Pacquiao vs. Mayweather confirmed for May 2

The long-awaited pair-up between boxing’s two greatest current fighters was announced last week after May 2 was confirmed for a historic super-fight between five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.

Fans, commentators, fighters, and other personalities in the sport pleaded for the fight to unify the welterweight division, but internal politics between rival promoters with Pacquiao’s Top Rank Productions and Mayweather’s Golden Boy Productions and contractual disagreements locked the deal at a standstill for years. Since negotiations broke down in 2010 over drug-testing stipulations for Pacquiao’s camp, talks have been start-and-stop until public demand and the potential for massive profits came to a head.

Among the terms of the contract are a 60 percent cut of the profits for Mayweather’s camp and a 40 percent cut for Pacquiao. The fight, which will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, has the potential to break Pay Per View records and stands to make the most money of any event in boxing history.

The fight was also complicated by issues in both fighters’ careers in 2012, including Pacquiao’s highly controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley, a dramatic knockout the Filipino superstar endured at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez and Mayweather’s 87-day jail sentence for domestic abuse.


Federal Appeals Court hands victory to Westchester in HUD fight

Westchester managed to secure a win in its affordable housing conflict when a Federal Appeals Court rejected a claim by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that their decision to penalize the county is not subject to court scrutiny.

The county had been locked in a conflict with HUD over $7 million in Community Development Block Grants which were withheld in 2011 as a penalty for Westchester’s refusal to meet the Department’s affordable housing stipulations. According to Westchester officials, HUD had changed the terms of a previous agreement to allow 750 affordable housing units.

In response, Westchester filed suit against HUD for violations of both the contract and home rule provisions in the State Constitution. The Department fired back with the claim that its decisions were not subject to court review, but the court decided federal statutory law does allow such suits to proceed.

“The agency’s adoption of regulations that might appear to give the agency unfettered discretion does not act to nullify the meaningful standards which exist in the statue,” The decision read.

In spite of the victory, litigation might not proceed to a final court decision. County Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz argued the win is an opportunity to sit down with HUD and negotiate a mutually-agreeable end to the disagreement.

State lawmakers call for Cuomo’s inclusion in public disclosure reforms

Sources in Albany have indicated State Legislators might be willing to move forward with awaited ethics reforms related to public disclosures of outside income, but are also eager to include Governor Andrew Cuomo among the affected officials.

Speaking to the New York Daily News, unnamed legislators from both the Republican and Democratic camps said they would consider required public disclosure of outside funds by the governor, including paid speaking engagements. Other suggestions included disclosure of guests at Cuomo’s residences and even disclosure of the income, investments and financial information of Cuomo’s long-time girlfriend and celebrity chef Sandra Lee.

Cuomo has been under fire since allegations surfaced that he had blocked Moreland Commission investigations into high-level corruption before ultimately disbanding the group after only a few months. A federal probe into the Moreland Commission’s disbandment and the indictment of former Assembly Speaker and Cuomo ally Sheldon Silver-both conducted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara-has added to the atmosphere of suspicion surrounding the governor.

At the same time, Cuomo has poised himself as a reform advocate. He has vowed to veto an impending state budget agreement unless it contains ethics reform affecting legislators, including full disclosure of outside income, pension forfeiture for officials convicted of felonies and new restrictions on campaign funds, campaign financing and lawmaker expense accounts.


Gang of ATM thieves still eluding capture after a year

The NYPD is having difficulty with a gang of thieves who have been pulling off strings of bold ATM robberies but always manage to escape arrest.

The gang has already made a staggering 73 thefts in every borough except Staten Island, pulling the doors off the machines with crowbars and chained cars and positioning stolen cars to block police access to the scene. The individual thefts, some of which occurred in broad daylight with onlookers present, have netted anywhere from $1,300 to $15,000.

The thieves have not been picky, either. Since they began in November 2013, targeted locations have included laundromats, bodegas, pizzerias, gas stations and restaurants. In one instance, they embarrassed police by robbing a restaurant on Ninth Avenue and West 36nd Street which sat just around the corner from a police station.

NYPD brass have reportedly criticized detectives for their failure to catch the gang. At the same time, police stated they do have several strong leads in the case.

Man injured, bookstore damaged in Upper Grandview fire

An elderly man from Upper Grandview was injured on Friday when his home and bookstore were rendered uninhabitable by a serious fire which gave firefighters no shortage of problems.

Fire personnel responded to a call at the Route 9W property on Friday, where they found a bookstore owned and operated by Fred Rooselot, 82, in flames. The building contained an estimated 30,000 books, many of which were very old and susceptible to fire.

When first responders arrived, Rooselot ran into the house to retrieve personal belongings. Firefighters rescued him, but not before the store-owner suffered minor burns. After he was retrieved, Rooselot was taken to Nyack Hospital and later released.

From the beginning, the cold and low water pressure hampered the effort. Firefighters from several local departments were also forced to work in a tightly-packed space inside the house, often using a path with a breadth of only 36 inches to fight dense flames fed by the books. The fire rekindled on Saturday, but eventually died down.

The Red Cross has assisted Rooselot with temporary housing arrangements. In addition, Rooselot’s next door neighbor has created a FundRazr page to support his recovery. Donations can be made at: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6wjd6


Thousands doled out to unofficial Spring Valley “deputies”

The discovery of several “deputy” positions with the Village of Spring Valley, some with little necessity, has sparked talk of how to reform finances in the financially-troubled village by cutting waste.

The unofficial positions, many of which were accompanied by thousands of dollars in stipends, were spotted by the County’s Department of Personnel and brought to the attention of the village in 2012. Anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 could be included, amounts which were tacked onto preexisting salaries or stipends for deputy positions for which there was no matching senior position.

According to Village Treasurer Kuruvilla Cherian, the payments began in 1999 and has continued to authorize them under mayoral instructions. He added the stipends were often added to cover additional responsibilities.

Mayor Demeza Delhomme stated he only became aware of the issue in 2013 and suggested the funds might have functioned as raises outside of existing labor contracts.

Authorities regain control of Texas prison after riot over poor conditions

Texas authorities have regained control of a prison in Raymondville after a riot on Friday which caused significant property damage but no deaths.

The incident began on Friday when inmates used pipes as weapons to seize partial control of the Willacy County Correctional Center, a “Criminal Alien Requirement” (CAR) facility composed of a network of large tents privately operated by Utah-based. Management & Training Corp.

During the riot, the prisoners damaged plumbing, heating and cooling systems. By the time authorities regained control on Saturday, utilities were so seriously damaged that the facility was subsequently declared uninhabitable and all of its 2,800 inmates were transferred to other correctional centers.

Inmates reportedly rioted to draw attention to poor living conditions at the prison. The facility, which largely housed immigrants who had entered the country illegally, had been the subject of a 2014 American Civil Liberties Union report which pointed to substandard medical care and sanitation.

Issa Arnita, a spokesman with Management & Training Corp. has denied accusations of poor conditions at the prison.


Falling ice chunk injures TZB driver

A 23-year old man was injured on the Tappan Zee Bridge on Monday when a chunk of ice fell off a truck and crashed through his windshield.

Frank Kopicki was driving his Subaru behind an 18-wheeler at around 11:30 a.m. when a sheet of ice about a foot thick fell off the top, went through his windshield and struck him in the head. Kopicki said the ice cut a 2-inch gash which bled profusely, forcing him to grab whatever was nearby to apply pressure.

Fortunately, Kopicki was able to pull over to the side of the road on the bridge, where other drivers stopped to attend to him. The 18-wheeler continued on its route, apparently unaware that ice on the top of the vehicle had caused an injury.


Orangetown man severely injured in Route 9W crash

An Orangetown man was critically injured Monday night when a head-on collision with a snow plow on Route 9W crushed his car and severed one of his feet.

Clarkstown Police identified Felipe Portillo, 35, as the driver of the car which collided with the plow at around 7:20 on Wednesday by the rock cut where 9W meets 304. According to them, Portillo was trapped for over an hour while Congers firefighters and EMS worked to free him from his crumpled 2009 Toyota Corolla.

Portillo’s left leg had been partly severed in the crash. At one point, Portillo’s trapped right foot became an impediment to his extrication from the car and it was believed a field amputation might be necessary to save his life. Though a surgeon arrived at the scene in case the operation was necessary, emergency crews were able to free him without the procedure.

After he was removed from the wreckage, Portillo was taken to Nyack Hospital, where he was stabilized before being airlifted to Westchester Medical Center. He remains in critical condition in Westchester’s intensive care unit.

The driver of the snowplow, Burl Scott Page, 37, was not injured in the accident. An investigation into the circumstances of the crash has almost been completed.

Former SS medic charged for Auschwitz war crimes

An unnamed 94-year-old man has been charged by German authorities with the accessory deaths of thousands of individuals who were exterminated at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, where he allegedly served as a medical officer with the SS.

The man, who ranked as a sergeant and assisted with the day-to-day administration of the camp, stands accused of aiding in the murders of 3,681 individuals during his month-long period of service from August 15 to September 14, 1944. Under German law, the man could face three to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

In recent years, German authorities have pressed for more prosecutions of Nazi war criminals, including several high-profile personalities who worked at the camp. Two other alleged guards at the camp have been charged this year as accessories in tens of thousands of murders perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews, gypsies, political prisoners, individuals with mental and physical handicaps and other targeted groups.

During its time as the largest and most notorious Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau received 1.1 million individuals who had been shipped to the camp for extermination.


Police investigate murder-suicide of retired White Plains cop

The murder of two teen girls by their father, a retired White Plains cop, on Saturday is currently under investigation by Westchester Police.

Glen Hochman, a 22-year veteran of the White Plains Police Department, shot his daughters Alissa, 17, and Deanna, 13, to death while they slept before killing three family dogs and turning the gun on himself. The tragedy was discovered when Alissa’s boyfriend visited the house, where he found Hochman dead in the family’s garage.

Hochman’s wife Anamarie DiPietro-Hochman and the family’s oldest daughter were away on an overnight trip to a casino and were unharmed.

It has been speculated marital troubles had led to the murders. Hochman and his wife had got into a verbal argument the night before, which led DiPietro-Hochman to report the incident to Harrison Police. However, she did not report threats of physical violence and did not pursue the matter legally.

The two had also discussed divorce for a time prior to the incident, but the case is unusual in that there was no record of domestic abuse or mental health issues in the Hochman household. A note left behind by Hochman instructed his wife on how to get her affairs in order and expressed a fear that his children would be taken away.


Bangladesh ferry crash kills 31 people

A collision between a passenger ferry and a cargo vessel on the Padma River in Central Bangladesh resulted in 31 deaths on Sunday.

The vessels crashed at the Daulatdia-Paturia river crossing, with the cargo ship striking the middle of the ferry and spilling 100 passengers into the water. Witnesses reported most of the deaths occurred among passengers who were trapped in the flooded inside of the ship, while those on the upper decks managed to escape.

Following the crash, rescue teams recruited passing boats to scour the area and pulled 31 bodies from the water. Since ferries in Bangladesh often do not maintain detailed passenger lists, it is unknown how many people were on the boat and who might have gone missing, but Inspector Zihad Mia, who headed the rescue operation, stated he believed many of the passengers survived.


Wal-Mart announces it will raise retail wages across the board

A fact sheet produced in April and released on Thursday revealed retail giant Wal-Mart plans to increase their starting wages well-above the federally-mandated $7.25 minimum.

The retail giant plans to bump starting wages up to $9 per hour this year. They will supplement that with an increase to $10 per hour in 2016. Meanwhile, some managers could see increases up to $13 per hour as of Summer 2015 and $15 per hour in early 2016.

Walmart’s employee pay has received significant media attention within the past few years, due largely to criticisms that the pay falls well below the poverty threshold and often forces full-time associates to rely on government benefits. Holiday season protests and strikes have raised public attention to the issue and generated some negative publicity for the company.


State Legislators call for repairs to Palisades Interstate Parkway

New York State Assembymen Ken Zebrowski and James Skoufis held a press conference on Monday to call for the New York State Department of Transportation to include Rockland’s stretch of the Palisades Interstate Parkway in its anticipated 2014-2018 Transportation Improvement Plan.

The legislators called attention to the need for repairs to the Parkway, especially in the area north of Exit 10 which crosses through North Clarkstown, Haverstraw and Stony Point before meandering into Harriman State Park in Orange County. Both Zebrowski and Skoufis added their signatures to a letter formally requesting the project be included as a DOT priority.

“A major rehabilitation to the northern section of the Palisades Interstate Parkway is a long over-due and necessary investment,” Zebrowski said at the event. “The PIP is one of the region’s most traveled roadways and these poor conditions and lack of improvements are unacceptable.”

Though the southern section of the Parkway in South Rockland and New Jersey sees frequent repairs, the northern section has not seen significant updates since PIP Phase 1 enhancements 15 years ago. Though the project was meant to be completed by now, budgetary issues have delayed subsequent repairs.


BOCES principal reassigned after accusations of abuse

The principal of Hilltop School has been reassigned to an administrative role after allegations of physically and verbally assaulting students spurred a lawsuit filed a fired aid.

Kimberly Taylor’s leadership came into question after an audio recording surfaced of a 2011 incident when she allegedly hauled a student up to the stage during an assembly and publicly berated him. A subsequent lawsuit from former aide Kenneth Egan accused her of regularly cursing out students, throwing them to the floor and physically restraining them.

As news of the incidents spread, Taylor had requested the assignment change for 2016. However, the transfer was expedited to prevent any further distraction among students or staff.

Taylor is now serving in an administrative role where she will not have regular interactions with students. She has been replaced by BOCES psychologist Christine Ditrano.

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