Orangetown condemns Columbia for hiring terrorist; resolutions seek Boudin firing, parole denial for Bohovesky killers
BY ROBERT KNIGHT
ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES
Shocked at last week’s Rockland County Times revelation that Columbia University has hired convicted, jailed and released Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin as an adjunct professor, a furious Orangetown Town Board Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution of condemnation, and has demanded the university terminate Boudin immediately and send letters of apology to the families of the three officers killed during the infamous 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery in Nanuet and Nyack.
In a similar resolution the Town Board also continued it years-long effort to keep the killers of Pearl River teenager Paula Bohovesky in prison for the remainder of their lives, despite upcoming parole hearings for convicted murderers Richard LaBarbera and Robert McCain.
The strongly worded two-page resolution on Boudin was drafted by Councilman Thomas Diviny (R-Blauvelt), an attorney and a member of the four-man GOP majority that currently controls the Town Board. The resolution was not only supported by fellow Republican Councilmen Thomas Morr and Paul Valentine (Councilman Denis Troy was absent), but it received equally strong support from Supervisor Andrew Stewart, a Nyack resident and the council’s only Democrat.
The resolution asserts that the full board “hereby condemns Columbia University for its irresponsible and insensitive decision to employ Kathy Boudin as an adjunct professor (and) requests that Columbia sever all ties with Kathy Boudin and offer a written apology to the victim’s families and the Orangetown community.”
It goes on to authorize certified copies of the resolution be sent to the families of the three deceased officers killed in the terrorist attack and to other persons in order to “properly effectuate the purpose of this resolution.”
Diviny said he was “absolutely stunned” when he learned a few days ago that Columbia had hired Boudin to teach a social services class at the famed New York City university, on the topic of how to re-integrate released prisoners into society. Besides being on the adjunct (non-tenured) faculty at Columbia, she is also reportedly on the staff at New York University, but her duties there have not been revealed so far.
Diviny said Columbia in particular showed “incredible insensitivity” to the Orangetown community by hiring Boudin, especially in view of the fact that one of its largest colleges, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is located tax-free in the township, in the hamlet of Palisades, where it has been based for more than half a century.
His resolution notes that Boudin was an active member of the notorious radical group the Weather Underground in the 1970s and 80s, at the time the terrorist group bombed both the Pentagon and the United States Capitol in Washington.
“In 1981,” the resolution continues, “Boudin, together with other members of the Weather Underground robbed a Brinks armored car at the Nanuet Mall.” Brinks guard Peter Paige was shot and killed in the heist, and Boudin drove the get-away car in which the gang temporarily escaped the scene, only to be stopped at a roadblock on Route 59 in Nyack, as they attempted to get on the southbound entrance of the New York State Thruway and get back to their base in Manhattan.
In a furious exchange of gunfire with Nyack Police at the roadblock Nyack Sergeant Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly “Chip” Brown were shot and killed.
The terrorists were captured by dozens of village and area police who responded to the scene, and gradually each was tried and convicted of both armed robbery and murder over the next several months.
Boudin entered a guilty plea to the charges, including one count of murder, and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
In a budget cutting move about two decades ago the Village of Nyack disbanded its own police department, on which Brown and O’Grady had served, and it was merged into the larger Orangetown force. A bronze plaque honoring the three slain officers is permanently mounted at the Police Department entrance at Town Hall in Orangeburg, and a memorial service to the men is held on the anniversary every year at the scene of the shooting in Central Nyack, where a candle-lit monument and flagpole is now located.
Despite pleas from the Nyack, Orangetown, Rockland County and law enforcement communities at the time, Boudin was released from prison in 2003, after 22 years in jail. She was subsequently hired by Columbia as an adjunct professor in their School of Social Work, where she apparently continues to serve, as well as at NYU.
After briefly describing the history of the event, Diviny’s resolution goes on to describe the town’s revulsion at the Columbia action.
“Whereas Columbia University has a large presence in the Town of Orangetown through its’ operation of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and
“Whereas Columbia University avails itself to the Orangetown Police Department, who took over police operations for the Nyack Police Department, for policing and safety issues, and
“Whereas, as a member of the Orangetown community, Columbia University should strive to be a good neighbor and be respectful to community sensitivities, such as the impact the Brinks robbery and Kathy Boudin had on the victims’ families and the Orangetown community as a whole, and
“Whereas the members of the (Orangetown) Town Board believe that they have a responsibility to honor the memories and heroic actions of (the three slain officers), as well as a responsibility to their families,”
The board continued with a unanimously approved resolution containing two “Resolved” clauses, the first condemning Columbia for the hiring, demanding her termination and demanding letters of apology; and the second authorizing the wide dissemination of the resolution to various interested parties.
As each councilman offered separate words of revulsion, Stewart summed up their unanimous viewpoint by noting that neither the board nor Orangetown residents “are ready to forgive yet.”
In addition to her crimes against the people of Rockland, as a member of the Weather Underground, Boudin displayed loyalties to the Soviet Union and reportedly received some financial assistance from America’s then-mortal enemy.
The Town Board also passed a resolution Tuesday on behalf of Pearl River murder victim Paula Bohovesky, aimed at keeping one of her convicted killers in prison for the equally infamous killing of the popular local teenager.
That resolution was sponsored by Councilman Troy, a fellow Pearl River resident and a friend of Paula’s mother, famed children’s puppeteer Lois Bohovesky.
Paula was 17 in 1980, a junior at Pearl River High School and a talented artist and aspiring actress. She was also a page at the Pearl River Public Library. On her way walking home from the library one evening, about 9 p.m., she was attacked by two local drifters, Robert McCain and Richard LaBarbera, both of whom had been drinking at a downtown bar.
After raping Paula they savagely beat her and left her for dead. Both men were soon arrested and quickly convicted at trial, and sentenced to the maximum then permitted under New York State law, 25 years to life.
Killers seek release
Both LaBarbera and McCain served their minimum sentences in 2005, and have been seeking their release through parole ever since. They are eligible for parole every two years, but have so far been denied at their hearings in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. This year they have again applied to the parole board for release hearings, and again Troy and others are leading the campaign to keep the two men behind bars for the rest of their natural lives.
After four paragraphs recalling the history of the tragic murder that shocked Pearl River, Troy’s resolution continues with a please to keep the men in jail.
“Whereas Paula’s family and friends, as well as those living in Orangetown at the time, can still recall the horror of that day, and
“Whereas Paula’s mother, Lois Bohovesky, must now relive that day as she fights to keep Paula’s killers in jail by asking the Parole Board not to authorize the men’s release, a task that she will have to often undertake because state law allows Inmates seeking parole to reapply every two years, and
“Whereas the Town Board of Orangetown has met, considered and by a unanimous vote approved this resolution, now therefore be it
“Resolved that the Town Board of Orangetown wishes to express its continuing condolences to and support for the family of Paula Bohovesky, who was brutally raped and murdered 33 years ago as Paula’s family asks the New York State Parole Board not to release her killers, and be it further
“Resolved the town is hereby authorized and directed to send a certified copy of this resolution to Mrs. Lois Bohovesky and to such others persons proper in order to effectuate the purpose of this resolution.”
A petition similarly seeking to keep McCain and LaBarbera in jail is on a website supporters have launched, and is also located in several Pearl River shops and public locations. Copies are also available at Orangetown Town Clerk Charlotte Madigan’s office at Town Hall, along with Receiver of Taxes Robert Simon and other town offices.
Troy and other officials have vowed they will continue the fight to oppose release for either killer until the two men died in prison of natural causes.
In Other Business
In other business at the relatively short (75-minute) meeting Tuesday, the Town Board unanimously passed the following resolutions:
- Granting an easement to Verizon Communications to run cable lines along an abandoned town right-of-way off at the old Hunt Road Sewer Pump Station property in the Nauraushaun section of Pearl River, allowing the company to connect transmission lines to its data storage facility being built south of there at 155 Corporate Drive. Verizon will pay Orangetown $100,000 for the right to use the public right-of-way.
- Approving an agreement with the Noble Ninth, Inc., a New York City-based German Masonic fraternal organization, to lease the Masonic fairgrounds this summer for operation of the town’s day camp program for children. The lease calls for Orangetown to pay the Masons $1 for July and august use of the multi-acre facility off Western Highway in Tappan.
- Approving contracts with the town’s four hamlet libraries in Blauvelt, Orangeburg, Tappan and Palisades, as outlined in last week’s Rockland County Times, for the agreed to annual contributions by the town to the library budgets.
- Accepting a sanitary sewer easement from the Pearl River School District, allowing the district to connect its new administrative headquarters on Crooked Hill Road to the town’s sewer system.
- Rescinding the town’s former military leave policy for employees, with the new policy permitting employees time off for active duty military service when they belong to National Guard or Reserve units that are activated for federal duty. Employees will now retain their positions, pay and benefits for as long as they are activated, regardless of whether they joined the military or town employment first. The previous agreement was ambiguous about employees who worked for Orangetown first, and then joined a military unit.
- Agreed to transfer title to a sewer easement the town owns along Route 340 in Sparkill, from previous owner Our Lady of the Rosary Convent to St. Thomas Aquinas College, the current owner.
- Authorized purchase and installation of a new air conditioning unit for the roof of town Hall, at a cost of $70,253, to the low bidder, Johnson Controls.
- Agreed to transfer title, at no cost, of a solar powered GEM automobile from the Parks and Recreation Department to Tappan Zee High School, where students will utilize parts to construct their own solar powered experimental car. The town was given three such cars year ago, but all have been out of commission since the first year because of dead batteries, Parks Superintendent Aric Gorton reported. With apparent town board approval, he said anyone interested in the other two vehicles can apply to him or town hall for their transfer.
- Authorized spending $12,000 in unbudgeted funds by the town’s golf course advisory committee for 1,801 30-second sport advertisements on Cablevision TV channels in Rockland and Bergen Counties, seeking new customers for the town’s two municipal golf courses.
- Promote sewer worker Mark Hovsepian to the permanent position of Assistant Operator grade 14, step 14, at a salary of 479,671.
- Authorized the Highway Department to hold its 17th annual open house for the public on Saturday, May 18, from 10 am to 12 noon at the Route 303 Highway garage.
- Approve giving town assistance in the form of barricades, trash cans, cones, the town Showmobile and road center-line color painting to Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Church in Pearl River, Dominican College and Autism Awareness in Pearl River, at no cost to the organizations except for a $350 rental fee for use of the showmobile.
- Appoint new police officer Michael E. Warren to the Police Department, to replace an officer who was recently transferred to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force. It will actually save the town money, officials said, because the new officer’s salary is only about half that of the transferred experienced officer, whose salary is being reimbursed to the town by the DEA.
- Agreed to discipline another town police officer for unspecified charges, and for unspecified punishment. The officer was also unidentified, listed only as town employee No.1083.
No action was taken on three items on the agenda, which were tabled by unanimous consent.
- Amending an agreement with the Blauvelt Fire Department regarding benefits for volunteer firefighters based on their longevity with the department. No reason was given for the delay, which pertains to what is called the Length of Service Award Program, or LOSAP.
- Appointment of a new member to the town’s Board of Assessment Review. Officials said two candidates remained in the running for the volunteer positions, and additional interviews will be required to select a final nominee.
- Approving a lease agreement for employee Emmett Woods to lease the vacant town-owned cottage at the Blue Hill Golf Course, at an estimated rent of $1,000 per month. Officials said they still have to iron out additional details, including the actual lease amount, and the duties and responsibilities of Woods to maintain the building and act as grounds caretaker.
The board’s next meetings will be a workshop meeting next Tuesday, April 16, starting at 8 p.m. and a business meeting on Tuesday, April 23, starting at 7:30 p.m.