According to an audit filed by O’Connor Davies on the East Ramapo School District budget for this year, there’s over $1 million extra. At Monday night’s board meeting, which was the first for interim Superintendent Deborah Wortham, the company told members that they found $2.4, though $1 million is being used for payments, leaving the district with $1.4 million. Scott Oling, a partner with O’Connor Davies spoke to the board, stating that while the extra money is a good change from last year’s deficit of about $8 million, they are still spending about 99.7% of this year’s budget and the district has yet to implement changes for recommendations made last year regarding bidding on contracts, and the discovery that a former employee who hasn’t worked since 2013 is still authorized to sign checks.
The Rockland Police Benevolent Association recently joined multiple other police organizations and supporters in a call to boycott director Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Hateful Eight”, which is set to be released Christmas day. In October Tarantino upset many during a rally against police brutality in New York City, when he said that the killing of an unarmed black man was murder. Phillip Fantasia, the president of the Rockland PBA stated in a press release that the director “used his celebrity to promote a hateful message that unjustly mischaracterized police officers.” Fantasia asked that in support of law enforcement nationwide people don’t go to see the new film as well as future projects. Tarantino stated to the Los Angeles Times that he was misinterpreted, and he does not all cops are murderers. The national boycott asks officers not to provide security, technical advice, or traffic control for any more of the director’s work.
According to Ramapo Building Inspector Tony Mallia, who spoke with the Journal News about a house fire in Pomona on Wednesday, the owners did not have illegal apartments in the basement. Mallia stated that following the investigation into the suspected violations officials found that the basement apartment and five bedrooms in the two story home were up to code and despite facing violations two years ago, the owners paid a fine and corrected the issues. Five family members were living in the home along with two individuals that were legally renting rooms. The building was deemed uninhabitable and only one person was home at the time of the 3:00 PM fire but they were not injured.
Hillcrest firefighters responded to a home on Route 45 in Pomona around 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon to find the building in flames. According to Rockland County’s Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren the home was divided into illegal apartments, and had faced previous violations for being illegally altered. Wren stated that the home had apartments in the basement as well as work done to create five bedrooms upstairs and several electrical boxes that had been installed without permits. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which they believe began in the kitchen and spread through the two-story home to the attic. Volunteers from Hillcrest, Stony Point, New City, and West Haverstraw managed to put out the flames, though the house was seriously damaged. Only one person was home at the time and they were not injured in the incident. Wren stated they are now looking for the contractors who did the work without the proper permits.
Results are in from Tuesday’s General Election. In the Rockland County Sheriff race, incumbent Democrat Louis Falco beat Richard Vasquez with 35,588 votes to 25,590. For County Legislature seats in District 2 Michael Grant won, in District 3 Jay Hood, in District 5 Lon Hofstein. In District 8 Toney Earl, in District 9 Chris Carey won, in District 11 Laurie Santulli, District Aron Wieder, and in District 17 Nancy Low-Hogan won. For the Supervisor race in Clarkstown, newcomer Frank Dizenzo beat Robert Milone and Wayne Ballard with 9,156 votes. In Ramapo incumbent Tony Sharan beat Robert Romanowski. Also on the ballot in Clarkstown was the proposed ward system, which passed with 8,922 votes yes to 8,267 votes no, as well as the proposal to expand the town board from four to six members which was shot down with 8,714 votes no to 8,294 votes yes.
East Ramapo School District monitor Dennis Walcott, who was appointed by state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Department of Education over the summer, spoke on Sunday at the Gracepoint Gospel Church in New City. Walcott stated to the crowd that newly hired interim Superintendent Deborah Wortham officially begins her position today, and asked parents and residents to have patience as changes start to happen. Walcott is on a three person team appointed by the state, who are evaluating the district following complaints from hundreds of parents and students about school conditions and lack of programs, as well as claims that the school board favors private school students and has discriminated against African American and Hispanic students in the past. Former Superintendent Joel Klein was forced to resign after he made offensive comments towards Hispanic students. Walcott stated that Wortham will improve the district for all students, though it will not happen overnight.
According to the Spring Valley NAACP the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has determined that the East Ramapo School District was racially discriminatory when it came to certain programs. The office recently completed an investigation into claims filed by the NAACP that white students were more often placed in out-of-district special needs programs than African American or Hispanic children. Following the determination that the claims were founded, the district agreed to implement a plan that would focus on preventing discrimination. Part of the 12-step plan will also be to create an alternative language program, due to further complaints that Yiddish classes were offered more than Spanish or Creole language classes. Officials with the Office for Civil Rights will be monitoring the plan to ensure that each child gets a fair education and they will be ready to resume the investigation if necessary.
Rockland Community College was evacuated on Wedensday when two students were reported to have passed out from an unknown cause. The students began to feel ill while in class in academic building II and went to the bathroom, where the first passed out and then the second. A teacher helped the two out of the building, and they regained consciousness by the time first responders arrived. Hazmat crews were brought in as well, and were searching drains, ceiling tiles, elevators, and other areas for what may have caused the illness. According to Rockland County Deputy Fire Coordinator Chris Keor the oxygen levels in the building had dropped and the hazmat team was investigating what, if any, type of gas may have replaced the levels, including Carbon Monoxide.
Resentencing of a young man convicted after he attempted to burn down another man’s house in 2011. In court Tuesday morning Shaul Spitzer asked Judge William Kelly to allow him youthful offender status, regarding his 7-year sentence of which he had served 3 and a half years already. In May 2011 Spitzer went to the home of Aron Rotternberg in New Square with a firebomb, where he admitted he planned to burn the man’s home down while his family was inside because Rottenberg had prayed with a temple outside of the community, which goes against the rabbi’s orders. Rotternberg was seriously injured in the attack, and asked the judge on Tuesday not to grant youthful offender. He stated that he was happy to have the opportunity to speak in court, and respects the judge’s decision. Judge Kelly stated that he decided to approve YO status and time served because Spitzer had matured during his time in prison. The man is set to be released from the Eastern Correctional Facility today.