County borrows $60 million to pay down debt
In the second move of its kind this year and the fourth in two years, the County Legislature unanimously voted to borrow $60 million to pay its bills, ensuring it is not delinquent in its obligatory payments but racking up more future debt to be paid down.
The $60 million in loans come after a March resolution where the legislature approved borrowing $45 million. The current $60 million figure is expected to boost the county’s deficit upward from estimates of up to $115 million.
This is not the first year the legislature voted for large loans as stop gap measures against county expenses. Last year, the legislature approved the borrowing of $35 million and $30 million at two separate points.
The resolution comes as the state evaluates the county’s request for home-rule legislation allowing it to borrow $96 million to control shortfalls and expedite its debt repayment process. In exchange, the state will have oversight over County budgetary matters and must receive and make legally-binding recommendations to a draft budget submitted by the County Executive each year. Currently, the legislation has passed both the State Assembly and Senate
County Legislature approves hiring of new police dispatchers
Though legislators debated the county’s ability of the county to pay for the new hires, they eventually approved the hiring of eight new police dispatchers in a unanimous vote.
Legislators expressed skepticism toward the fiscal wisdom of the measure, with Legislator Ilan Schoenberger (D-Wesley Hills) questioning whether the funds might have been better spent elsewhere. Still, the legislature approved the measure unanimously in spite of doubts, arguing it would ultimately benefit public safety.
They had also apparently heeded Sheriff Louis Falco’s advice the measure would enhance the effectiveness of police responses, with Falco pointing out emergency calls had spiked upward while staffing showed a downward trend.
According to Falco, the officers’ posts would be financed by $300,000 in savings from retirements and $600,000 in Homeland Security grants annually from 2014. The additions would likely be used to staff the new $30 million emergency radio project integrating communications between police, fire and EMS personnel, which includes a new $6 million communications center.
Ramapo to cease payments to Joseph Desmaret
The Town of Ramapo has finally filed a misconduct charge against Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret and suspended pay for his job as a data clerk at Ramapo Town Hall on Thursday.
Desmaret previously received $55,000 annually for the post in addition to a salary of $25,750 from his position as Deputy Mayor, which he has not yet resigned. He was initially suspended with pay on April 2, shortly after the statewide corruption scandal to which Jasmin and Desmaret were allegedly connected broke and arrests were made.
The refusal to step down comes in spite of federal mail fraud charges leveled against him and Mayor Noramie Jasmin for allegedly taking bribes in exchange for votes in support of a fake catering hall project.
Desparet’s attorney Deborah Loewenberg spoke out against the town’s move, arguing the position had nothing to do with the federal probe and Desmaret should not be penalized without a guilty verdict.
New East Ramapo board member’s address raises questions
Though newly-elected East Ramapo School Board member MaraLuz Corado has not responded to phone calls and could not be reached through fellow board members Bernard Charles Jr. and Pierre Germain, Newsday was able to locate her home address, raising even more questions about her ties to Rockland’s Orthodox Jewish community.
According to East Ramapo school district clerk Cathy Russell, Corado’s home address was 89 W. Maple Avenue, the address to the Community Synagogue in Monsey. At least one neighbor explained there was an apartment somewhere in the building, mail addressed to Joel Corado, MaraLuz’s husband, was stacked outside the building and Newsday investigators did discover a room marked “Private.” However, Corado was nowhere to be found.
The purpose of the single room in the synagogue Newsday found was not confirmed to be residential or an office, though property tax exemption documents revealed the building can only be used as a house of worship. Corado used the given address registered to vote in Ramapo five days before the election.
IRS sends tens of millions in tax refunds to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants
According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), 23,994 tax refunds totaling $46,378,040 were sent to “unauthorized” alien workers, all using the same address in Atlanta, Georgia.
The issue seems to be prevalent in Atlanta. TIGTA explained the IRS sent refunds to “unauthorized” aliens represented by a combined 17,278 refunds worth $6,089,367. These four addresses represented some of the top ten “unauthorized” recipient addresses. Other addresses where “unauthorized” aliens have received millions in refunds exist across the United States, including in California, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida.
According to the Treasury Inspector General’s Semi-Annual report to Congress in 1999, which initially brought the issue to light, the move is intentional. The IRS has been issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to non-resident and “unauthorized” aliens in order to promote tax compliance among workers who might not have a legal tax burden since 1996.
The report added the policy might counteract Immigration and Naturalization Service operations to monitor and control immigration by facilitating economic bases for illegal immigration.
Snowden charged with espionage, theft for NSA leak
The Justice Department submitted a one-page complaint dated June 14 and released on Friday formally charging former NSA contractor and Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden with the unauthorized leaks of confidential information on the NSA’s surveillance programs.
Snowden, who recently left Hong Kong and whose whereabouts are currently unknown, was charged with unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information, both of which carry a maximum of 10 years under the Espionage Act.
The complaint could be critical in the Justice Department’s anticipated efforts to extradite Snowden for the leak of secret information on the NSA’s broad surveillance of American phone and internet communications, which was leaked in early June and provoked a national conversation on privacy rights shortly before Snowden left the country for Hong Kong.