Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our Readers Respond...

DA’s Offer Of Immunity To Anthony Jacobs Distresses National Black Police Association

Dear Editor:

The Westchester Chapter of the National Black Police Association continues to monitor the investigation of Detective Christopher Ridley’s death. As previously stated, we will not rush to judgment until the facts are concrete and clear.

The recent report of the DA’s office offering immunity to Anthony Jacobs in exchange for his testimony is distressing. Mr. Jacobs is the homeless man that our brother Detective Christopher Ridley was trying to arrest when he was fatally shot. Mr. Jacobs is part of the reason that Detective Ridley is not in the ranks with us today.

It is the opinion of the Westchester NBPA, that giving total immunity to Mr. Jacobs is a disservice to the heroic efforts of our brother Detective Ridley. Additionally it sends a negative message to all Law Enforcement Professionals when we are called to go above and beyond the call of duty.

In Unity And In Peace

Damon K. Jones,
Executive Director, Westchester NBPA
Executive Board Member, National Black Police Association

National Black Police Association Expresses Further Concerns

Dear Editor:

On February 1, 2008 we sent our brother to a better place. Detective Christopher Ridley is our Hero. Whenever there is a loss of life of one of our fellow law enforcement brethren, it is unfortunate and tragic.

We will ask the question over and over again. How could this happen to our brother Detective Christopher Ridley? Is it because he didn’t have the complexion for the protection? Or was it just a bad case of miscommunication and judgment on the part of all of the officers involved? God only knows the truth at this time. We ask the community to not rush to judgment on any officer’s role in this unfortunate situation, until the facts in this matter are concrete and clear.

Moreover, we do not condemn our brother officers to stand alone in their time of need. We embrace them as they must come to terms with their role in this tragic incident. We will say OVER and OVER AGAIN as Black Law Enforcement Professionals we must look into the institutional perception and policies of policing when it comes to people of our communities.

With these perceptions, black communities are at a tremendous disadvantage and can never hope to receive the service and protection from the police they are rightfully due. We can never forget that slavery led to the creation of uniformed police in southern cities decades before New York and Boston established the forces which remain the accepted starting point for the history of the police in the United States.
In an article by Shelly Zieger she wrote that Joshua Correll who is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, Correll has been trying to find the answer through a series of studies he has published since 2002.

Through a video simulation Correll and his colleagues created, the studies tested 270 police officers from 15 different states and 187 civilians, in an attempt to gauge how racial bias plays into a police officer’s decision to shoot a suspect. It showed that the officers, just like untrained civilians, seem to exhibit racial bias in their reaction time: They were quicker to decide not to shoot an unarmed white suspect than an unarmed black suspect and slower to decide to shoot an armed white suspect than an armed black suspect. The results, Correll believes,
suggest that participants associate African Americans with more violence. And the implication could be ominous, he said.

The Numbers

According to the Department of Justice Westchester County has six (6) police agencies with one hundred (100) or more full-time employees. These agencies are Greenburgh, Mt. Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers, and the Westchester County Police Department.

The racial breakdown of the six agencies including the Westchester County Police Department is:

Total Blacks Percentage

Westchester County Police 290 15 5%

Greenburgh Police 133 17 13%

Mt. Vernon Police 211 51 24%

New Rochelle Police 257 37 15%

White Plains Police 265 29 11%

Yonkers Police 673 27 4%

The population and racial breakdown of the cities that have 100 or more full time law enforcement professionals is as follows:

Total Black Percentage

Greenburgh 41,828 8,489 21%

Mt Vernon 68,381 40,743 62%

New Rochelle 72,182 13,848 20%

White Plains 53,077 8,444 17%

Yonkers 196,086 32,575 18%

The total population of Westchester County is 923,495. The black population is 131,132 (15%). By reviewing these totals, it is clear that these agencies do not come close to representing the population of the citizens they serve. Mt. Vernon and Yonkers have no black official higher than the rank of Sergeant. In the year 2007 this is very distressing when the black population of Yonkers in 18% and Mt.Vernon is 62%.

It is the view of the Westchester Chapter of the National Black Police Association that proper representation of black law enforcement professionals is a key when we are dealing with the issues of: Departmental Promotions and Management Departmental polices and how they affect the communities in Westchester; especially the communities of color. Police Brutality and Police Misconduct Effective Community Policing Institutional Perceptions of African Americans

We will NOT lose another officer as we did in losing our brother Detective Christopher Ridley.

Damon K. Jones
Executive Director, Westchester NBPA
National Board Member, National Black Police Association

Reader Takes Issue With Columnist Polvere

Dear Editor:

As a true Conservative, I respect yours, and Fred Polvere’s, Constitutional right to express a Liberal viewpoint. The views expressed, however, should not be tainted with such hatred of President Bush, that the basics of good reporting are cast aside in the rush to unsubstantiated judgment. Mr. Polvere uses fuzzy math to support his thesis that the so-called “Bush tax-cuts” are only for the rich and cites the experience of Warren Buffet, a well known financier, to prove his point. Polvere claims that Buffet was aghast that his employees paid an average of 32.9% of their earnings in Federal Taxes, much, much more than the 17.7% he says he paid on an income of $46 billion. Polvere says that Buffet was especially concerned that his “Receptionist’s tax rate of 30%” was higher than his.

Oh that each of us were in Buffet’s employ because, for that Receptionist to pay 30% of her income in Federal Income taxes, her earnings would have had to exceed $300,000 per annum--not bad for a Receptionist. I ran the 30% through the 2007 Federal Tax tables based on the following, reasonable assumptions. The Receptionist is under age 65; is married and filing jointly; is taking the Standard Deduction -- although we all know that persons with such incomes itemize their deductions.

The following computation is based on the Tax Table, page 75 of the “1040 Forms & Instructions-2007.” Earned Income of $300,00,00; Standard Deduction of $10,300.00 leaving a Taxable Income of $289,700.00. Section B. indicates that Federal Income tax on such taxable Income is $289,700.00 multiplied by 33%, ($95,601,00), “less” a “Subtraction Amount” of $20,800.00. The total tax, therefore, is $74,801.00. Based on earned income of $300,000.00, such tax amount represents 24.934% of total income--not the 30% quoted by Polvere. To achieve the “average tax rate of 32.9%” paid by Buffet’s other employees, they would have had to be paid an annual salary in excess of

Whatever happened to the first rule of reporting; “first you check the facts, and then you check the facts, and then you check the facts.”
One of my close friends was also of the opinion that the “Bush Tax Cuts” only affected the rich. When I asked him to compare his tax returns year by year, adjusting totals for any increases in income year to year, he sheepishly replied “based on my views, I guess I must be rich.” His highest annual earned income during the last four years was $120,000.00. Excepting the above, not a bad newspaper. Hope you expand and get bigger.

Vincent Forte, Eastchester

Editor’s Note: One need not be a “Conservative” to respect another’s right of free speech. However, you are free to categorize the political viewpoint of any author appearing in these pages, my own included, though one should be careful with their assumptions.

Reader Brings Engineering Details To Bridge Story

Dear Editor:

I thought Ms. Wilson’s February 14th article about the bridge across the Croton Reservoir was thorough, interesting and well written, but something you wrote about the bridge might upset persons who deal regularly with the design of bridges. In the third paragraph, you correctly described the bridge as a triple-hinged, steel truss arch bridge, but only a few lines earlier you had called it a deck truss bridge. I think most engineers think of a deck truss bridge as a wholly different (much less elegant) structure, i.e. that they think of a deck truss bridge as a fairly pedestrian structure in which the deck is supported by trusswork whose long axis is parallel to the roadway and placed approximately at its level, not as one in which the deck is suspended from a soaring, trussed arch. A bit trivial, I suppose, in the larger context of your article, but perhaps confusing to some.

Incidentally, you may find interesting the fact that this Taconic Parkway bridge was designed by Howard Baird, who had about seven years earlier designed the Bear Mountain Bridge.

Don Wolf, Somers

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Our Opinion...

Mayor Amicone Must Welcome These Residents To The Table

Last Tuesday night, in weather that was as nasty as we had seen all winter, members of a group known as Community Voices Heard, Yonkers Chapter, and numerous low-income Yonkers residents, marched on City Hall from “Chicken Island”, demanding a voice in the redevelopment of their city, their neighborhoods.

Specifically, they wished to be heard by the Amicone Administration and the City Council, with regard to their concerns over the demolition of low-income housing that they fear will be replaced by apartments which they will not be able to afford. They believe that the City has wrongfully left them out of their plans and negotiations with developers of luxury housing.

Marching were families who cannot afford rents of $2,000 or more for a two-bedroom apartment. They are all for tearing down dilapidated, outdated and institutional-type apartment complexes, but not if it means they will be driven out of the community. They say, “The City is targeting outside people to come to Yonkers to live in these luxury apartments when we’ve got people already here who don’t have a place
to live.” The demonstrators are seeking more than an affordable apartment. They are demanding a place at the table, a stake and a say in the future of Yonkers. And, they do not sense that the Amicone Administration is particularly anxious to sit down with them. One gets the feeling, speaking with them, that these Yonkers residents feel as though the rug is being pulled out from under them. Perhaps they’re right.

Surely, developers are disinclined to construct affordable housing. It’s all about bottom-line profit. Whether they retain the development as a rental property, sell it off as condominiums to owner/occupiers, or sell to a management corporation, the higher the rental value, the greater the profit. Affordable housing does not cost all that much less to construct if built to high fire and safety standards, as well as aesthetically-pleasing architectural and materials choices.

Mayor Amicone, and those with whom he has contracted to change the face of Yonkers’ ‘blighted areas’, should not be avoiding Community Voices Heard, nor any other civic group wishing to have a say in the evolution of their community. They are not mere faceless masses; bodies of adults and children who will occupy millions of square feet of reconfigured space. They are the individuals and the families
from whose kitchens will emerge the sounds and smells that will turn thousands of dwellings into homes.

Many years ago, the City of New York embarked upon the construction of low and middle-income housing amidst existing tenements and single-family homes throughout the City without community consultation. “The Projects”, as they came to be known, were generally disliked by those already living in the affected neighborhoods as well as by many who took apartments in them. Those of us who befriended
schoolmates living in The Projects felt badly for them whenever we visited; the smell of urine in the elevators, the broken fixtures, the graffiti, just assailed you. There was no sense of commitment, no pride that comes with community involvement, and a feeling of belonging.

Those who braved the elements to march last Tuesday night, and to register their concerns about the way Mayor Amicone and the city government have failed to involve them in the planning and reconstruction of their own community, need to be welcomed, not ignored. Low-income families are a legitimate component of the community. Their needs must be accomodated and they must be allowed to have a stake in their city’s future, a sense of pride and a sense of belonging.

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