Thursday, July 24, 2008

Westchester Guardian.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Our Opinion...

Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Cop In Westchester?

In a county where the present District Attorney, and her predecessor, have each had a preference for making up the “facts”, particularly in serious incidents involving law enforcement personnel, it is dif-ficult to understand why anyone would want to be a cop here in Westchester; a good cop, that is. Consider DA Jeanine Pirro’s knowing, wrongful prosecution and conviction of Matthew McKerrick, a New Rochelle
police officer.

McKerrick, a popular officer, was off-duty and out with a few buddies in the Village of Mamaroneck. Having had too much to drink he gave the keys to his car to one of his companions and dozed off in the back seat. While driving through the Halstead Avenue area, three of his companions decided to borrow McKerrick’s billy club from his trunk and pay a visit to a Latino fellow and his wife, who they would later claim owed them some money. While McKerrick lay asleep in his car, his friends assaulted and robbed the occupants of a basement apartment.

Offered a plea deal for a crime he was no way involved in, McKerrick went to trial and was convicted by suborned perjury, despite the fact that ADA Robert Neary, now a judge twice rejected by voters, but three times appointed to the bench, knew he was totally innocent. McKerrick served six years of an eight-year sentence, his life, and his parents’ lives, irreparably damaged.

When confronted with the fact that the DA’s Office knew all along that he was innocent, Mike Hughes, of the DA’s so-called Public Integrity Unit, wrote to Jim McKerrick, Matthew’s brother, an attorney, that it didn’t matter if the DA knew she was prosecuting an innocent man.

Then there was New York City Transit Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo, a 12-year veteran of the force who shot and killed a wildly belligerent 32-year-old amateur prize fighter, and bodybuilder, who had just broken the officer’s middle-aged father’s hand and seriously injured his leg, and was now swinging the metal bat at his head. All three individuals who actually eye-witnessed the tragic incident were coerced, manipulated, and pressured by the entire Dobbs Ferry Police Detective Squad, together with Police Chief George Longworth, for five days and nights, until two of them, fearing for their jobs, gave in and changed their story to suit District Attorney Pirro’s version.
Officer DiGuglielmo has already served nearly 11 years for his totally justified and lawful actions, indeed, his sworn duty as a police officer.

DA Pirro decided a bias crime scenario would best serve her political agenda, as the bat-wielding perpetrator was an African-American, and instructed prosecutors Patricia Murphy and Perry Perrone to use whatever means (prosecutorial misconduct) was necessary as revealed by two witnesses at a hearing before Judge Rory J. Bellantoni several months ago.

Then there is former Mount Kisco Police Officer George Bubaris, recently acquitted of Manslaughter, or any other involvement in the death of Rene Perez, a homeless Guatemalan immigrant, found injured and near death on Byram Lake Road in Bedford. Prosecutors James McCarty, Perry Perrone and Michael DeLohery came to Court without a shred of evidence, or a clue between them. The intelligent jury hearing the case needed less than four hours to reach their verdict. However, despite being acquitted, Bubaris must now face a possible federal prosecution and a civil wrongful death action.

It’s all about Image v. Reality; the prosecutor’s Image v. the Reality of the incident. And, once the lie has been put in motion by the state prosecutor, the district attorney, the United States Attorney’s Office frequently picks it up and runs with it, further perpetrating the lie, no matter how wrong-headed, no matter how illogical, when compared with, and reconciled against, the known facts.

Such was the case with former Westchester County Correction Officer Paul Cote, an officer who came to the aid of another CO, John Mark Reimer, who had body-slammed an inmate, causing catastrophic head injury from which the inmate ultimately died fourteen months later. Reimer, playing the game that former DA Pirro was only too happy to engage in, ran to the DA’s Office and cut a deal to testify against Cote. Reimer’s testimony in State Court against Officer Cote, and the body of evidence presented by prosecutor Robert Neary, was so
weak that it resulted merely in a compromise conviction for a low-level assault and a sentence of three months in jail.

Six years later, in fact, beyond the statue of limitations, the United States Attorney’s Office, for whatever unreasonable reason, reprosecuted Cote. Once again Reimer, now having been promoted to sergeant, testified, this time in Federal Court. The evidence presented by federal prosecutors was so preposterous, so inconsistent with guilt on Cote’s part, and so indicative of Reimer’s guilt, that Judge Charles L. Brieant vacated the conviction inexplicably returned by the jury.

Given the modus operandi of the present District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, and her predecessor, Jeanine Pirro, as well as federal prosecutors with respect to serious crimes, particularly homicides involving law enforcement personnel, one wonders why anyone would want to be a cop in Westchester.

Our Readers Respond...

Golf Anyone?

Dear Editor:

I read with much interest the “memorandum” from Anthony Futia (Westchester Guardian, June 19, 2008). Since when is Larry Schwartz (and County government) concerned about approaching the public regarding how our money is spent? I could not help but think of Hudson Hills Golf Course, the cost of which went millions beyond the $10 million requirement for a referendum. Let’s see; how did Westchester County get away with that thing? The general public is not made aware of the many projects that, if known, would be sold as in our best interest.

If some clever billing procedures come into play; if expenses exceeding the $10 million cap are reported as going to existing golfing facilities, voilĂ , who needs a referendum? How much longer will County Government get away with this? The public is not taken care of, just taken.
Where are our legislators? They were certainly not looking out for the public interest regarding Hudson Hills.

This altered billing thing was (is) common knowledge amongst golf employees. It appears that those who were closest (unwittingly) are
“off the record”.

Concerned About Referendum Avoidance

Gardasil Alarm

Dear Editor:

The recent federal report of the deaths of 18 women, including three New Yorkers age 12, 17 and 18, who used the Gardasil vaccine should
scare women silly. Gardasil is the Merck and Company vaccine that is supposed to protect women against four (there are over 100 strains
or types) of the human papillomavirus – HIV – the sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical and other cancers.

Include with the above statistics the almost 8,000 “adverse events” of girls and women who since injected with Gardasil have become seriously ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, seizures, miscarriages, blood clots, arthritis, paralysis and hospitalizations. Women should be in the streets shouting! Instead, many stand by in a public information dead zone, downplaying cautionary information. Compared to the push to use Gardasil, only a handful of media sources, doctors and clinics are sharing the latest federal report on girls and women who got the three-series, $150/shot vaccine and its consequences. Why?

Gardasil got the heavy marketing push, with girls as young as 10 smiling into the camera saying they were “just one more” protected. A pharmaceutical company’s desire to sell a product is expected, but the role of some liberal women’s groups in promoting this is unconscionable.

The same groups who seek to sexualize the very young for profit are successfully working to mandate this vaccine in all schools, effectively overriding parental roles. Political influence is also being used to promote it to state and local governments for use in clinics like Planned Parenthood, at taxpayer expense, of course.

Demand the facts. Make informed decisions. Tell your personal story. Women should be helping, not hurting, women.

Judith Anderson,
Hudson Valley Coalition For Life Croton-on-Hudson

It’s Time For A Change

Dear Editor:

The campaign to open up the White Plains Democratic City Committee to new ideas, new blood, and a new vision was offi-cially started on Thursday, July 10, 2008. With the filing of almost 2000 signatures from at least 58 White Plains Democrats who are tired of the current leadership and its positions regarding core democratic issues, change will be initiated on September 9, 2008.

With regard to the current Democratic City Committee, many of the current district leaders are inactive, many district leader positions have not been filled, and the Chairperson, Liz Schollenberger, is now playing “musical chairs” with “stand in” names of people who were active in the past, and who have no ability or interest in representing their districts currently, or in the future. Schollenberger’s tactics are a cynical attempt to hold on to control with deception and coercion. She, and others, are now calling district leader challengers and begging them to get off the ballot. I am currently aware of ten district leader challengers who have been called, or approached.

Pressure has been exerted, threats have been made. Their names cannot be released for publication without their permission, but I can give a deep background on every situation. I can say without equivocation that Paul Schwarz, Ben Boykin, Rita Malmud and Liz Schollenberger have made these calls. I can also say, without equivocation, that at least one County worker has been approached and warned.

Many Democrats want a change in party leadership given Chairperson Liz Schollenberger’s knee-jerk backing of Westchester County Board of Legislator’s Chair William Ryan. Mr. Ryan, who is a member of the White Plains Democratic City Committee, has allowed the growth of County spending to approach $2 billion, with no end to its explosive growth in sight. Ryan has arrogantly waged a relentless campaign to make himself one of the highest paid legislators in the country. Over the past 15 years, the patronage, both in the County Legislature and the County Executive’s Of-fice, have sky-rocketed. Now the legislature needs 41 highly compensated assistants. Recently Ryan, against the objections of many citizens from Greenburgh, allowed a sweetheart deal to be made over a piece of property in Ardsley. The cost to the taxpayers will be between $13 and $20 million.

There needs to be openness, transparency, reform; and reform now! It starts in White Plains! Ryan’s highly compensated aide is now being investigated for improprieties regarding purchasing and the abuse of sick leave. A public office is a public trust, and the stories regarding the use of limousines, free meals, cell phone charges and the like, fall into the lap of Ryan. Change is needed! The leadership of the White Plains
Democrats punished former Councilperson Arnold Bernstein for his independent, pro-taxpayer, stances. But for pure political reasons, the leadership excused and ignored Benjamin Boykin’s similar voting record. There have been accusations that Democrats on the White Plains Common Council have been caucusing without all of the Democratic members present. There are “open meetings” laws to enforce “openness
and transparency” in government. I believe that this needs to be investigated and the tactics of “retaliation” by the party leadership have to be exposed.

The quality of life in Westchester is intimately connected to keeping Westchester County affordable. With that end in mind, with falling sales tax revenues, the dramatic increase in certioraris, and the incredible cost of living in this region, commercial and business growth is essential. Without this balance, the burden of greater and more onerous taxation will fall on the local property owner by way of escalating taxes.

I joined with, and I support, many independent-minded fellow Democrats, who have sought to challenge this leadership in the September Democratic Primary. Hopefully this will initiate a strong reform movement beyond White Plains, which will get Democrats back on the path to supporting core issues like, housing, jobs, education, healthcare and the quality of life.

Richard J. Garfunkel

Reader Fed Up With Cablevision

Dear Editor:

I am appealing to you to publicize and serve as witness to my experience with Cablevision during this past year. I live in New Rochelle. As soon as Cablevision announced that it was possible to receive channel 251, I signed on. However, almost immediately, I experienced problems with the service. Every time I turned to channel 251, there was a sign across the television screen which read, “This channel is currently not available. Please try again later. Return to previous channel.”

This continued for a long time. I kept calling the repair center at Cablevision, without any results. Even today, channel 251 is impossible to receive. On the rare occasions that it does come through, it does so with heavy interference, making it impossible to watch.

I wrote to the CEO of Cablevision on two occasions, July 19, 2007 and December 12, 2007. These letters were sent by certified mail. I did not receive any response from Cablevision, although I requested that someone respond. As far as I can understand, my letters were received by James Gaglione, the Area Operation Manager of Cablevision in Southern Westchester.

I called many times asking Mr. Gaglione for help in resolving my problem. I continued to have service problems and was unable to view channel 251. On April 16, 2008, I wrote Mr. Gaglione a letter. There was no response and no improvement in service.

My patience is wearing thin. To this day, channel 251 does not work. Now, since June 2008, I am experiencing difficulty viewing other channels. Channels 714, 723, 728, and 729 display the same screen on a regular basis. I ask that you publicize my letter. I propose to have a discussion of this matter by inviting other specialists as well as those from Cablevision. I would be happy to participate in such a discussion.
Personally, I cannot understand that even after such a long time, Cablevision still has not been able to restore service.

Henry Rakhmanchik,
New Rochelle

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