Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and County Executive Ed Day met on Monday to release an update on a domestic violence program started in 2014 and funded by a grant obtained by Senator Bill Larkin. Speaking together the officials announced that the program has been a success in the past year and a half, the $75,000 grant allowed the county to hire a detective to assist victims of domestic assault following the incidents. Zugibe stated at the meeting, “In the months that follow there are physical, mental, financial and legal concerns that must be addressed. Thanks to Senator Larkin our domestic violence assistance program in North Rockland plays a critical role in providing support that allows a victim to face these issues and rebuild his or her life.” Zugibe and Day were also joined by Larkin and Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips and they thanked Larkin for his position in the program, which has allowed for 221 cases to be investigated including 104 home visits and 19 training classes which began in 2015. Senator Larkin stated that he hopes the program will continue to grow and allow victims to receive the help they can’t always get directly from law enforcement.
Two people were involved in separate motorcycle accidents this weekend. According to police, on Sunday around 10:30 AM at Exit 22, near Rye on I-95 a New Jersey man apparently had a medical incident while driving and lost control of his bike, which resulted in a crash involving two other motorcyclists from his group who were all riding to Connecticut together at the time. Police were investigating the cause of the crash, though reported that members of his club stated he had a preexisting heart condition that may have led to his collapse. The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to Greenwich Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The other men involved were taken to Westchester Medical Center and Stamford Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Also on Sunday, around 6:00 PM a man crashed his motorcycle on Bear Mountain Bridge Road in Cortlandt. Police stated that the motorcyclist crashed into a rail, and went about 100-feet down an embankment where police had to rescue the man. He was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center and his condition has not been confirmed, though reports were released by the media last night that he passed away. Police are investigating the scene of the accident to determine the cause.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day released his proposal for the 2017 budget at a press conference on Thursday. The $723 million plan would increase the tax levy by 4.95% or $4 a month for residents. On Wednesday announced that the deal to sell the Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Home for $32 million, was terminated by the buyer, and so the budget was unable to remain in the state mandated 2% tax cap. In the proposal cuts would be made by laying off county employees, including 288 who will lose their positions at Summit Park when it is closed by the December 31 deadline. On top of the hospital workers, 38 jobs will be eliminated in several departments, as well as the blacksmith and veterinary services for the mounted unit in the Sheriff’s Department, which will save the county about $156,000. Day stated that many employees are also accepting an early retirement incentive program and the vacant positions will not be refilled. A $17.5 million payment must be made to the county deficit this year, and according to Day, overall spending is expected to go down by $40 million in this year’s budget, due to the closing of Summit Park. Along with the cuts and tax increases, the County Executive proposed a $1.8 million community college chargeback to towns for residents attending colleges outside the county, as well as the sale of the Sain Building in New City for $4 million. Day stated, “This is a responsible fiscal plan that begins the historic redesign of county operations. Our goal is to create an affordable government. We’ve made the hard choices to set our county on a path to prosperity.” The Legislature stated they will be going over the proposal thoroughly and this year is the first year the budget was submitted by its new October 1 deadline rather than its original October 23 date, which gives members an extra three weeks to review. There will be two public forums to further discuss the budget, one on Wednesday October 14 at 7:00 PM at Farley Elementary School in Stony Point, and another on Monday November 16 at 7:00 PM at the Valley Cottage Library.
According to Rockland County officials the sale of the Summit Park Nursing Home has been terminated by the buyer. Sympaticare LLC was set to finalize the purchase for $32 million on Wednesday, but instead County Executive Ed Day announced at a press conference that the sale would not be going through. Day released a statement informing residents, “We had hoped Sympaticare would play a role in stabilizing the financial future of Rockland County by acquiring Summit Park and investing millions of dollars to upgrade its services, provide care and keep jobs in Rockland County. Things did not work out the way we had hoped.” The company, owned by Shalom Braunstein of Monsey, released statement through their lawyers that the sale was terminated due to pending litigation and the LDC’s failure to meet conditions in the final agreement. The county is now working to come up with a plan to transfer 182 patients to another facility before December 31, which is when Summit Park, is now expected to close. Despite the need to close the hospital, legislator Chairman Alden Wolfe stated in a press release on Wednesday that Braunstein notified members of the Legislature via email and informed them that there is still a possibility of the sale being completed, he just needs more time and was “willing to negotiate a new closing date but the county refused to negotiate.” Wolfe urged that the Executive and Legislative branch must remain united to ensure the purchase goes through. According to officials Sympaticare must pay a $4 million termination fee.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a statement on Tuesday, warning Metropolitan Transportation Authority riders of rate hikes and service cuts. According to DiNapoli the state-controlled agency’s $9.8 billion gap in its five-year plan, will give them two choices, to borrow money or raise fares. New York City officials have spoken out against the MTA’s proposal to close the gap by putting $11.7 billion in, as well as receiving $8.3 billion from the state and $3.2 billion from New York City. Governor Andrew Cuomo and city Mayor Bill DeBlasio have been attempting to reach a deal, though have been unsuccessful as of yet. The $3.2 billion in proposed funding from New York City is $2.5 billion more than planned. DiNapoli is now warning that if the budget issue isn’t solved, including if the city doesn’t provide more than their expected $657 million, the Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess areas could see an increase in fares, cuts in services, delays in maintenance, and a rise in tolls, on top of the already expected 4% toll increases for 2017 and 2019.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that his office created a task force to look into and make changes to Common Core. The Governor stated that the fifteen person board will be headed by Richard Parsons, a senior equity advisor for Providence Equity Partners, and made up of parents, educators, and legislators, as well as members of the original education reform commission that designed the controversial curriculum. On Cuomo’s website he states, “The state’s learning standards must be strong, sensible, and fair, and parents and teachers should be able to have faith in those standards. This task force will ensure that this becomes the reality.” The task force will be in charge of submitting a report, expected some time near the end of the year, based on their findings in test standards, how well test fit into the curriculum, the impact of test results on student records, the quality of tests, and the possibility of reducing the amount of tests students are required to take and their length. Over the last year $200,000 students opted out of taking the standardized Common Core tests after the teachers union used the opt out movement to express their disagreement with the curriculum’s effects on children and teachers.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey held a press conference on Sunday, where she defended funding for Planned Parenthood. The federal budget is due on September 30, and Lowey took the opportunity to rally with residents against some officials in federal government’s attempt to shut down the organization, which according to a press release from Lowey’s office, serves nearly 2.7 million Americans a year on everything from breast exams to unintended pregnancies. Lowey stated, “It is disappointing, but not surprising that Republicans in Congress would risk a damaging government shutdown rather than support safe, high quality women’s health care services.” Joined by local Legislators in White Plains on Sunday Lowey spoke to residents and officials about her stance in support of funding for the controversial organization, who was accused of selling fetal tissue from past abortions in a video earlier this year. Officials with Planned Parenthood have stated that the claims are untrue and many supporters believe the services are too valuable to women, men, and children to be defunded. At the White Plains Planned Parenthood where the conference was held supporters of the pro-life stance protested the organization, a few stating that the videos only prove further that federal money should be spent elsewhere. Lower close the press conference by stating, “I will continue working as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee to defeat these deeply misguided, ideologically- driven stunts, and return to responsibly investing in hardworking American’s futures.”
According to police in Westchester County two men allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint on Wednesday night. After the incident around 8:40 PM in New Rochelle, police caught one of the suspects, 21-year old Parish Tomoney, who was accused of robbing a 50-year old man on Edgewood Park and Lockwood Avenue, stealing the man’s wallet and a wrist watch. Police stated one of the suspects held a rifle during the attack, though it was not fired and they have not confirmed which man had the weapon. The victim was not injured in the incident, and police are continuing to search for the second man.
According to a report released by the New York Comptroller’s office on Tuesday, municipalities in Rockland, Westchester, and Dutchess Counties are on the state’s fiscal stress list for 2014. Fifteen towns, cities, and villages in New York are on the “significantly stressed” list, including Rockland County, and East Fishkill in Dutchess; eleven are on the moderately stressed list, including Poughkeepsie, Ardsely, and Yonkers; and 18 New York municipalities are on the “susceptible to stress” list. Rockland County, which was listed as the number one fiscally stressed county in New York for both 2012 and 2013, was replaced by Monroe County and has moved to the number two spot. Rockland’s score was reduced from 86.7% in 2012 and 2013 to 65.8% for 2014. County Executive Ed Day stated about the reduction, “During the past 21 months, my administration has worked hard to overcome significant operational challenges and re-established financial stability. We continue to reduce costs through consolidation and efficiency and rebuild our fund balance, while continuing to provide the critical services local residents rely on.” The stress report is based on short-term debts and funds.
According to police in Rockland County cars were found Monday morning with damage to their bodies and windshields, apparently from BB guns. Clarkstown police stated that over Sunday night an alleged shooting spree took place between Sedge Road and Ridge Road in Valley Cottage, causing thousands of dollars in damage to residents’ cars. Police don’t believe the acts of vandalism were malicious, but are investigating further to find those responsible. Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident can call 845-639-5840.