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Creg Clary

gclary@lohud.com
The casino tour bus that crashed
at the BronxWestchester County
line this month hit speeds up to 78
miles an hour belore it slammed
into a roadsign stanchion, ripping it
in two and killing 15 passengers.
A top lederal transportation olli
cial also said investigators lound no
evidence that a truck alleged to have
triggered the !nterstate 95 accident
ever touched the bus.
The driver ol the bus previously
said he had swerved to avoid the
truck.
The lindings were released
Wednesday by National Trans
portation Salety Board Chairwoman
Deborah Hersman during a Senate
subcommittee hearing in Washing
ton on motor coach salety.
She said it was too soon" to de
termine the cause ol the accident.
We interviewed the bus driver,
who said there were no mechanical
problems, but reported a truck was
involved," Hersman told committee
members. An NTSB engineer ex
amined the truck and lound no evi
dence to indicate the truck had
come in contact with the bus."
Hersman said the agency also
lound the video camera mounted on
the motor coach windshield but it
did not record the accident in the
early hours ol March 12.
New York State !olice ollicials
late Wednesday declined to com
ment on the crash details, saying
Town Board OKs impact review
Ior 199 Chappaqua Crossing units
Llizabeth Canga
eganga@lohud.com
NLW CASTLL The giant document that an
alyzes the environmental impact ol a proposal to
build 199 housing units on the lormer Reader`s
Digest property suggests that a much smaller res
idential lootprint concentrated east ol the iconic
ollice building would solve some ol the pro|ect`s
thorniest problems.
The Town Board voted to accept the linal envi
ronmental impact study early Saturday morning
alter postponing meetings set lor riday alter
noon, as they worked luriously to linish the long
Tania Savayan/The ]ournal News
IN5I
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Buslness 12A
Classlfled 10C
Ccmlos 2B
Crcsswcrd 3B
Dear ^bby 3B
Letters 13A
Lctterles 2A
Markets 12A
Natlcn/wcrld 16A
0bltuarles 1?A
0plnlcn 13A
Socrebcard 9C
Televlslcn 4B
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hite Plaias mayeral electiea
whlte llalns eleots a maycr tcday ln a
speolal eleotlcn. lclls cpen at 6 a.m.
Cheok cnllne fcr pclllng lcoatlcns and
flnal results after pclls olcse at 9 p.m.
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Splnal Tap ln
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befcre slgnlng
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bcck ln whlte
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Loca| News
Man accused oI torture
reIuses plea deal,
5orts: ML8 Frer|ew
MI5, 4NK5
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Questions abound Ior N.Y. teams
as baseball season opens, {
1RUR5AY, Maroh 31, 2011 Breaklng news 24/7 at LcHud.ocm 75 oents
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Mahopac man`s body
Iound in Carmel High
School dugout,
Space recks lease marks ea Hercary
N^S^`s Messenger, the flrst spaoeoraft tc crblt Meroury, has
revealed a pcokmarked planet full cf oraters frcm pleoes cf
asterclds and ocmets. The new lmages shcw parts cf the
planet never seen by prevlcus spaoeoraft. NA1I0N, 16A
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Weather: Tcday wlll be olcudy and
ralny. Hlgh 47. Lcw 33. Tcmcrrcw
wlll be ralny ln the mcrnlng. Hlgh
45. Lcw 29. Weather ma, 2A
Reme de||very:
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Ma|n number:
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Break|ng news en||ne: LcHud.ocm
2011 The 1curnal News
Reaer's igest stay
easisieas less heasiag
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ycar mclher`s
P1A arents, c|eckw|se frem bettem |eft, 5a||y P|nte ef Yenkers, ebb|e Merr|s ef New Reche||e, K|mber|y
eba|d and Lex Kess|er ef 5emers, |recter ef the Westchester-ast Putnam Reg|en P1A Ke||y Ch|are||a,
Assec|ate |recter Lenn|e Ph||||s, L|sa Nussbaum ef Rast|ngs-en-Rudsen and 1eAnn 5acce ef Rarr|sen.
Protesters held back; legislators
compromise on Iunding, tax cuts
]oseph Spector and Nick Reisman
Albany Bureau
ALBANY State lawmakers planned a
marathon session Wednesday night ol passing
budget bills with the goal ol approving NewYork`s
lirst early spending plan in 28 years.
We`re going to have a budget; we`re going to
get it done," said Thomas Libous, RBinghamton,
the deputy ma|ority leader. Our goal is between
nowand say, midnight, to have a budget in place."
The Democraticcontrolled Assembly and Re
publicanled Senate started passing budget bills
Tuesday night and resumed Wednesday by ap
proving measures that would lund general gov
ernment operations, public protection and capital
pro|ects. Lawmakers in both houses also approved
the state`s revenue bill, which includes taxes and
lees.
On Tuesday, legislators approved a bill that
would merge the state Department ol Correction
al Services with the Division ol !arole and anoth
er measure that created regional economicdevel
opment councils.
Still lelt lor lawmakers to vote on Wednesday
were budget bills that included deep spending cuts
to local education aid and lamily assistance, and
laumakers
race te fiaish
state haget
SLL BUDCLT, 6^
SLL CR^SH, 6^
SLL lMl^CT, 6^
Year aeus
Read abcut sohccls,
taxes, restaurants and
thlngs tc dc ln ycur
nelghbcrhccd.
XPR55
Eun Iundraisers yield
to advocating Ior aid
in era oI state cutbacks
Cerald McKinstry
and Cary Stern
gmckinst@lohud.com
When Kimberley Debald lirst got
involved with her local !arent
Teacher Association six years ago,
the !TA agenda was mostly bake
sales and dances. The serious work
was the annual getoutthevote
drive lor budget season.
These days, the copresident ol
the Harrison !TACouncil has been
lorced to become a student ol lar
more complex matters such as
propertytax caps, labor contracts
and state mandates.
!t`s not like it used to be," De
bald said. This is not exactly co
chairing carnival night. We`ve
learned a lot ol political |argon that
we wouldn`t otherwise know or
care to know."
Several straight years ol budget
crises that threaten to change the
nature ol public education have in
spired the venerable !TA to mod
ernize its approach to delending
schools and students. Local and re
gional !TAs across the state are
nowtrolling through legislation and
contracts, lighting stateaid cuts,
and meeting with
lawmakers in
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No contact made with truck, oIIicial says
The New Ycrk State lclloe keep a hallway olear cutslde the
Senate lcbby wednesday as pecple prctest prcpcsed outs ln
the state budget at the Capltcl ln ^lbany.
health and mental hygiene.
The two bills make up the
bulk ol the spending lor the
tentative $182.5 billion budg
et. Lawmakers and the public
have yet to see what specilic
aid cuts would be imposed on
school districts.
The schoolaid data could
be released late Wednesday
or Thursday, ollicials said.
The budget debate came
as hundreds ol protesters de
scended on the Capitol to ral
ly against cuts in school aid
and health care, and made a
lastditch ellort to retain high
er incometax rates lor the
wealthy.
Senate Ma|ority Leader
Dean Skelos, RNassau Coun
ty, said the budget added
back about $272 million in
cuts to schools as a way to
mainly help rural and upstate
school districts. The budget
would still cut $1.2 billion to
local education aid.
We`re going to have a rea
sonable distribution so it`s
more in terms ol old shares,"
Skelos said. The cuts will be
by those traditional shares.
Not everything will be re
stored, but it will be back up
to the traditional shares."
Legislators are trying to
beat the clock and pass the
2O1112 liscal year budget one
day early.
The state`s liscal year ends
Thursday at midnight; the lis
cal year runs lrom April 1
through March 81.
The budget hasn`t been ap
proved on time since 2OOG. !n
1988, it was approved early,
on March 28.
Cov. Mario Cuomo was in
his lirst year in 1988, and now
his son, current Cov. Andrew
Cuomo, is seeking to also get
an early budget in his lirst
year.
Both budgets, coinciden
tally, occurred in dillicult lis
cal times.
We appreciate the Legis
lature`s swilt ellorts and com
mitment to passing this trans
lormational budget plan," said
Cuomo spokesman ]osh \las
to.
An early budget lor Cuomo
would be a signilicant victory
as the Democratic governor
seeks to tackle the state`s
troubled linances.
!l someone had suggested
|ust a lew months ago that
you would get a budget on
time, cut taxes, no new bor
rowing, get bipartisan support
lrom all over the state, you
would have thought it some
sort ol lantasy," said Assem
bly ]oseph Morelle, D!rond
equoit, Monroe County. But
here we are."
Assemblyman Robert
Castelli, RColdens Bridge,
said the momentum was on
Cuomo`s side to pass other
contentious measures later
this year.
While this year`s budget
was one ol compromise, it is
also a budget passed in good
laith: laith that the governor
will live up to his promises
and work with the Legislature
in the coming months to pass
necessary relorms such as a
propertytax cap, unlunded
mandate reliel, Medicaid re
lorm, independent redistrict
ing, pension and medicalmal
practice relorm," he said in a
statement.
The budget calls lor a
roughly 2 percent decrease in
state spending lrom the cur
rent liscal year, a $1.2 billion
cut in school aid and $2.8 bil
lion in savings lrom the Med
icaid program.
Lawmakers and Cuomo
reached a tentative budget
deal Sunday evening.
!t doesn`t include any new
broadbased taxes and lets ex
pire the higher income taxes
on the wealthy at year`s end.
Sen. Creg Ball, R!atter
son, said dumping the higher
incometax rates is good lor
the economy.
!t`s not a millionaire tax,"
Ball said. !t`s a |obkilling
tax."
The budget continues to
lace strong resistance lrom
education and community
groups.
Led by the unionbacked
Alliance lor Quality Lduca
tion, protesters are planning
to camp all night at the Capi
tol to oppose the budget and
bear witness to the votes on
this painlul budget that in
cludes huge cuts lor children,
lamilies, seniors, schools and
communities combined with
a $4.G billion tax cut lor the
wealthiest 8 percent ol New
Yorkers," the groups said.
About 8OO protesters
clogged the hallways ol the
Capitol and the llight ol stairs
known as the MillionDollar
Staircase."
State police closed the hall
way to the Senate chamber
and the public viewing gal
leries ol both the Senate and
Assembly.
Lekia Hill, a Yonkers resi
dent in Albany to protest the
cuts, said her lilthgrade son
could lose his bus ride to
school il the cuts were ap
proved.
We`re losing transporta
tion, so that`s a huge deal to
me," she said. ! don`t know
how my son is going to get to
school il ! have to get to
work."
The protesters planned to
bring more than 7O pizzas and
S`mores and to have breaklast
there tomorrow morning.
New Yorkers lrom every
part ol the state are outraged
that the budget will sacrilice
our kids` education in order to
give another tax cut to mil
lionaires," said Karen Scharll,
executive director ol Citizen
Action ol New York, an advo
cacy group.
Thursday, Maroh 31, 2011 The 1curnal News wl LcHud.ocm
|k0M |0l 0Nl
!hotos by Mike Croll/The Associated !ress
lecple gather cn the Mllllcn Dcllar Stalroase at the Capltcl
wednesday tc prctest prcpcsed outs ln the state budget.
8000lI: Eandreds
prclesl calbacks
C0NTlNULD FR0M 1^
|I: Icbbylng
beccmes rcle
an ellort to get a seat at the
lobbying table.
Speaking with one voice is
a stronger way to express our
selves," said Dr. Amany
Messieha Dgheim, president
ol the Ramapo school district
!TA Council. That`s what it
is all about."
!n taking a position against
state aid cuts, the !TA is go
ing against an antispending
movement that is sweeping
through the nation`s state
houses, including in Albany.
Despite their ellorts, !TA
leaders watched in lrustration
as Cov. Andrew Cuomo and
legislative leaders hammered
out a budget deal that cuts ed
ucation aid by more than $1.2
billion.
!t doesn`t leel like anyone
was on the side ol education,"
said Kelly Chiarella, a
Yonkers !TA member who
nowserves as the regional di
rector ol the Westchester
Last !utnam !TA.
Though they never got a
sitdown with the governor,
!TAleaders met with Assem
bly Speaker Sheldon Silver
and Senate Ma|ority Leader
Dean Skelos at the Capitol to
make their case. But they lelt
with the parties and cham
bers blaming each other.
!t was a lesson in state pol
itics 1O1.
!olitics is what this is all
about," Chiarella said. !n
every conversation they were
blaming somebody else."
But the !TA isn`t done.
Leaders plan to continue
meeting with legislators and
to take their messages to lo
cal school boards, many ol
which are looking at ma|or
program and stall cuts.
(Yonkers, lor example, is
preparing to lay oll 7OO peo
ple, or about onethird ol its
worklorce).
We won`t stop advocating,
even when the budget pass
es," Chiarella said. !t`s a non
stop ellort."
The $182.5 billion budget
deal would cut school aid by
$1.2 billion, which is $272 mil
lion less than Cuomo pro
posed. !t would also cap
spending increases on educa
tion and Medicaid at 4 per
cent in 2O1218.
!l passed by the state Leg
islature, it would be the lirst
budget in 15 years to reduce
state spending.
Cuomo said the budget,
which closes a $1O billion
delicit with no new taxes or
borrowing, puts NewYork on
the right path.
This budget makes tough
choices, which is what you
sent me to Albany to do,"
Cuomo said.
The governor has been
particularly tough on schools,
mocking superintendents as
overpaid and calling on dis
tricts to dip into reserve lunds
to ollset his aid cuts.
He also supports a 2 per
cent propertytax cap, which
would require even deeper
program cuts lor schools.
And a state commission is
studying ways to reduce the
costs ol governmentimposed
mandates.
The budget deal, coming a
week alter the state !TA`s an
nual conlerence in Albany,
was a deep disappointment to
state !TA !resident Maria
letcher, who contends that
education aid should be kept
level or, at worst, minimally
cut.
We need to continue to
alert our lawmakers ol the
devastating ellect ol this state
budget," letcher said. And
we will do that. Shame on
them!"
Many school districts are
now preparing to cut teach
ers, other stallers, and non
mandated programs such as
art, music, physical education
and extracurriculars. Some
districts are even considering
kindergarten as a place to cut.
The cuts are devastating
and coming at the wrong
time, said Lex Kessler, a
member ol the Somers !TA
Council. He said American
kids are lalling behind their
peers in other countries, es
pecially in math and science.
We`re lacing the largest
crisis in education lunding.
!t`s never been more dire," he
said. We`re a billion and a
hall short. !t`s going to allect
every kid. Once this is taken
away lrom the kids, are you
ever getting it back? Not in
our liletime."
To have an impact, !TAs
must get the ears ol their lo
cal legislators.
The strength ol the !TA
movement is that it`s grass
roots," said Assemblyman
Ceorge Latimer, a Democrat
lrom Rye who has long
worked with local !TAs.
They`re really meeting you
as individuals."
The !TA has also changed
in other ways. !t was once
known as a social gathering
lor stayathome mothers. But
now many !TAs are attract
ing more working moms and
dads, including minorities.
When ! got involved, there
weren`t many men coming to
meetings," said Lonnie
!hillips, a vice president with
!elham`s !TA and an associ
ate director lor the region,
who has been involved lor
nearly a decade. There
weren`t many men asking
questions."
Regardless ol the makeup
ol the !TA, !hillips said the
goal remains the same: to ad
vocate lor kids and education.
You need to get a group ol
people together, talk to deci
sionmakers and get it lixed,"
he said.
Debbie Morris, treasurer
ol NewRochelle`s !TA Coun
cil, said !TAs need to re
spond to an unmistakable
change in the public attitude
toward education.
There seems to be a shilt
lrom what can we provide to
what can we cut," she said.
or their part, !TAs oller
extensive training on how to
speak to legislators.
Considering the outlook
lor next year`s budget, they
may need to oller entire
courses.
Advocacy is the hardest
part," said Merle !ayne ol
Spring \alley, director ol the
!TA`s Central Hudson Re
gion, which includes Rock
land County. There are so
many parts to it. You`re |ust
not thrown in."
Once the budget is com
pleted, the !TA still has to
contend with Cuomo`s prop
erty taxcap proposal, which
was passed by the state Sen
ate and has some support in
the Assembly.
Lven Sen. Suzi Oppen
heimer, a Democrat lrom the
Sound shore who started out
as a !TA president decades
ago, changed her position
and said she is backing a cap
this year so she can be at the
table" and push lor mandate
reliel.
Any discussion ol a tax cap
must address ballooning debt
payments and pension and
healthcare costs, she said.
!`m trying to oller some
simple, but necessary
changes to it," she said.
Kim oskew, president ol
the Last Ramapo !TA Coun
cil, said the !TA would be
ready lor what comes.
We have no option," she
said. The !TA is a powerlul
group. !t used to be about
bake sales to raise money lor
perks. But now, to advocate
lor children, we`ll light lire
with lire."
C0NTlNULD FR0M 1^
|M|0I: Slady saggesls mcre baslness space
awaited document. The vote
is a precursor to linal votes on
several zoning changes need
ed lor the redevelopment ol
the landmark property.
New Castle Supervisor
Barbara Cerrard said she was
determined to get the linal
study out to the public.
The public needed to
know where we were going,"
she said.
The linal study may end up
being more ammunition in
the cold war between the
town and property owners
Summit Development and
Creenlield !artners. The de
velopers declined to com
ment Tuesday on the com
pleted study, and had liled
suit against the town in state
and lederal court in ebruary
as their relationship with New
Castle ollicials over the years
long approval process deteri
orated.
!t`s too early to say whether
the Town Board will vote lor a
proposed Chappaqua Cross
ing with nearly 9O lewer resi
dential units. But the linal
study, as rewritten over the
last several months by the
Town Board and its consult
ants, points to that solution.
!t suggests that eliminating
an area known as the North
\illage, with 88 marketrate
condominiums in two, lour
story buildings, would leave
more ol the property zoned
lor business, preserving an
opportunity lor more ollice
development. !t would also
eliminate the 5Oloot tall build
ings, which violate current
zoning. The study concludes
that both the building height
and the loss ol commercially
zoned land would be signili
cant impacts.
Rezoning the Last \illage,
on the other hand, would
have the benelit ol keeping
the 2O units ol allordable
housing Summit/Creenlield
plans to build there. The Last
\illage plan includes three
buildings with 51 condo units
and GO townhouses.
The board has developed
two new zoning laws beyond
the live requested by the de
velopers, one to rezone only
the Last \illage to multilami
ly residential and one to re
zone the North \illage. The
developers have asked lor a
rezoning ol both areas, a total
ol GO acres.
The Town Board post
poned a Monday hearing on
the zoning changes until April
11.
Rob Creenstein, a critic ol
the pro|ect who has asked the
Town Board to vote against
any residential component,
said Wednesday that he
thought rezoning a smaller
area was a good concept.
One ol the main problems
was that by doing too much
residential, they were going
to squeeze out the commer
cial," said Creenstein, who
still voiced concerns about
the density ol the Last \illage
units.
Summit/Creenlield is also
seeking to remove a limit on
the number ol commercial
tenants in the old Reader`s Di
gest ollice building, which
they want to scale back lrom
7OO,OOO square leet to GG2,OOO
square leet. The last thing it
submitted to the town was a
larger parking plan in ]anu
ary.
When the Town Board
members decided the devel
opers wouldn`t give them the
linal environmental study
they wanted, they took over
dralting it themselves.
!n addition to the allord
able housing, the board`s
study lists Chappaqua Cross
ing`s benelits as bringing in
more tax revenue to the town
and schools compared with
the site as is even with
more schoolchildren and oth
er demand lor services. The
document also says lilting the
restriction on the number ol
commercial tenants would
strengthen the commercial vi
ability ol the site and boost
the town tax base
C0NTlNULD FR0M 1^
v }
New Castle Tcwn Bcard hearlng
cn Chappaqua Crcsslng
develcpment, 7 p.m. ^prll 11,
New Castle Tcwn Hall, 200 S.
Creeley ^ve., Chappaqua.
lnfcrmatlcn cn the zcnlng laws
and the flnal envlrcnmental
study are at mynewoastle.crg.
0k8: Ieds say bas reached a speed near 80 mph
they would present the re
sults ol their investigation to
the Bronx County district at
torney when they were done.
The state police investiga
tion is continuing," !nvestiga
tor ]oseph Becerra said. We
are not releasing any ol our
lindings at this time."
Becerra said it would be up
to Bronx County prosecutors
to determine whether any
charges would be liled
against the driver, Ophadel
Williams.
Anattorney lor Williams did
not immediately respondto an
Associated !ress request lor
comment Wednesday.
A Brooklyn phone number
lor an Ophadell Williams, an
alternate spelling that has
been given lor the driver`s
name, was not in service.
ive days alter the crash,
the driver had his driving
privileges suspended because
the state determined he had
made lalse statements when
applying lor his license.
The owner ol the bus was
World Wide Tours, which
runs buses lrom Manhattan`s
Chinatown to casinos in Con
necticut. Most ol the passen
gers were Asian and none es
caped serious in|ury, emer
gency ollicials said in the al
termath ol the accident.
Ahalldozen passengers re
mained in the hospital lor
nearly a week alter the crash,
lour in critical condition.
The accident brought calls
lor closer looks at lowcost
bus services lrom Sen
Charles Schumer, DN.Y.,
and Rep. Nydia \elazquez, D
Brooklyn.
Hersman said the technol
ogy exists to prevent many
bus crashes and to make it
more likely passengers will
survive those that do occur,
but government regulators
have lailed to implement sale
ty recommendations that in
some case stretch back
decades. She said her 5year
old minivan has more ad
vanced salety leatures than
many large buses.
The NTSB is convening a
public lorum May 1O11 to re
view motor coach and truck
salety.
Staff wrlter Ken valentl and
The ^sscolated lress ocn
trlbuted tc thls repcrt.
C0NTlNULD FR0M 1^
ile photo/The Associated !ress
Lmergenoy perscnnel stand at the soene cf the Maroh 12
bus orash cn lnterstate 95 ln the Brcnx.