TIMELINES — December 7, 2017

Ramapo Residents Fight Townhouses Proposal

Ramapo residents are fighting against a proposal to build almost 700 townhouses on the former Minisceongo Golf Club property on Pomona Road. The sale was announced in March and the new owners haven’t filed formal plans for the site, but residents are voicing concern over the potential impact a multifamily-home development could cause. The potential residency called Millers Pond could deplete water sources and overwhelm current road infrastructures. March groups have tried to prevent Ramapo’s overdevelopment including the creation of a grassroots campaign, called New Direction for Ramapo, to elect town board members who promised to control overdevelopment. During the election however, the ruling Democratic Party won and defeated New Direction. Currently, the property is zoned for single-family homes and for the new developers to move forward with townhouses, the area would need to be rezoned and change the existing comprehensive plan from the Ramapo Town Board.

Day Symbolically Shuts Sain Building

Rockland County Executive Ed Day symbolically shut down the Sain Building by chaining the front door and posting signs on the windows. Day wants to sell the building to a developer for $4.51 million to construct a two-story assisted living facility, but the sale is in a deadlock with the county’s 17-person Legislature. Lawmakers have different ideas for the building, which “outlived its usefulness a long time ago,” according to Day. The county moved nine offices to Building A at the county health complex in Ramapo, which will serve as a hub for multiple county services. A vote in the Budget and Finance Committee in May to designate the Sain Building as surplus stayed at 5-5, preventing the whole member body from considering the sale. Some legislators including Laurie Santulli, R- Congers, wants the nursing home built to provide revenue while others including Ilan Schoenberger, D-Wesley Hills, continues to push for the building to become a parking lot for the county office complex across the street.

Hanukkah Parade on Dec. 13

A parade beginning in Monsey and ending with a grand menorah lighting at the Palisades Center, hosted by the Yeshiva Mesivta Lubavicht of Monsey, will take place on Dec. 13, the second night of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over Syria and rededicating the Jewish Temple, begins next week. The yeshiva has hosted this parade for more than a decade but this marks the first year it will be inside the mall. Rabbi Moshe Richler is expecting about 80 “menorah mobiles” to participate in the parade.

Trump Acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel Capital

On Wednesday December 6, President Donald Trump made an official statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He announced plans to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision that goes against decades of US foreign policy. For decades, the US resisted recognition of Jerusalem as the capital before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. Trump’s decision could increase security risks in the area, which is already on high alert. He stressed the announcement didn’t mark a shift in US policy on future Israeli and Palestinian boundaries. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pleased with the decision while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned it.

Schneiderman Indicts Rensselear County District Attorney

On Dec. 1, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced an indictment charging Rensselear County District Attorney Joel Abelove with two counts of official misconduct and one count of perjury in the first degree. The charges against Abelove stem from his handling of the death of Edson Thevenin, a civilian shot and killed during an encounter with Troy Police in 2016. In 2015, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order appointing the state Attorney General as special prosecutor in cases where law enforcement officers cause the death of an unarmed civilian or when there’s a significant question as to whether the citizen was armed and dangerous. During the investigation into Thevenin’s death, the special investigations and prosecutions unit told Abelove more information was needed to determine if it fell under his jurisdiction. But Abelove quickly presented the case to a grand jury. He allegedly withheld material evidence from the grand jury, corrupting its ability to make an informed decision and ultimately charges weren’t filed. “My office will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies across the state, including district attorneys, to ensure fair, comprehensive and independent investigations of every case within our jurisdiction, so that families like the Thevenins get the answers they deserve,” Schneiderman said.

Former Bosnian Croat General Accused of War Crimes Commits Suicide at ICTY

Slobodan Praljak, former war general during the 1990s Balkan conflict, committed suicide moments after UN judges upheld his 20-year jail term for atrocities committed during he conflict. “Praljak is not a criminal. I reject your verdict,” a former military commander of a Bosnian Croat statelet shouted angrily during the verdict. He drank from a small brown glass bottle and claimed he had taken poison. Praljak was rushed to a hospital from the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia where the 72-year-old died. Currently the prosecutors are looking into Praljak’s suicide and believe it was assisted. Some of the questions surrounding Praljak’s suicide include, “how did he acquire the poison in a UN detention center in The Hague?” The court is set to close this month after it was set up two decades ago during the height of the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict.

Supreme Court Permits Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect

The US Supreme Court allowed the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges continue to arise. The court’s decision is a victory for Trump’s administration that faced several setbacks over the summer when justices considered and eventually dismissed disputes over previous versions. According to the New York Times, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the administration’s request to have the newest ban go into effect. But the court’s orders allows the administration to enforce its new restrictions on travel from eight nations, six that are primarily Muslim. Most citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chat and North Korea will be barred from entering the US, as well as some groups from Venezuela. The restrictions for each country vary.

Schneiderman Sues EPA Over Clean Air Act

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is leading 15 Attorneys General in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator Scott Pruitt for failing to meet the Clean Air Act’s deadline for designating parts of the country affected by unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone, commonly called smog. The lawsuit was filed by the Attorneys General from New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia on December 5. At least one third of New Yorkers breathe in smog pollution caused by pollution from states upwind of New York according to an EPA study. Designating areas with severe smog pollution is key to the Clean Air Act’s ability to address the pollutant’s harm to public health and to trigger state-specific action. This coalition of Attorneys General threatened to sue the EPA after 60 days if the agency failed to make “non-attainment” area designations, which trigger smog reduction measures. December 5 marked the deadline causing the lawsuit to be filed.