Trip to Spain and the a cruise of the Mediterranean-August 2005

Madrid to Barcelona to Naples and Back –August 2005


Just returned from a fantastic time touring Madrid, Barcelona, cruising the sunny warm Mediterranean from Barcelona to Naples, with stops in between at Marseille, Nice, Livorno/Florence, Citiavecchio/Rome, and Naples. We loved Barcelona and I recommend that city for a must see. I took 325 pictures on my new Canon E05 Rebel, care of the generosity of son Jon, and also snapped another 120 on my trusty, now old, 35mm SLR fabulous Pentax.


We met some lovely people aboard the magnificent 76,000 ton behemoth, “The Splendour of the Seas.”  I ate like a savage but only gained 3 lbs, must have burned off all those calories with our extensive walking along the beaches at Villefranche and Marseille. Linda, who eats “right” all the time, lost 4 lbs! Wow! Meanwhile the beaches are an incredible eyeful and one has to admire the French boldness. My new digital camera was quite handy in capturing the wonders of geological and human splendor and development.


The ruins, historical sites the churches are the same in Florence and Rome, as always, from my early trip with my wonderful Grandfather in 1966. Linda also went to Italy in 1967 and had the same comment. I am still in awe of the utter mindlessness of the Victor Emmanuel II monument as I was 39 years ago. The sites are in great shape considering the traffic, pollution and general wear and tear of the public. The crowds in Florence, in and around the Ponte Vecchio, were immense. But don't buy gold there, go to 47th Street. The dollar doesn't have the punch it had in 1967, and I don't have my Grandfather's bank account. Meanwhile the Euro has made it quite easy going from country to country, but all in all it has raised prices considerably in Europe and there are local complaints.


Barcelona is magnificent and beyond my description here. I will write a long piece, when I have time, and send it out and post it on my blog/website. I created an extensive travel journal which has given me great pleasure. I will tell you all about meeting a high school wrestling coach, on board ship, that does a travel journal with water colours. What a great guy. He's a school administrator in Monterrey, who taught, history and art. Lo and behold he's from Pacific Grove, Calif, and knows Lighthouse Avenue quite well, where my great friend, the late and beloved Henry Littlefield, lived, with his wonderful wife Madeline, for many years. Of course he heard of Henry, who ran the York School for many years, before he taught at the fabulous Robert Louis Stevenson School, on the 17 Mile Drive. That was some co-incidence. Of course he also remembered the great and famous John Irving's citing of Henry in one of his books. The amateur wrestling community is still quite intimate and almost every one of a certain age gets to know everyone else. I told him about when Linda and I went to the Columbia-Cornell dual meet at the NYAC, a few years ago with Doug Garr and his brother, which was the 100th anniversary of collegiate wrestling, and I met Dan Gable, the legend of all grappling legends and Andy Fitch, Henry's old friend, who was a 2-time NCAA champion and an Olympian.


Meanwhile the cruise ship was great, the sea was smooth, the food was plentiful and excellent, the weather was sunny and hot, hot, hot, and there was great fun had by all. I even won a medal, with 5 others for “best legs” (male that is) on the the ship. Of course Linda persuaded me to join the fun with about 30 other “extremity” wannabees.


The trip back was long, don't fly Iberia Airways if you can help it. The airport at Madrid is too too large, and the service on Iberia is lacking. But the Airbus they use took off and landed, and that counts more then anything. We disembarked from the ship in Barcelona and stayed in a lovely Atrium Hotel, spent Saturday walking around, and then we were picked up and taken to the airport for a 50 minute flight to Madrid for our trans-Atlantic connection. All in all, I have no real complaints about the four fights, to and fro. Considering the conditions that exist today, I have no complaints about extra security, or waiting a bit to err on the side of caution.


Richard J. Garfunkel





Campaign Debates-Greenburgh , NY Summer 2005

Three-peat in Dobbs Ferry

September 1, 2005

Richard J. Garfunkel, Chairperson



The challenge was met again. In a series of three debates held at Town Hall, in the Edgemont Complex Club House on Martling Avenue in Tarrytown, and at the Empress Meeting House on Palisade Street in Dobbs Ferry, we met our opponents, we deflected their windage (hot air) and we prevailed with strength, élan, and with a focused message.


Expecting a packed house of so-called Democratic regulars, we were pleasantly surprised by an outstanding turnout of our brand of “New Democrats.” These “”New Democrats” have vision and energy. Of course Suzanne Burger the chairperson of the so-called party was there with her gang of used up re-treads. But where were their numbers? Where were their scores of supporters? Where was their gang of “sycophants” that carried half our 4500 petitions? No they weren’t there!


But what they did have there was their collection of hatchet men. The old regulars of Hal Sammis, Ed Krauss, Lorrin Brown, and Ella Preiser were assisted by some unnamed henchmen and women to do their dirty work.


Leading the effort, the Morgan-Dengler dynamic duo, held their ground successfully against a withering and insulting attack by the Cabal’s hit men. One person had the audacity to insult Kevin Morgan and besmirch his record and reputation by attempting to drag his name through the mud over a discredited civil suit. This base attempt to smear Kevin, a decorated and retired Detective of the Greenburgh police department, was swiftly dealt with. The crowd appreciated Kevin’s seering and brilliant reply, and his toady beaten critic slinked out of the room, never to be seen again. Another one of the Greenawalt smear team bit the dust.


Of course many of our questions dealt with Greenawalt’s low-brow effort to pin the tag of chaos on the Feiner legacy. Too bad for “Big ‘Call Me Inarticulate’ Bill”, that he had to listen to Ms. Juettner spending precious time in her two debates denying that there was any chaos. But she couldn’t shake the responsibility of voting with the Board against many of Paul’s progressive ideas, and sharing the blame for Greenawalt’s criticism of Paul’s efforts.  Of course Greenawalt felt the sting of criticism when he was linked with the “Methadone Maintenance Rumor” of Hartsdale Avenue, promulgated by the Bernstein-McNally hit team. Of course Bernie the Attorney was nowhere to be found. The Greenawalt Gang did not feel comfortable being linked to the divisive demagogic destructiveness of the legal beagle from Edgemont, who has stated that he will devote his life to destroying the Town to discredit Paul.


Unlike the almost “Empty Chair” debate at Town Hall, where the Greenawalt Gang was finessed to whimpering status, the debate for Town Board went first. Kevin and Allegra stayed on message. They made their points, fighting for “open” government, alternate energy and fiscal responsibility. They are running as a team with Supervisor Paul Feiner and proud of their association. Unfortunately the other group is running from “Big Bill” like he was “Typhoid Mary.” They practically never brought up his name. It was almost Old Testament in its symbolism. Just the word of his name would burn their tongues in the same way that it seared Moses’ brother Aaron. Again they ran away and hid. Any connection between “Big Bill” and his compatriots in crime was purely coincidental. So it was Juettner and Sheehan trying to “bob and weave” but to no avail. Their disappointed water –carriers looked as if they came out of the Sahara dessert, with their throats dry, parched and cracking. Of course it was brought up that Sheehan, a faux Democrat at best, was a life-long Republican, who while on the proverbial road to Tarsus, was converted by Paul Feiner, no less, to become the greatest, and most loyal Democrat ever. In the Bible it was Saul who was converted to Paul, in our latter day Passion Play it was Francis X who was converted by Paul. Unfortunately the Sheehan we know is a phony, who has spent endless hours taping meetings, scrutinizing the statutes for arcane references, and searching for endless ways to delay, obfuscate and disrupt the Board. It is Sheehan, along with his Cabalistic gang who has brought chaos and division to the Board. Let’s give credit where it is due!


Allegra and Kevin closed with their vision for the Town and their strong positions that reflected no-compromise on Choice, opposition to Indian Point, a vision for the future, support for energy alternatives and fiscal sanity. The public is hurting with skyrocketing fuel prices and double digit tax increases, and the Morgan-Dengler Team understands their needs!


Next of course was the feature match of the evening. Of course it was a repeat of the last two evenings, wherein “Big Bill” Greenawalt continued with his inarticulate mangling of the English language. He seemed to drop the “Chaos Theory” because, like an orphan, it had no real support. “Big Bill” became “Clueless Bill” when it came to his claims regarding infrastructure and the inherent costs of his triple-digit tax schemes. It seems that “Big Bill” must have flunked Accounting 101.  Of course “Big Bill” squirmed when he was challenged on his tax and spend schemes, and wandered aimlessly on to more gobbled-gook that only the most experienced monologist could understand. Is seems both “Big Bill” and Bernie the Attorney want to pave every lawn in Greenburgh, whether the public wants it or not. 


 “Big Bill” also was also indignant over Linda Garfunkel’s letter to the editor when she wondered what he had been doing all summer. Well we think that he has spent most of his time at County Tennis in Scarsdale serving up meatballs to be hit for winners.


Paul of course was coolly prepared with the facts, as usual. He put a lie to every one of “Big Bill’s” rantings.  Paul cited our great Bond rating, his fiscal responsibility towards the overburdened taxpayers, the vision that he has for “open and accessible” government and our record low crime rate. Of course “Big Bill” conveniently forgot that the PBA has endorsed Paul along with the Westchester League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. “Big Bill’s” empty charge of police dissatisfaction rang loudly hollow!


Paul, the People’s Supervisor, was again tarred with the fact that the “Old Dems” didn’t support him. But what was forgotten was that the “New Dems” witnessed over 4500 signatures, twice the amount that The Greenawalt Gang could garner from their “way over-the-hill” mob. Meanwhile where was his “mob” of supporters? They were nowhere to be found. The probably got “Lost in Yonkers.” Maybe someone should have called Neil Simon for directions.


So not to drag this melodrama any further into the night and early morning, the series of debates showed our mettle, and we left with a great upbeat feeling. Let’s work hard as possible over the next 12 days and bring a new team to leadership.



Letter to the NY Times -September 18, 2005

September 18, 2005


Letter to Editor:


In your contemptuous and condescending Westchester edition Opinion editorial, “Further With Feiner,” your article repeated much of the same inaccuracies and half-truths promulgated by the failed Greenawalt campaign. It would be closer to the truth that Mr. Greenawalt, a political wannabe for 30+ years and currently a loser again, ran a campaign filled with fear, fabrications, character assassination and baseless lies. Mr. Greenawalt harangued us with specious accusations regarding, pro-choice, Indian Point, chaos in Town government, methadone maintenance centers in Hartsdale, and numerous other empty canards.


Mr. Greenawalt decided, a few years ago, to attach himself to a group of haters that have ganged up on Mr. Feiner and his former allies on the Town Board. This group represents their own special interests and a collection of politicians that have been beaten by Mr. Feiner over the last 22 years. These individuals have been practicing the “big lie” diatribe in their “divide and conquer” effort to bring down the Town of Greenburgh. They have sowed the seeds of discontent in the Villages and have miss-characterized the real condition of the Town of Greenburgh. Since the average village taxpayer pays about $130 per year to the Town for many services, it would be hard to believe that they are ready to secede and form their own town. Ironically you not only praised Mr. Feiner for his passion for open government, and his zeal for the job in an editorial in the NY Times, December 5, 2004, and you recently gave great coverage to two other “dog swims” held in other towns of Westchester. Which way do you want it?


Richard J. Garfunkel

Chairperson, Feiner-Morgan-Dengler Campaign

Campaign Aftermath and report -September 14, 2005

September 14, 2005


To My Friends and Colleagues of the Feiner-Morgan-Dengler Campaign:


It would be hard for me, and my wife Linda, to say that yesterday was not a great disappointment for us personally. But I am sure that, for all of you equally, yesterday was also a shocking surprise and an unpleasant reality check regarding the phlegmatic and ephemeral nature of politics.


Many factors affected the results, and maybe in the next few days and weeks dispassionate heads will flesh out the “real” meaning of last night’s results. Certainly for starters the low turnout created a lack of political “coattails” for Kevin and Allegra. Why there was such a low turnout will cause much speculation, reflection and review. Apathy is afoot in the land and in Greenburgh it is no different. For sure primary turnouts, along with turnouts in November, have been declining. Unfortunately without other races on the ballot, along with a very hot last few weeks and days, and a lack of critical local issues, public attention was diverted elsewhere. Maybe with all the events regarding hurricanes, the price of gas, and Iraq, few cared about the primary in Greenburgh.


In the last day or so I was always reminded of the great American classic film “Citizen Kane” and Kane’s race for governor. Right before the election votes were counted the front page editor of his major newspaper had two headlines printed, “Kane Wins in Landslide!” or “Fraud at the Polls!”


Meanwhile I wanted to thank all of you for your effort and concern. Without your massive help even Paul’s incumbency may have been lost. There were many volunteers who contributed in a multiplicity of ways. We were able to carry a record number of signatures on petitions, get our positions across with clarity, create letters to the editor, and receive endorsements from the Sierra Club, the NY League of Conservation Voters, the PBA, and others. We certainly had many volunteers who manned the supermarkets and the train stations and we were able to send out about 2500 personal letters to our neighbors. Along with those positive factors we had three very hard working, talented and committed candidates.


In retrospect, even with that effort, we faced a large “frog’s” chorus of voices aligned against us. The Democratic Party leadership, all the elected officials and the editorial boards of the newspapers were opposed to our ticket. And of course, the smaller the turnout the greater the advantage is to the establishment. The past is prologue and the race is now history and we must look forward to other challenges in our public and private lives.


So again, thank you all for your contributions, and hopefully we will all learn from this long and costly lesson.


Richard J. Garfunkel





Lies and Political Chicanery in Greenburgh- September 8, 2005

Lies and Political Chicanery in Greenburgh


Richard J. Garfunkel

September 8, 2005



Recently we have witnessed a very distressing trend in Greenburgh electoral politics. On September 13, 2005 the Democratic voters of Greenburgh will have a choice between two slates vying for the party’s official designation. The vote of District Leaders will be meaningless the day after the Primary. The only votes that count will be the Democratic electorate.


In this campaign we have seen a distinctive effort on the half of the Greenawalt Team to paint the long-time Democratic incumbent, Paul Feiner as some kind of area pariah. But of course that’s politics. Paul’s record, like any other incumbent, is fair game for evaluation and criticism. Ultimately the electorate will decide whether they are better off with him or without him.


In our Town form of government, a Supervisor has only won vote on a Town Board of five individuals. Therefore it is the obligation of a strong executive to either build coalitions within or without his party with individuals that sit on the Board. When these individuals do not support the Supervisor, it is incumbent on the executive to seek support from the electorate for a change.


In this campaign we have seen an inability of the other side to gain traction on their specious claims of mismanagement and chaos at Town Hall. The Town is working well. Services are second to none, neighborhoods are protected, parkland abounds, our credit rating is at an all-time high, and crime is at an all-time low. In other words the future of the Town is in secure hands, that will be made more secure and steady by a new team of vigorous Town Board members to replace the tired out current ones who have withered under the stress of criticism by a group of special interest advocates.


So, therefore the campaign has come down to one reality, the other side’s attempt to run basically a one-issue campaign, the matter of a woman’s right to choose. The first salvo in this planned and coordinated attack was a comment by Catherine Lederer-Plaskett in the Summer (7/15/05) Woman’s Coalition for Legal Abortion newsletter, where she accused Paul Feiner’s running mates, Kevin Morgan and Allegra Dengler of being “sleeper cells” of the right-to-life movement. Ms Lederer-Plaskett is on the Greenburgh Town Democratic Committee, and voted against Paul Feiner and his slate with regards to the party’s official endorsement. Is this true? Of course not!


The second planned salvo was a letter by Thomas Abinanti,a County Legislator that wrote a letter to the editor in the Rivertowns Enterprise on September 2, 2005, calling for the election of the “100% pro-choice team” to the Board. He has determined that the candidacies of Kevin Morgan and Allegra Dengler are not pro-choice. Of course Mr. Abinanti lost his seat to Mr. Feiner many years ago in an earlier Democratic Primary.


The last shoe to drop is piece distributed by Diane Juettner and Francis Sheehan that accuses Kevin Morgan and Allegra Dengler of not being pro-choice. This piece of course quotes the aforementioned Catherine Lederer-Plaskett’s fictitious conversation with Allegra Dengler. The piece also mentions two fictitious references supposedly made at public meetings in Hastings and Greenburgh.


We believe that these statements are part of a planned effort to assassinate the characters of these two candidates. We believe that this concerted effort has been concocted by supporters of the Greenawalt Team as an effort to sway the electorate with the promulgation of a lie in the 11th hour of this campaign. We believe that this a matter of political slander and we have fought back by addressing these questions head on with the founder of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion, Ms. Polly Rothstein, who has stated that non of the candidates are iffy on the question of a woman’s right to choose!