A WVOX Editorial of the Air
by William O’Shaughnessy, President
Broadcast June 17, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to beg a moment to share a few thoughts with you about downtown development.
We’ve remained silent on the issue for six months … all the while our press colleague – and weekly star talk show host – Phil Reisman, the highly admired feature columnist of The Journal News, has been reminding us of his “unease” about the way the master developer RDRXR is going about communicating with you and your neighbors in our city.
Phil Reisman has made his concerns very clear about RDRXR’s relentless and bewildering use of “buzzwords” and social media to try to grease the skids for Scott Rechler and Donald Monti and the big money players from Long Island and Manhattan who are behind the ungainly and awkwardly named RDRXR.
An easy target for the brilliant Mr. Reisman has been the blizzard of cyber-speak buzzwords being thrown around by the slick developer like “crowd-sourced placemaking.” That’s a real beauty. Nobody, but nobody knows what the hell “crowd-sourced placemaking” means except as business-speak jargon of shrewd, really ambitious developers.
Like I’ve said, we’ve stayed out of this because anything that’s good for New Rochelle enjoys our favor. And it’s been ever thus for the 50-plus years of our stewardship. But RDRXR is clearly running a “stealth” campaign with the eager acquiescence and encouragement of Mayor Bramson. And, as a result, RDRXR and their representatives have refused to engage in a real back and forth Dialogue with the community. We’ve offered them access to our microphones and thus to you and your neighbors on countless occasions.
But City Hall, it seems, prefers to do this whole thing on the QT and “close to the vest.” Fortunately, some civic activists like James O’Toole, who garnered surprising support during his shoestring run for mayor last year and fearless activist Denise Pagano Ward are sounding the alarm.
We’re also concerned. Among the questions not answered by the mayor, who will be known forevermore as “Brilliant Bramson,” is the exact role of Greg Merchant, the self-important commercial realtor who “thinks who he is” and represents himself as exclusive spokesman for Scott Rechler and Donald Monti. And in that appellation he is dutifully backed up by Mayor “Brilliant” Bramson who says that anyone interested in downtown development, has got to go through Mr. Merchant.
And it was apparently this Greg Merchant who hired a well-intentioned young woman named Ashley Aldrich to front for RDRXR under the banner of something called “New Rochelle Future.” Miss Aldrich says they want a conversation that constructively supports the future of downtown New Rochelle. However, in the same breath, poor Miss Aldrich says they will remove posts that create an “unpleasant” or “hostile” environment and ban “uninvited” and “negative” verbal conduct (or some such non-sequitur sounding nonsense.) This in the city which reveres Thomas Paine.
Ah-huh! … maybe that’s why they’re avoiding you and our listeners where they can’t control the Dialogue … and they can’t control what you say on our “Open Line” programs. I think we’re starting to figure this out …
And we thank Mr. Reisman for sounding the alarm in yet another brilliant column which ran yesterday about RDRXR and their deputies who are discouraging anyone who would disagree with them.
Indeed there are lots of questions floating around the community. Exactly what is Greg Merchant’s deal in all this? Is he getting paid by Scott Rechler and Donald Monti as their front man? Or is he merely running their stealth campaign to gain the inside track on big commissions and a leg up on future development.
That’s a fair question. And we ask it now on your behalf.
And we’re not alone in this. Bob Marrone tells me several of our listeners and activists are keenly interested as well. Lorraine Carl … Anthony Galletta … Vince Malfatano and our good callers Dave from Mamaroneck, Chris from Yonkers and Jim Killoran and others. We’re not the only ones!
And while we’re on this subject, the citizens of New Rochelle deserve to know if there is anything behind those stories coming up from Long Island about Renaissance Downtown’s no-nonsense chief Donald Monti being pretty adept at playing “hardball” with some elected officials who may disagree with him in towns where they’ve been doing business in Long Island.
We’ve had one of Rechler’s corporate paid guns Seth Pinsky on the air and he did a good job of dancing around the issues. But many questions remain and we’re not getting them from “Brilliant Bramson” who remains very protective and very defensive about Greg Merchant and this whole scheme to take over downtown New Rochelle.
The mayor, being Brilliant, is very comfortable with their buzzwords and cyber-world, social media initiatives, which they can control and edit. Meanwhile, they’re not reaching our listeners or the people in the neighborhoods.
Sorry to run on so long, ladies and gentlemen. But we’ve been saving this up for a good, long time.
This is a WVOX Commentary. This is William O’Shaughnessy.
914-235-3279 … firstname.lastname@example.org