Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Privacy Matters

Recently, I was at an event where I had an opportunity to meet a lawmaker from Westchester County, New York. For those of you not from NYC or the Tristate Area, it is the county directly north of NYC, bordering the Bronx.
Jim Chisholm was a nice enough guy who seemed truly passionate about his County, so even though I normally bash Bill de Blasio every chance I get/interview anyone and everyone who's looking to take his place...I decided to give this candidate a minute.
Why? Because it effects all of us. All of the Police Families you know...and then some.
In December 2012, the Journal News (a Westchester County newspaper) decided to publish the names and addresses of handgun permit holders — a total of 33,614 — in two suburban counties, Westchester and Rockland, and put maps of their locations online.
The maps, which appeared with the article “The Gun Owner Next Door: What You Don’t Know About the Weapons in Your Neighborhood,” received more than one million views on the Web site of The Journal News.
I find this appalling.
Beyond the pale.
As a Police Family, you and I both know how much privacy matters. There are tons of crazy individuals out there just waiting for a perfect opportunity to "get back at" the police officer who arrested them. And this interactive map gave criminals an opportunity to do it even easier, with no thought to those who protect and serve the very community that publishes such trash.        
Thankfully, there was huge backlash and the Journal News lost a lot of readers, as the Blue Community has no use for an agenda-laden paper that puts a target on their backs. However---and this is the part I find most interesting---the county directly north of Westchester, Putnam County, decided that they would not release the names or give away any data regarding local gun permit holders.
When I spoke to Jim, we talked about both privacy and accountability.
Jim: My goal is to preserve the integrity of the Clerk's Office. What happened with the Journal News should have never have happened. Yes, those records are publicly available, but to put them out there with an interactive map was totally irresponsible.
Stella: Agreed. Not only for Police Families, but what about a victim of domestic violence, who may have opted to get a legal permit in order to protect herself?
Jim: Exactly. I support the Police in this County and I am thankful for their service. They shouldn't have to be looking over their shoulder in their own home.
Stella: I have a friend whose address never made it on the list; he was lucky, as it could have been an extremely dire situation for him as he's an Undercover Officer.
Jim: That's exactly what I'm talking about. Privacy and accountability.  It matters.
Stella: I'm with you.

I had one last question for him; a softball of sorts, just a little something to get to know the candidate.
Stella: Jim, I visited the Winter Wonderland at the Kensico Dam Park when it first opened, a few seasons ago. I expected something more like Bryant Park in NYC. If I visit again, could I expect to see some upgrades or changes? It feels like they have a lot of space and could do a lot more with it. I know that's not what the County Clerk is responsible for, but being in Westchester County government, I was just curious.
Jim: Well, the Westchester Parks Foundation runs that event, and I'm hoping they expand it too. I agree that there's a lot of opportunity there to make it a bigger tourist attraction.

All in all, my conversation with Jim Chisholm was a good one. He made it clear that he cares about the people who police his county. If you live in Westchester County, don't forget to vote in your local elections. Local elections matter as a Police Family. And Blue Lives matter where you live.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Coming Around Again

As he packs
the dress blues
the ones
he wears
far too often nowadays
I think
and I remember
and I take in a sharp breath
my memories come
crashing in sideways
and I nod my head
to no one in particular
it is
as it should be
a dreadful
they deserved every hat
and crisp shirt
and moment
that we didn't have then
to say
thank you
and to say
sixteen years later
we remember...
and we always will.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Talk with Sal

Before I ever spoke to Sal Albanese, I got into a fight with him on Twitter.
It's true. If you've been reading me, you know that I don't back down and afraid is not a word I would use to describe myself.
Perhaps: Warrior.
But I digress.
If you've yet to hear about Sal Albanese, where have you been? Sal Albanese is a former City Council Member and is currently running to be the next Mayor of New York City. He's running on the Democratic ticket. And although there are certain factions that believe Bill de Fake Italian is a foregone conclusion as the City's next Mayor, trust me when I say that Sal Albanese is giving him a run for his money.
Just the other night, there was a primary debate, and Sal Albanese was quoted as saying:
"Well, I think there is a major demoralization in the police force," Albanese said. "90-percent of the police officers disapprove of the mayor."
We talked about this and so many other things. We didn't agree on everything, but he was certainly right about this.
Bill de Blasio's response?
"A lot of things you just heard are not true, and here's what's true: our officers are doing an outstanding job, the men and women just achieved a historic record - the safest August in the history of this city," Mayor de Blasio said.
I hate to tell you, Billy, but the #NYPDFamily would love to give you your walking papers.
This much is true.The #NYPD has made this August the safest in the history of NYC.
With no thanks to you.
In terms of Sal Albanese, I liked him more than I thought I would. He feels that the #NYPD needs their morale lifted. That is most certainly true. His vision for moving the City forward includes ideas like City agencies doing the right thing by the public, solving the growing problem of homelessness in our City, and fixing the perennially broken MTA.
My last question for him was the same softball I pitched to Ms. Harary, just a little something to get to know the candidate.
Stella: Do you remember the Garth Brooks concert held in Central Park in August 1997? What would it take to get another concert like that back in NYC? And who would you like to see do it?
Sal: Oh, I would love to see Simon and Garfunkel again. And I would love to see that happen again in NYC. Why not? We could and should arrange these's been a while.
September 1981, to be exact.
My take? Talking to Sal was like talking to an old friend in an Italian neighborhood: loud, fun, an interview that felt more like a conversation, and even though I told him how I felt about our Twitter interaction no holds barred...he didn't back down.
I respect that.
God knows I respect that in a man far more than any incompetent fool that would turn his back on the #NYPD.
Tuesday, September 12th is Primary Day in NYC.
Get out and VOTE...and if you're a registered Democrat, you should consider Sal Albanese.
The bottom line: he roots for the home team.
And I don't just mean the Yankees.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Fan and a Friend of the #NYPD

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Harary recently, and I'm going to take a minute to share what she had to say here. Ms. Harary is a candidate for District 4 running to represent the New York City Council.
She is running on both the Republican and Reform party tickets.
Please know that as I do various interviews with people that I really don't care what party they represent. I care about how they feel about the #NYPD. I care about what they are willing to do on behalf of the #NYPD. 
The sad truth is that so many Police Officers do not live within the confines of the five boroughs and won't be able to vote in the upcoming election. It hurts my heart to think of the countless number of men and women who serve the #NYPD and yet have no real voice or vote.
That was just one of the questions I pitched to Ms. Harary.
Stella: So many members of the #NYPD feel disenfranchised. They work many long, tiring, and sometimes dangerous hours to protect the City that they love, only to go home to a surrounding county where they can't vote for the next Mayor of New York. I know first-hand that the majority of the #NYPD does not like or trust Bill de Blasio.
Rebecca: I totally feel their pain. They have no say in who their boss gets to be, and the stakes are high. Even the Police Commissioner is not an elected position.
Stella: What are your thoughts on changing that?
Rebecca: I think that's something we can look at...why not? Don't they vote for their PBA President, etc?
Stella: They do.
Rebecca: I feel the #NYPD should have more of a voice. I've tired to connect with them and even did a ride-along with the 61st Precinct in Brooklyn. When Ray Kelly was the Police Commissioner, I became a Police Liaison. I think the Police in this City need to make more money. I think that the general public needs to be more aware of all that the #NYPD does.
Stella: I think it's great that you did a ride-along. I think every single member of the City Council as well as the so-called Mayor should have to do the very least. I went after John Liu (former City Council Member) once on Twitter, demanding that he do a ride-along in one of the City's tough (read: crime-ridden) neighborhoods before he spouted off about the #NYPD. I believe he never answered me.
Rebecca Harary was a true lady, belied by the fact that she didn't return comment on that statement. I have to admit I was incredibly impressed. This woman is a mother of six (Oy Vey!) that has made inroads in both the education and business worlds, and she's confident she can make a difference in New York City this Fall.
I had one last question for her; a softball of sorts, just a little something to get to know the candidate.
Stella: Do you remember the Garth Brooks concert held in Central Park in August 1997? What would it take to get another concert like that back in NYC? And who would you like to see do it?
Rebecca: Oh, Ariana Grande would be perfect for a concert like that. After what happened in Manchester, it would be a great way to show the world that we're not afraid. And I would love to see that happen again in NYC.
Until then, go out and vote. If you live in District 4 (Upper East Side/14-98th St, etc) go vote for Rebecca Harary. If you're part of the #NYPDFamily, your vote for Ms. Harary would insure someone on the City Council who gets it. She's both a fan and a friend of the #NYPD. To this I say: who better to serve our City?
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