Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Our Opinion...

Reggie’s Only The Puppet

We made our position very clear with respect to Reggie LaFayette’s and Carolee Sunderland’s compensation as Westchester’s respective
Democratic and Republican Election Commissioners nearly a year ago, in our March 29, 2007 edition, when the trial balloon of a $28,000
raise was first floated. We said, then, and we stick by our position, that $155,245 a year, plus a County car, plus benefits; the same compensation package that we, as taxpayers, have been pushed into paying our full-time commissioners, was clearly excessive payment to our part-time election commissioners.

Mr. LaFayette argued, at that time, that his duties were more full-time, especially in light of the additional responsibilities and activities mandated under HAVA, the Help America Vote Act. However, it would seem that Commissioner LaFayette would like to have it both ways. To justify receiving more than twice the salary of the election commissioners in Nassau County, who earn only $75,000 per year, he would have us believe that he is working long, full-time hours, and soon will be working a job and a half complying with HAVA.

But, wait a minute; what about that other, supposedly unpaid position as Chairman of The Westchester Democratic Committee? In a published report last week in The Journal News, LaFayette, attempting to justify $26,000 a year for the lease of a sport/utility vehicle, including more than $8,000 in insurance payments, not to mention gas fillups, etc., and another $14,000 in so-called campaign-related costs, made it very clear that he was quite busy being the Chairman. He must be because the “Chairman’s Circle”, the source of all of the funds - including a ton of money from Cappelli - he spent as Chairman, reported nearly $70,000 in expenses last year.

Perhaps We misjudge Mr. LaFayette. After all, to hear him explain it, he’s holding down at least two full-time responsibilities, one as Election Commissioner and another as Party Chair. And, he has all he can do to keep up with the list of people who want to have dinner with him. However, it’s not as though he needs to be working such long hours. Perhaps he needs to step down from one of his positions. There are many who would question, as We frequently have since the start of his dual relationship, why The Westchester Democratic Committee should consent to a situation in which their advocate in any political dispute must also be the arbitor; clearly an intolerable conflict of interest.

But then, We recognize Reggie’s wearing of two hats really isn’t about what’s good for rank and file Democrats in Westchester, or even Democratic candidates. In actuality, it’s only about what Larry Schwartz, Reggie’s puppeteer, wants. Makes one wonder, though, if the puppet has such a sweetheart deal, what about the guy pulling the strings; what’s his take?

Our Readers Respond...

Family Victimized By Prosecutorial Misconduct

Dear Editor:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your recent article, When Will Joe Bruno And Friends Stop Politicizing New York’s
Criminal Justice System? It just amazes me how government officials, prosecutors, judges and the likes thereof are getting
away with unlawfully putting away innocent people without any repercussions. With all the recent federal investigations,
one might ask who the real criminal is? Who’s policing the prosecutors, judges, and government officials?

My family is a direct victim of a wrongful sentence that resulted from the District Attorney’s thirst to make an arrest in
an armed robbery case in White Plains in 1992. My fiance was sentenced to 11-1/2-25 years for a crime he never committed.
After years of being turned down for release, he was finally paroled in 2006, only after being coerced into admitting guilt.
Getting a prisoner to admit to a crime doesn’t mean he or she is guilty of that crime. We’ve lost 16 years of him not being a father to his children. We’ve lost 16 years of precious time that we cannot get back. We’ve never had hope in the justice system and/or the
criminals who were hired or elected to oversee it. The entire parole system is just a joke, along with federally-funded programs put in place to “rehabilitate” with the Parole Board’s quest to meet government quotas. They’ve made a complete buffoonery out of our taxpayers’ money and trust.

Unfortunately for us, our loved ones are viewed as “caged bastards” to them. Therefore, the fight must continue to go on
until we are able to find help to clear his name. We will not stop until it’s done. Please continue to be the voice for those who don’t have
the voice or the money to fight for their rights!

Outraged In Westchester

Pleasantville Reader Alarmed By Lack Of Response To “Dubious School Bond Referendum”

Dear Editor:

Last March, Pleasantville’s Board of Education and Superintendent presented a dubious Bond Referendum which passed by a single vote with a recount refused. Letters with documentation calling for investigation into the District’s questionable voting practices, a Bond containing erroneous information, and which used necessary repairs to conceal unnecessary construction were forwarded to Governor Spitzer, Attorney General Cuomo, and Senator Bruno. The correspondence went unanswered, which is irresponsible, inexcusable,
and reprehensible. They totally disregarded constituents, ignored a community’s plea for assistance, and demonstrated hypocrisy regarding property taxes. I, as many Pleasantville, residents, and taxpayers, thought the Governor was interested in our New York State educational system. Obviously, we were wrong. He plans to raise taxes, cut monies to schools, and is disingenuous about providing real-estate tax relief. No wonder we average citizens, homeowners, and taxpayers have little or no confidence, faith, nor trust in our state officials.

A legal appeal to nullify the astronomical Bond Referendum was filed with the Commissioner of Education. After six months, no investigation of the facts, and a cursory opinion driven summary, it was denied. An independent district audit was requested of Thomas P. DiNapoli, State Comptroller. It soon will be conducted. It seems to me that with a stalled housing market, struggling economy,
and soaring property taxes that Senator Bruno with our State Legislature have the right, obligation, and responsibility to call for a moratorium on state funded construction unless a comprehensive investigation establishes the absolute need for it.

Edwin P. Heideman

Mr. Eliot Spitzer, Governor
State of New York
Executive Chamber
State Capital
Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Spitzer:

On behalf of the larger Pleasantville community, letters were sent to you on 10 May, 3 June, and 20 July with copies to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo regarding a questionable bond referendum initiated by the Pleasantville School District, Board of Education, and Superintendent which passed by a single vote. As a representative for all Pleasantville parents, residents, and taxpayers
a request was made to you and your office calling for an investigation into district spending, an independent audit, and a review of the district’s accounting practices and procedures (see enc. copies of letters).

On 30 August, I called your Executive Chamber, as mentioned in my last correspondence, to ascertain the current status of our (Pleasantville Residents) concerns and to establish a meeting with you or your designee only to learn that all of my correspondence was forwarded to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office. As was stated in each and every letter to you, all information with separate correspondence was addressed to Attorney General Cuomo. Common courtesy dictates an acknowledgement of receipt from you or your office concerning my letters. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.

Does anyone read, listen to or respond to the concerns of the people? I submit that what has been done by you (Governor Spitzer), your
office, or your staff is a classic case of “pass the buck” and has shattered my public trust in Albany. I, and many of my Pleasantville neighbors, residents, and taxpayers thought as Governor, you, were interested in the educational system of New York State, providing relief from the ever increasing school taxes, helping seniors on a fixed income, and seeking alternative ways to fund education. Apparently,
we were all WRONG. I am reminded that if the Pleasantville Bond Referendum is not nullified by the Commissioner of Education, the State of New York will be responsible for a substantial sum of money to pay for unnecessary construction.

Edwin P. Heideman,
Physics/Geology Professor,
50 Years as an Educator.

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