LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Scathing Letter By MICHAEL J. WARD

eHezi Archives, Emergency Services, Governance, Health, Law, Letter to the Editor, Politics, Westchester County, NY, Yonkers, NY 74 Comments

Letters_to_the_editorI am a former Yonkers Fire Captain who is retired because of a job-related disability. Back in September of 2001, as a newly promoted fire lieutenant, I was sent by the Yonkers Fire Department to the FDNY‘s Officer Training Academy in New York City. All Yonkers Firefighters who get promoted to officer get sent to this school. Yes, I was on duty and in NYC with the FDNY on 9/11/2001. I was there for all of it. To make a long story short, I like so many others who were at Ground Zero am battling cancer. Stage 4 cancer. Battling for my life. Unfortunately, I now have another battle to face.

​I am currently going through all of my past medical records and disability retirement papers, and it feels like I’m using a rusty nail to open up an old wound. Tears are welling up upon the realization of how much I have been through. It is only by the grace of God that I am still walking this earth today. Why do I have to do this unpleasant chore and bring up the ghosts of 9/11 and the dark cloud of cancer that envelops my life?? To get ready to go to court that’s why! It seems that Mayor Spano, Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry, and all the others in that circus that is called Yonkers City Hall have decided to try to save a buck. Yep, save a buck by attempting to take away almost half of the disability pay that I get from the city. This pay, required by law, is paid by the City of Yonkers to firefighters who were injured/disabled in the line of duty and can no longer work. These men who have sacrificed their health protecting the lives and property of the fine citizens of the City of Yonkers. These men are the best of the best of us — the ones who are first to jump on that rig. The ones who crawl deepest into the heat and smoke — the bravest of the brave who risked the most; and lost. Men who went above the fire in valiant, desperate attempts to save lives, and ultimately having to jump out of a third floor window while their bodies were burning! Yep, they are trying to save a buck off the families of those men who survived that night but will never be the same again. Who the hell would try to take away from those who already lost so much??? Mayor Spano would that’s who!!! He might even try to recoup the monies paid in the past years to these men. Amounts that would devastate them and their families.

​If I didn’t know better, I would think that this is a desperate, deliberate attempt on behalf of the mayor to stick it to the Yonkers Firefighters, Fire Officers, and disabled retirees. Our unity, devotion, and unwillingness to easily give up what we fought so hard to gain has been a thorn in his side. The fact that he is now coming after our injured and disabled is pathetic and an outrage! The mayor has deemed fit that because of a perceived “grey area” in the language of 207-a Disability Law that he can take away that portion of the pay that these men receive. This disability pay has been paid for decades and decided upon by a court of law (Smerek v Yonkers) – a lawsuit that the city lost and never appealed – a judge’s determination that has been followed for nearly four decades. I will use the words of the Honorable Judge Anthony Ferraro who presided over that very case, from his summary:

“The Court appreciates the financial plight of the City of Yonkers, but economies should not be practiced at the expense of devoted men who render valiant service at the risk of their very lives.”

​See you in court Mr. Mayor! I have all my records and evidence ready. See you in the court of public opinion, too! WE WILL NEVER FORGET WHAT YOU TRIED TO DO HERE. It’s not legal, but more importantly, IT’S NOT RIGHT. I wonder how you can even sleep at night, but then again you are a politician; a Yonkers politician at that.

eHeziLETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Scathing Letter By MICHAEL J. WARD

Comments 74

  1. The ironic thing about all the talk about preet is that it will soon be Barry answering questions about extortion, theft of services and conspiracy.

    1. I think you might be right Freddie. Spano is probably guilty of all those and Barry will be able to help Preet get to the bottom of it all.

  2. I read this with great interest today. My father in law, now retired on a disability pension from FDNY does not get extra money for “showing up on time” (because he does not work)! Don’t get me wrong, I completely support the 207 benefit for those who were really injured but, you guys are being truly greedy. As a Yonkers taxpayer and someone who respects firefighters, I think this is total nonsense!

    “Fire union bosses are demanding that retired firefighters receive cash for showing up to work on time, for working nights and for working holidays even though they no longer work at all. Does this make sense to anyone?”

    1. For the record the monies you are talking about as extra pay was negotiated in lieu of raises and were considered as total pay. The 207a law stipulates that a person deemed disabled should be kept whole in salary. What that means is he is entitled to all the salary he would receive if he was still working.

    2. So– then your father in law can tell you about the extras they get that the rest of the state does not when they retire and how fdny was not effected by recent pension reform to the extent that the rest of the state was?

    3. Believe me, your FDNY father-in-law has a much fairer deal than what NYS cops and ff’s get. The state system is inadequate at best. Further, the benefits YFD DISABLED Retirees are supposed to get are not the same benefits a “regular” yfd retiree gets. Don’t let the spinmeisters fool you. Talk to your father-in-law about this post and he will give you the facts the city of Yonkers is trying so hard to cover up.

  3. There are hundreds and hundreds of white men and women in Yonkers who also hate Mike Spano. He’s a bad apple and not representative of most white men.

    1. True that!!! He’s filled almost every position in cuty giverbment with family members with different surnames. As yiu all know Mayor Spano comes from a “Tribe” of relatives with 15 brothers and sisters pkus all of them married and have kids and grandkids. Muktiole that number and you’ll have an entire cuty of Soano relatives. Olus hus close assistants in city hall are all relatives through marriage. We too used to think Mike was fair but he’s as foul as rotten eggs. He needs to leave city government.

  4. God forbid one of you white men have one less summer home, one less vacation or your wife can’t go to the spa this week. Sick of this racist city. Spano sounded like an idiot at Bostic’s dinner, repeatedly stammering about how wonderfully diverse Yonkers is, meanwhile, he deliberately screws black people and pretends like his hands are clean.

      1. People who have summer homes usually have two and three incomes and give up their free time to afford them…White Presidents just didnt hand them out….

    1. Well you are right Yonkers is a racist because of ignorant people like you. Again you are right Spano sounded like an idiot because he is one. And yet again you are right Spano deliberately screws black people along with everyone else who is not a Spano and does not contribute to a Spano.

    2. Let’s stop this racial shit, the guy on top, the mayor yes he is white but yes he is a asshole yes he only tells people what they need to hear, and I’m glad you heard him for what he is a stammering idiot and he not only screws blacks, he will screw anyone who had not donated, had not campaign for him, just read the papers on how he gives 6 figure jobs to unqualified political hacks and all the BIG raises he gave to his inner hacks that surround him and say yes yes yes, well it will be over for dirtbag mike Spano and I hope you really don’t think all white man suck

  5. We, the Citizens of Yonkers, are calling for the resignation of Mayor Spano and urge you to sign our petition. When we have gathered enough signatures, the petition will be delivered to local and state officials as well as to the media.

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/resignation-of-yonkers

    Far from a mandate in the recent election (November 2015), Mayor Spano received a paltry 16,041 total votes out of just under 100,000 eligible Yonkers voters. In other words, only 20% of eligible Yonkers voters actually endorsed a second term for Mayor Spano. The overwhelming majority of Yonkers residents were NOT in favor of reelecting Mayor Spano, as demonstrated by his exceptionally poor polling numbers.

    1. Yonkers Public Schools are underfunded, under-performing, and under threat. Mayor Spano presided over a $44 million budget accounting error in 2014-2015. Eight schools have been classified by New York State as struggling. Unable to obtain the appropriate level of funding himself, Mayor Spano had to accept a $25 million last-minute bailout from New York State for the 2015-2016 school year. Three of every four Yonkers public school students are classified as economically disadvantaged; class sizes exceed the statewide average; there are too few guidance counselors, social workers, and librarians; a number of schools are physically deteriorating; and the sudden resignation of Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Yazrulo raises serious ethical and legal concerns.

    2. According to a recent report by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the Yonkers School District misplaced more than $225,000 worth of equipment between July 2013 and April 2015.

    3. Beginning earlier this month (December 2015), Mayor Spano has decided to target disability payments for disabled Yonkers firefighters, many of whom are struggling with severe injuries or life-threatening illnesses including stage 4 cancer, serious burns, 9/11-related illnesses, and crippling job-related injuries. His attempt to reduce their disability payments will cost taxpayers untold amounts of public money in costly litigation fees as well as additional and unnecessary pain and suffering for disabled firefighters.

    4. Five of the city’s seven municipal unions have been working without a contract for at least five years. The Yonkers Uniformed Fire Officers Association, for example, still does not have a contract.

    5. Despite perennial budget deficits in the City of Yonkers, the part-time Yonkers City Council recently voted unanimously (7-0) to give themselves a 35-40% pay increase. The vote took place on December 8, 2015, the last City Council meeting of the year. At least one member of the City Council has been in office for only two years (Council Member Corazon Pineda-Isaac). Mayor Spano’s complete silence on the matter can only be interpreted as his unqualified endorsement of their pay increase.

    6. With a population of 200,000 inhabitants and a billion-dollar budget, Mayor Spano has failed to implement a viable, sustainable economic model that moves the City from deficit to surplus. The Mayor has failed to attract long-term, growth-based business investment. As a result, the tax base is diminishing as the City can no longer attract home buyers and renters due to poor employment prospects, substandard City services, and under-performing schools.

    7. Taxpayer money is spent in an opaque manner with little-to-no accountability, justification, or public input. Public Affairs, the office responsible for the Mayor’s public relations, has increased its budget from $335,000 in 2014 to $1,241,000 through 2016. Constituent Services has increased its budget from $482,000 to $582,000. City departmental expenses are projected to increase $7million annually through 2018. Healthcare costs for City employees are projected to increase 7% annually.

    8. Taxes have gone up. The income tax surcharge has increased from 15% to 16.75%, and can be increased to as much as 19%. Water usage fees have increased 10%. City sales tax has increased from 8.375% to 8.875%. Since 2011, red-light camera fines (another form of taxation) in Yonkers have raised nearly $14 million, with about a third of the money going to the company that runs the program, but with no demonstrable increases in safety. Yonkers also has the highest municipal parking fees in Westchester County and some of the highest parking fines in the region.

    9. Under successive Spano administrations, patronage has become rampant. We are especially concerned about undue influence on and conflict of interest regarding Yonkers politics and policies by Mayor Spano’s brother, convicted felon and tax evader, Nicholas Spano. Hiring practices lack transparency and frequently rely on an insider network of family and/or friends. Candidates often lack the necessary skills and credentials to fulfill basic job requirements. Pay raises are granted arbitrarily without justification or public input. In 2014-2015, the following people were among those within Mayor Spano’s administration that received substantial pay increases:

    Steven Levy — deputy mayor; $160,000 to $175,000; increase of 9.4%.

    Susan Gerry — deputy mayor; $165,000 to $175,000; increase of 6%.

    Denise Egiziaco — chief of staff; $120,000 to $140,000; increase of 14.2%.

    Christina Gilmartin — communications director; $110,000 to $120,000; increase of 8.3%.

    Eddie Ayala — promotion to assistant communications director; $80,000 to $85,000; increase of 6.25%.

    Jason Baker — promotion from assistant communications director to special assistant to the mayor; $85,000 to $105,000; increase of 23.5%.

    Shanae Williams — assistant; $47,000 to $60,000; increase of 27.6%.

    Saida Jereis — assistant; $47,000 to $60,000; increase of 27.6%.

    More recently, the current Head of Constituent Services, Gail Burns, has been named as the Yonkers Parking Authority Executive Director, which carries a salary of $150,000 per year over the course of four years. The basis for hiring the current head of Constituent Services to run the City’s Parking Authority remains unclear.

    10. City streets have become more dangerous. Despite increases in the budget by $127 million under the Spano administration, violent crime for the first six months of 2015 has more than double when compared to the total number for 2014. In addition, Mayor Spano has failed to address rogue elements within the Yonkers PBA (especially its President Keith Olson) and Police Department, which have resulted in multi-million dollar lawsuits against the City for police misconduct, brutality, and wrongful death as well as police firings and public scandals.

    THEREFORE, in light of these and other failings, the Citizens and Public Workers of Yonkers have absolutely no confidence in Mayor Spano’s ability to lead our City. He does not represent the interests of the vast majority of Yonkersites and we are calling for his immediate resignation.

  6. YFD has invited Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino to stand with us. He was REAL CLOSE to Spano at one time. And I’m not referring to Mike.

    1. nick the felon spano 70155 annually as reported by see through n y .com and of course a 400000 thousand dollar a year business LOBBYING shaking the tree whenever possible business could fall free of state taxes city tax and s s tax whats you point douch bag

      1. How many have gotten job from Nick on Y.F.D.?
        And campaigners for the Spanos standing near
        Voting stations YEA you remember now as always
        You need them Spanos more then they need you.

  7. “The Court appreciates the financial plight of the City of Yonkers, but economies should not be practiced at the expense of devoted men who render valiant service at the risk of their very lives.”

    That pretty much says it all. Shame on the City of Yonkers to attempt this backstabbing maneuver against people who have risked their lives and sacrificed so much in service to their community.

  8. Let’s see the Spano machine try to get on the positive side of this mess they created for themselves. Indefensible. Disgusting. Just like the entire Spano mob.

  9. Lol so they found the 1 fire officer actually legit hurt out of how many lmao

    Bunch of do nothing wieners if ya ask me and I have no dog in this fight

  10. I’m embarrassed to be from Yonkers anymore. Please do us all a favor and resign from office. How you sleep at night after screwing the fire officers and injured retirees I’ll never understand. Wait till you see the commercials that will run when you attempt to run for county exec. Just show a video of Elm St and Getty Square being over run by gang bangers and let the rest of Westchester know that this is his plan for everyone else.

  11. Why don’t you ask your old pal michael, from sta 9 how good a guy the mayor and Darcy really are? We know that both sh$theads are not MEN because they lie, lie and lie some more. Feel bad for you fellas still working in city of hills,

      1. cum on mike you really didn’t rub his bunions when you axed him for that L T job .scuse me begged him and rubbed his back .60 AND APPOINTED WHILE THE OTHER chumps LIST DIE AROUND 20 nahh just a coincidence .2 year four year .tell me it aint so what their saying at guilios .in the firehouse and around the streets .that you and his other peoples had nothing to do with it.WELL THE TRUTH IS there have been so many fuckin con artist out of the hill its hard to keep track of

        1. Carozza & the rest of the Vulcans got me promoted! Or was it Hewitt with Tommy Fitz’s balls on his chin? Or Mangone with his four union loans to pay off Kai to retire rather than get prosecuted? I forget…either way, you can’t put it all on me!

          1. they are commonly reffered to as co conspirators or collaborators in this case however we will just keep it to the street vernacular we will all understand SNEAKY SELFISH COCKSUCKERS. good move in school keeping the barking chiuahha out of hand cuffs at the academy ,see how things worked out FOR YOU

  12. It is a shame that as tax payers we have no say where our dollars go. Our mayor and his family and friends are getting richer at the cost of the Firefighters, police & DPW. Check out the new hires in City Hall any Spanos there? Our best to Mike Ward and all men hurt on the job. God Bless you all. Wake up M.r Mayor do the right thing.

    1. I am just hoping Preet comes up with the goods on the Spano’s,more family and friends jobs. What qualifies that Midget Mouseilo to get a job,he quit the PD because he has no balls like his father.

    2. Taxpayers have plenty of say. Don’t vote for Spano. Don’t vote for City Council members that give themselves raises while our Firefighters have been without a contract or cost of living increases for the past 7 years. Hold protests outside City Hall. Hold protests in the City Council chambers. Hold marches throughout the City. Write letters. Contact the media. Talk to neighbors and friends about issues. People do it in Brooklyn and Manhattan and Queens and the Bronx all the time, and it’s effective.

      Watch HBO’s Show Me a Hero, which is about Yonkers Mayor Nick Wasicsko and the desegregation of Yonkers Public Schools. It provides a reminder about how outraged Yonkers taxpayers raised hell across the City through public demonstrations, protests, rallies, fundraising efforts, etc., all of which received local and national media attention. There’s plenty that can be done. It’s just takes a bit of organizing. The Firefighters are rallying the troops to fight Spano. There’s no reason why taxpayers can’t do the same. If Spano can’t be kicked out of office (and there’s an online petition floating around somewhere calling for his resignation), then at least his reputation can be ruined, which will hurt him when he seeks office again in the future.

      Captain Ward – our prayers and support are with you. Stay strong, thank you for your service to our City and Country, and God bless you, your family, and fellow Firefighters.

      1. Your bringing up nick wasicsko , HBO calling him hero, did he not blow his brains out cause many indictments were coming his way as mayor of Yonkers just like nick Spano did federal time as will the other fat fuck mike Spano will be next, god help the city of Yonkers

        1. Frankie,

          Why would you even say anything about Mayor Wasicsko like that. You’re a piece of shit Frankie! Let the man rest in peace and not have his family read absolute garbage like this.
          What proof do you have of him being indicted for anything? Please show us. You couldn’t even reference one charge.
          What does this have to do with Nick Spano going to prison for taxes?

  13. Great job again saving the taxpayers of Yonkers more increases. Also please look into
    D.P.W. list of so called disabled.
    Good job Mike Thankyou.

    1. I would really like to do that mr taxpayer/spano supporter .a k a also known as a spano shill .however, I’m too busy hiring my family to new positions I have recently created in the budget that have no bearing on anybodys well being except my immediate family as well as some politically connected hacks in very high places .as far as the teamsters d p w don’t worry I have addressed that issue. though the policy of paying a bribe 10000 to get a teamster job some years ago from a union goon has now been eliminated. I will be soliciting any and all offers you may have. including food . I doo like gyros as well as slouvaki just ask the greek deli owner whos son I recently hired to work on a garbage truck . and as far as being a yonkers resident don’t worry he lived in hastings all his life not an issue … don’t forget the white sauce and most of all DONT FORGET THE CANNOLIS

  14. We must understand that we have accepted and allowed our government to become a corporation and that the law of a corporation is profit before life. Hence, the form of our present government is to do what leads to a wealth accumulation that orders the system to divide and conquer every natural thing to then divide and conquer. It is a consequence that will take all the life that is you and place it into a suppression that then needs a support- which is what is offered for sale by that same construct. I mean, just look at what is sold in media, gloom and doom, generating fear. Look at education, hours and hours spent in a room being filled with stories that are a lie by omission! The information we are taught in no way prepares us to understand the financial debt based system. If the people are placed in debt, they are enslaved to then generate income through the only means of income generation which is service to what divides and conquers. And these jobs are very limited. Those children who have great gifts of discernment that do not fit into this order, end up on the way side, never expressing their potential!
    In this order, though you served your community, you are in essence an ‘ old technology’ that no longer brings profit to the profit-before-life system. In the rules of this court system, it is to move money into what places money into service of the system- which by nature does not support the value of your efforts as a human being after the fact.
    We as people, must begin to understand that we allowed this because this is what we were within ourselves, not considering the whole and respecting that the value is actual physical living.
    We are human beings, in order for what we are physically to reach our full potential, we need proper food, clean water, an education that does no suppress through partial descriptions of reality that in no way prepare us for real living, as we learn to follow information only, without any real application. We also habituate to following only. It is to say, nothing is bad, but remaining within limited measure is by design and nature limiting. Thus, it is difficult because the parts are not necessarily bad. And since we become followers of our memory of information, we lose critical thinking and creative thinking skills. We are lost in a memory, like a computer, that is no longer aware of itself as this. This, by design, takes years to see through the veil of and as what it is by its design. We lose our ability to assess already by the third grade, unless we are one of those who have been exposed to enough of the code as the words, to process information in ways that allow us to fit into some point of the chain of this command-that is not supportive of human life, and all life – an survive with some level of comfort. These tend to be our politicians.
    We as people, all of us, must stand together and place into policy as our governing bodies what realizes the value is life, that realizes the basic needs of what it means to be physical beings on a physical planet. If each of our children realized their full potential, we would have heaven on earth. Yet we must begin to understand overall what is happening, and realize that we accepted this, and thus forgive all measure that is not in alignment with what is best for us as what we are. We must ensure that cancer never happens, we must ensure that those who have all the money no longer build military machines that only a few who have accumulated wealth have the means to do, hiding behind layers of a paper castle that really does not exist unless we give it value. It really has no value, but what we accept and allow.
    I would suggest to begin to realize the power is each of us standing together within the principle of only accepting that which does no harm to anything on this earth. I would suggest to realize that gloom and doom, which is fear, which is taking an extreme and defining all means within it, ignoring the that the majority of people will choose what is best when given the opportunity.
    The corporation does not care about you. You have to ask yourself, did you care about that child that was born in Africa, where that corporation grabbed the resources and pushed the people off the land under some legal construction that those uneducated people did not understand as the currencies were manipulated in such a manner that the resources acquisitions brought no wealth back into the community? Did you care and pay attention? Whose fault is this? Who has a natural ability to assess in ways no man-made machine can? You. It is us, that must stand together and respect life being physical. Where to hide that which is the truth? Right in front of you.
    Support a Basic Income, a living Income Guarantee, so that men who have served this world never have to fear for basic needs in their time of change. Thank you for reading.

  15. This mistake could wind up costing the City of Yonkers big bucks in a discrimination lawsuit under federal laws. The City should be very careful how they are treating these disabled workers.

  16. God speed to you and your family. I had four family members in the NYFD, two captains in Yonkers FD — I cannot imagine this horror happening to them. Who has your back? Sending hopes and prayers that these failed leaders make the right choice here. Thank you for all that you have done for the city.

  17. How shameful both Mayor Spano and Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry are in this matter. To have this impact Yonkers Fire Fighters and YFD Officers who were injured in the line of duty is simply not fair. If the City of Yonkers in such financial hardship, maybe Mayor Spano should parade his Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Wife (and WCBS Anchorwoman) Mary Calvi along with Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry, throughout the city, in a 2 piece bathing suit, signing 8 x 10 glossys of themselves for 25 bucks a pop. Then the City would have a “Windfall” of funding to help offset all of their financial woes.

    1. as far as the sweathog from city hall ill go ten if she speaks clearly into the microphone.larkin plaza rules old school. as far as the other ill go a little more but I’m gonna need more than a weather report just saying

  18. This is an outrage and a travesty of justice. Is there a legal defense fund set up? If so, where can I send a contribution to help right this wrong?

  19. Spano needs the money to pay his family their 6 figure jobs they are not qualified for. These disabled firemen can’t work on his campaigns so why should he give them any money?

  20. Mike Spano is as corrupt as politicians come. And like most convicted crooks he’s sloppy and stupid. It’s just a matter of time before they come for him.

  21. Mike Spano hasn’t worked hard days work his hole life. He’s been on the public teet and his big brother Nicks teet his entire adult life. And this is what he wants to do? Go after retired firemen and try to save a buck? Trash. Just rotten trash.

  22. If this is true Mayor Spano will have a lot of explaining to us, the taxpayers. Using his office for political motivations and goals is a crime and he should be reported. I hope someone holds him accountable financially, politicially and criminally.

  23. It is truly a travesty what the City of Yonkers is attempting to do to you and your family. I am sure this position would not have been taken by the City if members of their own family were in your shoes. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Stay Strong!!!!

  24. Great Letter Wardy!! Thank you for everything you’re doing on ALL of our behalf! Thank you for re-living this nightmare yet AGAIN in order to fight this insanity for ALL of us! STAY STRONG and you will once again prevail! Never stop fighting for what makes this the BEST “livelihood” (not job) in the world… You can’t break spirit!!!

  25. Isn’t this the mayor who had a 911 Memorial erected on McLean Ave? And why not, politicians all over the country have turned Sept. 11th into their own press/photo op. Spano wouldn’t miss an opportunity every September 11th to get his picture taken and have the news outlets cover this joke show. Why call it a joke show you ask? On September 11th, 2015 a Yonkers Fire Captain was refused a Line of Duty medial procedure by the City of Yonkers. Meanwhile, Spano was at the memorial telling anyone who would listen how much we all owe our first responders for their sacrifice.
    Disgusting! My apologies to all who lost loved ones on that tragic day. I myself lost many friends.

  26. Captain Ward, thank you for your service, and my deepest sympathy for the struggle you are enduring. Your letter isn’t clear on some issues. Were you at Ground Zero other than on Sept. 11, 2001? Is your disability pension based on your cancer diagnosis, or is it based upon a different condition? Since you began your letter by indicating you were at the WTC on that terrible day, I naturally presumed your presence there has been determined to be the cause of your illness/disability, but that isn’t specified. I cannot stand the Spanos, by the way, so these questions aren’t for their benefit.

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