Saturday's raised questions for some citizens on the democracy of the Democratic nominations process – especially the man who planned to run.
Donald Caetano, 76, plans to be among an anticipated crowd to voice his objections at tonight's Work Session at Village Hall. “Definitely I will be at the Board meeting,” he said this afternoon. “I hope I can control myself and tell what I want to tell. It irks me to see this corruption. People don't like to hear the truth.”
“What are they afraid of?” asked Frank Occiphinti, former Chair of the Democratic Party who was the most vocal one of the bunch this weekend. “I know I started screaming and hollering at 4:02,” he said.
Two people have already gone to the County Board of Elections on Monday to tell their story. There's also been talk of picketing. “That's not a process, disenfranchising the Latin community,” Occiphinti said.
Wrote one Patch user called Concerned Citizen in the comments following this weekend's article, “As a proud American Citizen, the best part of living in the 'Land of the Free' is its democracy the ability and the choice that we have to choose those who represent our interest. Such freedom of democracy was denied to Sleepy Hollow residents.... For those of you who are interested, tomorrow there will be a massive turn out at the board meeting. Villagers of Sleepy Hollow, come join us and voice your concern.”
Like many readers, Patch wanted to better understand the rules, if any, that govern the caucus. There is protocal about procedures, but not their length, said Westchester County Board of Elections Commissioner Reginald LaFayette.
While LaFayette said he couldn't speak to this meeting specifically because “he wasn't there,” he did forward along the minutes, attendance sheet and other notarized materials from the meeting that had been sent to his office. They are attached to this article in a PDF document.
While the Board of Elections runs the Village elections, LaFayette said, “they don't supervise them.” They collect the materials and file them “in case someone wants to take them to court,” which might indeed transpire here. “It seems to be a confusing situation,” he said.
Talking anonymously, an official in Tarrytown spoke about the Caucus process, which is conducted equally in the villages. When Patch asked him what would have happened in any of these caucuses if a group came in to participate after the nominations were closed, he said, “the chair would entertain a motion to reopen to the nominations, but they don't have to reopen them.”
He added, “if these people want to fight it, they have a leg to stand on. You can't do this [meeting] in a minute.”
The minutes filed with the County office state the start time of the meeting but not its close:
Said caucus was duly noticed for January 28, 2012 at 4 p.m. at the Senior Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Said caucus was called to Order at 4 p.m by Chairman Janet Gandolfo who was duly appointed by the Chairperson of the Village of Sleepy Hollow Democratic Committee Lorain Levy. Chairman appointed Barbara Carr as Secretary to the Caucus pursuant to Election Law.
The minutes specify nominations taken, that no further nominations were made, and that votes were unanimous for , then:
The Chairman asked for a motion to close the caucus. Motion was made by Barbara Carr, seconded by Karin T. Wompa. Chair declared caucus closed.
The notarized materials list the six public places signs were posted on Jan. 17: Municipal Hall, 28 Beekman Avenue; public bulletin board, 95 Beekman; US Post Office, 45 Beekman; James Galgano Senior Center, 55 Elm Street; Writers' Center, Philipse Manor Train Station; Sleepy Hollow Ambulance Corps Building, Andrews Lane.
While Democratic Party Chair Janet Gandolfo said, “We had at least 20 supporters present - all registered dems,” the attendance sheet forwarded from the County had 15 signatures on it. The list of 15, with their addresses in the Village, does not include registered Republican candidate Jennifer Lobato-Church, nor Mayor Ken Wray, who himself arrived a few minutes late to the caucus.
Meanwhile, as much as Caetano may long for public office, he is adamant that he's “not a politician. I don't like politics. The best thing in life is what you see with your own eyes. I want to do the right thing for the community.”