Other residents being disrupted
(Original publication: March 29, 2005)
Other residents being disrupted
(Original publication: March 29, 2005)
Ms. Suzanne Berger
Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee
120 Bellair Drive
Dobbs Ferry, New York 10522
Dear Ms. Berger,
I hope that this letter finds you and yours quite well. It has come to my attention that the Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee will be interviewing interested personages regarding potential designations for the position of Greenburgh Town Councilperson. I would like to inform you of my plans to seek that designation.
As a long time activist, regarding public service and Democratic politics, on the local and national level, I believe that my experience and judgment would uniquely qualify me as a candidate for the position of Town Councilperson. Despite the fact that I have not been a life time resident of the Town of Greenburgh, I have been a native son of Westchester all my life. For over 36 years, from my earliest days as a member of the White Plains Democratic Committee, I have been involved in both community and political activity. As early as 1972 I was White Plains co-Chairperson for the George McGovern campaign for President, and recently I was on the New York State Finance Committee for General Wesley Clark. In between I have served as the campaign manager for Martin Rogowsky when he ran for the State Assembly in 1976, been an advance man for Congressman Richard Ottinger, while my wife Linda was on his staff for 8 years, was Organization Chairperson of the White Plains Democratic City Committee for a number of years, and have been an active participant in many, many campaigns.
I have also been deeply involved in charitable work and the promotion of public policy issues, by reaching out to young people through my founding of the Jon Breen Fund at Mount Vernon High School. During my few years in the Town of Greenburgh, I have served as an active member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and as a Deputy Supervisor. As an appointed Deputy Supervisor I have been assigned the task of engaging ordinary citizens to become involved in government through Supervisor Feiner’s “Liaison Program.” This program was designed to get people, who are not ordinarily involved, active in the political process. I have also proposed initiatives regarding the use of alternate sources of energy to the Town Board, and the creation of a town-wide Beautification Foundation. That concept is modeled on the extremely successful White Plains Beautification Foundation and would work to upgrade neighborhoods, local parks, traffic circles and common areas by raising money, providing matching funds and promoting awareness of the importance of neighborhood pride, beautification and cleanliness.
As a member of the Town Board, I would be a strong and independent voice regarding the need to support the excellent record of services we have all enjoyed, balanced within the boundaries of economic reality. In other words, I want to keep Greenburgh an affordable place for all types of people, representing all strata of income, to live and enjoy this wonderful town. I would also be a strong advocate of Supervisor Feiner’s efforts to keep “open and transparent” government as a number one objective. I have known Supervisor Feiner for over 30 years and I believe that with my assistance the Town Board will function much more cohesively. Along with that, I would be an active promoter of more citizen participation on “voluntary boards.” I also believe that the Town of Greenburgh should be first and foremost regarding clean energy and on the “cutting edge” of technology. I support Supervisor Feiner’s initiative on promoting WIFI in the parks and I look forward to finding other more creative ways for Greenburgh to use technology to create efficiencies and more energy independence from foreign fossil fuel.
I have also included my resume, by separate attachment, for the committee’s consideration. I would like to be interviewed, at the convenience of the Greenburgh Town Democratic nominating/designating committee. Unfortunately because of a long-time previous commitment I will be out of the area on the evening of March 31, 2005. I hope that the committee will have other time available to consider my candidacy in person. I would appreciate it also if you could make this letter and my resume available to the Town Committee by e-mail, since I do not have a current list of district leaders addresses.
Again, thank you for your consideration. I can be reached at 914-
Richard J. Garfunkel
Kaaren Hale RespondsSubject: ScaliaDear Richard, Thank you for sending me the commentary on Judge Scalia. These are confusing times, where we equate certain social and personal mores with the greater issues of governance and public defense . The initial flaws in the American Constitution were its sections on the acceptance of Slavery, the Great Compromise etc, and lawyers and justices have been battling out the implications ever since, ie what constitutues human rights, male and female. This tends, overall, to get into the defininition of a human (a slave was only 2/3rds as I remember) and now the fetus. Is it any wonder that large minded people are getting exhausted with the issue. Even Hilary, has oftferered a paw to the opposition in that being an intelligent woman (!) she realises that there is an issue over the basic perception of “what constitutes a human?”Many of us would like to turn back the clock on the liberal agenda. to some degree. FDR was a great man and a clever politician and as you well know, he tried never to get too far away from public opinion. You cannot lead in a democracy by upending all the established norms, ( that is called revolution) and he knew that. Whether by stealth or rationality, his programs of social participation and responsibility, the safety nets etc, took root and now these original humanistic concepts are mired down in an viscous mud of raging individualism and the near death of community solidarity . We just never know where things lead. Abortion is now leading to euthanasia, and perhaps euthanasia will lead directly to Nazi like assumptions of who should be born (already an issue) and who should have the right to live. It is all too much for me to figure out.I agreed with Bush on Iraq. I do not agree with the neo cons on Iran. The Iranians have a running battle since the fifties with the USA and they would, despite their anger at the mulluhs, defend any incursion to the death. So go not into Isfahan, Bushites. I believe the techtonic plates of the Middle East are moving and the Iranians have always said that if there were progress on the IS -PAL front they would accept it. Remember the Iranians did business with the Isrealis for decades.I do not agree with the Republican party on the issues of the environment at all, and their cynical exploitation of the religious right, the so called Rapture group, makes me hurl. I do not agree with their stance on Stem Cell research, as it will and must proceed and if American scientists are not free to pursue it, others will. I am convinced that economy is stronger, and hence keeps attracting Asian governments to our Treasuries, despite the recent pronouncements of the S Koreans , because of the tax cuts. The enormous deficit will prevent any movement on Social Security for the near term, though it wouldn't be a bad idea to raise the level on existing IRAs. Bush is very opposed to raising taxes, thus no SS change for the present. I would like to say that Gay Marriage is an issue for any social liberal, but frankly, after much soul searching, I am opposed. Why? It is far too radical an idea consitutuionally.Sometimes things should come into being through the back door, slowly, and incrementally. The Gay population are vociferous but they do not represent anyone but themselves. The rights they demand can be provided by legislation on legal cohabiting partnerships, ie a redefinition of living arrangements that non Gays choose as well. The Democrats hold them selves hostage every time they go too far left. What on earth can Howard Dean bring to the table but more divisions and finger pointing.Okay, so where am I. A fiscal conservative, aftraid of the diminishing value of the dollar, a social progressive who places some value on the lives of those who are less fortunate, with perhaps the misguided hope that their lives can be improved. We all read the same Bible and are concerned for the halt and the lame, the meek and the mild, and most of us would like to inherit the earth, if we can be bothered not to despoil it. At this stage I don't trust too many people to make the right choices for any of us. Judge Scalia is a traditionalist. And for only that, I respect his approach. Yours in confusion. Kaaren PS Amanda is getting very close to a decision on Faisel. It will be interesting how this plays. [Richard J. Garfunkel]LA Reich answer's on Scalia
Blaming Earl Warren for the interpretative evolving essence of the
Constitution? Antonin, the duck hunting Italian, disparages the
contributions of John Marshall, who served with Washington in the Virginia
militia, wrote his first biography and even penned a chapter entitled “The
Birth of Mr. Washington” as well as served in the Virginia House of Burgess.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, probably the greatest jurist to sit on the court
after Joseph Story, was wounded three times at Antietam, Balls Bluff and
Chancerlorville in the Civil War, and had the intellectual fortitude to
reframe and transform his positions on free speech during war time after
encountering the great appellate judge Learned Hand (probably two of the
most intellectual forces in American jurisprudence)on a train to upstate NY
(Hand idolized Holmes, yet he disagreed with his opinion in Debs, and was
willing to share that with the most revered legal philosopher in the land.
Within a short time of that meeting Holmes issued his most famous dissent in
Abrams. Holmes' house in Washington was filled with social and intellectual
visitors who surveyed the concepts and spirtit which captured this
democracy. That Scalia can can offer criticism for justices who stray from
their black robes into the fabric of society, reveals the vast wasteland
from which his own intellect holds center stage.
Scalia Slams Juvenile Death Penalty Ruling
Mon Mar 14, 7:53 PM ET
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the Supreme Court's recent
decision to strike down the juvenile death penalty, calling it the latest
example of politics on the court that has made judicial nominations an
increasingly bitter process.
In a 35-minute speech Monday, Scalia said unelected judges have no place
deciding issues such as abortion and the death penalty. The court's 5-4
ruling March 1 to outlaw the juvenile death penalty based on “evolving
notions of decency” was simply a mask for the personal policy preferences of
the five-member majority, he said.
“If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you
flexibility, think again,” Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson
Center, a Washington think tank. “You think the death penalty is a good
idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to
abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility.”
“Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?” he said.
Scalia, who has been mentioned as a possible chief justice nominee should
Chief Justice William Rehnquist retire, outlined his judicial philosophy of
interpreting the Constitution according to its text, as understood at the
time it was adopted.
Citing the example of abortion, he said unelected justices too often choose
to read new rights into the Constitution, at the expense of the democratic
“Abortion is off the democratic stage. Prohibiting it is unconstitutional,
now and forever, coast to coast, until I guess we amend the Constitution,”
said Scalia, who was appointed to the court by President Reagan in 1986.
He blamed Chief Justice Earl Warren, who presided from 1953-69 over a court
that assaulted racial segregation and expanded individual rights against
arbitrary government searches, for the increased political role of the
Supreme Court, citing Warren's political background. Warren was governor of
California and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1948.
“You have a chief justice who was a governor, a policy-maker, who approached
the law with that frame of mind. Once you have a leader with that mentality,
it's hard not to follow,” Scalia said, in response to a question from the
Scalia said increased politics on the court will create a bitter nomination
fight for the next Supreme Court appointee, since judges are now more
concerned with promoting their personal policy preferences rather than
interpreting the law.
“If we're picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience
a 'new' Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We
should look to people who agree with us,” he said, explaining that's why
senators increasingly probe nominees for their personal views on positions
such as abortion.
“When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution
useless,” Scalia said.
Scalia, who has had a prickly relationship with the media, wasted no time in
shooing away photographers from the public event five minutes into his
“Could we stop the cameras? I thought I announced … a couple are fine at
first, but click click click click,” Scalia said, impatiently waving the
During a speech last year in Hattiesburg, Miss., a deputy federal marshal
demanded that an Associated Press reporter and another journalist erase
recordings of the justice's remarks.
The justice later apologized. The government conceded that the U.S. Marshals
Service violated federal law in the confrontation and said the reporters and
their employers were each entitled to $1,000 in damages and attorneys' fees.
March 12, 2005
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Whether you are a friend of the library, which I am sure everyone is in their heart, or whether you are a supporter of good government, or whether you are just an interested citizen or a supporter of the outstanding job Paul Feiner has done over these many years, the Library Referendum is a “big” issue. This May10th referendum is the result of combination events that have culminated in the following: a fractured Town Council, the lack of support for the Supervisor on this Council, the lack of fiscal reality on the part of Library Board, the divisive power of a small group of willful people out to destroy the Supervisor and break apart the Town.
This group of people is loosely made up of discontented Democrats, single-issue advocates, conservatives, demagogues and character assassins. One obvious objective of some of these individuals is to destroy the fabric of the Town of Greenburgh by working for Village secession from the Town. One of this group is a long-time State elected Democratic personage, whose job is to support Democrats who are elected to office. That job has been compromised time and time again with his empty criticisms. Others harp on local access cable television; one nitpicker sees himself as the “fiscal watchdog” as he questions every certiorari, every financial settlement, and every property lien. Has there been anything that he has exposed? No! But he wants every report every figure; he wants to hear the justification as if there was some graft or corruption.. He seems to want to imply that there is something sub rosa or underhanded going on! Not one of these requests has ever resulted in evidence that there is something wrong, illegal or covered-up. Of course we have or resident legal-beagle who engages in threats of litigation against the Town at the “drop of the hat.” He looks upon himself as the next Emile Zola, and struts about with an arrogant pomposity as he metaphorically screams, “I accuse!” Of course I haven’t included the various character assassins that come to every meeting to vent their baseless claims, lies and charges. But for those who have to endure this bi-monthly comic opera, these characters are well known.
So you now see that the lines that have been drawn. This group has harangued and hectored the Town Board through intimidation, half-truths, and lies. It has sought to destroy the Town Supervisor by the age-old tactic of “Divide and Conquer” and the repetition of accusation. Because they cannot hope to beat the Supervisor in a fair election, they have attempted to strip his power, emasculate his office, and cause rule by legislative dictatorship.
If you want this to continue to happen, stand idly by. If you want the dissolution of this Town by the work of cynical Lilliputians, stand idly by! But if you want enlightened fair, and honest leadership to continue, then you must support the Town Supervisor.
This cynical attempt to force this fiscally irresponsible and ill-considered referendum down the throats of the citizens will lead to an era of double-digit taxation far into the future. With the specter of that in the offing the Supervisor would be seen as responsible for the economic chaos that would ensue. This is cynicism at the most base level.
Please understand that the Supervisor supports an enhanced, renovated and enlarged library. He stated his support and has worked hard to attain that goal. But he remains committed to fair, open, transparent and responsible government. We face great economic challenges far into the future regarding huge Federal, State, and County expenditures and deficits. Therefore it is critical that we be responsible on the most personal and local level.
As this process proceeds, please stand up and be counted.
Richard J. Garfunkel
March 11, 2005
Letter to the Editor
This past Wednesday night, March 9, the Greenburgh Town Board voted 4-1 to authorize a May 10, 2005 referendum for a $19.8 million bond issue to pay for a renovation and expansion of the current Greenburgh Town Library. All are in agreement that the library needs renovation, expansion and an obvious upgrading. Only Supervisor Paul Feiner was sensible and brave enough to “buck the tide” of this lobbying effort by the Library Board to muscle through a May referendum. This May referendum will serve the purpose of disenfranchising many, many voters by accident and on purpose. The turnout promises to be a fraction of the registered voters, who at this time are totally uninformed about the cost and scope of this project. On top of that, there will be no ability to offer absentee ballots for any voters who cannot make it to the polls. This is a cynical attempt to “slide” this huge spending proposal past the vast body of the electorate. Earlier the Library Board wanted this vote to be held in January or March with the polling places limited to the library itself. Supervisor Feiner has insisted that a November vote would be more inclusive, and it would give the community more time to digest the “real” cost of this proposal. During this added time period the community could analyze the “real” needs of the library, possible alternative sites for construction and the avoidance of a two-year library service interruption. This library expansion, along with new and higher taxes for; school districts, fire districts, the County’s Medicaid problems and municipal costs could enter us into an era of double-digit tax increases for years. At the rate of a 10+% increase per year for seven years, a homeowner’s property taxes will double! Can the Town Board’s irresponsible actions make life for the middle class in Greenburgh unaffordable?
Richard J. Garfunkel