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- Westchester Politics, Never Boring..
- Relentless Mother Nature Pummels Westchester Again!
- Stray Dogs. Why do People Let Them Stray?
- Don't put away that shovel just yet...
- Olympic Hopes Dashed
- Squeezing Blood from Upstate Stones
- Take Nothing for Granted
- He WILL Get That Dinner... and a New Spirit of Political Cooperation
Officials have now traced an oil spill in the Bronx River today to a White Plains apartment building. Hundreds of gallons of Number Four heating oil flowed into the river from an apartment building on 235 South Lexington Avenue and resulted in a spill that stretched from a portion of the Bronx River near Main Street in White Plains all the way down to Crain Road in Scarsdale.
During a special Tuesday meeting, the Westchester County Board of Legislators today voted to requier multiple bids on a health care provider for inmates at the Westchester county Jail.
The meeting was hastily called by Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) after he expressed his dismay over County Executive Rob Astorino's announcement last week that a contract had been awarded to a New York subsidiary of a Tennesee company, Correct Care Services, to provide healthcare to county inmates beginning July 26.
Just days after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced that the County had contracted with a new company to provide medical services to inmates at the Westchester County Jail, the Westchester County Board of Legislators has called a special meeting for Tuesday to discuss the matter.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has written County Executive Rob Astorino, State lawmakers from Westchester, members of the business community and Town Supervisors and Mayors across the County urging them to support a proposal to eliminate arbitration panels.
Feiner said, The County and local governments have no control over salaries of police and firefighters. We can negotiate salary agreements. However, if the unions are not pleased with what we are offering our employees, they have the ability to go before an arbitration panel which then dictates salary hikes." "As a result of this state law," he says, "salary increases for emergency service personnel usually exceed inflation."
Feiner says the move would be a way to hold the line on escalating property taxes. He says the New York State Legislature "could and should "respond to the call for reform by amending state law which grants such salary power to arbitration panels.
Feiner says another reason to do away with arbitration panels is because they are unfair.
He says because such panels can oftentimes order a 4% pay raise for police and fire unions,members of other unions, such as the CSEA and Teamsters Union may be subject to a lower salary increase because they are not subject to arbitration.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was joined today by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to demand that New York City, Westchester and Yonkers have their Homeland Security Funds restored by 25%. Schumer says Yonkers and Westchester are included in the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), and that the funding has dropped dramatically since 2005.
Said Schumer, "Despite the fact that New York City is the number one target for terrorism, New York Metro's share has actually decreased over the last five years." Schumer and Astorino called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to increase funding to New York City, Westchester and Yonkers by at least $57 million, restoring the 25% cut over the past few years. Such a move would bring an additional $1.7 million to Yonkers and Westchester.
County Executive Astorino said, "Any terrorist threat to NYC is a threat to Westchester, its people, communities and its regional economy." He added, "Think of the critical infrastructure we share with NYC, we have a reservoir system that supplies all of NYC's drinking water, we have bridges, tunnels and communications networks, and a nuclear power plant." Astorino says, "The Federal government needs to provide the necessary funding to New York to help us get the job done."
Senator Schumer said the recent attempted attack on Times Square should serve as a wakeup call to Washington that New York City symbolizes America to those that mean to do America harm.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino Tuesday thanked the County Board of Legislators for supporting him on his deficit reduction initiatives including employee contributions to health care, buyouts and a wage freeze. Astorino said he will sign the legislation as a way of helping to reduce the County's projected $166 million deficit in 2011.
The County Executive says, "This is the first step in achieving some real savings because every employee needs to know that sooner rather than later they're gonna have to contribute to their healthcare. Right now the taxpayer is footing the entire bill, 100% of everyone's health insurance. That's not acceptable anymore and not sustainable given our budget deficits."
On Monday night, the Board of Legislators approved the measure which calls for non-union managers and retirees to contribute between 10-20% of their healthcare plans beginning in July.
Astorino says the County is negotiating with labor leaders on employee contributions to health care costs for Westchester's 5,000 unionized employees. Said Astorino, "Without health contributions from the unionized workforce, sweeping job cuts remain a possibility."
Just days after a suspect was arrested for his alleged involvement in a failed car bombing attempt in Times Square, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino Thursday assured County residents that Westchester has a broad range of public safety and counter-terrorism initiatives in place to keep residents safe.
Astorino says the Department of Public Safety and its law enforcement partners gather intelligence information daily and implement other counter-terrorism initiatives to protect residents, businesses and critical infrastructure in the County from possible terrorist activity.
Earlier this year, the Department of Public Safety merged its Crime Analysis Unit and the department's Counter-terrorism functions into the Westchester Intelligence Center. The move put all intelligence gathering and sharing information under one roof,something officials say eliminates the risk that valuable information could fall through the cracks. In addition, authorities say the move better enables both departments to share such information.
Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, George Longworth says there are numerous systems in place designed to combat terrorism. They include a County Police Detective assigned full time to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The County has at its disposal, the police Aviation Unit that regularly conducts counter-terrorism patrols over such areas as the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants, the Tappan Zee Bridge and New York City watershed properties.
Longworth adds that County police patrol officers, as well as the Aviation and Marine Units are equipped with radiation detection equipment. Such detectors, he says, have the capability of identifying a vehicle or vessel carrying a so-called "dirty bomb" made up of radiological material.
In addition to systems in place, Longworth says teams pay unannounced visits to a wide range of locations throughout the County from transportation hubs to busy shopping areas to provide an additional layer of security to key locations in Westchester County.
Around the Country
- Southwest to Cancel Flights as Jets Checked for Cracks - BusinessWeek
- Schumer: Dems slicing budget with scalpel, Tea Party using meat ax - CNN (blog)
- Duke lacrosse accuser arrested in boyfriend's stabbing - CNN International
- House GOP: $4 trillion in cuts - CNN
- Bachmann bids for 'bama eyes - Seattle Post Intelligencer
Around the Planet
- Afghans Continue Protests Over US Quran Burning - Voice of America
- Japan's nuclear workers try to trace leak, dump radioactive water - Los Angeles Times
- OSCE raps Kazakh election, presses for reforms - Reuters
- Newsmaker: Yemen survivor Saleh juggles forces to keep power - Reuters
- France says finds bodies in Atlantic crash wreckage - Reuters