The Making of an American Political Prisoner
By Michael Boyajian
So you leave New York City for the quiet life in Fishkill in the suburbs of Dutchess County only you discover a dark secret. Developers had wanted to pave over the graves of hundreds of revolutionary war soldiers' graves and most of the site, known as the Fishkill Supply Depot or New York's Valley Forge, has been developed with unimaginable losses of historic artifacts at the hands of a back hoe.
Enter long time resident Marty Byster a guy who likes to walk his dog all over Fishkill spotting historical or environmental wrong doing and reporting it to the authorities at the state level finding local officials compromised by the developers they readily court.
Marty is sort of like a small town version of TV's Colombo or Matlock. You can just envision him with his amiable smile and his happy dog as the main character in a mystery series.
Recently Marty discovered that someone was dumping waste and motor oil at the defunct, but for a home improvement store, Dutchess Mall which was built over Supply Depot land. Marty worried that the waste was spilling into a nearby freshwater stream and so notified the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They took action.
A short while later Marty was walking his dog at the mall when a pickup truck pulled up and the driver said to Marty, "You've cost us $30,000." Marty just went about his business knowing he had carried out his civic duty.
But then a policeman showed up at his door and served him with the charge of criminal trespass claiming Marty had entered an enclosed area at the mall, a charge he vehemently denies. Some might call this legal action retribution for Marty's call to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Marty had a court appearance scheduled in Fishkill but the judge recused himself and the case was moved to East Fishkill. That was after a Fishkill Town Board member exclaimed, "We have finally gotten Marty Byster," as if the official were a banana republic dictator from the 1970s who had just arrested a political opponent. The funny thing is the Town of Fishkill is Republican but so is Marty, only he is the wrong kind of Republican. He is the old Theodore Roosevelt good government style Republican and that rubs town officials the wrong way.
Marty did not start to worry about his day in court until court authorities demanded his fingerprints, a request that puzzled a former New York City prosecutor. Marty's court date is July 22 and his anxieties over this case grow with each passing day because though he may become he does not want to be, an American political prisoner.