Thursday, March 19, 2009
In Our Opinion...
The Not-So-Wonderful World Of Westchester
We have long been well aware of the very special place County Executive Andy Spano occupies in the heart of Janine Rose, News Director of Cablevision’s News12 Westchester, not merely because of the exclusive franchise granted to them by his Office, for many years a virtual monopoly, but also for Spano’s $22.5 million no-bid, five-year contract awarded to Lightpath, Cablevision’s wholly-owned subsidiary, in March of 2000, for what is a failed communications system.
It was inevitable that somewhere along the way Ms. Rose, veteran of 30 years of “news management” would mess up and somehow manage to unintentionally embarrass King Andrew. However, two weeks ago, she managed to do it, double-barrelled, and did she ever hear about it. The movement to abolish, or drastically reduce, County Government, inspired to new levels of taxpayer passion toward the end of last year by numerous instances of insensitivity on the part of both the County Executive and his puppet, rubber-stamp, bought-and-paid-for Legislature,
had been further energized by the impact of the current failing economy with its rising unemployment and unceasingly higher taxes.
In the forefront of the anti-tax movement was Sam Zherka, publisher of The Westchester Guardian. And, in fact, he was running a commercial featuring himself and David Spano, the 50-year-old son of Andrew Spano, together promoting the upcoming April 25th Westchester Tea Party, a massive demonstration by County homeowners, business people, advocates, and residents concerned about bloated, out-of-control County Government.
On Wednesday, March 4, obviously unaware of the strength of public sentiment for the abolishment of County Government, News12, unintentionally added insult to the County Executive’s “injury” by making the abolishment of County Government The Question Of The Day with a viewer call-in poll, the final result of which, when announced Thursday morning, revealed that no fewer than 60% of those responding
would do away with County Government. That outcome was obviously more than Andy could handle. He and his chief propagandist, Susan Tolchin, went swiftly into ‘victim mode’, all but making his son, David, out to be the black sheep of the family with no right, at age 50, to have his own opinion, or to express it.
Janine Rose got the message, and sprung into action Thursday afternoon, making the Newsmakers weekend program a 30-minute defamatory attack exercise against publisher Zherka and civil rights attorney Jonathan Lovett. She was obviously desperate to make amends with Andy, and so with the clearly choreographed assistance of so-called Republican political commentator Mike Edelman, who came to the task without clean hands, and Lawrence Otis Graham, a Democrat who would do well to acquaint himself fully with the unlawful antics of Andy, Larry, Kenny, Reggie, Arnie, and all of the double-dealing insiders of his own party, all of whom have been taking for granted, and selling out, rank-and-file Democrats, honest,
hardworking, real people, for years, putting across Nick Spano against Andrea Stewart Cousins, and Janet DiFiore against Tony Castro.
The series of events over a few days, if nothing else, was an excellent reminder to Westchester taxpayers of just how incestuously engaged with each other News12 and the County Executive’s Office truly are. Anyone needing a further reminder need only look around and see that every County vehicle carries at least two placards advertising Cablevision. And, if still not convinced, next time you’re in White Plains, take a moment to go by the County Office Building, on the Court Street side, and see four County Police Cars, unoccupied and tied up 24/7, because the
system we paid 22.5 million of our tax dollars for, does not work.
Our Readers Respond....
Reader Expresses Appreciation Of Deskovic Column
I read the article written by Jeff Deskovic this week on “wrongful convictions” and I was wondering if there is a general calendar that lists when and where these forums are held. I would have loved to have been there as well as some of my friends. We always hear about these things after the fact. The public needs to know what’s “really” going on. Potential jurors need to know what’s “really” going on. Everyone is affected, directly or indirectly. I love your paper and find Jeff Deskovic’s articles informative, enlightening, direct, painful at times but always honest.
He is a talented writer. Again, thank you for your wonderful paper and I hope you can help with my request.
Re: Paul Cote
I am writing in response to your article dated 1/8/09, entitled “First Amendment Retaliation That Contaminated State And Federal Prosecutions.”
Sadly, I feel that your article reminded me of the many grave injustices done unto others in order to benefit those who feel that they are entitled to gain at the expense of others. This is the case of Paul Cote. Paul Cote followed protocol regarding the unfortunate incident that he was involved
in. Since then he has been made an example for reasons that we may never really know. He has been tormented every day, knowing that his justified actions, several years ago, brought him and his family nothing but pair, despair and sorrow. It is my firm belief that Paul Cote, along with his own family, has paid the price for what “they” say Paul should be paying for. It saddens my heart to know that living in a country with vast opportunities and rights for every human being, that framing a person such as Paul Cote, is tolerated. How can this be? Why is it allowed? In my opinion, it is being done simply because it can be. As stated earlier, the entire Cote family has suffered tremendous loss. The biggest loss, aside from the obvious, is the loss of the system that was designed by our forefathers to protect, serve and defend the rights of the People.
Paul Cote served his time that never should have been bestowed upon him in the first place. I strongly feel that a human being will never truly recover from a situation that Paul Cote has been forced into. What he has endured, and been in turmoil over for years, needs to stop now. Mr. Cote should be allowed to live a free life in society where he can begin to put his life back together again.
Louise, A Weekly Reader, The Bronx
Re: Paul Cote
I have been reading your articles on the former Corrections Officer Paul Cote. When Cote stepped up to the plate to assist a co-worker who was being assaulted, I believe he was doing what he thought was right, and what he was trained to do. What does he get for coming to the rescue of his fellow officer, he gets “thrown under the bus” by the officer he aided, by his own department and “the powers that be”. I cannot believe that Cote lost everything he worked so hard for in life. He lost so much for trying to help in a crisis. I cannot believe that this man had to serve time, and is facing more time.
While discussing this with my husband, my teenage son popped up and said something that turned my head. He said, “Mom, this only proves that its better we don’t come to anyone’s aid. This teaches me not to get involved, not to help anyone and never trust the police or the politicians.”
What kind of message is this case sending to our children and our community? My son and I sat down for a long talk about the importance of getting involved. In today’s lifestyle it seems to be all about “me,” and not “us and we”. No one seems to care about the next guy anymore. And
the local politicians, who are supposed to be serving us, the people, and working in our behalf, are really all about themselves and their careers.
This story saddens me greatly. I will do my part when the next election comes around. I have enjoyed your coverage of the story, and I do hope I will open the paper and read a positive end to the story.
Christine, a very concerned citizen.
Re: Paul Cote
I am writing in response to your recent article from Jan. 8, 2009 concerning the treatment and the federal prosecution of a former Westchester County Corrections Officer, Paul Cote. There remains many disturbing questions surrounding this prosecution. The most confusing question
is how did the officer who started the altercation with the inmate get immunity from prosecution and why? There seems to be a very large quid pro quo in this case leading to the ruination of Paul Cote’s professional and personal life.
Mr. Cote came to the aid of another officer who was being severely beaten by the said inmate, using department approved physical force; the inmate was subdued. Somehow it was determined that Paul’s particular blows led to the later demise of this inmate even though he was hospitalized for over a year after the incident. I find it ludicrous that this family has been bankrupted by legal costs on top of shattering a loving family.
Society never seems to remember that inmates are criminals who are incarcerated for a reason, but yet they seem to have no guilt in these cases.
Susan Lombardi, Thornwood
Re: Paul Cote
Having followed Mr. Paul Cote’s case from the beginning, I find it hard to believe that the late Judge Brieant was the only one that found a flaw in this case. Judge Brieant acquitted Mr. Cote, and still the system disregards Judge Brieant’s decision. I agree with your published statements that there was, indeed, many inconsistencies with regard to the medical evidence and interviews of witnesses. This started with District Attorney Pirro giving Officer Reimer immunity, if he would testify against a man who came to his aid. Perhaps an investigation of the DA’s tactics in order to obtain a conviction is in order.
Will all corrections officers, police officers, and law enforcement personnel have to think twice about helping a fellow officer in need? Is that what we’ve come to?
I was there on January 6, 2009 at the hearing concerning remanding for Mr. Cote. Judge Karas was apologetic in his words because he did not want to place Mr. Cote in jail. Mr. Cote and his family have suffered emotionally, physically and financially, as you well know. I can only hope this injustice is rectified very soon.
Thank you for your compassionate and dedicated service to the community.
Re: Paul Cote
I am writing on behalf of Paul Cote and his family. It is incomprehensible to believe that Mr. Cote, who has already served a sentence and has been acquitted, would be remanded to jail before his sentencing in May. He is a devoted father and husband and should be with his family during these months.
Why is it Mr. Cote, alone, is being charged with these offenses? It appears quite strange that only one person has to suffer the consequences when there are two involved in the incident. This leads one to wonder exactly what else is at the bottom of this whole situation. How could so many intelligent people in the judicial system not see the inequity? Was Judge Brieant the only one who saw through this charade?
Congratulations to the late Judge Brieant for realizing Mr. Cote is an innocent man and acquitting him. Mr. Cote has suffered enough. He has paid an overwhelming price for his injustice with the loss of his job, his pension and all his benefits.
This case should be closed and then the judicial system should apprehend the real criminals out there in society.
Jo-Anne Anderson, Yonkers
Re: Paul Cote
Although Michael J. Garcia, United States Attorney for the Southern District, has overturned the late Judge Charles L. Brieant’s judgment of acquittal, I am hoping for a fair and just ending for 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 dedication that he is willing to read all the briefs and the entire trial transcripts to be fair to Mr. Cote. Also, he apologized for having to incarcerate him until sentencing.
Let’s hope that Judge Karas, at the time of sentencing, will utter the words, “Time served.” This isn’t justice for Cote, but at least it would put an end to the nightmare he has found himself in.
Re: Paul Cote
First Amendment Retaliation That Contaminated State and Federal Prosecution. It seems to me prosecutorial misconduct has and is running
rampant in the U.S. Criminal Justice System. With so many wrongful convictions being exposed, Jeffrey Deskovic and Richard DiGuglielmo, to name a few, and now former Corrections Officer Paul Cote, I ask what is causing “man’s inhumanity to man” and “who is using the U.S. Constitution as an outdoor floor mat?”
Is it those who want political gain and advancement, or is it those who are misusing power, or is it both? Your January 8, 2009 article leads me to the conclusion that someone had to be the scapegoat and fall guy in a situation which occurred on Oct. 10, 2000 at the County Jail.
Why is one individual totally responsible when, in point of fact, the first correction officer [Reimer], who took the out-of-control inmate down violently, “rides into the sunset on his white horse?” This is absolutely a tragic judicial error on protecting someone’s political advancement and the one who is responsible for the horrific injury. I understand the late Judge Charles Brieant, he being “the encyclopedic of the American Constitution” overturned the jury’s verdict “as inconsistent with the evidence presented at the trial.”
The Appellate Court, in their returning of the conviction, demonstrates another travesty of justice. Why? Was it their inability to step up to the plate as the late Judge Charles Brieant who presided at the trial saw the injustice done to Correction Officer Cote, or was it a giant political move on the Appellate Court’s side?
I feel now that the Honorable Kenneth Karas, in his expertise, will be able to examine and find the truth in a shameful travesty of justice and will follow the observations, thoughts and teachings of the late Judge Charles Brieant who interpreted the U.S. Constitution as our forefathers meant it to be defended and executed. Certainly, the encyclopedic of the Constitution [Judge Brieant] exercised and defended justice and righteousness,
and the Honorable Judge Karas will do the same.
Thank you, Mr. Blassberg, for your weekly publication and for your endearing goal to “tell and expose the truth”. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!