Thursday, February 1, 2007

Our Readers Respond...

County Clerk on Why You Need A U.S. Passport

Dear Editor:

As new passport requirements go into effect I want to remind you that our office handles more passport applications than any office in this region. Why? Because we have a knowledgeable staff available from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. to handle not only routine applications, but also more complex cases.

Passports have always been a necessary document for those who traveled outside of the North American continent, but now a U.S. Passport will be required for travel even closer to home. So as you are planning your next family vacation or business trip, here are some things to keep in mind:

The New Rules: As of January 23, 2007, everyone, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda will be required to have a passport or other acceptable documentation in order to enter the United States. As early as January 1, 2008, the requirements
will be extended to those traveling by land or sea and many cruise lines are already requiring a passport to travel
to any destination outside of the United States.

Do not wait until the last minute: Apply now. Routine passport applications generally take approximately six weeks. For an additional charge, expedited service will result in your obtaining your passport in three weeks. But only in emergency circumstances can a passport application be processed more quickly, so do not delay.

Be sure to bring the proper documentation: Please review our website, www.westchesterclerk.com, to learn what documents you will need to bring with you when you apply for a passport. Be sure to bring original documents with raised seals to avoid having to make a second trip. If you have questions, never hesitate to call
our office at 995-3086 between 8 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Note special requirements for children: In order to protect our children from the threat of child abduction and parental kidnapping, children applying for a U.S. passport must be present in our office and accompanied by their parents or legal guardian at the time of application.

Information about how to apply for a U.S. Passport is available on the Westchester County Clerk’s website, www.westchesterclerk.com, by calling 995-3086, or by traveling to the Office of the Westchester County Clerk, 110 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White Plains, NY. We hope you will give us the opportunity to help you with your U.S. Passport application.

Timothy C. Idoni
Westchester County Clerk

Legislator Responds to Schwartz Article

Dear Editor:

Thanks for your comments. I was actually unaware of the Malone incident but have expressed concerns about the transfer of the permitting operation to the Police Department for wholly other reasons.

You may recall that I was the proximate cause of the 1997 state law change limiting gun licenses in Westchester to five years, etc.

At the time, I studied and was uncomfortable with the “administrative department” approach and chose to leave the court as the issuing authority.

While my mind is open about the new proposal, I still tend to prefer the “checks and balances” approach of
application filings administration at the county clerk, recommendations by the police and decisions by the court. I
didn’t think this major decision can be made in a few days at the legislation committee on a “home-rule” request.

I will suggest a task force of legislators to study the issue.

Tom Abinanti
Greenburgh County Legislator

Work, Not Welfare

Dear Editor:

DSS pays $68 biweekly for ongoing needs. They pay $271 a month for rent (where can you live in Westchester
County for $271? The average room rents for $500+). You paper spoke of those cashing out $155 for $90, I don’t know what the men in the shelters do with that money but most people living outside the shelter are trying to come up with $500 to keep a roof over their heads ($271 + 136 + 90 = $497).

The only place an unemployed person can stay and be sure the rent is paid in full is the shelters. DSS would rather pay $3,400 a month for a cot, to criminalize and dehumanize those men. Real employment, not Workfare, is the answer to a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Tracy King
Mount Vernon

More on New Castle Police

Dear Editor:

Recently I read Rene Smith’s article on Jan. 25th about corruption in the New Castle Police department.
I find this type of abuse and corruption very troubling and hope that this type of activity is investigated fully. If this is found out to be true, this is outrageous for a police department to be engaged in this activity. I would also like to know what is being done to the police chief in New Castle. If this criminal activity is going on, one must wonder, what else is going on in the New Castle police department or any of New Castle’s other government agencies. is must be investigated fully to either bring the appropriate people to justice or clear the air as to what is going on.

This story is very troubling and I hope you do some follow up stories on this very important issue. Not
only for other police department’s but for citizens as well. All people need to be reassured that our government
agencies are obeying the law and that we don’t have rouge police departments out there operating in a criminal environment. ank you and I hope to see a follow up story as to the findings.

Thomas R. Colavito
Mahopac, NY

Reader Loves Judge’s Column

Dear Editor:

Just a line to let you know how much I enjoy Judge Kenneth Lange’s articles. I look forward to reading them
each time I pick up the newest issue of your paper.

MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick
Mount Vernon

In Our Opinion...

It’s almost laughable that Albert Pirro, getting his law license restored, made the front page of the only daily newspaper in Westchester. We say almost, because its restoration by the Appellate Division, Second Department of State Supreme Court, is just so typical of the corruption, and lack of adherence to fundamental principles of law, characteristic of the New York State Court System after twelve years of Pataki influence. The re-issuance was a perfunctory gesture, at best, given the fact that Albert Pirro never stopped practicing law, in spite of all of the prohibitions attached to his gift three-year suspension, issued May 12, 2003, fully three years after he was convicted of 38 felony counts in Federal District Court, June 22, 2000.

Within sixteen days of the issuance of the suspension, that clearly barred him from representing either clients, or his own, interests before any governmental body, Albert Pirro was appearing before the City of White Plains, Planning Board, and continued to do same over and over again, as official minutes of municipal agencies reveal. If, in fact, Albert shares anything with his spouse, it’s their common contempt for the Law. Albert and Jeanine Pirro each believe they are above the Law.

It is the criminal, and antisocial behavior of individuals such as the Pirros, and the loathsome failure of a corrupt and venal state judiciary to respond under the Rules of Law that are surely brought to bear against ordinary citizens, that causes the cynicism and distrust for the “System” most intelligent individuals harbor today. One would have to be stupid, in light of what has gone on, not to realize there is a two-tiered system, one for the wealthy, and politically influential, and another for the hardworking Joes and Janes struggling to raise their families and pay their taxes.

And, speaking about taxes, it was the failure of Mr. and Mrs. Pirro to pay more than a million dollars in taxes, using corporate funds for personal expenses, without declaring those funds as personal income, that ultimately, after ten years of doing it, (1988 through 1997) landed only Albert, in prison. The tax fraud might, in fact, have been going on for many more years. However, even the IRS is constrained by a ten-year statute of limitations. It should be understood that the tax fraud involved joint tax returns for nine of the ten years involved. Then-DA Jeanine Pirro, repeatedly said, “I didn’t know what I was signing.” Everyone knew that was a lie.

At trial, it came out that Mrs. Pirro, the sitting District Attorney, was involved in no fewer than seven separate tax-evading schemes, “hands on.” Naturally, the same daily newspaper that now headlines the restoration of Albert Pirro’s law license, never published any of the information that clearly implicated Mrs. Pirro. It just so happened that the president, and publisher of The Journal News was Gary Sherlock, a business partner of Albert Pirro.

Some have asked over the years, why Mrs. Pirro was not included in the federal indictment, given the significant, day-to-day role she played in the scheme over so many years? The simple fact of the matter was that United States Attorney, MaryJo White, for all of the smarts and toughness she brought to the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, completely missed the mark with the Pirros. When the facts regarding the Pirro’s blatant tax fraud first became known to White’s office in December of 1997, Jeanine Pirro had just won re-election to the DA’s Office by a two-to-one plurality. What she didn’t know, and never took the time to figure
out, was that it was a fixed race, against a candidate nobody knew, who was willing to stand in at the behest of Larry Schwartz, the real County Executive.

Mary Jo White made two serious miscalculations, each of which would produce very damaging outcomes for numerous innocent Westchester residents and taxpayers, as she decided to preclude Mrs. Pirro from indictment. White’s first miscalculation was that the People of Westchester, who would ultimately serve on the jury in any tax fraud trial that might be held in Federal District Court in White Plains, were so enamored, so in love with Jeanine, that to include her in the prosecution, even though she was equally liable, would be to risk losing the case altogether.

She obviously did not hold a very high opinion of our intelligence, or our morality. White’s second miscalculation was the notion that Mrs. Pirro was any less a sociopathic creature than her husband. She believed that if she could convict Albert of a massive ten-year joint tax fraud, surely his wife, the sitting DA would be compelled to step down, or at least, would not run again. Of course, that was what might have been expected from an individual of healthy mentality, and some level of morality. She was wrong on both counts.

Finally, although convicted of 38 felony counts, the original indictment involved 29 more, for a total of 67. It was shameful that former District Court Judge, Barrington Parker, Jr. who now sits in the United States Court of Appeals, for the Second Circuit, saw fit to cut Albert Pirro a break, redacting the last 29 counts, all of which were far more egregious, as they involved the ripping off of the Hudson Valley Hospital Center for more than $600,000, a despicable act against the poor people of Peekskill carried out between 1991 and 1993.

No, Albert Pirro’s getting his “License To Steal” back is hardly front-page news. He’s been doing just fine without it.

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