TIMELINES 12/20

Amedore Declared State Senate Winner
ALBANY – Republican Assemblyman George Amedore has been declared the winner in the new 46th Senate District, having defeated Democrat Cecelia Tkaczyk by 39 votes.The new district will include portions of Ulster, Greene, Montgomery, Albany, and Schenectady counties. “Let’s transition from politics to governing as the people deserve nothing less,” Amedore said Monday. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said Amedore will be “our partner in controlling spending and taxes, creating new jobs, and building on the progress we’ve made over the last two years.”

Ramapo Accused of Leaving Public Out of Vote
The Ramapo Town Board decided at the December 3 meeting to extend the taxpayers’ five-year obligation to pay back $25 million in debt caused by the creation of the town’s controversial baseball stadium, which was built nearly two years ago. Critics of the stadium’s financing are concerned about what will happen if profits for both the stadium and the Ramapo Commons housing development do not turn out to be what was expected. They are also angry about the way the board went about voting on the plan to extend residents’ obligation. According to members of Preserve Ramapo, a grassroots political organization, the vote was not mentioned at all during the portion of the meeting that was open to the public. One member of the group claims to have been present for the whole meeting and believes the vote was held during the board’s executive session, which is closed to the public. Preserve Ramapo is contemplating taking legal action in response to the board’s decision, which they feel was made illegally. As the meeting was held as a combined meeting and workshop, it was not recorded.

Plans to Open Second Dress Barn in Nanuet
Dress Barn, a women’s clothing retailer, plans to open a second store in Nanuet in the Fall of 2013. The store will be located across from the mall on Route 59 and less than a mile away from another Dress Barn. The clothing company has already signed a lease for a space previously occupied by Avenue, a clothing store for plus-sized women. It is a 7,572 square-foot space in the same shopping center as Marshall’s, Eastern Mountain Sports, Modell’s Sporting Goods, and more, near the intersection of Route 59 and Middletown Road. Ascena Retail Group, Dress Barn’s parent company, is currently located in the Village of Montebello. They will be relocating to Mahwah, N.J. within the next 18 months. They have sold their current headquarters to Raymour & Flanigan, who have agreed to let them remain at the site until the location in Mahwah is ready. It is unclear what will happen to the other Nanuet Dress Barn, which has been in operation for over a decade.

West Nyack Woman Arrested for Assault, Drunk Driving
On Wednesday, December 5, a West Nyack woman was arrested for holding a box cutter to another woman’s throat at a bar in Ramapo and for driving under the influence.
Kimberly Conway, 42, had an argument with the other woman at the Roadhouse Bar and Grill on Route 59, around 10:39 p.m. When Conway began wielding the box cutter, a male friend of the other woman stepped in, receiving a cut on one of his hands. Another patron of the bar was able to take the box cutter from Conway, and neither they nor the woman who was threatened were injured. Conway drove off after this, but was found by police and arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated, second-degree assault, and a misdemeanor count of menacing. She was being held in the Ramapo police lockup, awaiting arraignment in Ramapo Justice Court.

Thoughts Used to Control Robotic Arm
Spinocerebellar degeneration has left a mother of two paralyzed from the neck down since 1996, but for the first time in eight years she was able to feed herself, using a robotic arm controlled by her thoughts.
Jan Scheuermann, 52, had two quarter-inch-by-quarter-inch electrodes implanted in her brain, which are connected to the robotic arm. She is able to manipulate objects, using her thoughts to control the arm through a brain-computer interface, or BCI. Using this technology, Scheuermann was able to do the one thing she has wanted to for the last eight years – feed herself a bar of chocolate. This is not the first instance of BCI technology being used to help quadriplegics. However, the technology is getting more sophisticated. Instead of three degrees of control, which is what was available just last year, Scheuermann’s robotic arm has seven. Scientists are looking forward to the day people like Scheuermann can use their robotic arms outside the laboratory.

Cuomo Offers Tax Relief for Victims of Sandy
A number of tax relief measures are being put in place by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to assist both individuals and businesses still trying to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Tax returns filed late will be counted as on-time for those who are still recovering from the storm, businesses that have relocated to New York to help with recovery efforts will be exempt from a number of state taxes, and employers who donate leave to relief efforts will be granted tax exemptions for the length of that leave. The exemption for temporary business relocation covers the time from October 26 to December 31, 2012. More information on these measures can be found on the State Tax Department’s website, http://www.tax.ny.gov/bus/multi/sandy_relief.htm.

AG Cracking Down on Nonprofit Groups’ Electioneering
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is working to make it harder for nonprofit groups to anonymously contribute millions of dollars to campaign funds. New regulations will require 501(c)(4)s – “social welfare” organizations – and other nonprofit groups to report how much of their expenses go towards federal, state, and local campaign funds. An itemized list of expenses and contributions by these nonprofits to campaigns will be made available to the public, along with the names of those who donate to the organization. There are, however, exceptions to the disclosure of donors in order to protect their rights. First, if the donors’ contributions are restricted so they cannot be used toward election funds, their names do not need to be shared with the public. Second, donors can apply to the Attorney General’s office for a waiver if they believe disclosure will bring undue harassment, threats, or reprisals. The purpose of this initiative is to increase donor awareness when contributing to nonprofits. 501(c)(3)s are exempt from this new plan by Schneiderman, as they are already prohibited from interfering with political campaigns.   These new regulations are expected to be published by the Department of State in the State Register on December 26. The public will have until March 6, 2013 to submit written comments to the Attorney General’s office, and four hearings will be held in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Long Island for additional comments from the public. The changes will be adopted next year, subject to any changes that public commentary may warrant.

East Ramapo Still Deciding How to Fix Deficit
The time has come for the East Ramapo school district to decide how they are going to fix their growing deficit, though Tuesday’s school board meeting showed there is still controversy over the district’s plans. Among their options are cutting the kindergarten program and getting rid of music, art, and many extracurricular activities. Parents, students, and teachers gathered at the meeting to oppose these plans, arguing the importance of each of these programs. Other ideas have been considered as well, including borrowing money and imploring legislators to change the formula for state school aid. Tax increases are not an option due to state law. The state Education Department told the district it must address its $8 million deficit and balance its budget by January 2, though Superintendent Joel Klein has indicated he is seeking an extension to January 8. Over 300 people attended the meeting on Tuesday, and in addition to complaints about potential program cuts, residents raised the issue of race. The board consists of mostly white, Orthodox, and Hasidic people, while the district is largely Hispanic and African-American.

Westchester Gun Show Cancelled
Following Friday’s school tragedy in Newtown, Conn. County Executive Rob Astorino has decided the Westchester County Center will not host a gun show in February. A spokesman for the county executive, Ned McCormack, showed support and grief for the families affected by the shooting and stated that the gun show would not be appropriate under the circumstances. A ban had been in place for over a decade under previous County Executive Andrew Spano, not allowing gun shows to be held at the County Center. This ban followed massacres such as the one in Colorado at Columbine High School. Astorino allowed the shows to begin again in 2010. There is now a call to renew that ban, as it is believed to be a step toward stopping gun violence. Other problems that must be addressed with regard to this violence are licensing and mental health issues.

Settlement Made Related to Madoff Scheme
A $22 million settlement has been made by a group of investment funds based in White Plains that had invested money with Bernard L. Madoff. A court-appointed trustee in charge of recovering money from the multi-billion dollar fraud, Irving H. Picard, also gave the group permission to attempt to recover $140 million they lost to Madoff. The funds – controlled by White Plains attorneys Joel Danziger and Harris Markhoff, operated under Beacon Associates Management Corp. and Andover Associates Management Corp. – also wish to recover part of the $22 million settlement money. The two lawyers deny any liability related to the investment fraud and did not make any personal payments on the settlement. The Beacon and Andover companies earned tens of millions of dollars in fees by investing with Madoff’s company, according to court papers. Madoff, 74, is currently serving a sentence of 150 years in federal prison. His Ponzi scheme led to an estimated loss of $17.5 billion for investors.

100 Years of Suffern Village Hall
Suffern’s Village Hall, located at 61 Washington Ave., turns 100 years old this weekend. It is one of the few traditional buildings to still serve as a center for Rockland’s local government. The building is being fixed up in preparation for Sunday’s anniversary, when an open house will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors to Village Hall will be able to visit the three rooms on the third floor that serve as the village’s museum, as well as the Police Department and village offices. A presentation will be given by Craig Long, a police detective and village historian, at 4 p.m. about what Suffern was like 100 years ago. What is now Village Hall once served as Suffern’s first high school, and later as a middle school and grammar school. The village purchased the building in 1979 and made it the government building in 1981. Second-graders from R.P. Connor Elementary School will tour the building as part of the anniversary celebration.

22 Illinois Fraternity Members Face Charges in Freshman’s Death
A freshman student was found dead in November at Northern Illinois University and 22 members of the university’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity are facing charges related to his death. David Bogenberger, 19, died of cardiac arrest related to an excessive intake of alcohol as part of an initiation process. He had five times the legal limit for driving in his system. Arrest warrants were issued on Monday and by Tuesday 13 people had turned themselves in. Seven fraternity members turned themselves in to DeKalb police and posted bond.  The other members involved turned themselves in to other police departments. Alexander M. Jandick, 21; James P. Harvey, 21; Omar Salameh, 21; Patrick W. Merrill, 19; and Steven A. Libert, 20, have been identified as leaders of the fraternity and charged with felony hazing. The others were charged with misdemeanors.

MTA Chairman to Run for Mayor
Chairman of the MTA, Joseph Lhota, will officially be resigning from his position later this week in order to run for Mayor on the Republican ticket. He is expected to make the official announcement on Friday. Lhota served as deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and has been head of the MTA since January, having been appointed by Governor Cuomo. He has been praised for his handling of Hurricane Sandy, but will have to work hard if he wishes to become mayor. A poll released by Quinnipiac in November revealed that 60 percent of New Yorkers would vote for an unnamed Democrat rather than Lhota. Mayor Michael Bloomberg cannot run for re-election due to term limits.

Raffle for Air Jordans Lead to Arrest of Two at Palisades
Nike released a new brand of the popular Air Jordan basketball shoes, and a raffle that was planned for the purchase of this new brand created a large crowd outside a store in the mall. Push led to shove and the police were called, leading to the arrest of two people. The line outside Champs began at 4 a.m. and by 6:30 a.m. there were more than 300 people waiting to get inside the store. Ten police units had to be called to the second floor of the mall as people began fighting over positions in line. Alberto Francillon, 26, of Spring Valley, was arrested for trespassing after going against an order to leave the mall. A 15-year-old boy from New City was arrested on the same charge. He was given an appearance ticket on the scene and allowed to leave. Champs cancelled their raffle and a crowd of people reassembled themselves outside Footlocker on the first floor. No injuries were sustained during any of the incidents.

Thruway Authority to Cut Expenses Rather than Raise Tolls
Board members of the New York State Thruway Authority have decided this week to adopt the least expensive of three proposals for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The replacement for the current 1950s structure must now be reviewed by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In a separate decision, the board passed a budget for 2013 that does not involve any increases in toll fares. They had at one point been considering a plan to raise tolls for commercial vehicles, which would have hurt both businesses and consumers. In place of the toll hikes, the board is reducing costs and eliminating positions, though no lay-offs are planned.

Mountain Closed to Prevent Suicide During Purported Mayan Apocalypse
A Facebook event was created inviting people to join together at an Argentinean mountain, on the eve of the supposed Mayan apocalypse, to partake in a mass suicide. The event was published on both Facebook and Twitter, and over 150 had indicated their plans to attend Friday night’s suicide event at Uritorco, the highest point in the Sierras Chicas mountain range. It measures 6,600 feet. José Peña alerted police, who will close all access points to the mountain from December 20 to 22.