TIMELINES 7/31/14

Clarkstown South High School teacher arrested for indecent exposure

A teacher at Clarkstown South High School landed in hot water last Thursday when he was arrested for exposing himself to drivers along Route 17 in Sullivan County.

Kip Bonsignore, 40 of Hackensack, New Jersey, was taken into custody by New York State Troopers in the Town of Liberty. Police stated they had received several calls from drivers reporting a man had exposed his genitalia to passing cars, but did not provide further details on the circumstances. After his arrest, Bonsignore was charged with public lewdness and released on bail until his first court appearance.

Bonsignore has been at Clarkstown South since 1997, where he served as a music teacher and the director of the school’s choral program. The district has not yet announced whether or not he would continue his employment with the school district.

 

Proposed gas pipeline expansion supported by County Executive, Stony Point Supervisor

A gas pipeline expansion proposed by Texas-based Spectra Energy has many upstate and New England residents nervous. Still, the project has been met with approval by at least two major Rockland officials.

County Executive Ed Day and Stony Point Supervisor Geoffrey Finn expressed support for the enlargement of a pipeline which crosses Rockland, Westchester and Putnam Counties before continuing into New Jersey. Spectra has suggested the replacement of the current 26-inch pipe with a 42-inch pipe as well as upgrades to compressors stations in Stony Point and a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River.

The project is currently under review from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Though Spectra spokeswoman Marylee Hanley has stated the pipeline would be a safe, low-impact project, residents of other Lower Hudson Valley areas like Peekskill and Cortlandt Manor argue it would damage property values and pose an environmental risk.

 

Nyack introduces new payment method for parking fines

The Village of Nyack has elected to include envelopes with parking tickets in an effort to prompt speedy payment and prevent drivers from accruing costly penalties.

Most parking tickets in the Village are about $15, but penalties can boost that amount up to $45. The providing of envelopes was approved in hopes of saving drivers money on postage and encouraging payment, an issue the Village has grappled with for some time.

The effort comes as part of a push to gather over $2 million in overdue, unpaid fines owed to the Village. In November, Nyack hired Duncan Solutions, a collection agency which will help update parking collection technology in a fashion which will save anywhere from $82,000 to $49,000 per year.

Online payments can be made at www.dspayments.com/nyack

 

Re-enactors depict Battle of Stony Point for 235th anniversary

The 235th anniversary of the storming of Stony Point was celebrated with not only tours of the historic battlefield, but also a live re-enactment of the battle itself.

Historic re-enactors dressed as British and Continental soldiers exchanged blank shots with muskets and artillery from behind defensive barricades on July 26. Meanwhile, onlookers visiting the site were treated to a show as they watched on from nearby patches of grass.

The Battle of Stony Point was considered a partial victory strategically but a major boost for American morale at a low point during the Revolutionary War. Led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, American forces launched a surprise attack on British positions on July 16, 1779. American troops captured the fort and captured a substantial number of British troops garrisoned there before evacuating from the location.

 

Proposed lawsuit against Obama moves forward

A lawsuit proposed by Republican lawmakers against President Barack Obama passed the House Rules Committee by a 7-4 margin last Thursday, setting the stage for a Congressional vote as early as next week.

The lawsuit was created as a push back against what Republicans perceive as multiple oversteps of presidential power, particularly executive actions taken to place the Affordable Care Act into motion. The lawsuit would argue Obama surpassed his constitutional authority when he used executive orders to implement various mandates and waivers related to the ACA.

The suit has seen strong opposition from Democrats, many of whom argue it diverts time and money away from more pressing matters. Democrats particularly took issue with the timing of the suit as shortly before Congressional elections, when many Democrats will likely struggle to retain their seats.

Though there have also been calls for impeachment from some Republican lawmakers, House Speaker John Boehner has indicated no such proceedings would move forward.

 

State Comptroller: Billions more needed to complete modernization, close potential capital funding gap

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced last Thursday that though significant gains were made in the repair and modernization of existing transit assets, ongoing struggles with the capital budget could hinder projects and produce a sizable budget deficit.

According to DiNapoli, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will need about $26.6 billion between 2015 and 2019 to continue maintenance and modernization of bridges, tunnels, train cars, signals and stations, not counting expansion projects. This deficit will likely increase the capital budget gap. Whereas the 2010-2014 budget had a $9.9 budget deficit, DiNapoli stated current projections show a possible $12 million deficit for the next capital program.

In the long term, billions more will be needed to update transit systems. The MTA’s latest assessment in 2012 found a $105.7 billion investment will be needed to complete modernizations and maintenance work scheduled to occur within the next 20 years.

 

Over 2,500 World Trade Center first responders afflicted with cancer

A recent report from the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital paints a grim picture of first responders’ health conditions, showing that 2,518 people involved with the rescue effort might have developed cancer as a consequence of their exposure to toxins in the air.

The tally consists primarily of police, firefighters, EMTs, hard hat workers, sanitation workers, city employees and other volunteers who assisted rescue and clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Of that number, 863 FDNY members alone developed cancer symptoms.

The number is an alarming increase in the number of cases currently recognized by the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, which provides payouts for those medically affected by the attacks. Of the 1,145 claims listing cancer, the VCF has deemed 881 eligible. The rest are currently under review.

 

Federal judge overturns Washington D.C. gun carry ban

In a major win for gun rights advocates, a federal judge ruled on Saturday that a Washington D.C. law prohibiting the possession of firearms outside the home violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be enforced.

The broad ruling declares the law unconstitutional because it runs against precedents which allow the carrying of weapons outside the home. Surprisingly, the ruling extends not only to D.C. residents but also visitors who happen to own firearms.

The decision took immediate effect, with police announcing they would suspend enforcement of the gun law until the city government of Washington D.C. created new regulations which were in compliance with the law or a stay is issued by the court. The city attorney general’s office plans to seek a stay on the ruling.

This is the second major victory for gun rights activists in a major U.S. city this year. In January, a federal judge struck down Chicago’s blanket ban on all firearms sales and transfers, similarly compelling the city to reconsider its firearm regulations.

 

MTA’s proposed 2015 budget to include no new toll increases

The newly-released Metropolitan Transportation Authority budget for 2015 includes no new increases to projected 2015 and 2017 toll hikes.

Projections appeared promising for the MTA. A projected year-end cash balance of $162 million has been predicted for 2014, while the elimination of a $255 million deficit projected for 2017 allowed the MTA to bring the 2018 projected deficit down to $262 million.

The MTA’s ability to balance its budget mean it may be unnecessary to place a greater burden on commuters. Fare increases are projected to rise four percent in 2015 and 2017, just enough to match the rate of inflation.

 

State Supreme Court rules landowner must clean up illegal landfill near NYC resevoir

The State Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a Putnam County landowner must clean up an illegal landfill which seeped pollutants into one of New York City’s major resevoirs.

Supreme Court Judge Victor G. Grossman ruled Gary Prato, who owns a property on the shore of the Croton Falls Reservoir in Carmel, violated several state environmental laws when he contracted with an outside builder named Anthony Adinolfi to dump 40,000 cubic acres of debris, including coal ash, slag and other carcinogenic chemicals at a steeply-graded area on his property. Prato intended to use the debris as fill before grading it for the construction of a garage and pool house.

Though the ruling was the product of a civil case and Prato will not face jail time, he will be forced to perform a full clean-up and pay restitution. Adinolfi was convicted in a criminal case and sentenced to four months in jail and five years of probation for his role in the creation of the landfill.

The Croton Falls Resevoir has historically provided about ten percent of NYC’s drinking water. It is currently offline until next year’s completion of a new water filtration plant in the Bronx.