Thursday, September 28, 2006

Double Jeopardy Trick" Convicts Former Correction Officer

Yonkers-Wednesday,September 27th – Police Commissioner Robert Taggart announced his resignation effective November 2nd. This action followed by six days THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN headline that had declared, "Mother72, Daughter 49, ChargeYonkers Police Brutality."

On Saturday, the 23rd, theYonkers Chapter of the NAACP, under its President Karen Edmonson,and long-time counsel Michael Sussman, conducted a" Speak Out" event at the Riverfront Library. In light of numerous recent complaints, the organizationhad invited all persons who had been victims of police brutality, at the hands of theYonkers Police Department, tocome forward and share their experiences. The event which began just before noon, ran for three hours, as nearly twenty individuals rose to share their horror stories with the more than one hundred residents gathered.

As one might expect, at a gathering organized by the NAACP,the majority of victims who came forward were Black. However, several Latino and Caucasian menand women rose to speak. Thefirst complainant, a young Blackman in his late twenties, a recovering addict, spoke of being approached near his own residence,to be accosted and severely beatenby several Yonkers Police Officers, suffering a broken arm and severely damaged knee. When asked by Attorney Sussman, "How long ago did this happen to you," he responded that it had been three years, and that he intended to take legal action against the police.Sussman explained that in all likelihood the 3-year statute of limitations had run out.

A middle-aged Black mother rose to describe what the Yonkers Police had done to her son in January 2000, and again in September of 2001. With deep emotion in her voice, she declared," Twice the Police broke into my home and beat my son terrible."Her son was 35 at the time of the second incident. She explained that they went to Federal Court, but the charges against the police were dismissed, and her son was convicted of assaulting the officers.

Another middle-aged Black woman described how she had been with her 15-year-old grandson on Lawrence Street last year,when the police approached, put her in handcuffs and planted drugs on her grandson. She spoke of the terrible fear she andher neighbors all feel for the police, and their unwillingness to call them for help.
A well spoken young Black woman described how police came to her apartment at 47 Riverdale Avenue, and barged in. When she insisted that they produce a warrant she was told "We don’t need no fucken’ warrant."
Then they proceeded to bang her around and arrest her without probable cause.

There followed a Latina, in her mid-thirties, a ten-year employee of theYonkers Public School System who described how she and several ofher friends were recently accosted by Yonkers Police while they were not engaging in any unlawful activity whatsoever, She was roughed up along with six of her friends,and charged with Disorderly Conduct, and Obstruction of Governmental Administration, a misdemeanor. She was still very emotionally upset, and will be returning to City Court in Mid-October.

A Latino male, in his twenties, stood up next to his mother, who was obviously too emotionally scarred to speak, and described how theYonkers Police had come to his fathers auto repair business on New Main Street,and beat up his mother, tossing her to the ground, himself, and his father who tried to protect them. He showed several photographs of his mother’s injuries.

Several of the complainants described similar circumstances. Almost all had been taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where staff routinely minimized their bruises and injuries, in medical reports, ostensibly to cover and protect the police.One man related that a close friend who works as a correction officer at the County Jail, told him, "Personnel at the jail can always identify persons who have been arrested in Yonkers because they are usually so badly bruised and beaten."

Attorneys Randolph McLaughlin and Debra Cohen were also present at the session, together with three Pace University Law students to sit with and gather information for possible forwarding to state, and federal authorities, and for possible criminal and civil litigation. Each speaker upon delivering their experience, proceeded to sit with the attorneys who took their particulars and offered legal advice as to their possible options.
It was clear that those who had come forward comprised a very small fraction of those individuals who have been brutalized by the Yonkers Police Department, in just the last few years. Given the trauma and the fear of most of the victims, it was a remarkably large turn out indeed; one which clearly highlighted the need for a federal investigation by the United States Department of Justice.

It is not altogether surprising to those who have been close to the criminal justice system and the courts of Westchester over many years, that there has been an ever increasing spateof unlawful and violent behavior within a number of police departments given the fact that the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, for twelve years, up until nine months ago, was DA Jeanine Pirro, a woman whose personal and professional conduct has always confirmed her belief that she is above the Law. Clearly, one who would enforce the Law must live by it.
Sen. Nick Spano Selects Tricia Business Image.Com to Receive State Senate’s “New York WORKS!” Award

New York State has 1.4 million small businesses and small business owners. The “New York WORKS!” Award was created by the State Senate to recognize our State’s small businesses and the hard work of local small business owners. Small businesses are part of the fastest growing sector of our economy and are responsible, either directly or indirectly, for providing jobs and career opportunities.

Senator Nick Spano (Westchester) said, “I am pleased to select Tricia Business Image. Com to be a recipient of a “New York WORKS!” Award. As a full-service web design and development firm, Tricia Business
Image.Com is a cutting-edge ‘help-mate’ that translates business goals and strategies into working web-based applications thus providing businesses with the tools that they will need to compete, survive and excel in the twenty-first century.”

‘Tricia’ participates in the growth of New York’s economy by indirectly growing jobs through the use of a variety of consultants that are hired based on the specific needs of each individual project that ‘Tricia’ undertakes”.

Senator Spano continued “I am pleased to select Tricia Business Image.Com for this Award as an cknowledgement of the company itself and the contributions of its founder, Patricia McDow, who balances
running ‘Tricia’, with being the 1st District Councilwoman, Majority Leader of the City Council and a board member of a number of local organizations.”

In conclusion, Senator Spano said “Selecting September 22, 2006 as the presentation date gives me the opportunity not only to present the “New York WORKS!” Award, but also to acknowledge and congratulate
Patricia McDow on the day that has been designated American Women’s Business Day.”

Andrea Stewart-Cousins Blasts Republican Opponent

Democratic State Senate Candidate Declares “Albany is Still Broken” and Claims Republican Senator Spano Asleep at the Switch

Democratic State Senate Candidate Andrea Stewart-Cousins emerged victorious in a debate with 20-year Republican incumbent Nick Spano, calling for fundamental reform and blasting Spano for 20 years of failure in Albany.

“Republican Nick Spano is clearly still asleep,” said Stewart-Cousins. “Albany is still broken, yet he continues to defend the status quo at every turn. We need a State Senator who from Day One will work with Eliot Spitzer to bring new leadership and real change.”

Republican Spano, throughout the debate, repeatedly defended the status quo:

• Although Albany remains the most dysfunctional legislature in the country, Spano mentioned “reform” as one
of his three greatest accomplishments.

• Although Yonkers still ranks dead last among the Big 4 cities in school funding, Spano repeatedly defended the state’s school funding formula.

• Although the Journal News rebuked Spano for his misleading attack ad that doctored several of the newspaper’s articles, he continued to mislead voters, grossly distorting facts and unfairly criticizing Stewart-
Cousins for a decision in which she played no role.

By contrast, Democrat Stewart-Cousins called for meaningful reform:

• She called for an increase in education funding and emphasized the importance of targeting high-needs districts first, as expressed in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision.

• She pledged to fight to lower property taxes and restore fiscal responsibility to Albany, demanding an end to the unfunded mandates passed down by a state government that spends recklessly and sticks counties with
the bill.

• She asserted that she will work with Eliot Spitzer to transform Albany’s “pay-to-play” culture that benefits lobbyists and insiders at the expense of the rest of us.

Democrat Stewart-Cousins is running for State Senate in a rematch of a fiercely contested 2004 campaign against Republican State Senator Nick Spano. In 2004, Stewart-Cousins came within just 18 votes of defeating
her Republican opponent, an 18-year incumbent, despite being dramatically outspent.
Shelley Mayer Joins In Calling for Passage of Tough Sex Trafficking Bill

Shelley Mayer, Democratic and Working Families candidate for the State Assembly in Yonkers (93rd District), stood today at the Yonkers Courthouse with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, sponsor of a pioneering antisex
trafficking bill (A01898D) to demand that the Senate and Assembly come together to pass this critical legislation.

Two other cosponsors, Democratic Assemblymembers Amy Paulin and Sandy Galef, also joined to voice their support for the bill. Despite widespread agreement that stronger laws were needed to fight the heinous practice of sex trafficking, the Assembly and Senate were unable to come to a compromise during the last legislative session over two slightly different versions of the bill.

The Dinowitz bill, known as the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2006, would make it a felony to traffic a person for sexual or labor servitude, and provide some legal defense and certain services for trafficking victims. Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “I’m pleased that Shelley Mayer is a strong advocate for a tough anti-human trafficking law.

Human trafficking is a heinous crime that is nothing less than 21st century slavery. It’s an absolute disgrace that this modern-day slavery exists in the United States – and it’s a bigger disgrace that so little has been done about it. Sadly, there was no legislative agreement this year to combat human traf- ficking. How many more victims will there be before my bill becomes law? With support from colleagues such as Amy Paulin, Sandy Galef and, hopefully, Shelley Mayer, I am confident we can put an end to human trafficking in New York.”
Assemblyman Adam Bradley Speaks Out Against Eminent Domain Abuse

by Maureen Keating Tsuchiya

Assemblyman Adam Bradley was upset with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. New
London that sent shock waves across the nation, raising concerns of homeowners, small businesspeople
and others who care about private property rights. The Supreme Court allowed the City of New London, Connecticut, to utilize its power of “eminent domain” to dispossess over 100 homeowners and others in order to turn their property over to other private interests, all in the name of economic revitalization. According to Bradley, “People rightly wondered ‘where is the balance here?’ Nobody is opposed to economic vitality or creating jobs. But of course people ask, ‘shouldn’t these goals be pursued without forgetting the right of everyday citizens to be secure in their homes and to have their property respected?’”

As a result, Bradley introduced legislation , A.9473, on January 17th, that has encouraged discussion about
preserving the ability of local governments to promote the interests of their communities while, at the same
time, insuring that vital public interests are not accomplished at the expense of homeowners and small business
owners “who happen to be in the way.”

Bradley’s proposed law aims to eliminate the under-compensation that now typically occurs when private homes and small business sites are taken forpublic purposes. In the case of homes, this undercompensation happens because present law assumesthat most homeowners are “willing sellers,” quite happy to part with their homes at current market value. Bradley said, “This is simply not true. For most homeowners, home is not just another commodity, to be sold at the drop of a hat, but a very special place—one that they, in fact, have made their special place.

So most homeowners typically wouldn’t be “willing” sellers at anything like the so-called fair market value that present law allows.” Another reason that present law under-compensates is that, in most Westchester neighborhoods typically targeted for revitalization, one often finds significant numbers of homeowners who have been there for many years and who could never, with their so-called “just” compensation, find comparable housing in the same neighborhood or community. They cannot find it because, for the most part, comparable
housing at affordable prices, like most fairy tales, simply doesn’t exist.

The bill Bradley introduced addresses both of these causes of under-compensation by redefining how “just compensation” is determined. Under the new Bradley definition, compensation would no longer be based on the mythical “willing seller,” but rather it is based on what it would require to keep the affected homeowners, as nearly as possible, where they would have been if the project never happened.

Because essentially similar kinds of under-compensation can fall on small business owners, whose businesses
are typically location-dependent, his proposed legislation gives protection to them as well.

The second core provision of Bradley’s bill assures that small owners have the “back-up” protection of
a jury trial for cases in which, due to institutional or other factors, the special plight of persons losing their
homes or livelihoods may otherwise receive only a callous or unsympathetic ear. Realistically, the usual commercial market values that are familiar stuff to eminent domain professionals may fall far short of truly
just compensation, and only a call to the judgment of the “conscience of the community”—the homeowner’s
peers—will assure a balanced result. Bradley stated, “I do not expect that resort to juries will be very common
since the bare possibility of being able to invoke a jury should normally suffice to deter rapaciously low-ball
offers from the pro-development side.”

Bradley went on to add that his proposed legislation “would not open the door for windfalls to owners
of businesses that aren’t going concerns.” Bradley added, “Some other proposals, in fact, would do this
(for example, by providing a flat compensation of 150% of fair market value to everybody, no matter
what), but mine would not. The reason is this: When owners truly hold land purely for speculation and not,
for example, as a place to carry on a location-dependent business, then the property’s only current value
is, by definition, its “commodity” or market value.

Therefore, the property should be easily replaceable by many other properties at fair-market rates and,
accordingly, the “replacement” compensation under my bill and the traditional measure of compensation
would amount to essentially the same thing.”

Bradley believes, “A measured and balanced response to the Kelo decision is preferable to the current
trend of proposals, which would cut back severely on the ability of communities to use eminent domain at all. Keeping small owners in as good a position as they would have been in, while still allowing broadly beneficial projects to proceed, will provide the greatest advantage to all.”

Adam T. Bradley, Democrat, was elected to the New York State Assembly in November 2002 after over
two decades of community involvement in Westchester County. He represents the 89th Assembly District,
which encompasses the towns of Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle,
Pound Ridge, and most of the city of White Plains.
In Our Opinion...

Actions speak louder than words, much louder. This week residents of Westchester, indeed, all of New York State, got a more accurate picture of just who Jeanine Pirro, who wants us to make her State Attorney General, really is.

Jeffrey Deskovic, 32, who had spent precisely half his life in state prison, convicted in 1989 for the rape and murder of Angela Correa, a Peekskill High School schoolmate, was exonerated and released from custody, following a brief hearing before Administrative Judge of the Criminal Part, Westchester Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea. Amidst the celebration of regained freedom, and long-denied justice, there was the sober realization that this young man’s wrongful prosecution and imprisonment might have been reversed nearly a decade earlier but for the stubborn refusal of Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to honor his attorney’s request to reexamine the DNA evidence upon which his conviction was based.

Those who have worked in criminal defense in Westchester during the 12-year Pirro Regime are only too well aware of her tyrannical approach to the terrible power invested in her as the chief law enforcement officer of her “realm.” Mrs. Pirro, a cold-blooded ogress, who somehow found a way to imprison Richard DiGuglielmo, a New York City Police Officer who saved his father’s life by shooting a bat-wielding, violent assailant; Mrs. Pirro who arranged for the kidnapping of Jing Kelly’s baby boy; that Mrs. Pirro, surely had no problem rejecting young Jeffrey Deskovic’s plea, with a “very rude letter” of rejection.

Throughout her twelve-year tenure Mrs. Pirro never really took seriously the dual mandate every prosecutor is expected to adhere to: To prosecute the guilty, and protect the innocent. The prisons of New York State are filled with numerous innocent individuals, civilians and police officers alike, who were falsely accused and maliciously prosecuted by Jeanine Pirro. At the same time, she lived and continues to live, off the criminally-acquired proceeds of her spouse’s activities and those of his cronies.

Jeanine and Al Pirro, have visited the kind of destruction and havoc upon the Westchester Community that could only be achieved by the union, in marriage, of two psychopaths, two people without conscience, or accountability for their cruel and destructive self-promotional agenda.

We must not, however give them all of the credit for their unfathomable evil achievements. They have had a lot of help along the way. Over three decades the Pirro’s have found more than enough willing contributors and co-conspirators for their immoral, corrupt, and outright criminal personal and public conduct. For far too long the
Wannabe’s and the ‘political groupies’ of Westchester, not to mention the Mob and those politicians who do their bidding, have supported and profited from their publicly-financed largess. Everywhere else in the state people have laughed at the voters of Westchester who could elect a District Attorney who was the spouse, and un-indicted coconspirator of the County’s most outrageous white-collar criminal. Come November 7th, it’s time to say, “Enough is enough!”
Our Readers Respond...

Dear Editor:

Global Warming is a crisis that can unite us all.

Last may I received another Vanity Fair magazine in the mail. It was the special Green Issue. Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Al Gore were on the cover. They were tinted green and they were looking straight at me. I put the magazine on my “get to later, maybe” table. I still couldn’t figure out why I was getting Vanity Fair. I hadn’t subscribed to it.

On the newsstand when I looked at it, it seemed too glossy and too full of ads, but I discovered it had some super interesting articles. As for Global Warming, I told myself I was doing my part. I’d been riding a bike for transportation since the gas lines of the early seventies, if my ride was an hour or less. I didn’t eat heart attack-causing, rain forest-destroying hamburgers.

I taught at-risk students. Global warming was too upsetting to read about. Then at work I saw a copy of Time Magazine with polar bears, looking perplexed, trapped on an ice flow. I thought, “Coward, read that Vanity Fair.”

If you look at the 21 hottest years measured, 20 of the 21 have occurred within the last 25 years. The hottest year recorded during this entire period was 2005, and I’m sure 2006 will be hotter. I remember listening to Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle during that horrible, sticky, oppressive heat wave this summer, on WVOX, telling people to stay indoors because the air was unhealthy to breath.

Do we really want to live like this? The science is conclusive that we humans are causing global warming by spewing polluting greenhouse gases into our precious atmosphere. Wouldn’t it be better to become the world
leader in renewable energy like wind, solar and tidal energy? We would create good paying jobs, and save polar bears and ourselves in the process.

I found out that a good friend of mine had sent me a subscription to Vanity Fair. Thanks for creating The Westchester Guardian, a real grassroots paper that isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

Jon A. Nardelli
Mount Vernon


To the Editor:

In the struggle to find an acceptable solution to the decaying Tappan Zee Bridge, many have suggested that the easiest, and some say the best solution, would be to just build a second Tappan Zee Bridge.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was something of an experimental design, built right after World War II and built on the cheap with untreated lumber on the causeway, now being chewed up by borers. Other bridges of like design
have been, or are being, replaced. To put it bluntly, the TZB is in dreadful shape and a money pit for the Thruway to maintain in any kind of safe condition. To duplicate the first disaster is unthinkable and to build one of
a different design is even less desirable. Talk about visual pollution, one can only imagine the outrage from the river communities.

From a traffic management standpoint a second bridge is impractical given the fact that the bridge must have no more traffic lanes than the roadways on either side of the bridge or the result would be massive gridlock as
vehicles attempt to merge into the existing lanes on the land. What is needed is a replacement bridge with the capability of carrying a commuter rail that could link up five existing north/south rails, two in Rockland and three in Westchester. Such a connecting rail would connect three states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and even come close to a fourth, Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River at the end of the Port Jervis Line. Our region is blessed with a wonderful rail system but it is disconnected, assuming everyone wants to go to NYC.

With commuters going in all directions today a linked rail system is vital for our future economic viability.

Maureen Morgan

The writer is a transit advocate for the East/West Project. She is on the Board of the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County.


Janet Difiore.

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

An Open Letter To District Attorney Janet DiFiore

Dear Janet,

I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the action taken by you, as Westchester District Attorney, when
approached by Barry Scheck, and the Innocence Project, in June of this year, on behalf of Jeffrey Deskovic, a young man who was languishing in state prison for more than fifteen years for crimes he never committed.

Having said that, I would now like to call upon you, in light of Mr. Deskovic’s release, after wrongfully spending
half of his life behind bars, to please take under serious consideration the possibility of replicating a program which Queens County DA Richard Brown has employed for many years. Won’t you kindly consider organizing a special investigative unit within your office, perhaps three, or four experienced investigators, whose sole responsibility will be to “Investigate Serious Claims Of Innocence.”

This unit would be separate, and distinct from your present Investigations Unit of some 45, or so, individuals, as
I understand it. Ideally, such a unit would be staffed with mature, highly experienced, former detectives, capable of shifting gears, in an attempt to run down leads and reliable information, presented by defense attorneys willing to put their reputation on the line. Attorneys wishing to make a serious claim of innocence on behalf of their client, supported by reasonable evidence, would be required to guarantee the full cooperation of witnesses and the accused.

Having taken the action you elected to in the Deskovic case, you have demonstrated, unlike your predecessor, a
willingness to accept not only the proposition that people can be mistaken, even prosecutors, from time to time, but also a willingness to fulfill the mandate of your position as District Attorney, “To prosecute the guilty, and protect the innocent.”

While we have not always found ourselves on the same side of every issue, I am, nevertheless, very confident
that you will immediately recognize the multiple benefits to your Office, to the administration of justice within our
County’s courts, and, most importantly, to the lives of the People who have entrusted you with the responsibility of protecting them and their families. Jeffrey Deskovic might have been your son, or one of mine.

In recent years, with unimagined advances in forensic technology, we have reached a point in the field of criminal
investigation that will no longer tolerate imprecise or incomplete inquiry. Such an approach will surely come
to suggest, at best, a lack of professionalism, at worst, possible prosecutorial misconduct. No law enforcement professional should ever want to go forward with a prosecution that could have been avoided based upon solid contradictory evidence. Clearly, the formation of such a unit would be a Win-Win-Win situation, for everyone, and would distinguish you amongst those who have occupied the DA’s Office.

Best Regards,

Richard
Police Implicated in Scandal Still On The Job in Chappaqua

by Maureen Keating Tsuchiya

Everyone is still on the job in Chappaqua, without being subjected to any disciplinary actions, including Lt. John Vize and Chief Robert Breen, still on duty at the New Castle Police Department more than two months after the New York State Office of the Attorney General sued Police. John Vize and his former colleague, Dennis Mahoney, on July 27, 2006 for pension fraud. Chief Robert Breen was the Department’s chief at the time the alleged illegal acts took place.

Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella is still on the job and has not issued any public reports regarding this matter. Faiella confirmed that no public reports nor demands for any resignations have been made by the town’s supervisor or any members of the town board. He went on to say, “The Town of New Castle is represented in this matter by their labor counsel Craig Benson.”

When asked if Chief Breen or Lt. Vize have been subjected to any disciplinary actions, Faiella advised this reporter that “Disciplinary actions are considered personnel matters that the Town Board is currently reviewing.”

Faiella indicated that Dennis Mahoney is currently receiving “contractually-mandated retirement medical benefits” from the Town of New Castle. According to the lawsuit filed by Spitzer’s Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Unit, following an investigation by Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s Of- fice, which manages public employee pension funds, defendants, Dennis Mahoney, a retired police officer and, John Vize, a current New Castle Police Department lieutenant, who is currently responsible for staff services and special events, were charged with misrepresenting that the retired of- ficer worked as a police officer for a full twenty years when, in fact, he
worked only 19 years. Under section 63-c of the New York State Executive Law, the suits to recover pension benefits paid by the State to Mahoney from about August 2000, for a total of $181,629 or $2751.95 per month;
and, salary and benefits paid to Vize by the Town of New Castle during the period of his breach of duty from about August 1999 to July 2000, approximately $100,00 in salary and benefits.

Spitzer’s lawsuit also states that Lt. Vize, of Mohegan Lake, “was serving as the Department’s records officer and was responsible for, among other things, scheduling and recording police officers’ shifts, and maintaining the
Department’s payroll records for the Town. With Lt. Vize’s knowledge, cooperation and approval, other police officers worked many of the shifts that had been assigned to Mahoney.” These shifts were referred to by some of the department’s members as “Mahoney days.” Approximately 25% of the Department’s 40 officers have been reported to have participated in the scheme.

According to a spokeswoman for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, that accredited this Police Department in 2005, New Castle’s accreditation, which Lt. Vize reportedly worked at obtaining for
several years, would be reviewed if the Attorney General’s suit proves that there were pervasive violations of the Police Department’s policies under the scope of accreditation criteria.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 AM on October 4th before Judge Emmet Murphy in the matter of Steve Kaufman vs. Town of New Castle; New Castle Police Department; Gennaro Faiella; Robert Breen; James Baynes; John Vize; James Tully and Public Employee Risk Management Assn., Index No.05-10178., which was filed on June 24th, 2005, a lawsuit was filed in Supreme Court, Westchester County.

Kaufman was the only Jewish police officer employed by the Town of New Castle from 1983 until approximately 2004. Kaufman charges that he was subjected to anti-Semitic discrimination by the management of the Police Department.

“Double Jeopardy Trick” Convicts Former Correction Officer

SPECIAL COURT REPORT ANALYSIS

By Richard Blassberg

The conviction Wednesday September 20th, in United States District Court, White Plains, of Paul Cote, former Westchester County Correction Officer, charged with violating the Civil Rights of deceased former homeless,
inmate Zoran Teodorovic, reemphasizes the need for Congress to take a long, hard look at the Unconstitutional double jeopardy such federal prosecutions actually represent. Cote was charged with denying Teodorovic his liberty without the benefit of Due Process under Title 18, United States Code, Section 242. Unbeknownst to the jurors who returned that conviction, Cote had been tried and convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, in July of 2001, in Westchester County Court, serving three months in jail.

The circumstances surrounding the bringing of federal charges, based on the same set of facts, six years after the occurrence, in violation of the Statute of Limitations, serves to further spotlight the injustice of Federal Prosecutors, with far more appropriate issues to pursue, “taking a second bite,” as it were, from individuals that they feel were not sufficiently punished by the State. It’s time our Federal Court System, and specifically, our United States Attorneys get the Hell out of politics, and start that what our adversarial judicial system is supposed to be about, a pursuit of the truth.

What we witnessed in this case was nothing short of a wholesale mockery of Justice. Assistant United States Attorneys Cynthia Dunne and Andrew Schilling were fully aware of the fact that their chief witness Correction Officer, Sergeant John Mark Reimer was the individual whose actions were principally responsible for the irreversible severe brain and skull damage to Teodorovic. In response to being punched in his face by the inmate Reimer, all six foot two inches, 285 pounds of him, threw the assailant into a bear hug crashing him to the concrete cellblock floor, head first.

Reimer had admitted under crossexamination that he had met six times, for a total of seventeen hours, with
Prosecutors Dunne and Schilling in the weeks prior to trial, for the purpose of repeatedly reviewing his prior testimony in the state trial five years earlier, as well as what he would now testify to. That scenario apparently didn’t enlighten this jury. Reimer had been “cute” under cross-examination trying desperately to withhold nformation exculpatory to Defendant Cote. He was so recalcitrant, he was reprimanded by Judge Brieant, whose disdain for the entire case was quite evident.

In pre-trial hearings, many weeks before the trial, Brieant had plainly expressed his belief under a variety of
theories, that, in fact, the Government’s prosecution constituted a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution.

He had spoken to the issue for several minutes, at one point citing Petite v. United States. The case brought against Paul Cote, for two weeks in United States District Court, was merely an attempt to draw more punishment, more time, from someone; in this instance, the man who had been framed in the state trial five years earlier, by a confabulation of District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s creation. Cote had been tried by Assistant DA Robert Neary, a prosecutor with no compunction about knowingly prosecuting and convicting innocent police officers and other law enforcement personnel. He had done precisely that with former New Rochelle Police Officer Matthew Mc Carrick, falsely charged with Robbery and Assault a few years earlier. Despite his conviction for Second Degree Assault, his serving of three months jail time, his loss of a twelve years career and pension benefits, the United States Attorney’s Office was not satisfied that Paul Cote had suffered enough punishment, given the fact that inmate Teodorovic ultimately died fourteen months after the incident.

It is frightening to witness a jury of seven men and five women, each of whom have obviously left their common sense at home. It is as though they cannot accept the ugly truth that for the Prosecutors it is simply a contest to be won, with no regard for establishing the truth, no desire to protect the innocent, and every desire to crawl into bed with the most deceitful parties to the crime, so long as they tell a jury exactly what the Prosecution wants them to hear, in exchange for immunity, or a lighter sentence.

It is the repeated practice of making deals with the Devil, so often engaged in by state and federal prosecutors these days that diminishes the dignity and relevance of the criminal court system and makes a mockery of what we teach our youth. How can one be expected to view our courts with respect when confronted with unreliable, better yet, perjured testimony, and the subornation of perjury, by prosecutors such as Jeanine Pirro, and Cynthia Dunne and Andrew Schilling?

One would have hoped, particularly following the jury charge and instructions from Judge Brieant, that the jurors would have paid suffi-cient attention to the fact that the so-called eyewitnesses to the incident consisted of Reimer, a most interested and culpable party, and three “jailhouse snitches”: a drug dealer, an attempted child abuser, and an attempted murderer, each of whose testimony contradicted the other two.

As the trial progressed it certainly should have occurred to those same jurors that if the Defendant was actually
guilty of all of the punches and kicks alleged by the Prosecution and related by Officer Reimer, why was Reimer, who admitted that he was, in fact, on top of the inmate, and restraining him, unable, over the course of several seconds, to prevent the Defendant from doing what he was accusing him of having done? Furthermore, it should have occurred to the same jurors that it was Reimer, and not Cote, who had just been punched in the face, so hard that he had “bitten his cheek,” and clearly was responding reflexively when he slammed Teodorovic’s head on the concrete floor. In cross-examination Reimer had been compelled to acknowledge that the inmate’s head had actuallybounced from the force of impact.

It is clear that the concept of “Reasonable Doubt,” as repeatedly explained by Defense Counsel as well as
Judge Brieant at numerous points in the trial, was totally lost on this jury. Given the admissions of Reimer, both in direct, as well as crossexamination, no intelligent individual could, in good conscience, assert that there was no room for reasonable doubt. One can never secondguess what is going through the minds of jurors. I’ve known some who totally abandoned overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and convicted defendants of murder just not to have to undergo sequestration.

Given the ‘peril of the jury’, no defendant should ever be subjected to Double Jeopardy. A remedy, however, exists for the actions of this jury. Immediately following the announcement of the verdict, upon discharge of the jury, Defense counsel Bennett Epstein made an oral motion to the Court asking that the verdict be vacated as “against the weight of evidence.”

Judge Brieant received the motion, reserving decision and requesting a formal written application. That motion and other applications, likely forthcoming from both Defense and Prosecution, were set down for hearing on December 5, 2006.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mother 72, Daughter 49, Charge Yonkers Police Brutality

Tina Bostwick, age 72, a lifelong resident of Yonkers, who grew up in the house next door to the one she lives in, behind Saunders High School, and her daughter, Mary 49, the business manager of a school district for disadvantaged children, are charging the Yonkers Police Department, and specfically, Police Officer Steven Gratzon, with Police Brutality.

The Bostwicks called THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN to their home near Palmer Road in Yonkers several days ago, because as they put, “We have nowhere else to turn.”

Sitting with these women for more than two hours it was plainly apparent to this reporter that neither had gotten over the horrific experience that they suffered nearly a year ago, at the hands of the Yonkers Police Department, nor from their subsequent treatment by the administration of Mayor Phil Amicone, and the City Court System.

Mary, the daughter, who was roughed-up, and manhandled, and denied her Constitutional Rights, is far from over the incident, or the administrative and judicial mishandling that followed. She is unable to discuss the matter at any length without crying, and would appear to be suffering Post Traumatic Stress.

The incident, that has literally turned this mother and daughter’s lives inside out, occurred on October28, 2005 at approximately 9:30 PM. They were relaxing at home when a young man, 19 came running to their door pleading with them to call the police because his 16-year-old friend who was standing with him, had been beaten by their neighbor across the street, and was bleeding profusely from the mouth and face. The Bostwicks immediately phoned for the police and began to administer first aid and comfort to the youngster.

As Tina Bostwick recalls she was surprised and pleased that the Yonkers Police, apparently responded quickly to their telephone call, in light of the fact that she and her neighbors had been complaining for some time about the slowness of Yonkers Police Department response and their frequent “failure to come out of their cars when they do come.” In fact, she and several members of the community had met, just three weeks earlier with Mayor Amicone, Police Commissioner Taggart, and other City officials at Saunders High School to air their concerns about police responsiveness and other issues.

She now believes that the police who promptly arrived at the scene were responding to an earlier call prompted by the fight that resulted in the teen’s head injuries.

Mary Bostwick states that she was attempting to speak with another officer about the injured youngster, on the sidewalk in front of her house, when Police Officer Steven Gratzon, grabbed her from behind, without provocation, handcuffed her and flung her into a police car. She sustained bruises to her arms and body, from Officer Gratzon, who she says “ turned into a madman.” While this was occurring, her 72-year-old mother, Tina was being shoved aside, and prevented from comforting her daughter, or even bringing her her shoes.

Mary Bostwick was locked up, and booked, and initially charged with Disorderly Conduct. She was held in custody for several hours, in the company of common criminals. What followed that horrific, violent night has further instilled fear and emotional distress in this mother and daughter. For one thing, as if in retaliation for earlier complaints, and also to gain leverage over them, the Yonkers Police Department upgraded the charge against Mary Bostwick to Obstructing Governmental Administration In The Second Degree, a violation of Penal Law PL 195.05, a misdemeanor.

Six days after the incident, on November 3rd, Sergeants Capalbo and Holden showed up at the Bostwick residence claiming that they were not there because of the incident, but rather because of the complaints registered at the public meeting with Mayor Amicone almost a month earlier. After telling thed two sergeants what had happened, and that they intended to file a report at the First Police Precinct, one of the sergeants responded, “It’s ninety-nine percent your report will never get past the Captain.”

Mary Bostwick appeared in Yonkers City Court expecting that Judge Duran after hearing what had actually occurred would dismiss the charges. But it did not turn out that way. She was advised to get a lawyer and return to answer the misdemeanor that her charges had been upgraded to. Jay Hashmall, former high-level assistant to Mayors Spencer and Amicone, got involved at this point, introducing her to his law partner Michael Bank, who was happy to accept her case for $3,500.

When she protested to he new attorneys that she had done nothing wrong, and wanted to fight the false charges against her, seeking a dismissal, Jay Hashmall who was careful to tell her to keep his name out of it, then advised her, “You’re better off taking an ACD, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. You know you could go to jail for one year.” Hashmall was not alone in his preference to protect, and cover-up the violent criminal actions of Officer Gratzon. Dee Barbado told the Bostwicks, “ Why don’t you move?”

The Bostwick women’s experience, while extreme, is by no means unique in dealings with the Yonkers Police Department. On August 21st of this year, an article in THE JOURNAL NEWS, headlined “ Yonkers Police Brutality Alleged” spoke of a meeting attended by Jim Bostic, Director of the Nepperhan Community Center, and Chairman of the Yonkers Violence and Gang Prevention Coalition, as well as Karen Edmonson, President of the Yonkers NAACP. This writer was in touch with each of those individuals, and was advised that Bostic would be conducting a meeting of the Coalition on Wednesday September 13th at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, which District Attorney Janet DiFiore had agreed to attend.

Having attended that meeting which was, in fact, attended by the DA, her executive assistant Mr. George, Ken Davis, a Yonkers Police Department Youth Outreach Officer, and Captain Sal DiMaggio of the Fourth Precinct, I was disappointed that Mr. Bostic, as a matter of “organizational policy,” would not permit any questions from members of the Press to DA DiFiore. That was an unfortunate decision given the fact that the one hour of discussion which had occurred dealt mainly with the appropriateness of police interaction with youths who had been apprehended either in or out of school, and not necessarily with the overall problem of Police Brutality in the City of Yonkers.

In light of our newspaper’s call for intervention and decisive action by the Westchester District Attorney’s Office weeks ago, and the allegations which had appeared in the local media for many weeks earlier, including the case involving Rui Florim and Andrew Birkenfeld, that began at the Tyrone House Tavern in the City’s Waterfront District, combined with the information provided by the Bostwicks, THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN contacted District Attorney DiFiore through her spokesperson Lucian Chalfen. We posed the following three questions:

What is District Attorney DiFiore doing to address repeated allegations of Yonkers Police Brutality?
Has the District Attorney any intention of addressing the problem by looking into the specific claims of civilian victims?

What procedures, if any, have been put in place to deal with offending police officers?

The following responses were received from DA DiFiore’s Office:

ANYONE WHO FEELS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF ANY FORM OF POLICE MISCONDUCT OR BRUTALITY IS ENCOURAGED TO REPORT THE INCIDENT.
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S PUBLIC INTEGRITY BUREAU INVESTIGATES ALL ALLEGATIONSOF MISCONDUCT OR BRUTALITY, WHETHER REFERRED DIRECTLY FROM THE POLICE DEPARTMENT OR FROM A CIVILIAN COMPLAINANT.

COMPLAINTS WHICH ARE SUBSTANTIATED WILL RESULT IN APPROPRIATE ACTION BY THIS OFFICE, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

ANYONE WHO FEELS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE SHOULD CONTACT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AT 914-995-3420.

THE SIX HUNDRED PLUS MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE THE YONKERS POLICE DEPARTMENT DESERVE THE CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT OF THE PEOPLE OF **YONKERS**. BY COMING FORWARD, VICTIMS OF ALLEGED BRUTALITY OR MISCONDUCT ARE NOT ONLY SPEAKING UP FOR THEMSELVES, BUT ALSO FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE YPD AS WELL.

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN goes on record to state that We believe the overwhelming majority of the six hundred, or so, police officers in the Yonkers Police Department are hardworking, honest, public servants, who daily go about their work in a lawful and respectful manner. However, there can be no denying, in the face of repeated allegations from credible victims, that there exists a certain small element, perhaps only a handful, no more than one percent of the force, who are not only criminally inflicting physical, and other, punishment upon citizens and residents, in violation of their Civil Rights, but also destroying the reputation and authority of the Department in the process.

These cases must not be swept under the rug, or bought off by City Government. Rui Florim a young man who was accosted and beaten by several Yonkers Police Officers in the Town of Greenburgh, required seventy stitches and five days in a hospital intensive care unit to recover. He is represented by Attorneys Tony Castro and Ravi Batra, who intend to bring the truth forward. Andrew Birkenfeld, who was likewise beaten and given a broken nose, is represented by Attorney Michael Romano, who will also be pursuing justice. These and several other cases will not simply go away, and We intend to follow their progress, and that of other victims, in an effort to keep our readers,and the Westchester Community, at large, informed.

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN encourages our readers to come forward, if they, or someone they know have been the victim of police brutality anywhere in Westchester. We firmly believe that there is no place in a free society for that kind of unlawful and abusive treatment by persons entrusted to uphold the law!
Working Families Party Endorses Shelley Mayer

The Working Families Party affirmed its endorsement of Shelley Mayer, Democratic Candidate for the 93rd State Assembly District in Yonkers, at a press conference held today at the Mayer Campaign Headquarters. The Working Families Party is the most influential third party in New York elections, and a powerful voice for working people.

Patrick Welsh, Chairman of the Westchester/Putnam Chapter of the Working Families Party said, “I believe Shelley Mayer has the skills and political courage needed to make a real difference for working people here in Westchester. It’s time to end the all too common practice in Albany and Washington of paying lip service to the needs of middle and working class people, while giving handouts to big corporations. As a result, real wages are going down, the good, stable jobs with benefits are going overseas while the big corporations are making record profits. I know first-hand that Shelley Mayer will listen to working people and work toward commonsense solutions that will make life better and strengthen our communities. Finally, she has the intelligence and experience in Albany to get things done.”

Mayer and Welsh also called for the passage of legislation to allow New York State to buy prescription drugs in bulk, to help address the tremendous rise in the price of pharmaceuticals.

A 2006 AARP report found that the price of brand-name prescription drugs was rising nearly 4 times as fast as inflation. The related bills that passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate (A6336B/S5029A), would save taxpayers money by allowing the state to buy prescription drugs in bulk, at a cheaper price, through state health programs like Medicaid and EPIC.

Mayer said, “I am honored to stand here with Patrick Welsh and the Working Families Party, an organization I know is making a positive difference in New York politics. When I am elected to the Assembly, I will work with them in the fight to make prescription drugs more affordable. Our seniors and families need relief from the disastrous rise in the cost of pharmaceuticals.”
In Our Opinion...

Little more than a week ago voters in Westchester, and all over New York State, registered Democrats, and Republicans, went to the polls to select candidates for those offices, for which the nomination of either of those parties, was being contested by two or more individuals.

Two of the more prominent positions, Governor, and United States Senator, although the object of primary contests, were in fact, forgone conclusions. Hillary Clinton, as expected receiving some 83% for United States Senate nod, and Eliot Spitzer 82% for Governor.

Still, on the Democratic side, the more contentious race for state-wide of-fice was the contest for the Attorney General nomination. Although there were three candidates, only two were considered probable, Mark Green, and Andrew Cuomo. And, while Cuomo’s victory by more than twenty percentage points came as no surprise, many had expected a closer finish.

Given the bitterness, and some of the accusations that had come from the Green Camp in the closing weeks of the campaign, we were pleased to see Mr. Green accept the good advice of Charlie King, immediately closing ranks behind Cuomo, declaring, “Andrew Cuomo will make a far better Attorney General than Jeanine
Pirro.” Some had feared that Green might have sought an independent endorsement and nomination becoming a spoiler. We say, “More power to you Mr. Green for doing the right thing.”

On the Republican side of the isle, John Spencer’s victory over K.T. McFarland was not unexpected. Most observers acknowledge that Spencer is on an intentional “suicide mission,” in part serving as a $500,000 cash cow for the Spencer Clan, but, more importantly, keeping his political torch glowing for a heavily anticipated re-run for Mayor of Yonkers next year. In any case, no surprises in that outcome.

However, we believe that the outcome in a less publicized Republican contest, between six-term incumbent Assemblyman Willis Stephens, Jr., of Southeast, and Greg Ball, 28, of Patterson, a newcomer to the political arena, may hold some significant clues for the upcoming general election. Greg Ball, didn’t simply defeat Stephens, a very popular grandson of the late, great, Mallory Stephens, and son of the former ten-term Assemblyman Willis Stephens.

He clobbered him, taking 71% of the Republican faithful with him, in a traditionally Republican 99th Assembly District.

We believe Ball’s overwhelming victory was a very poignant statement by a particularly significant, and representative segment of New York State’s electorate.

Those who sent Stephens packing, Republican faithful all, come from North Salem, Somers, and Yorktown, in Westchester, Southeast, Carmel, and Patterson, in Putnam, and Pawling in Dutchess County, a really representative cross-section of New York Republicans, indeed.

Simply stated, Republican incumbents facing re-election in New York State, at every level, will be D.O.A. November 7th, at 9:00PM.

George Pataki’s rape and destruction of the state’s human and financial resources, aided, and abetted by the Republican controlled State Senate, coupled with the failed policies of the Bush Administration, have together created a poverty of spirit, as well as pocket, across our once great Empire State, that now cries out for the ballot box remedy.
Our Readers Respond...

To The Editor:

I applaud your article on fraud at former DA Jeanine Pirro’s office. This hardly surprises me.

I worked as a civil servant and was fired to trumped up charges. They even erased a court stenographer’s transcript. Violations of DUE PROCESS like mine have occurred over and over; its shocking how casual everyone involved was. My case [Kampel vs Westchester County] was a free for all. The dynamics kept anyone from taking the blame for anything. The case Karen Bendell vs. Westchester County Healthcare Corp in 2000 was the same freefor-all. She was paid a settlement by the hospital to drop this case to avoid exposure. It was written up in the New York Law Journal at the time.

Please keep up your investigative reporting, the press’ free efforts help stomp out the ugly corruption and politics in county government. Our exwell-polished DA should hit the text books on due process and start learning some real FAMILY VALUES.

Bob Kampel
Mount Vernon

To the Editor:

I just read my first issue of The Westchester Guardian. I enjoy your paper
and believe that you are providing the public with a great public service.

Thanks for doing your part to keep the people of Westchester more
informed about the important issues facing our county.

You have an excellent team: Richard Blassberg is respected county-wide
for his efforts – uncovering corruption and government abuses. Maureen
Keating Tsuchiya is a tireless advocate for the disabled and for government
reforms. The Westchester Guardian hopefully will work hard to keep our
government honest and responsive.

Best wishes.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

To the editor:

Fred Polvere’s August 31st Once We Were Giants was valuable and needed! That we did not torture and treat inhumanely the prisoners we took in war is one reason that the United States used to be the best country in the world.

Why has America changed, that people now accept the ascendance of an agenda that includes brutal treatment of captives? That the new generation of soldiers practices that brutality? As Mr. Polvere points out, in Vietnam we treated prisoners better.

One reason is that for years our government and its corporate sponsors have propped up some brutal regimes in some other countries. We even taught people how to become disciplinarians for Latin American dictators, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Cannot we say that one road to Abu Ghraib starts at Fort Benning?

But that alone does not America’s move toward participation in atrocities?

Yet we are told that for the past 30 years, most Americans have had the best and most advanced life anybody has ever had. We are told that we are more comfortable, loved, wanted and wantable, free, tolerant and tolerated, and progressive than any society has ever been. We have “achieved” the spending of most of our waking hours in front of video screens, the prevalence of the “correct pleasures” (sex, gambling and booze), abortion, domination by powerful multi-national corporations, air-conditioning, relief from the “burden” of walking even a short distance away from one’s home and yard, relief from the “burden” of learning historical events, and
“feel-good” drugs (both illegal and legal). Where is the greater compassion, generosity, humaneness, mellowness, and good behavior that such “achievements” are supposed to generate? And many of our military peopleare young enough to have known almost nothing but our “advanced” society.

Using information-gathering as an excuse for torture is not valid. If you make someone confess to a crime, whether he/she did it or not, then you are no closer to
learning the truth than you were before the interrogation.

If a person tells you information to stop being tortured, there is no guarantee how true the information is. The “informer” could be making up something that has no basis for fact. If he/she “confesses” to planning a monstrous terrorist attack, he/she might have thought up the attack just a few minutes ago in the interrogation
room. Suppose someone under torture names “coconspirators”.

Those people might be fictitious, might be people the “informant” has a grudge against or is in a money or property dispute with, or might be people not involved in any conspiracy the informant knows of. If the informant is really a terrorist, he might under torture inform on everybody except those who really are his co-conspirators.

Jeanette Wolfberg
Mount Kisco
The Court Report

By Richard Blassberg

U. S. Attorney’s Office Doing Their “Double Jeopardy Trick”
United States District Court, White Plains
Justice Charles Brieant Presiding

Monday, September 11th Paul Cote, former Westchester County Correction Of-ficer, with twelve years on the job, who was tried in July, 2001, by District Attorney Jeanine Pirro for allegedly assaulting an inmate at the County Jail, a year earlier, who was convicted, of Second Degree Assault, and served three months in jail, went to trial on the same set of facts, this time in the United States District Courthouse in White Plains, Judge Charles Brieant presiding. The prosecution, actually beyond the five-year Statute of Limitations, being conducted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cynthia Dunne and Andrew Schilling, is, by any measure, an unjust instance of “double jeopardy.”

Simply stated, the Federal Government, for whatever nefarious purposes, is taking a “second bite out of Mr. Cote,” based on the same transaction for which he was previously framed by a fellow officer, John Mark Riemer, to whose aid he had gone when that officer was assaulted by the inmate in question. Having previously
been charged with First Degree Assault in the state trial, Cote is now charged with violating the Civil Rights of inmate Zoran Teodorovic, by denying him his liberty without benefit of due process, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 242.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dunne, delivering a fifteen minute opening statement charged that Cote “brutally beat” inmate Teodorovic, to “punish him and teach him a lesson.” Dunne further charged that the Defendant, immediately following the incident proceeded to produce a “report that was a lie.”

In substance the Government is alleging that while Officer Riemer held the inmate down on the concrete floor of Cellblock 1G, the Defendant, Paul Cote punched and kicked that inmate in his body and head, causing injury that ultimately, fourteen months later caused his death.

Defense Attorney, John Patten, partnered in the Defense with Bennett Epstein, told the jury of seven men, and five women, “the Government is presenting selected parts of the facts.” He assured the jurors them that the Defense would show that his client, “made a split-second decision to come to the aid of another officer,” and that
“the entire incident took 20 to 30 seconds, of which his client’s “entire involvement was two or three seconds.”

Patten further advised the jury that the inmate was not restrained as claimed by the Government, but was resisting, and that inmate witnesses that the Government would be presenting “lack credibility.” He cautioned the jury to listen very carefully to the details of the Government’s case, keeping in mind that the only side of the inmate’s face that was exposed to possible injury by the Defendant was the right side, and the alleged fatal injury was delivered to the left. Finally, in an appeal to the jurors’ common sense, he reminded them that the Government was presenting a case six years after the fact that involves, “what happened in two or three seconds,” and asked them not to become distracted by talk of a cover-up, “because the Government
would have charged that had there actually been one.”

It was apparent that Judge Brieant would live up to his “let’s get down to business, no nonsense” approach from the outset, having selected a jury in less than three hours Monday morning, and moving right into opening statements and testimony from the Government’s key witness Correction Officer Sergeant John Mark Reimer immediately following lunch.

After going through preliminary questions designed to set the scene and explain the setting in a way favorable to the Government’s theory, Prosecutor Dunne began to illicit specific testimony about the incident. She inquired if the inmate Teodorovic had struck Reimer. He responded, “He punched me on the lower left portion of my jaw.”

Dunne asked, “How would you describe him.”

Reimer replied, “He was shorter than I, and lanky.” It was already established that Reimer is six feet, two inches tall, and weighed approximately 285 pounds at the time of the altercation. Asked to describe his immediate response when Teodorovic struck him, the witness stated that he put the inmate into a ‘bear hug’ and brought
him down hard onto the concrete floor of the cellblock.

Dunne asked, “Whose body struck the ground first?”

Reimer responded, “We struck the floor together. I used my right hand to try to break the fall. His chest was against my chest. He was on his left side.

Dunne: “Did he take any actions you thought were threatening?”

Reimer: “No.”

Prosecutor Dunne now asked her witness to describe what actions Officer Cote took when he responded to assist him. Reimer stated that the Defendant struck the inmate twice to the body and twice to the head with his hands, then kicked him twice to the body and twice to the head, and finally stomped him in the face.

Leading her witness, Dunne then asked, “What did he say?” (referring to the Defendant.)

Reimer responded, “You never hit an officer.”

Prosecutor Dunne now turned to the Judge and said, “I would ask Officer Reimer to demonstrate for the Jury.”
Judge Brieant immediately snapped, “No. They’re overdone already.”

Dunne now asked Reimer to describe what he said when the Defendant allegedly punched and kicked the inmate. Reimer responded that he told him, three times, “Paulie that’s enough.” He then volunteered, “It happened so fast. I pulled my pin and called a Code 13”

Dunne now inquired, “Was he moving, (referring to the inmate), what was Mr. Teodorovic’s condition?”

Officer Reimer answered, “He appeared unconscious.”

At this point Judge Brieant called a brief recess.

Returning from the brief break, and following some additional questions from the Government, essentially designed to clarify, or reinforce the original line of questions, Defense Attorney John Patten now began to cross-examine the Government’s star witness.

He began, “Officer Reimer, what would you estimate was the total time from the punch to the time Mr. Cote left the scene?”

Reimer quickly wisecracked, “I didn’t have a stopwatch.”

On that note Patten came back with, “How many times have you met with the United States Attorney in the last few weeks?”

Reimer answered, “Seven times.”

Patten: “How long were the sessions?”

Reimer: Sometimes an hour, sometimes three or four hours.”

Patten: “On seven different occasions you went over your prior testimony?”

Reimer: “Yes.”

Attorney Patten now asked the witness the key question, “How come it took seventeen hours to go
over your prior testimony in preparation?”

Sergeant Reimer now responded, “I don’t know.”

Annoyed, and with his voice raised, Attorney Patten now insisted, “And, is it your testimony that you don’t
recall saying at a prior proceeding that it took twenty to thirty seconds from the point at which you were struck,
until Paul Cote left the room.?” Raising his voice still further, Patten demanded, “Do you recall testifying ‘twenty
to thirty seconds’ at a prior proceeding?”

Prosecutor Schilling now jumps up, “Objection, Your__”

Judge Brieant cuts him off, “Overruled.”

Patten, now turning partially toward the jury, declares, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Government concedes
that that was the testimony that was given.” Then, turning to the witness he asks, “Do you recall testifying
that it took fifteen seconds to take Teodorovic to the ground?”

Prosecutor Schilling: “Objection.”

Brieant: “Overruled.”

Patten continuing to hammer away, “From the kicks to the chest to the kicks to the head, would you
say it was three or four seconds?”

Reimer responded, “I would say it was longer.”

Patten: “You testified it happened so quickly, in a matter of seconds?”

Reimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “Inmate Sauls was in cell 27?”

Reimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “This incident took place near cell number two?”

Reimer: “Closer to cell four.”

Patten: “His head was closer to cell four?”

Reimer: “Right.”

Patten: “Was this the first timke you were ever struck by an inmate?”

Double Jeopardy, continued from page 3 Reimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “In the cell area there’s nothing but noise?”

Reimer: “At times.”

Patten: “What type of weapons have been found in the runners, (cell door tracks)?”

Reimer: “Sharpened pencils, pieces of metal.”

Patten now took an abrupt turn in his line of questions, asking, “Isn’t it a fact that you brought him down
violently, fast, and hard? Do you recall saying his head bounced off the floor?”

Reimer responded, “I may have.”

Patten: “And, it was the left side of his head, correct?”

Redimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “You broke your fall, but you didn’t break his fall?”

Reimer: “I guess.”

Patten: “You spoke to a lawyer the very next day?”

Reimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “But you didn’t see the prosecutor for ten days?”

Reimer: “Yes.”

Patten: “How many times did you see him?”

Reimer: “Three times.”

Patten: “How many hours?”

Reimer:
Patten: “You were concerned that you would have immunity? You were concerned that you had crashed
him to the floor, and bounced him to the ground and that he went unconscious?”

Reimer, getting noticeably more uncomfortable, says, “I was concerned about the cover-up.”
Patten, pulling the witness back to his principle point, “You wouldn’t speak to the prosecutors until you
got immunity?”

Reimer: “Correct.”

Patten now enlarging the scope of his inquiry, asked, “You wanted to protect yourself. Officer Meade
had called you at 7:30AM the next day to tell you Teodorovic was brain dead?”

Analysis:

The Government’s key witness Correction Officer Sergeant Reimer, is a typical Prosecution witness of
the variety who, having committed the wrongful act, then runs quickly to get “ lawyered up” before approaching
prosecutors to cut a deal, either for total immunity, or for the promise of a reduced sentence, in exchange for their “customized testimony” or, more likely, modified and perjured testimony, designed to convict an innocent second party or parties, as per the prosecutor’s personal preference, and/or political agenda.

Entirely too many prosecutors, both state and federal, are perfectly comfortable with such arrangements
these days. For such individuals, their work has long ago ceased to be a search for the truth. Rather,
it is a contest to see how many individuals they can convict irrespective of innocence or guilt.
The Advocate Richard Blassberg

Cross-Endorsement: Cornerstone Of Corruption In New York State Politics


Students of Political Science, from Harvard to Berkley, and everywhere in between, are taught that the United States is fundamentally different from most other democracies worldwide, in that we operate politically under a two-party system. Presumably, under the two-party system candidates nominated by minor parties, Conservatives, Independents, Working Families, would stand little chance of election against those put up by the Republican and Democratic Parties. For the most part that is true throughout the country, and, as a result, one can count on the fingers of one hand the number of individuals who have been elected to Congress without the nomination of either the Republicans or Democrats.

However, in New York State, and only four other states out of fifty, the two-party system has been subverted by a gimmick known as cross-endorsement. Under the practice of cross-endorsement, candidates nominated by other parties are adopted, as it were, endorsed and nominated by minor parties, whose constituencies very often comprise the votes needed to put a Democrat or Republican over the top, in an otherwise close contest.

Here in Westchester, in recent elections, we have come to understand, only too well, the opportunity created for corrupt politicians, and party power brokers, to contaminate and subvert the electoral process through cross-endorsement. - at is not to suggest that all minor parties in Westchester have been engaged, at one time, or another, in the unlawful manipulation, or rigging of election outcomes. Quite the contrary.


There are times when a minor party will actually vote in its executive committee to support a Democrat or a Republican candidate based upon that candidate’s stance in support of some issue central to their party’s platform. Such was the case, we are told, in 2004, regarding the Working Families Party’s support of a Republican who claimed to strongly support a signi cant raise in the Minimum Wage. Ordinarily, one doesn’t expect that party to align itself with the Republican Party.

Nevertheless, it is common knowledge that the election process in Westchester has been fraught with fraud and criminal activity for many years, and that certain individuals, up to their eyeballs in race fixing and election fraud, have enjoyed protection from state prosecution in exchange for their conspiring with, and collaborating with the former District Attorney, Jeanine Pirro. Anthony Mangone, a political operative, admitted under cross-xamination, while serving as the chief prosecution witness at the Wedra trial in February 2002, that he, Mangone, was, in fact, the individual who forged 166 ballots in the Green Party primary of 2000. Not only was Mangone granted immunity, but Pirro arranged for him to be employed as an attorney in her husband’s former
law firm.

There have been several elections, involving numerous individuals, who engaged in unlawful activities, in Westchester, over the last ten years alone, enough to fill several columns on the subject. Suffice to say, significant numbers of elected officials, party committee persons, law enforcement personnel, and county and municipal employees, will be exposed in upcoming issues. For now, it should be pointed out that one of the most outrageous of these Election Fraud criminals is Giulio Cavallo, “on again, off again” Chairman of the Westchester Independence Party, who, we have been told, by usually reliable sources, is under federal investigation.


Mr. Cavallo, currently “employed,” by a State Legislator from Queens County, is clearly someone who several elected o cials and political operatives, from Westchester to Albany, are very concerned about. They
are plainly worried that, once put under threat of criminal prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office, he will rat them all out to save his own ass. Cavallo is experiencing sleepless nights, not only in fear of prosecution but in fear of the consequences of his loss in last Tuesday’s primary to Nader Sayegh, co-founder, and former party chairman, who has been leading a very aggressive reform movement within the Westchester Independence
Party.

Stay tuned for further developments and revelations.
U.S. Supreme Court’s Giglio Decision Threatens New Castle Police Authority

by Maureen Keating Tsuchiya

A recent teenage drinking party on September 9th, 2006, has landed some Chappaqua teenagers in hot water with their parents, school and local police. But will the charges stand after defense lawyers find out that members of the police involved with the investigation and subsequent arrest may have liabilities of their own because they may have been involved with lying in official matters, falsifying reports, or expressing bias which will render them unable to testify credibly and consequently as law enforcement officers?

The relevant cases are The State of New York, by Eliot Spitzer, Attorney General vs. Dennis Mahoney and John Vize, filed with the Westchester County Clerk’s office on July 27, 2006, by the Attorney General’s of-
fice, has focused tremendous attention on the Town of New Castle’s 40 member Police Department, a matter that has churned since 1999, involving a top law enforcement officer who is still on duty—in this case New
Castle police Lieutenant John Vize, who is accused of keeping fraudulent payroll records for at least a year in order to help a fellow officer—Dennis Mahoney, obtain a 20 year pension when the officer had in fact
only worked 19 years. According to twenty years worth of documents seized from the New Castle Police Department in 2003 by the Public Integrity Section of the office of Westchester District Attorney Jeannine Pirro,
Lt.Vize was also involved with arranging shifts under Mahoney’s name, referred to by some of the department’s members as “Mahoney days.” Approximately 25% of the Department’s officers have been reported to have participated in the scheme

The second case is Steve Kaufman vs. Town of New Castle; New Castle Police Department; Gennaro Faiella; Robert Breen; James Baynes; John Vize; James Tully and Public Employee Risk Management Assn., Index No.05-10178. Kaufman was the only Jewish police of-ficer employed by the town until approximately 2004.

His lawsuit alleges that the Town’s Police Department systematically excluded police officers of non-Irish national origin from top positions in the Department which has also created and perpetrated a hostile work environment against Kaufman because he is Jewish, and as for a second cause of action because Kaufman
filed worker compensation claims.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Giglio v United States, the Supreme Court extended the obligation to share exculpatory information with the defendant to include information concerning the credibility of government
witnesses.

According to a recent article entitled “Disclosing Officer Untruthfulness to the Defense: Is a Liars Squad Coming to Your Town?” by Lisa A. Judge in Police Chief Magazine, “The reality is that prosecutors must rely on law
enforcement agencies to inform them of a hidden witness credibility problem including, for example, evidence of an officer’s prior untruthfulness in official matters.”

Ten years ago, in 1996, Attorney General Janet Reno established the Giglio Policy to require federal law enforcement agencies to inform federal prosecutors about potential impeachment information, including prior
misconduct information.

Judge also stated “Many state and local agencies have begun to disclose to prosecutors any conclusive information regarding untruthfulness, bias and crimes committed by an officer who is to be a material witness
in a criminal prosecution.”

“As this trend grows, agencies will be required to deal more forcefully with officers who lie. Departments may choose to adopt strict policies regarding truthfulness and rigorously adhere to those policies. Without taking such steps, agencies set themselves up to employee a portion of their commissioned workforce as administrative employees, unable to investigate crimes and testify regarding their investigations.”

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Mother 72, Daughter 49, Charge Yonkers Police Brutality

By Richard Blassberg

Tina Bostwick, age 72, a lifelong resident of Yonkers, who grew up in the house next door to the one she lives in, behind Saunders High School, and her daughter, Mary 49, the business manager of a school district for disadvantaged children, are charging the Yonkers Police Department, and specifically, Police Officer Steven Gratzon, with Police Brutality. The Bostwicks called THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN to their home near Palmer Road in Yonkers several days ago, because as they put, “We have nowhere else to turn.”

Sitting with these women for more than two hours it was plainly apparent to this reporter that neither had gotten
over the horrific experience that they suffered nearly a year ago, at the hands of the Yonkers Police Department, nor from their subsequent treatment by the administration of Mayor Phil Amicone, and the City Court System.

Mary, the daughter, who was roughed-up, and manhandled, and denied her Constitutional Rights, is far
from over the incident, or the administrative and judicial mishandling that followed. She is unable to discuss the matter at any length without crying, and would appear to be suffering Post Traumatic Stress.

The incident, that has literally turned this mother and daughter’s lives inside out, occurred on O c t o b e r
28, 2005 at approxima t e l y 9:30PM. T h e y were rela x i n g at home when a y o u n g man, 19 came running
to their door pleading with them to call the police because his 16-year-old friend who was standing with him, had been beaten by their neighbor across the street, and was bleeding profusely from the mouth and face. The Bostwicks immediately phoned for the police and began to administer first aid and comfort to the youngster.

As Tina Bostwick recalls she was surpried and pleased that the Yonkers Police, apparently responded quickly to their telephone call, in light of the fact that she and her neighbors had been complaining for some time about the slowness of Yonkers Police Department response and their frequent “failure to come out of their cars when they do come.” In fact, she and several members of the community had met, just three weeks earlier with Mayor Amicone, Police Commissioner Taggart, and other City officials at Saunders High School to air their concerns about police responsiveness and other issues.

She now believes that the police who promptly arrived at the scene were r e s p o n d -ing to an earlier call
prompted by the fight that resulted in the teen’s head injuries. Mary Bostwick states that she was attempting
to speak with another officer about the injured youngster, on the sidewalk in front of her house, when Police
Officer Steven Gratzon, grabbed her from behind, without provocation, handcuffed her and flung her into a
police car. She sustained bruises to her arms and body, from Officer Gratzon, who she says “turned into a madman.” While this was occurring, her 72-year-old mother, Tina was being shoved aside, and prevented from comforting her daughter, or even bringing her her shoes.

Mary Bostwick was locked up, and booked, and initially charged with Disorderly Conduct. She was held in
custody for several hours, in the company of common criminals. What followed that horrific, violent night
has further instilled fear and emotional distress in this mother and daughter. For one thing, as if in retaliation
for earlier complaints, and also to gain leverage over them, the Yonkers Police Department upgraded the
charge against Mary Bostwick to Obstructing Governmental Administration In The Second Degree, a violation
of Penal Law PL 195.05, a misdemeanor. Six days after the incident, on November 3rd, Sergeants Capalbo and Holden showed up at the Bostwick residence claiming that they were not there because of the incident, but rather because of the complaints registered at the public meeting with Mayor Amicone almost a month earlier. After telling thed two sergeants what had happened, and that they intended to file a report at the First Police Precinct,
one of the sergeants responded, “It’s ninety-nine percent your report will never get past the Captain.”

Mary Bostwick appeared in Yonkers City Court expecting that Judge Duran after hearing what had actually
occurred would dismiss the charges. But it did not turn out that way. She was advised to get a lawyer and return to answer the misdemeanor that her charges had been upgraded to. Jay Hashmall, former high-level assistant
to Mayors Spencer and Amicone, got involved at this point, introducing her to his law partner Michael Bank, who was happy to accept her case for $3,500.

When she protested to he new attorneys that she had done nothing wrong, and wanted to fight the false charges against her, seeking a dismissal, Jay Hashmall who was careful to tell her to keep his name out of it, then advised her, “You’re better off taking an ACD, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. You know you could go to jail for one year.” Hashmall was not alone in his preference to protect, and cover-up the violent criminal actions
of Officer Gratzon. Dee Barbado told the Bostwicks, “Why don’t you move?”

The Bostwick women’s experience, while extreme, is by no means unique in dealings with the Yonkers Police Department. On August 21st of this year, an article in THE JOURNAL NEWS, headlined “Yonkers Police Brutality Alleged” spoke of a meeting attended by Jim Bostic, Director of the Nepperhan Community Center, and Chairman of the Yonkers Violence and Gang Prevention Coalition, as well as Karen Edmonson, President of the Yonkers NAACP. This writer was in touch with each of those individuals, and was advised that Bostic
would be conducting a meeting of the Coalition on Wednesday September 13th at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, which District Attorney Janet DiFiore had agreed to attend.

Having attended that meeting which was, in fact, attended by the DA, her executive assistant Mr. George, Ken Davis, a Yonkers Police Department Youth Outreach Officer, and Captain Sal DiMaggio of the Fourth Precinct, I was disappointed that Mr. Bostic, as a matter of “organizational policy,” would not permit any questions from members of the Press to DA DiFiore. That was an unfortunate decision given the fact that the one hour of discussion which had occurred dealt mainly with the appropriateness of police interaction with youths who had been apprehended either in or out of school, and not necessarily with the overall problem of Police Brutality in
the City of Yonkers.

In light of our newspaper’s call for intervention and decisive action by the Westchester District Attorney’s Office weeks ago, and the allegations which had appeared in the local media for many weeks earlier, including the case involving Rui Florim and Andrew Birkenfeld, that began at the Tyrone House Tavern in the City’s Waterfront District, combined with the information provided by the Bostwicks, THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN contacted District Attorney DiFiore through her spokesperson Lucian Chalfen.

We posed the following three questions: What is District Attorney DiFiore doing to address repeated allegations of Yonkers Police Brutality? Has the District Attorney any intention of addressing the problem by looking into the specific claims of civilian victims? What procedures, if any, have been put in place to deal with offending police officers? The following responses were received from DA DiFiore’s Office: ANYONE WHO FEELS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF ANY FORM OF POLICE MISCONDUCT OR BRUTALITY IS ENCOURAGED TO REPORT THE INCIDENT. THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S PUBLIC INTEGRITY
BUREAU INVESTIGATES ALL ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT OR BRUTALITY, WHETHER REFERRED DIRECTLY FROM THE POLICE DEPARTMENT OR FROM A CIVILIAN COMPLAINANT.

COMPLAINTS WHICH ARE SUBSTANTIATED WILL RESULT IN APPROPRIATE ACTION BY THIS OFFICE, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

ANYONE WHO FEELS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN THE VICTIM OF EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE SHOULD CONTACT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AT 914-995-3420.


THE SIX HUNDRED PLUS MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE THE YONKERS POLICE DEPARTMENT
DESERVE THE CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT OF THE PEOPLE OF **YONKERS**. BY COMING FORWARD, VICTIMS OF ALLEGED BRUTALITY OR MISCONDUCT ARE NOT ONLY SPEAKING UP FOR THEMSELVES, BUT ALSO FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE YPD AS WELL.

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN goes on record to state that We believe the overwhelming majority of
the six hundred, or so, police officers in the Yonkers Police Department are hardworking, honest, public servants, who daily go about their work in a lawful and respectful manner. However, there can be no denying,
in the face of repeated allegations from credible victims, that there exists a certain small element, perhaps only
a handful, no more than one percent of the force, who are not only criminally inflicting physical, and other,
punishment upon citizens and residents, in violation of their Civil Rights, but also destroying the reputation
and authority of the Department in the process.

These cases must not be swept under the rug, or bought off by City Government. Rui Florim a young
man who was accosted and beaten by several Yonkers Police Officers in the Town of Greenburgh, required
seventy stitches and five days in a hospital intensive care unit to recover. He is represented by Attorneys Tony Castro and Ravi Batra, who intend to bring the truth forward. Andrew Birkenfeld, who was likewise beaten and given a broken nose, is represented by Attorney Michael Romano, who will also be pursuing justice. These and several other cases will not simply go away, and We intend to follow their progress, and that of other victims, in an effort to keep our readers, and the Westchester Community, at large, informed.

THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN encourages our readers to come forward, if they, or someone they
know have been the victim of police brutality anywhere in Westchester. We firmly believe that there is no place
in a free society for that kind of unlawful and abusive treatment by persons entrusted to uphold the law!
Will the Government Take Your Property Next? Peekskill’s Extreme Makeovers by Abuse of Eminent Domain

by Maureen Keating Tsuchiya

The city government of Peekskill is once again poised to repeat urban renewal history without bothering to involve its own city historian, John J. Curran, at any point in the process. Curran is the author of the heralded “Old Peekskill’s destruction In the 1960’s and 1970’s by Urban Renewal, Fires, Riots and the Parking
Authority” (2000). The 271 page book graphically documents the governmental financed removal of more than 350 Peekskill commercial and residential buildings in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The entire neighborhoods of Park Street, Pine Grove and Oakside areas were obliterated. The notorious Peekskill Parking Authority played a key role in the process of “urbanizing” what had been neighborhoods by targeting downtown business and residential buildings, had them torn down and paved over for parking seemingly
without the understanding that their removal eliminated shopping locations. According to Curran, “The equivalent of 10 facing blocks of commercial buildings in the downtown were removed primarily by the agencies of urban renewal.” Curran added “Peekskill had historically experienced such devastation only when the British
military arrived to destroy the settlement in 1777.” The stark reality of those decisions can still be seen decades later in vacant lots dotting downtown Peekskill.

Now Mayor John Testa, a local school district employee, seems ready to tear down Peekskill’s menacing monument to urban renewal—the downtown Municipal Parking Building and the adjacent Crossroads Shopping Center area, a total of four square blocks that is more than 20 acres, without comprehensively evaluating the failed policies that catastrophically changed the Peekskill of his childhood.

Mayor Testa’s own family was directly impacted by those ill-fated policies meant to get rid of the old city when his grandfather’s barbershop was torn down.

According to Palo Alto based community activist Maureen Allen. “Many town governments throughout the nation try mightily to achieve the kind of thriving, independent and interesting commerce I have found in downtown Peekskill.

Elected officials need to examine the enviable popularity of this downtown before they implement the extreme makeovers proposed by eager developers.”

Open and Transparent Government

History is repeating itself from the old playbook of the ‘60s and ‘70s as planning consultants and architects have been directed to draw lovely sketches of “Peekskill on the move” by officials who argue they’re acting on behalf of the entire community. Once again most citizens feel left out of the process, including the Democratic members of the Peekskill Common Council who are treated as if they were unpatriotic or against revitalization merely by questioning the process in the context of the city’s history.

A recent city generated study has found “blight” in the exact same area of Peekskill downtown where urban removal began in the 1960’s—the Crossroad’s Shopping Center which was known back then as the “Academy Street Urban Renewal Project.” According to Curran’s book, “a placid and intact neighbor hood of 121 structures on 23 acres was obliterated and 150 families were displaced.” Peekskill native Renee Smith stated that “…many of those families were African American living and owning homes in a racially integrated area whose relocation choices were extremely limited by the rest of the city’s segregated neighborhoods.”

Preservationists stopped the Demolition & the Feds Stop the Dollars

Peekskill’s termination of federal and state monies financing urban removal coincided with Richard Nixon’s removal from office and the end of the Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, City Hall declared a budget crisis in 1976 even as its tax rates increased. In fact, a Peekskill sales tax was even considered to resolve the
city’s financial difficulties. Removal proponents had failed to realize the financial implications of taking 350 buildings off of the tax rolls while increasing the number of tax exempt properties.

At the same time, rehabilitation and preservation of Peekskill’s old buildings began to re-emerge--initially with battle lines drawn at what is now the Peekskill Museum’s Herrick house, at 124 Union Street, where some people at City hall wanted another parking lot. According to Curran “A 1974 community study and a 1975 survey indicated that 78% of respondents wanted Peekskill’s Hudson River waterfront used for passive recreational and a scenic park.”

Community activists once again stepped up to the plate when rumors circulated that owners of the Paramount Theatre wanted to tear it down. Now the Paramount Center is the anchor of an arts revitalization of that entire area of downtown Peekskill with artist lofts, galleries, boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, cafes & coffee shops. Zoning adopted in 1990 has encouraged 100’s of artists fleeing New York City’s soaring costs up the Hudson to Peekskill’s mini-SoHo that has rental lofts above many stores.

The impact of a “blight” designation

The only purpose of designating an area as “blighted’ is to establish the groundwork for exercising the power of eminent domain, currently referred to as “the government taking of private land for private developers.”

Downtown business owners are legitimately worried they will loose their lifetime dreams as a result the recent landmark case Kelo v. New London, 125 S. Ct. 2655 (2005), where the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified New London’s redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the “takings” clause of the Fifth Amendment. This case has been widely criticized and commonly seen as a misinterpretation of the Fifth Amendment whose consequence would be to benefit large developers and corporations at the expense of individual homeowners and local communities who then have to subsidize the development’s property tax abatements.

Eminent domain was historically meant to be limited to taking private land for public use and that just compensation must be paid, not legal property theft.

Originally, public use meant such projects which would be owned by and open to the public like public buildings such as schools or post offices, or to construct public works like roads and water systems.

Local Activists Contest Blight Designation

Local Democrats contested the substandard housing description of the Academy Street area by stating on October 12, 1960, that “any substandard housing which exists could be brought back through rehabilitation” and that the project was “unsound, expensive, unfair and discriminatory.”

Forty-six years later, Drew Claxton, Democratic member of the Common Council, stated in May of 2006 that Testa’s “definition of blight is so broad that it could be used to designate many of neighborhoods in Peekskill for urban renewal.”

Testa is reportedly planning on running for reelection in 2007 against the revitalized Peekskill Democratic Party that defeated two Republican incumbents in 2005. He can count on opposition from the 1,435 Peekskill residents who signed the petition opposing his proposal for the blight designation and redevelopment scheme. He won’t be able to count continued assistance from Peekskill’s former favorite son--Governor George Pataki-- who will soon be exiting his Albany residence.

As recently as the year 2000, Peekskill real estate values were considered 50% less than the Westchester County average. Those figures made the cost of home and commercial property ownership very attractive, both to first time buyers and, to entrepreneurs and artists needing to avoid prohibitive overhead rental expenses.

The city’s hot real estate market has continued to improve dramatically as reflected in the increased tax revenues from increased assessments while still remaining the lowest in the county. An August survey reflected the presence of only one vacant store front in the so-called blighted area.

Location, Location, Location

If Mayor Testa and his colleagues are truly interested in Peekskill’s long term revitalization, he would conduct blight studies on three institutions whose locations will continue to stunt Peekskill’s property values and growth:

1, Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and all of its spent fuel; and its nuclear disaster evacuation route bus stop signs;

2. Westchester County Sewage Treatment Plant;

3. Westchester County Resource Recovery Center aka garbage incinerator.

The Urban Renewal Players in Peekskill

Team Goliath

*Mayor John Testa and the Republican 4-3 majority on the city’s Common Council.

*Developer Martin Ginsberg of Riverbend, Chapel Hill and the waterfront developments.

*Architect Gary Warshauer who is also Pound Ridge’s Republican Town Supervisor. Warshauer’s firm received a no-bid $75,000 contract to prepare a downtown Peekskill revitalization plan.

* Patrick Cleary, a planner based in Northport, Long Island. Cleary’s planning firm received a $8,5000 contract to conduct a blight study of the eastern downtown Crossroads area. Cleary has also done consulting for the City of Port Chester, home of Westchester’s landmark eminent domain project and lawsuit: Brody v. Village of Port Chester, 261 F.3rd 288 (2Cir.2001).

*Rose Marie Panio, GOP County Chairwoman and co-owner of Panio Liqours and Wine in the Crossroads Shopping Center.

Team David

*Drew Claxton, Mary Foster & Don Bennett— Democratic members of Peekskill City Council, who advocate a community-driven master plan process.

*Arne Paglia owner of The Division Street Grill, who submitted a petition opposing Testa’s plan in late May to the Peekskill City Council that contained 1,435 signatures. *Jerry & Mary DiCola, co-owners of Peekskill Paint & Hardware.

*Wilson Narvae, owner and founder in 2004 of La Placita Market, the only downtown grocery store which happens to average 2,000 customers a day, many of them senior citizens and registered voters who no longer drive.

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