“‘Fraud’ is too nice a word – Lakewood, an Opinion

 

http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/10/05/opinion-lakewood-s-ultra-orthodox-day-schools-tyranny-of-the-many/

Opinion: Lakewood’s Ultra-Orthodox Day Schools, ‘Tyranny of the Many’

 

“There’s nothing fraud hates more than a spotlight,” says Tom Gatti, head of the newly incorporated Senior Action Group (SAG) in Lakewood. The fraud he references is an utter lack of compliance with a newly legislated program, Senate Bill 2049, that awards $17 million a year to a private consortium representing Lakewood’s burgeoning sector of 130 ultra-Orthodox Jewish day schools. The bill mandates an oversight committee. None exists. And no governmental entity — the Christie administration, Department of Education, local school board, or bill sponsor Senator Robert Singer (R-Ocean, Monmouth) — seems to care.

So here’s some illumination.

American democracy is complicated. Elections pivot on the preponderance of votes but minorities are afforded protections (codified in the Bill of Rights) in order to avoid, as John Stuart Mill had it, the “tyranny of the majority.” That very tyranny is an apt description of Lakewood’s public education landscape.

The South Jersey city is home to the second-largest population of ultra-Orthodox Jews in America (Brooklyn comes in first) and this population is growing rapidly. The total population of Lakewood is about 60,000 and is projected to rise to 225,000 by 2030, almost entirely fueled by the continued influx of ultra-Orthodox families. Last year the town’s planning and zoning departments approved 10 synagogues, nine yeshivas and 1,175 new residences. Many ultra-Orthodox constituents vote in a bloc, taking instruction from the Vaad, a local council of rabbis. The elected municipal government is dominated by white male Orthodox Jews, as is the school board.

And that school board is in a bind. The budget for Lakewood Public School District, which serves about 5,600 Latino and African-American children, has a $12 million deficit out of an annual operating budget of $127,778,000. The two biggest bites are transportation and special education. Until this year the district paid $18,199,974, mostly to bus 10,000 non-public students on gender-specific buses to 130 different yeshivas. (The other big bite — a mind-boggling $31,485,495 — is annual tuition to private special-education schools, mostly for ultra-Orthodox children who attend Jewish yeshivas that accept children with disabilities.)

According to a recent analysis by Michael Hoban, senior educational consultant to Lakewood U.N.I.T.E (the group that represents Lakewood’s black students), most school districts allocate about 75 percent of annual budgets to student instruction. In Lakewood that allocation shrinks to 48 percent.

Hence, Senator Singer, Lakewood’s white knight, wrote a bill (or the Vaad did, depending upon who you ask) that awards $17 million a year to pay busing costs for yeshiva students, with enough left over for “courtesy busing,” or transportation for students within state walking parameters. (The town council has “pledged” to pay for courtesy busing for public school students.)  The $17 million, according to the bill, is paid directly to a “consortium.”

That consortium, now registered with the state Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services, is an LLC called the “Lakewood Student Transportation Authority (LSTA) and the chairman of the board is Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewski, who is also the municipal police chaplain, commissioner of the Ocean County Board of Elections, founder of a girls’ yeshiva, and, according to the Jewish paper Haaretz, in an article entitled “Only in America,” wielder of  enormous power within the ultra-Orthodox community.

What about the accountability described in Senate Bill 2049 as an “oversight committee” consisting of five members, four appointed by the commissioner and one appointed by the state monitor or the school board?

According to SAG, Inc., at least three well-qualified residents dutifully filed resumes presenting credentials to all these entities and repeatedly contacted Senator Singer’s office. While there have been occasional responses, no action has been taken.

Certainly, there’s no point in prospective overseers contacting LSTA. According to Ocean City Politics, “The Lakewood Student Transportation Authority still has a nonfunctional public website and phone calls made to it are directed to an automated prompt. No public information has been released about the bids for busing by the agency, unlike local and county governments that publish bid documents on their websites.” (As of publication date, this nonfunctional status is unchanged.)

To date, $17 million of taxpayer money has been sent to an unaccountable consortium. To date, there is no oversight committee as stipulated in state law. To date, Lakewood public school students, 74 percent Latino, 20 percent black, and 86 percent economically disadvantaged, are summarily deprived of access to their constitutionally guaranteed thorough and efficient system of education.

Now, let’s be fair. Nonpublic school students are entitled to transportation within state parameters (although gender-specific, yeshiva-specific buses are a murky area). The district is underfunded because of New Jersey’s broken and unsustainable school funding-formula.  But the state Legislature just handed over $17 million a year to an unaccountable group of powerbrokers (regardless of who is responsible for implementation of the Senate bill) and called it square. This disdain for rectitude and law perpetuates the inequities — indeed, the tyranny — visited upon the minority children who attend Lakewood Public Schools. “Fraud” is too nice a word.

Another Rockland County Debacle – Overdevelopment and a Comparison to Provident Park Stadium

1461616851_PCU PARK WEB 4 25 16

PROVIDENT PARK STADIUM – RENAMED PALISADES CREDIT UNION PARK, AND HOME OF THE ROCKLAND BOULDERS –  ROCKLANDERS ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT SIMILAR PROSPECTS

For many people living in Rockland County, the great tragedy of Provident Park, home of the Rockland Boulders, is not only the alleged misappropriation of funds by Christopher St. Lawrence, assisted by Aaron Troodler (https://www.google.com/search?q=chrisopher+st.+lawrence&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8), which fostered the building of that stadium. Both St. Lawrence and Troodler were charged with upwards of 22 counts of fraud, wire fraud and other charges.

It is also the tragic loss of Matterhorn Nurseries which is now partially developed into housing, most ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox communities.

Christopher St. Lawrence, according to Rockland County residents is, has been and will always be in the pockets of the ultra-Orthodox community. He cares little about the public schools, the over-development and the ramifications for an entire community because he has been well compensated. The fact that the ultra-Orthodox  intent upon over-development, siphoning funds from public education to private yeshivas and utilizing taxpayer money to fund their very existence, is of little relevance when they vote in droves to support him as Town Supervisor. From our view, Lawrence, Troodler, and others belong behind bars.  

From the opinion of some living in Rockland County, it is difficult to believe that the owners of the Boulders knew nothing about the unsavory way in which the stadium was funded, the misappropriation of funds out of the pockets of taxpayers and the destruction of the Horn family’s iconic nursery. It is hard to tell whether they, like St. Lawrence were in the pockets of the ultra-Orthodox community and whether the building of the stadium was their share of the pie.

The opinion piece posted below, comments to the contention that mega-development in Rockland County is not Orthodox-only. He compares a Route 59 development plan to the “Provident Park debacle.”  If the owners of the Boulders knew of the misappropriation of funds and participated in some form or another, then the comparison is correct but the conclusion is wrong. It would not be “Orthodox-only.”

We leave you to ponder….

 

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Monsey development plans unrealistic: View

http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/08/24/monsey-development-plans-unrealistic-view/89253294/

Re “Monsey mega-developer: Don’t assume it’s Orthodox-only,” Aug. 11 article:

I can’t believe such a project would be considered for the proposed site. Then I remembered, it’s Ramapo and history shows that anything the community’s wealthy developers want, they get, regardless of costs and consequences to town residents.

The article includes photos of nice drawings of a large, New York City-style urban development with trees and landscaping, and even a few cars. Not surprisingly, they don’t show Route 59.

The drawings and the details of the plan are pure fantasy and a public deception. Six days a week, that location is already a dangerous traffic choke-point on Route 59.

The plan boasts more than 600 parking spaces and, like all such plans proposed in Ramapo, it will undoubtedly fall far short of the actual need in favor of money-making apartment space.

Regardless, the spots represent at least that many additional vehicles in the area. Shoppers visiting the ground-level stores will bring even more vehicles.

PROPOSAL: Ramapo developer proposes 600 units off Route 59

The hundreds of housing units represent thousands of children (if not now, in the near future). That requires more than 100 school buses each transporting children back and forth several times each day.

Additionally, there will be the taxis, delivery vehicles, sanitation vehicles, service vehicles, medical transport vehicles, etc. trying to move through the impossibly congested area. It will be interesting to see a fire truck or ambulance navigate the area in response to a call for help.

How can this possibly work? To begin to even try to make such a plan work will require incredibly expensive and massive capital improvements to the area’s infrastructure, including water, sewers, utilities and roads.

What about the environmental costs? What about public and park spaces for the many, many people who would reside there?

What portion of the astronomical financial cost will the wealthy developers be required to pay?

I think that the taxpayers of Ramapo and Rockland are looking at another Provident Stadium debacle. I’m still paying for a stadium I didn’t want, and I don’t want to pay for a nonsensical project that will further enrich the community’s already wealthy and politically powerful developers.

As for the title of the article, “Builder: It’s not orthodox-only,” I don’t believe it for a minute.

to read this article and similar ones click here.

 

Yeshivas and Substandard Education

 

yafed..._o

Some Hasidic Yeshiva leaders and their PR and lobbyist representatives often argue that they don’t have enough funding to provide their students with a secular education.

Many uninformed taxpayers fall for this.
In reality, millions, if not hundreds of millions, of tax dollars are already being poured into these very schools that often don’t even meet the funding criteria or misuse the funding.*

Additionally, Yeshivas receive hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contributions from wealthy individuals, often oblivious to the fact that the children attending those schools are being denied an education.

DISCLAIMER: THESE GRAPHS ARE ROUGH ESTIMATES**. It’s extremely difficult to figure out specifically how much money Yeshivas get from various sources, or how much of their revenue comes from federal, state, and local government programs. (This reflects a serious lack of transparency on their part and on the part of the various government agencies.)

For that we turn to you and ask that you help us paint a more complete picture of the Yeshiva funding, so that we can properly include it in our discussions.
Do you work at a Yeshiva or at an agency that funnels money to non-public schools, or have experience working the books at any private school?

If yes, please email us with whatever info you have at Staff@yaffed.org

http://yaffed.nationbuilder.com/why_don_t_yeshivas_provide_a_better_education

Why Don’t Yeshivas Provide a Better Education?

Defining Education – Balancing Interests

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FROM THE ASBURY PARK PRESS:

http://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/08/16/school-definition-law-nj/88863180/

ROBISON: How, exactly, should a ‘school’ be defined?

The complex world in which we live demands clarity in the definitions that are used, and, proper application of those definitions during the decision making process. One such case is the question of exactly what constitutes a school.

The importance of this issue is readily apparent in Lakewood, where there are now over 125 nonpublic schools, and land use laws that permit a school to placed just about anywhere. Less than one-third are listed on the New Jersey Department of Education website as a recognized or accredited school.

However, the importance of clear definitions that are properly used is pertinent to every municipality and school district. The impact of poor definitions, or disregard for clearly established definitions, on the local planning process and the taxpayers’ burden is significant.

The crux of the issue pertaining to schools is captured in the question: Does an entity that provides any form of education automatically qualify as a school or must that entity meet standards that have been developed by the state Department of Education, various statutes and subsequent court decisions?

There is a fundamental difference between a religious education center and a school. While the former is an absolutely essential element in our society, where freedom of religion and separation of church and state are cornerstones of a functioning democracy, such centers should not automatically qualify for various forms of support such as the busing of students or other state and local aid.

The religious education that occurs must be in addition to, and not in place of, the basic education that is required to be provided by a school before public support of any kind is provided. Dare I say a “thorough and efficient” education must be provided?

We must also constructively differentiate between vocational education and religious education at the secondary level. Entities such as the Ocean and Monmouth County Vocational School Districts do provide career training but they also provide basic academic training in-house or in concert with a local school district. These districts meet the compulsory education requirements.

In comparison, I submit that meeting the requirements of ordination in just about every faith requires study above and beyond the secondary level at an accredited university such as Beth Madresh Govoha or Princeton Seminary. Religious education at the secondary level and beyond, which is the choice of the student or parent, is above and beyond the compulsory education requirements established in New Jersey.

Similarly, if an applicant to a local zoning board of adjustment incorrectly defines a religious education center as a school, then the special privileges and considerations afforded to an inherently beneficial use should not apply.

The value of being treated as an inherently beneficial use must not be underestimated. It is significant. Depending on the specific wording of the local planning and zoning ordinance(s) an inherently beneficial use provides an opportunity for exceptions to established zoning standards without having to outline the positive and negative criteria that may result from the proposed project.

Zoning requirements play a major role in establishing the character of a neighborhood not to mention the market value of the land and improvements in that neighborhood. The burden of proof must rest with the entity claiming to be a school in order to be treated as an inherently beneficial use before a local zoning board.

Defining an entity as a school for either public funding or treatment as an inherently beneficial use does not create an undue burden. For example, in the case of secondary school-age children does an entity claiming to be a school issue a diploma that is sanctioned or recognized by the state? For both secondary and elementary age school children is there a curriculum that is actually implemented by a state approved teaching staff that provides basic instruction that will allow a child to advance academically and grow into a contributing member of society?

Every school board and municipal governing body has an excruciatingly difficult challenge when it comes to balancing the need to provide public services with the need to minimize tax rates. This job should not be made more difficult through imprecise definitions that lead to questionable allocations of public monies or inappropriate decisions affecting local development, which in turn generate a greater burden on municipal and school service delivery.

Frederick W. (Rob) Robison is a former borough administrator in Roselle and Atlantic Highlands. He lives in Lakewood.

$200 million Ponzi Scheme – Lakewood

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Lakewood man convicted in $200M Ponzi scheme gets nowhere with appeals

Eliyahu Weinstein, already facing 25 years in prison in connection with a Ponzi scheme, was charged today in a new scam involving shares of Facebook before the social media company went public. (Star-Ledger file photo) (Frank Conlon/The Star-Ledger)
Kathleen O'Brien | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comBy Kathleen O’Brien | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 14, 2016 at 9:32 AM, updated August 14, 2016 at 9:33 AM

The Lakewood man who ran a $200 million Ponzi investment scheme that bilked members of the town’s Orthodox community has struck out in his attempt to overturn his convictions.

Eliyahu Weinstein was sentenced to 22 years in prison in early 2014 after admitting his role in what authorities said was one of the largest cases of investment fraud they’d encountered.

Just months later, he pleaded guilty to charges he tricked investors into thinking he had an inside track on the Facebook initial public offering.

“Shamelessly, he even used the money he stole to pay the legal fees he accumulated from the previous scam,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman at the time. The judge tacked another two years onto his sentence for that crime.

N.J. cop accused of drunken rampage headed to court

N.J. cop accused of drunken rampage headed to court

Weinstein appealed both cases, seeking to withdraw his first plea and toss out the second set of charges.

In that appeal, he claimed the judge was tainted for the second case because he oversaw the plea deal in the first case. Weinstein also claimed his lawyer had a conflict of interest because he had advised investors so was also at risk of prosecution, and that the Facebook case amounted to Double Jeopardy.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit rebuffed those claims in a ruling issued Friday.

U.S District Judge Joel A. Pisano’s participation in the first go-around of plea negotiations was extremely limited, and any claims to the contrary were “unsubstantiated hearsay,” the panel wrote.

As to Weinstein’s attorney, the panel found that any interactions the lawyer had with investment customers was based on his belief the money would be properly invested, not pocketed by Weinstein. Therefore, the lawyer would not have faced prosecution and was able to represent him in the case, the panel found.

The panel also made quick work of rejecting Weinstein’s assertion that prosecutors had split the overall case into two cases just to tack on more prison time.

Moshe Peretz Klein – Panama Papers – Political Contributions – Hashomer Alarms

MOSHE PERETZ KLEIN – AND HIS MILLIONS…

kleinpanamapapers1234376

Entity

Role From To Incorporation Jurisdiction Status Data From
FUEGA INC. Shareholder 29-OCT-2002 British Virgin Islands Changed agent Panama Papers

Address

Data From
13 ESHKOL ST.; PETACH TIKVA; ISRAEL Panama Papers
LostMessiah, August 8, 2016

MOSHE PERETZ KLEIN – HASHOMER ALARM SYSTEMS – MILLIONS OF DOLLARS – PANAMA PAPERS..

In March, the FBI raided a number of locations in Airmont/Monsey/Suffern, New York. The focus of one particular article was 386 Airmont Avenue in Suffern.

On March 16, 2016 LostMessiah published an article taken from the Facebook Page, Clarkstown What They Don’t Want you to Know. The article was an in depth play-by-play explanation of FBI raids which were being simultaneously conducted in Airmont/Suffern, Kiryas Joel and Crown Heights, and may have also been conducted in Lakewood, New Jersey.

According to local news articles and blog sites covering the raids, one of the businesses focused was Hashomer Alarm Systems, the connection being its involvement with E-Rate funding. For obvious reasons, we found that odd from the get-go but assumed we would know more immediately following the raids.

Hashomer Alarm Systems is owned and operated by Peretz Klein, a somewhat shady character whose place has been woven throughout almost unnoticed questionable business practices for years. He has been questioned and even to date has had some pretty creative responses to those questions. He has also been a consummate political donor, seeming placing money where it could benefit him and his interests the most. Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial seat being no exception. 

While we could likely have a field day with each of the donations listed on the NYS Board of Elections Financial Disclosure report (attached at the bottom of the page) for Andrew Cuomo and likely find numerous anomalies, we found the donations of Peretz Klein to be the most intriguing, particularly in light of his involvement with the raids in March very shortly after the donation to Cuomo.  

It can be of little surprise that  we believe Klein has been stealing through the E-Rate program in the many millions of dolalrs from the government and the taxpayers of New York State. We believe that a fair amount of the fortune Klein has amassed can be found in bank accounts in Israel related to enteties he owns or operates there.

Klein’s well-timed donation to Cuomo, immediately preceding the raids, seems more than simple coincidence.

Klein Contributor

 

In 2015, the Funding Status for Klein’s entities is staggering: http://ny.e-ratecentral.com/news/news2016/weekly-news-2016-0328-ny.asp

Funding Status

Wave 43 for FY 2015 will be released on Thursday, March 31st. Funding for FY 2015 is available for both Category 1 and Category 2 services at all discount levels. Cumulative funding for FY 2015 is $3.16 billion.

 

Klein worst

Peretz Klein’s place in the Panama Papers reports (shown above) and his place of notoriety amongst former Public Advocate de Blasio’s archive of “Worst Landlords” leaves open numerous questions, not the least of which is why the FBI in conjunction with the US Attorney’s office has not been more aggressive in pursuing Klein and his co-conspirators in what we believe to be a systematic theft of government and taxpayer money.

Below please read the various articles link to Mr. Klein.

Continue reading

Our Children Are in Danger – Dept. of State and Ramapo, New York

A scathing Report By the Department of State – Zoning Violations

We have attached hereto a document that we are hoping will get shared. It delineates violations by East Ramapo residents, in large part within the ultra-Orthodox community which have the potential to put school children at risk. It exemplifies a criticism of a pattern and practice of behavior within the community that feels itself immune from adhering to zoning codes. We ask that you read and share.
The corruption in Ramapo, New York is not unique to that town and not unique to the ultra-orthodox of Monsey, of New Square, of Kaisar, of Lakewood, of Jefferson Township… need we list more?
The children are most at risk. This really should be a “save the children” campaign foundational document. Must we wait until tragedy strikes?