Thursday. August 21, 2008
In Our Opinion...
Westchester’s “Social Host Law”: Too Little, And 6½ Years Too Late
Last week the Westchester County Board of Legislators enacted a “Social Host Law” described, by them, as “aimed at penalizing adults who create opportunities for minors to drink alcohol.” They were 6½ years too late.
In their press release, the Board declared, “Under the terms of the approved law, an adult who knowingly allows a party, gathering, or event where minors are present and drinking alcohol, or upon becoming aware that minors are drinking on his or her premises, fails to take corrective
action to stop the illegal activity, will be punished by fines; ranging from $250 for a first offense to a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year for a third offense.”
Under the title, and the terms set down, the legislative intent would seem quite clear; an attempt to curtail teenage drinking parties the likes of which we have become acquainted with all too often in Westchester. Of course, our collective awareness of such events and the potential threat they represent to life and limb, was far too dramatically brought home, to all of us, with the death of Robert Viscome, Jr., in the company of some twenty-five of his 16- and 17-year-old peers, at the Porzio home in Harrison, in April of 2002.
A popular student, and athlete, at Harrison High School, Rob would be sucker-punched by Patrick Rukaj, a classmate, as each was intoxicated, falling over backward, striking his head on a concrete patio, and never regaining consciousness perhaps, in part, because not one of two dozen peers, including then-District Attorney Jeanine Pirro’s daughter, Christine, who arrived shortly after the punch and fall, saw fit to call 911 while evidence of alcohol and drug consumption lay everywhere. Although it was the penultimate incident, and example, of just how terrible the consequences of underaged drinking parties can be, it is doubtful that either Mr. or Mrs. John Porzio, at whose home the tragedy occurred, would be criminally liable under the newly-enacted statute.
We certainly concur with the legislative intent, recognizing that both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, on Long Island, have passed similar laws. Hopefully, its passage will encourage more parents to recognize the potential danger, and thus more diligently guard against the possibility, both on their own premises, and those to which their son or daughter might be going.
However, in the final analysis, beyond the four walls of one’s own home, one cannot expect to control the powerful influence a mere handful of youths might have upon a larger gathering. As importantly, the actions of the local police department, both past and present, is most in-fluential. We cannot emphasize too strongly the horrific counterproductive influence that the unlawful actions taken by the Harrison Town Police Department, in response to the Viscome incident, has had, and will continue to have, for many years to come, with that Town’s youth.
The shredding of witness statements and police interview notes, the sudden release of more than 20 culpable, untruthful youths out the back door of Harrison Police Headquarters by officers, under orders to protect the District Attorney by covering up the presence of her daughter, together with John Porzio, Jr. shortly after the fatal blow; the massive coverup during Christine’s long absence from school; the fabrications of Headmaster Scott Nelson, etc.; all taught not only the two dozen youths directly involved, but all of their peers and siblings, a horribly wrong lesson: “It’s okay to do something very wrong so long as you get away with it.”
That was the deal those kids cut by way of the Harrison Police Department with Jeanine Pirro, so long as they kept their mouths shut about her daughter. And, now, irony of ugly ironies, convicted felon Al Pirro, Esq., has the gall to represent Harrison Police Chief David Hall, and Hall
has the equal gall to retain him. And Jeanine? She gets to play “Judge Jeanine” on television.
The Board of Legislators can pass all the Social Host Laws they please; and Lord knows they have some serious work to do repairing their own awful image. But, all the legislation in the world will never overcome the lies, the hypocrisy, and the awful conduct the kids in Harrison have witnessed from their parents and their police department, as well as from two District Attorneys. No legislation will ever bring closure to the two dozen young adults whose consciences will never grant them peace until they each acknowledge their role in what occurred. And, finally, it’s fair and accurate to state that the Harrison Police Department has never been the same since April 22, 2002, as witness all of the problems and misconduct that continue to plague the Department.
Our Readers Respond....
Reader Gets On Board With Glen Hockley
Councilman Glen Hockley approached me, asking for my support in his movement to reform the White Plains Democratic Committee. After careful deliberation, I decided to support him. I am supporting Glen because he is an individual who is not afraid to roll his sleeves up and go
to work on what needs to be done to insure that the Committee works effectively for the success and betterment of our community. Glen has vision, and exciting new ideas which will enhance the Committee and help realize our City’s great potential. Against the odds, he perseveres to
insure a better quality of life for all of our City’s citizens.
Unfortunately, however, he often faces a committee whose process is only open to individuals who totally buy into its agenda; a committee where debate does not take place without reprisal, particularly if the outcome differs from the leadership’s desires. I recall, approximately two years ago, during the election of Committee Officers, that while several District Leaders interviewed for the position of First Vice Chair, it was ultimately given to a member of the Nominating Committee, who just happened to have participated in the interviewing of candidates. That is called
‘conflict of interest’. It is for reasons like that he has embarked on his effort to open up the Committee, and I have chosen to distance myself from the current leadership.
In my past involvement with the Committee, I found that there was a great deal of favoritism. The committee that interviewed potential candidates for District Leader improperly used its discretion in appointing them. If a potential District Leader’s opinions differed from that of the
leadership, he/she was automatically disqualified.
I recall reading in another publication an accusation that Glen was not playing by the rules. I believe it has been those in control of the White Plains Democratic Committee who haven’t been playing by the rules. The Committee engages in the very activities that it accuses Glen of.
Is the Committee simply punishing Glen Hockley for working closely with Mayor Delfino, at times? I would argue that if you want to get things done, it behooves you to work with members from both sides of the aisle. Otherwise, we would have what’s been going on in Washington while
the people suffer with high gas prices, engagement in a war where the costs outweigh the benefits, and an economy that is in worse shape than the media leads us to believe.
As a committee, we should be engaged in open and honest debate about the issues that are affecting White Plains. How often has the Issues Committee met to discuss affordable housing for older adults, working families, college kids and the poor? Little by little these groups are being pushed out of our city. Also, there are many issues concerning the immigrant community that need attention. There may be differences of opinion; but are these issues unworthy of discussion?
I’m throwing my support behind Glen because, so far, he’s the only one who has offered a clear vision for the Committee and for the City of
White Plains. He is someone who is seriously looking at the issues facing our community and attempting to do something about them. I am also
supporting him because he deserves a fair chance. What is the Committee so afraid of? As creatures of habit, we tend to get used to the status quo,
and change sometimes seems threatening.
However, I have always viewed change in a positive way. After all, it is the only thing we can be certain of. I hope that those White Plains
Democrats who read this letter will join me in supporting Glen Hockley and his effort to open up the White Plains Committee.
Rockland DA With Huge Conflict Of Interest Ops For Prosecutorial Misconduct
Hello, my name is Michael Kelly. I reside in Rockland County, New York. I am having great difficulty with matrimonial and criminal charges
filed against me within the jurisdiction of the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.
I had retained the services of Anthony Dellicarri, Esq. and he represented me for approximately 18 months prior to his appointment as
Senior Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office where my charges were pending.
Mr. Dellicarri was sworn in to of-fice on January 1, 2008 for the position of Senior Prosecutor. As of late February he was still representing me in Orangetown for a harassment violation, which stemmed from an alleged incident from approximately 12 months ago. I wrote to the new District Attorney, Mr. Zugibe, the Westchester County Bar Association and numerous government agencies regarding these actions, and their legality.
Since that time the Westchester County Bar has responded and wants to conduct an official inquiry into several matters concerning Mr.
Dellicarri. As of June 7, 2008, Justice Paul Phinney wrote in his decision an order that a special prosecutor is needed to continue with my violation
in his Court due to the fact that a once defense attorney is now a Senior Prosecutor in the same office.
Since that order, and the Westchester Bar Association’s inquiry, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, as of this week, has now decided
to make my violation a felony, and wants to convene a grand jury, and they are now charging me with Assault 2nd Degree.
These actions are clearly a malicious prosecution against me from the District Attorney’s Office for my letter-writing and exposure of the actions
of one of their own. This matter needs to be exposed, and stopped. This situation needs outside oversight, and help from someone in our government branch in order to stop these egregious actions of an Office that is sworn to protect and serve the citizens of a sovereign society, not prosecute them for their own errors.
I have numerous documents to back my claims, written by Mr. Dellicarri to the Judges, while acting as my defense counsel after he was sworn into office.
Michael Kelly, Piermont