Cheer and jeers from “them and us” resound at Ramapo Board meeting

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By Kathy Kahn

1-RCT-Oy Vey_2Like the proverbial lizard wearing a velvet glove, Ramapo supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence seems just as smug and self-assured as he did before U.S. Attorney Preet Bahrara handed down a 30-page criminal indictment against him.

The town board’s Wednesday, May 11 meeting, hosted by the 16-year incumbent supervisor, was a bitter brawl between those who jeered him and supporters who yelled for “Four more years!”

A presentation about the town’s drainage system was drowned out by repeated shouts for St. Lawrence to resign, while supporters booed the protestors.

St. Lawrence rapidly moved through the agenda, refusing to expand on approving the use of Coach/Shortline and school buses to transport students to various summer camps and programs “Which schools—and where are they going?” the crowd demanded.  No one got an answer.

St. Lawrence did slow down long enough to advise residents that Code Enforcement Officer Adam Peltz, suspended 60 days without pay, will return as an Assistant Code Enforcement Officer. Peltz, who is accused of willfully overlooked fire code violations in three Hasidic private schools and dormitories, as well as Green Meadow Waldorf, will be back in the town’s employ by the end of June.  He’ll have to take some remedial classes in proper code enforcement as part of his punishment and demotion.

St. Lawrence announced “public housing” was going to be built but did not expand on where it would be or who it would house. Again, the board passed the resolution unanimously and nobody called a question. (In fact, no questions were asked by any board members throughout the agenda.)

It was finally the public’s turn, and it was as raucous as the protests that have been ongoing in front of the Town’s Route 59 headquarters since St. Lawrence and his cohorts were indicted.

Judah Lerner, a founding member of Preserve Ramapo, said there were many within the Ultra-Orthodox community who support the group. He asked St. Lawrence to step down and make way for a better government that would represent all the residents of Ramapo, not just the Hasidic bloc vote that has kept him in power for four terms.  While Lerner spoke, members of the Orthodox community shouted “Four more years! Four more years!”

Next up was an unnamed Hasidic man: “I want to congratulate you, Mr. St. Lawrence, on the great job you’ve done.” He refused to give his name to the Rockland County Times, claiming this newspaper was “anti-Semitic.”

Preserve Ramapo will be holding an “Indictment Party” at the Waterwheel Restaurant in Tallman this Sunday, May 15, beginning at 7:00p.m. to honor those who defied St. Lawrence and helped shine the light on the gross negligence of the public trust he is charged with.

“Even if you can’t come to the party, we still need your financial support. We must have a ward system to protect our town from St. Lawrence’s allies,” said Robert Rhodes, Preserve Ramapo’s chairman. (www.preserve-ramapo.com)

The Orthodox community in Ramapo did not share a website with the Rockland County Times to offer their point of view of a supervisor many consider a personal hero.

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