NYS Ed Department Framed Vaccination as a First Amendment Right – Whose Rights are at Stake?

State Education Department ordered Jewish school to accept unvaccinated kids

Amid a record-setting nationwide measles outbreak driven largely by New York cases, the state ordered a Long Island school to accept unvaccinated kids into its classes and after-school activities.

The Shulamith School for Girls in Cedarhurst says the state Education Department was wrong to twice overturn the school’s decision to bar Ilana and Nikolay Jinjihashvili’s two daughters after the parents sought a religious exemption to the vaccination rule.

The Jewish day school is now asking a federal judge to overturn Education Commissioner Mary­Ellen Elia’s orders, calling them “illegal, void and unenforceable.”

While the current measles outbreak has put the vaccination debate at the forefront of public health, the school is framing the dispute as a First Amendment fight.

“There are schools that have taken the position that under the school’s religious belief, as a matter of Jewish law, students should be vaccinated,” the school’s lawyer, Philip Kalban, told The Post. The parents may have a different and “sincere” belief about vaccinations, Kalban explained, “but they say it’s based on Jewish law, and our position is that Jewish law says just the opposite.”

The First Amendment comes into play because the school argues the state has no business interfering in a religious matter.

The case landed in Brooklyn federal court last week after the family sought to send their girls to an ­after-school art show and fundraiser but were blocked by the school.

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Rechnitz and Reichberg & de Blasio, and One New York and Fairness PAC and Housing and … President and New York?


Bill de Blasio officially launches 2020 presidential campaign


He’s late — again.

After nearly half a year of hemming and hawing, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday entered the 2020 presidential race, becoming the 23rd Democrat to join the jam-packed field.

The termed-out politician, known for his habitual tardiness, finally decided to run after five months of toying with a White House bid.

“I’m Bill de Blasio and I’m running for president because it’s time we put working people first,” the mayor said in a three-minute YouTube videoannouncing his candidacy.

The opening shots include de Blasio zipping around the city in the back of an SUV — his gas-guzzling choice of transportation for the 11-mile jaunt from Gracie Mansion to the gym in Park Slope.

“Good thing about New Yorkers is they look the same whether they’re really pissed off at you or they like you,” the mayor quips.

He details his “Working People First” slogan by touting his policy initiatives including pre-K for all, paid sick leave and boosting the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

First lady Chirlane McCray also makes an appearance to briefly plug her mental health agenda.

“Everything begins with being healthy and there is no health without mental health,” she says.

Then, as the White House flashes on the screen to dramatic music, de Blasio pivots to a national message.

“Don’t back down in the face of the bully — take him on,” he says. “As president, I will take on the wealthy, I will take on the big corporations, I will not rest until this government serves working people.”

He also vows to fight President Trump head-on.

“Donald Trump must be stopped. I’ve beaten him before and I’ll do it again,” de Blasio says.

Insiders initially thought de Blasio would announce his national campaign the week of his 58th birthday on May 8, but he delayed.

“So you’re still deciding?” NY1’s Errol Louis asked the mayor on May 6.

“Yes indeed,” the dithering mayor said.

Local political experts can’t fathom what prompted the mayor to take the plunge.

“It’s really hard to understand what lane de Blasio plans to ride to the nomination,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College.

What’s more, people just don’t like him, polls show.

De Blasio has the dubious distinction of being the only candidate or potential candidate out of 23 contenders to earn a negative rating among national Democrats in a March Monmouth University survey. A total of 24 percent gave him a thumbs down while just 18 percent had a favorable view of him.

At home, the numbers are even worse. A staggering 76 percent of Big Apple voters don’t think he should run, according to an April Quinnipiac University Poll.

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From Zoning to Nursing Care Centers to PAC’s, Selling New York City for Votes – Going for the Presidency Prize…

De Blasio is still selling City Hall, with not an ounce of shame

Mayor de Blasio is back to selling City Hall, if he never even stopped.

In his second term as in his first, the crusading progressive who won the mayoralty vowing to drive out the special interests is instead thoroughly in bed with those same lobbyists and fat-cat donors — and he barely even bothers hiding it.

De Blasio, The City reports, is personally soliciting donations for his latest political action committee — the one financing his delusional presidential ambitions — from people doing business with the city and seeking favorable treatment.

This, just days after the disclosure that the city Department of Investigation concluded that de Blasio had violated conflict-of-interest laws by soliciting cash for his now-defunct nonprofit from those seeking favors — despite being warned against it by his own counsel.

The mayor’s response, now as then: “Everything we’re doing is legal.”

“Legal” meaning “we can get away with it” — because the US Supreme Court has made prosecuting official corruption incredibly difficult these days. But it still reeks.

In his defense, de Blasio says every donation he personally solicits is checked against an official database of entities doing city business. But, as The City shows, that list is “hardly complete.”

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NYC Power Brokers, NYC Slumlord Buildings and Disingenuous Valuations

Bill de Blasio

City overpaid for slumlord buildings, assuming rent would cover cost

City Hall inflated the value of the 21 buildings it bought off two notorious, politically wired slumlords for $173 million by assuming they will generate far more rent than they’ll actually receive, documents released late Monday show.

The 2,000-page document dump came in response to a subpoena issued by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a fierce critic of the purchase.

“It’s a shame that it took a subpoena from the Comptroller’s Office for the City to release what should have been public information about a multimillion dollar deal,” said Stringer spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays.

City Hall bought the buildings — 17 in the Bronx and four in Brooklyn — from Jay and Stuart Podolsky, brothers who pleaded guilty of felonies from a tenant harassment scheme in the 1980s.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly argued the price was fair, considering the circumstances and a desire to avoid a legal fight.

“We attempted in negotiation with that threat on the table and what became clear was that the actual market price was higher than we would have liked it be; but that was the market price,” he said on NY1 last week.

However, the documents dumped cast new shadows on that claim.

De Blasio’s defense rests on the city’s most generous evaluation, which pegged the value of the buildings at $143 million.

The records show the Law Department appraisers arrived at that figure by assuming roughly half of the units would qualify for lucrative rents through a Department of Social Services program. That’s despite DSS having no plans to put clients in the buildings, officials acknowledged late Monday.

Instead, officials plan to use the 729 apartments for rent-stabilized housing. That usage cuts the buildings’ value to just $117 million.

At one 25-unit Bronx building, the Law Department’s appraisal assumes that DSS subsidized one-bedroom apartments will generate $1,637 a month in rent for 13 apartments.

The building’s eight other one-bedroom apartments will fetch an average of just $991 a month under rent stabilization.

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Opinion Piece – Orthodox Yeshivas, Substantially Similar Education and NYS


Don’t let ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas get away with this: A judge must rule for the state as it seeks to ensure basic educational equivalence in non-public schools

As early as Friday, a judge may decide whether or not the New York State Education Department can proceed to enforce new guidelines for religious and private schools. These guidelines are designed to make sure that private schools are meeting the legal requirement to provide an education that’s “substantially equivalent” to public schools. Sounds reasonable, right? Not to the unholy trinity of yeshivas, Catholic schools and inexplicably some elite private schools, like Brearley and Packer Collegiate, which are suing to prevent any oversight whatsoever.

Until recently, New York State did not enforce its own education standards. And while many private and Catholic schools pride themselves on providing a high quality education that’s even superior to public schools, the consequences have been devastating for students in Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas.

In 2015, our group, Young Advocates for Fair Education (Yaffed), filed a complaint with New York City alleging educational neglect in hundreds of Hasidic yeshivas. That neglect has deprived approximately thousands of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic children of a basic education. In our experience, on average a Hasidic boy receives just 90 minutes of secular instruction in elementary and middle school and no secular instruction at all in high school. The results are damning. The Hasidic neighborhoods in New York State are among the poorest in the state and even the country.


The city has been pathetically slow to act, and so the state stepped up to revise its guidelines in an attempt to clarify them for local authorities tasked with determining and enforcing the substantial equivalency standard. On Nov. 20, 2018, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released the revised guidelines, which triggered vitriolic opposition from Hasidic yeshivas and their supporters.

The guidelines do not differ significantly from previous versions. They require the teaching of the basics, such as English, math, science and social studies.


Catholic and other non-public schools would easily pass any substantial equivalency test, but instead they’ve rallied to the defense of the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas, which make no secret of the fact that they haven’t and won’t provide their students with a full secular education.


It’s mind-boggling, because most of the non-Yeshiva schools would barely face any scrutiny at all. Registered high schools go through a more rigorous review by the state in order to be eligible for Regents diplomas, so they would be exempt from an additional substantial equivalency review. Accredited schools, including the majority of private schools, would be subject to only a cursory review, as the district’s substantial equivalency review will take the accreditation determination into consideration. But some Yeshivas, the worst offenders no less, are fighting to remain completely independent from government scrutiny, even as they receive millions in federal, state and local subsidies. Some Hasidic Yeshivas’ budgets are covered two-thirds by government funding, and only one third from tuition.


Even a full review can hardly be considered intrusive. Superintendents or their designees must visit all non-public schools once within the next two to three years and once every five years thereafter. As part of that visit, local officials would look at the instruction being done in the schools and would also collect documentation that demonstrates adherence to the guidelines.

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Jacob Daskal – The Satmar Owned … Time to Sunset the Shomrim

Daskals minions

It’s time to sunset the scandal-ridden Shomrim

Does New York City — with its once-unimaginable record-low crime rates — still need private (but city-funded) citizen-patrol groups?

The question became more pressing with the arrest Thursday of Jacob Daskal, politically wired president and co-founder of the Boro Park Shomrim, on charges he repeatedly raped a 15-year-old girl over a period of months in his home.

It’s not the Brooklyn group’s first brush with the law, either.

Last year, Shomrim official Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein was sentenced to 32 months in prison for bribing cops on a regular basis to get hard-to-obtain full-carry handgun permits for paying clients, including some with criminal records.

The group itself has been accused of violently beating suspects it apprehends. And Daskal reportedly was able to arrange for Orthodox Jews arrested for minor crimes to avoid being booked through the system.

Shomrim faced a round of criticism — including from then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — in 2011 when it waited three hours before notifying the NYPD of the disappearance of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who was later found murdered.

Yes, it can be useful for police to establish a rapport with local residents, especially in a community as insular as Borough Park. And a citizen patrol can be an asset in discouraging graffiti and vandalism.

But the Boro Park Shomrim were born during the out-of-control crime wave of the pre-Giuliani era. And those days thankfully are long over.

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Covlin Murder Trial – Accused of Killing Wife and Questions of Autopsy… Not Kosher

Rod Covlin at his trial.

Juror faints during gruesome testimony in wife-murder trial

A Manhattan juror suddenly fainted in his seat Wednesday as graphic autopsy photos of victim Shele Danishefsky were displayed on a large monitor at the murder trial of her estranged husband.

With accused killer Rod Covlin looking on, Senior Medical Examiner Jonathan Hayes was in the midst of testifying about the disturbing images when juror No. 8’s head suddenly flopped forward.

“He needs medical help!” screamed another panelist as Hayes quickly exited the stand to tend to the stricken juror — all with an image of Danishefsky’s fractured hyoid bone, which anchors the tongue, projecting onto a screen.

Another juror, who happened to be a nurse, also rushed to the man’s side.

The judge halted the proceeding, and the sickened juror was removed from the courtroom for treatment.

The jurist reassured the gallery that the man had regained his wits but dismissed him and swapped in an alternate.

As the juror left court he said that he had in part fainted in reaction to the gruesome photographs — which included an image of Danishefsky’s neck peeled back to expose underlying muscles.

Justice Ruth Pickholz denied defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb’s motion for a mistrial over the incident.

In earlier testimony, Hayes said he received Danishefsky’s body Jan. 1, 2010, a day after the banker was found face-down in the bathtub by her 9-year-old daughter in her Upper West Side home.

“When I opened up the [body] bag I immediately said, we need an autopsy,” Hayes told the jury. “I was struck by the injuries she had on her face. She had scratches on her face.”

Riveted jurors were shown autopsy photos of Danishefsky’s face marred by bright red scratches and cuts on her nose, lower eyelids, cheeks and lips.

Read the remainder of the New York Post article here.



Man accused of killing wife might have killed her in chokehold: prosecutors

Man accused of killing rich ex-wife talked to mistress about finding corpse: testimony

Gruesome photos of woman found dead in bathtub emerge during trial

Jurors in ‘wife-killer’ case see tub where banker-mom was found dead