Volume 12, Issue 4
Our 12th Year of On-Line Publishing

Thruway Authority, State Police Troop T Announce "Operation Hang Up" Initiative to Begin Tuesday, April 21

ALBANY, NY (04/17/2009; 1001)(readMedia) -- The New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Police Troop T today announced the launch of "Operation Hang Up," a stepped up four-day enforcement of the state law prohibiting the use of cell phones by motorists while driving. The initiative will begin Tuesday, April 21, and continue through Friday, April 24.

"Cell phones can be a handy aid on a road trip, but they become a distraction and a safety risk when motorists use hand-held devices while driving," said Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer. "Participation in enforcement initiatives such as 'Operation Hang Up' have helped make the Thruway one of the safest roads in the nation."

In 2008, Troop T patrols issued 5,403 tickets to Thruway motorists violating the cell-phone law.

"Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes, and cell phone use is one of the most common driver distractions," said Troop T Commander Major Robert C. Meyers. "This enhanced enforcement is intended to increase awareness of the problem, as well as reduce the number of such accidents."

New York State law prohibits the use of a hand-held mobile telephone while one is driving except to call 911 or to contact medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency. Violators who are ticketed face a maximum fine of $100, along with a mandatory $60 surcharge.

White Plains Mayor Joseph Delfino Announces Retirement

The entire statement below from the office of Mayor Delfino:

Thank you to the citizens of the City of White Plains for your support. Together, we created a vibrant city to live, work and visit.

It has been an honor to be your Mayor. lt has been quite a journey these past 12 years, and I believe together we have reached our destination. I will serve out my term and not seek reelection this year.

When I first ran for Mayor in 1997 our City was a different place. Empty storefronts, an aging infrastructure and little or no cultural opportunity defined White Plains. Restaurants, supermarkets, movie theatres, hotels, open space, affordable housing and a performing arts center have replaced blighted areas. I am proud of the leadership I brought to our community to realize these positive changes and create a city we are
proud to call home.

Building the vibrant city to live, work and visit has not been easy at times . . . but we got it done! I have always believed that by working together we can accomplish anything. Our Renaissance City is proof that with vision and leadership a dream can be achieved.
After 30 years in elective office serving the citizens of White Plains I feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment. We made a difference and I look forward to a bright future for our City.


Gunshot detection system will be implemented in Yonkers, Mount Vernon

 Westchester County is joining Yonkers and Mount Vernon in a high-tech collaboration to curb gun violence by bringing state-of-the art gunshot detection technology to the two cities.

County Executive Andy Spano said the county plans to purchase and install a sophisticated network of sensors that will detect gunfire and pinpoint its precise location for police. The sensors inform police within seconds after gunshots sound, enabling officers to respond to the scene immediately, even before they receive a 911 call.
Spano was joined today at a news conference by Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young, Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone, County board chair Bill Ryan, and county legislators from the two cities: Jose Alvarado, Ken Jenkins, Gordon Burrows, Bernice Spreckman and Lyndon Williams.
“Protecting the public is the foremost responsibility that we have,” Spano said. “We believe that this technology will help to keep our communities safer, deter gun-related violence and help police to identify and arrest those involved. This is one of the many ways the county helps communities in Westchester.”
With the support of the Westchester Board of Legislators, the county will spend $3 million in capital funds to install this proven crime detection and prevention technology in the two cities, which have seen an increase in gun-related crime. The county will seek bids from manufacturers of acoustic gunshot detection systems, which can also be linked to video cameras. Once installed, Yonkers and Mount Vernon will assume the costs of maintaining and repairing the systems.

Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young said, “On behalf of Mount Vernon, I sincerely thank County Executive Spano for recognizing the tremendous need for this technology in our city. This system will allow our police department to zero in on gunfire almost immediately, as well as lessen the threat to others in the neighborhood. The criminals should be on notice that we are using every resource possible to lock them up and remove illegal guns from our streets. This will go a long way in reducing crime and promoting safer communities in the City of Mount Vernon.”

Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone said, “ Gunshot detection will be another important tool in law enforcement’s arsenal that will enable police to respond quickly and accurately.  I want to thank the county executive and the county police for taking the lead on this initiative.”

Gunshot detection technology, which is in use in a variety of communities around the country, has been credited with helping police to:

  • Apprehend shooters before they can flee;
  • Locate witnesses who were present when a crime was committed;
  • Allocate resources more effectively in response to data about where gunfire is occurring, and
  • Find gunshot victims quickly and get them medical attention, including in cases where no one called 911.

County Legislator Kenneth Jenkins of Yonkers said, “This investment by the county will allow the target communities to save tax dollars by allowing the police to efficiently deploy officers and quickly respond to gun violence. It is another example of the partnership between the county and the municipalities.”

County Legislator Lyndon Williams of Mount Vernon said, " Mount Vernon residents will be encouraged to know that we are doing our best to get dangerous guns off our streets and make our community safer. This technology will go a long way in providing safety and reducing crime. It has made a significant impact in reducing crime in other cities and I have no doubt that it will work in our city."

Gunshot detection systems use acoustic sensing technology to identify and report gunshots to the police within seconds. The sensors, which can differentiate gunfire from other loud sounds such as fireworks or car backfires, use wireless transmitters to send the information to a police dispatch center.

The sensors also trigger another program that calculates the direction that the sound came from – a process known as triangulation. This is done by comparing the slightly different times at which the sound hits different sensors in the area. Triangulation permits the detection system to pinpoint a very precise location – usually within 25 feet – of where a gunshot was fired. The location is transmitted to a police computer that displays a map and the closest address to the gunfire.

Video cameras linked to each sensor also turn automatically toward the location of the gunfire to potentially capture images of what is occurring. In addition, the sensors can tell police how many shots were fired, how many shooters were involved and whether the shooters were stationary or moving (such as in a drive-by shooting).

The decision to obtain a gunshot detection system came in consultation with officials in both cities.

In the City of Yonkers, the number of shooting incidents increased by 70 percent from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 of 2008 compared to the same period a year earlier, and the number of shooting victims increased by 88 percent.

Amicone said that the detection system would build upon what Yonkers is already doing to reduce crime. “Violent crime rates in Yonkers have continued to drop, not only because of the quality community police work being done by our officers, but also because we’ve made a commitment to outfit them with the equipment and technology they need to do the job,” he said..

In the City of Mount Vernon, the number of shooting incidents increased by 59 percent from 2007 to 2008 and the number of shooting victims increased by 67 percent from 2007 to 2008.


Job Creation, improved government efficiencies and statewide balance are trademarks of budget agreement

(Albany, NY)- Yesterday, State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith joined Governor Paterson and Assembly Speaker Silver in announcing a three-way agreement to close the largest budget gap in state history. Faced with an astounding two-year, $17.7 billion budget gap for fiscal years 2009-10, the Senate, Governor and Assembly settled on a budget agreement highlighted by improvements in government efficiencies, job creation and a shared commitment to responsible budgeting. The three-way agreement on the budget bills puts the Legislature and Executive in position to enact an on-time budget for just the third time in over two decades.

 “With economic conditions worsening by the day and no region of the State immune to the pain of economic challenges not seen since the Great Depression, we made the tough choices these difficult times demand,” said Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith.

 As state revenues plummeted by an additional $3.2 billion since February 2009 and new unemployment claims reaching nearly 40,000 per week in March 2009, the Senate Majority displayed a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility in their efforts to reduce the State’s multi-year deficit by an estimated 80 percent. Coupled with the Deficit Reduction Legislation, passed by the Senate and Assembly just over a month ago, the budget agreement reflects the largest spending reduction in state history at $6.5 billion.    

 General Fund spending, according to a preliminary assessment is expected to increase no more than 1 percent and total approximately $54 billion. Concurrently, All Funds spending is expected to total approximately $131.8 billion, an increase of $10.5 billion or 8.7 percent with the overwhelming majority of that increase ($7.2 billion) a result of federal stimulus money which by federal mandate must be spent during the current fiscal year.

Jobs stimulate the economy, and that is exactly what the Senate fought for as a main component of our budgetary priorities, successfully creating over 110,000 new jobs in this year’s state budget. The long-term economic growth of our state is dependent upon our ability to create new and good-paying jobs. With 58,000 jobs in energy efficiency, retrofits and renewable energy “green jobs”, 50,000 jobs in transportation and associated fields and over 2,000 jobs for low-income New Yorkers, the Senate provided our state with the tools necessary to achieve long-term economic growth.

To raise the necessary revenue to meet the extraordinary challenges of these difficult fiscal times, the budget agreement calls for a $4 billion personal income tax surcharge on the wealthiest of New Yorkers which will expire after three years due to the Senate’s advocacy.

Also included in the budget were approximately $800 million in restoration of healthcare cuts proposed in the Executive’s budget and over half a billion dollars in transitional funding to ease the change to a more patient-driven health system. To make health care delivery more efficient, the budget agreement includes new reforms to increase investments in primary and preventative care. The Senate also fought for and won initiatives for $127 million to support community based health clinics and a $16 million pool to support Upstate and suburban community hospitals.

Protecting our state’s most valuable asset, our children, the Senate was able to hold the line on all cuts to education, restoring school funding to fiscal year 2008-09 levels and maintaining foundation aid and high tax aid. The budget agreement also includes $30 million in bullet aid to schools with special financial challenges, a restoration of funding for teacher centers and libraries and reimbursement of mandated expenses at private schools. Additionally, the Senate was able to secure a much needed restoration of over $10 million to preschool special education programs and $1.4 million in money for low-income special education students.

For the first time in 30 years the budget agreement establishes an increase in the welfare grant   and $40 million in job programs for low-income New Yorkers, including Senate initiatives on green jobs, health access jobs and subsidized employment.

“Throughout this budget process, we utilized a core set of principles to lead our way– protect healthcare from the harshest cuts while reforming the system through investments in primary care, maintain strong education funding, and create new jobs to jump start the economy. This budget is far from ideal, but neither was the dire state of the economy that confronts us. What we now have, however, is a road map for long-term economic growth and sustainable recovery to bring New York back into fiscal solvency,” said Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith.

“Despite the very real threat of a doomsday budget, we have successfully crafted an agreement that focuses on returning New York State to a position of fiscal stability, restoring public confidence and getting our economy back on track,” said Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Finance Committee. “Even more, we have accomplished this goal while assuring that government continues to fulfill its mission to meet the needs of all hardworking New Yorkers, including our many underserved and vulnerable residents, who believe fervently in the future of our great state.”

Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida), Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate said, “We have had to make difficult decisions and responsible choices as we face a staggering $16 billion deficit.   Responsible action has required cuts in spending and shared sacrifice to get New York State back on track, while at the same time protecting vital programs in health care, education, economic development and agriculture."


Filing for Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits Allowed Until December 31st; $25 Added to Weekly UI Benefits    

Albany, NY (March 10, 2009) - New York State Deputy Commissioner for Employment Security Nancy Dunphy, together with Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey and Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, today announced that more than one million unemployed New Yorkers statewide will benefit from the provisions for unemployment insurance compensation that are included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In the Hudson Valley region alone, more than 95,000 unemployed individuals will benefit from them. The economic impact of the ARRA's unemployment insurance provisions is estimated to total more than $2.1 billion statewide. The impact in the Hudson Valley region alone is estimated to total nearly $200 million. Speaking at the One-Stop Career Center in White Plains, Deputy Commissioner Dunphy, Congresswoman Lowey and County Executive Spano outlined how the ARRA unemployment insurance provisions will benefit New Yorkers, by:

Allowing new claims for extended unemployment benefits to be made through December 31, 2009, with benefits payable through May 31, 2010. (Previously, the deadline for applying for extended benefits was March 31, 2009, and no payments could be made beyond August 2009.) It is estimated that this extension will impact 352,000 people statewide, including 31,000 in the Hudson Valley region. New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits and 33 weeks of extended benefits.

Increasing weekly unemployment insurance benefits by $25 through December 31, 2009. The increase applies to individuals who are collecting both regular and extended unemployment insurance benefits. Approximately 900,000 people statewide and 82,000 people in the Hudson Valley region are expected to receive the increase to their regular benefit payments; and approximately 500,000 people statewide and 44,000 in the Hudson Valley region are expected to receive the increase to their extended benefit payments. The additional payments will be made retroactive to the week ending March 1, 2009.

Suspending the federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment insurance benefits per recipient. This provision is expected to result in an estimated federal tax savings of $215 per beneficiary in 2009.

Providing $412 million to New York State to replenish the UI Trust Fund, and $29.5 million in administrative funds to help improve claims processing, add staff to field calls and resolve claims, and improve the Shared Work program.

“The federal stimulus bill will provide critical assistance to unemployed New Yorkers at a time when they need it most,” said State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith. “To everyone who is struggling to find re-employment at this difficult time, the message is ‘help is on the way.’ Our leaders in Washington have responded to the needs of working families to help them get through this unprecedented economic crisis.” “I urge all New Yorkers who are out of work through no fault of their own to make sure they file for unemployment compensation,” Commissioner Smith continued. “I also urge them to visit their local One-Stop Career Center to register for re-employment assistance. The federal stimulus bill also includes funds for worker training, which will become available to states very soon. It is important for workers to remain in contact with their local One-Stop so that they may take advantage of appropriate training opportunities that become available.” Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, “The economic stimulus plan signed into law will be the engine that drives job growth in emerging industries in the months and years ahead. But in the interim, it will also provide critical relief for the most vulnerable, including unemployment insurance for those who have lost their job. I am pleased this extension and expansion of UI benefits will have such a positive impact on so many in our region.” Westchester County Executive Andy Spano spoke about the county’s commitment to creating new jobs in Westchester with federal stimulus dollars. He said dozens of projects were planned to rebuild roads and bridges as well as upgrade sewage treatment plans that would create hundreds of jobs. “Help is on the way,” said Spano. “I n Westchester County, we have already received the go-ahead to use federal stimulus dollars to start road repair and construction projects that will create jobs. We are also seeking funds to help those affected by foreclosures, and our One-Stop Employment Center plans to use stimulus funds to retrain workers for new green jobs. All these efforts combined will add up to a powerful shot in the arm for the local economy.” Individuals are encouraged to check the Department of Labor’s web site at www.labor.ny.gov for current information regarding unemployment insurance, including extended benefits, eligibility rules and instructions on how to apply.             

Tune in to "White Plains Week" on White Plains Cable Channel 71 Monday, 7:00 p.m., and Friday, 7:30 p.m.
John Bailey James Benerofe

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