Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In Our Opinion...

They’ve Overplayed Their Hand

When it comes to arrogance and obtrusiveness, the inner circle, the key players, in Westchester County Government, are peerless. Who can compare with the likes of Andy Spano, Spano’s Svengali Larry Schwartz, his official liar, Susan Tolchin, the puppets Reggie LaFayette
and Ken Jenkins, and, of course, Chairman Of The Board Bill Ryan, when it comes to sheer chutzpah? Collectively, We are talking about LARRY SCHWARTZ & COMPANY.

Make no mistake, when 85% of those who responded to a NEWS12 poll, stated that they would abolish County Government, the clock began running. Westchester homeowners have had enough. When you are the most heavily taxed in the nation, and mortgage and tuition payments have you between ‘a rock and a hard place’, and the Chairman of the part-time rubber stamp County Board of Legislators continues to whine and kick because he is only getting $89,000, while all of Larry and Andy’s crony commissioners are pulling down $155,000, the time has come to pull the plug.

How can struggling homeowners not think, “What colossal nerve these critters display; what selfishness, grabbing for tremendous payraises at a time when we are already paying such high taxes, and working hard just to make ends meet?” It’s frighteningly apparent that Andy Spano’s, Larry Schwartz’, and Susan Tolchin’s feet no longer touch the ground. And, Bill Ryan is standing on another planet.

Perhaps this crew has so enriched themselves over the last 10 years that a public exposure of their personal worth is not only appropriate, but necessary. We haven’t forgotten the slick deal Larry Schwartz arm-twisted through the County Legislature’s Solid Waste Committee three years ago, refusing to renew a $70 million, five-year contract, with a satisfactory, competent hauler, preferring, instead, to replace him with a company the City of New York was forbidden to do business with, and paying $87 million for the same services.

By displaying such flagrant disregard for their constituents, the County Executive’s Office, and the County Legislators, have added insult to injury. They have made it clear that they believe they can get away with anything. When Andy ran for County Executive in 1997, he promised he would “serve only two terms”. In 2001 it was still “two terms”. But, in 2005, he ran for a third. And, now, he’s already declared for a fourth, in 2009. Why not? They’re fixed elections, anyway. That’s right, fixed, as in Judge Horowitz. Andy will admit that until Larry Schwartz came along, in eleven prior elections, he couldn’t even get elected dog catcher. But Larry “fixed” all that.

Reader Raises Serious Questions About Administration Of Mamaroneck Schools

Dear Editor:

It was not a “breakdown in oversight” at Mamaroneck Schools that allowed the awarding of a “private contract” to Mr. Bill Koulouris by Ms. Sarah Tate.

The School Board’s statement that they knew about the illegal contract and that it was an isolated incident (it was not) is as disingenuous as it is irrelevant.

Anyone interested in the legality of Sarah Tate’s hiring practices need only visit: hr/adobe/CIVILSERVICERULES.pdf After downloading these “Civil Service Rules for Westchester County” (about 35 pages) it becomes irrefutable as to what was supposed to be done, when it was required to be done and by whom.

Any employment action involving Mr. Koulouris was also required to be monitored by the Westchester County Civil Service Department as described in Rule 22 of the County Rules. Every Civil Service Employee at Mamaroneck was required to go through the same process including semi-annual reports. This was not some special hiring for which the rules were unclear. Mamaroneck has an Assistant Superintendent for Personnel who files these reports. Where are the reports? If the reports were made, what action did the County take? If the County had knowledge of the illegal action they were required to demand the immediate removal of Koulouris. If they were not aware of the hiring, then Tate and the Personnel Director are culpable as described in Rule 22.

As an Assistant Superintendent of Buildings at Mamaroneck I often brought my concerns about the adverse hiring practices initiated by Tate. There were many. Complaints I filed with Westchester County resulted in cover-ups including their admittedly predating documents which can only be described as perjury and conspiracy. My complaints to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office resulted
in their finding, “after checking with” Civil Service, that I was confused as to the law.

There exists, at the Human Resources Dept in the Westchester County Building, White Plains, descriptions for Bill Koulouris’ and Sarah Tate’s job titles which State Law requires be available at all times for viewing. Both titles are listed as “Competetive” and subject to State approved tests and County approval prior to appointment as demanded by Rule 22. Any person evading Rule 22 is required to reimburse
the employer for the employee’s salary and benefits.

During the 1990’s Larchmont resident Dr. Max Eaglefeld, and others, filed several complaints about Sarah Tate and the School Board’s illegal activity. Mr. Koulouris, like many others hired by Sarah Tate, was paid to stay out of the way. His activity is simply described as “out of title” and was illegal. If this seems unfair, read the paragraph titled “Duties” in the “Network Administrator” Classi ed Title at the County Civil Service Office.

F. Scaglione

Enforcing Federal Immigration
Laws Adds Burden To State And
Local Law Enforcement

Dear Editor:

The National Black Police Association has been in existence since 1972 nationally with chartered organizations in the United Kingdom, Canada and Bermuda. The principal concerns of the National Black Police Association are the promotion of justice, fairness, and effectiveness in law enforcement issues and the effect of those issues upon the total community.

The Westchester Chapter of the National Black Police Association is in full support of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition’s press conference against enlisting State and Local Law Enforcement to exercise and enforce Federal Immigration Laws. The press conference was held Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 12:00 p.m. at Mahopac Public Library, Mahopac, New York.

Immigration Enforcement should remain under federal guidelines and enforced by Federal Immigration Agencies such as the U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement Agency and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that are all under the umbrella of the Department of
Homeland Security. For State and Local Law Enforcement to enforce such federal laws will be an added burden to the already highly stressful job of protecting the communities we serve.

This will ultimately increase the existing poor relationship of Law Enforcement and the Immigrant and Minority communities. It will
also add to the institutional bias policies that already exist in Law Enforcement towards immigrants, the poor, and people of color.

Damon K. Jones, Executive Director, Westchester NBPA

Reader Critical Of Reproductive Health And Privacy Protection Act of 2008

Dear Editor:

Despite your publication being called by many people a “rag”, I have always read with interest, your criticism of various public officials,
judges, etc., especially in view of the fact that I served as an Assistant District Attorney for ten years, both in Bronx County and Westchester County, and can identify with many of the arguments made by your publication at various times.

I realize that advertising dollars might be hard to get, but the fact that you allowed to be published on page 7 of your April 10, 2008 paper,
a smiling picture of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, apparently proud that she and the other names that appear below, support the Reproductive
Health and Privacy Protection Act of 2008, is disheartening.

I do not know if your staff or yourself has read what the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act of 2008 is, but it provides that high school girls who would not be allowed to be prescribed or given an aspirin by school staff members, can obtain abortions without their
parents’ knowing that they are pregnant or being notified of that fact, to allow them to love, nurture and counsel their daughters through
that difficult time. It also attempts to legalize what is not even permitted on a national level, that is the use of partial birth abortion, in which a perfectly healthy full term child’s head is crushed and the brains are removed to terminate its life.

The politicians’ attempts to package this bill, which not only threatens the mental and physical well-being of young high school girls who are
faced with the daunting proposition of being single, pregnant, and a teenager, but also provides a legislative imprimatur for the killing of healthy, innocent babies, as a noble and health-related bill is a masquerade. I invite you to read this legislation and see if my description of it is a fair one. If it is, then you and your paper should be ashamed that you allowed Ms. Stewart-Cousins and the other politicians who sponsor this Bill, to use your paper to foist it on an unsuspecting public.

Kevin J. Kitson, Esq., White Plains

Editor’s Note: Contrary to Mr. Kitson’s suggestion that the piece published on page 7 of our April 10th edition represented a paid advertisement, readers should be informed that that announcement was merely an unpaid joint press release from Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the State Democratic Senate Committee.

Regarding Westchester Medical Center

Dear Editor:

Regarding this hospital, I was a biller there in 1999. They brought absurd charges against me. I’m physically and mentally handicapped. These people had no compassion for me. I was humiliated due to office politics. My Civil Service was terminated with no regard to due process of law or medical compassion. Many people have had the same experience working there. See Karen Bendel v. Westchester County Healthcare Corporation 2000.

Just because it has the name Westchester doesn’t make it a quality place.

Bob Kampel, Mount Vernon

Tuckahoe School District Insider
Exposes Shocking Realities

Dear Editor:

I recently read the article written by Catherine Wilson Determining The Real Cost Of Our Local Schools in your 4/10/08 edition. As a member of the Tuckahoe School District Budget Oversight Committee I found it to be the most factual and enlighting article I have seen on this topic. As a taxpayer I believe (and know) that the cost of education in NY is out of control... period! How can taxpayers who pay 80-92% of the cost of education continue to pay for teachers pensions (defined benefit plan), health insurance (for teachers and family)
and provide “automatic raises” without performance criteria?

Currently the District contributes 94% to employee health care premiums (which are rising 10%/yr). Teachers only contribute 3% to their pension fund (defined benefit) for the first ten years and zero thereafter. Upon retirement they receive “FREE” health care for themselves
and their qualified family members receive a 75% discount....all paid through local real estate taxes. The District’s “ECR” Employee
Contribution Rate to the “TRS” Teachers Retirement System increased by 241% between 2003-2006 and according to KPMG, auditor
for “TRS” this trend will continue as there is a shift towards a grater portion of retirees to active members (Baby Boomers).

There is no wonder why my school tax bill has increased by over 150% from 1996-2007 while the student population has remained stable. This unsustainable rate is forcing older residents who raised their children here to move and is also pricing out younger folks from buying and raising a family.

Dennis Dubak

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