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news from Monroe, NY

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Spring Valley Board of Trustees considering $1.5 million

Spring Valley firefighters: Politics leave gear dangerously outdated

Vilair Fonvil, Asher Grossman and Sherry McGill refuse to approve funding—leave volunteers at risk

February 13, 2016 "Volunteer firefighter Aaron Lerer points to his protective jacket with large, brown scorch 
spots staining the shoulder of the fire-resistant material. He holds up a helmet with a melted face shield and
burn marks, and displays one of the radios needed by firefighters inside burning buildings that has an antenna
held together by tape. The department's main tanker truck is 24 years old, more than a decade past its shelf life,
and has broken down at fire scenes.Those are just some of the issues Spring Valley firefighters say they are coping
with as they respond to emergencies without proper equipment and dependable trucks. They blame a divided village Board of Trustees, which has refused 
to allocate money to aid the beleaguered volunteers. The issue flared up again this past week when, at a raucous board meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor
Demeza Delhomme and Deputy Mayor Emilia White supported a $1.5 million bond for the Fire Department. The board majority — Trustees Vilair Fonvil,
Asher Grossman and Sherry McGill — abstained, killing the financing. Firefighters are angry about what they see as the trustees' laissez-faire attitude toward 
their lives and the safety of residents. The department is the county's busiest, with four firehouses answering more than a 1,000 calls per year. That
includes entering buildings with illegal rooms or apartments that have not been inspected in years." Read the complete story here.

JN Editorial: East Ramapo needs long-term support

State education commissioner's visit highlights improvements in troubled district, underscores need for oversight

February 13, 2016 "Elia's day-long visit (and the fact that all three state-appointed monitors were at her side during the
three-school tour) sent a clear message that deep concerns remain in East Ramapo and that the state Education Department
is committed to long-term involvement. During a subsequent interview with the Editorial Board, Elia doubled down on her
support for state legislation that would install a monitor, with strong oversight abilities, in the uniquely troubled district. Asked
what she would do if the state Legislature will not install such a monitor, she said that the Education Department will continue
to monitor the district to the extent that it can." Read the full text of the editorial here. 

Anti-Semitism: A Label Too Often Used as a Shield To Fight Off Scrutiny

By Julie D. Globus--Child of Cultural Yiddishkeit,an Attorney, an Advocate, and a Mother

This letter addresses comments made by Legislator Wieder in a speech made to the Rockland County Legislature, as well as
comments that followed a letter written by Assemblyman Hikind to the Attorney General. This letter seeks to establish a format
whereby one can criticize the activities of a community without being labeled an anti-Semite, a self-hating Jew or defamatory.
This letter hopes to give people currently silenced by the shield of being labeled an anti-Semite, a voice. (More)

Thousands of ill-educated yeshiva boys--They Deserve Better

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, February 7, 2016 "Each year, approximately 32,000 boys in New York City are not
being taught science, history and geography among other subjects. If they’re lucky to be under the age of 13, they
get 90 minutes of English and math, taught by untrained and unlicensed teachers. Alarmingly, when these boys turn 14,
most of them spend 14 hours a day in school, from around 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., yet learn no general subjects at all.
An estimated 17,500 additional boys attending schools in Rockland and Orange Counties are subjected to the same. (More)

Ramapo: Officials close to signing new contract with police

Ramapo’s police paid an average of $173,361 in 2015 - the highest in NYS

February 8, 2016 "Ramapo officials on Monday said they are close to signing a new contract with the police union that
will try to curb salaries that are, on average, the highest in New York state.
In 2015, the Empire Center for New York
State Policy ranked Ramapo police pay as the highest in New York state. Officers earned an average of $173,361 in total
compensation, including overtime. Chief Peter Brower retired in September after 45 years with a final payout of $369,088
He was the highest-paid local government employee in the state." Read the complete Journal story here.

News Briefs: Mayor Noramie Jasmine and the Minisceongo Golf Course Sale

February 4, 2016 Ex-Spring Valley Mayor, Noramie Jasmine, was granted a delay for the date when she would enter
federal prison. The reason was scheduled surgery, and there was a second extension when the date of the procedure
was changed. Now, with the surgery accomplished, she has been ordered to report to prison Monday, February 29,
where she will serve a four-year sentence.

The size of the property in the Minisceongo Golf Club sale has been reported and rumored to be anywhere from 60 up
to 200 acres. A check of the Rockland County records lists the following information for the deed: Date of Sale January
14, 2016; Full Sale Price $32,000,000.; Deed Property Size is 129.57 acres; the owner is Mt. Ivy LLC with a home address at
Congregation Ribnitz, Inc, Binyan Torah, PO Box 657, Monsey, NY.

Emergency state funds to fix E. Ramapo school roof

February 3, 2016 "A leaking roof at Ramapo High School can be replaced using $1 million in emergency state funds,
but critics of the troubled East Ramapo school district say the fix is a short-term solution to a bigger problem.Parents and
students have been complaining for years about the deteriorating condition of district buildings. The district has not allocated
funds for preventive maintenance and the Board of Education has been criticized for spending reserve funds so there is no
money available to pay for repairs.
Pictures were shared on social media last week of water leaking into classrooms and hallways
at Ramapo High, one of the district's two high schools. The photos were accompanied by reports that the leaking roof was
accompanied by mold and foul odors. Parent David Curry, whose daughter took pictures a year ago of water leaking into classrooms
at the high school, said he will be happy to see the roof fixed. But the issue is bigger than one roof at one school, he said. "It's fixing
the symptom, not the problem," he said. He criticized the school board for eliminating maintenance funds."When you don't fix small problems,
they turn into larger problems," he said. Read the complete Journal News story here.


Ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva Controversy

January 29, 2016 "Are private yeshivas run by Hasidic Jewish sects providing students with an education equal to that
of public schools? New York filmmaker Menachem Daum reports on accusations that ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools are
failing to teach secular subjects that would help prepare students for jobs. A lawsuit alleges that some of these religious
schools are not complying with New York state law by not teaching English, math, and science." To view the PBS news
story click here.

Groundhog Day at the Patrick Farm Hearing

January 27, 2016 They had all been there before, the planning board, the residents, the lawyers, and the Ramapo police
at the back of the hall. It was the third time the developer Yechiel Lebovits was bringing the application to the Ramapo
Planning Board. The meeting room was packed at 7:30 as Rice and Rocks, attorney and engineer for the developer, labored
through their presentation asking for approval for the massive, high-density transplant of about 500 homes on the property
once owned by John Patrick. (More)

 

Spring Valley building inspector charged with fraud
Walter Booker was released without bail. The homeowner, Rabbi Jacob Goldman, is also facing charges.

January 21,2016 "Spring Valley's chief building inspector and a businessman
were arrested Thursday in a corruption investigation that alleges the inspector
gave the man false certificates of occupancy for the man's Zeissner Lane home.
That false certificate allowed the businessman to get sizeable tax exemptions
and otherwise profit from day-care centers run from the property, prosecutors
charge. Rockland County District Attorney's Office detectives and Spring Valley
police arrested the longtime inspector, Walter Booker, as he prepared to drive
to work at Village Hall. The homeowner and businessman, Rabbi Jacob Goldman,
surrendered to detectives in the afternoon.
The phony paperwork allowed Goldman
to get $33,093 in property-tax exemptions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and operate
two day-care centers at 9 Zeissner Lane, according to prosecutors. Goldman also operates
a synagogue and school at the house, according to his attorneys, Kenneth Gribetz and Deborah Loewenberg."
Read the complete Journal News story here. (Google street view of 9 Zeissner Lane, Spring Valley)

635889119034799205-Steve-and-Ellen-Jaffee.jpg

Steven Jaffee, assemblywoman's husband, dies at 73

January 21, 2016 "Steven Jaffee, husband of Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and a longtime Suffern resident, died Tuesday at
age 73.The Jaffees moved in 1978 from Brooklyn to Suffern, where they raised their children, Marc and Allison. They were
married for 51 years and have three grandchildren. Steven Jaffee was a longtime Democratic Committee member, former
chair of the Suffern Democratic Committee and coached youth baseball." (More)

Monsey company behind $32 million Minisceongo purchase
Majority owner is an LLC that shares address with Monsey congregation

January 21, 2016 "A Monsey-based company is the new owner of the Minisceongo Golf Club, but what it plans to do with
the property still isn't clear. Earlier this month, Mount Ivy LLC bought a majority stake in the 60-acre course for $32 million 
from principal owner Eric Bergstol, a well-known  Rockland County developer. The limited liability company owns a 78 percent
stake while another company, Lindifrim Pomona Limited Partnership, owns a 21 percent stake, according to property records.Mount
Ivy LLC was created on Jan. 5, according to its filing with New York's Department of State. Its address is listed at 55 Old Nyack Turnpike
in Monsey. That's the same address as Congregation Ribnitz Binyan Torah, a local religious organization. The property, complete with
concrete pallets and backhoes, is under construction with a massive, three-story building rising on the street.
Lindifrim is listed at an
address in Lakewood, New Jersey." Complete Journal News story here.


East Ramapo Parents File Suit to Remedy School Board’s Fiscal Mismanagement

Seek Court Order for State Intervention and Corrective Action

January 19, 2016 On January 14, parents of public school children in East Ramapo Central School District filed a petition in
State Supreme Court in Albany, asking the court to direct the New York State Board of Regents and the State Education
Department (SED) to take concrete remedial action to safeguard their children’s right to a sound basic education as guaranteed
by the New York State Constitution. (More)

 

Ramapo's Minisceongo Golf Club sold after 20 years