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Early Civil Rights (the LIGHTER side) / Former Mayor Giuliani & Custody - you lose!

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Date: Wed Mar 13 2002 - 08:25:18 EST

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Good People:

This message contains info on:
1. What they first wanted - early Civil Rights, what may seem funny now!
2. Sorry Mr. Mayor - Giuliani denied shared custody of the kids.
3. Letter to Senator Clinton - can we get an answer?

The first couple of items in this week's message should provide a
little "comic" relief from the very serious struggle we are involved
in.  You will probably be amazed by the very limited goals and
disagreements experienced by earlier Civil Rights movements (maybe
they were people just like us after all!).

How do you see this happening?  When will it happen?  And by whom?  To
what historical precedent do you compare this struggle -- so that we
may learn from the past?  We've shared a few answers with you, but
there haven't been many.  If you have some thoughts on the above,
please write in so we can share your ideas with others -- How are we
going to get there and how do we know when we have arrived?  Simple
questions, basic questions, and maybe ones that still need

The story of former Mayor Giuliani's struggle may also give us some
comfort.  How many of us either plague ourselves, or are plagued by
well meaning friends: 
* If I'd had money for a good lawyer, things would'a been different...  
* If I'd have had a better personal record, things would'a been different... 
* If I'd have been politically connected, things would'a been different...  
* If I would have.... 

As you read his story, you can all probably relate and realize -- it
probably wouldn't have mattered.  With complete decision making power
in the hand of one person, deciding some of the most personal issues
of our lives, how can you ever avoid being arbitrary?  You will
especially enjoy the Judges remarks at the end of the article!

1. What they first wanted - what may seem funny now
We are doing some research into the Women's rights movement, along
with others, and hit upon a few things that seem so out of place, it
made us all laugh.  For your consideration:

A. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was preparing a "Declaration of Sentiments"
for the first Women's Rights meeting. The primary issues of the day
were property and children.  In the 1800's divorce meant the husband
got all the property and the children, mom was expendable (imagine
that!).  Besides the property concerns, Elizabeth wanted to add a goal
which would also give Women the right to vote -- that created quite a
bit of discontent with the other ladies, she was going too far, it
would interfere with their other goals...

B. The first meeting for Women's Right, held in Seneca Falls, NY, was
chaired by a Man (after all that was only proper).  A second meeting
was scheduled for Rochester, NY, and it was proposed that a Women be
the chair for the meeting. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was so disturbed by
the idea she was going to refuse to attend, but then went anyway
(thank God for compromise!).

C. Many of us remember Martin Luther King and the first efforts to
break segregation in the South.  There was the famous boycott of the
Birmingham Bus system which had forced blacks to sit in the
back. Actually, they had to sit behind a certain row.  Even if the
back of the bus was full, and there weren't any whites -- they still
had to stand. They could not sit in the white seats.

What many of us don't know, is that the first goal of the committee
when negotiating with the white City Fathers was this: Just allow the
blacks to fill in from the back of the bus, and the whites to fill in
from the front, so that all seats get filled. To ask for equal seating
would have been "too radical", they needed to "take it slow."

Thank goodness, the City Father's rejected even that humble request --
and the rest is history.

2. Sorry Mr. Mayor - Giuliani denied shared custody of the kids.
The following is from the NY Times, get the same article at the 
following link:

March 7, 2002: Judge Denies Giuliani's Request for Joint Custody

Rudolph W. Giuliani has been lauded worldwide for his stalwart
leadership after the Sept. 11 attacks, but the judge handling the
former mayor's divorce case suggested yesterday that he had been less
laudable in his private life and that his years in office had hurt his
relationship with his children.

In a ruling yesterday, the judge, Judith J. Gische of State Supreme
Court in Manhattan, denied a request by the former mayor for joint
custody of his son. Justice Gische also imposed a visitation schedule
that continued limits on contact between Mr. Giuliani's children and
his companion, Judith Nathan, that were imposed last May.

Justice Gische refused to change the restrictions that forbid the
children - Andrew, 15, and Caroline, 12 - to spend overnight visits
with Mr. Giuliani if Ms. Nathan is also spending the night. She
asserted that Mr. Giuliani's relationship with the children needed to
be rebuilt without competition from Ms. Nathan.

"During the eight years that plaintiff was in public office and more
profoundly in his last four months in office, plaintiff's pressing
public obligations often limited the time he had to spend with the
children," the judge wrote. "The children need to establish a new
routine of time spent with their father without worrying about
competing for his attention."

Justice Gische did lift some restrictions on contact with Ms. Nathan.
Except for overnights, Ms. Nathan is now permitted to be in the
presence of the children. Until now, the judge had imposed a complete

The judge's decision prompted Mr. Giuliani's aides to disclose for the
first time that he has his own apartment in Manhattan. He left Gracie
Mansion last spring and had been staying with a friend, Howard
Koeppel, and Mr. Koeppel's partner, Mark Hsiao. The aides would not
say where the apartment was, citing security issues.

Regarding Ms. Nathan, who is referred to as J.N. in the court papers,
Justice Gische wrote: "Although the children have met J.N. at least
once, they can hardly be said to have a comfortable, familiar
relationship with her. This needs to develop over time."

She added, "The record before this court reveals that the children are
not, at this time, psychologically ready to have overnight visits with
their father that include J.N. staying overnight as well. It is
unclear exactly when they will be ready."

Mr. Giuliani's lawyer, Raoul L. Felder, denounced the ruling and
disputed the absent-father characterization. "The judge's decision is
just plain inaccurate," Mr. Felder said. "He has been to every one of
these children's events except one since Sept. 11. Very few fathers in
New York could match that record."

Helene Brezinsky, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani's estranged wife, Donna
Hanover, said, "We are pleased that the court accepted Donna's view
that overnights with Rudy's girlfriend are not appropriate and as
always Donna's only concern is for the best interests of her

Justice Gische yesterday also set June 5, 6 and 7 as the dates for the
divorce trial. But most of her ruling focused on custodial issues, and
the judge said that she had sought to clear up conflicting claims
regarding the children's wishes by interviewing them Feb. 4. She also
noted that Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Hanover had failed to reach any
agreement on permanent custody and that "child related disputes have
only intensified" since the proceedings began.

"At this point the court no longer has any reason to be optimistic," the
judge wrote. "The court, therefore, will proceed with the appointment of
a mental heath professional as a forensic evaluator on the issues of
permanent custody and visitation."

The judge granted Mr. Giuliani visits from his children every other

The judge also ruled that the children should have separate midweek
dinners with their father. Vacations and holidays are to be shared,
with the children kept together.

Mr. Felder said he would ask the judge to rehear arguments on the
visitation schedule. He said Justice Gische had ignored an effort by
Mr.  Giuliani to lay out his schedule a year in advance to allow for a
more customized visitation plan.

"He wants to spend more time with the kids than the judge wants him to
spend," Mr. Felder said.

But the judge rejected that request. "A more traditional visitation
schedule reflects the historical division of responsibility for the
children in this family," she wrote.

3. Letter to Senator Clinton - can we get an answer?
One of our board members, Rich Eichinger, recently wrote Senator
Clinton's office. John Murtari had suspended his efforts in the
Federal Building and had been told he would get a response. Nothing so
far.  For more background on this check:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton                 March 11, 2002
c/o Aprill Springfield, Legislative Aid
476 Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-4451
Fax: 202-228-0282                                        

Dear Aprill Springfield,

I am writing this letter to you to ask a very direct question.  What
is Senator Clinton's position regarding Kids Rights?  Is she for or
against kids having equal parents in their young lives?

Hillary Clinton has been a champion of Children's issues.  She is a
logical person for AKidsRight.Org to ask these questions.  Her role as
federal legislator requires that we insist upon an answer to our
questions directly from her.

It has been 2 long months since Cathy Calhoun met with John Murtari in
the halls of the federal building in Syracuse.  My kids and I are in
such pain since the judge's decision to separate them from their Dad.
Their Dad can hardly believe this could happen here in these free
United States.

I represent the people at AKidsRight.Org.  Please take a look at
www.AKidRight.Org.  We want parents to have equal access to their
kids.  It's a shame the world has taken such a detour and has created
this mess of custodial, non-custodial, joint custody, shared custody
... etc.  In my opinion, none of that has anything to do with the best
interest of kids.

A child is always a child of his/her parent.  All of us have an
unalienable and fundamental right to continue a relationship with our
own kids.  Any law that prevents it is clearly, not constitutional.
Our kids have a right, endowed by our creator, to be protected by
their parents when they are young (or older, for that matter).  We put
criminals in custody, not kids.  A joint endeavor connotes you are
together.  Nothing could be further from the reality of it all.  We
don't share; we are 100% parents.

I don't even understand the thinking that says you MUST get along with
your ex in order for the kids to continue a positive relationship with
both their parents.  If you got along in the 1st place you might still
be married.  The relationship each of you has with your kids is
completely separate; why force it together.  That is the last place I
want to return to.

I was separated 3 years ago and divorced last year.  My ex tried to
move the kids away; change their schools, etc.  A thoughtful judge
said no.  He ordered the kids to live in both homes.  One week with
mom; the next with dad.  At 1st I thought it was crazy.  I think most
people do when they are told about it.  But, it worked very well.  In
fact after 2 years of doing this we all got along great.  I rarely
spoke to my ex nor did she speak to me, it just wasn't necessary.  Our
kids were happy and growing and living at peace in our village.

The weekly schedule is simple.  The kids exchange parents every week
on the same day and at the same time (in my case, 6pm Sunday).  Weeks
repeat every week and the kids see it as their normal routine.  They
continued at the same school.  Their friends and associates remained
the same.  It's also important for mom and dad to live as close as
possible.  We were 9 miles apart and that worked well.

Now, I see my kids in accordance with the Standard Visitation Order.
Nothing can be more oppressive than this order.  The kids exchange
parents 4 times a week (Wednesdays, 5 'til 8pm or sometimes 'til 9am
the next day).  Then there is my "1st right of refusal" every Friday.
They alternate weekends, except when there are holidays.  There are
birthdays, mother's day and father's day; school vacations ... each
screws-up the routine.  The schedule changes in even and odd years.
It's so crazy that the kids can't possibly keep track of it.  I
disagree with my ex every other week because she refuses to follow the
order.  You see, "she makes the rules now", according to her.  Nothing
could be further from the truth.  We are headed back to court; there's
no avoiding it.

I've explained to my kids that the judge's order of sole custody is
only temporary.  When they turn 21 years old they will become my kids
again.  Right now, as sad as it is for them, they will need to settle
for one parent only.

I was once introduced to a children's rights advocate.  She said in a
letter that she helps kids that "...have no families due to abuse".  I
just had to ask her how this could happen to kids and parents.  I
explained that there's a strong lobby for government reform,
especially in Colorado (where kids are shooting each other in school)
to reverse the oppressive tactics by some bad apples in organizations
like child protective services.  There are moms and dads all over the
world, who are having kids taken away for as little as simply opposing
the advice from a social worker.  In Massachusetts, a woman refused to
marry her live-in boyfriend against the advice of a social worker, and
her kids were placed in foster care on false charges of abuse.
There's another girl in Washington who was taken away at age 9, placed
in foster care, and she's now featured in porn films there.  Her
parents are at wits-end trying to right a wrong that can never be
realized.  I read countless other stories of abhorrent behavior from
these so-called "well-meaning" people.
You may not agree, but I am certain that Tom Jefferson knew that the
government had no role in taking "Unalienable" rights from citizens.
He wrote that there are rights, endowed by our creator that a
government of the people has no right to infringe upon.  All rights
are not enumerated in the constitution; many rights are obvious.  For
instance, the right to continue a relationship with your own child is
a basic, fundamental, human right that is everyone's liberty interest,
our life, our right to privacy and surely both a parent's and child's
pursuit of happiness.

For those who advocate the actions of groups like Child Protective
Services, how do you rationalize that a charge of abuse constitutes
the state's duty to remove kids from Parents?  It's one of our
movement's most difficult issues to resolve.  We believe, and I'm not
alone, that the state must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, with a
preponderance of evidence that there is a compelling state interest to
remove a child from his or her parent.  To achieve such a violation of
rights, every citizen has the protections described in the 14th
amendment.  You must not be deprived of life, liberty or property
without due process.  That requires the state to bring the accused to
trial with a jury if they request one.  The accused is innocent until
proven guilty and they have a right to counsel; and if they can't
afford it, then they get help from the state.

You can read the collection of sad stories from our members at The
Hall of Shame.  These parents and their kids want what is right.  I
love my kids dearly.  It's hard for me to grasp a notion that these
parents and kids are not deserving of more of your time.

Please answer our questions.
Thank you,
Richard Eichinger

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