July 11, 2015 (Contributed by Michael Bongiorno) In 1957 John F. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for writing Profiles in Courage, a volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United State Senators who did the right thing despite criticism and damage to their political careers. In New York we have the complete opposite: “Profiles in Cowardice”, where self-serving politicians do the wrong thing and sacrifice the future of thousands of schoolchildren in order to retain the support of the ultra-religious and electorally powerful bloc vote. [Read more…]
July 8, 2015 “The East Ramapo school board is parting ways after six years with Minerva and D’Agostino, the pricey Long Island-based law firm that many say added to an already volatile atmosphere in the district. The board hired New York City-based Harris Beach as its new legal representative Tuesday at a 7 p.m. reorganization meeting that drew more than 100 people, including Judith Johnson, the Lower Hudson Valley’s representative on the state Board of Regents, and Family Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress. [Read more…]
July 7, 2015 “A Monsey-based energy company accused of ripping off people by falsely promising lower rates is being forced to repay $1.25 million to 25,000 customers, the state attorney general said Monday. After an the introductory rate, customers of HIKO Energy LLC saw their electricity bills soar, the AG said in a news release. The settlement amount, which includes fines, resulted from an investigation by the office’s Consumer Protection Bureau. The office found HIKO lured consumers with false promises of lower rates of 10 to 15 percent and then fleeced them with much higher bills.” The company had a contract with the Town of Ramapo and donated to the campaign funds of St. Lawrence, Daniel Friedman, and Ilan Schoenberger. Complete Journal News story here.
July 6, 2015 “The builders of the proposed 496-unit Patrick Farm housing development owe Rockland more than $607,000 in taxes on the 208-acre property outside Pomona, officials said. The tax delinquency dates to 2013, county officials said, and if the debt is not paid by year’s end, the county could foreclose and sell the land at public auction. The Monsey-based builders appear to be trying to pay off some of the debt. They entered into a two-year installment plan this month at 1 percent interest with the county to pay $382,154 owed on two of the six delinquent parcels, officials said. Those parcels house the stables and land that have been used by the Rockland Sheriff’s Office horse unit for nearly four decades. The rent paid by the county to the owners will be held in escrow until the taxes are paid, officials said. Patrick Farm owners’ current tax debt includes Rockland, town, school and village taxes. The Patrick Farm builders operate under the companies Scenic Development LLC and Scenic Development SM LLC, whose partners include veteran builders Yechiel Lebovits, his sons, and Abraham Moscovits.” Complete Journal News coverage here.
All of our state legislators were united in their demand that a robust and powerful monitor be appointed to oversee the East Ramapo School District with powers to act in the interests of the public schoolchildren in real time. They agreed that the district should get more money for the restoration of public school services once the monitor bill was passed. Money was set aside during the budget process for this very result. It was the opponents of the bill that “left money on the table.” [Read more…]
June 29, 2015 The day after the New York bill to appoint a monitor for the East Ramapo School Board had died in the Senate, those opposing the oversight were congratulating themselves online with the kind of bravado that seemed to include great relief that the fire had been put out. At the same time, there was a groundswell of recriminations directed at the Senate Republicans who had refused to bring the proposed bill up for a vote. Also Friday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chancellor of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, was calling for the resignation of the East Ramapo Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein. Two days later, on Sunday morning, a large group of parents accompanied by Channel 12 News gathered in front of Klein’s home in New City calling for the Superintendent’s resignation. Standing on the side, attracting very little notice, was the agent who had helped engineer the killing of the bill. [Read more…]