$3M Sought for East Ramapo Schools in Last Minute Bill

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”.

AMA Votes to End Congressional Ban on Gun Violence Studies

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.

NYS Vigils Held for Orlando Massacre Victims

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.”

Stewart Coordinating Public Hearings “Blockbusting”

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: astewart@orangetown.com

Yonkers Murder Suspect Trial Takes Place June 28th

According to Lohud News, A Yonkers murder suspect pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony gun charge, but Kevin Wiltshire still faces several gang charges in federal court. Wiltshire, 21, pleaded guilty in Westchester County Court to criminal possession of a firearm for possessing a .38-caliber revolver in Yonkers on Nov. 11, 2014. Judge Barry Warhit sentenced him to time served after he spent more than 18 months in the Westchester County jail. Wiltshire is currently in jail, waiting trial for gang related crimes with alleged Yonkers gang Cruddy 650. According to Lohud Officials have accused Wiltshire and nine other Yonkers men, as well as one Florida man, of crimes stemming from the street gang that hails from different Yonkers neighborhoods, including Riverdale, Woodworth and Warburton avenues, and Cottage Place Gardens. Wiltshire, has been accused of murdering Andre Folsom during a dispute in a Walmart parking lot in Greenacres, Florida, on May 26, 2014, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office. According to Lohud news Wiltshire has been charged with racketeering conspiracy, using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime, murder in aid of racketeering, carrying and using firearms during and in relation to and possessing firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in the death of another, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and bank robbery.
He is scheduled to appear in White Plains federal court on June 28.

Larchmont Cop injured in Car Chase

According to Lohud news, a Larchmont police officer was taken to Westchester Medical Center, after suffering minor injuries in a car chase. The police officers car struck a stone wall. According to Lohud The Larchmont cruiser slammed into the barrier around the Cherry Lawn Farm parking garage at Weaver Street and Quaker Ridge Road, sending debris as far as 15 feet from the impact area. According to authorities The suspect’s car was a white BMW, and was stolen in New York City. The car has yet to be attained

Legislators Call for Closure of Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Rockland County Legislators Alden H. Wolfe and Harriet Cornell are calling for the closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant after noting repeated safety concerns at the four-decade-old facility. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave the facility a passing grade on its annual safety assessment. Wolfe said, “The facts show that there should be NO future for this plant.” He noted that Indian Point was not built to withstand a catastrophe such as a terrorist attack, earthquake or a pipeline explosion, and that there is a long list of continued safety problems, most recently the missing and damaged bolts in the Unit 2 nuclear reactor – and that these were not just any bolts but the actual lynchpins that can mean the difference between a safe operating temperature and a nuclear melt-down. The Unit 2 reactor was shutdown when the damaged bolts were discovered. Entergy, who owns and operates the plant, intends to restart Unit 2 reactor this month. Cornell, chair of the Legislature’s Environmental committee, authored legislation in 1984 to create a Citizen’s commission to Close Indian Point. There is a growing history of problems at the plant – multiple unplanned or emergency shutdowns, spiked concentrations of radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaking into the groundwater, the spilling of 3,000 gallons of oil in the Hudson, leaking fuel pods, and more. Indian Point produces approximately 2,000 megawatts of power, providing about a quarter of New York City and Westchester’s power. The New York Power Authority no longer purchases electricity from Indian Point as it has found cheaper electricity elsewhere. Wolfe pointed out that Indian Point’s energy generation largely benefits residents of New England, not New York. For more information: rocklandgov.com

NRC Gives Indian Point Passing Grade Despite Community Outrage

Last night in Tarrytown, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held their annual meeting on Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. At a press conference held before the meeting, Rockland County Legislature Chairman, Alden H. Wolfe stated, “We don’t exaggerate when we refer to Indian Point as a ticking time bomb.” Supporters of Indian Point, including elected officials, labor groups and those who are pro-business, held their own press conference before the meeting to remind supporters that the plant generates approximately $75 and $100 million in taxes for local governments. Once inside the room the lines were clearly drawn with workers representing Entergy, the owner of Indian Point,  filling the back of the hall wearing T-shirts with the tag line, “Indian Point Powers New York.” Those against the power plant held placards with “Stop the Algonquin Pipeline” voicing their opposition to the federal safety regulators decision to approve a plan by Spectra Energy to expand a natural gas pipeline running from Pennsylvania north to New England, and adjoining several communities near Indian Point. Stepping up to the microphone in favor of the plant was Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas who noted that clean energy is good for minority and impoverished communities who are typically located near pollution generating fossil fuel power plants. On Monday in Poughkeepsie Governor Andrew M. Cuomo told reporters “Indian Point is the nuclear power plant that is the closest to the most densely populated area on the globe,” he added “it has had a series of mishaps. We know we can find replacement power. Why you would allow Indian Point to continue to operate defies common sense, planning and basic sanity.” At the end, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Indian Point Power Plant a passing grade in its annual safety assessment.

Ramapo and Spring Valley School Fire Inspections Move Forward

Rockland County Executive, Ed Day has announced that certain private schools in Ramapo and Spring Valley have scheduled an appointment to be inspected on Wednesday at 9 a.m. by county fire inspectors. In a letter on Friday, Rockland County attorney, Thomas Humbach, had informed the schools they would be inspecting on Monday. Monday arrived and the inspectors were refused entry in 13 of the schools they visited. Dennis Lynch, an attorney representing the School Religious Freedom Coalition an association of schools in Ramapo, had appealed to New York State Department of Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia for a meeting because the coalition wanted the county to work with school supervisors in planning the inspection dates. Lynch wrote they were prepared to go to court over violation of their civil rights. By Monday afternoon, lawyers for Rockland County were prepared to go to court to get warrants to enter the schools. Late Monday afternoon, Lynch informed the county that the coalition had changed their mind and would move forward with inspections. Again, those inspections and the 36 other schools scheduled to be inspected (and/or re-inspected) will continue and the county will follow up to make sure any violations discovered are corrected. Day stated, “The real winners here are the children who will now be going to schools that are safe.”

Boil Water Order in Upper Grandview and Pierment

A Boil Water order has been issued for Upper Grandview & Piermont due to a water main break that happened just before 2pm Friday, according to a statement from Suez Water. Crews are working to make repairs. If you have questions call: Suez 845-623-1500, ext. 1500 or the Rockland county Department of Health at 845-364-2608

Snow Closings Updated Regularly

Please click on the image below to view all snow closings for Rockland County.