TIMELINES 1/22/15

Spring Valley village attorney resigns

Citing extreme dysfunction in the village’s government, Spring Valley’s Village Attorney Jerrold Miles resigned with his assistant Corey Turner last week.

The formal resignation of Jerrold Miles occurred on December 19 but was only announced publically in January. Miles explained he decided to leave his post after he concluded the problems in the village were too great for him to resolve alone.

“I hung in there as long as I could,” Miles said. “I couldn’t do it anymore. It was definitely time for me and [assistant] Corey Turner to step back and step away.”

The decision is a political blow to controversial Mayor  Demeza Delhomme. As a close political ally to Delhomme, Miles assisted the mayor in his conflicts with the three-member village board majority. These clashes with the often hostile board included an instance when Delhomme was sent to jail for four days after he refused to follow a court order to let the village’s summer camp access to the civic center.

Delhomme proposed a replacement attorney at a recent village board meeting, but the proposal was shot down by the majority. Feerick, Lynch MacCartney PLLC of South Nyack is taking Miles’ place until a permanent replacement has been found.


Monticello mayor jailed for obstruction

The Village of Monticello’s Mayor Gordon Jenkins began a 45-day jail sentence for disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration on Tuesday.

Jenkins, a polarizing figure who has had four separate brushes with the law since his election in 2008, was convicted in February for striking Officer David Weiner from behind during an altercation in July 2012. Weiner was attempting to prevent resident Daryl Fowler, who had previously threatened to kill the mayor, from attacking Jenkins outside the mayor’s beauty supply store.

Though Jenkins maintained he did not strike Weiner and the officer stated he did not believe the mayor meant to hit him, Jenkins’ conviction was upheld after the state’s appellate court declined to hear the case.

In spite of the sentence, Jenkins indicated that he has no plans to resign.

 

New York to offer statewide broadband upgrade by 2019

An unprecedented undertaking was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday when it was confirmed that the state would invest $500 million in a statewide broadband internet upgrade.

The plan, which anticipates speeds four times the national minimum, will use state funds to encourage equivalent private sector investments in broadband upgrades. Broadband providers would be required to maintain a minimum download speed of 100Mbs in most areas, though the state might allow broadband providers leeway in some geographically remote or under-served regions.

Improvements to the state’s internet infrastructure will likely include provisions for multiple service providers and the use of existing fiber optic networks, making it easier for providers to establish networks statewide. Similar cooperative plans have been implemented in New Zealand and Australia.

According to a 2011 study, about 67 percent of New Yorkers are connected to a broadband service. Separate estimates suggested that 5.4 million residents cannot get broadband speeds over 25Mbs and 1 million cannot get speeds above 6Mbs.

 

Law enforcement under scrutiny for using radar devices to see through walls

At least 50 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., including the FBI and U.S. Marshals, have come under criticism for the use of radar devices which have the ability to “see” into houses.

The device, known as the Range-R, uses a display to determine whether or not there is movement on the other side of a wall and the distance of the device holder from the activity. According to USA Today, Range-R’s manufacturer, L-3 Communications, has sold about 200 of the devices to 50 law enforcement agencies.

The Range-R, which was initially developed for use against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, was quietly implemented by law enforcement agencies in 2012, generating little attention until the U.S. Marshals Service used one on a house where they believed a parole violator was holed up.

Though it does not show a picture of what is occurring in a building, the Range-R and more sophisticated devices such as more advanced radars and infrared scanners have raised constitutional questions about the limits of police searches. The 2012 search was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on other grounds, though they did allude to future examination of the use of radar devices on private residences.

Prior to the roll out of the Range-R, court precedent has largely barred police from the use of tactics which allow them to see behind closed doors. The use of both thermal cameras and drug-sniffing dogs to detect activities in houses have been ruled unconstitutional.

 

Convicted rapist moves to Clarkstown

A man who spent 24 years in prison for sexual assault and is considered sexually violent moved to Clarkstown last week, according to police.

Shikil Williamson, 43, also known as Shikil Bentley, was sentenced to prison for raping a 27-year old woman in 1989 and was released in January 2013. Though he is not on probation or parole, he is classified as a Level 2 sex offender in New York’s Sex Offender Registry, meaning there is a moderate risk that Williamson will re-offend.

Williamson is black, stands at a height of 6’4” and weighs 280 pounds. He has several tattoos on his neck, chest and upper right arm. His description residency information was distributed by the Clarkstown Central School District to parents after local police announced Williamson’s move to Clarkstown.

 

Ice in Hudson River causes delays for Tappan Zee construction

A deep freeze early this week prompted construction crews working on the Tappan Zee Bridge to suspend some operations in the Hudson until the river thaws.

Though work has continued at the construction platform and bridge landing in South Nyack, the cold weather has made navigation and work on river platforms too hazardous and forced crews to postpone work in the middle of the river. At the present moment, crews in the river are working to lay down pile caps, which will support the bridge’s structure and roadways.

The freeze is a nuisance for constructors, but is not unexpected. Ice and slush were anticipated during winter seasons and the expectation of inclement weather has prompted planners to work around seasonal freezes and thaws. Similar issues with ice also slowed down pile-driving in the river last February.

Ebola hospitals empty out as epidemic begins to recede

Ebola epidemic centers in the West African nation of Liberia have seen a significant drop in cases, with some emptying out almost completely.

As reports have abounded of largely empty clinics, figures suggest the evidence is more than anecdotal. Aid organizations reported that in Liberia, one of the hardest hit countries, there was an average of less than one new case per day.

At one center in Monrovia, which lies only 45 miles from the heart of the outbreak, a shortage of beds became a surplus so large that some tents have been used to store food and medical supplies. The situation has calmed so much that a USAID-funded ebola center in the region has closed, with three more expected to shut their doors in the coming months.

At its peak in September, Liberia’s ebola epidemic resulted in about 300 cases per week. Even as aid from the U.S. began in November, that number had dropped to 100 cases.

 

Air Force’s UFO research declassified for digital archive

The U.S. Air Force’s collection of reports and analysis of UFO encounters has been declassified and is now available in a digital format.

The 130,000 pages of reports on about 12,600 sightings are part of “Project Blue Book,” the USAF’s effort to determine the nature of UFO phenomena and the possibility of security threats or new technology. The records remained on microfilm for decades before UFO researcher John Greenwwald successfully petitioned the government to release the materials.

Though most of the cases proved explainable by weather balloons, meteors, hoaxes or other known events, a few hundred remain unexplained. Investigators concluded the sightings as a whole did not pose a national security threat and the file was eventually closed on such investigations.

Brooklyn man settles NYPD chokehold lawsuit, receives $75,000

A Brooklyn man who argued he was placed in an illegal chokehold by the NYPD in February 2013, has settled a lawsuit against the city for $75,000.

Kevin Dennis-Palmer, a married father of two who works as a first responder for the National Grid, argued in the suit that he was parking his car near his home in Brownsville after when a police cruiser pulled up. According to Dennis-Palmer, he had attempted to record the encounter on his phone, but an officer slapped the phone out of his hand and pepper sprayed him before he was subdued by eight officers.

Dennis-Palmer further argued that when he was on the ground, one of the officers tried to pull him up by the neck, a similar maneuver to the one made infamous by the chokehold death of Eric Garner in the Summer of 2014. He was booked for resisting arrest, obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct,  all of which were later dismissed.

The city and NYPD opted to settle, but have not admitted wrongdoing.

Clarkstown officer invited to State of the Union address

A Clarkstown police officer had the opportunity to attend President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Officer Patrick Tobin, who was invited to the event by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), completed his service in spite of Though he was told he would not be able to complete Ranger training due to a serious injury sustained while jumping from a plane during a training exercise. In spite of this setback, he managed to recover, obtain a full Ranger certification and serve three tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, Tobin joined the Clarkstown Police in February 2014 and continues to serve in this role.