Thursday, September 10, 2009

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Reader Respond.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In Our Opinion...

The Crucible

We said last week that the imposed affordable housing settlement would “bring the County Legislators’ moment of truth.” Having attended last Tuesday’s session, a so-called Meeting Of The Committee Of The Whole, we are further convinced that this social and financial disaster dumped on the County Legislators and, more importantly, through them, onto the families and taxpayers of Westchester, will be the crucible that will expose the wrongful relationship between the executive and legislative branches of our County government; the willful short-circuiting of checks and balances and separation of powers that are supposed to exist in our democracy.

The ugly reality for Westchester families, particularly those struggling to pay their highest-in-the-nation property taxes while feeding, sheltering, and educating their children, is that the present county executive, now completing his 12th year in that office under the guidance of Larry Schwartz, several years ago succeeded in nullifying the independent will and power of the so-called County Legislature. Quite simply, that was accomplished by seizing control of the Democratic Party machinery, particularly the fundraising operation, and then distributing money, campaign contributions, to the candidates of Andy’s and Larry’s choosing for positions on the County Legislature.

In addition, they abused the appointment of legislators’ spouses, etc. to County jobs, and the granting of County contracts, where possible, without the use of bidding, thus completing the scheme. Essentially, Spano & Company have, for several years now, used our hard-earned tax dollars to buy themselves the most controlled, fundamentally corrupted legislature money could buy; 13 Democrats, every one of them beholden to the County Executive for campaign contributions, selection, and ‘getting out the vote’.

What a cynical scam all these years. Why have a county legislature at all if its nothing but a rubber stamp for what turns out to be a devious, inept administration; one which even attempted to rip off and deceive the federal government.

Witnessing the failure of the overwhelming majority of legislators present to voice objection to, or even identify the culprits, Andy Spano, Larry Schwartz, and their mouthpiece, Susan Tolchin, who was present, and who now arrogantly presents a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ proposition to them, was evidence enough of their all-too-willing co-conspiracy; one big happy family.

Consider the awesome power and control County Executive Andy Spano possesses. Not only does he control the District Attorney, who continues to look the other way, but also, for $1,000-a-week each, there’s nothing he hasn’t been able to get by his super-majority legislators; even a broken-down, mold-infested old building his buddies couldn’t pawn off on anyone else. Oh, what’s $20 million anyway? It’s only taxpayers’ money, after all. Now these legislators are confronted with a mess brought about by Spano & Company’s mismanagement, misappropriation, and deception; essentially an attempt to work a fraud against the federal government, for which they got caught, and for which taxpayers and homeowners will now be made to pay. If they were of the right frame of mind, as an autonomous, independent body of the People’s representatives, the legislators would have hired their own independent, outside counsel. The fact that they have failed to do so speaks volumes about their sincerity and their intention.

None of what is now occuring would be the case but for the bigger fraud Westchester voters have allowed Spano and his players to get away with for several years; one rigged election after another.

We think there is no better time than right now to rid our County of such political parasites, and all of their hack friends. It’s time to retire every single incumbent in County government now standing for re-election. They are all inter-connected, regardless of party, in a network of corruption that the honest, hard-working People of Westchester can no longer afford, and need to put an end to.

Our Readers Respond...

A Voice Of Wisdom From Yonkers

Dear Editor:

I am writing to urge registered Democrats, especially, to vote in the coming primary, and all in the November general election. All elected offices are important, but none currently exceed the importance of the District Attorney, in my opinion. I am a senior, and a woman, and I have been disturbed by a number of actions taken by the former District Attorney, Jeanine Pirro, and the current DA, Janet DiFiore. Jeff Deskovic, in his column, has reported that five of Jeanine Pirro’s convictions have been overturned in a higher court. I think it is likely there are many more as I am aware of a few myself. I have been told by a reliable source that close to 200 convictions need to be looked at in Westchester County from the past 20 years. That means many of those claiming innocence could actually be innocent and the real perpetrators still posing a threat to our citizens. Tony Castro has said he will take a second look at suspicious, weak, convictions.

He has also pledged to represent the rights and interests of all citizens, and has a record of integrity and excellence when serving as Assistant District Attorney in The Bronx. He supervised hundreds of ADAs, handling thousands of indictments per year, and, personally conducted homicide trials.

I believe much exculpatory data exists and continues to be withheld by DA Janet DiFiore. Only in Federal Court did Janet DiFiore admit 52 boxes and almost 400 pages of very exculpatory evidence were withheld in Anthony DiSimone’s case. Jeanine Pirro tried him, and Janet DiFiore tried to retry him despite the higher court decision. Janet DiFiore also seems confused on the good cop/bad cop score. She withholds information in the
Christopher Ridley shooting case that would point to impulsive, reckless action by one County cop, and possibly questionable action by others. But, she really shows her hand in Yonkers where she protected some brutal cops, and indicted their victims, some with severe injuries. She also has gone after some good cops who have dared to question her authority or her actions. Most Yonkers cops act professionally, but Commissioner Hartnett seems to have “a few stormtroopers” on staff.

I can’t help but think about the established fact that some 26 seals on voting machines were broken in Yonkers the last time we voted for DA in this County. Janet DiFiore won by only three percent of the vote over Tony Castro, and it was decided in Yonkers. Did the Yonkers Police have a part in this?

I suggest there should be a citizens’ watch over the building where the voting machines are held until the vote is made official; not only in Yonkers, but in any other community where the citizens believe there could be any tampering with their vote. Until power-hungry and/or corrupt district attorneys can be brought up on charges of prosecutorial misconduct and police officials charged for known compromising or coercive behavior on
suspects, Lady Justice will remain blind, all right, and the scales of justice weighted against the people.

Help vote for a real change. The primary is an essential step to breathing cleaner air in the County.

A Raging Granny In Yonkers Who Is A Former Probation Officer

Major Ethical Violations In Yorktown

Dear Editor:

Sometimes if you just listen, you can learn a lot. People have been stopping me all over town and I have just been listening. Many other people
have had their own personal “run-in” with our Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo. I am glad that some other brave souls have not been intimidated by his threats and have publicly come forward to discuss their disturbing experiences. More disturbing is that nothing has been done.

Therefore, I will be submitting a formal complaint to the Town Ethics Committee to have a formal investigation of the following issues:

1. Over and over we hear the story about bribes being taken by not only our Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, but also by
other Yorktown elected officials. Not only is nothing being done, but there are not even any Hollywood-type denials by these officials.

2. The Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, used town employees to help gather signatures on his petition for the Board of Elections. We are not talking about a few signatures. One employee got 90 signatures and another got 48. The total number required was only about 400. They got more than 25 percent of the required signatures. Isn’t there some Civil Service rule about town employees engaging in political activity?
Was this done during work time? Did they “volunteer”?

3. The Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, was driving around town in an unmarked police car, pulling people over. Is this just another part of his expanded duties as “Director of Labor Operations”? Or was he impersonating a police officer? I am going to try that and see what happens.

4. The Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, has red lights and sirens on his town vehicle. He uses it for his work as a county arson investigator.
Why is a Town Vehicle being used for that activity? Does the Town have any liability if something happens during a response? And someone is getting reimbursed for mileage during that activity. Who?

5. How many times did we read about the Highway Superintendent, Eric DiBartolo, giving no-bid contracts to his friends and family? As an isolated incident, maybe you can let it slide, but with all the rest of the activity, is there some pattern here?

These questions have been out there for months and all I hear is silence. I will be walking around town talking to people and I am sure I will hear more stuff. Stay tuned and maybe we will have some answers. It is time for the empire of Little Caesar to come to an end.

Peter Antonaros, Yorktown

Reader Appreciates The Guardian

Dear Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of The Westchester Guardian for providing the readers of Westchester County with material that they would not be able to find in any other publication.

Of particular interest is Richard Blassberg’s “The Court Report” with its reporting of court proceedings, and its reproduction of court documents,
which give our citizens an opportunity to observe and understand the actual operation of our judicial system.

I would also like to single out John Leo Tufts, Jr.’s “This Week In History,” from which I and other readers may supplement our knowledge of the history and traditions of our great country, and of its place in the history of the world.

I look forward to a long life of publication for The Westchester Guardian, and to many years of unique and informative weekly reporting.

Eugene Batizat, M.A., Yonkers

Reader Joins Health Insurance Debate

Dear Editor:

Regarding health care reform:

1. What percentage of one’s income should be spent on health insurance?

2. What additional percent of one’s income is one recommended to save for health care costs not covered by insurance? Must insurance
premiums be so high that one cannot afford to save for such costs?

3. Private insurance companies have adopted what is feared about a “public” insurance: restricted choice of doctors; gags on information about (or at least non-coverage of) “un-endorsed” treatments and methods; unaffordable premiums. On the one hand, what would be the advantage of a public option that mimics current private options? On the other hand, what advantage do the current easiest-to-learn-about private options have over a public option? Does not focusing on whether there should be a public option distract from specifics of what a health insurance package, public or private, should include?

4. What reason is there to agitate for or against “health care reform” before learning its planned specific details? Do the lawmakers voting on
it know the details? When will they be publicized? How will premiums be determined? Who will decide which treatments and procedures to declare “gold star”, to accept at all? In such decisions, how will human rights, science, commerce, ideology, and social engineering interplay?

Does the current package already contain or expect specific endorsements and, if so, what? Both people who fear ulterior motives and people
with ulterior motives need to know.

5. Is not mandatory health insurance, whether paid to the government or a private company, like a tax?

Jeanette Wolfberg,
Mount Kisco

Treat All Animals With Kindness

Dear Editor:

As a youngster, Christine spent much time with the chubby, happy, wiggly puppy her father gave her. But as Pepper grew into a big dog and Christine became a teenager preoccupied with other activities, Pepper was relegated to a lonely life outdoors, continually chained to a doghouse.

On the few occasions Christine visited the doghouse, Pepper “would go crazy with excitement and would still obey the commands I’d taught
him years before.”

One day, when Christine came home from college, Pepper was gone. Her father explained since nobody wanted to care for Pepper, Christine’s brother shot him.

Today, an adult, Christine is wracked with guilt. She has cried many times for Pepper and his sad life. She urges people to let their dogs live indoors, and to always exercise, love and protect them.

After reading Christine’s story in the Summer 2009 issue of PETA’s Animal Times, I hugged Lexi, my hound dog, and I thanked God for the opportunity to share my home with her and my two adopted hamsters.

Christine conveys an important message. And when we treat animals with kindness, we enrich our own lives as well as theirs.

Joel Freedman
Canandaigua, NY
The writer chairs the Public Education Committee of Animal Rights Advocates of upstate New York.

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