The People have for too long become accustomed to suffering those whom we have elected to office. Despite the grand visions promised, rarely are the political contenders endowed with the backbone demanded of them. Too often we lust for the visions espoused only to be disappointed by recognizing we have collectively been played by those who ask for our trust. We shrug our shoulders, grumble and spit a litany of epithets in recognition we have been played for fools once again. Our political history is littered by our being outmaneuvered at every turn. It is punctuated by us sitting in wait for better days, believing in the promise that is never realized. We are in Yonkers.
In juxtaposition to Yonkers, Tunisia has witnessed a major upheaval to the status quo entrenched for almost 23 years. In the Arab world, the young generation cheers for the rioters who have caused President Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee. Fellow autocratic rulers in Egypt, Sudan, Iran, and Algeria had hoped for President Ben Ali to maintain his stranglehold on his nation fearing they may be next to suffer a forced departure from office.
The corrupt regime had ossified with time, distanced from reality by losing touch with the aspirations of its people. Believing we are cultured and thereby a step removed from our estranged Arab brethren, we laugh at their predicament believing we live by the principals of democracy.
We believe we are removed from the suffering of rising commodity prices forgetting the riots in Mexico a few years ago when corn futures caused the populace to no longer be able to afford making tortillas, their staple food stuff. Similarly last week, in Algeria riots erupted over rising food prices.
Yonkers may not suffer as acutely as did Mexico a year ago, or Algeria last week. Yonkers suffers from the stifling of liberties among our borders. Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone directs the Yonkers Police Department to steal the newspaper racks of The Westchester Guardian newspapers by which his governance is exposed inept or arrogant. An $8 million Federal Court ruling judged Phil Amicone personally liable to that end.
Parental guidance demanded patience among their young to await the promise of economic sustenance. The elders were wrong to demand patience of their progeny. Patience begat economic instability and deprivation. The political heirs of this autocratic government is now fortified among the “friends and family" network and the political retreads that are revealing themselves intent to appropriate power and extending control for long after the term-limited Mayor Amicone is gone.
The backdrop of economic malaise maintains its grip among the City of Yonkers (CoY) yet the “drama” reducing those employed at the Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE), the Yonkers Fire Department (YFD), the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Yonkers Police Department YFD, among other departments, has eclipsed the dire circumstances before CoY. The Amicone Administration had plotted this ploy to put a lid on the public outcry.
Inspector General Dan Schorr, having been handed a court ruling initiated by former Inspector General Phil Zisman has been castrated by Mayor Amicone. He will not pursue purview over the Yonkers Board of Education as deemed appropriate by court ruling. He will not find residence in Yonkers as he swore to the Yonkers City Council he would within 6 months of earning their approval of becoming the IG. He will sit idly by, doing nothing to earn his $200,000 inclusive of benefits per annum posting other than to twiddle his thumbs at Yonkersites and the system of governance they have come to tolerate and endure. He claimed to be an ethicist to whom all could turn for advice. How duplicitous of him. His only responsibility is to to protect Mayor Amicone from legal complication two years beyond the mayor’s departure from office. Mr Schorr’s reward is to take a second swipe at becoming Westchester County District Attorney or succeeding White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley with the help of his future brother-in-law, White Plains Common Councilman David Buchwald.
The latest circus event is the coming out party of would be political contenders for office of mayor of Yonkers. Richard Martinelli, whose tenure as Yonkers City Council President about five years ago had him abdicate office by his not fighting the “good fight” for reelection. He conducted his four years in office as the ultimate ass-wipe for Yonkers Mayor Amicone. His last act was to acquiesce to the Forest City Ratner development project at Ridge Hill that saw the sale of the land for $8.5 million in order to fill a hole in Mayor Amicone’s budget deficit. The land was worth $500 million. CoY will see little return for the enormous taxpayer subsidized investment by which Ridge Hill will come to be completed. Mr Martinelli is the son of former Yonkers Mayor Angelo Martinelli who directed the tearing down of the colonnades despite a public outcry against it being demolished. The pain of that action has yet to heal the scarred Yonkers psyche.
Hitching a ride on the re-branding of Richard Martinelli for mayor of Yonkers in 2011 is former Mayor John Spencer who demanded Richard Martinelli await his decision to run or not before he could announce his candidacy. John Spencer eventually made some people privy that he would not run allowing Richard Martinelli to move ahead. Richard Martinelli’s coming out is far from commanding.
Martinelli Press is the major attribute afforded Richard Martinelli his ability to launch his campaign effort. Right to Life advocates’ support of his campaign has stolen the limelight momentarily but will not likely endure the economic ills CoY is suffering to direct Yonkersites to the Richard Martinelli campaign effort.
Those who would hang their hat on the second floor with Richard Martinelli are the likes of Liam McLaughlin, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ failed opponent, and Kathy Spring-Spencer, the former Chief of Staff to Mayor Spencer and Mayor Amicone. Family reunions are usually not as much fun as one would hope but it is all about the “family and Friends” network in politics.
The other Republican contender for mayor, Yonkers City Council Majority Leader John Murtagh(see below left) , orphaned despite his best efforts to be adopted by the Astorino Administration, has lost Mayor Amicone’s favor, and has been shunned of late by media. Mr Murtagh’s ability to mount a competent campaign effort is suspect.
Former Yonkers City Councilwoman Dee Barbato will show up at all the political “dos” for awhile. She will eventually be told to hit the road and she will. So much for telling it like it is.
Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick (see below), who shovels the manure for Mayor Amicone, lest he stink up their “non-aggression pact” agreement to get along to get along, maintains his political subterfuge within the guise and tenets of “Lesnick the Liar;” aspects to which Yonkersites can well attest.
Former Senate Majority Counsel Shelley Mayer, now unemployed by the Democrat Senate Majority, having been relegated to minority status, was considering plundering CoY, but having been outed, will now look to find employ elsewhere.
Yonkers’ convulsions are heard throughout New York State.
Those with bigoted minds will laugh at Tunisians believing they reside within an untenable governmental structure having once mistaken repression for stability.
Yonkersites’ experience with democracy has proven wanting. The demonstrators’ win in the streets of Tunis have had their way. Have the warning signals sounded there been heard here? If not, when?
Sam Zherka is the publisher of The Westchester Guardian. Hezi Aris is the editor of The Westchester Guardian and publisher of the Yonkers Tribune.