The Edgemont Incorporation Committee, which for the past several months has been collecting signatures on a petition to force a vote on whether Edgemont should incorporate and become Greenburgh’s seventh village this week released a feasibility report prepared by two outside independent consulting firms.
The report concludes that an incorporated Edgemont can purchase the same services or better for the same tax dollars Edgemont taxpayers would otherwise be paying over the next five years to the Town, while at the same time generating a surplus for the new village over that same period of at least $10 million.
The EIC’s report was released on its website, www.edgemont2017.com, on its Facebook pages, and via email to its subscribers.
But thanks to a few very vocal opponents of incorporation, it looks like the one place where Edgemont residents won’t find the EIC report – or even public notice of its weekly meetings to discuss incorporation – is on the social media site NextDoor, which today deleted posts announcing an open EIC meeting this Wednesday evening at Greenville Community Church and then, when notice of the meeting was reposted on the site’s “Events” calendar, removed the post and announced the meeting had been “canceled” on the ground that notice of such meetings may only be posted on condition that the public not be notified that the event was posted.
NextDoor’s management tonight confirmed that that’s exactly what happened:
“While posting this event to the Edgemont calendar is perfectly acceptable, choosing to also share it on the main newsfeed is not allowed.Discussions about Incorporation can only take place in two locations on Nextdoor, in the group created for Incorporation or on the post “Top reasons not to incorporate – what’s on your mind? When you create this event in the Nextdoor Edgemont calendar, please make sure to uncheck the box asking to also share on the Newsfeed. You may then post in both of the above listed places that there is an event on the calendar for a discussion about Incorporation. I have removed these posts from the Newsfeed.”
The statement was signed by “Shane” – no last name was given.
Since July 2016, certain vocal opponents of incorporation have been recommending that Edgemont residents turn to NextDoor as a place where the pros and cons of incorporation would be discussed, but for the past few months, NextDoor has not only been regularly deleting pro-incorporation posts, it has also been banning members who either post in support of incorporation or who question NextDoor’s policy of deleting such posts.
At the same time, Edgemont’s most vocal opponents of incorporation are under no restrictions. Not only are they permitted whenever they wish to create their own anti-incorporation categories in the general forum, but NextDoor’s rules against shaming or maligning neighbors with whom they disagree are not enforced against them.
So why the double standard?
NextDoor’s guidelines state that the decision to relegate certain topics to subgroups may be made by NextDoor’s “leads” – who are neighborhood volunteers appointed by NextDoor.
Here, the two most active NextDoor “leads” are two vocal opponents of Edgemont’s incorporation. However, they deny responsibility for removing posts and banning users and claim its all being orchestrated by NextDoor management for reasons they do not know.
It is not known why NextDoor, a multimillion dollar new media site, would be explicitly favoring a local political outcome by granting editorial rights to one side and deleting users and messages on the other. But NextDoor’s problems are not unique to Edgemont, with groups around the country protesting NextDoor’s policies and practices, including a Facebook page entitled, “Boycott Nextdoor.com.”
EIC leaders have said they they intend to file their incorporation petition very soon. The petition requires the signatures of at least 20% of Edgemont’s registered voters. EIC leaders say they have collected several hundred more signatures than the minimum required and that in light of the feasibility study’s strong conclusions favoring incorporation, they expect that number to grow even more.
One NextDoor member who was banned from posting was Edgemont resident Howard Hirsch, a former Vice President of the Edgemont Community Council, long-time member of the Edgemont School Foundation, and last year’s recipient of the annual Silver Box Award for Distinguished Community Service. Mr. Hirsch has posted the following on Facebook, where he is allowed to post:
“I made (2) posts on Nextdoor one to correct FUD with the facts I received from Town Commissioners regarding water district rates and another that I also posted here (the cell phone analogy). Behind the scenes, I reached out to Nextdoor support with concerns about bias and control by the Leads on Nextdoor and received this in return…
“You have violated all of the guidelines about Soapboxing including Ranting, Overposting, Hijacking others discussions, Continued discussion of controversial issues and Campaigning. You complain about your Leads constantly (another violation of Nextdoor’s Guidelines), make personal attacks against your neighbors and misuse the member reporting system to try and further your agenda.
You have driven members off of Nextdoor and attempted to intimidate and belittle your Leads, who are volunteers in your neighborhood trying to maintain civility.
This is your official warning, if these behaviors continue I will take disciplinary action against your account. Which can be anything from limiting your access to read only all the way to permanent ban from Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is NOT a forum for you to argue with your neighbors. If you have something you want to say to a neighbor you can state your opinion in a respectful civil manner, you can post discussions about incorporation in the group created for that purpose and you are welcome to private message members to carry on a conversation started on a post. However, the constant back and forth battles on the main newsfeed end today. The complaints about and attempts to remove your Leads end today. You are welcome to use Nextdoor as it was intended, which is to build a stronger more open community, or you are welcome to find another way to converse with your neighbors.”