Memorial Day is the time we honor those brave men and women who died in service to our country and many have already started to travel to friends and family today – making it one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. State Police and local law enforcement will be increasing patrols to combat drunk and impaired driving this weekend. The initiative starts on Friday, May 27th and will run until Monday, May 30th. Drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols. State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico says, “As you plan your holiday weekend, we remind motorists to: Drive sober, put on your seat belt and put down your smart phone. State Troopers will be highly visible this weekend and will have zero tolerance for impaired, reckless and distracted drivers.” In 2014, drunk driving killed 317 people and injured more than 5,600 others in New York State. Another 188 people were killed in drug-related crashes. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of the crackdown. Concealed Identity Vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once their emergency lights are activated. If alcohol is part of your Memorial Day weekend plan ahead and select a “designate” driver. Drunk driving kills 10,000 people nationwide each year and is preventable.
The largest investment in MTA infrastructure has been approved. The $27 billion 2015-19 MTA Capital Program has received final approval from the Capital Plan Review Board. The approval will lead to the purchase of 2,340 buses and 1,450 subway cars, advance an initiative to build four new Metro-North stations in underserved areas of the Bronx and bring Metro-North service to Penn Station. Other improvements will jumpstart the extension of the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem; enhance the LIRR by adding a second track along 18 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; revitalize and upgrade stations; create a new fare payment system to replace the MetroCard; enhance the East Side Access project so LIRR riders will be able to travel into Grand Central Terminal. It is expected that in the fall the first contract will be awarded.
One of the four men suspected of the October 29, 2013 Wells Fargo Bank robbery has been arrested. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, 25-year-old Giovanny “Gio” Marte, of the Bronx, “committed a dangerous violent bank robbery in broad daylight” he added, “This frightening crime occurred more than two years ago, but thanks to the tireless efforts of the FBI, the Yonkers Police Department, and the NYPD, this defendant will now be held to account in federal court.” The men are accused of firing shots and stealing more than $300,000 from the Wells Fargo Bank located at 500 Odell Avenue in Yonkers. Marte appeared in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, and is being held without bail. He is charged with conspiracy, bank robbery and a firearms offense. There is no word yet on the other three suspects. In 2014, on the one-year anniversary of the crime, New York State Crime Stoppers offered a $2500 for information leading to an arrest. There was no mention of the reward on Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he is advancing legislation to close the LLC loophole in New York State. Cuomo has introduced eight bills – one for all political offices and one for each of the state’s elected offices – requiring that limited liability corporations be treated as traditional corporations, capping political contributions at $5,000. The bills would prevent LLCs from circumventing disclosure requirements and ensure that businesses do not wield an outsized influence in politics and elections across the state. The LLC loophole is widely open to abuse – with companies regularly taking advantage of the gap in state law to set up numerous LLCs to donate millions of dollars to political campaigns, candidates for public office and elected officials. The Governor has tried to pass legislation before to no avail. “Pass all of them, or as many as you’d like” stated Cuomo, “but at a minimum, pass the one impacting anyone running for the office of the Governor. I will go first – pass it and I will sign it into law today.”
The Peekskill Post is reporting that a woman’s body was found in the Hudson River after police got a call about someone jumping off the Bear Mountain Bridge Tuesday afternoon. Police, rescue, and medical teams used Riverfront Green as the staging area. It’s the second apparent suicide from the bridge this month. A 27-year-old Pomona man jumped off the Bear Mountain Bridge on Sunday, May 8th.
Two young men who have achieved the rank of Eagle Status in the Boy Scouts have been honored. Alex Bruen and Michael J. Rizzo, both of Troop 2005 of Tappan were welcomed into the ranks of Eagle Scout at a ceremony at the Congers Lake Community Center. For his service project, Rizzo made improvements to the patio area at the Homes for Heroes of Tappan, including flower boxes, walkway repairs, planting trees and flowers and building a picnic table. Bruen built six raised vegetable gardens for West Nyack Elementary School and gave the school supplies and funds to maintain the gardens. . “These fine young men have set an outstanding example by giving back to their community,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. “We thank them for all of their efforts.”
Rockland County Executive Ed Day has named Dr. Penny Jennings as his choice for Commissioner of Human Rights to replace Ram Nagubandi, who went on paid leave abruptly in mid-April. Nagubandi held the position for 16 years and was responsible for creating a film festival, a leadership conference for women, and a civil rights hall of fame. Myrnia Bass-Hargrove, the county’s director of community relations, had stepped in as acting commissioner until Nagubandi’s departure could be resolved. Dr. Jennings, a resident of Pomona, attended RCC and then went on to earn a master’s and doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University. She has focused her career on bringing people together. In a statement Day said, “Dr. Jennings is a highly educated, intelligent woman who has already demonstrated her commitment to making Rockland a better place”. Jennings founded A.C.T., Inc. – Adults Caring for Teens, a not-for-profit based in Nyack that provides trained adult mentors for at-risk youth. She served as area director for WESTCop, the Rockland Community Action Partnership that put her in the lead of coordinating anti-poverty strategies in Spring Valley and Haverstraw. In addition, she has been honored by the NAACP, The Rockland District Attorney, the New York state Assembly, and the Westchester Board of Legislators. Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Obama have also recognized and honored Jennings contributions. Day stated, “Penny knows how to bring people together – how to engage different parts of the community, how to unite the community behind a common goal,” he added, “These are the skills that she will use as Rockland Commissioner of Human Rights.”
Spring Valley’s Chief Building Inspector, Walter Booker, and businessman Jacob Goldman have been indicted by a Rockland grand jury for allegedly stealing taxpayer money and filing false certificates of occupancy for Goldman’s Zeissner Lane house. As part of a joint task force with U.S. Attorney’s Office in White Plains, an investigation by the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and Spring Valley police led to the arrest of the two men in January. Booker and Goldman are being indicted by the grand jury on three counts of third-degree grand larceny for alleged theft of taxpayer money. Goldman is also indicted on three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Booker faces three counts each of first-degree falsified business records and issuing false certificates, as well as three counts of official misconduct. The charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the initial charges. There is no record of any previous criminal behavior by either man.
The Rockland County Legislature has voted unanimously to amend significant portions of the local law that governs Rockland County Sewer District No. 1. These changes will be implemented in the coming weeks. The changes include a reduction of the Board from 13 to 10 members; docking the pay of those who fail to attend or who have no documented excuse for missing meetings; and there will be tighter reporting requirements regarding the status of the Sewer District’s overall operations. Additionally, in what is believed to be the first such requirement of a board in Rockland, any Sewer District Commissioner convicted of a felony is automatically and immediately disqualified from the Board. According to Rockland County Legislator Charles Falciglia (R-Suffern) said, “Going forward, there will be more circular reporting now.” Falciglia worked with Planning & Public Works Committee Chairman (Elon) Ilan Schoenberger (D-Wesley Hills) and Legislator Chairman Alden H. Wolfe (D-Montebello) to draft the changes and sponsor the resolution. Wolfe stated, “These changes make it clear that we are all expecting improved transparency when it comes to the Sewer District and its activities.”
There is a vote taking place today by the Yonkers City Council to landmark an historic mansion. Last month, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board unanimously recommended the home at 2 Grandview Blvd. for landmark status. Last year, the Islamic Community Center of Mid-Westchester purchased the property for $750,000 with the intention of using the home for a place of worship. They made note on their website that donations were being received to renovate the property. The Colonial Heights Association of Taxpayers filed the application to the landmark board. The home was originally built around 1908 and that distinction is one of the criteria the board uses in making their determination to recommend the City Council landmark a property. Once a property has landmark status the owner of the property must receive permission from the landmarks board for any exterior changes. It has been noted by City Officials that landmark status would not prevent the Islamic group from using the home as a mosque.