Thursday, September 18, 2008
In Our Opinion...
The Justice Department Doing What It Ought To Do
We were very pleased to receive a press release last Monday from the United States Department of Justice entitled, “United States Attorneys Available To Receive Election Complaints.” The notice, dated September 8, 2008, just one day in advance of the Primary Elections, although stating, “United States Attorneys said that their Offices will be available to receive complaints on Tuesday, September 9, 2008,” was actually alerting voters to their availability for the “upcoming General Elections in New York City and other counties,” in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
The release stated, in relevant part, “The ability of federal law enforcement authorities to detect and eliminate improper restrictions on voting rights and to prosecute election fraud depends, to a large extent, on the watchfulness and cooperation of the voters.” The Justice Department
went on to urge anyone who has “been asked to participate in illegal election practices, or has been the subject of such practices, to make that information known promptly to the FBI, or the United States Attorney’s Office.”
Election fraud is ugly, and can manifest in a number of ways. Few events are more discouraging to citizen participation in the democratic process than election fraud. On the national level, the outcomes in the State of Florida in 2000, and the State of Ohio in the 2004 presidential contests,
went a long way to undermine voter confidence in the veracity of the process. The use of voting devices susceptible to tampering and error without verifiable paper backup, caused justifiable skepticism and doubt twice regarding George W. Bush’s election as President.
Closer to home, right here in Westchester, a number of recent countywide and State Senate races, over more than a decade, have raised serious concerns. The 35th State Senatorial seat, held for 20 years by Nick Spano, Republican of Yonkers, for no fewer than four elections, was
such a troubled contest.
In 2000, Spano’s organization, facing a tough challenge from Democratic County Legislator Tom Abinanti, produced 166 fraudulent Green Party Primary Ballots in a bogus effort to capture another line. Two years later, in 2002, Spano, with his State Supreme Court connections, managed to keep his Hispanic Democratic opponent tied up and off the ballot almost to Election Day.
Again, in 2004, then-County Legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins actually defeated Spano by 355 votes, but was literally screwed out of her victory by both Democrats and Republicans acting in conspiracy, individuals such as Democratic Election Commissioner Reggie LaFayette, working hand-in-hand with Republican State Supreme Court Appellate Division Justice Robert Spolzino, and numerous deputy election commissioners under the control of Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz. Before the massive fraud was completed, it had grown into the longest election dispute in New York State history, finally ending in Stewart-Cousins’ defeat in the first week of February.
By that time, Jeanine Pirro, Joe Bruno, Nassau Supreme Court Judge Ira Warshawsky, and six high-powered election lawyers had been busy at work for more than three months, resulting in Nick Spano’s cynical 18-vote victory; Nick, his two parents, and his 15 siblings. In 2006, The Guardian stepped in, securing and publishing a request, first from Andrea, and then from Nick, calling upon the Justice Department to send in “monitors and marshals” to oversee the rematch. The Justice Department honored those requests, and nobody was willing to risk federal prison. Andrea won by some 2,000 votes.
In addition to Nick, Andy Spano, Jeanine Pirro, Lenny Spano, and Janet DiFiore, to name but a few recent beneficiaries, have all been installed through “engineered” and/or “fixed” election contests; some more blatantly fraudulent and criminal than others. Given that ugly, recent history, and mindful of the fact that nothing is more essential to the survival of our democratic institutions than free and unfettered elections, We take some measure of comfort and confidence from the Justice Department’s announcement, and, We intend to publish their contact information as the General Election draws nearer.
Our Readers Respond...
Youngster Seeks Help From Senator Clinton
Dear Senator Hillary Clinton:
My name is Corey Rist. I am almost 12 years old. I am going into the 7th grade in September at Blue Mountain Middle School. I live in upper Westchester with my Dad for 10 years. My mother had abandoned me when I was two years old. Through the years there were always problems with my mother’s relationship because of the way she is. These last few years it has grown worse because I have gotten older and more mature, so I understand things that my mother does better. These last three years, after giving my mother so many chances to be my mom, after doing all the horrible things she’s done to me, I’ve finally chosen to give up on her. I want nothing more to do with her.
My Dad takes my wishes to Family Court in White Plains to stop my visitation with my mother. During the two years of my Dad being in court over this, the Judge has changed visitation many times, all because of her right as my mother. None of it ended up working out. After I told the court over and over that I want nothing to do with my mother, the judge still makes me have visitation. The court always worries about my mother’s rights, what about mine? Don’t I have any rights? After everything that happened why do I have to be forced to see her?
I learned about the Declaration of Independence last year and it says, “All man is created equal, and we have the right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Why do I feel like I’m not being treated equal? I can’t pursuit my happiness while the court keeps allowing my mother to make my life miserable! Where’s my right? I feel like the court acts like my right don’t matter.
I ask you as my neighbor of Westchester County, my Senator of New York State, to help me with my right to be heard even though I am a child.
Thank you for taking your time to listen to my situation.
Corey Rist, Verplanck
Editor’s Note: Corey’s visitation concerns are in the hands of Westchester County Family Court Judge David Klein.
Needs Of Disabled Not A Partisan Political Issue
Politics aside, the recent statement by Governor Sarah Palin about her promise to be a special needs advocate in the White House brings heightened interest in this campaign season for both me and my fellow disability advocates.
Working to ensure an enriched quality of life for those with special needs should not be a partisan political issue, and disability advocacy should not be divided by party lines. No matter who wins the presidential election, I’m encouraged that there seems to be renewed interest in highlighting
the needs of individuals with disabilities and promoting the community resources that are available to them. The challenge now before us is to transform a presidential campaign sound bite into a community call to action that rallies support for individuals with disabilities.
Bernard A. Krooks, Esq.
Littman Krooks LLP
Special Needs Alliance