November 22, 2013

Mount Laurel indecision

When is a low minority population a result of discrimination and when is it a result of other factors? That is a question Westchester may be faced with as its fair and affordable housing settlement unfolds in the courts.

The township of Mount Laurel, N.J., is the canary in the coal mine for legal precedent in these matters. In 1980, a court demanded that the suburb just outside of Philadelphia set aside a percentage of homes for fair and affordable housing. This set a precedent affecting our entire nation, including northern Westchester communities like Bedford and Pound Ridge, in which builders of larger subdivisions must set aside a portion of housing stock for that purpose.

The principle of whether a development can be discriminatory without evidence of actual discrimination was almost put before the Supreme Court this year when the developer of a luxury subdivision was threatened with a suit for discrimination by a civil rights group. However, a settlement was reached and the case will stop there.

That leaves the question of whether or not the Supreme Court will address the question of discriminatory housing in future cases. One potential matter for litigation could be Westchester County’s 2009 settlement, initiated by the Anti-Discrimination Center, a New York City-based nonprofit that brought the suit against Westchester County. Craig Gurian, director of the center, contends that by virtue of low minority demographics, there is de facto evidence of discrimination — without necessarily contemplating the regional demographics, the role of urban planning decisions that contributed to establishing racial composition, the role of public transportation in fostering diversity, efforts by towns to enhance and develop fair and affordable housing stock and other mitigating factors.

Only the Supreme Court can decide this chicken-egg question; or is there a reason why they have yet to consider it?

Fifty years ago today

This week is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the steady stream of documentaries, dramatizations and tributes is impossible to ignore, especially for millennials like us. In our house in 1963, as in homes throughout the country, we were pulled out of class at school and sent home. There we saw a rare scene: our parents crying.

For Americans everywhere, on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, the news spread quickly. “The death of President John F. Kennedy brought disbelief, shock and a grief like that of a family for one of its members,” wrote a local newspaper. “In one elementary school class, several students screamed. The teacher ordered them to be silent, then burst into tears and put her head on her desk, sobbing.”

According to accounts, many women were doing their weekly shopping in supermarkets, some of which announced the shooting on their public address systems. “One distraught shopper walked off without her groceries, others hurried home to join their families,” wrote reporter Betsy Brown at the time. “During the weekend, many families hung flags at half-staff on improvised poles, even during a depressing rain that lasted all Saturday; fire departments draped buildings in black bunting.”

In Mount Kisco, pastor Marcus Hall held a special prayer service at 3 p.m., only 30 minutes after the president’s death, while St. Matthew’s in Bedford held services that night and the Jewish Community Center of Mount Kisco paid special memorial that same Sabbath evening. A service on Monday at St. Mary’s in Katonah had so many worshipers it was moved to the school gym. More than 600 people attended to mourn the president as Msgr. Daniel J. O’Keefe led the service.

The nation’s immediate reaction grew multilayered with the portraits of Jackie Kennedy, elegant and elegiac in her grief; her children John and Caroline at the cemetery, saluting the grave; the twisted frown of Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his shooting; and the driven madness of Jack Ruby as he pressed the gun into Oswald’s gut. The unanswered questions for the next four decades did little to dispel our fascination with the moment.

“We made ourselves as a template of democracy, a template for the rest of the world, not by beating people up, not by fighting their wars for them, but by practicing social justice at home, making ourselves a model for injustice and democracy,” said Bedford’s Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on CNN’s Piers Morgan show last week, commenting on the anniversary of the JFK assassination. “Even if the press tries to deny it, or historians, or whatever, it’s something that at that time, and a generation afterward, everybody recognized that this was America at its best.”

Somehow, watching the chronicles of the assassination seems more contemporary now than ever before — the long barrels of the gun, the fractious politics all around us and our longing for heroes that somehow always fall short.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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