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School Politics                                                     

June 29, 2015  The East Ramapo schools are a victim of the increasing influence that the religious leadership in Brooklyn
exercises in Albany.  As the separation of church and state has been eroded, the same organizational forces are running
interference for East Ramapo’s renegade school board. (More)

Carlucci’s Bill Short-circuited the Monitor

June 29, 2015 The day after the New York bill to appoint a monitor for the East Ramapo School Board
had died in the Senate, those opposing the oversight were congratulating themselves online with the
kind of bravado that seemed to include great relief that the fire had been put out. At the same time,
there was a groundswell of recriminations directed at the Senate Republicans who had refused to bring
the proposed bill up for a vote. Also Friday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chancellor
of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, was calling for the resignation of the East Ramapo Superintendent
of Schools Joel Klein. Two days later, on Sunday morning, a large group of parents accompanied by Channel 12
News gathered in front of Klein’s home in New City calling for the Superintendent’s resignation. Standing on the side through all this,
attracting very little notice, was the agent who had helped engineer the killing of the bill. (More)

No state monitor for East Ramapo schools

June 25, 2015 "The state Legislature did not approve a measure that would put in place a state monitor in the troubled East
Ramapo school district. The sides have been at odds over the monitor in recent weeks after the Assembly passed a measure
to give the monitor sweeping powers, but the Republican-led Senate balked. The Legislature won't return to the Capitol until
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, also acknowledged that a deal won't be reached before the session ends.
He put the blame on the Senate for not supporting the bill that passed the Democratic-controlled Assembly on June 11. "I think the
state Senate leadership turned its back on East Ramapo's children," Zebrowksi said. "We felt we had a sound and reasonable approach
to the issue. However, recognizing the Senate's opposition, we attempted to negotiate. But at the end of the day, the Senate refused
to authorize a monitor that had authority over anything other than state or federal law.
Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern,
opposed the Senate bill because it would limit the monitor's power to decisions made by the school district that could infringe on state
and federal law. Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, opposed the Senate bill because it would limit the monitor's power
to decisions made by the school district that could infringe on state and federal law.
" Read the complete Journal News story here.

Appeals court: Count the Ramapo ward system votes

June 24, 2015 "A state appeals panel says Ramapo must count the ballots from its ward system vote last fall. The Appellate
Division panel overruled Supreme Court Judge Margaret Garvey's invalidation of the Sept. 30 election, which asked whether
voters should elect Town Board members from districts and add two more members to the town's governing body. After the
September vote, Garvey ordered a new election based upon allegations of improprieties in setting up the vote, and in accepting
affidavit and absentee ballots. Before the September referendum,
Romanowski and Parietti had battled for nearly two years in
court to force Ramapo to hold the ward system vote. In their court papers after the balloting,
Parietti and Romanowski challenged
the town's decision
to let unregistered voters participate in the referendum, causing confusion at the polls.They also objected to
the town's decision not to count absentee ballots that arrived after Sept. 30 even though applications listed the deadline as the
seventh day after the election." Complete Journal News coverage here. Read the Appellate Division ruling:


Desmaret sentenced to three years in federal prison

June 18, 2015 "Former Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret was sentenced Thursday to three years in
federal prison for his part in a corruption scheme involving a proposal to build a village-owned catering hall on Route 45.
Desmaret showed little reaction as he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas in U.S. District Court in White
Plains."Everyone who takes the oath of office should understand that when they say 'yes' to a a bribe, there are
consequences," Karas said as he announced the sentence. Karas noted that Desmaret's boss, former Spring Valley Mayor
Noramie Jasmin, and New York City politicians were also involved in the complex plot. Jasmin was found guilty of corruption
in April. She will be sentenced Aug. 7. Karas will not be sentencing her but noted that her role in the scheme was worse
than Desmaret's."The scope of her greed is more profound," he said. Complete Journal News coverage here.

Ex-Spring Valley trustee Desmaret wanted to aid feds

June 17, 2015 "Former Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret offered to cooperate with federal corruption
investigators in a bid to lessen his prison sentence for taking a $10,600 bribe from a FBI operative peddling a
fictitious development, a court document states. But prosecutors and the FBI determined Desmaret had nothing to
according to the memorandum submitted by his lawyers in advance of his scheduled sentencing Thursday.
"Despite his best efforts, which were numerous and sincere, Mr. Desmaret was not able to aid the government in
any meaningful way," New City attorney Deborah Wolikow-Loewenberg wrote.
Document:Read the memorandum
Desmaret, 57, a computer technician and accountant, faces a maximum of seven to nine years in prison. He pleaded
guilty in January 2014 to mail fraud and Hobbs Act extortion." Complete Journal coverage here.

East Ramapo bill passes state Assembly

June 12, 2015 "After a three-hour heated debate, the state Assembly on Thursday approved a bill that would
install a state monitor at the troubled East Ramapo school district. But the vote didn't come easily, and it faces
an even tougher fight in the Republican-controlled Senate with just days left in the legislative session.The measure
passed the Democratic-led Assembly, 80-56. Assembly members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski, who represent
the Rockland County district and are the Democratic sponsors of the bill, beat back extensive questioning and criticism
from their colleagues, particularly Orthodox Jewish lawmakers. Jaffee and Zebrowski said the bill is critical because
the district has been mismanaged and has unique circumstances."This was a much more modified approach to responding
to what is a very serious situation -- not a takeover, not the removal of the board – but an opportunity for guidance
and interaction and collaboration," Jaffee said.The bill would require the state education commissioner to appoint a
monitor to oversee the school board and develop a five-year improvement plan for the district.The monitor was
recommended in a critical state report about the district in November because the majority of students in the district
attend private schools, mostly in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that runs the school board." Read the complete
Journal News coverage here.

East Ramapo school board loses special-education court case as legal costs soar

June 10, 2015 "The East Ramapo school district has lost another round in its fight against the state over placement
decisions for special education students.
In a ruling late last week, a state appellate court in Albany upheld the Education
Department's determination that the district violated special education law by settling too readily with parents who
wanted their children placed in private religious schools." Complete Journal News coverage here.

Jewish leaders support E. Ramapo oversight bill

June 7, 2015 "Leaders from several prominent Jewish organizations expressed support Thursday for a bill that would
install a state monitor in the troubled East Ramapo school district. Representatives from the American Jewish Committee,
Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, Uri L'Tzedek and Reform Jewish Voice of New York held a news conference Thursday at
the West Side Jewish Center in Manhattan."Oversight for East Ramapo is supported by thousands and thousands of Jews,"
said Rabbi Ari Hart of Uri L'Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization." Complete Journal coverage here.

East Ramapo School Board Loses another Lawsuit—ADL Supports the State Monitor Bill

June 7, 2015 "New York's highest court has ruled against the East Ramapo board in their lawsuit against the NY State
Education Department. The school board was cited by the education department for unlawfully placing students in private
schools at public expense on August 27, 2010." Read Steve White's Power of Ten update posted yesterday here.

When a School Board Victimizes Kids

June 3, 2015 "NEW YORK STATE has a proud tradition of local decision making in public education. However, students
in the public schools in East Ramapo, about 30 miles north of Manhattan, in Rockland County, are being denied their state
constitutional right to a sound basic education by a board that has grossly mismanaged the district’s finances and educational
programs." Read the full text of the editorial published in the Times by Merryl Tisch chancellor of the New York State Board
of Regents here.

An Immoral Use of Jewish Power in Upstate New York

June 2, 2015  An editorial by Ari Hart appearing in the Forward today. "As an Orthodox Jew, when I first learned about
what was happening in East Ramapo and about the attitudes of the board, I was shocked and disgusted. The Talmud teaches,
“The world endures only for the sake of the breath of school children.” The public actions of this school board over the years
have been in flagrant violation of that and so many other Jewish values and teachings. The Torah we share demands over and
over again we never trample the stranger, the immigrant and the poor — apt descriptions of many in the public school district.
They have also caused a massive Chillul Hashem — desecration of God’s name. The leadership of the school board to date has
grossly violated both American and Jewish values. This is not the way to use Jewish power in America." Read the full text of
the editorial here.

BLOCKED! Illegal housing crackdown initiative stalls in legislative committee

Frustrated first-responders walk out after Soskin and Schoenberger delay vote

May 29, 2015  "Spring Valley Fire Department Captain Justin Schwartz acknowledged that many legislators made an effort
to avoid getting bogged down in technicalities, but he condemned others for what he saw as a dangerous apathy and even
reluctance to offer support. 'They don't give a damn about the peoples' lives. They're pontificating on legalese. These
legislators are fiddling while the county is burning." (More--including Ed Day's comments on the meeting.)    

East Ramapo oversight bill gains traction