Thursday, April 17, 2008
In Our Opinion...
One Who Would Enforce The Law Must Live By It
We believe it’s a shame that certain public officials in high positions of trust, positions for which they have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, in fact, have so little respect for the First Amendment. In the case of Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone and his Police Commissioner, Edmund Hartnett, and several of their subordinates, it was disheartening enough to have to deal with their intimidation and forceful efforts, under Color of Law, to silence the press, their content-based discrimination. However, when the attempt to stifle free speech, publication of the truth, comes from someone who describes herself as “The Ultimate Prosecutorial Authority In The County”, Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, the level of intimidation, the threat of retaliation and reprisal, is terrifying. After
all, when the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, with a staff of more than 125 prosecuting attorneys, and nearly 50 investigators, tells you, “I know how to play the game,” and “How would you like it if someone came after your family?”, it can be very chilling and demoralizing.
Janet DiFiore’s threats to, and intimidation of, Guardian Publisher Sam Zherka came in response to an article in the March 22, 2007 edition of The Westchester Guardian. After running out a stream of expletives and hatred for the newspaper’s editor, in a phone call to Publisher Sam Zherka, DiFiore, perhaps suddenly realizing she was completely out of line, given her position of power and authority, next uttered, “I’m not calling as the DA.” Well, she certainly wasn’t calling as the County Dog Catcher, either.
We can but wonder if she called the New York Times or their reporter Anahad O’Connor back on September 27, 2005, before she was the District Attorney, to threaten them for publishing an article entitled, “Candidate Says He Was Offered A Quid Pro Quo To Exit the Race.” That article detailed how DiFiore’s spouse; the same Dennis Glazer as discussed in The Guardian, had attempted to bribe Attorney Anthony J. DiCintio, of Tuckahoe, the Right-To-Life candidate for DA, off the ballot with an offer of “a job in Ms. DiFiore’s office, should she win.”
No, Janet DiFiore, civilian, without the badge, without the power of the office; the terrifying power to indict and prosecute anyone, no matter how innocent, who might get in the way of her ambition, wouldn’t dare say the kinds of vulgar, intemperate, and intimidating things that she said as District Attorney to Publisher Sam Zherka.
The fact is activities, unlawful activities, on behalf of the candidacy for Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County by a candidate’s spouse, is very newsworthy information that this newspaper, and every other newspaper, has an ethical and moral obligation to share with its readers. Any attempt, such as DA Janet DiFiore’s, to silence a newspaper with threats and intimidation, particularly backed up with the power of her public office, constitute a clear Civil Rights violation, suppression of First Amendment guarantees, and a disgraceful abuse of office.
Our Readers Respond...
Reader Commiserates With Wilson
To Bureau Chief Catherine Wilson, I would like to say THANK YOU for your article on the Westchester Medical Center. Everything you said about that ‘zoo’ is true. You could have been writing about my mother and what happened to her in that place.
It was a short ride on the Hindenburg for her, a major problem. She is hearing impaired, as your mother is, and its no joke. All the sta- walked away from my mother is if she was an imbecile, who did not understand them, or just did not want to do what they told her.
She wears two hearing aids. Both were on the table next to her when the people from Physical therapy came into her room, and she was sleeping. I had left for lunch and came back an hour later to find her crying in her bed. Then the Wicked Witch of the 3 North West came in the room to tell me she did nothing during Physical Therapy and it would count against her going to Ruth Taylor Physical Therapy. Too bad after telling everybody she was hearing impaired they forgot to see if her hearing aids were in place or not.
What was she to do, start dancing, jumping through hoops, stand on her head. She could not hear them! So because of that a threat was made to her about aftercare! I could go on, like no breakfast the next morning, and not asking what she liked for lunch or even asking if she would like to shower after waiting an hour for a bed pan and having to use her bed as a toilet! I did forget a few other things, like staying in recovey for 7 hours waiting for a bed, after we went through admissions 4 hours before. The friendly admissions staff whose conversation lasted 2 seconds and ended with “You’re done. Next.”
There is more but stuff can happen to one person on a small 3-day stay. World-Class my A--. I would not send a wounded dog to that place. I even asked to speak to a Patient Advocate and was stonewalled by the nursing staff.
Stephen Celestino, Tuckahoe, New York
Yonkers Resident Extremely Unhappy With City Sanitation Workers
Sanitation workers that pick up garbage in the Cross County section of Yonkers (Truck #378) never enforced the Recycling Law. Since Jan. 7 they have not attached any yellow or red stickers on garbage that contained recyclable materials, especially not on the side streets that connect to Kimball Avenue and Mile Square Road. These same three Sanitation workers solicit for tips every December by honking the Jingle Bells song with the truck’s horn while one member yells “Merry Christmas” several times on each street, waking everyone up. This routine starts around 7am, and I hear them all morning until noon.
A few days before Christmas one of them glared at our windows, yelled “Merry Christmas”, then indirectly asked for a tip. I saw a few people give them money, and none of these people recycle, I suppose these tips could be considered bribes for not enforcing the Recycling
Law. These tips also ensure that anything they put out with their garbage, no matter what it is, will be thrown into the truck as garbage.
Residents in this area are aware that these workers are corrupt and would not enforce this law, so only a few more people started recycling as of Feb. 1. This crew has no intention of enforcing this vital law and will continue to allow over 1,000 residents to be lazy, and to let them throw away tons of reusable materials every week. These workers don’t care about the environment, and I would not be surprised if they don’t recycle either. Everything they do or don’t do revolves around tips or potential tips, so enforcing this law would anger nonrecyclers,
and would be like biting the hand that feeds them extra.
I would appreciate your help with this problem. Please shine the spotlight on this rotten crew and expose them. Also, please ask your readers these questions:
• Is the Recycling Law enforced where you live?
• How do you feel about Sanitation workers soliciting for tips early in the morning around Christmas?
• How are you treated by your sanitation workers?
• Have you ever been harassed, intimidated or discouraged by a sanitation worker?
I am very interested to see the response to these questions.
Anonymous In Yonkers
DVD4Vets Advocate Reaches Out
I am writing to you to follow up on the initial DVDs4Vets press release which was sent to you this past November. As this project has received tremendous response, I wanted to make sure your readers have the opportunity to learn more about it. Our goal is to allow for the donation of DVDs for the benefit of military veterans who, for whatever reason, cannot easily obtain them on their own. In the
past year, we have arranged for the donation of more than 25,000 DVDs to various veterans hospitals, centers and clinics. For more information please visit/mention http://www.dvds4vets.org/.
It is important for your readers to know that we do not ask for financial assistance, only for the donation of DVDs to directly benefit the recipients. As a number of community service groups and high schools have participated, please also inform your readers that for donations of 10 or more DVDs, donors are acknowledged on our Honor Roll. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.
Thank you for your time and cooperation.
Laurance Baschkin, Executive Director, Harrison
Reader Questions Taxation Of Bottled Water
I wish to call your attention to a very significant problem within Westchester County concerning the improper collection of State and County taxes on all still bottled spring water sold by retail stores. In fact, I believe the problem permeates the rest of New York State as well.
Although we have received amazingly little cooperation from government sources (who have consistently refused to commit themselves on the issue), we have researched this further and learned that State and County taxes are imposed only on carbonated water, soft drinks, etc. We subsequently learned that one major supermarket chain has refused to impose the tax on their bottled (still) water.
Apparently, with knowledge of the law, they are committed to conducting their business in an ethical manner. I believe this situation has the potential of developing into a major scandal. The amount of tax improperly collected from consumers, a large percentage of the population, is staggering. Considering the number of years involved, it has the potential of becoming one of the most blatant examples of greed and corruption within the State and County government!
Many people we know consider Richard Blassberg to be a valiant crusader for truth and justice and a considerable asset to the citizens of Westchester County! We fervently hope you can - nd the time in your very busy schedule to research this matter and to, once again, expose the corruption.
A Concerned Citizen
Joyce Kilmer Said It Best: “Poems Are Made By Fools Like Me, But Only God Can Make A Tree”
In early February Con Edison mailed a notice about its tree trimming plans. It stated professional, qualified tree trimmers will do the pruning, and residents may be contacted by a “notification forester” to discuss this work.
On March 26 Asplundh Company, located in Pennsylvania and hired as a contractor by Con Edison for a number of years, came to North Terrace Ave. in Mount Vernon with six trucks and about 12 workers and began cutting branches off already sparse trees. After a ten-minute wait on the phone, Con Edison said it couldn’t locate the street maintenance manager, and an Asplundh worker didn’t know where his supervisor was. The Department of Public Works knew nothing about the cutting, and its worker said Con Edison didn’t have to notify the City of its plans to prune trees. The Asplundh supervisor finally showed up, and he said he had already contacted the City but didn’t know the DPW Commissioner’s name or his contact’s name, and he wouldn’t call his supervisor. All the trees on the east side of the block already look like they are part of a petrified forest because their branches are “trimmed” about every two years by Asplundh or DPW. They no longer offer privacy, shade or add value to homes in the neighborhood.
The National Arborist Association states that Asplundh does “clear cutting” for utility companies, and that it is not a tree care service provider. The company “is not listed in the nine pages under ‘Tree Service’ in the Westchester Yellow Pages. Although Con Edison claims in letters, interviews, and articles that it only trims trees every three years, the trees on this block were previously trimmed on April 12, 2006, March 23, 2003, and March 21, 2001 (by DPW). Con Edison said it coordinates its cutting with municipalities but its vice president of operations stated in a letter that he didn’t know that Mount Vernon DPW also trimmed the trees.
He promised that he would notify and work closely with DPW in the future. Excessive tree cutting is a problem throughout Westchester. Greenburgh passed a weak law somewhat restricting Con Edison’s tree slaughters, and the County threatened to pass a law to stop the utility’s even tougher “maintenance” policy since January 2007 because Con Edison wants to blame its poor wire maintenance and chronic, severe outages on trees, even its underground wires which are rotting. Con Edison said that only the PSC can regulate it.
As early as 1993, when this neighborhood had many “instant outages”, Con Edison blamed them on tree branches and automatic loop switches but its engineer tested the wires and found seven “hot spots”. When the wires were replaced, the outages stopped. About four years ago there was a “downed” wire on Kimball, near Midland, which required two firemen and a fire truck to be stationed there. The wire was visibly rotted and corroded.
In one Con Edison notice with its June 2004 bill, it stated that the utility spent $4.5 billion on its electric distribution and transmission network in the past ten years but in another declaration in the same month Con Edison claimed the figure was $7.2 billion. The company should post all of its spending on wire maintenance by zip code on its website, month by month, starting January 2000. Meanwhile,
Con Edison should actually notify, and have meetings with, concerned citizens on a regular basis concerning its tree cutting operations and other issues. Contract workers and supervisors must be cooperative, courteous, and receptive to local residents’ concerns about the beauty,
shade, privacy, and home values provided by trees. Workers must also wear protective eye and ear cover.
If Con Edison pays its contractors by volume of branches cut, then that policy must change. It should hire tree care specialists, not clear-cutting, chain saw experts. If local municipalities can’t regulate Con Edison’s wire maintenance programs then State Senators and Assembly members must pass stringent laws, which allow citizens to sue Con Edison for destroying the beauty, shade, privacy, and home values in their neighborhoods. The PSC isn’t reliable enough to enforce the laws. Con Edison line workers could report tree branch problems and
obstructions to headquarters since they are on the streets every day. Then a tree cutter could be dispatched on an as-needed basis. Privately-owned trees could not be cut without written permission from the owner or unless a court order was obtained.
Charles Roda, Mount Vernon