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Phil Ricci

November 2, 2013 - 12:28pm

On January 21st of this year, a small group of concerned, like minded citizens, set to the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties. We didn’t know how to do it really, and we most certainly had no idea if it would work, but we felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go. It has been a great success!

As of June 8th, that little ragtag group of four people grew into a solid core group of committed individuals whose numbers were reaching one hundred fifty, and we’ve grown even more since then. On that same evening, we were not only officially formed as a chapter of the New York Libertarian Party (Fastest ever to do so), but we also nominated our series of candidates, Jim Rosenbeck, Lisa Whitehead, and a few weeks later, Robert Brown. It’s these wonderful people, we would like just a moment of your time to discuss.

 Jim is one the finest men we know. He’s caring and compassionate, just ask the hundreds of students that he impacted in his twenty seven year career as a school counselor at Pembroke Schools. He is giving with his time, willing to listen to any and all opinions, and respecting everyone who brings it. He is honest, transparent, and most of all, incredibly thoughtful. Jim doesn’t react first, then ask questions like we have seen too much in recent years. Jim asks questions, gathers facts, seeks input from those it will affect, and then makes a non-emotional decision based on a long term vision. He believes in not just impacting today, but tomorrow as well.

Lisa is the perfect example of a powerful woman! She is a no nonsense individual that knows how to get things done, negotiate to find the best solution for all sides, and has the foresight to understand that all perspectives can lead you to the correct path if you just listen. Yet, she is also “Mrs. Whitehead” to hundreds of our kids at John Kennedy, guiding them with care and compassion. Lisa knows how important a good plan is, which is why she is always seeking to understand the full vision in everything she does. She is kind, creative, honest and open to any and all that need her.

Robert, or Bob to us, is sincerely all of the good qualities of A Beautiful Mind. He is without a doubt one of the most analytical minds that we have ever met. He doesn’t just understand things, he is able to dissect them into fundamental pieces, then show anyone how they’re interacting with everything else. What you end up getting from that, is one of the most thoughtful, prepared and fact driven individuals in this area! Bob cares so deeply for his neighbors, and is always willing to listen to anyone that approaches him. He is honest, open, and brave.

Yes, we really like these people, and yes we are the people who endorsed them, so we should, right? True, but as two individuals, we also wanted to share with you how excited we are to actually have people we want to represent us! It has been a rare thing these past years to have that, and now we do! So with that, we like to humbly ask you to consider voting for Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead for Batavia City Council at Large, and Bob Brown for Genesee County Legislature District 8 on November 5th!

Thank you,

Phil Ricci and Dave Olsen

Chair and Vice Chair,

Genesee County Libertarian Party

January 8, 2013 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Phil Ricci, Libertarian Party.

The time might be right for a third party to try to make a difference in Genesee County politics, the way Phil Ricci sees it, so he along with a small group of like-minded residents are working getting the Libertarian Party established locally.

The process involves signing up members for the committee, holding a convention and finding a candidate or two to run for local offices.

"I think this has been coming for a long time," Ricci said. "There's a growing interest in the breakdown of the two-party system. People see either Republican or Democrat and they just don't fit in. I think what the ideology of Libertarian stands for is vastly misunderstood. More people have what I believe are libertarian beliefs and are looking for viable options to the two-party system. They want less intrusive government and people in government who are responsible financial stewards."

Rather than trying get candidates elected to national and state offices, Ricci thinks any viable third-party effort needs to start at the local level where it's easier to build an organization.

And localism fits well with the basic Libertarian tenant of less intrusive government.

"Here's the big thing -- I'm tired of people far away telling people here, where we live, what's best for us," said Ricci, who ran for Batavia City Council in 2009 and is currently a member of the Batavia City School District Board of Education.

"We control were we live, and we do that as an individual, so why does our government, which has no real local connection, even think about telling us what we should do for our local community? We need local ideas, local vision, to fix local issues."

At a minimum, Ricci would like to have Genesee County Libertarians well enough organized by late summer to run at least one candidate for city council, perhaps a candidate or two in village or town elections and maybe the county legislature.

"Our first goal is to allow people who support individual liberty to have a viable choice at the local level," Ricci said.

On Facebook: The Genesee County Libertarian Committee.

May 13, 2012 - 1:25pm

The Batavia City School District Board of Education will have its budget vote and member election on Tuesday, May 15. The candidates for election/reelection have shared their views in a series of interviews with The Batavian. Click the names of the candidates below to read the interviews.

There are five candidates running, including three incumbents -- Phil Ricci, Gary Stich and Gail Stevens -- and two newcomers -- Gretchen DiFante and Dennis Warner.

Warner declined our request for an interview.

Phil Ricci interview

Gary Stich interview

Gretchen DiFante interview

Gail Stevens interview

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Batavia's John Kennedy Elementary School, at 166 Vine St., for school district residents who live north of Route 5, and Batavia High School, at 260 State St., for those who live south of Route 5.

For more information on the budget, see the May 1 article, Batavia district pitches budget with a nearly 2-percent increase in the tax levy.

For some specifics on the background of each candidate, see their short biographies on the district Web site.

May 13, 2012 - 1:23pm

The first candidate interviewed was Phil Ricci, who has been on the school board since November. Ricci is a military veteran who currently works as a branch manager of two Bank of America locations, and he has years of experience in business/management, process improvement, financial management and consulting, as well as in working with youth.

Ricci is also a member of the Batavia City Youth Board and a budget ambassador for the school district's Audit Committee. He lives in Batavia with his wife and three children.

Could you talk about the experience you bring to the school board -- especially in terms of business and working with youth?

On the business side, I've worked for both the private and public sector. I've managed millions of dollars in funds, as well as teams ranging from five people to five hundred people. That said, school districts are a whole other beast of burden. They're not like how normal businesses work. The hard thing about experience is that, yeah, I have it, but in order to learn how a school district works, you have to learn how the state thinks and try to apply your business experience to that. Anyone who knows about New York State will tell you that if the state was a business, it would have been bankrupt 10 times over at this point. People on the school board learn real quickly that business experience doesn't go a whole long way with the way New York State does things.

As far as working with youth, when I was in Germany (in the military) I built a program from the ground up. It's called "Skies Unlimited," of which I then became the regional director of instruction for all of Europe. I got to work with every different type of population, and I learned the real message of advocacy. There are so many people out there who do not view youth programs as essential, and I challenge that every time I hear it. If you don't have solid youth programs, solid education, and solid support structures for youth, you end up having higher crime rates. You end up having a less educated workforce.

I think the biggest thing I've learned over the years -- working with kids in the military and being on the Youth Board here -- is that advocacy is huge. Even being on the school board, I can see that the way the state distributes money is inequitable. There are a lot of downstate districts that are not being affected to the same extent that our kids up here are being affected. And if you don't think that fighting for that is important because you don't like the way the system is, I'm not going to disagree with you that the system is broken; but those kids are suffering in the meanwhile. So I think the big thing for me with all the work I've done is learning how to be a solid advocate.

What made you want to run for the school board in the first place?

When Andy (Pedro) left, I was asked to come in and help out, so I threw my hat in the ring. There was a need, because (the school district is in) a really tough situation. The reason I'm asking to stay is that I know how bad it is, and I've seen what still needs to be done. We've got a lot of work to do, and it's far from being over. I know what it's going to take, and I just want the opportunity to help get us there. My big thing is and will continue to be to protect programs and to be equitable for all kids -- haves and have-nots. I'm not going to take away something from one youth that I wouldn't take away from another. But my main object is to not take anything away, and to do the things that need to be done to try to protect as many programs as we can.

I've been involved in the district for about seven years. I haven't always been on the board, but I've been involved. So I know what goes into (making a difference in the school district) and I know I can make a maximum impact.

Is there anything you would you like to change or see changed if you are reelected?

There's lots of things I'd like to continue to change. I think the biggest thing we need to work on right now in the district is our communication. I just think that we have to get better at expressing what we know and why we know it to everybody out there. That's an opportunity we've missed the ball on a lot. Some principles can't be explained simplistically, but it is our job to try and do that.

So one thing I would be pushing for from day one is more transparency, a clearer message, and just putting out there as much as we can.

How would you respond to people who express outrage that all other businesses and organizations are having to cut back and do more with less while the school district continues to propose tax increases? The implication is that the district thinks itself exempt from doing more with less.

I understand why they say things like that, and this goes back to the district not explaining things clearly enough. It's completely false. The district is doing a lot more with less. We're cutting programs. We're cutting positions. We've cut costs. We just closed a school. I think what's not being explained well enough is that these costs that keep pushing things up are not all controllable. Most of them out of our control -- they're coming down from the state. And at the state level, what they're doing is having their costs keep going up, and then they're pulling millions of dollars out of funding each year.

Imagine you have a job and a house budget. And every year, your costs are going to keep going up for whatever reason -- because of inflation or whatever it is. Then your employer comes in and says, "We're going to take eight-percent of your salary away each year for the next five years." So each year your costs are still going up, but you're losing an additional 8-percent of your income. If you're not making cuts, if you're not using your reserves, will you still be able to live in your house? Probably not.

My point is, of course we're cutting. Of course we're doing more with less. Because if we didn't, we wouldn't have a district. But we don't have control over all of our costs and expenditures. There is only so much you can cut, and there is only so much you have in reserve, before you start getting into these situations.

Just to be clear, before last year the board wasn't really raising the tax levy at all. It stayed pretty consistent. In the past couple of years, things have gotten really bad. You have a governor and a state legislature that has cut nearly 20 percent of your income over the past three years. So I would challenge anyone to show me how you can manage to not raise taxes in that situation -- as you're cutting positions and all this other stuff -- when 20 percent of your income goes away.

What are your thoughts on the proposed budget?

It's ugly -- I'm not in love with it, but because of the position we're in...I mean, I also didn't want to close Robert Morris School. My kids go there, and as a parent it was a hard thing to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I was closing their school. But it was a necessity. It was not a decision anybody wanted to make.

Do I think we could have lowered the taxes a little bit more? Yes, and I've already said that publicly. But overall, am I displeased with what we did to keep things going? No. It's not what I would want, and I don't think anyone on the school board wants it. I think everyone would love to deliver a zero-percent tax increase and still keep all the programs and all the schools open. But that's not the reality we live in right now.

What will happen if the budget gets voted down?

What happens is this: If it gets voted down two times, under the new tax cap law our ability to raise drops down to zero. So what that will mean, to put it plainly, is that all the programs we reinstated (with the consolidation) will go away -- for example, the ACE program, different music programs, and I'm sure more on top of that. Non-mandated programs will get looked at. These will get cut, because we're going to have to come up with an additional $500-$600. And plus we have other costs, too. So the people who vote "no" will get their zero-percent tax increase and kids will lose out on programs. It's that simple.

Can you comment on the house administrator position that is being created at Batavia Middle School?

This is another thing I don't think we're explaining well enough. The house administrator position is a re-purposed position. It's a new position as far as title goes, but it isn't a new hire kind of position.

What we did was take a model that is being used all across the country in larger schools. We're going to be adding a ton of kids to the middle school, so to make this really work we've re-purposed an assistant principal position, and we're making that person an in-house administrator; that means that this person is going to be in charge of the fifth and sixth grades. This person will be a direct point person for all parents, oversee all of the teachers, and stuff like that. Sandy Griffin is still in charge of the middle school, but because she is going to have over 800 kids in that school, we wanted to give her some additional support.

We understand that parents are nervous about the fifth-grade integration. We recognize that. And we wanted to make sure that next year and years into the future, that program is strong and the kids can go into the seventh grade with no problems. So all we did was utilize the resources we already had and the resources that we were going to have, and we're using them in a smarter way so that we can have a strong integration program with the fifth-graders coming into the middle school.

Do you have any closing comments?

I'll just say this: I understand the frustration that's out there. I'm not blind to it. Every time I make a decision, I'm doing it with four voices in my head. I hear a retired grandmother who is on a fixed income, for whom a 2-percent increase is not just a simple thing. I hear a working, single mom who is struggling to pay her bills -- or even unemployed. I hear the parents -- and the parent that I am -- about protecting programs for their kids so that they have a good future. And then I hear the kids' voices. How many kids have shown up crying at meetings because we're taking away things that change their lives?

These are the voices you hear (when you're on a school board). These aren't easy decisions. Any person who has the courage to go onto a comment board and tell people to vote something down, but not the courage to hear all of those voices and know what goes into making these decisions is someone who doesn't understand fully what it takes to do this job. I do, I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I wish to continue to do it. I've been called crazy for this, but I know I have the right demeanor and the right approach to this...and I care. And I think you need all that in order to be successful.

Photo courtesty of the Batavia City School District.

November 4, 2009 - 8:00am
posted by Session Placeholder in election, Phil Ricci.

What can I say? Thank you so much for everyone who supported me through this endeavor. Even though we ended on the wrong side of the line, you have no idea what an honor it has been being invited into your lives these past six months.

I would like to thank the City of Batavia Democratic, City of Batavia Conservative and the independent Better Batavia parties for their endorsements!

For those who shared my line, Sara Burk-Balbi and Julie Wallace, congrats on a job well done and kudos to you for the courage you showed to put yourselves out there! I would also like to say congrats to Chris Charvella and Rose Mary Christian who fought long hard campaigns as well.

Chris did an amazing job and I believe we will and should see him again soon! Kudos Sir!!!

To those who won; Marianne Clatenburg, Frank Ferrando, Tim Buckley, Hollis Upson and Bob Radley. Congratulations on a job well done! Now DON'T STOP!!!!! Our city and County has so much potential and there is just show much work to be done. We need you now more than ever!

Last, I would like to thank those who walked with me through this journey. Charlie Mallow asked me to run and he has stayed by my side throughout. He is a great friend and I am grateful for him. Sara Burk-Balbi and I became friends because of this experience and her friendship helped me on more than one occasion! Finally I would like to say thank the great God above for my wife, Laura and my two amazing girls, Delilah and Vivian. Life is nothing without you.

Thank you all again and God Bless,

Phil Ricci

October 30, 2009 - 10:28am
posted by Session Placeholder in election, Phil Ricci, Candidate.

One of the things that I have stated time and again throughout this process is the lack of forward thinking I see here in Batavia. After months of walking the streets of our city and meeting the hundreds of neighbors that took time out of their day to speak with me, I, with the help of those who know more on these subjects, have created a look of possibilities at some very important issues.

 
First and foremost, let us tackle what I believe to be the simplest issues:
October 1, 2009 - 5:50pm
posted by Session Placeholder in election, Phil Ricci, Candidate.

For the better part of two years, I have watched and witnessed the current council as it sits now. I have seen certain members try to push public agendas that would help the greater good and benefit the city as a whole. I’ve also unfortunately, witnessed those pushing private agendas without any care of how detrimental the collateral damage could be. Here’s the truth as I see it.

My wife and I as we were making our departure from Europe decided to return to Batavia. We believe to this day that it is an amazing place to raise our family! We also have an amazing sense of community pride, which is just one of the reasons that I have been involved in many different organizations here. I have not done this for any kind of personal gain, except for the satisfaction that I could make a difference. You see, I was raised by the mantra: “Do something or Shut up” from two very stern parents; one Italian, one Irish. They believed, as I do now, that the only way you’re going to make it in this world, is by putting your hands to the plow and working to get it done. Well that’s why I’m running for office; plain and simple. I don’t like the way things work now. It makes no sense how we prioritize our finances and how afraid we are to change it.

September 30, 2009 - 9:06am
posted by Session Placeholder in election, Phil Ricci, Candidate.

For the better part of two years, I have watched and witnessed the current council as it sits now. I have seen certain members try to push public agendas that would help the greater good and benefit the city as a whole. I’ve also unfortunately, witnessed those pushing private agendas without any care of how detrimental the collateral damage could be. Here’s the truth as I see it.


My wife and I as we were making our departure from Europe decided to return to Batavia. We believe to this day that it is an amazing place to raise our family! We also have an amazing sense of community pride, which is just one of the reasons that I have been involved in many different organizations here. I have not done this for any kind of personal gain, except for the satisfaction that I could make a difference. You see, I was raised by the mantra: “Do something or Shut up” from two very stern parents; one Italian, one Irish. They believed, as I do now, that the only way you’re going to make it in this world, is by putting your hands to the plow and working to get it done. Well that’s why I’m running for office; plain and simple. I don’t like the way things work now. It makes no sense how we prioritize our finances and how afraid we are to change it.

 

Unfortunately it took a horrific budget gap for us to be willing to consider that change was needed. The council took action behind the leadership of a man, who many have called a radical, Charlie Mallow. Love him or hate him, he did the one thing that so many former and currently sitting members never did; he started the conversation.  He accepted the fact that people would hate him for saying what he felt and that some of his ideas would be smashed to the ground. Yet he said it and did as much as he could in during his time on Council. Now, this isn’t some ringing love note for Mr. Mallow, but a reality check of the past two years. Hard choices were made to right the ship, but now it’s time to fix the hull once and for all. We have to continue the conversation by continuing to move on and act on tough decisions.  

 

We also have to include you in on the process! That’s right, it’s time to stop just having talks in private rooms behind closed door, but to put them out to the open floor and let government work for the people of Batavia. Charlie Mallow asked me to run and take his place because; he believed I was strong enough to continue this conversation. Now it’s our turn.

You want to create jobs in Batavia? Then you have to cut the waste out off our city budget so that you can lower the cost to actually run a business in our city.  You want to improve neighborhoods? Than we have to sharpen our focus on holding these absentee “business” owners to their commitments while still protecting the personal liberties and freedoms of our citizens. You want a more open government? Then we have to get council over itself and publically print every council agenda before each meeting for every citizen that wants it! We have to put tough decisions to special votes and let us all collectively decide our fate! Most importantly, you have to vote! Speak with that voice as loud as you can.

 

Lastly, do you want to cut taxes? Then understand that we have to right size our service levels to do that. Notice I didn’t say eliminate! I’m not one of these extremist that buys into the “ALL OR NOTHING!” way of governing. There are practical and pragmatic ways to achieve a balance! I’m not going to sit here and promise you that I can bring about a zero tax rate in Batavia, but we should be able to roll the recent increases back. Give back the money that was ripped from our pockets just to play catch up! Achieving that though is going to take some tough decisions.

Over the next few weeks I will put out a plan to each of these points. They will be collective ideas from me and also those who I have been asking for advice and guidance along the way. You may like some, hate others. That's great! Let the conversation continue! WE CAN DO THIS! I know we can. If I didn’t believe it with my whole heart, I wouldn’t say it.  We can make Batavia better. No, even more, we can make Batavia the kind of place that every city in New York State
dreams of becoming.

 

Why not? We can do it!


Respectfully,
Phil Ricci
Candidate, Councilman-at-Large

 

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