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Update: The Ward Petition Vote

January 25, 2015 It has been four months since Judge Garvey impounded the voting machines and all paper ballots in the Special Election for a
Ward System in Ramapo. The matter is now before a panel of judges. This update explains where we are and how we got here. Also, you can read the
court decision that locked up the ballots, and a transcript of the arguments that were the basis for that decision. (More)  

Town of Ramapo Still Has the Worst Finances in New York State

January 22, 2015 Just when you thought we had crawled off the floor in the basement, St. Lawrence's latest board-blessed budget has shoved us back
into last place in one of the more corrupt states in the union. Actually, the only thing that kept us out of last place last year was that Ramapo failed to
file on time to be considered. Pretty sneaky. Well, this year an independent review of the Town's pathetic numbers has cleared up the situation. We are
the worst, have been the worst, and continue, going forward, to be the worst in entire state. Thank you Supervisor St. Lawrence and our spineless and
complicit Board. And Preet, before you start clearing out the State Legislature, could you please finish the business you have here in Ramapo? (More)  

Ramapo neighbors sued for clearing illegal shortcut

January 22, 2015 "There's nothing wrong with wanting to be close with your neighbors but the new owners of a pair of homes in
this rapidly growing subdivision apparently took things too far.They created a shortcut through a patch of woods by clearing bushes,
taking down trees and building a 300-foot paved pathway connecting 1 Neva Court to 9 Quince Lane. After being alerted by residents,
town officials inspected the pathway and sent out notices to Yosef and Gieta Metal of 1 Neva Court, Charles Zuckerman of 9 Quince Lane,
and 9 Quince LLC, which owns the Quince Lane home. "We demanded that they contact us and arrange to remove it to restore the property,"
Town Attorney Michael Klein said, adding that when town officials inspected, they saw electrical wiring for pathway lighting connected to
one of the homes, indicating that the homeowners are responsible for the illegal walkway. "They never responded to our demands, so we
got the Town Board approval to commence a lawsuit against them." Complete Journal coverage here.

Ramapo considers synagogue firefighters say is illegal

January 21, 2015 "Tallman firefighters are opposing a congregation's request for variances for a synagogue at 66 Highview Road.
Fire officials wrote that the congregation received a building permit in 2010 for a "one-story addition to an existing one-family house"
for use as a family room. Instead, they contend, the congregation built a 2 1/2-story addition that is too large for the property and does
not conform with the town zoning code.
Congregation Khal Bais Usher is scheduled to make its case for the 14 variances on Thursday night
before the Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Ramapo Building Department has issued the congregation violation summonses, including
having a house of worship without a certificate of occupancy, failing to file site plans and other issues such as lacking a fire protection system.
Tallman Fire District officials want the addition demolished, contending the congregation built the structure under false pretenses and without
proper permissions. They've also asked the Town Board in a letter to seek a state Supreme Court injunction barring any more work on the
property." Read the Journal story here.

Read the full text of the petition against Mayor Demeza Delhomme here

Lawsuit seeks to remove Spring Valley mayor from office

January 19, 2015 "Three village residents are suing Mayor Demeza Delhomme for alleged misconduct and malfeasance in an attempt
to remove him from office. Court papers filed with the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division in Brooklyn on Friday spell out numerous
allegations against Delhomme, whose tenure as mayor since December 2013 has been filled with confusion and conflict. The claims include
religious discrimination, personal use of village funds and harassment of village officials. Local elected officials in New York can't be removed
by a recall election as state law doesn't have a provision to do so. Under the state Public Officers Law , however, citizens can petition the
court to remove officials for "misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance or malversation in office." Complete Journal story here.

E. Ramapo parents challenge 2nd Hillcrest sale

January 15, 2015 "Parent activists are calling on the state education commissioner to cancel the sale of an East Ramapo school
building to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish congregation and remove all nine members of the Board of Education. A new petition from
Betty Carmand and Steve White says the school board secretly orchestrated a raw deal for the public last year by
selling the Hillcrest Elementary School
for $4.9 million, allegedly millions of dollars less than its fair market value." Read the complete Journal News story here.

Letter: Meyers, Day do their jobs

January 10, 2015 For many years Rockland was run by "two men in the room": Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and
County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger. Joe Meyers was a thorn in their side. He was a strong independent voice. He was joined
by then-Legislator Ed Day in mutual objection to Rockland County budgets. (More)

Spring Valley mayor urges more inspectors after fires

January 4, 2015 "Following multiple fires and complaints of numerous housing violations, Mayor Demeza Delhomme said Sunday
he wants more village fire and building inspectors in order to ensure safe housing and combat illegal conversions and schools. Delhomme,
a first-term mayor and longtime trustee, said he will ask the Spring Valley Board of Trustees to hire four more part-time fire inspectors
and fill 10 positions in the building department.
Ramapo and Spring Valley, a 2 1/2-square-mile village, have been under scrutiny over
building and fire code enforcement. The state codes bureau has inspected properties with multiple violations in both municipalities at
the insistence of local firefighters and Rockland Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren Jr. The state has yet to take action after months of work.
suspicious fire destroyed a 2 1/2-story house Thursday with an illegal yeshiva dormitory on East Funston Drive. The fire started on the back
porch, and the building lacked a certificate of occupancy and was littered with electrical violations, village officials said.
Eight families
including children and a newborn were left homeless when flames destroyed a house at 35 Johnson St. on Saturday morning. Inspectors
and firefighters found the house had been illegally divided into rooms and lacked working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors." Read
the complete Journal coverage here.

Spring Valley fire destroys yeshiva dorm

January 4, 2015 "A Spring Valley yeshiva dormitory that was destroyed by a suspicious fire did not have a certificate
of occupancy and had been cited for violations, officials said Friday. The dorm at 2 East Funston Drive belongs to Yeshiva
of Rockland, which operates a religious school for teens and young men in trailers on the same property. There were about
25 beds in the yeshiva.
An earlier inspection had found mattresses in the attic, according to Gordon Wren Jr., the county's
fire and emergency services coordinator and member of a task force on illegal and unsafe housing in Rockland." Complete
story with photos here on LoHud.


Ramapo’s Secret Santa

December 24, 2014 Most towns don’t have a secret Santa. Unfortunately, here in Ramapo
we do. Actually, he’s more of an anti-Santa, one that has low regard for the law and no
concern for the children as they’re too young to vote. Elsewhere people get St. Nicholas,
and here we get St. Lawrence. (More)


East Ramapo debt rating takes new hit
December 24, 2014 "Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the East Ramapo school district's debt rating one notch,
asserting that its persistent budget deficit and frequent reliance on short-term tax anticipation notes to stay afloat have
resulted in financial deterioration since May 2013, its last downgrade.
The district's overall outlook remains negative,
while the rating of its $14.6 million in general obligation bonds dropped from Baa1 to Baa2, the agency said in the report
issued late Monday. A Baa2 rating indicates a mid-range "average creditworthiness," according to Moody's. It is the
second-lowest investment-grade rating, two steps higher than junk status. Analysts cited rising costs for special education
and transportation — which make up 30 percent and 11 percent of this year's budget, respectively — as key reasons
they expect the district will continue to struggle." Read the entire Journal story here.

E. Ramapo in court again on special-ed placements

December 22, 2014 “East Ramapo officials are taking the state Education Department to court — again — to continue
their battle against what the state says is repeated noncompliance with a law that requires disabled students to be
educated in the most mainstream setting available. The school board has agreed to pay attorney David Butler and
his associates at their regular rate, $650 to $450 per hour, to initiate an appeal of the education officials' recent
determination that the district "needs intervention" to satisfy requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA).
Education officials have cited the district for violating the law multiple times since 2010 and
withheld funding as a result. That this practice by the majority Orthodox school board has helped decimate the public
schools' budget is a key allegation in an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit filed by hundreds of East Ramapo parents.
For the complete Journal News coverage click here.

State Aid Formula Said to Hurt in a District Where Most Go to Yeshivas

December 15, 2015  The New York Times "A monitor chosen by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently accused the
East Ramapo school board in Rockland County, which is dominated by Orthodox Jews who send their children to
private yeshivas, of systematically starving the public schools in favor of the yeshivas. The school board fired back,
saying it was the state that was starving the district, effectively forcing a cut of 200 teachers, a reduction from full-day
to half-day kindergarten and a shrinking of sports and other extracurricular activities." (More)

Civil Rights and the East Ramapo School Board

December 10, 2014 “People constantly confuse ‘direct democracy’ with ‘representative democracy’. The United States
is a Republic – it is governed by the rule of law. Those elected are bound by oath to written, governing limits yet vote
together in a democratic way to address the concerns of ALL those they represent. County Legislator Wieder is
apparently confused about the difference between a ‘Democracy’ and a Republic’.” Read the complete post on
the Rockland Voice here.

Bruce Levine's Response to Aron Wieder's Comments on Civil Rights in East Ramapo (here)

Robert Rhodes' Comments on the Public Relations Officer in East Ramapo (here)

Yehuda Weissmandl’s Letter to Cuomo—Deceptive, Occasionally Delusional,
and Likely Ghostwritten

December 5, 2014  The State’s fiscal monitor, Hank Greenberg, had delivered his report on the deplorable
conditions in the East Ramapo School District laying much of the blame right at the door of the Board of
Education (the door was closed—they were in Executive Session). What followed was a curious response
sent to Governor Cuomo, purportedly written by the Board President Yehuda Weissmandl. In the letter, Weissmandl tap-danced
between a “Who me?” defensive stance, an almost conciliatory “Special Monitor? We’ll think about it,” all the while humming
a refrain from the Everly Brothers “Don’t Blame Me.” (More)

Back-Door School Vouchers: What Money and Block Voting Buy

Posted: 11/24/2014 "Multiple-choice quiz for groups and people who either endorsed or voted to reelect Andrew Cuomo.

What is Andrew Cuomo's top legislative priority now that he has been reelected Governor of New York State?
A. Healing racial and ethnic divisions
B. Better public schools
C. Protecting the environment
D. Repairing crumbling bridges and roads
E. Economic growth and jobs
F. All of the above
G. None of the above

If you followed Cuomo's campaign ads, you might pick anything from A to F, but the correct answer is "G. None of the above."
Toward the end of the campaign, in a series of targeted, lightly publicized meetings, Cuomo's top legislative priority emerged.
It is rewarding campaign donors and block voting by religious communities with a back-door school vouchers plan for private
and religious schools." (More)

State: E. Ramapo board may be on hook for legal fees

December 2, 2014 "Current and former East Ramapo school board members could one day be made to return some of
the millions of dollars in lawyers' fees the district has spent on their defense, pending the outcome of an ongoing lawsuit,
the state's education commissioner says. In a 21-page decision issued Friday, Commissioner John King upheld part of a petition
filed more than two years ago by East Ramapo parent activists Steve White and Betty Carmand.
The two Spring Valley residents
had challenged the school board's 2012 decisions to hire defense counsel and "unconditionally indemnify" the legal costs for more
than 12 district officials named as defendants in three different actions, including a parent-driven federal civil rights lawsuit and a
state attorney general's investigation — both of which are ongoing." Complete Journal News story here.

Ed Day blasts proposed Ramapo zone change

November 30, 2014 "Opponents of a proposed zone change that could accommodate more than 200 apartments near the
Clarkstown border have been joined by Rockland County Executive Ed Day, who denounced the change as "inappropriate"
following the county Planning Department's review. But Ryan Karben, an attorney representing one of the developers seeking
the zone change, said the same review recognized the need for housing in the area.The 28-acre site, called Pascack Ridge,
sits between Spring Valley and Nanuet along North Pascack Road. It's currently zoned medium-density residential allowing about
three homes per acre. Two of the site's property owners — Alex Goldberger and Charles Collishaw — are seeking to change the
zone to multifamily residential, allowing 12 units per acre. The Rockland County Planning Department recently issued its findings,
disapproving the proposed change." Read the complete Journal News story here.

State sets training deadlines for East Ramapo leaders

State will require diversity, open meetings law training for school board by winter

November 26, 2014 "State education officials aren't waiting for the Legislature to draft an East Ramapo schools oversight
bill to propel district leaders to start cleaning up their act. State Education Commissioner John King on Wednesday directed
the nine-member East Ramapo Board of Education and Superintendent Joel Klein to undergo
diversity training and complete
a course on the state Open Meetings Law within the next two months.The training sessions should be completed by Jan. 15
and Feb. 13, respectively, King said
in a letter to board President Yehuda Weissmandl. Board members and the superintendent
must provide signed certifications that they completed the training. A
state fiscal monitor recommended last week that a
government appointee be authorized to oversee — and potentially veto — school board decisions. The monitor, Hank Greenberg,
also urged more funding for the district and the diversity and meeting-law training." Complete story here.

East Ramapo legal costs 'absurd,' monitor says

November 25, 2014 "State fiscal monitor Hank Greenberg gave authoritative backing last week to the critics who've long
complained that the East Ramapo school district's high-priced — and often combative — lawyers are an affront to the district's
taxpayers. In
a report issued to the state Board of Regents last week, the former federal prosecutor said that, "in the face of
fiscal crisis," the district paid $7.3 million to 13 law firms between 2008 and June 2014. Legal spending rose from $383,071 in
2008-09 to $2.94 million last year, an increase of 668 percent, the report states.
"The kindest thing I can say is it's absurd,"
Greenberg said." Complete Journal News story here.

East Ramapo sells Hillcrest for use as yeshiva again

November 25, 2014 "It's the second time in about four years the property has been sold to Avir Yakov by the district, where
Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who send their children to private schools have dominated the school board
since 2005. The first
sale, in 2010,
was annulled by the state education commissioner after parents challenged the transaction, calling it a sweetheart
deal for the religious community. The school board's appraiser later
pleaded guilty to a fraud-related misdemeanor. The state
Attorney General's Office charged the appraiser as part of an ongoing investigation into the contentious sales and leases of Hillcrest
Colton elementary schools to yeshivas. Avi Vardi was accused of taking a $5,000 bribe from Avir Yakov to falsify his appraisal.
School officials haven't been charged with wrongdoing related to the deal. Allegations they were involved with the theft of public
school property to benefit the ultra-Orthodox communities are part of an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit filed by hundreds of
East Ramapo residents." Read the complete Jouran coverage here.

Crafting East Ramapo 'watchdog' bill no easy feat

November 23, 2014 "Early support is building for state oversight of the East Ramapo school district, but pressure is on Rockland
County's legislative delegation to craft a plan that New York's most inscrutable politicians will get behind. Or at least that they
won't oppose. All eyes are on state Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and state Sen. David Carlucci, Democrats
who represent portions of East Ramapo. The three met Friday and plan to huddle the week after Thanksgiving with state Education
Department officials to begin drafting a bill that would give life to fiscal monitor Hank Greenberg's vision for mending the fractured school district.
"We have to have an intelligent, strong piece of legislation that reflects much of what Mr. Greenberg suggested," Jaffee said. Greenberg has
received widespread praise — and some criticism — for addressing in plain terms the extreme distrust that plagues East Ramapo, where Hasidic
and ultra-Orthodox Jews who send their children to private schools have dominated the school board since 2005." Complete Journal story here.

Racism in East Ramapo, New York: It's Time to March

November 21, 2044  The Huffington Post "I do not make accusations of racism lightly. I am not talking about personal biases.
I am talking about institutional practices that appear to be condoned at the highest level in New York State government. Read
the post; look at the evidence. It will be hard to disagree." (More)

East Ramapo covered on Brian LehrerEast Ramapo is covered again on the Brian Lehrer show.
In the aftermath of Hank Greenberg's report. Chancellor Tish from the NYS Board of Regents
is a guest on Brian Lehrer’s show.   Youtube.com



East Ramapo School Board Is Criticized by New York State Monitor

NOV. 17, 2014   The New York Times "A monitor appointed by the state to investigate the
East Ramapo School District in Rockland County delivered a sharply critical report on Monday,
saying the board had shown favoritism to the Orthodox Jewish students who attend private
schools in the district and calling on the Legislature to give the district additional money while
overhauling its governance. The monitor,
Hank Greenberg, stopped short of calling for a state
takeover of the district. Instead, he proposed that the Legislature pass a law appointing a fiscal monitor with the power to overrule the school board’s
and the superintendent’s decisions." Read the full story on the New York Times online here.

State Calls for East Ramapo Watchdog

Schools need long-term entitiy with veto power over board decisions

November 17, 2014 "The state-appointed fiscal monitor of the East Ramapo school district wants a legislative intervention that would
give an appointee veto power over the board's "bad decisions." If enacted, the Board of Regents-backed proposal by the monitor, attorney
Hank Greenberg, would be the most dramatic intervention in a school district by New York state in more than a decade. He said the new
monitor would be tasked with intervening to prevent bad decisions like the wiping out of the district's reserve fund and spending millions
of dollars on an out-of-town law firm. "They have utterly, recklessly depleted those reserves and now I believe the district teeters on the
precipice of fiscal disaster," he told reporters. Greenberg also slammed the school board for its habit of discussing public matters behind
closed doors — what he said were regular violations of the open meetings law. But he also stressed unity and called on community leaders
and clergy to talk to one another." Read the complete Journal News story here. 

Orange & Rockland seeks $34-a-month rate hike

November 15, 2014 "Rockland customers would see their electric and natural gas bills increase by an average of more than $34 per month
next year under a rate hike requested Friday by Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc.The company filed its request to charge more to deliver
electricity and natural gas with the state Public Service Commission, which oversees most utilities in New York and would have to approve
the hike.Under the plan, which would take effect Nov. 1, 2015, ratepayers ould see their monthly electric bill increase by about 6 percent,
or $8.13 per month, to $143.99, according to O&R. The figure is for a residential customer using an average of 677 kilowatts of electricity per
Ratepayers would see their monthly gas bills increase by about 19.1 percent, or $26.18 per month, to $163.38, the company said. The
figure is for a residential customers using 100 cubic feet of natural gas per month." Complete Journal News story here.


United Water's Hudson plant, surcharge request denied