Thursday, February 7, 2008

Janet Difiore.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Our Readers Respond...

Dobbs Ferry Village Employee Opens A Can Of Worms

Dear Editor:

I am writing to request that The Westchester Guardian investigate and expose the Mayor of Dobbs Ferry, Scott Seskin, and his
corrupt friend, the former Police Chief, George Longworth. This poor excuse for a mayor ran a campaign, and then, within
one week of becoming Mayor, decided that he couldn’t handle it and needed a “consultant.” The person he handpicked was George Longworth, and planned to pay him $135 per hour for a 20-hr work week.

I suggest using the Freedom Of Information Act, and, getting hold of certain memos and emails that were sent from the Mayor, to Liz Draeper, the Village Clerk. In those memos, you will see that the Mayor had a definite salary planned for George Longworth, the former
Police Chief - in the amount of $135 per hour. He retired as Police Chief in the summer, and, he did so with the intention of partnering up with the Mayor to “rule” the Village from another vantage point.

There is a memo proving this, and, by law, they have to show it to the press or whomever asks to see it. Do not accept no for an answer.
Your paper has such integrity, and, I think you are the only journalists who could help Dobbs Ferry. Because the public found out
about the mild corruption, they voiced their opinions and Seskin backed down, and didn’t hire Longworth. However, Longworth is advising
Seskin every day on every email and every memo he writes.

Two weeks ago, the Mayor decided to put a hiring freeze with the Dobbs Ferry Police Department. He sent out a memo and a letter saying
so, in black and white, to all of the Police Department. He was met with outrage when the PBA found out about the Mayor’s plans, (specifically, Brian Hennessy who is the President). This is an outrage! And the residents of Dobbs Ferry don’t even know about this!

The Mayor is considering rescinding the memo only if the PBA publicly states that they are in support of studying the “Shared Services” plan for Greenburgh/Dobbs Ferry merge.

Some history about this merge: George Longworth, the former Police Chief of Dobbs Ferry, has designs to be the Police Commissioner of Greenburgh, and he is behind Mayor Seskin getting this done. He convinced Seskin to run for Mayor. He has a master plan, and wants
complete control of police departments and the Village of Dobbs Ferry.

George Longworth did everything he possibly could to keep Betsy Gilardi, the current Police Chief, from getting the position. He wanted another policeman to get the job, someone who is part of Longworth’s pack of intimidating, corrupt people.

Here are more facts: George Longworth is paying for a policeman’s wife to go to college. The policeman’s name is “Gabe” - he is the eyes and ears for him and alerts him of goings-on in the Police Department on a daily basis. Also, the judge of Dobbs Ferry, Steve Schwartz, is
aligned with Longworth, and they actually purchased a home for one the Lieutenants of the Police Department.

This way, they have “loyalists” who will share secrets, and disclose highly private information to Longworth, who is still kept “in
the loop.” Longworth still, to this day, calls the Police Department, and identifies himself as “the Chief.” He undermines Betsy Gilardi
(the current chief) and is constantly doing things to show that he still has power. Seskin dislikes Gilardi, didn’t want her as the Chief,
all because Longworth assured him she’d not go along with what his plans were.

In June of ‘07, the former Fire Chief of Dobbs Ferry, Dennis Roth, showed up at a fire call at Mercy College. He was highly intoxicated and belligerent, and, driving the village Surburban. All the while he had his mistress in the vehicle with him. is is on the record with the
Dobbs Ferry Police Department. Any other fire chief would have been arrested and dismissed. is Dennis Roth is also a village employee; he works for the DPW. For some odd reason, Longworth chose not to punish Roth. Again, any other municipality would have - red their chief, whether or not bad press would ensue as a result.

Further - Longworth and Seskin are partners together in a personal injury case, (Playland accidental death) and they are being extremely unethical by behaving like they’ve behaved. Mark my words, these two are extremely unethical people. This is the God’s honest truth. The
public should know what is going on in the Village. I believe your paper is the only paper who can help.

Please, utilize the Freedom of Information act. Please, view all emails that are on file, and all memos the Mayor has written.
You will open the eyes of innocent people all over the Village of Dobbs Ferry.

Thank you for your time. I can’t disclose who I am, as I work for the Parks Department, and could lose my job.

But we need your help badly.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In Our Opinion....

The death of Officer Chrisopher A. Ridley: A Tragic Loss Compounded By Secrecy And News Management

We are dismayed to witness all of the behind-the-scenes manipulation and withholding of information that has followed the tragic killing of Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher A. Ridley, 23. It is apparent, to those in the news-gathering business, that a calculated effort to control the release of information regarding the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Officer Ridley’s death has been in effect from the
moment he was pronounced dead.

The game plan was evident within 23 hours of the tragic incident when White Plains Police Commissioner Frank Straub, County Public Safety Commissioner Tom Belfiore, Mount Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong, and District Attorney Janet DiFiore appeared, more than an hour late, for a scheduled 3pm press conference at White Plains City Court and Police Headquarters on Saturday, January 26, one day following the heroic young officer’s demise. At that meeting, with press and broadcast media, only the three police commissioners spoke and little, in the way of information, was disseminated.

For example, although it was clearly known by both the White Plains Police, and the County Police, no mention was made of the fact that there were actually four County police officers, three patrolmen and a sergeant, any or all of whom may have discharged their weapon at Officer Ridley, apparently under the tragically mistaken impression that he was a criminal assailant attempting to shoot an unarmed innocent individual.

The identity of all four County officers was withheld until late Monday, fully three days after the shooting. And, then, it would be two more days, Wednesday, before the fact that two of those officers had come out of the Social Services Building at 85 Court Street, and two had come from the County Office Building, half a block away, would be disclosed.

By Thursday, six days had passed and still there was no concrete explanation as to where those County officers were positioned when they supposedly issued a command to Ridley to “Drop your gun,” then proceeding to fire. At least one eyewitness reported that they were across the street from Officer Ridley and his homeless assailant when they opened fire. If so, serious questions would be raised as to whether, at some 40 to 50 feet distance from Ridley, he could have heard them or been aware of their potential threat or, assuming
he could have, whether those four County officers could have heard his response, and understood that he was a cop struggling to collar a violent assailant.

Under the scenario suggesting that the County officers were on the opposite side of the street, it would hardly have made sense for the two who reportedly emerged from 85 Court Street to have given up their proximity to the violent struggle occurring on the sidewalk right in front of the building they had just emerged from. Could it be that they never crossed the street and, in effect, that they were part of a crossfire, four or five rounds of a reported ten or more fired, that instantly ended young Ridley’s life?

Surely, the deliberate withholding of fundamental information, beside being cruel and painful to family members and loved ones of young Officer Ridley, was counterproductive, undermining public confidence in Westchester Law Enforcement, and Prosecution, while causing endless speculation as to what more was being withheld and for what nefarious purpose. Into the sixth day following the incident, the identity of the 58-year-old Bronx resident, who had been originally attacked by assailant Anthony Jacobs, had still not been revealed. Worst of all, the withholding of information, from the very outset, dishonored the heroic and selfless conduct of Officer Ridley, even suggesting, early on, in the minds of some, the possibility of wrongful behavior, outraging family and fellow Mount Vernon police officers alike.

We now call upon the White Plains Police Department, the designated investigative agency, and the Westchester District Attorney, who thus far, six days following the tragic event, has not issued any statement, to proceed with all possible speed to produce a “White Paper” fully updating all that is known with regard to the killing, both for the well-being and right-to-know of Officer Ridley’s family and loved ones, as well as for the People of Westchester, in whose name such investigation, and any possible prosecution, must be truthfully pursued.

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