If you are heading over the Tappan Zee Bridge this morning the conditions will be similar to yesterday. Three lanes in each direction will continue to be open with one outer southbound heading towards Westchester will remain closed as workers repair damage caused by a construction crane accident Tuesday afternoon. The single lane closure could last a few more days. In the meantime, commuters should expect delays in the morning and evening commute.
A crane has collapsed on the Tappan Zee bridge. The crane is crossing all lanes, in both directions, and has closed the bridge entirely. Avoid Route 287 near the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert have released an Air Quality Health Alert for the Metropolitan New York City region, including Rockland County. Alerts are issued when outdoor pollution exceeds the national air quality standards and may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as, children, elderly, people with asthma or lung diseases, and pre-existing heart disease or high blood pressure. It is recommended you limit strenuous outdoor activity during afternoon and early evening when ozone levels highest.
The New York Blood Center, that supplies blood and platelets to numerous area hospitals, has announced a blood shortage and is declaring a blood emergency. Regional Director Andrea Cefarelli told Mid-Hudson news that the Center is “down to a two-day supply of O negative, B negative and A negative.” Typically blood donations decline during this time as people go on vacation and take time off from work and school. Cefarelli said there are two ways you can help, “Number one, find a convenient place to, please, donate blood, or number two, if someone is unable to give blood, they might consider hosting a blood drive, we need additional blood drives in July and August to help replenish the blood supply.” If you would like to donate blood or organize a blood drive call, 1-800-933-2566.
Eight months ago, County Executive Ed Day, submitted the 2016 county budget to the Legislature. The budget included a plan to sell the Sain Building in New City for its appraised value: $4M. The Legislature expressed doubt anyone would purchase the building near that price. In December the Legislature approved the budget with the projected $4M income from the sale of the Sain Building built in, and stamping their approval. A request for proposals for the building was put out and it was advertised for sale. A nationally known real estate company responded and offered $4.51M — $510,000 above the appraised value. Once the offer was on the table the Legislature requested “more information” thus, delaying the sale. Day informed the Legislature that the Sain Building is falling apart and would cost taxpayers at least $10M to bring up to code. He also noted that county employees who have suffered extremely unpleasant working environment in the Sain Building are moving into Building A on the Pomona campus. The Legislature is now questioning why they don’t sell Building A instead of the Sain Building. Day says there are multiple reasons for not selling Building A, most notably vital services are already located there and relocating would not be cost effective. There are utility hook ups, communication systems and liability issues that would make the whole deal financially prohibitive. Day says, “In short, it’s not feasible to sell Building A. We have an offer on the table for $4.5M to sell the Sain Building to a company that wants to build senior housing – something that is vitally needed in Rockland.” He added, “It was bad financial decisions that brought this county to the brink of bankruptcy. Not accepting a $4.5M offer for a county building that’s falling apart would be another one of them. All of us owe it to the taxpayer to take advantage of this offer to sell the Sain Building, make our county government more efficient and leave us with a $500,00 surplus rather than $4M worth of red ink.”
Last night, the bill submitted for a $3M grant for East Ramapo Schools in exchange for greater state oversight was approved. Earlier in the day the Senate had approved the bill. One last step remains for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to sign the legislation. In a statement, Senator David Carlucci said, “Today’s vote will restore vital programming for the East Ramapo school district and require that effective oversight ensures resources are being spend in the best interest of the students.” Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee who spoke about the bill on The Morning Show Wednesday said, “It has oversight by the commissioner, so there’s strength within the context of the legislation.” The deal is a one-year grant intended to be use for programs like full-day kindergarten, smaller classes and create art and music programs. The state education commissioner will now receive the entire school budget from the school board and have the authority to make changes in the spending plan. School board president, Yehuda Weissmandl said in a statement, “This is a very positive outcome indeed. We will now be able to make a series of investments in academic programs and services. Our students will benefit greatly.”
Yesterday, Assemblywoman, Ellen Jaffee confirmed on WRCR’s The Morning Show that a last minute bill has been proposed in Albany to secure $3M in state aid for the East Ramapo School District, in exchange for the state’s education commissioner being granted more oversight of the district’s finances. Legislators were able to introduce the bill with time running out on the legislative session. The bill now needs to pass both houses today in order to go into effect for the coming school year. The $3M is a one-year grant and the intention is to use the money to restore full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes and create art and music programs. According to Senator David Carlucci, “it will only be granted when the commissioner signs off on the comprehensive plan, and signs off on each expenditure. So essentially, it’s in a locked box controlled by the commissioner of education.” The bill also requests the state education commission appoint three monitors as oversight, and the school board would be required to submit each budget to the state for approval. Jaffee met with school board members and said they are willing to work together with the commissioner, legislators and parents. Jaffee said, “It will restore academic excellence”.
Due to the worst mass shooting in American history, that has claimed at least 49 lives and injured 53 others in Orlando, Florida, and with more than 6,000 deaths already in 2016 from gun violence, the American Medical Association (AMA) has for the first time adopted a policy calling gun violence in the United States “a public health crisis” requiring a full public health response and solution. At the Annual Meeting of the AMA’s House of Delegates, they overwhelmingly voted to urge Congress to lift its ban that for 20 years has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from researching gun violence. Congress voted in 1996 to forbid CDC studies that would advocate or promote gun control. The ban on gun violence research was lifted by an executive order from President Barack Obama in early 2013, after the massacre of 20 children and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. But Congress has since blocked funding for such research. A proposal to overturn the ban died in a House subcommittee in July 2015. The AMA joins other medical societies such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics in opposing the Congressional ban. “With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theatres, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. “even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us understand the problems associated with gun violence and determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries.” Stack said an analysis of gun violence is vital for physicians, law enforcement and society at large to prevent further injury and loss of life. A number of AMA delegates during the last 2 days, some visibly shaken, recounted the endless traffic of gunshot victims in their emergency departments and operating rooms. The dominant sentiment in the House of Delegates was sadness and anger about the endless string of mass shootings in the country.
New York State is turning out to grieve, rally, and rage over the recent massacre in Orlando, Florida. Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann ordered all flags at Town Hall and other town facilities be lowered to half-mast until Thursday to commemorate the victims. Rockland County Executive Ed Day has announced that the county will hold a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m., Wednesday on the lawn of the Rockland County Courthouse at One South Main St., New City organized by Rockland County Commissioner of Human Rights Dr. Penny Jennings. While, last night in New York City thousands turned out for a vigil at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, shouting, “We are Orlando! We are Orlando!” They were joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who called for tougher gun control laws. Cuomo said, “Tonight with this emotion we feel, this is the day that the federal government must promise us that they will pass sensible gun control because enough is enough!” The names of the now confirmed 49 victims were read aloud and multiple organizations spoke including the Anti-violence Project, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and openly gay council member Rosie Mendez. Mayor de Blasio said, “We believe inclusion and tolerance and love and understanding are the way forward on this earth and we show it every day in New York.”
Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart applauds the announcement on Friday, by Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee and Senator David Carlucci, that the NY State Department of State is planning to schedule public hearings in July to explore whether real estate non-solicitation zones and Cease and Desist Orders for Pearl River, Chestnut Ridge, Spring Valley, Monsey and neighboring areas of Rockland County is warranted. Town Residents have been feeling pressure from realtors seeking to purchase homes that are not for sale. Orangetown took the lead by adopting a “Do Not Knock” law giving residents the ability to opt-out of door-to-door solicitations. Stewart and his staff continued to seek other options to give residents more recourse and they came across the Cease and Desist and No Solicitation Zones that previously existed in NYC through legislation and state regulations. Stewart says, “Those zones, which were created to address similar situations of so-called “blockbusting,” had expired, but were incredibly successful in those neighborhoods.” He reached out to Jaffee and Carlucci for support in pushing for public hearings on the matter and they stepped up. Stewart encourages residents to contact his office with any violations of “Do Not Knock” or attempts at “blockbusting” as he continues to coordinate the public hearings and works to assure they are well attended. For information visit: firstname.lastname@example.org