The Advocates 7-12-07

Opening Remarks

“The Advocates”


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 12, 2007



Hello and welcome to the inaugural program of  “The Advocates” on WVOX-AM. My name is Richard J. Garfunkel, and I am the host of this weekly forum. This program is coming live from New Rochelle, the Queen City, located on the Long Island Sound, and it can also be heard streaming live on The mission of the “The Advocates” is to bring to the public differing views on current “public policy” issues. The United States Constitution, ratified in 1789 is the framework of our laws. But “public policy” is the amplification of that framework. In other words, new laws are always being written and old laws are always being challenged. Eventually these challenges reach the Supreme Court for “Constitutional testing.” Out of those “tests” rulings either re-affirm or change law. Out of these changes, “public policy” can shift dramatically, but the arguments pro and con can remain with us for many years.


“Public policy”, therefore, is what we as a nation legally and traditionally follow. Over the years the “public policy” of the United States has changed or has been modified greatly. As an example “free public education” is the public policy of the United States. Also, over time, great struggles have ensued over control of the direction of “public policy.” For example: free trade versus protectionism, slavery versus emancipation, state’s rights versus Federalism, and so on and so on. I have been interested in “public policy” for a very long time and as a result of that interest I have created the Jon Breen Fund that raises money to sponsor prizes for essays written by high school students on “public policy” issues each year. Students write their essays each year on a topic of public interest, then present and defend their position regarding the topic in a forum with their peers. I have had the pleasure of reading and judging thousands of these essays over the past fourteen years. Out of that interest I thought it was important to bring together “Advocates” on some of these timely subjects, which affect our lives each day.


Today, we are going to explore an important issue that we are all facing, here in Westchester and around the world, it is the problem of “Sustainability and Resiliency.” I do not have two opposing views here, but I have two advocates for creating a new public policy agenda. These two individuals Councilmember Glen Hockley of White Plains, NY and Mr. John Berenyi of Greenwich, Ct. have created the concept of the “Sustainability Alliance.”  This “Alliance” would serve as a vehicle to collect material and ideas regarding county, educational and local efforts to reverse the effects of pollution, promote green-friendly structural development, and reduce our consumption and dependence on carbon-based energy sources. The creation of a community-based organization will bring together various persons and sectors of our society to address these long-term problems.


We have here in the studio, Mr. Glen Hockley, a member of the White Plains Common Council. Mr. Hockley is life-long New Yorker, whose early career was in manufacturing in NYC. He was attracted to public service after long years of involvement with the Rotary Club and with organizations confronting the problems of homelessness and hunger in White Plains. Currently Mr. Hockley is focusing on solutions that focus on racial and religious harmony, and their root causes. Because of this intimate involvement Mr. Hockley has been a strong advocate of housing and addressing the problem of White Plains’s infrastructure. He has become a strong advocate of a new perspective regarding city planning that integrates the goals of sustainability and resiliency.


Our second guest is Mr. John Berenyi, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees in, engineering, management sciences and applied economics from Columbia University. He has been an investment banker, who has specialized in alternative energy and environmental finance for the past 25 years. In the early part of his career, as a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University, he developed the composite set of environmental indicators to measure the quality of life in cities across the United States. Cities, counties, states, and academic institutions have adopted this work, across America, as a tool for public of public policy and evaluation. Today, after a long career serving companies like Citicorp, HSBC Capital and IF Rothschild, he is the managing director of Ecocite, a Canadian-based company that works as an energy investment trust for eco-property development.


We also will have a special call-in guest from northern Virginia, Dr. Lewis J. Perelman, a former native New Yorker, who has over thirty years of professional experience that has focused on the processes of innovation, transformation, and sustainability, including strategic intelligence and policy development.


Dr. Perelman, who has taught at Harvard University and George Mason University in Virginia, is the author of the Global Mind, the best–selling book School’s Out, and The Learning Enterprise. Heis a phi beta kappa graduate from CCNY in physics and earned his doctorate from Harvard in Administration, Planning and Policy at Harvard University, following a program of research linking cognitive systems and human ecology in strategies for sustainable development. Dr. Perelman, throughout his long career has worked at the Solar Energy Research Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, has been a Fellow at the Homeland Security Institute, and an a consultant on homeland security to the Institute for Defense Analysis.


I would like to start with Councilmember Glen Hockley, who had initiated this concept of the Sustainability Alliance, at a breakfast in White Plains in May. Glen, how do you see this issue affecting the long-term future of Westchester Community, no less the region?


John, please feel free to tell us how you see the Sustainability Alliance making a difference in White Plains, Greenburgh and the region?


Additional  Questions:


1) Can “sustainability and resiliency” be paid for today, or can we not afford to ignore it and not pay?

2) How do you gentlemen see the economic long-term future of this region sustained with its present growth, energy use, the cost of government, and the potential need for new infrastructure? By the way in this week’s Journal News –the cost of a 1.8-mile stretch of Interstate 287 will cost over $500 million. Can we afford a greater burden of traffic, pollution, and infrastructure repair in the foreseeable future?

3) Dr. Perelman, as one familiar with Homeland Security, how do you see our level of preparedness with regards to infrastructure sustainability?

4) As we have crested over the $72 per barrel cost for oil, how do you see that increasing cost affecting the cost of local government, and its ability to operate?


Additional thoughts “Save the river or save the factory” can we do both and is Sustainability the path to take?


 5) Can we afford the cost of replacement? The Tappan Zee Bridge is a classic example of a future cost that is daily escalating!

 6) Is there a duplication of effort?

 7) Is there too much talk and not enough discernable action?










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