Thursday, February 22, 2007

Larry Schwartz Losing His Grip?

His Gun Permit Bill Shot Down, His Drop-In Shelter Dropped Out, Larry Schwartz Was Stunned, Speechless
Last week Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz, the fellow most people working in Westchester County Government acknowledge as “ the Force on the Ninth Floor,” the guy they must get an okay from to do anything other than breathe, was rocked by two reversals days apart. Mr. Schwartz’ first disappointment came when it was discovered that the County Executive’s Office had failed to do their homework prior to selecting the area behind the Hawthorne Headquarters of the Westchester County Police as the proposed site of a new 100-bed “Drop-In” Shelter for adult males.

Apparently the proposed location was approximately a quarter mile too close to an existing shelter, thus violating an agreement with the Town of Greenburgh, specifically barring homeless shelters closer than two miles apart. And, although the County Executive’s Office, upon discovery of their blunder, had released a statement suggesting that they were confident some exception could be worked out, Greenburgh Town Supervisor, Paul Feiner, a Democrat, had taken to the airwaves, announcing on News12 that he would be very much against any variance from the long-standing agreement between the Town and the County, because it would undermine future confidence in agreements with the Town.

The second blow came last Monday when Marty Ragowsky, Democratic Majority Leader of the County Board of Legislators, announced that the long-debated proposal by the County Executive’s Office to modify the pistol permit process, part of a joint legislative package, some of which would require action by the State Legislature, was dead for the time being. Word was that only two legislators were willing to back the proposal that would have taken the power to approve, or deny, applications for pistol permits out of the hands of elected County and Supreme Court Judges and placed it entirely under the control of County Police Commissioner Tom Belfiore, an appointee, serving at the pleasure of the County Executive.

The proposal had drawn much criticism because Mr. Schwartz was obviously attempting to take over control of a very important function, removing the power and the discretion from judges, elected by, and accountable to, the People. Schwartz was engaging in a “power play” intended to effectively put himself in charge through his surrogate Belfiore. The Westchester Guardian had informed its readers, including County Legislators, of Schwartz’ and Belfiore’s bad track record with regard to the County Police Department’s Pistol Permit Bureau.
The Guardian revealed that three years ago, Larry Schwartz, Tom BelFiore, and then-State Senator, Nick Spano conspired to, and, in fact, diverted a $100,000 State Grant obtained by Nick Spano, ostensibly to be used to bolster the efforts of the County Pistol Permit Unit in their search for unregistered hand guns. The money was instead used to pay the salary of Terry Malone, a County Police Officer in the Unit who was then reassigned to be the full-time chauffeur of Nick’s father, County Clerk, Leonard Spano. That information, the subject of a civil law suit brought in Federal District Court, White Plains by another County Police Officer, was eye-opening and clearly demonstrated the inappropriateness of entrusting Schwartz and Belfiore, of all persons, with control over the handgun permit process.

Last week’s double setback and rejection of the dictates of the “Ninth Floor,” may be a promise of good things to come. Perhaps County Legislators, particularly the eleven Democrats who comprise a hefty majority of the total of seventeen, have begun to recognize that the time has come to throw off the dominance and coercion by Larry that is the price one pays for campaign funding with dollars that have no business being under his control in the first place.

Perhaps, too, Legislators, and their constituents are becoming tired of, and even a little concerned about, Mr. Schwartz’ dealings with the likes of Giulio Cavallo, who openly has been trading on his connections with Schwartz and Belfiore, claiming he can obtain pistol permits for $5,000, especially in light of the not-so-secret ongoing federal investigations into corruption and graft in Westchester County.

In that regard it won’t be very much longer before Michael Garcia, and his “untouchables” turn their attention to what has been the most egregious violation of public trust, the fixing and stealing of elections, before, during, and after the fact, a process Larry Schwartz, Giulio Cavallo, Jeanine Pirro, Nick Spano, and a cast too numerous to fully credit here, have been up to their eye-balls in for many years. The current investigation and hearings by the Department of Justice into the exclusion of Latino participation in Port Chester Village elections, as well as the highly ethnically inflammatory campaign materials used against Tony Castro in his 2005 run for District Attorney, hopefully, are merely opening salvos.

There’s a motherload of election fraud just waiting to be exposed and prosecuted, if Garcia’s team have the stomach for disemboweling weasels in office. Much as Giulio Cavallo, Larry Schwartz has been there every step of the way.

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