Timelines — 9/27

NYPD Now Video Taping All Interrogation of Suspects

Last week New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that suspects in all murder, sex crime, and felony assault cases will be recorded during their interrogations with police.

Kelly said recording what police officers and suspects say is practical, helpful, and safeguards civil rights.

The recordings will empower judges and juries to see first hand what a suspect said or did during an interrogation. Questions about suspects waiving their rights or possibly being coerced by police will be reduced.

Experts have long agreed that recording interrogations serves the justice system well, but until recently the costs of the technology to do so were considered too high.

Now with the prevalence of smart phones, most people are already carrying a recording device in their pocket.

The New York State Bar Association, which has long supported the videotaping of suspects in custody, issued a press release expressing their support for the NYPD’s measure.


New York Man Mauled By Tiger at the Bronx Zoo

A New York man, David Villalobos, 25, of Mahopac, was in critical condition last Thursday after he jumped from a moving monorail over a 16-foot high guard fence into the tiger enclosure at the Bronx Zoo.

The resident 400-pound tiger, Bachuta a male Siberian tiger, attacked Villalobos. The tiger clawed his body, and punctured one of his lungs with a bite to the back. Officials said Villalobos was in the pen with the tiger for 10 minutes before they could chase away the tiger long enough to rescue him.

The incident was initially thought to be a suicide attempt, but after he was rescued, Villalobos said he jumped into the animal’s den because “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”

Police said Villalobos is being charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

Bachuta, the tiger, is expected to remain at the zoo. Officials said that the tiger did nothing wrong and will not be put down.


Researchers Find a Cannabis Compound that Fights Cancer

Scientists at California Pacific Medial Center in San Francisco have found a compound derived from marijuana that can stop aggressive cancers in their tracks.

Earlier this month The Daily Beast reported the finding, which has already cleared lab and animal testing, and is currently awaiting clearance to begin human clinical trials.

Two researchers, Pierre Desprez, studying the ID-1 gene, known to cause cancer to spread, and Sean McAllister studying the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant, found the unique cancer fighting property of Cannabidiol while collaborating together.

They combined cells with high levels of ID-1 in a Petri dish with CBD and found that the CBD “turned off” the ID-1. Meaning that CBD keeps the cancer from spreading from cell to cell.

The discovery has the potential to radically change the way cancer patients are treated. Soon, the days of toxic treatments like chemotherapy could be gone in favor of treatments using Cannabidiol.

With clinical human trials for the compound just around the corner, patients won’t have to worry about smoking anything. You would never be able to get enough CBD for effective treatment from smoking marijuana. During the animal trials they used pills or injections. Also since the Cannabidiol is non-psychoactive patients will not experience any of the traditional high associated with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.


Schneiderman Announces Grantees of the Homeowner Protection Program

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced, on Monday, the grantees of the Homeowner Protection Program. The master plan for the program will provide $60 million over three years to fund housing counseling and legal services for struggling New York homeowners.

In the Hudson Valley, two legal services organizations and eight housing counseling agencies will receive over $1.7 million from the initial $20 raised for the first year of the program in order to provide free foreclosure prevention services.

According to data collected by the New York Federal Reserve, over 23,000 homes in the Hudson Valley are 90 or more days delinquent, or have already begun the foreclosure process. By that estimate, more than 8.5% of all single-family mortgages in the Hudson Valley are seriously delinquent.

Monday’s announcement was only the latest part of Schneiderman’s multi-pronged approach to stem foreclosures. Earlier this year, Schneiderman also introduced the Foreclosure Fraud Prevention Act, which would impose criminal penalties for knowingly filing false documents in a foreclosure proceeding, or overseeing employees who engage in such activity.


U.S. Army Officials Putting Soldiers at Risk

Army officials are coming under fire for accepting severs and training free of a charge from a private sector company that makes a software useful for detecting improvised explosive devices (IED).

Soliders in the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division deployed in Afghanistan have been using the software known as Plantir, which processes large amount of data, such as names and places, to help troops find road side bombs, which are the number one killer of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Soliders have praised the program, and say it is effective.

However last month Army officials ordered the computer servers that run the software at Fort Stewart in Georgia shut down and returned to the company. The officials say that the division illegally accepted the servers and training from the company free of charge in violation of regulations.

Representatives in Congress such as California Republican, Duncan Hunter, are complaining about the move. Hunter expressed his astonishment with the Army that they would shut down a system that is clearly keeping soldiers safe.


Lawmakers Spending Millions on Mailings

A study by the Albany Bureau of the Journal News has found that between October 2011 and March 2012 lawmakers in Albany have spent a whopping $6.8 million of public money on mail to constituents.

Many of these mailers, they say, are thinly veiled political ads, as many are facing reelection this November. They offer updates on the legislative session, or greetings from Albany. Many are multiple pages long with glossy pictures of them with Governor Cuomo or in their offices.

State senators and legislators each receive a budget from the state for mail. How big that budget is depends on if the party is in the minority or the majority, and the size of the district they are representing.

One state senator, William Larkin, R-Cornwall, spent $156,881 over the six-month period, the most of any lawmaker. While Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schnectady spent only $355 on mailings.

Many politicians in Albany are opting to simply use the Internet and social media for their communications instead of mailings. They say with the new technologies, there is just no excuse for so much paper anymore.


Bacon Shortage

Bacon lovers are in for a nasty surprise. Reports from a British industry trade group are predicting a shortage of pork and bacon for next year. A trend that they say is now unavoidable.

It’s especially bad news for the notoriously bacon hungry United States. The drought that gripped the Midwest this summer decimated corn and soybean crops, which are used to feed for pigs. Now with much smaller crop yields, prices for feed are going up.

The LA Times reported that U.S. pig farmers have slaughtered a record number of pigs so far this year in anticipation of the higher feed costs. Farmers are hoping to save themselves some financial pain by going into the colder months with smaller herds to feed.


The Dodgers and Steroids

During his tenure as a pitcher for the Los Angels Dodgers, former Cy Younger winning closer Eric Gagne says that 80 percent of his teammates were using steroids, according to his recently released autobiography.

Gagne won the Cy Young award in 2003 after he converted all 55 of his save opportunities while posting a 1.20 ERA. In 2005 Gagne underwent elbow surgery and signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers for the 2006 season.

In 2010 Gagne admitted to using human growth hormone. He says that it ruined his heath and tarnished his reputation. In his book Gagne does not give the names of any of the other Dodgers players using steroids.

Since 2006 major league baseball players have been subject to stricter testing for performance enhancing drugs. The league can test players during spring training and the offseason but not during the season.


Spring Valley Police Use Excessive Force

A Village of Spring Valley police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault. The officer, Oscar Lopez, allegedly beat a robbery suspect, already in custody, with his baton after the he supposedly assaulted Lopez.

The incident report states that Lopez was attacked while attempting to put the suspect into a jail cell. However, the assault charge comes from the moments after Lopez defended himself, where he is believed to have used excessive force against the suspect.

Lopez surrendered himself willingly and has been suspended without pay. He is due in court in November.


Stony Point Dog Breeder Being Targeted

A licensed dog breeder in Stony Point is the target of an investigation by the Hudson Valley Humane Society. The breeder, John Principe, who owns the company Retrievers 4 You is due in court next week to defend himself.

Principe’s company exclusively breeds Labradors and Golden Retrievers, and according to the website, the company has received high marks from the American Kennel Club and is fully licensed by the Department of Agriculture.

The complaint that started the investigation stems from the sale of a sick puppy. Allegedly Principe sold a sick puppy to a customer who then contacted the Humane Society. Principe said he refunded the buyer’s money and that he has the dog and it is fine.

Principe is due in court on October 1.


East Ramapo School District Running a $6 Million Deficit

East Ramapo officials this week admitted that the district is facing an estimated $6 million deficit. After ending the 2011 – 2012 school year with a $1.78 million deficit and no reserves, the $6 million figure comes as a surprise to some.

About $1.5 million in unanticipated expenses is plaguing the district, still early on in the school year. According to the Assistant Superintendent for Finance Michael Ivanoff, the new costs are being caused by increased enrollment.

Private schools in East Ramapo enrolled 1,000 new private school students this year. In the district only 30 percent of students attend public schools, but by law the district is required to provide transportation, books, and special education for all students in the district.

The district is also suffering from a $2 million over budgeting of Medicaid reimbursements. In addition it is planning to spending about $1 million to defend board members and administrators against a lawsuit filed over the summer by concerned parents.

Superintendent of Schools Joel Klein blames declining state aid, and argued that the district would be in better shape if the sales of two former public school buildings would go through. Klein said the sale could potentially bring in $10 million in revenue.

The sales were blocked by state officials after members of the East Ramapo School Board were accused by the public of attempting to sell the buildings below market value to yeshivas.

With such a dire financial situation and no reserve funds to speak of, the district is now considering borrowing money to balance its budget.


Andy Williams Dead at 84

Andy Williams, one of the America’s most distinctive singing voices, died Tuesday at his home in Branson, Mo. losing his battled with bladder cancer.

From 1953 until his diagnosis in 2011 Williams entertained American music and TV audiences with his signature voice. Williams did it all, and was considered by some to be the voice of the 1960s.

Williams is survived by his second wife Debbie Meyer and three children from his first marriage, Robert, Noelle and Christian.


Rockland County Has the 3rd Highest Property Taxes in the County

According to new census estimates released this week, Rockland County residents are paying the third highest property taxes in the country. Rockland is joined in the top three by Westchester County, whose property taxes hit a median amount of $10,000.

Rockland County’s median number for property taxes is not far behind though. The 2011 numbers estimated from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey showed Rockland residents paid on average $9,376 in property taxes, up from $8,430 the year before.

The increase in property taxes comes at a time when median household income is falling in the region.