TIMELINES 12/13

Schneiderman Threatens to Sue EPA Over Clean Air Violation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly left methane, a chemical compound that is harmful to the environment and released in large quantities by oil and gas companies, out of a recent update in air pollution standards for those industries. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced on Tuesday that he and a coalition of seven states, including New York, are prepared to sue the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act. By ignoring methane in their most recent updates, the EPA is allegedly allowing 95 percent of emissions of the compound to go unmonitored. Reports done by the agency show that methane warms the earth 25 times more than carbon dioxide, adding greatly to the climate change that is currently taking place. Data provided by the agency shows that there are several cost-effective ways to control methane emissions. While no lawsuits have been filed, Schneiderman warns that he is prepared to sue the EPA in order to force them to take action.

DeMint Leaves Senate to Head Heritage Foundation

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint announced his resignation from the Senate on Thursday, effective December 31. DeMint, 61, who has served in the Senate for seven years, will be taking over the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington D.C. His plan is to determine what works on local and state levels, and to make conservative ideas work for the general public. DeMint is known amongst Republican congressional candidates for his fundraising abilities. He has received support from many important voices in the conservative world, including Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan. DeMint’s term was not due to end until 2016, so Palmetto State’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley must choose someone to serve as senator in the Upper Chamber until elections are held in 2014.

Grand Larceny Charges Against Corporate Owner of Congers Gas Station

Authorities claim that the corporate owner of the BP gas station on Lake Road in Congers filed false documents in order to gain state grant money. The corporation has been charged with felony grand larceny. Route 303 Auto Service Inc., which has been active since 1990 and is headed by Vincent Destaso, owns the gas station and is accused of conning the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) out of more than $33,000. This organization grants money to gas stations that install biofuel pumps, tanks, and equipment. The station had these things installed, but were not paying for the services. The auto service corporation sent a letter to NYSERDA on behalf of the installation company, saying the company’s services had been fully paid for. The letter was printed on falsified letterhead. It is this letter that caused the NYSERDA to send Route 303 Auto Service $33,634 in grant money. An arraignment was held in Clarkstown Town Court on December 5, where the corporation faced third-degree grand larceny charges. The case was postponed until January 30.

Lowey Becomes Ranking Member of Appropriations Committee

For the first time in American history, a woman has been appointed to serve as the top ranking Democrat, or Ranking Member, of the Appropriations Committee. Rockland’s Congresswoman Nita Lowey, 75, will assume this position in January when the 113thCongress assembles. Lowey faced competition from Representative Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, but received backing from 78 percent of the Steering Committee. The committee is made up of Democratic House leaders, and their decision was unanimously approved by the Democratic Caucus. If the Democrats retake the House majority two years from now, Lowey would become the Appropriations Chairperson. She plans to advocate for the progressive goals of the party, while also searching for common ground among all parties.

Extended Deadline for FEMA Disaster Assistance

Thirteen counties declared disaster areas after Hurricane Sandy will be allowed to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through January 28, 2013 as opposed to the previous deadline of December 31, 2012. Assistance may come in the form of money to help with rent, home repairs, property loss, or other disaster-related needs not covered by insurance. The counties that have been granted this extension are: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Rockland, Westchester, Suffolk, Queens, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster. The website for registering is www.disasterassisstance.gov.

India Mourns the Loss of a Cultural Icon

An influential sitar player from India passed away in a San Diego hospital last week after failing to recover from his surgery. Ravi Shankar, 92, was admitted to Scripps Memorial Hospital sometime last week and, despite the efforts of the surgeons and doctors who were taking care of him, he did not survive his surgery. His wife, Sukanya, and one of his daughters, Anoushka, were with him when he passed. The family shared a strong love of music; Anoushka also plays the sitar and Shankar’s other daughter is Norah Jones, the Grammy award-winning singer. Shankar was an influence on The Beatles, praised by George Harrison as “the godfather of world music.” He played at various musical festivals, composed the scores for numerous films, and was awarded the Jewel of India in 1999, the highest honor given to Indian civilians. Born in Varanasi, an ancient Indian city, Shankar spent the final years of his life living in California with his wife.

Suicide Suspected in Death of Haverstraw Man

A man was killed by a CSX Corp. train on Tuesday night, after lying himself across the tracks near Haverstraw’s little league field located on Coolidge Street. The death occurred around 9:48 p.m. and is currently being investigated as a suicide. The man remained unidentified, though authorities did say he was Hispanic. Police, the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office, a Bureau of Criminal Investigations unit, and the Haverstraw Fire Department responded to the scene, not leaving until early Wednesday morning. Firefighters were using a portable lighting system to investigate the area of woods that lies between the baseball field and the train tracks. Westside and Railroad avenues were closed due to the incident, but there was no major impact on traffic in the area.

Controversy Over New Spring Valley Mobile Stage

Spring Valley recently purchased a mobile stage for performances by various cultural organizations and rental by outside groups. The stage cost the village $97,690, and is currently being stored in the Department of Public Works garage. It will first be used next year for Haitian Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Spring Valley Day, and other events. It measures 28 feet by 14.6 feet. Though Mayor Noramie Jasmin believes the stage will pay for itself within a few years through rental agreements, some board members opposed the idea. They felt the money could have been put to better use, such as repairing village streets and sidewalks. Spring Valley used a mobile stage from the Town of Ramapo in the past, free of charge. Rental rates have not been established yet for the Spring Valley stage, but groups from the village will not be charged nearly as much as groups from other areas.

DWI Checkpoint in South Nyack Leads to Seven Arrests

A police checkpoint along Route 9W in South Nyack led to the arrest of seven people, who were under the influence of alcohol and/or in possession of marijuana Friday night into Saturday morning. This checkpoint is part of a campaign set up by the group known as Rockland STOP DWI, the Special Traffic Operations Program for Driving While Intoxicated. The group funds all costs, including overtime. These checks will continue to the end of the month, the sheriff’s office accompanying and assisting the police officers in an effort to cut down on the number of incidents caused by drivers under the influence. The seven people who were arrested are: Anthony O. Najarro, 19, of Highland Falls; Alton M. Frisbie, 26, of Tarrytown; James E. Awe, 42, of Nyack; Matthew J. Resmick, 26, of East Rockaway; Thomas M. Giampapa, 26, of Fairfield, N.J.; John L. Cornacchia, 26, of Garden City; and Justin B. Zuckerman, 26, of Nyack.

Hit and Run Kills Spring Valley Man

A worker for the Village of Kiryas Joel Sanitation Department was struck and killed while crossing the street on Tuesday. The incident happened around noon as Anastacio Vasquez was crossing Satmar Drive in Kiryas Joel, the Hasidic village run by the Satmar sect. Police had little information regarding the vehicle or the driver, though a white minivan was seen leaving the area around that time. Vasquez’s age and address are unknown, but he was described as a day laborer, and not necessarily an employee of the village. It is believed he may have been in the country illegally. The police ask anyone with any information to call 845-782-8311.