Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inside Job... yikes

This documentary explores how changes in regulation and banking practices helped create the financial crisis.
If you haven't seen it, watch. You'll walk away finally understanding what those folks occupying Wall Street are ticked off about and wondering, wtf?

[Censored Content] Important advice for Port Jervis parents

In the past few years I have heard complaints about some of the faculty and staff at the Port Jervis School District that I have previously dismissed as exaggerations. That may have been premature on my part.

In recent weeks, I have become aware of situations that parallel one or more of the following concerns:
- Faculty or staff using foul language in class or around students.
- Faculty or staff insulting, demeaning or harassing students.
- Faculty or staff ignoring physician notes.
- Intimidation, condescension or hostility by faculty, staff or administration.

Further, I would advise truly reading the Code of Conduct signed by you at the start of each school year. It is, in essence, a contract between you and your child and the school district. As such, the rules and guidelines set forth within its pages must be adhered to by all parties. In other words, if the school district expects your family to act and behave according to the Code of Conduct, the administration, teachers and staff must also act and behave accordingly. The Code of Conduct is not intended to solely guide your child on how to properly behave, it also intended to guide school personnel on how to properly respond.

If your child is currently enrolled and does witness an event in school, advise him or her to write down the date, time, and place the incident occurred along with as much detail as can be remembered, either immediately after or as soon as safely possible.

If you have experienced a situation as listed above, and have gone through the proper school procedures, I would love to hear your story and how the situation was finally resolved by the school district.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sherlock Sunday 1.2

Series 1 episode 2 of 3 - "The Blind Banker
Holmes is hired by an old friend to investigate a mysterious break-in at a bank in the City.
Sherlock is a British television series that presents a contemporary re-styling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Last week: A Study in Pink

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teacher-protection racket, a NY Post Editorial

This, in my opinion, is a very interesting NY Post Editorial. Although it does a disservice by painting with a broad brush, it still bears repeating, however, as it illustrates behaviors that might be found in almost any school system and highlights the tolerances and protections given to teachers that, in truth, are rarely found in the private sector. - Steve

from the NY Post Editorial page:
Abusive, criminal or just plain incompetent teachers can all rest easy: In this city, their jobs are perfectly safe.

And too bad for the kids in the schools.

That’s the bitter lesson from The Post’s reports this week about teachers who slap kids, booze it up in class, steal from the government or just can’t teach — but still manage to hang on to their jobs.

For that, thank the city’s stacked teachers-union rules, which make it incredibly hard to fire teachers, no matter how lousy.

Thank, especially, the “independent” arbitrators — who can be relied on to put teachers’ interests before the kids’.

Yesterday, Gov. Cuomo said the teacher-rating system he wants schools to adopt would help “remedy” the situation.

Yet, as it turns out, the city’s union — the United Federation of Teachers — is actually pushing to extend its current hold-harmless set-up: It wants teacher evaluations made by principals to be OK’d by these supposedly neutral arbitrators.

That, of course, won’t “remedy” anything — which is why the city has resisted.

Consider, after all, how the “arbitration” process works. For starters, both the union and the city have to agree on who can be an arbitrator; each side has veto power.

Once an arbitrator gets the job, he needs to make sure his decision won’t upset the union — that is, if he wants more work of this kind in the future.

Because union bosses, and their pals at sister unions across the state, won’t hesitate to make sure anyone seen as too tough on teachers never gets school arbitration work again, a city lawyer says.

Plus, the union can (and does) drag its feet in approving arbitrators — thus, limiting the number available to hear cases, and slowing the process.

No wonder they heard only 26 incompetence cases last year. No wonder they blocked the city’s attempts to boot the teachers in fully half of those cases.

Likewise, teachers got to keep their jobs in more than two-thirds of some 70 misconduct cases. And it gets worse from there.

“What happens is every single thing is litigated or grieved or had a fuss made about it,” Mayor Bloomberg says.

Bottom line? Teachers like Brian Bachisin, Erica Fairfull and Walter Brown, who were caught nipping at scotch in school, remained teachers.

Tonia Hemingway and Wendy Aponte actually pleaded guilty to defrauding the government to get housing subsidies, but similarly stayed on the payroll (though Aponte’s license was suspended for a year).

Meanwhile, talks between the city and the UFT on new teacher-evaluation rules have reportedly resumed. And Cuomo says unions and districts across the state must agree on plans within the next few weeks.

Let’s just hope any new rules won’t be rendered toothless by more pro-union arbitrators — or any other poison pills.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Free Speech in Schools

Fox News anchor Megan Kelly debates the pros and cons of a Wisconsin school district's reaction to a newspaper article written by a student.
Is this school district within its rights or did they go to far? I would love your point of view. Send in your opinion here, or email comments@pjpride.com. Please note, I may decide to share your email on the blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

VIDEO: Port Jervis School Board 1/24/2012

Remember Aby Stumps
Port Jervis Board of Education
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Note: No sound for 2:05 minutes

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sherlock Sunday 1.1

Series 1 episode 1 of 3 - "A Study in Pink"
The police investigate the deaths of a series of people who all appear to have committed suicide by taking a poisonous pill.
Sherlock is a British television series that presents a contemporary re-styling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Port Jervis News...

Mark your calendar: The first Neighborhood Watch meeting this year is Wednesday, January 25th at 7p.m. at the firehouse on Canal & Orange Street.
from MidHudsonNews.com
Graffiti cases on the rise in Port Jervis
City Police are currently investigating a rash of recently reported cases of graffiti that have hit Port Jervis.

The incidents have occurred throughout the city where the person or persons spray painted a symbol that appears to be a smiling face and the name “Beast” on the sides of buildings, mail boxes, masonry retaining walls, street signs and other fixed objects.

Police request anyone with information pertaining to these incidents to call the detective division at 845-858-4003. All calls will be kept confidential.

Jersey man charged with drug sales in Orange County
A Paterson, New Jersey man has been arrested in Port Jervis on drug charges.

Police charged Willie Scott, 22, on Thursday, with two counts each of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal sale with intent to sell, both felonies. Clark was also charged with misdemeanor sale of an imitation controlled substance.

Port Jervis detectives conducted a several month investigation into crack cocaine sales in the area of Church and Barcelow streets.
[Be thankful you live where you do... I live near this street corner. *sigh* - Steve]

Clark was arraigned and remanded to the Orange County Jail in lieu of $105,000 bail.

Man charged with residential burglary
A Sparrowbush man has been remanded to the Orange County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail following his arrest in connection with a residential burglary in Port Jervis.

City Police arrested Scott Walker, 26, on Friday and charged him with second-degree burglary and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies, following an investigation into a residential burglary in the city’s Second Ward.

[Give a big hand to our Police Department, they're earning their pay!]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Night Stand Up, part 2

We love stand up comedy. So much that we want you to enjoy our favorites with us.

Friday Night Stand Up is simply where we post our favorite stand up comedians every Friday night. Tonight: Tom Papa - Live in New York City (2011)

WARNING: This is not for children, naive adults, or the easily offended. If you can identify with any of these groups, do not, repeat, do not watch the video.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

VIDEO: Port Jervis State of the City 2012

Mayor Potter gives his State of the City Address
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

VIDEO: Community Meeting on Bon Secours Maternity Unit

Communiy Town Hall meeting - January 7, 2012
Regarding the Bon Secours Maternity Ward Closing
Held at the Deerpark Reformed Church

See also:
Keep maternity ward open, public pleads at meeting
State to review planned closing of maternity ward
VIDEO: Local TV Host Talks with Guests about Bon Secours
Motivation questioned for closing of Bon Secours Hospital maternity ward

Friday, January 13, 2012

VIDEO: Port Jervis Common Council - 1/9/2012

Port Jervis Common Council
Monday, January 9, 2012

Video by George Belcher

Neighborhood Watch Advisory: Burglary/Thefts

From Chief Worden and the Neighborhood Watch:
The Port Jervis Police Department is currently investigating several reports of burglaries to garages and sheds and thefts of valuables from parked motor vehicles that have occurred throughout the city over the past two days.

The incidents appear to be occurring during the late evening and overnight hours.

Power tools, gas operated landscaping and lawn maintanance equipment, chainsaws, and other valuables have been reported stolen from garages, sheds and parked motor vehicles.

To minimize your risk of becoming a victim of these crimes:
- Secure valuables that are stored in garages, sheds or parked motor vehicles
- Store valuables out of plain sight
- Utilize exterior lighting to increase the security of your property
- Be alert and report any suspicious behavior in your neighborhood

TV Chef Gordon Ramsay to Film in Milford, PA

You can watch the episode by clicking here...
By Jessica Masulli Reyes from The New Jersey Herald
When pre-selected hotel and restaurant patrons walk into the River Rock Inn next week, they will be entering chef Gordon Ramsay's "Hotel Hell."

Ramsay will be filming at the River Rock Inn on 2nd Street next week as part of his new Fox reality show "Hotel Hell." For the show, Ramsay will use his tough-guy approach to reviving struggling hotels and restaurants.

Video from the Times Herald-Record's "NewsWatch""I can't wait," said the inn's owner, Ken Pisciotta. "It is a chance of a lifetime."

Pisciotta, who previously owned a restaurant for six years, took over the hotel and moved his restaurant to the River Rock Inn about eight months ago. The River Rock Inn, which was built in 1876, is a restaurant and hotel with 10 Victorian-style bedrooms that is two blocks from the Delaware River in downtown Milford.

He said the hotel portion of the inn has struggled despite his efforts.

"The restaurant has been great, but the hotel has been slow," Pisciotta said.

Pisciotta applied to the show, and is now thankful for the opportunity. "Hotel Hell" will be filming Jan. 16-20.

People who would like to dine or stay at the inn during that week should email milfordhotel@gmail.com with contact information, date and time for the reservation, and the number of people in the party. However, according to the inn's Facebook page, more than 1,500 people have already tried to reserve a spot.

The producers will pick from everyone who applied to see who can dine at the inn during filming. Those people will be notified starting today. Dinner patrons are responsible for the cost of their meals, but the show has arranged for highly discounted rates on hotel rooms next week.

Pisciotta said he is not sure what to expect when Ramsay shows up.

"I've been talking with the producers, and they just supply Gordon with the information and he runs the show," Pisciotta said. "I don't have any expectations." ...read more...

Keep maternity ward open, public pleads at meeting

By Jessica Cohen from The Times Herald-Record
At a public meeting on Saturday, tearful narratives illustrated arguments for keeping the Bon Secours Community Hospital's maternity ward open, while hospital administrators defended their plan to close it.

The meeting was organized by community activists and moderated by civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman.

Bon Secours Senior Vice President Jeff Reilly defended the hospital's plans to close the maternity ward because of a declining number of births per year at the hospital.

"There's an increasing risk for quality outcomes as the number of deliveries declines," Reilly said.

He cited 500 births per year as the minimum number to maintain quality of care.

Disputing the numbers
However, Jim McMahon, one of the organizers of the meeting, said that over the past 21 years annual birth numbers at the hospital had never reached 500, and the average was 282.

Obstetrician Hugh Forbes, of Middletown Community Health Center, said that many hospitals operate with fewer than 500 deliveries per year. Only a city of 20,000-30,000 would have sufficient numbers of women of reproductive age to regularly reach that number, he said.

"This shouldn't be about you against us, but with the data we've seen, it would be a moral failure not to present it to the state," said Deborah Marshall, senior vice president of Bon Secours Hospital System.

The state Health Department, which received Bon Secours' proposal to close the maternity unit in October, has not yet ruled on the plan.

Forbes said he called the state Health Department and asked about numbers of births correlated with quality of care. "There were none," he said. "Why?"

Keeping care accessible
Forbes continued, "Accessible obstetrical service is a necessity. The biggest problem is premature births. Lower care access means more premature births. Quality is maintained by having a system in place."

About 70 hospital employees and local residents attended the meeting. Several expressed concern about the risks of having no nearby maternity ward. The closest would be at Orange Regional Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill, a half-hour drive over a mountain in good weather.

Forbes told of patients who lacked money to go to Middletown and would wait for a ride to Bon Secours.

"They come in fully dilated. By law, you can't transfer an unstable patient. The problem with high risk is premature births. If there's no obstetrician to stabilize them, they can have blindness, cerebral palsy, or other brain damage. A fetus in trouble must be delivered in less than 30 minutes. Otherwise, lack of oxygen increases the likelihood of brain damage."

In a medical crisis, the window of opportunity would have passed by the time a Port Jervis patient gets to Orange Regional, Forbes said. Orange Regional's new facility is impressive, but "all the bells and whistles are no good without access," Forbes said.

Sad story
A woman in the audience spoke up. "If he didn't scare you, I will," she said.

She wept as she described being in labor in the back of a car and, choosing between facilities, she chose the one a half-hour farther, too late for her breech birth. The baby died.

Kelly Decker, newly elected councilman-at-large, told of his son's birth at Bon Secours, what was then Mercy Hospital, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He described his son as thriving nevertheless, which Decker attributed to good medical care.

He noted that his father, Ross Decker, former mayor and retired hospital administrator, had expressed concern that the loss of the maternity ward would detract from other departments at the hospital.

Judith Oppelt, former councilwoman, wept as she described the unexpected birth of her grandchild in a bathroom, illustrating the unpredictability of labor and birth. She attributed the baby's survival to Bon Secours staff.

"The criteria for transfer is stability," said Missy McCann, Bon Secours obstetrical nurse, one of several nurses at the meeting. "In labor, a woman is never stable."

With conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy with a rupture and uterine hemorrhaging, obstetrical staff are crucial, she said.

"With a postpartum hemorrhage, a woman can bleed out in 15 minutes."

Conciliatory note
Sussman concluded the meeting on a conciliatory note.

"The message is that Bon Secours maternity ward care is excellent. It's critical that Bon Secours is a full-service hospital."

"I'd rather not take the bus to Albany," Sussman said, referring to the next step in resisting loss of the maternity ward.

See also:
Port Jervis residents protest closing hospital maternity ward
State to review planned closing of maternity ward
VIDEO: Local TV Host Talks with Guests about Bon Secours
Motivation questioned for closing of Bon Secours Hospital maternity ward

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

VIDEO: Port Jervis School Board 1/10/2012

Remember Aby Stumps
Port Jervis Board of Education
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Hunt for Higgs - A Horizon Special

Horizon goes behind the scenes at CERN to follow one of the most epic and expensive scientific quests of all time: the search for the Higgs particle, believed to give mass to everything in our universe. However, the hunt for Higgs is part of a much grander search for how the universe works. It promises to help answer questions like why we exist and is a vital part of a Grand Unified Theory of nature.
Presented by Jim Al-Khalili, Iraqi-born British physicist, author and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey. Horizon is a popular BBC science and philosophy documentary program.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Port Jervis residents protest closing hospital maternity ward

taken from MidHudsonNews.com and the Times Herald-Record
Public officials and concerned citizens rallied to oppose Bon Secours Community Hospital's proposed closure of its maternity unit with dozens gathered in Deerpark Reformed Church for what was the first public meeting on the issue.

While the Port Jervis hospital plans to maintain its services in gynecology, obstetrics and its four current maternity beds would be eliminated. This leaves residents in Port Jervis and the surrounding area with the closest option of Orange Regional Medical Center, which is 20 miles away in the Town of Wallkill.

Jeff Reilly, senior vice president of the Orange County Bon Secours hospitals, said during the Saturday session the decision was made after the results of a risk assessment survey done four years ago across their hospitals nationwide.

"There is an increased risk in quality outcomes as the volume of OB deliveries declines in a particular market,” he said. “The decision that was made locally at Bon Secours was that we were going to aggressively try to grow the program, recruit additional OBs to the market and increase the number of deliveries.”

While they interviewed about a dozen candidates, a precipitous decline in deliveries – down from around 350 to under 175 in that period – led to their ultimate decision, he said.

That this was the first public meeting about the matter was of concern to a panel of concerned citizens and hospital workers. Bon Secours officials were required by law to notify the public and allow for a comment period before bringing the decision to the New York State Department of Health.

Deborah Marshall, a public relations representative for the hospital, said they were not aware of this, though a few in the public were demonstrably skeptical.

"Had we known that we were supposed to have a public meeting to let you know that we were going to close the unit, we would have done so. We don't close units. That's not what we're in the business of doing, so this is new to us," said Marshall.

Port Jervis, many argued, demands an obstetrics unit for its societal and economical predispositions. The city maintains a 16.9 percent poverty rate, and 50 percent of students in the district qualify for free or reduced lunches, according to the panel.

Caren Fairweather, executive director of the Maternal-Infant Services Network, said the Port Jervis population warrants a maternity unit.

“It has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in Orange County," she said. "One in three Port Jervis women gets late or no pre-natal care, compared to just six percent in the county."

Local emergency medical technician Charli Parachinni said transporting expecting mothers over Point Peter on I-84 to the Town of Wallkill can be risky in bad weather. “I don't have an incubator in my pocket or in my ambulance to keep a baby alive,” she said.

City Councilman-at-large Kelly Decker worried that the absence of a maternity unit will sap business from the rest of the hospital, while prospective father Jerry Weinstein said he would have never moved to the city if it didn't have a delivery area.

Statistical appeals meshed with emotional as several mothers spoke of their positive experiences having their children in Bon Secours, and of their fear of what could happen if imminently birthing women are made to wait too long.

This is not yet a foregone conclusion, however, as the state Health Department must determine whether or not Bon Secours necessitates an obstetrics unit. Citizens are being encouraged to send them letters requesting that the four maternity beds maintain certification.

Lawyer and moderator Michael Sussman insisted that the tri-state area needs a full-service community hospital. “This area of Orange County has been a stepsister on too many issues for far too long,” he said.

See also:
State to review planned closing of maternity ward
VIDEO: Local TV Host Talks with Guests about Bon Secours
Motivation questioned for closing of Bon Secours Hospital maternity ward
2 Port pediatricians losing their jobs

Friday, January 6, 2012

Community meeting to focus on maternity ward closing

By Jessica Cohen from the Times Herald-Record
Valerie Maginsky said she felt "surprised, then powerless, then motivated," when she first read in a news article that the Bon Secours Community Hospital's maternity ward would be closing.

Now she and other community members have united to challenge the closing, which was initiated when the hospital filed a Certificate of Need with the New York state Health Department on Oct. 24, based on low annual birth numbers in the ward.

The Health Department will rule on the request, and public input will be a factor, according to Peter Constantakes, Health Department spokesman.

Maginsky will be one of several panelists at a community meeting about the issue at 2 p.m. Saturday at Deerpark Reformed Church in Port Jervis.

Anne Horsham, another organizer and panelist, said the moderator will be civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman, founder of the Democratic Alliance of Orange County, of which Horsham and Jim McMahon, another panelist, are members.

Horsham said an obstetrical nurse, Kristine Muran, and a Bon Secours obstetrician, whom Horsham would not yet identify, will also be on the panel.

She also hopes to have a representative from Maternal Infant Services Network, which provides education and other support services for new mothers and families in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties.

Horsham said she was also sending an invitation to the administrators of Bon Secours.

"We figured we would invite Philip Patterson, since he is the CEO," she said. "Anyone can come, and he can send anyone."

Deborah Marshall, senior vice president of Bon Secours Hospital Systems, said Jeff Reilly, also senior vice president, would attend, and perhaps other administration representatives.

"The maternity unit is the most public focus of our effort," said Maginsky, but she said she is also concerned about rumors that other services may be lost.

"It's becoming a discussion about health care that will be available," she said. "Since we're not on the county transport system, we rely on Port Jervis, Matamoras and Milford. This closure is an indicator of a sea change. Reasons for people to move here are becoming fewer. A hospital is an asset. This doesn't bode well for economic viability."

Maginsky pointed to various community efforts to persuade the state Health Department to rule against the hospital's closure request.

"We're concentrating on letters to the Health Department," she said. "There's an ongoing online petition and a petition

at Carmine's Bakery related to the pediatricians being laid off this month. We'll send a video of the meeting and consider a trip to Albany. Let people know their voices make a difference, and give them an opportunity."

Signs may appear on lawns and ribbons throughout the city.

"Visibility is an issue," she said. "So this is not to say Bon Secours will avoid having a picket in front of the hospital."

The maternity ward's obstetricians have been laid off, effective Jan. 10, and the ward's nurses have been notified of reassignment.

On Tuesday, Constantakes wrote in an email, "The Department of Health has spoken to the hospital and they will be providing full coverage as needed and is normally provided. They will be working with the local federally qualified health center (Middletown Community Health Center) to ensure coverage. DOH is still reviewing the CON (certificate of need). Comments received are taken into consideration during the review."

See also:
VIDEO: Local TV Host Talks with Guests about Bon Secours
Motivation questioned for closing of Bon Secours Hospital maternity ward
2 Port pediatricians losing their jobs

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Waiting For Superman

Recent articles in the local paper regarding school funding, madate relief and teacher evaluation have prompted me to repost this documentary.
There has been a lot of debate about this film, as there should be. The documentary is obviously slanted toward one point of view. My advice would be to not take it as the gospel truth, but watch with an open mind.

Afterward, I would love to have your opinion. Please keep in mind, I may share your email with the blog.