Spring Valley firefighters put out blaze at fellow firefighter’s home
A firefighter residing in Spring Valley received emergency assistance from his fellow first responders on Sunday after a structure on his property caught fire.
The fire occurred on the property of Richard D. Bird Jr. at 21 Ternure Avenue. Bird stepped away from an outdoor barbecue for a moment and did not immediately notice when the barbecue sparked a small brush fire which spread to a two-story, garage-like structure.
Fire personnel from Spring Valley, South Spring Valley and Monsey arrived to put out the blaze, which was brought under control within 20 minutes. Bird, a 35-year veteran of the Spring Valley Fire Department, managed to escape the fire with his wife Hattie and their dog and is currently receiving assistance from the Red Cross. Nobody was injured.
East Ramapo fiscal monitor: School district’s legal spending is “absurd”
East Ramapo’s state-appointed fiscal monitor took aim at the school district’s legal spending decisions in last week’s report to the Board of Regents, arguing the district’s hefty legal fees reflect a problematic mismanagement of funds.
Calling the district’s spending habits “absurd,” state fiscal monitor Hang Greenberg highlighted $7.3 million which was paid to 13 separate law firms between 2008 and June 2014. Greenberg also expressed dissatisfaction with the precipitous rise in legal expenses over the years, with fees ballooning from about $303,000 in 2008 to about $2.94 million in 2013.
The legal costs were linked in the report to the district’s massive deficit, which stands at $8 million and prompted severe cuts to academic and extracurricular programs, materials and personnel in East Ramapo’s public schools.
East Ramapo has engaged in numerous legal battles with both the state and public school families over the years, including a civil rights suit initiated by parents of public school students against what they allege is the predominantly Orthodox Jewish school board’s favoritism toward students in private religious schools.
Remington CEO: NY-SAFE Act contributed to Alabama move
Gun manufacturer Remington confirmed in a statement last month that New York State’s restrictions on gun ownership were a factor in the company’s decision to move operations to Alabama.
In a memo sent by Remington CEO George Kollitides to upstate officials on October 20, Kollitides cited the NY SAFE Act as a reason for the company’s decision to open a new plant in Alabama rather than continue operations in New York. According to him, state policies had the potential to affect use of Remington’s products.
Kollitides also cited workforce quality, infrastructure, the state’s business environment and taxes as reasons to transfer the manufacture of assault weapons to another state where the weapons remain legal.
Remington has operated in New York since 1816, but has increasingly shifted its focus in recent years. In addition to the 100 jobs lost in August, Remington also cut 126 positions in early November as a consequence of declining gun sales.
Former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry dies
Marion Barry, the controversial but popular former mayor of Washington D.C., died early Sunday after a long period of declining health from heart and kidney disease.
As a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Barry entered city politics in the mid-1970s as a member of the D.C. City Council and began to gather a following during his tenure as mayor from 1979 to 1991. As mayor, he promoted the needs of impoverished D.C. residents and earned the loyalty of his constituents with social programs aimed at lifting the city’s underclass out of often crippling poverty.
He remained popular even after his notorious 1990 arrest by the FBI after he was caught smoking crack with a mistress in a D.C. hotel room. Though the arrest resulted in a momentary fall from grace, Barry retained his role as a flamboyant figure in the 1990s, when he was again championed by D.C.’s majority black population as a member of the City Council.
Barry was elected again in 1994 and served from 1995 to 1999. After he left, he returned to the City Council for a fourth time in 2002, staying until his death. He is survived by his son Christopher Barry, who he had with his first wife Effi Slaughter.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submits resignation
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel submitted a formal resignation to President Barack Obama on Monday, ending an almost two-year run as the nation’s top authority on national security.
Hagel’s departure is allegedly the product of continued conflicts between the Pentagon and the White House over what the former considers to be intrusive and excessive micromanagement of military affairs. In late October, Hagel butted heads with Obama over the appointment of John R. Allen as an envoy in charge of creating a coalition to defeat the Islamic State, a promotion the defense secretary interpreted as a dilution of his own powers and responsibilities.
In contrast, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated Hagel was appointed to his position to restructure and reduce military spending, but the flare up of violence caused by the rise of the Islamic State left Hagel ill-suited to the new role the President wanted him to fulfill. As a result, both Hagel and Obama agreed a change of leadership was necessary to address the changing landscape of American foreign policy.
Hagel is expected to step down as soon as Obama finds a replacement.
Supreme Court case to examine limits of Facebook speech
The Supreme Court is set to consider a case next week which will determine how explicit a Facebook post must be to constitute a threat.
In the case, Anthony Elonis posted a vague, menacing suggestion that an order of protection was insufficient to stop violence, stating, “Fold up your PFA [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocket. Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?” Elonis had recently received an order of protection restricting his contact with his estranged soon-to-be-ex-wife Tara and the post was considered threatening enough to warrant Anthony’s arrest.
Elonis had also been in trouble for similar posts which were seemingly directed at former employers and relatives. At the same time, he frequently referenced his “art” as a hip hop songwriter and his First Amendment rights, which his attorneys intend to argue reflect his intention to merely state acts but not commit them,
On one side are civil liberties advocates who argue the context of the vague online statements are largely dependent on context and do not reach beyond frustration into criminal intent. In contrast, domestic violence advocates will attempt to argue the violent lyrics reflect Elonis’ intentions to bully his wife online and reflect another dimension of spousal abuse.
Cosby “fixer” alleges comedian issued payments to women
NBC “fixer” Frank Scotti unleashed new allegations against embattled comedian Bill Cosby, alleging that Cosby used him as a courier to send cash to various women.
According to Scotti, Cosby-who is now facing serious allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted women over the course of his storied career-gave him bags of hundred dollar bills to ferry to the women and was apparently using him as a cover to contact women with whom he allegedly had sexual relations.
Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer categorically denied the payments occurred and called accusations made by 16 different women over the past two weeks fabrications. The controversy began last month when comedian Hannibal Buress’ references to past accusations and characterization of Cosby as a rapist went viral last month, prompting former actress and model Barbara Bowman to reiterate her own story of an attack by Cosby to the public.
Regardless of the truth of the accusations, Cosby has still suffered a significant hit. In addition to a potential tarnish on his legacy as a fatherly, family-friendly performer, he recently lost lucrative deals with NBC and Netflix for new programming and had “Cosby Show” reruns pulled from TV Land.
Democratic donor arrested for sexual abuse
A prominent Democratic donor in Oregon with significant ties to President Barack Obama was arrested last Wednesday on charges related to his alleged sexual abuse of a teenage boy in Eugene.
Terrence Patrick Bean, 66, was charged with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. The charges allegedly stem from a sexual encounter between Bean, a 15-year old boy and another party who is also expected to face charges.
Bean, a prominent Portland developer and gay rights advocate who has raised over one million dollars for Obama since 2007 and was photographed with him and First Lady Michelle Obama in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential race, is no stranger to controversy regarding his sex life. Prior to the recent arrest, Bean had faced accusations that he had videotaped encounters with previous boyfriends.
Bean’s lawyer Kristen Winemiller plans to argue her client was the victim of an extortion ring. She added that Bean, who has been released on bail, is cooperating with authorities.