Timelines 1/26/17

Briarcliff Manor Woman Arrested for Pound of Meth

On Tuesday Jan. 24, Westport, Connecticut, police arrested a Briarcliff Manor woman after finding meth in her car. Noura Yousef, 26, was found passed out behind the wheel of a reported disabled vehicle according to police. The car was found near Post Road East and Compo Road. Yousef seemed disoriented and possibly under the influence. An investigation led to police finding methamphetamine and several glass pipes. Yousef was charged with Sale of a Controlled Substance, Operating Under the Influence of Drugs/Alcohol, Failure to Drive in Proper Lane and Failure to Carry a License. She is being held on $26,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

Man Found in Viola Park Identified by News 12

News 12 revealed the identity of a man found fatally shot from a self-inflicted gunshot in the woods last week. Although Ramapo Police wouldn’t confirm the identity, News 12 claims the victim is father of eight, Aron Austerlits. The details given to News 12 from sources matched information provided by the police. Austerlits, whose body was found in Viola Park in Monsey, lived in the ultra-orthodox village of New Square until he, and firebombing victim Aron Rottenberg were banished by religious leaders.

DNC to Rethink White Privilege Actions

Some of the candidates running for Democratic National Committee chair have continued to vocally support party identity politics following Trump’s win. Sally Boynton Brown, Idaho Democratic Party executive director, explained her duty as a white person is to get other white people to shut up. Boynton Brown said “my job is to listen and be a voice, and my job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt,” at the Democracy in Color forum in Washington D.C. The forum focused on Trump-era race relations, supporting Black Lives Matter and moving the DNC toward a more activist approach.

Orange County to Require Tobacco Buyers to be 21

Cigarette smokers will have to be at least 21-years-old to purchase tobacco products in Orange County beginning in June. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus is expected to sign a new local law changing the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, an action that is supported by the American Lung Association, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. The only opposition the law has faced comes from local gas stations and minimarts.

County Auctions Vacant Buildings

Rockland County finally collected on vacant properties whose property tax value was approximately $1 million. An auction consisting of 31 properties on Thursday Jan. 19 brought in $1.7 million. Around 65 potential bidders showed up at the county office building to purchase buildings in Rockland. Most of the buildings on the auction block were vacant and zoned for residential use. The highest offer was for a two-story vacant building at 49 W. Broad St. in Haverstraw for $680,000. By the end of the night 15 properties were sold, 16 did not sell with nine of those located in Sloatsburg.

1920s Nyack Estate on the Market

A 1920s era estate in Upper Nyack known as Shadowcliff is on the market for $2.4 million. The 20-bedroom neo-classical estate was originally built almost a century ago for a concert pianist. In 1921 Shadowcliff was built for Eleanor Manville Ford, following her death in 1949 the home was sold to Colonel Charles A. Meyer. The Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international peace and justice organization, has resided there since 1957 but due to downsizing no longer needs the space. According to a listing the 16,000 square-foot brick house, “recalls Gatsby-era style and grandeur” with a library, sun room and commercial sized kitchen with a lawn looking out onto the river.

CIA Files Released

In mid-January the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released almost 13 million pages of declassified files online. These files were previously only available on a handful of computers at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Some of the information released included information about Nazi war crimes, the Cuban Missile Crisis, UFO sightings, human telepathy (“Project Stargate”) and more. In 2014 MuckRock, a nonprofit journalism organization, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit pushing the CIA to post documents online. When the agency said it would take up to six years to scan and upload everything, a journalist Mike Best crowd-funded more than $15,000 to visit the archives and scan them himself. The “Project Stargate” documents showed records of testing on celebrity psychic Uri Geller in 1973.

Day and Legislature Release Statements About County Nonprofit Funding for 2017

Recent press releases from the County Executive’s office and Rockland County Legislature showed two sides of the one situation: county funding for nonprofit organizations.

County Executive Ed Day’s press release claimed the agencies are valued for their work, and it is unfair for their funding to be prevented by legislator actions. The agencies will be funded for the first half of 2017 with funding the legislature would otherwise use to lower the county’s deficit. Day said additional funding will come from the Sain building, and “once we sell the Sain building we will be able to fund these nonprofits for the rest of the fiscal year and foreseeable future.” Day’s press release explained republican legislator attempts to fund the agencies by overriding the tax cap was blocked by the legislature’s democratic majority. With a commitment from Day’s administration to fund the nonprofits, the Legislature agreed to move forward with the Sain building sale.

The press release from the legislature included a comment from Rockland County Legislature Chairman Toney L. Earl (D-Hillcrest) saying, “The agencies shouldn’t be used as pawns – sell the Sain or we cut off all money to the organizations. That just doesn’t work.” This press release explained Day did not act on a funding resolution adopted by the Legislature on Dec. 28. The Legislature explained the funding comes from two contingency accounts that went unspent in 2016. Legislator Harriet Cornell (D-West Nyack) said the agencies provide local jobs and act as an “economic engine” for the county. Legislator Ilan Schoenberger (D-Wesley Hills) believes the two matters, nonprofit funding and the Sain building sale, should be considered two separate issues.

Both press releases explained money will be used to fund more than 30 organizations using approximately $675,000 of alternative funding identified by the legislature. The primary difference between the two is whether or not the Sain building sale moving forward is being used as leverage for the nonprofit funding.

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