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Truth be Told: On the Heels of the Coeymans Town Board Meeting

The Real Hero in this Story!

The Real Truth is that as disgusting, scandalous and disgraceful the raccoon incident is, it has drawn public attention to a more disgraceful and insidious problem in Ravena and Coeymans: the Incompetence of Our Elected Officials and the Apathy of the Local Community.
And we can thank a poor, unfortunate wild animal for drawing the world’s attention to that well-known but concealed fact about our communities!


The PETITION got 1.6 million likes on Facebook! As of this writing (March 25, 2018), the “Justice for raccoon killed by officers from Coeymans Police Department in New York Statepetition on Care2 has 84,832 signatures of which 9,779 are from New York. The goal is 85,000. Express your outrage and add your signature here. Please help get us to the goal of 85,000 protest voices!!!



We suggest you email Town of Coeymans and Village of Ravena Officials to express your outrage:

Town of Coeymans
Philip A. Crandall – Supervisor
James C. Youmans – Council Member
Thomas E. Dolan – Council Member
Daniel D. Baker – Council Member
Kenneth A. Burns – Council Member
Daniel Contento (SGT) – Acting as Chief of Police
Coeymans Police Department – General

Village of Ravena
William “Mouse” Misuraca – Mayor
Nancy J. Warner – Trustee


Truth be told, the  Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans would have an Animal Control Officer if the Ravena Village board and the Coeymans Town Board had not eliminated the position from the Police Department’s budget.

Truth be told, the Town of Coeymans Police Department would have the necessary equipment for animal control incidents if the Coeymans Town Board had not cut funding for the operations of the Coeymans Police Department.

This is a catch pole being used to capture a raccoon.

Truth be told, the Town of Coeymans Police Department would have competent law enforcement personnel if the Coeymans Town Board had not cut funding for the Coeymans Police Department. The people of Coeymans wanted their police department but Coeymans elected officials refused to fund it properly.

Truth be told, the Coeymans Chief of Police, whether permanent or acting, has no authority to tell the Coeymans Town Board to provide what the Department needs. So in all fairness, acting Chief Contento must make do with what scraps Crandall and the Town Board throw him. Contento is an experienced law enforcement professional who does his job and doesn’t get into the political intrigues and infighting. He got stuck with the acting chief position because of his seniority, not because he necessarily wanted it.

Truth be told, if the Coeymans Police Department is a bunch of clowns in Kevlar vest packing guns, it’s because the Coeymans Town Board has decided it wants a bunch of clowns as law enforcement. Let’s face the facts: You can’t attract good people when you can’t offer them attractive incentives. You pay peanuts you get monkeys.

And YES, a couple of immature, unthinking, criminal dung beetles in police uniforms and operating police vehicles harassed, abused, and killed a defenseless wild animal in full view of a horrified public in a busy commercial plaza only to bring down international disgust and scandal on two otherwise backwater hill towns in New York State, Coeymans and Ravena, because their elected officials are incompetent, ignorant and out of control!

The bottom line: Bill “Moose” Misuraca, a bartender, is Mayor of the Village of Ravena, and Phil Crandall, a retired prison guard and disgraced village/town justice, is Coeymans Town Supervisor, because the voters — not necessarily the People — of the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans put them there, together with the other clowns on the Village Board and on the Town Board. The ignorant and misguided voters in Ravena and Coeymans are actually to blame for the dunces they have in their Village and Town Halls. Thank you very much! American democratic process at work…just as it was under Stalin, Hitler, and other dictatorships.

We have to laugh every time a Village or Town board meeting opens with the American secular prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, where, unlike any other civilized country in the world, a bunch of people gather to mouth words like “liberty and justice for all,” knowing full well it’s all a bare-faced lie. And we know it! Ask any honest resident like Daniel Boomer.

Truth be told, many of the statements made by Mr. Phillip Crandall, Town of Coeymans Supervisor, in his public statement made at the Coeymans Town Board public meeting, were a dog and pony act. In fact, his statement made at the public meeting and his statement published on the Town of Coeymans website are not the same!

One statement made by Crandall, in particular, is grossly incorrect: Crandall says:

“There is conflicting and contradictory information about how to respond to wildlife suspected of rabies.”

That is totally not true, and intentionally misleading! There is abundant information available on such sites as the New York State Department of Health, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Centers for Disease Control, and many others. (Click on those links to see the sites.) The information provides coordinated and clear scientific, medical, animal control information accepted as state-of-the-art, and is available to the public — even to Mr. Crandall and the Coeymans Town Board.

Before we launch into the main body of this article, we all should be aware of several important points:

Whatever the Coeymans Police did was the responsibility of the officers involved, and this particular incident should not taint the whole Department. Credit where credit is due and blame where blame is due.

“When Sue McDonough watched the viral video of Coeymans police killing a rabid raccoon last Monday by chasing it down and running over it over with their vehicles, she said she knew the officers were in over their heads — and that there was a better solution.” [Source: Time Union, “Raccoon video prompts call for statewide animal control reform,” March 19, 2018) (Ed. Note: McDonough is a retired State Police Investigator (Troop G) and past president of the State Humane Association.)

Blame: The police personnel involved in the incident, no matter what the “test results” show, had no way of knowing that the raccoon was or was not infected with rabies. Raccoons are incredibly intelligent and very curious. Raccons also get hungry. The raccoon’s behavior, though unusual, was not evidence that the animal was rabid. The police used inappropriate judgment for their inappropriate conduct.

Blame: The police personnel involved in the incident acted like rabid teenagers rather than responsible public servants. They did not use good judgment nor did they employ the least offensive methods to get the job done. Their conduct was disappointing and indicative of characters and mental processes that should not be in law enforcement. Their actions show that they do not have the intelligence or the good judgment to make snap decisions required of competent law enforcement personnel. They must go and be banned from law enforcement. The officers involved must be held accountable under the law just like the rest of us.

Blame: The argument that discharging a fire arm at Faith Plaza is would be unsafe, to be very honest, bullshit. Law enforcement personnel authorized to carry weapons are expertly trained — or they should be — in the use of those weapons and where to point them with expectable results. Law enforcement personnel are expertly trained — or they should be — in management of a crime or incident scene and crowd control. First of all, the police have the authority and power to cordon off the entire area, even to evacuate the area, if necessary. They could have ordered all civilians into the buildings until the animal was under control and contained. Once these and other simple management operations were effected, the animal could have been mercifully, humanely and ethically euthanized by gunshot or other method with dignity and in privacy. Instead, the police personnel involved acted like so many lunatics. They must be held accountable for their poor judgment and their irresponsible behavior; they must go and be banned from law enforcement. The officers involved must be held accountable under the law just like the rest of us.

Blame: Several residents made the very true comment at the Coeymans town board meeting that if anyone other than police had done what the Coeymans police had done, they would have been arrested, arraigned and jailed. Their faces and identification would be plastered all over the media and on public access police blotters. Residents raised the very valid question of Why? the names of the police personnel involved in the incident have not been published and have been kept under wraps? Why are police personnel being given consideration that none of the rest of the community would get? Why are the police getting special treatment in a situation where any of us would be immediately shamed and punished? The names and status of the police personnel involved in the incident at Faith Plaza must be published and made accessible to the public. They are public figures and public servants; the public has a right to know who they are. This, my friends, is a matter of public safety!

Big Time Dem Machine Man. Too cozy?
P. David Soares, Albany Co. DA

Blame: The Albany County District Attorney, P. David Soares, has been in hiding with regard to this incident. Why hasn’t the Albany County District Attorney come forward with a statement, a report on this incident. Not many citizens are aware of the fact that the DA is the chief law enforcement officer in the county; the police are his responsibility. In fact, Soares, as DA, picks and chooses cases to prosecute, and as a political dog, he’s going to pick and choose the cases that will make him look good with the public and with the police unions. Like so many incidents involving police and law enforcement, this one is in Soares’, court and he’d better play it right. We demand that Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares come forward with a statement on the incident. NOW!

The fish rots from the head down. The leaders are accountable first.

Blame: As we have published in our other articles, the fish rots from the head down. If Coeymans and Ravena don’t have an Animal Control Officer, it’s because the Village and Town boards eliminated the position and the funding for an Animal Control Officer. If the Coeymans Police Department does not have equipment for humane, merciful, and ethical conduct of animal control incidents, it’s because the Ravena Village and the Coeymans Town boards have not allocated funding for such equipment. If the Coeymans Police Department is populated by retarded clowns rather than well-trained, intelligent law enforcement personnel, it’s because the Ravena Village and the Coeymans Town boards have not provided funding for professionals or have hired clowns at professional rates.

Village of Ravena Bartender Mayor Misuraca

Blame: If Ravena Mayor Bill “Moose” Misuraca and Coeymans Town Supervisor Phil Crandall don’t talk and don’t communicate, and if their board members have bad relations, then it’s time for new leadership, not voting in known incompetents and expecting competent government. If residents don’t attend Village and Town public meetings, then local residents are accomplices to whatever happens in the Village and Town. If you don’t participate in your local government you share the blame and are to blame for the embarrassment and scandal, the lousy reputation your community has.

Disgraced Judge/Town Supervisor Phil Crandall

Blame: If the Law Enforcement Manual used by the Coeymans Police Department is 20 years old and hasn’t been revised, updated, rewritten, replaced in 20 years, and no one notices that fact, the only conclusion to be drawn is that no one cares to follow the provisions of the manual. Our only conclusion is that the Coeymans chiefs of police and their second-in-command, as well as the rest of the freak show are not using the procedures; if they were being used, someone would certainly notice that they are out of date and do not reflect the current situation at all. This is clear negligence and incompetence. We put the blame on Coeymans law enforcement personnel, especially the Coeymans chiefs of police, and mainly on the Town Supervisor and the Town Board for not funding the Department to meet its needs.

Shame on You! Residents of the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans!

Blame: Residents of the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans who sit home on their fat asses on election day and don’t vote!!! The voters, most of them customers of Mayor Misuraca’s gin mill and bar, and most of them rabid democrats who vote the party not the issues, are to blame. Low voter turnout is the rule not the exception in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans!

The bottom line: Most, if not all, of the blame for this and other scandalous incidents and the poor quality of life in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans must be on residents!!! Admit it, you, the community earned the lousy reputation and the shame you experience on a more than regular basis. Yet you, the communities of Ravena and Coeymans, continue to shoot yourselves in the foot by electing clowns to be your village mayor, your town supervisor, your village and town board members.

SHAME ON YOU RAVENA AND COEYMANS RESIDENTS

If all this wasn’t enough, click on the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY  link below to continue reading some of the more sleazy details.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2018 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th Senate District, A.L. Mueller Badge 149, Abuse of Police Power, Abuse of Power, Accountability, Acting Police Chief, Albany, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Sheriff Department, Amanda L. Mueller, Amanda Mueller, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Abuse, Animal Control Officer, Animal Cruelty, Animal cruelty, ASPCA, Capital District, Carmen Warner, Catherine Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Charles H. Stahlman, Charles Stahlman, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Conflict of Interest, Corruption, County Legislator, Craig D. Apple Sr., Cruelty to animals, D. M. Crosier, D. W. Contento, Dan McCoy, Daniel Contento, Daniel Contento, Danielle Crosier, Danielle M. Crosier, David Soares, Dawn Dolan, Dead Raccoon, DEC, DeLuca Public Affairs, Democracy is Dead, Democrats, Department of Environmental Conservation, Dick Touchette, Drive-by Shooting, Elected Official, Eliminate Coeymans Police Department, Facebook, Faith Plaza, False Instrument, Falsely reporting an incident, Fitness Center, Friendship Animal Protective League, Gerald Deluca, Gregory Darlington, Hal Warner, Harassment, HSUS, Humane Society of the United States, Investigation, James Youmans, Jason Albert, Jena Misuraca, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Jerry Deluca, Jim Youmans, Joe Tanner, Joe Tracey, Joseph Tanner, Josephine O'Connor, Kerry Thompson, Mercy for Animals, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misdemeanor, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Mueller Automotive, Mueller's Automotive, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, New York, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State Department of Health, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, North Shore Animal League America, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, P. David Soares, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Perjury, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Peter McKenna, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Police State, Public Corruption, Public Safety, Public Safety, Raccoons, Ravena, Ravena Choices, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Retaliation, Rick Touchette, Ryan Johnson, Senate District 46, Smalbany, Stahlman, Stephen Prokrym, Steve Prokrym, Steve Prokrym, Times Union, Tom Dolan, Town and Village Judge, Town Board Meeting, Town of Coeymans, Tracey Traver, Wadsworth Center, William Misuraca, Zach Stahlman, Zachary C. Stahlman, Zachary Stahlman

 

More on the Coeymans Police Department. Our Recent Investigations.

Ravena Village Elections

A note from the Editor:
Ravena is irrelevant, meaningless, predictable

No. We didn’t publish a word on the Ravena village elections. Why? Because Ravena is irrelevant, meaningless, predictable. We are wasting these few words on a corrupt and dying village, which, if it sunk into the Hudson River this afternoon, would hardly be missed, unless it were because the environment suddenly improved. We felt we had an obligation to those readers who asked Why? we were not following the election campaigns and the elections. Our answer: Ravena simply wasn’t worth our time. But Thank you! for asking. (Besides, the Ravena elections were tainted by the Coeymans police incident. See the Times Union article, Ravena’s rabid raccoon haunts village election” (TU, Tuesday, March 20, 2018).)


The Coeymans Police Department is a Disgrace and Must be Eliminated

Our recent investigations into the operations of the Coeymans Police Department under Phillip Crandall and his cronies on the Coeymans Town Board, as well as the operations of the Town of Coeymans, leave no other conclusion than that both are so incompetently run and the total lack of leadership in both has led once again to a widely published scandal involving the Town of Coeymans, the Coeymans Police Department, and the Village of Ravena. 

ex-Chief (disgraced)
G. “Dumplin” Darlington

Before Chief Patrick McKenna took over the Coeymans Police Department under then Coeymans Town Supervisor Steven Flach, we campaigned to eliminate the Coeymans Police Department. Our reasons were conspicuously clear: The Coeymans Police Deparment under then chief Gregory “Dumpy-Duplin” Darlington and Gerry “Dirty Hands” Deluca and their lackeys was a boys club. There were so many violations of protected constitutional rights and civil rights that we had to pick and choose what we published. Darlington, but especially Deluca and his partner Cathy Deluca, padded their pockets generously, while taking advantage of taxpayers and shady activities for years. Cathy Deluca was incompetent and inept but the Ravena inner circle (led by Ravena village trustee Nancy Warner) handed her the now defunct Ravena Fitness Center, which she promptly ran down the sewers with a record 2 years. Cathy Deluca got her money and the taxpayers of Ravena got their screwing. Darlington’s wife, Leah Darlington, was deeply entrenched in the Democratic machine in Albany, in Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares’ office, as was Ravena village justice Hal Warner’s daughter, Carmen,M. Warner (see our article, “The Warners: A Family Tradition of Misconduct“) until she was fired for unprofessional behavior (posting indecent pictures of herself on Facebook). Leah Darlington found a new home with Tom “Dudley Dumbass” Mumbles Dolan at the Ravena Choices office, and local schyster Michael Biscone hired Carmen, another plastic vulva in his collection of plastic females.

Gerry “Dirty Hands” Deluca, former Coeymans cop.

Ultimately, as the word on the street goes, Darlington and Deluca had to retire or face prosecution. Darlington ended up as a part-time bus driver for the RCS Central School District and part-timed as a doorman at Babcock Funeral Home in Ravena. Deluca weaseled his way into an office at the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs. Seems like the RCS Central School District and Babcock Funeral Home don’t care much who they expose the district’s children or our dead to. The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs is nothing more than a lobby organization, more crooked and corrupt than community oriented, so Deluca found a nice nest of like birds. Cathy Deluca has pretty much disappeared from the public eye, and so the scenery is that much better in the Ravena-Coeymans area.

When Patrick McKenna was brought on board as Coeymans’ chief of police we pointed out his baggage and let him know that we were watching. McKenna proved to be a great leader and made numerous improvements both in the operation of the Coeymans Police Department and in the human resources situation. Coeymans is no place to show leadership; you have to be a rodent to succeed in Coeymans or Ravena. Now that Darlington and Deluca were out of the picture, a real professional was going to make a difference, and McKenna did. He was a professional. He was intelligent. He really cared for the community and showed it.

Disgraced Judge…
Town Supervisor Phil Crandall

When disgraced village justice Phillip Crandall crawled back out of the gutter into the public’s eye and ran for Coeymans Town Supervisor — after he was forbidden to run for judicial office as part of his plea bargain — the scene changed. Crandall wanted control of the Coeymans Police Department and, when he couldn’t get it, he tried every dirty trick in the book to get rid of McKenna.

You will recall that about four years ago, when the question of elimination of the Coeymans PD was hot, the people of Coeymans came out in force and loudly proclaimed that they wanted to keep their police department. Supervisor Flach got rid of Darlington and Deluca, and hired McKenna, a veteran Albany police detective. The people of Coeymans got to keep their police department and got a law enforcement professional to run it. Things started to look real good and the whole scene improved.

To give you an idea of how things improved, during the Darlington-Deluca reign of terror, we were publishing several articles a week on abuses, corruption, violations of rights of local Ravena and Coeymans residents. In the 4 years of McKenna, we published perhaps 2 or 3 articles reporting problems, but we published several applauding McKenna’s performance as chief.

With disgraced former justice Phil Crandall’s election along with several other bullies, like used car salesman Jim Youmans, to the Coeymans town board, things deteriorated. Crandall redirected police department funding, literally stole budgetary savings made by McKenna and reused them elsewhere in Crandall’s little group of cronies and pets. McKenna sometimes had to resort to using his own money to purchase needed supplies. Enough was enough.

Once McKenna resigned, the Coeymans Police Department started to spiral out of control. Here’s how.

In December 2017, we were contacted by a local resident, who had been stopped by Amanda L. Mueller, daughter of the Mueller who owns Mueller Automotive, in Ravena. Mueller Automotive does all of the automotive work for the Coeymans Police Department and much of the automotive work for the Town of Coeymans. That raised red flags immediately. Conflict of interest.

But that wasn’t all. You see, Amanda Mueller was a trainee in the Coeymans Police Department. She had stopped a resident for a non-working headlight, and accused him of having his high beams on. Well the resident, a professional, attempted to explain to Mueller that he did not have his high beams on; they were his fog lights. Mueller told him that she was going to let him off with a warning but because he had an “attitude”, she was going to give him a ticket. We reported on the incident in detail in our article, “”. (Please click the link to read the article “Coeymans Police Turning Into Coeymans Gestapo Again?“.)

We asked the resident to provide the documents he received from Mueller. We examined the documents, a Simplified Traffic Ticket and a Supporting Deposition, and found numerous errors in both. Mueller couldn’t even get the man’s date of birth right, and that’s a crucial identifier on a ticket. Furthermore, she got the Vehicle and Traffic Law section wrong. Mueller entered a non-working brakes section, a misdemeanor, instead of a non-working headlight, a minor violation!!! And there were several other mistakes in this relatively simple document. (We advised the resident and the Ravena court dismissed ticket rather than try the case.)

Sandy_poseable sex_doll

Hi! My name’s Sandy. Welcome to Biscone Law Firm.I’m plastic and latex.

At the Coeymans Town Board meeting of June 22, 2017, that approved sponsoring Mueller to attend the Zone 5 Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy, Supervisor Crandall noted, “Supervisor Crandall stated that this is a fine move as far as he was concerned. Ms. Mueller is a member of this community and her parents are upstanding members of this community.” Mueller accepted the training approved by the Coeymans town board and started the academy on July 16, 2017. By January 2018, Amanda Mueller had left the Coeymans PD — after having finished her training — deserting the Town and the Coeymans PD to go to the Albany County Sheriff”s Department. “A member of the community” and “upstanding members”, so much so that her thanks to Coeymans was to leave. Good riddance to local rubbish.

We didn’t waste time and we immediately initiated an investigation and demanded that the Town of Coeymans Police Department and the Town of Coeymans produce certain documents relating to the incident, the operations of the Coeymans PD, and the purchasing practices of the Town of Coeymans, expecting to find numerous violations of policy, procedure and law.

Coeymans never disappoints us. Or maybe the real question is whether the Democrats in Albany County should all be convicted and jailed. All of the perps in this horror story are Democraps!!! Just a coïncidence? Yeah! And maybe 60 years of Democrat Machine Control in Albany is just a coïncidence, too? Do you want to buy a bridge? We’ve got one for sale in Brooklyn.

Big Time Dem Machine Man. Too cozy?
P. David Soares, Albany Co. DA

As soon as we launched the investigation, Amanda L. Mueller disappears from sight. In response to a demand for disclosure, it appears that after we launched the investigation, someone thought it best not to hire her to the Coeymans PD, and she left to take a position with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. That figures; we weren’t surprised in the least. After all, the Albany County Sheriff’s Department is part of the Albany County Democrat Machine, including the Albany County District Attorney’s Office (P. David Soares), all of whom, historically, have been in the same bed as the local Dems and their little nest of scoundrels, including the Gregory and Leah Darlington, Gerry and Cathy Deluca, Tom Dolan (Coeymans town board member and director of Ravena Choices program), and the Phil Crandall (disgraced former Ravena village justice, now Coeymans Town Supervisor), and the Warners of Ravena Village Hall (Nancy Warner and hubby Hal Warner). Let’s not forget that Hal Warner was an Albany cop who got taken off the street and given a desk job for civil rights abuses; he was later elected as a village justice in Ravena. It was Hal Warner who stabbed his colleague, then part-time village justice while also Coeymans town justice, Phil Crandall in the back when Crandall was doing favors for local Dems like Tom Dolan, Richard Touchette (Director of the Albany County Roman Catholic Diocese Cemeteries and elected two years ago to be on the Albany County Legislature. Surprised? Shouldn’t be; Albany County Dems in action!) and others, leading to the investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that forced Crandall to resign as village justice and, as a condition, to never run for judicial office again. Instead, Crandall ran for Coeymans Town Supervisor under the Dems, and is now Town Supervisor. Go figure!

Have the Coeymans Police turned red-bra ho’s?

Well, once the connections were made between Coeymans, Amanda Mueller, and Mueller Automotive, the cat hit the fan and Amanda Mueller disappears from Coeymans. Chief McKenna also has had enough and he resigns. Now we’re left with an underfunded Police Department and no professional chief to lead it. Somehow Daniel Contento, a Coeymans police sergeant, is appointed acting chief. This is where the Coeymans PD goes into a dead-man’s spiral into oblivion.

On March 12, 2018, an international scandal haunts the Town of Coeymans and the Village of Ravena, when two Coeymans police vehicles are videoed in the act of harassing, terrorizing and finally running over a defenseless raccoon in the public parking lot of Faith Plaza in Ravena. The video goes viral and causes an international uproar, national and international media carry the story, the video gets millions of hits on social media, petitions in protest get tens of thousands of signatures almost overnight. (For details, please see our article at “We are speechless! OMG! Coeymans Police Caught on Video Again!”.)

Again, we launch an investigation. And again, we find that the Town of Coeymans has egg on their faces.

Town of Coeymans Police Department’s Law Enforcement Manual has never been updated since 1998

As in the case of the Amanda Mueller investigation, we found that the Town of Coeymans Police Department’s Law Enforcement Manual has never been updated since 1998; the procedures are 20 years old!!!

The procedures also contain outdated or incorrect information. Even if Coeymans police complied with the procedures and policies, they would be 20 years behind the times. For example, the Law Enforcement Manual title actually reads “Town of Coeymans and Village of Ravena Police.” The Village police department has been out of existence for a number of years, at least ten years.

The procedures also require that in an animal control action, the local Animal Control Officer be called to the scene to manage the situation. Coeymans doesn’t have an animal control officer and hasn’t had one for years!

Our investigation turned up a large number of errors, inconsistencies, even lies in the documents provided by the Coeymans Police Department and the Town of Coeymans. Regrettably, we have to say that this wasn’t unexpected.

Is the Department of Health Report jerry rigged?

Even the New York State Department of Health testing report read like a scripted response to provide the inept Coeymans police with at least a dumbass alibi or excuse for their scandalous behavior. (Please see our article, “Follow-up Report: Coeymans Raccoon Incident. We still have our doubts!” for details.)

The People of the Town of Coeymans wanted, insisted that they keep their Coeymans Police Department, and a responsive Supervisor Steven Flach let them have their police department, got rid of the criminals running it, and hired a professional law enforcement expert, Peter J. McKenna, who did great things for the Department and for the community.

Phil Crandall was booted from the courts and got himself elected as a Democrat to be Coeymans Town Supervisor and things started downhill to hell in a handbasket. He diverted (stole) money that was generated by McKenna, and Crandall used it elsewhere. Crandall and his board cut funding for the Police Department, and took other steps to make life unpleasant for Chief McKenna. Finally, McKenna, not needing the job, had enough and resigned. Crandall and his cronies got their way, and the Coeymans Police Department, now without leadership, spun out of control first with Amanda Mueller’s antics and then with the killer cops at Faith Plaza.

We now have to resume our campaign for elimination of the Coeymans Police Department, thanks to Mr. Crandall and his dumbass clowns on the Coeymans Town Board. Coeymans wanted their police department and also wanted Crandall; one had to go. The wrong one went. It’s obvious that if the People of Coeymans want a Coeymans Police Department, their elected officials like Phil Crandall have to provide the funding for it. Crandall did his best to unfund the Coeymans Police Department into the ground!!!

If Ravena has lapsed into irrelevance, Coeymans is running close behind. The events of 4 or five years ago are starting to pale in comparison to the devastation we are seeing in the village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans. Corruption, incompetence, loss of businesses, deteriorating infrastructure, plummeting quality of life in all respects, and the crooks seem to stay in office. Is this American democracy at work? Maybe. But local residents are to blame; local residents are the only ones who can change the situation.

Finally, we would like to share this from a resident in New Baltimore:

For several weeks now, around noontime or early afternoon, I’ve been driving on Route 144 in the Town of New Baltimore and noticed a Town of Coeymans Police cruiser heading South on 144, in the Town of New Baltimore (Greene County). I found that a bit unusual, since Coeymans is in Albany County, and the Coeymans police would have no business patrolling in New Baltimore, in Greene County. The first couple of sightings made me just curious but then I became suspicious. The Coeymans Police have no business in New Baltimore, at least not that much that frequently. The other day I decided to follow the Coeymans police cruiser and find out where it was heading. Perhaps the NB Town Hall for a court case? But it was not a court day. Anyway, I followed the cruiser and it turned into a residential driveway and stopped, the driver exiting and moving towards the double-wide trailer. I went a bit farther and turned around. When I got to the location, I stopped took down the car number and got a good look at the woman and the patrolman standing on the porch chatting. The car was 926. Can you find out what it’s doing in the Town of New Baltimore? It’s not official business, that’s obvious. Is it misuse of a police vehicle for private visits?” [Name withheld on request.]

We have in the past asked for Coeymans Police vehicle assignment sheets and were told that there were no such documents. Does that mean that no one knows who is driving the vehicles? That’s pure rubbish from a number of standpoints. But it wouldn’t surprise us in the least; after all it’s the Town of Coeymans.

But we do have some questions and we do want an answer: Who is driving the Coeymans Police Department cruiser No. 926 into the Town of New Baltimore in Greene County? What is the official busness being taken care of at the trailer on Route 144 in the Town of New Baltimore?

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2018 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, A.L. Mueller Badge 149, Abuse of Police Power, Abuse of Power, Acting Police Chief, Albany, Albany County Civil Service, Albany County Civil Service Department, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Sheriff Department, Albany Police, Amanda L. Mueller, Amanda Mueller, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Abuse, Animal Control Officer, Animal Cruelty, Animal cruelty, ASPCA, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Babcock Funeral Home, Bryana Catucci, Catherine Deluca, Catherine M. Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Coeymans Town Clerk, Conflict of Interest, Cooperative Extension, Corruption, Craig D. Apple Sr., Cruelty to animals, Daniel Contento, David Soares, Dawn Dolan, Dawn LaMountain, Dawn LaMountain, Dead Raccoon, DEC, DeLuca Public Affairs, Denis Jordan, Department of Environmental Conservation, Dumbocrap, Eliminate Coeymans Police Department, Facebook, Faith Plaza, Friendship Animal Protective League, George Amadore, Gerald Deluca, Greene County, Gregory Darlington, Hal Warner, Harold Warner, Hudson Valley, Humane Society of the United States, Investigation, James Youmans, Jason Albert, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Jerry Deluca, Jim Youmans, Joe Tanner, John Faso, Joseph Stanzione, Joseph Tanner, Kerry Thompson, Law Enforcement, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Misconduct, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Health, Nick LaMountain, North Shore Animal League America, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, NYSDOH, NYSFDA, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, P. David Soares, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Pete Lopez, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Phillip Crandall, Public Corruption, Public Safety, Raccoons, Ravena, Ravena Choices, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena Health and Fitness Center, Ravena Shop'n Save, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Ryan Johnson, Selkirk, Shop'n Save, Stephen Flach, Thomas E. Dolan, Times Union, Todd Polverelli, Tom Dolan, Tom Dolan, Town of Coeymans, Town of New Baltimore, William Misuraca, William Misuraca

 

Follow-up Report: Coeymans Raccoon Incident. We still have our doubts!

Please Note: On Thursday, March 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. the Town of Coeymans will hold it’s Town Board Meeting. We have information that residents, citizens and animal organizations will address the board about the conduct of the Coeymans Police and what the Town of Coeymans is going to do about it. Be there. Make your voice heard! Or at least just show up to learn what the community has to say!


The Town of Coeymans Police Department continues to be the subject of widespread interest following the ugly display of unprofessional conduct and stupidity last Monday, March 12, when Coeymans Police responded to an animal control call and proceeded to provide a sickening circus freak show performance as they pursued a raccoon in their patrol cars (one marked, another unmarked), finally running down the terrified animal and running over it. All of this happened in the pothole-rich parking lot of the Ravena Shop’n Save (Village of Ravena, Town of Coeymans), after a call from the CVS Pharmacy that a raccoon had “tried to enter the building.”

After one courageous residents, Ms Bryana Catucci, and several other witnesses videoed the Coeymans Police yahoos and the termination of the terrified animal, those videos went viral on several Internet sites, including Facebook and YouTube, and the Smalbany blog published a detailed and informative article on the incident. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society voiced their outrage and condemnation of the Coeymans Police actions.

To give you an idea of how outraged people are about this incident, just one site, Care2 Petitions, has more than 76,000 signatures, more than 8,500 signers in NY state alone, condemning the Coeymans Police! To give you an idea of how many people 76,000+ is, it’s more than 9x the entire population of the Township of Coeymans!!! What does that tell you, dear readers?


The Coeymans Police have no up-to-date procedure for dealing with animal control issues. The town of Coeymans has no Animal Control Officer. The New York State Department of Health report on tests done on the animal sounds bogus!

I can’t believe my eyes!!! I can’t believe their horrible conduct!!! I can’t believe the lies!!!


Almost immediately following the incident, Smalbany blog contibutors filed a demand under the provisions of the New York state Public Officers Law, Article 6 Sections 84-90 Freedom of Information Law (N.Y. Pub. Off. Law Sees. 84 to 99) for the production of documents with the Coeymans Town Clerk and the Coeymans Police Department, demanding information related to the March 12, 2018, incident in which the Coeymans Police Department used police vehicles to harrass, terrorize and kill a raccoon in front of dozens of witnesses at Faith Plaza in Ravena, New York (Town of Coeymans, in the jurisdiction of the Albany County District Attorney, P. David Soares).

Initial Information Provided by the Coeymans Police Department (“acting” police chief Daniel Contento (SGT)) and the news media were contradictory and confused. We decided to get the facts.

One glaring fact is that the Coeymans Police protect their own. They delete any references to the officer’s involved or anyone involved. Do you think that’s fair play? If you were picked up by the police, your face and name would be plastered all over the police blotter and the local news media. Why are the police and their cronies so protective? Aren’t they public servants, paid by us? Don’t we have a right to know which ones are bonkers and which ones are not?

The Town of Coeymans responded with the usual halfwit evasive answers but provided two important documents: the Testing Report No. RAB18ANI01172-SR-1 from the NYS Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, and an extract from what appears to be an ancient “Coeymans Police and Ravena Police Law Enforcement Manual, Administration (in the following called the PLEM/A),” Section 46.0, Subject: Animal Control/Rabies.” the Coeymans Police Department. We say “ancient” because this section dates back to October 15, 1998 — it’s almost 20 years old and hasn’t been revised, updated, or replaced — and refers to “Village of Ravena Police,” which hasn’t existed for years, and is signed by former Police Chief Scott Geroux!

Furthermore, the Law Enforcement procedure repeatedly refers to the Animal Control Officer and how the police have to notify the Animal Control Officer for assistance when dealing with an animal control issue.  According to the Law Enforcement Manual:

“46.2.1 The Animal Control Officer (ACO) is a civilian employee of the Police Department. The ACO is responsible for responding to and mitigating incidents and complaints relating to domestic and wild animal”

If the local Animal Control Officer is unavailable, the procedure requires the Coeymans Police to notify an animal control officer from a nearby jurisdiction. Again, according to the Law Enforcement Manual:

“(46.3.2.2) Request the response of the ACO to the scene whenever available.
“(46.3.2.2.1) If the case requires the immediate attention of the ACO, that information shall be relayed to the ACO. If he is still unavailable to respond an ACO from another jurisdiction shall be requested.”

Town of Coeymans PD: “The Town of Coeymans does not have an Animal Control Officer.”

Coeymans Police Department Procedures date back almost 20 years without revision!!!

The problem that we have identified in this entire Keystone Cops episode is that the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department are about 20 years behind. You see, according to a certified statement provided by the Town of Coeymans, “The Town of Coeymans does not have an animal control officer.”

Well if the Town of Coeymans has no animal control officer, then the entire 1998 procedure allegedly followed by the Coeymans Police Department is absolutely useless, out of date, and a sham!!! In other words, the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department have no up-to-date guidelines for handling this type of situation.

The Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department have no up-to-date guidelines

[Editor’s Note: We have considerable information that shows that the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department Law Enforcement Manual is out-of-date and obsolete in several other areas, including How to handle a traffic stop!!!]

The basic issue is leadership and how law enforcement functions or does not function in the Town of Coeymans

 

Coeymans Police on Pussy Patrol.
Did you know that cats are the domestic animals most at risk for rabies?

But this whole hullabaloo is NOT about whether an animal was sick or not. The basic issue is leadership and how law enforcement functions or does not function in the Town of Coeymans. There is no leadership in the Town of Coeymans or the Town of Coeymans PD.. The Coeymans Police Department is dysfunctional. That’s the question that is driving most people crazy right about now. Then there’s the question of how the Coeymans Police abused and tortured a defenseless animal using their patrol cars. Anyone with half a brain would have been able to figure a reasonable and safe procedure for dealing with an animal threat, if there was one, and there was none.  Just view the videos and all you’ll see is a normal appearing raccoon, terrified, running for its life and two Coeymans cop cars racing back and forth. Any sane person would, as most of the witnesses did, that the cops were a greater threat to the public’s safety than a terrified animal trying to escape them!!!

Well, we also have a copy of the Department of Health (DoH) test report done on what was left of the raccoon after the Coeymans Police had their perverse jollies. The DoH report is apparently written by a halfwit chimp. Here’s why:

First of all the report does indicate that the raccoon showed evidence of rabies infection. The report did not say that the animal was capable of infecting another animal or harming a human being. Information obtained by us from the CDC clearly states that the animal is infectious only in the very late stages of the disease, shortly before the disease kills the animal. At that late stage the animal’s brain is so far gone that the animal’s behavior is obvious: it acts like it’s drunk, it loses its balance, it staggers, it is confused. Again, the videos show none of this; in fact, the animal looks pretty coordinated as it’s running across the Faith Plaza parking lot!

Some sections of the report make it look like it’s been jerry rigged to provide the Coeymans Police with an alibi. Here are just a couple of examples taken directly from the DoH report:

“Signs of rabies: NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER; Other signs: MOVING ABNORMALLY, SHAKING.”

Who made these observations? Do the Coeymans Police have veterinary neurological training that made it possible for them to have decided that the unfortunate animal had a “neurological disorder?” They also note in the report that the animal was “moving abnormally, shaking.” Well, first of all, the DoH was unable to make those determinations because the animal was d-e-a-d, pancaked by the Coeymans Cops. So where did this information come from? Hearsay? The Coeymans PD?

Here’s more of the gibberish in the report:

“Comments: Observed acting sick at the CVS in Ravena. Killed by running over with car by Officer [Redacted] of the Coeymans Police Department (…No reported contact. Rabies test need before further testing.”

The only animals acting sick were the Coeymans cops who tortured the animal and killed it!

Again, we have the DoH sockpuppets repeating what the Coeymans PD was insisting but didn’t have a factual basis to make the statements. The raccoon was “observed acting sick at the CVS in Ravena.” Sick? Curious? Hungry? If an 8th grade science student made these statements, we’d send him or her for remedial help! But that’s in an official report. Hearsay! Not facts! The only animals acting sick were the Coeymans cops who tortured the animal and killed it by “running over [it] with car by Officer [his name is deleted from the report!].” What’s disturbing is not only the unsubstantiated statements but the fact that there was  “no contact reported.” According to the report, the animal made no contact with anyone!!!

After all is said and done, the report reads:

“Rabies testing: Evidence of Rabies was found by the fluorescent antibody test.”

The report is again incomplete because it doesn’t state which fluorescent antibody test was used. That information is very important in terms of whether the test is accurate. Furthermore, for scientific and epidemiological reasons the information provided is incomplete and practically useless! Again, whether this is the truth or not, the test results came fully 24 hours after the incident, and cannot provide any justification or support for the Coeymans Police stupidity.

Just by way of comment, the report concludes with the statement:

“Notes: [1] Submitting county was phoned with positive results. Reported to Marsha at 10:32 a.m. by JJ.”

What in hell does that mean? Who in hell is Marsha? Who in hell is JJ? But that’s supposed to be an official report from the NYS DoH in response to a serious incident. Don’t we have any standards at all in this community, in this state? Or are all of our public servants halfwits and dumbasses? We think you know the answer to that question already.

So, dear readers, you have the state of affairs in the Town of Coeymans: Useless and outdated procedures no one has had any interest in updating or revising, a team of goons who have no leadership or guidance, disgraceful and despicable conduct by local law enforcement, a very questionable report from a New York State department tasked with ensuring the public’s health, and another negative report gone viral about the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department. But you must admit, they are consistent, even in making complete asses of themselves.

We are making the documents provided by the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department available for your entertainment. Please note that the Town of Coeymans and the Coeymans Police Department refused to provide some documents, including the names of the Coeymans PD employees involved in the incident. They also have no records about callers reporting the animal, although acting Coeymans police chief, Daniel Contento (SGT), made public statements that “numerous calls” were received (but not by the Coeymans PD, since their listed number goes to Albany County 911). We verified only one 911 call about the raccoon. That call was allegedly from someone at or in the CVS pharmacy at Faith Plaza. We do know of numerous calls received by the Albany County 911 Center complaining about the conduct of the Coeymans Police. Maybe those are the calls Contento is referring to.

If you are interested in viewing/downloading the Coeymans Police 1998 procedure and the NYS DoH Test Report we refer to above, here are the links:

  • You can view the Town of Coeymans and Ravena Police Department Law Enforcement Manual dated October 15, 2018 here.
  • You can view the New York State Department of Health Report here.

Editor’s Notes

As we mentioned above and as we published in our initial article on this incident, “We are speechless! OMG! Coeymans Police Caught on Video Again!” we obtained our information on rabies from several official sources. One of them was the Centers for Disease Control, the federal government’s department for disease control, prevention, and reporting. Here’s some additional information of interest:

According to the CDC, in the period of 2008-2017, a total of 23 human rabies cases were reported in the United States; most of the infections were acquired outside of the United States, most from animal bites in such places as Afghanistan, India, Mexico, etc. On average there are 1-3 cases/year of human rabies reported in the United States . (Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html) Compare that with 90 motor vehicle caused deaths each day in the United States (CDC statistics are always 3 yeas behind; in 2015 there were a total of 37,757 deaths in motor vehicle accidents (11.7/100,000 population) Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/accidental-injury.htm).

Given those statistics, where to you suppose our law enforcement efforts should be concentrated? On a raccoon or on motor vehicles?

Furthermore,

  • Transmission of rabies virus usually begins when infected saliva of a rabid animal is passed to an uninfected animal. The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host. ( Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/transmission/index.html)
  • Other contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, does not constitute an exposure. (Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/transmission/exposure.html)
  • From numerous studies conducted on rabid dogs, cats, and ferrets, we know that when the rabies virus is introduced into a muscle through a bite from another animal, it travels from the site of the bite to the brain by moving within nerves. The animal does not appear ill during this time.
  • The time between the bite and the appearance of symptoms is called the incubation period and it may last for weeks to months. A bite by the animal during the incubation period does not carry a risk of rabies because the virus has not yet made it to the saliva.

According to the CDC, the Infectious Path of the Rabies Virus can be outlined as follows:

  • An animal is bitten by a rabid animal.
  • Rabies virus from the infected saliva enters the wound.
  • Rabies virus travels through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This process can last approximately 3 to 12 weeks. The animal has no signs of illness during this time.

A diagnosis of rabies can be made after detection of rabies virus from any part of the affected brain, but in order to rule out rabies, the test must include tissue from at least two locations in the brain, preferably the brain stem and cerebellum. [Editor’s Note: The NYS DoH report is incomplete in this respect because it does not state what parts of the animal’s brain were tested!!!]

The test requires that the animal be euthanized. The test itself takes about 2 hours, but it takes time to remove the brain samples from an animal suspected of having rabies and to ship these samples to a state public health or veterinary diagnostic laboratory for diagnosis. [Editor’s Note:  the test requires that the animal be euthanized, killed humanely and mercifully, not terrorized and run over!!!]

In the United States, the results of a rabies test are typically available within 24 to 72 hours after an animal is collected and euthanized. (Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/diagnosis/animals-humans.html)

When it reaches the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly and passes to the salivary glands. The animal begins to show signs of the disease. The infected animal usually dies within 7 days of becoming sick. (Source, CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/transmission/body.html)

(Please check out the references on our original article for more information on rabies.)


 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Abuse of Power, Accountability, Acting Police Chief, Albany, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Sheriff Department, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Anger, Animal Abuse, Animal Cruelty, Animal cruelty, Animal Rights, ASPCA, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Blog, Blogger, Bob Freeman, Bryana Catucci, Bully Cops, Capital District, Coeymanazis, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Attorney, Coeymans Town Board, Coeymans Town Board Meeting, Coeymans Town Clerk, Columbia-Greene Media, Committee on Open Government, Craig D. Apple Sr., Cruelty to animals, Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, Daniel Contento, Dawn LaMountain, Dawn LaMountain, DEC, Demand for Resignation, Demand for Termination, Department of Environmental Conservation, Dick Touchette, Eliminate Coeymans Police Department, FaceBook, Facebook, Faith Plaza, Freedom of Information Law, Friendship Animal Protective League, George Amadore, George Dardiani, Greene County News, Hal Warner, Harold Warner, Humane Society of the United States, Incompetence, James Youmans, Jim Youmans, Joe Stanzione, Joe Tanner, John B. Johnson, John Faso, Johnson Newspaper Group, Joseph Stanzione, Joseph Tanner, Kerry Thompson, Law Enforcement, Mark Vinciguerra, Mercy for Animals, Misconduct, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Health, News and Information Media, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, North Shore Animal League America, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, NYSDOH, Office of the Attorney General, Official Misconduct, P. David Soares, Paul Courcelle, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Pete Lopez, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Police Incompetence, Police Thugs, Public Safety, Ravena Shop'n Save, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Robert J. Freeman, Robert J. Freeman, Ryan Johnson, Scott Giroux, Steve Prokrym, The Daily Mail, Times Union, Times Union Blogs, Todd Polverelli, Tom Dolan, Town Clerk, Town of Coeymans, Town of New Baltimore, Wadsworth Center, William Bailey, William Misuraca

 

We are speechless! OMG! Coeymans Police Caught on Video Again!

Well, the Coeymans Police are back in the News!
And — AGAIN, rather STILL — It Ain’t Pretty!

Coeymans Police ALWAYS Get Their Coon! 

Here’s the video that has gone viral showing the Coeymans Police heroes as they run down a defenseless animal!!!

You never thought this would happen but we are SPEECHLESS! There’s a video that’s gone viral showing a Coeymans Police Car making several attempts to run over a raccoon at Faith Plaza in Ravena. The video is on every news channel online clearly showing the Coeymans Police making several attempts to run over a raccoon!!!

The irony of the entire situation is that Faith Plaza is owned by a holy-roller fundamentalist Christian group under the local Flack family banner. This is real Christian behavior, isn’t it? But Ravena is noted for it’s off-the-wall Christian wierdos like the Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick and it’s nest of hypocrites calling themselves Catholics. Business as usual, it seems. Christians for Cash! (That’s how they spell God now in Ravena.)

Bryanna Catucci, the Facebook user who posted the videos, wrote online that she was leaving a grocery store when she saw the officers charging the raccoon with their cars. It took 15 minutes for the animal to die, she said. “You would think if it had rabies they would shoot him instead of torturing. Sad day,” the woman wrote. We agree with Ms Catucci! Thank you Ms Catucci for having the courage to go public with this and to have been decent enough to stand up for what’s right!

According to the Albany County Sheriff, Craig Apple, who doesn’t seem all too pleased with how Coeymans handled the situation, “[p]erception drives reality — and this is not perceived very well.” He went on to say that “in similar situations [law enforcement] have called in local animal control officers or local trappers to contain the animal.” Apple said, adding that “officers also need to know someone is always watching and will likely report any inhumane treatment of an animal.” Even the Albany County Sheriff seems to feel the Coeymans dumbasses mishandled the situation. DUH!

According to WRGB Channel 6 News in Albany, New York:

“RAVENA, NY (WRGB) A video going viral shows Coeymans Police running over a raccoon at Faith Plaza in Ravena in Albany County.

“Police officers made several attempts at the raccoon.

“In a statement, Coeymans Acting Police Chief D.W. Contento said, “On March 12 we received numerous calls about a rabid raccoon in faith plaza. The raccoon had attempted to get into the establishment at one point. Our officer’s did find the raccoon, but it was not in an area that was safe to discharge a firearm due to the proximity of pedestrians and residences. They dispatched the raccoon as quickly and humanely as possible.”

[Editor’s Note: For those of our readers who are not familiar with the backwater, hilltown Village of Ravena or the Town of Coeymans, Faith Plaza is a trashy strip mall in the village of Ravena that includes a supermarket, a chain drug store, a Chinese take-away restaurant, a bank and several offices. It’s parking lot hasn’t been maintained in years and is pockmarked with huge, deep potholes. We wonder that the police vehicle that harassed and killed the raccoon didn’t lose an axle in the process. But then, what do the police care about damaging their vehicle, it’s public property and maintained by the Town.]

In a statement published by acting Coeymans Police Chief D.W. Contento (Sgt.), who apparently has a degree in veterinary medcine:or animal pathology — or thinks he does — since he was able to diagnose the animal’s condition without even being at the scene!!! According to our local genius Contento:

Statement on the Incident Made by Coeymans Police Department

The above statement was made by acting Coeymans Police Chief Daniel W. Contento in a feeble attempt to save face and defuse the public outcry in reaction to the disgraceful and idiotic conduct of the Coeymans Police in the verified harassment and killing of a raccoon.

Acting Coeymans Police Chief Daniel Contento makes feeble atempt to save face.

The Coeymans Police had no way of determining that the poor unfortunate creature was rabid, as acting police chief Daniel W. Contento alleges. According to the Cornell Wildlife Laboratory  there is no live animal test for a diagnosis of rabies. The laboratory uses antibody to detect virus in a sample of the brain. In other words, the only way to determine that would have been to have performed a veterinary post mortem on the animal. That could only have been done by a veterinary pathologist who then would submit the tissues for examination. Rabies can be diagnosed only by microscopic examination of the animal’s brain tissue, which would show characteristic signs called Negri bodies (dark spots in the tissue). (A rapid test called immunofluorescence can also be done on post-mortem brain tissue. See our comment below in regard to some Facebook comments made on the WTEN News Facebook page. Editor’s Note: We believe that if it was suspected of being rabid, New York State law would require that the dead animal be tested and, the results reported. We’ll follow up on this.)

Furthermore, when an animal is rabid, it’s disoriented and moves around clumsily, as if it’s drunk. According the the New York State Department of Health an animal with rabies will show “staggering, convulsions, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis…. Many animals will make very unusual sounds. Infected animals usually die within one week after showing signs of rabies.” The video clearly shows that this animal was NOT disoriented or clumsy, or acting like it was drunk; in fact, it was trying to run away!!! Of course, the fact that the poor animal did not exhibit signs of rabies does not rule out rabies but certainly does not provide grounds for a definitive diagnosis and statement that it was in fact rabid, as the acting chief of Coeymans police reports!!!! The chief’s statement was made only to remove some of the egg on his face and the embarrassment to the department and the Town of Coeymans!!! (NYDOH site last accessed on March 12, 2018.)

Coeymans cops in hot pursuit: “Get’em boys! He’s unlicensed!

What do the local FREAKS think the animal was doing there? There’s a Shop’n Save with all sorts of goodies in their dumpster garbage coons love right there. There’s also a Chinese restaurant right there! Think of what they have in their waste bins.  No doubt plenty of food goodies for a hungry coon. The coon was probably just foraging for food, you morons! Lord knows there’s enough garbage in the area to attract the whole countryside’s coon population!

We are curious as to how many calls are considered “numerous” by the Coeymans PD and why the animal control officer was not called to capture the animal. It appears no one on Faith Plaza was at risk and it was totally unnecessary to perform such a ghastly display of stupidity and inhumanity. We we sickened by the video and ashamed that we live in such an area where the local law enforcement are such immature, ignorant, dumbass thugs.

Please note: The telephone number listed on the Town of Coeymans website for the Coeymans Police Department does not go to the Coeymans Police Department but to the Albany County 911 center. This is a very misleading ploy by the Town of Coeymans and is causing problems at the 911 center, because a great many people are calling the number listed to complain about what the Coeymans Police did to that poor animal.If you want to make a complaint, please use the emails below or write a comment on this blog. We’ll post your comments.

And, excuse, us for asking, where are the local animal control officers for Ravena and the Town of Coeymans when all of this is going on? Or aren’t they in the budget either?

Interesting fact: Among domestic animals, cats are the most frequent carriers of rabies. So Why? are only dogs required to be licensed and proof of rabies immunization required only for dogs? Dogs are also required to be leashed and don’t run free like cats. Something’s wrong here, don’t you think?

Write in your complaint to the Coeymans Police Department and to the Town of Coeymans. Here are the emails (click on the links and your default email will open): (Click here Coeymans PD and Raccoon Protest Text for suggested text for your protest message.)

Coeymans Police Department
Coeymans Chief of Police, acting, SGT Daniel W. Contento
Town of Coeymans Supervisor, Phil Crandall
Town of Coeymans Town Clerk, Cindy Rowzee

But don’t expect a response; they’ll likely ignore you, cowards that they are. Maybe you should just send us a comment and we’ll take it from there. Or email us at Smalbany This blog is also published on a number of social media sites, so everyone will know what’s going on in Coeymans.

They can’t write a ticket correctly and can’t collect evidence to solve any crimes but they sure can torture helpless animals.

Some real heroes, running down a helpless animal while in the safety of their patrol car. Real big tough law enforcement professionals, right? Big and brave enough to run down a defenseless animal and then make up some idiotic story about “rabies”! Dumbasses!

So, boys (and goofy girls), what’s next on your cop superhero agenda, the family of wild ducks that are running around Faith Plaza?

Run for your lives, ducklings! Head for the hills, guys, the Coeymans cops are on their way!
You don’t want them to make pâté out of you!

Editor’s Note:  Now that disgraced former village justice, now Coeymans town supervisor Phil Crandall has managed to drive out the only professional law enforcement officer, Chief Peter J. McKenna, from the department, after squeezing every dime out of the Chief’s budget to the point where Chief McKenna was spending his own money to purchase supplies, the Coeymans Police Department has slipped back into the cesspool where McKenna found it. McKenna gave 110% but who can blame him for refusing to take any more abuse at the hands of Crandall and his lackeys Tom Dolan and Jim Youmans? Before McKenna, we demanded that the Coeymans Police Department be eliminated, during McKenna’s tenure as Chief, the Department showed signs of being a real asset to the town. Now that McKenna is gone, the clowns are back in action. Time to start the Elimination Campaign again!

Here are just a few of the news publishers who have picked up and published this shameful story:

Albany Times Union “Coeymans police use cars to run down, kill rabid raccoon” (Editor’s Note: Typical Times Useless jumps the guns and prematurely report that the animal was rabid. There is absolutely no evidence at this time to support that report!)

ABC News 10  “Witnesses: Police try to run over raccoon” (Editor’s Note: This is inaccurate. They did finally run the animal down. The videos show this fact.”)

New York Upstate “WATCH: Upstate NY police try to run over rabid raccoon in disturbing video”

Miami Herald “Cops ran over a raccoon until they killed it, video shows. There’s a good reason, New York police say”

CBS Channel 6 News “Update: Video shows Coeymans Police running over raccoon”

WNYT Channel 13 News “Raccoon video has Coeymans police in hot water”

Just google “Ravena Coeymans Police Raccoon” and you’ll get literally hundreds of hits on this incident. It’s all over Facebook and it’s on Youtube, too. It’s really shameful!

Stay informed! Learn more about rabies in New York State on the Cornell Wildlife Laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sites. (Both sites last accessed on March 12, 2018.)

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2018 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, A.L. Mueller Badge 149, Abuse of Police Power, Accountability, Acting Police Chief, Albany, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Sheriff Department, Amanda L. Mueller, Amanda Mueller, Animal Control Officer, Animal cruelty, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Bryana Catucci, Capital District, Catskill-Hudson Newspapers, Cindy Rowzee, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Columbia-Greene Media, Cruelty to animals, D. W. Contento, Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, David Soares, Dead Raccoon, DEC, Democrats, Denis Jordan, Department of Environmental Conservation, Dick Touchette, Eliminate Coeymans Police Department, Facebook, Faith Plaza, Government, Greene County, Hudson Valley, Inhumanity, James Youmans, Jeff Ruso, Jim Youmans, Joe Stanzione, Joe Tanner, Joseph Stanzione, Joseph Tanner, Law Enforcement, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Misconduct, Moose Misuraca, Mueller Automotive, Mueller's Automotive, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore, New York, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, Office of the Attorney General, P. David Soares, Patrick Linger, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Public Safety, Raccoons, Ravena, Times Union, William Misuraca

 

Roman Catholic Church: Collection Envelopes Determine Good Standing!

We were recently contacted by a reader asking us for an opinion about the question of whether the Requirement of Registration in a Parish and an Affidavit of Good Standing is appropriate for fulfillment of the role of confirmation sponsor. That’s a compound question consisting of two separate questions:

  1. Is a requirement for parish registration appropriate?
  2. Is an Affidavit of Catholic in Good Standing in the parish in which one is registered appropriate?

The second question necessarily follows on the first question.

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, a parish in the territory of the Diocese of Albany, NY (Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop) has scheduled their Confirmations for April, 2018, and just recently sponsor designates were informed that they were to provide certain certifications as to their “fitness” to fulfill the role of Confirmation sponsor. We have obtained statements from sponsor designates and a copy of the form to be signed by the sponsor designates. In general, the “contract” is rather primitive and a bit late, since it appears it should have been provided to the sponsor designate right at the start of the formation period and not 2 months before the Confirmation! In addition, it contains a number of silly requirements, one of which caught our eye:

“The sponsor agrees to provide:

+ The Church of St Patrick the name and address of the Parish and Pastor where they currently worship;

+ Further provide the Church of St Patrick with an Affidavit signed by their current pastor certifying they meet these requirements:

– At least 16 years old,

– Fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Faith through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.”

The grammar leaves a great deal to be desired and it’s unclear whether the certifying pastor has to be “at least 16 years old” and “fully initiated” or the sponsor. Another problem is that it is the “Church of St Patrick” while we have always thought of the Church as being the Church Jesus Christ, and the church as used in the Church of St Patrick would clearly indicate the building and not the community, the mystical body; properly stated, it should be the “Parish” of St Patrick for obvious reasons. But the document has other flaws.

It raises the question of What business does a pastor have certifying a sponsor’s age? That’s done by way of a secular birth certificate!

In addition, the current pastor must sign an affidavit confirming the sponsor’s age AND that the sponsor has received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, all of which are clearly proved by the respective certificates issued by the conferring parish, not necessarily by the sponsor’s territorial pastor. So we had a closer look at what’s going on here because something stinks in Ravena, and the smoke of satan is probably coming from the Albany Diocesan Offices.

Those observations are merely a further confirmation of the turmoil and confusion that reigns supreme in the Roman Catholic Church today, and are clearly visible in the parishes.[1]

First, let’s look at what the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law, the collection of rules and regulations governing what and how things are done in the Roman Catholic Church, has to say about what a “parish” is — this is an important first step because most “practicing” Catholics don’t have a clue what a parish is.

The Code of Canon Law (sections abbreviated “C.”) defines “parish” in the following terms:

515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop. [our emphasis]

And c. 518 expressly defines the parish as “territorial,” meaning,

Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason. [our emphasis]

Therefore, a parish is territorial. As such it embraces all the Catholics of a given region on a map. When a bishop formally erects a parish, he establishes its specific boundaries, and all Catholics residing within those limits are ipso facto (and de jure) members of that parish, whether or not they know it. Canon law does not require anyone living within the parish boundaries to take the additional step of registering at the parish. The very fact that a Catholic lives in the territory of a particular parish is enough to make him or her member of that parish. Canon law does not require formal registration in that parish to be a member of that particular parish. Question 1 is thus moot. A dead issue. No registration is required.

The fact that parishes are by definition territorial does not mean that it is illegal under Canon Law or wrong to require people to register; it may be useful to ask them to register in their parishes for administrative reasons, such as for example, census purposes or for surveys, or for demographic purposes.

In the American Catholic Church the parish registration system has been superimposed on top of Canon Law, but parish registration is not a part or provision of Canon Law. In fact, the parish registration system must never be used in such a way as to contradict Canon Law; if there is a conflict, Canon Law must take precedence. This includes the situation where a local bishop, called the local ordinary, or his staff makes up some “local” law or rule for the diocese; that local rule cannot replace Canon Law or contradict it. Period.

But the question posed is Confirmation Sponsors. On the question of parish registration as regards confirmation sponsors, The purpose of c. 892 and its requirements are merely to make clear that the sponsor of the confirmed person is to ensure that the confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament. That should be no problem in theory, but let’s move on.

In the Roman Catholic Church the requirements to be a Confirmation sponsor are the same as those for a Baptismal godparent. As regards the requirements for a person to fulfill the function of confirmation sponsor c. 893 refers back to c. 874 which lays down functions for fulfilling the function of a baptismal godparent, that is, the requirements for fulfilling the role of confirmation sponsor are the same as for a baptismal godparent. According to Roman Catholic Canon law, the requirements for both a Baptismal godparent and a Confirmation sponsor are:

Can.  874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

In other words, the person chosen by the candidate for confirmation or the candidate’s parents, or both, must be someone who takes his or her Catholic faith seriously enough that s/he may serve as a mentor for the person to be confirmed. In essence, the first requirement then, is the trust and confidence of the candidate and his/her parents that operate in determining the fitness of a person to be sponsor. To abrogate that authority or to demean the capability of the candidate or his/her parents to determine suitability in practical terms would be an affront.

The way records are kept.

Canon Law makes no statement, provision or requirement that the proposed sponsor be formally registered in a parish, nor does relevant Canon Law set forth any criteria or system for determining fitness in terms other than that the sponsor designate be a witness of Christ and a capable mentor. Nor does Canon Law lay down a protocol on how that s/he be examined for his/her fitness to be a confirmation sponsor, but merely states to the effect that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the candidate.

Scott VanDerveer, pastor of St Patrick, Ravena.

Steven Matthews, pastor, St John Baptist, Greenville.

Since the Code of Canon Law nowhere mentions parish registration, and certainly does not state or even imply anywhere that a sponsor in sacramental Confirmation must be registered at a particular parish, such requirement is being made an obstacle is canonically illicit and unlawful. In other words, the territorial parish of St Patrick Roman Catholic Church, Ravena, NY (Scott VanDerveer, pastor) is wrong to require an Affidavit of Parish Registration and the Parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Greenville, NY  (Steven Matthews, pastor) in Greenville is wrong to deny the sponsor designate a letter testifying to the fact that the sponsor designate is a member of the territorial parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. If the sponsor designate lives in the territory of St John the Baptist parish, that person, if Catholic is a member of that parish.

While the Code of Canon Law expressly indicates that a Confirmation sponsor must be a committed Catholic, it does not provide a hint of guidance how this is to supposed to be determined, much less proved. This raises the question whether the territorial parish of St John the Baptist RC in Greenville or the territorial parish of St Patrick RC in Ravena have in place a consistent and reliable system to decide who is a suitable sponsor, and how to document that assessment. For the criteria used to test the quality of Catholics, we have to turn to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and to the so-called Precepts. But those so-called Precepts do not possess the quality of law and are extremely difficult if not impossible to verify (the link below).

The Precepts are a classic example of unenforceable control but the gremlin gatekeepers, the so called “Faith Education” directors use them like swords, but without Church authority or common sense to understand them.

We have to ask: Do the concerned pastors know each of their flock by name and do they have intimate knowledge of what their parishioners’ lifestyle and characters are? Or can we better presume that the candidate and his or her parents are better able to make that assessment? Does the fact that someone appears every Sunday at liturgy make him or her good Catholic, and thus a better sponsor than one who does not? Or is the measure one of the magnanimity of financial contributions to the parish, or the fact that both time and treasure are determinants? Can the pastor even recognize the person by sight? Would those be applicable objective criteria to satisfy the requirement that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the confirmation candidate?

Again, an example from the Cathedral Church of St Patrick (Charlotte, NC). Explicit statement that collection envelopes are used to document attendance.

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?” But that’s not even a hypothetical situation! Many parishes are using collection envelopes to decide whether or not a “practicing Catholic” is a “Catholic in good standing!”

The criterion for Catholic “in good standing”?

Here’s a depraved, reprehensible and embarrassing excerpt from the BAPTISM AND/OR CONFIRMATION SPONSOR GUIDELINES of the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick (Charlotte, NC), which is by no means uncommon and is representative of many American parishes, in that St Patrick’s makes a number of illicit and illegal requirements:[2]

The sponsor is required to certify this information (St Patrick parish, Charlotte, NC).

and the sponsor’s parish pastor must certify

Do these administrators and pastors know their Canon Law or are they arbitrarily applying a personal interpretation of the phrase, “in good standing?” This has been known to happen all too frequently and with tragic results.

Furthermore, while we know that well-meaning Catholics may work long hours in parish offices and programs for low or no pay, and their “dedication” is commendable, they do play a critical role in the life of a typical parish but – and that’s a really big “but” because they do not hold ecclesial office pursuant to c. 145, they are not accorded by law any spiritual authority over other members of the parish.[3]

The bottom line is that the pastor is the person ultimately responsible for the spiritual well-being of his parishioners, and as Canon Law states, parishes are territorial and all Catholics in that territory are “parishioners” under the terms of Canon Law. Therefore, the pastor is responsible for the canonical, pastoral, spiritual well-being of his parishioners. If he is unaware of a problem or a situation that can transfigure into a problem, it is important that he be informed about it, and that he deal with it appropriately. By respectfully calling the pastor’s attention to such an issue, the whole parish, diocese and certainly the whole Church ultimately benefits.[4]

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?”

The answer is administratively maybe, canonically NO!

Unless the lay administrators of the Parish of St Patrick have an established system approved by competent authority for determining membership in the territorial parishes of St Patrick or of St John the Baptist, the requirement of certifying membership in any parish is served canonically by the mere provision of proof of domicile, said domicile being situated in the territory of a given parish ipso facto and de jure establishes the person as a member of that territorial parish. Canon law takes precedence over local law in the event of ambiguity, vagueness, over-broadness or arbitrariness of the local provision.

RC Diocese of Albany chief rulemaker, Scharfenberger.

In terms of the fact of “in good standing,” unless specifically stated in clear and unambiguous terms How? in practical and objective terms a pastor is to determine “good standing,” and which criteria are to be applied for such determination, as well as the specificity and reliability of such criteria when applied to an ever-changing and practically protean population of a territorial parish, made even more difficult by the mobility of today’s populations, the arbiter in the first instance must be those who are intimately familiar with the character of the sponsor designate; in the second instance, testimony or reference or direct observation my be called upon to further confirm fitness. Otherwise, any claim to system or protocol that may be proffered by pastor or lay administrator is subject to scrutiny, and likely to be found insufficient, if not illicit or even canonically unlawful.

It is our determination that the territorial parish does not have the canonical authority to require registration of persons as members of a parish, that in virtue of their residing within the territory of a given parish makes them de jure members of that parish and entitled to a letter confirming that fact, providing that they can give a showing of having been validly and licitly baptized into the Church.

As established at c. 874 §1 (CCL) the requirements for acting as a confirmation sponsor are also set forth by canon law, that is, the sponsor designate must be baptized, have received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and have been confirmed pursuant the terms and conditions of Canon Law. Furthermore, the sponsor designate shall be 16 years old or older, shall not be not be bound by any canonical penalty, and shall not be the father or the mother of the person to be confirmed. The law also requires that the person shall lead a life of faith but does not provide specifics.

How do you score? Do you know how to score? Are you a “Catholic in Good Standing?

Catholic “in good standing.” There then arises the question of what is meant by a Catholic “in good standing.” It is generally purported that a so-called Catholic in good standing is a baptized Catholic who claims to live by the Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church as promulgated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which derive presumably from the statements expressed or implied in §§ 2041-2043 of the said Catechism. The observation, however, obtains that monitoring those “precepts” for each parishioner is at best daunting if not entirely impossible.[5] Furthermore, even if the precepts were verifiable in any credible way, keeping those precepts would be a question of Pharisee vs tax collector (Lk 18:9-14), demonstrating more technique than disposition (inner forum).

Either the pastor or his administrators would have to take a Sunday mass, reconciliation, Eucharist attendance, and would have to have some method of verifying their ascetic (fasting and abstinence) practices as well. Some parishes have inaugurated a control of collection envelopes to keep tabs on their flocks but not everyone chooses to use collection envelopes and many simply drop cash into the collection baskets. Most persons today would object to such monitoring and auditing practices.

External observation and compliance do not testify to inner holiness by any means and one would benefit by keeping in mind the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, while admitting that the majority in the pews are Pharisees or at best ignorant of anything approximating the so-called “precepts.” Moreover, it is flies in the face of reason to even suggest that the majority of Catholics today qualify even in one or two of the precepts; accordingly, the majority, though living moral and ethical lives, would be rejected by the Church as not being “in good standing.” So, the reasonable conclusion is that the term “in good standing” is not verifiable in reliable objective terms, and that such verification would necessarily have to resort to a creation of an exclusivist, verifiable class of individuals within any parish, perpetuating an already excessively technical and legalistic hierarchical and paternalistic institution that has had its well-earned share of criticism and condemnation, and has tragically resulted in the hemorrhaging of the faithful from an ailing Church. The term “in good standing” is a farce and should be abandoned post haste.

 

The Precepts used to determine a Catholic in good standing are taken from the RC Catechism. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church is “a text which contains the fundamental Christian truths formulated in a way that facilitates their understanding” and is “a ‘point of reference’ for bishops, priests, catechists, teachers, preachers, scholars, students and authors.”   The RC Catechism contains doctrine (teachings of the Church) doctrine and some dogma (universal truths of the Church) but in itself is not dogma![6]

Furthermore, the USCCB notes that:

“By its very nature, a catechism presents the fundamental truths of the faith which have already been communicated and defined. Because the Catechism presents Catholic doctrine in a complete yet summary way, it naturally contains the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and ecumenical councils in the history of the Church. It also presents teaching which has not been communicated and defined in these most solemn forms.” (17)

The Catechism is a resource book and may be difficult for the “people in the pews,” to understand. According to the bishops’ statement:

“It would be helpful if the reader had some theological background, but the Catechism itself presents a considerable amount of theological background material.”[7]

Most lay ministers and parish administrators do not have theological or pastoral training; it is also true that putting important decisions in the hands of amateurs is a very slippery slope. Add to that the power dynamics and the political and social forces that are prominent in parishes and we have a very hazardous situation indeed.

Any guidelines or protocols existing in a particular parish must, of course, comply with Canon Law, as must any local law, and must be applicable uniformly and impartially to any given situation, including that of confirmation sponsor. The local ordinary and then his presbyter pastor are the ultimate authorities for determining such guidelines and protocols which clearly do not fall within the purview of persons not having canonical authority to promulgate or to interpret such guidelines or protocols.

If a question or problem should arise with regard to the provisions of canon law or to local laws, guidelines, or rules licitly, lawfully, and validly promulgated and ratified, such question or problem should be consigned to the parish pastor in the first instance for resolution. Pursuant to c. 145 and c. 519, lay persons or lay administrators do not have canonical authority in such spiritual matters.

The pastoral, spiritual, administrative procedures in the individual locales use to interview, screen, assess, guide, instruct, mentor, or otherwise prepare sponsor designates for their role as sponsor is beyond the question posed, and are thus beyond the scope of this opinion. That statement notwithstanding, the fact that they are beyond the scope of this opinion does not in any way detract from their importance nor from the responsibility of the parochial ecclesial officers to ensure that such procedures are in place and are implemented objectively and impartially, and that the associated lay ministers and administrators are adequately discerned, formed and mentored to ensure the well-being of confirmation candidates and their sponsor designates.

And the result is bad disciples!

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger demonstrating the virtue of poverty. A bit too theatrical and ostentatious to be convincing, or to our taste. Whom does he think he’s fooling, anyway?


Notes

[1] The parish of St Patrick in Ravena has a number of problems not the least of which is their website which is an indicator of the lack of professionalism and care that one would expect. For example, there is a page entitled “We have come such a long way in a relatively short period of time!  Take a look at our History! / St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish began as a mission church in 1859 where the Church overlooked the Hudson River in Coeymans.  In 1917 it was rebuilt at it’s [sic] current site on Main St in Ravena / So who were our Pastors?” That page shows a series of images of a man’s headshot; apparently all the pastors were look alike clones. The Hudson River is not all that the parish of St Patrick in Ravena overlooked. Maybe pastor Scott VanDerveer should spend some time checking his minions’ work and grammar. It’s an embarrassment.

[2] Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that the local parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, should share the same deficiencies as the parish of the same name, St Patrick, in Charlotte, NC? What does that tell you?

[3] Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose. Further, at  §2., the Code states “The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time constituted and conferred.”

[4] C. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law. [emphasis provided]

[5] Appendix I, Catholic Catechism, Precepts

[6] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Frequently Asked Questions about the Catechism of the Catholic Church” (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-catechism-of-the-catholic-church.cfm last accessed on February

[7] Having made that statement, I would like to ask the bishops Who is to decide or determine what is what in the Catechism? Without formation and training it is a hopeless task for the lay person to discern what is doctrine, what is dogma, what is theology, etc. The whole statement is a collection of ecclesial double-talk!

 

Who are the Thought Police in Your Community? Do you know?

“As members of a community, even as citizens of a nation, we are frequently exposed to and have to cope with what is known as groupthink, a phenomenon that may seriously compromise our image of ourselves, our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, community leaders, and may also compromise our moral rights of personal dignity and autonomy. And yet, groupthink is precisely what underlies much of our “training” in how to be good citizens and in the so-called education programs and our social organizations, and is pandemic in most of the institutions in which we work. Groupthink,  shamefully, has been a part of our religious institutions since time immemorial. Agendizing, brainwashing, programming.”

Anonymous Contributor.

We, as citizens, as members of our community, parents and educators, as human beings we are told that we have an inherent and guaranteed right to speak freely and openly about most subjects without the stigma that might apply to a person living and working in a different country. We would like to think that people, especially our elected leaders and our educators, tend to listen to us and give some weight and importance to what we have to say; consequently, we can and should play an important and proactive role in deciding how we live, work and are governed, and in order to do this, we must make our leaders aware that we are aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and implement ways of avoiding this insidious, infectious, and fatal phenomenon in our communities and in our lives. Once people are made aware of the groupthink phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

Groupthink.[1] It’s everywhere and it’s toxic! It’s dehumanizing. It perpetuates lies and factoids. Yet you love it! It makes things so much easier when you don’t have to use your own brain and you allow yourself to be programmed to think, speak, act, perform according to the in-group’s agenda.

Irving Janus mainstreamed the term in 1982. [2] According to Janis, groupthink

“[h]appens when in-group pressures lead to deterioration in mental efficiency, poor testing of reality, and lax moral judgment. It tends to occur in highly cohesive groups in which the group members’ desire for consensus becomes more important than evaluating problems and solutions realistically. An example would be the top executive cabinet (the president and vice presidents) of a firm, who have worked together for many years. They know each other well and think as a cohesive unit rather than as a collection of individuals.” [my italics]

We can find groupthink in our workplaces, churches, schools, social media, government, and Yes! even in our homes.

Janis identified eight symptoms of groupthink, which are noteworthy and which I will briefly describe below.[3] Persons affected by groupthink may exhibit any of these symptoms:

  1. An experience of the illusion of invulnerability. This illusion produces an unreal sense of optimism and the sense of empowerment to take risks, sometimes extreme, which the individual would not otherwise take.
  2. Acceptance of a collective rationalization. The individual ignores the red flags and warnings and refuse to reassess their biases, prejudices and assumptions regarding reality.
  3. Belief in the inherent morality of the group. The individual and members of the group are convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs and become indifferent to the ethical or moral effects and consequences of the group’s decisions and actions.
  4. Establishment and adoption of stereotypes of out-groups. Stereotypes are a facile way of dealing with the “others” and do not require thinking or decision-making. De rigueur negative presumptions and characterizations of the “enemy” render rational and effective responses to conflict unnecessary. Cookie-cutter responses are the result.
  5. The imposition of direct pressure on dissenters. Any deviation from the presumptions and dictates of the group results in sanctions. Individuals, group members are discouraged from expressing alternative views, or representing positions conflicting any of the group’s views.
  6. Requirement of self-censorship. The individual and members of the group are required to ensure that any questions, doubts and deviations from the group’s “consensus,” program, or agenda are not expressed. The individual must “watch his/her mouth” or be sanctioned.
  7. The illusion of unanimity. The views and judgments, decisions and actions of the “group” or of the group’s statutory and declared leader(s) and majority are assumed to be unanimous, justified and reliable.
  8. The presence of self-appointed ‘mindguards’. Certain members isolate and “protect” the group and its leader(s) from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. These are the “thought police” who ensure that any information that can potentially threaten the group or its leaders is filtered out and neutralized.

In other words, the phenomenon of groupthink seems to have grown out of and fits perfectly into the framework of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” with its implications of superpower invulnerability, collective processing of carefully cooked data and information, a sense of moral superiority of the group’s decisions and actions, the facile handling of non-members by the application of stereotypes, direct suppression and sanctioning of any opposing thought or expression — the individual “watches his mouth” to avoid attracting attention to himself and possible sanctioning —, all communications and indicators seem to indicate that “everyone is on the same page” and “stands united.”  Finally, the self-appointed “mindguards,” the Orwellian “thought police,” ensure that everyone toes the mark, knows his place, and follows the “party line.” Sounds awfully much like PC, political correctness, doesn’t it?

The Thought Police or Mindguards ensure that you don’t think out of the box.

As I mentioned above, groupthink is easily observed in our schools, churches, public servants, social groups, the workplace, etc.

Here’s an example that comes from my college days when I worked as an encyclopedia salesperson. We were trained to ask potential purchasers questions that they could not disagree with, such as, for example: “You do care about your children’s education, don’t you?” or “You want your children to have the best available information for school, don’t you?” Once they answered in the affirmative, they were cooked. It was sort of like asking a veteran the question, “You do love your country, don’t you?” Or a clergyperson asking a dissenter, “You do believe in God, don’t you?” Ask those sorts of questions and you get a commitment to groupthink; the rest follows once the individual is on the slippery slope to group membership, willingly or not.

It’s certainly easy enough to self-test yourself by asking yourself if any of the above symptoms could possibly apply to you…but be aware of the sneaky symptom of “self-censorship” because you might actually be unaware that you are self-censoring; you may actually believe that what you say you believe is in fact what you believe. (Please go back and reread that last part. It’s important and you really didn’t understand it, did you?!)

Everyone connected to the same “brain”, the core-group’s!

Here’s a real example: I was at my fitness center and struck up a conversation with a guy who was working on a neighboring piece of equipment. The conversation started out on muscle groups and doping, use of anabolic steroids, doping scandals, and how natural fitness was desirable over and against taking performance enhancers. The conversation drifted to the inquiry, “What do you do?” The guy was intelligent, apparently well-read in the subject of performance enhancers in athletes, and was no dummy. He responded by telling me he was a “personal income tax auditor” for the state of New York. What followed was a textbook example of groupthink. He commenced by telling me how interesting his job was because he was making sure everyone stayed honest. Everyone should pay taxes. Not everyone was honest, some people were honest but ignorant. The tax department and auditors were there to protect the public. He was happy doing what he was doing, and he liked his work. He was protecting honest citizens from the crooks and the parasites. New York state took care of its people unlike those states with no personal income tax, states that provided sanctuary to people who want to keep their fortunes but not share by paying personal income taxes. Basically, you can’t argue with this guy because what he is saying is superficially true, ethical and moral. But, and there’s the clincher, his thinking from one subject to the other was schizoid! He was very individualized, independent, even liberal when discussing the social and personal impact of performance enhancers on non-professional vs. professional athletes, and the use of performance enhancers in the guy-next-door who works out to stay healthy or attractive. His lock-step “tax department” jargon and speech, almost soapbox preaching, was groupspeak, the product of groupthink. Can you identify the symptoms?

Here are two more examples I found on a professional networking site, LinkedIn, which is slowly morphing into a Facebook-type social media space. Whereas LinkedIn was originally intended to be a forum facilitating networking among professionals, the parasites slowly infiltrated and started their social justice preaching and religious proselytizing.

One characteristic of social justice and religion is that both are fertile ground for a bumper crop of groupthinkers. Example 1: Social Justice. This example is remarkable because it is so homogeneous in the majority responses and because of the sheer number of responses: 5,013 Likes, 321 comments! Synopsis: A young woman with Down’s syndrome appears in what is obviously a staged video, in which she receives a call from a fast-food chain, Chik-Fil-A, in which she is offered a job paying $11.50/h. It is her first real job and she is elated at the offer and accepts.

The groupthink: Actual comments: “Awesome!” “Wonderful!””Isn’t Chik-Fil-A a great company!””The story brought tears to my eyes!” “It made my day! We need more stories like this!” But many of the comments were condescending: They mentioned “learning disability” and how remarkable it was that this young woman had “won,” how employment “is a right,” and other misguided slogans associated with what we know as PC but was described by Janis as groupthink. The censorship/sanction/thought police action: A commenter posted some reasonable, dissenting, conflicting thoughts about the reality of the situation in terms of stereotyping highly functional Down’s syndrome  persons as having “learning disabilities,” a bucket term that stereotyped them unfairly. That she was hired on her merits and if she didn’t have what Chick-Fil-A needed and wanted, she would not have gotten the call. That Down’s syndrome persons are highly desirable in service jobs with customer contact because of their personality characteristics, as was pioneered by McDonald’s some time ago, and that these corporations are exploiting vulnerable persons with Down’s syndrome because they are perfect for these low-paying jobs, and it creates a very positive social image for the corporation, so-called “organizational health.” (See the McKinsey report below.)

Needless to say, the “mindguards” were quick to respond, and butchered the commentor for being “a Grinch,” for not “caring” and for his “dripping sarcasm.” Not a single comment out of more than 300 comments and replies accepted the truth of what the commenter wrote; almost all condemned him for not sharing the majority’s groupthink. (Click here to read the actual comments made by the commenter and some of the replies.)[4]

The value of hiring persons with Down syndrome is not lost on the corporations![5]

The economic benefits of hiring persons with intellectual challenges is not lost on the corporations, as is demonstrated by the McKinsey report[6], but we’re not supposed to talk about the dark side of Julia’s hiring because the group think won’t allow anyone to pop their bubble of denial or distract them from their happy, be nice, love fest by suggesting reality. That’s groupthink.

Here’s another from the same site, LinkedIn. This time it was a religious fanatic known popularly as a “Jesus-freak,” someone who posts an inflammatory statement about how Jesus is the truth and everything else is a lie. First of all, such posts are more Facebook quality and have nothing to do with professional networking, so it shouldn’t have been on LinkedIn in the first place. So the original post by one David Wood, who describes himself as the “Executive Producer Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Resurrection of Jesus Christ LLC, School Of Hard Knocks,” and his project as:

“The Resurrection Project unites the Body of Christ, to launch a global love movement, a feature length movie, and a video game, and tell the story of Jesus’ Christ resurrection and the 40 days that followed. “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” is the greatest love story ever told.” www.theresurrectionofjesuschrist.com [Author’s note: My italics; I have not undertaken any editing of Mr. Wood’s English.]

His post was simply:

That was it. My first reaction was that Islam never claimed that Muhammad was God. Nor does Buddhism teach that Buddha was a god. The name applied to God in Arabic, and hence in Islam is Allah, which is merely an equivalent of the English, God, so that point is really moot. And the fact that Wood claims that his Jesus is the “only one God” reveals a bit of tunnel vision, even religious and theological ignorance. This is groupthink at one of its worst moments!

My point is this: Approach that post as I did, with the above reasoning, and you will obtain a clear lesson in groupthink.  The post received 51 Likes and 15 Comments but was seen be hundreds, perhaps thousands who didn’t want to “offend” by responding. (Or perhaps because religion is not as popular as Down’s syndrome? Or because the message was so bizarre? Who can say for sure?)

Those three examples should suffice to convince even the hardcore groupthinkers of their affliction.

The kinds of groups that are particularly at risk for the groupthink phenomenon are, of course, groups that we could characterize as cliques, whether consisting of 3 or 3000 persons. Cliques don’t need to be small and a whole company or department may become a clique. The group or clique should be cohesive for groupthink to develop; cohesive factors may include ethnicity, similar interest, and physical appearance. Members of a clique often isolate themselves as a group and tend to view the clique as superior to anyone outside the clique.

Cliques can form in any age group but they are most associated with groups whose members have gotten stuck in an adolescent or late childhood developmental stage, the stage when individuals normally form and become members of such groups. Accordingly, groupthink is characteristic of individuals who may have gotten stuck in a pre-adult developmental stage.

Facebook is a well known huge groupthink-collective in which groupthink can be diagnosed at various levels in the interactions from the very top, where the Facebook Standards and the thought police are active censoring deviant thinkers, that is, anyone who may not agree with Facebook or its policies, to the smaller yet equally repulsive “groups,” which may be “open,” “closed” or “secret”. The problem and real danger associated with Facebook and other social media that functions by exploiting the groupthink phenomenon is the sheer numbers of people who can be and actually are affected by the clique(s).

The proven disorder of Facebook Addiction or Internet Addiction Disorder make the problem even worse because once subscribers are addicted, they are captivated by the groupthink phenomenon and cannot escape.(See our article on Facebook Addiction Disorder on this blog.)

It’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process.

Another problem is what I would call the “Room 101” factor[7]:  the fact that in terms of groupthink, when Facebook decides to deactivate an account for one reason or another, whether for a period of time certain (days, weeks, etc.) or permanently, this “punishment” practice has a psychospiritual effect on the affected individual, similar to being shunned or banned froma group or a clique. It is a powerful motivator to keep people under their thumb, a control strategy, that works extremely well once Facebook has hooked a person, and the person is sufficiently invested in Facebook in terms of time spent online and digital friends collected, such that the now addicted subscriber will feel the psychosocial pain of being “deactivated.,” in a sense placed in isolation by Facebook without the benefit of due process. Yes, it’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process. Similar, in fact, to “vaporizing” a dissenter in Orwell’s “1984” where the dissenter is simply made to disappear, as if he never existed. [8]

The recent reports of Facebook’s cooperation with the US and Israeli governments to deactivate certain Facebook pages because their messages are “inconvenient” is a very disturbing step taken in the direction of thought control, Thought Police and Mindguards. That’s why we’ve been trying to get through to our readers to campaign against social media like Facebook! (See our articles on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg‘s ambitious agenda to become God. Once he’s got a fifth of the world’s population addicted to Facebook and can control what they read, hear, see, and say, he’s well on his way to become the next Dictator in Heaven.)


The same “vaporizing” occurs when someone “unfriends” or “blocks” another subscriber who may have violated the group-leader’s or the group’s groupthink policies. Have you been Facebook vaporized recently? You wouldn’t know if you had been because Facebook strategically keeps it a secret; only the vaporizer and Facebook know it. Same applies when someone has a grudge against you on Facebook: they simply report you for such-and-such, and you find yourself deactivated. Groupthink à la Facebook!

The groupthink phenomenon can be avoided but only if the clique or the group is willing to acknowledge the phenomenon, to recognize it in their group, and sees the benefits of avoiding the phenomenon.

Fred Lunenburg (2012) proposes a number of possible ways to avoid groupthink in a group, including[9]:

  • Encouraging group members to state and air objections, doubts, and questions,
  • Promoting impartiality rather than stating preferences and expectations of the group at the outset,
  • The group leaders should periodically discuss the group’s policies and practices and report their transactions back to the group, inviting feedback,
  • Members should be invited to challenge the views of core members (and leaders),
  • At least one member should play the role of devil’s advocate, expressing objections or critiquing group policies and practices, and beliefs,
  • Where there is devil’s advocacy, members should spend time and effort evaluating the warning signals of developing groupthink inherent in adverse responses,
  • Alternative scenarios should be constructed by group leaders in evaluating any rivaling intentions,
  • In the case of a member who appears to consistently rival the group’s polices or practices (Red flag! Think groupthink!), the member should be asked to express as vividly as he can all his residual doubts,
  • Group leaders or core members should present the entire issue to the group to elicit feedback and insights before making any definitive choices or decisions.

Group coherence and decision making has clear benefits over individual decision making. This is especially true when a decision must be made under conditions of uncertainty.[10] Some of the benefits described by Bonito (2011) include[11]:

  • Improved decision quality
  • Higher level of creativity and creative thinking
  • Improved decision acceptance and organizational learning
  • Increased decision understanding
  • Enhanced effectiveness in establishing objectives, identifying alternatives
  • Greater decision accuracy and avoidance of errors and glitches

Admittedly, these benefits may be less related to the actual outcomes of decisions than they are to group morale and satisfaction; we can agree that groups should and probably do perform better when

  • Group members present a variety of relevant skills that differ sufficiently but do not create constraints or conflicts;
  • There is a division of labor or effort, input;
  • Individual inputs can be “averaged” in such a way as to arrive at a group “position.”

Are you controlled by the Thought Police, the Mindguards from the cradle to the grave?

By now you might be asking yourself the question: “That having been said, and while applicable to business decisions or to Facebook and other moderated social media, how does that apply to spiritual care or to our lives in our communities and the nation at large?” Well, in order to answer that question, I have to ask you to step out of your stall in the sheeple box, and think about the environment in which you live. Ask yourselves if you can identify groupthink in these situations:

  • In your church or faith community. (Hint: How do you talk about other faith or belief groups)?
  • In the Sports Association or Social Club. Do you have to toe the mark in what you talk about?
  • In your political or social club (Hint: When at a Republican Club or Democratic Club or American Legion occasion, are you careful what you say?)
  • In your children’s schools (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a Board of Education meeting or just sit simmering? At a PTA meeting what do you feel you can discuss? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • At town board or village board meetings (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a board meetings or just sit simmering? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • Have you ever avoided going somewhere or doing something because you were concerned what “they” would say?
  • Are there subjects or topics or language that you avoid specifically to avoid being stereotyped or labeled? Do you choose political correctness over truth and honesty? Do you do that out of fear of the Mindguards?

Are you being stalked by the community or social media Thought Police, the Mindguards?

At home do you have open discussions with family members or are some subjects simply avoided or off-topic? Are the Thought Police at work in your home? Or are you letting the Facebook and social media thought police do their work for you? Have you seen your kids today?

When is the last time you looked at what your schools are teaching to your children? Have you ever openly questioned what they are being taught? Or are you letting the Mindguards manage your kids’ minds?

At work do you challenge social injustice or do you simply turn your back hoping it won’t hit you next? Are you open in discussing what you feel needs to be considered for change? Do you suggest improvements? Or are you living in constant fear of being “vaporized,” “unfriended,” “blocked” by your employer or even your workmates and coworkers?

Have you been castrated by the Thought Police, the Mindguards?

Most of us will find ourselves interacting throughout our entire lives with employers, educators, community members, governing bodies, committees, or just with our families. We take these interactions for granted; that’s a big mistake..Each of these environments is at high risk of the groupthink phenomenon, and we need to start thinking about the nature and quality of those interactions. Can you identify the symptoms of groupthink in any of your relationships or interations?

We frequently say that “emotions are contagious,” but we don’t frequently admit that not only emotions but the environment created by the attitudes and thinking of leaders and core members in a group are just as contagious in the form of groupthink.

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink

Those of us who are aware of our lives will admit that each group or community has its own culture, and if we are to work effectively with the members and effetively serve the ourselves and our community, we have to be aware of the groupthink phenomenon as it most certainly exists in that group or community. Ask yourself if you feel your teachers, your administrators, your elected officials, local law enforcement are listening to you and your concerns and their attitude towards the “necessary evil” of your opinion must be tolerated rather than facilitated. That attitude extends to all the members of the community, including educators, elected officials, law enforcement, etc.,  and the symptoms of groupthink can be quickly and easily identified if you care to look. How do we deal with that situation armed with the awareness of the probable existence of groupthink?

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink phenomenon because they are founded on very clear principles of operation and program; they have their” agendas.” The objectives and goals of the group are clearly defined and the members are controlled by the assignment of specific tasks and imposing protocols. The agenda is clearly defined. You simply don’t dissent or rock the hospice boat. Groupthink.

Institutional Agendas Define the Group.

 

As “tradition” the groupthink may have developed as a response to the local culture, whether it be socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, etc. In this case, it is a response to the exigencies of doing living and functioning with that demographic mix, and is almost a requirement for survival. Is this “positive” groupthink? Perhaps, but it goes without saying that unless the establishment leaves the door open to open discussion, sharing of insights, correct interpretations of warning signs and red flags, it can quickly transmute into “negative” groupthink.

As the organization leaves the traditional, local, “family” orientation or organization and moves towards the group or the corporate systems, groupthink becomes more of a high risk than a positive stabilizing factor. This is where the culture of the group or corporation overshadows the individuals that move it as well as those who consume its products and services. Rather than being an evolving, “living” organism, it is a monolith. Again,I can’t help but cite Facebook or the federal government as outstanding examples of such a negative development.

A number of large multinational corporations like IBM, 3M, Anheuser-Busch have recognized the threat posed by groupthink and have implemented and developed processes to prevent or at least to mitigate its deleterious and prejudicial effects within the components of the organization and on the organization as a whole. Lunenburg (2012) discusses some of the ways they have approached prevention of groupthink by way of methods like devil’s advocacy and dialectical inquiry. McDougel and Baum (1997) discuss the application of devil’s advocacy to stimulate discussion and avoid groupthink in focus groups.[12] McAvoy et al. discuss how devil’s advocacy and the principles of sensemaking can be used in a method they call the “agitation workshop” as a method of challenging the false consensus created by the groupthink phenomenon.[13]

Do frequent meetings and evaluations work to avoid groupthink? More likely than not, they may actually promote groupthink when leadership reiterate at each meeting the same expectations at the outset, setting the stage for a more limited and controlled conversation that does not allow for alternative discussion. But such meetings and evaluations and be highly productive if, at the outset, the leaders or facilitators are aware of the symptoms of groupthink and some of the methods to directly avoid it, as well as the quasi-paedagogical methods of enhancing creative thinking, even improving performance by institutionalizing dissent!

We can and should play an important and proactive role in making the organizations and leaders with whom we work aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and ways of avoiding the phenomenon in our environments. Once people are made aware of the phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

By using your brain you can avoid the dangers of groupthink!
The Editor


Notes

[1] Irving Janis originally coined the term groupthink in 1972. (Janis, Irving L.  (1972).  Victims of Groupthink.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.)

[2] Janis, I. L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascos (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

[3] For a more comprehensive discussion of the eight symptoms please refer to Janis’ Groupthink, Psychological Studies, above. A brief and very helpful overview of groupthink is provided in What is Groupthink? (http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm, last accessed on January 8, 2018, 2018).

[4] The “Julia got a job!” obviously scripted video is synopsized on YouTube in the following words: “A heartwarming video shows the moment a teenage girl with Down syndrome receives her first job offer. A girl named Julia gets a phone call from a Chick-fil-A employee in Rancho Murieta, California. ‘I was just calling to offer you a position here,’ the woman says on speaker phone. ‘Your pay rate would be 11.50 per hour, would you like to accept?’ ‘I do,’ Julia says, her face overcome with emotion. As the woman tells her that she will start in December, Julia breaks down in tears of happiness. ‘Oh my gosh,’ she can be heard saying as she thanks the woman profusely. Julia’s family then encircles her and gives her a massive hug while chanting ‘Chick-Fil-A’. “ (AutoNews- Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5101331/Teen-girl-syndrome-cries-s-given-job.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490)

[5] According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that serves private, public and social sector institutions, in a report entitled, “The value that employees with Down syndrome can add to organizations,” we read “[H]owever, some companies have chosen to tackle the far more complex challenge of hiring people with intellectual disabilities. Those that have done so have found that these people can add value to organizational health (an organization’s ability to align, execute, and renew itself faster than competitors so that it can sustain exceptional performance over time). Employees with Down syndrome are a particularly interesting topic of research, as they have a number of characteristics that both increase the challenges associated with inclusion and bring added benefits.” [my italics] (McKinsey & Company (2014) “The value that employees with Down Syndrome can add to organizations” (Vicente Assis, Marcus Frank, Guilherme Bcheche, and Bruno Kuboiama), last accessed on January 9, 2018.)

[6] Ibid.

[7] I’m referring to the notorious Room 101 described in Orwell’s novel “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” the room in the Ministry of Truth (MiniTru in Newspeak), where dissenters were taken for “processing,” most never to be heard from again. “You asked me once,” said O’Brien, “what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”  (“1984” Part 3, Ch. 5)  In “1984” the Inner Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking known as “thoughtcrimes” and is enforced by the “Thought Police.” The Ministry of Love (Miniluv), the ministry in charge of torturing dissidents.  The protagonist Smith is subjected to many forms of torture and is forced into the horror chamber known only as Room 101.

[8] Mind Control – George Orwell BBC 101 Documentary last accessed on January 9, 2018.

[9] Lunenburg, F. (2012).” Devil’s Advocacy and Dialectical Inquiry: Antidote to Groupthink”. International Journal of

Scholarly and Academic Intellectual Diversity, Vol 14, No. 1, pp 1-9.

[10] Nikolaidis (2012) defines uncertainty as “the condition under which an individual [or group] does not have the necessary information to assign probabilities to the outcomes of alternative solutions. (Nikolaidis, E. (2012).  Design decisions under uncertainty with limited information. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.)

[11] Bonito, J. (2011). Interaction and influence in small group decision making. New York, NY: Routledge.

[12] McDougal, C., F. Baum, (1997) “The Devil’s Advocate: A Strategy to Avoid Groupthink and Stimulate Discussion in Focus Groups,” Qualitative Health Research, Volume 7, Number 4, pp 532-541.

[13] John McAvoy, Tadhg Nagle and David Sammon, (2013) “A novel approach to challenging consensus in evaluations: The Agitation Workshop,” The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation, Volume 16 Issue 1,  pp 45-55.

 
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Our 2018 Commitment to Our Followers and Supporters

Happy New Year Animation -mn3

Our loyal and dedicated commitment to our readers, followers, supporters is to continue reporting the facts and the truth that the media and our pubic officials are keeping from you. We will continue our efforts to expose the corruption and incompetence in our town, village, and city halls and our county and state institutions.

We would like to thank our thousands, Yes! hundreds of thousands of readers, our hundreds of followers, our local and regional contributors, informants and collaborators for your loyalty and support. We look forward to continuing our important work with you all in 2018. With your help we can make the changes our government and elected officials promise but never deliver.

Only YOU through your individual and personal efforts can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. No ego maniac politician, local or national, can do that for you. You have to step up to the plate and help us bat the winning home run in this series!

All of us at the Smalbany Blog wish you all a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year 2018!

The Editor, Contributors, Collaborators and Supporters

Wish you and the community a

 
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