Westchester District Attorney Charges White Plains Woman in Head-on Fatal Crash Killing two in Late October

WPCNR DOCKET . From the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney. January 18, 2017:

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced that Michelle Bonet (DOB 07/28/73) of 9 Stonewall Circle, White Plains, New York was arraigned on an indictment today before Judge Anne Minihan and charged with:

  • three counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, class “B” Felonies,
  • two counts of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, class “C” Felonies,
  • one count of Aggravated Driving while Intoxicated Per Se, a Misdemeanor,
  • one count of Driving While Intoxicated, a Misdemeanor,
  • one count of a Driving While Ability Impaired by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, a Misdemeanor

in the deaths of Henrietta and Carmelo Sbezzi.

On October 28, 2016 at approximately 2:15 p.m., the defendant was driving north by west on West Hartsdale Road in Greenburgh.

MichelleBonet

Michelle Bonet

While driving her Chrysler minivan, the defendant was observed by witnesses crossing over the double yellow line multiple times. Just prior to the fatal event, the defendant nearly collided head-on with a vehicle being operated by a seventeen year old student coming from Maria Regina High School.

A few moments later, the defendant who was driving over the speed limit, crossed the double yellow line on West Hartsdale Avenue and collided head-on with a Lexus sedan being driven by Carmelo Sbezzi (DOB 09/06/34). In the front passenger’s seat was his wife, Henrietta (DOB 11/23/35).

The force of the impact pushed the victims’ car off the road. The vehicles came to rest with the front of each vehicle nearly touching each other and the defendant’s car almost entirely in the opposite lane of traffic.

Police, EMS and Fire units responded to the scene. The victims had to be extricated from their vehicle. The defendant, who was the sole occupant of her vehicle, was found slumped over unconscious.

The defendant and victims were taken to Westchester Medical Center. Both victims died at the hospital.

Two separate blood samples were drawn from the defendant at the hospital at different times. Testing of those samples revealed a BAC of .29 and .25 respectively. The testing also revealed an amount of Diazepam also referred to as Valium.

The defendant pled not guilty.

Her bail was continued.

She faces a minimum of one to four to a maximum of eight and one-third to twenty-five years in state prison.

Her next court date is January 31, 2017.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney James Bavero of the Superior Court Trial Division.

Posted in Uncategorized

Waiting for Veto: Law Banning Gun Shows Veto By Friday. Compromise Bill Expected to be Passed Next Tuesday. No Override Attempt Expected

Testa

Westchester County Legislator John Testa, District 1 Gives Update on the Compromise Bill Expected after the anticipated Gun Show Ban Veto.

 

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. By John F. Bailey. Interview with County Legislator John Testa January 17, 2017.

County Legislator John Testa of Westchester District 1 (Yorktown, Cortlandt and Peekskill), speaking to WPCNR Tuesday afternoon confirmed that Robert P. Astorino is expected to veto the law passed one week ago,  banning the staging of gun shows on Westchester County owned property. The County Center where the show that caused Democrats on the legislature to pass the ban, is county-owned.

Testa said County Executive Astorino will veto the law Friday (or before–Friday is  the 10th day after the bill was passed)  and this weekend’s  show will go on.

Testa said he expected no attempt by the Legislature to override  the veto. “They don’t have the votes”, he said. The law banning shows on county property passed 9 to 8, with 9 Democrats voting to ban, and 7 Republicans and 1 Conservative voting against it. The Democrats would have to acquire three Republicans to override, which Testa does not see happening.

Instead, Testa said, the Compromise Bill (Chapter 432-Gun Show Procedures) Republicans presented last week, will be taken up next Tuesday evening with public hearing and a possible vote.

Testa agreed with law enforcement sources speaking to WPCNR last week who confirmed to WPCNR the “reforms”  the Compromise Bill proposes are already on the state books and in use.”

“All of them (regulations and restrictions on background checks, procedures) are now in use by the County Police and in place,” Testa said.  “The new law makes the state rules applicable to private gun shows within Westchester County held not on County-owned property.” Testa said he was not expecting any additions to the Compromise Bill.

In a related interview on gun show procedures, two fire arms experts who travel to gun shows throughout the state said the procedures the county proposes for the “private” shows in the county are already observed in shows held on private property not only in the County, but across the state.

That interview  will be telecast Thursday evening on White Plains Television’s PEOPLE TO BE HEARD, White Plains Carl Albanese and Ben Rosenshine, both Federal Firearms Instructors, (Mr.Rosenshine  is also a NYS dealer in firearms and owns Blue Line Tactical Supply & Shooting Sports in Elmsford)who travel to gun shows all over New York State, told WPCNR that the procedures in the Compromise Bill are required at every gun show across the state and have been in place for years. You can see that Albanese-Rosenshine interview on YOUTUBE at https://youtu.be/8-Qo_bFLekE or on the White Plains Week website at http://www.whiteplainsweek.com

 

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3 Doctors, 3 Executives in String of 8 Medical Clinics Charged with $33 Million Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Scheme. Gave Kickbacks to Elderly “patients.”

WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 17, 2017:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dennis Rosen, Inspector General of the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”), announced the unsealing today of a superseding indictment charging physicians MUSTAK Y. VAID, PAUL J. MATHIEU, and EWALD J. ANTOINE, as well as health-care executives MARINA BURMAN, ASHER OLEG KATAEV, a/k/a “Oleg Kataev,” and ALLA TSIRLIN with operating a $33 million health care fraud scheme through the operation of eight fraudulent medical clinics in Brooklyn, as well as the operation of related suppliers of medical equipment, tests, and services.

As part of the fraud scheme, the defendants’ co-conspirators paid cash kickbacks to elderly and financially disadvantaged patients (the “Paid Patients”) who were insured by Medicare and/or Medicaid, and the defendants and their co-conspirators then billed Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary medical services, tests, and supplies related to the Paid Patients.

VAID was previously indicted and arrested on these charges in November 2016. MATHIEU, ANTOINE, BURMAN, KATAEVE, and TSIRLIN were arrested earlier today and presented and arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “These defendants allegedly operated fraudulent medical clinics and suppliers in a scheme that bilked Medicare and Medicaid out of more than $30 million. As alleged, three of the defendants were doctors who, in violation of their Hippocratic oath, signed medical charts for patients they never treated and prescribed unnecessary medications, procedures, and supplies. Medicare and Medicaid were established to assist the elderly and economically disadvantaged, not to serve as cash cows for allegedly corrupt professionals.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “In this case, as alleged, Medicare and Medicaid programs suffered millions of dollars in losses when a group of physicians and health-care executives created, operated, or became associated with eight fraudulent medical clinics. As charged, their litany of crimes included paying a series of kickbacks, writing scripts for unnecessary medical tests, and arranging transportation services for patients who didn’t need a ride. Today’s charges certainly won’t prove to be a cure for all ills, but they are a step in the right direction when it comes to confronting the threats faced by the health care system.”

Medicaid Inspector General Dennis Rosen said: “This joint investigation and today’s arrests send an unmistakable message. Those who seek personal gain by preying upon vulnerable New Yorkers and exploiting the Medicaid program will be held fully accountable. My office will continue to work closely with our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI and other state and federal agencies to root out fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid program.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today and according to statements made in Court today: [1]

Aleksandr Burman, an individual with no medical license, established eight medical clinics in Brooklyn (the “Related Clinics”), which operated between 2007 and 2013. For each clinic, Aleksandr Burman hired one of three doctors – VAID, MATHIEU, or ANTOINE – to pose as the nominal owner of the clinic, since New York State law requires that a professional services corporation providing medical care must be owned by a medical professional.

In fact, however, VAID, MATHIEU, and ANTOINE were each simply hired by Aleksandr Burman to pose as the owner of one or more of the clinics, and to come to the clinic periodically, in order to sign medical charts falsely stating that the doctor had examined a number of Paid Patients. VAID posed as the owner of one such clinic, while MATHIEU posed as the owner of four others, and ANTOINE posed as the owner of the remaining three.

The three doctors were also paid to provide a large number of prescriptions and referrals for medically unnecessary supplies. Such unnecessary prescriptions included referrals for more than $3.5 million worth of durable medical equipment (“DME”), consisting mostly of incontinence supplies such as adult diaper sets ordered from a DME supply company (“USD”) owned jointly by BURMAN and Aleksandr Burman of the Related Clinics.

Many of the Paid Patients who received such prescriptions and referrals did not need or receive the diapers and other supplies. Instead, BURMAN and USD arranged for the Paid Patients to exchange their diaper prescriptions for valuable merchandise, such as bed linens, tablecloths, dishes, kitchen appliances, and other housewares.

BURMAN and USD nonetheless filed Medicaid claims for such DME, seeking more than $3.5 million in reimbursement. BURMAN also transported cash to the Related Clinics to be used to pay kickbacks to the Paid Patients.

VAID, MATHIEU, ANTOINE, and their co-conspirators also provided medical referrals for transportation services to hundreds of Paid Patients, even though such transportation was not medically necessary. This practice generated more than $4 million in losses to Medicaid. In addition, VAID, MATHIEU, and ANTOINE provided referrals and prescriptions for medically unnecessary diagnostic tests, including MRIs, as well as prescriptions for medications such as expensive ointment compounds. The defendants and their co-conspirators then sent such medical referrals to specific medical testing companies, which in turn provided kickbacks to Aleksandr Burman.

 

In 2012, KATAEV and TSIRLIN became business partners of Aleksandr Burman, and operated as the managers of two of the Related Clinics. Their activity as managers included paying cash kickbacks directly to Paid Patients, and employing MATHIEU and ANTIONE to pose as the owners of the two clinics.

 

In or about March 2016, Aleksandr Burman pled guilty for his role in these offenses. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 15, 2017, before the Honorable Paul G. Gardephe.

VAID, 43, of Brownstown Township, Michigan, MATHIEU, 51, of Morristown, New Jersey, ANTOINE, 66, of Valley Stream, New York, BURMAN, 54, of Manhattan, KATAEV, 48, of Staten Island, and TSIRLIN, 46, of Brooklyn, are all charged with: (1) conspiring to commit health care fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; (2) the substantive offenses of mail fraud and wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; (3) the substantive offense of health care fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; and (4) conspiring to make false statements relating to a federal health care program, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. BURMAN, KATAEV, and TSIRLIN are also charged with conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the New York FBI’s Health Care Fraud Task Force.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raymond Lewis is in charge of the prosecution.

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


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Posted in Uncategorized

HUDSON VALLEY HOME SALES UP MOST SINCE 2011. WESTCHESTER LEADS WITH MOST SALES, 7.7% GAIN

WPCNR REALTY REALITY. From the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. January 17, 2017:

Westchester home sales closed on an upswing for the year 2016. All four counties in the region: Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester sold 24% more homes in 2016 than in 2015. The 18,145 closings for 2016 was the best sales results since the “post-recession recovery” began in 2011.

Westchester lead the other three counties in total sales. Westchester closings through December 31 showed single family home sales were up 8.4%, 6,213 to the 2015 total of 5,731. The average Westchester price was down 2.1% to $818,844.

County Condo sales were up 6.3%,1,398 to the 2015 total of 1,315 selling at an average of $422,723, down 1.4%.

Coops in the county were up 4%, 1,884 to 1,814, and the coop average price was $155,000 up 3.6%.

Two to 4 Family homes were very hot in Westchester County up a robust 15.7% , 626 in 2016 compared to 541 in 2015. The average price of a 2 to 4 Family sale? $429.055 up 2.9%

The Multiple Listing Service comments  “All 4 counties have been confronting a tightening inventory situation. Inventory (number of homes for sale), is not quite low enough to stall the market but is low enough to create pressure (on the buyer) for speedier decision making by prospective buyers.”

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Dr. Martin Luther King: The Forgotten American. A Forgotten American Value Lost. A Legacy Trashed by an Incoming President for God’s Sake? How About Putting Dr. King’s Face on the $1 BILL?

WPCNR THE BIG EXTRA. News & Comment by John F. Bailey. January 16, 2017:

I wrote this column thirteen years ago in 2004.  I published it  again last January It still stands relevant today, Even more so. Agonizingly more so.

Reading President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union Message, (a melancholy reminder of what his Presidency that might have been), and the absolute hatred and disrespect directed at Mr. Obama by members of his own party and the Republican Party towards him the last eight years, I can only shake my head in deep sorrow about an America I thought was gone  that has returned with all the excuses and reasons segregation, redlining, slums were allowed to exist for a hundred years after the Civil War.

Another Civil War grew this last year: The Robber Barons in new suits have returned from the grave to say what is best for them is good for America. Like it was good for us in the days of rotten meat, snake oil medicine,  unsafe railroads, segregated lunch counters, segregated schools, tony private schools. Unequal funding of schools. Cultivation of college for the elite.

But  now Jim Crow America is back, joined by Jose Crow, and Mohammed Crow.

Hatred of the different is back. So back.

Disdain for the downtrodden, the  unlucky and the underpaid is back.

Refusal to help the afflicted because they are not our responsibility is back.

Disrepect for women is back. It was demonstrated disgracefully  every day in the media the last year by “candidates for President” who say they want to make ” America Great Again.” How is disrespect for women, not wanting equal pay for an equal job going to make America great? It’s not. Women have to work in America today because the corporations do not pay the men enough to pay the cost of living set by the very corporations, banks, and services, and taxes laid on them by the governments themselves.

And where are the men and women of the cloth today to refute this horrible message accepted by the media as “positions.”

For the ministers, rabbis, preachers, and society leaders today to be not speaking out against the Republican message of Fascist hate is a disgrace. Many Christian ministers are supporting such thinly disguised hate by not speaking out.

Turn in your collars, gentlemen and ladies of the cloth.

The last 8 years have seen a revival of the Republican Party that resembles a revival of the Ku Klux Klan more than the Party of Lincoln.

They were lead by the sixteen  low standard bearers who are educated enough to know better, kowtowing to the frightened, the fearful and the superior and the insecure– making popular once again hatred of the black man, the Jew, the Muslim, the person who speaks Spanish, the immigrant, the refugee all those “threats” to America who work like dogs to survive because they believe in the American Dream, while the basically white establishment today like their version of the dream, which survives on Capitalism of exploiting the populace to make money by eliminating competition. Making deals. Creating investments without value. Using other people’s money.

The real threat to America are the leaders who pour out this message to appeal to ignorance as Hitler poured it out to Germans in the 1920s and 1930s coming to power, blaming inferiors for Germany’s problems.

That fills me with a great melancholy. I wish there was ONE Martin Luther King today. ONE.

One Democratic elected official who would stand up for their President the last 8 years.

ONE religious leader, white, or black, Hispanic, or Muslim who would stand up as that Muslim woman stood up in a Trump rally and the big, brave man Trump threw her out of the rally.

A man who would act that way towards a woman is in no way qualified to be a President of the United States of America, but in 5 days he will be. And no matter what he does, his efforts will be extolled by the many as reforms long needed. What they will not say, is why, because any progress in uplifting the poor and disenfranchised are greeted by the establishment with roadblocks and opposition.

I guarantee you Dr. Martin Luther King would have been in the faces of Mr. Trump’s Hate Chorus a long time ago IF he were alive today. That’s essentially why Dr. King was assassinated.

Donald Trump. Ted Cruz. Hillary Clinton, every member of the Cabinet without hearts that is about to be rubber stamped by the congress, and yes,  Our own Senators and representatives are cold people.

Today,  the man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is being remembered.

I am not that familiar with Dr. King’s life, but I do know that he, like other great men of America who have their days, Dr. King’s name stands for a value that America holds dear — or we like to think we do.

George Washington stands for honesty.

Abraham Lincoln for freedom

Columbus for discovery,

Dr. King’s name stands for Opportunity.

Let me add to that  DR. KING stands for fairness. Compassion. A willingness to help and recognize wrong. To stop by the wayside, like Jesus did and mingle with the Lepers.

In fact, and I just thought of this today. We should put Dr. Martin Luther King’s likeness on the $1 Bill. We would not have the civil rights laws if not for Dr. King. How come the U.S. Government did not come up with that idea?

What would he say if he addressed the group honoring him Monday at the C.V. Rich Mansion?

What would he say about foreclosures, shamefully low passing grades on achievement tests for persons of color and who do not speak English well, unemployment in a “growing” economy? Millions of youths without jobs, and robber baron bankers paying dividends to shareholders made possible by the taxpayers, already recovering financially with double digit profit reports in 2017, and seeking to junk the regulations enacted in 2010 in the Dodd-Frank act to stop them from cheating people again?

What would Dr. King say about the giveaways passed by congress in the budget last year at this time, making permanent tax breaks on overseas profits; while they decided to tolerate sexual assault in the military; while congress is too gutless to pass gun control legislation of any kind; while serious men and women running for President wanted to build walls on our borders; refuse to forgive the student loans holding back the economy; while powerful men under the guise of private use of government lands seek to exploit resources for their own profit; I am sure I have forgotten something…

Just in the selection of the Robber Baron Cabinet now being “vetted” by the government committees. “Vetted” is a joke word Washington uses, which sounds serious, but actually means “we’ll ask a few questions, say the right things and you’re in.” Wouldn’t you love to see Dr. King point his finger at each in turn and point out the obvious. No one is doing that of stature. Let alone the Democratic opposition.

What would King say about the shameless hatred for  the first African-American President vilely espoused by politicians, community leaders and commentators who should know better. The object of the Republican Party the last 8 years was to make sure no African-American, Woman, Latino, or Jew for that matter ever got to be President again. They now can point to the Obama administration and say, “Blacks (Latinos, a woman) do not have the ability to bring the nation together (only white rich people can do that).” Wait and see.

The fact brought out in a poll last year that 60% of Democrats think it is time for a woman President while only 20% of Republicans think a woman should be President–the party of white man rule strikes again.

What would he say about “leaders” who would be leaders of this country standing for the death penalty; standing for no health care for the uninsured; standing for less regulation of the greediest, most corrupt businesses on earth — banks, finance companies, oil companies and international American corporations who ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for doing so; tax cuts for millionaires while refusing to vote extension of unemployment benefits and the debt ceiling? Local leaders who hire politically connected cronies to six-figure jobs to do minimal “work.”

The greed just piles up like a malignancy. Greed is cancer. Greed is not ambition. Greed destroys a nation as it destroys the body.

You know what Dr. Martin Luther KIng would say, don’t you, in your heart, local leaders?

I can hear him now.

But I cannot because someone shot him in 1968, since then no African-American or Latino-American or white man or woman has stepped forward to fill his voice with the same reason, the unswerving ability to tell it like it is.

President Obama was a new hope but he had no backing from “good” men and women in either house of congress. Democrats hung him out to dry. Republicans just saw the color of his skin.

When I think of Dr. King, I think of the Selma marches, I think of Birmingham, I think of Little Rock, Arkansas, where he lead the African-American community in demonstrations asking for the right of equal opportunity in America: a seat on a bus wherever they chose; a restaurant or hotel of their choice; the right to apply for a job without being turned down because you were black.

Blatant in-your-face-discrimination was publicized by Dr. King and America was shown it was not right. It took fearlessness to do that.

Who today has that fearlessness that Dr. King and his followers showed all of America?

“Leaders” so critical of teachers and education, that they want to help by cutting education aid and expenditures, while at the same time giving giveaways to business. Pay pensions to retired educators and public employees when they take other full-time jobs in education and do not “fix” things. And business leaders so greedy they ask for refunds on their taxes so they can make even more profit.

Where are the black and Latino and white, yes white leaders and journalists of today who will stand up and point these outrages out?

Are there any?

Dr. King would. That cost him his life.

Today, subtle discrimination denying equal opportunity, denying education, exploiting the poor, paying illegal residents dollars off the books so they have to work three jobs, foreclosing instead of adjusting, and making settlements with rogue banks that make them even more profitable, and guaranteeing less opportunity are the evils that Dr. King, had he lived, would be attacking today.

Donnie The Tweeter would be tweeting 24-7.

Losing Dr. King has come home to roost. There are no Dr. Kings today.

When I write those sentences I just wrote, it seems incomprehensible to me that someone would deny another person that.

When you think about it, it is an awful situation to think about. In the 49 years since Dr. King was murdered, the nation has come a long way in breaking down the visible barriers of racism based on creed and the color of one’s skin.

Well we’re going backwards now.

Today, though, the language one speaks and where you are from are the prejudices practiced today. Somehow the sons and daughters of immigrants whose ancestors were immigrants have forgotten their roots.

And in the last eight years of President  Obama’s presidency the edgy, putting down of Mr. Obama because of the color of his skin is sickening and you hear it every day from white members of congress, from congresspeople from the south, the midwest, the west. It is disgusting.

Nothing was more disgusting than the false applause accorded the President when he walked in to deliver the State of the Union address. Because it was an act.

But the hate and prejudice are out there–espoused daily on talk shows–and anti-race rhetoric being defended? It confounds me. The rhetoric I have heard from both parties the last six months has turned my stomach. I cannot trust the Republican candidates to treat people right.

I cannot trust the Democrats in Washington because they are of the same like mind when they do not stand up for what is right.

The education establishment continues to favor the English-speaking, the wealthied, and the well-situated.

The White Plains district is 57% Hispanic students. You need more dual language instruction, not less. They need do it…expand it. Not dither over dollars. You have to want to do it.

You need young enthusiastic, bilingual teachers to step in now, as many as possible. Instead, the brain dead tax cap law that the numbers-challenged New York State legislature put in place is going to force cuts like you will not comprehend and it will come at the expense of the younger teachers.

Dr. King would point his finger at every person in that mansion on Ridgeway Monday and say they should be ashamed for sacrificing the futures of those who have no futures unless we help them have one– and that is not giving them free internships then not supplying jobs — that, I am sorry is slavery.

And you know what? That’s what they do.

There are too many in Washington D.C. who want to throw them out of the country.

We had a County Executive stand up last year at this time and say we had to drop the mandates for pre-school education. Cut state mandates for health care. Cut pensions. And that county executive increased the amount folks had to pay for day care. The same County Executive is one who never met a political operative who wasn’t a great addition to the county payroll. (And you know who you are.)

Today the barriers to Equal Opportunity are not subtle any more.

The hate of the poor, the non-English speaking is fashionable and drew cheers in nationally televised debates.

Last fall again in 2016 we learned just how badly education in New York has overstated education achievement with blacks, Hispanics and whites all being equally unprepared at the 9th grade level with the exception of the students whose parents are deeply involved with their children

Barriers still exist: in the classroom. There is reluctance to deliver quality education to the black and Hispanic populations in America today, just as there was 13 years ago.

The only reason there is a concentrated effort to do so are the state achievement tests which show the shame of our education programs for minorities and whites as well. New York admitted its scores on achievement tests the last 10 years were curved way low — meaning that strides in closing the achievement gap between whites and minorities were not strides at all

What would Dr. Martin Luther King say about that education disgrace if he were speaking to us Monday morning?

Plenty.

The horror is that locally many school districts (with the exception of Port Chester) knew the curve on assessment tests 9 years ago was low. They knew it.

Efforts to address the achievement gap were overblown. They lied to thousands of concerned minority parents. They would say they did not want to alarm them. But they were simply lying. Telling us they were doing a good job when they were doing a lousy job.

I wrote about this for the last 16  years, but no other media did, and they still don’t.

The press ignored the low standards for passing grades. They did not even bother finding out what they were.

On the other hand, there is the perception elsewhere that because your name and skin color are different, you automatically need help and are slow-tracked into remedial classes; the inclusion of the slower (read minority) children in one corner of a classroom so you can deal with the “problem children”

In the last ten years the products of this subtle but unequal educational opportunity have been well documented and given a name: The Achievement Gap. Well we now know the acheivement gap is now an achievement abyss from which no one of color or who speaks a foreign language climbs out.

The educational establishment invests millions in studies to find solutions to it and they have learned a lot about it. It takes more School District heads to stand up and say like Dr. King, “we simply are not going to educate half the population any more.”

The lagging of minority youth is blamed on the home and family breakdown. Well then you have to bring more attention to the family unit and those youngsters’ home environment, putting the education in there. It’s expensive but if you want to close the Achievement Abyss you have to do that.

The argument that you have to speak English in the schools and learn through English is racial superiority.

Of course you have to learn to speak English, but really, bilingual education is how we English-speakers learn another language. Port Chester achieved this — and WPCNR pointed this out to the White Plains School Board years ago. Why is this new? (At last we are finally making progress on this issue, thanks to hiring the woman who designed Port Chester’s program). Unfortunately, she has now left the school district which is now essentially Superintendentless at another key transition — meeting the New York State Education Department for providing native language instruction for any grades where more than 20% of the grade population speaks a different language (Spanish, generally).

The task force that met to consider how to comply with the NYSED Section 154 requirements for English Language Learners could not decide to do it without more input, when Ms. O’Donovan suggested three ways to do it one year ago. Now we still don’t have a decision.

That is even though 157 of some 500 kindergartners this year are spanish language English Language Learners. When will the Board of Education act? The Task Force was afraid to do what was right, to prepare.

It is time to see the subtle prejudice that we do not want non-English speaking children in our towns and schools because they are too hard to educate and will cost us money to do that.

They are children, you simply cannot throw  them away because they do not speak English.

This discrimination Dr. Martin Luther King would find hard to take. Ears would be ringing Monday morning.

He would bristle at lowering standards for minorities, because he would see right through that argument, saying:

“When are you going to raise the standards for my people? Because you don’t have to work any harder at educating them, if you do not raise your expectations for them.”

I think Dr. King would look around today and appreciate how Blacks and Whites, Hispanics and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Muslims and other races mingle together in today’s America. Mingling nicely is not enough

But, if he was alive today he would never let the Republican candidates and the Democratic leadership in Washington get away with the prejudiced stereotyping of the hungry, the poor, America’s illegal residents that I have heard the last year

I think he’d observe we are all becoming more appreciative and respectful of each other– again with concern about the confrontation rhetoric

But, I do not think he would like today’s buzz word :”diversity” and our smugness about our diversity.

He would say that’s nice, but let’s keep our eye on the prize, to borrow the wonderful motto of the White Plains Department of Public Safety, let us treat all with integrity, professionalism, respect, and to that add opportunity.

Now, let’s think how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would handle the present illegal housing situation in White Plains

I believe Dr. Martin Luther King would take organizations in this town that circulate lists of rooming houses (without inspecting them for overcrowding), and call them out, if he were in White Plains today.

He’d stand up there and read list of homes and distribute it personally to the Mayor and say — clean up this disgrace.

He would march through the homes where the overcrowding is and be arrested with plenty of cameras showing the disgrace of the housing the Uriah Heeps of this town have created.

No one does that here.

Dr. King was not only politically incorrect, but politically uncooperative. THAT’S WHY HE WAS KILLED.

He’d bring the unsafely housed with him to breakfast Monday morning and introduce them all around to the rich and the powerful and the well-connected and show them the people whom they are treating like cruel political pawns by our leaders on the county and the city level – all over this county — just so political contributers are protected.

Maybe he’d bring some Latin Kings and Bloods with him too. That would be interesting.

He’d read off the certiorari refunds given back corporations that do quite well and filed for them anyway.

He’d ask the illegally housed to tell their stories at his breakfast. He’d prey for compassion from us the wealthy, the powerful and the “decent,” and the respectable to have compassion for the weak, the misdirected, the disabled, the addicted and disturbed, and the mortgage-ravaged.

He’d bring the foreclosees and those forced out of their homes and those whose mortgages were turned down, and ask those bankers, brokers, and realtors in the audience on the dais and at the tables — how could you not help them out? Help is what is needed. Jobs are what is needed not  contribution checks.

He’d ask every banker there to pledge how many mortgages they’d make in the next month, and the next month and so on.

He’d ask White Plains leaders to accept the responsibility of leadership and by reaching out personally to the homeless, the illegally housed, the unemployed youth to provide them meals and, perhaps jobs during the day, to welcome them in to White Plains somehow.

To help them make a new start in White Plains in a firehouse, a church, or a vacant hospital. To challenge businesses to weave these persons into the fabric of the downtown, instead of telling them they are not welcome.

He’d challenge us to step up our humanity, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did when no one else would 60 years ago.

He’d shame the two governments, county and city, for not treating the immigrants, the foreclosees, the homeless, (and let us not forget the senior citizens sent out of the Esplanade — where are the do-gooder institutions on that situation — where was the Common Council concern there?) ; the union members with simple human respect and adhering to the constitution, which prohibits you from being jailed for no reason – a policy incredulously being pushed by politicians who should read the constitution just once to reset their minds.

He’d ask White Plains to rise up and forgive the persons with the prison records who have done their time, and find jobs for them and through forgiveness, and respect for them, melt away the suspicions and resentments of persons who do not speak English.

And about our gangs:

Dr. Martin Luther King would go out to the streets of White Plains, Greenburgh, Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Peekskill – the cities where gang activity has been reported – and speak to them about where they are going. It is difficult to say what Dr. King would say to the gang members of our area.

But he would be in their faces.

But, I assure you he’d be in their midst confronting this problem and admitting it exists.

As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Today — Ask ourselves what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would think of the way we have treated the less fortunate? What he would think about how we have “reached out?”

Would he approve of the way we are working with our youth, our Hispanic population, about how dollars are being used to make unsafe housing safe and why it cannot be policed better, about how dollars are being spent in school districts whether on educating people or creating buildings or stadiums; how dollars are being spent by organizations supposedly helping the afflicted, and how they are really doing, and what are they doing with the dollars.

He’d excoriate the variable and below prime mortages now being foreclosed as a new form of financial redlining invented by the financial establishment to exploit. He’d ridicule the efforts of the government to “save” gazillion-dollar financial institutions while allowing homeowners to lose their houses.

He’d shame the banks now refusing to give mortgages to many. He’d point out the hypocrisy of holding students to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, while giving away money to Wall Street, the banks, and oil companies

He’d save particular scorn for the bloated banks paying dividends to shareholders while foreclosing on persons who have lost their jobs. Where is the outcry of leaders of any stripe today on THAT outrage? There has not been such an outcry, because it’s still going on.

Would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. approve?

He’d remind us that Jesus Christ chose to minister to the “hardcore” of his time. He went into their midst. He healed them and made them fishers of men.

Today there are no fishers of men. Today we throw men, women, children back into the sea to drown. That policy will begin January 20.

The way to honor Dr. King Monday is to honor the afflicted, help the troubled with dignity, not humiliate them, not shun them, not “throw  them out.” 

The way Dr. King would view our world today?

He’d observe that “we need work.”

That the lynchings and the shutting of school doors are gone, but the attitudes remain. The lynchings have been replaced by shootings by the police. The shootings of innocent people just for the fun of it.

He’d point that out with his long finger pointing right at us.

He’d say, “I still have a dream.”

He’d be pointing his finger at the double-standard of justice for the minority youth and the wealthy institutions that exists today.

He’d be calling upon all to keep our eyes on the prize and not on the power, the prestige, and the people who would steer us away from what needs to be done.

We need to make the comfortable uncomfortable, and comfort the afflicted.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo Promises Bail Reforms to Eliminate Separate and Unequal Treatment Based on Race and Wealth to Address the Philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. January 16, 2017:

“Today, we honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrate his life, and reflect on his unrelenting commitment to justice for all. As a result of Dr. King’s leadership, we have achieved much progress in creating a fairer, more just state and nation. Yet there is still much more work to be done. Now more than ever, it is incumbent upon us to continue Dr. King’s crusade for equal rights.

“We still have a judicial system that is supposed to be blind, but that all too often finds the scales of justice tipped by resources or race. Together, we must take concrete steps to repair our broken criminal justice system and ensure we are all treated equally under the law.

“As part of our ‘New York Promise’ agenda, I will be advancing a comprehensive reform package to fix New York’s bail system, ensure a speedy trial, protect the integrity of investigations and raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“In the words of Dr. King, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ and we must do everything in our power to remedy injustice here in New York and lead the nation forward toward a brighter, stronger, more united future.” 

As part of this release today to the media, Governor Cuomo shared this “op-ed” published in The Daily News Sunday:

Martin Luther King’s crusade for justice not over as New York needs criminal justice reform

This weekend, we celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Above all else, King’s crusade was about justice — racial, economic and social justice. While we have made tremendous progress, the truth is that crusade for justice is not over. We still have a judicial system that is supposed to be blind, but that all too often finds the scales of justice tipped by resources or race.

In the coming months in Albany, as part of our “New York Promise” agenda, I will propose that the Legislature enact important reforms that will result in a criminal justice system more just than it is today. In the words of King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” There are concrete actions we can take here in New York.

First, we must make changes to our rules regarding bail. Under the current law, bail is issued only if a defendant can put up an amount of money sufficient to guarantee his or her return to face trial. This is a deeply flawed system that equates the right to freedom with having money. Bail arraignments are one of the first events defendants encounter in a court, and already the poor are disadvantaged.

Today, we have people, largely black and Latino men, who have been accused of crimes, often nonviolent crimes, who are sitting in jails like Rikers Island because they cannot afford bail. They sit for weeks, months, even years, with their lives and families disrupted, all because they do not have the financial means to post bail.

They may be suspected of a crime, but under our system, people are presumed innocent until they have been convicted. Locking up potentially innocent people for months or years is not justice.

We propose to allow judges at bail hearings to consider whether or not a defendant poses a risk to the community. New York is one of only four states without this option, and the change will allow those who pose no danger to stay at work and remain with their families until called to trial.

Which is another part of the process that drags too much. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution plainly says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial.”

“Speedy” is obviously a flexible word, but surely it can’t mean months or years — especially when innocent people are being kept in prison. Yes, our courts are overcrowded, and some delays are unavoidable. But this is an unjust situation — damaging, life-threatening, and, on top of everything else, expensive; it costs $60,000 a year to incarcerate someone.

I am advancing legislation to reduce unnecessary delays and adjournments in court proceedings, while requiring that people held in custody — not just their attorneys — consent to a speedy trial waiver that must also be approved by a judge. It is true for suspects and victims alike: Justice delayed is justice denied.

We are also proposing simple, common-sense steps that will protect the integrity of investigations.

First, police should videotape interrogations of suspects for serious offenses. That way, any disputes about what was said or done can be easily resolved.

Second, police should adjust the way they conduct lineup identifications. The officer who is performing the investigation should not be the same officer who accompanies a crime victim to the lineup of suspects. There is a suspicion that investigating officers sometimes indicate to a witness which member of the lineup is under suspicion. Even if it happens once, it happens too often. We can eliminate all questions with a simple adjustment. With integrity assured, prosecutors can use these identifications at trial, where they are presently forbidden.

Finally, we must raise the age at which we prosecute people as adults. New York stands as one of only two states in the nation that process all 16- and 17-year-olds in the adult criminal justice system, no matter their offense. This is one exclusive club to which New York should not belong. I have taken executive action to remove 16- and 17-year-olds from adult prisons and place them in age-appropriate facilities, but we need the Legislature to act to raise the age once and for all.

As King taught us, “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” We have identified these blockages in our system; the sooner we remove them, the better.

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How About “Stupid Americans Day”?

WPCNR NEWS AND COMMENT By John F. Bailey. January 14, 2017:

The State of Mississippi has renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Monday as officially “Great Americans Day.”

It’s true.

This recognition of Dr. King’s Birthday was created in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination in Memphis in 1968 by James Earl Ray. It was an acknowledgement of Dr. King’s leadership in breaking down discrimination in this country–not just in the South but in the oh-so-subtle discrimination in the North in real estate, in subpar schools in not officially segregated ghettos, but segregated just the same. He was the stalwart leader who seized upon not violence but economic boycott to bring an end to discrimination in the south and some redline reform in the north.

This change announced the last few days was made to honor all great Americans, so Mississippi says. Really?

Then we can do without Lincoln’s birthday next—perhaps; Washington’s Birthday; Memorial Day, Veterans Day – dump all those three day holiday weekends and July 4th and Labor Day, since they too all honor Great Americans Day.

Perhaps we can keep Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza and Easter and other religions since those are religious holidays—and to be strictly Constitutionalist—the government should not discriminate on the basis of religion – so eliminate those holidays too.

Just think – you would gain – let’s see you would gain 6 more days of school which all our students across the country obviously need.

If you eliminated the religious observances, you would gain 10 more days of school by eliminating the December and Spring vacations, and by dropping the ridiculous winter break in February, that’s another 5 days!  21 more days of school which of course many of our states across the north and south definitely could use based our test scores. You would also have less 4 day weeks, too– the bane of teachers who will tell you the worst attention span days in schools are the first and last days of any school week.

Mississippi has hit on an excellent idea: why discriminate about what individual is great or greater than another? What an equal opportunity concept from Mississippi!

It is unfortunate that Reverend King’s birth was selected.

It perhaps should have been a white individual to be politically correct. But nonetheless, Mississippi has hit on an excellent idea to make America great again: the generic honorary day where we celebrate everybody and keep educating because we’re all great.

If people want to observe religious days they can, they just pay the price of keeping the kiddies out of school. If they want to celebrate veterans, and the end of World War I they can, it’s just not a holiday. But companies and schools can choose to close.

But there is a way to preserve all holidays and recognize the people who have made America Great:

How About Stupid Americans Day?

That holiday would recognize persons who are easily manipulated because of their lack of abilities to read and understand and recognize courses of action that are against their best interests. This is due to the these persons’ lack of a quality education who are easily persuaded to follow and support policies and simple ideas extolled by leaders who persuade these less than discerning folks to support policies not in their own best interests.

Also qualifying as “Stupid Americans”  are “stupid Americans” with high degrees of education, wealth and position who support policies that may be “in their best interests,” and prejudices, and self-interests, and sense of superiority and “better than” status but not in the best interests of the country, or ultimately themselves.

How About Great Businessmen’s Day?

This would be a tough holiday to find Businessmen who qualifty as “great.” What defines great in a businessman or woman? Is it how they treat their workers and pay them like a Henry Ford? Is it their service to the country or charity? Is it a businessperson who puts the welfare of workers in their country above the profit to be earned by shifting manufacturing out of the country? Is it a businessperson’s investment in the less fortunate of their community. Or is it to be measured by the businessperson’s wealth or success or exponential greed and dishonesty?

As the robber barons of the late 19th century return to power as of January 20 when Donald Trump is inaugurated, it is an interesting question. Is the philosophy of selfishness as proposed by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged going to work?

We will see.

Is deregulation and creating lower taxes for the wealthy and prosecuting business “dealing” less going to be good for the country? It was not in the 19th Century. It was not good for the country in the 1920s. It was never good for the poor who were exploited under the banner of doing good.

It is not good now.

As of the day I write this, I read how banks’ profits are up substantially. Yes, America is already becoming great again.

Once again the banks and the robber barons of Wall Street who created the financial crises in the past: The Panic of 1907, the 1920s crash; the 30s depression; and most recently the 2008 crash; they are already benefiting. More Boom and inflation and recession ahead, as The Kiplinger Letter used to say.

How About Great Congressman’s Day?

This is another generic holiday that would be extremely hard to find any that you could find as great Congressmen. Congressmen and women are only considered great after they have died.

Why? Because all congressmen and women are only interested in staying in office. They stay in office by “playing you.” Those who valiantly crusade for the right like Kirsten Gillebrand are isolated. As was amply demonstrated the last two days in the Senate and the House of Representatives “despite reservations” they voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. Well, if you have reservations you should not have voted to repeal it. But they did anyway.

They also rode into office this last year on a chorus of rants (and a lack of outrage by opponents against these positions) against illegal immigrants, religious prejudices against Muslims, etc., and a vendetta against the affordable care act. The congress to act on sexual misconduct in the military; for 8 years they failed to work with the President because of a thinly disguised prejudice against the nation’s first black President.

It was an obvious mission of the Republican Party to make sure there would never be another minority President elected. So this Great Congressman’s Day is another category without enough possibilities to be honored.

How About Great Educators Day?

This has more possibilities. You have the Susan B. Anthonys who fought for woman’s suffrage (and was not put on the face of the ten dollar bill); Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington; the Unknown School Teacher(to those women and men who went west as the country was settled to teach the children of the settlers and the teachers of today who take the jobs in the inner cities to teach the poor, the immigrants), that has more possibilities.

How About Great Native Americans Day?

I am talking here about the Indian Chiefs of the past—Squanto, Sitting Bull, Quanah Parker, the leaders who were consistently betrayed by the U.S. Government. This would not be a popular holiday – but an honorable one.

How About Great Immigrants Day?

Many Immigrants helped build America not just businessmen: the Chinese who built the Transcontinental Railroad; the Irish; the Germans, the Jews; Eli Whitney inventor of the cotton gin; the slaves; Marconi. My mind is just hop-scotching here about how America’s success.

What made America great was not just the white man—but the black, the red, the descendents of many lands who came here because America was free and they could work and work together sometimes in conflict but to make progress without returning to a past that did not work without an idea for a better future.

Anyway, no matter how inadvertently, Mississippi may have come up with a different way to think about our nation honestly.

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK THE FRIDAYTHE 13TH SHOW ON INTERNET, YOUTUBE NOW

 

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THE NEWS THAT UNFORTUNATELY IS NOT FAKE– PETER KATZ, JOHN BAILEY, JIM BENEROFE REPORTING THE NEWS YOU MUST KNOW IN ITS 16TH YEAR ON THE AIR

WHITE PLAINS WEEK–THE FRIDAY THE 13TH SHOW

ON YOUTUBE NOW AT

https://youtu.be/iXh0iqGNz1E

ON  WHITE PLAINS WEEK WEBSITE AT

http://www.whiteplainsweek.com

JOHN BAILEY, PETER KATZ

ON

THE COUNTY LEGISLATURE VOTE TO BAN GUN SHOWS FROM COUNTY PROPERTY EXCLUSIVE VIDEO ON THE VOTE DEMONSTRATION

 THE  FALSE “COMPROMISE”  THE COUNTY LEGISLATURE IS CONSIDERING INSTEAD OF THE OUTRIGHT GUN SHOW BAN

THE FIRST ELECTRIC SHOCK — CUOMO TO CLOSE INDIAN POINT

COUNTY EXECUTIVE PROTESTS TAX IMPACTS ON CORTLANDT AS A RESULT

THE SECOND ELECTRIC SHOCK — CONED SOLUTIONS IS SOLD TO ELECTRIC RETAIL GIANT–EXELON — WE ARE TOLD ABOUT IT 6 MONTHS LATER.

PLUS THE SHOCKS KEEP ON COMING IN THE WHITE PLAINS WEEK

EXCLUSIVE FEATURE “TRUMP IN TRANSITION”

THE SCHOOL BOARD HIRES A NEW CURRICULUM SUPERINTENDENT FROM TARRYTOWN

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Now Performing Artist in the Making at Westchester Knicks Halftime Tonight– Matthew Welling of Mamaroneck Avenue School

Radio City Christmas Spectacular 2015 Opening Night

Matthew Welling, 11,  5th grader at Mamaroneck Avenue School, White Plains,NY, USA performing at Radio City Music Hall last year. Matthew will be singing one of his own compositions in front of the halftime crowd at the Westchester Knicks game at the County Center tonight. He’ll be accompanied by his teacher at the Westchester Conservatory of Music where he attends the Conservatory Music Therapy Program. Matthew composes by sounding out notes in his head on the piano and relating them to his Conservatory teacher. He is performing as part of Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams program where students such as Matthew audition. For you have to understand Matthew is legally blind. He will be performing his own song, “Music and Me.”

 

 

 

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ENTERGY: CLOSING DUE TO FINANCIAL CONCERNS. WILL ATTEMPT TO MOVE EMPLOYEES ELSEWHERE IN THE COMPANY.

WPCNR THE POWER NEWS. Statement on Closing of Indian Point by Entergy Corporation. January 11, 2017:

Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, which agreed with Governor Andrew Cuomo and signed an agreement to close within four years this past weekend, has issued this statement, which was distributed by the Westchester County Association:

Yesterday, we announced that after more than four decades of Indian Point providing New York State with clean, safe and reliable electricity, we have reached a settlement with New York State. Under the settlement, the State will end its legal challenges, issue the necessary permits and certifications and support the renewal of the operating licenses for the Indian Point Energy Center.

In return, Entergy has agreed to begin preparing for an orderly shutdown of the two generating units at Indian Point in 2020 and 2021. This is earlier than previousl contemplated, but more than 20 years since our purchase of the plant, and close to 15 years since we filed our license renewal application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20-year license renewal.

For more than a decade of our ownership, we have understood the unique risk profiles associated with the merchant power business. In recent years, however, this business has faced serious financial challenges resulting from sustained wholesale power price declines and other unfavorable market conditions, forcing us to re-evaluate the long-term viability of our merchant power assets such as Indian Point.

This was a difficult decision for us. We fully recognize the significant impact on people–our employees and the people in communities around the plants who depend on us and have supported us. Words alone can not fully express the extent of our appreciation to the nearly 1,000  employees at Indian Point. We intend to treat our employees fairly and to help those interested in seeking other opportunities to relocate within the Entergy system. This is just one part of our commitment to them and our appreciation for their years of dedicated and professional service.

Without opposition from New York State, we will continue to pursue license renewal from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for both of Indian Point’s generating units for the remaining operating years and will work on plans to help mitigate the economic impact of the shutdown on our employees and the surrounding community to the best of our ability.

We remain grateful for the support we have received from the local community and its institutions, and will continue to be active members of the community for years to come. Bringing an end to the lengthy and costly litigation — to provide certainty to all our stakeholders and to provide time for an orderly transition and shudown — was also an important factor in our decision. With a clear path to license renewal, we cancontinue to focus on excellence and operate these units safely and reliably until we fulfill our final commitments.”

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