Mineola, NY

The Truth is Out There – WAY Out There ! !

JUSTICE FOR SAL


WHAT CONSTITUTES A SPEEDY TRIAL ???

The Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution states:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

There are truly criminal deeds like murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and the like.  And if you commit one of these deeds and get arrested, you’ll spend time in jail until your trial – unless you make bail or post bond.  According to Article 30 of the NYS Criminal Procedure Law (Timeliness of Prosecutions and Speedy Trial), prosecution for Class A felonies, 1st degree rape, sexual assault etc can be commenced at any time.  So you can be sitting in the clink for a good long while awaiting trial if there’s a serious backlog and you’ve been denied bail or don’t have the money to pay it.

But what about trials for petty offenses and misdemeanors?   Say a Building Code Violation?  Well §30.10 of the CPL addresses those as well.  Prosecution for a petty offense must be commenced within one year of  “the commission thereof” while prosecution for a misdemeanor must be commenced within two years of  “the commission thereof.”  That gives a certain amount of flexibility to the variety of jurisdictions in New York State some of which are fairly small whereas others, like NYC are fairly large.

One might expect that in a Village such as Mineola having fewer than 20,000 residents (a number of whom are children and not likely to be involved in petty crimes and misdemeanors) it wouldn’t be that hard to obtain a speedy trial for something like an alleged parking violation, or for having illegal tenants living at your property, or for having a non-drivable car parked in your driveway.  Most people who receive summonses in this Village for parking or Building Code violations don’t fight them.  They pay them outright or go to conference to strike a plea deal.  So when we have an individual who answers his court summons and demands a trial for a Building Code violation, doesn’t it strike you as odd that FIVE MONTHS after the fact he still has not been given a court date?  In this dinky little village?  Well if you’ve lived in Mineola long enough, nothing should surprise you.  But yet it does.

Such is the situation for Sal Cataldo.  The man is over 80 years old, and is a Korean War veteran who is very active in veteran and community affairs.  He’s also a Village taxpayer, and a pistol to boot.  Mr. Cataldo was issued a Notice of Violation early in the year, went to the Village’s Justice Court and filed a plea of “Not Guilty” and requested that the matter go to trial.  And he’s waiting.  And waiting. . . . .  At least he’s not sitting in a jail cell.

Maybe the “Powers That Be” at 155 Washington Avenue figure if they can just stick it out, Sal will die first.  That doesn’t surprise me either.  I’ve lived in this Village long enough.

Are you on Facebook?  Join the group Justice For Sal and tell the Village Administration to get this show on the road!


				
                

August 4, 2011 Posted by | 7th S.D. New York State, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Incorporated Village of Mineola, Mineola NY, Nassau County, NYCLU | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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