Thursday, November 8, 2007

Our Readers Respond...

Editor’s Note: The following letter from the Executive Director of Child Find of America is in answer to a letter
from reader Ann Coleman in our October 25th edition.

Director of Child Find Disputes Reader’s Assertion

Dear Editor:

A letter that appeared in last week’s Westchester Guardian implied that Child Find of America’s Parent Help program ignores domestic violence issues. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is important for your readers to know that the Parent Help program is deeply concerned about a violence survivor’s rights and safety. In fact, the services at Parent Help work in many ways to problem solve many of the challenges facing moms and dads living apart. However, Parent Help case workers have a diligent eye on safety at all times and have undergone extensive training to identify when our caller is either a domestic abuser or a victim of domestic abuse.

Our domestic violence training and consultancy is provided by Battered Women’s Services in Dutchess County, one of the state’s foremost domestic violence service providers. Parent Help contracts with Battered Women’s Services, to provide 24-hour, free and confidential assistance to our callers, as well as providing their case conferencing expertise in collaboration with the Parent Help program.

While we have mediators and social workers on staff, Parent Help DOES NOT directly or indirectly increase the
level of danger to an adult or child - or violate a protective order. Mediation, encouraging contact, and passing messages between parties is not a service we offer when domestic violence presents in a situation. We do, however, provide victims of domestic abuse the opportunity to reach out to Battered Women’s Services for help, if they choose to do so.

For more than 25 years Child Find of America has been protecting children, preventing and resolving parental child abduction, and locating missing, runaway and kidnapped children. All of our efforts are to keep kids and families safe.

Donna Linder, Executive Director

Peekskill Parent Takes Community Services Director To Task

Dear Editor:

I read this statement to the Mayor, and the Peekskill Common Council, and nothing transpired. Right now with
all of the young adults shooting at each other it is a time for our community to come together and get them more time in our recreation programs rather than taking what time they have and giving it to a MEN’S SEMI-PRO FOR-PROFIT BASKETBALL TEAM, even if it is only 2 days a week for 3 or 4 hours.

I, as a member of this community, am appalled at the idea that a SEMI PROFESSIONAL FOR PROFIT MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM (Westchester Phantoms) is allowed to oust our children out of their recreation
schedule. Our children do not have other options for recreation, as do these grown men. For Daisy Brandt (aka Elton Brandt’s mother) to come back into our community and demand that we give the Westchester Phantoms the prime time hours of our children’s recreation to a semi-professional for profit men’s basketball team (which by the way, she owns) is outrageous. Even more outrageous is the fact that Francis X.

Brunelle (FRAN) approved it. Ms. Brandt raised Elton Brandt here. She knows the struggle that we have
gone through to get and keep what little recreation our children have. The recreation staff at the KILEY
YOUTH CENTER that makes the schedule for the season was quite willing to work with her team and
allow them to come in at the times that our children didn’t have scheduled programs. Fran still insisted on giving our prime time spot between 8:00 and 10:00pm, which is the exact time that we are trying to keep our children off the streets. In this day and time of gangs and street violence we are doing our best as a community to keep our children occupied with recreational programs so they won‘t be “just” hanging in the streets! Staff tried to compromise, and protect most of our children’s scheduled activities, and told him she could even possibly have the KILEY YOUTH CENTER from 9:30 until 11:00pm or possibly 12:00 midnight (in which a staff member would volunteer his time).

What is so disturbing to me is that the Kiley Youth Center had four traveling basketball teams that played throughout the county and were forced to stop this program. This was keeping our children off the
street and at the same time teaching them various skills like learning to work together as a team, building
self-esteem, sportsmanship, obedience and giving them the physical fitness that children need. The center
was informed by the Department of Community Services, (where Francis X. Brunelle is the director) which runs the Dept of Parks & Recreation, that they would no longer pay for, sponsor, insure, or allow any traveling basketball teams to be run out of KILEY YOUTH CENTER, under the budget of the Dept of Parks & Recreation. The staff was told that the Peekskill Housing Authority owned the building and they would have to take it up with Mr. Thankachan, the director of Peekskill Housing Authority.

They were then informed under the directions of Fran that they could not even play basketball there because of insurance reasons. So the children started selling candy and other snacks (with the help of The Friends of KILEY) to raise insurance money so that they would be allowed to play basketball in their gym. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHY THIS SEMI PROFESSIONAL FOR PROFIT MEN’S BASKETBALL
TEAM IS ALLOWED to practice in the KILEY YOUTH CENTER, taking away our children’s prime time recreational hours and utilizing the advantages of the money they raised on their own for the insurance. WHY IS HE TREATING OUR CHILDREN LIKE SECOND CLASS CITIZENS AGAIN?

WHERE AND WHAT ARE OUR CHILDREN TO DO DURING THIS PRIME TIME SPOT? WHY
IS FRAN ALLOWING THIS MEN’S FOR PROFIT BASKETBALL TEAM PERMISSION TO USE THE KILEY YOUTH CENTER? WHO’S MAKING THE DECISIONS ABOUT THE RECREATIONAL NEEDSOF OUR CHILDREN, THE DEPT. OF RECREATION UNDER THE DIRECTION OF FRANCIS X. BRUNELLE, THE MAYOR JOHN TESTA, TAXPAYERS, OR SEMIPROFESSIONAL FOR PROFIT
MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM (owned by Daisy Brandt)?

As a community we have tried over and over to acquire the benefits that most communities are afforded
through city programs that are paid by taxpayers. Time and time again we ask Fran for little and still get less.
When faced with obstacles concerning our children’s recreational needs, we are trying to teach our children
that if you have a plan and can’t get help from those who should give it you need to help yourself to accomplish
whatever it is that you need. THE IRONY OF THIS SITUATION IS THAT THEY KEEP SLAPPING
OUR CHILDREN IN THE FACE, TREATING OUR CHILDREN LIKE SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.

IN SPITE OF THESE OBSTACLES, OUR CHILDREN KEEP PUSHING FORWARD. JUST WANTING TO KNOW, ONCE AGAIN, WHO’S MAKING THESE DECISIONS? WHO ARE THE
WESTCHESTER PHANTOMS? WHY IS FRAN ALLOWING THEM ACCESS TO OUR COMMUNITY YOUTH CENTER, TAKING AWAY FROM OUR CHILDREN’S RECREATIONAL NEEDS?

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE THEY ARE SENDING TO OUR CHILDREN? AGAIN, WHO’S MAKING
THESE DECISIONS?

Denise Davis, Peekskill

Another Vicki Mayfield Fan

Dear Editor:

Unlike someone who recently wrote you, I enjoy Vicki Mayfield’s columns. The vignettes and reminiscences
are interesting and sometimes emotion-provoking. Mayfield’s columns took a while getting used to. Rather than viewing each entire column as a unified essay, one must expect a series of vignettes and observations, rambling
across, and jumping between, several decades and places. The topic a column begins with does not indicate
the topic it will end with. The title does not indicate what most of the column will be about. The editors could help by assigning a title that listed more of the column’s top-ics (e.g. “Of A, B, and C”) Mayfield’s column-writing style isn’t for everybody all the time. But in the setting it’s in, it’s fine.

Jeanette Wolfberg, Mt. Kisco

Supervisor Feiner and Chief Kapica Go Trick-or-Treating

Dear Editor:

This Halloween evening I spent some of my time driving around town with Police Chief Kapica. We’ve been patrolling the streets of Greenburgh for 16 years on Halloween night - monitoring the police calls (there were over 60 calls to the police department) and checking up on problem areas.

The town assigned 31 police, 6 auxiliary officers to patrol unincorporated Greenburgh on Halloween. Eleven officers were on overtime. The approximate overtime cost: $4,000. It was a busy evening. The good news: no significant reports of property damage as of 11:30 PM. We did experience some incidents of Halloween pranks/mischief. I stopped by and spoke to a couple who experienced the typical shaving cream/egg problems some people expect on Halloween. The police caught some students who were involved in the incident and required them to clean up the mess they caused.

Good, Solomon-like punishment! There were some fights among students. The police put a stop to the fighting. A few students were taken into police headquarters. Although it was a busy night, Halloween, 2007 was mild compared to 16 or 17 years ago when cars were vandalized and when there was significant property damage. I feel that providing the police with the funding they require to adequately patrol the town is money well spent.

Paul Feiner,
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

In Our Opinion ...

In The Matter Of Government/Media Incest

Westchester is a place where, for many years, it has often been difficult to clearly distinguish any bold line, any clear separation between County Government and certain members of the media. Clearly, during the twelve-year tenure of former DA Jeanine Pirro, the fact that the President/Publisher of The Journal News was Gary Sherlock, a business partner of Al Pirro, had a decisive impact on precisely which news stories, even remotely
connected either to the DA’s Office, or any of a million issues involving the “Power Couple”, ever made it into print.

There was a blanket of protection, one that even extended to others, tightly connected to the DA as well, state senators, county executives, police chiefs, etc. And, even when a story had to be acknowledged because it was receiving inescapably strong regional media play, there was always the issue of placement, and headlines that were manipulated to soften any damage. Consider Al’s federal trial in June, 2000, for ten years of massive joint tax fraud.

What did appear in Westchester’s only daily newspaper was completely void of transcript. And, it wasn’t as though there was any lack of sensational testimony. Of course, the incestuousness between Sherlock’s paper and the DA’s Office with regard to criminal prosecution included an all-too-willingness to participate in “trials in the press,” having strong reporting of convictions and scant coverage of acquittals. Not to mention headlines that injected a certain favorable spin. To some extent, twelve years of misguided conditioning has unfortunately outlived both Pirro’s and Sherlock’s tenure, and continues, albeit to a lesser extent, today. So much for the daily newspaper spin. On the broadcast side, We are fully aware that the Fairness Doctrine, the rule under which
ordinary FCC Licensed, broadcast networks, and stations, are compelled to give ‘equal time’ to competing political and/or, in some instances, commercial interests, does not apply to franchised cable networks such as Cablevision. Having said that, We, nevertheless, believe that NEWS12’s accommodation of Jeanine Pirro, both in her capacity as DA, as well as in her private life, was obnoxious and complicit. Who can forget her almost weekly Internet Stink, oops, Sting, public hangings? Who could forget her constant appearances, two, three, and four times a week, on whatever pretext?

However, as incestuous as NEWS12 might have been with Pirro, their relationship with, and commitment to, County Executive Andy Spano, front-man for Larry Schwartz, is far and away more intensely so; and, not without just cause. In March, 2000 the County Executive’s Office granted Lightpath, a wholely-owned subsidiary of Cablevision, a five–year $22.5 million, NO-BID contract to set up a communication system for the County. That system has been an abysmal failure. And one can only ask why Verizon, or a host of other
companies, were not given the opportunity to bid?

Apparently the incestuousness of the County’s relationship with Cablevision has reached a new level. As We discovered last week, now County-owned automobiles, and perhaps other vehicles, for all We know, are riding around advertising programming on Cablevision. How cozy, indeed! When was the last time anybody remembers NEWS12 seriously questioning or investigating any activity of the Westchester County Executive’s Office?

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