Blog Posts by Aaron Task

  • [$$] Paramus, the Quintessential Suburb

    Paramus, in New Jersey’s Bergen County, is quintessentially suburban but without a main street downtown lined with stores and restaurants and maybe a theater.

    Still, the borough is a good place for house hunters seeking a community close to Manhattan with small-town warmth, moderate property taxes, high-end shopping and good schools, said Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, who was born in Paramus.

    If there is a downside, longtime residents say, it is expensive housing. About 88% of residents owned their homes from 2010 to 2014; median household income in 2014 was $96,454, according to the U.S. Census.

    “I’m 70 years old and I love it here,” said Fred Rohdieck, president of the Paramus Chamber of Commerce. “But I’ve had a number of friends who have recently retired and moved out of Paramus. The price of housing is still expensive in Bergen County. And our children starting out can’t afford to live [in the county].”

    The Borough Council

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  • [$$] Greater New York Watch

    Three 17-year-old interns and a police officer were exposed to a suspicious, white powder at the Manhattan headquarters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, officials said Friday.

    Tests on the powder determined it was nontoxic. It was sent to the city health department for identification.

    Authorities said an intern. from Queens, opened an envelope containing the powder Thursday night inside the fifth-floor campaign office in Trump Tower. Two other interns, one from Scarsdale and one from Yonkers, also were exposed to the substance, authorities said.

    The three interns and the officer were evaluated and decontaminated by emergency-medical workers, authorities said.

    Pervaiz Shallwani Long Island

    Democrat Todd Kaminsky has emerged as the winner of a state Senate race on Long Island, though Republican Chris McGrath still isn’t conceding.

    Election officials finished counting

    Read More »from [$$] Greater New York Watch
  • [$$] NYPD Officer Convicted of Stomping on Suspect’s Head

    A New York Police Department officer was convicted Friday of stomping on the head of a man who was being placed under arrest in an incident that was captured on a cellphone video, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said.

    In a bench trial, Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus found Officer Joel Edouard, 38 years old, guilty of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor charge that allows the officer to keep his job pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the NYPD.

    Anthony Ricco, an attorney for Officer Edouard, said he plans to appeal. His client is a good guy who made a mistake, he said, and whose punishment shouldn’t be determined by a larger discussion around other police officers’ tactics.

    “In the legitimate frustration to end excessive police force, has it come down to this?” Mr. Ricco said.

    Officer Edouard is the second NYPD officer to be convicted in Brooklyn this year for an on-duty incident in which a

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  • Wine & Food Festival Snags People Magazine as Major Sponsor

    In keeping with its growing efforts to shine a spotlight on celebrities outside the gourmet world, the New York City Wine & Food Festival has signed on People magazine as a major sponsor for its annual event this fall.

    The festival, running Oct. 13 to 16, is the largest annual culinary event in the city. Organizers wouldn’t reveal financial terms of the partnership, but said it would entail everything from promotional support to sweepstakes opportunities.

    The magazine, part of the Time Inc. publishing family, will also sponsor the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a sister event to the New York one. Both festivals are produced by Southern Wine & Spirits, a prominent beverage distributor.

    Read More »from Wine & Food Festival Snags People Magazine as Major Sponsor
  • [$$] Museum of Modern Art to Offer Employee Buyouts

    The Museum of Modern Art is offering buyouts to some employees as it moves forward with a multimillion-dollar expansion plan.

    The museum said no layoffs are planned and the buyouts are intended to benefit employees who are considering retiring this year. It noted that during renovations the museum is operating on a smaller scale.

    The program is being offered to staffers aged 55 and older with at least 9 years of service as of July 31. The final head count and cost savings will depend on how many employees participate, and on whether some vacated positions have to be refilled to ensure operations run smoothly, MoMA officials said.

    The offers were reported earlier by the New York Times.

    The MoMA buyout plan comes as the Metropolitan Museum of Art also intends to cut staff as part of a broader financial restructuring to address a projected $9 million to $10 million deficit. At the Met, a voluntary retirement plan will likely be accompanied

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  • Before the Tony Nominations, a Bit of Backstage Drama

    In some years, the behind-the-scenes rulings by the Tony Awards Administration Committee are as anticipated as the nominations themselves.

    Among the more buzz-worthy considerations this year was the fate of “Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and all that Followed,” the musical with an all-star creative team and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald.

    On Friday, with nominations due out Tuesday, the committee decided “Shuffle Along” would be eligible as a new musical, rather than a revival.

    Its backers, led by one of New York theater’s most active producers, Scott Rudin, had sought to have the show considered a revival, according to a committee member.

    A spokesman for Mr. Rudin declined to comment.

    Contending for best musical is usually an attractive prospect. But this year, “Hamilton” is widely expected by the industry to win the award in an already heavily crowded field.

    Read More »from Before the Tony Nominations, a Bit of Backstage Drama
  • [$$] Silda Wall Spitzer Carves Her Own Path in Politics

    Silda Wall Spitzer has held a number of high-profile gigs in her life, former first lady of New York chief among them, but in February, she tried a less glamorous role: door-knocker.

    Some 200 miles from her home in Manhattan and the press corps that still dogs her there, Ms. Wall Spitzer stumped for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, before the state’s primary.

    “She is, by far, the most qualified, caring and effective candidate running,” Ms. Wall Spitzer, 58 years old, said in rare public remarks for this article.

    Now, more than eight years after she stood next to her then-husband, Eliot Spitzer, as he resigned as governor amid a prostitution scandal, Ms. Wall Spitzer is poised to make her most significant step back into politics as a delegate for Mrs. Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.

    Last week, on Democratic primary ballots in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Ms.

    Read More »from [$$] Silda Wall Spitzer Carves Her Own Path in Politics
  • A $29.4 million federal grant to help thousands of former Atlantic City casino workers has gone largely unspent, with few people enrolling in or finding jobs through the state’s re-employment program.

    New Jersey has used less than 10% of the grant it received to help the nearly 7,000 workers laid off from casinos in 2014, state records show.

    “In the end, the demand for our services was not as great as what we asked the federal government for,” said Aaron Fichtner, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “We believe that many people got jobs in other industries on their own or through assistance of other government programs.”

    The state agency has spent $2.8 million of the federal grant, which expires in December, on its Atlantic City re-employment program in the past year, Mr. Fichtner said.

    The state sent letters to 6,835 laid-off workers alerting them to job training and placement services, and

    Read More »from [$$] Laid-Off Casino Workers Largely Bypass State Job-Training Program
  • CARACAS, Venezuela—The largest private Venezuelan company and producer of 80% of the beer consumed here began to shut down its last beer plant on Friday, the latest deprivation in a country crippled by shortages.

    After Empresas Polar SA closed its three other beer plants over the past several days, the shutting of the San Joaquin plant, near Valencia, will leave just a week’s supply of beer, the company said. Like many other firms here, Polar blames the government, which hasn’t allocated the dollars the company needs to pay for imported raw materials such as malted barley.

    President Nicolás Maduro’s government controls access to dollars, doling them out via a stringent currency exchange in which many companies find it hard to pay suppliers abroad.

    There are far fewer dollars these days. Foreign reserves have fallen to just a third of what they were in 2009, and Venezuela will struggle to pay billions in bond payments due later this year, according

    Read More »from [$$] Beer Becomes the Latest Scarcity in a Venezuela Crippled by Shortages
  • [$$] World Watch: News Digest

    Poland’s constitutional crisis intensified this week when the Supreme Court and municipalities opposed to the central government said they would honor legislative rulings of a top court that the government has refused to recognize.

    The development added to the pressure the conservative Law and Justice party has faced since coming to power last year, with critics accusing it of increasingly authoritarian rule.

    Since November, Law and Justice has moved to install its judges on the court, known as the Constitutional Tribunal, and rewritten tribunal rules to constrain its ability to rule quickly against legislation. But the court’s chairman has refused to seat some of the nominees and in March sought to throw out the new rules. In response, the government has refused to record the Tribunal’s rulings.

    The European Commission and the U.S. have supported the Polish opposition in the dispute.

    Martin M. Sobczyk AUSTRALIA Read More »from [$$] World Watch: News Digest

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