Defeating The Growing ISIS Threat

Mideast Syria Al-Qaida Baghdadi

The ISIS threat is continuing to grow and spread still without a plan or strategy from the United States or world community to confront it.  This organization and the radicals who are bastardizing and distorting a religion as a justification for their barbarism must be stopped and destroyed.  It is an attack not just on our values, but on the civilized world as a whole.  As more and more nations are directly affected by this, they are looking to the United States for support and leadership.  President Obama must step up and provide this with the support of Congress and the international organizations willing to join.  Making statements acknowledging that there have been Christians in the past (more than 700 years ago) who used their religion as a justification for war does nothing towards providing this leadership and will only embolden the radicals we are fighting.  Appeasement will only lead to the continued growth and spread of radicals of the Muslim faith.  The entire civilized world community, including Muslim nations, are looking to the United States for support and leadership.  The United States, more than any other nation, has a responsibility to do this.  The values of freedom and democracy are what defines us as a nation.  The leadership which has been provided during the past century by the United States in securing and spreading these values is still needed.  The sacrifices made by those who gave their lives fighting for these values would be for naught if we fail to confront and defeat the evil of ISIS and radicalism which we are now facing.  More than 40 nations have agreed to join a coalition that will be led by the United States against ISIS.  The world is waiting for the United States to lead.

BG@FreeVoter.com

Proposed Cap On Outside Income For NYS Legislators Is Misguided

NYS CapitolI’m all for ethics reform and understand how Sheldon Silver and others abuse power, but the recent proposal in the NY State Senate to cap outside income at $12,000 doesn’t make sense. They are missing the point. The NY State Legislature is a part-time job. They are only in session for six months each year and in some weeks they are only in Albany for two days. The system was designed for citizen-legislators. You are supposed to have outside income from a real job in the real world, and then bring that experience to your legislative duties. The salary is $79,500 and with a cap they can only make $91,500 (plus possible stipends). It’s hard to raise a family in Westchester, Nassau or Manhattan with that salary – try putting a few kids through college.

If this “reform” passes, who will run for State Senate or State Assembly? You can expect a lot of wealthy candidates who don’t need to work hard every day like the rest of us. It will close the door to middle class people and those in the private sector – the exact kind of people we need in our State Legislature. Unfortunately, we already have too many legislators in Albany who fail to grasp that New York is the highest taxed, least business friendly and most over-regulated state in the country. The actions of our state legislators have damaged job creation and economic opportunity and caused tens of millions of New Yorkers to flee our state in the past 20 years.

This “reform” is misguided, and we should hope it’s defeated, but let’s also hope they approve more thoughtful reforms that actually crack down on the corrupt schemes like those of Sheldon Silver or other legislators recently convicted of crimes.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

This Week in Lake Wobegon

transparency

It’s been a week since a story broken by a local media outlet here in New Rochelle went national. According to a video posted, New Rochelle Police approached and drew their firearms on black teens having a snowball fight. We have since learned that the police were responding to a 911 call about someone brandishing a gun. In a week’s time, that’s about all we know.

This has become an all too familiar story unfortunately. What’s also become all too familiar are the responses to stories like this. There are the knee-jerk liberals who immediately decry police brutality and knee-jerk conservatives who blindly support law enforcement. Facebook as usual devolved into either name calling, veering off to non-relevant topics, or both.

To me, there are too many outstanding questions to come to any conclusion. They include:

  • What did the person who posted the video know about the situation and what was the purpose of posting?
  • Why hasn’t the police released the 911 call or provide its transcript?
  • Why was the mayor calling for a further investigation while the city manager said no further investigation was necessary?

As responsible citizens, we must advocate for full transparency, leadership from elected officials, demand of our fellow citizens that conclusions shouldn’t be made until the facts come out. As a black American, I’m concerned that we don’t jump on every perceived slight because then we can become the boy that cried wolf. There are the intransigent members of society that will never see any issue. They are not in my radar, it’s those that would be supportive when cases that merit our outrage actually occur. No need to go down rabbit holes.

On the other side, despite contrary belief, the police are not under siege. What we are asking for is accountability. It does our society no good if law enforcement operates with impunity. All aspects of our government should be questioned.

Join me in asking for transparency from our elected officials while denouncing those that what to relegate any discussion into name calling.

Jeffrey Hastie
jeffrey@freevoter.com
@jhastie963

Fighting Human Trafficking in New York State

End Human Trafficking NowBy Amy Paulin

Born and raised in New York City, Brianna was nine when she was kidnapped and raped by her school janitor and sold to a pimp. Bounced from trafficker to trafficker, she was sold for sex to men who knew her age. When she was not servicing men, she was locked in a closet in a house without electricity or running water. Brianna is a victim of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a horrible $32 billion industry. In 2013, approximately 27 million people were trafficked, 80% of whom were women and girls. The average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is thirteen, with more than 100,000 youth sexually exploited each year. New York is a leading entry, transit and destination point for trafficking victims, with young people sexually exploited right here in Westchester County. Nearly 60 minors have been identified in the past 18 months by Westchester DSS as sex trafficking victims. The majority are from lower Westchester.

New York has led the nation in efforts to end human trafficking, treating the sexually exploited as victims, not criminals, and providing them with critical services to rebuild their lives. But there is more work to be done. We must hold accountable those that perpetuate this evil – the traffickers and buyers who fuel the growth of this massive underground industry. That is why I continue to push to enact the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA,A.506/S.7), a comprehensive bill I authored that will improve upon current law, strengthening our States response to human trafficking, by including the stiffening of penalties for traffickers and enabling law enforcement to conduct better surveillance of traffickers.

The TVPJA has bipartisan support in both houses and is backed by major womens groups, including NOW New York, Womens City Club of NY, Sanctuary for Families, and the 110+ organizations comprising the NYS Anti-Trafficking Coalition, including Westchester groups such as My SistersPlace, Pace Womens Justice Center, and YWCA of White Plains & Central Westchester.

Yet this common sense, bipartisan-backed legislation has been stuck in neutral for two years due to Albany politics. 

In 2013, TVPJA became a part of the Governors 10-point agenda, the Womens Equality Act (WEA). The State Assembly passed all 10 points as a package in both the 2013 and 2014 sessions, but the State Senate did not. Instead, the Senate passed 9 points as individual bills leaving out the component that would codify Roe v. Wade. The State Senate refused to pass all 10 components of WEA as a package and the State Assembly refused to pass the bills individually. Sadly, my bill has been stuck in stalemate. Yet, the State Assembly did vote on one part of the WEA as a separate bill that strengthened orders of protection laws for domestic violence victims, and that bill did eventually become law.

So at the beginning of 2015, we are starting where we left off last year. The State Senate has already passed 8 components of the WEA as individual bills, including TVPJA, and again leaving out the codification of Roe v. Wade. Now the State Assembly must decide whether it will allow the WEA to be voted on as individual bills. Meanwhile, with TVPJA still just a bill, we have not provided law enforcement with all the tools needed to fight human trafficking.

I have spent my entire political (and nonpolitical) career fighting for women’s rights and continue to be a staunch supporter of the WEA. At the same time, I recognize that we have the opportunity to strengthen womens rights in so many important areas such as sexual harassment in the workplace, pay equity, family status discrimination, and pregnancy discrimination, as well as to end the victimization of women and children from human trafficking, by passing each of the bills.

I remain hopeful that politics can be put aside, so that we will soon enact into law the WEA measures, including my human trafficking bill, that will improve the lives of women in this State.

Amy Paulin serves in the New York State Assembly.

Trust in the Time of Silver

Sheldon Silver CapitolBy Noam Bramson

I had one conversation with Shelly Silver. It was 2002. I’d just won a Democratic primary for the New York State Assembly in which the Speaker had backed my opponent. Meeting Mr. Silver at his office in lower Manhattan, I made an pitch for his support in the November general. The pitch fell short, and, two months later, so did my campaign. In retrospect, I dodged a bullet — much happier serving as mayor of New Rochelle than I would have been as a legislator in Albany.

Given this tenuous connection, I can’t really claim that the news of the Speaker’s arrest on corruption charges hit me in any personal way. But I still find the whole thing horribly upsetting.

Time to insert the usual caveats. In America, we are innocent until proven guilty. The Speaker has been accused, not convicted. He is entitled to his day in court. And it’s a good idea to suspend judgment on any subject until you’ve heard both sides. Maybe when everything is aired out, things won’t look so bad.

But, man, they sure look bad right now. If even a fraction of the U.S. Attorney’s claims are accurate, the Speaker constructed and concealed a web of business and legal relationships aimed at converting his public position into personal riches.

No comment is needed on the self-evident illegality, immorality, and general awfulness of the alleged arrangement – all that’s obvious. What concerns me even more is that episodes like this inevitably tarnish the whole enterprise of government. They feed a widespread perception that legislatures, city halls, and executive mansions are populated by crooks, that public action is routinely warped by the hidden motive of private gain, and that politicians as a breed are congenital liars.

When basic trust is gone, why bother voting? Why care about public debates? Why allow yourself to be inspired? It’ll only make the inevitable disappointment that much more painful.

So let me mount a brief, heartfelt defense of my chosen profession, during a week when it really needs one.

This is not a naive, blind defense; human failings are rampant in politics, like in every other field. At one time or another, I have been angry with, exasperated by, or directed fantasies of minor injury toward just about every politician I know personally. (Those feelings are surely mutual.)

But many are truly admirable in their character, intelligence, drive, and ability. And even the clunkers who may be dumb as posts, or timid as mice, or abrasive as sandpaper, are almost always in politics because they really believe in something. They toil away in mainly unglamorous positions, often making financial or family sacrifices, because they have a rough sense, sometimes justified, sometimes deluded, that they can make a positive contribution.

And the overwhelming majority, from the most talented to the least, are honest.

It’s admittedly hard to tell from the headlines, especially out of Albany, but political corruption of the cash-in-envelope variety is rare, probably rarer today than at any time in American history. (The perfectly legal, institutional corruption of the campaign finance system is another story.)

Does this somehow excuse or mitigate the instances of corruption that do exist? Not for a second. In fact, the broader damage done to public confidence makes these corrupt practices even more contemptible. Throw the book at ‘em.

My plea is simply this: leave some room for trust. It can be cautious, it can be provisional, it can be limited to those who have proven worthy. But, somehow, make a place for it. Trust is worth the risk of disappointment. And the collapse of trust is a much bigger threat to our Republic than a hundred sleazy pols on the take.

Noam Bramson is the Mayor of New Rochelle, New York.

The Prosecution of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Sheldon SilverThe Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver – one of the most powerful politicians in New York State over the past two decades – was arrested today. Silver is being prosecuted for bribes and kickbacks for which he allegedly received about $4 to $5 million in payoffs for “no-show” legal positions. Here is a quick summary of the charges:

  1. Silver persuaded developers doing business with New York State to hire a real estate law firm run by a former aide, and the firm then paid Silver $700,000 in legal fees, despite the fact that he did no legal work for clients.
  2. Silver directed $500,000 in state money to a doctor, who then sent asbestos victims to law firms proving alleged legal positions to Silver. Silver enjoyed $1.4 million in salary and $3.9 million in referral fees at the firms, despite never performing any legal work whatsoever.

We remind our readers that Silver is innocent to proven guilty, but he faces a 35 page, detailed criminal complaint with five counts of violations of federal law. Here is the criminal complaint: Silver Criminal Complaint

The word from Albany today was it was like a “thunderbolt” crashed into the State Assembly. Questions like “will Silver resign” and “who will replace him as speaker” were the topics of every conversation. Silver will get his due process and wage a vigorous defense, so you can expect this prosecution to take some time. And remember Joe Bruno, the New York State Senate leader – he was charged with similar crimes, battled the prosecutors every step of the way and was eventually vindicated. The Silver prosecution will provide interesting legal and political theater in the months and probably years to come.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

It’s No Secret Why Employers Leave NY

By William F. B. O’Reilly

Goodbye New YorkSometimes I watch my beloved Mets and wonder, “Are they even trying?” I mean really, as a franchise, is winning actually a priority?

I get the same feeling about Albany. We’re just a few days into the 2015 legislative session and already it’s clear that nothing to sharpen New York’s competitive edge is even on the table. New York needs good fastball hitters and Albany’s arguing over centerfield signage.

Other states don’t have this problem. Florida announced another feather in its cap Monday. Voxx International, the car stereo company, is moving its headquarters to Orlando. The company formerly known as Audiovox has been on Long Island since 1960.

“Florida will provide an excellent location and a pro-business climate,” Voxx chief executive Pat Lavelle said, not so subtly zinging New York for its nation-trailing business climate.

Pennsylvania is in the hunt. The state reaping billions of dollars from natural gas drilling — New York turned up its nose at the opportunity — has been feasting on Entenmann’s cakes since August, when that company moved west from New York after 116 years.

Texas was responsible for 23% of the nation’s economic growth in 2012. It’s clearly trying. So is Alabama, which recruited Remington Arms Co. away from upstate Ilion last year, just as Virginia lured Altria Group from Park Avenue.

It’s no secret why businesses and families keep leaving New York. With the highest taxes in America and the most arduous business regulations, New York has become one big ripoff. Moving makes sense. Staying doesn’t.

If you think the State Legislature is on the case, think again. The state with higher Medicaid costs than Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined is actually debating whether to expand Medicaid into a single-payer health care system, and arguing whether the most classroom spending in America is enough.

Other topics of interest? Taxpayer-funded elections. Scholarships for immigrants here illegally. Criminal justice reform, aka, sticking it to NYC cops. Even fewer restrictions on abortion.

I can almost hear Casey Stengel, manager of the of the 1964 Mets. “Can’t anybody here play this game?” he asked of the 53-109 team.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican consultant.

We’re in a War to Defend Freedom of Speech

France RallyI just read a thoughtful post on the American Thinker website (LINK) that sparked me to offer some observations about freedom of speech and the executions in France of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. I’m as close to a First Amendment absolutist as you can get and fully support a wide interpretation of First Amendment rights. I do not believe any government is capable of fairly regulating freedom of expression. There should never be any modification to the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We must strongly promote the quote attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” We must ensure that our society remains a diverse and open marketplace of ideas. Let’s get all views out on the table and have a honest debate about the issues we face. Censoring or suppressing beliefs and speech only makes them more dangerous. The beauty of the free speech doctrine is that it’s a two-way street. It’s not just the speaker and writer who enjoy freedom of speech – it’s also the listener and reader who have the same right to challenge or respond.

While I was in law school, a controversial professor came to speak at the University of Buffalo. His name was Leonard Jeffries, and he had a long record of making hateful and racist statements (link about Jeffries). I appeared with other students to protest outside the speech. I made up a flyer with all of Jeffries’ hateful public statements and tried to gave it to all those entering the speech. I fully supported his right to speak at the event, but believed it was equally important to meet his hateful speech with my own speech. A few people confronted me and asked why I did not support free speech. I quickly explained how they misunderstood what freedom of speech is all about – Leonard Jeffries should make his speech, and I was there with my responsive speech to educate the attendees that the speaker they came to hear was a proven racist and anti-Semite. I even appeared on the nightly TV news, which was exciting for a law student.

I share this story because it’s always better to have controversial and hateful statements out in the marketplace of ideas. And that is exactly why we must stand with and defend the Charlie Hebdo magazine and all other controversial publications. The brave 2012 quote of Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier is important for the world to remember: “but I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees.” If you are truly dedicated to freedom and liberty, you must feel exactly the same way. While I personally would not engage in blasphemy against a religion, I would defend to the death the right for someone else to do so.

The radical Islamic terrorists like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are pleased to announce their goal of destroying freedom and liberty around the globe, and last week we learned just how serious they remain – we’re in a war to defend freedom of speech. There is no First Amendment in an Islamic dictatorship. The free world properly rallied around France over the past week, but we must be concerned there are too many nations that refuse to protect civil liberties. Our fight for real freedom and liberty cannot stop in France – we must remain vigilant until every nation in the world enshrines into law the civil liberties we enjoy in our great country.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

Advice for the 114th Congress

US_Capitol_Building_at_Night_Washington_DC

This week marks the beginning of the 114th Congress. It’s been documented how drastic a change this will be from the 113th and how historic (biggest Republican majority since 1929, hope that’s not a bad omen). What’s been said of the 113th is that it is one of the productive of all time. They passed 279 bills, the second fewest in history. In my book, that’s a home run. I’d rather not have Congress passing any more bills than is absolutely necessary to run the Federal government. Legislation needs to stay on the books long enough to generate a history of whether it accomplished its task or not. I’m a small business owner so their impact isn’t as significant to me as say a medium to large-sized business or one that is a heavily regulated industry. Leave what we have in place and let’s see how things pan out.

That’s my first advice. My second is for every member of Congress to Brené Brown speak on vulnerability. I’m a big fan of TED Talks. If you don’t know what that is, I highly recommend you check out their website. They are an organization that likes to spread ideas and to get people talking. They bring interesting people to discuss their history, viewpoint, research, or anything else of interest. Brené studies human interaction. Her talk on relationships and vulnerability, of value to all, would be particularly suited for those in Washington. I’ve provided a link below.

http://goo.gl/M1ZDYG

Would love to hear your comments. Please share them below.

Jeffrey Hastie
@jhastie963
jeffrey@freevoter.com

The Passing of Two Respected Public Servants

cuomo2 Brooke

This past week, we lost two former elected officials – Gov. Mario Cuomo from
New York and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke from Massachusetts – who led fairly principled careers.  They often stood for what they believed regardless of how popular or unpopular it might be.  Mario Cuomo opposed the death penalty even though it was not a popular stand and likely cost him many votes.  He often used his keen mind and oratory skills during his 12 years as Governor to try to convince others of his beliefs rather than seeking the expedient way.  Edward Brooke, the first African-Amercian popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, likewise stood for and fought for his beliefs.  He ran and was elected as a Republican in the mostly Democratic state of Massachusetts and spent his 12 years in the U.S. Senate often seeking to work in a bipartisan manner for what he believed was for the good of our country, including civil rights.  Regardless of whether your beliefs coincided with theirs, you cannot help but respect them for their abilities and approach.  Our governments can use more people like them.

BG@FreeVoter.com

Who’s Running for President in 2016?

Believe it or not, now that we hit 2015, serious candidates for president in 2016 will need to get their campaigns rolling. Who’s running you ask? Well, since it’s an open seat, all I can say is a whole bunch of people. Thanks to the website www.politics1.com, below is a list of potential candidates for both parties with social media links.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

 

DEMOCRATIC PARTY:

Joe Biden Vice President Joe Biden (Delaware)
Government Site: Office of Vice President Joe Biden
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoeBiden
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JoeBiden

Hillary Clinton Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (New York)
Campaign Site: HillaryClinton.com
Independent PAC Site: ReadyForHillary.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/HillaryClinton

Joe Manchin US Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
Campaign Site: JoeManchinWV.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Joe Manchin
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoeManchinIII
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JoeManchinWV

Martin O'Malley Governor Martin O’Malley (Maryland)
PAC Site: O’Say Can You See PAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Martin O’Malley
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MartinOMalley
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorOMalley

Bernie Sanders US Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont)
Campaign Site: Bernie.org
Government Site: Office of US Senator Bernie Sanders
Facebook (Campaign): www.facebook.com/FriendsOfBernie
Facebook (Official): www.facebook.com/SenatorSanders
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenSanders

Elizabeth Warren US Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)
Campaign Site: ElizabethWarren.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Elizabeth Warren
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElizabethWarren
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ElizabethForMA

Jim Webb Former US Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
Campaign Site: Webb2016.com
Official Site: JamesWebb.com
PAC Site: Born Fighting PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/IHeardMyCountryCalling
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JimWebbUSA

REPUBLICAN PARTY:

Marsha Blackburn Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee)
Campaign Site: MarshaBlackburn.com
Government Site: Office of Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarshaBlackburnForCongress
Twitter: www.twitter.com/VoteMarsha

John Bolton Former UN Ambassador John Bolton (Maryland)
PAC Site: Bolton PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmbBolton
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmbJohnBolton

Jan Brewer Former Governor Jan Brewer (Arizona)
PAC Site: Jan PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovJanBrewer
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovBrewer

Jeb Bush Former Governor Jeb Bush (Florida)
Organization: Foundation for Excellence in Education
Organization: Foundation for Florida’s Future
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JebBush
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JebBush

Ben Carson Dr. Ben Carson (Maryland)
Official Site: RealBenCarson.com
PAC Site: American Legacy PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrBenjaminCarson
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RealBenCarson

Chris Christie Governor Chris Christie (New Jersey)
Government Site: Office of Governor Chris Christie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovChrisChristie
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovChristie

Bob Corker US Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee)
Political Site: BobCorker.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Bob Corker
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BobCorker
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenBobCorker

Ted Cruz US Senator Ted Cruz (Texas)
Campaign Site: TedCruz.org
Government Site: Office of US Senator Ted Cruz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TedCruzPage
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TedCruz

Carly Fiorina Businesswoman Carly Fiorina (Virginia)
Official Site: CarlyFiorina.com
PAC Site: Unlocking Potential PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CarlyFiorina
Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarlyFiorina

Jim Gilmore Former Governor Jim Gilmore (Virginia)
PAC Site: Growth PAC
Think Tank: American Opportunity
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JimGilmore
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorGilmore

Lindsey Graham US Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
Political Site: LindseyGraham.com
Government Site: Office of US Senator Lindsey Graham
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LindseyGrahamSC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyGrahamSC

Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (Florida)
Official Site: MikeHuckabee.com
PAC Site: HuckPAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikeHuckabee
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovMikeHuckabee

Bobby Jindal Governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana)
Campaign Site: BobbyJindal.com
PAC Site: Stand Up To Washington PAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Bobby Jindal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BobbyJindal
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BobbyJindal

John Kasich Governor John Kasich (Ohio)
Campaign Site: JohnKasich.com
Government Site: Office of Governor John Kasich
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JohnRKasich
Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnKasich

Pete King Congressman Pete King (New York)
Campaign Site: PeteKing.com
PAC Site: American Leadership Now PAC
Government Site: Office of Congressman Pete King
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RepPeteKing
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RepPeteKing

George Pataki Former Governor George Pataki (New York)
Think Tank: George Pataki Center
Business Site: Pataki-Cahill Group
Facebook: www.facebook.com/George.E.Pataki

Rand Paul US Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Campaign Site: RandPaul2016.com
PAC Site: Rand PAC
Government Site: Office of US Senator Rand Paul
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SenatorRandPaul
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenRandPaul

Mike Pence Governor Mike Pence (Indiana)
Campaign Site: MikePence.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Mike Pence
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MikePence
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovPenceIN

Rick Perry Governor Rick Perry (Texas)
Campaign Site: RickPerry.org
PAC Site: RickPAC
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Perry
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorPerry
Twitter: www.twitter.com/GovernorPerry

Mitt Romney Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (California)
Campaign Site: MittRomney.com
PAC Site: Restore Our Future PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MittRomney
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MittRomney

Marco Rubio US Senator Marco Rubio (Florida)
Campaign Site: MarcoRubio.com
PAC Site: Reclaim America PAC
Government Site: Office of US Senator Marco Rubio
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarcoRubio
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarcoRubio

Paul Ryan Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin)
Campaign Site: RyanForCongress.com
PAC Site: Prosperity PAC
Government Site: Office of Congressman Paul Ryan
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Ryan4Congress
Twitter: www.twitter.com/PRyan

Rick Scott Governor Rick Scott (Florida)
Campaign Site: RickScottForFlorida.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Scott
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScottForFlorida
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottforFlorida

Rick Santorum Former US Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania)
Campaign Site: RickSantorum.com
PAC Site: Patriot Voices PAC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RickSantorum
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RickSantorum

Rick Snyder Governor Rick Snyder (Michigan)
Campaign Site: RickForMichigan.com
Government Site: Office of Governor Rick Snyder
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorRickSnyder
Twitter: www.twitter.com/OneToughNerd

Scott Walker Governor Scott Walker (Wisconsin)
Campaign Site: ScottWalker.org
Government Site: Office of Governor Scott Walker
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScottWalkerForGovernor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ScottKWalker

Race, Rhetoric and Rational Reform

unnamedBy John Verni

The murder of two NYC police officers by a black man to avenge the death of two black men at the hands of the police is the latest tragedy in a recent deterioration in race relations in this country. The rhetoric has been heated over the last few weeks between the politicians, the protestors, the police unions, and the press. The root causes of the tensions between the police and the minority community are many and complex and not easily solved. But where does all this rhetoric get us? Where do we go from here? Are there any rational reforms that can be made?

The sparks that lit the recent fire were the decisions of the grand juries not to indicted the police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. In both cases there were claims of an inherent bias that the prosecutors who presented the cases to the Grand Jury have in favor of the police officers they work with everyday. Any “no true bill” therefore becomes suspect. There have been calls for an independent prosecutor in such cases.

In New York, Attorney General Eric Scheiderman has suggested that he should be that independent prosecutor. This is a terrible idea on many levels. In general, we do not want an Attorney General who is subject to the political pressures of facing the electorate every 4 years to be deciding cases based upon political winds, not the rule of law. Such a structure would lead to mob rule with facts decided based on the volume in the public square rather than the facts presented in a courtroom. A Special Prosecutor’s Office, as we have seen in the past, is also subject to the same politics in selection and decision-making, and is ultimately second-guessed by the public.

Rational Reform

The answer is the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division in the State of New York was established under the New York State Constitution to be both the first court of appellate review and a court with certain de novo review powers meaning it can return cases to lower courts and other government entities for further fact-finding.

A rational reform would require any Grand Jury proceeding involving the death of a citizen at the hands of the police to be immediately reviewed by the Appellate Division. Normally, once a “no true bill” is voted, the case is over and not appealable. As we have seen, such a “no true bill” leads to these calls of a conflict in interest between the prosecutors and the police which in turn can remain to simmer with no adequate channel for review or redress. Under this proposal, the case would be presented by the District Attorney’s Office to a Grand Jury and immediately reviewed by the Appellate Division before a final decision either way can be delivered. If the Appellate Division deems necessary, the case can even be sent back for further fact finding or different instructions on the law.

The Appellate Division courts in New York State are courts in which a five judge panel reviews the evidence and the law and either upholds or overturns the lower court, or in this case the Grand Jury’s decision. The judges of the Appellate Division are judges serving 14 year terms and then chosen for the Appellate Division after going through a judicial screening committee and being referred to the Governor for selection. These are the most experienced judges in the state and are much more removed from the political process than the Attorney General. The Appellate Division is therefore much more likely to decide cases based upon the facts and the law rather than politics.

John Verni is host of “Stuck in the Middle”, a local radio show on WVOX discussing politics from “middle of the road.” John is an attorney, a former assistant district attorney in Westchester County, and a senior legal correspondent for WVOX.

Consider donation to military or veteran charity this year!

Armed_ForcesThere are only a few days left in 2014, and I know people like to make charity donations in the final week of the year. I’m making several donations this week. As a Marine Corps veteran, I’m partial to donations to military/veteran groups, and I imagine there are others out there that may like to do the same. However, I must advise caution when making donations to military/veteran charities. Sadly, there are scam artists out there exploiting our kindness to the brave people that serve or have served in our armed forces (a Google search revealed prosecutions for such scam groups).

Thanks to two excellent websites, I have researched military/veterans charities for about a decade to make sure my donations are going to those that really need it – Charity Navigator & Charity Watch. Before making a donation to ANY charity, I recommend investigating that charity group on these two informative websites.

Based on my research, I recommend you join me in making donations to the following highly rated military/veteran groups – each followed by website link:

I admit to a bias for charities that help Marines, but there are many other worthy military/veteran groups to consider for a donation, and you can do your own research at the following links at Charity Navigator and Charity Watch:

God bless our military and veterans. Happy New Year!

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com

Let’s Honor Murdered Cops And Avoid Divisive War Of Words

nypdBy Jim Cavanaugh

The best thing our civic leaders – both elected and self-appointed — can do to honor the two New York City police officers who were murdered yesterday is to impose a self-moratorium on agenda-driven rhetoric while the City grieves and pays these officers the respect they deserve. They should focus on the officers and their sacrifice, and take time off from their increasingly divisive war of words.

But they can’t help themselves.

Today a local Congressman is on the air saying this is what happens when people start criticizing the police. A potential presidential candidate tweeted that the murder is the result of the atmosphere created by Mayor DeBlasio and the protesters.

Simple statements from politicians who want us to believe there are simple answers. There aren’t.

The gunman seems to be a career criminal of the type that should have been removed from the streets long ago. Before he murdered the police officers he also tried to kill a former girlfriend. He may have said the murder of the officers was in retribution for Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but the fact is that he was a repeat felon from way back. He didn’t need reasons to harm people. He just did.

At a time when one-third of all Americans have a documented brush with the law, we should be asking why this guy was still walking around when we spend so much time and effort to lock up non-violent offenders, drug addicts, and juveniles.  If our criminal justice was better focused, then police would be safer, along with the rest of us.

Those who use yesterday’s tragic murders to condemn those who have questioned police tactics in recent months are no more helpful than the Ferguson or Staten Island protesters who claim cops are institutionally racist. They might score points with their followers, but they lead us no closer to bridging the gap that still divides the races in America.

And what about the Eric Garner case? The public seems to have it right even if the headline-grabbers don’t. Sixty percent of New Yorkers think the police mishandled the Eric Garner incident – to the extent that they believe some sort of charges were warranted. But a majority is also sick of the protesters shutting down streets, and they don’t agree with demonizing the police department as racist. They have far more respect for the difficult job these men and women accomplish than do the protesters – or more importantly their headline-seeking leadership.

Yet those who advocate for police are also fanning the flames. The head of New York City’s police union is on the air claiming the City is back on a “war footing.” He’s wrong, as anyone who lived in New York during the eighties and early nineties knows. This kind of escalating rhetoric is exactly what we don’t need.

The anti-cop protest crowd has taken a momentary turn, scrambling over themselves to praise the police that they were so roundly condemning just last week. But as soon as there is another incident that jibes with their agenda, they’ll be back. Meanwhile, those who want to protest the protesters will use this tragedy to accuse them of collective responsibility for the act of a single murderous individual.

It is time to reject all of those who insist on casting our society as us and them. Let’s embrace those who only believe in us.

Jim Cavanaugh is former Supervisor of Town of Eastchester and former Chair of Westchester County Republican Committee.

It’s Time To Stand With Our Police

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My community, New Rochelle, NY, has an excellent police department. My family is pleased with the safety we enjoy thanks to the brave men and women in blue. I serve as a Westchester County Legislator and am also impressed by the excellent work of the Westchester County police. The job of police officer is as difficult as any in our society. Each day when police officers leave their homes, they put their lives on the line to protect all of us. In their duties, the police deal with the most evil aspects of our society: murder, assault, human trafficking & prostitution, domestic violence, drugs and others, which must negatively impact them in various ways. And yet, they keep heading out there to protect us. Most police officers do their jobs very well. Yes, mistakes are made and it’s a tough job to perform perfectly all the time. And yes, there are some bad cops out there, as in any profession. The officers that make mistakes can be punished in a court of law or through internal discipline procedures, and we certainly hear about cops being punished in the media.

I believe we should stand with our police when they are unfairly criticized – and that time is now. You cannot watch the protesters from Ferguson to New York City (“NYC”) and not see examples of hatred towards police. Not every protester is bashing cops, but many are. This past weekend in NYC, protesters were caught chanting: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” It’s impossible to understand how anyone could chant such hateful words.

We all must support freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble to protest about issues, and many people are doing so across the country. However, other protesters are crossing the line into violence and other illegal actions. In NYC this past weekend, we had a protester mob attack two police lieutenants.  The New York Post reported:

“The violence erupted shortly after the two lieutenants attempted to stop one of the angry agitators from hurling a garbage can at other cops standing in the walkway below, police said.

That’s when other demonstrators intervened and attacked the officers — knocking them to the ground and kicking and punching them before trying to steal their jackets and radios, according to police.”

Mayor DeBlasio recently stated, “People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives . . . The relationship between police and community has to change.” Is this based on empirical research? No, it’s not. It’s just his flawed opinion. His views are at odds with the fact that over the past 25 years the NYC police have made it the safest big city in our country (confirmed on Politifact.com) and crime deceased in every neighborhood. And by the way Mr. Mayor, who wrongly stands with the protesters instead of the police, I personally don’t know a single person that is not fully aware that “black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives.” As a Catholic, my faith has taught me this fundamental truth since I was a little boy. It’s never been in doubt to the vast majority of New Yorkers.

Like so many others, I’m troubled by the Eric Garner video. To me, Mr. Garner’s crime was minimal and he did not appear to be resisting arrest that much. But as an attorney, I respect the rule of law and recognize that those accused of a crime may rely on their constitutional rights in their defense. I and all the protesters were not on the grand jury, and we did not review all the evidence presented. Regardless of our opinion on the grand jury’s actions, we must accept the result of their deliberations, while being saddened by the death of Mr. Garner.

So while it appears mistakes were made by the police in the Garner death, I don’t believe their actions can be deemed racist in any way, and it does not appear they intended to kill Mr. Garner. I expect that the police officer who caused the death will face police discipline and sanctions. But I also noticed on the news another group of protesters chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, these racists cops have got to go!” Who are the racist cops they are referring to? I don’t have an answer.

This cop bashing is wrong in the face of the facts and a slander of many brave police officers regularly placed in dangerous situations to protect us. It’s time to vocally stand with our police against reckless and erroneous attacks – stand with them on social media and when you hear someone slandering them, and also by saying “Thank You” when you see a police officer protecting our streets. I will do so right now – thank you to the New Rochelle and Westchester County police for protecting my community and my family so well.

Jim Maisano
Jim@FreeVoter.com