causing further distractions. The town has bigger issues to deal with like Chappaqua Crossing and developing a downtown that can sustain our merchants.
Mr Mester – a few years ago the school district hired Lyn McKay as superintendent. She was hired by the CCSD board of Ed after an extensive search.
My children attend Roaring Brook school and a 2 years ago Superintendant McKay sent a letter around announcing the appointment of Amy Fishkin as Roaring Brook principal. She wrote and I quote “She comes to us as the result of a thorough and rigorous search…”
I think that the town board did not take the time or the concern to properly make this appointment. Perhaps they just don’t take their responsibility seriously.
I wonder if you assumed your letter supporting Shapiro would be used as one of many pieces of information and data our town board would use in evaluating prospective candidates. Or did you know the town board was not even conducting a search and not evaluating other candidates. Either way- would you factor in a town board endorsement for a school board appointment? I hope not !!!
Is there any doubt that Greenstein and Team New castle are the most polarizing group thus town has ever seen. I have lived here for 30+ years and never seen anything like this. We now gave our school board drawn in and embroiled in a controversy.
Greenstein is out of control. He said he could be a part time supervisor but clearly he didn’t have the time to conduct a proper and appropriate search for a town Administrator. The 3 of them have alienated the other TB members and have regularly made decisions without full town hoard participation. He then lies and tells us Shapiro has a 6 month trial contract when in fact she was awarded a 2 year deal. He then writes a letter explaining his appointment of Shapiro but Shapiro’s husband help him write the letter!!!!
Now the school board is trying to explain why it ever got involved in the first place. Would the school board care if the town board endorsed a school employee?? Why is the school board even involved with this corrupt and dishonest town board.
Board of ed AND ADMINISTRATORS? What do they know about town matters? You all must have been in your cups when you started to whip each other up about a perceived threat to Board Power. No one knows better than you guys how to keep a hold on things. Don’t go outside your bubble again, you’re not very good at it.
“It was apparent that the entire group of school board members and school administrators were unanimously in agreement that the two blog posts had “crossed the line” (again).”
Blog posts crossed the line again. Indeed they did.
What is key in this great letter is this:
Jill has “returned the relationship between the school administrators and town administrators back to its historical norm, that of cooperation and in the event of disagreement, civility. In addition, with the mandate from the state to find joint municipal savings, she is uniquely qualified to work with the CCSD to find those savings.”
Meaning no more abusive treatment as typified by past town administrator and a real chance for taxpayer rebates next year.
This only shows that the board of education members care and know nothing about the town. They’ve cast their vote in favor of exercising power rather than process. A non-search for a superintendent of schools would have been unthinkable to them, but it’s fine with them that the town limps along with sub-par people -as long they have their taxes forked over to them.
Was alcohol being consumed by any of the board members or school administrators while this discussion took pace?
Happy Hour is the only logical explanation for this insanity.
I have no issues with Jill Shapiro; she sounds like a dedicated public servant who is doing a good job. The question is how she got the job, not merely whether she was qualified.
The Board members have the right to make choices, but many of us feel that the process should have been more transparent and that additional candidates should have been considered, even if Ms. Shapiro won out in the end. It is our right as citizens to complain about the lack of transparency, just as it is the Board’s right to make decisions.
If there is a line being crossed here, it is by the BOE members.
I guess there was nary a concern about a conflict of interest. How about a course in ethics?
I agree with others who expressed both mystification and concern that the BOE would become involved in this situation.
It appears the Kittle House is popping with own activity. The board of Ed goes there for a night cap after some work sessions.
From a few comments I read here it appears a gathering of Chapp Crossing NIMBYs took place at Kittle House a few weeks ago and the guests of honor were Team New Castle town board members – or 2 of them anyway. At this meeting all the NIMBYs got a chance to vent their frustrations at the betrayal they feel and Team New Castle responded by blaming the previous town board. That’s the whisper about town. These are the same folks that organized and plotted on how to ” fix” the survey by voting multiple times.
Dear editor- it is no secret you live in the CC area. Did you attend this meeting and if so why did you not report it in NCN? It is one thing for a group of neighbors to get together in someone’s home to discuss developments but this was held at a public restaurant. Town board members attended and nobody from the community except the NIMBYs attended. This must be another example of their behind closed doors back office dealings. Please fill us in…..
This is turning into a spectacle, everyone looks ridiculous.
What’s next, pitchforks and torches at the next Board of Ed meeting? I have to say, I think people need to step away from their keyboards and do some quiet reflection.
The BOE has written two calm, measured, and sensible emails, and folks in this forum are acting like they’ve been exposed as a criminal posse.
There are reasonable arguments on either side of this issue. Rob Greenstein has given his rationale for supporting Jill Shapiro. Some townspeople disagree. The Board has decided. Let’s move on, folks.
They say town admin is working well with school admin finding joint municipal savings and other town/school issues. They’re speaking to their direct experience and saving taxpayer money. Isn’t that their business? Is this what’s making people go nuts?
To Pushy Riot- Greenstein gave his rationale for supporting Jill Shapiro. That is true. Normally I would support the decision of elected officials- after all we elected them to use their good judgement. But there has been no rationale / explanation for the deceit regarding announcing her appointment as a 6 month transitional appointment when the fact was she was given a 2 year contract.
Also – was it really Greensteins ” rationale” in his letter? Or was the letter written by Jill Shapiro’s husband?
Greenstein is a lawyer . He is our Supervisor. We should expect that he is capable of writing his own letter and articulating why he and his 2 cohorts chose Jill and decided not to do a public search and interview candidates.
We are still waiting……
Actually, it seems as if it’s the school board who has it in for those who demand good government and accountability, which is all Christine Yeres and Robin Murphy did. If the board wants to do the right thing, they will admit their mistakes publicly—not just internally—and have an open call for administrators to interview.
No pitchforks, but there is an inherent conflict of interest in the board recommending Jay Shapiro’s wife. It is not ethical for them to go to such lengths on Jill’s behalf. It also seems pretty clear their involvement was not meant to be public. I really don”t know what the board means by it expected discretion. Discretion in what sense? Who did they expect could not see the letter? The public? These backroom dealings are quite concerning. I am amazed smart people can be so dumb. Our supervisor also does whatever he sees fit.
Dear Editor Yeres- it is no longer a secret the Chapp Crossing community (aka NIMBYs) held a private meeting at Kittle House recently. In attendence were members of Team New Castle. In a comment above “dear editor” asked you if you attended this meeting and if you did why didnt you write an article in NEWCASTLENOW as you always do?
The meeting is another example of polarization caused by this small group and another example of the newly elected board members lack of transparency.
Your lack of response concerns me.
Editor’s Note: I know nothing about the meeting you describe.
What “joint savings” has Jill Shapiro come up with exactly? And is Mester saying that the previous board habitually disagreed with him and was uncivil to him?
It is the school board that owes the community an apology. Plain and simple. They can begin with Christine Yeres and Robin Murphy. They are not a private club that makes its own rules as it goes along. They all ran and were elected.
Did the school board violate the open meetings law ? i think that they did. This calls for a complete explanation.
“Dear Editor” and “Robert M”-you can relax and let up on your smear campaign for at least a few moments. The editor was telling the truth and was not at or invited to the Kittle house private meeting you referred to. You and your pro CC cronies are so focused on pushing this ridiculous retail nightmare through that you’re becoming a bit over zealous and slightly paranoid. What’s the matter? Afraid that perhaps the Town Board might stop and listen to the concerns of the neighbors near 117? Nah…they probably won’t but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop talking or trying.
Yes, that us what Mester is saying. He is griping about the previous board. And the other board members apparently are fine with him speaking for them.
If you school board members were not aware of the disgraceful way in which the town board is operating at the moment and think that the Shapiro appointment was not a crucial matter, you can only have been partying too well at Kittle. Shame on you for chiming in on a matter of such importance and championing Board Authority rather than honesty and good government practices.
Greenstein (including his team), Mester and Shapiros-just wrong for the good of our Town and School District.
To Your Ignorance is Showing- thank you for confirming that a secret invitation only meetings of Chapp Crossing NIMBYs and Team New Castle recently was held at Kittle House. Why wasn’t Editor Yeres invited? She lives in the CC community and while generally opposed to retail she has been outstanding in reporting in a fair and unbiased fashion – generally.
There is nothing ridiculous about the proposed plan. Whole Foods with other retail can easily be accommodated in the 110 acres at CC. The property is surrounded by a parkway , truck rt 117 and commuter rail tracks. It was never intended to be a sanctuary or monestary. There won’t be a sewage treatment plant and it won’t be a strip mall.
The only ridiculous nightmare has been your nimby selfishness and deplorable behavior. Let me guess – at this Kittle House meeting you schemed up a new petition warning residents a nuclear waste facility was planned. You also coached each other on how to “fix” and manipulate the next town survey. You also planned on continued disruptions at master plan meetings and town board meetings???
The rest of us – the large majority of residents are fed up with all if you and your behavior. Retail is coming to CC. Whole Foods is coming to CC. It will great. Deal with it! Stop monopolizing the town agenda and stop alienating yourselves. It’s unbecoming.
“The Best” is what the bd of ed looks for for the schools, but when it comes to the town administrator position you people weigh in on someone who is “OK” – and great for YOU.
Were you aware of the dysfunction among the twn bd members and of the way Ms. Shapiro’s appointment was made in the first place? Her contract was a “bait and switch” by the Supervisor, to seem like 6 mos but really be a 2 yr deal between him and her. And yet you thought it important to throw your “unqualified” support her way. “Unqualified” is right.
Mr. Mester writes “Of course, local goings on also become part of the discussion” and then identifies the goings-on that seem to be uppermost in his mind: “blog posts” that “crossed the line (again)”. I too am interested to know what you believe the other line-crossings to have been. And I’m extremely disappointed that your letter (unanimously agreed-with by your board and administrators) shows that your school board has no idea of the larger goings-on in town government. All you seem to see is a fellow board pestered by citizens and you have rushed to support your fellows in a most ignorant way, and your board and administrators along with you, “to a person”, as you say. Which persons were there, by the way, at this board of education meeting at the Kittle House?
The school board’s statement –
“We do not believe that every item that comes before the Board should be decided upon by public opinion or by those who scream the loudest”
is incomplete. The school board believes in one way to decide – they decide everything (including, now, what town gov should do) and they only need us to vote YES once a year to keep the money coming.
In this letter the school board takes a big unthinking stand for order and protocol over ethics.
The Shapiro problem is not just an “every item” – it is a major problem. The town board has made a mistake that will cost the town (already has cost the town, actually, but will now cost us more).
What’s “unbecoming” is bullying and that is exactly what you’re doing. What we discussed is none of your business as you probably don’t live around the corner from CC and will not be affected in the same way as the neighbors will.
For the record, I personally took that survey, answered honestly and only responded one time. Don’t smear everyone and stereotype groups of people. That is what the uneducated and small-minded do. Then again, if the shoe fits….
I feel sorry for Jill Shapiro. She is probably highly qualified and able to do the job of Town Adminstrator. She is a victim of a highly incompetent and irresponsible Town Board.
The TB with Supervisor Greenstein at the helm could not would not find the time to make this appointment in the appropriate manner. Even if Jill was the odds on favorite , all the TB needed to do was go thru the motions, post the job opening, interview some candidates and then announce that ” after a search we conclude Jill is our Adminstrtator”. Most ironically -that is exactly how our CCSD board of Ed hires their people. Instead, Greenstein and Team New Castle unilaterally made the call , against the wishes of the other TB members. He then tells residence that Jill has a 6 month trial period after which she will be reviewed and evaluated. But that was not true. Jill was awarded a 2 year contract from day one. There never was an evaluation and certainly no search and interviews.
When this became public information Greenstein then writes a letter explaining his appointment. Now it turns out Greenstein wrote the letter with the assistance of MR Shapiro. He also includes a board of Ed endorsement from Mester who happens to be close friends with the Shapiro’s. Mr Shapiro served 2 terms on BOE.
Like I said- Jill Shapiro is a victim of this incompetence, lack of transparency and total disregard for proper protocol and procedure.
Team New Castle is destroying our town.
Why would you feel sorry for Jill Shapiro ? She was a full participant in this underhanded process. She worked hand in hand with Rob along with her husband’s handiwork. She is not a victim. She, her husband Jay Shapiro, Jeffrey Mester and Rob et al are part and parcel of this mess. They are all unethical and so is the entire school board.
If she were so highly qualified she would welcome the opportunity to fairly compete, rather than participate in inappropriate back room dealings. Sorry, you are wrong.
Ronnie – you forgot to mention that Jay Shapiro was an active member of the Democratic Party and big supporter of Penny P……until weeks before the election he dropped out and withdrew his support. He offered no explanation.
Miraculously, after Greenstein and Team New Castle win the election , Jill Shapiro is annointed Town Administrator – big promotion- big raise. No candidate search, no interviews just a 6 month trial which was really a under the table 2 year
Any doubt that Team Green had something to do with that?
I feel bad for Jill Shapiro too but because she’s in a job that’s over her head, surrounded by men who got her into this spot to begin with for their own personal benefit, and she doesn’t have the backbone to step out or the confidence to suggest that the town hold interviews for the admin position and offer to apply and hold herself against whomever else does.
While I think in real life, women run things better than men, that’s not the case in town hall, between Lisa Katz, Elise Mottel, and Jill Shapiro, we have weak women who let the narcissist men run over them. Seems like this may be with the school board too re Mester’s sad letter and none of the others speaking out against the bad process there too.
How do we know Jay Shapiro “offered no explanation”?
School Board in rebuke to Christine and Robin strongly endorse ex board member Jay Shapiro’s wife for town administrator’s job !
ISO Women Leadership, I think you may win the award for the most idiotic post of all time. So, you are a sexist who:
1. Thinks “women run things better than men”
2. Feel sorry for poor Jill Shapiro who’s over her head as a mere woman (!)
3. Thinks the *actual* women who run the town are weak
4. Men are narcissists
I do believe from my experience that women typically run things (businesses and other organizations as well as households and events) better than men. Certainly, Chappaqua is a women-run community—not exclusively but overall. Except in our elected and appointed leadership where sadly I’m seeing weak women who don’t stand up for themselves or the good of the town, both in town hall and the Board of Ed. And I’m not saying that all men are narcissists, but those in our town leadership surely seem to be.
As a long time resident of the Town of New Castle and the Chappaqua School District (which is one of f school districts in the Town) and more than a casual observer some years ago, I regret the Chappaqua School Board’s communication to the Town regarding the appointment of Jill Shapiro as Town Administrator.
I know and like Jill Shapiro and, from what I could tell, was an excellent Town Clerk and Receiver of Taxes, but for the Chappaqua School Board to involve itself in the matter of her appointment is just plain wrong and, as far as I know, has not happened before.
The school district and the Town are separate entities for a reason. One interfering with the other is unwarranted and can only be detrimental to both.
June 12, 2014
ISO Women Leadership,
How would you feel if someone blithely stated that “men run things better.” Maybe you personally would be fine with it, but please recognize this is not an acceptable statement in modern society. A CEO would be fired for making that kind of comment.
to XY, I’m not the only one who thinks that women are better managers in general:
Nevertheless, you seem to be making a mountain out of a molehill and, moreover, if you are coming down on me in defense of the elected and appointed women of Chappaqua, I think you are focusing on the wrong part of my statement and would be better off making a case for how these women really are doing a good job instead. If you can.
The BOE’s writing this letter was just wrong. Plain and simple. The connection between the BOE, the Supervisor and both the Shapiros is just wrong too. This whole thing stinks!
#1. If the taxpayers of the Town of New Castle paid for the dinners at the Kittle House the School Board members should and must immediately reimburse the coffers of the School for their dinners. It would be outrageous for us to pay for their celebratory dinner.
#2. The business of the Town Board is NOT the business of the School Board and they must be kept separate. They always have and always, in the future, should. School Board – keep your noses out of the Town Board’s business. Perhaps all of you – Town Board and School Board should talk to previous Town Supervisors and Board Members and School Board members. You obviously don’t understand conflict of interest.
What conflict of interest exists between the town board and the school board?
How come the public hearing had to be postponed for CC? In her announcements Jill stated that the Notice for the Public Hearing did not get in the paper in time. It needed 10 days notice but the Town only had five. This is not the first time this year this has happened. There should have been a search for the Town’s Administrator.
How about the fact that the town board is supposed to represent the interests of all residents of the town, not just the those who live in the CCSD. I don’t think you’ve ever heard the residents of the town who live in the Pleasantville, Byram Hills, Bedford or Ossining school districts complaining that the town isn’t meeting regularly with their school boards. If the CCSD BOE wants to base their decision making on what the town is doing, I don’t think any town residents outside of the CCSD would complain. It doesn’t work the other way. A perfect example of this is the recurring suggestion that the town should build a pool at Chappaqua Crossing so that the Greeley HS swim teams have a local venue for practice/meets. It would be entirely inappropriate for the town to build a pool to satisfy the desire of the CCSD to have access to a local facility.
I don’t really disagree with most of what you say. My point is that it’s essential that the town and CCSD work together to find a way to share services and lower (town) taxes or at least keep (town) taxes below the tax cap so tax rebates will happen next year, not that there should be a pool at CC.
Ain’t gonna happen in the Ossining school district because the West End is powerless with them. Come to think of it, the West End is powerless with New Castle too. Hence no reevaluation.
We have gotten away from the main point here which is how the Administrator’s job was handled. The Team with Greenstein have handled this just wrong. Many of us are very concerned about the Shapiros role in all of this. This chapter in their administration should not be just let go.
Seems that Rob has hired bob to speak for him, or is it bob who hired Rob ? Oh what a tangled web we weave. Rob/bob, you are fooling no one. Do not continue to hide behind aliases. You demean yourself as well as your office.
Watch the tape of the January reorganization meeting to understand the appointment and contract and the difference. Then be thankful we have an honest administrator.
And by the way I am not Greenstein. Which can be verified. I am simply fair and honest. And I do my own research and don’t rely on the New Castle Democrats for all my opinions.
Can you pull together and republish every single posting by “bob” for the past year? That way everyone can evaluate his dubious viewpoints.
Editor’s Note: No.