December 2008

Journal News Challenges the Eastchester Police on Freedom of Information Law

December 31, 2008 - 13:36

In the December, 30th article by the Journal News' Cops Release IDs of teen Shoplifting Suspects in Eastchester, the newspaper was successful in its FOIL challenge of the Eastchester Police policy on not releasing the names of four 16 year olds accused of shoplifting :

Each of the girls was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, Kiernan said(Eastchester Police Sgt. Matt Kiernan), because they allegedly were working together to steal the merchandise.Kiernan refused to release the names of the girls, saying it was department policy not to identify people who are under 21 and could be eligible for youthful-offender status.

That policy, however, may violate the state's Freedom of Information Law. Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, has said youthful-offender provisions do not apply when the charge involves a felony. And Mark A. Fowler, an attorney for The Journal News, has said youthful-offender provisions do not allow police to unilaterally withhold a suspect's identity.

3 Injured as Mom, 2 Kids Rushed to Hospital After Webster Avenue Smashup

December 29, 2008 - 18:19


New Rochelle police were forced to briefly close Webster Avenue near the Hutchinson River Parkway around noon today after a woman driving a green minivan swerved into a parked white Econoline van. The Econoline van was shoved forward into a third vehicle, a green Jeep Cherokee, causing major damage to all three vehicles. The traffic collision occurred on Webster, heading West towards the Hutch, near Berrian Road.

MapBerrian-Webster.jpgAccording to police on the scene, the driver and two passengers, a mom and her two young children, were taken to Sound Shore Medical center. Police on the scene indicated that one of the two children, both around 8 or 9 years old, suffered a head injury. There were no passengers in the parked vehicles although the owner of the Jeep said a woman was standing in front of her vehicle at the time of the collision narrowly escaped injury.

Towards Long Overdue Transparency, Freedom of Information Law Updated

December 29, 2008 - 14:00

The Journal News reports on changes to the New York State Freedom of Information Law made over the summer:

These changes are very welcomed to those of us seeking more accountability and transparency in City School District of New Rochelle. Unfortunately, the school district has refused repeated requests by Talk of the Sound to bring itself into compliance with New York State law.

Amendments to state law require that agencies provide records in the medium requested, such as compact disc, and mandatory awards of attorney's fees for violations of the Open Meetings Law.

The committee is asking lawmakers and Gov. David Paterson to require that agencies, when they can do so without undue burden, post on their Web sites meeting minutes, audits and other information that is "clearly public and frequently requested," Freeman said.

Providing the records is the only way that people are going to have confidence in government, said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale.

New Dog Walking Rules at Ward Acres

December 26, 2008 - 23:15

So, what are the new rules?

The 59 acres outside the dog run are free - no fees, no special licensing, but dogs must be leashed. Only users of the 3 acre dog run, where dogs may run unleashed, must purchase the permit at $50 per resident household or $100 per non-resident household (limit of 4 dogs) per year.

More info at

Jeff and Lulu

From the Superintendent

December 23, 2008 - 20:57

With the echoes of the historic Presidential election still reverberating in the ears of not only every American, but also those of friends and foes throughout the world, it is clear that Mr. Obamas presidency will significantly change and impact our lives.
As the economy continues to sink to even further depths, the status of our schools and our entire educational system must be preserved.  Short sighted decisions to save a few precious dollars cannot be acceptable, if we see increased class sizes as a result.  Budget cuts and tax caps which will reduce and even eliminate programs in the arts, career education, athletics and elective courses cannot be a solution if as a result we are mortgaging our childrens future.  Shortening the school day or the school year, employee furloughs, charging fees for student participation in cherished activities or worthwhile projects limit the educational opportunities for all children.

Associated Press Revisits "Girl, Interrupted" Controversy

December 23, 2008 - 19:42

The Associated Press today published a new article on the recent controversy over the decision by school officials in New Rochelle to tear pages out of Susanna Kaysen's best-selling memoir "Girl, Interrupted", first reported on this site. The book was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie and Whoopi Goldberg.

AP: NY district reviews policy after books censored

The article notes that my son was the person who originally complained about the torn out pages - first to his teacher, then to his parents. Not surprisingly, although not a single person defending the district failed to denounce the censorship of the book none of them credited him for having the courage to speak out in the first place. For a group of people who are supposedly so concerned about "censorship" and "love" the First Amendment the omission is glaring.

Among the students who noticed the excised pages was the son of Robert Cox, who writes the blog, "New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound."

City Relents on Dog Fees, Ward Acres Case Settled

December 23, 2008 - 15:59

Dog owners and the city of New Rochelle have settled the lawsuit over the Ward Acres dog walking ordinance. After a year and a half of litigation which went up to the Appellate Division in Brooklyn and back, the city has agreed to eliminate the fees and special licensing required to walk a dog on a leash in Ward Acres' parkland.

Westchester County Reports First Official Flu Case for 2008-2009 Season

December 23, 2008 - 15:14

The Westchester County Department of Health has identified the first laboratory-confirmed case of flu in Westchester. The flu sufferer was a 36-year-old man who was treated at an area hospital on December 10 and
released that day. Prior to coming to the hospital, he had endured four days of fever, body aches, headaches, a sore throat, vomiting and respiratory difficulty – all typical flu symptoms.

Dr. Joshua Lipsman, Westchester County Health Commissioner, urges residents to get the flu shot to protect themselves. The flu vaccine is recommended for all residents over age 50, pregnant women ages 18 and older, people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, children ages six months and up to age 19; those who are 18 years of age and older with chronic heart or lung conditions, diabetes, or compromised immune systems; and caregivers (including healthcare workers) of high-risk patients.

Each year in the U.S., more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die from the flu.

Westchester County Department of Health has distributed free flu doses at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle. The county also vaccinated residents at county clinics throughout Westchester.

School Board Suspends Jefferson Employee Without Pay over Racist Remarks

December 20, 2008 - 21:39

When are "isolated incidents" no longer "isolated" but rather suggest an emerging pattern of problems?

At the board meeting on December 16th, the school board went in to executive session and came back to announce a resolution that a "civil service" employee would be suspended for 30 days without pay.

Talk of the Sound has learned that the person suspended is an an employee at Jefferson School. The person was accused of having made racist remarks, sources say. These same sources told TOS that the suspended employee has a history of similar racist behavior. Word is that the school board was not eager to take significant disciplinary action in the case; anyone who was present at the board meeting could see that board member Martin Sanchez played some sort of role in the board action taken last week. While seated with the board he could be seen nodding as Cindy Babcock-Deutsch read the resolution, as if to say he was satisfied with the action taken by the board to suspend the employee.