Mineola, NY

The Truth is Out There – WAY Out There ! !

When does the First Amendment Cease to Exist?


When does the First Amendment Cease to Exist?.

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December 28, 2010 Posted by | 1st Amendment, 7th S.D. New York State, ACLU, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Freedom of Speech, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins | 1 Comment

When does the First Amendment Cease to Exist?


Well it appears that once you cross the border into the Incorporated Village of Mineola, your right to speak freely starts to fade away.  And by the time you get to Village Hall at 155 Washington Avenue that right evaporates completely.  Mineola’s Village Hall is a vacuum where all independent thought gets sucked into a black hole.

Unless, of course, you are sucking UP to the right people.  Or blowing sunshine up certain rear-ends.

But if you intend to question a decision the Board of Trustees has made, or to express your belief that everything is NOT sunny in Mineola, then prepare yourself for shut-down.  Especially if you’re a woman.

Jack Martins is no longer Mayor of this happy little Village, but while he was here he most certainly did not take kindly to anybody questioning his authority, or to any intimation that his integrity was NOT above reproach.  This became abundantly clear when I questioned his handling of the conflict of interest issue created by our Building Superintendent’s  intimate relationship with his direct report, the Secretary to the Board of Zoning Appeals.  First Martins denied anybody had ever complained to him about the situation.  Then he claimed nobody had “officially” complained to him.  Then he shut down the broadcasts of the Public Meetings until he could devise some means by which to try to limit what people would be able to say.

That’s when the Board developed their infamous sign-in sheet, whereby in order to speak at a Public Meeting, one must provide their name and address and state what it is they intend to discuss.  It is further stipulated that matters must pertain to the Village of Mineola.

Now, it’s not entirely unreasonable to limit topics to matters that directly impact the Village.  Events occur on the Federal and State levels that VOM’s Trustees can do nothing about.  And it’s both pointless and unfair for individuals to take up vast amounts of time opining on such matters when there are issues directly impacting the Village that people come to the meetings to discuss.  Most of these are people who must get up for work the next day, or who must help their kids with their schoolwork and get them ready for bed.  And if these folks come down to a meeting to address a matter of importance to them and their neighbors, they shouldn’t have to sit there and wait while other people expound on what’s wrong with Congress, the President, the French, and every other thing that has nothing to do with Village business.

BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE DOES ANYONE ON THE BOARD HAVE THE RIGHT TO PREVENT ANY OF US FROM QUESTIONING THEIR DECISIONS OR POLICY IMPLEMENTATIONS, OR FROM EXPOSING CORRUPTION OR BAD BEHAVIOUR on the part of any of the Trustees or any of our employees.  That is the whole point of a Public Meeting.  And that is why I found myself in the office of the Nassau County chapter of the NY Civil Liberties Union in Hempstead after the October 20, 2010 meeting.

If you were at that meeting or saw it on TV, you know that Jack Martins led the Work Session, but Deputy Mayor Larry Werther ran the Public Meeting.  As usual, there was a break between the two meetings when the Trustees went to the back room.  Finally, Trustees Perriera, Kennedy and Cusato came out to the dais but Werther remained in the back room with Village Attorney John Spellman.  They eventually emerged and the public portion began.  Three people were called up to speak.  But when it came time for the fourth person to be called up, Werther announced that a slip had been submitted to discuss a Union matter, and that as long as HE was in charge of the meetings, he would not permit the topic to be addressed while litigation is pending.

Can you imagine this? In THIS country?  This is the Board that has us recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the Work Sessions and then again before the Public Meetings.  This is the Board that pauses to remember all our troops fighting for freedom in various parts of the world.  This is the Board that lauded the collection of bottles and cans to benefit a disabled Army Ranger who isn’t even from Mineola.   And how did he become disabled?  When his legs were blown off while he was serving his country.  This young man, Christopher Levy, sacrificed his legs in the name of liberty, but I’m not allowed to ask questions of our Board of Trustees.

There’s something VERY wrong with this picture.

So when DOES the First Amendment cease to exist?

When you allow it to.

I won’t allow it.  Not as long as I have breath left in my body and my taxes are being used to send young able-bodied men and women off to some God-forsaken hell-on-earth so they can come back mangled in body, in spirit, or both.

So call me a Bitch.  Call me a Pain-in-the-Ass.  Call me a Lunatic.  FEEL FREE. Just be sure you don’t do it within the 11501 zip code.  You see, Freedom of Speech is not allowed in Mineola.

December 28, 2010 Posted by | 1st Amendment, 7th S.D. New York State, ACLU, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Freedom of Speech, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Mineola NY, NYCLU | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MY SECRET SANTA


I came home from work the other night and like many of you, I checked my mail.  I was sorting through the usual stack of bills and pleas for donations when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a plain, white #10 envelope with the letters F. Y. I. scrawled in a very Christmassy shade of Flair Pen red.

“What could be inside?” I wondered.  My winning ticket to the Irish Sweepstakes?

No such luck.

But what I did receive was interesting to say the least, and I am happy to share it with you.  This is, after all, the “Season of Giving.”

View this document on Scribd

In the interest of clarifying some things you should know that the “Mineola Village Court” is properly known as “Justice Court” – although I’m sure there are plenty of people who will dispute how much justice is actually obtained there.  I wouldn’t know since I’ve never had to deal with them.  That’s one issue.  NEXT ! ! ! !

The clerical position in question had been vacant for ELEVEN months due to a retirement.  And the retirement was not sudden.  The Village had official notice of the employee’s plans weeks before she actually walked out the door for the last time.  As a matter of fact, the Village tried very hard to get this individual brought up on charges so they would have an excuse to fire her before she could retire and collect her full medical benefits.  Thankfully the union intervened and put the kabosh on that hatchet job.  But that’s a story for a later blog.

So what WAS the rush to fill this post?  Especially to hire someone, as Village attorney John Spellman indicated, “by December 8th?”

If you watched the broadcast of the November 17, 2010 Work Session and paid attention to what was said and how people interacted, well let’s just say it was quite the lesson in body language.  First, Village Clerk Joseph Scalero proposed that the position be posted as the Village is required to do.  This took Mayor Jack Martins (excuse me – SENATOR-ELECT Martins) by surprise.  “Post it??!!” he said.  But then Spellman stepped in with his very useful opinion that since the department was short-handed, the Mayor should be allowed to appoint someone once he’d had the chance to review the applications.  After a long, lingering exchange of looks between the mayor and the attorney, Martins called for a motion to approve Mr. Spellman’s suggestion.

In other words, as opposed to posting the position so that ANYBODY on Nassau County’s Civil Service list could apply for consideration;  and as opposed to letting the applicants interview with Valerie Passarella who has supervised the department for 10+ years so she could find a good fit;  and as opposed to letting her make a recommendation to the FULL Board and letting the FULL Board approve or deny it, Spellman proposed that Jack Martins be allowed to make the call all by his lonesome – what with time being of the essence and all.  And of course the other Trustees (who still haven’t figured out that when John Spellman makes a recommendation they should do the exact opposite) voted to give Jack this authority.

Mind you – this vote took place between 6:45 and 7 pm on the evening of Wednesday, November 17th.  The new employee was set to start on Monday, November 22ndThat means between the hours of 8:30 am on November 18th and 5 pm on November 19th, Mayor Martins was able to accept and review applications for this Civil Service position and hire somebody. Somebody who’s very good at answering phones.  Somebody who worked the phones for his NYS senate campaign.

AH!  The dawn breaks!

So how many interviews WERE conducted?  How many applications were even submitted?  Was this job ever posted on the bulletin board at the office of the Nassau County Civil Service in Hempstead?

The position vacated in January was a competitive post requiring the candidate to have passed and obtained reachable status on the civil service exam.  Has this new employee taken and passed her test?  Or did the position get changed to non-competitive or exempt?  After all, a municipality is only entitled to a limited number of non-competitive or exempt positions.

Now, an exempt position was done away with back in the fall when the Board – again following the lead of the Martins/Spellman cabal – voted to eliminate the title of “Secretary to the Board of Zoning Appeals.”  This was the patronage position created for and handed to Karen Calabro back in 2002.  She didn’t have to pass a Civil Service exam.   She got to engage in a romantic relationship with her supervisor without penalty.  She got to avoid paying taxes for years on improvements she and her ex-husband made to their home on Beebe Road – including an un-permitted half-bath on the first floor.  She got away with being insubordinate to customers even when written complaints were filed against her.

That should answer the question as to why the Justice Court position wasn’t offered to the “recently laid off employee.”

The only reason her position was eliminated in September was because she ran her mouth off to the Deputy Village Clerk who then filed a complaint with the Mayor who in turn devised a story about doing away with the job in order to save the Village money.

Good work Jack!  Now we can use those savings to defend the lawsuit Ms. Calabro has reportedly filed against us for the loss of her position.   She has most definitely filed a grievance and a PERB against VOM through the employees’ union.

So the good folks of the Village had the pleasure of paying Ms. Calabro salary, providing her with medical coverage and funding her pension for 10 years while she didn’t pay the proper property taxes to either the Village OR the county for her entire tenure as an employee.  Now she gets to collect unemployment for at least 99 weeks – which the Village pays for by its contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.  AND she hopes to collect big bucks for the elimination of her position or have her position reinstated with back-pay.

All thanks to the managerial expertise of our soon-to-be former Mayor and his fellow Trustees.

A Merry Christmas indeed.

Will you take one lump of coal, or two in your stocking?

December 11, 2010 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York State, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Mineola NY, Nassau County | Leave a comment

MORE OF THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD ARROGANCE


I don’t know why I was surprised that Jack Martins would jump to declare himself winner of the 7th S.D. race with less than a full percentage point lead (.51% to be exact).  But he did, and I was.  I’m much less surprised by the genuflecting and hosanna ringing that his fan club has been engaged in – also presumptively.

Much to his credit, Senator Johnson has kept mum.  I’ve seen enough tight election races to know that the usual tactic is for the underdog to get defensive and start talking about how “The opera ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”  But we’re hearing none of that.  At least not from Johnson himself.

But the chest thumping in the Martins camp began as soon as all the precincts had reported in – despite the fact that there was only a difference of 415 votes.  Jack is behaving as if a 415 vote lead – perhaps even a win – is a mandate.  In the meantime, if you were watching the election results on Channel 12, you might have been as stymied as I was to see no vote tallies being reported for the 7th S.D. even after 9 pm when results from the other precincts were coming in at a fairly steady rate.  Well apparently there were glitches – and plenty of them.  Nobody knows how many emergency ballots didn’t get properly scanned and are sitting in the machines waiting to be counted.  Then there are more than 700 affidavit ballots and nearly 3400 absentee ballots to be tallied.  So, as we are seeing in Suffolk County’s 1st Congressional District, there is plenty of room for uncertainty and perhaps even a little touch of humility.

But don’t look for it from Jack.  In his mind, he’s got this all sewn up.  As to the likelihood that the Democratic party may take legal action to demand a recount down the road, Martins opined  “I have yet to hear from my counterpart, but everything I’m hearing seems to be steered through the Democrat party, the New York City-dominated Democrat partyMaybe that’s how they do things in New York City, but they should allow the process to play itself out in the suburbs and not interfere.”

Say WHAT ? ? ?

WHO’S interfering?

What “THINGS” is Jack talking about?  Does he mean ensuring that EVERY vote is accurately counted?  Is that something only the big city slickers care about?  Are we country bumpkins in the hinterlands of Nassau County too stupid or ignorant to figure out the “democratic” electoral process for ourselves?  Does he really think we’re under some form of Citified Democrat Mind Control?

Please!

Because you can bet your bottom dollar that if the shoe was on the other foot, Martins would be itching to get those uncounted votes tabulated, and the Republican machine on Long Island would pull out all the stops to get that 7th Senate District seat.  That’s what political parties do on behalf of their members.  Whether it’s a senate seat in New York, a town alderman somewhere in Tennesee, or President of the United States, close races get scrutinized and there are no real winners until all the ballots are officially tallied by the local Board of Elections.  So getting all arrogant and puffing out your chest to declare how “the communities have spoken” – especially when you have such a miniscule lead – is premature and ungracious.

And another thing:  what’s with the condescending attitude towards New York City?  Most of the people who live in, vote in and pay astronomical property taxes in the 7th S.D. earn their livings in Manhattan.  God knows, you can’t earn a decent living in Nassau.

So, “Possibly Senator-Elect” Martins, when it comes to our neighbor just over the County line, as when it comes to extremely tight elections OR for that matter, when it comes to LIFE IN GENERAL, it would behoove you to check your obnoxiousness at the door.  Because if you are indeed going to serve as state senator, you will have to recognize that you are no longer the guy in charge and that you must be able to play well with others.

Even if those others are fellow Republicans.

Because nobody likes an arrogant toad.

November 7, 2010 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York State, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Mineola NY, Nassau County | 1 Comment

YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ‘ROUND BABY, RIGHT ‘ROUND . . .


Anybody who knows me well can tell you it’s the rare instance that renders me speechless.  And what usually does it is when I witness something so outrageous it is beyond the pale – some outlandish act of stupidity or brazen, out-and-out lying.  And I’ve seen a great deal of that in Mineola under the current administration.   Jack Martins has lied through his teeth to the taxpayers of Mineola who have paid his salary for lo these many years.  And he’s been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the rest of our neighbors in the Town of North Hempstead and those sections of Hempstead Town that are in the 7th S.D.  The latest instance can be found in his most recent email, posted on his senate campaign website.

Martins and the other “Trustees” have never had a good word to say about Newsday in all the years I have been attending meetings or watching them on Channel 18.  This week Newsday published its endorsements for the upcoming elections.  Mayor Martins received praise as being an “effective” mayor among other things – which he selectively chose to cut and paste into his e-mail 30.  What he selectively chose to cut and NOT PASTE was the final sentence of the editorial.  Specifically:  NEWSDAY endorses CRAIG JOHNSON.

OOPS ! ! !

Nor did Jack bother to correct Newsday’s blatant error regarding his position on term limits.   The editorial stated:

“Martins believes in term limits and says he will limit himself to two terms as Mineola mayor, meaning he’ll leave next year.”

A)   If anybody bothered to check their facts, they would know that Jack Martins has been mayor of Mineola since 2003.  Our Board members are up for election every two years.  It’s now 2010 and the next mayoral election in Mineola is in 2011.  So let’s do the math shall we?  2011 – 2003 = 8.

Now let’s really push the envelope and try some division.  8 years ÷ 2 years per term = 4 terms.  Based on the arithmatic and by applying logic and deductive reasoning, I come to the conclusion – which happens to be borne out by the facts – that Jack Martins has been Mayor for FOUR TERMS !!!

B)   The only thing more irresponsible than Newsday’s failure to check the facts is the exploitation of this faux pas by the politician in question.  Jack actually incorporated this completely inaccurate statement into his e-mail, citing it as “one of the greatest compliments of public service.”  In the meantime, the “About Jack” page of his website states unequivocally, in black and white, that Martins was elected mayor of Mineola in 2003.  So much for his belief in term limits.

Talk about spin ! ! !

So – to whomever out there might be reading this – think carefully about the vote you cast on November 2nd.  Those of us in Mineola are screwed either way.  If Martins wins, he’s going to represent us in Albany – and it will be more of the same old, same old because he’s as phony as a $3 bill.  If he loses – we in Mineola will STILL be screwed because he’ll still be our mayor.  But at least the rest of you won’t have to put up with his stuff and nonsense.

Spin, baby! Spin!

October 23, 2010 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York State, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Mineola NY, Nassau County, Political | Leave a comment

GRIM FAIRYTALES


Mayor Jack Martins, Republican candidate for New York’s 7th Senatorial District seat, promised to hold a “TRUTH Conference” on Friday, October 8th in front of his Democratic opponent’s headquarters on Herricks Road.  The purpose was to call out Craig Johnson for lies the incumbent is supposedly spreading about Martins.  (If you’re looking for a good giggle, visit martinsforsenate.com, then click under News and look for the October 7th “Message from Jack.”  In case you’re wondering why I don’t just post the link, it’s because the link doesn’t work.

Martins has accused Johnson and his “Albany spin doctors” of “misinforming constituents.”  That’s really rich, coming from someone who has blatantly lied to his own VOM constituents on a variety of occasions – and on TV.  For instance, the mayor lied (on TV) when I questioned him concerning complaints he’d received about the relationship that existed (and continues to exist) between Building Superintendent Dan Whalen and now former Secretary to the BZA, Karen Calabro.  The mayor denied at first that he ever received complaints about the inappropriateness of their relationship.   (Whalen was Calabro’s boss as well as love interest).  At a later meeting (also broadcast on TV) Martins backpedaled and claimed that nobody had ever filed an “OFFICIAL” complaint with him.  Whatever that means.

Ah, lawyers!

The latest fairy-tale emanating from Jack’s mouth is that of the elimination of Karen Calabro’s position.  At the September 22nd Work Session, the VOM “Trustees” (an oxymoron if ever there was one), voted unanimously to eliminate the post of Secretary to the Board of Zoning Appeals, citing cost-effectiveness as their reason.

Poppycock!

Calabro’s position was not eliminated to save the Village money.  Nor was it eliminated due to complaints that had been brought to the mayor’s attention against her both verbally and in writing over the years.  It wasn’t even eliminated after the Trustees received proof that Ms. Calabro had defrauded the Village and Nassau County by not paying taxes on her home improvements for more than a decade.

It happened because – according to reliable sources – Ms. Calabro, feeling invincible as usual because of her “favored nation” status, was insubordinate to one of her superiors, specifically the Deputy Village Clerk.   Well, the Village Clerk then got involved.  Before you know it, Mr. Whalen – ever Ms. Calabro’s Knight-In-Shining-Armor – injected himself into the situation.  During the ensuing kerfuffle, Whalen (who seems to think he’s still working in a bar) verbally abused Deputy Village Clerk Cora Kelly.  Mrs. Kelly then filed a complaint.  The next day, Friday, September 17th, Calabro was suspended for one day WITH pay.  That’s right – SUSPENDED ONE DAY WITH PAY.  That’s one of  the luxuries of being an exempt AND unionized employee.

There are some interesting items to ponder in this whole little scenario.  Such as why the mayor waited until this particular incident occurred to take action.  He’s gotten complaints about Whalen and Calabro for years from village taxpayers and employees.  The situation has been addressed at public meetings broadcast on Cablevision Channel 18 as well as in writing.  Yet somebody has had both their backs for the longest time.  They were the Teflon® couple.

Until September 16, 2010.  That’s when they both ran their mouths off to the DVC and that’s when Mayor Martins, after “investigating” (i.e. questioning both Calabro and Whalen independently) decided he had to cut his losses.

So he hatched the perfect plan:  eliminate Calabro’s position.  It is after all, an exempt post that exists at the pleasure of the Board, and the person who fills the job also does so at the pleasure of the Board.  (The pleasure of VOM’s taxpayers apparently doesn’t count for much.)

But how to do it and save face at the same time?  Jack didn’t want to look foolish by admitting that Calabro was finally being fired for insubordination.  That would only prove that folks were right all along.  Then the light bulb came on!  That’s when he came up with the old “eliminating this position will save money for the Village” scheme.

So that’s what he – and the “Trustees” – put out there at the September 22nd work session.  But when I questioned him at the Public Hearing later that same night, Martins would have none of it.  As a Village resident and taxpayer I wanted to know if their action had anything to do with the complaint I’d filed that Ms. Calabro hadn’t paid the proper taxes on her home improvements for the entire time she was accepting salary and benefits as a VOM employee and resident.  But Jack held firm:  he had stated the reason at the Work Session and he would entertain no further questions from me on the matter.  (Sounds like a violation of my civil rights quite frankly – considering it’s a public meeting, I’m a Village taxpayer, I filled out the necessary form and I limited my topic to a matter of concern to the Village of Mineola.  But that’s fodder for another posting.)

You’ve heard that “Life is a Highway?”  Well in the Village of Mineola, life is a creepy fairy tale like something out of the Brothers Grimm.  And in the “World of Make-Believe” that exists in Jack Martins’ mind, facts are entirely optional and “truthiness” is only required of certain people, like his senate opponent.  It’s not required of him, or of certain Village employees.   So bear that in mind the next time Mayor Martins collars you at the Mineola train station to tell you how HE’S the one who’s going to bring integrity back to Albany.  Or the next time you see one of his ads on TV.

Or, you can just bury your head in the Tales of Mother Goose.

October 10, 2010 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York, 7th S.D. New York State, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Local New York, Nassau County, Political | Leave a comment

What It’s All About, Alfie


It’s all about getting the real story out there – the truth about what’s been going on in Mineola for the past several years.  It’s about letting Mayor Jack Martins and his trustees know that the taxpayers who keep this Village running are smarter than they think.  And while it is indeed true that they can fool some of the people some of the time, there is no way they can fool all the people all the time.

My name is Jeanne Falabella and I’ve lived in Mineola since September 2001.  I’m not trying to make a name for myself and I have no interest in running for political office.  But I also have no interest in allowing myself to be taken for a fool.  Not for the taxes I pay.  I work TOO HARD for my money.  So when I catch our mayor and our village attorney playing games with the facts, I will call them on it.  And when I find out that certain of our employees are ripping the taxpayers off, I’ll call attention to that too.  And perhaps not as diplomatically as some people might like.

We live in an amazing time when we not only have the ability to get the word out via televised meetings, but through the internet where the tax-payers can see public documentation and judge for themselves.  Jack Martins can shut people down on TV, but he can’t shut down the information superhighway.

So that’s what it’s all about.  Getting the truth out, plain and simple.  We deserve no less.

September 29, 2010 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York, Civil Liberties, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, Local New York, Nassau County, Political | , , , | Leave a comment