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School Board Election Results

East Ramapo and Ramapo Central School Budgets both were approved.
Board Members Elected
East Ramapo Central SD: Yonah Rothman, Jacob Lefkowitz, Juan Pablo Ramirez
Ramapo Central SD: Clarke Osborn, Theresa DiFalco, Teresa Monahan  

New York City Bar Association Supports Appointing
Monitor for East Ramapo Schools

May 19, 2015 The NYC Bar Association has offered its unqualified support for the appointment of a State
monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School Board. The Association’s reasons are simple and stark:
“The East Ramapo School Board has violated the State Constitution.” “The School Board has failed in its
fiduciary responsibility to the District.” “The Bill is narrowly tailored so as to avoid overreach.”
These are
the words of an organization that represents 24,000 attorneys—an organization that exists to promote ethics
and the fair and effective administration of justice. Read the 5-page Education and Law Committee’s report
on the proposed oversight bill here.

S&P upgrades Rockland's bond rating

May 18, 2015 "For the first time in over a decade, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised its bond rating for
Rockland County to 'BBB' from 'BBB-' and gave the county a positive outlook. In its Friday report, S&P cited
"improved financial performance ... and mitigation of a significant portion of its general fund deficit, with further
improvement likely." Journal News coverage here.

Ramapo's debt rating gets 'negative outlook'

Town has $128 million in outstanding debt

May 14, 2015 "Citing an ongoing FBI investigation into Ramapo's finances, Moody's Investor's Services said Tuesday
the outlook on its 1A credit rating for the town is still negative, warning it could lower the rating if the town doesn't
reduce debt. "The negative outlook reflects the uncertainty around a federal investigation that could add additional
strain to the town's already challenged operations," the credit-rating firm wrote. The town has $128 million in outstanding
general obligation debt.
The FBI raided Ramapo in May 2013. The materials confiscated from Town Hall are still being
reviewed by authorities and no charges have been filed." Journal story here.

Zoning, Planning and Housing Crises

April 9, 2015 Land use zoning laws have been an accepted part of our environmental traditions at least since the passage
of “The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act” in 1924. This remarkable act was accepted almost without change by most
states. In New York City zoning began even earlier in 1916.There is no question that zoning has been used by suburban
communities to restrict the development of housing desperately needed by poor people. It has also had a terrible impact
on struggling middle class families. (More)

Right and Wrong

An open letter to State Senator John Flanagan from former DA Michael Bongiorno

May 6, 2015 "I find it disturbing that you, as chairman of the state senate Education Committee, and other “members”
of the state senate are “circumspect” about passing legislation allowing the state education commissioner to appoint a
monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School Board and develop a five-year plan for that school district.  According to
news reports, you raised concerns that the legislation could set a dangerous “precedent.” (More)

Second Shoe Drops in Albany—Skelos also Charged by the Feds as
Cuomo’s Left Home Alone

May 5, 2015 The second of the “three men in a room,” New York State Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was arrested
on federal public corruption charges alleging bribes and extortion. With Silver and Skelos indicted, that leaves the
Governor perched atop an unstable, one-legged stool. Questions now being asked include: Does a third shoe ever drop?
Are people still looking at how the Governor shut down and shoved the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption out
the door? And when are the prosecutors going to schedule a second round of local perp walks? And can they make that a
perp parade as they move from village (Spring Valley) to the town (Ramapo)? Read
Senate’s Dean Skelos surrenders on corruption charges. 

Community View: Albany must help East Ramapo

The Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV and Rabbi Adam Baldachin 9:43 p.m. EDT May 2, 2015

The Legislature must support a bill that would place a fiscal monitor in East Ramapo. Public schoolchildren in the
working-class district deserve a quality education. (More)

Rockland cracks down on illegal housing

Officials create a Worst Landlord Watch List that publicly catalogs
the most egregious property owners.

April 30, 2015The Rockland Health Department and other county agencies are launching a new crackdown on the spread
of substandard and illegal housing to improve safety for residents and firefighters responding to emergencies. The Rockland Codes Initiative
includes hiring more housing inspectors, levying larger penalties against landlords and an online reporting system where residents can file
anonymous complaints when they know of illegal dwellings. Officials have also started an online Worst Landlord Watch List in an effort to
bring anonymous LLCs to the light of public scrutiny. The list's top five worst offenders are posted now."We all know firefighting is
dangerous enough," County Executive Ed Day said Thursday, standing on the sidewalk in front of a dilapidated three-story home at 76
Fairview Ave., the first property on the Worst Landlord Watch List. "It should not be made more dangerous when property owners
motivated by greed illegally carve up apartments. We cannot allow a child or one of Rockland County's bravest to die in a converted
attic or hidden stairwell." Read the complete Journal News coverage here.

ast Ramapo oversight supporters rally in Albany

April 29, 2015 "Hundreds of parents, students and community members from the East Ramapo school district are in Albany
Tuesday, pushing lawmakers to support a bill that would provide rare state oversight of the East Ramapo Board of Education.
About 350 advocates, along with the three state legislators from Rockland who authored the bill, were holding a rally on the steps
of the state Capitol at 11 a.m.
Andrew Mandel, a spokesman for an alumni group that helped organize the event called East Ramapo Strong,
told the Journal News that Rockland elected officials and Judith Johnson, who represents the region on the Board of Regents, would join
the rally.
Mandel said the rally is a chance for lawmakers from around the state "to see the faces of the people affected by the crisis"
detailed in a report from a state fiscal monitor in November 2014."
Latest: Full coverage of the rally

St. Lawrence, Logan-Charles, Ullman and Withers Vote to Bill Taxpayers
for SEC Legal Fees to Defend Targeted Officials—Friedman Votes No

April 26, 2015 The Ramapo Town Board approved paying the legal fees of municipal officials targeted in
a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the town's finances. The SEC probe began last year. Meanwhile,
nearly two years ago, the FBI and the Rockland District Attorney's Office seized dozens of boxes of documents and computer
hard-drives from Ramapo Town Hall. Investigators are reviewing documents dating back 2009. SEC subpoenas were issued in
May 2014 to Ramapo, its Local Development Corporation, the town's auditor, financial adviser and St. Lawrence. The April 16
vote on whether to pay the legal expenses related to the SEC probe was 4-1, with board member Daniel Friedman, a Democrat,
opposed. "I don't believe the taxpayer should be on the hook for an open-ended resolution for spending on defense attorneys,"
he said. "I wanted a specific cap. In Ramapo, when you don't have a limit, it could go on forever and cost millions of dollars."
Complete Journal News story here.

Bare-knuckle Politics in East Ramapo

April 26, 2015 Bare-knuckle politics is now standard operating procedure in East Ramapo. For many years,
opponents of the Democratic machine in Rockland have been accused of anti-Semitism, but this rhetoric
reached a new low in the campaign for county executive in the Fall of 2013. David Fried’s supporters conducted
a highly organized campaign of libel in social media. Ed Day and his wife were accused of anti-Semitism and
fraudulent quotes were created to “prove” their bias. Despite appeals to David Fried, he never was willing to
condemn or even acknowledge his supporters’ underground campaign against Ed. (More)

Rockland Water Coalition to receive the EPA’s highest honor

Grassroots group that successfully opposed United Water’s plans to build a desalination plant on the
Hudson River will be honored at April 24 ceremony.

OSSINING, NY — The Rockland Water Coalition will receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental
Champion Award, the highest recognition presented to the public by the department. Members of the coalition will be
honored in a ceremony to be held on April 24 in New York City. (Read the complete Press Release here.)

 

http://forward.com/image/2/630/0/5/assets/images/articles/w.6corruptionmosesstern-040313.jpg

Federal Prosecutors 6 for 6 in Corridor of Corruption

Mayor Noramie Jasmin’s “The-devil-made-me-do-it” defense Fails—Found Guilty of Bribery, Extortion
and Wire Fraud—Faces up to 40 Years in Prison

April 21, 2015 Noramie Jasmin’s defense was, at best, a two-legged stool. Her attorney complained that the Monsey developer
Moses (Mark) Stern had entrapped his client, and that there were no good reasons for federal charges to be brought against her.
Both tactics failed because the developer (the “Devil”) was wearing a wire for the FBI, and somehow Jasmin forgot about the
interstate nature of some of the events. (More)

FIOS Newsbreakers Discussion of Religious Tensions in Rockland

April 20, 2015 Chris Day was interviewed on the FIOS Newsbreakers Show. Topics covered in the discussion included
East Ramapo, overdevelopment, the inherent right to politically organize in opposition to the goals of the Hasidic leadership,
the chicken slaughterhouse, desegregation of Hasidic areas, poverty and non-English speaking levels in New Square, and
bloc voting. The broadcast consisted of two parts and you can watch them here—Part One (9 minutes) and Part Two (18 minutes).

Rockland's rising tensions and anti-Semitism

A Journal News editorial April 18, 2015 "A YouTube video produced by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council compared
anti-Semitism in Rockland to conditions in Nazi Germany. The video focused on a Facebook page, "Block the Block Vote," which
aggressively supports political organizing to counter the voting power of Rockland's Orthodox community. The page, which has more
than 9,600 "likes," sometimes draws comments that should be offensive to all. But the video, "The Jew in Rockland," charged that
the Facebook page itself is anti-Semitic because it opposes the gathering of Jewish influence and power – as the Nazis did." Read the
complete editorial here.

Editorial: Tisch must step aside

A Journal News editorial April 19, 2015 "Our state leadership has failed to sell its brand of change, and the fallout has been
dramatic and potentially debilitating to the entire system. The arrogance of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Education Commissioner
John King and, yes, Tisch, has alienated too many parents and educators. The people who are responsible for educating our children
each day – classroom teachers, principals, administrators, school board members – have railed for years against state policies that
drive up local costs but fail to improve instruction.
Meanwhile, the lack of response from Albany has been deafening." Full text here.

Noramie Jasmin trial verdict Monday

April 17, 2015 "A federal judge said she would render her verdict Monday in the corruption trial of former Spring Valley
Mayor Noramie Jasmin after closing arguments were delivered Friday morning.
Jasmin is accused of extortion and wire fraud
after allegedly partnering with Moses "Mark" Stern, an FBI informant, to use her office to pick Stern to run a development in
which she would own a 50 percent stake. She was arrested two years ago and her non-jury trial began Monday at the federal
courthouse in White Plains." Journal News story here.

Noramie Jasmin Trial--Day One: Victim vs. vice

April 13, 2015 “Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin was portrayed alternately as a bribe-taker and a victim of an
unscrupulous Monsey developer as her trial on federal corruption charges opened Monday. Jasmin was allegedly taken in by a
phony development scheme orchestrated by an FBI cooperative witness. Jasmin is charged with wire fraud and extortion; her
non-jury trial is being held before U.S. Judge Colleen McMahon.
By midday, McMahon was beginning to listen to audio tapes
prosecutors say show Jasmin plotting with FBI undercover agents and operative Moses "Mark" Stern, who has pleaded guilty to
mortgage and loan fraud involving a $126 million ripoff of Citigroup Global Markets Realty in a deal to build 11 shopping malls
down South." Read the complete Journal News coverage here.

Ex-Spring Valley mayor goes to trial Monday

April 12, 2015

"Two years after federal prosecutors charged Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin with taking bribes from an FBI operative,
she gets a chance Monday to convince a judge she didn't. Jasmin's non-jury trial starts with opening statements before U.S. District
Judge Colleen McMahon in White Plains. A grand jury charged Jasmin with wire fraud and extortion in an indictment that led to the
longtime official losing re-election in 2013. The development scheme came from Monsey-based financier Moses "Mark" Stern, working
as an FBI operative to lessen a potential prison sentence since his 2010 arrest for stealing $126 million from Citigroup Global Markets
Reality as part of a scam to build 11 shopping malls down South." Complete Journal News coverage here.

Steven White and Irv Feiner among 7 Inducted into Rockland County
Human Rights Hall of Fame

April 8, 2015 “Seven people were inducted into the Rockland County Civil and Human Rights Hall of Fame during Wednesday's
celebration luncheon at Nyack Seaport. The honorees were Judith Johnson, Earl Miller, Dwaine Perry and Steven White.
In addition, those honored posthumously were Harry Edelstein, Irving Feiner and Bayard Rustin.” Complete Journal News story here.

Building One Rockland County

April 6, 2015 "I remain deeply troubled by a video released last week on behalf of a largely-unknown group of desperate
provocateurs who call themselves OJPAC. The video titled "The Jew in Rockland" compares a range of issues in Rockland
County to conditions faced by Jews the 1930's that led to the Holocaust. Within minutes of the offensive production landing
on YouTube, I released a statement condemning its creators, deeming their message "outrageous rhetoric that can only
divide Rockland County." (More) Comments from Rockland County Executive Ed Day

Group's Bias Bid Against Ramapo Is Rejected

 "An Orthodox Jewish group has lost its suit alleging that four villages in the Town of Ramapo and their
officials used zoning concerns as a pretext for discrimination in blocking a large multi-family development." Read the
New York Law Journal's coverage of the Nike Base lawsuit here.

KENNETH ZEBROWSKI

 

Community View: Zebrowski explains basics of East Ramapo bill

March 8, 2015 "Recently, Sen. David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and I formally introduced our
East Ramapo Oversight Bill (A5355/S3821). Since the bill's introduction, much of the Rockland community has rallied
behind our oversight system. However, others have visited Albany, misconstruing the bill and lobbying against
its passage." (More)

Feds: Ex-Spring Valley mayor Jasmin wanted to rig election

March 7, 2015 "Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin did more than sell her political influence for kickbacks — she also tried to
rig a village election, federal prosecutors said in court papers filed in her corruption case this week. Prosecutors allege in a 20-page
motion filed in U.S. District Court in White Plains that Jasmin met with developer Moses "Mark" Stern, who was cooperating with the
FBI, and asked him if he could help eliminate dozens of absentee ballots in that year's village elections to ensure "favorable" candidates
would win." Read the complete story on Lohud here.

Ramapo whistleblower accuses St. Lawrence of defamation

March 3, 2015 "Melissa Reimer, who is currently suspended from her job as supervisor of fiscal services, has filed a notice of claim against
the town and St. Lawrence. She is accusing town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence of damaging her reputation during a recent radio show.
According to the notice, written by Reimer's attorney, Fred Lichtmacher, St. Lawrence stated during his Feb. 6 appearance on local radio
station WRCR AM that Ramapo was listed as the state's most fiscally stressed town in 2012 by the state Comptroller's Office because "the
person who was previously responsible for sending the information to the comptroller had an incident with the Police Department and did
not send the proper information to the Comptroller's Office. She did not report all of the assets that should have been reported. The matter
is now in federal court."
Lichtmacher said by falsely alleging that Reimer didn't report all the town's assets, she has been defamed in her
profession as a certified public accountant.
In August, Reimer filed a multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit against the town and its officials,
alleging they retaliated against her for speaking up about what she perceived as improper fiscal activities. The lawsuit is pending. The town
has filed a motion to dismiss it, but it will take at least until May for a judge to take any action as the FBI requested a stay of reviewing audio
and video recordings related to the case." Read the complete story on LohHud here.


Nat, Get the shovel—Mona, Where’s the ladder? I got a great idea!

 February 23, 2015  If nothing else, the current financial team at Ramapo Town Hall is consistent. You just know
what you’re going to get every time this group comes up with what’s next. And their long-term track record?
Multi-million-dollar new debt layered over the existing debt. They’ve cornered the most fiscally stressed town
in New York award, year after year. You would think the three would have learned by now that you don’t get out of a hole by continuing to dig. (More)

JN Editorial: Guidance for East Ramapo, then aid

February 20, 2015 "A bill has been introduced in the New York Legislature to provide fiscal guidance for the East Ramapo school
district. The proposal is dramatic – and it is needed. The legislation hews to a report issued by a special fiscal monitor, Hank Greenberg,
who was appointed last year by the state Education Department and supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The legislation calls for a state-appointed
monitor, who would join in all district and school board meetings, have access to all records and be able to reverse a school board decision
considered detrimental to students' education. The district could appeal to the state Department of Education. The stakes are high: The district
cannot serve children's needs as the school board continues to make bad decisions that not only waste precious resources but fuel a deep divide
among the public- and private-school community. Read the complete Journal editorial here.

Zebrowski, Jaffee, Carlucci Propose 5-Year Monitor for East Ramapo Board

February 18, 2015 In simultaneous press releases this afternoon, Assembly Members Ken Zebrowski and Ellen Jaffee announced
their bill to establish a state monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School Board. Read the full terms of the oversight in the
Zebrowski press release here.

County Exec: Taking Aim at Illegal Housing

February 16, 2015 "Over the next few months, you'll learn the details of a sweeping initiative to provide uniform and aggressive enforcement
of building, housing and zoning codes in Rockland County with an emphasis on eliminating illegal housing.
My executive team has been working
closely with County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Ruppert and Fire and Emergency Services Coordinator Gordon Wren on a comprehensive
strategy to stop the madness. Because our plans involve certain New York State health and building codes, I've personally engaged directly with
the Governor's office on the effort.
Elements of the plan include a countywide rental registry, complete with regular inspections. Another
component involves an on-line "request for investigation." We want to make it easy to file a confidential complaint about any property in
the county." (More)

State rips Ramapo, Spring Valley building enforcement
February 15, 2015 "A state agency has issued blistering letters citing inadequate building inspections and enforcement of zoning and fire-safety
regulations in Ramapo and Spring Valley. After state officials last year responded to complaints, the state Department of State's
Division of Building Standards and Codes preliminarily found the municipalities allow potentially dangerous conditions to fester in housing and
single-family-home conversions into schools and, in some cases, houses of worship. The agency found Ramapo gave temporary approvals to
buildings used for religious schools that remain in violation. The temporary certificates of occupancy benefit the schools as administrators can
seek services from the school district and seek thousands of dollars in state aid and access other programs. Critics claim many temporary COs
never cease as private schools continue to operate, or get municipal approvals for classroom trailers, and rarely face court or government
penalties. If the municipalities don't move to correct the deficiencies, the state could intervene and conduct a "full investigation of all aspects"
of enforcement. The agency can hold public hearings, according to the letters issued Jan. 28.
Both municipalities must respond in writing."
Read the complete Journal story here.

Cuomo: East Ramapo oversight bill expected by June

February 14, 2015 "Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that he expects the state Legislature to pass an oversight bill for the East Ramapo school
district sometime between April and June. Lawmakers are now working on a proposal that the governor expects to be presented to the Legislature
after the state budget deadline of April 1 and before the end of the session in June."We had an independent person come down and review the
situation and that report will now be the basis for legislation," he said during a visit to the Pascack Community Center." Read the complete Journal
News coverage here.

East Ramapo still a fiscal mess