Thursday, July 10, 2008

Westchester Guardian/Janet Difiore.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Our Opinion...

The Seeds Of Our Discontent

The People of Mount Vernon would do well to examine the treachery that begot the treachery they continue to endure with respect to the killing of one of their City’s finest sons, Detective Christopher Ridley. Despite Janet DiFiore’s obvious opinion to the contrary, the People of Mount Vernon are too savvy not to know perfectly well that their District Attorney has not leveled with them at any point regarding Officer Ridley since his tragic death more than five months ago. And, her performance at the gathering at Grace Baptist Church on Saturday, June 28, was simply more of same.

There were many clergy among the roughly 250, mostly Mount Vernon residents, present; prominent amongst them, and organizers of the function, were Rev. Darin Moore, Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson, and Rev. Al Sharpton. Rev. Moore opened the proceedings declaring,
“We’re going to hold one another accountable.” Rev. Sharpton came more precisely to the point, telling everyone, “Even though there’s been one grand jury, this case, in our opinion, has not been resolved.” Sharpton was, of course, referring to the killing of Officer Christopher Ridley.

Unfortunately, those who came hoping to hear some as yet unrevealed truth, some semblance of what actually occurred during those terrible 90 seconds just prior to 5pm on January 25 that ended Christopher Ridley’s life in a fusillade of bullets, were unreasonably optimistic.

Janet DiFiore wasn’t there to answer the questions uppermost in the minds of those who knew and loved the young man whose life was so needlessly snuffed out. In fact, despite Rev. Moore’s and Rev. Sharpton’s high-minded declarations of purpose, the program had been structured in such a way that no questions from the audience, or the press and media, would be directly put to her, or any of the other seven panelists on stage. In fact, to be sure that everyone understood she would not be held to account, she complained early on in response to a question she was uncomfortable with, “I was told that we were not going to speak about specific cases.”

Whoever assured DA DiFiore that there would be no questions on specific cases, if, indeed, anyone had, owed a real duty to all those present to announce up-front that they had granted the DA immunity from scrutiny, and that the next two and a half hours would be just another public relations exercise; so that we could all get up and leave. We want to know who gave such assurances to Janet DiFiore thus betraying and defeating the hopes and purposes of all those gathered to get beyond the lies, the deceit, and the defaming of Christopher Ridley’s honor and memory in, yet again, another massive coverup from the Office of the District Attorney.

We hold that whoever granted such assurance to Janet DiFiore betrayed the People of Mount Vernon, and all of Westchester as surely as Lisa Copeland and Reggie Lafayette did when, under orders from Larry Schwartz and Andy Spano, they worked for DiFiore’s election as a Republican in 2005 against fellow Democrat Tony Castro, who had been nominated by acclimation of more than 900 loyal Westchester Democratic committee members. Make no mistake, the People of Mount Vernon and, more specifically, the family and friends of Christopher Ridley, have Lisa, Reggie, Larry, and Andy to thank for the fact that the arrogant and untruthful Janet DiFiore; without the decency or moral fiber to return Christopher’s clothing and personal effects to his family, is their District Attorney.

She is not the People’s Attorney. She has, in two and a half years in office, demonstrated time and again, that she is beholden to special interests and is under the control of Larry Schwartz as surely as every other individual employed by Westchester County. Furthermore,
DiFiore has demonstrated that in matters involving possible police misconduct, she is totally incapable of dealing lawfully and even-handedly; instead, politically targeting the innocent while covering up the wrongful acts of officers from departments she is incestuously
connected to.

We, once again, add Our voice to the many who have called for an independent federal investigation into the killing of Mount Vernon Police Detective Christopher Ridley. There are just too many reasons not to accept the authority, the process, or the conclusions, that
have been foisted upon us.

Our Readers Respond...

In a True Democracy There is a System of Checks and Balances

Dear Editor:

The admission and acknowledgement of the District Attorney that there were grave mistakes in the handling of the Marquez case should give us pause. As a community we should take this opportunity to stop, reflect and ask ourselves: how many other innocent people have buckled under the pressure of the District Attorney’s Office? How many of us settled for being accused of minor infractions? How many times were people’s constitutional rights violated and overlooked?

Many disadvantaged families, especially those in the Black and Latino communities have been forced to watch family members brought to court on trumped up charges like “disorderly conduct”, “obstruction of justice” and “resisting arrest” which are little more than smoke screens for police misconduct and criminality. Police Criminality is cancerous; and if left unchecked, it can erode the integrity of law enforcement and eat away at the trust of the community.

Politicians and law makers in Westchester should be called to the carpet for an ineffective and failed system of law enforcement and for the lack of accountability that is running rampant. In a true democracy, there is a system of checks and balances; there are forums for the people to be heard; and there is an opportunity for dialogue and change.

The National Black Police Association (NBPA) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been monitoring the complaints of Police Criminality in the cities, towns and villages of Westchester. At the numerous rallies and community meetings we held over the past years, we discovered that many community residents do not know how to file a proper complaint when they felt their rights were violated by law enforcement officers. To this end, we have created an informational pamphlet “How Do You Handle Police Brutality A Citizens Plan For Action”. This pamphlet is meant to provide citizens with information to help them determine if their rights have been violated by the police and what steps to take if they feel their rights have been violated.

The NBPA will continue to support and rally for legislation that will secure the appointment of a State-wide Special Prosecutor to eliminate assumption of bias and political influence on investigations when local police municipalities are both “investigating” and “prosecuting” each other. Appointment of a Special Prosecutor will ensure transparency in the Justice System which is essential for building trust in the community we serve, and for ensuring that both the rights of victims and law enforcement of-ficers are protected.

In Unity And In Peace

Damon K. Jones, Executive Director
Westchester Blacks In Law Enforcement

Reflections Of A Truly Patriotically Spirited Reader

Dear Editor:

On the occasion of our Fourth of July holiday, when we celebrate throwing off the fetters that cruel England would have forced upon us, I think we should all take time to reflect, during the cookouts, firework displays, and parades, on the true nature and value of the freedoms
we hold so dear, and the sacrifices made in blood to secure them.

It is of special importance, I believe, at this time in our history, to consider another tyranny that threatens us - our dependence on foreign oil. We are, by nature, an optimistic and resourceful people. We have stores of talent and technology, enjoyed by few in this world, that may yet be mined to find a solution for this most vexing of problems.

A solution must be found if we are to continue to move forward and ensure for future generations the same hopes and dreams that have sustained and propelled this country to the position it enjoys today. We have diffi-culties, certainly, in our economy, and many of our citizens are suffering from hunger and lack of adequate housing and medical care. However, collectively, we are endowed with the strength
and resilience to overcome even the worst of circumstances, should we apply the full force of our minds and spirits to the matter.

How fortunate we are, too, to live in a country where one may speak freely. We have seen, only recently, the mockery made of democracy as goons frogmarched reluctant, terrified people to vote in a one-candidate election. We are blessed, indeed, to live free from the fear of reprisal for our choice of political candidate, which may mean death or dismemberment in these spurious “democracies.” Here, also, we are free to worship God in the manner we choose--or we may be unbelievers, all without fear of persecution.

We are, above all, a generous people--freely offering our talents and resources to those who suffer from want, wherever in the world they may be. At this moment though, our own economic markets are suffering. I am confident, nonetheless, given our past history, we will, as so many times before, resolve these difficulties and emerge a stronger and more resilient country and people.

Washington’s words still hold true today: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and
destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.

The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.” I wish all your readers a very happy--and reflective--Fourth of July holiday.

May God bless America, always.

MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick

New Castle Reader Laments

Dear Editor:

Well, folks of the Town of New Castle, the Thruway is coming to your hometown, to your neighborhood. Commencing sometime this summer or fall, the State Department of Transportation will start construction of a new bridge and byway over the railroad tracks and parkway that are the entryway to our town. This proposition has been demanded of our town by the DOT. Our Town Board commenced, eight years ago, when this need was first announced to expand on DOT’s plans to satisfy their byway agenda with government funding.

Today this proposal will cost $17,500,000. Its initial cost was $850,000. This 20.6 fold increase is the shameful work of your Town Board and Town Administrator in conjunction with DOT incompetents in Albany. This monstrous construction folly will alter the small town entranceway to downtown Chappaqua forever; It will not ease traffic patterns to and from town in the least; It will force the establishment of the traffic light circus that was originally dismissed by the Town Board months ago; This construction project is not integrated in any way with a Downtown Development Plan.

This project, which should be termed Faiella’s Folly (the Town Administrator), must be stopped. It is up to you, the citizens of New Castle, to stop this folly in its tracks. To accomplish this, you need to:

• Express your concerns to the Town Board in writing:

Barbara Gerardi – email:
Elise Kessler Mottel – email:
John Buckley – email:
Robin Stout – email:
Michael Wolfensohn – email:

• Express your concerns to the DOT in writing:

Regional Director Joan Dupont, P.E.
Eleanor Roosevelt State Office Building
4 Burnett Boulevard
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Email – cmcgarrigle@DOT.STATE.NY.US

• Express your feelings to Jerry Faiella in writing:

Email –

• Visit the Town Board meetings expressing your concerns: the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30pm. Or, go to their work sessions on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month by appointment. The work sessions are held in rooms adjacent to the Assembly Hall. And, listen to us, The Concerned Citizens of Chappaqua. We have the professional solution to this folly. The Town Board will not listen to us. We hope you will.

David B. Metz, Chappaqua

Ossining Must Be Very Proud Of These Seventh Graders

Dear Editor:

On June 20, we put on a benefit concert at the Ossining Public Library on behalf of a project called “Change for Darfur” which we became part of to try to help the people of Darfur. It began as our community service project for our bar mitzvahs. For months, we have been putting out cans in local businesses and shops in Ossining to raise funds and awareness, and people were invited to come to our bar mitzvahs with cans and jars and bottles of coins. We made presentations about the suffering of Darfur, trying to send the message that we should not and could not remain silent while people suffered terribly and another Holocaust takes place.

Over the months, with people being incredibly generous, we had raised more than $1,000 but we decided to put together a concert because we thought it would be an even better way to raise money and awareness, and to get more people involved. The outcome was more than we could have hoped for, and we wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank some people: first of all the community of Ossining from
its business owners to its students who helped; Sharon Kirschner in Tarrytown who inspired us and helped us to bring “Change for Darfur” to Ossining; Mr. Bradley Morrison and Mr. Dave August, music directors at AMD who we couldn’t have done this without; and all the musicians and artists of the AMD Jazz Band, Jazz Choir and rock band Mercury who gave their time and talents on a Friday night and helped us raise more than $800! And the crowd had a great time!

All of the money we’ve raised will be donated directly to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that works in Darfur bringing desperately needed medical supplies and personnel. Thank you again to all who have helped with their time, their money or their energy!

Tal Mintz, Marco Spodek
Anne M. Dorner 7th graders

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