web analytics
July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Albany’

Albany Beat

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Child Abuse Takes Center Stage In Albany

A particularly frustrating and gut-wrenching issue dominating the final days of the legislative session concerns a push to remove the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex abusers of children.

The law currently states that after a victim or survivor of abuse reaches the age of 23 he or she cannot prosecute the perpetrator either criminally or civilly.

Since abuse victims are often very slow to come to grips with what happened to them – some not until middle age or even later in life – the bill sponsors, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth, Queens) and Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Greenwich Village, Manhattan), contend the statute of limitations needs to be eliminated.

Earlier this month more than 150 Jewish organizations held a two-day rally at the Capitol lobbying lawmakers to support the legislation.

Even though he is not a New Yorker, one case in point involves 40-year-old Manny Waks, an Australian who was sexually abused twice, once at age 11 and again at age 14. Waks is chief executive officer of Kol v’Oz, a nonprofit focused to prevent child abuse in the global Jewish community.

“I was sexually abused at the age of 11,” Waks said on “The Jewish View,” a television program taped in Albany. “I grew up in a [frum] community in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve got 16 brothers and sisters. There were two perpetrators in my case. Both were in their 20s at the time. One of the perpetrators is currently sitting in jail in Australia and the other one is free in New York…. shielded by the statute of limitations.”

These incidents had a major impact on Waks and his family.

“Between the ages of 11 and 14 I was rebelling against religion. For example, at my bar mitzvah I was completely disinterested in the religious component of it. I forced myself to eat non-kosher even though I was very uncomfortable doing it. I forced myself to turn the light off on Shabbat,” Waks said.

One day Waks said he heard about Operation Paradox, which encouraged people to report abuse to the authorities.

“Until that moment, for some reason, I had never even considered going to the authorities. By the time I reported my abuse I was totally secular. I had no interest in religion or going to a bet din, where there is no statute of limitations, so that was never an option. I disclosed my abuse at the age of 20. At that point I went straight to my father, told him what happened and to his credit, he contacted the police. I told my father because I couldn’t tell my mother. This is still a topic we rarely discuss,” noted Waks.

Now Waks is married and a father of three children.

In a compassionate explanation of their opposition to the legislation, Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah wrote to Markey “fully acknowledging the horror of child sexual abuse and the devastating long-term scars it all too often creates. Our rabbinic and lay leadership is acutely aware of the emotional trauma and damage caused by the perpetrators of such abuse. We are committed as a community to do whatever we can to institute preventative measures designed to prevent child abuse, to root out perpetrators of child abuse from our schools and other communal institutions, and to help victims on the road to healing and recovery.”

As the measure relates to eliminating the statute of limitations and allows for civil penalties against a private religious institution in perpetuity, Agudath Israel parts company with the sponsors of the legislation.

“This legislation could literally destroy schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of communities like ours…” wrote Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel. “This bill would allow lawsuits only against private organizations but not against public schools and other public institutions. There is something very wrong with that dichotomy. Simply stated, as currently worded, this bill could subject schools and other vital institutional in communities like ours to ancient claims and litigation and place their very existence in severe jeopardy.”

Waks, however, said the groups are “putting their interest and the interest of their institutions above the interests of the victims and that’s what I said earlier and its time that we put the interests and well-being of victims and survivors and their families ahead of the interests and the well-being of the perpetrators and their enablers.”

Despite the opposition, the 74-year-old Markey vows not to leave office without the bill being passed by both houses and signed into law. The bill is currently being held in Assembly and Senate Codes committees.

Corruption Update: Calls For Pension Forfeiture

Three former top lawmakers were sentenced this month after being convicted on federal corruption charges. It seems good government groups are more upset about this rash of misdeeds than the public, even though since 2000 there have been 17 senators and 27 assembly members who have left office after facing a judge and being convicted on a raft of charges including conspiracy, extortion, solicitation of bribes, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, making false statements, bribery, fraud, lying to federal agents during a corruption investigation, felony tax evasion, money laundering, election irregularities, per diem travel voucher scam, using campaign funds for personal expenses, sexual harassment of legislative employees, groping, intimidating, and manipulating young female staffers.

Good government groups such as the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Common Cause, Reinvent Albany, Citizens Action and the League of Women Voters want lawmakers to pass an ethics reform package with preventative measures discouraging legislative corruption, such as loss of pensions for convicted former officeholders.

“We agree that the judges should have the power to yank the pensions [for state lawmakers],” declared Blair Horner, executive director of NYPIRG. “I would think perfecting my hedge clipping skills wearing an orange jumpsuit would be a far more scary prospect than losing my pension. Going to prison, hanging out in the slammer, being in the pokey, however you want to put it, should be the deterrent as compared to losing the pension. Given the historic nature of the incredible levels of corruption and scandal that engulfed the state Capitol, for the only response to be taking away someone’s pension, that’s not good enough.”

Marc Gronich

Albany Beat

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Felder May Return To Democratic Conference; EITC Defeated Once Again

The failure to include the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) in the latest state budget has many factions roiled. It is seen as a victory for the teachers’ unions and another blow for groups such as the Catholic Conference, Agudath Israel of America, (AIA) and the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks prior to passage of the state budget, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D – Greenwich Village, Manhattan) released a statement in her newsletter regarding the tax credit proposal.

The EITC, she said, “would create a tax credit for 75 percent credit up to $1 million for donations made to private, parochial or public schools,” Glick wrote. “The Assembly rejects this proposal.”

Glick is the chairwoman of the Assembly committee on Higher Education and a member of the powerful Rules and Ways and Means committees.

Senator Jesse Hamilton (D – Crown Heights, Brooklyn) says he voted for the EITC bill when it came up on the first day of session. He also voted for the budget bill that did not include the EITC. He says that despite his support of EITC, unions will still support his reelection.

“I have a vested interest in this too,” Hamilton said on “The Jewish View,” a television program taped in Albany. “My son goes to parochial school. The unions will still back me. One issue doesn’t define Jesse Hamilton.”

Hamilton is advocating for a compromise solution.

“I think it has to be modified somewhat,” he said, “where if you just look at it from that parental point of view where if a parent is getting it versus someone who has no child in the school that might be more palatable for some opponents to swallow. If it was just geared to the parents, where if I’m a parent and I paid $10,000 and I can get $9,000 back as a tax credit, that’s more palatable. To let some investment banker get a tax credit for donating to any school they want, such as a school their best friend’s child is going to [is not right]. I think it has to be more for the parents who are paying the money, not for investors who are donating the money to the schools because the parents should be the one getting the tax credit not some person who has no child in the school system.”

AIA, which was lobbying hard for passage of EITC, said the budget is a mixed bag of successes and disappointments for the group.

“We of course appreciate the funding for safety equipment for nonpublic schools and the increases in reimbursements of Mandated Services and CAP (Comprehensive Attendance Program) – these are very important and we are very grateful,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president. “For those of us who deal with the State Education Department on an ongoing basis, having a dedicated Office for Religious and Independent Schools will make a real difference in accessing services for our yeshivas. We are, however, disappointed at the absence of any form of education tax credits. Agudath Israel will continue to battle for the interests of yeshivas, the most precious communal asset we have.”

The repercussions of this failed attempt to pass the EITC may lead to a defection from the Republican conference by a frustrated Senator Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park, Brooklyn).

On “The Jewish View,” Hamilton said he thinks Felder will come back to the Democratic side of the aisle because he’s upset with the Republicans.

“Simcha felt that the Republican Senate didn’t fight hard enough for it so the last vote for the budget, Simcha was the only person who voted ‘no’ to voice his opposition to what had happened,” Hamilton said. “I voted for the bill because it also included the minimum wage, paid family leave act, it had a lot of things in it. I was upset because they gave us the budget two hours before we voted on it. I got the budget at 7 o’clock in the morning after being up for 20 hours. I think Simcha is trying to get the best for his community and he realized with the Senate Republicans he could not get the support he needed.”

Marc Gronich

KKK Member Tried to Sell X-Ray Weapon to Kill ‘Israel’s Enemies’

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Two New York residents, one of them identified with the Ku Klux Klan, tried to sell to Jewish groups a deadly X-ray radiation device that one of them described as “Hiroshima on a light switch” and which he designed to zap people to death, according to the FBI, which unsealed its complaint in Albany on Wednesday.

The FBI charged Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, who is an industrial mechanic with General Electric in Schenectady, and alleged co-conspirator Eric J. Feight, 54, who works for an electronics company in Columbia County, with material support to terrorists, including use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Crawford told undercover FBI agents dujring a year-long investigation that he is “a member of the Ku Klux Klan, specifically, the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.”

His device was designed to be mounted on a truck and remotely controlled with the capability of aiming a laser beam of radioactivity at people.

He searched for a source of radiation and found supposed a ready supplies who actually were FBI agents, working after apparent tip-offs from two Albany synagogues Crawford approached.

He approached one synagogue in April 2012 and “asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel’s enemies while they slept,” the FBI complaint says.

The “enemies” referred to by Crawford are Muslims and enemies of the United States to whom he referred as “medical waste.”

Crawford contacted a second Albany area synagogue the same day with a similar offer.

The FBI complaint states, “Crawford also told the (FBI source) that the target of his radiation emitting device would be the Muslim community. Crawford described the device’s capabilities as ‘Hiroshima on a light switch’ and that ‘everything with respiration would be dead by the morning.'”

He ended his meeting with the agent by stating, “How much sweeter could there be than a big stack of smelly bodies?”

The investigation advanced to the point that in December, the FBI requested and received a search warrant enabling agents to monitor Crawford’s and Feight’s cell phone calls, emails and text messages.

Crawford had successfully tested the remote triggering system, without a radiation supply, which could work from a little less than a half mile away from the weapon, according to the complaint. The suspects met in Albany on May 20 with the device in hand, and they planned to test it in a dry run out at a hotel, without a radiation system.

Crawford and Feight met again last Wednesday, when Crawford was to have been provided with an unfinished radiation system.

FBI agents, posing as South Carolina Ku Klux Klan members, who were interested in buying the device and financing the plot, arrested them on the spot.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kkk-member-tried-to-sell-x-ray-weapon-to-kill-israels-enemies/2013/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: