For the first time in its 70-year history, the New York Division of Veterans’ Affairs will hire Veterans Benefits Advisors to exclusively assist Veterans in Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, including the Veterans Homes operated by the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York. This pilot program will support veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with benefits, programs, and services earned as a result of their military service. The intention is for veterans to have a much needed centralized point of contact for nursing home administrators when they connect with a Veteran or Veteran’s family member who needs assistance with applying for federal and state Veteran’s benefits.
On Friday, County Executive Ed Day got a review of his proposed 2017 Budget for Rockland County by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. While the recommendations by the Comptroller are non-binding they may be used as a source of guidance as residents and the legislature consider the approval of the budget by December 7. According to DiNapoli’s report of Day’s $704.5 million budget the comptroller saw two grey areas: the budget does not show a plan for lowering debt and it doesn’t account for salary increases from the finalization of impending contracts. According to Day’s report the good news is that the 2015 debt of $16 million is expected to drop to $10 million by January 1. DiNapoli’s report says, “the county must have a plan to reduce this deficit over a specific period of time. The 2017 proposed budget does not include provisions for this.” Also, ten unions are now negotiating collective-bargaining agreements. Salaries are expected to increase and Day’s budget does not make provisions for the increase. DiNapoli’s report recommends that the county, “consider the potential financial impact of contract settlements when finalizing the 2017 budget.” Day says noting union salary increases in the budget would affect negotiations. On the upside Day’s proposed budget projections for revenue and expenditure’s were found to be “reasonable” and stays beneath the tax cap. In his defense Day said, “The core part of the report affirms that my administration has stopped the poor practices of the past that nearly bankrupted us, that our revenues and expenditures are reasonable and accurate. And unlike the legislature, which spent millions of dollars I put aside for deficit reduction in my first budget, we are in fact driving the deficit down by an average of over $10 million per year over the last three years”.
The AP is reporting this morning that Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say that a Romanian man, 42-year-old Alin Carabus has pleaded guilty to committing bank fraud. Prosecutors say 16 people were charged in the “skimming” scheme. They stole bank account information by installing secret card-reading devices on ATMs throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere. The information was used to create thousands of fraudulent ATM cards, which were used to withdraw millions of dollars from customers’ bank accounts. The scheme defrauded institutions out of at least $5 million overall and impacted thousand of customer. Carabus faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced February 23.
There will be a public hearing on the proposed changes in fares and crossing charges by multiple transit authorities: the MTA, LIRR, Metro-North, New York City Transit, MTA Bridges & Tunnels to name a few. For those of us here in Rockland County, if you would like to hear the proposed hikes, or not, in Bus, Train, Bridge and Tunnel crossings you can attend a live meeting on Thursday, December 15 from 4-8 p.m. (Hearing begins at 5 p.m.) at the Crowne Plaza Suffern, 3 Executive Blvd., Suffern, NY 10901 and the meeting will gather in the Ballroom. If you can’t attend there are ways to comment by email, letter, or 3-minute video testimony – go to MTA.info
The 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade running 2.5 miles through the center of Manhattan and drawing millions of spectators begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday. The floats and character balloons will start at 77th Street and Central Park West and then head south down CPW to 59th Street. Then it heads east to Sixth Avenue and finally downtown to 34th Street ending at Macy’s Herald Square. The whole event should wrap up around noontime. So plan ahead for street closures – maybe a great day to take the bus to the city. This year Tony Bennett, Sarah McLaughlin, and the cast of “Hamilton” will all be performing. If you want more information visit: social.macys.com/parade.
Today is the 88th Birthday of Mickey Mouse. The cartoon character debut in 1927, and was once a rabbit called Oswald, a floppy eared bunny that eventually became Mickey Mouse. Mickey begins a global trip today making surprise appearances in iconic locations around the world. Select Disney stores and resorts distribute commemorative ‘Happy Birthday, Mickey!’ buttons, while a new song entitled ‘What We Got’ is also released. Appearances will be captured and shared on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Facebook page and a new Instagram account that was recently launched to showcase the travels Mickey Mouse first appeared in ‘Steamboat Willie’, which premiered at the Colony Theatre in New York on November 18, 1928 – Happy Birthday, Mickey! You are a lesson in….Forever Young.
Thomas Gallagher, the engineer of the New Jersey Transit train that crashed into Hoboken Terminal in September, killing one and injuring hundreds, has just a received a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea. The results were sent on October 31 to federal officials according to his lawyer, Jack Arseneault. Sleep Apnea is a “common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.” It disrupts sleep and leaves the suffer tired the next day. It cannot be detected by a regular doctor’s visit or a blood test and many times goes undiagnosed. The National Transportation Safety Board, investigating the accident, has not yet determined the cause.
The Journal News uncovered a major loophole in the New York State Sex Offender Registration Act and that investigation has prompted Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City), to draft legislation to close the loophole. The bill will be proposed to the legislature in January 2017. Presently, law enforcement agencies, gather change of address forms from approximately 39,000 sex offenders in the state. However, law enforcement is not required to forward those forms to the Sex Offender Registry. Zebrowski’s proposed legislation would require law enforcement to forward the forms to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services within three days of acquiring it. The sex offender registry is overseen by Criminal Justice Services.
MTA officials accounted Wednesday, that for the first time Saturday and Sunday service is being added to the Tappan Zeexpress as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metro-North Railroad and Rockland County’s commuter bus service work together to make is easier for Rockland residents to access Metro-North. Eight trips will first be added to Saturday TZx bus service between Rockland and Westchester counties. Two trips to White Plains will also be extended. The addition of a Sunday TZx schedule is being worked out between Metro-North and the Rockland County Department of Public Transportation that will operate on the same schedule at the Saturday service. In the future there will be 32 trips on both Saturday and Sunday. Rockland County Executive Ed Day said in an announcement, “This is a much needed and vital improvement, as currently there is no other public transit option between Rockland and Westchester on Sundays. We appreciate MTA and Metro-North stepping up with this addition funding for TZx.” Assembly Member Ellen C. Jaffee noted, “Many Rocklanders work Saturdays and/or Sundays, so this addition will greatly assist those who travel to the cit for work or other obligations on the weekends.” The new service is planned in the first quarter of 2017. A formal announcement will be made before the service begins.
The Associated Press is reporting this morning New York utility regulators are poised to approve the sale of an upstate nuclear power plant as part of the state’s broader plan to invest in nuclear power while expanding its use of renewable energy. The Public Service commission is set to vote today on Entergy Corporation’s proposal to sell FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County to Exelon Corp. for $110 million. Federal regulators also must approve the transfer. Governor Cuomo helped negotiate the sale to ensure that the plant remains open. Cuomo says nuclear power can help the state wean itself off of fossil fuels while it encourages the development of renewables. To help the industry, the state has authorized up to $7.6 billion over the next 12 years in ratepayer subsidies for three nuclear plants including FitzPatrick. According to the Journal News, every ratepayer across New York State will see an increase of approximately $2-a-month on their utility bills – “ratepayers in Westchester and Rockland counties” they report, “will not benefit directly form the power generated by the plants.” Organizations like Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the New York Public Interest Research Group have been rallying to stop what they call “the largest corporate bailout in U.S. history” of a dying industry. They want Governor Cuomo to invest in 100% clean energy. For more information: stopthecuomotax.org