TIMELINES, March 2, 2017

$18 Million Sale of Novartis Stalled Due to Lawsuit

The firm wanting to buy the vacant Novartis campus in Suffern for $18 million filed a lawsuit claiming the deal was hindered by the pharmaceutical company’s refusal of aggressive environmental testing. The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 10 in the state Supreme Court in New City to force the drugmaker to allow testing or return the firm’s $2.5 million deposit. The firm, RS Old Mill LLC, is located in Mahwah, New Jersey, and was formed to acquire the Suffern property. Novartis and RS Old Mill entered into a sales agreement on Nov. 28. This agreement contained a due-dillgence period for the buyer to perform inspections and “invasive” tests to check for environmental issues. The property used to be the home of tablet, capsule, vial and inhalation product production.


Marydell Property Acquired by Land Trust for NYS Parks

A $3.1 million agreement to buy 30 acres bordering Hook Mountain and keep the property underdeveloped has been reached. Friday, The Trust for Public Land announced the purchase of the property currently known as the Marydell Faith and Life Center. The Trust’s New York State Director had been communicating with the Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine since 1983 and believes the sisters had the opportunity to sell the property for a higher price but is glad preservation is at the heart of the deal. The sisters will retain about 10 acres and the retreat center and two residences on the property. A public celebration will be held on Earth Day, April 22, starting at 11 a.m. to celebrate the new addition to New York State parks.


Goldman Sentenced to Repay $30K in Tax Exemption

Judge David Zuckerman announced Tuesday that Jacob Goldman must pay Ramapo $30,623 he saved in an illegal tax exemption scheme involving a Spring Valley house that hosted a synagogue and two day-care centers. He may also face three years’ probation.

Along with Goldman, Spring Valley Building Inspector Walter Booker was also charged but Zuckerman earlier threw out the felony counts against Booker on the grounds that Booker’s actions did not meet the brink for grand larceny charges.

Goldman needed a two-family zoning designation for 9 Zeissner Lane so his family could operate the day care facilities. He also obtained a single-family house designation from Spring Valley to get a tax exemption for a rabbinical office on the first floor.

According to documents obtained by the Journal News, Rockland social services investigators raised questions about the legitimacy of the day care facilities long before the Goldman and Booker were charged.


Trump Receives Good Reviews on Speech to Congress

WASHINGTON DC – Donald Trump’s Speech to Congress last night received surprisingly good reviews not only from Republicans but from Democrats as well. Trump’s ideas for the economy, immigration, terrorism, crime and Obamacare were described by a majority of viewers as “presidential”, “unifying” and “inspiring”. According to CBS polls, an impressive 76 percent of viewers approved of this speech.

Other polls from CBS had 40 percent of Democrats approving of the speech and 18 percent strongly approved of it. About one-third of Democrats described Trump’s ideas as “specific” and “knowledgeable”.

There was a dramatic increase on the percentage of people who favored some of Trump’s polices. Before the speech, only 55 percent of speech watchers favored his polices on the Affordable Care Act. That percentage went up ten percent after the speech. Same applies for his policies on illegal immigration and the economy. Before the speech, 64 percent of the viewers favored his immigrant policies and only 67 percent favored his policies on the economy. Those numbers jumped to 70 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

“He had a sizeable number of Democrats who found something to latch onto in those kinds of policies,” said CBS News Election Director Anthony Salvanto. “That’s what helped give him the boost.”


Mix-up at the Oscars; Moonlights Wins Best Picture

LOS ANGELES- The Dolby Theater stage at the 2017 Oscars was bombarded by cast and crew members of “La La Land” when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the winner for best picture. The only problem was that “Moonlight” was the real winner.

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz was advised of the mistake and began his acceptance speech by saying “I’m sorry, there’s a mistake. “Moonlight,” you guys won best picture.”

Horowitz then flashed the card that read “Moonlight” and then their cast and crew made their way to the stage.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) takes full responsibility for the mistake. PwC managing partner Brain Cullinan gave Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope that was the back-up for Actress in a Leading Role. The Academy issued an apology to the entire cast and crew of “La La Land” and “Moonlight” for the mistake by stating “We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved –including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide –we apologize.”


Mardi Gras Parade Crashes

There were two Mardi Gras parade crashes over the past few days, injuring a total of 40 people. The first one occurred on Saturday in New Orleans and the second in Alabama on Tuesday. In New Orleans, a 25-year-old man was arrested after driving his pickup truck into the parade injuring 28 people. The driver, Neilson Rizzuto was highly intoxicated driving the truck. His BAC was at .232 at the time of the crash. He will face two charges of vehicular negligence, hit and run driving and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Of the 28 people, 21 of them, including one police officer, were taken to local hospitals. The other seven declined transport. 12 of the people initially hurt were listed as critically injured. A magistrate judge set Rizzuto’s bail at $125,000. 12 students ranging from ages 12-17 were injured in the Tuesday parade in Alabama when a Ford Exposition plowed into a marching band. Three of the students are in critical condition. Authorities believe the crash was not intentional. There were no drugs or alcohol involved in the crash.


David Wright to Sit Out Opening Day

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that David Wright is dealing with a right shoulder impingement and will not be ready for Opening Day. Jose Reyes will likely get the start at third base. Wright is not dealing with any structural damage to his shoulder and will not require surgery but the impingement will prevent him from throwing. “He’s not going to be throwing for a couple of weeks, probably not throwing with any real zip for a period after that,” Alderson told reporters.

Wright has been limited to just over 75 games over the past two seasons due to his multiple injuries. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a chronic back ailment, in 2015 and underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck last June. Alderson says the Mets are not concerned that the 34-year-old’s career could be over.


NY to End Child Marriage

On Feb. 28 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced legislation that would end child marriage in New York by raising the age of consent to marry from 14 to 18-years-old. This new legislation would charge anyone issuing a marriage license to anyone under 18 without parental and judicial written consent with a misdemeanor.

The current law allowing anyone between 14 and 18 to marry with written parental and judicial consent dates back to 1929. 3,800 minors were married between 2000 and 2010. The governor’s legislation would make it illegal for anyone under 17 to get married and requires written parental and judicial consent for anyone between the ages of 17 and 18. Guidelines will also be provided for judges to give consent, something the 1929 legislation lacks.


Trump Writes Executive Order for Women in STEM Careers

On Tuesday President Trump drafted an executive order aimed at encouraging women to enter the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) event. He called it “unfair” that so many women with degrees in these fields aren’t employed in them – noting that only one in four women with a STEM degree work in the field.

Trump’s Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act will change the way women look at STEM career issues and also wants to rack down on offshoring jobs. A second bill signed by the president, Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers and Innovators and Explorers Act, INSPIRE, directs NASA to encourage women in the STEM fields to pursue space science careers.


Dow Jones Closes at All Time High

On March 1 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 21000 milestone for the first time ever marking one of the fasted 1,000-point advances in the index’s history. Wall Street’s optimism stemmed from Trump’s address to a joint session of congress on Tuesday night. Top gainers included Apple, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, 3M, and Johnson&Johnson. Stocks were also pushed higher by expectations that the Federal Reserve will move ahead with another rate rise later this month.


New York Allows Gamblers to Ban Themselves from Betting

In February New York implemented a new policy to allow gamblers to ban themselves from casinos and racetracks. As New York increases its gaming options, the state Gaming Commission wants to help problem gamblers. The Responsible Play Partnership includes a system that kicks people out of casinos and racetracks with video lottery terminals if they put themselves on the list. People in the program can be arrested if they show up to bet, and the state wants to expend the program to include Native American-run casinos and collecting lottery winnings.


Local Annual Foundation Tournament Ends This Year

For 12 years March in Rockland County has been kicked off by the Mary Nagle Charitable Foundation Basketball Tournament. This multi-site competition usually brings out over 1,000 children grades three through eight to raise funds and play in a three-day tournament. The tournament began after Mary Nagel, 42, was murdered in 2005 by a deck worker in her New City home. Nagle was survived by her husband and two children. Her son was playing CYO basketball at St. Augustine’s at the time of her death. The boys coach, Brian Whitmore, came up with the idea of a basketball tournament to raise funds for the family. Two years later the funds started going to others who experienced difficulties and tragedies.

After 12 years of community support the last tip-off begins this weekend as many of the volunteers and organizers have moved on in their lives to other locations since their children are grown. Mary’s friends and family don’t want to keep a program going named after their loving friend and mother if the effort necessary cannot go into it.


Farmer Heads up Local CSA

Pearl Wetherall, 32, of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, is Rockland Farm Alliance’s farm manager. She oversees planning, planting and execution of the growing season at Cropsey Farm. The 25-acre farm features a CSA, community supported agriculture program, that sells shares of crops to people in advance. The National Park Service added the farm to the National Register of Historic Places which might lead to grants for restoration. Wetherall was homeschooled and learned carpentry at a young age while her mother taught her the importance of health and quality food. She worked on a farm in Vermont after her freshman year of college and became hooked. The CSA offers different levels of involvement ranging from buying shares of vegetables to volunteering at the farm to lower share costs. If the share program is too much, people can also purchase produce at the Nyack Farmers Market.

Palisades Company Changing the Face of TV

The Video Call Center (VCC) in Palisades is changing the game for television broadcasters. The company has taken the talk-radio format to the TV by bringing in live call-in audiences and upgraded technology that doesn’t require a control room. The programming can originate from any location and using patented technology callers are brought in from around the world to participate. It’s a new way to engage television audiences from anywhere and everywhere. VCC founder Tom Wolzien, who used to work at NBC and as a Wall Street analyst, believes the appeal for VCC comes from providing quality tv at low costs. In Palisades there is a 600-square-food studio with screens and a control panel, but no control room or staff directing a show. Instead there is a producer, call screener and host virtually controlling what’s live on air.

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