Sullivan Hearings Delayed
Clarkstown’s suspended police chief, Michael Sullivan’s, hearing on departmental charges accusing him of destroying potential evidence has been postponed until later this month. The hearing was abruptly adjourned in January and was scheduled to resume Wednesday but called off because witnesses on both sides were unable to attend. Testimony is now slated to re-start on Feb. 22 according to William Harrington, the town’s special prosecutor. Sullivan was suspended with pay in July on multiple charges accusing him of insubordination and condoning improper surveillance to destroying potential evidence. The departmental charges are being litigated before an appointed hearing officer instead of a court of law. On Feb. 1 a statement from Harrington said, “On January 27 the Appellate Division, Second Department denied Michael Sullivan’s motion to stay prosecution of the two sets of Town administrative charges pending against him. In addition, today the Rockland County Supreme Court also denied Sullivan’s motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the administrative hearing on those charges.”
Ramapo Developer Returns After Stop Work Order
Last October, the Town of Ramapo issued a stop work order against Viola Estates Condominium on Viola Road. The developer wants to bypass the building department with a new set of papers by applying to the CDRC for a revised site plan. The project was spot-zoned from 9 families to 44 after agreeing with neighbors they wouldn’t fight his application if he limited the development to 44 single-family units. Then accessory apartments were built, illegal in this new zone and going against the agreement with neighbors. The neighbors complained to the town and then brought the developer to court. A court ordered site inspection revealed there was room for 176 families in the development. The developer is back with an application to cure violations and continue building.
Chestnut Ridge Urges State Judge to Close School on Edwin Gould Site
The village of Chestnut Ridge and Rockland County are taking the owners of the former Edwin Gould property to state Supreme Court claiming the owners opened a school without proper inspections and permits. A state judge was asked Wednesday to close the private girls school, which has been running since December without clearances and site plan approval. The Rockland Health Department wants to gain a search warrant to inspect the buildings after county inspectors were denied access to the property.
DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary
The Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with barely any experience in public education, as education secretary after Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of DeVos. Pence’s vote was historic, marking the first-time a vice president was needed to break a tie on a cabinet nomination. Two Republicans voted against DeVos claiming she is unqualified because of her lack of familiarity with public schools. Neither DeVos, nor any of her children, attended a public school. DeVos supports charter schools and vouchers which allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay private, religious and for-profit school tuitions. Teachers’ unions and others have protested DeVos’s nomination and many critics claimed they will keep fighting her as she begins to serve.
Attorney General Announces Lawsuit Against Company Scamming 9/11 Heroes
NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a lawsuit on Feb. 7 against RD Legal Funding, LLC, and Roni Dersovitz, the companies’ founder and owner for allegedly scamming 9/11 heroes out of money for medical costs, lost income and other needs. Schneiderman and the CFPB believe this scheme swindled first responders with cancer and other illnesses and football players with brain injuries out of millions by tempting them with costly advances on compensation fund and settlement payouts by lying about the terms of the deal. “My office will do all it can to end the fraudulent practices employed by RD Legal, recoup the illegal amounts charged by this company – and make these victims whole again,” Schneiderman said in a press release.
China Reserves Drop Below $3 Trillion Mark
China’s foreign-currency reserves dipped below $3 trillion last month, falling the lowest it’s been since early 2011. Bloomberg reported the reserves fell $12.3 billion to $2.998 trillion, and the bank’s intervention in foreign-exchange markets drove the drop. This could lead policy makers to tighten measures for controlling outflows and companies transferring money to other countries.
UK’s Nigel Farage Backs Trump’s Immigration Ban
British politician Nigel Farage, who pushed for Brexit and represents South East England in the European Parliament called out other European politicians for doubting President Donald Trump. Farage said many people are criticizing Trump’s immigration ban while not doing anything to prevent radical Islamic terrorism in Europe. Footage of Farage criticizing other leaders was posted to his Facebook page.
Rockland Man Commits Suicide on TZ Bridge
On Saturday Feb. 4 at around 10 p.m. police were called to the Tappan Zee Bridge after a passer-by noticed a vehicle stopped on the bridge and a man near the railing. An investigation revealed the man who jumped into the Hudson River before police arrived was 53-year-old Kenan Ozdemir, of Valley Cottage. Marine units were dispatched by the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office and Westchester County Police to search the river for the victim, and after an hour the body was recovered. Ozdemir was brought to Westchester Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Trump’s Immigration Order Analyzed in Federal Appeals Court
On Tuesday Feb. 7, three federal judges listened to arguments for and against removing a restraining order against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. The order stopped all refugees’ entry into the U.S. for residents of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. The administration is hoping to remove the restraining order a Seattle judge implemented last week. Three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide later this week whether the restraining order stands. The full proceeding can be found online for the public to listen to.