On Thursday County Executive Ed Day announced that he would be vetoing a resolution proposed by the Legislature to spend nearly $800,000 a year to wash the county buses daily. In February a small fire in the right rear wheel well destroyed a TOR bus and the resulting proposal was announced by Legislator Patrick Moroney in early August as a preventive measure. Day stated in his veto that in the existing $70 million contract the county holds with Brega Transport Inc., the buses are required to be washed as often as is necessary for performance without additional costs on the county. The reasons stated for the veto are unanticipated costs of over $3 million through October 2018 for extra washing not included in the resolution, which would take effect thirty days after approval, the pricing with the existing contract is fixed and the proposal is vague, not stating exactly which buses in the fleet would be included in the washing. The veto states that the contract should be reopened to bidders if it is to be amended.
A lawsuit has been filed against Ramapo by Town Supervisor of Fiscal Services, Melissa Reimer, who was suspended from the position on June 2013. The suit states that in 2013 Reimer told Supervisor Christopher St.Lawrence and Receiver of Taxes Nathan Oberman about financial discrepancies she had been noticing since 2009, such as low balances, understating expenses, and transferring funds without the board’s approval. According to Reimer’s lawyer, Fred Lichtmacher, the statements made in the law suit are true and will be documented. The complaint was officially filed to pursue $2 million in damages, such as lost wages, benefits, and money spent on legal fees and names St.Lawrence and Oberman, as well as Town Attorney Michael Klein, Assistant Town Attorney Beth Finklestein, and Personnel Director Linda Condon. Steven Stern, who is representing those named, stated the claims against the town are not true and Reimer’s suspension is not related to her statements about Ramapo’s finances. Reimer stated in the suit that she was accused of involving the New York Comptroller’s office of the activity by sending them false information, which was later determined by the office to be correct information and because of this faced a hostile work environment. Records also state she had been in contact with the FBI a year before they raided the town hall in May 2013 and the materials are being reviewed.
On Tuesday night students and residents of the East Ramapo School District came together in Spring Valley to voice their disapproval of recent statements made by Superintendent Joel Klein. According to video from an August 19 school board meeting, Klein stated that the dropout rates in East Ramapo are largely due to the immigrant children that join the schools each year, last year nearly 350 registered. In the video , which is available on YouTube, Klein stated that the students know they will not obtain a diploma, but register for school to obtain language skills and advantages that come with school days, such as lunches. At the meeting it was discussed that East Ramapo is planning a program that will move immigrant students away from obtaining a regents diploma, and teach them English and vocational skills that will help them join the workforce, especially if they have a higher chance of dropping out. About the meeting Klein stated that his comments were taken out of context and the program will be announced with a full presentation designed for the benefit of every student in mind. The district is hoping to receive money from the state as part of Title III which is specifically for immigrant education. At last night’s rally about eighty people met to provide support for the families and students, many holding signs saying “Education Not Discrimination”, and speaking out about personal experiences with education and some asking the district to seek Klein’s resignation.
According to the Clarkstown Town Board they will be holding a public hearing on September 9 to discuss term limits for elected members. The limits would mean 8 consecutive years for all officials except town justices, and would allow members to run for a new position after their eight years are up. Democratic Chairwoman Stephanie Hausner stated she supports term limits and due to the voter support believes that it will pass unanimously, and bring new opportunities to the board. Recently Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack voiced his support for limits as well, stating that his earlier belief that elections act as a form of accountability for officials, will still be present but now having a time limit will be a positive addition. Another supporter, Republican Councilman George Hoehmann stated, “Term limits are a way of insuring that periodically, the people have the playing field leveled with a guarantee of turnover.” With the three members of the board showing support, the term limits will be able to be passed.
Rockland County Legislators voted 6-1 to cut seven positions in the Mental Health Department, and save 69 laundry work, security aide, and radiology jobs, after County Executive Ed Day proposed that the county cut 39 positions to save about 1.68 million dollars in salary costs. According to Day when the sale of Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Home is complete those terminated will be able to apply for jobs with the new private owner and the private vendors he is planning to bring in to do the work for less cost to the county. Legislators stated that the savings for 2014 would not be worth terminating all the positions proposed, though in 2015 the money saved would increase significantly. According to Day’s Chief of Staff Guillermo Rosa, cutting jobs now would save time and money, stating “We have to move forward. We cannot go on with a loss of 1.2 million dollars a month.” Rosa stated that the county is losing $38,000, with Summit Park adding to a majority of that. Legislator Michael Grant stated that the proposal will likely come up again in Day’s 2015 budget plans.
According to Brian Conybeare, Governor Cuomo’s Special Adviser for the New Tappan Zee Bridge Project, pile driving at the construction site is set to resume today, after being suspended on July 31 when the noise rose above the allowed 90 decibels. Conybeare stated on friday that due to the testing and research done by Tappan Zee Constructors since building was halted, they have been allowed to resume work installing 200 metal sheet piles to the wall of the bridge on the Rockland shore, and they will be using techniques to keep noise levels down such as a guide beam to prevent rattling, a double layer rubber sound barrier, and a noise shroud around the hammer and metal sheets. Mayor of South Nyack Bonnie Christian stated that she and residents are waiting to see if the new techniques help keep sound levels low.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day released a statement early this morning announcing that the county signed a letter of intent with Hi Tor Animal Care Center to build a new shelter at the existing location in Pomona. The letter of intent states that the structure used as a shelter now will be demolished turned into the parking lot for the new building. According to Day the agreement between the County and the care center will help increase adoptions while improving conditions for the average 2,500 animals that pass through looking for homes each year and he and other members of county government look forward to “continuing to work with Hi Tor President Lizanne Fiorentino and her Board of Directors to increase adoptions, save more lives, and prevent animal suffering.” The agreement uses Chapter 212, which allows the county to have a say in the rules and regulations of an animal care organization, and states the construction will require Legislative approval.
According to prosecutors in the homicide case of Clarkstown resident Peggy Nadell, Diana Nadell of Florida, was making plans with an inmate to have two witnesses set to testify against her murdered while she’s being held in Orange County Jail was waiting for her trial. Prosecutors stated that Nadell was arrested in the January killing of her 80-year old mother-in-law Peggy Nadell, with the motivation to gain access to the woman’s $3 million estate that would have been split between her two children, Susanne Nadell-Scaccio of Airmont, and Diana Nadell’s husband James Nadell of Florida. Coconspirators to the murder were also arrested and being held after pleading guilty to felony charges. 25-year old cousin of Diana Nadell, Andrea Benson, testified against her, stating that she choked the 80-year old with a pocketbook strap and beat her before stabbing her multiple times in the woman’s Clarkstown home, using a falsified alibi to make it seem like they were at a wedding in Washington DC at the time. The plans to have the unnamed witnesses killed carry two counts of second degree conspiracy, two counts of intimidating witnesses and two counts of second degree criminal solicitation. Nadell pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. She faces a life sentence in prison.
The East Ramapo School District’s Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to approve emergency repair for Pomona Middle School. According to District Clerk Cathy Russell, the ceiling in the auditorium is considered a safety hazard for faculty and students when it was discovered this month that it began separating from the roof, so the board voted to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation to demolish and rebuild it. The district will most likely replace the ceiling at a different time, which will cost about $300,000 or more, and will be spending $19,905 in repairs in repairs in time for the school year to start on September 4.
State Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri made a decision recently on the Town of Haverstraw’s plans to build a shopping center on property that would place it on Route 202 right on the border between Ramapo and Haverstraw and would include a new Walmart. The Village of Pomona filed several lawsuits against Haverstraw, one after developers were allowed variances by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals that would enable the to build less parking than town code ordered. Alfieri made a decision that this case would continue if the village wins the overall case against the town. Pomona’s suit states that the town zoning board did not complete appropriate environmental research. The judge also denied Haverstraw’s request to dismiss one of the seven lawsuits against them. Pomona is also appealing a decision made by Justice Gerald Loehr on the approval of proposed development.