A state Supreme Court Judge ruled on Monday that Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme did not have legal ground to remove Vilair Fonvil from his position as Trustee and Deputy Mayor. Justice Margaret Garvey issued a restraining order reinstating Fonvil and preventing Delhomme from removing him for the time being. The order also states that Miguelino Joseph, who Delhomme appointed to the Trustee position on Friday, has no right to make actions as a Trustee until the court makes an ultimate decision. Two weeks ago Fonvil, as well as Trustees Emilia White and Asher Grossman hired Dennis Lynch to represent them and their decision on the board in court if necessary. Lynch stated that Garvey’s decision was unusual, but if Fonvil was removed Delhomme would instantly gain majority control of the board. Lynch’s firm is currently investigating the Mayor’s purchase of a 2014 Ford expedition at the village’s expense, which he uses as his official vehicle. The board will be meeting tonight at 8:00 PM and the case will be heard in court by Justice Gerald Loehr on March 6 at 10:00 AM.
Teachers in the Hudson Valley have recently expressed distaste for a major part of New York State’s Common Core program. Teachers have stated that the Annual Professional Performance Review is not doing what it was set up to, which was to make firing bad teachers easier for districts. Part the system, known as APPR, takes twenty percent of students’ test results, twenty percent of district assessments, and sixty percent teaching observations, and grades a teacher on how well their students are performing. According to Ken Mitchell, Superintendent of South Orangetown Schools, the state will have a hard time pushing Common Core as long as the evaluation process for both teachers and students is centered around testing results. Legislators in the Lower Hudson Valley have recently called for a two- year freeze on using tests to determine placement for students and teachers.
According to a letter Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme sent to Vilair Fonvil, he was removed from the position as Deputy Mayor and Trustee. The letter states that Village Clerk Kathryn Ball was recently removed from her position by the village board, because it had not been approved, which means that official actions performed by Ball were withdrawn. Fonvil was appointed by Delhomme to fill his spot as Trustee and Deputy Mayor on December 2, and on Friday Delhomme appointed Miguelino Joseph for the remainder of the term as trustee, which will end November 2015, and appointed Trustee Anthony Leon to the position of Deputy Mayor. According to Dennis Lynch, who was hired by members of the board, the Mayor’s removal of Fonvil was not legal because Ball was legally able to swear a government officials in until her position was nullified at a recent reorganization meeting. Delhomme stated that he will be reinstating Ball and anyone whose position was nullified, except for Fonvil, when questioned why Delhomme stated that he was causing too much trouble for the board.
Residents of Rockland and Westchester counties are calling for a break on toll charges for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Legislator Cris Carey reached out to Governor Cuomo requesting that commuters receive a similar option to what Staten Island residents have when crossing the Verrazano Bridge, which cost $15 cash, $10.66 with an EZ Pass, and $6.36 with an EZ Pass for one or two trips a month. The Governor proposed a toll break for Staten Island commuters, stating that it will, “Allow Staten Islanders to keep more of their money on the island.” This plan would have residents paying $5.50 per trip with an EZ Pass. According to Executive Director of the Tri- State Transportation campaign, Veronica Vanterpool, the money put towards such plans could be spent on solving problems such as a lack of mass transit, rather than creating more traffic by bringing cars onto the roads and bridges. Rockland representatives Senator David Carlucci and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski have both expressed a need for a plan to decrease the toll for residents, stating that the 3.9 billion dollar bridge project will be useless if no one can afford to cross it. Officials have yet to share how much the tolls will be charging travelers though they are expected to be as high as $14.
According to a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, the organization is planning to file a lawsuit against the Coast Guard and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency over a plan that was released to clean up Hudson River oil spills. The organization states that the plan doesn’t protect the endangered species in the river, particularly the Atlantic Sturgeon. According to the center the plan that shows how the Coast Guard would clean up potential oil spills was written before the area from the New York Harbor to Troy would be used by oil companies in North Dakota as a shipment line. The lawsuit would request legal changes to the plan that would further protect species in the Hudson from spills from barges and rail lines, because in the past the animals have been ignored. Both the EPA and Coast Guard stated that they will be continuously reviewing the plans to make them better.
According to Ramapo’s 2013-2014 salary schedules various employees received raises this year. Members of the Preserve Ramapo group have criticized that the highest raises went to those who helped current Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence stated that not everyone who received raises this year are politically active and the increases were in response to an attempt to save money by cutting jobs in certain departments, leading to a much heavier work load for the department heads, and there is no opportunity for them to receive overtime or vacation days. The highest noticeable raise was to Mona Montal, the Director of Purchasing, whose raise was $40,866. According to her, the town board set the salary increases. St. Lawrence stated that losing one of the employees in the department means longer hours with more work for mental. Michelle Antosca, Director of Parks and Recreation earned a ten percent raise; Anthony Mallia, Director of Building Planning and Zoning received an eight percent raise; Michael Klein, Town Attorney and Edward Dzurinko, Director of Public Works both received four percent raises; Christian Sampson, Town Clerk received a nineteen percent raise; and Justice Court Clerk Helen Travers got a fourteen percent raise. According to the New York State Comptroller’s recent audits Ramapo remains the second most fiscally stressed town in the state.
According to officials on Wednesday night the Monsey fire district’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to terminate the use of the fire horn is a nuisance rather than helpful, and in April 2011 the board voted to shut it down for three months in july of that year it was turned back on. Monsey Fire Chief Richard LaGarde stated that the alarm is a tool that firefighters and members of the community need. Pagers and cellphones don’t work in areas with bad reception so many volunteers rely on the loud horns and already have to rely on just phones and pagers between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM when the horns are shut off for the night. According to Ramapo Assistant Fire Inspector Adam Peltz the horn also notifies residents that emergency vehicles will be on the street, driving fast. Peltz stated that if someone is injured or property damaged silencing the alarms will prove to be a hindering to response times.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control will be awarding the total amount of 9.4 million dollars to twenty- five organizations throughout the state. Each sum will be about $325,000 to $500,000 and will be awarded to community organizations that will help prevent smoking tobacco in New York State by educating 13 to 18 year olds in the dangers of tobacco through support groups. Recently the New York Public Interest Research Group completed a study that shows tobacco companies are spending more money to get around existing laws, and the group criticized this award program is an attempt made by the Governor to distract from what is in their opinion a lack of current spending on anti- tobacco programs. Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo’s administration, stated that tobacco usage in the state has actually gone down, teen smoking by 56 percent from 2000 to 2013.
The U.S. Woman’s Hockey team will be facing their rivals, the Canadian Woman’s team, today in the Sochi Winter Olympics gold medal game. 23- year old Josephine Pucci of Pearl River is taking her position on defense in the game, which will leave the U.S. team with the first gold medal since 1998 or a silver. Pucci stated that the team has been working hard for the game that they’ve been dreaming about their whole lives, and are ready to get on the ice. On Monday the U.S. beat Sweden 6-1 and though Canada beat them last week 3-2 Pucci states that the team has a system and if they adhere to it they can be successful. The game will air on NBC from noon to 3:00 PM.
The East Ramapo School District is announced plans to appeal a ruling made by the state Supreme Court stating that the district broke the law when they placed children with special education needs in private schools instead of utilizing better available options. School Board President Yehuda Weismandl stated that there is no financial reason for the district not to settle with parents and it is actually cheaper in the long run, since tuition for a private yeshiva is the same price as an education in a public school. According to officials paying the tuition to have students attend private schools outside of the district is best for the all students and that most of the parents of children with disabilities are members of the Orthodox Jewish community who would prefer that their children attend yeshivas so that their religious needs can be addressed more easily. The education department has stated in the past that the district’s actions are violating the Individuals with Disabilities Act and the state Supreme Court agreed, turning down East Ramapo’s second challenge in December.