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March 2010

No Wonder We're Broke: As New York State Enrollment Dropped by 121,000 Students, Public Schools Added 24,000 Teachers/Administra

March 31, 2010 - 19:17
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Education Week is reporting on an Empire Center's report that says over the past decade "public schools hired nearly 15,000 teachers and almost 9,000 administrators, guidance counselors and other support workers over the last 10 years as enrollment dropped by more than 121,000 students. The New York State United Teachers union disputed the study.".

Earlier this week, the New York State United Teachers union refused a request by Democratic Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo to consider voluntarily postponing their raises and automatic step increases in pay this year to avoid layoffs and save $1 billion.

In a sign of the desperate nature of the situation, Gov. Paterson has held up a $2.1 billion payment to schools usually paid on March 31 while suspending hundreds of state construction projects.

Read the entire article here.

Putting Money Back in New Yorkers’ Pockets

March 31, 2010 - 16:42
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From the Desk of State Senator Jeff Klein…

Dear Reader:

I want to share an important milestone with you, as we work together to fight for real property tax relief now. In March, the State Senate passed my legislation which would provide immediate property tax relief for middle class and senior homeowners. My bill mandates varying degrees of relief to ensure that your hard-earned tax dollars are going back into your pocket.

Here's what my legislation does. First, it restores STAR rebate checks for seniors with annual incomes up to $150,000, based on their local property taxes. Second, it creates a circuit breaker tax credit for households earning up to $250,000 annually. This credit kicks in when your property taxes exceed a certain percentage of your household income.

For example – an Enhanced STAR eligible senior, with an annual household income of $60,000 and paying $9,000 in property taxes, would have their STAR rebate check restored at $2,933, and would receive an additional circuit breaker credit of $560. This means over $3,400 in additional tax relief than this senior received in 2009.

Plummet to the Depths: Our Broken State Government

March 31, 2010 - 16:38

arneduncan.jpgBy now you know that New York State failed miserably in its quest for federal funds under RACE TO THE TOP – a program designed and administered by the federal Department of Education --- to provide funds to states who demonstrated a willingness to create and partner in programs to improve educational results in school districts throughout the United States.

About 80% of eligible states applied; 16 of the eligible states were advanced to the final round and the states of Tennessee and Delaware were announced the winners and awarded handsome sums of federal money to improve the educational climate and conditions in their states. Both states worked closely with stakeholders within the states; politicians, unions, school boards, and others to draft their plans and accede to relatively modest changes in their systems. New York, a strange finalist at this stage to begin with – ranked 15th out of 16 finalists. The plan was flawed in many areas; predictably the unions; led by union leaders Mulgrew and Ianuzzi, were strong opponents of the major provisions such as student evaluations of teachers and charter school development. But, they were not alone.

Former Iona College Student Accepts Settlement Deal in New Rochelle Police Brutality Case Involving "PFFL Officer"

March 31, 2010 - 11:18
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The Journal News is reporting that the City of New Rochelle has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging police brutality. In a lawsuit filed on October 17, 2008, Zane Taranto, then a student at Iona College, alleged that Police Officer Timothy Adrian and five other unnamed officers beat him, threw him to the ground and stomped on him.

Police Officer Adrian is one of the officers involved in the infamous New Rochelle Police Department P.A.C.T Unit Fantasy Football League (PFFL). Adrian is listed as the "owner" of the Jack Daniels Boys.

Adrian Jack Daniels Boys.jpg

SeeClickFix Changing How Citizens Interact with Local Governments

March 30, 2010 - 17:08

The Journal News is now using SeeClickFix. Talk of the Sound is taking a look at it as well. Next week Ben Berkowitz, Founder/CEO, SeeClickFix will be discussing The Future of Internet Community Reporting on the Personal Democracy Forum Network.

Dialing 311 has changed the way citizens around the U.S. and Canada interact with their local governments by making it easy to call in with questions or complaints. These days, city and county officials are upping the ante by making it possible for residents not just to send queries down the line, but to see what their fellow residents are reporting too.

The result? Community mobilization, faster resolution of problems, and even the occasional good Samaritan solution.

Join the PdF Network on Thursday, April 1 as Ben Berkowitz, Founder/CEO, SeeClickFix shows us how technology is "peeling back the layers of bureaucracy," one pothole at a time.

Thursday, April 1 at the PdF Network

Your Town, Online: The Future of Internet Community Reporting

1-2 p.m. EST

Join the call!

Two New Rochelle Nursing Homes Subject to State and Federal Enforcement Action, Long-Term Care Coalition Reports

March 30, 2010 - 15:54

Sutton Park Nursing.jpgThe Long-Term-Care Community Coalition has released its Spring 2010 report on nursing home enforcement actions.

Two New Rochelle nursing homes are listed in the report.

Federal Fines:

Dumont Masonic Home - 7/16/09 - $6,500

Sutton Park Center for Nursing - 6/18/09 - $32,6303

NYS Attorney General Enforcement Actions:

Sutton Park Center for Nursing - 9/26/08 - Fined $2,000

Sutton Park Center for Nursing - 10/7/09 - DPOC, Inservice, DOPNA

(DPOC): A plan that is developed by the State or the Federal regional office to require a facility to take action within specified timeframes. In New York State the facility is directed to analyze the reasons for the deficiencies and identify steps to correct the problems and ways to measure whether its efforts are successful; In-Service Training: State directs in-service training for staff; the facility needs to go outside for help; Denial of Payments for New Admissions

Is New Rochelle Mayor Bramson's State of the City an Exaggeration?

March 29, 2010 - 12:53

Mayor.gifAs the New Rochelle City Council ponders the fate of evening free parking in its downtown lots, Mayor Noam Bramson in his State of the City Address (3/11) claims this same downtown is no longer in decline. (The lots are presently being used at night by residents of the new high rise constructions in downtown who do not rent parking spaces in their buildings). Giving density bonuses and financial incentives in Bramson's view created a "far stronger and healthier City." But the examples he used, the previous empty lots and "a crumbling garage," were far from convincing. Wouldn't those empty lots be prized possessions today to add parking for the residents of the high rise Avalon buildings? Many would argue that the "crumbling garage" was rebuilt to satisfy the density bonuses and financial incentives for one developer at New Roc, and then later at the Trump Tower.

Bramson and most of the Council approved the proposed LeCount Square environmental report several years ago, but now Bramson claims that this project needs to be scaled back to accommodate the United States Post Office. Similarly support for a smaller Echo Bay proposal is suggested.

Summary of New Rochelle City Council Meeting: March 23, 2010

March 29, 2010 - 12:45

There was a meeting of the New Rochelle City Council on March 23, 2010.

Highlights

1. City Council approved the resolution for Charter Change to allow the City Manager to appoint or remove the Civil Service Administrator.

2. No action was taken on the proposal by the BID to charge for parking at night in the downtown municipal lots and to charge for parking on Main Street until ll p.m.

3. Several proposed Charter Amendment proposals requested by Councilman St. Paul were not accepted: Mayor Bramson stated, you need another Council to make changes. Zoning board appointments by district instead of by the City Manager cannot be changed because this is a matter of state law. Two items: term limits, and increasing the fund balance to $300,000 were rejected by a 4 (Democrats) to 3 (Republicans) votes. Comments submitted to the City Manager concerning the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) will be discussed at a later meeting.

An archived video of the March 23, 2010 New Rochelle City Council Meeting can be viewed here.

NOTE: if you would like to join me in covering the City Council meeting each month please contact me at mmgodfrey AT att DOT net

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