Timelines 9/12/13

Harvard gun study critical of regulation resurfaces
A study put out by Harvard’s Journal of Public Law and Policy in 2007 has gained renewed interest in the past two weeks as news organizations have used it to point out possible flaws in gun control legislation. The 46 page study, authored by criminologists Don B. Kates and Dr. Gary Mauser, compares gun laws and murder rates in the U.S. and Europe. Kates and Mauser concluded that though the U.S. has a very high rate of gun ownership, this does not correlate with a proportionally high murder rate. In fact, they point out that nations with strict gun control measures such as Russia and Estonia often have higher murder rates than the U.S. Kates and Mauser also found European countries with high gun ownership such as Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Switzerland and Denmark, all have much lower murder rates.

Assemblyman Skoufis uses social media to fix potholes
In order to connect residents to his office and remedy a persistent problem, Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Stony Point) plans to use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to keep informed on potholes. Skoufis announced he will open his Twitter and Facebook accounts to constituents who wish to report potholes or other dangerous instances of road disrepair. His Twitter is available at: www.twitter.com/JamesSkoufis and his Facebook is available at www.facebook.com/JamesSkoufis. Skoufis can also be reached at his District Office by calling 845-469-6929.

New York Sheriff refuses to enforce SAFE Act
In defiance of new regulations, Scholarie County Sheriff Tony Desmond announced recently that he would not be enforcing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new SAFE Act and would not act on otherwise law-abiding citizens. Located in central New York, Scholarie is a rural, primarily agricultural area where hunting is commonplace. According to Desmond, Scholarie residents “generally treat [their firearms] safely” and attributed opposition to “personal conviction” and overwhelming demands from Scholarie residents. Hence, Desmond stated he would not demand the return of the once legal weapons such as semiautomatic “assault weapons” and guns which fit magazines over the seven-round limit. Desmond is not the only sheriff critical of the law. Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard had said at one point that he would not enforce the law, though he later stated he did not issue an edict to his deputies ordering their noncompliance. The New York Sheriffs’ Association also came out in opposition to the SAFE Act and is supporting five other sheriffs who are facing the state in court over the law. In Rockland, Sheriff Lou Falco has opposed the law, although he has not taken the approach of Desmond and Howard and openly flouted it.

British jets rush to investigate Syrian planes in international airspace
Two British RAF pilots stationed at the Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus hurriedly flew off the East Coast of the island nation of Cyprus to investigate possible Syrian military aircraft flying abroad. The RAF Typhoon fighters were joined by a pair of Turkish F-16s to pursue the unidentified planes, which retreated before action was taken. The unidentified planes are believed to be Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24 fighters employed by the Syrian Air Force. Though air defense sources claimed the planes did not enter Cypriot airspace, eyewitnesses on the ground contest the statement, saying they did see the planes flying over Cypriot territory. Though it was confirmed the planes were operating legally in international airspace, their behavior was deemed suspicious. One RAF source explained it might have been a “goad-and-probe” designed to test British and Cypriot defenses.

Woman arrested for stealing from Hi-Tor donation jar
Florida resident Laura Grune, 46, was arrested on September 8 for allegedly swiping money from a donation jar meant for the Hi-Tor Animal Shelter. The incident occurred on September 6 when an unknown amount of cash was stolen from the jar as it sat on the counter of a pizzeria in Stony Point. Police arrested Grune for the theft on September 8 and charged her with petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. Hi-Tor Animal Shelter has relied on donations while it prepares to move its operations to a new property. Funding cuts have exacerbated financial troubles, meaning fundraising has been a critical tool to keep the shelter afloat.

New York Election Day hotline set up to ensure voter access
In anticipation of the New York Election Cycle which began with primaries on September 10, State Attorney General Eric T. Schenidermann announced a hotline voters can use to report polling issues or concerns. The hotline, which is designed for use by disabled, minority-language and other eligible voters, was created in response to complaints from New York voters about access to polls, as well as agreements with Schenectady, Sullivan, Ulster, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam, and Chautauqua Counties regarding Spanish-language accessibility at polling places. Complaints can be reported by calling 800-771-7755 or by emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Bone Health Education to be offered at Helen Hayes
The New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program (NYSOPEP) will be hosting free seminars on bone health to Helen Hayes Hospital patients and community members over the course of the fall. The meetings will focus on prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and fractures. Included in the program will be bone density testing information and ways to promote bone health through nutrition, exercise and medication. Three seminars have been announced on October 7 and November 4 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and November 21 from 10:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required and can be completed by calling (845) 786-4772.

Haverstraw man arrested for weapon, drug charges
Jermaine Roberts, 34 of Haverstraw, was arrested on weapon and drug possession charges after a brief chase on September 9. Roberts, who was previously wanted on an active parole and arrest warrant, was staying at the Nyack Motor Lodge on Route 303 in West Nyack when Clarkstown Police received information on his presence. When confronted, he attempted to flee into a nearby wooded area on foot. A police canine was released, catching up to him and biting his calf, but not seriously injuring him. Several contraband items were found at the scene, including a Smith & Wesson .50 caliber revolver stolen during a burglary in Vermont, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. After being taken to Nyack Hospital for issues unrelated to the calf injury, Roberts was arraigned on charges including criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property, three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest. He was remanded to Rockland County Correctional Facility without bail.

Nanuet to receive $20,000 in state grants for school security upgrades
Senator Carlucci (D-Rockland/Ossining) announced on September 9 that $20,000 in state grants had been secured for security system updates for the Nanuet School District. The security upgrade will entail a “Fast Pass” system, which cross-checks the National Sex Offender Registry and internal watch lists to detect potentially threatening school visitors. When a visitor is cleared, a photo badge is printed designating its expiration and the visitor’s destination. The new system, which is characterized as a “front-line deterrent” will replace the old one, a widespread but obsolete entryway utilizing a “buzzer” operated by a security guard.

State seeks $700 million short-term loan to finance Tappan Zee construction
The New York State Thruway Authority is seeking a new $700 million loan to finance the new Tappan Zee Bridge, adding more debt on top of an already pricy project. About $500 million are set to repay other immediate borrowing costs associated with startup expenditures, while the rest will go toward payments to Tappan Zee Constructors, the firm responsible for designing and building the bridge. It is expected the new loan will buy some time for the state while it continues to pursue a $1.5 billion federal TIFIA loan for the $3.9 billion project. The TIFIA loan, which is currently under review by the U.S. Department of transportation, is expected to be the largest ever made through the TIFIA program. If approved, the new debt will have to be repaid by December 31 of this year.