Dusting of Snow in Forecast

  • Tonight–Snow, mainly after midnight. Low around 28. South wind around 6 mph becoming west after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
  • Friday–Snow, mainly before 9am. Temperature falling to around 27 by 5pm. Wind chill values between 15 and 25. Breezy, with a light west wind becoming northwest 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Friday Night–Mostly clear, with a low around 9. Wind chill values between -10 and zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 22 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph.
  • Saturday–Sunny and cold, with a high near 18. Wind chill values between -10 and zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 15 to 22 mph.
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THIS WEEK’S PEOPLE TO BE HEARD…. A RETELECAST OF THE DR. JILL HARKAVY-FRIEDMAN OF THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

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John Bailey, The CitizeNetReporter, Peter Katz and Jim Benerofe explore the truths, myths, and signs that could mean a person is contemplating taking their own life on this important retelecast of their interview with Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, Vice President of Research of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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DR. JILL HARKAVY-FRIEDMAN

Director, Research, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

on

Signs of Suicidal Tendencies

How you can help a loved one.

Who is most at risk.

Where you can get clinical help.

on

PEOPLE TO BE HEARD

The Program Where People Who Have Something to Say Have Their Say.

ON

www.whiteplainscommunitymedia.org

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Assemblyman Buchwald: Sheldon Silver Must Go. Assemblywoman Paulin, too calls for Silver to resign Speaker Post. Seems He Will Be Replaced as Speaker

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Office of Assemblyman David Buchwald, 33rd Assembly District. January 27, 2015 UPDATED 3 P.M. E.S.T. UPDATED JANUARY 28, 2015:

After sentiment and support for Assemblyman Sheldon Silver waned in meetings of New York Assembly Democrats Monday and Tuesday, The New York Times and The Gannett Albany News Bureau report it is likely Mr. Silver will either step down from the speaker position or be voted out of it next Monday. Silver will keep his seat in the Assembly however.

White Plains Assemblypersons David Buchwald and Amy Paulin both issued statements calling for Silver to resign as speaker.

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) rejects any proposal that leaves Sheldon Silver as Speaker of the New York State Assembly. Below is Assemblyman Buchwald’s statement:
“In light of the serious charges made against the Speaker and his refusal to provide any substantive response to those charges, I believe it would be in the best interest of the people of New York for Speaker Silver to step down from his leadership position in the State Assembly. It is imperative that we immediately restore public confidence in this institution. Maintaining public ethics in government is a principle that we should never compromise, and I am confident that the citizens of Westchester County and New York State agree.”

In a related development Monday, syracuse.com reports that Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is one of 17 Assembly Democrats calling for Silver to step down from the House Speakership.

Syracuse.com quotes Ms. Paulin:

“It’s the only thing we have to keep this institution on an even keel. And that’s our priority,” said Paulin. “We will be calling on the speaker to step aside so there can be a transition.”

 

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK ON SNOW TONIGHT–CITY “NON-COMMUNICATION”–LCOR RETURNS AND WHO KNEW? THEY BUILD TRANSIT HUB DEVELOPMENTS?

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RELAX, LIE BACK BY THE FIRE IGNORE THE SNOW AND

ENJOY A WHITE PLAINS WEEK MARATHON!

Peter Katz, John Bailey and Jim Benerofe ON

The Useless, Unused, Misused City Emergency Notification System — For Political Use Only

Slipping and Sliding and No One Knew

The State of the Union, The State of  State, the State of the County and the State of the City- Sober Commentary

Interview with Cesar Andrade on the Opening of the new city Tennis Innovators Academy

Developments Around the Town

LCOR DOES TRAIN STATIONS, DIDN’T CHA KNOW?

And More

 

SEE IT ANYTIME  AND THE LAST 4 WEEKS OF THE COUNTY’S HOTTEST SHOW

on

www.whiteplainsweek.com

 

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U.S. Charges Members of Russian Federation of Setting Up Intelligence Op in NYC- Cold War Begins Again?

WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 26, 2015:

Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John S. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Randall C. Coleman, the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) for the Counterintelligence Division, announced charges today against EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a “Zhenya,” IGOR SPORYSHEV, and VICTOR PODOBNYY in connection with BURYAKOV’s service as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Russian Federation (“Russia”) in New York City, without notifying the United States Attorney General of BURYAKOV’s status as an agent of Russia, as required by federal law.

BURYAKOV was placed under arrest earlier today in Bronx, New York, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan federal court later today. SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested. By virtue of their prior positions in the United States on behalf of Russia, both of them were protected by diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution while in the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder said: “These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States. We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country—no matter how deep their cover. I want to thank the dedicated men and women of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and New York Field Office, the National Security Division’s Counterespionage Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their skilled handling of this complex and highly sensitive matter.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Following our previous prosecution with the FBI of Russian spies, who were expelled from the United States in 2010 when their plan to infiltrate upper levels of U.S. business and government was revealed, the arrest of Evgeny Buryakov and the charges against him and his co-defendants make clear that—more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War—Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst under cover of secrecy. Indeed, the presence of a Russian banker in New York would in itself hardly draw attention today, which is why these alleged spies may have thought Buryakov would blend in. What they could not do without drawing the attention of the FBI was engage in espionage. New York City may be more hospitable to Russian businessmen than during the Cold War, but my Office and the FBI remain vigilant to the illegal intelligence-gathering activities of other nations.”

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “The attempt by foreign nations to illegally gather economic and other intelligence information in the United States through covert agents is a direct threat to the national security of the United States, and it exemplifies why counterespionage is a top priority of the National Security Division. I want to thank the FBI’s New York Field Office and Counterintelligence Division as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their continued effort to conduct these highly complex and sensitive counterespionage investigations and prosecutions, and for their continued close partnership with the National Security Division and the Counterespionage Section.”

FBI Assistant Director Randall Coleman said: “This investigation is one of many that highlight the determined and prolific efforts by foreign governments to target Americans for the purposes of collecting intelligence and stealing secrets. This case is especially egregious as it demonstrates the actions of a foreign intelligence service to integrate a covert intelligence agent into American society under the cover of an employee in the financial sector. Espionage is as pervasivetoday as it has even been, and FBI counterintelligence teams will continue to aggressively investigate and expose hostile foreign intelligence activities conducted on U.S. soil.”

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court today:

BURYAKOV worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the “SVR.” BURYAKOV operated under “non-official cover,” meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank. SVR agents operating under such non-official cover—sometimes referred to as “NOCs”—typically are subject to less scrutiny by the host government, and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government. As a result, a NOC is an extremely valuable intelligence asset for the SVR.

Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the United States Attorney General. Department of Justice records indicate that BURYAKOV has never notified the United States Attorney General that he is, in fact, an agent of Russia.

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are also SVR agents who worked in the United States to gather intelligence on behalf of Russia by posing as official representatives of Russia. From November 22, 2010, to November 21, 2014, SPORYSHEV served as a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York. From December 13, 2012, to September 12, 2013, PODOBNYY served as an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. Based on their official government postings on behalf of Russia, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are exempt from notifying the United States Attorney General of the true nature of their work. However, that exemption does not permit them to conspire with, or aid and abet, BURYAKOV in his work as an unregistered agent of Russia operating within the United States.

The intelligence-gathering efforts of SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY included, among other things, (i) attempting to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia; (ii) tasking BURYAKOV to gather intelligence; and (iii) transmitting intelligence reports prepared by BURYAKOV back to SVR headquarters in Moscow. Specifically, during the course of the charged offenses, SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV, and SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY were responsible for analyzing and reporting back to the SVR about the fruits of BURYAKOV’s intelligence-gathering efforts.

The directives from the SVR to BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY, as well as to other covert SVR agents acting within the United States, included requests to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States’ efforts to develop alternative energy resources.

Clandestine Meetings and Communications

During the course of their work as covert SVR agents in the United States, BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages, in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents. These efforts were designed, among other things, to preserve their respective covers as an employee of a bank in Manhattan (BURYAKOV), a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York (SPORYSHEV), and an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations (PODOBNYY). In particular, the defendants worked to safeguard BURYAKOV’s work as a “NOC.”

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY acted as covert intermediaries for BURYAKOV to communicate with the SVR on intelligence-related matters. As an agent posing as someone without any official ties to the Russian government or the SVR, BURYAKOV was unable to access the SVR New York Office—which is located within an office maintained by Russia in New York, New York—without potentially alerting others to his association with the SVR. As such, BURYAKOV required the assistance of other SVR agents, like SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY, to exchange communications and information with the SVR through the communications systems located in the SVR New York Office.

From as early as March 2012 through as recently as mid-September 2014, the FBI has conducted physical or electronic surveillance of BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV engaging in over four dozen brief meetings, several of which involved BURYAKOV passing a bag, magazine, or slip of paper to SPORYSHEV. These meetings typically took place outdoors, where the risk of effective surveillance was reduced relative to an indoor location.

These meetings were nearly always preceded by a short telephone call between BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV during which one of the men typically told the other that he had an item to give to him. Typically, during these telephone calls, which were intercepted by the FBI, the item in question was referred to as some non-specific “ticket,” “book,” “list,” or other ordinary item (e.g., “umbrella” or “hat”).

Subsequently, at each meeting surveilled by the FBI, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV met and sometimes exchanged documents or other small items. Notably, despite discussing on approximately one dozen occasions the need to meet to transfer “tickets,” BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV, were—other than one occasion where they discussed going to a movie—never observed attending, or discussing in any detail, events that would typically require tickets, such as a sporting event or concert. In fact, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV used this coded language to signal that they needed to meet, and then met to exchange intelligence information.

Attempts by Sporyshev and Podobnyy to Recruit Intelligence Sources in New York City

In numerous recorded communications, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed their attempts to recruit United States residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York, New York (“University-1”), as intelligence sources for the SVR. On these recordings, the defendants discussed the potential value of these sources, and identified particular sources by use of a “source name,” which appears to be a coded name. In addition, during these recordings, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the efforts of other SVR agents to recruit a number of other Russian-origin individuals associated with University-1 as intelligence sources.

For example, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed PODOBNYY’s efforts to recruit a male working as a consultant in New York City as an intelligence source. During this conversation, PODOBNYY explained his source recruitment method, which included cheating, promising favors, and then discarding the intelligence source once the relevant information was obtained by the SVR: “This is intelligence method to cheat. . . . You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive] himself.”

In other recorded conversations, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY made clear that they worked for the SVR. For example, on January 31, 2013, SPORYSHEV and another SVR agent not charged in the Complaint (“CC-1”) had a discussion inside the SVR New York Office about their contracts with the SVR. SPORYSHEV stated that, “Everyone has a five-year contract,” and explained, in response to CC-1’s question about reimbursement for the travel of SVR agents’ family members, that “travel for military personnel and their families on authorized home leave is paid, and in our, in our SVR, this, the payment for getting to and from the duty station.” In addition, on April 25, 2013, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the use of nontraditional cover for Russian intelligence officers and, in particular, the Illegals program that ended with the arrest of 10 “deep cover” SVR agents in July 2010.

Buryakov’s Intelligence Taskings

SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying intelligence assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV. The FBI obtained electronic recordings of several conversations relating to such intelligence directives being communicated to and carried out by BURYAKOV in his position as an SVR agent acting under non-official cover. For example, on May 21, 2013, SPORYSHEV called BURYAKOV to ask for BURYAKOV’s help in formulating questions to be used for intelligence gathering purposes by others associated with a leading Russian state-owned news organization (the “News Organization”). BURYAKOV responded by supplying SPORYSHEV with a particular line of questioning about the New York Stock Exchange for use by the News Organization.

Buryakov’s Receipt of Purported Official United States Government Documents

In the summer of 2014, BURYAKOV met numerous times with a confidential source working for the FBI (“CS-1”). CS-1 posed as the representative of a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia. During the course of these meetings, and consistent with his interests as a Russian intelligence agent, BURYAKOV demonstrated his strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee. During these meetings, BURYAKOV also accepted documents that CS-1 claimed he had obtained from a U.S. government agency and which purportedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about United States sanctions against Russia.

* * *

BURYAKOV, 39, SPORYSHEV, 40, and PODOBNYY, 27, are charged in two counts. The first count charges the defendants with participating in a conspiracy for BURYAKOV to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The second count charges BURYAKOV with acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and charges SPORYSHEV and PODOBYNYY with aiding and abetting that offense. The second count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fee, Ian McGinley, and Anna M. Skotko of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Senior Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Posted in Uncategorized

The FBI Charges Against Sheldon Silver.

WPCNR THE FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investgation. January 22, 2015. 

(This news release was received last Thursday when WPCNR was out of the area, because of the detail of the release not fully reported by other media, WPCNR reprints it for persons interested in specific actions that Assemblyman Speak Sheldon Silver is accused of committing, and efforts (the FBI charges) Silver made to thwart the Moreland Commission investiation of outside income by assembly members  in the Assembly:)

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Richard Frankel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Division of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that New York State Assembly Speaker SHELDON SILVER was arrested this morning on charges that he used his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and that SILVER masked these payments from public view by disguising the payments as income from what he claimed was a law practice primarily focused on personal injury matters.

SILVER was placed under arrest at the FBI in lower Manhattan, this morning (January 22), and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court later today.

Judge Maas also issued seizure warrants to prevent SILVER from accessing approximately $3.8 million in proceeds alleged to be traceable to the charged corruption offenses until the case is resolved.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:

“Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power. But, as alleged, during that same time, Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune—through the abuse of that political power. All told, we allege that Silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as ‘referral fees.’ Those disguised bribes and kickbacks account for approximately two-thirds of all of Silver’s outside income since 2002.

“As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain. And as the charges also show, the greedy art of secret self-reward was practiced with particular cleverness and cynicism by the Speaker himself. Among other things, we allege that Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, was on retainer to a mammoth real estate developer at the very same time that the chamber he dominates was considering and passing legislation vitally affecting the bottom line of that developer; at the very same time that he was hearing out lobbyists paid by that developer and at the very same time that he was deliberately keeping secret from the public any information about this lucrative side-deal, in violation of the law.

“Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for. These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany—a lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism, and self-dealing.”

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Richard Frankel said: “As alleged, Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits. When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans. We hold our elected representatives to the highest standards and expect them to act in the best interest of their constituents. In good faith, we trust they will do so while defending the fundamental tenets of the legal system. But as we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

For more than two decades, SHELDON SILVER has served as Speaker of the Assembly, a position that gives him significant power over the operation of New York State government. SILVER used this substantial power—including, in particular, his power over the real estate industry and his control over certain health care funding—to unlawfully enrich himself by soliciting and obtaining client referrals worth millions of dollars from people and entities in exchange for SILVER’s official acts, and attempting to disguise this money as legitimate outside income earned from his work as a private lawyer. In particular, SILVER claimed on financial disclosure forms required to be filed with New York State and in public statements that the millions of dollars he received in outside income while also serving as Speaker of the Assembly came from a Manhattan-based law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., where SILVER claimed to work “representing individual clients” in “personal injury actions.” These claims were materially false and misleading—and made to cover up unlawful payments SILVER received solely due to his power and influence as an elected legislator and the Speaker of the Assembly.

The scheme provided SILVER with two different streams of unlawful income: (i) approximately $700,000 in kickbacks SILVER received by steering two real estate developers with business before the state legislature to a law firm run by a co-conspirator, and (ii) more than $3 million in asbestos client referral fees SILVER received by, among other official acts, awarding $500,000 in state grants to a university research center of a physician who referred patients made ill by asbestos to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg.

Unlawful Income From the Real Estate Law Firm

SILVER entered into a corrupt relationship with a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who had been SILVER’s counsel in the Assembly and operated a real estate law firm (the “Real Estate Law Firm”) that specialized in making applications to the City of New York to reduce taxes assessed on properties.

Beginning in at least 2000, SILVER approached two prominent developers of properties in Manhattan, one personally and one in part through a lobbyist, and asked the developers to hire the Real Estate Law Firm. The developers—both of whom lobbied SILVER on real estate issues because their profits depended significantly on state legislation favorable to their business– agreed to use the Real Estate Law Firm as SILVER had requested. Over the years, these developers paid millions of dollars in legal fees to the Real Estate Law Firm. SILVER received a cut from the legal fees amounting to nearly $700,000. SILVER had no public affiliation with the Real Estate Law Firm and performed no legal work at all to earn those fees, which were simply payments for SILVER having arranged the business through his official power and influence.

While continuing to receive the fees and in furtherance of the scheme, SILVER took official action beneficial to the developers. For example, while SILVER was publicly associated with advocating for tenants, a proposal made by the one of the developers who sent work to the Real Estate Law Firm was in substantial part enacted in real estate legislation in 2011 with SILVER’s support.

Unlawful Income From Asbestos Client Referrals

SILVER also entered into a corrupt arrangement with a leading physician who specialized in the treatment of asbestos-related diseases (“Doctor-1”) through which SILVER issued state grants and otherwise used his official position to provide favors to Doctor-1 so that Doctor-1 would refer and continue to refer his patients to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg, a firm with which SILVER was affiliated as counsel. Specifically, SILVER arranged for the State of New York to fund two state grants—each for $250,000, and paid out of a secret and unitemized pool of funds controlled entirely by SILVER—for a research center Doctor-1 had established. SILVER used his official position to provide Doctor-1 with other benefits as well, including helping to direct $25,000 in state funds to a not-for-profit organization for which one of Doctor-1’s family members served on the board, and asking the CEO of a second not-for-profit to hire a second family member of Doctor-1.

From 2002 to the present, SILVER received more than $3 million from legal fees Weitz & Luxenberg received from patients Doctor-1 had referred to SILVER at the firm while SILVER was taking official actions to benefit Doctor-1. SILVER did no legal work whatsoever on these asbestos cases, his sole role having been to use his official position and access to state funds to induce Doctor-1 to provide him with these lucrative referrals.

Silver’s Efforts to Cover Up the Scheme

SILVER took various efforts to disguise his unlawful outside income and prevent the detection of the scheme. SILVER listed on his official public disclosure forms that his outside income consisted of “limited practice of law in the principal subject area of personal injury claims on behalf of individual clients,” which was false and misleading. Beginning in 2010, SILVER’s disclosures changed to state that the source of his legal income was a “Law Practice” that “includ[ed]” being of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg. SILVER never disclosed his relationship with the Real Estate Law Firm or any work beyond what he claimed was a “personal injury” practice.

SILVER also repeatedly made false statements about his outside income in his public statements, including the following:

  • SILVER claimed he performed legal work consisting of spending several hours each week evaluating legal matters brought to him by potential clients and then referring cases that appeared to have merit to lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg. In fact, SILVER did no such work on the asbestos cases and obtained those referrals to Weitz & Luxenberg based on his corrupt arrangement with Doctor-1.
  • SILVER claimed his law practice involved the representation of “plain, ordinary simple people.” In fact, SILVER represented some of the largest real estate developers in the State of New York, whose interests are in many ways dependent on state legislation.
  • SILVER claimed through his spokesperson that SILVER found clients by virtue of his having been a “lawyer for more than 40 years,” in a manner that was “not unlike any other attorney in this state, anywhere.” In fact, SILVER found his lucrative asbestos and real estate developer clients solely by virtue of his official position.
  • SILVER recently stated through his spokesperson that “[n]one of his clients have any business before the state.” In fact, SILVER’s outside income included millions of dollars of fees obtained through real estate developers with significant business before the state and a prominent physician to whose benefit SILVER provided state funding and other benefits related to SILVER’s official position.

Finally, SILVER thwarted the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption so that it would not learn of his illegal outside income, first by filing legal motions on behalf of the Assembly and taking other action to block the Moreland Commission’s investigation into legislative outside income and then by negotiating with the Governor of New York to prematurely terminate the Moreland Commission.

* * *

SILVER, 70, of New York, New York, is charged with two counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Each of these five counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI, who jointly conducted this investigation. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master, Carrie H. Cohen, Andrew D. Goldstein, and James McDonald are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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NYSED: Postpone Regents if you must but Exams must be Completed by Friday Jan 30

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the White Plains Public Schools and The New York State Education Department. January 26, 2015:

Here is the latest policy on postponed Regents Exams provided by the White Plains City School District. According to the State Education Department, all Regents Exams must be completed by Friday, January 30:

As you know, New York State will be affected by an historic snow storm over the next few days.  We are seeing reports that well over half of our students from Montauk to Utica will be affected by one or more days of school closures during the administration of the January Regents Exams. 

In addition, Tuesday is one of the final administrations of the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam, which, as you know, is a graduation requirement and an exam being phased out as part of our assessment transition.   

Therefore, the Department will make the following one-time adjustment in reaction to this historic, extraordinary, and widespread confluence of events. 

First and most important – be safe during the storm.  Close school if you need to close school.

When the storm has passed, each school superintendent, charter school leader, and nonpublic school principal in a district or school impacted by weather-related closures must send to the Department at emscassessinfo@nysed.gov a description of the date(s) on which schools were closed due to weather, which January Regents Exams had to be canceled, when you plan to administer the tests, and your comprehensive plan to ensure the security of exams and scoring materials during this time period

Please observe the following constraints when submitting your plan:

+All exams should be administered as close as possible to the original administration window.

+All January Regents Exams must be administered by Friday, January 30, 2015.

+Although scoring materials will be available according to the previously posted schedule, you may not access or distribute these scoring materials until all exams have been administered in your school.

+Regents Exam booklets should be kept secure until 5 pm on Friday, January 30.

We will work together to ensure that this historic and extraordinary situation is navigated in a way that keeps us all safe, is fair to students, and trusts our school and district leaders to preserve the integrity of the Regents Exam program.  

Posted in Uncategorized

Governor Declares State of Emergency in Tri-State Area

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Office. January 26, 2015:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today declared a state of emergency for the following counties ahead of the extreme winter storm expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds: Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester and contiguous counties. In addition, the Governor announced a tractor trailer ban will be in effect on major state highways beginning at 4:00 p.m., and the State is considering a full travel ban on roads and bridges as well as the potential closing of public transit networks in affected areas beginning at 11 p.m. Commuters should pay close attention to advisories as the day progresses and leave work early if possible.

The Governor has also directed all non-essential state employees in counties covered by the State of Emergency to leave work at 3:00 p.m. The Executive Order also includes provisions to help protect the health of New Yorkers by suspending certain regulatory measures in order to help ensure all patients receive their medications and care during this emergency.

“As New York State prepares for a major snowstorm, I am declaring a State of Emergency to ensure local governments have the tools and resources they need to respond quickly and effectively,” Governor Cuomo said. “With forecasts showing a potentially historic blizzard for Long Island, New York City, and parts of the Hudson Valley, we are preparing for the worst and I urge all New Yorkers to do the same – take this storm seriously and put safety first. If leaving work early is an option, I urge residents in downstate communities to do so and stay off roads and our public transit networks as we brace for the storm’s impact.”

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City metropolitan area effective today at 1 p.m. through Tuesday night. The National Weather Service forecasts snow accumulation of at least 1 ½ to 2 feet combined with wind gusts of up to 55 MPH. People in the region should closely monitor weather forecasts and advisories as the storm approaches the state.

The Governor has ordered the activation of the State’s Emergency Operations Center today at noon. The following agencies will be providing liaisons: Agriculture and Markets, American Red Cross, Environmental Conservation, Military and Naval Affairs, Health and Health EMS, Transportation, Information Technology Services, Education, NYSERDA, State Police, Children and Family Services, Fire Prevention and Control, Interoperable Emergency Communications, Mental Health, Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, People with Developmental Disabilities, Temporary and Disability Assistance, Public Service Commission, Thruway, General Services, Port Authority of NY and NJ, Salvation Army and SUNY.

Under a State of Emergency, critical resources that are normally restricted to State use are mobilized to assist local governments and laws and regulations that would otherwise impede their rapid response may be suspended.

State offices in the counties of Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester will close at 3 p.m. today, Monday, January 26. A directed early departure for non-essential employees is hereby granted as of that time and employees do not have to charge credits. Essential employees should report to work as directed by management. If an agency has any questions, the agency’s designated representative should contact the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations at 518-474-6988.

On Sunday, Governor Cuomo urged commuters to work from home on Monday if possible, or else plan to leave work early on Monday because of expected road and public transportation closures on Monday and Tuesday. State resources have been mobilized in the region, including the positioning of National Guard, State Police and storm removal crews to strategically respond to the extreme weather event.

Steps taken to ensure readiness in cooperation with the State of Emergency include:

Transportation

MTA Subway and Buses

The subway will run until approximately 8:00 p.m. Service may then be reduced or suspended as the storm intensifies through the evening. Bus service may be reduced as ridership decreases through the evening.

New York City Transit will store trains underground starting Monday during the afternoon and evening peak period to protect the subway car fleet from the elements. New York City Transit stores trains underground on express tracks, so this will impact express service at night and through the overnight hours. Personnel are in place to clear platforms and stairs of snow but customers are urged to use extreme caution if they need to travel.

As conditions worsen, New York City Transit may temporarily suspend service on outdoor, open cut sections of the system (Sea Beach N line Brooklyn, Brighton B/Q line in Brooklyn, Rockaway A line in Queens, Flushing 7 line in Queens, and the Dyre 5 line in the Bronx and Staten Island Railway) to dispatch deicers and snow blowers along these sections where heavy accumulation can occur. If conditions continue to deteriorate, New York City Transit may preemptively suspend service if it becomes increasingly clear that operating trains becomes unsafe for both customers and employees.

Depending on road conditions, bus service may be curtailed as the day progresses. All local buses, including articulated buses, will have chains or snow tires installed by today’s afternoon and evening peak. Articulated buses will be removed from service after this peak. We will continue to operate buses only as long as it remains safe to do so. Paratransit will not be providing sedan service and customers are asked to stay home unless travel involves a medical necessity.

Long Island Rail Road, Staten Island Railroad, Metro-North Railroad and PATH Trains

The Long Island Rail Road, Staten Island Railroad, and Metro-North Railroad may close at 11:00 p.m. as the snow storm intensifies. This decision will be announced by 4:00 p.m., and commuters are encouraged to use these transit networks as soon as possible before the snow becomes heavier.

For commuters who plan to leave work early today, the LIRR and Metro-North will operate early-getaway departure schedules with extra trains departing from Grand Central and Penn Station in the early afternoon. As a result, there will be fewer Metro-North trains than a regular rush hour after 5 p.m., and there may be fewer LIRR trains than normal toward the later part of the rush hour if conditions worsen. Later in the evening, the Metro-North and LIRR may suspend service. Railroad customers should visit MTA.info and monitor MTA email and text message service alerts, or @LIRR or @MetroNorth on Twitter for information about specific train schedules.

The LIRR and Metro-North are activating switch heaters, which keep snow and ice from building up on the movable, interlocking rails where trains switch from one track to the next. With heaters activated, the switches will be able to continue to move and function as the storm progresses. The railroads are also pre-positioning extra trains at key locations to stand by and assist in the event that a train becomes disabled. Station platforms will be pre-salted for the morning rush hour. Snow fighting equipment is in place, and being fueled in advance of the storm. Crews are being deployed to respond to weather-related events such as downed trees, switch problems, or damage to overhead wires on the New Haven Line. LIRR station waiting rooms will remain open around the clock through Friday, January 30.

The PATH is scheduled to operate regular service through this evening’s rush hour. Beginning at approximately 9 p.m. tonight, PATH is scheduled to go to a weekend schedule where trains operate service from World Trade Center to Newark, NJ and from 33rd Street to Journal Square (Jersey City, NJ) via Hoboken every 15 minutes. The weekend service will continue through Tuesday. Additional changes to PATH’s schedule may be needed if conditions warrant.

Roads and Bridges

A ban on tractor trailers for I-84 from border to border, the Long Island Expressway, and I-287 will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

The State is considering a travel ban on roads and bridges in affected areas that would begin at 11PM. There will be an announcement on this decision by 4:00 p.m. today. In the event that a travel ban is in place, only emergency vehicles will be permitted on the road.

The State has activated 894 snowplows in the affected region (Department of Transportation: 304 in Hudson Valley & 359 on Long Island; Thruway Authority: 231 between the Hudson Valley and Long Island), and has more than 130,000 tons of road salt on hand. Department of Transportation snowplows are traveling from as far as Buffalo and Watertown to assist in the downstate operation, and the NYS Thruway Authority has shifted more than a dozen snowplows from other Thruway divisions toward the region. All Thruway and New York State Department of Transportation maintenance headquarters will be fully staffed around the clock for the duration of the storm.

Long Island is expected to be hit especially hard by high winds during high tide, posing a limited coastal flooding risk for communities on the North Shore. The State has stationed at least 17 high-axle vehicles to provide assistance to the area.

Airports

Travelers using airports to travel in the region should check with carriers before heading to the airport. As of 12:30 p.m. Monday there were more than 1,000 cancellations between LGA and JFK, and flight cancellations will increase through the day. Substantial flight cancellations are highly likely on Tuesday.

Power

The New York State Public Service Commission will continue to monitor utilities efforts throughout the storm and during the restoration period. Utilities are prepared to respond 24-hours a day to power disruptions and mandated to implement their emergency response plans that have been approved by the Public Service Commission, which includes contacting customers on life support equipment.

Utility contact numbers:
Central Hudson 800-527-2714
Con Edison 800-752-6633
National Grid – Metro 718-643-4050
National Grid – LI 800-930-5003
National Grid – Upstate 800-642-4272
National Fuel Gas 800-365-3234
Orange & Rockland 877-434-4100
PSEG Long Island 800-490-0075
RG&E 800-743-2110

New York’s utilities have a total of 3,943 in-house workers and outside contractors standing ready to assist in storm restoration efforts. Public Service Commission staff will continue to monitor the utilities’ efforts throughout the storm and during the restoration period.

PSEG Long Island is bringing in 400 line workers: 170 from the Midwest and 230 from the southern United States. The workers are expected to be in place Tuesday morning. The company is also bringing in 200 tree contractors; those are expected to be on site late Monday.

Con Edison is bringing in 46 line workers and Central Hudson is bringing in 62 line workers. National Grid is shifting 150 line workers and NYSEG is shifting 80 line workers from western New York to the east.

The New York Power Authority has activated its emergency operations center, which will also be connected to power plant control centers in Astoria at NYPA’s 500 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant and at the Richard M. Flynn Power Plant in Holtsville on Long Island, which forecasters say could suffer the brunt of the potentially historic storm.

All of NYPA’s 16 generating facilities throughout New York State will continue normal operations during the blizzard. NYPA has placed transmission crews from its upstate facilities on standby in case utilities in the blizzard zone need additional personnel to deal with possible outages. NYPA has also asked the 47 municipal electric companies and the four electrical cooperatives it serves to have crews available to aid downstate utility crews in the event of outages from the high winds that are expected to accompany the blizzard.

Public Safety

The National Guard has more than 260 personnel on duty throughout New York City, Long Island and lower Hudson Valley with 78 pieces of equipment including 60 high-axle vehicles. The National Guard is also providing support to the FDNY EMS with 25 of those vehicles and 50 of those personnel. Heavy equipment including 4 front end loaders, 10 dump trucks, and 4 Bobcats are en route to Long Island and will arrive prior to the onset of the heaviest snow later today.

The Division of State Police has had contact with all regional Troop Commanders to ensure that resources and staffing patterns have been identified for the storm. State police in the anticipated affected region, Troops F, G, K, L and Thruway zones T1 and T2, will bring in additional personnel on overtime. Nearly 50 Troopers will be reassigned from outside these areas for storm-related duties.

The State Police are ready to deploy 50 4×4 vehicles, 8 all-terrain vehicles and 8 snowmobiles in the region. Troopers normally assigned to Traffic Incident Management and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement have also been re-assigned to patrol duties for this storm.

Troop Emergency Management personnel have been pre-designated to staff open county Emergency Operation Centers and all emergency power and communications equipment has been tested.

Suspension of Certain Health Care Regulations

The Executive Order signed by the Governor today includes provisions to help protect the health of New Yorkers during the midst of the snowstorm and recovery efforts. The order temporarily suspends some regulatory measures in order to help ensure all patients receive their medications and care during this emergency. The Order takes effect immediately and runs through February 2.

The Executive Order will provide the following for individuals unable to access medication:
· Allows patients to obtain refills of their prescriptions at any pharmacy with a shared database;
· Allows practitioners to issue an early prescription;
· Replaces a prescription for controlled substances that has already been filled; and
· Allows the transfer of prescriptions or medications between facilities if a hospital or nursing home patient must be moved in an emergency, ensuring that their medication follows them.The order also works to ensure flexibility in the staffing of health care providers. Currently, many health care workers are unable to get to or leave work, creating staffing shortages and causing many employees to stay on for multiple consecutive shifts. Facilities now have the temporarily flexibility to provide adequate staffing until they are able to fully staff their facilities as usual. The Order also provides flexibility for admitting and discharging patients, which will lessen the amount of paperwork and free up staff time.

Home care workers typically must receive timely approvals to continue treating patients, and under this Order, these have been temporarily relaxed so that patients can still receive visits during this emergency from staff that are able to reach them.

Additionally, health care volunteers may assist at any general hospital in the region, even if that is not where they normally practice medicine.

Lastly, medical residents and attending physicians in hospitals may work beyond the normal number of hours and physicians at those hospitals may supervise more staff than normal. All of these provisions in the Executive Order will help alleviate the health care worker shortage the storm has caused.

Governor Cuomo recommends the following tips to citizens that reside in the storm affected regions:

Use Caution If Travel Is Necessary

It is important for motorists on all roads to note that snowplows travel at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, which in many cases is lower than the posted speed limit, to ensure that salt being dispersed stays in the driving lanes and does not scatter off the roadways. Oftentimes on interstate highways, snowplows will operate side by side, as this is the most efficient and safe way to clear several lanes at one time.

Motorists and pedestrians should also keep in mind that snowplow drivers have limited lines of sight, and the size and weight of snowplows can make it very difficult to maneuver and stop quickly. Snow blowing from behind the plow can severely reduce visibility or cause whiteout conditions. Motorists should not attempt to pass snowplows or follow too closely. The safest place for motorists to drive is well behind the snowplows where the roadway is clear and salted.

Some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:· Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
· Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
· Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
· Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
· Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;
· Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;
· Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;
· Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;
· Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and
· Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.
Motorists should also include the following emergency items in their vehicles:· Flashlight with extra batteries
· Charged cell phone and automobile charger
· Basic first-aid kit
· Blankets or sleeping bags
· Extra clothes, including rain gear, boots, mittens, and socks
· Windshield scraper and brush
· Fire extinguisher
· Shovel
· Sand, road salt and/or cat litter for traction
· Tire chains or traction mats
· Basic tool kit, including pliers, wrench, and screwdriver
· Tow rope
· Battery jumper cables
· Road flares/reflectors
· Brightly colored cloth (to use as a flag)
· Road maps
Heavy exertion, such as shoveling snow, clearing debris, or pushing a car, can increase the risk of a heart attack. To avoid problems:· Stay warm, dress warm and SLOW DOWN when working outdoors.
· Take frequent rests to avoid over exertion.
· If you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in the jaw or radiating down the arm –STOP and seek help immediately.
If You Lose Power:· First, call your utility to determine area repair schedules.
· Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
· If heat goes out during a winter storm, keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.Other Home Safety Tips:· When removing snow and ice from driveways and sidewalks, stay clear of electric and natural gas meters to avoid damaging them, inadvertently disrupting service or putting yourself in danger. Snow and ice can damage electric and natural gas meters, natural gas pipes and natural gas regulators, so never bury any of this equipment when shoveling, using a snowblower or plowing.
· When removing snow or ice from a roof, never let it fall on electric or natural gas meters or related equipment.
· Natural gas appliance chimneys and vents should be kept free of snow and ice to prevent the build-up of potentially-deadly carbon monoxide.
· Be prepared if you smell natural gas. If you smell that distinctive sulfur-like odor – like the smell of rotten eggs – get up, get out and call your utility immediately from a cell phone or neighbor’s phone.
For more winter safety tips, visit the NYS Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services here.

New York State provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and road conditions, which can be accessed by dialing 511 or online at
www.511ny.org. The web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. It also provides links to airport, rail and transit information.

Thruway motorists are encouraged to sign up for TRANSalert e-mails which provide the latest traffic conditions along the Thruway. Motorists can sign up for TRANSalerts by following this link: http://www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml. Thruway travelers can also get real-time updates by following @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter or by visiting http://www.thruway.ny.gov to see an interactive map showing traffic conditions for the Thruway 

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County Storm Advisory

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Department of Communications. January 26, 2015:

County Executive Robert P. Astorino will activate the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Hawthorne at 4 p.m. today (Monday) to coordinate Westchester’s response to the major winter storm that is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions starting tonight.  Astorino will be holding a media availability at the EOC at 3:30 p.m. where he will discuss the preparations the county is taking to deal with the storm, as well as provide the latest updates on mass transit and roadway status.

Astorino urged Westchester residents to take precautions to prepare for the storm, which is projected to bring significant snowfall and high winds to the county. Downed trees and power lines, power outages, coastal flooding and dangerous travel conditions are among the potential impacts that severe winter storms can bring, the county executive said.

“Preparedness is critical when such a severe storm is heading our way,” said Astorino. “All of our departments are working hard to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep the people of Westchester safe. I urge our residents to take the necessary and practical steps to prepare for the storm, particularly to be ready if power outages occur.”

Under Astorino’s direction, county personnel assigned to the EOC will monitor preparations for the storm and oversee the county’s response to and recovery from its impacts.  The county will be ready to assist municipalities with resources if requested.

“As we do during all major weather events and other emergencies, we will work with our municipal partners and get through this together,” said Astorino. “In that same spirit, I ask our residents to check on their elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors, or on anyone they know of who may need some extra help dealing with the conditions we are expecting.”

Astorino said the county’s Department of Emergency Services and Health Department offers a broad range of practical advice to help residents prepare for a major winter storm and stay safe when one occurs. A sampling of the information that can be found at www.westchestergov.com/health is listed below.  Residents with non-emergency questions can also call 2-1-1.

 

     Before the storm arrives:

  • Have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights and battery-powered radios. Keep these items somewhere you can find them easily if power goes out in the night.
  • Keep cell phones and other important electronic devices fully charged.
  • Turn the freezer and refrigerator to the highest setting. This will preserve food longer if power goes out.
  • Assemble a three-day supply of water and non-perishable foods, needed medications, and extra clothing and blankets. Have a go-bag ready in case you must leave your home.

     During the storm:

  • Remain indoors if possible.
  • Stay off the roads.
  • Do not walk or drive close to snow plows; it is difficult for plow operators to see you.
  • Do not go near, or drive over, downed power lines.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using alternate heating sources like space heaters and wood burning stoves
  • Do not place a space heater within three feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture or bedding, on top of furniture or near water, and never cover your space heater.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended near a space heater, fireplace or wood burning stove.

If the power goes out:

  • Call the local utility company to inform it of the power outage. Con Edison’s 24-hour hotline is 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633) and NYSEG’s hotline service is 1-800-572-1131.
  • Leave a light on to let you know when power has been restored.
  • Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles, as candles are a fire hazard.
  • Limit opening the refrigerator and freezer doors as much as possible.
  • Do not operate electrical generators indoors (this includes the garage) as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use them outside in a well-ventilated area, far away and downwind from your home.
  • If you use a fireplace, wood stove or portable kerosene heater to stay warm, be sure to adequately ventilate to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide build up in your home. Never use a natural gas or propane stove to heat your home.
  • Never use the stove or gas range in your kitchen to heat your home.

 

After the storm:

  • Dress warmly in windproof clothing to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing to trap body heat. Remember gloves, scarves and a hat that covers the ears
  • Shovel snow in moderation, particularly if you have any medical condition or you do not exercise regularly. Do not shovel snow from driveways and sidewalks into the street.
  • Never start or operate a snow blower or chain saw in your garage.
  • Clear the area around hydrants near your property, if possible.
  • Before driving, clear snow from vehicle windows and roofs.
  • Be on the lookout for falling ice and snow from roofs and gutters. When a lot of heavy snow and ice has accumulated on roofs, do not stand under structures that are not well-supported.
  • During a prolonged power outage, these foods are potentially hazardous if not stored below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and should be discarded: meat, poultry, seafood, cold cuts, hot dogs, eggs, cream, sour cream, yogurt, milk, custards, puddings, soft and shredded cheeses, cut fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta, casseroles, unbaked cookie and bread dough, gravy, creamy salad dressings, fish sauces, hoisin sauce, opened spaghetti sauce and garlic in oil. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
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Common Council Removes Commissioner of Planning by Unanimous Vote.

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. January 22, 2015 UPDATED January 26, 2015:

As first reported by WPCNR last Wednesday  afternoon the city completed its intention to remove its Commissioner of Planning, Elizabeth Cheteny at a short terse meeting Thursday afternoon at 5 P.M.

The City Clerk  noticed a Special Meeting of the Common Council Thursday morning to vote on a resolution to remove Elizabeth Cheteny as Commissioner of Planning. According to Section 20 of the City Charter, it takes a simple majority vote of 4 to 3 to remove or retain a Commissioner or Officer.

All seven members voted unanimously to support the removal.

Ms. Cheteny according to reliable sources was asked to resign Tuesday afternoon, and had been also reported by other city sources as considering whether to resign. She did not resign.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond Wednesday to WPCNR questions as to what Ms. Cheteny’s status was, or  who would take over the Planning Commissioner position going forward, or whether there is going to be an Acting Commissioner appointed, or a national search conducted.

Ms. Cheteny was called at the Planning Department Wednesday and Thursday by WPCNR, and messages left with persons answering the phone taking messages requesting her to clarify her situation. She has not returned the calls

WPCNR received a telephone call saying I should refer all questions to the Mayor’s Office, which this reporter had done yesterday and no statement on the matter has been issued as of 11:20 A,M.

Ms. Cheteny, if she is removed will have been Commissioner of Planning for two years and three months since starting with the city in October, 2012. She was the first new hire appointed by Mayor Tom Roach.

At that thime, Ms. Cheteny had had broad experience in the field of planning. She has worked in the public and private sectors; for governments, not-for-profits and in academia. As a senior land use planner and economist with more than 25 years of experience, Ms. Cheteny has directed planning projects involving municipal and institutional comprehensive planning, zoning, environmental review, as well as historic, scenic, and open space preservation.

Ms. Cheteny spent the majority of her career (fifteen years and eight months, according to her resume), with the environmental consulting firm, AKRF, Inc., rising to the position of Vice President, before leaving for an academic position at the University of Buffalo in 2004.

AKRF is a firm White Plains has commissioned for years as environmental consultants. AKRF consulted extensively on the formulation of the closure plan, recently begun by the City of White Plains on the Gedney landfill.

For the last year and a month before her appointment  Ms. Cheteny served as the Environmental Program Manager for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, at which she directed all aspects of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of a new clinical science center proposed for the campus.

Prior to the Roswell post, from April 2004 to June 2010, Ms. Cheteny served as Director of Planning for the Urban Design Project, a center in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo the State University of New York. She was also a Vice President at the environmental and planning firm, AKRF, working in their offices in New York City and Westchester County, and eventually, opening and managing their western New York office.

Ms. Cheteny has extensive government and not-for-profit experience as well. She is a former trustee in the Village of East Aurora, NY; she co-founded the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway; and is a board member of the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy and Western New York Land Conservancy. Several of her projects have received awards from the American Planning Association, including the Olmstead City – Buffalo Olmstead Park System: Plan for the 21st Century and the Niagara Falls Main Street Plan.

Ms. Cheteny has led economic revitalization studies for municipalities around the state. She has managed a number of environmental impact statements (EISs) for large-scale projects in the New York City metropolitan area, and conducted numerous socioeconomic and fiscal impact studies on development proposals, tourism-related projects, and recreational projects.

Mayor Roach when he brought her in said, “Betty Cheteny brings an extraordinary breadth of experience to the City’s Planning Department. Whether working with municipal governments, academic institutions, health care institutions or private sector clients, Ms. Cheteny has brought a thoughtful and informed approach to planning. Her collaborative nature has enabled her to work successfully with community organizations and other stakeholders on a wide variety of projects. I believe that Ms. Cheteny will build on the strengths of our Planning Department and help White Plains continue to move forward in a dynamic, smart and progressive fashion.”

He has issued no statement on her present situation.

 

 

 

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