Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Publisher and staff of The Westchester Guardian are pleased to announce the addition of Catherine Wilson to our team.



Readers are already familiar with Ms. Wilson, formerly with the Reader’s Digest organization in Chappaqua for many years. She has been a frequent contributor and guest columnist in recent months; and she will be covering

major news stories from Northern Westchester as well and reinstating the Northern Westchester Roundup.



Mt. Pleasant Gears Up For Battle Over Tax-Exempt University Proposal



By Catherine Wilson, Northern Bureau Chief



In October of this year, the Legion Of Christ submitted a draft environmental impact study (DEIS)

to the town of Mt. Pleasant and interested agencies. This report can be found at www.rhbpc.com/current/

westchester_u_deis/cur_westchester_deis.htm. This latest report has raised many concerns for the citizens of Mt. Pleasant and the surrounding communities. The Legion is still proposing the development of a full university with academic buildings, dormitories, an athletic center, a student union, a theater, a library, a chapel and houses for

faculty members. But a lot of external conditions have changed since this university was first proposed in 1996.



Chief among the residents’ concerns are environmental issues. A spokesperson for the Citizens of Action for Mt. Pleasant (C.A.M.P.), Mary Hegarty, noted that part of the proposed site is within the New York City watershed for the Kensico dam. Ms. Hegarty further noted that the Legion site is also at the head waters of the Bronx River. Any development in Mt. Pleasant would impact neighbors downstream. New federal, state, and city laws affect the handling of storm water runoffs, an issue that would be impacted by any development at this site. Andy

Spano, on News12’s Newsmakers program, on November 18, voiced his concerns over development in our communities that impact surrounding neighborhoods, citing the flooding issues in Mamaroneck as an example. As C.A.M.P. members correctly point out, any major development in their town will affect the surrounding communities and beyond.



Mt. Pleasant residents are personally familiar with changing weather conditions created by global warming, having survived a tornado in their midst in July 2006. Rather than disturbing the Kensico and Bronx River watersheds, the C.A.M.P. members are proposing that the Legion adapt already existing facilities for use for their university to alleviate the stress on the environment that major new construction would impose. C.A.M.P. members have suggested the prior Fordham, Marymount college site in Tarrytown as a comparable and feasible alternative.



A spokesperson for the Legion, Mr. Jim Fair, stated that the Legion was not able to comment on alternative sites at this time. Equally concerning for the Town is the increased traffic that a large university would surely attract. The Legion’s site exits onto Columbus Avenue, less than two miles down the road from Valhalla High School – a County evacuation center for Indian Point. C.A.M.P. is concerned that, should a county evacuation be necessary, emergency vehicles and evacuation buses would be competing for road space on Columbus Avenue with thousands of cars exiting the Legion University. Lisa Barile, the founder of C.A.M.P., notes that any major development in Westchester must take into consideration the County’s evacuation plans; plans that were not in

existence in 1996 but that must be accommodated now.



While Mr. Fair noted that the Legion “will work with all appropriate agencies” in its planning, the DEIS submitted to the Town Board did not include copies to the Mt. Pleasant Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security.



Given the increased traffic, the established evacuation routes, and the proximity of the New York City water supply, C.A.M.P. believes that these agencies must be included in any reviews.



Indeed, the interest from some of these agencies is extremely high – New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is so concerned over any development to this watershed property that it has expressed its desire to purchase a portion of the property from the Legion. The National Trust for Public Land and the Westchester County Open Space Institute have both expressed an interest in preserving this land.



In the interim, over 160 acres of the property lies vacant and undeveloped. Local community leaders met with officials of the Legion in April 2006 asking for access to a portion of it – specifically access to soccer fields and a hiking path that the Legion had blocked. Mr. Fair confirmed that, to date, the requests from the community leaders were still “under consideration”. A previous request from the Mt. Pleasant school district to purchase a small parcel of land from the Legion has already been denied. The school district had hoped to purchase one acre of land that abutted its property to build a baseball field for the local high school. The Legion refused to sell the acre, forcing the school district to reconfigure its plans and lose out on acreage needed for a popular soccer program.



To date, the major battle between the Legion and the Town has been over property taxes with the Town ultimately losing its appeals before the New York State Courts. Robert Meehan, the Supervisor for the Town of Mt. Pleasant, estimates that the Town, County, and schools lose a combined $1.5 million in tax revenues per year from this site. Mr. Meehan notes that the town already has approximately 30% of its properties designated as tax-exempt, among them the Grasslands facilities (the Westchester County Medical Center and the County

Jail), several treatment facilities and colleges, as well as the more typical religious and non-profit agencies. Mr. Meehan estimates that Mt. Pleasant has one of the highest, if not the highest, proportion of tax-exempt facilities of any town in the County placing a considerable burden on Town services already.



The issue of the Residents of Mt Pleasant vs. the Proposed Westchester University is one that concerns all Westchester County residents. A loss of tax revenue to Mt. Pleasant is a loss of revenue to all County residents since part of the $1.5 million annual shortfall is County taxes. County taxpayers would also bear some of the financial burden for the increased demand for services that a new university would surely create. As County Executive Spano noted earlier this month, any major development in one of our communities should be reviewed to determine its impact upon other County residents. While Mr. Spano was specifically referring to environmental impacts, the County, and its residents, must also be concerned with the financial and logistical impact any large developments would have on the County overall. The construction of a major university in Mt. Pleasant

would permanently remove a large parcel of land from the County tax coffers. It would increase demand for services, affect the environment, and impede emergency evacuation routes. As such, the Legion’s proposal for a major tax-exempt university in our midst demands the attention of every County resident.



The next hearing for the Legion proposal is scheduled for 8:00 p.m., Thursday, December 6 at the Town of Mt. Pleasant Town Hall, Columbus Avenue, Valhalla. Further information may be obtained at 914-742-2300 or at www.mtpleasantny.com.



In Our Opinion...



Community Loses A Great Friend



We first met Barrett Hickman in February of 1970. We were having a zoning problem with the Town of Southeast, and he was recommended by our lawyer who was unable to represent us due to a conflict of interest. I was immediately impressed with Barrett’s gentle, soft-spoken manner, and his genuine interest in our problem with the town regarding our home for disabled veterans.



Barrett was a town justice in Carmel at the time, and practicing law with the firm of Kent, Hazzard in White Plains. He was a local fellow, whose dad, Sam Hickman, had been Carmel Town Supervisor many years earlier and was now operating a well-known general store on the shores of Lake Gleneida. Barrett loved to sing and,

in fact, had performed with the popular Sixties group Up With People.



As an attorney, Barrett was not a particularly aggressive sort. He preferred to give everyone the opportunity to have their say; then appealing to reason and decency, softly stated his position. As a town justice, and particularly as a Family Court Judge, he enjoyed a reputation for fairness and compassion.



Barrett served briefly as Putnam County District Attorney, elected in 1976. But, his real calling was the bench. He had the true judicial temperament, and stood successfully for election to County Court in 1979. Those who appeared before him had nothing but fine things to say about him. He was a caring jurist and people responded to it.



In 1986 he was elected to State Supreme Court, where he served until his retirement four years ago at age 74. Perhaps the trial he is best remembered for occurred in 1997 when he was appointed to preside over the defamation action brought against Al Sharpton and attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, by Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones. The civil action grew out of charges levelled against the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office by a 15-year-old Black girl named Tawana Brawley.



The case was tried in Poughkeepsie. One evening, while it continued over several weeks, We had the occasion to meet attorney Maddox at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Having just entered law school, We were keenly interested in the trial. Speaking with Maddox for about 15 minutes, We told him that no matter what the outcome of the trial might be, We were confident that neither he nor his co-defendants would have any appealable issues because Judge Hickman was just so decent and so fair. As it turned out, the trial had many difficult moments; outbursts and actions that might have frustrated another judge. But Barrett Hickman, polite, soft-spoken, but firm as he had always been, saw the trial through to a peaceful and reasonable conclusion. And, as We predicted,

there were no appeals.



Barrett Hickman, a true son of Putnam County, equally well-known in Westchester, will be missed by many who knew and loved him - his quick wit, his ready smile, and his willingness to lend an ear, and a hand, when needed.



The last time We spoke with Barrett was two years ago, at a function in Northern Westchester. He was retired from the Bench and enjoying a Sunday afternoon at the flea market, sporting a big smile, and as affable as ever.



Thanks For Your Sentiments



Dear Editor:



I have a great deal of respect for your paper even if I sometimes think you might be stretching a point or two beyond where it should go. However, the point is that you are willing to take a stand and you do it courageously.



I also respect the fact that your correspondents represent a broad spectrum of the Westchester landscape: Black, Hispanic, White, Christian, Jew, and I find that rare and noteworthy.



Now to Ms.Camacho. I think she is onto something and I would ask her to get Ms. Calderon and others to go into the Hispanic Communities and provide the support and representation these fine people need and deserve. I am a 71-year-old White male who has pretty much been through it all: military, academic, business leader, non-profit and currently, a volunteer for the good Ursuline Sisters at the Adult Learning Center in New Rochelle. My students are all from the Hispanic community; simple hardworking men and women from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, etc. who work hard, raise families and still find the time to try to learn a language and culture.



They remind me of my Celtic and Gallic forefathers; hard-working and willing to live the American dream. Yet, according to some yahoos in Port Chester, they have to “wait their turn.” Bull! They are contributors and don’t need and shouldn’t have a Black or White man or woman known or seen as their “representative.” I am sick of hearing and reading about the passivity of Latino leaders and clergy as well --- happy that at least African Americans got a seat at the table. Yes, that’s fine, but not at the expense of the burgeoning and hard working Latino adults who deserve to shape their destiny a little more.



The Black community is the new “White community” in many ways. They are more institutionalized and in the past 50 or so years they have not been afraid to make noise to be heard. Ms. Camacho alleges that perhaps something wasn’t quite right in the Board of Elections Certification. She probably is right. I know she is right about St. Paul, he is a tool of the McLaughlin/Spady faction and is simply interested in advancing a specific agenda. The limousine liberals in the city will not confront on this so you can expect the latino community

to slip even further back. If you scratch enough backs you will find a rationale that Ms. Camacho has not touched upon yet --- the fear or allocation by segments of the community who see Latinos as undocumented

and possibly even a risk to more than employment.



Come on, Ms. Camacho, get a hold of Ms. Calderon, Mr. Lopez, Ms. Hernandez and others and demand to be heard. Let this paper begin by printing out the names of the Port Chester Board of Trustees and others who made the decision to appoint Adams and Kenner. Put pressure on Lafayette and Sutherland to state unequivocally the process they followed in certifying the results and find out whether any citizen, perhaps Lopez himself can examine the ballot boxes, etc. to satisfy himself.



Before most, probably all, of you were born, an American President, John F. Kennedy, went to Berlin and told the citizens that, on that day, “Ich Bin Ein Berliner.” His German lacked focus, but his heart and soul did not. Today, focus or not, “Yo Soy Latino” Keep up the good work Westchester Guardian. We are fortunate

to have your voice in our community.



Warren D. Gross



Reader’s Strong Indictment of Mayor Noam Bramson



Dear Editor:



It seems to me after hearing Mayor Noam Bramson of New Rochelle discuss Echo Bay on WVOX last Tuesday, that he has his head in the sand. The once-Queen City’s grandiose plans of development has cost it its soul. How dare the mayor talk of developing Echo Bay without first confirming for his constituents that the area is perfectly safe? How dare he continue promoting the twenty-fiveyear-old Renewal Plan directly on a “State Superfund Site”? How dare he move the city yard, pay consultants, or tempt citizens with a vision of a viable waterfront when, in reality, he has not even once considered the ramifications of his actions.



A man serving in such a high position is ultimately responsible to the people he serves. Until he takes his head from the sand he is only a “water boy” for the lying purveyors of the pollution. Only when he allows his own children to play and fish there as mine and others’ did in PCB’s and dioxins (AGENT ORANGE) can he promote his plan. May God have mercy on his soul. We can all see what has happened to the Queen.





Frank Mancuso



Feiner Reviews Innovative Approach to High Property Taxes





To the Editor



During the past year taxes at every level of government has gone up. The County Executive just announced a tax hike. Town, village school & fire districts have also been increasing taxes annually. These tax hikes are forcing people to vote with their feet --they are moving out of Westchester.



I suggest that the NYS Legislature authorize local governments, school districts to provide residents with the opportunity to work off part of their property taxes. In Boston there is a program called the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work Off program.



Seniors are able to reduce their taxes by up to $750 in property tax relief in exchange for volunteer service to the community. This is helpful to seniors who are house rich and cash poor. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said. Seniors benefit by a reduction in their annual tax payment. The city benefits by the help of experienced

volunteers.



Property taxes are a major problem for senior citizens. This concept also helps seniors who don’t meet requirements for existing elder property tax exemptions. Departments (such as the library) with a need for additional volunteers would be able to benefit from program. Retirees could teach classes at schools.



Boston is not the only Massachusetts community that has this program. Townsend lets its qualifying seniors earn $500, while Newton seniors can erase up to $750.



Other major cities have sponsored similar programs in the past. In 1976, Hartford enacted a property tax work-off measure that extended beyond senior citizens. In Connecticut’s capital, any resident who was unemployed or with a property tax bill greater than 10 percent of their annual income could work off up to the entire property tax burden, according to a 1981 report in The New York Times.



While the Hartford program did not set age requirements, within five years, 70 percent of participants were age 50 or older. When I was a student in the late 1970s I urged the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees to adopt such a program. The Scarsdale Village Board approved the plan but the NY State Legislature never authorized such a program.



I will be organizing a county-wide lobbying effort so that this program can be offered to residents at the county, municipal and school levels. If you are interested in being part of a lobbying initiative, please contact me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com.



Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor

The Advocate

Richard Blassberg


The “Super Majority” Problem

As a result of the recent County-wide elections, the Democratic majority on the 17-member County Legislature, which had been 11 and 6, has been extended to 13 and 4, a situation which provides a “super majority”, even if one Democrat should be absent, decide to abstain, or vote in opposition to any proposal which might require more than a clear majority for passage. is circumstance is particularly troublesome given the 10-year history of the present County Executive, Andy Spano, and his Puppeteer Deputy Larry Schwartz.

As anyone in the County workforce, now approaching five thousand public employees, is well aware, Mr. Schwartz is, and always has been, a ‘control freak’ whose paternalistic, almost oppressive, approach, that
declares “We know what’s best for you; you will do as we say,” offends most. His insistence that those homeless individuals, some of whom once occupied the former Drop-In Shelter at the County Airport, and then at 85 Court Street in White Plains, be forced to enter into County programs and regimens in order to be given a cot to lie down at the Warm-Up Centers, or else be made to sleep in a chair, is not “tough love” as Andy Spano prefers to characterize it. It’s simply hard-hearted, “my way or the highway” politics.

The fact is, nearly every one of the 13 Democrats now sitting in the County Legislature is obligated to Larry Schwartz, having accepted both ‘hard’ and ‘soft ’ - - financial campaign support, as well as behind-the-scenes
political maneuvering and manipulation of minor political parties, from Larry. Additionally, the County Democratic
Committee has been held hostage by Larry through Reggie LaFayette, who has no business being both Democratic County Chair and Democratic County Election Commissioner, at the same time. While that arrangement may not be illegal, it is certainly unethical.

It was this same individual, Reggie, who was directly involved in the betrayal of Tony Castro in 2001 and 2005, the betrayal of Andrea Stewart-Cousins in 2004, and the fixing of Andy Spano’s race with a “stand-in republican opponent”, Larry Horowitz, just to name a few election manipulations. And, what about the legitimatizing of Mike Spano’s and Janet DiFiore’s “deeply-felt” conversions to the Democratic Party? It’s hard to imagine how Larry, Andy and Reggie could give them any more support as Democrats than they already gave them as Republicans! Who in Hell are Larry Schwartz and Andy Spano anyway to speak for a couple of hundred thousand registered Westchester Democrats, the majority of whom voted against these opportunistic turncoats in the first place? In effect, Larry and company are telling Tony Castro and Shelley Mayer, “get lost.”

Where is the leadership in the Democratic Party of Westchester? Sadly, it would appear limited to a very few; those with principle and character enough to stand up to Larry’s tyrannical control; Clinton Young, Paul Feiner and Dennis Robertson and their running mates. They, and others like them, deserve the support of rank and file Democrats.

Now is not the time for County residents of any political persuasion to be burying their heads while Larry Schwartz gives away tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to mob-connected carters and contractors the City of New York is forbidden to do business with. It shouldn’t take the United States Attorney and the F.B.I. to step
in to protect the interests of taxpayers and citizens of Westchester from their County government; a County government now effectively stripped of checks and balances, with no separation of powers. Unlike state government, where, in addition to the Executive and the Legislative branches, there are also the Attorney General, and the Comptroller, each of whom are capable, empowered, and quite willing to scrutinize, nullify, and prosecute, if necessary, the unlawful activities of the Executive.

The only office of County government to oversee and prosecute such unlawful activity, the Office of the District Attorney, unfortunately for many years, has been incestuously wedded to the County Executive’s Office, as well as to rogue Police brass and rogue Judges. Well-documented complaints with compelling evidence by rank and file police against high-ranking officers, are routinely rejected by the District Attorney’s Office, which prefers instead to suborn perjury against the complainants. The case trumped up against Police Officer Ralph Tancredi, President of the Harrison PBA in retaliation for his actions against Chief Hall’s, and Captain Marriccini’s, criminal
conduct, and the misguided prosecutorial misconduct of the Westchester DA’s Office in that case, is but one
clear example of why a broad federal probe is now absolutely necessary.

It is never a healthy situation in any jurisdiction when one political party is in total control as is now the case in Westchester County Government, particularly where the press and media have been historically culpable in their abject failure to fulfill their First Amendment mandate to inform and protect citizens.

Janet Difiore.

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

The Wheels Of Justice Continue To Turn For Richard DiGuglielmo
Westchester County Court, White Plains
Judge Rory J. Bellantoni Presiding


Last Monday morning, November 19, the twice-postponed Post-Dispositional Evidentiary Hearing, scheduled by County Court Judge Rory Bellantoni in response to the 440.10 Application of Richard DiGuglielmo, presently serving a 20-year-to-life sentence for the Depraved Indifference Murder of Charles Campbell, got underway.

One of the more controversial and improbable outcomes in a long series of suspect prosecutions under the 12-year reign of former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, herself the subject of a federal investigation, the conviction of New York City Transit Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo for the killing of a bat-wielding assailant who was beating the of-ficer’s father, has defied legal sensibility for more than a decade.

Many have recognized the prosecution as one of political opportunity for Pirro, who tried the October 3, 1996 tragedy in the press for a whole year, employing the services of ‘rabble-rouser’ Al Sharpton, and paid busloads of pickets, the entire time before coming to trial, just before running for re-election in November 1997.

Officer DiGuglielmo, his middle-aged father, and his brother-in-law, were all acquitted of Second Degree Assault. Additionally, Officer DiGuglielmo was acquitted of Second Degree Intentional Murder; but, through a series of incorrect jury instructions, and twisted and turned witness testimony, he was convicted under the theory of Depraved Indifference Murder, a crime for which he could not be convicted today.

One of the witnesses, Michael Dillon, then 20, who immediately following the incident, told Channel 4 News, “You see your father getting beat with a bat; you’re going to do something about it. So it was self-defense from where I saw it.” That witness gave sworn statements to investigators for defendant DiGuglielmo, more than a year ago, that are the basis for the present 440.10 Motion before Bellantoni. Those statements, that allege that
between his first statement to Dobbs Ferry Police the evening of October 3, 1996, in which he described an act of self-defense, and his last statement, given in the wee hours of October 8, there were at least two other interrogations by that police department, involving harrassment by two or more officers coming to his job and
taking him in the back of a marked police car to Dobbs Ferry Police Headquarters for several hours of interrogation, three nights in a row, until he changed his account to one that satisfied their needs.

Prior to the commencement of testimony, Judge Bellantoni ruled on an informal request by the Rivertowns Enterprise Newspaper to use a camera and recording device in the courtroom, denying it. The Judge then declared, “We are here today to take the testimony from Mr. Michael Dillon as to whether there was any
undue influence exerted on him between his first and last statements.”

Attorney Andrew Schapiro, of the law firm Mayer, Brown in New York City, who has been Mr. DiGuglielmo’s pro bono attorney for more than eight years, called his first witness, Michael Dillon, now 31, to the stand.

Schapiro inquired, “Mr. Dillon, on October 3, 1996, did you have the occasion to sign a statement?” Dillon responded, “Yes.” Schapiro then asked, “On October 7, 1996, did you have the occasion to again sign a statement?” Dillon replied, “Yes.” Schapiro then asked, “Was that statement accurate?” The witness
answered, “No.”

After establishing that Dillon had given an interview immediately following the incident, to Channel 4 Television News, and voir diring the videotape containing a clip from the interview of October 3, 1996, that tape was played and viewed by everyone in the courtroom, including some 2 dozen family, friends and supporters of DiGuglielmo on one side of the courtroom and an equal number of same for the family of decedent Charles Campbell, on the other.

Following the tape, Mr. Schapiro asked Dillon to read from the statement he gave to Dobbs Ferry Police on October 3, 1996, shortly after the shooting. Describing Officer DiGuglielmo’s actions, he read, “When he reached to within three or four feet of him, the Black male was still swinging the bat.”

Schapiro asked, “Did the police question you again?” The witness said, “Yes.” Schapiro continued, “How did you learn they were looking for you?” Dillon responded, “They showed up at my job.”

Schapiro probed deeper, “Did you go anywhere with the police?”

Dillon answered, “Yes, to the police precinct in Dobbs Ferry.” Asked how long he was questioned for, Mr. Dillon estimated about two hours. He went on to explain that the Dobbs Ferry Police showed up three more times at his job, each time reporting the same scenario, each time transporting him in the back of a police car, essentially handling him like a suspect rather than a witness. He described the police interrogations as an “intimidating atmosphere.”

He acknowledged that family members, his father, his older sister “thought the Dobbs Ferry Police Department’s behavior toward him was strange.” Bringing out a copy of the last of several statements taken from him by the
police, attorney Schapiro asked Dillon, “The October 7, 1996 statement, was that in your words?” Dillon responded, “No.”

At this point, Assistant District Attorney Timothy Ward sought to voir-dire on the statement, which was actually produced after many hours of interrogation at about 1am October 8, 1996. Granted permission by the Judge to proceed, Ward asked Dillon to read the entire statement to himself and then, upon the witness’ completion of the task, Ward asked, “Any words added or subtracted by Dobbs Ferry Police?” Dillon answered, “No.” Ward then asked, “At the bottom where it says deponent, did you sign that?” Dillon responded, “Yes.”

Schapiro who now continued his direct examination asked, “Is this statement in your own words?” The witness answered, “No.” Going further, Schapiro got specific, “What does this statement say about whether the bat was swinging?” Dillon responded, “It says he was not swinging the bat.”

Attorney Schapiro then asked, “How did you feel about that?” The response from Dillon was, “I was feeling intimidated and tired.” Schapiro then asked, “Are you nervous today?” Dillon answered, “Extremely.”

Schapiro: “Do you want to be here?”

Dillon: “No.”

Schapiro: (Referring to an investigator for the Defense) “A er you signed a statement for Mr. Duno, did anyone from the DA’s office show up at your home in Harrison?”

Dillon: “Yes. DA investigator Ed Murphy, with a gentleman I don’t know.”

Dillon then described going to the DA’s Office and going over the October 8, 1996 statement for one and a half hours.

Mr. Schapiro now produced the e-mail that Dillon sent to Defense Investigator Duno following that meeting at the DA’s Office with Assistant DA Ward, Investigator Murphy, and another DA attorney.

ADA Ward immediately objected to exposure of the e-mail, but was overruled by Judge Bellantoni. Ward then began to voir-dire with, “You were concerned...” at which point Bellantoni asked, “Are you going to voire-dire or cross-examine him?” Ward immediately backed off and discontinued his line of questioning.

Mr. Dillon now told the Court that he felt intimidated at his August 11 meeting with Ward and Murphy at the Westchester District Attorney’s Office, amongst other reasons, because Mr. Ward had asked him if he was sure he wanted to get reinvolved in the case given that “in 1996 it was a race issue, and I would be opening myself up again.”


ADA Ward now began his cross-examination of witness Michael Dillon, attempting to soften the impact of what Dillon had just accused him of doing at the August 11 meeting. Ward asked, “Do you remember who was at that meeting with you at the DA’s office in August?” Dillon answered, “You and Mr. Murphy, and another person.”

There followed several questions designed to shake Dillon from his certainty and his feelings toward what had occurred on August 11, but the witness held firm. Finally, getting nowhere with his line of questioning, Ward asked, “Do you know why you are here today?” Dillon said, “Yes.” Ward challenged, “Why are you here?”
Dillon shot back, “To tell the truth.”

It was now 1pm, and Mr. Ward was grateful to break for lunch. As matters turned out, the hearing did not resume after lunch because of an unexpected intervening event precipitated by Administrative Judge Frances
Nicolai.

Analysis:


The hearing into recent statements by Michael Dillon, key witness in the trial of Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo in 1997, alleging that the statement he gave at trial that coincided with the last of five consecutive statements extracted from him by the Dobbs Ferry Police was not accurate as regarded what he actually witnessed, and initially reported, concerning the conduct of bat-wielding assailant Charles Campbell on the evening of October 3, 1996 and Defendant DiGuglielmo’s response to him, was called for in response to the 440.10 Motion brought by attorneys for Mr. DiGuglielmo more than a year ago.

Mr. Dillon is not the only witness or potential trial witness who has indicated that the Dobbs Ferry Police engaged in unlawful intimidation and witness-turning in a “full court press” effort to get statements and testimony for trial that would support the confabulated version of events by Jeanine Pirro in her effort to turn a clear case of self-defense, a justifiable homicide, into a bias crime simply because the enraged assailant was a Black man. the so-called “Deli Case”, much like the “Strike Zone” case, involving Anthony DiSimone, are two of the more well-known and egregious examples of Mrs. Pirro’s “prosecutions of political opportunity.”

It is most unfortunate that, once again, Mrs. Pirro’s successor sees fit to defend the extreme prosecutorial misconduct that resulted in Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo’s conviction based upon false testimony, in reality, suborned perjury, just as in the case of Anthony DiSimone, who was released from prison earlier this year, on a Writ of Habeus Corpus from Federal Court when the Westchester DA was compelled, seconds before a similar evidentiary hearing in Federal Court, to acknowledge that she was withholding 376 pages and 52 boxes of exculpatory material, including a confession by the actual killer, of Louis Balancio Jr. in 1994.


Northern Westchester RoundUp

Compiled by Catherine Wilson


Chappaqua:

Greeley High School students walked out of school in protest against a proposed class schedule change for the 2008-2009 school year.

Cortlandt Manor:

The Section 1 Boys Soccer Coaches Association hosted the annual recognition dinner for county coaches and players. Awards were given for All-Section and Honorable Mention players, League MVP’s, and League Coaches of the Year.

Katonah:


Republican Andrew Saul, vice Chairman of the M.T.A., drops out of Congressional race against Democrat John Hall Mount Kisco:

The town of Mt. Kisco is seeking to purchase property owned by the Rene Dubos Center that abuts Byram Lake. The New York State Supreme Court just ruled that the Center may not sell this land for development. Mt. Kisco is hoping to preserve the property as open space.


Ossining:
Anne Trovato, convicted of killing her mother, Ossining schoolteacher Patricia Mery, has acknowledged that the father of her four-year old daughter is a local fight promoter, Ronnie Kerner.

Valhalla:


Local community groups and doctors are protesting the use of live dogs for lab courses at the New York Medical College.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Our Readers Respond...

A Soldier Remembering His Injured Comrades

Dear Editor:

You have all been very supportive of me while I was away in Iraq. Since Veteran’s Day has just
passed and the Holiday Season is quickly coming upon us, here is an idea which will bring happiness
to our families and to our injured men and women who have served in Iraq as well other battle fields for
freedom.

Please, when making out your Holiday cards this year, make out an extra one and send it to the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Hospital
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special
people who have sacrificed so much would get.

First Lt. Andrew Schaarf

Editor’s Note: Lieutenant Andrew Schaarf, United States Army, who just returned from a tour
of duty in Iraq, is the nephew of Westchester’s own Maureen Keating Tsuchiya, our late Bureau Chief
and tireless advocate for the disabled.

In Our Opinion....

A Thanksgiving Day Message

We, at the Westchester Guardian, would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all of our loyal readers who look forward to sharing the news, and our thoughts, each week. As many of you have lately come to realize, that very special relationship which we have now enjoyed for some 68 weeks, can never be taken for granted.

As We have discovered through our own recent sad experience with the Mayor, and City of Yonkers, there are those in government who have little, or no, respect for the First Amendment; perhaps viewing it as a roadblock to their absolute control and ambitions. Nevertheless, our Founding Fathers were very determined when they made the guarantee of Freedom of Speech, the first of ten Amendments to the Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

Those founding framers of what we still believe is the greatest democracy on earth, were so concerned with every aspect of one’s ability to freely express their thoughts and ideas, that they specifically identified Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press, as well as the Rights of Assembly and Petition.

Over the years, and clearly within our adult lifetimes, we have witnessed the price paid by journalists all over the globe, for exercising such rights. Daniel Pearl was one such dedicated individual, as were the five Australian journalists killed 32 years ago in East Timor by the Indonesian military, as were so many journalists who have lost their lives covering the Iraq conflict The blood of men and women who have struggled to expose the truth everywhere must never be forgotten anywhere.

And so, on this thanksgiving Day, We are reminded of all We are thankful for, particularly the guarantee of freedom to ply our profession, granted by our Forefathers, and entrusted to our practice and preservation.
The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Too Big For Their Britches

In the summer of 2002, The National Enquirer brought out a commemorative magazine to mark the first anniversary of 9/11. The publication, essentially an opportunity for politicians and other not-so-recognizable individuals, to garner sympathy and accolades for their supposed roles immediately following the destruction of the World Trade Center, sold for $5.95 on some newsstands, and was not a big seller.

In it, Jeanine Pirro, still District Attorney of Westchester, but somewhat dented by Tony Castro’s near-miss a year earlier and Al’s imprisonment for their joint tenyear tax fraud, took the opportunity in her usual sociopathic fashion, to concoct a mostly fictitious story about having “stuck by her station”, working as a dedicated public servant on September 11, 2001, well into the night, even though her daughter, Christine, a student at the Rye Country Day School, was supposedly on a school trip, not merely to Washington, D.C., but to the Pentagon, of all places.

In point of fact, Christine Pirro was on a trip to Washington, D.C. with 92 other students, including the twins of headmaster Scott Nelson as well as 12 chaperones. In point of fact, they never got further south than Delaware, and were in no danger at any time. And, the Pentagon was not their destination.

In Pirro’s fiction, she made it appear that all day long, and into the evening of September 11, 2001, she had no knowledge of whether her daughter and some 100 youngsters and chaperones, were safe, or possibly at the Pentagon when it was struck by one of the terrorist-commandeered planes; but, nevertheless, diligently provided
constituent services and assistance. She told the writer of the fluff piece that she had no knowledge of her daughter’s circumstances until she “reached her friend, Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik”, who got back to her and assured her the kids were all okay.

That totally fictitious piece made one fact very clear as early as the summer of 2002. Jeanine Pirro knew she could tell a huge, preposterous lie and Bernie Kerik would swear to it. Judith Regan was likely not the only woman Kerik was entertaining in that Battery Park apartment intended as a resting place for World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers.

Why wouldn’t Jeanine and Bernie have a special relationship? After all, they shared so much in common. Each was a larger-than-life law enforcement icon. Each had mastered the art of self-promotion, rising to the heights of celebrity, aiming for higher, possibly federal, office; neither worried about the innocent victims they rolled over to get to where they needed to go. They were untouchable!

In 2004, D.A. Pirro steered $47,000-worth of business to Bernie Kerik and his partner, Rudy Giuliani, engaged in the security business. Pirro, as a plea-bargained condition, compelled the A&P Supermarket chain which had had several sales of alcohol to minors, to give a no-bid contract to Kerik and Giuliani’s company for acting
as a Private Sector Inspector General, commissioned to monitor the food giant’s policies for restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors.

Following his arraignment, two weeks ago, on a 16-count federal indictment, Kerik’s appearance and statement outside the Federal Courthouse in White Plains, was very reminiscent of Jeanine’s, at the time of her husband Al’s trial for their joint massive tax fraud in June of 2000. Each attacked the United States Attorney: Pirro
castigating MaryJo White for bringing a case against her husband, and Bernie expressing his “disappointment” with Michael Garcia for bringing the case against him.

Each is arrogant, believing they are above the law. Kerik’s expression of “disappointment” that the United States Attorney had “decided to go forward,” in light of the seriousness of his crimes, suggests that he thought he qualified for special treatment.

Rudy Giuliani is another former law enforcer who believes he is above the law. Like Kerik and Pirro, he, too, believes that all of the hype and celebrity immunizes them from the necessity to comply with the law, and from any consequences should they be caught violating it. Consider Giuliani’s remark following Kerik’s arraignment:

“Any mistakes Mr. Kerik made were outweighed by his successes in fighting crime.” Mistakes? The word ‘mistakes’ cannot be substituted for the word ‘crimes’ except in the minds of people who believe that they are not subject to the consequences of breaking the law. And, while it is true that breaking the law is probably always a mistake, mere admission of having made a mistake does not absolve a lawbreaker from the lawful consequences, the prescribed punishment the lawbreaker was aware of when he elected to violate the law.
Bernie Kerik, 52, is a classic “bad boy”, both in his professional and personal dealings, but one whose charm and larger-than-life persona have gotten him entry where few individuals with so little in the way of formal education and a relatively brief, if somewhat highly touted, history as a New York City police officer, would have gone. His flamboyant lifestyle and his need for cash to support that persona made him very vulnerable, personally
too needy, and all too willing to trade on his position and his contacts.

Loans and renovations amounting to more than a quarter of a million dollars compromised his and the interests of the people he was sworn to protect. Much like his buddies, Jeanine Pirro and Rudy Giuliani, he was, and still is, all about himself.

In reality, Kerik has gone through an awful lot of money. As an employee/partner of Giuliani’s security enterprise, Kerik earned $500,000/year. As a member of the board of directors at Taser International, he made more than $5 million selling stock options in the firm. Now, he is publicly pleading for donations to his Legal Defense Fund. How does he believe he is perceived? Does he not realize that he is now seen for the common criminal that he truly is?

At the press conference, held by United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia, moments prior to Kerik’s arraignment, I asked Mr. Garcia, “Given that the locus of the crimes that Mr. Kerik is charged with was in New York City and places south of here (White Plains) and yet the indictment was handed up by a grand jury in White Plains, is it reasonable to assume that there is some nexus, some connection, with Jeanine Pirro and his contacts with her?”

Mr. Garcia responded, “No assumption can be drawn from that fact. We are opening this sealed indictment at this time.”

That answer, with the emphasis on the word ‘this’, spoke volumes to all who heard it, and who understand the nature of the dance between a defendant, such as Jeanine Pirro, and federal prosecutors.

Assistant District Attorney David Cardona said it all with, “The only acceptable level of corruption in a public official is zero.”

Ironically, those crimes for which Jeanine Pirro has, no doubt, already been indicted, notwithstanding her once chief detractor, now turned defense attorney, William Aaronwald’s protestations to the contrary, will not, when revealed, be the offenses for which she most deserves to go to prison. Those evil misdeeds for which Jeanine Pirro needs most to serve time in prison, involve her multiple acts of prosecutorial misconduct, including, but not limited to: the subornation of perjury, the intimidation and twisting of witnesses, and the tampering with evidence, not to mention the constant withholding of Brady material in scores of malicious, self-promoting, prosecutions of
innocent individuals merely because she could; and, because dozens of assistant DAs in her office were willing to sell their souls for two pay checks a month.

United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Calabresi said of her misconduct in the Anthony DiSimone case that involved 376 pages and 52 boxes of exculpatory information, “In 12 years, on this Court, I have never seen such a Brady violation.”

Federal prosecutors need to understand that we are speaking about Jeanine Pirro, a district attorney whose knowing prosecutorial misconduct arranged for the kidnapping of Jing Kelly’s infant son; sent a 12-year New York City Transit Police Officer to prison for 20-years-to-life for saving his father’s life from a bat-wielding
assailant; sent a school teacher to prison for a juvenile sodomy that never occurred; sent a New Rochelle police officer to prison for eight years for a robbery and assault during which he was asleep; and who, no fewer than six times, prevented Jeffrey Deskovic from leaving prison for a crime she knew conclusively he didn’t commit; merely a few of the scores of cruel and intentional injustices and violations of human rights that remain unrectified in the wake of her 12-year Reign of Terror.
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Guardian Seeks Permanent Injunction Against Amicone And The City of Yonkers
Guardian News v. Amicone
United States Federal District Court, White Plains
Judge Charles L. Brieant, Presiding


Last Tuesday and Wednesday, November 13 and 14, in United States District Court in White Plains, Plaintiff Guardian News Corporation, parent of The Westchester Guardian newspaper, in a trial presided over by Judge Charles L. Brieant, sought a permanent injunction against Mayor Philip Amicone and the City of Yonkers, restraining them from any further acts in violation of the First Amendment with respect to the newspaper.

Guardian News was represented by attorney Jonathan Lovett, of Lovett & Gould, White Plains, and the Defendants by Kevin Plunkett and Darius Chafizedeh, of the law firm Thatcher, Proffitt & Wood, LLP, also of White Plains.

The trial got underway at 10:30am Tuesday as Mr. Plunkett advised Judge Brieant, “There’s a few items before we begin, Your Honor. Firstly, Plaintiffs have withdrawn their claim for damages, with prejudice, and signed a stipulation. Secondly, there’s some discovery issues, and we would move to have this matter dismissed as we believe it is moot; the relief offered by the Court was accorded.”

Judge Brieant responded, “I understand that it’s only a temporary order.”

Attorney Plunkett came right back, “We contend that the City has honored and complied with the relief requested.”

Brieant then defined the limits of the proceedings, “All we are trying is the Plaintiff ’s prayer for permanent relief.”

Plunkett then suggested, “The parties can agree to the terms of a permanent injunction,” obviously attempting to avoid a trial. The judge responded with, “I have been trying to get the parties to agree for several days now.” To
which Mr. Plunkett came back with, “The only issue for us is what they can, and cannot, do at City Hall.”

At this point, Mr. Lovett entered the discussion with, “Your Honor, we have had numerous sessions without agreement.”

Judge Brieant then offered to allow the attorneys a few minutes to see if they could come to agreement, and left the court room. Returning about ten minutes later, he observed, “No talking seems to be going on,” and the trial was almost underway, save for one last issue.

The Defense apparently did not wish this reporter to continue in that function at the trial, for whatever reason, and suggested that I might be called, by them, as a witness. To that maneuver, Judge Brieant responded with, “The Plaintiff can designate one agent.” Mr. Lovett then stated, “We want Mr. Blassberg to be that agent,
because if he is excluded...”

The Judge broke in with, “All the witnesses, other than the designated agent, will be excluded.” At which point, several witnesses, seated in the back of the court room, retired to the corridor and the trial was underway.

Attorney Lovett said, “I’ve subpoenaed a number of officials and employees. I call my first witness, Selim Zherka.”

Mr. Zherka was asked to identify his relationship to the Guardian News Corp.

He responded, “I’m President and sole shareholder of the Guardian News, sole owner of The Westchester Guardian.”

Following a question regarding how the newspapers are distributed to the paper’s newsracks, Mr. Lovett then placed issues, beginning with August 10, 2006 through June 28, 2007, before Zherka for identification, and placement into evidence before the Court. Lovett then asked, “What, if any, problems (with distribution
in Yonkers) were there before July 5, 2007?” Zherka responded, “We didn’t have any.”

Lovett then brought forward the July 5, 12, 19, 26 and August 2, 9, 16 and 23 issues as numbered exhibits, and asked, “With respect to these exhibits, did anything change?” Zherka answered, “Yes.”

Lovett now said, “Please explain.” Mr. Zherka proceeded to tell the Court what had occurred the day after one of his employees, Richard Guzman, had brought the July 5 issue to the counter at Yonkers City Hall. Lovett then inquired, “Following those events, did anything happen with respect to distribution in Yonkers?”

Mr. Zherka described bringing a distribution box to the lobby in City Hall, and installing it, filled with newspapers, only to find shortly thereafter that the box, and its contents, were gone. He then explained placing a second, and ultimately a third, box, each time near a rack in Yonkers City Hall containing other newspapers, and, each time returning shortly thereafter to find that the box, and the newspapers, had been removed.

Zherka went on to explain, “I thought by installing a different type of rack than I had installed; a smaller wire rack, a desktop model, we would be okay. I went upstairs to the Mayor’s Office and found my rack and newspapers hidden.”

Lovett asked, “What happened next?” Zherka explained, “The next day I attempted to see the Mayor. I spoke with his secretary. Then a police officer and Dave Simpson, the Mayor’s spokesperson, and Mr. Regan, appeared and told the police officer to throw me out.

Lovett: “What happened next?”

Zherka: “We started noticing that our news racks in Yonkers were disappearing. At one point, August 9, we had run out of news racks.”

Lovett: “Did you personally attempt to distribute?”

Zherka: “Yes.”

He then proceeded to describe an incident in which he and an employee had climbed up the stairs from South Broadway toward City Hall, each carrying copies of The Westchester Guardian; neither having distributed even one copy, before they were confronted at the top of the steps by a Yonkers police officer who told them, You know I have to give you summonses,” issued summonses and then escorted them back down the steps.

At this point, Attorney Lovett displayed several photos taken two days earlier, November 11, and offered them into evidence. Another set was then shown that had been taken in early July of this year at Yonkers City Hall. Still other photos taken at the end of July showing news racks that had replaced the one that had been originally placed outside the main post office in Yonkers in August of 2006, as well as photos of news boxes left unmolested at the site belonging to The Journal News, Westchester Parent, Metro New York and other free newspapers. In addition, photos taken by Mr. Zherka in August 2007 showing a Westchester Guardian wire news rack inside Yonkers City Hall, as well as a distribution box near the pay station outside the Cacace Courthouse, were shown and entered into evidence.

Mr. Lovett then asked, “As of August, did you go to Lake Street?” (referring to the Lake Street installation of the Yonkers Department of Public Works). Zherka answered, “Yes, we went to 255 Lake Street, the Department of Public Works, and saw Eddie Mayer.”

Lovett: “How many news racks were there?”

Zherka: “We counted 35”

Lovett: “Were you, or The Guardian, ever afforded a hearing by the City of Yonkers corporate counsel?”

Zherka: “No.”

At this point, Defense counsel Kevin Plunkett commenced cross-examination, with, “Mr. Zherka, is it your
belief that you can distribute newspapers in a Federal courthouse?”

Publisher Zherka responded, “No.”

Plunkett pressed further, “Is it your belief that you can distribute, by hand, newspapers in a Federal Courthouse?”

Again, Zherka responded, “No.”

Plunkett: “Did you personally see anybody take your newspapers from City Hall?”

Zherka: “No.”

Plunkett: “So what this boils down to is whether you can place a newspaper box in City Hall?”

Zherka: “No; it is about Freedom of Speech.”

Plunkett: “Were there any boxes, such as this (pointing to a photo of a Guardian news box) in City Hall when you put your boxes there?”

Zherka: “No.”

Plunkett: “There was a desk that permitted all newspapers to be placed.”

Zherka: “No, all papers except ours.”

Plunkett: “It is established that despite several articles in 2006 critical of the Yonkers Police Department, no problems developed with distribution in Yonkers.”

Mr. Plunkett now offered into evidence Defense Exhibits “N”, “P”, and “Q”, letters that had been sent August 2, 7 and 10 respectively, to the Yonkers Commissioner of Public Works. Plunkett then showed Mr Zherka Defense Exhibit “PP”, a photo of the newspaper desk at City Hall, asking, “Is this an accurate representation of the newspaper desk at City Hall?” Zherka responded, “Yes; post our receiving our newspapers back.”

Plunkett: “I want to turn now to newspapers distributed by hand; you received two tickets?”

Zherka: “Yes.”

Plunkett: “So you came back a second day?”

Zherka: “The first day I was distributing papers. The second day I merely walked to the top of the steps without distributing any newspapers when I was confronted by a Yonkers police officer who said, ‘You know I have to give you a summons.” And, he issued a summons to me saying, “Now you must leave or you will be arrested.”

Plunkett: “Would you agree with me that this is really all about methods of distribution?”

Zherka: “No, this is about the First Amendment.”

Plunkett: “Has Mr. Blassberg provided legal counsel to you in any way?”

Zherka: “No.”

Plunkett: “Were you involved in 1998 or 1999 with the placement of the purple Barney Boxes?”

Zherka: “No, I never heard of it.

Plunkett: “So, you were not aware of the Yonkers Newsrack Law?”

Zherka: “No.”

At that point, the Court adjourned for lunch. After lunch, a Mr. Edmund Fitzgerald, an investigator employed by the City of Yonkers was brought to the witness stand. Mr. Lovett asked if he was an attorney; and upon learning that he was not, he asked, “Have you taken photos of the Guardian news racks?” After Fitzgerald acknowledged having taken numerous photos of Guardian boxes, held by the Yonkers Police Department,
Lovett asked, “Of all the boxes you took photos of, how many were in the middle of the sidewalk?” Fitzgerald responded, “None were in the middle of the sidewalk.” Several minutes later, on redirect, Lovett asked, “Did you know the City of Yonkers removed 56 boxes and returned only 35?” Fitzgerald answered, “I had no knowledge.”

Yonkers Commissioner of Public Works, John Liszewski, was the next witness. Questioned as to his role in the
removal of Guardian news boxes since July of 2007, Liszewski responded, “I gave a directive to remove blue boxes.”

Lovett: “Why did you remove them?”

Liszewski: “Because we had a proliferation of those ‘blue boxes’. We were receiving complaints.”

When pressed by Mr. Lovett as to who was complaining, the Commissioner named four individuals, all Yonkers
city employees, two from the Mayor’s Office, all directly under the control of the Mayor’s Office.

Given the fact that several newspapers, including the New York Times, Westchester Parent, and others, were distributed in blue boxes, and yet Commissioner Liszewski repeatedly claimed that he referred to The Guardian boxes as ‘blue boxes’, admittedly instructing his personnel to confiscate the ‘blue boxes’, Lovett instructed the witness, “Tell the Court how many blue boxes you removed that did not belong to The Guardian News?” Hesitating momentarily, Liszewski said, “None.” Lovett then asked, “You instructed your men only to pick up the blue boxes; did any of them ask which blue boxes?” Liszewski answered, “No.”

Analysis

Over the course of the next day and a half, numerous city employees, including several Yonkers police officers, were called by Plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. Lovett, to testify. Despite the fact that each had been thoroughly prepared by Defense counsel, there were numerous inconsistencies in their testimony.

In addition, approximately a dozen employees of Mr. Zherka, several in their late teens and early 20s, mostly involved in various other enterprises, who had been called upon to assist with distribution, were also called to the stand, each describing how they had been given summonses and threatened with arrest for having distributed or having attempted to distribute The Westchester Guardian newspaper in public places in Yonkers protected by the First Amendment, over several weeks in July and August.

Despite Mr. Plunkett’s best efforts on cross-examination to rattle and impeach those witnesses, each held firm to their accounts, having gone through the experience, and each, despite their youth, comported themselves with dignity and due respect before the Court. In the final analysis, their experience in Judge Charles L. Brieant’s
Court, in defense of their rights, under the First Amendment, will very likely positively influence the course of their lives in some small way.
Breakfast With Clinton Young

By Richard Blassberg

The Guardian had breakfast with Mount Vernon’s Mayor-elect Clinton Young last Wednesday morning at the Athena Restaurant on Gramatan Avenue in the city’s Fleetwood section. We managed to cover a lot of territory, over two western omelettes, with respect to his hopes and plans for the City’s future.

We opened the conversation inquiring as to what his top three concerns were that he hoped to begin bringing under control in his first one hundred and eighty days in office. Mr. Young began without hesitation with, “Better day-to-day management.”

He then clarified, “Both operational and financial.” He went on, “We must update our equipment and our procedures in the Department of Public Works, the Water Department, Sanitation, and every other municipal service.”

Young, mindful of an article in that morning’s Journal News, revealing that the city had failed to meet a $2.2 million repayment obligation to HUD, declared, “On the financial side, we have to begin to work out agreements to repay monies owed.”

Then, turning away from day-to-day operations, he said, “Our City’s young people are of paramount concern, particularly their safety in school. Parents must be con dent that their school-aged children are safe in school as well as going to and coming from school.” He went on, “We must deal with the lack of recreational and job opportunities for our kids, and we must develop workable anti-gang programs and strategies.”

Third on the Mayor-elect’s short list, needing to be quickly dealt with, is the need to upgrade Mount Vernon’s infrastructure. He explained that while buildings and roadways, and the like, certainly are in need of previously deferred maintenance, and replacement, he was, at the same time, equally concerned about parks and playgrounds throughout the city, and Memorial Field in particular.

Mr. Young, in this connection, told The Guardian of his intention to form a “Mount Vernon Youth Development Council” that would call upon adults only in advisory roles.

He said that the theme of his Administration could continue to be “Mount Vernon First.” In this regard, he voiced his intention to require all development projects advanced in the city to encourage “neighborhood participation.”

The Guardian asked how much help he expected from the County Executive’s office and from the Governor, two powerful fellow Democrats who originally supported Ernie Davis until Young’s victory in the Democratic
primary. He said he was hopeful for support from the County in the upgrading of parks and also with a major renovation of Memorial Field. He added that he was also looking for County support with affordable housing.

With regard to assistance from Eliot Spitzer, Young indicated that he intended to expand the Empire Business Zone and was hoping for continued state tax credits, particularly for senior and affordable housing initiatives. He went on to say he wasn’t ruling out calling upon the Governor to locate some State offices in the City.

Asked if he had been in communication with Mayor Davis, Clinton Young informed us that he had sent an “urgent message” nearly a week earlier regarding the need to communicate, but hadn’t had a return call.

With respect to business development, Young said, “I want to attract well-established businesses capable of providing employment opportunities across a broad range of salary expectations.” Asked about progress putting together his administration, Young declared, “We’re seeking the brightest and best we can afford.” He then
shared the fact that he had asked Janet Snyder, his former Republican opponent, to join his transition team, and that he was pleased that she had accepted.

Finally, returning to his Youth Council proposal, Mayor-elect Young said, “That body will submit an annual report to the Mayor assessing currently-available services sometime in January, and recommending mprovements.” He then promised, “every department in City government will take the report seriously.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Ernie Davis And A Handful Of Supporters Bring Frivolous Action In Federal Court To Overthrow Results Of Mount Vernon Election

White Plains, Thursday, Nov. 8 - Self-described Civil Rights attorney Stephen C. Jackson of New York City appeared at the Federal District Courthouse, White Plains, to file a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Ernest Davis and several of his supporters against the United States Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, the New York State Board of Elections, the Westchester County Board of Elections, Clinton Young and Janet Snyder, alleging Civil Rights violations of the rights of candidate Ernest Davis as well as the rights of some of his constituents under 42 U.S.C. Section 1973 to 1973aa-6 (Voting Rights Act of 1964), 197, 142 U.S.C. Sections 1983, 1985 and 1988 as well as the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fiftheenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Claiming jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sections 1331 and 1341 (3) and (4), the action seeks to overturn the result of Tuesday’s election for Mayor in the City of Mount Vernon, as well as damages in the amount of $600
million.

Questioned by the Westchester Guardian, “Does this action seek to vacate the results of the election?”, Mr. Jackson acknowledged that it did. The Guardian then asked, “Isn’t this whole action outcome determinative; had
Ernie Davis won the election, would you still be attempting to overturn the election?” Attorney Jackson admitted that he would not be attempting to overturn the result of the election, but might still be bringing an action in
court on behalf of Mount Vernon voters.

Contacted, Mayor-elect Clinton Young issued the following statement denouncing Davis’ court filing:
“This action is vindictive and defies logic and reason. The people of Mount Vernon have spoken. The election is over. Yet, there are a few members of the Davis campaign who cannot accept the election results despite the overwhelming voter turnout and decisive victory. Instead, these people seek to further divide and tear our city
apart for their own self-serving interests. In response to outrageous allegations, I have never had any contact with or knowledge of any activities by the FBI or the US Attorney’s Office. These allegations of voter intimidation are false and baseless, and I will vigorously fight any attempt to deny the will of the Mount Vernon people.

Furthermore, I call on Mr. Davis to denounce this action and help to unite the city. Mount Vernon needs to move forward. We must not let frivolous lawsuits distract us from addressing and resolving the real issues facing our community.”
“Misdemeanor Homicide” Revisited

Editor’s Note: Retired former White Plains Police Detective, Austin Avery, first featured in our May 3, 2007 edition, has been struggling to get the Westchester District Attorney’s Office to bring before a Grand Jury evidence regarding the murder of Oscar Nedd, on January 1, 1975.

For 32 years, nearly 30 of them in retirement, Avery, a former Major Crime Detective, has been involved in the investigation. Originally assigned with his former partner, John Markey, “to investigate the disappearance of a 24-year-old Black male who resided at 59 North Broadway in the City of White Plains,” Avery quickly recognized that there had been foul play and possibly a homicide. As a result of the article in May, Avery was eventually granted an audience with a Westchester Assistant DA and officers from the White Plains Police Department. However, despite an abundance of evidence gathered over more than three decades, he has been unable to convince the Westchester District Attorney to present it to a Grand Jury. His letter to Governor Spitzer, below, reveals some of the frustration and apparent intentional roadblocks which he has had to deal with in his valiant and dedicated effort to bring justice to a family so long denied.

Governor Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, New York 12224


Dear Governor Spitzer,


After repeated letters to your office, you directed the State Police to assign an investigator to this case. The State Director did this, and an investigator from the Westchester Office of the State Police was assigned. I met with him at my home in Connecticut and spent several hours going over what took place in this case. After hearing the details he said he would look into it and get back to me.

Two weeks later he called me and said the witness who saw Joe Fluellen carrying a body rolled up inside of a rug had died, therefore his statement could not be used in court. I said I took a notorized statement
from that witness and I am aware that it could not be used at a trial, but it can be used in seeking an indictment.

At this point in our conversation I said to him, “I want to ask you a question. But before I do, I want you to know I will use what you say in my search for justice.” He said he understood and then asked me what is the question. I said, “even without this statement do you believe there is enough evidence to bring this case before a Grand Jury?” And his answer was, “Yes, I do.” I also want to bring to your attention that the photos and blood samples are missing from the case file. These blood samples were taken at the scene by the director of the Westchester Forensic Lab. I have in my possession 17 pages of his reports and a signed receipt for these
reports from Detective Ambrose of the White Plains Police. It should be noted the Chief of Police in White Plains said there was no blood found in the room. It also should be noted the Judge in Surrogate Court, His Honor Scarpino in declaring Oscar Nedd legally dead said in his report there is strong evidence to indicate Oscar Nedd was murdered. The victim in this case, Oscar Nedd’s mother’s blood is on file with the National Data Base.

I called Lieutenant Eric W. Fischer, Executive Officer with the White Plains Police Department. Lt. Fischer was at the meeting I attended at the District Attorney’s of- fice four ….. ago. I asked Lt. Fischer if the blood samples found at the scene were sent to the National Data Base for comparison with Oscar Nedd’s mother’s blood. At this time he said they could not be located.

Since this conversation with him I have made repeated calls to his office which have gone unanswered. I believe this is because they have been destroyed. This is a very serious development in this case. And you, as Governor of New York, need to take some action.

I will continue with my efforts to seek justice in this case. I will also do whatever I can to make the People of this State aware of the facts.

Austin Avery, New Fairfield, Connecticut
Our Readers Respond...



There Were Those Who Foresaw The Present ‘Foreclosure Crisis’



Dear Editor:



The following letter was initially written and directed to the New York Times of Thursday, June 16, 2005. It read

as follows: “The feature article on page C-1 of The Times of Thursday, June 16, was an eyeopener. The Trillion Dollar Bet, by Leonhardt and Rich, turned the lights on a subject which ought to have been on everybody’s mind these past several years. The Mortgage Market Myth has grabbed the imagination of too many of the na├»ve and unwary who rushed to chase the will-’o-the-wisp idea that ownership of property could be obtained for the mere asking: “sign here and here and here and take the keys.” For those lucky ones it surely was a beautiful dream, though not very American. The writers of this timely article were to be commended indeed for their focus and courage.”



However, another spectre loomed on the horizon and has refused to go away, that is, the threat of impending

foreclosures. Oh, no, no, no, not from mortgage debt or from over-reaching, but from the ever-escalating real

property taxes which result from the over-heated market with its BOGUS prices.



No longer able to cope with these ever-escalating taxes, we, the property owners, now face three choices: take

on debt, face foreclosure, or depart this place. Now, isn’t that some American Dream! People whose forebears settled this town, whose footprints span the landscape from border to border, end to end, and who must exit forthwith to make way for those other “dreamers” with their ‘low down/no down’ conditional conveyances.



The present debacle of 2007 owes its existence to the architects of the previous one. Even as I write these lines

they are plotting another.



Marguerite E. Nichols, Pelham



In Our Opinion...



Is Anybody In Albany Listening?



As time goes on, We have the unmistakeable sense that New York State government, at times, in each of its branches, executive, legislative and judicial, is disconnected from those whom they govern. Outcomes in State

Supreme Court, particularly the Matrimonial Part, are often blatantly contrary to the best interests of the children, if any, involved, as well as to the litigants, depending upon “who has the money”.



Our criminal courts are not structured to bring about a meaningful search for the truth, but rather the most rapid disposition possible; Due Process be damned, and with it the concept of actual innocence. Why should we expect any differently? Those we elect to 14-year terms are literally constrained from revealing themselves to us by archaic, but no less self-serving, Judicial Election Rules. The process of nomination, having been faulted by Federal District Judge Gleeson, of the Eastern District of New York, has remained, nevertheless, unchanged and outrageously corrupt, as though in contempt.



The state’s Chief Executive, a governor whose entire work experience has been underwritten by the public treasury, as a prosecutor of one kind or another, is ill-prepared to deliver upon his pre-election promises. And, while he is clearly less focused upon lining his own and his cronies’ pockets than his predecessor was, his quest for power and dominion are character-defining.



Consider the ego-bruising, pitched battle between a governor and the Majority Leader of the State Senate, virtually paralyzing the passage of numerous critical measures.



Against the background of all of the above, imagine the spirited, but discouraging, struggle of a small, profitable hospital whose mere existence shaves some 20-40 minutes ambulance time, otherwise required to transport some 40,000 or more residents of the surrounding villages and towns to an emergency room possibly, for life saving procedures.



Such is the mind-boggling tug-of-war between Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry and the beaurocratic armpit of the State, unpopularly known as The Berger Commission. The battle has unified virtually all factions within

the region, and with good cause.



Though little in size, the facility, unlike many larger installations, is a very profitable operation. A satellite of Saint John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, it throws off such a substantial profit as to enable much of the hospital’s

healthcare programming for those who are without ability to pay in the state’s fourth-largest city’s poorest communities. Additionally, the little hospital houses one of the finest breast care clinics in the downstate area.

The Dobbs Ferry facility is neither under-utilized nor unprofitable. Given that the Berger Commission’s mandate was to, in effect, weed out certain hospitals that are duplicative, under-utilized, or significantly unprofitable, their inclusion of Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry on their closure list would seem totally inappropriate. Still, the orders to shut down remain in effect. Community Hospital’s administration has been forced to sue the state based on Due Process, and the fundamental un-Constitutionality of the Berger Commission’s closure demand. Other hospitals have not, thus far, succeeded with similar actions. We wonder, “Is anybody in Albany listening?”



The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Black Community Leaders Voice Frustration With Yonkers Mayor, Police Commissioner and District Attorney In Handling of Police Brutality

Last Monday morning, one day prior to Election Day, Karen Edmonson, President of the Yonkers Chapter
of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People, and Damon Jones, Executive Director of the Westchester County Chapter of the National Black Police Association, held a joint press conference outside Yonkers Police Headquarters to air their concerns with regard to the lack of progress in the elimination of police brutality in that city. In addition to Edmonson and Jones, other leaders from the Black community, including attorney Mayo Bartlett, Yonkers Democratic City Council member Pat McDow, and her Republican opponent, Larry Sykes, voiced their displeasure and disappointment with the foot-dragging and lack of progress that have characterized negotiations with Mayor Phil Amicone and Police Commissioner Edmund
Hartnett for the past 14 months.

Edmonson indicated that over the last year she had “meetings, meetings, meetings, but no progress” and that she hadn’t been turning over complaints to the Yonkers Police Department for several months because she couldn’t rely upon their Internal Affairs Division to actually investigate. Instead, she indicated that she had been bringing such complaints directly to the United States Department of Justice. Expressing her frustration with the Amicone Administration, and its unwillingness to even acknowledge the extent of the police violence problem, much less deal with it, Edmonson acknowledged the press conference was timed to raise voter awareness about the pervasive issue.

Damon Jones, following Edmonson to the microphone, told reporters, “Of 18,000 police departments throughout the United States, Yonkers is the only one that I am aware of where police officers do not wear a
name tag.” Jones declared that the Amicone Administration has been in complete denial regarding the extent
of the problem. He suggested that “whistle-blower” regulations needed to be strengthened in order to encourage
the overwhelming percentage of dedicated, law-abiding officers on the 650-member Yonkers Police Department to come forward and help root out those who have been guilty of brutality and unlawful conduct.

He stressed that the problem did not merely involve Black and Latino victims but that there were many complaints from Caucasian and other victims as well.

Criminal defense attorney Mayo Bartlett told reporters, “Rogue police officers weaken the public’s confi-dence in the department.” He reemphasized the importance of “strengthening ‘whistle-blower’ provisions so that those who are misbehaving can be weeded out.”

Those who spoke, repeatedly reiterated the need for name tags, video cameras in police cars, increased sensitivity training, and, most importantly, an effective civilian/police review board. Police Commissioner
Hartnett, on numerous occasions, has expressed his hesitancy and concerns with respect to the establishment
of a review board, and, has failed to date to offer any alternative to those formulas that have been proposed.
The Guardian asked Ms. Edmonson, “You have indicated that you’ve been going to the Justice Department
with complaints of police brutality, but what about our own District Attorney?” Edmonson replied, “I am not satisfied with what the District Attorney’s Office has done about this problem. When police engage in brutality, they most often charge their victims with Disorderly Conduct and Obstruction of Justice. The DA knows those charges are bogus, but still prosecutes them anyway.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Touring Northern New York, Raising Awareness Of Wrongful Convictions, and The Death Penalty

By Jeffrey Deskovic


As readers are well aware, I have been trying to take the negativity of having been arrested and imprisoned
for sixteen years for a murder and rape that I was innocent of, and do all that I can to bring about reforms in the
criminal justice system to prevent others from going through the traumatic experience that I endured. One method is by educating the public about wrongful convictions, and their relationship to the death penalty, thus arming them with the information needed to contact their legislators and and the Governor, urging them to enact legislation that will protect the innocent.

In this regard, I am presently installing a petition on my website1 listing the reforms that I believe must be passed
into law, for citizens to sign on to. Such petitions will assist my lobbying effort in Albany. I believe that the experience that I went through has put me in a better position than the average citizen to bring about changes, in that lawmakers are most often willing to sit down with me in person. I think that it is helpful when a politician has been prepped prior to my meeting with them by their local constituents placing phone calls, sending emails, and expressing their concerns. Sometimes I don’t think that people realize how much they can impact their representative’s views and/or votes on such issues, and how important it is to let them know their feelings,
particularly in light of New York’s 23 exposed wrongful convictions.

While in most cases I don’t think that one call from a single individual will necessarily do the trick, I do know
for a fact that several calls can have a huge impact. I therefore always encourage my audiences at speaking engagements to call and email their representatives.

I realize that many in office are not particularly concerned about innocent people being wrongfully convicted and
therefore falsely imprisoned and/or possibly receiving the death penalty, were it to be reenacted. It is not unheard of for politicians to sometimes be forced into doing things based upon overwhelming public sentiment and outcry.

For those in office who will not be persuaded to do the right thing morally, why not use that tool for something
positive? With the caveat of staying within moral and legal bounds, I totally believe in the famous adage of
Malcolm X, to wit, “By any means necessary.” I can’t think of a cause more noble than the preserving of innocent life and liberty. Recently I had a chance to tour northern New York as part of that awareness raising .
Buffalo

My first stop on the tour was Buffalo on Oct. 23. I had to get up around five o clock in the morning in order to
catch an early flight out of JFK airport. My manager Darren Wilkins and I were very tired from the night before, having gotten home around 11:30 PM following a presentation out on Long Island. At Buffalo State University I actually gave two speeches which were sponsored by New Yorkers Against The Death Penalty. The first speech was held at noon. Between speeches I did a number of prearranged television and radio interviews. As it turned out, more television stations sent people than we anticipated.

It was hectic, but I was happy because I see media as a way to reach many more people than I ever could on a personal basis, and more than I could during lectures. A further pleasant surprise came when the media stayed
around for my entire second presentation. The media in Buffalo are more conscious of wrongful convictions, due
to the recent Anthony Capozzi case, in which Anthony served twenty years for rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse, after being wrongfully identified by three different victims, before being cleared by DNA. Although I was the main speaker, I was not the only speaker.

Nathan Hare, the Executive Director of the Community Action Organization of Erie County, who also serves
on the board of New Yorkers Against The Death Penalty, spoke of the importance of making sure that the right
person is caught and imprisoned. Another speaker, John Walker, mentioned that he had been fighting for 23 years to clear his name, but still had not been able to do so. He had been paroled for several years, as had another co-defendant, although a third co-defendant remained in prison. Walker said, “If the death penalty had been applied in 1976 in my, and my codefendants, cases, would be dead now, even though it’s a fact that we had nothing to do with the death of William Crawford.”

I was pleasantly surprised because Houghton College teachers Richard Stegen and Chuck Massey, who had
taught me when I was a student in prison, attended the lecture. It seemed weird seeing them in the free world.
I experienced it as if I had somehow crossed a bridge into another world and had made it to the other side. They
were so happy for me, as though I had done a miraculous thing by getting to this planet. They told me that they were proud of me and happy that they had helped educate me.

Syracuse

The next morning, I picked up a copy of The Buffalo News and saw an article about my presentation. I was
pleased with the headline, which read “Unjustly Convicted, He Brings A Warning ‘It Can Happen To Any Of
You’ ” The article referred to me as a “sharply dressed, well-spoken poster boy for the cause of wrongful convictions.” I felt a little embarrassed because I didn’t feel worthy of the accolades. I did several interviews while in Syracuse, including one with the local affiliate of NBC. Since my speech was not until nighttime, I had some free time which I decided to spend with Roy Brown. “It’s nice to see you on the right side of the prison wall’ he said when I arrived at his house. I had served food to Roy in the prison mess hall while he was
serving 15 years in prison for a murder in Syracuse that DNA ultimately proved he was innocent of. Roy had emerged about five months after me, and not a moment too soon. He had nearly died in prison due as the result of liver problems which were not being properly treated in prison. Incredibly, he would not have been eligible for the liver transplant, which he received since being cleared. He looked like a new man. Roy attended the lecture at Syracuse University as a guest. My lecture had been sponsored by the student group, “The Actual Innocence Society.” They were contemplating opening a non-DNA innocence project, and they felt that it would be inspirational to hear from an exoneree.

When the lecture was over, I had a side conversation with a judge that I hadn’t known was in the audience. He
agreed with me that the system needed reforms, and he felt the solutions that I was championing were very doable. There were two reforms that he commented on. Firstly, he totally agreed that police should record interrogations. He related that he privately thought, as judge, when he would preside over ases, that he didn’t understand it when police didn’t record interrogations.

He further said if he were a law enforcement officer and he was working around people who he knew might go
to court and make false allegations of coercion, he would definitely want the protection that recording would pro-
vide. The judge also agreed with my position that public defenders should bepaid as well as prosecutors. He had personally witnessed that while sometimes quality lawyers out of law school were attracted to public defense and might initially work at it, they would eventually be lured to the other side because of better pay, and their heavy student loan obligations.

Geneva

By far the most important presentations I gave in my tour was at a law enforcement training session. I was excited to participate in it, because, to my way of thinking, I would be able to reach out and possibly shape the thinking of some of the very people who operated directly in the criminal justice system. I figured that if I could influence even one person, then I would be directly in-fluencing the system to work better. As in Syracuse, I was able to reach out to another exoneree who happened to live in the area. Doug Warney, who lived in Rochester, and who had wrongly served 10 years before being cleared by DNA, also attended as a guest.

The former head of the Division of Parole was in attendance. Earlier in the day, he had given a presentation of his
own. I had a chance to listen to most of it, and I asked him a question, and received a startling response I asked him whether the members of the Parole Board might be afraid to grant parole to those who appeared in front of them who had been convicted of violent crime, in light of former Parole Commissioner Brian Travis being removed from his position because he had granted parole in a famous case to someone who had been convicted of being in the getaway car during a robbery.

The co-defendant of the female inmate whom he had paroled, unbeknownst to her, had wound up killing
somebody in the course of that robbery. Hence, she had been convicted of murder. She had demonstrated for over twenty years that she had been rehabilitated by her participation in many programs, and this convinced the thencommissioner that she was no longer a threat to society However, Governor Pataki removed Travis as Parole Commissioner because of his decision and transferred him to another position. Pataki’s staff made it
clear, anonymously of course, that that was why he had been removed.

Travis’ replacement, who I now met and has been retired for a few years, admitted that following this incident,
other parole board members had been afraid to parole others who had been convicted of a violent crime. In fact, his co-speaker, who had been denied parole eight times despite being convicted as a mere teenager because she was present when her then-boyfriend committed a robbery, was a good example of the mentality that took hold.

She admitted to knowing that he was going to commit the crime, but being denied parole eight times seemed
obviously excessive, ridiculous, and unconscionable, especially given that she was considered to be a model inmate. Her story, though tragic, is by no means an aberration: I personally know many people who are currently
working on years twenty five and thirty after being sentenced to fifteen to life, because the parole board won’t parole them despite their being worthy candidates and no longer a threat to society. Keeping my own ordeal with the Board in mind, in which I was denied despite having a really good disciplinary and educational record, and even a letter of recommendation from a prison employee, I made sure to include that experience in my lecture. I further pointed out as one of my suggested reforms the need to put an end to such abuses.

After being introduced by the Executive Director of New Yorkers Against The Death Penalty, David Kazinski, I
spoke for about 35 minutes, allowing time for a lot of questions. At the end of my presentation, I received a very long standing ovation; this from police and correctional personnel.

Following the lecture, I had several interesting conversations. I spoke with a current state trooper who works in
a supervisory capacity. Amazingly, he gave me a symbolic apology on behalf of all police, and he informed me that the State Troopers do not interrogate suspects the way that I was. He further thought that recording interrogations was certainly a good idea, because, after all, he didn’t have anything to hide. I spoke to a former corrections of-ficer who told me that, on his wife’s advice, he changed careers, because his job started changing him to where he started to take on some of the attitudes of the other guards who were abusive to prisoners.

Some of those habits became visible outside of his job, and that was how she noticed. It had taken place so gradually in him that he himself had not even noticed. He quit his job because he was not, by nature, abusive. This former correction officer shared with me the notion that his fellow officers, as a whole, were not in favor of the new trend of having prisons whose purpose was to keep the prisoners in their cells 23 hours a day.

He explained it was difficult to deal with such prisoners, as they would react to being treated that way. The CO further stated that prison, as it is presently structured, is really not about rehabilitation, because vocational
training and college courses would still exist, and recidivism would be at a much lower rate.

I spoke with a second former corrections officer who could not bring herself to continue to work in Corrections
because of the things that she had seen. During the Q and A section of my speech, she asked me about how
I had been able to adjust to being free after being in there so long, in terms of my personal habits and conduct. I
explained that while I understood the prison code for purposes of survival and dealing with my environment, I
never internalized those values and was thus able to maintain my individual humanity. I told her that a big hinderance to me with regard to making social contacts since coming out of prison is that many people don’t want to socialize with me, reasoning that even though I had been innocent, I had been in there for 16 years and they therefore wondered how much of being around criminals had rubbed off on me.

She mentioned that she, along with some of her colleagues who were Correction Officers who did their jobs
professionally, often looked the other way when abuse occurred, because that was their coping mechanism their
way of getting through the day and not making waves. I pointed out to her that that was how the culture of abuse, lack of human dignity and respect, grew to be accepted as the order of the day, as was the ‘code of silence’. I opined that if all of the professionals stuck together and ceased their silence, which in many ways was tantamount to consent, then those who refused to change their behavior would be purged from the system and our prisons would be more humane, and thus at least the internal environment would be shifted towards rehabilitation.

I further suggested that many people who are abused in prison become angry and that that leads to incidents between guards and prisoners, but also sets the stage for ex-offenders to be released back into society full of rage, thus quite possibly leading to even more crimes happening and even more victims.

Conclusion

I truly enjoyed my tour of Northern New York. At all three locations, people informed me that I should continue
in my quest to achieve a more just system. That made me feel that the goal was achievable, and that once people
are made aware of the cracks in the system through which innocent people fall victim to arrest and imprisonment for crimes they are innocent of, they are in favor of reforms that will bring about more protections for the innocent. Understanding how it is more than the individual rights of the accused in a given case that can be on the line, and how all of our freedom is what is in question given that this truly can happen to anybody, it is in society’s best interest to improve the system. The relatively small amount of money it would take to record interrogations
and preserve evidence was, in fact, as far as I could tell, lost on none of the people to whom I spoke. I came
away with the feeling that speaking to law enforcement agencies could be a big part of preventing wrongful convictions, because it makes police officers realize that errors can and do happen, and further reinforces the need to do the things professionally, while keeping an open mind and following whatever trail the evidence leaves
.
Endnotes

1. The URL to my website is Jeffreydeskovicspeaks.org