TIMELINES 5/22/14

Monsey family sues popular Jewish summer camp, accuses them of covering up sexual abuse
A Monsey family is filing suit against Camp Dora Golding, a popular Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania they allege covered up evidence that a camp counselor molested their son. The family argues their 12-year-old son was inappropriately touched by camp counselor Chisdau Ben Porath, 20, and the camp covered up the abuse. They also allege the camp was negligent due to lax background checks which allowed Porath to be near children. Porath pled guilty to the abuse in February and was sentenced to five to 23 months in jail. The camp is denying the family’s allegations.

D’Souza pleads guilty in federal court
Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, known primarily for his film “2016: Obama’s America,” pled guilty to violations of federal campaign finance law on Thursday, according to federal prosecutors. D’Souza and his wife were accused of donating $10,000 to the unsuccessful New York Senate campaign of Wendy Long. D’Souza also encouraged others he worked with to donate to Long with promises of reimbursement, bringing the total to $20,000. Federal campaign finance law limits private donations to $2,500. D’Souza pushed the guilty plea after initially contesting the charges, arguing he was being selectively targeted for his beliefs. He faces up to two years in prison.

Dominican College student dies shortly before graduation
Vaughna Jarvis, who was set to graduate from Dominican College on My 18, died after a head-on collision on the Taconic State Parkway one day prior. According to police, Jarvis, a Poughkeepsie resident, was driving home from work when she attempted to change lanes after passing a vehicle. During the lane change, she lost control of the car, which struck a ditch, rolled, and hit a tree before it finally stopped. Jarvis was found unconscious at the scene by state Troopers brought to the Hudson Valley Hospital Center with extensive internal injuries. She was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

State Legislation seeks to control “zombie properties”
A bill introduced in the State Senate and Assembly could assist towns with the management and cost of abandoned “zombie” properties. The Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act would shift the responsibility for the upkeep of vacant properties to lenders throughout and after the foreclosure process. Lenders would also be responsible for delinquent payments, would be required to notify delinquent homeowners of their right to stay in the home, and would have to register such properties in a state database. The problem of abandonment frequently follows a common narrative. Owners often vacate properties with the mistaken belief they must leave during foreclosure proceedings. After abandonment, banks elect to ignore the building’s upkeep, forcing down surrounding property values and encouraging crime once the “zombie property” falls into disarray. According to RealtyTrac figures, more than 15,000 such properties are estimated to exist in New York alone.

Attorney General releases report warning of microbead dangers
The Office of the Attorney General released a report on May 15 which outlines the dangers of microbeads in water systems and vowed action to end their use in cosmetic products. The report concludes that microbeads, small plastic particulates often used as exfoliates in cosmetic products, often remain in waterways long after they are washed down drains. Once in water systems, they absorb other pollutants while they float in waterways and are often swallowed by marine life, contaminating the food chain and leading to further public health risks. Though the report outlines a number of solutions, the most immediate action Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has elected to support is the Microbead-Free Waters Act. The law bans the same of products containing microbeads. The bill passed the State Assembly on May 5 and is now in the Senate. The report adds there is no current method for microbead removal short of expensive water treatment upgrades. Hence, the stoppage of microbead use is the most effective short-term strategy for addressing environmental concerns. Several major manufacturers including Proctor and Gamble, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive have already promised to phase out their use of microbeads.

Woman cured of cancer with massive dose of measles vaccine
A Minnesota woman was completely cured of her cancer after she was injected with a massive dose of measles vaccine, an experimental treatment which might prove to be a possible “single shot” cure for some cancer. Stacy Erholtz, 50, of Pequot Lakes, was given the vaccine for multiple myeloma, a particularly aggressive form of blood cancer which resisted all other methods of treatment. The virus is believed to have caused her cancer to go into remission and disappear, with Erholtz testing negative for cancer more than six months after treatment. The virus in the vaccine works by forcing the cancer cells to clump together and explode. Viral therapy for cancer has been known to exist for some time, but has only now been observed in humans rather than lab rats.

New York’s highest court upholds public disclosure of public pensions
A 6-0 decision made by the New York State Court of Appeals on May 6 has sealed the ability for the public to view the names of public pensioners. In a setback for public union advocates, the court ruled the gathering of names and pension information was permissible. The ruling opens the way for potential databases of public pensioners and the amount they receive in benefits. The case came about when the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a conservative fiscal watchdog group, issued a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for the records of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System and New York City Teachers’ Retirement System. Though the unions argued the inclusion of records was a violation of privacy, the Center countered the information included names but not home addresses or other critical identifying information. The Empire Center maintains a database of public records pertaining to local, state and city employees for the purpose of tracking trends and allowing public inquiry into the misuse of pension funds.

New national monument could spur protest in New Mexico
The designation of the Organ Mountains a new national monument in New Mexico has pitted local ranchers and law enforcement against environmentalists and tourism advocates. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, a 500,000 acre tract of land northeast of the U.S. Mexico-Border at El Paso, contains archaeological sites, unique rock formations and historic areas such as former Apollo astronaut training grounds. Half of that land will be designated as wilderness, making it inaccessible to vehicles or construction. Though environmentalists are lauding the move as a means to preserve endangered land, local ranchers are calling it a land grab by the federal government which could escalate to a situation similar to the recent conflict between Bureau of Land Management agents and Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy. Local law enforcement has also expressed concern the lack of police access to the area could make it a haven for drug cartel operations. Obama Administration officials assured law enforcement interests that border security will be allowed some access to the land for law enforcement purposes as per a 2006 agreement.