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WILLIAMS CONDEMNS TRUMP’S REVERSAL ON GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS

By JORDAN WILIAMS

On February 23,  Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader, released a statement regarding the Trump Administration’s reversal on gender neutral bathrooms. The reversal decision made by the administration ends federal protection for transgender students that require schools to allow them to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities.

“This decision is just the latest in a series of attacks against Americans from the Trump Administration. Unfortunately, while the world is moving toward a more fair and open society, our country under Trump, is moving backward. I am confident that we will eventually overcome this dark time under Trump. In the meantime, we must organize and minimize the damage that will be done until we get there,” said Williams.

The Trump Administration is now leaving it in the hands of each individual state to determine whether transgender students should be allowed access to restrooms that match their gender identity.

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SCHUMER PRESENTS CONGRESSIONAL BADGE OF BRAVERY TO TROY OFFICER JOSHUA COMITALE FOR HIS HEROIC SERVICE

By LILY WILSON

On Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer presented Troy Police Officer Joshua Comitale with the Congressional Badge of Bravery after risking his life to stop a carjacking suspect in Lansingburgh shoot out. The award honors federal, state, or local law enforcement officers who display exceptional bravery while in the line of duty, these brave acts are often at cost of the officer’s personal safety.

“I am humbled and honored to present the Congressional Badge of Bravery to Officer Comitale for the extraordinary courage he displayed on the night of August 22, 2015. When faced with extreme danger, Officer Comitale’s ability to respond quickly and bravely, saved not only his life, but life of his fellow officers and the lives of those in the community he swore to protect,” said Senator Schumer. “When the stakes were higher than ever Officer Comitale went above and beyond the call of duty to prevent a horrible situation from getting even worse. Officer Comitale’s exceptional training, devotion to duty and heroism commands our utmost respect and deserves our deepest gratitude.”

In the middle of this dangerous pursuit of the suspect, Comitale sustained wounds to both legs, which rendered him immobile. Comitale demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to his own personal safety which led him to receive the honorable reward.

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An Airman assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia salutes the American flag, Feb. 9, that is flying at half-mast in honor of U.S. Representive John Murtha of Pennsylvania who died, Feb. 8. Representative Murtha was a military veteran who earned the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War. Military installations around the world flew the flag at half-mast Feb. 9 in honor of Representative Murtha by declaration from President Barack Obama.

SCHUMER AND HIGGINS HONOR VETERAN

By LILY WILSON

On February 22, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins honored, WWII veteran and Buffalo native George Watts for his service to the military. Schumer and Higgins presented Watts with six military service medals for all that he has done with serving the military.

“I am so pleased and honored to present these distinctions to George Watts. My father Abe is a World War II vet and this is special to me because every member of this Greatest Generation is precious and worthy of honor– but especially Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts is a true American hero, who displayed profound bravery when he stepped up to serve his country during World War II despite being compelled into a segregated unit based on the color of his skin. Watts put his life on the line for his nation, and he rightly deserves these medals as a thank you from the American people for his service,” said Senator Schumer. “I am pleased that the US Army heeded our calls to right this horrible wrong and decided to provide Mr. Watts the respect, thanks and recognition he deserves. On behalf of a grateful nation to this extraordinary member of our ‘Greatest Generation,’ I humbly say this to Mr. Watts: Thank you for your service. ”

Watts served in a variety of different areas when he was in the Army, and spent many years serving his country even after he was originally drafted back in 1943. After years of waiting for being recognized, Watt stood among Schumer, Higgins, and his family and was extremely proud to be acknowledged for his accomplishments.

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STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SEEKING INPUT FOR DETERMINING SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY UNDER ESSA

By JORDAN WILIAMS

On February 21, The New York State Education Department announced that they are accepting public comment on potential Indicators of School Quality and Student Success for inclusion in the State system for determining school accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). After seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and other stakeholders, NYSED developed a Survey of Possible School Quality and Student Success Indicators.  The Department is accepting responses to the survey through March 20.

“Every step of the way, we are asking parents, teachers, students, administrators and community organizations to be part of the conversation to ensure brighter futures for our children,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said.  “That conversation must include indicators of success such as student access to highly qualified teachers and Advanced Placement courses, and parent and community engagement to help improve our schools.  These are transformative, whole-school practices that have the potential to dramatically improve educational outcomes for all students.”

ESSA requires a number of different things that will help improve the quality of the school as well as the students successes within the classrooms. ESSA requires states to reconsider their accountability systems for public schools.  As was required under the No Child Left Behind Act, states must use the proficiency rates of students in language arts and mathematics and high school graduation rates to hold schools accountable for their performance.

The New York State Education Department is encouraging the public to voice their opinion via the survey and hopes that through the survey, they will be able to continue to help improve the education system within the state of New York.

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POLICE KILL PELLET-GUN-PACKING TEEN

By JORDAN WILIAMS

On Tuesday, Police officers shot and killed an 18-year-old in Bushwick after he tried to rob a bodega then pointed what turned out to be a pellet gun at them. Originally three cops responded to a report of Bushwick man, Sergio Reyes, holding up the deli, and found him heading towards a different street, according to a report.

Once the officers founded Reyes, they confronted him. However in response to the confrontation Reyes was said to have raised the gun towards them, and the cops responded by firing several rounds into the teen, hitting him a total of 14 times. Although emergency responders took Reyes to Woodhull Hospital, he later died in the hospital from extensive gunshot wounds.

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WILLIAMS DISPELS RUMORS OF ICE RAIDS IN BROOKLYN AND URGES PUBLIC TO REMAIN CALM

By LILY WILSON

On February 17, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, released a statement regarding rumors of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents making stops at Bobby’s department stores on Utica Avenue and Church Avenue, Kings County Hospital, as well as stopping commuter vans and cabs.

“My staff and I have followed up on as many of the rumors as we can. We have spoken to owners of the commuter van lines, as well as the management at Bobby’s Department Store, and have confirmed that at this time there have not been general indiscriminate stops made by ICE agents over the past few days. There has however, been incidents of people posing as immigration officials in efforts to scam people for money. In addition, we remain in touch with the Mayor’s office,” said Williams.

Williams explained his concerns about the rumors of immigration checkpoints and raids, and has recognized the mass hysteria that has taken hold of communities across the country. He made it clear that he supports his citizens and although it is a tough time for many of them, he will stand by their side and support them.

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WHO WILL RUN FOR COUNTY COURT JUDGE IN ORANGE COUNTY?

By MAJOR NELSON

A vacancy will be arising with the retirement of County Court Judge Nicholas DeRosa at the end of this year.  And although this is a seat that candidates are normally clamoring for, no one has made a formal announcement of his/her intentions to run. Sitting Family Court Judge Lori Currier-Woods would appear to be one of the most logical and most qualified candidates. She has served as both a municipal court judge and as an Orange County Family Court Judge for the last 14 years. Woods certainly has experience and is a strong campaigner.

Noreen Calderin, Town Justice in New Windsor must also be considered a strong contender. She has served as the Town Justice for approximately eight years and formerly worked as a prosecutor in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for 10 years before that. She ran, unsuccessfully, for Supreme Court Judge in the Ninth Judicial District.  She is very popular within Republican circles and has to be considered a strong candidate.

Town of Woodbury Justice David Hassin received the Republican nod in 2015 to run for Orange County Family Court.  With nearly 12 years of experience as the Town Justice in arguably the busiest court in Orange County, he certainly has both the practical experience and campaign experience needed.

Wawayanda Town Justice Tim McElduff would be an outstanding jurist, but would he be willing to give up his position as a partner at Drake Loeb, PLLC?  He has served as Town Justice for 10 years and is well respected for his knowledge and temperament.

Port Jervis City Court Judge Matthew Witherow could be a contender. As a City Court Judge, and with nine years of practice as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, he has the experience needed.

On the Democrat’s side, it makes sense for Steven Brockett to throw his hat into the ring again.  Having served as the full-time Middletown City Court Judge since 2005, he is arguably one of the most qualified of the lot.  He presides over the City’s Drug Treatment Court and is one of approximately 30 Judges in the New York to be designated as an ASTAR Fellow.  With Democratic voter enrollment surging, and on the heals of Donald Trump’s win, it may be time for Democrats to finally wake up and get out to the polls. Is it time for Orange County Democrats to finally realize a victory?  Without any clear Republican candidate, this is his best opportunity.

Eddie Loren Williams, Newburgh City Court Judge may get the Democratic nod this year.  Presiding over the City of Newburgh’s busy criminal court is no easy task.  Experience?  Absolutely, but does he have the wherewithal to run a strong campaign in Orange County?  Time will tell.

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1,500 NEW YORK CHARTER SCHOOL PARENTS, EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS JOIN TOP OFFICIALS TO SUPPORT GOVERNOR CUOMO’S CHARTER BUDGET PRIORITIES

By JORDAN WILIAMS

On Tuesday, More than 1,500 New York charter school parents, students and teachers rallied in Albany to voice their support for public charter schools at the 13th annual Charter School Advocacy Day. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) Leader Jeff Klein were among the bipartisan group of elected officials who joined them. Supporters from across the state called on the state legislature to support Governor Cuomo’s charter budget proposals.

“Parents all over the state have spoken loud and clear: they want more options to find a great public school that meets their child’s needs,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “The Senate embraces policies that ensure that quality charter schools are one of those options.”

Only 30 new charter schools are still available to be issued in New York City under the current charter cap. Without committed action from elected officials, parents could be left without quality options by next year. Additionally, half of the charters in New York State do not receive any support for their buildings that require rent and maintenance, making facilities funding one of the largest hurdles for charter schools to overcome.

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LAWMAKERS ON N.Y. SANCTUARY STATE BILL: “KEEP DREAMING”

By JORDAN WILIAMS

On February 7, the debate over illegal immigration continued in the New York State Assembly. The assembly passed a package of bills this week by a slim two-vote majority which would prohibit state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. State Senator Terrence Murphy says however that the bills are dead on arrival in the State Senate.

“I want to give everyone the opportunity to succeed, so long as they are here legally,” Senator Murphy said. “Ellis Island was the bastion of legal immigration. As long as there is a queue of people coming here the right way and seeking work or refuge here, we cannot be rewarding lawbreakers with free college tuition, free healthcare, driver’s licenses and a get out of jail free card. This bill is a slap in the face to everyone trying to immigrate the right way.”

The Assembly package of bills contained several revolutionary provisions, including a measure which would prohibit social service agencies from determining whether an applicant is lawfully present in the country. Another provision would reward illegal immigrants with free college tuition.

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WAMC HELPS THE ENVIRONMENT AND PEOPLE IN NEED

By LILY WILSON

On February 6, WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s February Fund Drive mobilized listeners to aid in the reduction of carbon pollution, help provide shelter to the homeless and diapers to children. WAMC Northeast Public Radio is a non-commercial, public radio station and nonprofit organization that ended their first fundraiser raising $1,051,724.87 in a single day and a Locked Box. After being so successful with their first fundraiser, supporters were eager to help raise money for The First Amendment Fund, established to protect the station in the event of a loss of federal funding.

“Everybody at WAMC is beyond shocked” said Dr. Alan Chartock, WAMC’s President and CEO. “We always expect this will be a fast Fund Drive but from the time we sat down at 6:00 in the morning till the last moments of the program around 6:30 p.m. we couldn’t believe what was happening. The skies opened up and every WAMC supporter was there. Everybody was incredibly kind and good. All we can say is thank you because we don’t know what else to say!”

WAMC also partnered with The Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation to provide over one thousand nights of emergency shelter for those in need. Joseph’s House & Shelter in Troy provides meals, medical and dental care, and other support to keep the homeless off the streets. The Fox Foundation also helped to provide 780 babies in the region with a month’s worth of diapers. The diapers will be distributed by The Food Pantries for the Capital District.

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