Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Advocate

Richard Blassberg

The “Super Majority” Problem

As a result of the recent County-wide elections, the Democratic majority on the 17-member County Legislature, which had been 11 and 6, has been extended to 13 and 4, a situation which provides a “super majority”, even if one Democrat should be absent, decide to abstain, or vote in opposition to any proposal which might require more than a clear majority for passage. is circumstance is particularly troublesome given the 10-year history of the present County Executive, Andy Spano, and his Puppeteer Deputy Larry Schwartz.

As anyone in the County workforce, now approaching five thousand public employees, is well aware, Mr. Schwartz is, and always has been, a ‘control freak’ whose paternalistic, almost oppressive, approach, that
declares “We know what’s best for you; you will do as we say,” offends most. His insistence that those homeless individuals, some of whom once occupied the former Drop-In Shelter at the County Airport, and then at 85 Court Street in White Plains, be forced to enter into County programs and regimens in order to be given a cot to lie down at the Warm-Up Centers, or else be made to sleep in a chair, is not “tough love” as Andy Spano prefers to characterize it. It’s simply hard-hearted, “my way or the highway” politics.

The fact is, nearly every one of the 13 Democrats now sitting in the County Legislature is obligated to Larry Schwartz, having accepted both ‘hard’ and ‘soft ’ - - financial campaign support, as well as behind-the-scenes
political maneuvering and manipulation of minor political parties, from Larry. Additionally, the County Democratic
Committee has been held hostage by Larry through Reggie LaFayette, who has no business being both Democratic County Chair and Democratic County Election Commissioner, at the same time. While that arrangement may not be illegal, it is certainly unethical.

It was this same individual, Reggie, who was directly involved in the betrayal of Tony Castro in 2001 and 2005, the betrayal of Andrea Stewart-Cousins in 2004, and the fixing of Andy Spano’s race with a “stand-in republican opponent”, Larry Horowitz, just to name a few election manipulations. And, what about the legitimatizing of Mike Spano’s and Janet DiFiore’s “deeply-felt” conversions to the Democratic Party? It’s hard to imagine how Larry, Andy and Reggie could give them any more support as Democrats than they already gave them as Republicans! Who in Hell are Larry Schwartz and Andy Spano anyway to speak for a couple of hundred thousand registered Westchester Democrats, the majority of whom voted against these opportunistic turncoats in the first place? In effect, Larry and company are telling Tony Castro and Shelley Mayer, “get lost.”

Where is the leadership in the Democratic Party of Westchester? Sadly, it would appear limited to a very few; those with principle and character enough to stand up to Larry’s tyrannical control; Clinton Young, Paul Feiner and Dennis Robertson and their running mates. They, and others like them, deserve the support of rank and file Democrats.

Now is not the time for County residents of any political persuasion to be burying their heads while Larry Schwartz gives away tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to mob-connected carters and contractors the City of New York is forbidden to do business with. It shouldn’t take the United States Attorney and the F.B.I. to step
in to protect the interests of taxpayers and citizens of Westchester from their County government; a County government now effectively stripped of checks and balances, with no separation of powers. Unlike state government, where, in addition to the Executive and the Legislative branches, there are also the Attorney General, and the Comptroller, each of whom are capable, empowered, and quite willing to scrutinize, nullify, and prosecute, if necessary, the unlawful activities of the Executive.

The only office of County government to oversee and prosecute such unlawful activity, the Office of the District Attorney, unfortunately for many years, has been incestuously wedded to the County Executive’s Office, as well as to rogue Police brass and rogue Judges. Well-documented complaints with compelling evidence by rank and file police against high-ranking officers, are routinely rejected by the District Attorney’s Office, which prefers instead to suborn perjury against the complainants. The case trumped up against Police Officer Ralph Tancredi, President of the Harrison PBA in retaliation for his actions against Chief Hall’s, and Captain Marriccini’s, criminal
conduct, and the misguided prosecutorial misconduct of the Westchester DA’s Office in that case, is but one
clear example of why a broad federal probe is now absolutely necessary.

It is never a healthy situation in any jurisdiction when one political party is in total control as is now the case in Westchester County Government, particularly where the press and media have been historically culpable in their abject failure to fulfill their First Amendment mandate to inform and protect citizens.

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