Thursday, April 9, 2009

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Readers Respond.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In Our Opinion...

Image v Reality In The Ninth Judicial

Last Tuesday night We returned home about 9pm, having traveled after work to Brewster to attend the wake of an old friend, a woman who,
despite having been a smoker all of her life, managed to reach age 78 before lung cancer struck her down and mercifully, quickly took her life. Standing amongst many old friends, their adult children and their grandchildren, I was reminded of the good days, the hopes and realizations we knew, the tough moments we endured, and the certainty that hard work and good intentions would see us through. Our friend lay peacefully, comfortably, as she seldom did in life.

Pulling into the driveway and picking up the mail, we noticed the symbol of the New York State Bar Association, once very familiar to us while we were in law school, on one of the envelopes, and thinking, “What is the special occasion?” After dinner it was time to open the mail. It was about an upcoming symposium and reception entitled, “Civil Practice In The Ninth Judicial District”, to be presented by Supreme Court Justices of the District.

Wow, what a treat. Seven different judges would instruct in 10 separate course subjects. How lucky could we get? There would be the Honorable
Robert A. Spolzino, New York Supreme Court Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, instructing on, “The Interface Between The Ninth Judicial District And The Appellate Division.” And, after all, he would surely know all about that, because it was he, Judge Spolzino, who got the ball rolling back in November 2004 to steal the election to the 35th District State Senate Seat from Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who had beaten nine-term incumbent Nick Spano by some 355 votes.

Yes, it was Robert Spolzino, Nick’s former attorney, who got fast-tracked in a year and a half ’s time, right into the Appellate Division where he could return Nick’s favor. If anyone knows anything about the workings of the Ninth Judicial District and the Appellate Division, it is certainly Judge Spolzino.

Surely, without his help, Andrea’s 355-vote victory could never have been turned into an 18-vote loss; Nick, his 15 siblings, and two parents.
Actually, quite cynical.

Then there is Honorable Judge Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr., New York State Supreme Court Justice of the Ninth Judicial District offering instruction,
and answering questions, regarding the Matrimonial Part. It is difficult to be certain whether Judge Scarpino has caused more grief by his conduct
and rulings in the Matrimonial Part, or in Surrogate Court. We could fill this newspaper, page after page, each week, with the horror stories that have come out of both Scarpino’s Matrimonial Part and his Surrogate Part.

And, how about Francis Nicolai, Administrative Judge of the entire Ninth Judicial District, giving an Overview Of Civil Trial Practice in that district.

After all, he ought to know; he’s the Judge who gives out case assignments to all the other judges and lets them know how they are supposed to come out. The event is to be held at 84 North Broadway, White Plains. The New York State Judicial Institute, on the grounds of Pace University Law School, the law school We graduated from nine years ago.

What a huge disconnect between the image and the reality.

Our Readers Respond...

Concerned Reader Blows Whistle On Corruption and Terror In Westchester’s Department of Probation

Dear Editor:

I am very concerned about the corruption and terror in the offices of the Westchester County Department Of Probation. There needs to be a detailed investigation into the following stated concerns: Take these issues as a starting point, and the deeper you dig, the more you will find.

Under the supervision of Commissioner Rocco Pozzi, the following has been taking place for far too long and there needs to be action to change this hostile work environment.

• Morale is at an all-time low; many probation officers fear for their jobs;

• Probation officers have been followed around by other probation officers on County time in an effort to get dirt on

• Specific targetting of African-American officers who speak up for themselves;

• Probation officers dating probationers;

• Administrative staff dating probationers, and even marrying them, and having children by them, while they are still under supervision;

• Extra-marital affairs between probation officers taking place in the homes of other probation officers on County time, and supervisors knowing what’s going on;

• Mismanagement of overtime funds;

• Intimidation from Rocco Pozzi to get what he wants;

• Rocco Pozzi used political muscle to influence probation officers’ supervision and sentencing recommendations for his friends;

• Anyone who speaks up gets transferred to undesireable locations;

• Probation officers’ safety issues in outer offices;

• Certain probation officers are allowed to keep second jobs on County time; Pozzi’s friends;

• He has appointed certain probation officers’ supervisors as his henchman and his personal guards; five probation officers, to be exact; he has probation officers and supervisors drive him around on County time; he has sexually intimidated female probation officers and their friends for dates; he made employment opportunities for family members of local politicians in exchange for dates.

This communication would not be sent if it was to waste your time. There is serious corruption going on in this Department, and someone has to stop it now.

A Very Concerned Public Servant

Note From An Appreciative Reader

Dear Editor:

It is about three in the morning, a great time to write a Thank You note to you and your staff!

What a great representation of integrity, courage and truth you and staff represent, to the people of New York. Here’s one I think you’ll like.
Tonight, Mike Kelly drove across the bridge to get the Guardian from our usual spot, the mini mall by 119 in Tarrytown. Half way back Mike calls
me up all excited and says, “Oh, my God, he blasted them, he’s got my letter full blown on page three. I can’t believe it.”

A half hour later he pulls into my driveway and he’s got his little 10-year-old daughter with him. With a mop of dirty blond hair and a sweatshirt 10
sizes too big she’s slumped down in the front seat, just like a little kid, next to her dad. What is she doing? She’s reading the first few sentences of Guardian articles to me, till her dad tells her that’s it. She’s reading my Pandora’s Box letter. This is a VERY shy kid, but she’s caught up in the spirit of truth and integrity and she likes it! What was that line from It’s A Wonderful Life, when Jimmy Stewart, holding his little kid in his arms, says to Donna Reed, “Every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets its wings.” Well, the staff of the Guardian rang that bell of truth for that little kid and she got it. Some people can represent what courage, truth, and honor are about in difficult times. The Guardian’s integrity and the spirit of that integrity touched that little kid and an angel just got her first set of training wings! Want to bet that little kid, proud as a bean sprout, takes the Guardian to school with her and shows it to all her classmates and maybe even the teacher will read it!

Rich Kuse, Rockland

Reader Weighs In On Beaten Children

Dear Editor:

Richard Blassberg’s Court Report of March 26 mentioned that the attorney for the three boys filing suit against Mount Vernon and Yonkers
Police asserted that District Attorney Janet DiFiore ought to dismiss all of the charges against these children, accused of vandalising A.B. Davis Middle School.

Such a suggestion, along with the article’s report that the 12-year-old involved asked police, “I’m only 12 years old. Why are you doing this to me?” is indicative of the obligation of obeying the law, and that any effort made to restrain them from breaking it constitutes an excessive use of force.

The question of whether the police overreacted will now be settled by a federal court. The fact remains it is the school system which, with taxpayers’ money, is providing them with the education they will need to succeed in life. Their alleged crime demonstrates a lack of respect for the laws and the government of their city, county, state, and country.

We expect our police to be diligent in protecting the private property of individual citizens. Should they not be more diligent in protecting the
public property of all the citizens? If this lawsuit is intended to send a message that racism will not be tolerated, another message needs to be sent,
that assaults on the institutions of our common American culture and civilization will also not be tolerated. Our young people need to learn early and well that “God Damn America” is not a permissible attitude to take towards their country.

Eugene Batizat, M.A., Yonkers

Editor’s Note: While we can certainly agree that youngsters must show respect for law and order, we cannot accept the notion that police officers responding to the scene of mischief by three boys, 12 and 13 years of age, can in any way be justified in inflicting brutal injury to them. Dog bites, cuts and lacerations from beatings with metal batons; and words of racial hatred can never be tolerated.

The appropriate response by responding officers was merely to take the three boys into custody, charge them with whatever mischief and/or vandalism they were guilty of, and notify their parents. Clearly, no form of police brutality, racially, or otherwise motivated, can ever be tolerated or justified.

Furthermore, the youngster who said to the police officer whipping him with a metal baton and pushing his face into dirt, “I’m only 12 years old, why are you doing this to me?” was not indicating that he thought he was “somehow exempt from the obligation of obeying the law,” as you suggest, nor exempt from arrest and appropriate punishment.

He was asking why it was that he was being brutally beaten. Your reference to “God Damn America” suggests to us that you are placing something very distressing to you, and perhaps many others, unjustifiably on the shoulders of these three children by way of a racial common denominator;
a clearly unjustifiable and inappropriate conclusion.

Different Slant On Interior Design

Dear Editor:

Ms. Veronica Imperatrice’s current article is quite helpful, except that most furniture here was supplied by our not-for-profit landlord. I still have
three landlord-supplied items in my room; refrigerator, dresser and bed. The night table was too small, so I put it in our living room.

Sometimes neighbors choose to junk stuff that is not in bad shape. I got a night table replacement on South Broadway. Some people feel odd about possibly taking furniture off the street. It’s one less item that city workers need to haul away. It also helps people who don’t have money to invest in new furniture.

I look forward to upcoming articles from you.

A Weekly Reader

Reader Tim Chittenden Announces His Candidacy

Dear Editor:

After much thought and consideration, as well as at the urging of numerous residents and employees of Rye, I have decided to run for a seat on the Rye City Council this November.

I am currently seeking the Republican line. If, for some reason, I do not receive it, I will get the necessary amount of signatures to run.

Some of the issues I plan on addressing are:

1. Looking into the feasibility of splitting Police functions with the Harrison Police Headquarters with the Rye Police Headquarters. Perhaps Rye could be used for Administration and Investigations while Harrison Headquarters could be used for Patrol functions. This could eliminate the need for Rye to spend upwards of $20,000,000 on a new headquarters. This plan would not eliminate any services.

2. Bringing accountability back to Rye Government. The taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent and to get answers to their questions in a timely, respectful and non-confrontational way.

3. Bringing transparency to Rye Government Currently almost every Rye City Council meeting consists of an executive session where City of Rye business is conducted in secret. In addition, City Council meetings are not properly noticed and Open Meeting Laws are sometimes not followed.

4. Changing the City of Rye Charter back to the City Manager having to live in Rye.

5. Not giving any City Manager a contract without an expiration date.

6. Having a full-time Corporation Counsel.

7. Having FOIL requests responded to timely and properly. Also, bringing Rye into the 21st century with their record-keeping and the New York State Public Officers Law.

8. Eliminating the position of Police Commissioner and having a Police Chief instead. All Rye Police Sergeants and Lieutenants would have the opportunity to take the Chiefs’ Exam.

I am open to any and all ideas, suggestions, opinions and help, so please contact me at

I look forward to a fair and lively campaign and to a common sense approach to bringing about the change in Rye Government that we need.

Tim Chittenden

Swim Coach Wants Kids To Learn How To Swim

Dear Editor:

It is interesting how African-American children love to play in the swimming pool but every year continue to have the highest drowning rates in our country.

We flood our summer camps with children who are ill-prepared to be aquatic, ready to just enjoy themselves in the simple key elements of life, water. All school year when YMCAs and other aquatic facilities are being ignored by the masses, especially in urban districts of Westchester, children and their families could be registering to develop this much-needed life skill. So, to be able to keep themselves safe and fit in the outdoor pools and waterways when the temperature rises above 80 degrees, they need to learn how to swim.

I have to say a hidden splash haven has been developed at the Mount Vernon Family YMCA where the walls of water-fear have been torn down for thousands of participants over the last decade.

There are also families who have multiple siblings who have grown to become some of the best competitive swimmers in the County, and on the state level. In Buffalo, N.Y., the weekend of March 21-23rd, a young black male hailing from my city, which is becoming known as Murder-A-Month Mount Vernon, has garnered its first two-event State Champion, Offut Osaze Perry-Porter.

I am hoping that people will applaud his effort and his achievement. But the bigger picture is that there are more children of color participating in all types of so-called non-traditional arenas. We need to continue to find the open minds and the resources to include our children in the fun, positive things in life. Swimming, I must say, should be a first.

Coach Offut Porter

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