Thursday, March 12, 2009

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Readers Respond.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Our Opinion...

It’s Time To Reverse Lawlessness By Starting At The Top

The often-cited Pew Center last week issued a report confirming what most in law enforcement already suspected, that the number of adults on probation, or parole, in the United States, had virtually doubled in the 25 years between 1982 and 2007, swelling to more than five million individuals, which when added to some 2.3 million in prisons and jails, represents roughly one out of every 31 men and women in the country. And, while there are great disparities from state to state, with bordering states often exhibiting wide differences, still the national trend is alarming.

We believe that dramatically increased lawlessness in the United States, to a significant extent, is the product of a loss of respect for state and federal law enforcement authority. Those who would enforce the law must live by it. However, that has not been the case, particularly over the last eight years, under the Bush/Cheney Justice Department, with warrantless wiretaps, warrantless searches and seizures, detention and/or incarceration for years without the lodging of charges, exportation for torturous interrogation, not to mention the use of United States Attorneys to bring
down political enemies and potential opponents. The example at the federal level has been Constitutionally unrecognizable.

Instance after instance of prosecutorial misconduct by self-promoting state and federal prosecutors acting under color of law, using our tax dollars to repeatedly violate our Constitutional protections, has gone a long way to erode the respect of knowledgeable, well-intentioned citizens, for the integrity and equity of the judicial process.

Westchester has certainly been no exception in this regard, particularly over the past 15 years, under two district attorneys, each of whom have engaged in unlawful, personal and professional practices while puffing up their false images. Interestingly, Janet DiFiore, who was only too well aware of Jeanine Pirro’s wrongful convictions, continues to stubbornly insult our intelligence and abuse our sensibilities and our tax dollars, unlawfully defending them.

It was always all about Jeanine and, now, it’s all about Janet; each one a sociopathic parasite; one the repeated product of fixed elections, 1997 and 2001; the other, the product of election tampering and fraud, not to mention attempted bribery. What respect do these power-hungry counterfeits engender for the law with their “Do as I say, not as I do” above-the-law practices.

And, let us not neglect our former United States Attorney, Michael Garcia. Truth be told, he was nothing short of an umbrella, a cover for the very corrupt public officials he was supposedly dispatched to “the suburbs north of New York City,” by George W. Bush to investigate and prosecute.

After all, he was the man who published 1-866-END-GRAFT, the hotline that brought in such an avalanche of responses to the FBI that they were actually turning callers away by the hundreds. Are we supposed to accept the notion that a mob-connected carter, a city sanitation supervisor, a city housing commissioner, and a small-time real estate investor and speculator, all from Mount Vernon, are the total product of Mr. Garcia’s
three-year investigation into Westchester’s public integrity violations? Is there any way honest, tax-paying citizens, can accept such an anemic performance when his colleague in the State of New Jersey sent no fewer than 120 corrupt public officials to prison in the same time frame?

Our Readers Respond....

Who Are They Protecting? Not the Environment

Dear Editor:

When elected officials fail to implement environmental laws there must be a reason. Occasionally the reason is that these of-ficials will not (or cannot) defy the vested interests of influential individuals. Often, politicians make human mistakes but are afraid to face the political and economic consequences of redressing those mistakes. And sometimes the truth lies somewhere in between.

Take the case of Mr. Robert Schubert. In the summer of 2006 his wetlands garden dried up when the city of Rye allowed a neighbor to install a dry well where none had previously existed. Rye’s naturalist at that time, Chantal Detlefs, who was away when the permitting error was first made, has since categorically stated: “The only way the dry well does not require a Wetland Permit would be if one already existed in the exact same location at the exact same depth and size, etc.” (as indicated in a letter from Ms. Detlefs dated 02/18/09 to Rye City Mayor Otis & Council Members)

Despite the clear fact that the City of Rye failed to follow through on appropriate wetlands permitting with regards to Mr. Schubert’s garden, a simple error which should have been speedily rectified, the Rye City Council has drawn out this process for more than three years. Why?

During this time Mr. Schubert has been diligently trying to get the problem solved; apparently a nuisance to the City Council. In a bizarre “act of concern and compassion” for Schubert, Paul Shew, Rye City Manager, actually called the Westchester County Crisis Team to “evaluate” him. Schubert contends this was done in an attempt to silence him at Council meetings.

Only now, with a groundswell of public outrage in support of Mr. Schubert, is the City Council making any headway towards resolving this situation. Yet still at the February 25, 2009, meeting Shew had the temerity to declare public interest and support for Schubert, “just a publicity stunt.” The question is why?

Are legitimate environmental issues too unimportant for Rye government to address? They shouldn’t be. That’s what more and more people concerned about protecting the environment for future generations want their cities and towns to do. So the question remains: why do environmental codes get short shrift?

Similar questions hover with respect to Rye’s Hen Island. This 25-acre, privately-owned island in Milton Harbor has been the subject of scrutiny by concerned locals, government officials and environmental groups such as Long Island Soundkeeper headed by Terry Backer. Few, if any, safety, sanitary or building codes are enforced on Hen Island. The question is why?

Why, for instance, was Ron Gatto, the eminent lead investigator of the Westchester County Environmental Enforcement Unit, removed from the Hen Island case after he reported environmental, safety and health issues serious enough to close the island? Or should we ask “who” removed him?

Why did Gatto’s successor to the Hen Island case, Westchester County Deputy Health Commissioner Len Meyerson, find no such health issues even though some open, untreated sewage pits exist less than 10 feet from the shoreline? According to Meyerson, two inspections determined no sewage was leaking into Long Island Sound. When queried by a local reporter he glossed over the issue thusly: “...Mother Earth is the best way of making sure that the pollutants are removed from human waste, from sanitary waste water.” In other words, once sewage effluents are diluted by the Sound, there’s no problem.

Is this an appropriate attitude for a public health official in one of the most affluent counties in the U.S.? At the moment questions outnumber
answers. To get answers, more concerned citizens need to bring pressure to bear on public offi-cials. Insist on candor and transparency; refuse to be brushed aside with platitudes and double-talk. Keep asking them “Why?” environmental laws and health codes are being ignored ...

Thank you for your interest but most of all, for caring about Hen Island, our harbors, our waters and the environment, that is so precious to us all.

Ray Tartaglione

Re: Paul Cote

Dear Editor,

I have composed this letter in response to the article you have written about Paul Cote in your January, 2009 issue of the Westchester Guardian and the injustices pertaining to his situation with Westchester County and the federal court case currently against him I have known Paul personally for over forty years. In all of the time that I’ve known him, he has been a truly respectable citizen of our community.

He was brought up primarily by his mother and grandmother in a fine home and attended a private religious high school. He has always been a hard, diligent worker, and has had a keen interest in law enforcement since his teenage years. He was always considered as very mature for his age and married early at twenty-one. He currently is still married to his fine wife, Maria and together they have two beautiful children. Paul has always treated myself, others and all acquaintances and coworkers with great respect. He is well liked as a friend, husband and most of all, as a father.

I feel that this is a most unfortunate incident that has happened to Paul. Paul loved his position as a correction officer and held it for thirteen
unblemished years. He wanted a career in law enforcement; obtaining the job with the Westchester County Corrections Division fulfilled his life’s
ambition. Paul has always wanted to do right for his community and has had a zero tolerance level for crime. On many instances, he has been the
peacemaker and has protected others in his neighbourhood from controversy and potential criminal activity.

Paul stands up for what he feels is right. I truly believe that Paul’s intentions that day in October, 2000 were to protect and assist his fellow
officer. There was no intentional malice on his part whatsoever. He responded in the mutual aid of the other correction officer. This vagrant, Teodorovic, intended to injure an officer of the law. Has anyone ever looked into what a menace this Teodorovic character was to the city of Mount Vernon over the years? The Teodorovic name was always surrounded by trouble which included theft, stealing, loitering... blatant disregard for the law in my opinion.

Paul intervened to save his partner and is not deserving of a jail sentence, nor a county or federal court case. Almost nine years later, we are
still hearing about this case. Doesn’t that tell you something on how crooked and seedy this whole case is? How Westchester County or the Federal
government could even think of imposing such a case numerous times upon Paul Cote is beyond me. There is a lot more to this story than the
public knows. I propose to the federal government to investigate this corrupt county and some of its law enforcing officials, especially in the corrections area. I bet you’d find out a great deal on how things were handled in this particular case.

The public does not know what goes on behind the scenes in the Department of Corrections and the DA’s Office. Paul Cote has been punished
enough, something he did not deserve in the first place. He has endured an initial suspension from his position at the correction facility, expensive lawyer and court fees, multiple cases, an acquittal from Judge Brieant, a federal civil case, termination of his employment with the county and for the past eight years has been left without a job or benefits and is now in jail again until May, 2009 where he faces more trouble and additional jail time. The list goes on and on.

This man has endured enough in his life and is non-deserving of what has happened to him. Thank God that you have brought this injustice to the
public’s attention through this most important publication, the Westchester Guardian. This entire matter is a disgrace.

James F. Caparelli

Re: Paul Cote

Dear Editor:

Do not read this if you think this is a fictional movie review. It is not about a man who is intent to end someone’s life. It is about a man who
was doing a job he has done well year after year, being a good correction officer. His record is one of humane composite in doing his job and upholding the precepts of the law, the law which he was sworn to abide by. The job and its components are not what every man would dash
at, or jump into since they would not be psychologically qualified for, nor have the qualities for making an exemplary officer as Paul Cote.

Paul was called by a fellow officer because he was needed in order to help subdue an inmate due to a disturbance that called for help against brute force by a mentally challenged inmate. The correction officer, himself, was quite a large man and needed help even after having slammed, banged the inmate into the concrete floor. Paul, being the man that he is, immediately came to the aid of his fellow officer.

We all know, saw and read what transpired, a guardian who upheld the law as he was trained to do. This is what Paul Cote did; he responded to a fellow officer’s needs while maintaining order without prejudice. We have known Paul since he was born, and know he is respected for his character; a good, caring person, a person of dignity, a person who cares for his fellow man, a good Samaritan. He did not go into this job because he was power-hungry, but because he responded to a civic duty as well as a career.

Paul has a loving family and, like every man who wants to provide for his family, he took the job in order to do so. Never, never, would Paul
embrace the idea of doing harm nor cause the demise of anyone. He is a God-fearing, loving man who has a sense of doing that which is honest
and lawful. He is a man who must keep his head high. He is innocent, truly innocent of any charges meted out to hom.

The way Judge Charles L. Brieant granted Paul a judgment of acquittal, as there was certainly reasonable doubt concerning the charges against
Paul. The U.S. Attorney overturned it. This was grave injustice; the judicial system certainly cast a shadow on the workings of juris prudence. May all who have to deliberate in decision making in this case examine their conscience and do the right thing.

Costing a man’s lifetime of punishment needs much consideration, especially of the innocence in this case. It takes a heavy duty responsibility and
deep deliberation, an intellect of a Thomas Moore, to come to a bonafide judgment to exonerate Paul Cote!

Gilda and Michael DeGrego,
Valley Cottage

Re: Paul Cote

Dear Editor:

Although Michael J. Garcia, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, overturned the late Charles L. Brieant’s Judgment of
Acquittal, I am hoping for a fair and just ending to this case against Mr. Paul Cote.

Here’s why: Maybe, just maybe, Judge Kenneth M. Karas is another wise jurist as was Judge Brieant. Judge Brieant figured it out. Mr. Cote was
railroaded. From my reading of The Guardian’s articles, I believe this case is a travesty of justice.

Judge Karas has given me some hope in his declaration that is willing to read all the briefs and the entire trial transcript to be fair to Mr. Cote.
Also, he apologized for having to incarcerate him until sentencing.

Let’s hope that Judge Karas, at time of sentencing, will utter the words, “Time served.” This isn’t justice for Mr. Cote, but at least this would put an end to this nightmare he has found himself in.

Raymond Gorshoff,
Hopewell Junction

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