On Nov. 22, at a Yorktown town board work session, I was removed from the town hall meeting room by a police officer by order of Supervisor Michael Grace. The United Taxpayers of Yorktown was on the agenda to discuss the moving of the highway garage. The supervisor and the rest of the town board were present.
The first question was: Where is the money? Answer: There was no money for the project. Question two: How much is it going to cost? Answer: The range was from $1 million to $6 million. The chairman of the planning board stated this move must be done all at once not piecemeal. Councilman Patel and I showed the board our petitions with 5,000 signatures saying “no” to the move. The supervisor asked me to hand in the petitions and I replied, “No, I’m afraid of you retaliating against the signers on the petition.” Grace stood up and told me to leave. I replied I am not finished. He ordered the police officer to remove me. I told him I am not leaving, then I was threatened with arrest and I decided to leave under protest.
Your reporter saw and recorded everything that happened. Regardless of what I said as a taxpayer and president of the United Taxpayers of Yorktown, I am a person who takes the time to question the elected officials. I should be encouraged to speak out without the threat of arrest. There is something wrong when the town government uses the presence of an armed police officer at board meetings to intimidate and discourage open discourse between town officials and its citizens. It is clearly an attempt by the powers-that-be to impede the free and open exchange of ideas and of opinions. Something is wrong when, at public meetings, a citizen is denied exercising his right of addressing his government officials. It’s called freedom of speech, and that is guaranteed under the Constitution of the United states of America. I am a straw that stirs up the drink; I shouldn’t be shunned or arrested. I can only vouch for the sincerity of my own motivation, my choice to inform the citizens about their government no matter the risk of arrest or retaliation.
Send an email to Mary Capoccia at the Yorktown town hall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her you are against the moving of the garage. Say no!
Ed Ciffone is the president of the United Taxpayers of Yorktown.