Thursday, August 9, 2007

Our Readers Respond...

Thank You So Much!

Dear Editor:

Thanks so much for putting out a great newspaper! I have been picking it up every week since you have started. Your articles are informative and concise, yet very in-depth. Great follow-up, too!

My very favorite part, however, is the weekly column by Kenneth Lange. I have neither been a history nor law buff in the past, but his writing and topics make this column the best! Give that man a raise!! Thanks again!

Tina Barrett

Teachers Must Learn To Identify Actual At-Risk Children

Dear Editor:

Hats off to that little Met fan and his mother. I am a retired BCW worker and the school is wrong. They have to report cases or it would look as if they are not watching out, so they destroy a child and family.

I agree with the mother, the teachers need to be taught how to identify children at risk. Shame on Irvington for
not even following up and reaching out to the family; they should find another way to be a hero.

They had many bomb scares in one year. My neighbor’s children are always home early. Maybe they should put their time into finding out who is calling in bomb threats instead of picking on a little child; they are doing more damage. I love your paper, you are not afraid to tell it like it is.

A. Johnson

What’s Going On At the New Rochelle High School Athletic Field?

Dear Editor:

What’s going on at the athletic field of New Rochelle High School? For over one month now, the neighborhood has been subjected to horrendous noise and a great deal of air pollution created by as many as five earth-removing vehicles. Does anyone in the community know (certainly the immediate neighborhood does not) exactly what all this activity is for, how much longer it will persist and, equally important for New Rochelle taxpayers, how much is it costing?

The loud noise and choking clouds of air-borne dirt begin at 7:15 a.m. six days a week, although city laws say that heavy-duty equipment should not be operated before 8 a.m. Then there are the trails of dirt and mud from trucks exiting the field, tracking debris for several blocks from the school. Some neighbors complain the removal of earth has disturbed mice nests causing them to relocate in nearby yards.

What else is the Board of Education not telling us? Are they waiting until after November elections to inform us
that an additional elementary school is needed? Doesn’t the New Rochelle Board of Education realize that they have a direct and on-going responsibility to inform the community before such extensive plans are put into action? Not to do so is surely not the way to win friends and influence city taxpayers!

June Carletti Sambol, New Rochelle

In Our Opinion...

Fake Bombs? Whatever Happened To the Element Of Intent?

It’s a sad commentary on our society in general, and the prevailing mentality in Westchester government and law enforcement, in particular, that the hypersensitive over-reaction of responding police officers could set in motion
such a destructive, unlawful bureaucratic boondoggle as we have witnessed in response to a harmless high school senior prank. What made the cheap windup alarm clocks “fake bombs?” In reality, only the paranoid, over-reactive mind of a police officer responding late on a Sunday night, and prosecutors accustomed to indicting “ham sandwiches,” not to mention innocent people.

The June 28th edition of this newspaper called upon the District Attorney’s Of-fice to “get real.” After all, how does a reasonable prosecutor conclude that there was intent on the part of the high school students involved to try to convince anyone that those sixty-seven little alarm clocks were bombs? There were no wires, no toilet paper rolls rigged up to look like a stick of dynamite, or a pipe bomb. There was nothing but a bunch of cheap clocks, more than five dozen, all wound up and set to ring at 9:15am Monday morning, June 10th. And, oh
yes, in addition to the alarm clocks, in some instances, there was duct tape, needed to secure some of the clocks in certain locations throughout the Hendrick Hudson High School building.

Like beauty in the eye of the beholder, the evil was in the mind of the apprehenders, the police, the prosecutor, and school officials. If any unlawful act was committed, surely it had nothing to do with bombs, fake, or otherwise. In fact, the kids, the 19 of them who placed the clocks around the school late that Sunday night were guilty of trespass, a violation, not a felony, not even a misdemeanor. What criminal intent did these kids possess? They merely wanted all 67 clocks to ring at the same time so that they could get up and walk out of school as they might to a dismissal bell. Everyone would have had a good laugh, surprised teachers and staff included, and within fifteen or twenty minutes the Senior Prank would have been history, and classes returned to normal.

But no, some silly motion detector device had to go off and spoil everything! The real “crime” in all of what has happened is the total abuse of power, by law enforcement and school personnel as well. It’s not the kids involved, who Youth Resources Officer, Trooper Velez told The Guardian, were “good kids,” who need the counseling. It’s those who made such an unnecessary fiasco of a harmless prank because of their hyper-reactive mentalities in the wake of 9/11.

They are the ones who need to “chill out” and get real. If they really want to do the right thing by these kids, they will stop pretending that something criminal happened, and that they are doing those charged a favor by reducing the charges to a misdemeanor, telling all future employers, “Hey you know what? This young person looking for a job really didn’t plant a false bomb as originally charged, but merely attempted to plant a false bomb.”

Hogwash! The records of these youngsters must be expunged, except for the violation of trespass. They must not be made to carry the stigma of a felony charge, even one reduced to a misdemeanor, all because police, prosecutors, and school officials, who should have known better, have neither the courage, nor the decency
to admit that they over-reacted. What we have here are adults, not kids, acting badly, putting their egos and their pride ahead of the welfare and well-being of decent youngsters.

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