Thursday, June 26, 2008

Westchester Guardian.

Jeff Deskovic

Chicago Man Exonerated After 11 ½ Years In Prison
Many Reforms To Prevent Wrongful Convictions Countrywide Are Still Needed

On May 27, 2008, Dean Cage was released following 11½ years in prison for a rape that DNA proved he was innocent of. The Innocence Project issued the following press release:

“DNA tests prove that Dean Cage did not commit a 1994 Chicago rape for which he was wrongfully convicted, according to the Innocence Project, which represents him. Cage, who was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, was released from prison late last night.
In November 1994, a 15-year-old girl was raped on her way to school in Chicago. Cage was convicted based largely on the victim’s eyewitness misidentification. The victim helped police prepare a composite sketch of her attacker, which was circulated in the neighborhood where the crime occurred. When police received a tip that a man resembling the sketch worked at a local meat market, they took the victim to the market and she identified Cage. Later, at the police station, the victim identified Cage based on the sound of his voice.

He was convicted in 1996. In late 2006, the Cook County State Attorney’s office agreed to conduct DNA testing in the case and cooperated
on the testing. DNA testing on the rape kit and clothing worn by the victim shows that Cage was not the perpetrator. Cage is the 29th
person in Illinois who has been exonerated through DNA testing. Only Texas, with 31, has had more DNA exonerations. Twenty five of the DNA exonerations in Illinois were in Cook County – more than any other county in the nation (by comparison, 14 people have been fully exonerated through DNA testing in Dallas County, Texas). Cage is the 217th person exonerated through post conviction DNA testing nationwide.

In July 2007, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill to create a commission that would study non-capital wrongful conviction cases and develop reforms to make the criminal justice system more fair and accurate. The commission is similar to one established in 2002 to address capital cases in Illinois. That commission was formed after several people were taken off of Illinois’ death row because they were innocent or
their convictions were questionable. After meeting for two years, that commission issued 85 recommendations and the Illinois Legislature passed several reforms that were mostly geared toward capital cases. Given the high number of DNA exonerations in non-capital cases, the Illinois Legislature created the broader commission last year. The legislation requires the commission to issue a final report with recommendations by the end of this year – but members of the commission still have not been appointed and the legislature has not funded the commission.

‘Since 2000, the nation has looked to Illinois as a leader on reforming its criminal justice system in the wake of exonerations. The state made important and historic progress toward making the system more fair and accurate in capital cases, but it has so far fallen short in other cases – which are the vast majority of convictions and wrongful convictions,’ said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.

‘The Illinois Legislature should fund this commission and members should be appointed immediately. If this commission were operating as it’s supposed to, it could help prevent a substantial number of wrongful convictions and restore confidence in the state’s criminal justice system. Eyewitness misidentification, which was a factor in more than 75% of all wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing nationwide, is among the most critical issues for the commission to address,’ Neufeld said.

In Cage’s case, the police detective who ran the investigation of the rape also handled the eyewitness identification procedures. Research and
experience have shown that “blind administration” of identification procedures (which means the officer administering the identi-fication procedure does not know who the suspect is) sharply reduces the risk of misidentification. When Cage was arrested, Illinois did not require blind administration of identification procedures – and the state still doesn’t require it, despite a growing consensus within the social science and law enforcement communities that this simple reform is highly effective.

‘Dean Cage should never have been convicted of this crime and shouldn’t have lost 14 years of his life to a wrongful arrest and conviction. Perhaps most chilling is the reality that people across Illinois are still being wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness misidentification that could be prevented if the state enacted simple, straightforward reforms that are proven to work,’ said Alba Morales, Staff Attorney at the

Innocence Project.

North Carolina, New Jersey and Wisconsin have already implemented statewide reforms – including blind administration of identification procedures – to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identification. Cage said today that he stands ready to help legislators understand the urgent need for reforms to prevent wrongful convictions. Now 41 years old, he plans to live with his mother in Chicago while he begins to rebuild his life.

Under Illinois law, he is eligible to receive compensation from the state for his wrongful incarceration – but several people who have been exonerated in recent years still have not been compensated. Under current law, people who have been exonerated must have a pardon from
the governor in order to receive compensation. The Illinois Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow wrongfully convicted people to receive compensation without a pardon from the governor; the bill would also slightly increase the amount of money people can receive and would provide some services (job training and education) from the state. Under the current law, Cage is eligible for a total of up to $150,000 for the time he was wrongfully incarcerated.”

The Innocence Project, along with co counsel from The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, represents Cage. The law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges provided pro bono assistance. Seeking to seize upon the momentum generated by the exoneration, with the need for stark reforms, a press conference was held at which Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld said, “Illinois has been a national leader for several years in reforming the criminal justice system for capital cases. But the state has fallen short in implementing reforms that can prevent wrongful convictions in non-capital cases, which are the vast majority of convictions, and wrongful convictions, in the state.

Last summer, the Illinois Legislature created a commission to study non-capital wrongful convictions and develop reforms that can make the criminal justice system more fair and accurate. Nearly a year later, that commission has not been funded and no members have been appointed to it.” Neufeld and Cage, today, called on the Illinois Legislature to move quickly to get the commission started on its critical mission, noting that a similar commission in Illinois led to substantial reforms in capital cases. “If this commission were operating as it’s supposed to, it could help prevent a substantial number of wrongful convictions and restore confidence in the state’s criminal justice system,” Neufeld said. “Perhaps most chilling is the reality that people across Illinois are still being wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness misidenti-fication that could be prevented if the state enacted simple, straightforward reforms that are proven to work.”

Heavily involved in that movement for reforms in Illinois was Democratic nominee for president, Barack Obama. While an Illinois Senator, he worked to pass a law that required police to tape interrogations and confessions. In the book The Audacity Of Hope, Obama said “In the Illinois Senate, I sponsored a bill to require videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases [after the] governor had instituted a moratorium on all executions. In negotiating the bill, I talked about the common value that I believed everyone shared--that no innocent person should end up on death row, and that no person guilty of a capital offense should go free. At the end of the process, the bill had
the support of all the parties involved, and it passed unanimously.”

Chicago had become infamous for use of torture by police to help frame innocent people. Thirteen innocent men on Death Row were exonerated and released, some of them victims of these tortured confessions. Illinois desperately needed some action to restore confidence in the police. Obama’s proposal was to require videotaping of interrogations of suspects in capital cases. When Obama began, the idea of a bill
was opposed by police, prosecutors, most of the senate and the governor. The governor was determined not to appear soft on crime, and had promised to veto any proposal for mandatory tapings. By the time Obama finished his work, the police and prosecutors embraced the bill, it passed in the Illinois Senate by a vote of 58-0. The governor took the unusual step of reversing himself to sign it, and Illinois became the first state to require such tapings. Reporter Charles Peters, in the Washington Post, on Jan 4., 2008, described the process and obstacles that Obama underwent in order to bring the bill about: “Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted
to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced, by beating the daylights out of the accused.

Obama proposed requiring that interrogations and confessions be videotaped. This seemed likely to stop the beatings, but the bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama’s bill, by preventing the execution of innocents,
would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to “solve” crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it. Obama had his work cut out for him.

He responded with an all-out campaign of cajoler. The police proved to be Obama’s toughest opponent. Legislators tend to quail when cops say things like, “This means we won’t be able to protect your children.” The police tried to limit the videotaping to confessions, but Obama, knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning, fought successfully to keep interrogations included in the required
videotaping. By showing officers that he shared many of their concerns, even going so far as to help pass other legislation they wanted, he was able to quiet the fears of many. Obama proved persuasive enough that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0. Then he talked Blagojevich into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

The moratorium Barrack refers to, of course, is that instituted by then-Gov. Ryan. Former Illinois Governor Ryan, who was a pharmacist, was among the Illinois legislators who voted in 1977 to revive the death penalty, acknowledged in his speech the unlikelihood of his crusade. But when he found himself at the helm of a state that had conducted 12 executions and exonerated 13 death row inmates, one of whom came within 48 hours of the electric chair, Mr. Ryan called a moratorium on capital punishment and commuted the death sentences of all of the death row prisoners to life in prison. The accuracy rating of the verdicts of guilty were, in fact, as he pointed out, no better than the flip of a coin. He acted just 48 hours before the end of his term and one day after he took the extraordinary step of pardoning four condemned men outright based upon actual innocence. Explaining the moral imperative he felt which prompted him to take matters into his own hands in commuting all of the death sentences, and therefore temporarily halting the death penalty in his state, Gov. Ryan said, “The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about the innocence of people on death row, but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole.’’

Commentary

In recounting all of the above, I have a variety of thoughts that I would like to express. In regards to the Cage case, the fallibility of eyewitness identification again rears it’s ugly head. Misidentification has been the cause of wrongful convictions in 75% of the now 218 DNA demonstrated wrongful convictions. This problem exists across the country, including in NY, where it was the cause of 13 of the 23 DNA based exonerations. It is both sad and shocking to know that there are reforms which could improve the accuracy of identifications,
and yet they are not being enacted. There is no provision in law to address the immediate financial pressures that come at the exonerated person: housing, cost of living expenses, and mental health services, to say nothing at all if they wish to pursue an education, or have any health insurance.

I believe each person should be given money immediately upon release to address these things, independent of any money that is awarded as a result of a lawsuit. To do less than that, as we currently do as a state and a society, is to throw a person into a strange world, following the
traumatic event of being wrongfully imprisoned, knowing that they will have immediate financial hardships that they can’t meet, while not letting it bother our conscience even a little bit; in effect saying “Oh Well”, and then going back to our daily lives without giving it a second thought. The theme of initial law enforcement opposition to recording interrogations is common. In every jurisdiction throughout the country in which such a law has been passed, there has been opposition from police, and sometimes from prosecutors. Some of the objections have included the idea that somehow this would hinder them from doing their job in obtaining confessions and making arrests, and that skepticism that suspects would be willing to talk on the record.

In every instance, however, after they start using it, both prosecutors and police embrace it and never want to go back. The reason that they ultimately embrace videotaping is that it makes for better evidence. Suspects are not able to claim that they did not confess, and police are protected against false allegations of coercion. It has also led to more guilty pleas, because when defense attorney’s can see that a confession is clearly voluntary, they advise the client that a jury will realize that as well, and that they will likely be found guilty. In addition, it is a
safeguard against false confessions, in that it would record abusive, intimidating, and in some cases illegal tactics employed by police who are hell-bent on getting a confession. That record would be helpful in demonstrating to juries and judges just how it came to be an innocent person falsely confessed.

I believe that New York, and every other state should pass a law requiring videotaping of interrogations. That at least would begin to address the issue of false confessions. I would like to remind everybody that false confessions have caused 25% of the nation’s now 219 DNA demonstrated wrongful convictions, and in 10 of New York’s 23 DNA demonstrated wrongful convictions. On a moral level, I wish to salute Gov. Ryan for doing the right thing. His words are powerful, and will, I believe, live on for decades, as a type of watershed moment in the world of wrongful convictions and the death penalty. The significance of such a high ranking politician, as he was when he was Governor, undertaking the actions that he did, and illuminating his reasoning for all of the world to see, cannot be overstated.

It served far more than saving the lives and freedom of the four wrongfully convicted men, and the death row prisoners, some of whom themselves may have been innocent, or been unfairly sentenced to death; it raised world awareness on an unparalleled level, including that of other elected officials across the country, and helped move the needle on public opinion. We can only hope that Governors in other states where there is a death penalty might emulate his actions.

There are too many elected officials who do not care about the immorality of refusing to take action against wrongful convictions by introducing, fighting for, and voting for reforms to protect the innocent, instead voting them down, often while simultaneously voting for the death penalty. I guess they don’t care if wrongful convictions continue to occur, or if innocent people get executed.

I think it is important to let our readers knows that Westchester Senators Vincent Liebell and Jeffrey Klein routinely vote for the death penalty while voting down measures to prevent wrongful convictions. I encourage concerned readers to both call their respective offices, flood them with emails, and encourage all of their friends and family to do the same, thus expressing the unacceptability of their positions.

The relationship between voter demand for change, coupled with the prospect of voting politicians out of office, and the way politicians vote, is obvious and stark. So long as politicians think that the status quo is fine, they will continue not voting for or supporting change to prevent wrongful convictions.

I again encourage my readers and supporters to sign the petition on my website, http://www.jeffreydeskovicspeaks.org/ which lists the reforms needed to prevent wrongful convictions, and to encourage others to do so as well. I will bring the petition with me during future lobbying visits to Albany.

In a future issue of The Guardian, I intend to write an article providing details on each Westchester politician, and their position on wrongful conviction reforms. I will reference how they have voted in the past, as well as, most importantly, what their current position is, because I think that voters should have that information on hand as they vote.

Westchester Guardian.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Catherine Wilson, Bureau Chief
Northern Westchester

Westchester Medical Center
Dealing With Patient Concerns


On Easter Sunday, my mother was admitted to the Westchester Medical Center. The pros and cons of that experience were outlined
in the April 3, 2008 edition of The Guardian. Shortly after that article, Ms. Kara Bennorth, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications for the Westchester Medical Center contacted The Guardian to discuss the issues we raised.

“The Medical Center’s patient services are in a state of continuous improvement” Ms. Bennorth admitted. “We have programs in place
to address the patient experience in four categories: Service Excellence, Responsiveness, Structure and Systems, and Resources”. Ms. Maureen Eisner, the Director of Patient Experience for the Medical Center explained some of the aspects of the service excellence and responsiveness programs.

“We conduct role-playing with all new residents. We stress the im-portance of making eye contact and introductions, and communicating
with patients and their family members. We hold conferences with medical leaders and patient-relations training for all members of the
nursing and clinical staff. We also conduct patient communications training for all front-desk and all levels of the admitting staff,” Eisner said.

Ms. Bennorth noted that the Medical Center stresses “service recovery” with all staff members. “The key is to identify the problem and fix it ‘in the moment.’” Bennorth said. “We explain to staff to concentrate on perception and expectation of the patient and the family. Even
if the problem is perceived, rather than actual, it still must be resolved. If the patient perceives a problem, then to them it is a problem. For
example, if a patient is complaining that they were waiting five minutes to be attended to, that may be a normal wait time. But if that patient is in severe pain, then any time is too long from their perspective. Our training for our staff stresses that it is the responsiveness to the patient’s concerns that is important”.

Ms. Eisner noted that the Medical Center does not wait to hear patient’s complaints or concerns in order to respond. “We conduct surveys
with both patients and family members and ask them to provide us with their input” Eisner said. “The feedback we receive can sensitize the staff to the perception of the patients. We use the information we receive from the patients and family members to help our staff to improve their communications. And we stress that they should actively respond to all concerns as quickly as possible.”

Ms. Bennorth stressed, “The communication training for all levels of the staff is a continuous loop of improvement.” She noted that the
Medical Center is improving patient care in other ways. “In our ‘Structure and Systems’ program we are upgrading and improving our facilities to enhance the patient experience,” Bennorth said. “We are in the middle of expanding our emergency department. We are redoing our Labor and Delivery ward and we are upgrading our units in the University hospital. Plus we are in the planning stages of a new lobby.

And we are addressing the ‘way-finding’ issue of our campus,” Bennorth said. “We are aware that we have a very large campus and it is difficult to navigate and find buildings. We’re working on making this easier”.

Eisner noted that changes in laws and regulations can affect hospital communications. Referring to issues about providing family members
with information, Eisner said “HIPPA is now the norm so a patient with full capacity has rights – they are entitled to keep their medical
information private. But every family and every case is different so we train our staff to understand family and patient dynamics to address
this.”

Bennorth stressed the unique status of the Medical Center that compounds the privacy issue “since we are a regional trauma center, and a children’s hospital, we face a difficult challenge. We often have extended families and community members come in with the patient – we can have twenty family members show up with one patient. That requires a better understanding from the staff. “Clinically our staff is concentrating on providing the best care and the best communication as well. But there can be many people to deal with for one patient, sometimes extended family members, sometimes unrelated individuals. We’ve expanded our patient advocate services to cover evenings and weekends and increased staff to handle this”.

Ms. Bennorth stressed that the Medical Center also tries to anticipate problem areas in advance where possible. “Insurance rules change all the time so we try to understand where the frustrations will occur. We try to predict the problems so we can address them when they arise”.

Ms. Eisner noted that, above all, patients are their own best advocates and can provide the best information about their own health issues
and needs. “It is very important for patients to discuss their health care wishes with their health care providers and personal advocates before
an issue arises,” Eisner stressed. “It’s important to bring medications, or a list of their medications, with them to the hospital. The patient should also bring a brief medical history,” she said.But most important of all, Eisner stated that a patient should never be afraid to ask questions. “Patients often feel that they may be perceived as stupid for asking a question. But they have a right to know what is happening and they should never be afraid to ask,” Eisner said.

The national accreditation program for hospitals, the “Joint Commission”, has established a “SPEAK UP” initiative for patients. “We’re
following that initiative,” Ms. Bennorth agreed. “We want patients to be aware of their rights”. Ms. Bennorth provided the SPEAK UP educational materials to The Guardian to share with our readers:

• Speak up if you have questions or concerns and if you don’t understand, ask again. It’s your body and you have a right to know.

• Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you are getting the right treatments and medications by the right health care professionals. Don’t assume anything.

• Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

• Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

• Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care mistakes.

• Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards such as that provided by the Joint Commission.

• Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

The initiatives of the national SPEAK UP program are to help prevent errors and provide understanding for patients and providers. In addition to the patient education programs like SPEAK UP, the commission also established an official “do not use” list of abbreviations for health care providers and pharmacists. The list recommends not using the letter “U” which can be mistaken for “0” or using “MS” which can mean either “morphine sulfate” or “magnesium sulfate”. The Joint Commission has also issued their National Patient Safety Goals for 2008 which sets standards for a variety of areas such as patient identification, communications, and safety.

Both the Medical Center and the Joint Commission stress the importance of a health care proxy for all patients. A health care proxy allows an individual to appoint an individual they trust to make health care decisions for them in a situation where they are incapacitated or otherwise unable to decide for themselves. Without a legal proxy, a family member cannot stop treatment even if they know that is what
the patient would choose under the circumstances. A health care proxy also allows a patient to select a specific family member or individual to avoid potential confusion and family conflicts.

Ms. Eisner cautioned that patients must do more than draw up a health care proxy. “Patients need to discuss their wishes with their representative so that their wishes are actually known” she noted. “Sometimes we encounter a representative who does not even know that they have been selected by the patient as their advocate”.

Accord-ing to the New York State Department of Health, the patient’s representative will not be allowed to refuse or consent to treatments
such as arti-ficial nutrition unless they can show they reasonably know the patient’s wishes. Such a simple I/V can be denied if the advocate
doesn’t know if the patient would want it! The Department Of Health recommends that the advocate know the patient’s medical wishes as well as their moral and religious beliefs and lists examples of medical treatments that should be discussed:

• Artificial respiration
• Artificial nutrition and hydration
• CPR
• Anti psychotic medication
• Electric Shock Therapy
• Antibiotics
• Surgical Procedures
• Dialysis
• Transplants
• Blood Transfusions
• Abortions

The patient can choose to either write their instructions on the proxy or simply discuss them with their advocate. The patient should also appoint an alternative representative in case their original representative is not available. If a patient has specific instructions for their care, they can denote them in a living will. However, since a patient may not always know in advance all of the decisions that could arise, a health care proxy would allow the patient’s representative to interpret their wishes as the medical circumstances change.

As part of their patient education program, the Westchester Medical Center recommends to patients to carry a wallet-sized version of their
health care proxies with them in case of emergency. Ms. Eisner noted that the Medical Center offers these to all patients and provided
a sample to The Guardian for our readers.

In addition, patients can register their proxies with a national registry for access by health care providers. Or patients can obtain a medic alert
bracelet or I/D tag from local pharmacies to carry at all times. These tags are not just for medications and any medical issues – they can be
used to simply denote the contact information of the wearer’s representatives and personal physicians.

A parent can attach a medical I/D tag to a child’s keychain or backpack for emergency contact purposes. Caregivers for at-home patients and elderly parents or dementia victims can take the added step of registering the patient’s/parent’s information with an emergency service such as Life Alert. The Westchester County Department of Seniors, http://www.westchestergov.com/, or 914-813-5000, can assist elderly residents with this registry. Westchester County also has Health Care Proxy and Living Will forms online for county residents to access.

Local residents should have their emergency contact information with them at all times. In addition to the wallet-sized health care proxy, EMS workers recommend using personal cell phones for this information. Using a system initiated by a British paramedic after the 2005 London bombings, first responders advise individuals to enter emergency contacts in their cell phone address books under ICE (In Case of Emergency). This system has become so popular worldwide that some new cell phones come with ICE as a separate heading in their phone number lists. There are websites dedicated to spreading the word about I.C.E. and provide free I.C.E. cards for emergency information, proxy and living will data, language spoken for translators, and blood type and medical conditions – a template to print these cards can be found on http://www.ice4safety.com/.

Finally, health care workers advise placing an I.C.E. sticker on the back of cell phones to alert EMS workers that the victim’s emergency contacts can be found in the phone’s address book.


Westchester Guardian/Harrison.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Harrison’s Joan Walsh Speaks
For The ‘Frightened’ Majority
She Stands Up To Those On Corrupt ‘Gravy Train’


By Richard Blassberg

Last Wednesday night, June 18, Harrison Supervisor Joan Walsh demonstrated her mettle in the face of extreme opposition from the forces of Anthony Marraccini and his front-man, Dave Hall. In keeping with an agreement, reached by the Town Board at their prior meeting, to bring in an outside investigator to assess the cause of no fewer than 11 legal actions, most in Federal Court, currently pending against members of the Harrison Police Department, Walsh had called for a special closed-door session with fellow Board members to meet
with, and possibly choose, one of two investigative agencies.

As events turned out, representatives from Daylight Forensic And Advisory and from Kroll Associates, two New York City firms, were never given the opportunity to present their credentials or pitch their services. Instead, some 150 or so individuals, many of them police officers from other towns and counties, several of them including former Chief Longworth of Dobbs Ferry and current Greenburgh Chief
Kapica, aligned with Police Chief Hall through the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, came out to lend their voices in opposition to any possible investigation into misconduct by such notables as Captain Anthony Marraccini and Officers Richard Light
and Ed Lucas, as well as Chief Hall.

Ironically, one of the cases in Federal Court, brought by several members of the Harrison PBA, involves allegations that Chief Hall intercepted and misappropriated a $2500 check sent as proceeds from a fundraiser to the PBA, forged the payee by changing the face of the check, and then converted the proceeds by depositing the check into the account of the very same New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, 15 of whose members were at the meeting.

There were other interesting ironies as well; Albert J. Pirro, Jr., convicted Federal felon, tax cheat, and notorious “fix-it man”, acting as counsel to Chief Hall, attempting to lecture Supervisor Walsh about “wasting taxpayers’ money and making a mockery of the Town.”

Most hilarious was Pirro’s assertion that Chief Hall was so certain that there has been no wrongdoing in his Department that, “He welcomes
a full investiga-tion by the Department of Justice.” Of course, Al knows all about those; and his client is, no doubt, a little late extending
the welcome mat to the FBI.


The Guardian has been closely monitoring events in Harrison for the better part of two years, reporting one Federal lawsuit after another, involving a small clique of high-ranking police of-ficers who repeatedly engage in conduct that violates the civil rights of civilians as well as rank and file members of the Harrison Police Department. We will continue to watch developments very closely as the effort to rid the Town of corruption and tyranny goes forward.

Westchester Guardian/Janet Difiore.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Our Opinion...

A Politically Motivated Prosecution Fails

We were confident, from the start of the George Bubaris trial, that he would be found innocent. And, We made no bones about our belief, declaring on the front cover of our June 5 issue, DA Comes To Court With Tank On Empty. We are pleased that Mr. Bubaris, his wife, and family, can now put the terrible and totally unjustifiable torment they were put through, for more than a year, by a counterfeit district attorney and three of her more unprincipled henchmen behind them. Unfortunately the taint, as well as the emotional and financial drain, they have suffered, will leave significant scarring.

Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the fact that the injury that is brought forward by a politically-motivated, self-serving district attorney, in instances such as the death of Rene Perez, is not merely visited upon the wrongfully accused and their loved ones, but also upon the family and friends of the alleged victim, as well as the community at-large. No prosecutor has the God-given right to tamper with the lives of innocent individuals. Nor can they be permitted to maliciously abuse their entrusted powers for self-serving motives without regard to the personal injury, and damage to the cause of Justice, they bring about. Such rogue prosecutors, of which Janet DiFiore is but one, must be held to account and brought down!

If any other vestige of good is to come from George Bubaris’ acquittal and vindication, beyond his and loved ones’ liberation from their ordeal, it must come from the insight and understanding the community, the People of Westchester, must acquire from having shared the experience. Make no mistake, the jury was intelligent, and savvy, perhaps more so than juries a decade ago might have been. Westchester residents have awakened to the myth that was the Pirro Regime, and the lie that is DiFiore.

To be sure, Janet relies upon much of the same prosecutorial misconduct as her predecessor and personal enemy, Jeanine, did:

• Medical Examiners such as Drs. Hyland and Roh, who only ask, “What do you want me to prove?”;

• Certain Assistant DAs who would prosecute their own innocent mothers for two pay checks a month and a pension;

• Rogue police officers and investigators who extract false confessions from innocent targets;

• Media agents who suck up to, glamorize, and cover-up their self-serving tyrannical operations.

We said, from the beginning, that Officer Bubaris was the traditional “low man on the totem pole.” With all the pressure that was being brought to bear by advocates such as Fernando Mateo, Janet DiFiore’s calculations had nothing to do with bringing about justice, finding the truth about how Rene Javier Perez died. Her response was all about getting off the “hot seat”.

It didn’t matter that she found no motive, no forensic evidence, nothing to connect anyone, much less George Bubaris, to the death of Rene Perez. DiFiore was determined to pin it all on somebody because failure to produce some scalp might have meant hers. The simple truth is that Janet DiFiore is way over her head sitting in the DA’s Office. She continues to make serious miscalculations, particularly in dealing with cases that involve police officers. She gets it all wrong. She charges an innocent cop, George Bubaris, without a scintilla of evidence while, at the same time, she not only repeatedly covers up rogue, violent, police officers who have seriously beaten innocent men, women and children, but she then, also, proceeds to prosecute the victims of those beatings with trumped-up charges.

A fundamentally unprincipled individual engorged with power and authority is always a danger to society.

Reader Shares Letter Sent To DA DiFiore

Dear Madam District Attorney:


I realize that I am probably not the first, nor will I probably be the last, to comment on your announcement that you have changed your party affiliation. However, my feelings, being as strong as they are, compel me, as a past supporter in your past campaigns, to share my thoughts with you in this matter.

I feel that what you did is devastatingly wrong! Of course, there are courtesy and decency reasons for saying this: turning your back on those who worked hard for your election, hurting those who contributed to your campaign financially, etc. However, the greatest offense is to your own self-esteem and self-respect by your abandonment of the ideals which you professed, on which you ran, and, for which you were elected. You made an opportunistic move because of the change in our area’s demographics; this reflects so poorly on you. It is nothing more than demagoguery!

Ms. DiFiore, you cut loose from so many of your previously-held principled positions so as to enhance your political future and electability. To some in politics that might seem like the common sense thing to do; to me that is an act of shame! Our Party and its principles did not change since we helped elect you, you did. Either that or you presented a false fa├žade to us over the many years you let us work for your election, thinking you were sincere.

So what you did, Janet, was to abandon the good guys and joined with the bad guys to promote your selfish interests. You left the Party of Opportunity For People and coupled with the Party Of Dependency Of People. You left the ranks of the Party that is saving the world from entering another Dark Age, and enlisted with those who put party before country and its war. You now stand for taxation without end; laxness with criminals; opposed to the Patriot Act and other strong national security measures; for “liberal” judges who ignore our Constitution; and against saving our Social Security System.

You have abandoned the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and, yes, our current great President and leader, George W. Bush. You have chosen to become, instead, a cog in the party of Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, Pelosi, Reid. How could you? By so doing you show contempt for our country, our great Party and our honorable citizens and voters, while bringing disgrace upon yourself. You may or may not win future elections but, whatever may happen, the taint, the smell, the disgrace of what you did will never leave you!

Arthur DeRuve, Col (ret), USAR, Yonkers


Reader Asks Impetuous, Violent Youth To Think Twice About Revenge

Dear Editor:


Please allow me to use some of your space to talk to the young people in this here county about “Revenge”. I feel they may not know what getting “Revenge” is about. Young people, when you kill a young crew or hood chump that dissed you, you are not getting revenge on them.

They are getting revenge on you because they are removed from the struggles of life, and you go to jail for the better part of yours. Revenge
according to The American Heritage Dictionary is: To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult). How do we know death is punishment?

Revenge by killing is letting the brother who injured or insulted you to get away. But if you had let the one who hurt you live long enough to get a Con Ed disconnect notice, hold a job and watch most of his pay go to taxes, be tied up in Family Court for child support, as punishment.

Have the Family Court Judge tell him he has to pay for the seed of his loins but can’t see the child; now, that’s revenge. The revenge of not shooting the young brother who hurt you, down in the street like a dog, is revenge, but to watch him grow old enough for the circle of life
to become complete, showing him all his wrong doings, now that’s revenge and I must say from experience, it’s a b***h.

Getting revenge on someone who you feel has caused you heartache is to just get as far away from that person as possible and make something of your life. The revenge is that you didn’t do anything to harm a human being that you feel has wronged you, by having nothing ever to do with them again. Killing a bully, once friend or relative, that you feel has wronged you is no punishment, to my way of thinking.

Time will dull the ache from the pain another has caused you, and introduce you to the good people of this world. I’m a witness. I’m trying to tell you that, if ever you find yourself in a group of people and one makes you want to kill him, that’s a cue that its’ time for you to go.

I can say without shame or anger that I have lived and allowed people who I feel have hurt me to live long enough for me to see them pay for what I feel they had done to me. Sometimes when I have seen time reap my revenge on those who have hurt me, I am pained again, but deep down inside I give myself a mental slap on the back for not giving final relief to another life, lives or my life.

Don’t spend twenty five years, to life, in prison thinking about someone you set free by death, fooling yourself into thinking you’ve got revenge, especially since the deceased don’t and can’t, give a damn about you. Then ask yourself who really got revenge?

A Concerned But Hip Elder


Westchester Guardian/Janet Difiore.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

“We Are Confident That You Paid Close
Attention To The Evidence”
– Attorney Andrew Quinn, opening his Summation to the Jury


Bubaris’ Defense Attorney Clearly Outlined All Of The Facts
Relied Upon By The Jury In Determining Their ‘Not Guilty’ Verdict


Monday, June 16, summations, fi-nal arguments from Defense and Prosecution in the George Bubaris trial were delivered to the jury. Prior to admission of the jury, Judge Adler stated for the record, “I just want to go over the substance of the Charge Conference. The People have requested, and I have granted, the down-charge, Criminally Negligent Homicide.”

Prompted by Adler for a response, Defense Attorney Andrew Quinn responded, “There is no justification for the down-charge.” Offering several citations, Adler then commented, “I will charge on the subject of Witness Pre-Trial Preparation.” He then called upon Mr. Quinn
for his summation.

Quinn opened his summation with, “I have no intention of being exciting or dramatic. We are confident that you paid close attention to the evidence.”

Quinn then told the jurors, “You are going to be asked to consider whether the evidence is sufficient.” He went on, “Had I not asked any questions, you could still come to the conclusion that George Bubaris, that my client, committed no crime on April 28, 2007.”

Taking his first shot at the Prosecution’s medical experts, Quinn declared, “April 29, 2007 Dr. Millard Hyland called the District Attorney to say the bruise was a punch, and Rene Perez’ death was a homicide.” Looking into their faces he declared, “They were trying to fit a rectangular fist into a triangular hole.” He then asked, “How surprised were you when the Defense brought out that there are no nerve
endings in the mesentery?”

Shifting gears, Quinn observed, “Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of calling upon the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office for backup. But, Dr. Wetlie knows the case cold. Had Doctors Hyland and Sampson done their homework, put in 30 or 40 hours, George
Bubaris wouldn’t have been charged, and you wouldn’t be here for four weeks.”

Quinn, turning more critical of Prosecution medical experts, said, “This case went off the rails when Dr. Hyland declared Rene Perez’ death a homicide. Dr. Hyland never took the trouble.”

But Quinn wanted the jurors to know that there was plenty of blame to go around on the Prosecution side, telling them, “The police and the District Attorney had the obligation not just to look for evidence to convict the Accused, but also to look for evidence to exonerate the innocent.”

He went further; drawing the jury to a conclusion, telling them, “All of the medical evidence was more consistent with a fall and less so than with a punch.”

Quinn then harkened back to the theory he put before them in his opening statement weeks earlier, that the investigation that produced the charges against his client, “was run backwards,” such that the police and prosecutors decided who would be the Defendant early on, and then ran an investigation searching only for evidence to support their charges. He pointed out, “They had one piece of evidence from the crime scene; one, just one, and they never investigated it.”

Of course, Quinn was referring to the black Armitron watch, found at the site where Rene Perez had been discovered lying near death on Byram Lake Road in Bedford. Quinn had hammered away on cross-examination at Lead Detective Dickan, who, in 13 months, had failed to have the watch checked for DNA, or hair follicles, and never questioned Officer Evan, of his own department, as to whether or not Perez
was wearing it when he gave him the courtesy ride back to Mount Kisco from Kohl’s Department Store in Bedford.

Attorney Quinn asserted, “You can’t find my client guilty of Manslaughter In The Second Degree. We have no idea where Rene Perez was
from 11:05 until 11:42pm.” At that point, about a half hour into what he had promised would not be a long statement, Andrew Quinn began
touching upon several areas in doubt, one after another, beginning with, “The Peltz Video; I bet you were expecting to see a police car. Not even John Zarzeka could say it was a police car. Where were the roof lights?”

Quinn proclaims, “On every single level of advocacy, the Prosecution fails. Nobody has testified to a motive here.” He then shared the constant modus operandi of the DA’s Office, telling the jurors, “There are two suspects. One cuts a deal with the Prosecutors, and the Prosecutors say, ‘Okay, we’re done’.” Attacking the credibility of the suspect/witness who ran to the DA, Quinn said, “Dwyer gave a limited statement.

Then it changed over time. He changed what he said originally and, the Prosection wants you to rely on it.” Intensifying his attack, Quinn told the jurors, “The evidence is more compelling that he was fabricating what he said and not telling the truth. You know Dwyer was
a suspect, and that he cut an immunity deal. Not one single witness puts George Bubaris with Rene Perez.”

For the most part, Defense Attorney Quinn kept his word, completing his summation in 37 minutes. He touched upon every relevant
aspect of testimony over the course of the trial that tended to support his client’s innocence. He was not shy about pointing out not only the District Attorney’s failure to make a convincing case, but also the prosecutorial misconduct with which they attempted to make up for
the total lack of evidence connecting George Bubaris to Rene Perez’ death. The jurors were obviously in agreement.

Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct Formed
To Review Actions Of New York State Ethics Committees
New Bar Oversight Committee Being Organized by the Litigation Recovery Trust and Integrity in the Courts and
Expose Corrupt Courts Blog Organizations With Objective to Replace Existing Grievance Committee Structures

Press Release

New York, New York. June 17, 2008. Litigation Recovery Trust, a New York based rights administration organization, and Integrity in the Courts and Expose Corrupt Courts, two Internet blogs focused on judicial and attorney disciplinary process and procedures, have announced joint plans to form an Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct (PCAC) to oversee the New York State Attorney Departmental Disciplinary Committees. The Ad Hoc bar oversight committee is being headquartered in New York City.

In announcing plans for the new oversight committee, William J. Hallenbeck, executive director of Litigation Recovery Trust, stated that this action was being taken as a direct result of the recent filing of a growing number of federal lawsuits against the statewide attorney grievance committees and their parent organization, New York State Office of Court Administration. Mr. Hallenbeck noted, “Clearly, as suits against the attorney disciplinary committees continue to be filed on a weekly basis, the time has come for a top to bottom review of the fatally flawed process by which attorneys in New York oversee the conduct of other attorneys. We must make sure that the public becomes the controlling part of the lawyer oversight process.”

Since late last year, over a dozen federal suits have been filed with the U.S. District Courts in New York by numerous plaintiffs, citing illegal actions on the part of the various statewide grievance committees (Anderson v. New York State 07 CV 9599) (SDNY). Some suits cite efforts designed to cover up misdeeds on the part of large New York law firms. Other allegations involve the issuing of rulings by the attorney disciplinary committees victimizing both clients and certain attorneys, usually from small firms and sole practitioners. One lawsuit has been brought by a former employee of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in Manhattan, which charges widespread corruption on the part of the committee, and seeks the appointment of a Federal monitor to supervise the operations of the organization. Subsequently filed lawsuits also seek the appointment of federal overseer.

Frank Brady, chairman of Integrity in the Courts, also issued the following statement: “On a daily basis, we report on outrageous conduct on the part of the grievance committees in New York State. Well documented complaints of malpractice, personal attacks and even theft, filed by individuals victimized by attorneys, are regularly disregarded and covered up
by the ‘ethics’ committees. Other situations involve large law firms using the committees to threaten and harm other lawyers. In short, the attorney grievance review process is corrupt to the core, and in need of immediate replacement by a public review board. The establishment of the Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct is the first necessary step in such a replacement process. Legislative action is also being planned.”

Expose Corrupt Courts blog also issued the following statement: “The cumulative efforts of our organizations’ joint efforts recognize that the vast majority of judges are attorneys first, and accordingly, they must be included within this new ethics umbrella that’s being established.”

Under the plan put forth by LRT, Integrity in the Courts, and Expose Corrupt Courts, the newly formed Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct will review both past and present cases brought before the grievance committees to provide an independent review and analysis of the facts, and issue proposed findings. With respect to past cases, the committee will be particularly interested in hearing from persons who maintain that they have been treated unfairly and unjustly by the disciplinary committees. As part of its initial efforts, the new committee will actively seek documentation of all complaints against any attorneys dating to January 1, 1988.

According to the founding organizations, the Ad Hoc Public Committee On Attorney Conduct will include as members individuals, who through their personal and professional lives have established a reputation of responsibility and fairness. While attorneys will be available to the PCAC as advisers, all voting members issuing formal reports and decisions will be non attorneys.

In commenting on the structure of the ad hoc committee, Mr. Hallenbeck noted that this will be the first time in the United States that a review body made up entirely of non attorneys will be assembled to oversee the professional practices of lawyers. He added, “By initially establishing a parallel committee structure to the New York State grievance committees, we will have the opportunity to determine that a bar review process made up entirely of non attorneys can achieve the desired result. We should make it clear that our immediate goal here is to create a practical, working model to replace the attorney grievance committees.”

Mr. Hallenbeck also confirmed that efforts have begun to recruit members for an executive board to direct the operations of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as practice review and public affairs committees. Among those being sought as members are active and retired senior business executives, government officials, educators (primarily business faculty at colleges and universities, as well as law schools), business consultants and clergy, particularly with training in business ethics. Mr. Hallenbeck added, “We are in search of a committee to be made up of members with broad and diverse business experience and expertise, as well as impeccable records of fairness and sound judgment to review breaches of attorney ethics and rulings which can be classified as highly suspect.”

About Litigation Recovery Trust

Founded in 1995, Litigation Recovery Trust is a New York based claims and rights administration organization. LRT pursues claims and causes of action worldwide, and processes single and group litigation claims, as well as general rights fees and awards. LRT also participates in legislative and administrative initiatives designed to protect or advance individual claims and rights. Contact: William J. Hollenbeck (347.632.9775). litigationrecoverytrust.8k.com

About Integrity in the Courts Blog

Integrity in the Courts is a daily blog, which focuses on ethical and legal issues related to the administration of justice nationwide. Issues impacting both the judiciary and the bar are investigated, including compliance with a codes of judicial conduct, the codes of professional responsibility. Violations of law and failure to abide by codes of conduct are monitored,
together with actions leading to disciplinary rulings, including admonishment, reprimand, censure, suspension or loss of licenses to practice law. http://www.integrityinthecourts.wordpress.com/

About Expose Corrupt Courts

Since beginning publication in March 2007, Expose Corrupt Courts has become one of the leading sources of both public and inside information concerning bench and bar misconduct. While the blog focuses primary attention on the court system of New York State, it regularly covers stories of interest throughout the U.S. Expose Corrupt Courts has led coverage of the massive corruption charges that have been filed against the attorney grievance committees in New York that have resulted in the filing of over a dozen law suits with the federal district court in Manhattan. http://www.exposecorruptcourts.blogspot.com/



Westchester Guardian.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Cops On Steroids?

Anabolic Steroids = Police Brutality


Anabolic steroids, high levels of synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) have been suspected and tested for in Major League baseball, the NFL, and just about every professional and amateur organized sporting event, including the Olympics. Their use has been banned for many years, with only partial success, and such compounds remain a continuing problem in terms of accessibility and detection.


Actually, the impact of anabolic steroids is most often quite detectable, both in terms of the user's physical appearance and temperament. Physically, there is a muscling, or bulking up that is unmistakable, particularly in the extremities. Temperamental behavioral changes may be more subtle at first. However, users soon begin to display unusually aggressive behavior, progressing over time to outright belligerent, antisocial attitudes and activities. Situations that never pose any cause for concern, or a threat to safety and security, increasingly appear threatening.

A drug-induced paranoia, accompanied by the urge for violent physical contact, begins to take hold with continued exposure to steroids. Yonkers Police Officer Wayne Simoes' behavior with respect to Irma Marquez, on March 3, 2007, in the presence of several other officers, was that kind of extreme and inappropriate violence.


The videotaped segment makes it abundantly clear that Officer Simoes was confronted with no physical threat, no imminent harm; and yet responded in a manner Calculated to bring Grievous injury, if not death, to Ms. Marquez. Any individual capable of such horrific violence, without provocation, is a "walking time bomb." A police officer so wired is a major catastrophe about to happen who needs to be immediately removed from active duty, disarmed and defused.

To be sure, the Yonkers Police Department is not the only department in Westchester with officers who have demonstrated extreme belligerence and violence toward innocent, non-threatening, civilians. However, it is a department where per-capita complaints of police brutality have been very high in number and often extreme in character.


In 2005 Tina Bostwick and her daughter Mary, then 72, and 49 years of age, were brutalized by the Yonkers Police simply for having called them to respond to a badly beaten and injured teen that had fled from a neighbor's house. Mary, the daughter, was physically attacked by a responding police officer, handcuffed, brought to the police station, and charged with the usual cover-up, bogus, charges, Disorderly Conduct, Obstruction Of Governmental Administration, Resisting Arrest, etc. She has suffered enormous post-traumatic stress symptoms, and gone through great expense over the last three years, as a result.

In 2006 Rui Florim, then 21, was hunted down and grabbed by six Yonkers police officers upon leaving his job in Hartsdale. Dressed in civilian clothing and using unmarked cars, they pulled Florim from the vehicle he was riding in, and threw him into one of their cars where four of them proceeded to beat him mercilessly about the face and head. He required 70 stitches and staples to close his wounds, and five days in St. Joseph's Hospital's intensive care unit, the entire time kept under police observation that physically barred his family and his attorney from seeing him.


Most recently revealed, Irma Marquez, body-slammed in July of 2007, lucky-to-be-alive after being thrown head-first onto a tile floor, suffers from memory loss, and loss of mental and physical function that will likely plague her rest of her life. What we see in the videotaped segment is a Yonkers police officer acting out with unjustifiable rage against an unarmed, defenseless, innocent woman.

As alarming as that act was, is the failure of any one of several other officers, visible at the scene, to attempt to prevent Officer Simoes' brutal, and clearly criminal, conduct. Apparently violence of that extreme nature against unarmed civilians was nothing that unusual in their experience. And, perhaps no one in the room had courage enough to stand up for human rights and professional police conduct against a virtual "madman".


The Bostwick, Florim and Marquez cases are but three of literally hundreds of incidents involving Yonkers Police brutality in the last three years alone; and those cases reported come only from those victims brave enough to come forward.

Sources have informed The Guardian of doctors with offices very close to St. John's Riverside Hospital who allegedly have supplied several Yonkers police officers with anabolic steroids, and other compounds, for years. However,in reality, those bent on using anabolic steroids can easily do so without the need to deal with a physician. In our December 27, 2007 edition we ran a two-page feature spotlighting legislation being developed at that time by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, designed to curtail the operation of so-called "Internet pharmacies," brought to light by the Mitchell Report on Drug Abuse in Major League Baseball.


Again, the Yonkers Police Department is clearly not alone with respect to the steroid problem. In January of this year, the NYPD was compelled to broaden its probe of steroid use amongst police officers when at least 27 officers' names came up as customers of Lowens Compounding Pharmacy in Brooklyn, a pharmacy known to have been illegally supplying steroids to professional athletes. Additionally, the

Brooklyn DA's Office opened an investigation into their operations. By April the NYPD announced that they were going to begin randomly testing their 36,000-officer force for steroid use. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated, "It only makes sense to include steroids," referencing the fact that the NYPD was already testing for narcotics.

We believe the time has come for the City of Yonkers, specifically Mayor Phil Amicone and his police commissioner, Edmund Hartnett, to get real with regard to their long-standing, pervasive police brutality problem. It is not now, nor has it ever been, an acceptable state of affairs that the police department is run like a paramilitary organization, striking fear in decent, hard-working citizens, rather than enlisting their cooperation, and assistance, in crime fighting and prevention.


We, therefore, strongly suggest that the following measures be immediately implemented:·


  • Routine, random testing for Anabolic steroids and other illegal drugs;·
  • Mandatory wearing of name plaques by every uniformed officer;·
  • Formation of a real Civilian Complaint Review Board, not under Police Department control.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Westchester Guardian.

Jeff Deskovic

A Clarification Of Assemblywoman
Amy Paulin’s Proposed Legislation


In the June 5th, 2008 issue of The Guardian, a press release appeared regarding legislation that Assemblywoman Amy Paulin had sponsored
that would result in school employees, who had been found guilty of sex crimes or financial felonies,
would be “terminated immediately.”

Additionally, certification or licensing of these school officials would be “automatically revoked.” Present law provides that even after being convicted of a felony, which renders the employee unfit to work in a school, employees who hold state certifications are entitled to what is known as a Part 38 hearing to determine whether they should keep their certification. Additionally, the law provides that tenured employees convicted of these crimes are also entitled to a 3020, which is a hearing by the school district to determine whether they should keep their job.

The new legislation would provide that school employees who are convicted of sex crimes or financial felonies are terminated immediately
and that certification or licensing of those school officials would be automatically revoked.

I am always on the lookout for the so-called “tough on crime” poli-ticians to introduce their “tough on crime” proposals so that I can expose
both their policies and them. The problem with the policies promulgated by politicians who advocate measures consistent with a “tough on crime” image is that such policies often are not in society’s best interest, nor do they have anything to do with really impacting crime. They are frequently surrounded by hype.

Appeals are made to the emotions of the general public, who are frequently not well informed as to the real current state of the law, the flesh and blood impact that such laws will have.

Instead, a better way to go, I believe, is “Smart On Crime”, which is marked by a lot of non-emotional, well-thought-out ideas that are fair,
just, and in society’s best interest, as Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins advocates.

I am, of course, as a law abiding citizen, opposed to crime. In support of that contention, I would like to point out the fact that my life was permanently altered by a crime; that of Steven Cunningham, who murdered and raped Angela Correa, then sat back and remained silent as
police and prosecutorial misconduct subsequently unfolded, resulting in my wrongful conviction and imprisonment for 16 years.

My reason for being on the lookout for such policies is that I know from hard, first-hand experience, having been incarcerated, precisely
what the flesh-and-blood impact of such policies often may be, as well as what easy political targets inmates and those who have broken the law can be. As I have pointed out previously, I do not condone crime, nor do I advocate that those who have broken the law should not be punished.

However, I do firmly believe that the punishment should fit the crime, and that any punishment should be fair and consistent with the idea that people ought to be given a second chance at life, and to demonstrate that they have turned around. Unfortunately, all too often so called
“tough on crime” policies lack that philosophy, and play upon the public’s unawareness of the flesh and blood impact of such legislation
given the true state of the law, not to mention the negative impact upon society.

For example, when George Pataki cut the funding of college education for prisoners, there were a lot of emotional appeals to the populace,
who therefore supported the measure. How many people were aware that the recidivism rate was much lower for college-educated prisoners, or that the cost of college education relative to the cost of incarceration for one year, was like the difference between night and day and therefore had been a good, long-term investment for society?

When I read Assemblywoman Paulin’s proposed legislation, I was initially against the measure, because of the way in which it had been described in the press release. Were the legislation the way I was led to interpret it, it would indeed have constituted an ill-advised “tough on crime” policy that was not in society’s best interest.

How The Legislation Appeared

• School employees who are convicted of sex crimes or financial felonies are terminated immediately.

I read this to mean several things:

1) That employees who had previously committed crimes, been sentenced for it, paid their debt, completed their education and went on
to be productive members of society; that were making contributions to society by working in a school setting, would suddenly be fired.

I had no problem with the feature that if an employee has been convicted of a sex crime, that they should not be allowed to work in a school, and that the fact of their conviction should be sufficient, in and of itself, to terminate their employment, with the caveat that if they are later proven innocent, they should be automatically reinstated to the same position or one that is comparable to it.

My objection was that anybody who had previously been convicted of an offense, who had turned their life around, received an education,
and was living a crime free life while being gainfully employed by a school, should not suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them
by being fired.

2) That school teachers who had been convicted of financial crimes unrelated to their jobs would automatically be fired and lose their
certification.

My objection was that I do not believe in the idea that a person can be making significant contributions to society and the workforce, and
suddenly all that they did or accomplished goes out the window and they are worth nothing.

Imagine if a person has obtained an advanced college degree and the certification/licensing, all of which requires years to obtain. Then having
gone on to have a sterling record at the school in which they are serving the community. Fifteen years later, totally unrelated to their job, under difficult circumstances, they have a momentary lapse of judgment and are arrested and convicted of a financial crime.

The judge decides that in light of their history, their crime, while not inexcusable, does not warrant prison time. Should all of their work be cast aside, and should they lose their license? Why should they lose their ability to continue meaningful employment at a job that they have invested so much in. I don’t think that outcome is fair, either to them or to society.

There is a such thing as a second chance, and giving people a chance to turn their life around. This one size-fit-all approach is too rigid. A
hearing should take place in which the individual facts and circumstances, including employment history of the person in question, is
looked at and considered.

Let us all consider that being convicted of a crime does not automatically turn a person into a monster or render them dangerous. I reject
the term “felons”- a hype-infested, stigmatized term that seeks to make people less than flesh-and-blood human beings. We might be talking
about your neighbor’s or friend’s father, mother, son, or daughter who, if you saw them, would look like any other human being, who made a
mistake by committing a felony, and were punished for it.

There is a such thing as people being given a second chance, and rehabilitation, and being allowed to contribute to society. They should
not always and forever be automatically banned from making positive contributions to society, including in schools. Nor should they automatically, without a hearing, be removed from working at schools, without looking at facts and circumstances.

Let us keep in mind that not everybody who is arrested is a serial felony committer who is constantly on the lookout to do violence. While there are some people like that, they are clearly a minority.

What The Legislation Actually Is

I called upon Assemblywoman Paulin, and a short question-and answer session ensued. I asked whether former prisoners, who after their incarceration, had completed a college education, were living crime-free lives, and were productive members of society being employed by a school, would suddenly be fired under this legislation. She informed me that the legislation would not affect those who had been convicted of a crime previously, but would instead affect those who were employed by a school at the time of the crime. I also learned that the financial crime would have to be work-related.

I asked Paulin whether school teachers who had been convicted of financial crimes unrelated to their jobs should automatically lose their
teaching certi-cation and licensing. The Assemblywoman clarified that this legislation would not apply to school teachers, but instead was related to school officials who had access to the budget in one way or another and had misappropriated funds.

Conclusion

Upon receiving clarification of what the legislation in question would actually do, and giving the facts some consideration, I could see that it
would be a good law if passed. Needless to say, if a person has been convicted of a sex offense, they should not be allowed to work at a
school. I further believe that anyone that has committed a financial crime, theft, embezzlement, etc. and has access, in one way or another, to
funds that are allocated for a school budget, should, likewise, be fired.

To so misappropriate would be despicable, and an abuse of public trust. I consider her legislation to be well thought out, balanced, and not
excessive, and therefore support it. In light of my previous article, outlining my advocacy on a variety of prisoner re-entry issues, I would
like to say, to that segment of society that is not willing to give people a second chance that being convicted of a crime does not make a person ipso facto a danger to children or society. As an example, there are many former prisoners who work in crime prevention programs that are designed to divert youth from crime. Obviously, to reach the kids, there is interaction with them.

Similarly the same if often true in the world of drug counseling, in which ex-offenders’ former mistakes actually give them more credibility, enabling them to reach the youth who can’t simply dismiss them as mere academics by way of the frequently heard phrase, “You don’t understand”. My point is that former prisoners can make positive contributions to society.


Westchester Guardian.

June 19, 2008

Catherine Wilson
Bureau Chief,

Northern Westchester

Meeting With Local State Legislators

Our local New York State Senate and Assembly representatives routinely meet with area residents to discuss their concerns. Assemblyman Adam Bradley, and Senator Vincent Liebell, met with area residents on Saturday, June 6 in Mt. Kisco and Bedford Hills.

The Guardian attended the Town Hall meeting in Bedford Hills to hear area residents’ concerns on a variety of topics. State Budgets/Accountability: Both Bradley and Liebell kicked o the forum by addressing the unique year Albany faced. “Two weeks before the budget was due, the governor resigned,” Liebell noted.

The legislators noted that the final approved budget for the state is $122.7 billion – a decrease of $2.7 billion from the initial budget proposed by Governor Spitzer. Liebell noted that the $122.7 billion, however, does not represent all funds spent by the state.

Leibell: “There are 700 – 800 public authorities that are ‘off-budget’. “It’s hard to figure out who they are. The Legislature does not vote on them. They have an advantage – they can operate more expeditiously”.

Guardian: “How can we find out what the total New York State budget really is?”

Liebell: “The State Comptroller’s office would track this. Our current Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, is terriffic. He has exposed problems with some authorities upstate Meeting With Local State Legislators and double-dipping by employees of those authorities. The New
York State Comptroller’s Office has required all authorities to have independent audits and also state audits”.

Guardian: “Does New York State have conflict-of-interest laws and ethics guidelines for all government levels?” (Neither legislator had a response). Infrastructure: One area resident brought up the subject of how the current downturn in the economy would affect the state’s infrastructure.

Liebell: “Whenever there’s a downturn in the economy, the first place to cut in the short-term is maintenance for roads, bridges, and tunnels. We’re particularly vulnerable in New York State and New York City because we have a heavily urbanized state. Most people probably don’t know that there are four or five layers underneath the (NYC) streets - everything from electrical to sewer to steam pipes”.

Bradley: “That leads to another issue – manhole security. It’s very easy to knock out large segments of the city. This infrastructure issue is very critical. When you’re talking about building a bridge like the Tappan Zee, you don’t do that out of operating money; you do that out of bonds. And that might require a public-private partnership. We don’t know yet. The other thing on infrastructure that has troubled me is our SUNY (State University of New York) system which has tremendous needs. Our SUNY schools were once considered some of the best in the country but their reputation has been hurt because we have not maintained them as adequately as some of our competitors”.

Liebell: “That’s another one of the tragedies of the Spitzer situation because he came in on the State of the State address with some very great ideas on revitalizing the SUNY/CUNY (City University of New York) system. What Elliott Spitzer talked about was Buffalo, Binghamton, and Stony Brook and making them major research centers. That’s a different type of infrastructure that we have not kept up with”.

Guardian: “The SUNY system is still a phenomenal bargain – it is one of the least expensive state school systems in the country. Is there any view towards increasing the tuition at SUNY? And one of the things that the SUNY system does not have to put itself on the map is
Division 1 teams so they don’t compare with other state schools like Michigan and Florida”.

Bradley: “The SUNY mission and who they serve is actually very different than from when it was first created. The initial mission of the SUNY system was to be a school for low-income people. The SUNY system is now a place to send your middle class children. It’s a fundamentally different system. The lower-income children now, if they do well enough, get a scholarship and they go to private schools. But for middle class families who have a hard time and are less likely to get that scholarship, they still need something affordable. So we need to have a system where tuition is predictable and that might mean an indexing system by year. We don’t want a system where tuition suddenly increases 15% in one year.

As far as Division 1 sports goes, we don’t have any SUNY schools that are Division 1 sports. Syracuse, which is not really a SUNY school, is the only one in the state that has Division 1 draw. The SUNY school in my district, SUNY Purchase, does have a dance team and performers. That’s also a great function for the university”.

Guardian: “It’s just that sports are a phenomenal source of revenue.”

Bradley: “I’ve basically led the fight to bring in senior learning communities onto the SUNY Purchase campus. There’s an issue about the use of public land. There have been abuses and sweetheart deals on other campuses. The legislation that I put in would eliminate those issues. Why is this so important? We’ve acknowledged that we have a SUNY system that’s not doing as well – we don’t have the revenues we once had to continue to support them. And here’s a tremendous opportunity to increase their endowments. We’re taking something that we know works at many other campuses and bringing it into the SUNY system. The SUNY system does not have good endowments like other state systems. If we bring in a senior learning center, those seniors are going to be auditing classes, the kids will get audiences for their performances that they are practicing, there would be tremendous opportunity for those seniors to participate and it’s a mutual benefit for everybody”.

Liebell: “Let me just say this on the SUNY faculty. Out there in (SUNY) Stony Brook, we have some of the best scientific minds in the world connected with the Brookhaven Laboratory. We get raided. It’s very tough for us to come close to competing with Harvard and Yale coming in. And that’s where an endowed university can make a big difference”.

Reducing/Monitoring Government: Taxpayer: “Taxes are too high. The New York State tax booklet is now thicker than the Federal book. Why don’t we make one taxing authority? I’m talking about innovation. The Florida legislature meets once a year for two weeks and they get all the work done”. (The Guardian could not confirm Florida’s legislative schedule).

Liebell: “If you have a legislative body that meets for only two weeks, you will be left with only a governor who’s going to make all the decisions. We would have a system with very little oversight. We have a very active role to play which calls for more than two weeks per year”.

Bradley: “All those appointments for all those authorities would be gubernatorial appointments. We don’t want a system where
there’s limited government oversight”.

Liebell: “That’s why we have checks and balances”.

Taxpayer: “Is there any book in New York State that has statistics in it that shows ‘this is the cost of running a town versus how many citizens there are’ or ‘this is the cost of the highway department per the miles of roads in that town’. What guide do we have? How do we know if the town budgets are good, bad, or indifferent?”

Guardian: “We did a two-part series in January on local town budgets. I’m an ex-auditor and even I found it was almost impossible to compare them. Some, like Chappaqua, have tremendous information online, and some towns, like Somers, had nothing so their citizens had to go into the town to review the budgets. Some towns had full five-year schedules for every one of their vehicles for when they needed to be
replaced while other towns had nothing. And although our County Budget is posted online, there are so many items hidden under the Department of Social Services that really don’t belong there so that there is no way to know what the County is really spending. Most of a town’s budget is for union expenses, yet the taxpayers never see the union contracts. Or vote on them. Why doesn’t the state require that all
town and county budgets are prepared the same way with full disclosure and posted online so that taxpayers can compare them? The Federal government already has standards for government reporting. Why don’t we follow their standards?”

Bradley: “Like a mandate?”


Taxpayer: “And use a standard chart of accounts.”

Bradley: “Buffalo gets a lot of snow and the cost of living is different. You need to be very careful comparing. There are regional differences. It would be difficult to compare Rochester or Buffalo to Bedford. You can contact the state Comptroller’s Of-fice. I’m sure they have some sort of guide”. (Note: neither legislator acknowledged that full disclosure and access would allow local residents to compare neighboring towns to see if their own town was spending more or less for similar services in a similar location. Bedford residents would be more
likely to compare their town’s budget to the town of North Castle, rather than Buffalo! But without a state mandate governing the presentation of budgets, and the details to be provided, such comparisons are presently impossible).

Taxpayer: “We have to consider that if there was competition for New York State, and there is, there are 51 others”.

Liebell: “Just remember this, if you ever studied statistics, the first thing you learn is that numbers lie. You really have to get into the numbers. You have to go beyond the numbers”.

Taxpayer: “Fine. But unless you have the numbers, in a relative sense, you have nothing to look at. You can’t compare to anything”.


Energy:

Taxpayer: “Why doesn’t the state pass a law that every new building has to have so much solar space on the roof and hooked into
their own grid? Or, if you’re in a wind designated area, there has to be a wind generator”.


Liebell: “What if we passed a law that said that you have to have solar panels on your roof?”

Taxpayer: “I’d have no problem with that if you’d also give me tax breaks to put them in because ultimately you’d have to pay less money to the power authorities. You can’t look at just today’s costs – you have to look at the net total benefit to everybody”.

Bradley: “I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I’m a big supporter of net metering. There’s a number of things we could be doing.”

Taxpayer: “Right. I want to run my dishwasher after midnight but I can’t. That’s nuts”.

Bradley: “But you know who the biggest opposition to that is? The energy industry. But I hear what you’re saying”.

Underground Utilities:

Taxpayer: “Why isn’t there a state law that when a street is renovated, the utilities are put underground? You want to keep
the poles there so people can drive into them?”

Liebell: “I can tell you why. The cost of underground utilities is horrific. In this climate here, the corrosive influence on underground
utilities is much more expensive than maintaining above-ground utilities. We get the calls – trees are falling down on the lines, etc. But if we put billions of dollars into that, maybe those are billions of dollars that don’t go into hospitals or education”.

Privatizing Roads:


Taxpayer: “I wonder if the state is looking at privatizing our roads like what Pennsylvania is doing?”

Liebell: “That’s the history of our state. So many of our roads were privately owned, they were toll roads. In addition, the history
of the canal system was private money and government formed corporations. That’s a concept in parts of Asia and Africa”.

Bradley: “There’s a balance. If you have a situation where a private entity takes over, we may get an infusion of bonds. But
over the long term, they’re going to be collecting tolls and raising revenues. And they won’t have the same obligations in many ways that the state has in maintaining those roads – they have a profit motive. I’ve seen how the profit motive works with HMO’s. I get concerned when we deal with these types of things. There’s a balance. We have an obligation to make sure the balance works for the people”.

Liebell: “There are other questions that come up. Who polices it if it’s a private road? What will the authority and liability be? The state can close the Saw Mill for police purposes, emergency purposes, and repair purposes. But if it’s privately owned, you can say, ‘I want to close it today. It’s my road and I’m closing it’”.

Heating Oil/Medicaid:


Taxpayer: “Those of us who live in homes and can’t afford solar and other systems, our heating oil is being taxed in some localities. It’s not being taxed in Putnam and Dutchess. And as the heating oil is going up, up, up our taxes are going up. How can we deal with this situation?”

Liebell: “There is a fundamental difference between heating oil and gasoline. Heating oil is an absolute necessity. There was an opt-in with heating oil statewide but Westchester did not opt in. That’s one of the reasons why you are not seeing this benefit. But we have to do something about this particularly if the costs do not come down as winter approaches.”

Taxpayer: “The County says Medicaid is their big expense so that’s why we have to pay in this fashion”.

Bradley: “I fought very hard for a Medicaid cap. We ended up with a 3% cap. Their Medicaid costs are more balanced than what they were. Yes, it’s a large component of their government. I love the County, but do they really want us to take away the system that allows them to hire more employees than anything else? If we take Medicaid from them, that’s Social Services, the largest department in the County. That’s most of their jobs. Now I don’t hear them saying they want to get rid of their jobs, I hear them saying they just want to get rid of their payments”.

Liebell: “When Medicaid came about in the 1960’s, we gave them a sales tax simultaneously. They were given the right to have a local sales tax to fund it. We’ve done a lot of takeovers for them to cut their costs.”

Bradley: “In fairness, there have been mandates that were placed on the counties by the state that have cost them money and, in fact, we fought several this year that were in the gubernatorial budget.”

Taxpayer: “We still need to look at the oil issue. If the state gets a lot of snow this winter, we have a problem. You need to do something.”

Liebell: “That’s a public policy position. But we’re looking at that short-term. We need to look at it long-term, like the solar panels”.

Bradley: “We need to make sure that the tax credits for energy improvements are valuable enough so that it’s enticing and diversified enough so that everybody has an opportunity to take advantage of it without bankrupting the state. But you have to do it so that one big corporation doesn’t come in and take everything”.

Liebell: “There’s not a house in this area that couldn’t be geo-thermal heated. The cost is dropping dramatically. If you want to
have an effective long-term policy, you don’t have any environmental issues, it doesn’t cost you anything once it’s in. North Salem High
School has this. The improvements in solar panels over the last 36 months are dramatic”.

Gasoline:


Taxpayer: “In Europe, the cost of gasoline is over $8 a gallon. They drive smaller cars and technologically better cars. Should
the state increase taxes over a period of time so that people could adjust accordingly. So in five years, say, the state is getting money
to go towards housing costs?”

Bradley: “In New York, our taxes are relatively higher compared to other states. So we have to balance this against what’s happening next to us – New Jersey and Pennsylvania are substantially less than ours. Which is why I separate the issue of home heating oil from gasoline. So hen people want me to cut taxes on gasoline, I’m much less sympathetic”.

Liebell: “In my conference in the Senate, we’ve talked about all new public construction to be geo-thermal, solar-paneled. The government is such a large user that, to make that shift, is huge”.

Taxpayer: “Has the state considered a strategic petroleum reserve of home heating oil?”

Liebell: “Not to my knowledge. But the utilities have supplies we can access in a state of emergency”.

Health Benefits/HMO’s:


Taxpayer: “The state has put protections on medical insurance to protect taxpayers. But there are some protections that are expensive.
Why can’t we have an A policy and a B policy that loosens up on some of the things you don’t really need and the protection?”

Bradley: “New York is actually one of the least regulated as far as health insurance goes. And we are not big advocates of allowing underinsured plans as some other states do. It’s hard enough when you pay for a full policy to get them to pay for what they’re supposed to. Imagine if you have a lesser policy? The HMO’s are currently making record profits in our state – we’re the greatest state for them. We’re regulating auto insurance premiums in this state but we don’t regulate health insurance premiums. The HMO’s are allowed to change what they cover. Your doctor, in a regular exam, does an ear exam, and eye exam, etc. Now the HMO bundles those procedures into one to pay the doctors and they’re allowed to do that unilaterally without any two-way negotiations”.

Taxpayer: “Is there a huge HMO lobby and are the laws ever going to change in Albany”?

Bradley: “I drafted having uniformity in coding and the HMO’s fought that because they make a lot more money by having complete chaos. Every insurance company wants to have a different code for a sprained knee. Why does Medicare have a system that works? So yes, we’re doing things. Are you right to ask if the HMO lobby is huge? Yes. This has been an issue of mine that I’ve been fighting because there’s just so many issues here of unfairness. I think that we need to have HMO’s that operate as partners. And yes they need to make a profit. But not to the point where they are basically taking away from health care.”

Guardian: “People who are union members are getting their health benefits tax free while those of us who are freelancers, independent
contractors, and part-time workers are paying thousands of dollars for their medical benefits that they can’t even deduct”.

Bradley: “Unfortunately, that stems from how the system has evolved”.

Guardian: “But that’s no longer reality”.


Bradley: “Correct. The corporate world is recognizing this. We in the public sector need to accept that reality also. One of the things the Senator and I have talked about is exactly this issue, recognizing that we have to deal with these issues”.

Fraud/Courts:


Guardian: “The current benefits system affects people in other ways such as divorce cases where the judges don’t understand even basic accounting and you have someone who has to finance their own benefits up against someone whose benefits are completely financed and all the judge knows to look at are salary levels. Part of what’s getting subsidized in these union plans are the employees spouses and children.
So someone who has to pay for their own medical insurance now has to pay tax dollars to subsidize up to 90% of the cost for somebody else’s kids”.

Liebell: “Do you know what’s really a concern? The single dipping. We have people in this county making more than the governor of the state”.

Bradley: “We have pensions for people who work for the Thruway Authority who collect over $200,000”. After Roslyn, Long Island, happened we did have an audit requirement after that”

Liebell: “I hope everybody knows how important a state Comptroller’s office is. We took a beating in the press (spoken with emphasis, looking directly at this Guardian writer) when we did not let the Governor appoint his own Comptroller”.

Bradley: “We got beaten up on that, by the press (same as Liebell, spoken with emphasis and while looking at this Guardian writer)”.

Guardian: “So you are, in effect, agreeing with me that the fox should not be guarding the hen house?”

Bradley/Liebell: “Absolutely”.


Guardian: “Therefore, given the level of corruption in our court system, where the US District court in Lopez-Torres vs the
State of New York said that the NYS judicial selection was ‘the most corrupt in the nation’ and the Supreme Court had no authority to
authority to overturn the state laws…..”.

Bradley: “No, no, no, the Supreme Court overturned the trial courts”.

Guardian: “But as two attorneys, you are both very familiar with the backroom deals in the courts. The last administrative
judge of this district took kickback appointments from the judges while collecting his pension. And the current administrative
judge is named in a lawsuit on a RICO charge. And who’s guarding the hen house? The grievance committees who are all lawyers. It’s so incestuous”.

Bradley: “The judicial oversight is far different than attorney oversight”.

Guardian: “The judicial oversight committee is now receiving more complaints than ever before while the legislature is reducing its budget so they have no power any more”.

Liebell: “Let me say this to you. You’re talking about federal judges and US attorneys. Do you think they get them from monasteries?”

Guardian: “One of the reasons I know about the court kickbacks is because my ex-husband is a court employee and there was a kickback list kept on our home computer. I took it to OCA and Albany and the auditors and no one did anything”.

Liebell: “I’ve never seen them”.


Guardian: “I’d be more than happy to show it to you”.

Bradley: “My experience is the judges are no different from legislators, and doctors, and anybody else”

Liebell: “And auditors”

Bradley: “There’s a 10% bad apple rule”

Liebell: “Look at Enron”.

Bradley: “I think it’s no different for judges. The system that you’re talking about is one that I don’t think adds to that ratio. There’s no doubt that it’s a political system. But it’s so arbitrary if someone turns out to be a good judge or not. The whole system is out of whack”.

Guardian: “Given the fact that judges are now clamoring for a raise and have now filed a lawsuit for that raise and are now doing a slowdown – 80 judges took off work last month to hold a Law Day at Brooklyn courts to hold a protest, what are we doing to clean up the corrupt judges and get rid of them before any raise goes into effect?”

Liebell: “Corrupt is a criminal term.”

Guardian: “And some definitely are. Our local administrative judge is facing RICO charges”.

Bradley: “This is so unfair. Civil RICO is not criminal RICO. You can’t just toss those terms around. Just because someone is named in a lawsuit doesn’t mean they are guilty of RICO. But that’s what we have federal prosecutors for and District Attorneys for. I think it’s only fair to say that there is a litigation”.

Guardian: “I have tons of cases of individuals who were on the wrong side of the political issue and the other party had more clout so they got shafted. When they file complaints, they get whitewashed unless you have a wiretap, which was the Judge Garson case”.

Bradley: “I honestly do not believe that there is rampant corruption. I think we need to be careful to not cast a broad brush. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few judges like Garson. But I don’t have a problem with saying that there’s way too much incompetence”.

Guardian: “What about the conflicts of interest? Why are the judges’ ethics filings not posted online so the public can see what businesses they are involved in? When was the last time the court system was even audited?”

Liebell: “OCA (Office of Court Administration) audits them”.

Guardian: “That’s the fox guarding the hen house again”.

Liebell: “I’ve been doing this a long time. 90% (*) of the people I’ve been dealing with are beyond reproach. Whether it’s the public sector, the clergy, educators, the press, accountants – no place is a collection of saints”. (* - Liebell offered no evidence to support his statistic. Liebell also noted early on in this meeting to a taxpayer who was quoting statistics that ‘statistics lie’).

Liebell: “Some of the most horrific things I’ve seen are in the press. When I see somebody say ‘an unnamed source’, give me a break. Have the guts to say it or don’t print it. That’s my position with the press.”

Guardian: “But shouldn’t the courts who are the ones who enforce our laws be the ones who are above reproach?”

Liebell: “By the way, if you have a problem at a trial level, that’s why we have appellate courts”.

Bradley: “I’ve even had to go to the courts of appeals”.

Guardian: “May I meet with each of you on this…?”

Liebell: “We’re going to refer you to prosecutors, the Attorney General.”

Guardian: “…in terms of changing some of the laws like the conflict of interest laws”

Bradley: “I don’t think it’s a conflict”.

Guardian: “One of the appointments was a sitting state senator who took kickbacks.”

Liebell: “That’s not a conflict.”

Bradley: “The conflict is from the inter-relationship, not by who is appointing you”.

This forum was extremely informative to discover what issues were of importance to local taxpayers. It provided local residents an opportunity to learn what their neighbors had to say on these issues and what the legislature is, or is not, doing about their concerns. All of our state representatives distribute information in advance about upcoming forums to their constituents. Interested residents may also obtain this information on the New York State Senate and Assembly web sites for each of their representatives.

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