TIMELINES 2/23/17

Jade Village restaurant in Chestnut Ridge to be Torn Down and Property Restored

The new owner of the Jade Village restaurant and historic property it’s built on in Chestnut Ridge will demolish the building and store the land. The Chinese restaurant closed last month and had been renovated in 1997, covering much of the historic character. Robert Asselbergs said his review of the property showed almost nothing was left of the building from the late 1700s. He bought the property at 606 South Pascack Road for $1.4 million. He wants to restore the history of the property and the dam along the Pascack Brook behind the building. Chestnut Ridge Mayor Rosario Presti is glad the new land owner is preserving the land.

Gould Property Lawyer Claims Rockland Officials Told School Was All Clear

The owners of the former Edwin Gould property in Chestnut Ridge claim their testing showed no airborne asbestos in the school building. But, Rockland County officials issued violations anyway according to a Lohud article. Daniel Richmond, the owner’s attorney, wrote to the county saying he told Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach via telephone the asbestos condition was “safely addressed” before the county inspection. Richmond also claims the closet where the asbestos was located, and adjacent classroom, were vacated after a DOH contracted inspector saw the issue. Asbestos, a construction material, can cause health issues when airborne. The school building houses 309 girls ages 4 to 6 attending Bais Yaakov Elementary School of Rockland County.

Local Developer Wants to Upgrade Route 59

One area developer wants to overhaul a classic Rockland traffic bottleneck stretch of Route 59 into a modern roadway with the ability to handle Monsey’s growing community. Joseph Brachfeld, owner of the Town Square shopping center, wants to improve a half-mile stretch by adding lanes, sidewalks, landscaped medians, and a walking and biking path. Any infrastructure upgrades would be paid by the state. The plan has not been officially proposed to the town of Ramapo. Route 59 in Monsey and Spring Valley stretches to a single lane in both directions, slowing down traffic.

Retired Clarkstown Cop Wins Lawsuit for Backpay

Retired Clarkstown police officer Robert Lynn has been awarded about $185,000 in back pay after a judge ruled in Lynn’s favor involving a dispute with the town over his retirement date. He had been battling the town since an arm injury in 2012. Lynn was 60 at the time of his injury and was with the department since 1985. He claimed the town refused his initial request for disability benefits, using all his accumulated leave. A supreme court justice agreed with Lynn that his retirement date was August 2014, but the town claimed it was August 2013 when the police chief took him off payroll. Clarkstown paid him approximately $165,000 in backpay, but with interest the town owes him another $185,000.

East Ramapo Approves Metal Detector Use

East Ramapo School District becomes the first district in Rockland to approve the use of metal detectors at schools. Officials claim this decision is precautionary and not a response to incidents. The school board unanimously approved the use of handheld devices to screen for guns, knives and other weapons at schools and district-sponsored events. Screenings will be random and anyone who refuses will be denied entry. “It is really just a policy to give them a tool if they need it,” East Ramapo’s state-appointed monitor Chuck Szbulera said.

Trump Signs Bill Ending Obama Coal Mining Regulation

On Thursday Feb. 16, President Donald Trump signed legislation to end a coal mining rule from the Obama administration. It cuts the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule which aims to protect waterways from coal mining waste. This is the second piece of legislation Trump signed ending an environmental regulation from the Obama administration according to an article on The Hill, the first was undoing a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies. These two Trump bills are advancing the GOP push toward undoing regulations the Obama administration finalized during the end of his term. The coal mining industry claimed Obama’s regulation would be costly to implement and lead to job losses. Environmentalists supported the Obama regulation believing it would protect waterways and preserve public health.

AG Schneiderman Investigating Internet Provider Speeds

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office sent out a press release encouraging people to test their internet speeds and submit the results to his website to help an ongoing investigation looking into internet service providers delivering the speeds and services promised. Schneiderman also wants New Yorkers to use his consumer alerts tool to help find an internet service plan that works for them. “No one should be paying a premium for speeds and services they aren’t receiving,” Schneiderman said. “Conducting a speed test will ensure people are getting the speed they’re paying for, and I urge New Yorkers to submit their results and help my office continue to hold service providers accountable.”

Trump Angry at Flynn Leak

President Donald Trump is angry leaks led to embarrassing stories about his conversations with foreign leaders and led to Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser. Flynn’s resignation came after a leak showed he intercepted communication with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office. According to an article from U.S. News, experts believe the person responsible for the leak should prepare for potential legal complications. Calls with foreign officials fall under “foreign government information,” and a leaker would be violating presidential instructions potentially facing criminal or administrative penalties.

Trump Names Gen. McMaster as New National Security Advisor

President Donald Trump selected his pick for the new National Security Advisor on Monday. He chose career Army Officer Lt. General H.R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn, who had recently resigned from the position.

“I’m grateful to you for that opportunity, and I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people,” said McMaster.

McMaster “is considered one of the Army’s top intellectuals,” writes Politico. He published a best-selling book about failed military leadership during the Vietnam War. He also helped develop counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.

“He’s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” Trump said about McMaster. “I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He is highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him.”

Other Republicans agree with Trump’s selection of McMaster. Republican Senator of Arizona, John McCain said McMaster is “a man of genuine intellect, character and ability. I give President Trump great credit for this decision. I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than one we have right now.”

Trump said that he had lost trust in former national security advisor, Michael Flynn when he discussed the sanctions with Russia and did not reveal the details with Pence. Pence commented of the resignation of Flynn saying “it was the proper decision.”

NY State Paid About $8.1 Million for “I Love NY” Signs

The state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority spent significantly more than estimated costs on producing and installing large blue “I Love NY” signs across state roadways. The DOT estimated it would spent $1.76 million on materials but ended up spending about $3.6  million. Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll and the Thruway’s acting executive director testified last week at a state budget hearing the cost of the installations. 514 signs were installed, and according to Lohud, the state spent an average of $15,000 per sign. These signs are at the center of a dispute with the Federal Highway Administration who believes the signs are distracting to drivers and violate state and federal laws.

Breitbart Editor Resigns After Video Reappears

Milo Yiannopoulos, a key player in the Alt-right scene, resigned from Breitbart News on Tuesday Feb. 21 following a video featuring the senior editor appearing to defend pedophilia. The video sparked reactions from both liberals and conservatives. “I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’’ important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately,” Yiannopoulus said in a statement. “This decision is mine alone.”

N.S.A. Power Expanded During Final Obama Days

During President Obama’s final days in office, his administration expanded the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA) to share information with the government’s 16 other agencies. A New York Times article explained the new rules relaxed longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. can do with information gathered by powerful surveillance operations. This change let more officials look through raw data, and increased the risk private information about innocent people is seen. The new regulations were signed on Dec. 15, 2016 and went into affect on Jan. 3. One lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union called this move “an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods.”