Common Sense: Week of January 3


William Spengler, the ex-con who killed two upstate volunteer firemen while wounding three other individuals and killing his sister, had served a 17-year sentence for beating his grandmother to death. He was then released on parole.

I do not understand how an individual who beats his grandmother to death is ever released from prison. A cold-blooded killer is never rehabilitated. The public could never be considered safe from someone like Spengler. And sadly common sense — which would have caused any reasonable person to conclude that Spengler should have remained behind bars for the rest of his life — was not used by the parole board which allowed him to walk the streets once again. And even if the parole board had not released him, he apparently would have been out after serving 25 years.

I have always believed that capital punishment should be on the books to give prosecutors in a limited number of cases an option which best protects the public. Considering that Spengler did not even get the maximum sentence presently allowed by New York State for killing his grandmother –which would have been life without parole — the death penalty would never have come into play. And that I also question.

Killers like Spengler are exactly why you need a death penalty law on the books. He enjoyed killing. He said so in a note he left behind. The prison staff and his fellow convicts, and for that matter his neighbors, could never be safe around him.

In my view, the proper administration of justice argues in favor of allowing capital punishment as an option when dealing with cop killers, contract murderers or the breed of cold-blooded killers like Spengler who enjoy taking lives.

If Spengler had not taken his own life and had been tried, convicted and sentenced, the only proper sentence for the crimes he committed would have been death.

In many states, that is exactly the sentence that would have been handed down. New York does not have a death penalty law on the books since the state Court of Appeals overturned a very limited version that Governor Pataki had managed to get through the legislature.

Conservative-Republican Senator Marty Golden – whom I serve as chief of staff — had in the past introduced a bill that would have made it available once again for cop-killers. I think we need to go one step further and have a death penalty law in place to be used as a sentencing option for anyone convicted of a first degree murder. Killers like Spengler must be permanently removed from any threat to society.

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The New York State Conservative Party will be holding its annual political action conference in Albany on Sunday, January 27 and Monday January 28. The event includes a number of panels that discuss everything from the results of the past elections to an analysis of the upcoming fiscal year.

Some of the topics can be a bit out of the ordinary, like the one to discuss changing the way the president is elected to a more direct popular vote, moving away from the Electoral College.

It would be safe to say that there are panels and discussions to meet everyone’s interests. On Monday, there is a lunch with a keynote speaker. This year it is David Bosey, who brought the United Citizens case before the Supreme Court which caused significant changes in campaign finance law.

The conference ends with a reception and dinner Monday night attended by the Conservative Party-endorsed members of the legislature at which time State Chairperson Mike Long will release the party’s legislative agenda for 2013.

The conference is free although there is a charge for the luncheon and/or dinner. If you are interested in attending, you can get more information by calling the Conservative Party at 819-921-2158 or going to the Conservative Party website,

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