Republican Legislator Ed Day, who was elected as the new County Executive on Tuesday, released a plan to the Legislature on Wednesday to cut elected officials’ salaries by ten percent. According to the plan Day is looking to cut the salaries of all officials, though much of the Legislature stated that there was no immediate need for the measure and felt that Day should put the proposal through the Budget and Finance Committee before the board makes a decision on it. After the meeting Day pulled his proposal and stated that he would work on the language and resubmit it, maybe as a part of the 2014 budget plan. According to Day he wanted to take action as soon as possible because the salary cannot be changed once an elected official starts a new term, which will begin January 1. Currently the yearly salary for the County Executive is $155,087, which would drop to $139,579. As a part of the plan received by the Legislature Wednesday, County Clerk Paul Piperato would be included in the salary cut decision, his current salary of $132,000 a year would be decreased to $118,834 dollars.
After a long day at the polls for voters and a long night waiting for candidates, the results are in for the 2013 General Election. In the most anticipated race for the first new County Executive in Twenty years Republican Ed Day was elected in with 36,542 votes to Democrat David Fried’s 32,311 votes, making it 52% for Day and 46% for Fried. Surrounded by family and supporters at his victory celebration Day stated, “We’re going to return this county to the great county it is, I’m going to expend every ounce of my strength to get there.” Day earlier stated that as Executive he would reduce his salary, which currently pays $155,087 a year, as a part of his plan to reduce spending, form new businesses, and cut pay to reduce the $128,000,000 deficit the county is under. In the town supervisor races all incumbents remain in their positions, except for Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart who trailed just a small 36 votes behind Walter Wettje’s 5,948 votes. In another hotly contested race Republican Wayne Ballard will continue his Sixteen- year position as Clarkstown Highway Superintendent with 9,992 votes to Democrat Dennis Malone’s 9,730. For superintendent of Highways for Haverstraw, Orangetown, and Ramapo the winners are George Wargo, James Dean, and Anthony Sharan. The new mayor of Suffern will be Patricia Abato with 860 votes. For mayor of Spring Valley Demeza Delhomme won with 1,407 votes. The anticipated proposal that will allow New York State to build privatized casinos passed 34,024 yes to 25,169 no. About the proposal Governor Cuomo stated, “This vote will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York, while increasing revenue for local schools, lowering property taxes, and bringing proper regulation to the industry.”
Seven Rockland fire departments were called to a brush fire off of Torne Valley Road in Hillburn that had spread about 85 acres through a forested area Tuesday morning until nightfall. According to Peter Byrne, a deputy coordinator for Rockland Fire and Emergency Services the departments put out about 90 percent of the flames by Tuesday night and New York State Park Rangers stayed through the night to keep the flames down, and will work through today to extinguish any remainder of the fire. The fire was in an isolated area and there were no injuries reported and no damage done to homes. The isolated location also meant that hoses couldn’t reach the blaze, so firefighters used hand tools until the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Westchester County sent over helicopters to assist. The Rockland fire departments received support from Orange and Rockland, whose helicopter helped determine the edges of the fire, as well as support from various New Jersey departments. Fire fighters stated that brush fires are common during the dry season and they were lucky there was no wind, which prevented the fire from spreading faster.
Today is the bond referendum vote for the proposed 26.4 million dollar repair for the Nyack School District. If the vote passes the district would spend 21.4 million dollars in bond and 5 million dollars in capital for projects including new synthetic turf field and makeovers for the athletic facilities; replacing boilers, roofs, and windows; a new fire alarm system; air conditioning for the high school auditorium and music room; upgraded technology; and new cameras, shatterproof windows, and access cards to get into the buildings for security. According to Superintendent James Montesano most of the funds would be coming from state aid and no increase in property taxes would be necessary. You can go to the Nyack schools homepage to find your local polling place and hours of operation.
It was a big weekend for Democrats in the Lower Hudson Valley. Governor Andrew Cuomo visited White Plains on Saturday for a Democratic rally at which he endorsed Democratic candidate for Westchester County Executive Noam Bronson, Democratic candidate for Orange County Executive Roxanne Donnery, and David Fried, Democratic candidate for Rockland County Executive. Also on Saturday the Journal News formally endorsed the Democratic candidate for the office of County Executive, stating that his approach to the position will benefit the taxpayers of Rockland County. Following the rally it was announced on Sunday that Democratic Senator Charles Schumer would be endorsing Fried, when he and Congresswoman Nita Lowey joined Fried in Tappan to discuss the future of Rockland. Fried is facing Republican Ed Day in nine days in the general election. Day received the endorsement of former Rockland District Attorney Michael Bongiorno on Friday, as well as former Democratic write- in candidate for County Executive Vladimir Leon, who stated at a press conference last week that the solution to Rockland’s fiscal crisis lies in bipartisan success. The county was declared the number one financially stressed county in the state last month by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and the deficit has reached nearly 128 million dollars.
Retired WNEW-FM radio DJ Dave Herman, a resident of Airmont, was arrested Thursday for attempting to transport a 7- year old girl to his vacation house in the Virgin Islands. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office 77- year old Herman had come into contact with an undercover officer whom he believed to be the 36- year old single mother of the young girl. Herman allegedly attempted to arrange a meet with the mother and the girl in New York so that he could engage in illegal sexual acts with the child, but later decided to meet the two in St. Croix. According to prosecutors Herman bought three tickets to fly from New York La Guardia to St. Croix and was arrested after landing by U.S. Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on charges of attempting to transport a minor in interstate commerce. The charge carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison as well as a maximum fine of $250,000.
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef submitted his proposed spending plan for 2014 on Wednesday. According to Vanderhoef property owners in Rockland County would see a 9.9 percent tax increase, meaning that the average tax bill for residents would increase to about $1,070. Vanderhoef stated that though the increase might be difficult for some people, it is still a fair deal for all the services that the county provides. He also stated that if Governor Cuomo does not sign the proposed deficit bond, in which the county is asking the state to lend 96 million dollars to help cover part of the 128 million dollars debt, the plan will have to be revisited, as the county is legally obligated to set aside 10 million dollars to begin repayment. This means that taxes could be raised almost 20 percent if the bond is not approved. The County Executive’s proposed budget keeps fundraising for inpatient mental health programs and the Summit Park Nursing Home for 2014, as well as almost every nonprofit agency within the county. The plan will not involve layoffs, outsourcing of jobs, or program cuts, instead it will eliminate forty vacant positions and add jobs in the social services, probation, general services, and corrections departments.
The Varsity football coach at Ramapo High School was arrested on Tuesday after being accused of hitting a 15- year old player in the head with a helmet. 43- year old Duffman Pannell, who is also a social studies teacher allegedly hit junior Brandon Girault in the head during practice, causing above his left eye to bleed and swell. Accoridng to authorities Girault filed a felony complaint with Ramapo Town Court, who charged Pannell with second- degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Judge Alan Simon released the coach without bail and ordered him to return to court on October 29th. According to District Superintendent Joel Klein, Pannell has not been suspended, but he will not be coaching or teaching during the investigation, which could take some time, as officials have to interview every team member that was on the field that day, and no disciplinary decision will be made until the investigation is complete. Multiple students have stepped forward to defend Pannell, stating that he has fought for students with the budget, and the full story hasn’t been uncovered.
According to authorities fourteen individuals were arrested on charges of criminal sale and criminal possession of controlled substances, on Monday, after a six- month operation that uncovered a family run cocaine distribution ring. The investigation began when the Haverstraw Police Street Crime Unit tipped off the Rockland County Drug Task Force about drug activity and the two units worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, State Police Troop F K-9 Unit, the NY/NJ High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, U.S. Postal Inspectors, and Clarkstown and Schenectady Police to make the arrests. According to authorities, they intercepted conversations about delivery locations through the U.S. Postal Service and tracked money exchanges that were sent to Puerto Rico for family members via Western Union money orders. According to District Attorney Thomas Zugibe the arrested front runners for the cocaine ring were cousins Juan Medina, 26, and David Fernandez, 34, both of Garnerville. The District Attorney’s office also stated that the drug operation was run from a barbershop owned by Fernandez in West Haverstraw and that more arrests are expected.
County Executive Scott Vanderhoef will be submitting his twentieth and final spending plan to the Rockland County Legislature on Wednesday. Though Governor Cuomo has yet to sign the proposed 96 million dollar deficit bond, Vanderhoef stated that he would be releasing only one plan that assumes Cuomo will be supporting the County’s attempt to borrow money. According to County Legislator Michael Grant, who is Chairman of the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, the bond will not be enough and the county will need to up property owners have already been hit with a 48% increase over the last two years. Grant is also hoping that the plan does not include layoffs, instead that revenue will be gained through things such as sales tax, and mortgage taxes. According to the Comptroller’s Office, Rockland currently has the lowest credit rating of all the counties in New York State, and the deficit reached 125 million dollars this summer.