Thursday, March 22, 2007

Say what you will about these articles but Mayor Bloomberg and his administration could have handled this better. How about getting Clarice Joynes to do her job and work as a go between the administration and the Legion Post. Mayor Bloomberg's comment below and his overall actions towards veterans remind me of the movie "The Hunt for Red October." In the movie, the Secretary of Defense tells Jack Ryan: "Listen, I'm a politician which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops."

Mayor Bloomberg thanks us for our service, says all the right things about veterans, even has a breakfast at Gracie Mansion on Veterans Day. Then he turns around and doesn't support initiatives to better help returning veterans and the vet community as a whole and under the guise of service, does things with no imput from the community that are not helpful to the community. All of you who belong to a post/hall better watch out! The time for action is upon us. Pass this on....Joe
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March 22, 2007 -- Outraged military veterans yesterday blasted the city Health Department for shutting down a revered Brooklyn American Legion hall for not having a food license.
Some of the complaining vets admitted their own clubs around the city also don't have a city license and could be shut down if food cops make surprise visits to their halls.
"The Health Department has as much right to walk into an American Legion post as it does your home, my home or Mayor Bloomberg's home," said James Mullaney, past commander of American Legion Post 157 in Bay Ridge.

Mullaney was responding to the department's decision to close the Michael A. Rawley Legion Post 1636 in Park Slope for operating a bar and kitchen without a food-establishment permit.
Post commander Richard Lombardi said the department had never visited the legion hall in 50 years, and conducted an inspection only after getting an anonymous complaint.

The Rawley hall has a booze license from the State Liquor Authority, and members believe it needs no additional permits from the city because it serves only drinks and food to its members, not the public.

"Everybody is very concerned about it," Mullaney said. "This requirement would put the smaller posts out of business. One of my bartenders is 88 years old. He is going to have to train for a handler's permit?"

Bloomberg defended the department's action as "clearly an effort to help our veterans."
"If our veterans go to an American Legion hall and the food is dangerous to eat because they're not obeying health standards," the city needs to act, he said.
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March 21, 2007 -- The city's food cops are at war with New York's military heroes after taking the extraordinary step of shutting down a revered American Legion club in Brooklyn, The Post has learned.

The kitchen and bar at Legion Post 1636 in Park Slope was shuttered on Feb. 20 for failing to get a food establishment license - even though it never had one in over 50 years of existence. The post's 175 members include veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Post 1636 - like most American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts - serves a limited food menu, as well as liquor and other beverages, to its members and invited guests but not to the public at large.

After the Health Department crackdown, the post had to cancel its planned St. Patrick's Day dinner at its spacious hall following last Saturday's parade - a tradition that went back decades.
"The enemy couldn't kill us. But city officials want to kill us," seethed 74-year-old Korean War veteran Peter DeAngelis, a recipient of the Purple Heart and chairman of the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade.

"I'm very disturbed. We can't even make our own coffee. This is a family operation. I think they're trying to punish veterans and senior citizens just to issue more fines and generate more revenue," he added.

Phil Manachino, 85, a World War II veteran who served in the Army 7th Infantry Division in Europe, said the city's closure was a slap in the face.

"This is a like a second home to all of the members. We'll battle this," Manachino said.
Legion members were stunned because the Health Department had never inspected or regulated the premises since World War II.

But a food inspector suddenly visited Legion Post 1636 at 193 Ninth St. in January and February after getting a smoking complaint.

That's when inspectors realized that post didn't have a food license to operate its kitchen - and shut it down, with the bar.
"Because they serve alcohol, they are considered a food service establishment and must be permitted," the Health Department said in a statement.
"In order to reopen, they need to obtain a permit and enroll in the food-protecting class. They have not yet contacted the department to begin this process."
Post commander Richard Lombardi said 1636 has a license from New York State Liquor Authority to serve booze.
But he said he never knew tax-exempt veterans organizations were required to obtain a food license.
VFWs have not been routinely subject to Health Department food-safety inspections.
"They didn't even know we existed until they got this complaint," Lombardi said of the Health Department.
He did say the post paid for two of its members who tend bar to attend training and get city food-handling permits.
But he balked at getting a food establishment license because he said the place isn't a commerical restaurant catering to the public.

"We're not a regular bar and restaurant. That's the sticking point," Lombardi said.
The post offers a limited menu, including pasta and soup.

The Health Department insisted there was no change in policy and said it's up to all organizations to know whether they're covered by city food rules.

The latest controversy comes amid a Health Department restaurant crackdown after embarrassing video footage showed rats running rampant inside a KFC/Taco Bell outlet in Greenwich Village last month - just hours after it passed inspection.