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E. Ramapo yeshiva lawsuit seeks epic changes

November 22, 2015 "Filed by a public interest law firm on behalf of seven unnamed plaintiffs who fear retaliation
from their communities if they go public, the complaint takes aim at the state, the East Ramapo school district and
four Hasidic yeshivas for failing to provide male students with basic secular studies such as English and mathematics.
The suit — a rare legal action for Hasidim, who have their own religious courts — delves into the inner workings of the
private religious schools and calls for a number of changes that would fundamentally alter their traditional approach to 
Among the demands named in the lawsuit are the introduction of secular coursework for up to one-third of
the school day, the hiring of "competent" instructors who teach in English; a monitoring and enforcement mechanism; 
accurate enrollment figures to help determine accountability for taxpayer funds; and an implementation date as soon as
September 2016."Ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic parents should not have to choose between a religious education and one that
will teach their children how to read and write,' said Laura Barbieri of the public interest law firm Advocates for Justice,
which filed the suit. "They are entitled to both and the State is obligated to ensure that they receive it." The full text of
the Journal News story here.

Assemblyman says Spring Valley's Delhomme interfered in yeshiva

November 21, 2015 "A state assemblyman says Mayor Demeza Delhomme twice interfered with an assistant village
building inspector by pressuring him to allow a yeshiva to be occupied without safety inspections, then ordering him
to change a memo documenting that he'd interfered. Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, D-New City, said the mayor's chief
concern should be residents' safety and his alleged actions put students at risk. "The facts, as presented, suggest to me
the mayor's office was involved in changing the memo," said Zebrowski, who has raised the issue with the New York
secretary of state.
"If somebody used their influence to change an official document then, in my opinion, it borders
on criminal," he added." Complete Journal story here.

Noramie Jasmin's prison date postponed by surgery

November 20, 2015 "Former Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin won’t start serving her four-year federal prison sentence
until Feburary after undergoing surgery.
Jasmin, who was sentenced and fined $20,000 in August for her role in a scheme
involving a proposed community center in the Rockland village, was supposed to surrender Nov. 2." Journal coverage here.

Sepsis in Albany: As ex-leaders on trial, no ethics reforms planned at Capitol

November 18, 2015 "Don’t expect the state Legislature to start passing new ethics laws next year. Even as the two former
leaders of the state Legislature are in the middle of corruption trials, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said there’s plenty of
new ethics laws on the books. Opening statements began Tuesday in the corruption trial of former Senate Leader Dean Skelos,
R-Nassau County, and his son, Adam — as the separate trial of ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, continued into
its third week." Complete Journal News story here.

United Water in Rockland, Westchester now named Suez

November 17, 2015 "The change is the latest in a progression that has seen Rockland's major water supplier go from
Spring Valley Water to Hackensack Water and then United Water. Suez, which dates from 1858, purchased the company
15 years ago, Madden said. The company has been trying to repair its reputation in Rockland after the state Public Service
Commission nixed its plans to build a desalination plant and ordered it to improve its relationship with the community. Those
efforts hit a snag when United Water quit a county conservation task force and issued an angry response to a report that was
sharply critical of its infrastructure and record keeping.George Potanovic of Stony Point, a frequent United Water critic, 
said he was unsure how the change would affect local customers." Read the complete coverage here.

East Ramapo monitor's remarks draw NAACP criticism

November 14, 2015 Comments by Dennis Walcott, who leads the monitor team assigned to the East Ramapo school
district, drew criticism from the NAACP and engendered suspicions about the monitor's motives. About two weeks ago
reports were made public that the U.S. Department of Education determined that claims of racial discrimination in the
East Ramapo School District were founded. "Then
in a Nov. 3 interview on WCNY's "The Capitol Pressroom," a daily politics
and public affairs radio show broadcast in Albany, Walcott was asked by host Susan Arbetter about a determination by the
U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights that found a disproportionate number of out-of-district placements
for special-education students went to white children.
" His response was shocking: "Well, it's a very complex ruling," he
said. "And I didn't really see any formal indication that the district discriminated against. What the Office of Civil Rights
indicated is that they would follow up on the district's compliance letter that was issued in September." This is very unsettling
especially for those anticipating a substantive report from the monitors in December. Read the complete story here. 

Civil Contempt

November 4, 2015 Ramapo Town Hall: 7:06 PM  It was the first official act of Supervisor St. Lawrence following his
re-election the day before. The meeting time had been changed, but it didn't matter, it was not an optimal day for
a big public turnout, the day after an election. Most certainly, the bad timing was intentional, and it worked--only a
few members of the public were there along with a small group of students from Suffern High School, there to fulfill
a requirement for their Government class. (More)

N.Y. gets a D- for ethics

November 11, 2015 "New York received a D- in a national report released Monday for its transparency and accountability,
ranking it 30th in the nation as part of a so-called State Integrity Investigation.
New York, which is mired in the corruption
cases of its two former legislative leaders, was tied for the 30th lowest ranking with Florida.
“Beset by corruption, backroom
deals and voter scorn, New York received a score of 61, a D-, placing it in a tie for 30th place nationwide,” the group’s report
The report, based on an assessment the group does nationwide, found that New York ranked last in the U.S. for its state
budgeting – which has long been criticized for being controlled by the governor and the two legislative leaders behind closed
doors, known as the “three men in a room.” Complete Journal story here.

Spring Valley: Mayor says inspection records now in order
The state has given the village 30 days to address a number of issues.

November 5, 2015 "Facing the threat of a state takeover of its building and fire code inspections, Spring Valley
Mayor Demeza Delhomme said Wednesday that the village was getting its building department in order. The New
York Division of Building Standards and Codes warned the village on Oct. 6 that it had 30 days to address longstanding
concerns over fire safety in the village, including problems with inspection records, building permits and applications.
They outlined four steps the village needed to take in that time span: Provide an up-to-date list of properties for
inspection; review its enforcement program; provide records for three private religious schools using classroom trailers;
and digitize Building Department records.Documentation that the village has taken these steps is due to the state this week.
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.

Feds: East Ramapo discrimination claims founded
U.S. Ed Department said district discriminated in out-of-district placements, will monitor plan to address it.

November 3, 2015 "The U.S. Department of Education has determined that some claims of racial discrimination in the
East Ramapo School District are founded, and will closely monitor an agreement with the Rockland district to address
the issue. In a letter this week to the Spring Valley branch of the NAACP, the department's Office for Civil Rights, or OCR,
determined that a disproportionate number of out-of-district placements for special education students went to white children.
The office had reviewed NAACP complaints of racial discrimination based on race and national origin, including claims that
Yiddish-language classes were offered more frequently than Spanish- and Creole-language classes." Complete Journal story here.

Heartfelt Thanks to all who worked on the campaign
and Those who supported us at the polls

Election Results from the Rockland Board of Elections

Ramapo  Supervisor
Christopher St. Lawrence  14,521
Michael Parietti  11,516

Ramapo Town Council
Brendel Logan-Charles  14,642
Schmuel Tress  14,312
William Weber  10,328
Timothy Scott  10,534

Ramapo Highways
Anthony Sharan  14,823
Robert Romanowski  9,470

Suffern Mayor
Ed Markunas  1,565
Patricia Abato  1,177

Suffern Trustee

Frank Hagen   1,603
Moira Hertzman  1,551
Jo Meegan-Corrigan  1,109
James Lyons  1,087

Spring Valley Trustee
Sherry McGill  2,076
Vilair Fonvil  1,963
Yisroel Eisenbach  105

Rockland County Sheriff
Louis Falco  35,588  
Richard Vasquez  25,590

County Legislature Dist. 8
Toney Earl  998
Betty Carmand  425

County Legislature  Dist. 12
Charles Falciglia  3,039
Patsy Wooters  1,757

County Legislature  Dist.  13
Aron Wieder  1,116
Jacques Michel  465

Supreme Court Justice
Gretchen Walsh   30,933
Montgomery Delaney  26,020

Clarkstown Ward Referendum

Yes to approve  8,922
No to approve  8,267

Proposition to add additional Trustees
did not pass.







Samuel Tress

Candidate Running for Town Board on
St. Lawrence's Ticket is a Felon
, lives in NJ

October 28, 2015 "Samuel Tress, a Democratic candidate for the Ramapo
Town Board, has a federal mail-fraud conviction and, when questioned about
whether he lives in New Jersey, admitted he did.
Tress, currently a member of
the Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals, initially said he lived at a Monsey apartment
he rents. He later clarified, "I'm not denying that I live in New Jersey, but I am
most of the week in Monsey." He acknowledged being federally prosecuted in 2004
and said the community doesn't know about it.
"I don't remember if I actually pleaded
guilty," he said, but court records show that Tress pleaded guilty in December 2004
to the felony, admitting he falsely assumed an identity to obtain a home mortgage loan from a bank in connection with the purchase of a
home in Spring Valley. He was sentenced in March 2005 to three years of supervised release.
Tress, the CEO of East Morgan Holdings, a
Lakewood, New Jersey-based remediation company, owns a home in Lakewood, tax records show." Tress has served on St. Lawrence's
Zoning Board of Appeals for years. Read the complete Journal News story  here.


Why are Kiryas Joel Building and Real Estate Concerns
Funding St. Lawrence’s Campaign?

October 26, 2015  Politicians fund their election campaigns by soliciting donations
from supporters and other partners. The money is collected by PACs (Political Action Committees)
and New York State requires that these PACs submit regular financial reports that appear on the
New York State Board of Elections website (
http://www.elections.ny.gov/CFViewReports.html). Ramapo
Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence has two such PACs, one that the general public can easily find
on the state site—it’s called Friends of Christopher P. St. Lawrence—and another that doesn’t have his name and
won’t show up in searches for his name as owner or recipient of those funds. Both PACs are managed by Nathan Oberman,
Ramapo’s Deputy Director of Finance and Receiver of Taxes. So why does St. Lawrence have this second secretive bankroll
where donors can direct money almost anonymously? The answer lies in who is writing those checks in the dark. (More)

Ramapo candidates spar at forum

October 26, 2015 "The 30-minute debate didn't sidestep the biggest controversies in Rockland's fastest growing town:
zoning disputes; the power of the bloc-vote; financing for the Provident Bank Park; and an FBI raid at Ramapo Town Hall in May 2013.
St. Lawrence shrugged off a question about the FBI probe into the town's finances. "You'd have to ask them," he said. "They took records.
They wanted to review information. We're awaiting any results." Read the complete coverage here. NOTE: The reporter incorrectly
identified the Preserve Ramapo candidates Parietti, Scott, Weber, and Romanowski as appearing on the Preserve Ramapo line. They are
on Row H, the Reform Party Line--That's H for Honesty. 

Spring Valley house fire reveals more illegal apartments

October 20, 2014 "A fire in a Spring Valley home with illegal apartments revealed “deplorable” conditions Tuesday morning,
according to authorities.
After the fire was extinguished, authorities found illegal apartments in the basement and throughout
the home. In addition, there were no fire alarms in the house. “It’s like playing Russian roulette,” Wren said. “These people
shouldn’t be living in these conditions.” “If this had happened in the middle of the night and there were no smoke detectors
working, who knows what we would have come to,” Sohlman said. The fire in Spring Valley comes on the heels of a state
ordering the village to increase enforcement of its housing codes or face a potential state takeover. The Division of
Building Standards and Codes issued an order on Oct. 6 giving the village 30 days to begin inspecting buildings and schools
that are riddled with fire and safety violations." Complete Journal News coverage here.

State warns Spring Valley to enforce building and fire codes - or else
October 14, 2014
"New York state officials have ordered the village to immediately begin inspecting buildings and
schools that are rife with fire and safety violations — or face a potential takeover.
The Division of Building Standards
and Codes Oct. 6 
order follows an agency investigation of the village's Building Department and months of consultations
with village officials about uninspected buildings that potentially endanger students, tenants, and first-responders.
The state gave
the village 30 days from Oct 6 to make the changes or face state action.
The overall inadequacy of the housing inspections — as well
as problems with slum housing and absentee landlords — led County Executive Ed Day to order the 
Rockland County Department of Health 
to use the county's sanitary code to inspect housing across the county. The county also is collecting housing complaints and publicizing
landlords with violations through the 
Rockland Codes Initiative. Task force chairman John Kryger said Wednesday that the state
has not acted fast enough on Spring Valley." Kryger said he and the task force's vice chairs believe the state is just postponing an
inevitable takeover of fire, building and code enforcement duties in Spring Valley and, potentially, Ramapo. Read the complete
Journal News story here.

Fire captain: Ramapo's religious schools have unsafe conditions

October 14, 2015 "Dozens of private religious schools in Ramapo don't comply with the requirements of
the fire safety code, putting the safety of students and firefighters at deadly risk.
That warning was delivered
at Tuesday night's East Ramapo school board meeting by Justin Schwartz, a Spring Valley fire captain and
Tarrytown rabbi who is a member of the 
Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force. During the public-comment period,
Schwartz stood in full dress uniform and said he fears the danger grows with every passing day.
"Not only has this
board and administration failed in educational opportunities to the nonpublic schools," he told an audience of more
than 200 seated and standing in the gym, "but it allows outrageous conditions detrimental to the health and safety
of the students of these schools.
Schwartz said religious school students are "commonly crammed" into illegally
converted trailers and single-family homes that have gone years without ever being inspected for potentially
deadly hazards. "Sanitary code violations are rife," he added." Complete Journal News story here.

'Tyranny of the majority' in East Ramapo

October 10, 2015 Community View in The Journal News
Spring Valley NAACP president says East Ramapo board's lack of understanding, and interest in,
public education does irreparable harm to students.
Read Willie Trotman's complete editorial here.

East Ramapo fails to ensure quality education

October 8, 2015  Letter in The Journal News

New York State laws and regulations requiring that all children receive an education have not been “forgotten” since
1928. In East Ramapo in particular, administration was acutely aware of its responsibility. As I explained on the public
radio show "This American Life," East Ramapo administrators had made a deal with the administrators of the yeshivas
that they would not bring up the issue of failure to educate yeshiva students as long as the ultra-Orthodox bloc vote
would not be used to vote down school budgets." (More)

E. Ramapo chief Joel Klein resigns, effective Oct. 31

October 8, 2015 "The announcement drew strong applause and cheers Wednesday night from several dozen people
attending a special Board of Education meeting.Klein antagonized parents with derogatory comments about Hispanics,
waiting weeks to apologize. He had been the target of protests at each board meeting, as well as at his home." Read
the complete Journal News coverage here.

Comptroller Checks Ramapo Books and the Worst gets even Worse

October 1, 2015  In 2012, the New York State Comptroller declared that the Town of Ramapo was the most
fiscally stressed township in the State. At that time, Ramapo had racked up a worst-in-the-state rating of 70.8%
for fiscal stress. The Supervisor’s response to the economic crisis was both simple and unnerving: The Comptroller’s
numbers must be wrong. And then St. Lawrence turned the lights off in fiscal year 2013 by failing to file the Town’s
financial report in time to be included in the State’s evaluation of all the townships. Unfortunately, that had very
little restorative impact on the numbers, which continued to worsen as the economic stress increased. Now in the
most recent numbers from the State, Ramapo has increased another 7% for a new all-time high. (More)

S.V. Mayor Ordered Yeshiva Approved Without Inspections

September 25, 2015 "The mayor ordered a building official to permit a yeshiva to open, even though
inspections weren't completed to ensure the school was structurally sound and safe to occupy, according
to a memo obtained by The Journal News. Another building official subsequently saw students walk inside
the school at 50 Commerce Street.
Mayor Demeza Delhomme's order that Assistant Building Inspector
Jackenton Lavalasse issue a certificate of occupancy for Yeshiva Oholei Shem D'nitra came under pressure
from Alex Goldberger, vice president of Monsey Lumber, which is a political donor to the mayor." Read complete
Journal story here.


New Hempstead: Matterhorn's
Future Uncertain

September 25, 2015 "Residents are keeping a wary eye on
the former Matterhorn Nursey property, with rumors flying
claiming a high-density development is being planned for the
area. Earlier this week, an anonymous flyer went out to residents
along Summit Park Road that purports to show an architectural rendering of a four-story, 396-unit apartment block
planned for the land at 227 Summit Park Road. Copies also have been circulating online in Facebook community
forums like the controversial "Block The Block Vote" page. "What do you think of 1000 more people living right
around the corner from you?" the flyer reads. "500 more cars on your roads? Congestion? Traffic? Noise? Crowded?
Garbage? Crime? Buses?"
The village, however, says it hasn't received any development application from the
property's new owner, Summit Hempstead LLC, which bought the 34-acre site for $5.1 million in August 2014."
Read the complete Journal News story here.


New Questions about the Old Treasurer

September 22, 2015

Eight years ago, the Assistant Superintendent of Finance did all the bookkeeping
for the district. The school board president at that time was Nathan Rothschild.
Elected by the ultra-Orthodox bloc vote, he did not need to provide the public
with his educational experience. Only after he was convicted and sentenced to
federal prison did we learn he did not have a high school diploma. While it is
not required for a school board trustee to have graduated from school, it is
something the public will usually want to know about a candidate before giving
him or her their vote. (More)



The Voice of a Veteran

September 22, 2015  Nonagenarian David Lipman, a veteran both of
East Ramapo and World War Two, slowly made his way to the podium
to address the East Ramapo School Board. Here are his prepared remarks.




Separate and Unequal:
Many East Ramapo Yeshivas Fail to Prepare
Students in Secular Studies

September 20, 2015 The Journal News turned over the Sunday edition to investigative
reporting on the failure of East Ramapo school district leaders to meet legal obligations to
monitor the quality of education in private yeshivas. A number of personal stories of those
victimized by this failure are included in the coverage. A key question not addressed, though,
is if this board is comfortable with this almost complete neglect of subject areas such as science,
math, and social studies in their community's schools, how equipped, or inclined are they to
plan curriculum in an academic environment that's alien to them. The kids in both school systems
will continue to lose with this board in place. (More)


Rockland Primary Election Results--Sept 10, 11:27pm Summary Report
County Legislator--District 8
Toney Earl  333
Betty Carmand  186

County Legislator--District 13
Aron Wieder  415
Jacques Michel  308

Ramapo Town Council
Brendel Logan-Charles  3,044
Shmuel Tress  2,938
Daniel Friedman 1,010
Elye Kramer  518

Go to www.rocklandgov.com/departments/board-of-elections for complete results.

Georgine Hyde, Holocaust survivor, ex-E. Ramapo board president dies

August 31, 2015 "Georgine Hyde, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor who became an educator on the Holocaust, advocate for children and 36-year member of the East Ramapo Board of Education, has died. She was 90. Educating children and adults became Hyde's passion after she survived the Holocaust and the Auschwitz death camp during World War II and came to the United States in 1952, settling in Pomona in 1957.  She also served as president of the New York State School Boards Association and Rockland Board of Cooperative Services.

In a 2005 interview with The Journal News after she lost her school board seat, Hyde reflected that surviving the death camps was a gift and inspired her to make the world a better place one child at a time. "It means you can help, that you can develop a future for children," Hyde said. "You can build history through schools. The influence of public education can be enormous. I think I wanted to participate in the future." Elected to the school board in 1969, Hyde lost her seat in 2005 when the district's ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community made its first move to take over the board.

She had been targeted for defeat and garnered the fewest votes along with then-six-year Trustee Danielle Bright, as David Resnick and Steven Rosenstock won seats. Resnick and Rosenstock were endorsed by the Southeast Ramapo Taxpayers Association, a group that supports candidates who have ties to private schools. The organization has since been a moving force to elect residents with children in private schools and defeat proposed budgets."   Read the complete Journal News coverage here.

Read Robert Rhodes' remembrance and appreciation of Georgine Hyde "an extraordinary woman" here.


Was There Election Fraud in Ramapo?—A Personal Opinion
Letter to the Editor of The Rockland Voice

August 29, 2015 “A few days ago, the Ramapo Town Clerk announced the results of the Ramapo Ward System
vote which occurred on September 30, 2014. The results were as follows:

1. The machine vote tallied 13,891 “YES” vs. 13,526 “NO” votes.
2. The absentee ballot vote tallied 377 “YES” vs. 201 “NO” votes.
3. The affidavit ballot vote tallied 419 “YES” vs. 1,854 “NO” votes.

So it is obvious that the outlier in this election was the affidavit vote tally. While the Ward “YES” vote outperformed
the “NO” vote in both the machine and absentee ballots, there was a gross, reverse trend on the affidavit ballots. (More)

The Strange Results of the Ward Vote Count

August 28, 2015 The count of the Ward Referendum vote took place yesterday at the Rockland
Health Center. Officials from the Town of Ramapo and the Rockland Board of Elections were present,
and three counts were merged in the final totals presented later in the day. It came as no surprise to
those supporting the Ward System that registered voters voted one way, and those who voted with affidavit
ballots overwhelmingly voted against it. (More)

Spring Valley residents fed up with 'king'-sized turmoil

August 26, 2015 "When a video clip of Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme calling himself "king" surfaced online this
week, it joined a lengthy list of high-profile personality conflicts and blow-ups at Village Hall. Residents in this diverse,
working-class community say enough is enough. "The politics is corrupt," complained Romeo Stale, 40, as he ate lunch at the 
Island Spice restaurant on North Main Street. "That's always the headline. That's all it is." The profanity-peppered clip was made
at a June 8 meeting, but only began making the rounds on social media last week. In it, Delhomme asks the Board of Trustees for
$23,000 to buy a piece of equipment for the Department of Public Works. He starts to argue with Trustee Vilair Fonvil, a frequent
political foe, and quickly loses his cool. "You heard it from the king!" he shouts at one point. "The king get it from the soldiers!"
Read the complete Journal News story here.

Yeshiva owns building used for anti-E. Ramapo message

August 25, 2015 "A yeshiva owns the rundown house off Route 45 used without its permission as a billboard to describe the
East Ramapo school district as "racist," town police said Tuesday. The Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland has had
plans to tear down the dilapidated one-story structure near Exit 12 from the Palisades Interstate Parkway, police said. "The building
is supposedly being razed," Detective Lt. Mark Emma said. "The school's rabbi told us no one was given permission to write on the building."
Police are looking to charge the graffiti-writer with criminal mischief for the red spray-painted message in all-capital letters: "E Ramapo
School Board is racist and persecutes students History repeats." Complete Journal coverage here.

Ramapo ward vote headed to home stretch?