Thursday, May 21, 2009
In Our Opinion...
This Memorial Day, Let Us Resolve To
Do Right By Our Returning Injured Veterans
This coming Monday will be Memorial Day, a day which, over the years, has historically been a solemn day of remembrance and tribute; a day when Americans traditionally visit the gravesites of fallen servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice that we might live in freedom and peace. It is a day to reflect upon not only those lives that were laid down on foreign soil in defense of our democracy and democracies around the world against tyranny and dictatorship, but also, in a broader sense, those back here at home as well whose lives were dedicated to protecting our liberty, our very way of life.
With the end of the compulsory military draft, the composition and mentality of our military forces, those who have faced armed combat overseas, has changed significantly. For one thing, it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of those in the Armed Services are there because they have chosen to be. Having said that, we are not suggesting that those who enlisted are necessarily all very pleased to be facing combat, or even day-to-day existence in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The enemy is very often poorly defined, hidden, but armed and ready to strike, frequently by remote control using improvised explosive devices, killing and dismembering several military and civilian victims at a time. As a result, this Longest War In Our History has produced an extraordinary number of young men and women who have returned home with missing limbs and traumatic head injury, often involving vision and hearing loss as well.
Of course, actual physical trauma is but one side of the horrible equation; most often accompanied by psychological and emotional damage and complications sometimes undetected, lodged just beneath the surface, likely to rear themselves at any time back home. And, therein, too, lies the rub. Beginning sometime after the return of military personnel from World War II and the Korean conflict, the quality and availability of medical and psychiatric care and attention extended to our returning injured servicemen and women through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, has steadily declined, while, at the same time, the nature and severity of typical injuries has become more complex, but survivable.
Sadly, we often have not kept our promise, our solemn obligation to many who have come home in desperate need of aggressive after-care, rehabilitation, and guidance. Many await processing, approvals, and much-needed care and medication as regional VA offices, and local VA hospitals, either drag their feet or outright refuse to perform services.
This Memorial Day, let us take the time to consider the ways we might make a meaningful contribution to the care and comfort of someone who has come home from war with less than he or she left. Let us contact Congressman John Hall and other veterans’ advocates to make our feelings known, not only to federal officials but to state and county veterans’ offices as well. Let us make it abundantly clear that we want to keep our end of the bargain, despite the weakened economy, in order to provide our injured returning men and women with the finest care available.
Our Readers Respond...
Yonkers Legendary ‘Legal Eagle’ Makes Request
We thought this Memorial Day you could publish a photograph of the World War II Marine Memorial Window located
in Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Yonkers, New York which accompanies this letter.
The Window’s inspiration was a letter written by Marine Corporal Frank Gambino on the Marines’ beliefs and why
they sacrificed their lives for America during the Battle of Saipan on the loss of his squad leader, Corporal Joseph Romano.
The inscription on the Memorial plaque encompasses his lasting words. Corporal Gambino was killed in action in the Battle of
Iwo Jima and awarded the Silver Star. In any event, thank you for the opportunity.
John N. Romano, Yonkers
We are only too happy to comply with the request of World War II Marine veteran, Mr. Romano’s, request.
Reader Reminds Us Corruption Continues In New Castle
I am writing to you to inform you of a very serious problem within one of our local government municipalities. This is not a story about the injustice against a single person. This story has nothing to do with whether one person is a Republican or a Democrat; this is a story about a human being and his God-given rights being violated. It is a story about an innocent, hard-working father and husband who was trying to do the right thing and provide for and protect his loving wife (Shari) and two kids (Matthew 11, Nicole 7). It is a story that hits at the heart of our community, and the basic human values and integrity that we have a right to expect from our community leaders.
I would encourage all who believe that public integrity and Equal Protection Under Law are necessary and fundamental to the lawful operation of local government to speak up and let those in power know your sentiments. I believe there is a troubling, pervasive, and disturbing problem in the Town of New Castle (Chappaqua), that is worthy of attention. Yes, I know this is the home Town for our Past President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but do not let that sway your opinion, please.
While I am not a writer, my problem is no less real, and I have to believe that I am not the sole victim. Over the past few years, there have been several articles printed in the local papers about the Police Administration and a Lt. John P. Vize as well as Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella in the Town of New Castle. These articles have told of the patterns of serious misconduct, Anti-Semitism, racism, retaliatory action, systemic governmental corruption and conduct unbecoming of several Administrators, employees and police officers within the town.
As it was revealed in one of the articles, then-New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, along with the New York State Comptroller’s
Office, found that there were serious egregious acts committed by these individuals. Anyone who does not believe this story to be true should look up the Verified Complaint filed against John P. Vize by the New York State Attorney General in New York State Supreme Court, Westchester County index # 06-13794. This complaint against John P. Vize was received by the Westchester County Clerk on July 27, 2006.
It is amazing to see the depths that the New Castle Police Department Administration along with Town of New Castle Administrator Gennaro Faiella has sunk to, when Police Lieutenant John P. Vize is allowed to remain on the force despite allegations by the New York State Attorney General’s Office that Lt. Vize violated his fiduciary duties, falsified official records and defrauded the State of New York out of enormous sums of money. John P. Vize has allegedly damaged the pension system upon which many people depend. It has also been reported that Vize was making illegal and secret cash payments to other officers to help cover up the pension frauds he perpetrated.
Lt. Vize made these cash payments without reporting them to the Internal Revenue Service or the New York State Department of Taxation.
Did Lt. Vize commit Tax Fraud? When Lt. Vize was responsible for falsified records being sent to the United States Social Security Administration crediting Police officer Denis Mahoney for working as a Police Officer in New Castle when in actuality he was living and operating a business that he still owns in Carey, North Carolina. Did Lt. Vize also commit Social Security fraud?
Since Lt. Vize may have set up a criminal organization, shouldn’t the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York investigate these allegations? The fact that someone as reportedly as corrupt as John P. Vize is allowed to remain as a Police Administrator,
seriously damages the public trust in law enforcement. One would have to think it also damages the public’s confidence in the Town of New
Castle’s government, particularly that Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella along with Chief of Police James Baynes both of whom
knowingly and willingly condoned these actions doing absolutely nothing. These actions of keeping someone as reportedly as corrupt as John
P. Vize in his official capacity along with Chief Baynes and Gennaro Faiella together with Town Board Members that condoned these actions
speaks volumes about the serious lack of integrity in the Town of New Castle’s administration as well as other governmental agencies who choose not see that justice was brought to these people.
As reported by one newspaper (Westchester Guardian) an article read as follows: “State of New York, by Attorney General’s Office vs. Dennis Mahoney & John P. Vize, Index # 06-13794, has focused a tremendous amount of attention on the Town of New Castle’s 40-member Police Department, a matter that has churned since 1999 involving a top law enforcement officer who is still on duty, Lieutenant John P. Vize, accused of keeping fraudulent payroll records for at least a year in order to help fellow officer Dennis Mahoney obtain his
20-year pension early when in fact he only worked 19 years, the last year Dennis Mahoney was running a business he owns and was living down in Carey, North Carolina.
According to twenty-year’s worth of documents seized from the New Castle Police Department in 2003 by the Public Integrity Section of the
Office of Westchester District Attorney Jeannine Pirro, Lt. John P. Vize was also involved in arranging shifts under Dennis Mahoney’s name, referred to by some of the Police Department members as ‘The Mahoney Days’. Approximately 25% of the department’s officers have been reported to have participated in the pension fraud scheme! What line of action was taken by the Chief of Police or the Town Administrator, or the Town Board after these findings were uncovered by the Attorney General’s office? They did nothing, and according to Town Administrator Faiella’s statement in The Journal News, they don’t plan to take any action. (Journal News articles dated: July 28 & 30, 2006).
Instead these individuals are promoted, rewarded, and carry on with their daily routines, unpunished.” Now, what is even more disturbing, is that, as of recently, the Journal News has been doing stories about local municipalities and their pay scale. What they found out was most troubling. As quoted by the writer of the article eganga@LoHud.com, April 14, 2009: “The overtime champion in 2008 was police Lt. John
Vize, who earned $34,784. Vize, who is being sued by the state Attorney General’s Office over accusations that he helped former Police Officer Dennis Mahoney defraud the pension system, was the third-highest paid town employee.”
Do you all find that just a little disturbing that the Town of New Castle Administrator Gennaro Faiella, along with the Town Board’s backing, has the audacity to keep this man who is being tried in our very courts to this day for pension frauds from our New York State Pension system which many hardworking men and women and some, if not all, of you contribute to is still allowed to remain on its payroll?
What does that say about the Administration and Legal system in New Castle?
As a member of the community and a major contributor to the New York State Pension System and the spouse and father of members of the
Jewish faith, and, worse yet, a victim, I find these actions are appalling and disgusting. I was employed by the Town of New Castle D.P.W. Highway Division for 14 1/2 years with an outstanding work record and evaluations.
I have received several certificates for years of dedicated service, Letters of Commendation, as well as letters from residents and people traveling through Chappaqua who I assisted. I have also been recognized, and received commendations from surrounding towns for my actions in evacuating a full bowling alley before a roof collapse on March 17, 2007.
In 2004, I filed a lawsuit against the Town and several employees for Harassment, Discrimination, Anti-Semitism, Retaliation and a Hostile
work environment. For years there were anti-Semitic remarks made towards me, such as “Jew Lover”; and I was told by one person “Hitler Had the Right Idea; the only thing Jews were good for was to skin them and Make Lamp Shades”. One of the Foremen (Mike Clifford) referred to the local Yeshiva as a “Jew Farm”.
There was also an instance involving the Foreman being advised of the name of an applicant for summer hire, whereupon he replied “That
Jew will never get a job here”. There is no excuse for those remarks, and they strike a deep chord within me as my wife and children are Jewish, and these comments were abhorrent. I brought my concerns over these Anti-Semitic remarks to the Chief of Police and the Town Administrator, and they took no action, essentially condoning the illegal acts, the same way they took no action with the complaints within their own department. I should not say they took no action because as you read on you will see just how corrupt the administration is there and what they have been covering up.
In 2002 The Town of New Castle went and hired an outside law firm to arbitrate an incident that took place on May 17, 2002 which involved Michael Molnar, one of the individuals named in my lawsuit. In a separate incident Molnar even tried to run over one of the foremen while yelling vulgar obscene comments out his driver’s side window. This is just one example of several that Molnar was involved in. Yet, to this day, Gennaro Faiella, Penelle Paderewski and the Town Board members, Robin Stout, John Buckley, Elise Kessler Mottel, and Michael Wolfensohn, all choose to ignore the fact that he is a potentially serious problem there. Instead they’ve promoted him and he is receiving an ample amount of overtime on a weekly basis.
Prior to filing my lawsuit, I suffered an on-the-job injury to my back. At that time, as well as currently, I was a volunteer with the Brewster Volunteer Fire Department. I informed the Fire Department that I would be out of service because of my on-the-job injury, as I’ve done any time I’ve had an on the- job injury. During my recovery, I was informed that the Town was investigating me for Worker’s Compensation
fraud based on an “eyewitness” account that I was flagging at a car accident on I-84. Through their investigation, the Town found no evidence to support the allegation, to be truthful. In reality, there was not even an accident on I-84 that Brewster responded to during that period of time. This malicious investigation was conducted with the intention of damaging my reputation and character, and was never officially cleared up.
After filing my lawsuit in 2004, I suddenly found myself getting written up for various “insubordination” charges, including, but not limited
to, my saying “aww, shucks.” In May of 2006, my lawsuit was amended to add the Town Administrator, Gennaro Faiella. Within weeks, I was further retaliated against with additional bogus charges, culminating in my being suspended for 30 days without pay, and my being required to appear for a Section 75 hearing. It is interesting to note that as I was being handed the letter suspending me, another employee was standing there repeating the ‘f ’ bomb over and over again in front of the Deputy Town Administrator, Penelle Paderewski who, at that time, was also Acting DPW Commissioner. And, interestingly enough, she was also this employee’s mother.
As an aside, the employee in question was not written up for his foul language while I, on the other hand, was written up for saying “aww shucks.” Just to be clear, I had never been written up prior to filing the lawsuit! Upon returning to work after my 30-day suspension I was relocated to another department, denied any overtime, and specifically instructed that I was not allowed to use any equipment or drive any vehicles, which essentially meant that I was only permitted to work as a laborer, not at my level of MEO. This is not unlike the Supreme
Court case, Burlington Northern Railroad v White Sheila that was ruled on June 22, 2006. (http://docket.medill.northwestern.edu/archives/003256.php). If that weren’t enough, they also instructed me as to the specific facilities
I was permitted to use when I had to relieve myself.
Where is the justice? Those of us who have filed lawsuits against these individuals and the Town of New Castle have done nothing wrong.
All we have done is fight for our civil rights which were repeatedly violated, and protect the integrity of our families. In response, the Town
of New Castle and its administrators continually harassed and retaliated against us in every way possible.
An example would be that on one occasion my assistant foreman John O’Hearn approached me and made a verbal statement, “Do yourself
a favor and drop the grievances and drop all the other stuff (meaning the lawsuit) because you are on thin ice with the Town.”
They have used us as examples of what will happen if you stand up for what is right, and as their method of intimidation to other employees.
I specifically know that men I was friends with were told to keep their distance from me if they knew what was good for them. This created an environment of fear of retaliation, fear of losing their jobs, fear of losing overtime, fear of further financial repercussions, etc.
Finally, and most disturbingly, is the fact that while I was out of work due to an on-the-job injury, they terminated my employment. Even worse, as a result of this injury, I’m not currently able to seek new employment. Most maliciously however, is the fact that from October 2006 through mid January 2007, they falsified my time sheets, using up my vacation time, personal time, sick time, and comp time. Thus, when they fired me, they wouldn’t have to immediately pay me for that time. There is a history in the Town of New Castle involving falsifying of time sheets, whether for personal gain as in the police department fraud case, or in the case of someone injured on the job.
The Town paid me while I was out on disability, and was reimbursed by Workman’s Compensation. Given that Workman’s Comp income is not taxable, the Town had the responsibility to amend the employee’s W2 form, indicating the correct amount of taxable income. This also did not happen, thus resulting in fraudulent tax records. To summarize, the Attorney General’s office filed a suit against a current police officer, and a retired police officer, but the Town took no disciplinary action. The police officer is currently still on the job, at the same level, with the same responsibilities. An individual (Mike Molnar) physically attacked the foreman of the DPW; no disciplinary action was
taken. This same individual tried to run over another supervisor, as well as another employee, in the DPW; again, no disciplinary action was taken.
Six individuals complained about a hostile work environment caused by this same individual; once again, no disciplinary action was taken.
An individual spray-painted town trucks; but received no disciplinary action. These actions as well as others are all documented. This
is a small example of the discrimination and retaliation that exists. I, however, was written up, suspended for a month without pay, and ultimately fired, for what were essentially bogus and false charges of “insubordination” that “coincidentally” started after my lawsuit Notice of Claim was filed.
Jeffrey S. Chiara, Carmel
In Loving Recognition
Of Memorial Day
And All That Our
We May Be Free
The inscription on this Memorial Declaration Plaque was from a letter written by Cpl. Frank Gambino, U.S. Marine Corps, 3Bn-COL-23 Regt. 4th Division, on the Battle of Saipan, June 15, 1944 where he describes the Battle - The Marines - Their Beliefs and the loss of his Squad Leader, Cpl. Joseph G. Romano.
Cpl. Frank Gambino’s life ended on February 23, 1944 where he was awarded the Silver Star. A copy of the letter is in the Church and Memorial Services have been held monthly.
“These are our dead and we, their comrades, are the living. Our task is to continue the struggle for which they gave their lives. They shall not have died in vain. Make us worthy of their memory.”
U.S. Marine Corps. Memorial
Mt. Carmel RC Church
70 Park Hill Avenue
Yonkers, New York