Timelines 5/23/13

Former Clarkstown Superintendent Removed from New Gig
(from wrcr.com) The former Clarkstown Schools Superintendent Margaret Keller-Cogan was removed from her current job after a protest by parents, faculty and staff. Nearly 250 parents signed a petition saying that they had lost confidence in her ability to lead the Buffalo-based Elmwood Franklin School. The parents and staff said they were angry because Keller-Cogan proposed a restructuring of the school and when some administrators protested, she allegedly had three of them fired setting an atmosphere of fear and intimidation at the school. Keller-Cogan left the Clarkstown School District in June where the majority of the Board of Education wanted her to leave but unlike the Elmwood Franklin School, the Clarkstown Community wanted her to continue leading. She left after the school board decided not to renew her contract. Keller-Cogan was with the Clarkstown School District for six years.

“Cookie the Cockatiel” Returned to Owner thanks to Facebook Page
A 2-year-old bird which flew away from its Stony Point home has been reunited with its owner after being rediscovered and posted on a Facebook page dedicated to lost pets. “Cookie,” a cockatiel owned by Justina Stein, 36 of Stony Point, went missing in late April. During this time, the bird made it across the Hudson and then back across to Goshen, a total of about 25 miles. The bird was found underweight but otherwise healthy in the bushes of a veterinary center and taken in for treatment. Almost immediately after, a notice was posted on the “Lost Pets of the Hudson Valley” Facebook page, after which Stein was notified of the find. The Facebook page was set up by Kingston shop owner Betty Potter in June 2012. Potter reported a high success rate, estimating that seventy five percent of posts end in the recovery of an animal.

ObamaCare & Sequestration Blamed for Layoffs
The Greater Hudson Valley Health System (GHVHS) has announced that it “has been forced” to immediately reduce its labor force, naming substantial reductions in reimbursement from the federal and state governments, as well as other decreases in revenue caused by healthcare reform, as the reason. Catskill Regional Medical Center will lay off the equivalent of 60 full-time positions. Orange Regional Medical Center will lay off the equivalent of 80 full-time positions.  At Catskill Regional, hospital officials claim revenue has declined due to government cuts and lower patient volume. The hospital is restructuring and downsizing management and non-nursing areas to reduce expense by $5 million annually. At Orange Regional, officials said expenses for employee wages and benefits, medical supplies and prescription drugs have increased by $12 million with no revenue increase expected due to these direct reimbursement cuts. Orange Regional intends to reduce costs by $12 million to make up this shortfall. Combined, staffing reductions are 5 percent of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System’s total workforce.

Angelina Jolie Undergoes Double Mastectomy
As a drastic measure to curb her high risk of developing breast cancer, famed actress Angelina Jolie garnered significant attention by undergoing a voluntary double mastectomy to remove both breasts. According to an op-ed Jolie wrote for the New York Times, she carries a faulty gene known as BRCA1, which increases her risk of breast cancer by 65 percent. Her doctor notified her that she herself was estimated to have an even greater, 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer. In response, Jolie decided to be “proactive” by having both her breasts removed and reconstructed with implants. She explained she was pleased with her resulting appearance and minimized her risk of cancer and wanted to go public to encourage other women to take an active role in prevention. “I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” Jolie said regarding the surgery.

Black Market Cigarette Ring Busted by Federal Law Enforcement
16 Palestinian men were indicted on a total of 244 enterprise corruption, money laundering and tax crimes for bypassing cigarette sales taxes and bilking the state of New York out of about $80 million in lost tax revenue. The year-long investigation, which spanned a series of eastern seaboard states including New York, New Jersey and Maryland, revealed over $55 million in illegal proceeds as of now. In addition, a massive store of 65,000 forged NYC/NYS cigarette tax stamps and almost 20,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes were seized as part of the joint OCTF-NYPD Investigation. The plan was allegedly orchestrated by brothers Basel and Samir Ramadan, who purchased the cigarettes wholesale from Cooper Booth Wholesale, Inc., a Virginia company, and sold them tax-free to Adel Abuzahrieh of Brooklyn for distribution to shops in the Tri-State area, Albany and Schenectady Counties. While nothing has been confirmed yet, investigators expressed worry that the scheme bore similarities to others which had been used to funnel money to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Khloe Kardashian in Hot Water for Stealing NY Logo
Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian faced criticism during her recent Hudson Valley visit for a shirt in her husband’s clothing line which sports a logo uncannily similar to that of a New York State agency. NBA star and Kardashian spouse Lamar Odom’s Rich Soil brand includes a shirt emblazoned with a round logo sporting the Statue of Liberty and an American flag. While seemingly general in its design, the Rich Soil logo is arranged in an uncannily similar fashion as the “Pride of New York” logo of the New York State Department of Agriculture. In response to Kardashian’s fashion choice, the Department of Agriculture’s general counsel Susan G. Rosenthal sent a letter to Rich Soil requesting they end the manufacturing, sale and advertising of shirts allegedly sporting the trademark. No legal action has been taken beyond the request.

New York Daily News Calls for Removal of Dems for Sexual Abuse
The New York Daily News came out with a strong op-ed calling for the State Assembly to remove and if possible prosecute Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Vito Lopez for harassment and assault against female staffers by Lopez and subsequent cover-ups by Silver. The op-ed alleges that instead of reporting Lopez’s behavior to the Assembly’s Ethics Committee, Silver used his position to engineer secret financial settlements to at least two women who reported sexual harassment. Lopez’s alleged transgressions involved groping, forcibly kissing and making inappropriate comments and suggestions regarding female staffers’ clothing. Among the incidents was one when Lopez arranged for one of the staffers to share a hotel room with him. The protection, the Daily News claims, reflects a pattern of ignoring and protecting sexual misconduct. Another incident involving Silver dealt with his chief counsel Michael Boxley, who was arrested in 2003 for sexually assaulting a staffer, charges which Silver stated he was confident would not be met with punishments. Boxley pled guilty to sexual misconduct and kept his job while the Assembly paid a $500,000 settlement to the victim.

Savage Kills British Soldier with Meat Cleavers and Machete in Southeast London
On Wednesday evening, Greenwich Mean Time, two black men attacked a white soldier near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, Southeast London. The two attackers first hit the soldier with their car, which subsequently crashed into a wall. They then proceeded to exit the vehicle and assault the man with meat cleavers and knives; according to witnesses, the soldier had no chance of fighting back and was killed almost immediately. The attackers dragged his body into the street and asked for their photos to be taken, giving speeches to the witnesses on the street. One of the men apologized for women having to witness the attack, and advised onlookers to ditch the government, bashing politicians and the British Prime Minister. When police arrived twenty minutes later, the two men attempted to assault the officers, but were shot. They were taken away via medical helicopters. Both the victim and the two suspects are believed to be in their 20s. The incident is being treated as a possible act of terrorism, one of the suspects shouting “Allahu Akbar” before their attempted assault on police. The suspects had a variety of weapons, including knives, a machete, and a small handgun.

Army Corps of Engineers Wants More Study on Patrick Farm Development
The Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to Ramapo Organized for Sustainability and a Safe Aquifer (ROSA) on May 16 explaining that further investigation is needed into the status of wetlands near the proposed Patrick Farm development. According to the letter, the Army Corps of Engineers might need to give a special permit for work in the area, which could contain federally-protected wetlands requiring alteration or cancellation of plans. The news is a blow to developers, who have faced lawsuits and investigation into the environmental impact of the project for years, stalling the controversial development. A wetlands jurisdiction determination is critical for the project, which must pass any and all environmental tests from the Army Corps before the Rockland County Sewer District will connect the development to the county’s sewer system.

Hofstra Mourns Shot Student at Graduation Ceremony
Hofstra’s graduation ceremony on May 19 was marked with both celebration and mourning as students and faculty honored the memory of student Andrea Rebello, who was shot to death on March 17. Students wore white pins and decorated their caps and gowns in memory of Rebello as speakers referenced her and balanced the tragedy of the recent loss with the honors being bestowed upon her fellow classmates. Rebello, a Tarrytown, NY resident, was killed during a home invasion at her Uniondale apartment. Repeat offender Dalton Smith was using Rebello as a human shield when a responding officer fired eight shots. The shots struck Smith seven times and Rebello once, killing both.

Rockland and Westchester Parks set to receive $13.2 million in Upgrades
According to a recent announcement, New York is set to receive $90 million in federal aid as part of the second round of aid for projects across the state. Included in the $90 million is about $13.2 million for parkland in the Hudson Valley. Included in the package are 14 project funds for locations across Rockland and Westchester, including pool bathhouse improvements at Bear Mountain and Rockland Lake and improvements to Harriman State Park, a combined value of almost $8 million. Other regions set to receive funding are the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, which will receive $7.9 million and $5.8 million, respectively.

Russia to Decommission World’s Largest Nuclear Subs
A defense industry source announced on May 19 that Russia was planning to scrap its two largest subs, the Severstal and the Arkhangelsk. According to the source, the two submarines, which date back to the 1980s, will be withdrawn for dismantling by the end of 2013. The subs are classified as Typhoon-class vessels specializing in ballistic missiles. Typhoon-class submarines have largely been replaced by Borey-class strategic submarines, which carry Russia’s new Bulava ballistic missiles. The Severstal and the Arkhangelsk will be the fourth and fifth Typhoon class subs to be scrapped out of six. The last one, Dmitry Donskoy, was modernized to carry Bulava missiles and remains in service.

Deadly Tornado Rips Through Oklahoma
A tornado struck central Oklahoma on Monday, devastating the town of Moore and leaving dozens dead. The tornado was estimated to be two miles wide with a wind speed of 166 to 200 mph. After the winds subsided, the confirmed death toll as of this article was placed at 24, including ten children. The 24 are out of a reported 51 deaths. Seven of the children appear to have died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. Emergency crews began to sift through the wreckage on Tuesday morning, but assessments have not yet determined the full extent of financial and human loss. President Obama has already pledged assistance to impacted Oklahomans and signed a federal disaster declaration for affected areas, while State Senator Tom Coburn explained he would demand any aid received would be balanced with matching cuts in the federal budget.

Religious Groups Among those who Claim Targeting by the IRS
After the revelation that IRS gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, a number of religious groups have come forward arguing they were the target of similarly unfair treatment. The groups included well-known organizations such as the Catholic League and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, but also lesser known groups such as the Freedom Federation law firm specializing in issues of religious liberty, the North Carolina-based Baptist news journal the Biblical Recorder, the Catholics United Education Fund, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson’s Family Talk Action and Samaritan’s Purse. Two organizations, Christian Voices for Life of Texas and the Coalition for Life of Iowa, focused on pro-life activism, while one organization, Z Street, is a conservative Jewish organization.

Ramapo Cops Charge Community for Overtime
Provident Bank Park was the site of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish rally about the dangers of the Internet to religion, and the organizers of that event will be paying $7,500 to the town of Ramapo for police protection provided at the stadium. The event took place on May 9 and officers worked a total of 92 hours in overtime to insure the safety of the 5,300 ultra-Orthodox Jewish participants. The organizers of the event were Congregation Khal Torath Chaim, of Monsey, and they paid $5,700 for use of the stadium. In using the stadium, the congregation agreed to be responsible for cleanup, parking, and security at the event. Topics of the rally included the dangers of pornography, Internet relationships, and news from the outside world. Those in charge of the event used social networking sites such as Twitter to spread the word about it. There were no incidents reported at the event.

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