Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In Our Opinion...

So Much For Informal Surveys

Last Thursday, CNN conducted a television survey in which the question was put to viewers, “If able to vote, ‘none of the above’ with respect to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain, would you, yes or no?” Surprisingly, 81 percent replied “yes”. That overwhelming response would seem to suggest that the vast majority of voters are not really too wild, or too sold, on any of the three remaining Presidential candidates.

Viewed from the converse, it would appear that only 19 percent, or approximately one-in-five respondents, would be willing to vote for one of the three individuals who are likely to be running when the Democratic and Republican conventions are concluded. That perspective would suggest that if the election were held now, despite all of the early media attention, there might be a very light turnout, indeed. Of course, Mike Huckabee would have said the 81 percent were a vast “silent majority” who, had his name been included, might have voted no
as well. Not really.

Objectively, though, one would not expect such a large percentage of those responding to, in effect, be saying, “Not one of those three offerings pleases me.” Yet we know that if every one of those who responded, perhaps 12,000 or so, then went to the polling place to choose between John McCain and either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, at least 45-50 percent of them would vote, and make a choice.
There has never been such enthusiasm so early on in any election in possibly 75 years. Not even Nixon and Kennedy in 1960. Of course, the past several years, under George W. Bush, conditions for the middle class have been growing progressively worse. We appear to be slipping into a recession. Home values and mortgages are each in trouble. We are embroiled in a war without end. Household budgets are harder and harder to keep stitched together.

In short, it would appear that we want out; we want major change. We’ve known no one but a Bush or a Clinton in the White House for the last 20 years, a fact that is very negatively motivating for some, particularly younger and first-time voters. In this regard, Hillary is at a bit of a disadvantage, made more so by having involved Bill as deeply as he has been. Even the most ardent Hillary fan must ask himself/herself, “Am I really getting two for one here?” For some, those who long for a return to the Clinton years, Clinton prosperity, that’s a welcome prospect. But, for others, the notion of Bill back in the White House is not a positive one.

It’s probably fair to say that, for many, particularly Obama supporters, its really first and foremost about their desire for change; and it doesn’t matter to what. That state of mind is normally okay this far out, eight months before election, when lots of new faces might normally emerge and many issues might still crop up that could sink or lift a campaign. However, there will be no new faces. And, although some might have believed, until last week’s primaries, that the candidates will be all but determined long before the traditional August party
conventions, it now appears that the Nation will be treated to a good, old-fashioned Democratic Convention complete with a knock-down, drag-out battle to the finish.

We are facing a most unusual presidential election, if, for no other reason, than the fact that the Democratic candidate for president will be either a White woman or a Black man.

Our Readers Respond....

Reader Takes Exception To Tough Bush Criticism

Dear Editor:

Indeed, the pen can be mightier than the sword. It can cut with sharp precision and penetrate much deeper, and do far more harm.
Words can have a tremendous impact on their subject and society in general. It is therefore of great importance that we, but journalists
especially, possess sound judgment, and the ability to express opinions and criticisms in a fair, objective, and civil manner.

In Richard Blassberg’s February 28th column, The Obomathon, instead of concentrating on the object of his affections, he gives us a scurrulous, unprofessional and hate-filled invective directed at a sitting president. Insulting and disrespectful comments such as, “Bush, a man who was an obnoxious alcoholic, money burning son of a former vice president, and Barbara Bush’s prized package,” sound more like the ravings of an irrational and immature mind incapable of civil discourse. This kind of character assassination is beneath contempt. Apparently Mr. Blassberg’s younger and less-informative years were without blemish.

Liberals like Richard Blassberg can be looked on as vexations of the spirit. They seek not to teach, inspire or inform. They employ words as a weapon to slash and wound. Their life’s ambition is to tear down and destroy anyone who does not agree with their vacuous agenda. Filled with bitterness and an unnatural hatred of one man, they’ve succumbed to their innermost demons. They cannot contain their anger and rage. To paraphrase the author John Milton, who wrote in “Paradise Lost”, “The mind is its own place, and can make a Heaven of Hell, or Hell of Heaven.”

Bob Pascarella, Bronx

Editor’s Note: We take great pleasure in noting that Mr. Pascarella is a faithful reader of The Guardian, and we are pleased to receive his comments and criticisms from time to time. However, it is interesting to note that one who takes exception to what he believes to be tough observations about a president that he obviously holds near and dear, finds the need to recruit so much invective himself. Perhaps we were remiss in not giving appropriate attribution to the words obnoxious alcoholic, actually first used by Ronnie Reagan, son of former President Reagan, in 2000 when asked by a reporter how he felt about the nomination of George W. Bush. His response, at the time, was, “What, am I supposed to feel good that he is no longer an obnoxious alcoholic?” Once again, we welcome your observations and criticisms.

Taking Exception To Polvere’s Use Of ‘Fuzzy Math’ Concept

Dear Editor,

Firstly, Mr. Polvere stated that ‘fuzzy math’ was “coined in the October 2000 Presidential debate” by Presidential candidate
George Bush. “The fact is the term ‘fuzzy math’ is an educational approach to the teaching of basic mathematics for children emphasizing
word problems and understanding the concepts behind mathematical operations, rather than necessarily getting the right arithmetic answers for these operations.

It has been widely used in the United States - particularly in California - since 1989, when the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics released standards that recommended children be taught the ideas behind math, versus focusing on calculation. (source Wikipedia).

Since the basis for Mr. Polvere’s argument is in error, doubt is cast on his analysis, conclusions and accusation of Republican dishonesty. In 2006, the median annual income according to the US Census Bureau was determined to be $48,201.00. The fact is only the wealthy pay income taxes,ie,the top 1% of income earners pay 39% of all federal income taxes, the top 25% of income earners pay 86% and the top 50% pay 97% of all federal income taxes. That means that the lowest 50% of income earners, which includes all wage earners making the median
wage and below pay only 3% of federal income tax revenues while most actually receive checks from the government, welfare payments disguised as earned income tax credits, children’s tax credits as well as packages of federally funded programs, too many to list here but include Medicaid and children’s health care. This is simply another attempt to instigate class envy and push a socialist agenda by ‘phony, not fuzzy, math’.

E.Patrick Mosman, Pleasantville

Long-Time Builder Suggests Tappan Zee Alternative

Dear Editor:

The Tappan Zee Bridge, in its present location, not because it was the travel corridor. The corridor was built around the bridge. A law on the books says, “Any public structure built within 15 miles of New York City, belongs to the Port Authority.”

Thus, the bridge was built 15-1/8 miles out of New York City on the Tappan Zee, the widest part of the river. The present talk of replacing the bridge is with a sister span, plus a public transportation span. Both of these two new structures would be on the north side of the present span. A better place is south, in Yonkers, at Ashburton Avenue. A new bridge would span the river at approximately the height of the George Washington Bridge. On the New Jersey side, you have the Palisades Interstate Parkway in place. It is four lanes wide with a large center mall and two large side malls, very easily converted to six lanes for the six or seven miles to connect I-87, the Thruway, to the new bridge.

The new span would connect to Ashburton Avenue 10 to 12 feet above North Broadway. There it would tunnel under Ashburton Avenue on the southern side. The plan would require the removing of six old tenements crossing Nepperhan and Saw Mill River Road at approximately 15 feet above, and continuing on into Rock Mountain, behind Mount Hope Cemetery, coming out onto a new enlarged Rumsey Road, Saw Mill Parkway, and Cross County Parkway interchange. There is enough land in that locale to expand this interchange. Commercial traffic, going south, would use the old railroad bed property down to Mosholu Parkway, and then connect to the I-87, the Major Deegan. Traf-fic going east would use Cross County Parkway for one and a half miles to Central Avenue, there connecting to I-87 North. The Cross County Parkway in that area is already eight lanes wide.

Relieving traffic off the old bridge would resolve most of the bridge’s problems. It might then be rehabilitated at minimum cost. The estimate for the Tappan Zee Bridge, under current plans, is now $14 billion, and will reach $21 billion at the time of anticipated construction.

The proposed Ashburton span would cost closer to $6 billion. Few, if any, families will be moved, no infrastructure to speak of; no land to buy. In fact, most infrastructure is already in place for most of the project. If we let the Port Authority build the bridge, tolls would be $2 or $3 higher, and it would take a lot of crossings to cover $21 billion.

Frank Aulicino, Yonkers

Sleepless And Concerned In Greenburgh

Dear Editor:

I am a Westchester citizen requesting anonymity as I am involved in the court system. For the past decade people have not been able to get their bail money back from the Greenburgh Justice Court. Coincidentally, a new audit of the Greenburgh Court showed thousands of missing dollars. The Journal News and the Scarsdale Inquirer have already done stories regarding this situation, but they are afraid to show any indication of the major coverup going on. The person in charge of the finances of the Court is Clerk Cecile Sia. In the past, she was recommended for probation by Judge Nicolai; yet, nothing ever happened.

Now, more money is missing and the cover up may be coming to light. If this audit is correct, the judges of the Greenburgh Town Court have been verifying the financial reports that go to Albany to show the Court’s revenue. While one of the judges has decided not to sign the falsified documents anymore, hopefully justice will prevail and The Westchester Guardian can expose this. An independent audit criticizing the Town Court’s financial record keeping has led a supervising judge to appoint a court overseer for at least four days a week.

A Rockland County judge who oversees all Village and Town Courts in the State’s 9th Judicial District said he appointed a staff member this week to monitor Greenburgh’s court and make recommendations for as long as it takes. ‘Certainly it’s no secret that there are issues in Greenburgh with staffing and spaces issues,’ Judge Charles Apotheker said. ‘When visiting the court, I was taken by the fact that the people virtually work on top of each other. There is a lack of sufficient space to do jobs properly, which is a significant issue.’

The appointment of a state overseer for Greenburgh’s Town Court - the second in five years - came after a town-funded audit claimed poor record-keeping for bail collections and refunds over a three-year period. BST, an independent financial and management firm in Albany, cited ‘certain deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting’ in court financial records dating from 2002 to 2005.

‘The Town Board does not govern the finances of the Town Court and has been reluctant to intervene with court operations,’ Supervisor Paul Feiner said. ‘It’s a separate branch of government, but, on the other hand, we do have a responsibility to make sure it’s run properly,’ he said. ‘We have an obligation to make sure the money is properly accounted for.’ Feiner said he believed the town would be able to work with the state to resolve the financial discrepancies soon.

The audit, still in draft form, reviewed cash receipts, disbursements and balances. It said the court could not provide ‘accurate record of bail collected and held for pending cases nor had adequate internal control.’ Town Justices Doris Friedman, Sandra Forster and James W. Hubert, who is now a County Court judge, were responsible for the finances of their court by handling a bail account and collection account during the reviewed period. Chief Clerk Cecile Sia handles all financial court records.

Forster said the problem with financial records dates to the 1990s, when a study by the state Office of Court Administration cited poor record keeping. ‘In 17 years, the Court has not been in good shape, and it’s an embarrassment,’ Forster said. ‘I feel it can’t continue.’
Forster said she has asked both town and State officials to follow through on yearly audit reports.

‘We need to change the way things are done,’ she said. Friedman said that, even after updating equipment and adding staff support recently, the Town Court still needed more changes. ‘I do think, with the volume of work we have, we should have an accountant every quarter to review records,’ Friedman said. ‘It’s a massive amount of work and we have thousands of cases.’

The consultant found ‘significant deficiencies,’ such as numerous bail amounts still pending, amounts improperly recorded and the wrong amounts recorded in bail records. The auditor also found unidentified differences in amounts in records of fines, fees, surcharges and other collections. While the draft of the $22,000 report was completed in October, Feiner said other town business - such as the transition of a new clerk and two trustees, and preparing the town budget - prevented the board from dealing with the report until this year.

The Town Board and auditors met with Forster, Friedman and new Justice Arlene Gordon-Oliver, but adjourned until next month so the judges can review the report before it is completed.

Motivated And Concerned

Abortion Bill Ignores The Safety Of Women

Dear Editor:

Women, beware! Eliot Spitzer’s Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act is targeting you, again. Linda S. Berns’ response (Proposed state law would protect women’s reproductive health, February 27, 2008) is filled with the abortion lobby’s typical legal parsing, lies and distortions; New York is the greatest abortion state…but not great enough. Just as the vague Roe “health” clause opened the doors to larger numbers of abortions, the language of this bill ushers in a new round of legal loopholes and predictable abuses. Pro-life and civil rights lawyers refute Ms. Berns’ points as “regurgitated Family Planning Advocate talking points…ignoring “actual effects”.

This is the sweeping abortion bill that Spitzer proudly announced in his State of the State message; a bill he has been pushing since last year. It is the same bill that freshman State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) dutifully brought to the Senate as Senate Bill 6045. It is the same bill that New York State Senator Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) has condemned as “one of the most dangerous and radical pieces of proposed legislation in New York State that I have ever seen.” It is the same bill that Daily News columnist William Hammond wrote about (Abortion bill is a bitter pill, February 26, 2008) noting that the Governor is “lengthening his enemy list,” and pro choice Bronx
Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, in a letter co-signed by eight other Democrats, criticized as not meeting “its (uncertain) objectives.”

Impossible, you say? This legislation has everyone from religious institutions to pro-abortion proponents shouting ‘stop!’ In an attempt to further enshrine abortion in New York State law and keep a few needed and quickly vanishing friends, the Governor (former NYS Attorney General) is willing to redefine or completely ignore and trample on constituents’ constitutional rights and protections, state criminal codes, the medical profession, women’s health and safety, and the most vulnerable victims of all, children in the womb. This administration is both boring and scary.

This bill actually makes it possible for any “health practitioner” to perform abortions. That includes dentists, podiatrists, midwives, social workers and other non-MDs who need possess only “good faith medical judgment” that an abortion is necessary. Berns attempts to reassure
women that all is well because these people will be “trained” and “licensed”. Sorry, we know how abortionists have operated these past 38 years in New York, and now you want to give them and some non-MDs penal code protections!

The bill’s current wording could allow the State to use regulatory tactics to coerce religious institutions to perform abortions in violation of their religious freedoms and conscientious objections. The abortion-breast cancer link is anything but a scare tactic or junk science.

Women are being encouraged to search out websites that give them the information they need prior to abortions, and to get ultrasounds and mammograms. This all costs money – money some would rather see as profit. Don’t be swept along without seriously questioning and opposing this outrage of law and political opportunism dressed up as “reproductive health and privacy.”

Judith Anderson, Co-director
Hudson Valley Coalition for Life

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