LWV logo

League of Women Voters of Somers, NY

PO Box 371, Somers, New York 10589



Aug. 11 Meeting

Probation and Rehabilitation

On Monday, August 11th, Rocco Pozzi, Westchester Commissioner of Probation, will speak to the Somers LWV in the Somers Library at 10:30am, following our regular meeting at 10:00am.

Mr. Pozzi directs the activities of the Probation Depart- ment with a staff of 240 employees. In addition to administering effective policies and procedures, he develops and implements strategic prevention and intervention programs to enhance community protection service, rehabilitation of diffi-
cult youth, families and criminal offenders.

Mr. Pozzi has a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Pennsylvania State University and a Masters degree in Public Administration from Temple University. Beginning his ca- reer as a Probation Officer in Philadelphia in 1973, Mr. Pozzi came to Westchester in 1989 and has a very distinguished record having served as a Past President of the Ameri- can Probation and Parole Assn., the Council of Probation Administrators, and the Nation- al Assn. of Probation Executives. In 1997, he was appointed to the N.Y. State Probation Commission by Governor Pataki where he still serves.

In addition, our speaker has been the recipient of numerous awards for outstand- ing service and leadership in his profession. In 2006, Mr. Pozzi and the Westchester County Probation Department were recognized by the National Highway Assn for out- standing public service concerning the supervision of DWI offenders. In September of 2003, he was appointed to the position of Executive in Residence at Pace University where he acts as advisor to the University concerning Probation and Correction matters. He also serves as an adjunct professor, teaching courses in corrections, probation and parole.

With his vast experience and knowledge of the criminal justice field, Mr. Pozzi promises to be an interesting and exciting speaker. Be sure to bring your friends and neighbors to our next meeting.

Monday, Aug. 11. General meeting 10am. Speaker 10:30am. Somers Library.

Co-President's Message August 2014

On the Saturday before our nation's birthday, the Somers Community comes together in Reis Park for the annual Inde- pendence Day celebration. This year the
Somers LWV, together with the Lions Club, the Town Officials, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Police and Fire Department, the Somers Historical Society, the Women's Club and others took part in the festivities.

The Somers LWV, represented by Francoise Ben- nett, Polly Kuhn, Ellen Reiss and I maintained a table covered by LWV pamphlets and literature. All thanks to Francoise, who did her usual outstanding job. We displayed our League flag and had sheets of American flags and crayons used to color the flags. Of course, we had candy for the children. Once the children were engrossed in their coloring chores we were able to speak to the adults.

While a baseball and softball game went on, there was a bounce house, face painting with patriotic tattoos, a Lions Club barbeque and opening ceremo- nies by our town officials. There was music by The Spin and much more. At 9:30 PM there was a fireworks dis- play that could be seen for miles. If you could not attend this year's festivities, Francoise is already think- ing of ways to improve our League support and contri- butions.

Another wonderful area in Somers is Lasdon Park, a magnificent 234 acres consisting of formal gar- dens and shrub and tree specimens from all over the world. It is the site of the Chinese Friendship Pavilion, which was a gift from the People's Republic of China to the residents of Westchester and the Veterans Me- morial, a pathway dedicated to the veterans of Westchester County from the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Visit the park once and you will return again and again Bring your camera.

A Future for the Incarcerated

Joyce and Mike Liebman were justifiably beaming at the end of their daughter Laura’s presentation at our July 14th meeting. Laura is the director of the Bard Prison Initiative. It was started in 1999 by Max Kenner in response to the loss of funding during the Clinton administration and became a Bard College volunteer student organization. Through its work Bachelor degrees have been awarded to 300 prisoners. 275 students are currently enrolled and a consortium of 14 colleges also award degrees.

When Laura came to Bard from the legal field, she learned how law schools completely ignored the world of incarceration and its attendant problems. America’s prison population of 2.2 million is the largest in the world, as large as that of a major city, without considering the families and communities from which these people come. 50% of New York’s prison popula- tion is Black, 20% Latino. A Black man is more likely to be in prison than go to college. One in six is incarcerated.

Prisons cost New York State 6 billion dollars a year, $60,000 per inmate as contrasted by BPI’s cost of 5 to 6 thousand dollars per student. While there is some drug counseling, re- quired work and GED programs, there is little stress put on rehabilitation. Nationally, the recid- ivism rate is 50%. In New York it is 40%. Among BPI students the rate is 5% and 2.5% for gradu- ates. . Prisoners must apply for admission by submitting essays and being interviewed. It is a difficult procedure. Those accepted start studying for associate degrees, then may move on to Bachelor programs. Prison life does not change. Classes are part of the work programs. Stu- dents are looked on as leaders by fellow prisoners.

There are 60 courses being taught covering the entire liberal arts spectrum. Graduates who are released tend to gravitate to three fields; public health, technology and food. BPI has worked successfully with these communities to establish entries for its graduates. There is cer- tification for public health workers, computer training and gardening programs.

It takes an average of six years to earn a degree. Every effort is made to make graduates’ transition as seamless as possible. From a volunteer student effort, the Bard Prison Initiative has become a glowing example of how life for those incarcerated may be improved and per- manently changed and has been recognized as such.

Redistricting in New York State

The League of Women Voters of NYS has been working for passage of the constitutional Amendment concerning redistricting that will be on the ballot in Novem- ber. The League believes that the proposed Amendment will provide for a fairer pro- cess of drawing the legislative district lines.

The Times, in an editorial, seriously opposed the League’s support of the Amendment, stating that the Amendment setsupabipartisancommission,amajorityof whose members are appointed by legislative leaders. The possibilities for partisan gridlock are endless.....Several public interest groups including Common Cause warnedthatitwouldonlymakeiteasierfor New York legislators to continue to draw district maps that help no one but the incumbents.........Under this new sys- tem, if the Legislature does not like the commission’s maps, they can vote them down.......if the maps return and the lawmakers still don’t approve, they can vote them down and draw their own....

The League responded in a letter to the Editor:

Map Scandal" (editorial, July 8):

The League of Women Voters of New York State agrees that the redistricting system in New York State is broken, as demonstrated by the 2012 legislative maps. We support the redistricting consti- tutional amendment that is on the November ballot because it represents a significant improvement to the status quo.

The amendment establishes an independent commission that allows for participation by all par- ties, in contrast to the current majority-control system. For the first time, no legislators will be on the commission drawing the lines.

Unlike the current system, the new commission will operate under explicit criteria for drawing lines: The rights of language and racial minorities will be preserved; communities of interest will be rec- ognized and respected; and lines cannot be drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents, political parties or individual candidates.

A vote for this amendment will be a vote for a fairer redistricting process. A vote against the amendment would likely result in perpetuating the system of partisan gerrymandering into 2020 and be- yond. SALLY ROBINSON

In view of the sharp differences of opinion among those who usually agree, it is important for all of us to understand the issues. Note that a meeting is being held by the White Plains League to dis- cuss this matter. (See page 5—calendar)

of Events

Sat. Aug. 2. Membership and Leadership, 10am-3pm in Tarrytown. If you would like to join Francoise and Loretta, the County League is paying for lunch and materials for local Board members. The guest speaker is Carol Reimers, former LWVUS Board member. If interested, contact Loretta or Francoise.

Mon. August 11
10:00 Monthly meeting
10:30 Westchester Deptartment of Probation, Rocco Pozzi
Somers Library, Reis Park

Wed. Sept 3
Naturalization Court, White Plains

Mon. Sept. 8
10:00 Monthly Meeting
Paul Sheldon, Senior V.P. Wells Fargo Advisors
“Women and Their Money” Somers Library, Reis Park

Mon. Sept. 10 Redistricting, Sally Robinson, President,  NY State League, White Plains, White Plains Public Library, 100 Martine Ave., White Plains

October Annual Luncheon, TBA

Tues. Nov. 4 Election Day 6am-9pm

Mon. Nov. 10
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am Dr. Christopher Malone, Pace University, Analysis of Election Results, Somers High School


The Associated Press (AP) will pay the League for re- porting election results. Participation requires being at the Board of Elections in White Plains from shortly be- fore 9:00pm to just after 11:00pm. If interested, con- tact Sally Colclough at

Animals were adorning maps for centu- ries. In the low countries, the carto- animal was Leo Belgicus, a lion; later, America was represented by an eagle. The award for the most influential animal on a
map goes to the salamander. Its tale begins in 1812 when the supporter of a man named Elbridge Gerry decided it might benefit his party to reconfigure the electoral boundaries in Boston. Soon Gerry’s oppo- nent became aware of the chicanery. The resem- blance of the reshaped district to a salamander be- came clear. And all declared “that is not a salaman- der, that is a gerrymander.

New York may be the most expensive state in the union but it also one of the most enlight- ened. The NY State Assembly has passed the “Boss Bill” which updates New York’s labor laws to ban an employer from citing religious freedom to deny women access to birth control and infertility treatments. The legislation did not pass the Sen- ate by the session’s end but it does have biparti- san support.

Election Information You Need

This web site, developed by the League, provides complete election infor-mation, including profiles of the candi-dates running for office in your district, summaries of any propositions on the bal-lot and much more. Be sure to consult the site so that you have an in depth under-standing of your ballot


Benefactors help to support our League with their tax deductible donation of $25.00 (+) to the Somers LWV Educational Fund.

For those of you who have generously supported us in the past, it is time to renew your donation. For others, we ask you to join in this effort and send your check to the Somers Educational Fund, Box371, Somers NY 10589.


Updated by Valerie CastlemanJuly 28, 2014