10/15/2009 9:13:57 AM

 

 

Legislator George Oros (R/Cortlandt) joined about 100 veterans and other elected officials at a rally October 14 to oppose plans to develop a large portion of the 180-acre Franklin D. Roosevelt campus of the VA Hudson Valley Healthcare System in Montrose and scale back vital services for local veterans. It was the second protest organized by Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi to implore the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to take care of those who risked their lives for their country, instead of looking out for the interests of developers. Legislators William Burton (D/Ossining) and Michael Kaplowitz (D/Somers) were also in attendance.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Williams secures $50,000 in county funds for Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club

10/15/2009 4:55:39 PM

 

 

(White Plains, NY) ~ In response to a critical need to continue vital youth programs offered through the Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, the Westchester Board of Acquisitions and Contracts approved a $50,00 contract. “I’m thrilled to have secured this allocation for such a worthwhile agency,” said Legislator Williams (D, WP-Mount Vernon). “The Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club is an invaluable institution in my community, generations have benefited from the programs they offer.” This award will be used within the county’s Urban Youth Initiative, which was created in 1993, to serve as a mechanism for expanding the use of a positive youth development model in addressing the needs of at-risk youth under the age of 21 in eleven urban communities.  The Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, created in 1912, serves as one of Westchester’s largest and most successful youth development organizations, serving over 1900 children annually.

 

This contract is one of several that have been approved in an effort to preserve vital youth resources at the community-based level.  As the fiscal crisis deepens, now more than ever, the County Board is doing everything possible to preserve its capacity to provide children and youth with high-quality youth development and delinquency prevention programs, as families struggle to keep their children safe and engaged in positive and productive activities. “This is a great action taking by the Board” said County Board Chairman William J. Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains).  “Programs such as these do a tremendous job in keeping kids out of trouble and off the streets.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/16/2009 12:06:24 PM

What: 

Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains) has called for a public hearing on proposed legislation that would require the forfeiture of vehicles for those convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while engaged in unlawful speed contests or races throughout Westchester County.  Westchester residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on this proposed law during the next scheduled Board meeting.
 

Who:

Speakers to attend are (still in formation):

  • Westchester County Board Chairman Bill Ryan (D,WFP-White Plains)
  • Members of the County Board
  • Members of the public

Where:   

 Westchester County Board of Legislators Chambers

800 Michaelian Office Building
148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor (corner of Court Street)
White Plains, NY
 

When: 

 Monday, October 19th, 2009 at 7:30pm SHARP!  **REVISED START TIME***
 

Why:

Currently, twenty states permit the confiscation of vehicles for DWI offenses, with New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, specifically within New York State.  Most of them are for second offenses or more. Within the last four years, Westchester County has seen a steady increase in DWI/DUI arrests.  According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, adult arrests in Westchester County for felony and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) offenses rose from 2,337 in 2002 to 2,650 in 2007.  The Westchester County Department of Probation reports that DWI cases represent the largest percentage of their total cases – 23 percent.  Additionally, it has been reported that nationwide, 17,000 people die each year in alcohol-related accidents; 80 percent involve recidivist drunk drivers. 

Legislator Peter Harckham (D-Katonah) – the primary sponsor of this legislation – has worked to build a bipartisan coalition of legislators that has debated the details of this bill within the Committees of Legislation and Public Safety for over a year and has worked to add several constitutional protections for due process.  On the heels on the tragic deaths of members of the Bastardi and Schuler families on the Taconic Parkway, the Board has found that while larger fines, longer license suspensions, and increased jail sentences may deter some offenders, a stronger deterrent is necessary to protect the public.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board, civil forfeiture of motor vehicles laws serve as a deterrent to recidivism may reduce first-time offenses and will send a stern message that driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs will not be tolerated in Westchester County. 

*** PHOTO OPP AND VIDEO INTERVIEWS ARE AVAILABLE ***

Last Truckload of Burned Garbage to be Dumped at Sprout Brook Facility

10/19/2009 10:11:38 AM

 

  

Legislator Oros stands outside one entrance to Sprout Brook Ash Disposal facility, pictured in distance.

 

 

 

Westchester County Legislator George Oros (R/Cortlandt) is pleased to inform residents in Cortlandt and Peekskill that the Sprout Brook Ash Disposal facility, located high above North Division Street and Sprout Brook Road, will be accepting its last truckload of burnt garbage on October 22.

 

The facility has been operated by Westchester County for the last 30 years as a storage location for trash that was incinarated at the RESCO plant in Peekskill.

 

“Patience is a virtue, and while the site has been closely monitored by the county and Town of Cortlandt for years, it’s one less concern officials and residents will have now that it’s shutting down,” Oros said.

 

Once it is closed, the storage cells on the property, which was transferred to the county by the Town of Cortlandt in the 1970s in exchange for parkland the town has utilized for ballfields, a waterslide and recently a dog park, will be capped by the county’s Department of Environmental Facilities.

 

The cells will also be monitored for any environmental problems for the next 30 years by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

“It’s been a long time coming, but the time is finally here,” Oros said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/19/2009 11:37:29 PM

 

 

(White Plains, NY) ~  The Westchester County Board of Legislators has approved landmark legislation that would require the forfeiture of vehicles for those convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while engaged in unlawful speed contests or drag races throughout Westchester County. 

 

“This is a historic action for this Legislature.  Tonight, the Board took an important step to ensure public safety and protect our residents from drunk drivers,” said Board Chairman William J. Ryan (D, WFP-White Plains).  “I want to congratulate my colleagues on this victory, which will save lives in the future. The prospect of forfeiting one’s car, often an expensive material possession, will cause people to think twice before getting drunk and getting behind the wheel.”  Having worked for over a year in a bipartisan effort, this legislation comes for a vote on the heels on the tragic deaths of members of the Bastardi and Schuler families on the Taconic State Parkway in July, along with recent spark in DWI/DUI-related accidents within the county.  

 

“The passage of the bill is a major victory for Westchester County and one that will resonate throughout the region, as counties and municipalities aggressively pursue drunk drivers in an effort to make their streets safer," said Legislator Peter Harckham (D, I, WFP-Katonah), the author of this landmark legislation.  “It’s also important for residents to realize that if you’re caught driving drunk, you risk taking a life or losing your own. The County Board has found that while larger fines, longer license suspensions, and increased jail sentences may deter some offenders, a stronger deterrent is necessary to protect the public.” According to the National Transportation Safety Board, civil forfeiture of motor vehicles laws serve as a deterrent to recidivism may reduce first-time offenses and will send a stern message that driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and drag racing will not be tolerated in Westchester County. 

 

“Our committees have worked together in a bipartisan effort for over a year and have added several constitutional protections for due process,” said the Board’s Committee on Legislation Chairman William Burton (D,WFP-Ossining).  “This bill has been modeled after legislation that is in place in Nassau and Suffolk counties, both have proven to be effective in those localities.”  In an effort to combat drunk driving and reduce the number of driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) and driving under the influence (“DUI”)-related accidents and fatalities, the proposed legislation would call for Westchester County law enforcement to begin confiscating the vehicles of intoxicated drivers arrested for DWI or DUI.  When an individual is arrested for DWI or DUI, the County would apply civil forfeiture proceedings against the vehicle, which is considered the instrument of a crime, and the car is immediately impounded.  Currently, twenty states permit the confiscation of vehicles for DWI or DUI offenses, with New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties, specifically within New York State, with most being second offenses or more.

 

Details of the legislation include:

 

  • Contains an “innocent owner” affirmative defense, which is intended to stop forfeiture of a vehicle when the owner did not have actual knowledge that the vehicle would be used in violation
  • Authorizes the County Attorney to commence civil actions for forfeiture of vehicles when operated by a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or found to be participating in drag racing and is arrested by any Westchester County police officers on county roads
  • Contains a provision which expressly permit lessors and lien holders of vehicles to recover such vehicles if seized by the county
  • Contains a “hardship relief” provision, allowing relief from forfeiture, in cases in which the defendant can establish that such forfeiture would impose substantial and unwarranted burdens on the defendant’s ability to travel to employment, school or medical treatment.  Such hardship relief could be subject to terms and conditions, including installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle. 

Within the last four years, Westchester County has seen a steady increase in DWI or DUI arrests.  According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, adult arrests in Westchester County for felony and misdemeanor offenses rose from 2,337 in 2002 to 2,650 in 2007.  The Westchester County Department of Probation reports that DWI and DUI cases represent the largest percentage of their total cases – 23 percent.  Additionally, 17,000 people nationally die each year in alcohol-related accidents, with 80 percent of which involve recidivist drunk drivers.  “Over eighty percent of DWI and DUI arrests are first-time offenders and, therefore, forfeiture of their vehicles will severely cut down on this danger," states the Board’s Public Safety Committee Chairman Legislator Vito Pinto (D,WFP-Tuckahoe).  “Drunk driving is a deadly and serious crime.  This legislation sends a clear message to repeat offenders – driving drunk will not be tolerated in Westchester County.”

 

Click here to read the DWI Vehicle Forfeiture legislation.

 

Legislator Harckham’s YouTube video on DWI vehicle forfeiture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_gnxBFOZUk