August 20, 2015 The recently appointed East Ramapo monitor Dennis Walcott, former Chancellor of New York City Schools, and MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner of the NYS Board of Education, joined Brian Lehrer on his public radio show to discuss the problems in the district and their roles in addressing those problems. Listen to the show here: https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/523805
August 18, 2015 Last week, there was the rally in Spring Valley’s Memorial Park with parents calling for the removal of Bernard Charles from the East Ramapo School Board. Then a video showing wife Brendel hurling profanities at some of the good citizens of the Town, another video of Bernard threatening some of the locals, and a clip of his aggressive response when he was served with the lawsuit papers naming him with the other school board members for the profligate legal fees. And now, with a press release today from Town Councilman Daniel Friedman, there’s a call for Bernard’s removal as Ramapo’s Recreation Activities Coordinator. Friedman’s reasons are a virtual grab-bag of what’s wrong with Ramapo politics—they include nepotism, incompetence, lousy test scores, improper behavior, malfeasance, and not showing up for work. Daniel wants an up-or-down vote at this Thursday’s Town Board meeting. [Read more…]
The Journal News August 14, 2015 “East Ramapo’s future is a top priority for the state, Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told hundreds of frustrated parents at a meeting where a team of outside monitors was introduced to oversee the struggling district.“We hear you,” Elia told a packed audience Thursday at Rockland Community College. [Read more…]
The Journal News August 11, 2014 “Citing rampant over-development in neighboring municipalities, Clarkstown town officials are moving to impose a six-month moratorium on residential development. Supervisor Alex Gromack and council members Shirley Lasker and Stephanie Hausner, fellow Democrats, endorsed the building ban at a press conference on Tuesday. They were expected to pass it at the Town Board meeting that night, setting up a 30-day ‘public comment’ period. A final vote is set for Sept. 29. Officials said the moratorium will give the town’s Building and Planning Departments time to review and overhaul zoning, possibly imposing a strict set of land use regulations to preserve the area’s residential character. [Read more…]
The Journal News August 7, 2015 “Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin was sentenced to four years in federal prison and fined $20,000 Friday for her role in a scheme involving a proposed community center in the Rockland village. “Imprisonment is absolutely necessary given your enthusiastic participation in this corrupt activity,” U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon told Jasmin.”Complete Journal story here.
The Journal News August 7, 2015 “Federal prosecutors investigating allegations of corruption in Ramapo anticipate wrapping up the probe by October, according to a court document they filed in a civil lawsuit by an alleged whistle-blower. Suspended Ramapo finance official Melissa Reimer’s lawsuit includes conversations she taped with town officials concerning potential corruption and financial decisions of interest to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court. The recordings have been blocked from release since Feb. 4, when federal Judge Cathy Seibel granted the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s request to intervene to prevent the recordings from being turned over to Ramapo’s lawyers, according to court documents. In a heavily redacted court document dated June 30, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara asked Seibel for another three-month hold on one of Reimer’s recordings. The approved request extends the stay until October. “The government now moves that the court stay discovery of the … recording for an additional 90 days, during which time the government anticipates it will complete its investigation and make charging decisions in this matter,” Bharara wrote in the document.” See complete Journal News coverage here.
The Journal News August 5, 2015 “East Ramapo school Board President Yehuda Weissmandl said that a new civil lawsuit targeting board members is counterproductive and will unnecessarily drain district funds. The new civil complaint, filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court, calls on board members to reimburse the district $2 million in legal fees spent fighting a federal class-action civil rights lawsuit brought by parents in 2012. Plaintiffs state that board members violated their financial management responsibilities by hiring “excessively expensive” attorneys to represent them. Pro bono law firm Advocates for Justice represented parents in both cases.
The new lawsuit names current and past board members as well as their law firms — Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis and Bockius and New York City-based Proskauer Rose — as defendants. It calls on the court to compel the defendants to reimburse the district all legal fees in excess of $187,500 associated with their defense in the federal class action lawsuit between 2012 and 2014.” Read the complete Journal News story here.
The Journal News August 4, 2015 “Officials say they won’t know until the end of this week how many absentee and affidavit ballots from September’s contested ward system vote are valid. Since they started on July 29, employees at Town Hall have gone through 653 absentee ballots and about 300 of 2,500 affidavit ballots to determine whether they can be counted.” Click here to read the Journal News coverage.
Original post August 2, 2015 When the news broke that the newly elected East Ramapo Board member Juan Ramirez quit after just one meeting, the move caused quite a few raised eyebrows. The most interesting, and thoughtful response was posted by Steve White on his Power of Ten blog. Here’s what Steve had to say about this very odd maneuver: [Read more…]