Wednesday, September 30, 2009

map for Sunday's Widows Ride

For some reason the cue does not come out accurate, here is the map, not a hard ride and we will stop at Northbrook for ice cream or donuts or whatever you want. Ride is about 29 miles, so not long and relatively easy. A few hills over on Grubbs Mill but that is about it.

football widow's bike ride

The weather is awful this week, cold and now rain. Yikes. What happened to our beautiful fall?? So in this regards I am planning a Football Widows' Bike Ride on Sunday October 3 at 1:00 pm. Meet at my house, 206 E Virginia Ave, google it. There is no parking at the Hot Foot lot with Sunday church services.

Not sure where we will go yet, but it will be a nice ride, nothing too hard or too long. Supposed to be nice, at least according to Accuweather. After the ride, if you want any bike help, such as tire changing or how to clean your chain, I would be more than happy to help you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

women and biking and making communities

All I see on biking blogs are reasons why women do not bike and that if trails exist, they attract women riders. The question is though, not so much why we need more trails for biking but why don't women get on the roads and bike.

I heard from 2 ladies this week about biking with other women. The first said,"I LOVE riding with you. You are a reliable, committed biker who is fun to be with and not a wimp. I've learned over the years there are a lot of women who are all talk and no action, but you are not one of them. We decide to do something and they wimp out on you due to an important reason like a hang nail. For a long time, I had the philosophy if you want to do something, count only on yourself. But biking is a sport that works better in a team environment. I commend you for working so hard to develop a biking group that supports one another."

The next lady said, " It is really great the kind of community that is building in West Chester among cyclists and you are big part of making it happen. Being there and caring about others resonates consistently in your messages."

I am not printing these messages to pat myself on the back, but to encourage MORE ladies to give biking a chance.

Both of these above ladies were scared to death to bike on the roads. Both are past the age of 40 and both have taken up bike riding and both are doing so well. Both have invested in good road bikes and both ride regularly. Both ride on the roads.

So what do these two ladies have that you (if not riding) do not. Nothing. They just decided to give biking a try and voila. They loved it.

Women do like a community. Women like to bike with other women and women like to feel safe. I get that as I like those things too. Women for ages have formed groups for social activities. From quilting bees to forming play groups for their children, women like to socialize and have fun with each other.

Biker Chicks is one biking club that will accept all cyclists and encourage you to ride on the roads, buy a good road bike and learn how to take care of it. We support you the entire ride, we teach you how to shift gears, we run biking clinics and we help each other.

It is funny, women love to talk about equality in the workforce but when it comes to recreation, they become the 1950s all over again. Sitting at home watching their husbands or boyfriends doing adventurous stuff.

On my bike ride on Saturday, I fell going up a hill. I bruised my leg but ya know what, I was fine. My bike partner helped me up and we walked to the top of the hill. And off we went. As my bike friend said, " hey, think of all the ladies our age sitting at home with their ailments and here we are in the rain and biking 50+ miles!" She was right.

So what is holding you back?? why won't you get on a bike and try something new? what keeps women from the roads? why won't you spend some money and buy a bike? I get that the economy is bad right now, but if you do your homework, you can find a good used bike too.

One young chick that rode with me in the early spring showed up on her $200 used bike. I could see right away that she had a lot of talent. I encouraged her to try biking with a faster group. She did and recently she completed a triathlon and is making plans to buy a new bike. Now that is what I like to hear.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ode to the best biking partner EVER

Elaine and I would have been happy to find just one way to instant sunshine!

first of all I have no idea what an "ode" is but Elaine is getting one from me but before my "ode"
a few notes on the Bike Fresh Bike Local ride.

ok, it rained, it rained a lot, i was covered in grit and grim when we got back. Took me a full hour to clean my bike and shoes. the roads were very wet, and very gravelly (sp) and often had pot holes as we were on some really really back roads, they looked like some old farm's driveway.

Elaine and I and Lisa and Steve and Sara went barreling up rt 282, man we were great! That was at 8:40 am. Then came Devereux, a right turn that went straight up, naturally I fell, same old same old Redwood going down, Elaine helped me up and i walked the rest. The others took off at this point and we saw them briefly at the rest stop.

but holy wheel hubs Batman!, it took me 4 hrs to do 30 miles, yeah you heard right. If I got any slower I would have been going backwards. Lots of hills and lots of downhills,but the roads were so terrible we had to brake downhill, that is what brakes we had.

so we obviously got no running start for any hills, we met the next walking hill in French Creek. We just went up and up and up and then right at the end, the up got really UP! I managed to extricate myself from my cleats to avoid a repeat of the previous fall.

There were others walking so i had some company. There was a guy behind me in way worse shape, but he proved to one fine fellow and had either a girlfriend or wife with him and we invited both to join us on a Biker Chicks ride.

There was ONE rest stop and that was at 29 miles. I did not even walk down to the food table as I did not want to slip since like a moron i forgot my cleat covers, idiot! The next stop was at 41 miles but you had to climb a long hill and then turn around and come back down. Elaine and I said "no way in hell" and we headed home.

Elaine stayed for lunch and had pulled pork, i was so wet and dirty I headed home and straight for the showers.

Now for my "ode" to Elaine. I would have never finished this ride without her. The whole way she kept me focused and upbeat. I coulda been crawling on hands and knees and Elaine would not leave me. Elaine is one of the rare few who when she says she is biking with you, she really means it. A few times I had to slow down and Elaine slowed down. Elaine, this is one big huge public thank you, you do win Biker Chick Partner of the Year Award.

But, heck, I am not done with awards, again, me and Elaine (yeah i know that is bad grammar), anyhooo, me and Elaine get the award for doing and surviving the 3 worst rides of the year - French Creek Iron Tour, Covered Bridge and Bike Fresh. French Creek ride was just one big hill. Covered Bridge was the Iraq ride, i mean coulda it gotten any hotter?? Then we rode 50 miles in rain, dirt and hills again on the Bike Fresh. Only thing that saved me on the Bike Fresh ride was that the last 20 miles were basically flat and the rain had stopped somewhat and the roads improved, they became paved instead of the messy roads we had at the beginning. We could get a little speed downhill, so that was great, and felt great too.

But on the happy side, Elaine and I made it. We did about 53 miles as we got lost, the road markings were far and few between. We really had to use the cue sheet, Elaine went through 2 of them. The first one just melted. But Elaine is back and Elaine is good. She survived two surgeries and lots and lots of rehab. Riding with someone is a skill, you have to constantly keep your partner's well being in focus. You have to stop and rest if your partner needs it even if you do not. A good biking partner is never so far ahead that they have to stop and wait for you. Cuz if they were, they would not be a good partner.

The Bike Fresh ride required an excellent biking partner as there were very few riders on the road. I wonder why?? This ride demanded that you take care of your partner. Or you could of been in trouble. So thanks again Elaine. We made it.

Dental office seeks PT Receptionist (Hartsdale)

Front-desk receptionist for orthodontist in Hartsdale Village, Westchester County. Mondays and Thursdays only, approximately 2-8pm. Long term. Responsibilities include telephone, scheduling, collections, insurance, record-keeping, marketing and clerical. Immediate start.


Seeking a multi-tasker with an outgoing personality who can build rapport with clientele. Must be organized and professional.

Must be computer savvy. Knowledge of Quickbooks, Word and Excel a plus.

Ideally suited to individuals who have existing commitments on the other days of the week. Must have reliable transportation.

Therapists needed OT, PT & SLP rockland, putnam, west, dutchess

HTA of New York seeks experienced occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, physical therapists, special educators with ABA training to work as independent contractors in home/community settings eligible to work with early intervention and school age children.

HTA strives for quality service provision and provides clinical team support in the field. Bilingual (Spanish, Yiddish) a plus! Competitive rates and flexible scheduling.

Openings in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess & New York City


Contact Person: Barbara Smith

Email Address:

Staffing firm's new radio show

Check out Mackey & Guasco's Staffing's new radio show

Saturday, September 26, 2009

for my national readers

West Chester Public Library, built in 1885, renovated in 2005

West Chester PA Farmer's Market

Downtown during Christmas

one of the covered bridges in Chester County

Thinking of taking a biking vacation?? Really, ya should consider coming to Chester County PA. We are located west of Philadelphia and right next to Lancaster County as well. Biking in Chester County is probably one of the best areas in the nation.

I have biked extensively in Santa Barbara, CA and in the Palm Beach area in Florida and in the Ann Arbor MI area as well. What Chester County has is the combination of hills and flat and scenes to take your breath away and the huge network of tertiary roads. So many back roads you can bike for weeks and weeks and not cover all the available roads.

When I was in Santa Barbara, the mountain views were spectacular but the amount of roads was limited and many were busy roads. Florida is nice but the main road is the A1A and that is it. There are no back roads in South Florida. And the hostility on the A1A is getting out of hand for the cyclists.

In Chester County we have covered bridges, horse farms, split rail fences and gently rolling hills. You can head west to Lancaster County or south to Delaware or east to Philadelphia or north to huge hills. North has French Creek State Park which is very hilly and beautiful. You can head to Lancaster county and bike through some of the most spectacular Amish country in the nation.

You can spend a 2 week vacation in this area and bike everyday to some place new. Better yet, plan your trip when one of the local area rides is taking place. Check this link, Suburban Cylists, click on EVENT CALENDAR and check out the local rides in the West Chester PA area.

To name a few, Chester County Challenge, Dog Daze Century, Pedal to Preserve, Bike Fresh Bike Local. All of these rides take place in the Chester county area. All are spectacular. Pedal to Preserve is in Lancaster but an unbelievable tour of the Amish farms.

West Chester hosts the nationally known Iron Hill Criterium in July. Over 20,000 folks come into West Chester for this event. For the cyclists, it is known as the best of their season. The riders say that no where else in the USA is the crowd as good as West Chester. Plus West Chester is a great little town. Lots of restaurants and outdoor eating. Check out my older post called, Things to Do in West Chester.

My son is up visiting from Florida. He said, "boy I miss this scenery and varied biking." He agreed, nothing like this county for a wide variety of biking opportunities. West Chester is an old historic town, over 250 years old, so for you westerners where old is something near 50 years, you will be amazed at how different a town can look.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

attention Chicklets

Pokey Libby

No ride Thursday, life is getting in the way, stuff has come up, but Sunday's Bike Fresh Bike Local is a go, come on out. either do the 25 miles or try the 50. I have done little biking this month so I will be good to ride with if afraid of the fast riders.

You always have Pokey Libby to ride with. Steady Eddy, old reliable, whatever names you can assign to me.


Dear Friends and Gardeners: (Past & Present)

SunRaven has become a winter distribution site for Winter Sun Farms. Now that autumn has descended upon us, it is time to think about extending the wonderful summer bounty to over the course of winter. Winter Sun Farms has been busy preserving our local harvest to provide us with great tasting local produce for the winter months. This is a good opportunity for us to have easy access to wonderful local organic vegetables.

By joining our distribution site at SunRaven for a Winter Share you will not only get delicious food, but you will help Winter Sun Farms achieve their larger mission of creating a more regional, fair and sustainable food system.

Winter Sun Farms has been rapidly growing in the Hudson Valley and New York area by establishing Winter Markets in New Paltz, Vassar and Beacon. Our location is their first in Westchester County. Their other satellite distribution locations are in Saugerties, Woodstock, Brooklyn, and New York City (8 locations). Please let your friends know about this opportunity and let us know of your interest as soon as possible.

The cost is $124.00 for 4 distributions, one in December, January, February, and March. Each produce package will be delivered to SunRaven and consist of 6-7 items. Winter Sun Farms preserves the produce by freezing, canning or cold storing as in the case of its root vegetables. Below is a list to give you an idea of what your share would look like, but of course, it is subject to mother nature always has a say in the share.


4 Jars Heirloom Red Tomatoes 28oz

1 Jar Carolina Gold Yellow Tomatoes 28oz

2 Packages Pepper Mix (Rainbow or Five Farm) 13.5

1 Package Yellow and Green Summer Squash 16oz

2 Packages Whole Raspberries 5oz

2 Packages Whole Blueberries (or Blackberry) 8oz

2 Packages Broccoli Florets 9.5oz

2 Packages Green Beans 12oz

1 Packages Broccoli 16oz

2 Packages Butternut Squash Puree 16oz

3 Packages Fall Greens Mix 9.5oz

1 Package Edam me 8oz

1 Package Cauliflower 9.5oz


1 Package Carrots---root cellared 2lbs

1 Package Potatoes---root cellared 5lbs

2 Packages Pea Shoots---1/3 lb

1 Package Onion--- root cellared 2lbs

26-28 items in Total —6-7 items per drop off.

Your commitment will include a return e-mail to me stating your interest and a check made out to Winter Sun Farms. Please send to:

Kathryn Dysart c/o


501 Guard Hill Road

Bedford, NY 10506

. Or..... We can now pay on-line. Check it out...

Go To:

Click: Hudson Valley

New Paltz, NY

Enter Website

Click: Become a Member (red bar on left)

Scroll down to SunRaven/ Bedford, NY

Click: SunRaven/ Bedford, NY

If you decide to pay on-line, please let me know. The delivery dates and times have not been established yet. I'll let you know as soon as I know.

We look forward to hearing from you and are very excited to be able to offer this healthy winter food supply. Thanks again for your interest and participation.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ride like a car


On our ride last Saturday, we had a group of about 12 or so riders. We were on Five Points Road heading towards QVC. We were on the right side of the road and a car behind me stopped and was trying to turn right.

As I watched with my rear view mirror, I saw the bikers still following me and NOT stopping to let the car turn right.

It was not a good situation and luckily the car was patient enough to wait for the all riders to pass by him on the right.

I am not sure what is right here but I am guessing the cyclists should have stopped and let the car turn right.

Does anyone know the rule for this situation??

Monday, September 21, 2009

Group riding, why do it?? Chicks start a new buddy system

I was reading some email posts from another club, the ride leader was wondering why some folks show up for group rides and then proceed to ride way ahead and sometimes even take off to the point that the rest of the riders never see them again.

Indeed, bike clubs and group rides exist for one purpose and that is to ride with others. Group rides provide some company on the road and let you ride with some degree of safety since there are others with you on the ride. Group rides are NOT for everyone. Some folks just want to ride alone and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

But no matter whose bike club email posts you are reading, they all sound the same. No one rides the posted speeds, people always take off the front of the ride, either raising the group speed or just hijacking the ride completely.

What is the problem?? why show up for a group ride if you have no intention of actually doing the posted speed and if you have no interest in keeping the group together??

Some ride leaders do not really care if they lose folks or if folks take off and I have to ask, then why run a group ride? If as a group ride leader you do not really care if you lose folks then you do a disservice to those that show up.

Keeping a group together is just part of the ride. If this does not interest you, then bike alone. Cuz if you show up for a group ride and then take off, it says to the group that you have no interest in them.

This season Biker Chicks has been known for helping new riders and inspiring old riders. This season several riders have taken off in their skills and speeds. But all started in the Biker Chicks. So this says a lot about our group of riders. Julia and Melinda and Lexi all did the Marsh Creek triathlon. All three rode with the chicks, Cass did her first century this past weekend. Libby and Ellen did a century last fall. Eileen and hubby have done the Ride across Iowa for many years.

But Chicks are a unique group in that we accept all riders and are willing to help riders achieve great things. We are unlike the other groups in most clubs. We do not race each other, we teach skills to newbies, and we have fun.

So why the group rides create so many problems is a mystery to me. My own club has had its share of issues and anywhere on the Net you can read about some club ride gone awry.

In light of all of this, Biker Chicks is starting a new policy. When our group is more than 8 riders, we will pair up and each pair will keep track of each other. That way no one gets lost and the temptation to take off in the front will be lessened.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

kids and bike trailers, another rant, I hate them

this style is just plain dangerous

this is better

I saw a post on talking about a problem a cyclist had with a motorist and his bike and child trailer. He has his daughter in the trailer and got buzzed closely at an intersection. The cyclist blamed the motorist.

I am taking the reverse position in this regards. I do not like to see bike trailers on roads. To me this is just too dangerous and not worth the risks to the child. There are other options, bike trails or roads in housing developments.

A better alternative is to get a good tricycle or small bike for the child. Walk with the child while she rides, more exercise and a better all around activity. I used to jog and my youngest rode his bike next to me. He loved it and we both got exercise.

Or if lucky like me, we had a large hospital parking lot near by, which was most times half empty and especially on weekends. We would bike together to the lot and then play bike games at the lot.

In the Philadelphia area we have many trails for parents to use with children and trailers. I do plead with those parents who think dragging a child in a trailer is safe to find something else to do with the child.

A trip to a park comes to mind. Swings, slides and climbers, way more fun for the child. But get rid of the trailes, just tooooooo dangerous.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

fabo ride today

Fall is the best time ever for bike riding in Chester County, cool temps and soon we will have the extra treat of the fall foliage. We did 30 miles this morning and had a great time although we lost Thebesteverlisa (her twitter name) and her fiance, not sure what happened, I texted my phone number to her. Check WCCC ride page for posted rides coming up for Chicks, I will list my cell on that page.

Next Sunday I am doing the Bike Fresh Bike Local, a great cause and ride, Starts and ends in Downingtown, come on out.

Tentatively planning a ride for next thursday evening, leaving my house at 4 pm, (no parking in town at this time) and we will do around 25 miles. Check WCCC ride page for updates on this ride. Make sure to check it prior to heading out for the ride.

BUT COME ON OUT, this is the best and most fun time of the year for biking.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Staphylococcus aureus - A Staph Infection

My son recently got hit with staph, his exact staph was labeled MSSA, doctors thought he had MRSA, he ended up in the hospital, knee had swollen to the size of a cantaloupe.

He went to the ER, and lucky for him he went to a trauma center. He was under the knife within hrs of seeing the orthopaedist. Lucky for him as well, that his ortho guy was top notch and recognized a bad situation quickly.

He was immediately put on an IV drip of a very powerful anti-biotic and then had the knee drained and surgery followed.

So what is the point of this post, only by some luck and vigilance did my son receive such good treatment with what appears to be a good outcome.

We all use health clubs, spas, hot tubs and weight rooms. We all use health club showers and locker rooms. We all get scrapes and injuries when cycling. We all tend to ignore them as well.

We do need to be careful of treating cuts etc with care, while my son had no recollection of any cut, needless to say, he still got staph. He had no visible cut or scrape and could not remember having one within the last 6 months.

My son responded well to anti-biotics, why, who knows? I do know that he eats no meats with anti-biotics in them and tends to eat very healthy foods.

But I do know, there are more super strains of infections and we are all vulnerable. Hand washing often, cleaning and taking care of any injury are two things we can all do.

stay alert

I see many many folks driving their cars with cell phones stuck to their heads, kids in the back seat - this is a moving 2 ton automobile on auto pilot

No one is at the controls, and these folks are on the roads when we cyclists are on the roads. Many do not see us, many are impatient and many just do not care.

So when biking, you have to bike with the notion that unless you pay 100% attention to what you are doing, you may end up a statistic.

You have to use a rear view mirror, you HAVE to ride single file and you must have some road sense when on your bike. You are looking for potholes, gravel and any obstacles in your path.

If biking in a group, you must be aware of the other riders, do not follow close, do not stop suddenly and announce when you have a problem.

As ride leader, I take your safety personally, I want you safe when you ride with me. I want you thinking about safety and I want you to be courteous to cars and pedestrians. Car is KING, you stand no chance against the car. Remember that.

Club riders get a bad rep on the roads as road hogs, and rude to the cars. As cyclists we cannot change how car drivers view us but we change how we are seen on the roads. Stopping to let a car by goes a long ways to keeping that driver happy. Think of the next cyclist he encounters, he may be less impatient.

SLOW FOOD NEWS Around the Area

September 26 (Saturday)
PIGHAMPTON, the Fourth Annual Slow Food NYC/East End Pig RoastEvent Description: Join us at PIGHAMPTON, the fourth annual Slow Food NYC/East End Pig Roast on Saturday, September 26th at 6:30 PM (rain or shine) at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. It doesn't get much more local than this..Karen Rivara's Raw Bar of Peconic Pearl and Mystic oysters and local clams, Harry Ludlow's Bridgehampton Fairview Farm heritage breed pigs, roasted low and slow by Foody's own "Pig Master," Chef Bryan Futerman, and, of course, the great wines of Paumanok Vineyards, on the North Fork, poured by winemaker, Kareem Massoud.

Proceeds from this event will support the programs and activities of Slow Food NYC and Slow Food East End.

Location: Hayground School - 151 Mitchell's Lane; Bridgehampton, South Fork, Long Island [Map]

Time: 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Tickets: Slow Food Members - $95 / Non-members - $115

Tickets Available ONLY on-line at

October 3 (Saturday)
SLOW U: Coffee – Good, Clean, and Fair

Event Description: NYC coffee roaster, Dallis Coffee, and NYC coffee consultant, TampTamp Inc., will host a special Slow U seminar on coffee.

Learn from these NYC coffee experts, Anne Nylander, of TampTamp, and Teresa von Fuchs, of Dallis, how coffee is grown, sourced, and processed while delving into the social, political, and economic complexities of the global coffee trade. Anne and Teresa will discuss the environmental impacts of coffee and show how your coffee choices can support small, traditional, sustainable coffee farms and the families who work them.

In addition, while sampling some of Dallis’ finest, sustainably produced coffees, Teresa and Anne will demonstrate professional tasting techniques and explain evaluation criteria.

Location: Think Coffee – 248 Mercer St, (btwn. 3rd and 4th Sts.), Manhattan [Web Site]

Time: 10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Tickets: Slow Food Members - $20 / Non-members - $25

Tickets Available ONLY on-line at

November 8 (Sunday)
Nose to Tail Eating: Lamb Butchering - Demo, Tasting, and AuctionEvent Description: See Master Butcher Rudi Weid break down the carcass of a 110 lb sustainably and humanely raised lamb (straight from the pastures of Three Corner Field Farm in Shushan, N.Y.) into primals, sub-primals, and, ultimately, into roasts, chops, and miscellaneous cuts, like organ meat and stewing meat. In the age of "boxed" and vacuum packaged meat, this is a truly unique opportunity.

As Master Butcher Rudi wields his knives from head to hind quarter, he will discuss each section, muscle, and cut and you will enjoy another lamb, roasted, seared, and grilled, accompanied by New York State wine specially selected for the occasion. When Rudi is done, you will have opportunity to bid on cuts to take home. (Cash and checks will be accepted.) Proceeds from this event will benefit the Slow Food NYC Harvest Time program of good food education at schools in East Harlem, on the Lower East Side, and in Williamsburg.

Location: The Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) - 50 West 23rd St.; Manhattan [Web Site]

Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Tickets: Slow Food Members - $55 / Non-members - $75

Tickets Available ONLY on-line at

(Note, please DO NOT contact ICE about tickets for this event. )

Other Community Events

September 17 (Thursday)
The Sustainable Agriculture Investment ConferenceEvent Description: Creating a sustainable food system requires capital.

Join investors, agriculture and food entrepreneurs and government officials at the inaugural networking and investment conference for the sustainable agriculture industry.

For more information, visit

Register Here:

Location: Marriott Financial Center - Manhattan

Time: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm

September 20 (Sunday)
il Buco sixth annual "Sagra del Maiale" Pig RoastEvent Description: On Sunday, September 20th, il Buco will celebrate its 15th anniversary while hosting its sixth annual outdoor Pig and Apple Festival. Chef Ignacio Mattos and staff rise before the sun and start a bonfire on Bond Street, where they slow-roast a 200 lb heritage breed Ossabaw Pig. Additional dishes include their renowned Porchetta Panini, apple pork sausages, farmers market panzanella, wild arugula, and apple ricotta fritters. Many of il Buco's local farm producers will be in attendance at the event.

$20 for all menu items. Alcoholic beverages including Red and White Wine, Prosecco, Lambrusco, and Wolffer Estates Apple Wine will be $10 per beverage. Beer will be $6.

il Buco will keep in line with its commitment to the environment by using only biodegradable and compostable paper goods, cutlery and drinking cups during the festival.

More info at

Location: il Buco - 47 Bond Street (btn Lafayette and Bowery), Manhattan

Time: 1:00 pm - 9:00 pm

September 20 (Sunday)
Poppy Tooker at Stone Barns

Event Description: Visit the Stone Barnes Center for Food & Agriculture as they welcome New Orleans Slow Food Leader Poppy Tooker to celebrate her book Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook that showcases the best of classic Creole and modern regional cooking.

After Hurricane Katrina, Poppy spent every waking moment raising money, working with farmers, fishers and market organizers to bring the farmers’ markets back into the community.

Poppy will demonstrate a delicious gumbo and sign copies of her book, which will be available for sale.

More info at

Location: Stone Barnes Center for Food & Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY [Directions]

Time: 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

September 30 (Wednesday)
Panel Discussion - The Changing Role of American FarmersEvent Description: Over the past decade, our relationship to food and how it’s grown has transformed. But what about our relationship to the people who grow it? There is hope in the legions of new, young, and urban farmers cropping up around the United States, and yet overall, our country’s agricultural community is shrinking by the day. How is the role of farmers in our society and in our lives shifting? And what still needs to change?

Moderator Lisa Hamilton, author of the recently published “Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness,” will be joined by organic pioneer Fred Kirschenmann, a Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York; the New York Times’ Verlyn Klinkenborg, author of “The Rural Life”; and New York farmer Mary-Howell Martens.

Admission is free.

More info at or call 212-274-1160

Location: McNally Jackson Books - 52 Prince St. (b/t Lafayette & Mulberry)

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Group riding and riding 2-3 abreast

Biker Chicks are moving to promote single file biking at all times when on a two lane road with heavy traffic which happens to be many roads in Chester County. Biker Chicks are cracking down on riding near the center yellow line.

Now we all have ridden 2-3 abreast and have been talking and not paying attention. But I think at this time with all the hostility of car drivers towards cyclists, our lives are at stake.

We must ride on the side of the road, when there is no shoulder, it is suggested that we ride about 2 feet from the white side line. This gives the cyclist some wiggle room if buzzed. If there is a wide shoulder, we should ride near the white line.

I also highly recommend the rear view mirror on your helmet or glasses so you can watch what is coming from behind. Many guys think this is whimpy but I would rather be alive and whimpy than dead and not whimpy.

So when out with the Chicks, I will be serious about single file riding, and using common sense. When we bike through a housing development, single file is not necessary but most of our rides are on busy roads. When I yell single file, move over immediately. Hey wait, I should not have to yell out single file cuz Chicks will always be riding single file. Roads where single file riding is required are rt 842, rt 82, rt 162, rt 100 and Sconneltown Road. There are no exceptions on these roads

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Westchester Guardian/The Advocate/Westchester County Government/Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If This is What County Government
Has Done For The People Of Westchester, It’s
Time To Do Away With County Government

Last Tuesday morning, September 8th, we attended the third in a series of hearings at the County Legislators’ Committee Conference Room at the County Office Building dealing with the federal government’s ultimatum to Westchester to promulgate and finally comply with the rules and actions needed to bring about affordable, fair housing.

Regardless of the show that Susan Tolchin, Deputy County Executive, continues to stage, ably assisted by attorney Stuart Gerson of Epstein, Becker & Greene, there is no denying that Andy Spano, and his partner in crime, Larry Schwartz, have gotten Westchester taxpayers in over their heads by their reckless, incompetent misappropriation of nearly $52 million, and their deceptive accounting of its use.

Last week we suggested that Spano had let down both the legislators and taxpayers. We still believe that. However, following a discussion with Chairman Bill Ryan just prior to the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, we now believe that the legislature is every bit as culpable as Spano & Company for the predicament homeowners and taxpayers are now confronted with. When asked how it was that he and his fellow
Board Members had not retained their own attorney, Chairman Ryan indicated that he didn’t believe that the Board of Legislators needed separate legal counsel.

When we raised the issue of Separation Of Powers between the Executive and Legislative branches in County Government, Ryan saw no conflict in relying upon the legal advice of County Attorney, Charlene Indelicato, who was employed at the pleasure of the County Executive, and Stuart Gerson, outside counsel also retained by Spano, to whom Gerson expressed his “loyalty” at the first hearing, a notion Ryan quickly took issue with. We do not accept the idea that Bill Ryan could possibly be that naive. If he is trying to suggest that Andy and Larry haven’t misappropriated federal grants and misrepresented to the federal government, the Department Of Housing And Urban Development, what they did with $52 million, he is culpable before, and after, the fact, and should be held just as accountable as Spano,
Schwartz, and Tolchin, together with every other legislator who sits around that conference table never once asking where the $52
million went.

In plain English, there is no way that use of the same attorneys who, for more than two years, have worked for Spano & Company in the effort to mitigate and minimize their wrongdoing in negotiations with the Justice Department, HUD, and the Federal Court should now be advising and instructing a supposedly separate and independent body of taxpayer representatives, particularly given that those same taxpayers must now pick up the $65 million tab for all that wrongdoing.

It’s safe to say that the 17-member Legislature, the overwhelming majority of whom were campaign-financed and assisted by Spano from contributions controlled by him and Larry Schwartz, are not all that concerned about the plight of their constituents under the terms of the imposed settlement. Why else would only 12 of them show up on time and others, such as Republican Jim Maisano, miss both the first and third hearings?

Jim Johnson, a former United States Attorney, a federal prosecutor with extensive experience in the area of housing discrimination, was introduced as the appointed monitor, although Chairman Ryan was careful to describe him as “the individual proposed as monitor,” as if the County had
any choice in the matter if the Legislature accepts the settlement.

Then Ryan introduced Rose Noonan, an individual with several years of experience in housing issues in Westchester, dealing with not-for-profits, County government, as well as the City of Yonkers, and instructing at Pace University Law School; in short, someone thoroughly enmeshed
in, and dependant upon, the Westchester network of control for her bread and butter.

At that point, as if to emphasize his allegiance to, and blind obedience to, the Spano Regime, Ryan said, “We have our very own outside counsel who is acting as our consultant in this matter, Stuart Gerson.”

Nothing could be further from the truth given the manner in which this entire housing dilemma was brought into being, under the control and mismanagement of Spano & Company.

To now tell the public, the overtaxed homeowners and business-people who will have to foot the bill, that Stuart Gerson, an attorney who has
been working behind the scenes for more than two years to cover Andy’s backside, that he is the County Legislators’ legal consultant, is to deny
any independent voice, any representation of the Peoples’ interest, on the part of the so-called County Legislature.

In fact, it is a blatant admission that the Board of Legislators is simply a 17-member/50 support staff rubber stamp; and a damned expensive one at that. Readers must not lose sight of the fact that 13 out of 17 of these so-called legislators, individuals pulling down $1,000 a week plus stipends
for a part-time job, are Democrats, all of whom feel beholden to Spano and Schwartz, and, could care less about their constituents’ interests or wishes.

They proved that, unmistakeably, with the purchase of the Halpern white elephant at 450 Saw Mill River Road in Ardsley last year. They established that when Andy says “jump”, they only ask, “how high?”

The moldy old building was a commitment of $13.5 million, to possibly as much as $20 million, before it is repaired and renovated; we will never know for sure. This commitment, if approved, will be for $65 million. Not one of these legislators asks where the money went, or why Spano violated the False Claims Act by lying, yes, lying to HUD and the federal government. They don’t ask because they are culpable themselves.

If ever there was a moment when the citizens of Westchester could clearly see the dysfunction within County government; the failure to have checks and balances, the corruption with money of the Legislative Branch by the Executive, that moment is now!

The Board of Legislators is ready to sell out the People of Westchester. Not one of them apparently comes to the table with clean hands. So committed are they, Republicans included, to covering up all of the wrongdoing and double-dealing that has placed our homeowners and taxpayers
in the fix they are now in, that they are only too ready to sign off on an agreement that will cost their constituents $65 million and place control of the future growth of their communities in federal hands.

If this is what County government has done for the People of Westchester, it is time to do away with County government.

Westchester Guardian/In Our Opinion/Our Readers Respond.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Our Opinion...

Hey, Mike!

We strongly support the First Amendment, particularly Freedom Of The Press. As a newspaper, we are very sensitive to any attempt,
no matter how subtle or disguised, to stifle free expression of one’s knowledge or beliefs. History has repeatedly shown us that totalitarian
regimes characteristically do not accept, or live in harmony with, a free press.

A free press, and an unfettered marketplace of ideas, is essential to any Democratic society or form of government. However, it is mandatory
that anyone holding themselves out as a journalist be willing to identify both himself and his source, especially when publishing an accusatory piece, one that may be damaging to another, or to their reputation. In this regard, although we support the First Amendment in all of its manifestations, be they broadcast, newsprint, hard-covered, or electronic, we have no respect for those who would ventilate their flatulent offerings while hiding behind the anonymity of their computer IP.

Such creatures foul up the marketplace of ideas with their excretions, frequently not merely assuming an Anon or some other fictional
identification, but often using many assumed identities, sometimes 10 or 12, posting one dropping after another, asking and answering their own irrelevancies. At times these ‘burnt offerings’ are almost amusing, but for their usual highly defamatory content. For such posters, it’s as though they can’t get their daily fix until they spew their venom, and then go hide.

To suggest that such multiple posters are cowardly creatures is to engage in classic British understatement. They have an axe to grind, and/or an agenda, or somebody else’s agenda to further, and frequently go from blog to blog, leaving behind their mostly fictional, malicious rants, much as graffiti sprayers do as they go from wall to fence, disfiguring the urban panorama.

Interestingly, even when they blow their own cover with their repetitive beef, their practice-specific terminology, and their manic repetition,
getting identified by name by the very next poster, they go right on as if the silver bullet had just bounced off their body armor. In reality, they are pathetically addicted to the blogosphere, getting a rush from posting rude, sometimes very crude, remarks about decent individuals whose shoes they couldn’t shine, whose eyes they couldn’t look into; they don’t stand tall enough.

“Cowardly creatures”? Sure, but somehow ‘little worm’ seems a much more fitting description. It’s truly hard to tell if they are one notch above, or one notch below, the creeps who write on the walls in public toilets. As a “political commentator”, Mike Edelman, what do you think?

Our Readers Respond...

And Now A Word From The Right

Dear Editor:

After reading an article by your Democratic operative, Fred Polvere (Our Elite Media) I must ask a question culled from his “objective” article. On what planet do you spend your time, Mr. Polvere? The article deals with an ad placed on MoveOn.Org during the Bush Administration which spliced together images of Bush and Hitler. It is Polvere’s contention that the Republican Party unfairly condemned the Democrats when he claims they were totally innocent in the publication of the ads.

For Polvere’s information MoveOn.Org is a left-wing group funded by George Soros, an avowed Socialist, and an unofficial arm of the Democratic Party. To state as he did in the article that the Republicans should have remained mum and not condemned the Soros group and the Democrats is na├»ve. Who runs the mainstream media in America today? Not the Republicans or the various conservative talk show hosts,
but as Polvere knows, or should know, the media is infested with Liberals who wouldn’t know the truth if they fell over it.

Instead he condemns the Fox News Channel which at least makes an effort to present both sides of an issue. Can the same be said for CBS, NBC, ABC or the New York Times? The fact that a majority of Americans fell for the left wing propaganda of the left wing media and elected a neo-Marxist President is clear proof of the “objectivity” of the press. If they had dared to tell the truth about Obama’s background, his associates, and his political philosophy, it is a good bet that he would not be sitting in the White House with his American hating wife. The press in America has disgraced itself by laying down and becoming a harlot for the Obama Administration.

Sal Dye, New Rochelle

Another Good Idea From Paul

Dear Editor:

At the meeting of the Greenburgh Town Board on September 9th two residents spoke of the value of CPR training. One mother (Janine Thompson) advised the Town Board that her small child’s life was saved because a child care provider who worked for her provided CPR after the child choked (and after the frightened mother failed to successfully stop the choking). Wendy Marder Lewin also spoke of the need for CPR training.

The presentation made me reflect on an unpleasant fact: most people do not know what to do if a family member has a choking incident. Even if someone had CPR training years ago –if they don’t get refreshers, they will forget what needs to be done. I would like to suggest that all school districts teach every middle school and high school student CPR. CPR training by a qualified instructor could save lives. Students should also learn how to relieve choking and how to use an AED –automated external defibrillator. If one life is saved because of this annual instruction it would be worth the cost. Providing CPR training to every middle school and high school student and reinforcing the training each year makes a tremendous amount of sense.

Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor

Westchester Guardian/The Court Report.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

Former Manhattan Cosmetic Surgery Clinic Owner
Extradited From Canada Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Defraud

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ARTHUR KISSEL, a/k/a “Arthur Froom,” a former cosmetic surgery clinic owner, pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to a scheme to defraud health insurance companies of more than $900,000.

According to the Indictment to which KISSEL pleaded guilty; the evidence at the 2000 trial of KISSEL’s wife, SONIA LAFONTAINE, in the case; and statements made during KISSEL’s September 2008 bail hearing and the guilty plea proceeding before United States District Judge DENNY CHIN: KISSEL and LAFONTAINE owned and operated LaFontaine Rish Medical Associates, a cosmetic surgery clinic located at 315 West 57th Street in Manhattan. LAFONTAINE -- who had no medical license and was not acting under a physician’s supervision - performed procedures which were billed as having been performed by licensed physicians. KISSEL and LAFONTAINE’s clinic also billed cosmetic procedures, such as “tummy-tucks” and liposuction, in the guise of medically necessary procedures, such as hernia repairs and lesion removals. They also submitted claims to insurance companies for procedures that were never performed, and exaggerated insurance claims by increasing the number and complexity of procedures that were actually performed.

KISSEL and LAFONTAINE were originally indicted in March 1998. At that time, KISSEL was in Canada where he and his wife ran another cosmetic surgery clinic. LAFONTAINE was arrested in the United States in 1998 and was found guilty on all charges on July 12, 2000, following a six-week jury trial. She was ultimately sentenced to ten years in prison. The United States initiated extradition proceedings against KISSEL in 2000, which resulted in his August 2008 return from Canada on these charges.

KISSEL, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud, and one count of mail fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison on each count; a maximum fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime on each count; and forfeiture of the proceeds of his crimes. KISSEL is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge CHIN on December 15, 2009 at 2:30 p.m.

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Major Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney ROBIN W. MOREY is in charge of the prosecution.

Westchester Guardian/Jeff Deskovic.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jeff Deskovic

Creation Of A National Institute
Of Forensic Sciences Is Critical

On September 3, 2009, a story appeared in the Daily News regarding Dwight Gomas, who had spent 17 months in Rikers Island in New York for robbery before it came to light that the fingerprints which formed the basis for his arrest did not, in fact, match him.

According to the News, “He was in fact 880 miles away, living in Atlanta, when armed thugs robbed Theresa’s Gold Lynch jewelry store in
Howard Beach in October 2003. A year later, Gomas was arrested for the robbery by United States marshals. Detective Eileen Barrett had
matched a partial index finger print from the crime scene to Gomas, whose prints were on file after an arrest for driving with a suspended license in Brooklyn. It was the only arrest on his record other than a juvenile bust.

A second NYPD detective, Charles Schenkel, confirmed Barrett’s identification, according to court papers. Gomas maintained his innocence
before the grand jury, but was indicted and couldn’t make the $30,000 bail. His Legal Aid lawyer advised him to accept a plea offer of five years in prison, but he refused. Gomas was headed to trial for a Queens jewelry store stickup when a veteran detective routinely checked his identification.

‘When I looked at it, I said, ‘You know what? is is a screw up; this is not his fingerprints,’ said Detective Daniel Perruzza, according to a
court transcript. ‘It looks similar, but ‘similar’ doesn’t cut it in prints. It has to be an exact match,’ Perruzza said. During his 523 days in jail, he lost his spot in a cooking school and his girlfriend and their child moved in with another man.”

As I have long maintained, the idea that people could be arrested and wrongfully convicted for crimes that they are innocent of is quite
scary. But the idea that one could be wrongfully arrested for a crime that happens in another state nearly 1000 miles away is even scarier. Yet it is a reality.

According to The Innocence Project’s website, “A report from the National Academy of Sciences released this year found that fingerprint
analysis was among the forensic disciplines that has not ‘been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.’ According to The Innocence Project, “Stephan Cowans spent more than five years in Massachusetts prisons after a false fingerprint match led to his conviction for a crime he didn’t commit.”

But this problem goes way beyond merely cases in which fingerprint evidence is a factor. According to the Just Science website, which is
a broad-based group committed to having scientific standards in place regarding forensic science so that only scientifically based, sound procedures are the foundation of any forensic evidence and testimony in criminal cases: “Many forensic disciplines have evolved primarily through their use in individual cases and have not been scientifically validated or standardized. Forensic analysts sometimes testify in cases without a proper scientific basis for their findings. Testimony about more dubious forensic disciplines, such as efforts to match a
defendant’s teeth to marks on a victim or attempts to compare a defendant’s voice to a voicemail recording, are cloaked in science but lack even the most basic scientific standards.

Even within forensic disciplines that are more firmly grounded in science, evidence is often made to sound more precise than it should. For example, analysts will testify that hairs from a crime scene ‘match’ or ‘are consistent with’ defendants’ hair – but because scientific research on validity and reliability of hair analysis is lacking, they have no way of knowing how rare these similarities are, so there is no way to know how meaningful this evidence is.

In approximately 50% of DNA exonerations, unvalidated or improper forensic science contributed to the wrongful conviction. But, while DNA exonerations are a window into the effect of unvalidated or improper forensic science contributing to wrongful convictions, DNA does not solve the problem. Experts estimate that only 5-10% of all criminal cases involve biological evidence that could be subjected to DNA testing. In the other 90-95% of crimes, DNA testing is not an option – so the criminal justice system relies on other kinds of evidence, including forensic disciplines that may not be scientifically sound or properly conducted.”

With that background, the need for a National Institute of Forensic Science created by Congress is obvious. Roy Brown spent 15 years in
prison in New York for a murder he was innocent of. Innocence Project Co-Founder Peter Neufeld testified at a Congressional Hearing that,
“‘The forensic dentist [at Roy Brown’s trial] used what was then the prevailing method of comparing bite marks found on a body with the dentures of a suspect,’ said Neufeld. ‘He examined them and decided that he had a match with Roy’s bite. He so testified in court, and Roy was convicted.’”

At the moment, Congress is holding hearings and considering creating just such an entity. Fueling the inquiry is a report that was recently released. According to the Just Science website, “In 2006, Congress appropriated funds to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
to thoroughly study the fundamental underpinnings of forensic science and its applications in our criminal justice system. A blue-ribbon NAS panel was formed – including scientists, academics, a retired federal judge, and other notable experts. Over an eighteen-month period, the group held several public hearings and gathered comprehensive research on forensic disciplines.

This Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community released its final report, Strengthening Forensic Science in
the United States: A Path Forward, in February 2009. In releasing their report, the co-chairs of the committee emphasized that there was a consistent theme throughout their deliberations.”

The report says: “The forensic science system, encompassing both research and practice, has serious problems that can only be addressed
by a national commitment to overhaul the current structure that supports the forensic science community in this country. This can only be done with effective leadership at the highest levels of both federal and state governments, pursuant to national standards, and with a

significant infusion of federal funds.”

The report’s key findings include:

• “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, however, no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently,
and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.” (NAS Report, page S-5)

• “…What is needed to support and oversee the forensic science community is a new, strong and independent entity that could take on the
tasks that would be assigned to it in a manner that is as objective and free of bias as possible – one with no ties to the past and with the authority and resources to implement a fresh agenda…” (NAS Report p S-13)

• “There are great disparities among existing forensic science operations in federal, state and local law enforcement jurisdictions and agencies…
It is clear, however, that any approach to overhauling the existing system needs to address and help minimize the community’s current
fragmentation and inconsistent practices.” (NAS Report, page S-4)

• “Although research has been done in some disciplines, there is a notable dearth of peer-reviewed, published studies establishing the scientific
bases and validity of many forensic methods.” (NAS Report, page S-6)

• “A body of research is [also] required to establish the limits and measures of performance and to address the impact of sources of variability
and potential bias.” (NAS Report, page S-6)

• “…The adversarial process relating to the admission and exclusion of scientific evidence is not suited to the task of finding ‘scientific truth’…Judicial review, by itself, will not cure the infirmities of the forensic science community.” (NAS Report, page S-20)” According to that report, here is what reform would look like: “Assessment of validity and reliability:

• The federal government should establish a science-based federal entity or agency, the National Institute for Forensic Sciences (NIFS), to review
both existing and new techniques, devices and assays to determine the extent to which they are scientifically valid and reliable for use in the criminal justice system.

• NIFS should establish standards for reliable application of forensic science disciplines in criminal cases (e.g. match criteria) to ensure the use of forensics within prescribed parameters.

• NIFS should have compliance authority to ensure the discontinuation of invalid or unreliable methods.


• NIFS should fund both basic and applied research to test the validity and reliability of extant forensic methods, devices and assays; and to
support the development of new technologies to solve crime.

Quality assurance, accreditation and certification:

• NIFS should set enforceable standards for public and private laboratories, as well as for individual professionals, that conduct forensic tests
and examinations intended for use in courts.

• Quality controls and quality assurance programs should be established to secure the integrity of the ultimate forensic product in laboratories
and in courts. This should include (but not be limited to) validation of devices for particular labs; written protocols and procedures; minimum
qualifications, staff training and proficiency testing for personnel; and parameters for data interpretation, report writing and testimony.


• NIFS should support comprehensive training and professional development in the forensic science field in order to build the capacity for research
and quality assurance, and to bring current and new forensic science personnel into compliance with established qualifications and standards.


• The Director of NIFS, in consultation with science-based federal government agencies, should appoint a Forensic Science National Commission
composed of science professionals to set broad research priorities and to promulgate forensic science standards.

• The Director of NIFS, in consultation with science and criminal justice-based federal government agencies, should also appoint an Advisory
Committee to provide input to the Commission and NIFS with regard to its various responsibilities.”

There are many junk sciences that lead to wrongful convictions. There is bullet lead analysis, which falsely purports to be able to trace the bullet fired from a gun used in a crime all the way back to the box from which it originated.

According to The Innocence Project’s website: “Hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm testing or tool mark analysis – have never been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. Other methods – such as serology (commonly known as blood typing) – have been properly validated
but are sometimes improperly conducted or inaccurately conveyed in trial testimony. In some cases, forensic analysts have fabricated results
or engaged in other misconduct.”

With each new revelation of a junk science, it becomes apparent that perhaps thousands more have been wrongfully convicted. Considering that we are talking about people’s lives, it is high time that we have a National Institute for Forensic Science. After all, in other disciplines oversight agencies and standards are in place. Electrical devices are scrutinized and tested by the Underwriters Laboratory. The Food and Drug Administration provides a similar function with respect to medicine and food.

A thought that has been absent, so far as I am aware, in the recent discussion about this topic is that while it is important for these steps to be taken, what has gone on previously? Surely the ‘experts’ who were testifying about various “sciences” in court in the furtherance of trying to
convict a defendant had to be aware that there was no scientific underpinning to them; that there existed no replicable protocols, or statistics,
that it was not hard science and in fact often was junk science.

While I could envision a few people doing so out of ignorance, it strains credulity to say that is the case with everybody. As people with advance degrees, they are familiar with general scientific methods. How could others who omit information regarding the statistical significance of a match or those who embellish, or even outright lie about it do so? Is there no conscience involved?

In my view, someone would have to be quite evil to give false or even simply inaccurate testimony against somebody, knowing that they were on trial often for serious crimes. Also unmentioned is the need to identify each and every “expert” who has engaged in any of these types of fraud,
and the need to vigorously prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Supervisors under whose watch fraud has occurred should, wherever it can be shown that they either looked the other way or even simply were negligent in their oversight, be fired and publicly disgraced, and permanently barred from ever working for the government again.

Their actions have, in my view, undermined, for quite a long time to come, the ability of the public who is aware of these issues, to feel safe as they
go about their daily lives, much as violent criminals who are concentrated in a particular geographical area do so.

In fact, I think that the level of fear could be higher. The odds of me, as an exoneree and therefore a high public profile, along with extremely competent lawyers working on my lawsuits, ever being wrongfully convicted again, are extremely low.

However, even with these differences between myself and the general public without those resources I, too, am once again afraid. Imagine that even being 880 miles away from a crime is not enough of an assurance of not being wrongfully arrested for it. As Dwight Gomas stated as reported in The Daily News “It is just a nightmare knowing that someone that’s innocent can be picked up off the street and held. That scares me now. It’s like I’m walking on eggshells. I try to cover my tracks for everywhere I go.”

Think, too, about sitting as a defendant at the defense table and listening to expert testimony that you don’t fully understand that is offered as evidence against you. Imagine being equipped with a court-appointed, overworked, under funded, and quite possibly incompetent, lawyer to represent you. Do you have confidence in what the outcome of such a trial would be, despite your innocence?

Westchester Guardian/Catherine Wilson.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catherine Wilson, Bureau Chief
Northern Westchester

Protecting Your Assets From
Your Own Family

In August, 2007, the Guardian reported on the prevalence of identity the in our society. At that time we revealed that the biggest threat to an individual’s identity and assets is their own family. Who else knows your date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, the first school you attended,
your last address, and even the name of your pets? When a family member uses your information to obtain a loan for themselves, it constitutes identity the and they can be criminally prosecuted.

But there is a growing area of the that is posing an even greater cause for concern for our local residents, particularly the elderly and the disabled – the the of assets covered under a power-of-attorney.

In recent months the Guardian has learned of numerous cases in Westchester communities where a family discovered, upon the demise of a loved one, that their loved one’s estate was depleted using a pre-existing power-of-attorney (POA). Until this month, depleting the entire life savings
of a family member with a power-of-attorney was relatively easy to do in New York State. All the unethical family member needed to do was coerce their loved one in granting them full powers over their assets by signing a POA form in the presence of a notary.

Prior state laws incorrectly surmised that a notary would assure that the POA was being signed by the individual of their own free will. Notaries
Public regularly witness the signing of a variety of legal documents and are supposed to be independent of the parties involved. However, there is no audit mechanism in place in New York State to verify that the notary witnessing the signature was indeed independent and verified the capability of the signer and their willingness to conduct the transaction.

In one case that the Guardian has observed, the notaries involved did not conduct any due diligence whatsoever, thereby allowing the fraud to

Virtually anyone over the age of 18 can become a Notary Public in New York State – all it takes is a $15 fee and a passing grade on a relatively
simple test, the answers to which are supplied online by local County Clerks’ offices. It is all too easy under current New York State Notary Public laws for a family member to become a notary and “witness” the coerced form signed by the elderly victim.

Dementia victims, individuals suffering from mental and cognitive problems, poorly educated individuals, and even individuals who are incredibly trusting, are particularly vulnerable to this type of the . An elderly individual who is no longer able to take care of their finances and affairs often turns to a family-member for assistance. That family member, once aware of the amount of assets in the elderly person’s accounts, may see an opportunity to obtain those assets all for themselves, rather than waiting to receive their portion, if any, in accordance with the elderly relative’s will.

Once the unscrupulous individual has a power-of-attorney in their hands, they can now make all banking, investment, and real estate transactions for their victim. In each and every case the Guardian uncovered, by the time other family members realized what had happened, the money and even the houses were long gone. The Guardian uncovered cases where local thieves bought automobiles and homes claiming they were for the use of the victim, even moving the victim into the houses for a period of time to “justify” the purchases, and then transferring the deeds to themselves, circumventing any wishes the elderly person expressly noted in their Last Will and Testament for the distribution of their funds and assets.

Both our Federal and State governments inadvertently encourage the elderly and disabled to shift their money out of their own control thanks to Medicaid and disability laws. Individuals who need nursing home care or extensive medical assistance, such as the mentally ill and disabled, cannot
usually afford the high cost of such extended intensive care and must apply to the government for assistance.

However, in order to be able to qualify for government aid, the individual must first “spend down” their assets – they will only qualify for help once they can prove that they have almost nothing left in their own name with which to pay for their care. Once an elderly individual realizes that they are in the early stages of dementia, they will often be concurrently advised by their attorneys and financial planners to immediately start transferring their assets out of their own name to “protect them from Medicare”.

One of the first steps an elder care attorney will take with a new client is to draft a power-of-attorney form for them, entrusting the power over their assets to a family member or close friend. These powers can be drafted on behalf of the dementia victim to be used only once the individual no longer has any ability to act in their own behalf. However, banks and investment firms rarely ask for confirmation that an individual is incapacitated when accepting a power-of-attorney (POA) for a transaction.

The role of the elder care attorney is to assure that the individual is not being coerced in such situations; an attorney will interview the client
separate from the family members to assure that they are acting of their own free will. However, current state laws do not mandate that the power-of-attorney forms be drafted in the presence of an attorney. Anyone with access to the internet can download a free form and coerce the victim into signing it in front of a notary. As the Guardian uncovered, the notaries do not always assure that the individual signing the form is not being coerced. Nor are notaries required to take any training which would help them to identify the signs of coercion.

To deter some of these acts of fraud, New York State recently enacted new laws to expand the protection for individuals drafting a power-of-
attorney. As of September 1, 2009, the new power-of-attorney forms have several new clauses to protect the individual issuing the powers.
The new form’s name alone indicates the changes, the title was changed from “Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney” to “Statutory Short Form and Other Powers of Attorney For Financial Estate Planning”, recognizing the fact that most individuals drafting this form are doing so as part of an estate plan and that the POA should work in tandem with the wishes and directives outlined in the individual’s “Last Will and Testament”.

The new laws do not affect most POA’s already in effect prior to September 1, 2009. However, the law specifically requires new
POA’s for the following types of powers:

§5-1502J for “Construction” authority - for authority over benefits from governmental programs or civil and military service

§5-1502K for “Construction” authority - for authority on health care billing and payment matters; records reports and statements
§5-1504 for “Acceptance of statutory short form power of attorney”;

§5-1510 for “Special Proceedings”

The new state laws expand the definitions used in a POA including “Capacity”. Capacity is now defined by the State to mean “the ability
to comprehend the nature and consequences of the act of executing and granting, revoking, amending or modifying a power of attorney, any
provision in a power of attorney, or the authority of any person to act as agent under a power of attorney”.

In short, the definition as expanded raises questions as to the capacity of a cognitively-impaired, mentally disabled, or victim of dementia, even a mild version, to authorize a POA on their behalf.

Such restrictions may now require legal guardians to be appointed to review a POA for these individuals. While this may appear to be added
protection, the Guardian has revealed in recent months the kickback nature of the guardianship process in our courts, where such appointments routinely are given to attorneys whose only qualification is the amount of their campaign contributions to the judge appointing them. In one local instance, the court appointed a convicted felon to handle the affairs of a disabled young woman who was the victim of Aspersers’. The Surrogate’s Court has never required that this felon account for the $2 million in his care, in defiance with New York State laws. This sad case was reported by the Guardian in February and March of this year. To date, the court has done nothing to rectify this situation.

To circumvent individuals who possess POA’s from “gifting” any funds in their victim’s bank accounts to themselves, the new state law has
expanded its definition of a “Statutory major gifts rider”. According to the law, this rider allows the individual to define who and what they
intend to gift, if anything. The new law mandates that the “statutory major gifts rider and the statutory short form power of attorney it supplements must be read together as a single instrument”. Anyone acting on a POA, and attempting to make a gift to themselves from a bank account or other asset, will now have to produce the gifts rider as evidence along with the POA.

The individual who holds the authorities granted in a POA is referred to as an “agent” since they are acting on behalf of the person who signed
the POA (referred to as the “principal”). The new law has expanded the definition of agent to now include an individual who has a “fiduciary relationship with the principal”. The purpose of this new clause in the law is to avoid circumstances such as the recent organ-selling cases from disabled and poor victims. In this 10-year investigation uncovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nursing home and health care employees were providing names of individuals who had no family members to the organ-selling ring who then obtained POA’s and other legal rights from their victims, enabling the crime. The new state law attempts to avoid “third-party” POA’s where the individual appointed as agent has no reason to be acting “in the best interests” of the principal.

A person who has a “fiduciary relationship” with another is someone who is legally expected to be acting “in the best interests” of the
other. While this new law has yet to be tested and applied in the courts, it does appear that the intent of the New York State lawmakers is to have agents prove that the purchases and expenditures they were making on behalf of the principal were indeed “in their best interests”. If not, this law could conceivably allow the other family members to legally challenge those purchases and any depletion of assets and funds.

Note – due to the stranglehold that the New York State Bar Association has over the New York State legislature by virtue of their lobbying
efforts and campaign contributions, only an attorney may offer legal advice in the State of New York. Therefore, this reporter cannot state the obvious here without running afoul of local lawyers, so any inferences we make about this new law have to be couched in terms such as “conceivably” and “perhaps” - not our usual direct style of reporting. But the trusts our readers’ ability to decipher this of the new law for themselves!

The new law specifically addresses what happens to a POA when the individual authorizing it becomes incapacitated – the new forms have
a clause that states “this POWER OF ATTORNEY shall not be affected by my subsequent incapacity unless I have stated otherwise below, under
“Modification”. The principal can elect to revoke the POA completely once they become incapacitated. The law also covers the size of the print that must be used on the POA form and specific cautions to be noted to protect the principal signing this form.

A new “Caution” clause has been added to the POA form: “CAUTION TO THE PRINCIPAL: Your power of Attorney is an important document. As the “principal”, you give the person whom you choose (your “agent”) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property
during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.

When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interests. “Important Information for the Agent” at the end of this document describes your agent’s responsibilities.

Your agent can act on your behalf only after signing the Power of Attorney before a notary public. You can request information from your agent at any time. If you are revoking a prior Power of Attorney by executing this Power of Attorney, you should provide written notice of the revocation to your prior agent(s) and to the financial institutions where your accounts are located.

You can revoke or terminate your Power of Attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are of sound mind. If you are no longer of sound
mind, a court can remove an agent for acting improperly.

Your agent cannot make health care decisions for you. You may execute a ‘Health Care Proxy’ to do this. The law governing Powers of Attorney
is contained in the New York General Obligations Law, Article 5, Title 15. This law is available at a law library, or online through the New York
State Senate or Assembly websites, or

If there is anything about this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer of your own choosing to explain it to you.” In addition, the new law imposes the following obligations upon the agent named in the POA: “When you accept the authority granted under this Power of Attorney, a special legal relationship is created between you and the principal. This relationship imposes on you legal responsibilities
that continue until you resign or the Power of Attorney is terminated or revoked. You must:

• Act according to any instructions from the principal, or, where there are no instructions, in the principal’s best interest;

• Avoid conflicts that would impair your ability to act in the principal’s best interest;

• Keep the principal’s property separate and distinct from any assets you own or control, unless otherwise permitted by law;

• Keep a record of all receipts, payments, and transactions conducted for the principal; and

• Disclose your identity as an agent whenever you act for the principal by writing or printing the principal’s name and signing your own name as “agent” in either of the following manner: (Principal’s Name) by (Your Signature) as Agent, or (your signature) as Agent for (Principal’s Name).”
While this new law instructs to act in the best interest of the principal and in accordance with any written instructions by the principal, it does not address whether those written instructions will hold up in court.

Many local elderly residents have already shifted the control of their assets to other family members to “protect them from Medicare”, under the
advice of their attorneys. Ethical family members understand that those funds are not their own money and hold them aside to be used for their
loved one’s needs.

Since these funds and assets were transferred to other family members before their death, and are then part of that family member’s portfolio,
these funds and assets are not considered to be part of the estate when the elderly individual dies. To assure that the family member holding the transferred assets does not keep them all to themselves, the elderly family member usually leaves written instructions as to how those funds and assets should be distributed upon their demise.

Unfortunately, those written instructions do not hold up in court. The Guardian has evidence of how one local attorney, a Law Secretary with the White Plains Supreme Court, advised his elderly mother to shift $150,000 of her funds to him to “protect them from Medicare”. When she died eight years later, those funds now legally belonged to her son. The attorney’s mother had left written instructions to address the distribution of these funds including allocating a small portion of them to each of her grand-children. But the attorney chose to ignore his dying mother’s
wishes and kept the funds for himself instead. When the children’s mother took this attorney to court to protest him not acting in his mother’s best interests by defying her written instructions, the mother was sanctioned and fined by the judge for daring to pursue this for her children.

So, while the new POA law may allow for written instructions to be followed, court orders in similar instances show that judges ignore these laws. As the Guardian has noted in previous reports on these issues, the courts offer little support to victims of fraud since so many fraud cases are perpetrated by attorneys and officers of the court to begin with. The best defense therefore that an elderly resident has is to find the most trustworthy member of their family, or circle of friends, to entrust the handling of their affairs to.

The new law is explained in detail by the New York State Bar Association in their online publication at The NYSBA has provided
a sixty-nine page analysis covering all of the areas of this new law. Since the changes are extensive and cover sensitive areas such as access to medical billing and government records and, since this article cannot be construed by the reader as legal advice, any local resident concerned about their existing power-of-attorneys, or their need for a POA, should consult with a trusted attorney who is experienced in the drafting, and pitfalls, of POA’s.