Sunday, February 04, 2007



Westchester legislators divided on proposal to change handgun-licensing process

By Liz AndersonThe Journal News(Original Publication: February 4, 2007)

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano's proposal to take judges out of the handgun license process will face its first test this week when the plan comes up for a vote before a Westchester Board of Legislators committee.
The Committee on Legislation, which meets tomorrow afternoon, will consider including the bill in the county's "joint legislative package," an annual set of state priorities set by both Spano and county legislators. The final package - with or without the gun bill - is headed for a board vote Feb. 12.
The committee appears deeply divided about the measure, which calls for county police to take control of the entire pistol-licensing process, from background checks on applicants to a final ruling on the paperwork. Right now, an application starts with the county clerk, goes to police for a background investigation and then to a county judge for a decision.
Handgun owners would also have to reapply for permits every five years; current law calls on them to "recertify" their status.
Recent articles in The Journal News detailed problems the county and state have had tracking permit holders over time, including 13,000 who have failed to file the Westchester recertification paperwork six years after the law took effect.
Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz argues the change would end the "aspects of cronyism and favoritism" that he alleges have riddled the existing system.
Schwartz argued the bill's merits to key Democrats at a Thursday caucus, noting it has the support of the district attorney, county clerk and police commissioner.
"This is not to take guns away from responsible, law-abiding citizens," he said. "This is about creating consistency in the decision-making process of who should be able to carry a concealed weapon in Westchester County, and that (decision) should be made by experienced, professional police officers."
Most of the committee members agree that the current permit process has not always worked well, and that the rules may need some amendments or clarification. But three of nine members flat-out oppose Spano's overhaul.
"I will not support any action that will diminish or exclude the involvement of the judiciary," said Clinton Young, D-Mount Vernon.
"I think the process they have in place is the best one, considering the other option is to place it under one person who would be tantamount to a czar," said Gordon Burrows, R-Yonkers.
And Minority Leader George Oros, R-Cortlandt, called it "a solution looking for a problem."
"I do question whether it's just wanting control or some sort of power here," he said.
Legislator James Maisano, R-New Rochelle, said he was open-minded. Maisano said he wanted to hear more about what kind of appeals process would be available, and more from the leaders of gun-rights organizations. But Maisano said that he had traditionally favored "the checks and balances between the county police doing the screening and having a judge look at the application."
Legislator Lois Bronz, D-Greenburgh, said she was "very cautious" about "taking the judicial system out of it entirely."
"We've all been told there were instances where the current system is not working well," she said before the meeting with Schwartz.
"If that can be verified, then perhaps we need to take another look at it. We need to be assured that this is the proper approach." Bronz could not be reached after the meeting with Schwartz.
Tom Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, and committee Chairman Vito Pinto, D-Tuckahoe, also expressed concerns.
Abinanti said the complexities of the permit process are "too big an issue to resolve in such a short period of time." While the county executive has identified problems with the process, "I suggest that sometimes when surgery is required, there are occasions where a scalpel, not a meat ax, is a more appropriate tool," he said.
Pinto said at midweek that he had not been convinced that legislators should shift the power equation.
"I was an officer in the Navy, and when I had to do the court-martial where I was the judge and jury, I didn't like that," he said.
After meeting with Schwartz, Pinto said some of his reservations had been allayed. But, he said, "I"m still toying with the idea of fixing the system as it stands without taking it out of the county clerk's and judges hands."
The strongest "yes" vote appears to be from Judy Myers, D-Mamaroneck, who said Friday, "The more I hear and the more I talk to public safety people, the more I'm being convinced it's in the best interest of public safety.
"For any law-abiding citizen with a gun permit who needs one, nothing will really change. But in terms of public safety, I think this tightens things up a bit and also makes it much more efficient, to keep the entire process with public safety, and then to take a look back every five years and make sure whoever has a gun permit really has a need for what they have, because needs do change."
Board Majority Leader Martin Rogowsky, D-Harrison, who was wary earlier, said he has "a much more open mind" after hearing Schwartz's arguments.
There is also a possible 10th vote, from Board Chairman William Ryan, D-White Plains, who can sit on any committee. Ryan said he supports Spano's bill and might join the committee if his vote is needed.


More weirdness from Spano and company

It appears that County Executive Andrew Spano and his Democratic liberal minions have come up with another hare-brained scheme to harass the public and create a larger bureaucracy. Closing Indian Point, publishing photos of deadbeat dads and spending millions of dollars to purchase Davids Island in New Rochelle are some of their weird projects.
Now they intend to replace elected judges and the county clerk from the pistol license process and invest all power in the non-elected commissioner of public safety. Applications will be in the exorbitant and prohibitive range of $300 to $400, and licensees will have to completely reapply every five years! Clearly Spano and his anti-gun lobby intend to emulate the New York City system where only the elite and gangsters can possess weapons. Why these liberals desire to harass probably the most law-abiding and responsible citizens in the county - those who register their guns - is not a mystery. Spano and his crew intend to make legal possession so onerous and expensive as to discourage the legitimate and constitutional rights of our citizens to possess firearms.

Arthur Praete
New Rochelle

Dear Readers:

Peekskill has a new political talk show on channel 15 every Tuesday night at 8P.M.
It is called ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL and is hosted by Peekskill Democrat Chiarman DARREN RIGGER.
He promises an issue oriented show and NO mud slinging. As this IS an election year for your local Peekskill offices, I would insist you watch this show. You can never have too much information and as you know I believe ALL sides should be heard.
************************************************************************************ THIS WAS A JOURNAL NEWS EDITORIAL

A stub public official rejects a government brush off over nukes
(Original Publication: February 5, 2007)

Have to hand it to Andrew Spano, the Westchester County executive. A lot of public officials talk tough about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Indian Point nuclear plants and make noise about mothballing the edifices along the Hudson; Spano actually sends his whipping-boy lawyers to the courthouse.
Spanos' lawyers last week filed a petition with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals asking the panel to consider whether the always cozy NRC, in effect, has been drinking the coolant at the plants in Buchanan. Spano complains that the federal regulators have violated the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and abused their discretion in turning down to the county's request that the government make it harder for Indian Point to extend its operating permits for an additional 20 years. His contention: If starting from scratch, no government in its right mind would site a nuclear power plant in such an ultra-congested, terrorist-favored region.
In December, the NRC determined that the extra scrutiny sought by the county - pleas to factor in the area's population density, the potential risk of terrorism and the certain failure of evacuation plans - was unwarranted. "It was summarily rejected, basically because they said they changed the criteria in 2000, and nothing has happened since that would cause them to revisit the issue," said Spano. "Did they forget Sept. 11th ever happened?"
Not at all, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told staff writer Greg Clary: "We consider emergency planning and security to be issues of paramount importance, and that's why we think it makes more sense to address them on a continuous basis rather than during the snapshot period of time when a company is seeking a license extension. The NRC has aggressively sought improvements in those areas, especially since 9/11, and will continue to do so."
We don't know enough about the federal statutes referenced by Spano to conclude whether he is on to something; however, it should be plain to anyone who has been stuck in the traffic jam of the hour in this hopelessly congested region - or lived through 9/11 - that it makes sense to put all issues on the table when considering the future of Indian Point. A comprehensive review - something more than a paper-shuffling, summary denial - would go a long way toward airing Spano's and the public's honestly held concerns about the plants and our future in the Lower Hudson Valley. We hope, with or without the court's help, that such public discussion ensues.


Dear Readers:

I am sure that Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano and his supporters surely would have been on the side of the flat-earth people in the time of Columbus. Trying to shut down Indian Point with lawsuits born out of fear, shortsightedness and political pandering is truly reckless. Do we shut down all electrical grids because in times of blackouts traffic is a nightmare?. In times of inclement weather traffic is also a nightmare. We did not shut down all air travel out of Westchester County Airport forever because of 9/11, after all it was airplanes that were used in those attacks? Should we shut down Metro-north and the subways, close all the bridges, evacuate all the sky scrappers on Wall Street because they are all prime targets? Of course not, there is nothing to gain politically, nor are there reasonable alternatives to travel and work space should we. However Indian Point is the perfect storm for pandering. It encompasses both 9/11 fears and flat-earth ignorance to fool a gullible populace into thinking that by shutting down Indian Point, there safety will be assured. Never mind the spent fuel rods that will still be there for at least 25 years. Never mind that the site will be guarded by minimum wage rent-a-cops instead of the police and National Guard that now protect the site. What about the increased rates we will pay for electricity? What are the alternatives for that lost power supply? Certainly not wind mills, you can't even build a cell tower without years of obstructionism. Two people died over the weekend upstate because the tree-huggers would not allow those towers to be built. Yep, they saved a tree, hooray, but we lost two people, who cares? Certainly not natural gas, Spano and his shortsighted minions already stopped that pipeline from coming into Westchester. Certainly not new power lines. The Plan-Putnam site already posts a story of how the electrical companies are suing the state because the legislators passed a law limiting their use of eminent domain so the aquisition of the needed property will be impossible. So after cutting off all alternative energy sources, we are left with higher energy bills, and not one minute of extra safety(remember those spent rods). Who is to make up the lost property and school taxes paid? You know the answer as well as I, we will in OUR property and school taxes. The shutting down of Indian Point works well and good in a vacume. How ever we don't live in a vacume, and that is where the shutting down falls apart. Every day life is wrought with danger. Every time you get into a car, a train, an airplane, you put yourself in danger. Yet, you don't stop traveling. Every time you eat out or buy food you put yourself in danger. Yet, you don't stop eating. No, you learn to live with that danger as there are no good alternatives. The same goes with Indian Point, without any good alternatives, you live with the danger.
George Oros
Legislator, 1st District


February 6, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828

Wanted: Open, honest and ethical government
Minority Conference calls for reform of county’s Board of Acquisition & Contract

In its continued quest to reform county government, the Republican Conference of the Board of Legislators is looking to change the way the county’s Board of Acquisition & Contract operates.

Minority Leader George Oros (R-C/Cortlandt) said for too long the three-member panel, which consists of the county executive, Public Works commissioner and Board of Legislators chairman, has acted outside its scope and function by circumventing public input and oversight from the Legislature as a whole.

“One of the things that was clear from the results of the last election in November is people are looking for more open, honest and ethical government,” Oros said. “We need to implement stronger checks and balances within the county that will protect our individuals, taxpayers, property owners and municipalities from the dominance and unbridled power that corrupts governments.”

Under the current system, the Minority Conference maintained hundreds of millions of dollars of lengthy contracts are approved without any debate, discussion or a vote of the Board of Legislators. In an attempt to curtail that, the Minority Conference is proposing any contracts or leases of five years or more, including renewals, must be approved by the full Legislature.

In addition, the Minority Conference is recommending the Public Works commissioner be replaced on the Board of Acquisition & Contract by the budget director; each meeting be electronically recorded; and no emergency contract can exceed three years.

If the proposed law is adopted by the Board of Legislators, it would be subject to a public referendum. The Minority Conference is calling for approval by the Legislature no later than the summer to get on the ballot this November.

MESSAGE TWO: News from Senator Vincent Leibell


Contact: Mr. George Oros (914) 995-2828

Senator Vincent Leibell (40th District) announces the appointment of Westchester County Legislator George Oros to the New York State Procurement Council. He will replace Mr. Joseph Girven who passed away in September of 2006.

The Council develops recommendations to improve state procurement practices, as well as guidelines to govern state agency procurement. Its membership consists of the State Comptroller, the Director of the Budget, the Commissioners of Economic Development and General Services, seven heads of state agencies appointed by the Governor, and eight at large members and two non voting members appointed by legislative leaders.

"I thank Senator Leibell for the opportunity to participate on this Council, and I look forward to working with the members," said George Oros.

Senator Leibell remarked, "I was pleased to support the appointment of George Oros to this important State Council. It is a job that requires great public service and integrity, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the operations and challenges of government."

Most lawmakers in area say DiNapoli was best choice for comptroller

By Glenn BlainThe Journal News(Original Publication: February 9, 2007)

State lawmakers from the region yesterday defended their votes making Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli the state's new comptroller, arguing that New York's constitution gave them - not Gov. Eliot Spitzer - the power to make such decisions.
Rejecting the criticism of Spitzer and others, local lawmakers who backed DiNapoli's election said he was clearly the best candidate to fill the vacant post and it was wrong for the governor to try to control the process.
"This was something the governor wanted," said Assemblyman Michael Spano, R-Yonkers. "He didn't get it, but it wasn't his pick. ... I very calmly made a decision based on the information presented to me. The people I have to answer to are the people of the 93rd (Assembly District) and I feel very comfortable with my decision."
Spano and other members of the region's delegation who supported DiNapoli said that once former Comptroller Alan Hevesi resigned, the power to replace him clearly rested with the Legislature.
They also downplayed the agreement that was reached between the governor and legislative leaders to abide by the recommendations of a special, three-member screening panel in selecting a new comptroller. Lawmakers ultimately ignored the panel's recommendations and selected DiNapoli.
"An agreement is only as good as the candidates they produce," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale. "I have an agreement with the people I represent to choose the best person for the job and that person was Tom DiNapoli."
Assemblyman James Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, agreed and described the screening panel as "three bumps on a log."
Pretlow, Paulin and Spano were among eight state lawmakers representing Westchester and Putnam counties to back DiNapoli, a Long Island Democrat. Of the area's Assembly delegation, only Greg Ball, R-Carmel, opposed DiNapoli's election.
In the GOP-controlled state Senate, most Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Vincent Leibell of Patterson, backed DiNapoli. The three Democratic senators who represent portions of Westchester all backed Martha Stark, a candidate recommended by the screening panel.
Some local lawmakers, including Pretlow and Spano, said their first choice for comptroller was Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh. Brodsky, though, withdrew his name from consideration before the final vote was taken.
Brodsky did not immediately respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Overall, lawmakers voted 150-56 to elect DiNapoli. The move infuriated Spitzer, who said lawmakers showed a "stunning lack of integrity" in not abiding by their agreement to follow the screening panel's recommendations.
Spitzer's position was supported yesterday by lawmakers who backed Stark's nomination.
"I think (Spitzer) feels sort of the same as I," said Assemblyman Jeff Klein, D-Bronx. "You don't understand why, if there was a process that was agreed upon, why you choose to circumvent that process. ... This is kind of the old way we did business."
Despite Spitzer's harsh words, Klein and other lawmakers from both sides of the issue expressed hope that the two branches of state government could repair the breach in their relationship.
"When you have a breach, you have a breach," said state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck. "It stops you from doing things temporarily but not in the long rung. Because in the long run, you have to work together."


Dear Readers:

Let me open by first stating that this diatribe does not include Rep. Gregg Ball, for he is turning out to be that RARE politician that is actually doing what he campaigned on regardless of the consequences within the ranks of the assembly. He is actually putting people above politics. The people that elected him should be proud of their vote.

On Wednesday February 7, 2007 The state legislators gave the people of New York the finger. There leadership AGREED to abide by the nominations of an AGREED upon non-partisan panel for the position of State Comptroller. Rep. Di Napoli was not on that list of finalist, nor was any other member of the Assembly.
Shockingly this panel thought that experience in managing money funds was important. You would think so too. The legislators' thought differently, they thought that being a member of the Assembly(a crony) was important. In fact they thought so little of the importance of the ability to manage money funds they elected a man(Di Napoli) who has no, nada, zilch experience in managing money to the point that Di Napoli has never invested in the stock market, nor has ever done his own personal tax returns, to manage our State Portfolio. They then, after giving us the finger, Stand up and defend this vote and tell us to enjoy the finger. This IS why our State government rots, they and their leadership have no honor except unto themselves and the people be damned!!!!!

This action taken on Wednesday though was not surprising. Their contempt for the people did not come as a shock. They noted that the people of New York voted to the tune of fifty-nine percent to re-elect a known crook(now convicted felon) as their comptroller. The people of New York felt overwhelmingly that a crooked Democrat was more competent to manage their money then an honest(as there was no evidence he was not) Republican. It was more abhorrent to cross party lines then doing your duty at the voting booth and fire the crook. Those in Albany saw this and instead of rewarding you for your loyalty to party, all they saw was a constituency deserving of contempt, and they now insist you like it!! You truly as voters, have gotten the government you deserve. Maybe one day you the voter will wake up and realize that party loyalty takes a back seat to doing what is right. That character and integrity MEAN something. That it is up to us when we vote to choose a government that one can be proud of instead of one that is the most dysfunctional among the fifty states.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 New York's bottle law merits expansion

Gov. Eliot Spitzer was elected with a strong voter mandate to bring about sweeping changes to Albany. But, in some ways, progress can be found one nickel at a time. In his recently released budget, Spitzer called for an expansion of the “bottle bill,” the highly successful initiative that requires 5-cent deposits on beer and soda containers, mainly to encourage recycling efforts. The bottle law has worked. The overwhelming majority of bottles are recycled, either by the people directly using the products or by the countless organizations and civic groups that take part in cleanups along New York’s roadsides and shorelines. In fact, more than 5 million tons of materials have been recycled, with consumers returning more than 90 billion beverage containers during the 25 years the law has been in existence.Nevertheless, the state is working with an outdated model. That’s because other forms of drinks — particularly bottled water, iced teas and high-energy beverages— have become more popular over time, but there are no deposits on these bottles. That means they end up in landfills, not recycling bins. These beverages now make up about 25 percent of the industry.The governor wants to expand the program to include these beverages and make other changes to raise state revenues. As is, grocers get a handling fee of 2 cents per container; bottling companies retain the unclaimed deposits on beer and soda and wine coolers. Under the proposal, retailers and redemption centers would keep 3.5 cents to help defray the costs of running recycling programs, but unclaimed nickel deposits would go to New York, which is how a number of states handle this issue. The money would go to help increase the Environmental Protection Fund which, in part, enables the state to save valuable farmland from development.The beverage industry, a powerful lobbying force in Albany, is against the changes, believing, unreasonably, it is entitled to the financial windfall from the unclaimed deposits, and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno continues to oppose the idea as well. Spitzer, state Assembly leaders, environmental groups and the public at large should put the pressure on Bruno to make this important concession. The environmental benefits are worth it. The bottle law should be expanded.


The premise of this bill is that government or some group that purports to represent our social conscience can dictate how much profit is acceptable. This is hubris if not outright arrogance. The state government imposed this deposit and the mandatory collection of recyclables on private business. That the consumer for whatever reason did not bring back that container to reclaim their nickel does not mean the profits belong to the government. Here is a news flash PROFIT IS NOT A CRIME. In fact that is why people create businesses. They were not created for social engineering. This bill is a hidden tax on the consumer while also granting the government the power to confiscate, YES, I said CONFISCATE the profits.

There is a right to keep your profits from being confiscated by the government. We are a capitalist economy, not a Robin Hood economy. As I have stated before, the government imposed this tax (deposit) on the manufacturers of carbonated beverages and left it up to those manufactures to devise a means of collection. So those manufacturers invested in research how to make it easier for the consumer to reclaim those nickels with as little hardship as possible, and they did. Then they had to create those collection machines and update them as the problems in actual use occurred. Then they had to deliver them to as many locations as possible and hire people(that means more payroll taxes) to maintain them. ALL this cost money not given by the government to cover this process. This is called an unfunded mandate. In business this is called the cost of doing business, and as always that cost is born by the consumer. The money left over(uncollected deposits) is called in business a profit, which taxes are paid on. Now in groups of social conscience's zeal to save the planet, they believe the government has the right to confiscate those after tax profits. I, as a capitalist and believing in the system that rewards success, not punish it believe it is wrong for government of any other group of social conscience have the right to determine how much profit is acceptable. That is why on principal I oppose this bill.

BAZZO 02/09/07

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