Thursday, July 31, 2008
In Our Opinion...
At The Heart Of The Harrison And Yonkers Police Department Problems Lies DA DiFiore
Across Westchester, from Yonkers, on the Hudson, to Harrison, on the Sound, people are beginning to get wise to the problems they are experiencing with the police; by no means all, or even a majority of police in those two departments, in particular, but rather a nasty clique of rogue cops in each department. The Harrison Police Department, with a total of some 75 officers, is little more than 10 percent of the Yonkers force, of some 670.
The size of each department is of little consequence. What matters is that they have come to share the same tarnished image; accusations of police brutality, and corruption, law-abiding civilians living in fear of violent cops; and, yes, the top of each department is involved in an unholy, unhealthy, relationship with DA Janet DiFiore.
The citizens of Harrison are situated precisely as the citizens of Yonkers, and realize that they have no recourse with the District Attorney’s Office, and certainly none with the police department whose officers have brutalized and abused them. They are, in effect, between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”
The simple truth is that Janet DiFiore, since being “installed” as District Attorney, nearly three years ago, has time after time not only refused to investigate and prosecute complaints of police brutality and civil abuse lodged by innocent citizens and their attorneys, but also has actively prosecuted such victims on bogus charges.
DiFiore is the common denominator because her incestuous relationships with Chief Hall and Captain Marraccini, in Harrison, and Mayor Amicone and Commissioner Hartnett, in Yonkers, not only prevent her from lawfully discharging her duty to investigate and prosecute
serious allegations by credible victims; but also apparently compel her to turn her staff loose against innocent, law-abiding individuals, victims of her benefactors.
The decent, hard-working, taxpaying citizens of Westchester County must not continue to labor under the treachery of such a conspiracy because of the “installation” of Janet DiFiore as District Attorney. Many in the media are beginning to question what it is that Hall and Marraccini, Amicone and Hartnett, are holding over her that would cause her to repeatedly sacrifice innocent civilians and good police officers, while, at the same time, wrecking the reputation and careers of prosecuting attorneys in her of-fice. There is a reason why half of her attorneys and investigators have walked out.
Word around the DA’s Office is that Pat D’Imperio, Chief Administrative Assistant with more than a decade on the job, is “headed for the door.” Repeated attempts to secure confirmation, and cause, from DiFiore’s spokesperson Lucian Chalfen, have been stonewalled, raising suspicion that all may not be right with the Office’s financial situation.
With each passing day, it becomes increasingly apparent that Janet DiFiore is incapable of discharging the duties of District Attorney fairly and competently. Because of her unlawful response to civilian and police plaintiffs in Harrison, with respect to Hall and Marraccini as well as Officers Light and Lucas, and others, fearful, abused residents have turned to Town Supervisor Joan Walsh in their desperation.
We have been calling for a full-scale investigation by the FBI in Harrison, the only way in which public confidence may ever be restored. The Bureau must not only uncover the evidence supporting the complaints of innocent civilians and police officers, but also the circumstances through which Chief Hall, Captain Marraccini, and other accused police officers, continue to enjoy the DA’s protection and assistance.
Our Readers Respond....
Legislator Burton Takes Issue With Columnist Wilson
The article by Catherine Wilson entitled The County’s Proposed Social Host Law, published in The Guardian issue of July 17, is fundamentally in error when it states that “[S]hould this law pass, a parent can now run afoul of the law by serving a glass of wine to their own teenager at dinner in their own home.”
The author is wrong. New York State law specifically exempts from any alcoholic beverage law enforcement several classes of consumption
by underage persons. In no particular order and not exhaustively, state law exempts serving alcoholic beverages to one’s own children or in religious observances or in food preparation.
Westchester’s Social Host law seeks to do one thing: close a loophole in state law that fails to hold accountable adults who host parties that provide alcoholic beverages to underage drinkers.
The Social Host law was championed by Legislators Jim Maisano (New Rochelle) and Vito Pinto (Tuckahoe) and was approved by the Legislation Committee of the Westchester Board of Legislators, which I chair. It gained broad support as the committee carefully considered the impact of the law through testimony from law enforcement, civil libertarians, victims of underage drunk driving, and advocacy groups.
While these groups did not agree completely on the wording of the law, most supported the legislation for its success in closing a loophole in New York State legislation.
As Ms. Wilson acknowledged, Assemblywoman Galef stated that State law has this loophole, and that she has introduced legislation to close it. What the writer failed to report is that this bill did not pass in Albany in the recently-closed session.
So here’s the choice: ignore the problem of adult-enabled underage drinking and wait for someone else to address the problem, some day. Or take local action through a county law. In my personal opinion, Westchester County will be a better place if this law passes.
Whether you agree or not, I invite you to voice your opinion at the Board of Legislators’ Public Hearing to be held on Monday, August 11, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the 8th floor of the County building, 148 Martine Avenue, White Plains. Readers of The Guardian are also welcome to call me at (914) 941-0407 to discuss this issue.
Chair, Committee on Legislation
Westchester County Board of Legislators
Facts From The Inside
Kudos for striking a direct hit in the battle against patronage and inefficiency in County government. Ron Gatto is nothing more than a
political patronage appointee and ally of the Spano administration. The “Environmental Security Unit” taking enforcement action against an unlicensed contractor installing garage doors is highly suspect; but even more disturbing is the pomposity of the unit’s “director”. Ron Gatto is NOT a county police officer, he holds no civil service rank within the Department, nor is he a member of the Department’s collective bargaining unit (PBA). His quote “No,I’m a cop. I don’t know what you’re talking about” (Westchester Guardian, July 17, 2008 page 6) does a great disservice to the men and women who are, in fact, the sworn members of the Department of Public Safety. For him to state that he is a “cop” is a bald-faced lie and supports your assertion that he was lying in other statements as he is simply not a “cop”.
Despite wearing a badge that says “deputy sheriff ” and portraying himself as a police officer, he is a civilian appointee holding the title of “Director”. In fact, his position was the target of a grievance filed by the real police officers in the PBA who alleged that his appointment
bypassed the civil service process and should have been a sworn police of-ficer (or supervisor). Unfortunately, the PBA was ruled against by a Spano sympathetic arbitrator.
At a time when budget belts are being tightened, perhaps the right place to consider saving money is in such political patronage appointments. At the very least strip Gatto of his take-home vehicle. What he needs that for is a good question for County government.
And place him under the direct supervision of a real police supervisor. To have Gatto supervising a police detective (or anyone else for that matter) is a travesty and hopefully your calling attention to this will yield some results.
The Real Deal
No Balm In Gilead
“Is there no balm in Gilead?” (Jeremiah 8-22), is the question that came to me when I asked God what’s going on in the City of Mount Vernon. And are there no honest people in government? Jeremiah asked the question when pondering how to heal the heart and soul of the masses. How can Mount Vernon be healed? For surely there is no balm here.
The Board of Education Trustees hired a superintendent for close to a quarter of a million dollars, and he hired an assistant, but cut music, art, wood work, band day, etc.., but the education department and city officials are fighting to keep sports going in the High School.
Not Olympic sports, like gymnastics and the like, but basketball because every two to three years a student makes it to have a chance to become a professionally paid basketball player, and the hundreds of others go on to meet gang members on the community basketball courts, and spend their days playing basketball on the prison courts. No balm in Gilead! Adding insult to injury the city marshal and her family are milking hundreds of thousands of dollars from not only Mount Vernon homeowners but Westchester County tax payers and nothing is
being done to stop them or make them pay restitution. Only the newspapers write about it, and though we read about it, as some of us wait for the moving van to come, we still do nothing about it, knowing that the city officials’ actions are the reason some of us have been taxed
out of our homes. No balm in Gilead.
When I heard that Mount Vernon’s new city administration is paying two commissioners of the recreation department while our local parks are in need of water sprinklers and new play sets; and no one from the department is going around to the local parks doing summer recreational programs with the children whose parents can’t afford summer camp. I, like Jeremiah, asked God, is there no balm in Gilead?
“We the people”, are supposed to be the balm, we’re supposed to be able to control government and stop them from infecting us with their corruption and greed. The government is us, we just elect people into office and pay them to fight for us, not take our homes and ruin our children. I’d like to say this is just going on in the City of Mount Vernon, but since the whole United States of America citizenry can’t get their children out of Iraq, nay the Middle East and its million year-war, it’s the whole country.
My question to you is, how long does it take a nation built on republic and democratic principals to become a third world nation? Answer: A little over two hundred years. Just long enough to bring to this country the very government immigrant forefathers came here to get away from? Unfortunately there is no balm in Gilead, yet.