Discrimination suit filed by New City Muslim goes to court
Mushtaq Ahmad, a former chemistry teacher with the East Ramapo and Mount Vernon School Districts, stood in federal court on Monday to argue he faced discrimination in the school districts as a consequence of his ethnicity and religion.
Ahmad worked in East Ramapo when he began to hear disparaging remarks about his race. According to him, Jewish colleagues expressed a distrust in him due to his religion, particularly when he requested a key to the chemical storage room. He was later fired for what former Superintendent Mitchell Schwartz claimed was insubordination and a failure to get along with colleagues.
Ahmad then brought an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against East Ramapo. Though he was hired as a chemistry teacher in Mount Vernon shortly after his firing, he was let go when he refused to drop the complaint.
Both school districts have denied Ahmad’s claims and argue he was fired for failing to cooperate with other teachers.
State senate allows wider use of anti-overdose drugs
The State Senate passed legislation last Thursday which will allow more widespread use of opioid inhibitors, special drugs designed to counteract the effects of opiate overdoses.
The law will encourage the availability of naxolone, an opioid inhibitor commonly used as an emergency treatment for heroin overdose. Healthcare providers would be protected from civil or criminal liability for dispensing naxolone by non-patient specific order.
The bill is concurrent with a resurgennce in heroin and prescription drug abuse as well as a renewed interest in opiate harm reduction. Prior to the bill, the Senate formed its Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, which will hold community forums statewide to gather input on policy and future legislation.
Garnerville Arts and Industrial Center to be placed on National Register of Historic Places
The Garnerville Arts and Industrial Center, a collection of 28 buildings formerly used as a textile factory, will be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Center began construction in 1837 and functioned for decades as a textile factory where fabrics were dyed and printed. The facility was completed in 1909 and shut down operations in 1930 before being repurposed as an industrial cooperative. At present, it houses the Garnerville Arts Center along with art studios, textile workshops and assorted small businesses.
The inclusion is a valuable asset for the Railroad Avenue property, which is now eligible for valuable grants and tax credits. Rockland County already boasts 75 locations on the Register.
Nanuet standoff ends with no injuries
Clarkstown police succeeded in subduing a 20 year old man who they suspected to have a weapon following a tense four hour standoff on Friday.
The man, a Nanuet resident with a home on Babcock Avenue, had indicated on Instagram that he intended to harm himself and brandished what appeared to be a pistol. Police attempted to contact the man via phone and loudspeaker at the location, but only reached him at around 4 p.m. after determining the weapon was only a BB gun.
Police stormed the residence with a tactical unit and the man was taken into police custody without resistance. He was then taken to a local hospital for observation.
Medal of Honor displayed in Rockland
The Congressional Medal of Honor awarded by MSG Juan E. Negron was displayed during a special ceremony at the Nanuet Comfort Inn Suites on March 21, a posthumous acknowledgment of Negron’s outstanding service during the Korean War.
The award, which was upgraded from a Distinguished Service Cross two days prior at a special White House ceremony, was carried to Rockland for the ceremony. About 100 attendees were present at the event, which was co-sponsored by the Rockland County Police Hispanic Society and saw a surprise performance by a Hibernian Bag Pipe marching ensemble of fire personnel who happened to be at the hotel.
Negron served in the 65th Infantry Regiment when his unit came under heavy fire on April 28, 1951. In spite of multiple wounds, he fended off the attack by lobbing hand grenades at close range. He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but a recent review of Hispanic and Jewish service members from WWII, Korea and Vietnam concluded Negron and 23 other veterans were deserving of the award.
Westchester Independence Party score partial membership purge
Westchester’s Independence Party won a small, partial victory in state Supreme Court when a judge allowed it to kick out 31 members, but refused to allow a larger purge of almost all voters registered with the party since 2012.
The Independence Party initially requested a purge of almost 4,000 members whom it claimed were deliberately attempting to hijack the party for the Westchester Republicans so County Executive Rob Astorino could win the party line.
The Party was allowed to kick out 31 members who were determined to have been disloyal. However, state Supreme Court Judge Robert DiBella ruled the Independence Party did not demonstrate most members lacked sympathy with party principles and refused to allow the removal of most others.
The Independence Party is appealing the decision to the state Appellate Division.
Supreme Court upholds gun ownership ban for domestic abusers
In a unanimous decision reached on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law prohibiting individuals found guilty of domestic abuse from owning firearms, even when no evidence of physical harm had been presented.
At issue was the status of James Castleman, who was convicted for breaking federal gun laws in 2009. The Supreme Court’s decision disqualifies all felony and misdemeanor offenders from gun ownership, superseding various state laws which only ban felons from owning weapons and allowing Castleman’s conviction.
Castleman pled guilty to causing bodily injury to the mother of his child in 2001, but a District Court ruling tossed the gun conviction because no proof had been presented of violent contact with the woman constituting a felony.
Federal government to recognize gay marriages performed in Michigan
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Friday that 300 same-sex marriages approved in Michigan will be federally recognized, allowing federal benefits and regulations for the married couples.
The couples married after a federal court struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban on March 21. However, only a small number of marriages were performed before a permanent stay was issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals pending review of the case. Holder, a supporter of same-sex marriage, explained the state acknowledged those marriages were legally-binding and saw no problem with federal recognition.
The couples are still unable to use their status for state functions such as adoption, but will be able to apply for spousal social security benefits, pursue legal immigration status for their partners and file joint income tax returns through the federal government.
HealthCare.gov crashes on deadline day for insurance signup
Technical difficulties reared their head on the HealthCare.gov website on March 31, the deadline day for the uninsured to sign up for healthcare coverage.
The site went down due to heavy traffic early Monday morning and went back online at around 9 a.m. Another temporary bug preventing signup was discovered late that afternoon. The issues are not likely to shut out insurance-seekers, who may also be eligible for extensions andd have until April 7 to file paper applications.
A final rush before the deadline was anticipated by the Obama Administration, which hoped it would boost enrollment. The Administration is hoping for at least 6.5 million signups by the deadline, a number revised down from the original 7 million goal.
DuPont heir avoids prison for raping 3-year old daughter because he “would not fare well”
Robert H. Richards IV, the wealthy heir to the DuPont family fortune, skirted prison though he pled guilty to the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year old daughter and suggested he similarly abused his son.
Richards was sentenced to 8 years probation for the offense, which came to light only after his ex-wife Tracy Richards filed a civil suit seeking damages for the abuse of the children. Superior Judge Jan Jurden sentenced Richards to 8 years in prison, but suspended the time by arguing he “would not fare well” in prison. Instead, he will meet with a case officer once a month.
Tracy Richards’ civil suit claims her ex-husband not only pled guilty to the original charge but admitted during a 2010 polygraph that he might have sexually abused her son when he was 19 months old. Richards stopped short of admitting fault, stating during the test he might have repressed the memories.
Internal report by Christie’s lawyer suggests no wrongdoing in Bridgegate scandal
In an attempt to clear his name from close, problematic association with the now infamous lane closures on the George Washington Bridge last fall, Christie has presented a report which he claims suggests he was not at fault.
The report, prepared by a team of lawyers headed by Randy M. Masto of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm, concluded the majority of blame rested on former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly and Port Authority official David Wildstein. Mastro’s report concluded blame was limited and Christie had no culpability in the matter.
Critics are expressing skepticism, pointing out that neither Kelly nor Wildstein were interviewed for the report. Other important actors in the scandal, such as former Christtie campaign manager and Kelly’s alleged love interest Bill Stepien, were not approached either. Mastro himself is a former campaign manager for Christie.
Two additional investigations are ongoing in the New Jersey State Legislature and U.S. Attorney’s office. The legislature has already acted on the new report, announcing plans to subpoena documents they claim the internal reviewers obtained which the legislature claimed it had never seen.
Amazon to use Nyack as test market for delivery drones
Online superstore Amazon.com has announced plans to use the Village of Nyack as a test market for its new drone delivery system.
Amazon decided to choose Nyack for its river breezes, which will assist the drones’ flight, as well as the relatively small size of the village. Nyack’s Pie Lady and Son is the first merchant which has announced its use of the service, which it has dubbed “Pie in the Sky.”
The delivery system was announced late in 2013. While many have hailed it as a newer, more efficient means of delivering packages, there has also been concern over the cost effectiveness of drone use and the security of using small, unmanned vehicles over traditional shipping methods.
Nyack Village Hall to remain standing as Tappan Zee Bridge construction continues
A plan to relocate Nyack’s Village Hall and replace it with parking space for the new Tappan Zee Bridge was scrapped after residents overwhemingly scorned the plan and the state itself rejected it. The bridge plan calls for parking on both sides of the span to accommodate pedestrians using the bridge’s foot path and scenic overlooks. However, residents attacked the plan and suggested repurposing Interchange 10 for walkers.
The state seems to be cooperating with Nyack residents’ concerns and determined the location carries significant historic value. An alternate plan which will repurpose the building with additional parking and restrooms is still under consideration. The plan was abandoned for its high price tag as well. Repurposing the location was estimated to cost the state $227,000 per parking space and the purchase of the property alone would have cost around $5 million.