Thursday, October 25, 2007

In Our Opinion...

Larry Schwartz’ Ruthless Hard-Heartedness Knows No Limit

We say God bless the clergy of Westchester who are standing up to a bureaucratic tyrant whose “My Way, Or The Highway” attitude hurts us all. Nobody in the County Executive’s Office ever explained just why it was that the Homeless Assessment Center and the Drop-In Shelter that had been functioning on the grounds of the County Airport needed to be shut down, and its 75, or so, inhabitants moved into the basement of 85 Court Street in downtown White Plains.

Of course, that basement on Court Street was essentially an overnight jail, a lockup from which those homeless, unwilling to sign up for, and attend, a variety of County-operated programs, would be sprung, returning to the streets at 6am each day, and retrieved some twelve hours later.

Whether housed at the airport, or in the basement across from the County Of-fice Building, the Drop-In accommodations were ‘no-frills’ at best, by comparison with traditional shelters; the County’s on the Valhalla Campus, Open Arms on Post Road in White Plains, or any of more than a dozen, municipal, charitable,
and clergy-operated facilities scattered mostly across the lower part of the County.


The Drop-In was, for the most part, a place to clean up, and lie down for the night without needing to subscribe to vocational, social, and medical programs. Very fundamental, it allowed homeless, single individuals, even the most difficult and disagreeable, to come in from the street, in from the cold, to relieve themselves, wash up, and lie down to sleep.

Naturally, the traditional, long-term shelters were not without their problems. In a series of investigative reports, about a year ago, The Guardian exposed drug dealing and Food Stamp scandals at the Valhalla and Open Arms installations. As a result, several known drug-dealing residents were shifted around, some thrown out.

Following a two-year struggle between White Plains Mayor Joe Delfino and the County Executive’s Office, a/k/a Larry Schwartz, there came an announcement in July that within weeks, in early August, the Drop-In Shelter on Court Street wouldbe closing permanently, and those individuals, “disproportionately too many” in his city, according to Delfino, would be needing to find other accommodations.

Once again the County Executive’s Office, Larry Schwartz, acting unilaterally, and with no regard for consequences, said “Like it or lump it.”


In all fairness, Larry had had another site in mind for the construction of a replacement drop-in shelter, the property directly behind the County Department of Public Safety Headquarters in Hawthorne, on the Saw Mill River Parkway, at Route 100; a dreadful, totally inappropriate site, given that there are no sidewalks, nor any pedestrian access to the property whatsoever. And, additionally, construction of any homeless shelter at that location would have been in violation of the existing contract between the County and the Town of Greenburgh, establishing a minimum two-mile buffer between such facilities.

Now it’s been two months since the fellow who goes around trying to intimidate senior citizens by telling them he’s “the most powerful person in Westchester,” dispossessed some 70 or so non-compliant homeless individuals from the Court Street site. And, now the air is growing chilly at night, and soon will be downright
cold. And now, that “most powerful person in Westchester” has sent forth the word to the County’s churches, synagogues, and charitable organizations that they are to offer chairs, but not cots to those displaced homeless who may show up at their door seeking shelter from the elements, and a place to rest.

We believe that the edict issued by Westchester’s most powerful figure, Larry Schwartz, is both cruel, and manipulative, but completely defining of who he is.
Our Readers Respond...

Reader Points Up Malfitano’s Poor Fiscal Management

Dear Editor:

Harrisonites are in a disastrous financial position now and in the foreseeable future, and Harrison could possibly be in a state of bankruptcy if Malfitano is reelected. Standard and Poor, the unbiased, non-political financial analyst, reports the following about Harrison:

1. Deteriorated financial position;

2. Financial reserves diminished;

3. Unbalanced budget, and overall debt burden;

4. Insufficient structural balance;

5. $400,000.00 operating deficit;

6. Failed to cover the 2004-2005 Village Budget deficit, and overspent the budget by $800,000 in spite of selling $2,391,000 of Village property;

7. The 2006 Budget was balanced with $600,000 of fund balance plus $1,000,000 sold assets;

8. Projected Police Department at $840,000 over budget due to insufficient funding of police overtime and general operations, and Public Works projected $300,000 over budget.

Interest and bonding fees included, Harrison’s 8,500 taxpayers are indebted for $91,530,000 now. Malfitano has spent our present. If reelected, Malfitano has $40,000,000 more indebtedness planned. Malfitano claims to “Put Harrison First”. Yes, “Harrison First” for reduction of Harrison’s rating!

Yes, “Harrison First” for such gigantic expenditures! Yes, “Harrison First” with such enormous borrowing!

And, yes, if Malfitano is reelected, this can be “Harrison First” in bankruptcy.

Lucille Held, Harrison

Bemoaning Sad State Of Westchester’s Courts And DA’s Office

Dear Editor

I have written to your newspaper about the political and judicial corruption in the family courts of White Plains, NY and Stamford, Ct. The family courts are failing to protect abused women and children and many times the failure is due to political corruption.

Corrupt judges, corrupt DA’s, corrupt lawyers and corrupt law guardians. A domestic violence activist would refer to these individuals as “private contractors” who financially benefit from covering up child abuse, spousal abuse and judicial corruption.

Big business in NY and Ct with the many “state actors” in the courts reeping the financial rewards. Corrupt DA’s like Janet Difiore that do not return child abuse alert phone calls to a protective mother if she is aware the protective mother supported the canidate that ran against her when she was a Republican.

Janet Difiore has now switched parties, she has big plans for her political career here in Westchester County. Family court judges that know their reelection campaign is tied to influential attorneys and fail to protect an abused mother and her children. Abused protective mothers and their abused children certainly do not have those important political connections. Family court lawyers who lie in court and cover up child abuse and medical neglect.

Law guardians who are swayed by all the political pressure who fail to advocate for children, my children.
The suggestion of this group “Parent Help” demonstrates to domestic violence activists the little you know about domestic violence survivors. Domestic violence survivors should not negotiate with abusers and your lack of knowledge and understanding in this area should be of great concern for all domestic violence survivors. Abused women and children do not negotiate with abusers in New York and Connecticut.

Ann Coleman

Man With A Grudge Takes It Out On Columnist Mayfield

Dear Editor:

O.K. That’s it. Whatever planet you got Vicki Mayfield from, please send her back, as soon as possible. Your publication is great, however, she is a blemish on your paper. I cringe every time I get to her articles, but some sadistic part of me makes me read them.

Does she know what a paragraph is? How about the run-on sentences, not even considering the content. Her articles are a disjointed documentation of her own experiences which would be better off published in a book of her memoirs. There is no common thread to any of the topics she discusses.

Now she’s taking on religion with “envy”. Biblically-speaking, God has provided everyone with talents and opportunities, your situation is based on whether or not you choose to take advantage of them. The kid who shows off and flashes his Nikes is the one who is wrong. Not the poor kid who can’t afford them but wishes he had them. I was taught to work for what you want. “Envy” is for those who want something for nothing.

She goes on to write about “freed” slaves had back yards and trees, and didn’t want what the “White man” had. Congratulations, I am a “White man” and take her comment as a racial statement. I figured this out a long time ago, and this just proves that if you give someone enough time, their true colors will be revealed.

And what did the “White man” have? Yards and trees. You moron. She also uses the term “Rednecks”, not in a joking way, but a condemning way. I have lived outside several cities, choosing a slower, simpler lifestyle. I could be considered a “Redneck” and am offended that she would use a “geographical” slur to include racism. But it seems every time she opens her mouth, she shows how stupid and ignorant she actually is. Go ahead, Vicki. Now write an article on how “your people” can’t be racist. And then, for whatever reason, (I don’t think anyone could or want to figure out what goes on in her mind) she uses “we Americans” to make a point.

Lastly, she seems to make some sort of point that George Bush, and George Bush alone, is creating a diversion so as to avoid impeachment. I believe she may have seen “Wag the Dog” a few too many times.

A while back, in one of her articles, she wrote, “Who would have thought I would be writing for a paper.” My guess? Nobody. Please, leave the writing to the writers.

P.S. I am also getting a little sick of living, eating, breathing, walking, cooking, driving, sleeping, shopping, working, reading, suing, Latino. I am a “White man” with a disability, and have just as many problems, if not more, than any “minority”.

Diesel, Peekskill

Reader Claims Downside In Separation of Church and State

Dear Editor:

These days you hear words bandied about such as “separation of church and state.” To the ears of many people they sound good and they are what our constitution and democracy are about. Our Constitution guarantees us the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also states that we should not establish a state religion.

Today, however, separation of church and state has lost its meaning. Those who purportedly possess the intelligence to interpret our Constitution want to separate you from God. What church does God belong to? Please let me know.

Let’s take a quick look at “pro-choice.” What it really means is killing a child in the mother’s womb. That being said, the abortion providers do not provide all the facts about abortion or what can result from it in the future. These facts must be emphasized strongly to anyone who is thinking of getting one.

Only after all the facts are known and understood can one make an intelligent choice. We must open the doors to our minds and hearts if we want to make progress in becoming a more intelligent society.

George Imburgia, New Rochelle
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

The Legislature Must Restore Dignity And Constitutionality To New York’s Courts

New York State’s Courts are largely out of control, and rapidly reaching the point of no return. Not even the beginnings of federal intervention, in the selection and nomination of Supreme Court Judges, nearly two years ago, with the ruling by Federal District Judge John Gleeson in the case of Brooklyn Surrogate Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres, who had been denied the opportunity to run for State Supreme Court, has made any impact on the corrupt, Patronage-Driven Monster run amuck.

Judge Gleeson rightly recognized the crux of the problem, as illustrated by the facts in the Lopez-Torres complaint, resides in the selection process, nominations to run for State Supreme Court conducted virtually
out of contact with, and against the interests of, the voting public.

Gleeson not only recognized the injury to the Plaintiff ’s Constitutional Rights, but also to all of those voters in her judicial district whose First Amendment rights of political association were likewise compromised by her exclusion without lawful cause, or Due Process. Judge Lopez-Torres was merely a victim of her own high morality, having refused to make patronage appointments sought by party bosses.

We believe Judge Gleeson got it right the first time when he ruled that the existing Judicial Convention System, under which candidates for State Supreme Court are nominated, denies voters the opportunity for input, and any say in who will be on the ballot. Here in the Ninth Judicial District, consisting of Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Orange Counties, we have seen repeated examples of just how corrupt and deteriorated the State’s Courts have become, like a fish rotting from the head down.

Consider a slimeball, Giulio Cavallo, recently re-instated to chairmanship of the Westchester Independence Party by the State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, many of whose members were elected to the Supreme Court with that party’s paid-for cross endorsement.

That’s correct; many of those justices sitting in the Appellate Division, once described by the Village Voice as “The Whores Who Became Madams,” paid between $10,000 and $20,000 to buy the Independence Party’s cross-endorsement.

Now it is one thing when a corrupt creature such as Cavallo is permitted to sell cross-endorsements for cash to those running for County Executive, Mayor, or Dog Catcher. Unfortunately, we have come to accept a little larceny in our Dog Catchers. But even the most jaded among us are reluctant to accept the notion that the individual cloaked in a black robe, and sitting in a position to send us to prison for a crime we haven’t committed, or separate us from our children at the whim of a former spouse, or deny us the benefit of our own labor, is somebody who never attended law school, bought his way onto the Westchester County Court with funds that he swindled from his campaign treasurer, paying for the cross-endorsement of the Independence Party, and then onto the State Supreme Court as a Republican, by cross-endorsing Democrat Jonathan Lippman, a bastard scheme worked out and approved under the current Judicial Convention System. That somebody is State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Alessandro, found “unqualified” by the Committee on Judicial Credentials.

Yes, Judge Gleeson had it right when he proposed that Supreme Court Judge Candidates be selected by a primary process, thus permitting those who might wish to, and are qualified, to run without interference by party bosses. Here in Westchester, recent primary elections have demonstrated that only the primary process is capable of breaking the stranglehold that party bosses such as Larry Schwartz, Giulio Cavallo, and their ilk have had over the election process for years. Paul Feiner and his team in Greenburgh, and Clinton Young and Lyndon Williams in Mt. Vernon clearly established that fact. And, contrary to the notion that a primary system might be unwieldy or too costly for selecting candidates for State Supreme Court, in reality no other method
should be employed.

Judge Kaye’s ill-conceived bandaid put forth earlier this year, her so-called Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissions will not resolve the existing problems because those serving on the commissions were selected by Kaye, a Chief Judge with no prior judicial experience, the four presiding judges of the Appellate Division, including Jonathan Lippman, a fox in the henhouse, and state and local bar associations. In other words, largely the same corrupt crowd.

What the State Legislature must do to restore dignity and Constitutionality to our courts, and some measure of credibility to most public offices, is really quite straight-forward and uncomplicated. The State Senate and Assembly must abolish cross-endorsement thereby putting creeps and fraudsters like Giulio Cavallo, Zehy Jereis, and others throughout the state, out of the “election for sale” business. And, they must put the nomination and election of Supreme Court Judges out of the reach of party bosses by establishing a primary-driven process, with strict campaign controls, free of patronage, and underwritten with public funds, both in the primary process and the general election.

Only after such legislative changes have been enacted, and many more honest, dedicated, public servants are elected to our courts and to other public office over time, will we witness the restoration of dignity and Constitutionality.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Amicone “Dodges A Bullet”– For Now
Yonkers City Court, Cacace Justice Center, Yonkers, N.Y.
City Court Judge Charles Wood, Presiding


Last Thursday afternoon, October 18th, Westchester Guardian Publisher Sam Zherka, and several of his employees, were present in Yonkers City Court for a scheduled 1:00 p.m. appearance. At three minutes before 3:00 p.m., after clearing out all of the other items on his calendar, City Court Judge Charles Wood looked up and announced, “Mr. Lovett, please approach.”

Following the exchange of a few comments with the Judge, Attorney Jonathan Lovett, counsel to The Westchester Guardian and Publisher Sam Zherka, motioned Yonkers Assistant Corporate Counsel, Lawrence A. Porcari, to join him at the bench.

Moments later, the Court Clerk proceeded to call up nine employees of The Guardian, from the Circulation Department, by name and case number, as well as Publisher Zherka. Judge Wood, turning to Mr. Lovett, inquired, “Do you have an application?” Mr. Lovett responded, “We are in Federal Court, claiming that the Yonkers City Code, with regard to the distribution of newspapers, is facially in violation of the First Amendment
to the United States Constitution.”

The Judge then responded, “Let’s adjourn this matter to December 6th. Hopefully that will give Judge Brieant enough time to do his work.

Following the adjournment, Mr. Lovett, emerging from the courtroom, told this reporter, “They dodged a bullet.” Upon leaving the courthouse, Publisher Zherka and Attorney Lovett were confronted by reporters. Zherka stated, “I expected to be jailed today. However, the Judge did the right thing postponing the case until the Federal Court deals with it.”

Holding the current issue of The Guardian in his hands, he went on, “This newspaper represents the rights of the People. I am a firm believer in the Constitution and the First Amendment.”

Attorney Lovett then told reporters, “We have seven cases in Federal Court now, three of them name Mr. Porcari, Yonkers Assistant Corporate Counsel, in his individual capacity.” He then reached into his briefcase,
pulling out a copy of the Yonkers City Code, exclaiming, “You’d have to be a moron not to realize this Code violates the Constitution.”

Analysis:

Westchester Guardian Publisher Sam Zherka’s appearance in Yonkers City Court, together with several of his employees, was in answer to charges brought by the Amicone Administration under a City Ordinance
that is plainly un-Constitutional.

Mr. Zherka was prepared to go forward to trial, and to do jail time, if necessary, in defense of the First Amendment and the People’s Right to know. He understood, nevertheless, the Amicone Administration’s unwillingness, prior to Election Day, to bring any further public attention to their wrongful and vindictive actions,
their tyrannical attempt to silence legitimate criticism.

It should be noted that Amicone, and his subordinates, are under a Restraining Order imposed several weeks ago by Federal District Court Judge Charles L. Brieant.

Jonathan Lovett, attorney representing The Guardian and Publisher Zherka, has expressed his con-fidence in the outcome and success of his clients’ Civil Rights actions in Federal Court against Mayor Phil Amicone and several members of his City Administration for their flagrant, ‘content-based’ violations of the First Amendment against The Westchester Guardian, several of its employees, its publisher, and thousands of Yonkers readers, by the confiscation of 56 distribution boxes, as well as the use of harassment and arrest, to interfere with, and halt, the newspaper’s distribution in Yonkers for several weeks. His confidence is based, in part, upon very compelling evidence of the alleged wrongful conduct of City personnel under direct orders from the Mayor’s office; evidence consisting of explicit and damning photos, videos, and recorded statements, of City employees.
In Four Years, Under Phil Amicone: In Four Years, Under Phil Amicone:

• Property taxes have risen 30 percent;
• School test scores have gone down;
• Gang violence and shootings are way up;
• Developers have gotten excessive tax breaks;
• The FBI is investigating deals with developers;
• Police brutality complaints swept under the rug;
• U.S. Justice Dept. investigating Yonkers Police Dept.;
• Elections have been monitored by Feds for fraud;
• Police and Fire Unions worked 21/2 years without contract;
• Record deficit spending, possibly $60 million this year;
• Thirty former Spano staff in no-show jobs for $1.3 million;
• Violates First Amendment to keep the truth from you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Our Opinion...

Driver’s License Debate Rolls On

Last week on this page We cautioned “Not So Fast, Governor Spitzer,” suggesting that perhaps in the “wake of the Bruno debacle” the Governor really didn’t need to borrow any more controversy for a while, least of all, a half-thought-out plan to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens. We acknowledged that there was some merit in proponents’ arguments that such a program might significantly cut down on the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on New York roads, and, that it would also help in getting a handle on the identity of tens of thousands of ‘illegals’ throughout the state.

Weighing the arguments on both sides of the issue that had already been lodged in the first two weeks since the proposal, We inserted two additional concerns of our own: firstly, that the possession of a driver’s license was not a right, not even for citizens, but rather a privilege, subject to compliance with a very specific set of conditions; and, secondly, that such a proposal needed to take into account not only the impact it would have on illegal aliens already living in the United States, and specifically in New York State, but also those outside of the country contemplating an illegal entry. We asked whether we really wanted to add more incentive to breaking our Immigration Laws, suggesting that perhaps the program would be better timed once the United States had made significant progress toward sealing our borders.

The New York Post, not exactly the Governor’s biggest fan, offered the notion that perhaps he came out with the proposal as a distraction from his other problems in Albany in their October 9th editorial Take a U-Turn, Eliot. One day earlier they branded it a License To Kill. Several major daily newspapers from all over the state reported county clerks up in arms over the proposal. Having a longstanding relationship with Putnam County Clerk, Republican, Dennis Sant, as well as a good working relationship with Westchester County Clerk, Democrat, Tim Idoni, We called upon each of them for their comments.

Dennis Sant, who was, in fact, the Putnam County Commissioner of Motor Vehicles for many years as he served as Deputy County Clerk, stated, “My position is that I feel pressured by the Governor to disobey the laws of
this land, and violate my oath of office. The Vehicle and Traffic Laws of New York State clearly state we will not issue licenses to persons without Social Security Cards.”

Tim Idoni told us, “In Westchester I am not an agent for the State Department of Motor Vehicles, though I do collect mortgage taxes and passport fees. Having said that, I must acknowledge the complexity and difficulty of
the debate over the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic to Governor Spitzer’s need to resolve a problem we cannot ignore, but that has not been addressed by the federal government.

On the other hand, I understand the passion with which my fellow County Clerks throughout the state are trying to protect the integrity of the Driver’s License System. We need to sit down and reconcile the two sides.”
Our Readers Respond...

Tony Castro Writes In Defense of Client Eugene Tumolo

Dear Editor:

As counsel to Peekskill Police Chief Eugene Tumolo, it is with great dismay that I have been reading your series of articles personally attacking him for what you perceive to have been his alleged role in the Jeffrey Deskovic
case. Contrary to your erroneous allegations, the incontrovertible documentary evidence categorically shows that it was through Chief Tumolo’s conscientious and diligent efforts that the DNA results were obtained – the same
DNA results that ultimately exonerated Jeffrey Deskovic.

Rather than acknowledging the facts, you prefer to publicly persecute Chief Tumolo. You have prejudged and attempted to disparage a law enforcement official who has served his community with distinction for decades. Chief Tumolo has always been held in high esteem and boasts an impeccable record, earning many commendations for his unswerving commitment to public safety. In his forty years of public service, he does not have a single blemish on his record.

Instead of incorrectly blaming him for the arrest and false prosecution of Jeffrey Deskovic, you should be commending him for what he in fact did. Eugene Tumolo’s determined efforts in obtaining the DNA evidence
tests was by far the single most important reason Jeffrey Deskovic was exonerated. Had it not been for Eugene Tumolo’s perseverance, Jeffrey Deskovic would still be in jail today.

In his quest to find young Angela Correa’s killer and his desire to search for the truth, Eugene Tumolo went through great lengths to obtain the DNA results. In 1989, DNA testing was not as readily available as it is
today. It was relatively difficult and expensive to obtain. The last eighteen years have seen gigantic strides in the science of DNA, specifically the ease with which it is obtained, tested and kept on file (CODIS database).

Despite those difficulties, then detective lieutenant Eugene Tumolo made every effort to preserve the DNA evidence and obtain its results. He wanted to be sure that no stone was left unturned in attempting to bring Angela’s killer to justice. The Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research was contacted, however, it performed only serology tests and not DNA tests. The Westchester County lab then suggested
the Analytical Genetic Test Center in Denver, Colorado. The DNA samples were sent to the Colorado lab but, unfortunately, the tests from the Colorado lab were inconclusive for racial/ethnic background.

The frustrating experiences with both the Westchester and the Colorado labs serve as proof of the difficulties in obtaining DNA results at the time. Nonetheless, Eugene Tumolo remained undeterred and appealed to the FBI laboratory in Washington D.C. Despite the countless requests received nationally by the FBI laboratory, many of which had to go unfulfilled due to the lab’s relative limitations, Eugene Tumolo successfully advocated and convinced the FBI lab to take on Angela Correa’s case. Having convinced the FBI, he felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that the results would be instrumental in either “incriminating or exonerating” Jeffrey Deskovic.

Merely one month after Deskovic’s arrest, the results of the FBI tests became available. The results excluded Jeffrey Deskovic. Eugene Tumolo followed the proper protocol and immediately presented the DNA results
to the chief law enforcement agency in the County, The District Attorney’s Office. He expressed his concerns that the DNA evidence found on the victim did not match Jeffrey Deskovic’s DNA. To suggest as you did that
Eugene Tumolo should have disclosed to the media and others the DNA evidence obtained during a homicide investigation, as well as his concerns and thoughts, ignores the fact that he did follow protocol. Besides, during
the trial such information was revealed to the public, including everyone you suggested Eugene Tumolo should have approached.

The decision of whether or not to prosecute the case and Jeffrey Deskovic did not rest with then detective lieutenant Eugene Tumolo. It did not even rest with the City of Peekskill Police Department, but rather the District Attorney’s Office.

As the chief law enforcement agency in the County, the District Attorney’s Office has a great responsibility in overseeing criminal cases. It has sole discretion in deciding whether or not there is enough legally sufficient and reliable evidence to prosecute. The decision of going forward with a homicide prosecution belongs to the District Attorney’s Office, not the local police department. In the Jeffrey Deskovic case, it was no different.

Sadly, in the face of compelling and exonerating evidence, the District Attorney’s Office forged ahead with the prosecution and Jeffrey Deskovic was wrongfully convicted. The conviction was based in large part on the false and baseless theories put forth by the prosecution, such as that the DNA belonged to Angela Correa’s boyfriend as a result of consensual sex.

Years later, Jeffrey Deskovic reportedly pled with the District Attorney’s Office to have his case reviewed, but his pleas went unheeded. There was no downside in reviewing the case. Any first year law student would have had the common sense to allow the crime scene DNA to be run against the growing CODIS DNA database for a possible match, but inexplicably, it was not done. Had it been done, Jeffrey Deskovic would have had a second chance to be freed by the District Attorney’s Office sooner. The DNA of Steven Cunningham,
the real killer, entered the CODIS database upon his conviction for a second murder a few years later. The DNA samples from the crime scene would have matched Cunningham’s, conclusively inculpating him and exonerating Deskovic.

There are many questions that remain to be answered by those who controlled Jeffrey Deskovic’s fate. However, the all important question as to who was responsible for obtaining the DNA results that ultimately resulted in Deskovic’s freedom, has been answered --- it was none other than detective lieutenant Eugene Tumolo. Notwithstanding that fact, you continue to persecute him.

Ironically, your persecution defies some of the very principles that Jeffrey Deskovic has so eloquently advocated. It fails to provide Chief Tumolo with the principles of justice, fairness, and balanced reporting that he deserves. Instead, it passes judgment on Chief Tumolo without ever mentioning his role in obtaining the DNA results that ultimately resulted in Jeffrey Deskovic’s exoneration and release from prison. You have ignored his commendable efforts, ironically in the same way that the District Attorney’s Office ignored the exculpatory DNA evidence and, much like Deskovic’s prosecutors, continue to press your persecution. Your readers deserve to know more than just opinion – they deserve to know the facts.

Facts will triumph. As the public becomes increasingly aware of Chief Tumolo’s role in successfully obtaining the DNA results, he will not only prevail in the realm of public opinion, but he will most certainly prevail in a court of law.

When the details of the Jeffrey Deskovic case unravel, the one incontrovertible fact involving Eugene Tumolo will be that, but for then detective lieutenant Tumolo and his conscientious and diligent efforts in seeking the truth, an innocent man would still sadly be languishing in a state penitentiary today.

Tony Castro, Esq.

Editor’s Note: A detailed response to Mr. Castro’s letter appears in The Advocate, p5.

Long-Time Mount Vernon Democratic District Leader Calls For Conn-Halevi Resignation

Dear Editor:

Serapher Conn-Halevi should resign as Mount Vernon Democratic Party Chairwoman. After her devastating defeat in the September 18th Democratic Primary elections, Ms. Conn-Halevi should resign. It is not only because she lost both Democratic Primaries but because she displayed a serious lack of leadership after the Primary by failing to embrace and welcome the victorious candidates who are now the Democratic Party standard bearers for the general election. She also went out for the Conservative and Independence
lines. How could the Chair of a major party seek two minor party lines for herself? It is unheard of. Is she a Democrat or a Conservative? How could she convince voters or future candidates to stick with the Democratic Party when she does not?

Some people say that she is being trained by David Ford. That is hard to believe. I was a long-time Democratic district leader under David Ford’s leadership in the party and one thing that I know is that when the Primary was over he would embrace the Democratic candidates and move forward. We had our battles back then but we pulled together. You might not agree with Ford about many things but his loyalty to the Democratic Party
was never divided or never a question. He would rally his district leaders behind victori-ous Democratic candidates. That’s more than I could say for Ms. Conn-Halevi. When the Chair has doubts about who she should support after a Democratic Primary, the decent thing for her to do is to resign. She made a statement in The Journal News that she would support Clinton Young, the Democratic voters’ choice, and the next evening her daughter, her sons, her husband, her best friends, were all at Ernie Davis’ rally supporting him as the Conservative candidate for Mayor in the November general election. If she can’t bring her own family and friends in line then how could she bring others together behind the candidates? Or, has she made a side deal with Ernie? That stinks. She should resign. Our Party deserves a person who believes in its principles, not a political opportunist.

And another thing, that performance by City Clerk Lisa Copeland on television at the recanvassing of the voting machines was disgraceful. She is an embarrassment to the City of Mount Vernon.

Former David Ford District Leader
Mount Vernon Democratic Party

Mount Vernon Resident Takes Davis To Task

Dear Editor:

On October 9th The Journal News reported that the U.S. Attorney’s Office empanelled a grand jury to investigate and take testimony of a Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Agency employee, Lou Albano, about possible corruption of Ernie Davis’ administration. Davis, who says, “I’m not a crook”… “I meant I’m not a cook” immediately lawyered up by hiring Ravi Batra who, along with Davis, accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office of a political witch hunt. This is typical Ernie. He takes no responsibility. He blames everyone else. He makes
excuses. He makes very bad judgments. Take a look at who he hired as his lawyer – Ravi Batra – a political operative, well known for shady tactics. Read more about Batra at http://www.lawyerfraud.com/ and search Ravi Batra, you’ll get the picture of this character. Also check out www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics to learn more about Ernie’s friend Ravi. As the saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together”, Ernie and Ravi a perfect match. Ernie’s ankle bracelet will soon be permanent. Maybe he could join Ravi on the Bombay Express and avoid the embarrassment of an indictment. Ravi knows nothing about Mount Vernon but he is acting a spokesman – what a joke.

Mount Vernon Resident for Uncorrupted Government
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

No Rhetoric Of Counsel Can Alter The Ugly Facts

Let’s begin by saying that you, Mr. Castro, deserve a big thank you from your client, Chief of Police, City of Peekskill, Eugene Tumolo, firstly, for your willingness to take on such an unpopular defense and, secondly, for giving it “the old college try” even before going to trial. However, all of the effort to characterize former Detective
Lieutenant Tumolo’s conduct, with respect to Jeffrey Deskovic at any time over the past 18 years, as having been beneficially and conscientiously intentioned, is both misguided and very wide of the truth.

More to the point, your repeated assertions, with respect to the DNA retrieved from the rape-kit swabbings of victim Angela Correa’s vagina, in nearly every one of your 15 paragraphs in Chief Tumolo’s defense, plays a bit like “Johnny One-Note”.

In point of fact, then-Detective Tumolo urgently needed some material evidence, something tangible, connecting young 16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic to the heinous rape and murder of a 15-year-old schoolmate who he barely knew.

Truth be told, Detective Tumolo, who headed up the investigation, assisted by Detectives Levine and McIntyre, had absolutely nothing that even remotely resembled a connection between Mr. Deskovic and the scene of the crime, much less even a hint of a relationship, or a motive connecting him to poor Angela.

Perhaps, that was why, on January 25, 1990, knowing full well that Miranda Attorney Rights had already attached, Lieutenant Tumolo and his two henchmen, Levine and McIntyre, once again, without his mother’s knowledge, and clearly in violation of his Constitutional rights, literally abducted young Jeffrey. Keeping him
from school, they transported him to Brewster, New York, in Putnam County, many miles from Peekskill where, in conspiracy with Sheriff ’s Deputy Daniel Stephens, concealing the fact that he was a police officer, helped extract a false confession from a 16-year-old boy by wiring him to a polygraph machine for more than five hours,
repeatedly lying to him and intimidating and threatening him until he would say anything to stop the torture.

In fact, Jeffrey Deskovic, scared out of his mind, lay down on the floor in a fetal position, crying profusely and saying whatever his tormentors wanted to hear. As pertains specifically to your client, Mr. Castro, Eugene Tumolo, who had engineered the event, was in the next room in touch with and steering the whole operation as
Stephens and Detectives Levine and McIntyre, playing “bad cop/good cop” respectively, took turns lying to and tormenting Jeffrey until he “confessed”.

Mr. Castro, you need to know that once the youth was broken down, crying and saying whatever they wanted him to say, Eugene Tumolo burst into the room, demanding that he say it again for him, whereupon he was placed under arrest. Of course, once he realized that he had been lied to and that he wasn’t “going home”, Jeffrey
refused to write or sign any statement. Lacking any basis for an arrest, other than a false confession, tortured from a 16-year-old kid, Detective Lieutenant Tumolo had his own very selfish need to obtain a DNA confirmation. The diligence that you, Mr. Castro, speak of with regard to your client’s pursuit of DNA testing, had nothing whatsoever to do with good faith, or beneficial intentions. It was all about trying to confirm the legitimacy of an arrest that was based, to that point, solely on a torturously extracted false confession. It was not about any “desire to search for the truth” as you so wrongly state.

Motivated as he was to produce some material forensic link to the 16-yearold boy he had extracted a false confession from, in violation of his Constitutional Rights, naturally, Officer Tumolo did everything he could to obtain possible DNA support. However, once that DNA result established that the semen found in victim Angela Correa’s vagina conclusively excluded Jeffrey Deskovic, Eugene Tumolo, who had engineered that brutal false confession, had a moral, ethical, and professional obligation to derail the horrific chain of events he had selfishly and maliciously set in motion.

Your phrase, Mr. Castro, “Eugene Tumolo followed the proper protocol and immediately presented the DNA results to the Chief Law Enforcement Agency in the County, the District Attorney’s Office,” would almost be laughable had the consequences of his prior deliberate failure to “follow the proper protocol” in obtaining that false confession, not been so devastating to poor Jeffrey.

Your comment, with regard to disclosure of the DNA results to the media, was very misleading. In point of fact, The Guardian had recently observed that if Detective Tumolo actually went to Assistant District Attorney George Bolen to express his concern over the DNA mismatch, only to be rebuffed by the equally over-zealous prosecutor, and informed that the prosecution would go forward; Eugene Tumolo, if he was truly concerned for the fate of an innocent 16-year-old boy who he had placed in harm’s way, could have gone to Bolen’s boss, DA Carl Vergari. And, if that appeal, with compelling scientific evidence, failed, he could have gone to the State Attorney General. And, if that failed, he could’ve gone to the United States Attorney’s Office. And, in the unlikely event that all of them conspired to prosecute an obviously innocent boy, then he could have gone to the media. The truth is, your client, Officer Tumolo, made none of those appeals, armed as he was with “compelling scientific evidence”.

The fact is, Eugene Tumolo didn’t even need the DNA to realize that Jeffrey Deskovic was innocent. He knew that the hair follicles found on Angela Correa’s body didn’t match Jeffrey either; her killer was Steven Cunningham, a Black man. No, Eugene Tumolo was content to be rebuffed by George Bolen, an equally evil, self-servant; content to watch Jeffrey get convicted, and content to let him rot in prison for 16 years, knowing full well the kid was innocent and he, Tumolo, had set in motion, and left in motion, the cruel process that robbed the best years of Jeffrey’s life.

Worse yet, Officer Tumolo was never coaxed by conscience from his silence, not even when Angela’s killer, Steven Cunningham, struck again in his city, in a similar fashion, just three and a half years later, killing Pat Morrison. After all, it wouldn’t be in Officer Tumolo’s self-interest if it was discovered he had arrested an innocent boy for rape and murder with nothing but a false confession, and then watched that boy go to prison for Life knowing full well he was innocent, and that the real murderer was free to kill again.

Incidentally, a newspaper is not “persecuting” a public official, as you repeatedly suggest, by disclosing information from appellate documents that were sworn to, and that are part of the public record. Chief Tumolo knows very well what cruel and unlawful conduct he manifested towards Jeffrey Deskovic in concert with other selfserving individuals. And, as you say, Mr. Castro, “facts will triumph.”

In the final analysis, yes, Assistant District Attorney George Bolen was a cruel self-serving imposter for proceeding with the prosecution of Jeffrey Deskovic despite the compelling scientific evidence of his innocence, as was former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro for, no fewer than six times, fighting Jeffrey’s appeals for DNA comparison with the data bank. But, so, too, is your client, Eugene Tumolo, for having put him in their harm’s way. And, of course, all three of them, and others, have the blood of Pat Morrison on their hands.
FBI Probe Into Mt. Vernon Mob Trash Deals Renews Questions About County Trash Contracts, And Arm-Twisting of Legislators By Larry Schwartz

By Richard Blassberg

Last Thursday’s raid on Mount Vernon City Hall by some half dozen FBI agents, armed with a search warrant
for trash-hauling contracts and related documents, in the Department of Public Works and the Department
of Finance, netted eight large boxes of vouchers, canceled checks, contracts and other correspondence.

Following the raid some in White Plains, and throughout the County, were wondering if it was only a matter of time before the probe is widened, given lingering questions regarding the County’s dealings with certain carters over the past few years.

Questions continue regarding the trash-hauling contract between Westchester County and City Carting of Danbury, Connecticut. Approximately two years ago the County permitted a ve-year, $70 million contract with an existing hauler, that could have been renewed at the same cost, to run out, despite Environmental Facilities
Commissioner Anthony M. Landi’s admission that the hauler had been doing a good job and there really wasn’t any reason to discontinue his services. When asked at a meeting of the Solid Waste Committee of the County Legislature, chaired by Tom Abinanti, why it was that the County Executive’s Office would fail to renew the contract with the existing hauler at the same cost, for five more years; especially given the collusive and choreographed nature of competitive bidding with that industry, Commissioner Landi responded, “We wanted to test the waters.”

That response seemed both glib and ill-advised to this reporter, given the fact that County taxpayers would now be paying $87 million, a figure that has since substantially increased, for what they could continue to have had for $70 million. Additionally, concerns were raised at the time that the company the County was now entering into contract with, City Carting, was one that New York City had placed on its “Do Not Do Business With” list, because of the owner’s reported prior association with Tommy Milo and James Galante.

As my unexpected line of questioning continued, Larry Schwartz, who had been summoned from the ninth floor, suddenly appeared in the corridor at the door to the Legislature’s Committee Room and, one by one, pointed to legislators engaged in the meeting, motioning them into the hall and lobbying (to use a polite term) each and every one of them to support the deal with City Carting.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Port Chester Man, 26, Charged With Kidnap and Rape, Denied Bail in Sex Offender Court
Westchester County Court, White Plains
County Court Judge Rory J. Bellantoni Presiding


Last Thursday morning, Oct. 11, Federico Ordaz-Cejia, was arraigned in Sex Offender Court before Westchester County Judge Rory Bellantoni. Accused of kidnapping, raping and robbing, at knifepoint, a
21-year-old woman who had stopped at a gas station for a pack of cigarettes, by hiding in the back of her car and forcing her at knifepoint to a secluded area where he allegedly raped and sodomized her.

The defendant, who was charged in a 12- count indictment, was represented by Legal Aid Attorney Deborah Cassidy, who, when called upon by Judge Bellantoni, told the Court, “My client enters a plea of not guilty to each and every count.”

Assistant District Attorney Fred Green, prompted by the Judge, then responded, “The People are ready for trial, Your Honor.” Judge Bellantoni then inquired, “What is his current bail status?” to which Attorney Cassidy
responded, “He was remanded without bail.”

She then further offered, “I will be looking to establish a reasonable bail, Your Honor.” At that point, the Judge turned to ADA Green, who declared, “I’m going to be asking for a remand. The facts of this case are horrific
and nightmarish.” Green then went on to describe, in detail, the circumstances under which the Defendant snuck into the back of the victim’s car and compelled her to drive to a secluded area at knifepoint.

Green told the Court, “He raped her twice at knifepoint, and put his penis inside her anus. He then ran off with her car and house keys, leaving her destitute. He then fled New York State and went to Chicago, intending
to go to Mexico.”

The Prosecutor, attempting to impress upon the Court not only the heinous nature of the crime but the strength of the case, offered, “He was tied to the scene by a number of witnesses.” Then, wishing to further impress the Court with the potential risk of flight, Green stated, “He told United States Marshals, and Chicago Police, that he wasn’t too worried about his arrest because as soon as he would get out he would go to Mexico.”

Continuing, Mr. Green declared, “Although he was identified by the victim, there is DNA from vaginal and anal swabbings, and although there is a bail application, I am making an application for a DNA Exemplar, given
that he has been indicted.”

At this point, Judge Bellantoni directed the Prosecutor, “File that Motion today and serve it on the Court and Counsel.”

Defense Attorney Cassidy then broke in, “I acknowledge that we were contacted, but he is not going to consent to the DNA sample today.”

Upon those words, Mr. Green asked, “Back to the bail, Judge?” to which Bellantoni answered in the affirmative.
Attempting to give further support to the People’s request for a remand, Mr. Green stated, “He had a prior case and he was ordered to return to Court, but failed to. I doubt that he can live with his family. I doubt that they want him to live with them. He is homeless and he has no connection to Westchester. Furthermore, he could be facing upwards of 25-50 years. He only came back to New York because three Police Agencies combined to
bring him back.”

Once again, Defense Attorney Cassidy offered, “We are asking for reasonable bail. He has a minor prior record.”

Judge Bellantoni, having weighed Defense and Prosecution statements, then announced, “The Defendant is entitled to bail status. Remand is a bail status. The Court agrees with the People that he should be remanded.”
The Reid Technique: Strong Risk of False Confessions And Wrongful Convictions

By Jeffrey Deskovic

The American Psychological Association, together with the University of Ohio, recently sponsored a conference in El Paso, Texas, on False Confessions, featuring a virtual Who’s Who in the field. It was a diverse crowd including false confession experts, clinicians and researchers, defense attorneys, police officers, The Texas
Innocence Project, The Justice Project, and a representative from a local Texas District Attorney’s office. I was invited as the Keynote Speaker.

Allison Redlich gave a presentation on the relationship between false confessions, false guilty pleas, and the mentally ill. She also discussed some of the reasons that the entally ill plead guilty to crimes that they are innocent of involving the fact that their stay in jail tended to be longer than that of other people since few cared enough about them to bail them out. And wanting to get out of jail, some figure that they have served most of the time already anyway.

Still others reason that their public defender is inept and that they would likely be convicted anyway, given the reality of the current state of many public defender offices, including the built-in handicap of often being assigned too many cases at the same time, and the extreme budgetary differences between public defender offices and
prosecutors. And, given that eight out of ten people who confess are found guilty, I would say that that is a pretty accurate perception.

Redlich also mentioned that states in which there is a “three strikes and you’re out” law, some of the mentally ill plead guilty to crimes they are innocent of in order to protect a friend. In those cases, a conviction would result in their friend being convicted of their third strike, and therefore going away for life, whereas they would only get a few years.

Solomon Fulero is a False Confession Expert, who spoke of the process of getting False Confession Expert testimony admitted into the court. He mentioned that in order to get the testimony into court, it must pass the Daubert and Frye Tests, legal cases establishing the standards through which new scientific methods must pass before being allowed into the courtroom and put before a jury. Two of the more important standards involved
are whether or not there is a consensus within the scientific community regarding the science and methodology, and whether the research involved has been peer-reviewed.

Fulero mentioned that in those states in which False Confession Expert testimony had not been allowed into the
courtroom, it was because inept lawyers had not asked sufficient questions of the expert, thus failing to lay a proper foundation.

He stated that another problem occurred when defense attorneys did not have enough money to hire an expert and would, out of desperation, hire smalltown psychologists who did not fully understand the science. As an example, he detailed a case in which the psychologist told the court that the literature was not peer-reviewed. Fulero encouraged the lawyers at the conference not to use as experts those who are not truly knowledgeable,
because to do so only makes it more difficult for expert testimony to get admitted in other cases.

He stated that False Confession Experts are allowed to testify as to the characteristics of false confessions, and then whether those characteristics are present in the confession at issue. But they are not allowed to go beyond
that. They may not give a direct opinion as to whether they considered a particular confession false or not.

He went on to illustrate some cheap tricks that prosecutors have used during cross examination. One tactic that he mentioned was that prosecutors often ask whether the expert is being paid for his testimony, as if an expert is not paid for their services. For answering that question Fulero said, “No, I am being paid for my time, the same as you are.” Another tactic exposed involves when prosecutors ask how often the expert has testified for the
prosecution; an attempt to show that they are biased. That question is inappropriate because prosecutors know very well that they are not allowed to call a false confession expert as a witness because it would constitute evidence-bolstering. Fulero suggested the right answer to that question is, “As often as I am asked.”

I delivered two presentations in El Paso. The first one was an ‘at-large’ presentation, meaning that it was open to students at the school as well as to anybody in the community who wished to attend, without charge. There were about 50 people in the auditorium for my first presentation. I told my story of being arrested and the circumstances involved, as well as the judicial history of my case, and my prison experience. I then went on to discuss various reforms that I have been advocating for. I mentioned, amongst those reforms, the need to upgrade the quality of defense the poor receive by leveling the playing field economically, and talent-wise, between prosecutors’ offices and public defenders. I also advocated limiting the number of cases that a public defender must handle simultaneously.

I mentioned ending the tactics which lead to false confessions, such as lying by police, claiming to have evidence that they do not have, the use of the polygraph and lengthly questioning for hours on end, as well as false promises and threats. I emphasized the need for videotaping all police interrogations. I then spoke of overhauling
all the identification procedures, creating a standardized evidence preservation system, and also of how there
needs to be criminal penalties for police and prosecutors who deliberately withhold evidence from the defense.

Then, right there, in Texas, which is an “execution machine”, I launched into an impassioned plea against the death penalty, mentioning how its existence will result in the continued execution of innocent people; how it is a waste of resources, explaining that, in New York, we spent over $200 million over a nine-year period while executing nobody.

I explained how it prevents victims’ family members from healing and coming to closure by constantly reminding them with the attendant publicity that appeals generate.

I referred to how, just two months earlier, the Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, had gone ahead and executed Darryl Grayson while not allowing him to have a DNA test performed in his case, even though there was semen available to test, in addition to a witness’s affidavit that Grayson was in their company, passed out from alcohol at the time of the incident.

I then informed the audience that the Governor was planning to do the same thing to Thomas Arthur, who was scheduled to be executed the next day, Sept. 27, without having allowed him access to a DNA test. I made
brief mention of the facts of the case, including that the victim’s wife had told police that a stranger broke into her house, raped her, and then killed her husband.

I further explained that the police did not believe her, and arrested her. And, after she was found guilty, they offered her reduced time in prison in exchange for implicating Mr. Arthur. I further detailed that there was a rape kit with DNA in it, hairs found in the victim’s wife’s car, and blood-soaked pants of the victim’s wife, all of which could be tested to determine whether Arthur was guilty or innocent, but that the Governor was refusing to allow
those tests. I gave them the Governor’s phone number, listed on the website and invited them to call him and tell him that they wanted him to allow the testing. I was happy to learn that a stay of execution was granted the next day for 45 days, but it was only on the issue of the method of execution, so that the state might change its execution protocol. I encourage people to call the Governor, at 334-242-7100, and demand DNA Testing for Thomas Arthur.

The next day marked the official beginning of the conference. I made a point of attending the lectures of the other presenters, allowing time before lunch to prepare myself for delivery of the keynote speech. Because the subject of this event was False Confessions, and given that the organizers wanted there to be plenty of time for questions, I had to tailor my presentation accordingly. I spoke about the circumstances of my arrest, trial, post-conviction
struggle, and included a bit about my prison experience. I lightly touched upon a few needed reforms, then segued into the causes of false confessions, based upon my experience. I referenced the tactics which
resulted in false confessions that other presenters had noted, and indicated how those tactics contributed to my false confession.

The Reid Technique

The Reid Technique is an interrogation methodology which is utilized by law enforcement agents across America.
Nationwide, false confessions have been the cause of wrongful convictions in 25% of the 208 DNA-based exonerations to date. The technique I am about to describe is the methodology that is employed by the law enforcement of-ficers in the process of obtaining those false confessions. In his presentation, Joseph P. Buckley, author of Essentials of the Reid Technique: Criminal Interrogation and Confessions revealed that he holds over 600 contracts to teach this technique to law enforcement agencies all over the country. He claimed that his
system does not lead to false confessions.

I will outline the process, and let readers decide for themselves whether or not the method is coercive and likely to lead to false confessions.

As I mention the techniques in his presentation, readers may recall the circumstances of my false confession, and
come to their own conclusions with regard to those who were involved with the planning, coordination, and oversight of what happened to me. I would like to point out, that according to his own testimony, which is in my trial transcripts, as well as in the Appellate Division Brief, Chief Eugene Tumolo knew that the terms of employment of polygrapher Daniel Stephens was to execute a procedure known as “gtc”- an acronym
for “get the confession”.

He, Tumolo, drove to the interrogation site in Brewster, which proves that he knew that I, a 16-year-old youth of Peekskill, was being driven to the Village of Brewster. Trial testimony stated that there were listening devices in the interrogation room and in the next room, where he, Tumolo, Detectives Levine and McIntyre, listened to what was happening to me next door. Stephens testified that at times he left the room to consult with Tumolo
and the other officers. Further, he testified that at the end, after the false confession had been obtained, he, Tumolo, entered the room and proceeded to interrogate me even further.

Of course, the presence of Joseph Buckley at a conference on False Confessions seemed a bit strange to me. However, as one of the pioneers of the method known as the Reid Technique, along with Reid and Imbau, his input was valuable. My review of the technique is based upon information that he presented, as well as material written by Saul Kassin, entitled, A Critical Appraisal Of The Reid Technique.

The technique is employed by a majority of law enforcement agencies in their interrogation procedures. The conversation between suspect and police is divided into two parts: Interview, and Interrogation.

The colloquy begins as an interview, characterized by open-ended questions, in which there is an even-keeled discussion between the police and the one they are questioning. It is only when the police have a hunch that the suspect is lying that it switches to interrogation.

The determination as to whether a suspect is lying is based upon a checklist of fifteen characteristics, out of which, if the police check off any four of them, it is taken to infer guilt, and the mode then switches to interrogation.

The problem, however, as prominent False Confession Expert Saul Kassin points out, is that “nervousness, fear,
confusion, hostility, story changes or contradictions, are all signs that a man in an interrogation room is lying, particularly in the eyes of someone as naturally suspicious as a detective. Unfortunately, these are also signs of a human being in a state of high stress.” Kassin points out that the training that Buckley gives out, despite its
claim to place police in a position to attain high levels of accuracy, has been shown to place police in no better a position to detect truth from lies than chance. Once that determination has been made within the mind of the interrogator, however, the communication switches to interrogation mode, which he described as “a monologue,
of 80/20, wherein the police talk 80% of the time and the suspect 20%, and innocence is taken off of the table.”

Any protestations of innocence are not accepted and are, instead, swept past and ignored with a renewed sense of energy and vigor, as the interrogation continues.

There are three processes involved:

Isolation for some period of time, which increases stress and the incentive to relieve that stress; Confrontation, in which the interrogator accuses the suspect of the crime, expresses certainty in that opinion, and blocks all denials, sometimes citing real or manufactured evidence to support the charge; and Minimization in which the sympathetic interrogator morally justi-fies the crime in the form of an alternative version of events, such as that it was spontaneous, accidental, provoked, or the result of peer pressure.

Studies by False Confession expert Dr. Gudjohnson have shown that in the interrogation room some people are more vulnerable than others, particularly if they are characteristically prone to exhibit social compliance or interrogative suggestibility.

Youth, naiveté, a lack of intelligence, cultural upbringing, and social anxiety as well as various psychological
disorders, present unique vulnerabilities to watch for. There are problems within each component.

Problems with isolation

I would like to again quote False Confession expert Kassin, who indicates, “Prolonged isolation is likely to be accompanied by fatigue, feelings of helplessness, and deprivation of sleep, food and other biological needs; mental states that impair complex decision-making.” Yet, there are no limits taught within the Reid Technique
as to the length of isolation which would acknowledge these realities. Problems with Confrontation (and
“Taking Innocence Off Of The Table”) It is one thing to confront someone with the truth, but it is quite another to
confront suspects with non-existent evidence.

The presentation of false evidence is implicated in the vast majority of false confessions. The problem is that the idea is conveyed to a innocent suspect that “no matter what, you are going to be arrested for this; it is just a matter of whether you are going to make it worse on yourself by lying, maintaining your innocence.” Additionally,
Kassin references studies that he and other researchers have done which show that innocent people sometimes internalize guilt for outcomes they did not produce.

Problems With Minimization

The problem with minimization is that when a suspect is worn down and frightened, in desperation they look for
an out. And, when it is suggested that a criminal act is understandable, that implies that there will be no consequences for making an admission, and so confessing falsely is seen as a way out of the situation. Then, once the false admission is made with the belief that that is how it will be understood, what follows is something
altogether different.

Whereas an understandable reaction/act is not a crime and would therefore not be prosecuted or punished,
the person now finds him or herself arrested and charged with a crime by a prosecutor who is not presenting events as understandable.

Instead, even as a police officer testifies as to an “admission” to something understandable, a prosecutor uses that as proof that a “cold-hearted crime” has been committed and therefore the defendant should be sent to prison, often for a life sentence.Yet this incongruence is allowed to stand.

Conclusion

Buckley claimed that his Technique, when done properly, does not result in false confessions, despite many cases
which show that is exactly what is produced. As I see it, his Technique amounts to nothing more than psychological coercion, which, in addition to being a violation of the Fifth Amendment, has a penchant for resulting in false confessions.

Many of the experts present at the conference severely attacked his statements both during the questioning phase
of his presentation, and during their own presentations, frequently offering scientific studies and arguments against
him. By the time everybody was done, his methods had been professionally and thoroughly discredited.

In a paragraph that captures the technique in a nutshell, Kassin states “the Technique is to remove suspects from
familiar surroundings and place them in a small, barely furnished room housed within the police station. Against this physical backdrop, a nine-step process begins with positive confrontation and the development of alternative themes, and ends with a full written or oral confession.

Conceptually this approach is designed to get suspects to incriminate themselves by increasing the anxiety associated with denial, plunging them into a state of despair and minimizing the perceived consequences
of confession.”

Is there anybody out there, who does not believe that the methods described above are coercive, and lead to false confessions?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Office of Council President Spotlights Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick And His Staff Sponsor Event To Drive Home Continuing Horror of Domestic Violence Last Wednesday night, in Yonkers City Hall Plaza, numerous City, County and State
officials, as well as social workers and advocates, gathered to speak out against the continuing destructive effects of domestic violence in Westchester County and across the nation. State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins perhaps captured the sentiment of those gathered when she expressed her fervent hope that, “thirty years from now, such events will no longer be necessary.”
In Our Opinion...

Not So Fast, Governor Spitzer

From where we stand it didn’t appear late last month that Governor Eliot Spitzer needed to take on any more controversy for a while, in the wake of the Bruno debacle. Nevertheless, he trotted out his executive order permitting illegal immigrants to obtain New York State driver’s licenses. Eight states do not require proof
of immigration status to obtain a driver’s license. Judging by the intense response from both sides of the aisle, and at every level of state and municipal government, it would appear the Governor and his advisors, whomever they may be these days, grossly miscalculated.

Initially proponents argued that the licensing of undocumented immigrants would significantly reduce the incidents of unlicensed and uninsured drivers, while at the same time providing some handle, some identification data, on tens of thousands of individuals who currently pass under the radar in a growing underground economy. It would also bring in additional state revenue and taxes.

Opponents of the concept have come from many quarters. Joe Bruno, who initially acknowledged the logic of the order, ultimately hardened his position -surprise, surprise- and has stated that the plan “jeopardizes the safety and security of all New Yorkers and must be stopped.” Not much wiggle room there. Of course, personal animus aside, Bruno’s stance would seem in keeping with post-9/11 thinking that greater restrictions needed to be placed on the obtaining of driver’s licenses.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who can usually be counted upon to support progressive, if not liberal, legislation, was quoted ten days ago in the Post saying, “I’m really skeptical that we should be issuing driver’s licenses willy-nilly, because it then leads to lots of other problems in terms of voter registration and
other things.” Additionally, former Mayors Koch and Giuliani have expressed their opposition as well.

Those, both in government and the private sector, principly engaged in security issues are largely against the Governor’s order because driver’s licenses have been the most commonly accepted form of identification and the one document that most often leads to the obtaining of others. Still, another issue involves the current state
law that requires license applicants to present a valid Social Security number, irrespective of one’s immigration status. The question has been raised as to whether Spitzer has the authority to overrule such existing law.

While We are aware of the pros and cons on each side of the argument, We believe that there are two elements that have not been sufficiently considered. Firstly, possessing a driver’s license is not a right, but rather a privilege, one that has always been subject to a very specific set of conditions, and subject to revocation for a variety of reasons, many of which involve living a reasonably conforming, accountable, and responsible life. Entry
into a country by unlawful means, remaining there, for the most part, unaccounted for and unknown by authorities, hardly comports with those expectations.

Secondly, We believe that the Governor’s order, however well-intended it might be with regard to those, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of existing undocumented aliens living in New York State, certainly would not seem to take into account those in Mexico, and points south, not to mention other parts of the impoverished
world, contemplating illegally entering the United States. We are concerned with the impact Spitzer’s order will have upon their calculations, not only as regards whether or not to enter this country illegally, but also whether to make a bee-line for New York State where even a much-sought-after driver’s license would await their arrival as a reward for unlawful conduct. We say before any such proposition is put into play, show us that our borders have been sealed.
Our Readers Respond...

Reader Likes The Kool-Aid

Dear Editor:

I read your Sept. 27 edition of The Westchester Guardian and was especially amused by the picture taken by Mr. Blassberg on page 13. It is apparent that you are stalking any and all events that Chief Hall and Captain Marraccini of the Harrison Police Department are involved in. This picture was obviously taken as you were driving by Wellington’s Grill. If you had the decency to stop and go in you would’ve been able to experience first-hand all the support that these men have from their employees.

I felt that I needed to set the record straight since your articles have been misrepresenting the facts for many weeks now. There were over 50 people at the event for Chief Hall. Most of those in attendance were employees
of the Harrison Police Department plus numerous Chiefs from other jurisdictions. These people got together to recognize a man who has dedicated over 30 years of his life to the Town of Harrison.

I wish that you would have used better judgment and decided to finally get both sides of the stories that you have been printing. Taking a drive-by photo proves to your readers that there is little truth to your articles. A decent newspaperman would not take sides. Chief Hall is an honest, dignified and respected man that does not deserve all the nonsense that has been put before him. This was shown by the outpouring of support by his employees.
Please take the time to investigate fully before printing any further lies. You should take a good look into the history of the two men feeding you all of this information.

I have been a resident of West Harrison for 35 years and fully support all the hard-working men and women of the Harrison Police Department. It is a shame these two bad men can try and bring down a whole department.

Thank you for your time.

Penelope Stein, West Harrison

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your opinion. We agree with you that it is a shame that “two bad men” are bringing down a whole department. However, We believe those two bad men are Chief Hall and Captain Marraccini, as will soon become more apparent.

One Must Be Careful For The Sparks When Grinding An Axe

Dear Editor:

Our America? Why are the illegal aliens getting everything for free?

They say they don’t understand because they don’t want to understand so they can get free handouts.
Louise Simmons wrote in your Sept. 27, 2007 issue about speaking English first. Keep your language at home and learn the American language.

As a child my grandmother told her children to speak English and that you can always learn a foreign language. Ms. Simmons was right. My grandparents and parents were born in Italy. They had to learn how to speak English. They worked two different jobs to make ends meet. They never had any help from the government or anyone else. Our senior citizens and people born and raised in America don’t get the help they should be getting, not like the illegals who get everything. About Officer Bubaris and Rene Perez. Is Officer Bubaris the bad guy and Perez the good guy? Perez’ brother claims he did not recognize his brother. Do you believe that a family member, no matter what condition a person is in, can’t recognize them? There are good and bad in every nationality, religion, race and color. As always, the good have to suffer for the bad.

Our government should check all illegal aliens who are sending back to their country the American dollar. Some of them even go back to their countries and build homes and don’t pay taxes in the USA. The government shouldn’t give them so much and maybe they will stop coming to our country.

Nancy Bronzino
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Tired Of City Hall Denials And Inaction, Victims Of Yonkers Police Brutality Send Amicone Packing

Saturday afternoon, September 29th, Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone found out, the hard way, what
victims of police brutality, be they Black, White, Latino, or other, felt about his, and his police commissioner’s,
failure to acknowledge and deal with numerous unresolved cases of police brutality. Making an
unscheduled appearance at the Riverfront Public Library, before nearly 200 victims and community spokespersons, the second ‘speak-out’ event at the site in a year, Amicone attempted to tell the assemblage that
his administration “does not ignore police brutality complaints.” That remark was immediately responded
to by a local business operator, who yelled, “We don’t believe you.” There then followed shouts and taunts from
several in the audience as the Mayor beat a hasty retreat from the auditorium, obviously humiliated.

The gathering had been organized by Katrina Phillips, assistant to Al Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, brought into Yonkers by Karen Edmonson, President of the Yonkers Chapter of the NAACP, back in July, when it became obvious to her that conversations with Police Commissioner Edmund Hartnett “were
going nowhere.” Saturday’s forum was intended to accomplish what was not accomplished when the July event, scheduled at the Messiah Baptist Church on Warburton Avenue, was cancelled because of City Hall warnings to the pastor that violence and street clashes might result from the event.

Showing up briefly in July at the African-American Festival that followed the cancelled church event, Sharpton correctly observed that Yonkers Police brutality was “a problem not targeting only the minority community.” He ordered figures demonstrating that nearly fifty percent of complaints over the previous year had come from White complainants.

Mayor Amicone and Edmund Hartnett, his appointed Police Commissioner, had been put on notice a year ago, when the jolting frontpage headline of the September 21st edition of e Westchester Guardian read “Mother 72, Daughter 49, Charge Yonkers Police Brutality.”

The article detailed how Tina and Mary Bostwick, lifelong residents of Yonkers, had been badly mistreated
by Yonkers Police. Mary, the daughter, was roughed-up and arrested by a police officer with a reputation for
violent conduct, after summoning help for a severely injured youth who had been beaten by their neighbor.

Then, six days after the article hit the street, Police Commissioner Robert Taggart mysteriously resigned after forty years on the job. Following that article, literally scores of individuals, previously too frightened and intimidated to speak up, began coming forward. Their cases were detailed and documented. By not responding,
for the most part, and, in fact, stiff-arming the press and denying the longstanding pervasive problem, Amicone and Hartnett have lost the confideence of the community, particularly the City’s African-American community. At the same time they have caused the Federal Government, the Justice Department, through the United States
Attorney’s Office, to open an investigation into the matter, as it is obvious that City Hall has no serious intention of acknowledging the long-standing and pervasive police brutality problem, much less dealing with it.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Bronx Brothers Convicted On Federal Murder And Narcotics Charges
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York


MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that PEDRO GONZALEZ, a/k/a “Pete,” and his brother DAVID GONZALEZ were found guilty yesterday of narcotics trafficking and murder, following a three week jury trial before United States District Judge LORETTA A. PRESKA and a jury in Manhattan federal court. PEDRO GONZALEZ, 39, and DAVID GONZALEZ, 33,
were each convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, and PEDRO GONZALEZ was also convicted of distributing heroin.

Additionally, DAVID GONZALEZ was convicted of participating in the murder of EUGENE SOTO, who was shot to death on September 14, 1996, on Valentine Avenue in the Bronx, in connection with PEDRO GONZALEZ’s drug business. Each count of conviction carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The defendants, whose drug profits were invested in real estate and other assets, also face asset forfeiture penalties.

According to the evidence at trial: PEDRO GONZALEZ at first operated a street-level narcotics organization
which sold crack cocaine and marijuana at East 196th Street and Creston Avenue in the Bronx, New York. During the course of the conspiracy, from 1991 through 2003, PEDRO GONZALEZ built up the drug business
to the point where he and co-conspirators were selling kilogram-quantities of heroin and cocaine throughout the New York City area. Additionally, PEDRO GONZALEZ possessed several weapons, including semiautomatic
guns, silencers, and a hand grenade.

On September 14, 1996, following an altercation the previous day with PEDRO GONZALEZ, SOTO encountered DAVID GONZALEZ on a Bronx street, whereupon DAVID GONZALEZ returned to a stash apartment for the brothers’ drug organization and retrieved a firearm. DAVID GONZALEZ then led a chase of SOTO through the streets. SOTO was trapped in the vestibule of a building on Valentine Avenue, then stabbed repeatedly in the head and neck by an associate of the GONZALEZES (“CC-1”). SOTO was then shot in the head and killed, using DAVID GONZALEZ’s gun, by another GONZALEZ associate (“CC-2”). There were no eyewitnesses able to identify the killers, and the murder went unprosecuted until six years later. CC-1 and CC-2 both pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court for their roles in the murder, and agreed to cooperate with the Government. DAVID GONZALEZ was then charged.

Mr. GARCIA praised the investigative efforts of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the United States Internal Revenue Service.

Assistant United States Attorneys HARRY A. CHERNOFF and STEVE C. LEE are in charge of the prosecution.

Analysis:

The case of brothers Pedro and David Gonzalez, of the Bronx is appropriate and worthy of review in a newspaper whose focus is essentially Westchester County because the nature and the magnitude of their criminal
enterprises over many years in an adjacent county was such as to certainly impact innumerable individuals and families in Westchester.

Starting out with a street-level operation, the brothers’ enterprise quickly grew as demand from their surroundings, including Westchester, funneled enormous amounts of cash to them from “sophisticated” recreational users, and not-so-fashionable, addicted consumers.

Like any knowledgeable business operators, the brothers invested their ill-gotten profits in real estate and other hard assets. And, like other growing businesses, they did their best to eliminate competition, and interference;
in at least one known instance, violently. The details shared by the United States Attorney’s Office regarding the investigation, prosecution, and conviction, of not only David Gonzalez, but also two cooperating convicted accomplices, in the ultra-violent murder of Eugene Soto in the Fordham section of the Bronx some eleven years ago, is most revealing.

It is important for those who support such criminal entrepreneurs as the Gonzalez brothers with street corner purchases of cocaine, crack, and heroin, in places like Washington Heights, Fordham Road, Spanish Harlem, and places too numerous to mention, in their misguided efforts to liven up their weekend party-going, to realize what savagery, destruction, and grief they are financing. It is equally important that such ‘slick consumers’ recognize the medical and legal risks they are exposing themselves, and their loved ones, to.
As Always, Ernie Davis Shows He’s All About Himself Afraid To Let Go, He Can’t Bring Himself To Do the Right thing

Two days prior to the primary election last month, having out-spent, by some estimates, his opponent ten-fold, and confident of easy victory, incumbent Mayor Ernie Davis told the press he would support Clinton Young if Young won. In the hours immediately following his loss Davis, still in shock, made reference to accepting the
will of the People. And, clearly, it was the will of the People, given the power of incumbency, the patronage, the jobs, and the contracts obligating hundreds of people, and their families, to Davis and his reelection.

Then there was talk about “nearly 700 affidavit ballots that could alter the outcome.” But, in fact, there were fewer than 200 valid ones. Finally, Clinton Young was certified the winner of the Mount Vernon Democratic
Primary for Mayor. For days Ernie Davis kept the media and the People of Mount Vernon wondering if he would do the right thing, and support Democrat As Always, Clinton Young as he had said he would. Of
course, those familiar with what Ernie is all about knew very well that he had no intention of doing the right thing.

Unwilling to let go, Davis has now renounced the Democratic Party, the party of working-class people, the party of social conscience, the party that supported him for many years, and now he expects the People of Mount Vernon to embrace him as a Conservative. When a candidate for office accepts a party’s endorsement, there are
certain commitments that candidate must make to that party, that one way or another, will be fulfilled, and paid for, from the public treasury, with jobs and positions of authority, and contracts, that will influence outcomes in the lives of that candidate’s constituents.

Ernie Davis is willing to throw to the wind all that he has supposedly stood for - Democratic principles, progressive social agenda and consciousness - to adopt the philosophy of, and to commit himself to, a party on the extreme right. No Rockefeller Republicans they, the Conservative Party that says, “liberal is a dirty word.”

Perhaps it’s not just Democratic principles, but all principle he’s throwing to the wind in his desperate attempt to stay in power.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In Our Opinion...

Ernie Has Another Guess Coming

Word out of Mount Vernon City Hall last Wednesday had it that Ernie Davis, Nick Spano, and Giulio Cavallo were huddled together in private talks aimed at keeping Davis in the Mayor’s Office. We certainly can understand the comfort, and kinship, Davis, a man whose financial maneuverings in public office have been the subject of a federal investigation for many months now, would feel in the company of Spano and Cavallo; something about “birds of a feather.”

In any event, if Ernie Davis seriously thinks he is going to reverse the will of the People of Mount Vernon, as expressed in the Democratic Primary, despite his having spent nearly ten times what his opponent, Clinton Young, spent, he has another guess coming. Having had the advantage of incumbency, having used every possible publicly financed event and giveaway he could, and, having flooded the media with press releases and announcements, sometimes four to five a day, in his failed effort, what new tricks are Davis and his buddies conspiring to come up with in November?

Some have suggested that Davis believes he is safe from federal prosecution so long as he holds the Mayor’s Office, alluding to former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, now under a 33-count federal indictment for corruption.

The simple fact remains the People of Mount Vernon had had enough broken promises, and tired excuses for not dealing with serious issues. Knowing Ernie as they have over so many years, and how he has always been all about himself, most residents simply assumed “self-enrichment” was a big piece of his agenda. Few will be surprised when that True Bill with Ernie’s name on it is handed up in short order from the
courthouse at 300 Quarropas Street, White Plains.

Mayor Davis, while he is still the mayor, would do well to not only concede his defeat in the primary as a gentleman, but also to reach out to Clinton Young and the new administration, offering to seriously assist
them in transition, and the task of moving forward with all possible resources and speed to overcome the issues presently confronting Mount Vernon. After twelve years at the helm, that is the least constituents who
placed their confidence in him are entitled to.

Once again, We would urge Ernie Davis to abandon any notion of frustrating the will of Mount Vernon’s People. Against all odds, against the so-called political analysts, and those who would intimidate voters, they have spoken up and have made it abundantly clear that it is time for a change. It is time for a new vision, time for Mount Vernon to move forward and once again be a peaceful, productive, and energetic environment in which to raise a family and conduct business, a city whose residents may once again speak of it with pride.
Our Readers Respond...

Taking Yonkers Police Department Ad To Task

Dear Editor:

In response to the Yonkers Police Department’s (YPD) nearly full-page ad in the September 23, 2007 edition of The Westchester Journal Newspaper, the Westchester Chapter of The National Black Police Association feels that the advertisement is a misrepresentation of the issues. Our criticism is not an attack on the YPD as a whole or the fine officers that serve and protect the Yonkers community.

Instead we are demanding critical and fair accountability of the few police officers that cross the line, and that the administration recognize and correct their failure to address this ongoing epidemic.

As stated in previous press releases, it is no secret in the law enforcement community of Westchester that the attitudes and actions of some YPD professionals are appalling. These attitudes have been ignored for years. More often these negative attitudes are displayed in the underprivileged communities of color.

Six thousand seven hundred arrests and 34 complaints sound very impressive. I attended the forum of the NAACP in September, 2006, where there were wall-to-wall citizens of Yonkers who had complaints (obviously more than 34). The victims were either scared to file a complaint due to fear of retaliation by the accused officers or they didn’t know how to file a proper complaint. Since September 2006, complaints have been filed at the Nepperhan Community Center and with the Yonkers NAACP, as well as the National Action Network. It is well documented that most victims of police brutality admit to being victims, but do not file formal complaints. This is not to say that police brutality does not exist.

It is an outrage to the Yonkers communities of color and its voters that 5.3 percent of its Yonkers police officers are Black when the Black population of Yonkers is 19 percent. Again, where are the young men and women of color? Or is the perception of the YPD so horrible that any young Black man or woman that has grown up
in Yonkers wouldn’t dare take the job?

To build trust in the communities of color and its voters the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, along with the City Council, should support an independent Civilian Complaint Review Board. An independent CCRB will serve as a balance between YPD and the community it claims it wants to serve and protect.

D.K. Jones, Executive Director,
Westchester Chapter, National Black Police Association
National Board Member, National Black Police Association

Kudos For Paul Feiner

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to our hard working Paul Feiner. With rolledup sleeves and sweat on his brow, I watched him stand-up for democracy in Greenburgh. It just shows that truth and determination is a powerful combination.

I’m glad so many people in our town understood what was happening and stood behind him. This is huge. Here in our allimportant microcosm of America, Greenburgh has spoken and said, “We will not be bullied by America’s political bosses and special interests!”

I think when it comes down to it, people know that as long as Paul is serving Greenburgh, we still have three things: 1. A voice that can be heard. 2. A chance to participate, and 3. Someone caring, honest and proactive watching out for us. So I say, “Thank you Paul for all you do, and all the effort you put into it.” – and right now, I believe a large part of Greenburgh has just said, “Thank you” too!

Terry Pavone, Greenburgh

Reader Defends Education For Inmates

Dear Editor:

I wish to respond to your reader, Matthew Colavito, because he has expressed a common sentiment: that if someone commits a crime he must be punished severely, and one way to punish a criminal is to make education unavailable in prison. What is overlooked by people who feel this way is that education is necessary for everyone in our society if they are ever to lead decent, law-abiding lives, with jobs, able to support themselves and their families.

Education is not a luxury. If a young person stupidly committed a crime before he finished his education, it doesn’t do us any good to keep him warehoused in prison for years without access to education, only to release him eventually, as ignorant as he was the first day he walked into prison. The taxpayers who support these institutions are getting very little value from this sort of policy.

Almost everyone in prison will be released at some time, and educating prison inmates will produce a much greater return for society than having them spend their years in custody staring at four walls until they are released, possessing no more options for a law-abiding life than they had when they went in.

Obviously the reader did not know that Mr. Deskovic is an innocent person who did not go to prison for a “good reason”, and it is very important for everyone to realize that life is extremely difficult for those who have been wrongly convicted, with or without an education. The prison experience is usually a damaging one, and those who are exonerated because they were wrongfully convicted have the additional burden of trying to explain to prospective employers what it means to have a criminal conviction yet be exonerated.

That Mr. Deskovic is making a success of his life speaks volumes about his own inner resources and intelligence – intelligence that has been nurtured by education.

Joanne Naughton, J.D., Assistant Professor, Mercy College

Reader Missed Columnist Mayfield

Dear Editor:

If you’ve been away, Ms. Vicki, “welcome” back. For some reason I was picking up several copies of The Guardian, and to my surprise I did not see an article or two from you and disappointed I was. And recently I picked up my important, informative and impressing paper and happily found my section of you among all other fascinating journal of news. Thanks, Ms. Vicki, for all you say and do!

I always keep looking forward to “Freedom Isn’t Free”.

Shirley Jones

Out-of-Uniform Vets and Service Members May Salute The Flag

Dear Editor:

Recently a Bill (s. 1877) clarifying U.S. Law to allow veterans and service members, not in uniform to salute the flag, sponsored by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Ok), was passed. Prior to the passage of this bill the law stated veterans and service members not in uniform were required to place their hand over their heart to salute the
flag.

To quote Senator Inhofe when the bill passed he said, “The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one’s military service. Veterans and service members continue to represent the military service even when not in uniform.”

It is respectfully requested that you notify your readers of this new Law. It is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who can proudly salute at events such as parades, formal events, baseball games, etc. Those who are currently serving or who have served in the military have earned the
right.

Thaddeus “Ted” Polant, Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 596

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