BOCES Overcharging New York State Tax Payers
According to an investigation by the Journal News and LoHud.com regional BOCES programs have overcharged New York school districts to the tune $473 million between 2007 and 2011.
A recent report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli uncovered that the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) regularly overcharge school districts and price their services higher than needed.
During the 2010 – 2011 school year the annual overcharge rates range from 2 percent to 16 percent of a local BOCES district’s annual budget. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in some places.
BOCES officials down played the significance of the overcharging. They said that any money that is not spent is refunded to the school districts.
But this overcharging affects school district budgets and eventually the taxpayers have to foot that bill. When the BOCESs refund their overages, it is the school districts that are getting reimbursed, not the taxpayers.
In the Lower Hudson Valley, the three BOCES agencies that serve the school districts in Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties have refunded $31 million to those districts over the last four years.
Rapper Jay-Z Opens Up the Barclay Center
Last week the rapper, and Brooklyn native, opened Brooklyn’s new Barclay’s center with a series of eight concerts. And according to reports, the event was explosive.
A sold out crowd of about 18,000 came out for the first show. Jay-Z who grew up in public housing project not far from the arena played his songs paying tribute to his hometown, like “Empire State of Mind.”
The arena will serve as a cultural and event center for the area, and will be the new home of the Brooklyn Nets when the NBA season gets underway later this year.
New York City Workforce Grows, as Police Workforce Shrinks
The number of New York City cops walking the streets of the “city that never sleeps” has fallen to levels not seen since the early 1990s, back when the city was a lot more dangerous.
In 1992 there were about 34,500 police officers in the city, and in 2002 when Bloomberg took office there were about 37,000. Since then though, the city workforce has grown 10 percent, while the police force has shrunk.
According to reports New York City is facing the possibility of 10,000 police retirements over the next three years, as officers hired as part of the “Safe Cities, Safe Streets” program in 1992 begin retiring. Police data collected so far this year says that crime is up 4 percent, but Mayor Bloomberg insists that the city does not need more cops.
Fire in Nanuet
A home being renovated for new owners was the victim of a fire on Monday night. The fire caused severe structural damage to the house, but no one was injured
The house located at 7 Terrace Ave. had recently been purchased by new owners. They were having the house renovated before permanently moving in.
Nanuet firefighters responded to the fire around midnight, and were assisted by the Spring Valley and Pearl River fire departments. Also responding were Claskstown police and Rockland Paramedic Services. It was originally thought that someone was tripped inside the house.
So far it is not known what caused the time, and the incident is currently under investigation from the Clarkstown fire inspector.
Two Border Patrol Agents Shot
According to authorities two border patrol agents were shot while investigating a tripped sensor along the border near Naco, Arizonia, just south of Tucson.
One agent was fatally wounded, while the other was airlifted to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Authorities have identified the murdered agent as 30-year-old Nicolas Ivie.
The search is now on to find the shooters. Currently the area where the incident occured is flooded with agents on horseback and helicopters searching for the suspects.
Smuggling in the area typically picks up during this part of the year, as temperatures begin to drop from sweltering triple digit highs.
Victims of West Haverstraw Gas Leak Explosion Clash at Village Hall
Tensions exploded into shouts and accusations on Monday night as homeowner Nicole Hall, a was victim of January’s gas leak explosion at the Village Fairgrounds II housing complex in West Haverstraw, addressed the homeowners association.
The volunteer board members had served Hall and several other homeowners who had been hit hardest by the explosion, with a lawsuit. The suit alleges that Hall and the others ignored repeated requests to clean up debris and their personal belongings from the blast site.
Hall blasted the board saying she now has $4,000 in legal fees because of the suit. Brian Condon, the attorney representing the association, said he repeatedly tried to contact the Hall about the clean up but received no response.
Eventually the lawsuit was resolved and the homes were either rebuilt or renovated. The families are expected to move back into their homes later this month.
Terrance McCrudden Dead at 46
Terrance McCrudden, a Clarkstown police officer of 17 years, died Tuesday after losing his battle with cancer.
McCrudden remained on active duty up until his death and was known throughout the community as an outstanding officer. In 2007, he received the Law and Order Recognition and Appreciation Award from the Rockland County American Legion. McCrudden also received public praise from the citizens he assisted, and will receive full departmental honors.
In 1982, McCrudden graduated from Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia. He leaves behind a legacy of service with the Clarkstown Police Department, his passion for sports such as rugby, and the love he had for his family and friends. He is survived by three brothers, three sisters, six nephews, two nieces, close friend Trish Cahill-Fleming, and longtime girlfriend Maureen Hanlon.
Services will be held at the Higgins Funeral Home, 321 S. Main Street in New City on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. The funeral Mass will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, 140 Maple Ave. in New City.
Parents Patrolling School Grounds
Parents in East Ramapo decided to take action on Tuesday against the growing problem of trespassing on school grounds, which they perceive as a threat to their children.
This week, Orthodox Jews celebrated the holiday of Sukkot, during which they are not allowed to drive who are not allowed to drive. Because of the holiday this week saw an uptick in the number of Orthodox Jews using the Grandview Elementary School as a shortcut when walking to their destinations. But it is a regular problem during the rest of the year.
Parents have been trying to persuade district policymakers to secure the grounds and enforce a no trespassing policy, but officials, faced with the issue of appearing anti-Semitic, are slow to act.
This issue was raised on Tuesday when one of eight parents standing guard at the elementary school was accused of being an anti-Semite by one of the dozens of “trespassers.” This comment led to a shouting match between the two, and another argument was had when one woman refused to exit the grounds. Police were called regarding the latter incident, but no arrests were made.
Parents find the use of the school as a shortcut to be a major safety issue because anyone can be access to their children during recess. A class-action lawsuit was filed this summer against school board members and district officials over trespassing and other alleged wrongdoings.
Police say they are unable to do anything unless “No Trespassing” signs are posted on the property, so it is up to the parents – there is no security, social workers, or assistant principals at the elementary school – to keep potential predators away from their children.
The district plans to meet with parents, principals, teachers, and the NAACP – whose members have also expressed concern – about a “No Trespassing” sign policy by the end of this month. The district’s superintendent, however, stated that a sign would not deter someone who is looking to cause harm.
Money Rabbi Fails to Provide Tenants with Potable Water
Rabbi Mayer Weinstein 10 Nesher Court in Monsey, New York was fined $1,000 this week by the Rockland County Board of Health for failing to provide potable water to his renters, according a report posted by the Journal News listing recent fines from the department.
White Powder Found in Payment Envelope at O&R
On Tuesday at 1:20 p.m., a worker in the mailroom of Orange & Rockland Utilities in Spring Valley found a white powder, which thankfully turned out to be harmless, inside a payment envelope.
Following O & R protocol, which covers incidents related to potential explosive devices or chemicals, mailroom workers evacuated the area and gathered in a conference room to await the arrival of the Rockland Hazardous Materials Response Team. When the haz-mat team arrived, they performed a chemical field test of the substance.
They determined that someone had decided to satisfy their sweet tooth while paying the bills, as the white powder was found to be cane sugar. Haz-mat left the building by 2:20 p.m. and workers were able to return to the mailroom.
New York Lotto Investigator had Advised Victim to keep his Ticket
Last week, a New York State Lottery Commission investigator testified that she originally told Elfido DeLaRoca, a victim of an allegeded scam involving a winning lottery ticket that he should not sign over the ticket.
DeLaRoca, 45, of Spring Valley who is also an illegal immigrant won $3 million from a scratch off lottery ticket in early 2011. According to a lawsuit filed with Rockland County District Attorney’s office, he is also the victim of a scam to steal his lottery winnings.
DeLaRoca says that after buying the winning $10 ticket in February 2011 at A to Z delicatessen in Spring Valley, Atif Ali, a store clerk and store owner Riaz Khan convinced him that he would not be able to collect his winning due to his illegal status.
They suggested that he should sign the ticket over to them to collect the money. Together hey would later sign a contract and give him a percentage of the winnings.
However five months after cashing in the ticket, DeLaRoca had still not received any of his money. It was then that he filed a complaint against the men through the DA’s office.
NY Solitary Confinement Conditions Called Inhumane
The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report on Tuesday that shows the psychological effects of solitary confinement not only on inmates, but also on their family members, visitors, and correction officers.
Prisoners are often moved to solitary confinement, or “the box,” when they pose a threat to the rest of the prison population. Called a “human rights crisis” in the report, the extreme isolation of these select inmates has been shown to cause chronic depression, severe anxiety and paranoia, and violent, emotional outbursts. Before being placed in such isolation, an inmate’s offense is investigated, and they are given a hearing and the opportunity to appeal.
No one is safe from the possibility of solitary confinement, with people as young as 16 and as old as 65 being placed there. It is suggested that, while the purpose of this confinement is to maintain the safety of all members at the facility, the prison system should take a look at their current practices and find a more humane way of dealing with the threats some prisoners may pose.