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Published by Halston Media, 2021-02-24 15:11:46

The Katonah-Lewisboro Times 02.25.21

VOL. 3 NO. 31 Visit TapIntoKLT.net for the latest news. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021

Sergeant sues Bedford PD

Richard O’Connell alleges discriminaton, retaliation

BY TOM BARTLEY month in the White Plains

CONTRIBUTING WRITER branch of the U.S. District Court

for the Southern District of New

Bedford police Sgt. Richard York. His 28-page complaint al-

O’Connell has been discrimi- leges a series of violations of a

nated against and passed over 1994 federal statute, the U.S.

for promotion because of his Employment and Re-employ-

military service, a federal lawsuit ment Rights Act (USERRA),

contends. which spells out protections for

O’Connell, an ensign in the civilian workers serving on active

Coast Guard Reserve, charges in and reserve military duty.

court papers that his military du- “ e reason I brought this

ties triggered a years-long cam- lawsuit is to make the Town of

paign by police brass against him. Bedford Police Department x

As a result, his complaint alleges, its policies to follow USERRA,”

O’Connell “has su ered a loss of O’Connell said through his at-

earnings and other bene ts of torney, omas G. Sta ord.

employment in an amount to be “Hopefully, they will, so that

proved at trial.” other service members will not

e suit, seeking unspeci ed have to overcome that obstacle,

damages, names the Bedford or retaliation, just to ful ll their

Police Department and others, military service obligations.”

including Chief Melvin Padilla, Jarrard, a Spokane, Wash.,

as defendants. A lawyer for the lawyer, and his partner, Rob-

department rejected O’Connell’s ert W. Mitchell, specialize in PHOTO: BEDFORDPOLICENY.ORG
charges, saying the department uniformed-services employment
“vehemently denies all of the al- law. Colin M. Downes, a lawyer Sgt. Richard O’Connell, flanked by police officers Douglas Romeo, left, and John Moylan at Depot Plaza,
legations made in the complaint in the Washington, D.C., o ce Bedford Hills, in April 2019

and asserts that Sgt. O’Connell of Boston-based Block & Levi- because he exercised his rights answer.” the allegations in the complaint,”

was not denied any bene t of ton, serves as local counsel. under USERRA.” e police department’s law- she said, “the Bedford Police De-

employment based upon his mil- e lawyers charge that police “ e town was served [copies yer, Jaclyn G. Goldberg, in a partment has complied with the

itary service.” commanders “discriminated and of the complaint] last week,” Jar- statement Monday, Feb. 22, re- SEE POLICE PAGE 2

O’Connell led the suit last retaliated against Sgt. O’Connell rard said. “ ey’ve got 21 days to jected the charges. “Contrary to

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PAGE 2 THE KATONAH LEWISBORO TIMES THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021

The Staff POLICE its police o cers, and fully sup- Padilla and Lt. Michael Callah- o cers taking a test for promo-
ports the women and men in an as defendants—unreasonably tion to lieutenant. He then in-
EDITORIAL TEAM FROM PAGE 1 our esteemed military branches, demanded that he document ab- terviewed to ll either a detec-
BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER including all of its reserve mem- sences for military service with tive-sergeant or lieutenant’s slot
EDITOR/SPORTS: 914-302-5628 requirements of USERRA in all bers,” she said. copies of orders calling him to but was “passed over for both
[email protected] respects... We believe that at the report for duty. promotions, in favor of less-
conclusion of this litigation, it O’Connell joined Bedford quali ed applicants.”
ADVERTISING TEAM will be evident that the claims P.D. in 2012 and was its O cer But O’Connell maintains
PAUL FORHAN made by Sgt. O’Connell against of the Year in 2014. e com- that under federal law a ser- In the suit, “O’Connell seeks
the Bedford Police Department plaint alleges he was denied cer- vice member is not required to his lost wages and bene ts, an
(914) 806-3951 and the individual defendants tain job bene ts, including “the provide documentation to an injunction, as well as liquidated
[email protected] are completely unfounded and opportunity to select work hours employer for military absences damages for defendants’ willful
lack any evidentiary support.” or location of employment” and under 30 days. Not only had USERRA violations.”
BRUCE HELLER required to provide service-con- his email noti cation been suf-
(914) 486-7608 Goldberg, a lawyer with Ke- nected paperwork that was un- Goldberg noted in her state-
[email protected] ane & Beane (White Plains), necessary and often nonexistent. cient, he asserts, but a verbal ment that Padilla is a Navy
which serves as town counsel on notice alone would have been veteran with six years of active-
LISA KAIN legal matters, said Bedford fully As outlined in the court pa- enough. duty service and “understands
(201) 317-1139 supported its men and women pers, the retaliation and discrim- that the men and women of our
[email protected] in military uniform. “ e Town ination ranged from the petty He explained to both Padilla armed forces make personal sac-
CORINNE STANTON of Bedford, and of course the to interference in his career ad- and Callahan, O’Connell says, ri ces to protect our nation.”
(914) 760-7009 Bedford Police Department vancement. that short-term military duty
[email protected] and its administration, does not does not generate formal orders. She said he is “staunchly com-
discriminate or retaliate against e suit alleges, for ex- mitted to supporting the police
JAY GUSSAK any of its employees, including ample, that police superiors— More serious professionally, department’s service members in
(914) 299-4541 O’Connell speci cally names in October 2019, O’Connell any way he can.”
[email protected] was the top scorer among six
JENNIFER CONNELLY
(917) 446-7757 Advertising Deadline
[email protected] The advertising deadline for The Katonah-Lewisboro Times is the Thursday before the next publication date. Advertisements can be
SHELLEY KILCOYNE submitted by you as a camera-ready PDF via email at [email protected] We also offer our clients a free ad design service.
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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or
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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021 THE KATONAH LEWISBORO TIMES PAGE 3

John Jay students State reps weigh in on
advocate for nursing home controversy
the arts
Attorney general’s report said deaths were ‘underreported’

BY TOM BARTLEY BY BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER announced on May 10, saying a hospital
STAFF WRITER
EDITOR cannot discharge a patient to a nursing
If a basketball court is safe for student-athletes,
a stage can be safe for student-actors, a veteran of home unless they test negative for the
John Jay’s performing arts program told the KLSD
School Board two weeks ago. State legislators may rein in Governor virus.

In a message signed “John Jay High School Per- Andrew Cuomo’s executive powers in In a private virtual meeting earlier this
forming Arts Students,” senior Scott Weinstein
urged the board to let students mount a spring mu- the wake of a report that determined month with state legislators, Melissa
sical, their rst stage performance since late 2019.
“ e con dence surrounding safety in the athletics his administration “underreported” DeRosa, a top aide to Cuomo, said the
department has inspired con dence in perform-
ing arts students surrounding a safe and in-person COVID-19-related nursing-home administration “froze” with regard to
spring musical,” Weinstein wrote.
deaths by approximately 50 percent. data requests because of concerns about
To thwart coronavirus transmission, he suggest-
ed, the show’s cast could be kept small, protected Data obtained from surveying 62 a potential federal investigation. en-
on stage by plexiglass barriers and wearing clear
face shields—masks designed for theatrical use. nursing homes, a roughly 10 percent President Donald Trump pounced on
Special state guidelines for theater performances,
such as 12-foot distancing, could be maintained, he sample of total facilities across the the controversial March 25 mandate and
assured the board.
state, suggests that “many nursing had been using the topic as a “political
e trustees took no immediate action. But Mar-
jorie Schi , the board president, said, “We whole- home residents died from COVID-19 football,” DeRosa said, and the state
heartedly support our students when it comes to
pursuing these interests.” in hospitals after being transferred was concerned the data “would be used

Although the board last week approved com- from their nursing homes,” which was against us.”
petition in the “high-risk” sports of basketball and
ice hockey, typically “we don’t have the authority not re ected in the state’s accounting State Sen. Peter Harckham (D-South FILE PHOTO/BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER
to solve an issue of this nature at a board meeting,”
she said. of COVID-19 deaths, the attorney Salem), in an interview with e Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“I am so grateful,” Schi said, “that our students general’s o ce said last month. Katonah-Lewisboro Times, said the
bought this issue to our attention and are able to
advocate for themselves in this environment.” For example, at a nursing home governor’s administration was not acting

Moreover, she said, “Our high school adminis- in Yorktown Heights, zero in-facility “in good faith” in its reporting of the “I think we need to get those facts,”
trators are working with our students to identify
options. I think there are di erent models in place.” patient deaths were reported throughout data. he said. “We need to nd out what

Trustee Liz Gereghty applauded Weinstein’s the pandemic. However, on Feb. 10, “I think by the governor’s own words, occurred.”
“constructive potential solutions.”
in compliance with a State Supreme they didn’t provide enough data or Adding fuel to the re, Assemblyman
“It was so positive,” she said, “and I am 100
percent in support of it. I hope we can get this all Court ruling, the state reported that transparency,” Harckham said. Ron Kim (D-Brooklyn) said last week
worked out.”
six residents died outside of the facility Both houses of the state legislature are that he received a “threatening”phone call
Weinstein thanked the board “for your commit-
ment to the student body during these challeng- between May and January. discussing this week potentially reigning from Cuomo after speaking out against
ing times.” An all-round performing arts partici-
pant, he has been involved in Katonah-Lewisboro But to Dr.Howard Zucker,New York’s in Cuomo’s executive powers, which were his administration’s handling of nursing
school performances—on stage and o —dating
back to grade school. Health Commissioner, the AG’s report bestowed upon the governor early on homes. Cuomo has denied Kim’s version

“Our students’passion and dedication in the per- was not a revelation of conspiracy. If in the pandemic. But, Harckham said, of events.
forming arts department is incredible,” Weinstein
wrote, “and this means that we will work tirelessly anything,he said,the report proved there legislators must be “careful what they Harckham, who served in Cuomo’s
to organize and plan the logistics of a musical, from
choreography, set building and prop-creating to was “no undercount”in the total number wish for,” as stripping executive powers administration from 2015 to 2018, was
music direction, directing and producing.”
of deaths. e health department has in a pandemic could back re. At the sworn in by the governor when he was

always “publicly reported the number of very least, he said, “the legislature needs elected to the state senate. He said that

fatalities within hospitals irrespective of to have a seat at the table so we’re not he has never had a conversation of that

the residence of the patient,” he said in a hearing about things after the fact.” nature with Cuomo.

January 28 statement. If the legislature takes no action, the “I spoke with him [last] week,”

e attorney general’s report “is only law that granted Cuomo’s executive Harckham said. “We had a very good

referring to the count of people who powers will expire on April 30. conversation on a number of issues. I read

were in nursing homes but transferred “We have a choice,”said Assemblyman the same reports. at’s just not been my

to hospitals and later died,” Zucker Chris Burdick (D-Bedford), “whether experience. at doesn’t mean we always

continued. “ at does not in any way to just let it lapse, or do we take action agree. We certainly don’t on policy. But

change the total count of deaths but before then? ere’s no question in my they’ve always been professional phone

is instead a question of allocating the mind that we need to take a hard look calls.”

number of deaths between hospitals and at that.” is week, the senate was expected to

nursing homes.” Last week,U.S.Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand pass a package of bills aimed at improving

e scrutiny over the state’s handling (D-New York) con rmed that there is situations in nursing homes. Harckham

of nursing homes is nothing new. an ongoing federal investigation into said he’s particularly concerned about

On March 25, the state Department Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes sta ng levels.

of Health controversially mandated during the pandemic. e state senate is “ at’s the kind of positive action we

that nursing homes must not deny also launching an investigation. need to be taking. Not be part of the

readmission to residents “based on Burdick said he will await the results bomb throwing,”Harckham said.“Now is

a con rmed or suspected diagnosis of these investigations before making the time to focus on the work at hand and

of COVID-19.” A new policy was any judgement. not contribute to the toxic atmosphere.”

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PAGE 4 THE KATONAH LEWISBORO TIMES THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021

LEWISBOROTOWN BOARD

Consultant: Local gov’t losing
control over cell towers

BY TOM BARTLEY prerogatives, outlawing the sort ‘ ey have

We can help get CONTRIBUTING WRITER of arbitrary “no” that typically continued to
your 2020 taxes deregulate and
greets other unwelcome eyesores.
completed.
Washington is whittling down New York does enjoy one reg-
PERSONAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Financial Planning • Investment Management the ability of communities to ulatory advantage, Rabold noted. chip away at local
control the burgeoning cellphone “You do not have policy inconsis- government’s
Tax Planning & Preparation towers rising in their midst, a tent with the federal-government
FOR BUSINESSES
telecommunications consultant guidelines,” she said. “We work authority to regulate
Retirement Plan Services the [telecom]
told the Lewisboro Town Board in a number of states where they
Michael Tom CFP® CFA® • Jeff Wund • Todd Rebori, CFA®
two weeks ago. have been lobbied, and they have
www.AtwoB.com • (914) 302-3233 Susan Rabold, project manager even less-strict policies than the industry. In a lot of
for CityScape Consultants Inc., federal government.” Florida and
23 Parkway, Second Floor • Katonah, NY 10536 spoke via Zoom, updating board North Carolina, for example, al- ways.’

Point B Planning, LLC d/b/a/ AtwoB (“AtwoB”) is a registered investment adviser. members on the progress being low small wireless stations twice –Susan Rabold
A copy of AtwoB’s current written disclosure statement discussing AtwoB’s business made on a telecom master plan the size of New York’s, Rabold CityScape Consultants Inc.
operations, services, and fees is available at the SEC’s investment adviser public for several northern Westchester said, attributing that to lobbying
information website or from AtwoB upon written request. This article is for information
only and should not be considered investment advice. towns. e orts in those states

WHY DO WE Discussing the reach of Fed- Under a $190,000 county-

ADVERTISE eral Communications Commis- funded, Bedford-coordinated Identifying such potential in-

IN HALSTON sion o cials and others over the contract, CityScape is assessing teractions could avert unneces-
MEDIA’S
LOCAL past decade, she said, “ ey have the wireless telecom infrastruc- sary cell tower construction. A

NEWSPAPERS? continued to deregulate and chip ture needs of much of northern town, for example, might be able

away at local government’s au- Westchester. In addition to Bed- to ll a communications gap by

thority to regulate the [telecom] ford and Lewisboro, the commu- relying, say, on a cell tower in a

industry. In a lot of ways.” nities in the study are Yorktown, neighboring jurisdiction. at

Her remarks came in response Somers, North Salem, Pound could eliminate the need for a re-

to an observation by Supervisor Ridge and Mount Kisco. dundant structure within its own

Peter Parsons, who suggested e Feb. 8 Lewisboro presen- borders.

that Washington was “increas- tation, the rst by CityScape lo- In response to a question,

ing the pressure for total cover- cally since the project’s launch in Rabold estimated that CityScape

age.”Rabold agreed, saying,“ at Bedford last fall, focused only on likely would complete the full

started around 2010, and every wireless capacity in Lewisboro regional study in about “12 to 18

year it seems like there’s more and a mile beyond the town’s months, at the most.”

regulation.” borders. While consultants prepare

A federal statute, the Telecom- While the project will assess their ndings, a proposed Cross

munications Act of 1996, has and map each participating lo- River cell tower remains on hold.

presided over a quarter-century cale’s wireless needs, the ultimate Homeland Towers, representing

of handheld telephony, a period goal is to blend those plans, creat- Verizon Communications Inc.,

of dramatic advances in the cell- ing a comprehensive, regional ap- wants to build a tower beside

phone’s reach, popularity and proach to cell service. “We start the salt dome o Spring Street.

capability. In the name of that with the individual [municipali- But the Town Board agreed last

progress, however, the law has ties],” Rabold said. en, “we’ll Sept. 14 to await the results of

swept aside many of local gov- look at it on the big scale and see CityScape’s study before consid-

ernment’s planning and zoning where we can nd synergies.” ering the application.

Police chase ends in Lewisboro

BY CAROL REIF follow at a safe distance. Mount Kisco as a precaution.

As a longtime Somers resident and STAFF WRITER Once she was near the Route He was released to relatives
avid reader of the Somers Record,
I believe in the power of community. 138 exit in the Lewisboro ham- and Child Protective Services has
Halston Media has helped bring
awareness to our boutique real estate A Connecticut driver who let, Lopez hit heavy tra c and been noti ed about the incident.
company. It’s a great vehicle for small
businesses to get noticed by potential authorities claim was trying to had to slow down. EMS crews also checked Lo-
local clients.
avoid a tra c arrest wound up As the police moved closer, pez over before releasing her to
Carol Christiansen, Principal Broker/Partner,
Cafe Realty, Real Estate’s Freshly Brewed Approach crashing in Goldens Bridge after Lopez tried to force one o cer county police.

TO ADVERTISE WITH US, ramming two police cruisers. o the road, police said, adding One county police o cer suf-
CALL BRETT FREEMAN AT (845) 208-8151
Westchester County Police said that he avoided a collision by fered non-life-threatening inju-

that they tried to stop Lexxiani pulling onto the left shoulder. ries after her patrol car was hit by

Lopez,20,of Hartford,for a tra c She then veered from the cen- Lopez’s vehicle.

violation around 7 p.m. Wednes- ter lane into the right, where her Lopez was charged with sec-

day, Feb. 10, on the Hutchinson Maxima plowed into a patrol ve- ond-degree assault, a felony;

River Parkway in New Rochelle. hicle, went o the road, struck a third-degree eeing a police of-

Instead of pulling over, Lopez, second cruiser, and landed in a cer in a motor vehicle, reckless

whose 8-month-old son was in snowbank, police said. endangerment, and endangering

the car, stepped on the gas and State troopers from the Somers the welfare of a child, all misde-

sped o . barracks assisted county police at meanors.

A police helicopter was called the scene. She was taken to county po-

in to keep Lopez’s Nissan Maxi- Lopez’s baby was evaluated lice headquarters in Hawthorne

ma under observation. by medical personnel at the where she was to be arraigned,

Lopez drove onto I-684 north scene and taken to Northern virtually, before a Lewisboro

and patrol o cers continued to Westchester Hospital Center in Town Court judge.
































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