TIMELINES 5/8/14

$10 million flood remediation project underway in Spring Valley
A $10 million project which aims to fix flooding issues along the Pascack Brook in Spring Valley is underway, addressing longstanding issues which have plagued homeowners for years. The project involves the construction of a bypass culvert for Pascack Brook which will control flow and manage water levels during heavy rains. Construction is likely to cause some traffic issues, with Union Road at the intersection of Stonehouse Drive and King Terrace set for closure for up to three weeks. Drivers can bypass the closure by detouring down Route 45 from Erickson Road to Maple Avenue.

Vindicated: Fonvil election fraud conviction thrown out
Decade-old election fraud charges levied against Spring Valley Village Trustee Vilair Fonvil were thrown out by an appeals panel last Wednesday in a reversal of an oft-disputed decision. During a bid to take control of the Village’s Democratic Party, Fonvil was accused of approving nominating petitions with forged signatures. After a mistrial in 2002, a jury ruled against Fonvil in 2003 and convicted him of four counts of making a false statement relating to petitions, a misdemeanor charge. However, the four-judge Appellate Division panel which reviewed the case determined the facts were weighted against guilt and the jury did not give adequate consideration to the evidence. From the beginning of the case, Fonvil maintained that he was not guilty. Upon hearing about the overturning of the case, he expressed enthusiasm for the decision and stated that he knew he would eventually be cleared of wrongdoing.

Woman seriously injured in Stony Point car crash
A woman from Chester, NY was seriously injured on Monday after her car flipped over in Stony Point, just south of Exit 16 on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. The woman, who was not identified by police, was believed to have been traveling south when she lost control of the car at around 4 p.m, causing it to roll four or five times. She was pulled from the car by two passing good Samaritans-including one off-duty EMT-before being treated at the scene by Rockland Paramedics and the Stony Point Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The woman was then brought to Nyack Hospital and treated for serious head trauma, but has been stabilized. It is not known what caused the crash.

Power bills expected to increase five percent or more in Lower Hudson Valley
Thanks to a new payment plan designed to attract power plants to the Lower Hudson Valley, ratepayers might see a five percent increase in their energy costs during the summer months. The plan involves the merging of NYC and the Lower Hudson Valley into a new “capacity zone,” which the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO) argues will provide an incentive for companies to establish new plants. The zone paves the way for new regulations which will allow energy producers to charge higher prices for energy purchased by downstate providers during peak summer energy use, costing ratepayers an estimated $280 million. In addition, providers will be required to obtain at least 88 percent of their power from within the zone. This setup is expected to not only encourage the construction of new plants but spur the growth of existing ones like Indian Point and Haverstraw’s Bowline Point Plant. The NYISO is arguing the bottleneck between upstate energy producers and downstate consumers necessitates more localized plants, especially as energy needs continue to grow. Others criticize the plan as unnecessary, with opponents arguing other plans are available which manage the bottleneck by updating outdated energy transmission infrastructure.

Supreme Court rules for sectarian prayer before public meetings
In a victory for proponents of religion in public spaces, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that government officials could open public meetings with religion-specific prayers. In a divided 5-4 opinion, the court concluded prayers do not have to be directed at a general, non-sectarian god and could be explicitly Christian in their content. The majority held that as long as participants were not forced to join in the prayer, clergy members brought for the occasions could conduct the prayer with references to Jesus Christ. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy argued in the majority opinion that freedom of religious expression trumped feelings of exclusion felt by non-Christians. The dissent, presented by Justice Elena Kagan, contested the point by arguing the new rule exhibited “religious favoritism,” which was not likely to be applied in instances where non-Christian prayers are under consideration. The suit was filed by two women-one Jewish and another non-religious-from Greece, New York. The women argued the town supervisor’s decision to invite local clergy to deliver opening invocations violated the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting “establishment of religion.” Kennedy reasoned that censoring preachers’ invocations to fit a state-approved mold would, contrary minority opinion’s concerns, set a precedent of greater involvement by the government in religious affairs; the exact opposite of the stated intention of the lawsuit.

Legendary marksman Walter R. Walsh dies at 106
Walter R. Walsh, a well-known Olympic marksman whose work spanned far beyond sports and into both World War II service and law enforcement died at his Arlington, VA home on Tuesday. Walsh began his storied career as an FBI agent. In the earliest years of the Bureau, Walsh hunted down, captured or killed some of America’s most notorious gangsters including Arthur “Doc” Barker and the Brady Gang. He is also credited with finding the body of Baby Face Nelson. When he left law enforcement, he found a natural home in shooting competitions before joining the Marines and fighting in World War II. Walsh briefly returned to the FBI after the war, but left law enforcement for competitive shooting soon thereafter. A winner of multiple championships, Walsh placed 12th best shooter in the world at the 1948 Olympic Games and won gold and silver medals with the American team at the International Shooting Sport Federation Championships. Walsh’s wife died in 1980. He is survived by one son, three daughters, and several grandchildren. Another son was killed in Iraq.

Pope John Paul II and John XIII declared Catholic saints
In a long-anticipated move, Pope Francis I announced on April 27 that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XIII had been canonized as Catholic saints. Francis declared to a crowd of 500,000 faithful-including a significant number from Pope John Paul II’s home country of Poland-that the two Popes’ names had been officially entered into the Catholic Church’s book of saints. It was the first instance of two Popes being canonized in the same ceremony. “They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” Francis declared to the crowd. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them.” The decision to canonize both pontiffs in the same ceremony seeks to reconcile the Church’s progressive and conservative wings. While John Paul II is remembered primarily for his role in responding to Soviet domination of Europe, John XIII, who died in 1963 after serving for five years, is remembered for initiating the dramatic Vatican II reforms to church structure and liturgy

Nigerian terrorist group intends to sell over 270 kidnapped girls
The leader of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram declared during a speech that he intended to sell about 276 girls kidnapped after a raid on a girls’ school in the rebel-controlled state of Borno. Abubakar Shekau referred to the girls and “slaves” and announced during an hour-long speech that he would sell the girls off on the human trafficking market, threatened further attacks on schools and warned Western powers not to get involved. Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is a sin,” has a long history of attacking and kidnapping civilians, particularly educators and students. Though outrage has exploded in Nigeria and Western nations, the Nigerian government itself has been slow and contradictory in its actions. Activists and protesters in Nigeria have been arrested and investigated, while President Goodluck Jonathan commented publicly about the incident only after two weeks. Jonathan’s wife Patience has been sharply criticized for contradictory and accusatory comments toward activists, including claims that the kidnappings was a lie designed to harm her husband’s re-election campaign. Support has been offered to Nigeria from both the United States and the United Kingdom, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announcing counter-terrorism advisement was being given to Nigerian authorities, provided they take the lead in direct operations against the terrorists.

11 al-Qaeda linked terrorists under investigation for links to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
A group of 11 men and women organized in an al-Qaeda linked terror group were detained and questioned last week to determine if they had information on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The relatively new group was alleged to have been planning unrelated bombing attacks in Muslim countries when they were identified by FBI and MI6 investigators as persons of interest. They were subsequently arrested in Kuala Lumpur and questioned. Several members admitted they had been involved in domestic terror activities, but denied any involvement with MH370. Though there is no confirmation the disappearance was the result of terrorist activity, Malaysian investigators remain open to the possibility. It is known through the questioning of British-born Saajid Badat, a witness in the trial of Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law, that a shoe bomb had previously been delivered to the Malaysians for a plot orchestrated by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.