Thursday, March 29, 2007


Dear Readers:

I have sent my resume to the Yorktown Republican Nominating Commitee to be considered for the chance to run for Yorktown Town Council. As you readers know, I do not drink anybodies kool-ade. I look at the issues not from either the Democrat or Republican stand point, but only from my stand point. So an honest assesment of my chances of actually getting a nomination are slim at best. However I am willing to put my money where my mouth is, so together we will see what happens. I will keep you posted.

Ending a bottleneck in Albany over an improved deposit law
(Original publication: March 29, 2007)

Does it make sense that New Yorkers pay a nickel deposit on a bottle of Pepsi but nothing on a bottle of Snapple? A nickel on a bottle of Bud, nothing on a bottle of water? Of course it makes no sense, which is fine with the beverage makers and wholesalers, supermarkets and their lobbyists, but undeniably bad for our environment. For years, those groups have beaten back attempts to expand the nickel-deposit law to include, well, containers for the other stuff that people drink - sports drinks, juice drinks, teas and water. Alas, a new governor means another try for a better bottle bill. Here's hoping the fizz finally comes out of the industry folks' defense.
As part of his budget package, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed expanding the deposit law to include most noncarbonated beverages, which were only a small part of the beverage business when the deposit law came into being a quarter-century ago. Expanding the law should be a no-brainer, despite industry's claims of inconvenience and additional expense: Where some 80 percent of deposit containers are recycled, only 20 percent of non-deposit containers are recycled. Where do these containers end up? All of the places where sensible people don't want them - along the highways, our waterways, in trash heaps. The nickel holds an awful lot of sway.
But Spitzer doesn't just want to make the law more inclusive. Since the existing law was hatched, distributors have pocketed more than $1.6 billion in unclaimed deposits - a windfall denied their counterparts in many other states. Spitzer would increase the handling fee for returns from 2 cents to 3.5 cents while transferring the unclaimed deposits - up to an estimated $180 million annually - to the state Environmental Protection Fund, which supports recycling programs, parks and a host of other environmental projects.
It's easy to see how taking that many millions of dollars off the table might ruffle feathers. Suffice to say that beverage concerns should be properly compensated for their necessary recycling, storage, transportation and related costs. But there is no reason to countenance their continued enrichment from unclaimed deposits. At long last, those millions should more properly support public projects, not additional profit.


Expanded bottle bill would be a win-win for New York
(Original publication: March 28, 2007)

If you haven't heard, there's a new way into the Bronx these days without a bus or subway. Just ask José, the Big Apple's first immigrant beaver in over 200 years. José was likely born in Westchester and made his way into the city by way of the Bronx River. Thanks in part to New York's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the lower Bronx River is finally cleaned up to the point where a beaver can once again call it home. That's all the invitation José needed to jump on the opportunity to build a lodge, fittingly enough, on Bronx Zoo property. Like other New Yorkers, this intrepid beaver is the beneficiary of a revitalized river - resulting from years of cleanup and restoration efforts by Rep. José Serrano (the new settler's namesake), and organizations like the Bronx River Alliance and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
José is banking on his river environment getting even cleaner and more litter-free. That includes less non-returnable bottle waste floating around - thanks not only to volunteers removing trash in years past but to the proposed "Bigger Better Bottle Bill." When New York's original bottle bill was enacted in the early '80s, bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages were not nearly as prevalent as they are today, and therefore not included in the legislation. Because of this, only 20 percent of these containers end up in recycle bins today. This stands in stark contrast to the containers that are covered under the existing bill, 70 percent of which are returned for deposit and recycled. Stated another way, 2 billion additional bottles per year would end up recycled if they were covered under an expanded bill, which means 2 billion fewer would end up on the ground, in landfills, or in waterways like the Bronx River.
Thanks to Gov. Spitzer's proposed "Bigger Better Bottle Bill," the benefits for the environment of an expanded bill would not be limited to just reducing New York's waste stream and saving taxpayer dollars. If the new bill passes, it will dedicate money from uncollected bottle deposits to New York's Environmental Protection Fund. The EPF is critical to safeguarding New York's air, land, and water, protecting endangered species, and in inspiring and educating tomorrow's environmental stewards through the zoos, botanical garden, and aquaria program.
The presence of José in the Bronx River is a sign that our efforts, and programs like those funded by the EPF, are making a difference and we are headed in the right direction. But we still have plenty of work to do and an expanded bottle bill is long overdue. The Bigger Better Bottle Bill is a win-win for New York - serving our state on multiple levels and benefiting the futures of all of our citizens - even those with flat tails and buck teeth.
The writer is senior vice president of public affairs in the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx.

Dear Readers:

After my brilliant "Community View" from 03/23/07, these are the best arguments that can be put forward. I have always said that the ONLY way liberal ideas(read socialism) can exist is in a vacuum. When you put their idea's into context (like the real world) they fall apart. The liberals know this too. So you will notice in BOTH posts that the real world arguments are ignored. You see, if we pretend they are not there, they are not there. Ignored are the facts that the beverage makers ALREADY pay taxes on those nickels. They don't have a separate bank account marked "nickels". They are classified as income to be taxed, AND THEY ARE!!!!! What you are seeing is pure class warfare, where you are suppose to be angry at big bad industry for having the temerity that after paying taxes have the nerve to STILL profit, and by God this profit is too much. How do we know it's too much, because we said so, that's how. We don't want those greedy companies keeping those profits and spending them the way they see fit, oh no, we, the government, we the frustrated socialists want to take that money because we know better how to spend it for the public good. They totally ignore the fact that they are not entitled to that money, they already got their'S in the taxes paid. It is not the fault of the beverage makers that the state cannot and will not control their spending. Let's get one thing straight, I am not opposed to the nickel deposit on non-carbonated beverages. If they would just make a law about that, then fine, let it be done. I AM opposed to the second part where the state feels they can confiscate after tax profits.

Both pieces prove my point that the frustrated socialists will ignore all arguments that disagree with them because all they want is the money. You will notice also have they have totally ignored my arguments dealing with our state government. It does not matter to them that there is nothing in the recent history of our state government to lead on to believe that they would dedicate that money to where they say they will. It is really not that important to them, ONLY THE MONEY. If this is the best they can come up with, then I still stand by my initial position that this bill must be opposed on principal.
By the way, as there is no way I can respond to Mr. Cavelli in his assertion that the beavers returned because of a bill that has not yet passed without getting really nasty(something I oppose anyone doing), I will just wonder "what the hell was he thinking?"

George Oros
Legislator, 1st District


March 27, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828
Champion Peekskill basketball team honored
Coach Panzanaro and Red Devils recognized in county chambers for sensational season

Minority Leader George Oros (R-C/Cortlandt) was proud to honor Coach Lou Panzanaro and the Peekskill High School boys basketball team for their two recent state titles at the Board of Legislators’ March 26 meeting.

So extraordinary were the accomplishments of the Red Devils in capturing their third consecutive New York State Class A championship and second straight New York State Federation Tournament of Champions crown that March 26 was declared Peekskill High School Red Devils Basketball Team Day in Westchester County.

“All of us from the Peekskill area are extremely proud and honored by their accomplishments,” said Oros, who presented each member of the team with a special proclamation.

Oros praised the leadership of Coach Panzanaro, who led the team to an extraordinary 25-4 record.

“He instills in each of these young men a sense of character and a commitment to teamwork, which obviously produced some tremendous results,” Oros said.

Panzanaro, who has won five state championships and three federation titles at Peekskill, thanked Oros and the Board of Legislators for the recognition.
“It was an unbelievable year again for us,” Panzanaro said. “The teamwork really came to the front and showed itself. Through that teamwork we were able to

The Race Is On: Martorano, Patel join Peters on Dems ticket
By Adriane Tillman

Yorktown Democrats presented a united front at their caucus on Monday.The board unanimously nominated Peters for supervisor to lead the ticket with 16-year incumbent James Martorano and first-time candidate Vishnu Patel for the two council seats.Ilan Gilbert will vie for town judge on the ticket, after the Democratic majority voted for him to finish the remainder of former Town Judge Jeffrey Cohen’s term. Longtime Town Clerk Alice Roker also received the nomination for another term.The committee also endorsed incumbent Michael Kaplowitz and challenger Domenic Volpe for county legislators. Volpe previously lost to incumbent George Oros to represent the district that includes Peekskill, Cortlandt and part of Yorktown. Kaplowitz represents the district that takes in the remainder of Yorktown, New Castle and Somers.
Set on superPeters, the owner of Sports Barn on Route 202, said he looks forward to carrying the Democratic theme, and imagines the party seizing every seat. “Now it’s time for Donnie to lead,” Martorano said of the popular sporting goods store owners.Peters narrowly lost to Supervisor Linda Cooper in 2005 by 93 votes, his first political race. While Peters has never served on a board or committee with the town, he is involved with local youth groups and has donated the field behind his business for use. Despite his lack of previous political experience, Peters wouldn’t be the first candidate to make the leap to supervisor. “Not one of the supervisors has ever been a councilman before,” he said. A long life in Yorktown led him to the seat. He said his family has lived in the town for about a century and his grandchildren now attend local schools. “I want to keep taxes down and listen to the people,” Peters said. “That’s my bigthing. This is where you learn what is going on in town.”
Popular choiceThe Democrats had plenty of praise for Patel, who serves as secretary for the committee and is making his first run for public office. Committee Chairman Joseph Apicella said it was one of the most exciting years for the Democrats, in part because Patel is running. “He will drive the ticket home,” Apicella said. “He is the hardest working guy I have ever met.”Roker echoed that sentiment. “I have never met a man so committed to a community as Vishnu,” she said. “If anyone needs anything done—especially if it involves kids—Vishnu is your man.”Patel said people have been asking him to run for 15 years but his commitment to his job at IMB was too great. Recently he has found more time on his hands to devote to the town. “Right now the town is in the right direction,” Patel said. “I want to make sure the board doesn’t go to one side or another or wreck it… Things have changed and we quickly need to address the bigger issues—the environmental issues, traffic and open space.” Patel, a 26-year resident, added that education is a top priority for him, and that he’s so involved with the schools he sometimes attends school more often than the students.He said a priority would be to install a light at a corner in his neighborhood after five people were killed. Patel has served on the Yorktown Museum Board for 14 years, which he now chairs. He’s spent the past 20 years helping to host the Yorktown Grange Fair. When his children were young, he volunteered for the Yorktown Community Nursery School for five years. When his son became involved with Boy Scouts, Patel joined the board that he’s now served on for more than eight years. Patel’s even earned the nickname “flower man” for maintaining flowers around town.He’s donated 30 IBM computers to local schools.“Vishnu has never run for political office but he’s run his life like he’s been training for it,” Apicella said.
Looking aheadMartorano said if he is re-elected again he still aims to build a senior center, and that Senator Vincent Leibell has pledged $35,000 to study the project. Congressman John Hall has also said he will find the funds to contribute.He also spoke of the town’s need for more energy efficient initiatives. “We need to work on some of the things Al Gore talked about in An Inconvenient Truth,” he said. The committee joked that Roker was a shoo-in for town clerk, but she chastened such rhetoric. “Don’t say that,” she said. “Each time I run, I run as though it was my first time.” Roker said she has tried to reinvent the position to bring it into the 21st century. Her latest focus is on the Yorktown Museum where she wants it to evolve from exhibits to more educational displays that serve the schools. Seat of justice Democrats nominated Gilbert to continue as town justice, who is now completing Cohen’s term that ends December 31. “We were given a hard time that the Democrats had a play in his appointment—Lou, Metz and I—but people are already talking about what a great job he’s doing,” Martorano said.At one point in the early 1980s, councilmen Matt Metz, Lou Campisi, Martorano and Gilbert all worked together at the Supreme Court in the Bronx. Metz was once an assistant district attorney and Campisi a corrections officer. Martorano and Gilbert continue to work there, having served 30 and 25 years respectively. “When people gave us criticism, they didn’t understand how well I knew [Lanny],” Martorano said. “Gilbert has helped run one of the largest criminal courts not just in the state but in the country,” Metz said. Gilbert is a Principle Court Attorney to Judge John Collins.Gilbert said he was appointed “not because of a 20-minute interview but because of more than 20 years experience and knowledge gained in the workplace.”He said he is even more energized to continue serving Yorktown since he was appointed in January. The Democrats’ war chest is brimming this year. At the annual Democratic brunch fundraiser on March 11, the party raised $14,000, 30 percent more than last year.“It’s indicative of what’s going to be ahead in this campaign season,” Apicella said


Peekskill housing security contract disputed
By ROBERT MARCHANT THE JOURNAL NEWS (Original publication: April 1, 2007)

PEEKSKILL - A contract to install security cameras inside a public housing project that was awarded to a politically connected local company that did not submit the lowest bid and has no apparent experience in the security field is drawing criticism. The decision to award the contract to Advantech, an Internet service provider with ties to city government and elected leaders in Peekskill, is also coming under review from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Housing Authority has already been roiled by controversy this month after its executive director was forced to take a suspension under circumstances that have yet to be made public. The Peekskill Housing Authority sought bids during the winter to upgrade and modernize the surveillance system at the federally subsidized Bohlmann Towers. Seven companies submitted bids, and the Housing Authority chose Advantech for the job at a cost of $69,250 to put in 55 new video cameras. One of the losing bidders, Strategem Security Inc. of Elmsford, has filed a complaint, claiming that Advantech does not have the proper license to do the job. Strategem executives say their low bid of $64,220 should be the winning one and have called on the Housing Authority to rescind the award or face legal consequences. "It did not sit well with us," said Strategem sales manager Charles Rinka, whose company has worked on security systems for Manhattan hotels, Mount Vernon City Hall and a number of local homes and businesses. "Advantech is an Internet service provider, and we're the low bidder. It doesn't make any sense. If they think we're just going to go away silently, they're wrong. Why put it up for competitive bidding if it's fixed from the beginning?" No listing for Advantech turns up on a search of the state Department of State's Web site under the heading of all licenses and alarm installers. The chairman of the Housing Authority board, Mel Bolden, who also serves on the City Council, said the board went with Advantech based on the recommendation of a consultant who reviewed the bids and the various technical aspects of the job. Since it appears the award to Advantech may go against HUD policies, he said the Peekskill housing board would consult with the HUD branch office, and the award could be "rectified" at the next meeting in mid-April. Representatives from Advantech did not respond to requests for comment last week. Advantech has done work for the city and has contributed to local political campaigns. According to campaign disclosure forms at the Westchester County Board of Elections, Advantech gave $1,000 to the Friends of John Testa mayoral re-election campaign in January 2004. A top company executive, Michel Ajram, also donated $150 to Friends of Testa in August 2006. The mayor's campaign committee paid $1,200 to Advantech to create a Web site for Testa in January 2006, according to the forms. Advantech also hosted the city's Web site for a period after it launched in 2002. While Testa appoints members to the Housing Authority board, he said he was not involved in operations at the authority and stressed he had no role in the bidding process. "I have nothing to do with policymaking at the Housing Authority," Testa said. "The Housing Authority operates independently." He said he had no special relationship with Advantech and any inference that he was trying to influence the bidding process was "politically malicious." The longtime mayor, a Republican, is up for re-election this year. A spokesman for HUD, Adam Glantz, said the department was aware that the bid process had received criticism and was looking to gather more information on the matter. "We have the complaint and we are reviewing it. We'll be in contact with the Housing Authority to discuss the relevant issues," he said. Glantz said HUD guidelines called for bids to go to the "lowest responsible bidder," though there can be other factors involved, depending on the nature of the request for bids. The agency's board voted in mid-March to enact an immediate 30-day suspension with pay for Executive Director Gheevarghese "Thomas" Thankachan, which angered some residents and activists who claim that city leaders want to get rid of Peekskill's public housing stock. Testa and others have denied that charge. Thankachan was not immediately available for comment. Reach Robert Marchant at or 914-666-6578.


Dear Readers:

NOTE: Moral equivalency regarding this topic will not do. This tactic used to change the subject from that which is at hand will not wash. It matters not what would have happened if this was about a Democrat. Whether you like it or not, we will concentrate on the issue at hand.

As many of you regular readers of mine are aware, I have been chronicling political "hit pieces" in the local media. This is another prime example of one. Together we will dissect the above. To believe this article two things must be believed without question as obliviously the writer does. 1) Mayor Testa = Republican = crook. 2) Mayor Testa is a puppet master over the Peekskill Housing Authority Board. As I do not subscribe to the previous two points I was able to read this article in a more open light. I have said before, bias in the media is not always what is written but what is left out. You will notice the writer left a lot out to produce the needed slant.

One of the first things I noticed is that the reporter did not inform us if the Housing Authority was obligated by law to take the lowest bidder. If not, than taking the recommendations of the consultant who the Board asked to review the bids, would seem proper or else why need a consultant. If the Housing Authority was required to take the lowest bid, then there would be a problem. The fact is that the Housing Authority IS ALLOWED to accept a higher bid if the reason is justified. That IS why the consultant was hired, for their expertise in the matter of secuity systems and to see if all the bids included the same services. Regardless, any problems regarding the contract would not be with the Mayor, but with Executive Director Gheevarghese Thomas Thankachan who authorized the contract and who we may all agree is NOT a puppet of the Mayor's. If this is not a hit piece, then I have a question: How is it the reporter got a copy of the complaint by the lowest bidder and the Housing Board members did not?

Second thing that sticks out is apparently according to this reporter, the only ELECTED official in the civilized world that Advantech and Company director Michel Ajram contributed to is Mayor Testa as no others are listed.It would have been nice if this reporter mentioned if any other elected officials benefited from this companies largess. To do so though would not have helped the subtle message of this article that the Mayor is a crook.

It is truly a shame that the local media dresses up democratic press releases as news. If the reporter had done the necessary homework to produce an accurate account, I would then think this story more news worthy than a political hit.


PEEKSKILL MAYOR JOHN TESTA'S STATE OF THE CITY ADRESS: For further information about the City's progress in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, downtown revitalization, waterfront redevelopment, code enforcement and quality of life initiatives, infrastructure improvements, business growth, historic preservation, and open government, read Mayor Testa's complete State of the City Address, which is available by clicking this link.


ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)

DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM chanel 22
Hosted by: DON PETERS *********************************************************************************** EDITOR'S NOTE:All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

BAZZO 04/01/07

Wednesday, March 21, 2007



Democrats call for probe of Peekskill housing board
(Original publication: March 25, 2007)

PEEKSKILL - The Democrats on the Common Council are seeking an investigation into the Peekskill Housing Authority board after complaints about one of the commissioners and the suspension of the agency's executive director.
Councilmembers Don Bennett, Mary Foster and Drew Claxton have sent a letter to several state and federal agencies asking them to review the Republican mayor's reappointment of Leesther Brown to the PHA board and reports accusing her of harassing and intimidating tenants and authority staff. Mayor John Testa, they argued, does not follow the law, appointing members without consulting the city attorney or the board's chairman.
"It's not clear that the Housing Authority board really represents the best interests of Peekskill," Foster said.
Letters were sent March 14 to the U.S. Justice and Housing and Urban Development departments, to Rep. John Hall, D-Dover Plains, and to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Testa contends that he can appoint board members at his discretion and that the Democrats' actions are without merit.
"It's a silly political stunt," Testa said. "There's nothing to investigate. I'm not concerned at all."
The controversy comes in advance of what is expected to be a hot political season in Peekskill, with the mayor's and three council seats up for election. There are now four Republicans and three Democrats on the Common Council.
Brown has been at the center of this divisive issue that saw the 30-day suspension of Housing Authority Director Gheevarghese "Thomas" Thankachan this month and has many tenants concerned that the city is trying to get rid of public housing.
"It's time that outside agencies look into this," said Darrell Davis, a former chairman of the Housing Authority board. "This is an extension of a problem that has gone on for years in a community that has been targeted for gentrification. They've been looking for a majority of the board to get rid of the executive director because he won't go along with the plan."
Dozens of residents came out in support of Thankachan at a March 12 Common Council meeting, and more than 150 people signed a petition that called for Brown's removal. The PHA oversees several federally subsidized residential buildings in the city, including Bohlmann Towers and Dunbar Heights.
Brown denied having harassed tenants and maintained that she is trying to make public housing better in Peekskill. Though complaints about her have been filed with police, no criminal charges have been brought.
"This is another vain attempt to slander my name and bring bad light to the mayor. It's an election year," she said. "If the government wants to spend time on something that's totally untrue, then that's the taxpayers' money."
The letter also asks the agencies to look into a March 5 housing board meeting to suspend Thankachan that involved four of the six commissioners and Peekskill's corporation counsel, William Florence. Thankachan's temporary removal was foiled that evening after it was determined that the board did not give timely public notice of its gathering.
The Democrats claim that the meeting was improper and illegal and that Florence's participation represented a conflict of interest, Bennett said.
Testa said Florence was there on the advice of Mirza Negron Morales, director of HUD's Office of Public Housing in New York.
"She suggested that I get corporation counsel involved to the point where he helped them through the process," Testa said. "He wasn't involved with their decision making."
Morales was among the recipients of the Democrats' letter.
"We'll carefully review it to determine whether we have any jurisdiction or authority in the issues being raised," HUD spokesman Adam Glantz said.
He also said it was not a conflict of interest for the city's attorney to advise the housing board.
"The Housing Authority is a part of the city," he said. "They're a city entity created by the state."
Claxton said the recent incidents have generated a lot of questions that need to be answered.
"An honest and open investigation will protect all the residents of Peekskill," she said. "We want a higher office to shed some light on what is going on with the city of Peekskill and the Housing Authority board, if anything."
Reach Marcela Rojas at or 845-228-2271.


Dear Readers:

This is a great example of the "political theatre of the absurd". Taking a leaf from the playbook of the National Democratic Party, we now have local politicians asking fellow Democrats in higher positions for an "impartial" investigation into unfounded accusations being stated as fact against the Mayor and his appointees. There has yet to be one accusation backed up by any kind of "smoking gun" proof. What you are seeing is Democrats, in full election year posturing, with help from a willing media, looking for headlines saying 'MAYOR UNDER INVESTIGATION", in an effort to troll for votes. That's right, the Democrats are asking for investigation of the Mayor and his appointees based on the misinformation THEY(the democrats and their willing accomplices) have spread.

I call this PREDATORY POLITICS. That is a political maneuver where the angst it causes the people who are being used as pawns, is trumped by the need to push an agenda. Truth, right, wrong, proof, integrity be damned. It is the agenda no matter the cost in human suffering. That there is no truth in the accusation that there is a nefarious plot to turn Bohlmann into co-ops, the Mayor is a Republican, therefore it must be true. The fact that the Mayor has the right to have appointees that reflect his convictions in what safe and secure housing means. These people appointed by a Republican Mayor must be tainted just by that fact. You see, only Democrats really know the meaning of safe and secure housing, and any differentiating of that must be wrong and illegal.

So now the Democrats have set the stage for Monday night's Council meeting, armed with the headline they wanted. If you thought the last council meeting was filled with anger and personal invective, because of this "predatory politics", this weeks meeting will be worse. When you fill vulnerable people's heads with misinformation to push your agenda and hopefully win votes, truth be damned, no good can come from it.
It would behoove those who can seed through this charade to come armed with facts, refraining from personal attacks(no matter how provoked), to stand up to this "predatory politics" and using ONLY facts, refute those people, both local and enlisted from out of town. It will be up to you to stand up and support the Mayor and his appointees against the invective that will be used. Now is not the time to be silent and leave it to someone else, for that someone is YOU.

Bottle bill revenue a bone of contention

By Glenn BlainThe Journal News

(Original publication: March 21, 2007)

HARRISON - Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to expand New York's bottle law could provide much-needed money for environmental projects in the region, including the cleanup of contaminated lands and the protection of watersheds, the leader of a local conservation group said yesterday.
The millions of dollars in unclaimed bottle deposits that Spitzer's plan would pay into the state's Environmental Protection Fund would help it keep pace with the growing demand to protect land from development and reclaim industrial sites for public uses, said Paul Gallay, executive director of the Westchester Land Trust.
"This is a fund that has to continue to expand if the interest in reclaiming brownfields, if the interest in improving infrastructure and in protecting open space for public recreation, watershed protection, storm water management is to continue to advance," Gallay told a meeting of the The Journal News' editorial board, which was reviewing the bottle bill proposal.
Spitzer's plan to expand the bottle bill, which was enacted in 1982, has emerged as a major sticking point in the ongoing budget negotiations between the governor and the Republican-controlled state Senate, which opposes the measure. Gallay was one of six advocates from both sides of the issue to meet with the newspaper's editors yesterday.
Jonathan Pierce, a consultant for New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform - a coalition of bottlers, distributors and stores that opposes Spitzer's plan - argued that the new bottle bill would only marginally increase the number of bottles that are recycled but would significantly increase the handling costs to bottlers and supermarkets. Those costs, he added, would eventually be passed along to consumers.
"You are creating an unfunded mandate and you are increasing the cost to consumers," Pierce said.
Spitzer's plan, which was part of the budget he introduced in January, would include juices, water and other beverages to the list of bottles on which consumers must pay a nickel deposit. Currently, the law only covers soda and beer containers.
Also, the law would change who gets to keep the unclaimed the deposits. Bottlers are now allowed to keep the unclaimed deposits, which, according to some estimates, account for as much as $200 million a year. Spitzer's plan is for the state to claim those unredeemed deposits and place the money in the environmental fund.
"It's really about the money," said Kevin Dietly, an environmental consultant who argued against the new bottle bill. "Everybody wants the unclaimed nickels."
Environmental groups, however, believe opponents are overstating the burden the proposal would place on bottlers and retailers. They see the measure as an effective way to encourage consumers to properly dispose of the bottles and keep them from ending up as litter.
"The bottle bill is about fairness," said Andy Bicking, director of education and volunteers for Scenic Hudson. "It is about producer and consumer responsibility for waste."


Bottle bill should be opposed on principle

By ANTHONY J. BAZZO(Original Publication: March 23, 2007)

The premise of the proposed "Bigger Better Bottle Bill," which would expand New York's nickel-deposit law for beverage containers and redirect unclaimed deposits to the state's Environmental Protection Fund, 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 the nickel does not mean the profits belong to the government. Here is a news flash: Profit is not a crime. This bill is a hidden tax on the consumer while also granting the government the power to confiscate the profits.

Though there is no right to profit, there is a right to keep your profits from being confiscated by the government. We are a capitalist economy, not a Robin Hood economy. The government imposed this tax (deposit) on the manufacturers of carbonated beverages and left it up to those manufacturers to devise a means of collection. So those manufacturers invested in research on how to make it easier for the consumer to reclaim those nickels with as little hardship as possible. 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.

Businesses pay taxes on those uncollected deposits, and the government (federal, state, county, or local) has no right that I can find where they can confiscate that after-tax profit for the "public good" or any other reason for that matter. The taxes either the people or business pays is the money we have consented to pay and is the only money government can collect. Make no mistake about it, what Gov. Eliot Spitzer and other supporters of this bill are advocating is the confiscation of profit for the public good. As noble of an idea that may be, it goes against everything upon which our free-market economy is based. This belief that the government can better spend the money than the private sector insults the intelligence. This belief that people or business should not to be allowed to keep those after- tax profits if the government decides they can spend it better is pure socialism.

There is nothing in the history of our state government that would lead me to believe that this dysfunctional government of ours would be better equipped to spend that money. To believe that this government would actually choose our interest over self-interest is to ignore history. Show me what in the history of this state government would lead one to believe our legislators would actually use this money for its intended purpose and not funnel it into some means of buying their re-election instead. To funnel this much money from the citizens of this state into this behemoth of corruption is beyond comprehension. In an ideal world or a less dysfunctional government I might be more inclined to give it a go, but not now as this government of ours operates. The advocates of this bill always ignore the fact that many people recycle their bottles in the local recycling weekly pick-ups provided by the towns and/or cities in which they live. This state government of ours has continued time and time again to the betray the public trust; now is not the time to reward it with more money.

For the frustrated socialists out there, none of these arguments will matter. They believe that profit is a crime. They believe that government is entitled to all the money it can get because the government knows better than us how it should be spent for "the public good." It really does offend them that either people or business might actually spend that money on themselves. Reaping the rewards of one's labor is abhorrent to them. This bill is pure socialism and should be opposed on principle.

The writer is a resident of Shrub Oak.


Dear Readers of the Bazzo Manifesto,

I know that the readers of this blog follow Peekskill local politics so I wanted to share some great news with all of you. The City of Peekskill Democratic Committee has voted on and endorsed a slate of candidates for this years city elections. I am proud to announce the following candidates:

For Mayor,
Council Member Mary Foster

Mary has been an elected Member of the Peekskill Common Council since 2005. She is a CPA who recently retired from Deloitte and Touche after more then 25 years of service. She knows business. Mary has served on numerous committees and boards, here in Peekskill and throughout Westchester County.

One of eleven children, she worked her way through college and an MBA. She has lived in Peekskill since 1978 when she married Donald and together with their two children, the family has been involved in city beautification projects, the chamber of commerce, school fundraising and sports programs, and Little League.She is a great Council Member and she will be an even better Mayor.

For Re-Election to the Common Council,
Council Member Don Bennett

Don Bennett has been an elected Member of the Peekskill Common Council since 2003. He works for Pamal Broadcasting which is radio’s WLNA and WHUD. Don is very active in the Peekskill community, especially with the Cancer Society and youth outreach. He is a member of the Rotary Club, Youth Exchange program and Peekskill Youth Bureau.

Everyone in Peekskill benefits from his work. He treats young people with respect and helps them to build character. This is most evident in his own son, Damon Bennett, who is now a Captain in the US Army.

Peekskill needs to re-elect a Council Member with the class and character of Don Bennett.

For Common Council,
Patricia Salvate-Riley

Patricia is not a professional politician and this is her first time ever running for elected office. She was born and raised in Peekskill to a family that has been here for generations. She is an elementary School teacher with more then 20 years experience and for the last decade has served as a union representative for the Federation of Teachers.

Patricia and her husband Kevin, who is also a union member, are both active in their church and community and serve as District Leaders with the City of Peekskill Democratic Committee. Tired of the division, she looks forward to representing the citizens of Peekskill in a unified effort to better the community.

Patricia loves the city of Peekskill and the citizens are going to love her.

For Common Council,
Joe Schuder

Joe Schuder is a successful business man. He started 30 years ago as a union member at a company and through education at Wharton School of Business, hard work, intelligence and talent he excelled at every level of the corporate ladder, ending up a CEO. Joe has designed programs and budgets that involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

He is a life long resident of Westchester who, with his wife Karen, lives in Chapel Hill. His transition away from a corporate focus to greater participation in community has led to his involvement in church programs and family groups. Joe also served on his condominium board.

His principals for successful business are simple:
Use fairness and integrity as the guidelines when dealing with all people.
Strive for excellence in everyday process especially in the area of service.
Don't settle for mediocrity.

Joe will use these same principles to be a great member of the Peekskill Common Council.

We are looking forward to a vibrant campaign on the issues and a clear and open dialogue about the future of our great city. Thank you all for being active in your community and for participating in these elections.


Darren Rigger, Chairman
City of Peekskill Democratic Committee

Spano: Westchester County has 'never been stronger'

(Original publication: March 23, 2007)

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano peppered his State of the County speech last night with a host of minor, and occasionally major, announcements.
On the minor side: an Earth Day giveaway of energy-efficient lightbulbs, and a new tracking system for county police cruisers.
On the major side: a new nonprofit agency to help develop and manage affordable-housing projects.
And on the missing side: any solution to where to relocate a controversial drop-in shelter for the homeless, now in a county building in downtown White Plains. Spano called on municipal officials to work with the county toward a solution.
Spano's assessment of the state of Westchester County was this: "We have been fiscally prudent. We have been socially progressive. We have been responsible, compassionate, efficient and productive. ... And the result: The state of our county has never been stronger."
Westchester's executive mentioned various county health-care initiatives, including a pilot project to link more minorities in six communities to available health care and a mentoring initiative to encourage more minority students to pursue health-care jobs. The Health Department plans a new unit to address chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease and is creating a video to teach patients how to demand quality care.
On the environmental front, Spano said a task force is creating a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. He cited pending legislation to push landscapers to use less-polluting leaf blowers and promoted the county's internal initiatives, from buying hybrid vehicles to using environmentally friendly cleaning products.
The county executive paid tribute to Army Staff Sgt. Kyu Chay of Chappaqua, killed in Afghanistan last year, and lamented that the county hasn't been able to do more to reach out to returning veterans. Spano called it a "travesty" that the federal government will not release their names to local officials.
In a county with high costs for housing, Spano also lamented that some affordable units are no longer protected. More than 4,000 units in 11 communities created decades ago under the state Mitchell-Lama program soon could "be lost to market rates," and almost 300 more units created through county efforts are already - or soon could be - able to be sold or rented at full value, he said.
To avert this, Spano announced plans to help create a nonprofit agency called the Housing Land Trust that could take ownership of property targeted for affordable-housing developments. The county plans to partner with the trust, rather than giving its land to private developers or local agencies.
"But to make a significant difference, we need local municipalities to join this effort," Spano said. "To my elected colleagues: Please, take a look at the land that you own that might be suitable for housing and consider donating it to the Housing Trust."
Spano talked up partnerships with other elected leaders, including a "new team for change" in Albany. He reiterated his call for an independent safety assessment of the Indian Point nuclear power facility and for reforms at Consolidated Edison, the power company that repeatedly left many residents in the dark last year. He also touted a new MetroCard system for Bee-Line buses, the planned Empire State Games for amateur athletes in July and a coming face-lift for the county's Web site,
When it was over, Board of Legislators' Minority Leader George Oros, R-Cortlandt, offered this take: "An hour of speaking and 30 seconds about taxes? My speeches are the other way around."
Before Spano's speech, more than 200 members of the county's largest public-employees union, Civil Service Employees Association Unit 9200, rallied outside with a 15-foot inflatable rat. The union's last contract expired at the end of 2005, and union leaders say negotiations have stalled.
Marchers like William Prusak, 59, of Yonkers, who scans documents at the county's records center, wore signs detailing some of the raises doled out in government in the past year, including those that legislators awarded themselves and their staff.
"They're getting good raises," the 24-year county employee said, but "they don't want to give us nothing. We don't have to eat?"

Reach Liz Anderson at or 914-696-8538



Some initiatives mentioned in County Executive Andrew Spano's speech:• Giveaways of energy-efficient lightbulbs April 21 and 22 to mark Earth Day.• A new tracking system for county police cruisers.• A new digital license plate scanner for police.• A volunteer "technical rescue team" to respond to construction accidents.• A new nonprofit agency to help develop and manage affordable-housing projects.• A pilot project to link more minorities in six communities to available health care.• A switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products in county buildings.• A face-lift for the county's Web site,• MetroCard system for county Bee-Line buses.• A two-year "performance management initiative" to evaluate the work of county departments and contract agencies.• Efforts to reduce paper and paperwork.• "Tele-medicine" system linking the county jail by video conference with Westchester Medical Center.• Video arraignments for jail inmates.


Response to State of the County

Hello I’m George Oros, Minority Leader of the Board of Legislators. On behalf of my five Republican colleagues, it’s my pleasure to speak with you about the State of our County.
It’s hard to believe a year has passed since the county executive’s last address but, unfortunately, not much has changed. Spending continues to run rampant, property taxes continue to rise and most of the initiatives we have proposed to streamline county government and help middle class families remain regrettably ignored.
You may recall the media accounts last year that Westchester is the highest taxed county in the nation – higher than Palm Beach County or Beverly Hills. You may have also heard from this administration excuses and misplaced blame rather than solutions. In the past eight years County taxes have increased an astounding 54% - double the rate of the cost of living. Today County government is grabbing $348 more from every man, woman and child in our County than just eight years ago. That’s nearly a month worth of groceries or 175 gallons of heating oil.
The administration sees nothing wrong with spending taxpayers’ hard earned money on such frills as a GPS systems for golf carts, but doesn’t see fit to remove the sales tax on clothing under $110. Some expenditures just jump out at you. For instance, as a result of welfare reform in the mid 1990s, the County’s welfare rolls have dropped over 30%, yet our Social Service Department has more employees than ever.
Earlier this year the county executive admitted he was out of answers on how to get a handle on taxes. Well, Mister County Executive we been proposing solutions for several years. In December we proposed 20 million dollars of spending cuts to the 2007 budget which you and the majority ignored. In each of the last four years, we offered to work with a private public partnership to identify areas of waste, duplication and overlap in County government. Will you join this year in that effort? We ask you and the legislature once again to join in increasing accountability for the millions of dollars that go through the Board of Acquisition and Contract without legislative approval. The Minority Conference has repeatedly offered and will continue to offer suggestions on how we can think outside the box. Maybe this year the majority will listen.
We can do better in other areas too. Last year’s election results demonstrate that people want and deserve more open, honest and ethical government. Currently we are developing an Ethics reform law to address the concerns about undue influence by big money campaign donors. The need for stronger checks and balances within the county to protect individuals, property owners, small businesses and municipalities from the dominance of county government continues. A proposed eminent domain protection law remains bottled up in Committee. The time to act is now. Likewise we will continue to be vigilant in protecting local government’s right of first refusal when the County deposes of surplus land.
Certainly we can do better in providing affordable housing. Westchester remains one of the most desirable areas to live and work, yet those who grew up here are forced to make their homes elsewhere due to a lack of housing options. Our members, joining with the business and housing community, are seeking more innovative ways to create such housing. We must go beyond the administration’s current measures that simply throw millions of dollars at contractors and developers while building few true affordable units. And let’s not forget - the surest way to make housing affordable is to control property taxes.
You deserve the peace of mind of a truly safe neighborhood, which is why twenty months ago we introduced legislation to prohibit any convicted pedophile or registered sex offender from residing within 2,500 feet of a county facility open to children.
These predators could strike at any time and their targets are society’s most vulnerable. Yet after nearly two years the administration and majority refuse to act. Meanwhile, our neighboring legislatures in Putnam and Rockland have adopted such laws. Westchester prides itself in being a leader among counties. It seems today the only thing this administration seeks leadership in is taxes.
With more time I could address concerns about the environment, education and child care, but our time allotment is limited. Do visit the Board of Legislators web site, or better yet contact me through the site. You can be added to our mailing list and receive updates on our initivies.
There’s a lot of hard work ahead for us but legislators Ursula LaMotte, Sue Swanson, Jim Maisano, Gordon Burrows, Bernice Spreckman and I are more than ready to meet the challenges. We work for you. We pledge to continue to offer alternatives to increasing taxes and business as usual. Our role in the minority is to be ever vigilant, to ask all the questions. Like many executives, this administration doesn’t like to be questioned or doubted. So when we do question and the administration responds with personal attacks rather than answers, keep that in mind. And ask the questions yourself. The major question before you tonight is simple: Can we do better as a County? We in the republican conference believe we can. Ultimately, however that answer is up to you. Thanks for listening. Please contact us. Your input and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated.

George Oros

PEEKSKILL MAYOR JOHN TESTA'S STATE OF THE CITY ADRESS: For further information about the City's progress in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, downtown revitalization, waterfront redevelopment, code enforcement and quality of life initiatives, infrastructure improvements, business growth, historic preservation, and open government, read Mayor Testa's complete State of the City Address, which is available by clicking this link.*


ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)Hosted by: DARREN RIGGER

DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM chanel 22Hosted by: DON PETERS *********************************************************************************** EDITOR'S NOTE:

All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

BAZZO 03/25/07

Wednesday, March 14, 2007



Dear Readers:

It is official, the John Jay administrators have backed down and said the three girls will NOT have to seve their suspensions. This is NOT a victory for free speech, but a defeat for respect for authority and the rule of law. At John Jay you can now have civil disobedience WITHOUT consquenses, "there is no joy in mudville tonight".
In a unanimous vote our Westchester County legislators voted to spend 6 million of our tax dollars on the six money making rides at Playland. When you go back to some past entries on this blog, you will see it was not always unanimous. Did it ever occur to anyone that these rides made money because the were privately operated? We have seen with the Westchester County Medical Center what happens when County government runs things, it is not a pretty picture. Playland is losing money now, there argument is that it will lose less. You wanna bet?
Darren Rigger, Peekskill Demoratic Party Chairman called the Journal News to point out the personal attacks On Councilwoman Claxton on their blog site. To avoid issues of slander the blog page editor removed the offending posts. You see, even blogs have to abide by the laws of slander. If you don't get personal, stick to the issues and you won't have to worry.
Former Peekskill Councilman Bill Schmidt has started his own blog. It will be titled "ON THE OTHER HAND". Here is the link: . His first topic will be 'CAN PEEKSKILL AFFORD ANYMORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING?" It should be posted within the week. I hope you will do like I have and put this link in 'YOUR FAVORITES".

Suspension of Peekskill housing director sparks controversy


(Original publication: March 18, 2007)

Peekskill - The suspension of the head of the Peekskill Housing Authority has caused a maelstrom of controversy in the city, with many arguing that his removal is the first step toward getting rid of public housing.
The agency's board of commissioners voted 4-2 Thursday night in favor of the immediate 30-day suspension with pay of executive director Gheevarghese "Thomas" Thankachan. The director makes about $90,000 a year.
The action has mobilized many Housing Authority tenants, who packed the gathering and Monday night's Common Council meeting in support of Thankachan, to speak out against one of the more vocal and, many claim, irascible housing board members.
"The only comment I can make is that they did not give me a reason," said Thankachan, who has led the Housing Authority for four years and served as its legal counsel before that. "Why they did it, I don't know."
The board's chairman, Mel Bolden, said Friday that Thankachan was suspended for incompetence or misconduct, though no explanations for his temporary departure were given at Thursday night's meeting. Bolden, who voted against the suspension, said the four commissioners have until the board's next public session on April 19 to prove the charges.
"I do believe Thomas was working with the community, but other board members perhaps think that there is a need for a changing of the guard," said Bolden, who is also a Common Council member. "I think he was doing a good job."
Lisa Shirin, the Housing Authority's administrative assistant, will be interim executive director.
Board member Leesther Brown said Thankachan's suspension was a personnel matter that will be disclosed later. Brown, who was recently reappointed by Mayor John Testa, has been the focal point of this contentious issue.
Many contend that she and other commissioners appointed by the mayor in the past year are part of his strategy to sell Bohlmann Towers, a federally subsidized apartment complex on Main Street, to private developers.
The Peekskill Housing Authority oversees several low-income residential buildings in the city, including Bohlmann and Dunbar Heights on Highland Avenue.
"I wouldn't hold the mayor's hand if he was trying to get rid of public housing," Brown said. "I'm trying to get these people a better quality of life. They deserve that."
But many have accused Brown of regularly harassing and threatening tenants and Housing Authority staff members. While complaints against her have been filed with the Peekskill Police Department, none has risen to the level of a crime, police said.
At the meeting, John Gilleo, president of the Dunbar Heights Tenants Association, presented the Housing Authority a petition signed by 150 people, mostly Dunbar residents, calling for Brown's removal and to keep Thankachan as the authority's executive director, he said. Gilleo was told to give the petition to the mayor.
"In my heart, I feel that they are trying to take public housing away from the needy," said Gilleo, a six-year Dunbar resident. "If they can get enough authority from the city, they can take the buildings."
Testa vehemently denied any such plan. The city has no authority over the apartment complexes, he said, because they are owned by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. He further maintained he has nothing to do with the board's decision-making.
"People need to calm down and let the board do their job," Testa said. "I'm hoping that in 30 days, tempers will calm, the agitators will be ignored and the situation of public housing in Peekskill will be better and safer."
In the meantime, Gilleo said, a peaceful demonstration is planned for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in front of City Hall, 840 Main St.
"They railroaded Thomas. He has taken the buildings to a higher level, proposing scholarships for residents and a job fair," said Sandra Dolman, chairman of the People's Housing Coalition in Peekskill. "There's been a game plan for years to get people out and make way for co-ops."
Reach Marcela Rojas at or 845-228-2271.


Dear Readers:

When someone makes unfounded accusations in order to divert attention from themselves, I must ask why? THERE ARE NO PLANS TO SELL BOHLMANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The reality is it would not be politically feasible both locally and federally to do so. Sure, there are some who would welcome that, you would be a fool to not think so. Are they even close to a majority, nah, I don't think so.

The most important thing for Peekskill as a whole is the safety, security and stability of it's public housing. Therefore within the next thirty days, I think the following questions must be answered.

1) What has been done for the safety of the residents of Bohlmann towers visa-via the broken security cameras and security doors?

2) The Housing Authority is a public institution, Have the books been opened for inspection?

I think the answers to these questions will do more to diffuse and resolve the situation.

George Oros
Legislator, 1st District


March 13, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828
A Risk Not Worth Taking
GOP Caucus Raises Serious Questions About Proposed New Home For BOE

The Republican minority of the Board of Legislators has demanded County Executive Andrew Spano and his administration fully disclose any risks to the public involving the abandoned warehouse at 450 Saw Mill River Road in Ardsley that has been proposed as the new home for the Board of Elections.

Minority Leader George Oros and fellow Republican legislators Ursula LaMotte, Jim Maisano, Suzanne Swanson, Gordon A. Burrows and Bernice Spreckman penned a letter to Spano and Budget Chair Michael Kaplowitz after learning about some potentially harmful issues with the building, including asbestos, mold, lead paint and a buried oil storage tank.

"There are a lot of things wrong with this building," Oros said. "The location is bad enough, but all these possible health risks should force the county executive and his advisers to look elsewhere."

"We have to look for a better place," Burrows said. "This building is old and in terrible shape. We'll be wasting millions of dollars to fix all the problems. It's not worth it."

In its letter, the GOP raised questions about an underground 20,000 gallon fuel oil storage tank, a 100 gallon diesel fuel oil spill that occurred last August at 444 Saw Mill River Road, documented asbestos-containing materials on the property, the presence of lead-based paint and a reported abundance of mold.

“The County is not spending the taxpayers money wisely by trying to ignore the age and condition of the oil tank,” Swanson said.

"No matter which way you look at this, it's a mess," Maisano remarked.

Meanwhile, the Republicans also raised their collective eyebrows at recent published reports that stated the property is owned by Ardsley Partners III. One of the firm's principals is Jon Halpern who, according to The Journal News, “has been a major donor to county Democrats and served on the ‘gala committee’ of a Spano fundraiser in 2005.”

The letter requests that all these issues be discussed in the Budget and Appropriations Committee prior to the final vote.


George Oros
Legislator, 1st District


March 14, 2007 Contact: George Oros
Tel: (914) 995-2828
First County Legislative District Cashes In
Municipalities share a piece of almost $900,000 awarded in federal fundsProperty tax exemption should be approved for volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel

Legislator George Oros (R-C/Cortlandt) is pleased to announce that nearly $900,000 was awarded to communities within his district from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The funds are allocated and awarded by Westchester County and the Board of Legislators.

Oros noted that “thanks to a team effort” his district will receive 24% of the funding distributed among the 17 county districts. The First District includes part of Cortlandt, Peekskill, Buchanan and northern Yorktown.

“Once more our district outranks the others in securing these funds,” said Oros.

“This funding will help the municipalities I represent complete projects that directly benefit residents,” Oros stated. “The efforts of Peekskill Mayor John Testa, Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Buchanan Mayor Dan O’Neill and Yorktown Supervisor Linda Cooper in fostering a smooth working relationship make it much easier to secure these funds; they deserve a note of thanks.”

The projects approved for CBDG funds include:

Peekskill: $203,050 for infrastructure improvements on Bank, Main and Park streets; $200,000 for infrastructure improvements on Division Street.

Cortlandt: $145,000 for phase II of the Broadway streetscape sidewalk project in Verplanck.

Buchanan: $200,000 for sidewalks on Westchester Avenue

Yorktown: $150,000 for the streetscape project in Jefferson Valley.

YORKTOWN: Will Roker run?

Hall details bill for Iraq exit strategy

By Adriane Tillman

Keyed by detailed remarks on an Iraq exit strategy by Congressman John Hall, an aura of confidence, excitement and anticipation pervaded the Yorktown Democratic Committee’s annual brunch, as 220 party affiliates and county Democrats dug into steak or salmon at Traveler’s Rest on Sunday, March 11.Hall was honored by the local Democratic leadership, as was County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz and County Court Judge Jeffrey Cohen. The Democrats had plenty to celebrate, and apparently plenty to anticipate.
Who will supervise?Amongst praise and recognition for fellow politicians, the question of the day remains: Who will run to succeed Yorktown Supervisor Linda Cooper?The Democratic Committee has yet to officially endorse a candidate, which is planned for its convention on March 22. One name mentioned more than once throughout the morning was Town Clerk Alice Roker. Yorktown Democratic Committee Chair Joe Apicella called her “a jewel in Yorktown’s jewelry box” and said he hopes she will consider running for higher office. Naomi Cohen echoed that sentiment, as she addressed the crowd on behalf of her husband, former Yorktown Judge Jeffrey Cohen. Even John Hall mentioned her name when he recognized Yorktown Democratic councilmen Lou Campisi and Matt Metz.Roker said she is considering all possibilities, including running for supervisor or taking a job in the private sector.“I love what I do for a living, Roker told North County News. “I have a lot more to complete, to do in this particular job, but I never allow myself to just have tunnel vision in terms of only looking at this position.” Roker has served as Yorktown’s Town Clerk since 1990, an elected position she vies for every four years. She said the Democratic Committee asked her to run for the position. Before that, Roker worked for WNBC as a producer for Live at Five, and earlier as an elementary school teacher. Don Peters already announced he will run again for supervisor. Peters lost to Cooper two years ago by a narrow 93 votes. Democratic councilman Jim Martorano said he would consider a bid for supervisor but does not want to undercut Peters’ candidacy.Councilman Nick Bianco, who runs independently as a conservative and is also up for reelection, said he is considering everything. Bianco joined the Democrats for brunch, and told NCN he also attends the Republicans’ comparable event as well. “I’ll give it some thought about where I can be the most effective for my family and for the town,” he said, implying he can have virtually as much influence as a member of the Town Board as does someone in the top spot: “A council member’s vote is one vote, just like the supervisor’s vote.” The Hall Report Hall updated the audience about Congress’s first 100 days in office, highlighting bills to raise the minimum wage, cut interest on student loans, and charge oil companies fees for drilling on public land.He announced the Hall bill, introduced March 9, that requires the state to monetarily favor developers that build near existing treatment facilities, instead of developers who build on pristine land, knowing they’ll receive government money for sewers. “It’s an anti-sprawl law… to concentrate development where there already is development and to expand and upgrade those [sewer] systems,” he said.Hall then spoke about the topic on which he is most passionate: Iraq. The freshman congressman announced a resolution for redeployment that is expected to garner enough votes to pass through the House of Representatives. The bill says troops will stay as late as August 2008 if the Iraqi government meets the Iraq Study benchmarks for political reconciliation and constitutional changes. If not, troops will begin withdrawing by this October and completely pull out by April 2008.“It’s a start,” Hall said. “Before there was no deadline and now there’s light at the end of the tunnel.” The resolution also requires the president to seek congressional support before attacking Iran, prohibits the military from creating permanent U.S. bas­es in the area, and stipulates troops must rest for a year between deployments.
Biggest healthcare boost since GI BillThe bill further provides the largest increase in veterans’ healthcare since the GI bill. Caring for veterans from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq will likely exceed $1 trillion, Hall said. The ratio of wounded to those killed in the current fighting is 15:1, compared to a 2:1 ratio in Vietnam, according to Hall, who pointed out that is because today’s superior medical attention in the battlefield keeps more wounded soldiers alive. Yet, along with an improved proportion of survivors who are injured in combat, he explained, comes a greater strain on America’s ability at home to care for its wounded veterans, a situation underscored by the scandalous conditions surrounding patients at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. Hall predicts 45 Republicans will cross party lines to vote for the bill. “They don’t want to vote against the biggest veterans’ healthcare package in 50 years, or against holding the Iraqi people responsible for their own country, or resting troops and having them fully trained and fully equipped,” he said. Hall’s victory in November 2006 put an end to Sue Kelly’s 12-year reign. The five-member Yorktown Town Board is controlled by a Democratic majority of three. When Martorano was first elected seven years ago, a Democrat had not been present on the board for 12 years.“It’s a good time to get into politics,” Apicella said.

Adriane Tillman can be reached at or (914) 962 4748 x.267


TALKING POINTS: Yorktown Dems are in a party mood

By Bruce Apar , Editor-in-Chief + Publisher

There were high spirits and good humor charging the air at Traveler’s Rest for the March 11 Annual Sunday brunch of the Yorktown Democratic Committee, with Congressman John Hall and County Executive Andy Spano leading the charge. Joe Apicella of Capelli Enterprises, who holds impressive sway over the Yorktown Democratic Committee as its chairman, did a masterful job as Master of Ceremonies, ably aided by Committee member Joe Eriole, who sprinkled his measured remarks with scholarly references.
Hall praises MartoranoThose who read tea leaves for a living – journalists, say – had a lot to drink in. Yorktown business owner Don Peters introduced County Legislator and honoree Michael Kaplowitz, tagged by Mr. Apicella as a “rising star in this County’s Democratic Party.” Mr. Peters, the only declared candidate to date of either major party for Yorktown Supervisor, kept calling Mr. Kaplowitz his “walking partner,” alluding to their pounding the pavement together come campaign season, with the legislator running for re-election.By introducing at yet another local event Congressman John Hall, the highest profile honoree, Yorktown Councilman James Martorano, who holds the appointed title of Deputy Supervisor, reinforced the perception he is Yorktown’s closest confidante of the region’s first Democratic member of the House of Representatives since, as Mr. Martorano told the crowd, The Civil War.Though Mr. Martorano is not commenting for publication, there’s a discernible buzz among Democrats who want him to take a run at the Supervisor’s office. When I asked Mr. Hall if he planned to take an active role in Yorktown’s elections this year, he replied, “When Jim Martorano dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for Congress, he endorsed me. He's a great guy. I don't know if he wants to run for Town Council or for Supervisor. I certainly want to help the Democrats in Yorktown in general."
Peters, Martorano, Roker The big question is whether the Dems would hold a primary or settle on their most electable candidate in caucus on March 22.As our Page 1 story this week by Adriane Tillman reveals, the Democratic field of viable Supervisor hopefuls may have just tripled this past week with not only Mr. Matorano as a possible contender for the nomination Mr. Peters covets, but also what seems to be mounting support for perennially popular Town Clerk Alice Roker.In fact, a virtual endorsement of Ms. Roker unexpectedly came from the spouse of third honoree, County Court Judge Jeffrey Cohen, whom ethics rules precluded from appearing at a political event in his role as a sitting jurist who is not running for election. Naomi Cohen was effusive and explicit in her praise of Ms. Roker. Listen in … “Alice Roker and Jeff Cohen were the first Democrats to get elected in 1989 [in Yorktown] and since then Alice has done a wonderful job. Everybody knows Alice. I’m still waiting for you to run for higher office, and I’ll be right next to you next time around. We have talked about it in the past, and I think it would be a wonderful thing. Everybody recognizes that Alice can do even more than she’s doing. I’ll be there next to you, helping you.”We don’t know if Ms. Roker will decide to run for Yorktown Supervisor, but if she does, it looks she already has a campaign manager.

Our New METhis issue marks the promotion of award-winning, veteran journalist Danny Lopriore to North County News Managing Editor, a title known in publishing shorthand as ME. Mr. Lopriore has been at NCN less than a year, but has more than proved his ability to lead by example, which he also did in prior managerial posts at The Journal News. His experience as a broadcast journalist also will serve us well as we venture further into NCN-TV land. In his day-to-day supervision of our editorial operation, and related duties, it’s fair to say, in more ways than one, Danny Lopriore is the new ME.

Bruce Apar can be reached at; (914) 962-3871 x 410. Read more of his commentary at “Bruce The Blog” on


Dear Readers:

Thursday came and with usual anticipation I went to the corner deli and got my copy of the North County News. As I was waiting for the 1PM train I found out that I made a mistake and bought a Democrat press release instead. There it was right under the fold on the front page "HALL DETAILS BILL FOR IRAQ EXIT STRATEGY"........."WILL ROKER RUN?"....Then there in the editorial section is the commentary by the Publisher reprising the front page. A great big democrat love fest, I was ready after reading these articles to sing "Kumbya" to the departing passengers from the train. In the continuing tradition of the rest of the local media, The Journal News, The Westchester Guardian, one side of the issues, no in depth analysis of what they witnessed. I shall now do what I have always tried to do, put into context what transpired.

On February 13, 2007 Rep.Hall gave a speech on the floor of the House Of Representatives regarding Iraq and the proposed bills up for discussion. This speech was dutifully NOT cover by the local media. The only place where you could find it was in the Plan-Putnam Blog. I posted the link to this address on a previous post and my comments. That link has since been disabled, I would think Rep.Hall's web site would still carry it. I,however printed it out. In that speech he made a couple of major points. 1) Congress was mislead into war 2) Bush lied when on 05/01/2003 He said "mission accomplished. 3) That when we leave Iraq Al Qaeda will lose their mission, and Iran and Syria would work for calm. After reading the entire speech it was no wonder the speech was not covered, Rep. Hall's local friends in the press did not want to embarrass him.

The following are my comments at the time on that speech:

Dear Readers:

Unlike most feckless politicians, Rep. John hall is in keeping with the platform he ran on. Rep. Hall ran as an anti-war candidate, and I would think that is a sincere position long held even before he ran for office.
This is a commendable attribute for those who put their trust and elected him to office. He is also being the same person to those who did not vote for him because of his positions. I am one of the latter. As I have stated in previous posts to this site on Rep. Hall's votes and Indian Point as an issue, I also believe he is wrong on the war in Iraq.

Nobody but nobody was mislead on the vote for war. The name of the resolution was "Bill to authorize the use of force in Iraq". There is NOTHING misleading in that title. This was a second resolution that was insisted on by the Democrats so they would be on record as not being weak on national security during the 2002 elections. When you go back and re-read the speeches by the legislators(Congress and Senate) before they voted, they knew and believed in what they were voting for. This resolution consisted of six reasons which WMD was fourth. The way this has been continually reported you would think WMD was the only reason, WHICH IT WAS NOT. At the time it was the correct vote, and all the re-writing of history won't change that.

When Pres. Bush stood on top of the Aircraft Carrier He spoke the truth. The initial phase of the battle had been won, Saddam was overthrown. He went on to say the we were in for a long haul of rebuilding and it would not be easy, though this hard I don't believe he knew at the time,AND NEITHER DID ANYONE ELSE!!!!! If you take the time to read General Tommy Frank's book you would find out that this speech was necessary for the other countries that held back during the initial push, to send help for the rebuilding stage to commence. Without that speech they would not have participated. This speech was not only not wrong but according to the Commanding General, NECESSARY.

Yes, mistakes were made, but I defy anyone to show where in war there were not. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however a President(any President) does not have that luxury. You make the best decisions with the information at hand at the time and hope. The idea is to learn from your mistakes and make the necessary corrections which this President is doing. Whether these are correct, time will tell.

For Rep. Hall to actually believe that our withdrawal would cause Al Qaeda to lose their mission and Iran and Syria to work for clam is to ignore the history of those parties. It was that same ignorance of history that caused the death of three million Cambodians and two million South Vietnameese after Congress stopped the funding of that war. If Rep. Hall really believe in the wrongness of this war, He would not be voting for a non-binding resolution, but introducing a BINDING resolution to stop the funding, anything else is just playing politics with the live of our soldiers. I would have more respect for him had he done that even though I would think him to be wrong. .

I would suggest that those opponents of this war go back and re-read the resolution, re-read the speeches that were made by those who voted for that resolution. This way they can base their opposition on facts rather than talking points. Reading General Frank's book would help to.

Now let's turn our attention to part two of these articles, that is the race for Yorktown Supervisor. It just so happened I submitted a "letter to the editor" to the North County News on this particular topic. As I did not attend this love fest, it seem I was quite prophetic How ever the editors at the paper thought another letter blasting the Peekskill Guardian blog was more timely than mine which would have been a different voice on the race for Supervisor. The following is my proposed letter, you judge which was more timely.


I will leave it to the historians to debate how good a Supervisor Linda Cooper is. Suffice it to say that being elected six times says a lot. Looking forward though, what does it mean for the voters of Yorktown. For Don Peters(Democrat), if he was going to run a campaign against Linda Cooper, it means he has got to put together a new game plan and cannot till he knows who will be the Republican candidate. How ever if he was going to run for Yorktown Supervisor (there is a difference between the two options), then it matters very little who will be the Republican nominee, for this would be a campaign based on ideas and vision on how HE would lead Yorktown into the future and hope he can convince enough voters that his vision is the way to go. As for his challenger, it would be up to Don to point out their differences in vision, but that is a minor point, for running for Supervisor, it is what HE will do, and who HE is that really matters.

There have been rumbling that now that Linda Cooper is no longer in the running, other Democrats, who unlike Don Peters, had not the nerve two years ago or this year to leave the safety of their incumbency now wish to be the next Supervisor. It would be wrong for the party heads to encourage such a move. It would look like they were using Mr. Peters as a sacrificial lamb two years ago, and now that it may become a reality that a Democrat may be the next Supervisor, they would choose an insider. It would be ignoring the ONE trait that made Mr. Peters so formidable, the fact that he was NOT an insider, that there was a feeling of independence about him. It would also renforce the cynicism of the voters that outsiders are only tools to be used by the insiders. As the position of Supervisor is that of an executive position, I do not believe that someone not willing to take risks deserves that position. That in the past these Supervisor wanna be's were not willing to risk the safety of incumbency says a lot on how strong an executive they would be. "Self-preservation" is not a good character trait of an executive.

The only serious threat to Don Peters being the next Supervisor would come from Councilman Nick Bianco(Conservative-Republican) Councilman Bianco has a track record being a sitting Councilman. It will be tough to discredit that record. Not impossible, but tough. Nick has been an effective advocate for the people of Yorktown and the people of Yorktown would be well served if he were Supervisor. This would truly be a race based on ideas and vision should this be the match-up. Should Councilman Bianco run for Supervisor, it would be a referendum on his service to the town just as if he were running for re-election to the Council. This would be a race to close to call. If the Republicans nominate anyone else, then I believe Don Peters will be the next Supervisor. I do not see the Republicans fielding a stronger candidate, as they have not been building a strong "back-bench". Councilman Bianco is the only candidate the Republicans can field, as he is a "Conservative-Republican", not a "Republican-Conservative"(there is a difference) that has the best chance for keeping the Supervisor's seat Republican. It would not surprise me if the Republicans and Councilman Bainco knew that too.

It would be wise for the Republicans to start thinking out-side the box when trying to field a slate for the next election. As they have gone from a 3-2 majority to a 4-1 minority says that the path they have been traveling is the wrong way to go. It would be wrong for the party heads to choose someone who has been part of this loss of recent elections. They, like the Democrats must choose an outsider with a new vision if they have any hope of gaining elective office. The people there now have lost touch with the people, and need someone of the people to regain that touch. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

As I said before, bias in the media is not always what IS printed, but what they CHOOSE to ignore.

EDITORS NOTE: A special "Manifesto" congrats. to Danny L. on his promotion. Readers of his will always note how balanced HIS reporting has been.
PEEKSKILL MAYOR JOHN TESTA'S STATE OF THE CITY ADRESS: For further information about the City's progress in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, downtown revitalization, waterfront redevelopment, code enforcement and quality of life initiatives, infrastructure improvements, business growth, historic preservation, and open government, read Mayor Testa's complete State of the City Address, which is available by clicking this link.*******************************************************************************

ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)Hosted by: DARREN RIGGER

DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM chanel 22Hosted by: DON PETERS

All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

BAZZO 03/17/07

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Dear Readers:

The following two articles are a perfect example of "spin". My commentary after each attempts to point out what is behind the stories, what they don't want you to think about.



Debating the 'N-word'


(Original publication: March 5, 2007)

When Alfred Nyarko is with his friends, they call each other by a word that is frequently used by many other young blacks.
Nyarko said the way he and his friends pronounce the word - sounding as if it ends in the letter a, not the letters e-r - makes all the difference.
"I mean, that's what I've been saying ever since I was younger. I call everybody that," the 19-year-old Rockland Community College student said, adding that he even called a few close white friends that word.
But it raises Stella Marrs' ire when she hears people throwing the word about.
"They don't know what they're saying," said Marrs, the former executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Spring Valley.
The taboo word, commonly referred to as the "N-word," is used frequently by young people, particularly blacks or others of color.
Michael Richards unleashed forceful debate about who may use the word and in what context after the comedian of "Seinfeld" sitcom fame went on his now infamous, epithet-laced tirade against black patrons at the Laugh Factory last year.
Recent local events have furthered the discussion.
Last month, Nyack village trustees adopted a resolution in which they unanimously called for a symbolic moratorium on the word's use.
On Wednesday, the New York City Council adopted a nonbinding resolution prohibiting the word's use. The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved a similar measure last month, and other municipalities are considering action on the issue.
Public response to the efforts - the moratoria carry no legal penalties - has varied.
Many support raising awareness, but some question any attempt - symbolic or otherwise - to limit free speech. Others wonder about the furor over what they say is only a word.Offensive or evolving?
Across race or ethnicity, for many who hear it, the six-letter word elicits a wrenching, almost physical reaction -invoking 400 years of blacks' subjugation, suppression, exploitation, torment and tyranny at the hands of white oppressors.
Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary 2005 defines the word as an "offensive" term for a black person or for a member of any dark-skinned race. It comes from the Middle French word "negre," which means "black."
The dictionary's usage note says the word "now ranks as perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English."
But to many the word's impact has evolved.
Larry Clay Dillard, an attorney from Haverstraw who said he believed any attempt to limit use of the word would represent an "onslaught" upon free speech, said "flagging the word retards discussion" on the issue of racism.
"I think the word is not so much inflammatory as it is a historic reminder that many people would prefer to forget," said Dillard, who is one of a few blacks to have served as trustee at RCC. "We have taken the word and recalibrated it and by recalibrating it, we've used it as a signpost of where we were and where we ought to be."
Nyack Mayor John Shields takes a different view. It was his strong feeling about the issue, developed during his 30 years as a New York City schoolteacher, that sparked the village moratorium.
He would hear students use the the word, and that bothered him.
"Finally, one day they walked into the room and I said, 'Hi,' and I used the word and they stopped in their tracks," said Shields, who is white. "They said, 'You can't say that word.' And I said, 'Why?' and they said, 'It's different.' "
But if the word were something blacks could use with pride, Shields contended, everyone should be able to use it. If that general use creates friction, then that means saying the word is not OK for anyone.
Charlton McIlwain, assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University, said he believed attempts to ban the word were "misguided."
"I think, in most instances, that sort of casual usage, especially among African-Americans, is an attempt to say, here's a term that was historically used by whites to demean us, to keep us subservient, to show that we are inferior," he said. "And our use of the word, casually to friends, to people that we think are affiliated with us is not to offend, but to bind us together. I think that's a positive way to take some of that power out of the term."
Formerly negative terms in recent history have undergone transformations. McIlwain said the word "black" was redefined and popularized as a description for black people when singer James Brown focused on it.
Nyarko, the RCC student, was born in Ghana and came to the United States when he was 5 years old.
The Spring Valley man, now an education student, said no attempt to prevent use of the word would stop him from saying what he viewed as a term of endearment.
"My generation, we've been raised on calling each other that. We weren't raised on calling it any kind of hate," he said. "For them to tell us we shouldn't use the word ... you can't stop something natural from happening."
Starr Howell was one of several Mount Vernon High School students who discussed the issue during a workshop last week.
Howell, 15, said she frequently used the word as a greeting.
"We don't say it to harm anyone and I don't say it around teachers or adults," the ninth-grader said. "I'm going to try not to say it, but it is going to take a lot of control. The word is everywhere."
Another student, Laasia Murdock, said most teens used the word because they wanted to be part of the in crowd. Not using the word could lead to them being picked on. Murdock called the common use of the word a "fad" and said she didn't see herself using it as an adult.
"Some things get played out when you grow up," the 14-year-old said.A message to nonblacks
Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a race relations expert, author and psychiatrist at Harvard University, has said the frequent use of the word - particularly its rising use in rap music - was not positive.
Groups of every type have taken derogatory terms for themselves and used them in camaraderie with each other, he said, but when blacks call each other by the word, it sends a message to nonblacks.
Society allows ethnic groups to use derogatory terms for themselves, but wider society also takes some satisfaction from it, he said.
"They don't have to feel any blame, but they may delight in the fact that it's being used because they're thinking of it in another way, and it's also reinforcing in their minds that it's OK to say that word," he said.
Nyarko said he thought whites generally should not use the word.
"If they're close to me and they say it, it might be OK because I'm cool with them," he said. "If some random white boy in the school (said it), that's different."
To Marrs, who marched during the civil rights era, the appearance of the word in popular culture and casual communication portrays the users' ignorance of history.
"The problem is they don't understand the meaning, they don't understand the hangings, they don't understand the castrations, they don't understand the whippings, they don't understand being separated from your family." Marrs said. "They don't understand that, because if they understood that, maybe they'd look at it differently."
She favors penalizing distributors of music that, she said, demeans an entire community and gives the impression that it's OK to use the word.
Dillard said he could understand how some in the community might feel.
"I don't want you to think I'm naive. I know it's a hurtful, invasive thing to hear, particularly to people over 50, people who felt the lash of that word and the denial caused by that word," he said. "But I'm saying that, like anything that causes growth, it causes pain. And there is no growth without pain. So let's talk about it."

Staff writer Desiree Grand contributed information to this report.Reach Suzan Clarke at or 845-578-2414.

(Sorry I was late in getting to this)

Dear Readers:

When did it become popular for elected representatives to ignore the constitution they were sworn to uphold. I realize the primary objective of entrenched politicians is the retention of office, but to do so by trashing the constitution, is elected office really worth it? You see in order to pander for votes, our lawmakers have voted on a symbolic resolution to ban the "n"-word". The first protection our founding fathers sought for the people was the protection of speech (Congress shall make NO law etc.). They did not add exceptions for derogatory, incentive or symbolic resolutions. Nor did they make exeptions for local State, County, City or Town legislators to do so either(the pertinet part: MAKE NO LAW). The speech that needs protection the most is that speech we find offensive and/or unpopular. This is not to defend the use of offensive terms, but to express anger at their remedy. They are saying look at us, we passed a symbolic resolution banning the "n"-word", don't we all feel better, now vote for me. What most people forget is that for every right there is a responsibility. To have the right to be offensive does not mean it is right to be offensive. This is called personal responsibility. What these elected leaders are saying is that you are so irresponsible in handling this cherished right, that we are going to symbolically trash the same constitution that protects your rights, just to shut you up.

That this resolution is symbolic and as such cannot be enforced, matters not. One day they will make a real law abridging your right to free speech. You laugh, but laugh not, look at McCain-Feingold and how with the blessings of the Supreme Court, ripped apart the first amendment. The primary speech our founders sought to protect was political speech. So after you get away with the atrocity of McCain- Feingold, you go the next step and start passing these symbolic resolutions, and after that real laws.

Instead of rewarding these representatives for their symbolically trashing of our rights for the sole purpose of pandering to our basest instincts, they should be voted out of office at the first opportunity for being opportunistic. These symbolic resolutions( political correctness run wild), and real laws(McCain-Feingold) are ruses used to stop dissenting speech. Somebody dissagrees with you, call them racist(like they do when you talk about illegal immigration) Look beyond the pandering and see the meaning of what they are doing. The thinking behind action such as these are that our rights come from government. Our founding document (the Declaration Of Independence) of this great experiment called the United States, invokes that our rights are not given to us by a governing body , but by a higher power and cannot be taken away. The powers of those that govern are given by the consent of the governed. Some how in all the bustle of life, I think we forget that basic principal, I know with resolutions like this our lawmakers have forgotten. Not only that, but also be offended that they are doing this on your dime. I guess this is the hard work they alluded to when they voted themselves a raise last year. That's right you are paying them, it's your tax money that pays them to fritter away at ways to shut you up. Don't let them get away with treating you like fools. If they have no respect for the constitution, how much respect can they have for the voter?

And now the 'V' word

(Original publication: March 7, 2007)

Administrators at a northern Westchester high school who tried to stop three students from saying a particular word at a school "Open Mic Night'' couldn't have done more to give voice to the word "vagina'' if they had tattooed it on their foreheads.
That, of course, was and remains the intent of Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues,'' written in 1996, translated into 45 languages and performed worldwide ever since: Take a biologically correct term for a woman's body part, use it in the title of a play, repeat it throughout performances and shock listeners into reckoning - not just that females have vaginas; not just that girls and women can be terribly uncomfortable or uneducated about their own bodies; but that women and girls exist in a sexually explicit and often violent world, the same world where a word unique to their sex can barely be uttered.
It has been more than a decade since Ensler issued her challenge, yet "vagina'' remains threatening, and censored. This week, fiery debate over it is ricocheting around John Jay High School in Cross River, throughout the Katonah-Lewisboro school district and community, zinging across news pages and Web sites. Three girls wanted to perform an excerpt from Ensler's play at a school function Friday night. Trouble was, it just happened to have the "V'' word - actually, "vagina's'' - in it.
There had been a pre-audition to the "Open Mic Night'' ("open'' being the non-operative word here). The students were told by faculty that the word was not suitable; children could be in the audience, and the event was being videotaped for local cable television. But when it came to facing the microphone, juniors Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson read the verse's last line together: "My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women's army. I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina's country.''
The high school's official reaction is now widely known: Each student was given one-day, in-school suspension, to be served this week - not, district officials said, because of censorship but insubordination. John Jay High School Principal Rich Leprine explained in a letter: "When a student is told by faculty members not to present specified material because of the composition of the audience and they agree to do so, it is expected that the commitment will be honored and the directive will be followed. When a student chooses not to follow the directive, consequences follow. The students did not receive consequences because of the content of the presentation.'' We presume he wrote that with a straight face.
Search the word "vagina'' on the state Education Department's Web site, and it comes up 17 times, including in science curriculum guidelines and on biology Regents exams. "Vagina'' is a part of the female anatomy; it's downright educational - as we're sure the folks at John Jay High School have learned.


Dear Readers:

Any connection between these three girls and our County legislators "symbolic" banning of the "n"-word, is illusionary. There is a biiiiiiig difference between an elected body "symbolically" trashing the Constitution and the minors (this is a relevant point, missed by the editorial board) disobeying a recognized authority. It has already been established the pupils in school have limited rights(we can search their lockers without warrants). Every school newspaper has a teacher to decide what can and cannot be printed(hence no freedom of the press). No, school faculty are a recognized arbitrary authority. They told the girls that they cannot perform this piece(I just love the editorial comment disparaging the school's explanation as if it was untrue and/or irrelevant). The school had the authority to make that determination. The girls defied that dictate and performed the piece anyway and suffered the consequences one suffers when recognized authority is ignored(think of no-parking tickets). To make these girls out to be victims instead of disrespectful of authority teenagers is to promote anarchy. You may disagree with authority, but in doing so you must be willing to suffer the consequences. There was and is no threat to free speech here, but there is a threat to the rule of law if we continue to make these teenagers out to be victims. To operate as a civilized people we must have respect for authority. This editorial makes a mockery of that, and as adults they should know better, shame on them.

Yorktown Farms passes

By Adriane Tillman

The Town Board approved a controversial rezoning of a 43-acre parcel in northeast Yorktown that brings sewers to 67 homes and a church. Council members voted 4-1 in favor of the rezone at the February 27 work session that will allow developer Val Santucci to move forward with plans for a 22-home project known as Yorktown Farms. Councilman Nick Bianco cast the dissenting vote.Santucci originally proposed building 34 homes on half-acre lots before the land was upzoned to two acres as a result of the updated Comprehensive Plan in 2005. The new zoning would have permitted Santucci to build only 12 homes. The board went for the change after the parties eventually compromised on 22 homes in exchange for Santucci providing sewers for 67 homes, Grace Lutheran Church and providing funds for a soccer field somewhere in Yorktown. Santucci also agreed to erase a paper road to the south on his blueprints that could have allowed further development in the future.
Taking the reins Bianco decided the deal created a slippery slope for zoning laws. “Zoning should not be for sale with approvals going to the highest bidder,” Bianco said. “No wonder at a Planning Board meeting one planner referred to this application as the bribery subdivision.” Zoning should be determined by municipal planners and land development principles, not by developers with the highest bid, Bianco continued.The town also needs to address the sewer problem for everyone in the town, he added. While the project provides sewers for some, it also increases traffic and school taxes for all Yorktown residents.
Affordable housing qualms Santucci will also not be mandated to include 10 percent of affordable housing, as Yorktown requires. At the February 20 board meeting, council members exempted the project from the mandate because it was already significantly into its permitting process when the law was enacted.


Dear Readers:

I guess that history does start when you wake up in the morning. It was four loooong year that this town board maintained a purgatory of a moratorium on building so they could institute a "town-wide comprehensive plan". So now the first time that "plan" is tested, these same board members who tortured the town with that moratorium sell out to the highest bidder. The lone person of conviction was Councilman Nick Bianco. I guess convictions going rate is 67 sewers, and a pumping station. What was that moratorium about? What was that comprehensive plan about? Were they just starting points for the highest bidder? I get it now, as this is an election year for local officials, the going rate for convictions is 67 votes. I believe the only one deserving of votes is Councilman Bianco who risked those votes to remain true to his convictions. After this vote it is time to hang a "for sale" sign on those pretty green signs you see as you enter Yorktown.

ED. NOTE: It should be noted that I was against both the moratorium and comprehensive plan
at the time, and I put it in wrtitng back then.

Controversy envelops Peekskill Housing Authority

By Marcela RojasThe Journal News(Original Publication: March 8, 2007)

PEEKSKILL - Plans to suspend the executive director of the Peekskill Housing Authority were foiled this week after housing board commissioners failed to follow proper procedures.
Gheevarghese "Thomas" Than-kachan, who has headed the housing authority for four years, evaded the temporary removal Monday after it was determined that board members did not give timely notification of their meeting. A week ago, four of the six commissioners met to suspend Thankachan, but had only given two days' public notice of their special meeting, not the requisite 10, officials said.
"They had a secret meeting and that is improper and illegal," said Thankachan, who previously served as the housing authority's legal counsel. "They gave me no reason as to why they wanted to suspend me."
The matter has been tabled until March 15, said Chairman Mel Bolden, a Common Council member. Bolden said he was not notified of the last meeting and did not attend it. He declined to comment on why the board wants to suspend Thankachan and whether he agreed with the plan.
Thankachan said he suspected the city was trying to remove him so it can get rid of public housing. Some in the community contend that Mayor John Testa wants to sell Bohlmann Towers, a federally subsidized apartment complex on Main Street where police are often called to handle complaints, to private developers. Fueling this theory is the mayor's recent reappointment to the housing commission of Leesther Brown, a woman who some complain is cantankerous and regularly harasses tenants, particularly Hispanics, and housing authority staff members.
"The mayor and city administration are using Leesther Brown to demobilize the housing authority," said Nick Mottern, a Peekskill activist who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson. "She was reappointed to the housing authority after numerous complaints were filed with Peekskill police because of her behavior. She has some, I would say, pretty serious emotional problems."
Testa said complaints against Brown were unfounded and politically motivated.
"These are activists who are trying to cause unrest in the community. These are people trumping up issues that are not true," Testa said. "There have been no laws broken by this woman. She is a member of the community who has tried to make public housing a safer and better place to live."
Testa said he had no agenda to get rid of Bohlmann Towers.
"Even if I wanted to, I couldn't. It's a HUD-owned building," he said, referring to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Councilwoman Drew Claxton, a Democrat, said she had questioned the Republican mayor on Brown's reappointment, as well as other housing board appointments in the past year. The appointments were made without consulting the City Council, she said.
"There have been a number of letters written to the mayor from Thomas (Thankachan) about Leesther Brown harassing tenants and complaints brought to the police," Claxton said. "The question is, 'Is this an appropriate appointment and what is the strategy behind this?' "
Claxton said Thankachan has done a good job and there have been no grievances against him, except for Brown's.
"The housing authority has made a lot of improvements both to the building (Bohlmann Towers) and the quality of life to residents there," Claxton said. "I don't see what benefit destabilizing the Peekskill Housing Authority does for our community."
Brown said the whole issue has been muddled, adding that the board was only trying to improve the conditions of the housing authority's properties. The agency oversees five apartment complexes and nine other units in one- and two-family homes.
"This clash is with management style," Brown said. "There's a misalignment between the board and management and it's unhealthy. All of this is based on the safety and security of the tenants."
Brown said she is appalled by the conditions at Bohlmann Towers and the Dunbar Heights apartments, with frequent drug arrests, gunfire and weapons being thrown out of windows.
"I'm just trying to make a difference and people don't understand that," she said. "I've never done anything wrong."
Peekskill police said they've investigated complaints against Brown but have found nothing criminal.
Brown said Claxton was targeting her because of her allegations regarding the councilwoman's son and his relationship with a girl who was murdered in 1989.
Claxton impeded the investigation by not allowing police to take a DNA sample from her son, Freddie, following the murder of Angela Correa, Brown said.
Jeffrey Deskovic served 15 years in prison for the murder after he was wrongfully convicted. He has been released and another man - not Claxton's son - has confessed to the killing. Brown took Deskovic in after his release from prison last year.
"Drew Claxton is after me because of Jeffrey Deskovic," Brown said.
Claxton said a DNA sample was never requested and that her son never had a relationship with Correa, although it was intimated at Deskovic's trial that he did.
"This is an outright lie," Claxton said. "It is harassing. It is retaliatory. This is yet another typical outbreak and her attempts at trying to reverse something."


Dear Readers:

Last night (03/12/07) I attended the Peekskill Council meeting at City Hall. For those of you who see the meeting on cable chanel 15 you are in for a bumpy night. The chamber was overflowing with people, angry people, scared people all because a group of people( a few from out of town!!) with a agenda to pander to fear and race baiting, told a bald face lie that the city of Peekskill was going to sell Bohlmann Towers and convert it to co-ops. No matter how any times it was pointed out that Bohlmann was the property of HUD, thus federal property and there are NO plans to close it down, because the flames of fear and race were stoked to the boiling point by those with the agenda of divisiveness, the majority of people did not want to hear that. These innocent, scared people, played as pawns were truly afraid they were going to be homeless. There is a special place in hell for people, who for the gain of power scare the beejeebers out of people to the point that truth does not matter anymore.

The problem with a group of scared people, is you cannot control where the group will go. Nobody involved in this was left unscarred by personal invective. The loud insinuations stated as fact, with no basis in truth ran rampant throughout the meeting. I was waiting for Mayor Testa and Councilman Bolden to sprout horns and a tail. What these fear and race flame throwers were spouting to a scared audience is beneath contempt. In a related matter the personal attacks in the Journal News blogs against Councilwoman Drew Claxton spawned by the above article has no place in the arena of ideas. I have had my issue differences with Drew both in print and in person, but they never sunk to the level of the personal, and does more damage to the credibility of those who spread this personal invective than the goals they wish to achieve. Councilwoman Claxton has a record as a sitting Councilwoman that can be argued, that this need to destroy her personally is truly distastful, AND IT MUST STOP. Councilwoman Claxton is NOT up for election this year, and to smear her personally as a means to smear the ticket is a cheap way to score points. Whatever the Democratic ticket for this years election may be, they CAN be defeated on the issues. It was wrong in the past and at the meeting when personal attacks were used against Mayor Testa, a man of true personal integrity whether you agree with him or not, and knowing this I can state flat out that Mayor Testa is NOT involved in these attacks on Councilwoman Claxton through the blogs, you can take that to the bank. It was wrongat the meeting for the personal attacks on the credibility of Councilman Bolden, a man who truly cares about the citizens of Peekskill. Those attacks are used by people who cannot beat him on the issues. That these attacks at the meeting on Councilman Bolden and Councilwoman Martinez were leveled by people who live outside the community show how barren they are, for the citizens of Peekskill know better. It is just as wrong for these blog related personal attacks on Councilwoman Claxton. It does not matter who started it, that is school yard stuff, IT MUST END. There is no good that can come of it, though a lot of unnecessary pain. Most of all it does a disservice to the political process where disagreements should ONLY be argued in the arena of ideas.

PEEKSKILL MAYOR JOHN TESTA'S STATE OF THE CITY ADRESS: For further information about the City's progress in economic development, neighborhood revitalization, downtown revitalization, waterfront redevelopment, code enforcement and quality of life initiatives, infrastructure improvements, business growth, historic preservation, and open government, read Mayor Testa's complete State of the City Address, which is available by clicking this link.
*************************************************************************************CABLE SHOWS TO WATCH:

ON POINT ON PEEKSKILL: Every Tuesday at 8PM chanel 15 (Peekskill only)Hosted by: DARREN RIGGER

DON PETERS AND YORKTOWN: Every Tuesday at 10PM chanel 22

Hosted by: DON PETERS
*************************************************************************************EDITOR'S NOTE:All articles re-printed in this blog from the North County News are with the permission of Bruce Apar Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

BAZZO 03/13/07