According to the New York state Department of Labor Rockland County has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. In their recently released study for December 2014 it shows that Rockland is fourth on the list for lowest unemployment numbers following behind Tompkins County, Nassau County, and Putnam County. According to the Department the study is completed through phone surveys, in which 3,100 households are contacted and questioned about their jobs. With 4.3 percent unemployment for the month of December fro Rockland, unemployment rates in most counties appear to be going down.
On Tuesday New York State Democratic majority leader Joseph Morelle announced that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be stepping down from the position after his arrest last week on corruption charges. Silver was arrested after a nearly yearlong federal investigation led to the discovery of $4 million he was receiving on the side as alleged kickbacks and payoffs. Silver has stated that he is innocent of the accusations and he expects to be exonerated. Morelle stated that the position will be open by Monday of next week, though it has not been stated whether Silver will resign or be removed, and Morelle will be stepping in as a temporary replacement while lawmakers attempt to change the law to allow them until February 10 to find candidates.
Traffic on the New York State Thruway is at a standstill this morning due to an accident involving a tractor-trailer. According to officials around 6:40 AM a truck heading north on the Tappan Zee Bridge collided head on the car. Police stated that the driver of the car suffered minor injuries. With no reports on the condition of the truck driver. Cleanup resulted in the closure of all Northbound lanes, as of 8:20 AM all lanes were reopened and are moving slowly, and traffic on side roads and exits was reported as slow.
Local and state officials are calling for New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s retirement after his Thursday morning arrest on charges of corruption. After a lengthy investigation into the incomes of state officials by the FBI and US Attorney Preet Bharara, it was discovered that Silver was allegedly receiving payments from outside law firms that he had failed to inform the state about. Rockland County Executive Ed Day stated that it is necessary that the public trust their elected officials and commended Bharara and those involved in the arrest and investigation. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino released a statement calling for the Speaker to resign, and was joined by many members of the Legislature and various state officials.
The New York State Thruway Authority announced that they will be holding meetings in the coming months to discuss options for the controversial bike path that will be built as a part of the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The path will run from South Nyack to Tarrytown in Westchester, and many South Nyack officials and residents are concerned that the visitors will bring traffic and parking issues. Currently the state has addressed the ideas that the expected 470 visitors per hour can park in a proposed lot and information center, or on streets, or existing lots. According to the village Mayor Bonnie Christian many residents are backing the idea to make parking available at Interchange 10 off the Thruway. According to officials with the Thruway Authority the meetings will take place in Rockland and Westchester counites and will most likely be in March.
According to officials for Orange and Rockland Utilities, they have filed a lawsuit against contractors responsible for an explosion in West Haverstraw in 2012. The law suit states that Fidel and Christian Padilla and their crews were installing Verizon FIOS cable lines on Zariello Lane in West Haverstraw when they hit and ruptured a gas line, leading to an explosion that injured four emergency responders. O&R is suing the contractors for damages, and are a part of a suit by seven individuals against the utility company and Verizon. O&R is accusing the Padillas of violations of public service laws and negligence in the explosion, which caused about $1.4 million in damages.
The town of Ramapo has filed a law suit against homeowners on Neva Court and Quince Lane, officials stating that the neighbors dug and paved a pathway over town land to connect their two homes. Town Attorney Michael Klein stated to the Journal News that the suit was filed against the owners after residents complained that more and more people were using pathway to quickly get through the wooded, residential area and inspectors followed electrical lines for lighting back to one of the homes. According to Klein the town will be seeking monetary damages to restore the town-owned land back to its original state and there have been no responses from the defendants as of yet.
According to a spokesperson for the FBI, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested at 8:00 Tuesday morning on accusations of corruption. Serving as Speaker since 1994, Silver was faced with charges after a federal investigation began in 2014, when Governor Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, an anti-corruption task force. The FBI and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara are heading the investigation and have continued looking into the income of state officials over the past year, leading to the claims that Silver has received payments from the Manhattan lawfirm Goldberg and Iryami for nearly ten years, without listing the work that he may have done for clients, as well as failing to list the payments on required forms. Silver and his attorneys have declined to comment on the case at this time.
According to Ramapo officials a yeshiva on Highview Road is facing violations for an addition that was approved for the single-family home in 2010. According to fire officials for the town, the congregation Khal Bais Usher requested building permits for a one-story, but instead began putting up two and a half stories, which Tallman fire officials claim are used as a house of worship without a certificate of occupancy rather than the approved family room, leading to violations being issued against the congregation. The Building Department also issued violations for failing to file plans and a lack of fire safety precautions. Tallman Fire Department officials and members of the Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force are urging that the addition be taken down and a stop work order be followed by the owners while the congregation attempts to get legally approved for a proper addition. The zoning board will hear the violations and further discuss the issue tonight at 8:00 PM.
The organization Riverkeeper is requesting that an independent consultant complete a study on the proposed Algonquin Pipeline that is set to run through Rockland and Westchester counties. The group released a letter which was sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, stating that a study done by Entergy, who operates Indian Point Nuclear Powerplant, was inadequate in assessing the risks of a rupture in the natural gas pipeline. A spokesperson for the company stated that Entergy doesn’t have an opinion on the pipeline expansion, though a the study was completed and concluded that the there was little to no risk to the plant. Many residents and officials in Putnam, Westchester, and Rockland counties have opposed the pipeline, which will run underneath all three. The Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a hearing at the stony point community center on Clunhouse Lane in Stony Point at 6 pm on January 22 for further discussion.