Thruway Announces Amnesty Program for Tolls by Mail 

Beginning Monday Jan. 22, the New York State Thruway will waive violation fees for the Toll by Mail cashless tolling if customers pay their outstanding balances on a dedicated website by Feb. 26, 2018. Fees will be waived once balances are entirely paid off. This program is only for fees incurred related to the new TZ Bridge. The website will allow customers to enter their license plate, state and zip code to look at violations and total amounts owed. Payment is accepted online with a credit card or by mail with a check or money order accompanied by a coupon available on the payment page. 

Early next month customers will receive letters in the mail with their total balances and instructions for payment. This program is open to customers with open violations from between April 24, 2016 and Jan. 31, 2018. It applies to customers who paid their bill in full but have unpaid violations or fees, those currently on payment plans, and those currently in registration suspension settlements or have been referred to the DMV for registration settlement. E-ZPass customers are not eligible. 

Senator David Carlucci, who has pushed Cuomo to act on the situation, had this to say: “This is a positive step by the Thruway Authority, however, there is much more to be done to protect toll payers. I look forward to passing the Toll Payer Protection Act to have a more comprehensive approach to protecting toll payers and making the system more efficient.”

Nassar Sentencing Continues

Larry Nassar, former sports medicine doctor for the USA Gymnastics team, faces further sentencing in Michigan as dozens of girls and women have come forward about his sexual abuse. Nassar, 60, already serving 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes, now faces between another 40 and 125 years after pleading guilty in November to molesting seven girls. A four-day sentencing hearing began Tuesday. Close to 100 of Nassar’s victims are expected to address the court. 

Nassar joined the USA Gymnastics team medical staff as an athletic trainer in 1986 and eventually became the team’s medical coordinator until 2015. Accusations date back to 1994 but action wasn’t taken against Nassar until an article appeared in The Indianapolis Star in September 2016. More than 140 girls and women have come forward about Nassar including Olympic Gold Medalists McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles.

Flake’s Compares Trump to Stalin

On Wednesday Jan. 17, Arizona lawmaker Republican Jeff Flake compared President Donald Trump to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in regard to his comments about fake news. Flake delivered a speech to a small crowd of two in the Senate comparing Trump’s words to Stalin. He cited a tweet in which Trump called five news outlets, “the enemy of the American people,” a phrase he said, “had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilation of such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.” Flake’s discontent with the Trump administration came across during his 15-minute speech. A White House briefing claims, “[Flake is] criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers. And he is…looking for attention.”

Spring Valley Village Justice Can’t Hear Cases 

Recently elected Spring Valley village justice Jacquelin Millien can’t hear criminal cases due to his own guilty plea to a charge last year. In an agreement with the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss multiple felony and misdemanor charges against him, Millien pled guilty to a criminal violation for false entries in a log book. The plea also forced him to resign his position. 

Lucian Chalfen, director of public information for the state Unified Court System, said, “Right now, it would be wholly inappropriate for him to hear criminal cases.” 

Millien was elected as a village justice in November must attend judge’s school. Non-attorneys are allowed to sit on town or village courts. 

Cuomo Budget Unveiled 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $168 billion budget on Tuesday Jan. 16, which includes millions in new taxes and fees and a possible new payroll tax. Public schools will see a three percent increase while the State University system will only see a one percent bump in funding. Cuomo also wants to create a task force to look at the practicality of legalizing marijuana. 

To increase revenue he called for extending the state sales tax onto transactions made on internet sites including Amazon and surcharging opioid manufacturing. The state wants to prevent New York workers from being “double taxed” with the new payroll tax, but Cuomo’s aides are still working on a plan and waiting on more details from the state and federal government. 

He wants to end cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent offenders, decrease the use of solitary confinement and push for a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual harassment. The budget currently calls for no state layoffs.  

Rockland DWI Driver was unable to recall What Happened, Police Say

According to Port Authority police, a DWI driver from Pearl River couldn’t remember what happened after crashing his near the George Washington Bridge at 5 a.m. Sunday Jan. 14. 

Officer Ed Berdecia found Nicholas D. Moy in the driver’s seat of his wrecked vehicle with the engine running and headlights on moments after running into a concrete barrier, authority’s Joseph Pentangelo said.

“His eyes were bloodshot and he could not recall details of the collision,” Pentangelo said. “When asked for his paperwork, he could not provide proof of insurance.” 

After being taken into custody, Moy registered more than .12 percent on a breathalyzer test, nearly twice the legal limit, Pentangelo said. 

He was released to a responsible adult and is pending a hearing on charges of DWI, careless driving, failing to observe a sign and driving an uninsured vehicle, which Pentangleo indicated was impounded. 

Petition to Remove Cuomo Name from Tappan Zee Bridge tops 100K signatures. 

[From the Daily Voice]

The vocal outcry against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s naming of the new Tappan Zee, Mario M. Cuomo Bridge has been heard loudly and often, including the change.org petition started by Port Chester resident Monroe Mann, which has garnered more than 105,000 signatures since it was started in November. 

The Petition calls for the bridge to be returned to its original name, the Tappan Zee, and claims that the bridge is a big part of the area’s history. 

In a Daily Voice poll that saw more than 15,000 votes cast, 11,790 said that the bridge should not be named after Cuomo, and 3,819 said it should not be named after any one person, while 1,214 supported the current name of the bridge.

The bill to rename the bridge after the elder Cuomo was first introduced after a long legislative session by a Suffolk County state senator and immediately was criticized by both residents and politicians. In a statement, the organization Reclaim New York lambasted the naming proposal, calling it “absurd.”

“Since citizens are paying for the bridge, they should get to decide what it’s called.”

According to Daily Voice, Cuomo called the change.org petition “vindictive,” “hurtful,” and “mean,” citing “ugly political times.” 

“The bill passed overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans,” Cuomo’s said. “Something like 90 percent. And that’s heartwarming because those are people who knew my father, those are people who worked with my father, and they’re not hyper-partisans who are part of this campaign.” 

“It’s a brand-new bridge. It deserved a new name. When you build something new, you normally give it a new name.”

Cuomo explained that his renaming of the bridge is his way of paying tribute to past elected leaders, saying his father’s 12 years in office earned him bi-partisan support.

“We very often pay tribute to past elected leaders, right?” Cuomo added. “We have the Hugh Carey Tunnel, the Robert Kennedy Bridge, we have the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Highway (and) we have the Dewey Thruway.

“Not everybody agreed with my father, but at the end of 12 years, there’s nobody who could say this man wasn’t a man of quality who represented this state extraordinarily well and worked hard every day.”

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