Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Our Opinion/Our Readers Respond.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Our Opinion...

Sotomayor: Is It Form Over Substance?

The nomination of Second Circuit Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, though widely-expected, nevertheless, was an action that brought great delight and pride to the Latino community last week, particularly to the Puerto Rican community of New York. After all, she was the first Hispanic ever nominated to the High Court, and only the third woman, following Sandra Day
O’Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who she would join if confirmed.

We are very mindful of the historic moment that President Obama has brought to conception, as well as the altogether fitting and reinforcing significance of the unique nomination with respect to the inclusiveness promised by the new Chief Executive. And, while we applaud his bold and swift response to the early opportunity to diversify the nation’s highest tribunal in order to more closely reflect our present demographic, we would hope that gender and ethnicity were secondary considerations in the presence of judicial temperament and record.

It is not unrealistic to expect of a president of Mr. Obama’s mandate and intellect, a careful and comprehensive vetting of any offering for elevation to the Supreme Court. We contemplate no skeletons in Justice Sotomayor’s closet. At this early stage of the confirmation process, we are most concerned that her philosophy and her judicial record and temperament will be thoroughly scrutinized and reconciled. Her appointment, or her rejection, must not be determined by form, but rather by substance.

Neither should the popularity and persona of her designator compensate for an otherwise deficient or innapropriate designee. Justice Sotomayor must survive the process all who have gone before her have had to survive. In the final analysis, she will sink or float based upon the package she presents to the Senate of the United States, barring any as-yet unrevealed action or decision that might be deemed sufficiently egregious and unacceptable; enough to be a torpedo.

We have been both pleased and distressed by some of Justice Sotomayor’s judicial activities with respect to Westchester cases over recent years. Last year, she inspired our ire in what we described as her “misguided” surrender to pressure from then-United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia who, in a personal first, argued the Government’s appeal of United States District Court Judge Charles L. Brieant’s overturning of the conviction
of former Westchester County Correction Officer Paul Cote for an incident that resulted in an ultimately fatal injury to a belligerent inmate.

Judge Brieant, who had conducted both the pre-trial hearings, and the trial, in vacating Cote’s conviction and conferring a directed acquittal, in effect found that the jury had arrived at a verdict inconsistent with the evidence presented. He was in the courtroom, and fully in a position to evaluate the reliability and credibility of the witnesses.

He knew only too well what a dirty case the Government was putting on, and was completely aware of the political and criminal objectives woven into the unconvincing original State Court case seven years earlier under District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. He had told Assistant United States Attorney Cynthia Dunne, in our presence, in a pre-trial hearing, “If your case fails, I will not be sad.”

We were saddened when, a year later, Sotomayor and two other distaff judges yielded to, and fell into lockstep with, then-United States Attorney Michael Garcia, totally disrespecting, and trashing, that great jurist’s courageous act in defense of Justice. Mr. Garcia would later boast of his accomplishment, in another weekly publication. He had succeeded in knowingly restoring a totally bogus prosecution and conviction of an innocent public servant, Paul Cote, who had come to the aid of the fellow correction officer whose violent, reckless body slamming response to a belligerent inmate who had punched him in the face would result in the inmate’s death some 14 months later from head trauma. That individual, John Mark Reimer, who caused the death, of course, was elevated to sergeant and was the Government’s key witness.

On the other side of the ledger, with respect to Justice Sotomayor, in Feb. 2007, in the Anthony DiSimone case; a case that, for 15 years, continues to illustrate the worst in prosecutorial misconduct, We were present in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals when Judge Sotomayor, one member of a three-judge panel, fully grasping the essence of Double Jeopardy inherent in Janet DiFiore’s handling of DiSimone, said to Assistant DA Valerie Livingston of the Appeals Bureau, “You’re really not going to retry this case, are you? Isn’t that Double Jeopardy?”

When Livingston, who had been making several misrepresentations to the Court, responded that the District Attorney wanted to retry Mr. DiSimone “under the old law of Depraved Indifference Murder”, Sotomayor came right back with, “Your language is very sloppy. You are going to have to release the Defendant and then re-arrest him for something else.” DiSimone was then immediately released from prison by the panel on a writ of habeus corpus, without bail, and with a clean record.

Our Readers Respond....

Young Reader Expresses Her Feelings About Her Uncle Paul Cote

Dear Editor:

My name is Gabriella Wilkinson. A tragic thing happened when my uncle, Paul Cote, was taken away. Many years before this incident, my mother was stricken with cancer. This was very sad, too, because I was only five years old. My dad had to constantly take my mom to the hospital so my Uncle Paulie stepped up and took care of me. This was when I became close to the family.

I really did appreciate all of the help, even though I was only five. He did a lot for me, my mom and my dad. I truly love him dearly, and it breaks my heart to see my own uncle in jail for something everyone well knows he didn’t do.

I don’t think it was right or even legal. Telling the truth and being honest will get you far in life, and lying will just hurt you in the long run. So I was very happy to hear that his sentencing day is on June 1, his birthday. My mom is stating that this is like a new birth. I just know he’ll finally get out. I mean, how can he not?

I would stay up real late looking at and reading the paper with my dad. I’ve learned a lot about the case. Overall, the things I’ve learned, the most important thing I’ve noticed was that my Uncle Paulie didn’t do wrong and shouldn’t have to stay any longer.

So, in conclusion, I would like to see my uncle outside, at his own home again. So please let him out to live his life again, taking care of his family. He is not the animal the prosecutor portrayed him as. He is actually a teddy bear.

Gabriella Wilkinson

Mt. Vernon School Board Candidate Tells All

Dear Editor:

On Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at approximately 4:00am, two Mount Vernon School Board Candidates, myself and Mrs. Brenda Silvera-Milligan,
who are running mates, were out in the Fleetwood neighborhood distributing flyers for the upcoming School Board Trustee Campaign in Mount Vernon. While distributing these flyers on Fleetwood Avenue, Ms. Milligan noticed that someone was removing the flyers and posters we
had placed on the cars. She immediately notified me by cell phone to join her. We then followed the individual to attempt to identify who
it was. It was Ms. Carol Ben Reuben, an incumbent for position as School Board Trustee.

Mrs. Milligan and I followed Mrs. Ben Reuben and noted that she met up with another individual who was identified as Mrs. Lynne Frazer-
McBride, also an incumbent for position as School Board Trustee. Mrs. Milligan and myself approached the individuals and asked them why
they were removing the flyers. At first, they pretended that they did not hear me. I repeated the question but Mrs. McBride & Mrs. Ben Reuben
continued to remove flyers.

I then said to them again, “Why are you removing our flyers? You know we once voted for you.” Mrs. Ben Reuben replied, “Yeah and we once respected you!” I then asked, “What do you mean? What have I done or said to you?” Mrs. McBride said to me, “You’re prostituting your children! Ask your children, ask the people from Riverside. Even the white people say you are prostituting your children!” Once again, I asked,
“What do you mean? What does that mean I’m prostituting my children?”

I called the News 12 Breaking Hotline telephone number to report what had taken place. and also my husband, Mr. Herman R. Crump, Sr. who joined Mrs. Milligan and myself. I later witnessed Mrs. Ben Reuben & Mrs. McBride rip down one of our campaign flyers at the Longfellow Elementary School!

My husband shouted to them, “You better not rip down another one of my flyers again!” Mrs. Ben Rueben & Mrs. McBride jumped in their car and sped off!

Brenda Crump

Feiner On Red Light Cameras And Other things

Dear Editor:

In April of this year the New York State Legislature approved red light cameras to be installed at intersections in Yonkers, Nassau & Suffolk Counties. Cars that run red lights will receive tickets if caught on camera. Unfortunately, this new law only applies to a handful of communities in the state.

There is no reason why the state should be limiting these cameras to only a few cities in New York State. Poor motorist behavior in Greenburgh, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon or Bedford should be treated no differently than bad driving in Yonkers, NYC, Nassau & Suffolk Counties (cities that
can install red light cameras).

Every locality in New York State should be granted permission to install these red light safety cameras. Safety is important all over! Running red lights has caused 850 deaths and thousands of injuries each year. If red light cameras save one life it is worth it. I urge the New York State Legislature to adopt a law that will treat every locality in New York State the same when it comes down to public safety.

At Wednesday night’s new resident reception held at the Greenburgh Library, about a dozen residents stopped by at the Abbott House table and expressed interest in becoming mentors to foster care children. Town Clerk Judith Beville, Town Councilwoman Sonja Brown, Town Attorney
Tim Lewis and I have also expressed a desire to serve as foster care mentors. The requirement: only 2 hours a week of mentoring to a child. These two hours could make a world of a difference to a young person. If you are interested in signing up please contact Jack Toone, mentor and volunteer coordinator at or call 591 7300 x 3090. Town Clerk Judith Beville’s parents took in about a 100 foster care children during their lives.

The Town Board approved a new law that will enable the Chief of Police to impound vehicles against which three or more parking summonses
have been issued but not paid. A significant number of owners are persistent violators. Some have out of state registration of vehicles, transfer ownership and re-register vehicles and are able to evade existing enforcement measures. This new law will enable the police to enforce parking orders in the case of vehicle owners who fail to timely respond to summonses issued for violations. The police indicated that they will use this law against the more significant violators.

Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor

People Of Mount Vernon Must Know, Part 2

Dear Editor:

First and foremost, let me say thank you for printing my last letter in your April 30, 2009 edition. Your paper, by far, is the true meaning of the people’s paper, you bring the facts to the people. It is mind-boggling that day in and day out Commissioner Horton continues to steal from us all.

We, the taxpayers of Mount Vernon, ask where is “the” Inspector General? Why is this man (Mr. Harry Stokes) not investigating Mr. Horton
for all the illegal activities: 1. Doing work in his neighborhood with DPW workers on city time and city payroll, (blocks and blocks of sidewalks, streets, trees, and so on); 2. Shakedowns of city residents and business owners, even as far as Con Edison. Let’s ask them what Commissioner Horton does to them. Why doesn’t “the” Inspector General look into Mr. Horton carrying hand guns in city hall and all over the city? Gee, how
did this convicted felon get a gun permit to begin with? is man does not only have one gun but carries two guns at all times. Mr. Inspector General, ‘Mr. Independent Inspector General’, we want to know why you have not done anything about this? I am sure the F.B.I. would love to hear what is
going on here. We need HELP!!!

As I mentioned in my earlier letter, has Mr. Horton figured out what day of the week it is yet? This man is a danger to our city. Oh, yeah, I forgot for a minute he is Junior’s very good friend. After all, Mayor Young and Horton went to Italy together, even though Horton did not have enough time on the books to take two weeks off to travel with Junior. Add that to our tax bill. We need HELP!!!

Why doesn’t “the” Inspector General investigate Mayor Young, and his willingness to sell our city to cover up the incompetence, arrogance and ignorance of his chief of staff (Mayor Robinson). Mr. Inspector General, this is our money that is being thrown away, but what do you care, you do not pay taxes in Mount Vernon. Where do you live, Somers? Maybe if you went to work more often you would have the time to see what we are losing, but yet, again, you are in Junior’s pocket also. We need HELP!!!

People of Mount Vernon, wake up, you must know. Add all this corruption to our tax bill. “Mr. Independent Inspector General”, we want to know why is it that you are not doing anything about our Building Commissioner, Ralph Tedesco?

Why is he exempt from all city codes? Is it because he is the Building Commissioner or is he as corrupt as Junior? Why can he do what he pleases
on his property (Devonia Avenue), no questions asked? Why can he shake people down and no questions asked? We need HELP!!!

There is a lot more to follow but this is enough for now, for my fellow taxpaying citizens of Mount Vernon to digest and spread to everyone they
know! Please talk to anyone and everyone in our city; let them know what is happening to ALL of us.

Al Passino

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