Somers's HamletHub https://news.hamlethub.com/somers Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:07:16 -0500 HamletHub.com Cold Weather Art with Judika at the Somers Library https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3350-cold-weather-art-with-judika-at-the-somers-library3350-cold-weather-art-with-judika-at-the-somers-library https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3350-cold-weather-art-with-judika-at-the-somers-library3350-cold-weather-art-with-judika-at-the-somers-library

Cold Weather Art with Judika at the Somers Library
Mondays 1/27, 2/3, 2/10, & 2/24 (Snow Date - 3/2), 10:30 am - 12:30 pm.
 
On cold winter days, warm up with us for some art by experimenting using acrylics, watercolor, water soluble oil pastels or watercolor pencils! Students will learn about the versatile ways each medium can create great effects. No experience required - join us and have fun! Inspirational music will accompany your creative journey. Suggested Supplies List: Multi-media paper - 98 lb or higher, Water cup, Soft brush, Pencil, Eraser, Water-soluble oil Pastels - Portfolio, AND/OR, Water-soluble pencils (Fantasia, Staedtler, Intense (Derwent). Space is limited to 25. Registration is required; please register on our online calendar here or call 914-232-5717.

Our programs are funded by the Friends of the Somers Library through your donations. Thanks for your support!
The Somers Library ~ 914-232-5717 ~ www.somerslibrary.org

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Somers Library) Events Sat, 18 Jan 2020 03:36:06 -0500
Sen. Harckham on ConEd’s Approved $1.2 Billion Rate Hike: “This Will Hurt” https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3352-sen-harckham-on-coned-s-approved-1-2-billion-rate-hike-this-will-hurt3352-sen-harckham-on-coned-s-approved-1-2-billion-rate-hike-this-will-hurt https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3352-sen-harckham-on-coned-s-approved-1-2-billion-rate-hike-this-will-hurt3352-sen-harckham-on-coned-s-approved-1-2-billion-rate-hike-this-will-hurt

New York State Senator Pete Harckham released the following statement in response to the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approval of a whopping $1.2 billion rate increase requested by ConEd for its gas and electric customers over the next three years:

“I am truly disappointed that the PSC approved such a large rate hike for ConEd. This will hurt, and hurt hard, seniors and everyday working people, whose salaries are not rising in this economy. We need to hold the line on energy costs—and reconsider these outrageous increases.”

Many of Sen. Harckham’s Westchester constituents are ConEd customers.

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Office of Senator Harckham) Politics Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:30:32 -0500
Taxpayers should remember these tips when searching for a tax preparer https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3345-taxpayers-should-remember-these-tips-when-searching-for-a-tax-preparer3345-taxpayers-should-remember-these-tips-when-searching-for-a-tax-preparer https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3345-taxpayers-should-remember-these-tips-when-searching-for-a-tax-preparer3345-taxpayers-should-remember-these-tips-when-searching-for-a-tax-preparer

The tax filing season is upon us, and many people will be looking for someone to help them file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely. 

This is because it’s ultimately the taxpayer who is responsible for all the information on their income tax return. It’s important for people to remember that this is true no matter who prepares the return. Here are some tips for folks to remember when selecting a preparer. Taxpayers should:

Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. People can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.

Check the Preparer’s History. Taxpayers can ask the local Better Business Bureau about the preparer. They should check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. There are some additional organizations about specific types of preparers:
•Enrolled Agents: Go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov.
•Certified Public Accountants: Check with the State Board of Accountancy.
•Attorneys: Check with the State Bar Association.

Ask about Service Fees. People should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition.

Ask to e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and choose direct deposit.

Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. People should avoid “fly-by-night” preparers.

Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.

Never Sign a Blank Return. Taxpayers should not use a tax preparer who asks them to sign a blank tax form.

Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, the taxpayer should review it. They should ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. Once they sign the return, taxpayers are accepting responsibility for the information on it.

Review details about any refund. Taxpayers should make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. The taxpayer should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return.

Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. People can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.

More information:
Need someone to prepare your tax return?

Share this tip on social media -- #IRSTaxTip: Taxpayers should remember these tips when searching for a tax preparer. https://go.usa.gov/xpSg7

Issue Number: Tax Tip 2019-04

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Internal Revenue Service) Life Fri, 17 Jan 2020 19:30:15 -0500
National Taxpayer Advocate delivers Annual Report to Congress: focuses on Taxpayer First Act implementation, taxpayer service, and IRS funding https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3337-national-taxpayer-advocate-delivers-annual-report-to-congress-focuses-on-taxpayer-first-act-implementation-taxpayer-service-and-irs-funding3337-national-taxpayer-advocate-delivers-annual-report-to-congress-focuses-on-taxpayer-first-act-implementation-taxpayer-service-and-irs-funding https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3337-national-taxpayer-advocate-delivers-annual-report-to-congress-focuses-on-taxpayer-first-act-implementation-taxpayer-service-and-irs-funding3337-national-taxpayer-advocate-delivers-annual-report-to-congress-focuses-on-taxpayer-first-act-implementation-taxpayer-service-and-irs-funding

Acting National Taxpayer Advocate Bridget Roberts today released her 2019 Annual Report to Congress. Key challenges highlighted in the report include implementation of the Taxpayer First Act, inadequate taxpayer service and limited funding of the agency.

Roberts also released the third edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s “Purple Book,” which presents 58 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.

The report highlights that the Taxpayer First Act, enacted into law on July 1, 2019, has made the most comprehensive revisions to IRS procedures since the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, including some 23 provisions previously recommended by the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Taxpayer First Act also requires the IRS to develop four strategic plans: (i) a comprehensive taxpayer service strategy (due to Congress by July 1, 2020); (ii) a comprehensive plan to redesign the IRS’s organizational structure (due to Congress by Sept. 30, 2020); (iii) a comprehensive employee training strategy that includes taxpayer rights training (due to Congress by July 1, 2020); and (iv) a multi-year plan to meet IRS information technology (IT) needs.

“By passing the Taxpayer First Act, Congress has sent the IRS a clear message that it needs to rethink the way it operates – the services it provides, its organizational structure, the way it trains employees, and the technology it uses,” Roberts wrote in the preface to the report.

Roberts also noted that long-time National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson retired five months ago, and a permanent replacement has not yet been appointed. “While I am honored to serve as the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate,” Roberts wrote, “the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate – and taxpayers – deserve a permanent appointee. . . . Given the current crossroads at which the IRS finds itself, it is critical that a permanent National Taxpayer Advocate be appointed as quickly as possible to help ensure the IRS protects taxpayer rights and meets its obligations to taxpayers.”

Highlights of the report are summarized below.

The IRS Is Struggling to Accomplish Its Mission 

According to its mission statement, the IRS aims to “[p]rovide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all." The report says the IRS is struggling to meet both of those goals.

The IRS has been found to be among the lowest performing federal agencies in providing a positive customer experience. The President’s Management Agenda emphasizes the importance of high-quality customer service and cites the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and the Forrester U.S. Federal CX Index™ as key benchmarks. The ACSI report for 2018 ranked the Treasury Department tied for 10th out of 12 federal departments and says that “most [IRS] programs score . . . well below both the economy-wide national ACSI average and the federal government average.” The 2019 Forrester report ranked the IRS as 13th out of 15 federal agencies and characterized the IRS’s score as “very poor.”

During fiscal year (FY) 2019, the Advocate’s report says the IRS received approximately 100 million telephone calls, and customer service representatives answered only 29%. In recent years, the agency has scaled back in-person assistance, closing more than 10% of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers, generally requiring taxpayers to schedule appointments in advance, and reducing the number of taxpayers served by nearly half from FY 2015 to FY 2018.

The report says the IRS is also struggling to enforce the law with “fairness to all.” The IRS recently estimated it was unable to collect an annual average of about $381 billion in unpaid tax attributable to legal-source income for tax years 2011-2013. With approximately 122 million U.S. households in 2013, that suggests each U.S. household is effectively paying an average annual “surtax” of more than $3,000 to subsidize noncompliance by others.

The report says that “fairness to all” also requires that the IRS be accessible to taxpayers against whom it takes enforcement actions, such as wage garnishments, bank levies, or the filing of notices of federal tax lien. Levies often create economic hardships for individual taxpayers, and the law requires the IRS to release levies in those cases. Yet taxpayers often cannot reach the IRS to make it aware of their hardships. During FY 2019, the IRS’s Automated Collection System (ACS) more than doubled the number of levies it served (from about 200,000 in FY 2018 to about 428,000 in FY 2019), while the percentage of calls answered on the consolidated ACS telephone lines dropped from 49% to 31%. Wait times for taxpayers who got through increased from 24 minutes to 38 minutes.

The report urges the IRS to prioritize phone service for taxpayers against whom it takes collection action. “The IRS has an obligation to be accessible to these taxpayers, and it should not ramp up enforcement actions beyond the point where it has enough telephone assistors to handle the taxpayer calls those actions generate,” Roberts wrote.  

The report attributes the IRS’s shortcomings mostly to budget constraints but also to a culture in which the agency focuses on its own priorities without adequately factoring in the needs of taxpayers.

The IRS Does Not Receive Enough Funding to Meet Taxpayer Needs

Since FY 2010, the IRS budget has been reduced by about 20% after adjusting for inflation, and the number of full-time equivalent employees has declined by about 22%. The report points out that answering 100 million telephone calls, conducting audits, and taking enforcement actions require adequate staffing, and the IRS cannot substantially improve its performance without additional resources.

The report urges Congress to increase IRS funding and to change the budget rules to account for the revenue additional IRS appropriations are likely to generate. In FY 2018, the IRS collected nearly $3.5 trillion on a budget of about $11.4 billion. “It is economically irrational to underfund the IRS,” the report says. “If a company’s accounts receivable department could generate an ROI [return on investment] of 300:1 and the chief executive officer (CEO) failed to provide enough funding for it to do so, the CEO would be fired. Yet in general, the federal budget rules exclusively take into account outlays and ignore the revenue those outlays generate.”

In particular, the report recommends that Congress increase funding for taxpayer service and IT modernization. “Mostly because of antiquated technology, a smaller workforce, and an increasing workload, [the IRS] cannot afford to provide the quality of service that taxpayers deserve,” the report says.

The IRS Should Use the Taxpayer First Act as an Opportunity to Identify Taxpayer Needs and Preferences and Develop Initiatives to Meet Them

Despite the IRS’s significant funding limitations, the report urges the IRS to utilize the Taxpayer First Act requirements – to develop plans to revamp its taxpayer service strategy, organizational structure, employee training strategy, and technology priorities – as a roadmap for a once-in-a-generation reassessment of its objectives and operations.

Noting that the IRS often has developed strategies in a vacuum without soliciting taxpayer feedback and taking into account taxpayer needs and preferences, the report urges a full-scale “cultural shift.” “If the culture of the organization is one where employees look to minimize interactions with taxpayers in an effort to move work, or where taxpayers who owe money are automatically viewed negatively, then expanding digital services [alone] will not improve customer service,” Roberts wrote. “The IRS needs to take a holistic view of how it operates and understand what is and is not working.”

The report identifies the absence of an existing comprehensive customer service strategy that focuses on taxpayer needs and preference as the #1 most serious problem facing taxpayers.  It makes numerous recommendations to improve the customer experience, including that the IRS take the following actions:

  • Conduct multi-disciplined, comprehensive research into taxpayer needs and preferences.
  • Require that all IRS business units, including those charged primarily with enforcement, develop a detailed customer service strategy.
  • Appoint a Chief Customer Experience Officer to coordinate service initiatives across IRS business units.
  • Ensure that taxpayers who cannot work with the IRS digitally or whose issues are not resolved online can reach and work with an IRS employee.
  • Address the needs of practitioners who interact with the IRS on behalf of large numbers of taxpayers.
  • For each proposal included in its customer service strategy, include cost estimates, milestones, and taxpayer-focused performance measures so the effectiveness of the strategy in improving customer service can be measured over time.

The report expresses concern that the IRS declined to include the National Taxpayer Advocate or a Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) representative as part of a core team created to coordinate the agency’s Taxpayer First Act implementation activities. “I find this deeply concerning,” Roberts wrote. “Congress created the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate to serve as the statutory voice of the taxpayer within the IRS. No one has a better view into the problems that taxpayers and practitioners face day-to-day when working with the IRS than TAS. Over the last 20 years, TAS has worked more than 4.4 million cases resulting from problems with IRS systems or processes. That history with individual and business taxpayers’ problems gives TAS unique insight, perspective, and information that could be a key resource for identifying areas in need of improvement as the IRS develops a comprehensive customer service strategy.”

Other Major Issues Addressed

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2019 annual report has been consolidated and differs from prior reports in two ways. First, the Taxpayer First Act reduced the number of “most serious problems” the National Taxpayer Advocate must identify from at least 20 to ten. Second, the National Taxpayer Advocate initiated the Purple Book two years ago as a supplement to more detailed legislative recommendations proposed in the main volume of the report. This year, all legislative recommendations have been consolidated into the Purple Book, and the longer-form recommendations have been eliminated.

Overall, this year’s report identifies ten “most serious problems,” provides status updates on two problems identified in previous reports, makes dozens of recommendations for administrative change, makes 58 recommendations for legislative change, analyzes the ten tax issues most frequently litigated in the federal courts, and presents four research studies.

Among other problems addressed are the following:

Refund Delays. The report says too many taxpayers who file legitimate returns are being harmed because the IRS’s anti-fraud filters unnecessarily flag their returns and delay their refunds for weeks or months. During the 2019 filing season, the IRS used a new refund fraud filter (known as “Filter X”) that ultimately flagged and stopped the processing of nearly 1.1 million returns. More than half the refunds were eventually paid. The false positive rate for other non-identity theft refund fraud filters was 71% (meaning that 71 out of every 100 refunds stopped by these filters were eventually determined to be legitimate).

The increase in returns flagged by these filters (known as “pre-refund wage verification hold” cases) has had a significant impact on TAS’s case advocacy operations. The number of TAS cases generated by these filters has increased from about 20,000 in FY 2017 to about 92,000 in FY 2019. TAS case receipts have increased by 44% over the past two years, entirely attributable to this category of cases, and this work surge has increased the average cycle time of TAS cases across-the-board. TAS is working with the IRS to try to reduce this workstream of cases for the upcoming filing season.

Free File. The report says the Free File program is failing to promote the best interests of taxpayers, citing low usage and taxpayer confusion.  Under the program’s terms, 70% of individual taxpayers qualify to prepare their returns through Free File at no cost. Yet fewer than 2% of taxpayers use the program, the report finds, and over the past four years, fewer than half of taxpayers who have used Free File in one year have used it again the following year. The low initial usage rate and low repeat usage rate suggest taxpayers are not generally satisfied with the program. In addition, the report says the IRS incurs costs to administer the program and Free File members provided free tax software to at least 17.7 million taxpayers outside the Free File program during the 2019 filing season. It is likely that most, if not substantially all, of the 2.5 million taxpayers who used Free File software last year would have been able to file for free through company websites if Free File did not exist.

The report makes several recommendations to improve the Free File program. In addition, it recommends that the IRS establish two usage goals for the program: (i) increase the Free File usage rate to a significantly higher yet attainable level, such as 10% of the 70% of individual taxpayers eligible to use the program, and (ii) increase the retention rate to 75% of taxpayers who used the program in the preceding year. If the established goals are not attained by 2025, the report recommends the IRS replace Free File with an alternative approach to make tax software available to taxpayers at no or low cost, such as through sole-source or multi-source contracts with tax software companies.

(On Dec. 30, 2019, after this report went to press, the IRS announced it had signed an addendum to its memorandum of understanding with Free File, Inc. that, among other things, prohibits Free File members from excluding their Free File landing pages from organic internet searches and removes a provision that had prohibited the IRS from creating and offering its own tax software to taxpayers or allowing taxpayers to file their returns directly with the IRS.)

TAS Research Studies

The report presents research studies on the following topics: 

  • The subsequent compliance of taxpayers who received educational letters from the National Taxpayer Advocate after they appeared to have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in error in the prior year. Generally, the study found the letters enhanced compliance both on the first return filed after the letters were sent and during the subsequent three-year period.
  • IRS compliance with rules governing the imposition of two-year bans on eligibility for refundable tax credits. The Internal Revenue Code bans taxpayers from receiving the EITC, the Child Tax Credit, or the American Opportunity Tax Credit for two years if the IRS determines a taxpayer claimed the credit recklessly or with intentional disregard of rules and regulations. The ban is intended to deter frivolous claims. However, the amounts at stake represent a high percentage of the annual income of many eligible families, so it is critical that bans be imposed only in appropriate cases. A review of a representative sample of cases in which the bans were imposed as a result of audits of tax year 2016 returns shows the IRS often did not follow its own procedures: (i) in 53% of the cases, required managerial approval for imposing the ban was not secured; (ii) in 82% of the cases, the IRS did not adequately explain to the taxpayer why the ban was imposed, as required; (iii) in 61% of the cases in which the auditor was required to speak to the taxpayer before imposing the ban, no such conversation took place; and (iv) in 54% of the cases in which taxpayers submitted documents, it appeared from the documents submitted that the taxpayer believed he or she qualified for the credit.
  • The specific deterrence implications of increased reliance on correspondence audits. Generally, the study found that face-to-face audits are consistently effective in promoting future reporting compliance, while future reporting compliance after correspondence audits is mixed. These results are consistent with a recent survey commissioned by TAS that found most taxpayers who underwent a face-to-face audit recalled the audit, while the majority of taxpayers subjected to a correspondence examination reported they had not been audited. 
  • The extent to which the IRS continues to erroneously approve Form 1023-EZ applications. In 2014, the IRS introduced a streamlined tax-exemption application that does not require applicants to attach articles of incorporation or bylaws to their applications but merely requires them to “attest” that they meet the eligibility requirements. In 2019, TAS examined a representative sample of organizations that the IRS had approved as tax-exempt by reviewing articles of incorporation in 25 states that make articles of incorporation available online at no cost. TAS found that 40% of the approved organizations did not qualify for IRC § 501(c)(3) status based on their articles of incorporation.

Please visit www.TaxpayerAdvocate.irs.gov/2019AnnualReport for more information.

Related Items: 

    
About the Taxpayer Advocate Service

TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Your local advocate’s number is available in your local directory and at https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/contact-us. You may also call TAS toll-free at 877-777-4778. TAS can help if you need assistance resolving an IRS problem, if your problem is causing financial difficulty, or if you believe an IRS system or procedure isn’t working as it should. And our service is free. For more information about TAS and your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, go to https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov. You can get updates on tax topics at facebook.com/YourVoiceAtIRSTwitter.com/YourVoiceatIRS, and YouTube.com/TASNTA.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service will mark its 20th anniversary in March 2020. Created by Congress as part of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, TAS has two main statutory missions: (i) to assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the IRS and (ii) to identify areas in which groups of taxpayers are experiencing problems in their dealings with the IRS and make administrative and legislative recommendations to mitigate the problems. Over the past 20 years, TAS has assisted more than 4.4 million taxpayers, made hundreds of administrative recommendations adopted by the IRS, and proposed some 46 legislative recommendations that Congress has enacted into law. A key accomplishment was the IRS’s adoption and Congress’s later enactment of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights for which the National Taxpayer Advocate had long advocated. Visit the TAS website to learn more about TAS and how it can help you.

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Internal Revenue Service) Politics Fri, 17 Jan 2020 18:58:30 -0500
2020 Home Show at the Jefferson Valley Mall https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3349-2020-home-show-at-the-jefferson-valley-mall3349-2020-home-show-at-the-jefferson-valley-mall https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3349-2020-home-show-at-the-jefferson-valley-mall3349-2020-home-show-at-the-jefferson-valley-mall

The Yorktown Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Jefferson Valley Mall and JilCo will be presenting the 2020 Home show on Saturday February 8th, 2020 from 11 am until 4 pm at the Jefferson Valley Mall.

On hand will be distributors and vendors for :

Windows • Flooring • Home Restoration • Home Security • Solar Energy • HVAC • Home Inspection • Fireplaces & Wood Burning Stoves • Painting Gardening / Tree Services Banks Mortgage Lenders Realtors Roofing Chiropractors Beauty & Skin Care • Yoga • Insurance • Non-Profit • Summer Camps • Trips/ Vacation Planners • Newspapers • Radio Stations • There will be Games, Train Rides for the kids and More!

Admission is free

Visit yorktownchamber.org for more information!

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Yorktown Chamber of Commerce) Events Fri, 17 Jan 2020 05:52:31 -0500
Maloney Votes to Protect Students and Reject DeVos’ Giveaway to Predatory, For-Profit Colleges https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3348-maloney-votes-to-protect-students-and-reject-devos-giveaway-to-predatory-for-profit-colleges3348-maloney-votes-to-protect-students-and-reject-devos-giveaway-to-predatory-for-profit-colleges https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3348-maloney-votes-to-protect-students-and-reject-devos-giveaway-to-predatory-for-profit-colleges3348-maloney-votes-to-protect-students-and-reject-devos-giveaway-to-predatory-for-profit-colleges

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) voted to reject Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ elimination of student loan borrower protections and rollback of safeguards preventing low-quality schools from scamming students, veterans and taxpayers. The resolution, H.J. Res. 76, will block DeVos’ new Borrower Defense Rule from going into effect, and prevent students enrolled in for-profit colleges from falling victim to fraud. Under the DeVos rule, defrauded borrowers can be denied relief even in cases when predatory schools clearly violate the law.

“Students and their families shouldn’t have to worry their college is cheating them out of money and a quality education. Unlike Betsy Devos, who’s working to line the pockets of for-profit colleges, we’re fighting to protect students and crack down on the scams hundreds of thousands of students and taxpayers face from these predatory schools,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

In New York alone, 7,500 students are currently seeking relief because they were cheated by predatory colleges. Nationally, 240,000 defrauded borrowers are fighting for loan relief from the Department of Education.

In the coming months, House Democrats will take up the College Affordability Act, which (in addition to other priorities) will reduce the cost of college for students and families, streamline the student loan process, and crack down on predatory, for-profit higher education institutions that defraud students.

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Office of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney) Politics Fri, 17 Jan 2020 03:42:43 -0500
Katie Corbett of SOmers Named to Bucknell University Dean's List https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3344-katie-corbett-of-somers-named-to-bucknell-university-dean-s-list3344-katie-corbett-of-somers-named-to-bucknell-university-dean-s-list https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3344-katie-corbett-of-somers-named-to-bucknell-university-dean-s-list3344-katie-corbett-of-somers-named-to-bucknell-university-dean-s-list

Katie Corbett, a Computer Sci. & Engineering major in the class of 2020, from Somers, NY was named to the dean's list at Bucknell University during the fall semester of the 2019-20 academic year. A student must earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher on a scale of 4.0 to receive dean's list recognition.

Located in Lewisburg, Pa., Bucknell University is a highly selective private liberal arts university that offers majors in the arts, engineering, humanities, management, and social and natural sciences, along with broad opportunities outside of class, to its 3,600 undergraduates. Graduate programs are available in select disciplines. Students benefit from a small student-faculty ratio of 9:1, personal attention from faculty, leadership opportunities, and excellent graduation rates and career outcomes.

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Bucknell University) Life Fri, 17 Jan 2020 03:33:14 -0500
Maloney announces his 2019 VALENTINES FOR VETS Program https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3343-maloney-announces-his-2019-valentines-for-vets-program3343-maloney-announces-his-2019-valentines-for-vets-program https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/life/3343-maloney-announces-his-2019-valentines-for-vets-program3343-maloney-announces-his-2019-valentines-for-vets-program

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY
INVITES YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN HIS 6TH ANNUAL
VALENTINES FOR VETS


Valentines may be mailed or dropped off at Representative Maloney's Newburgh Office located at 123 Grand St., Second Floor, Newburgh, NY 12550

Valentines are due by Tuesday, February 11th at 5:00 PM

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Office of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney) Life Fri, 17 Jan 2020 03:25:57 -0500
Reading and Discussion Program, Women in American Classics https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3335-reading-and-discussion-program-women-in-american-classics3335-reading-and-discussion-program-women-in-american-classics https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3335-reading-and-discussion-program-women-in-american-classics3335-reading-and-discussion-program-women-in-american-classics

Reading and Discussion Program, Women in American Classics

With Professor Heather Ostman

First Thursday of the month at 10:30am at the Keeler Library. Copies of the books are available at the Library for checkout. No registration required.

Thursday February 6th - The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

Thursday March 5th - A Country Doctor, Sarah Orne Jewett, 1884

Thursday April 2nd - The Custom of the Country, Edith Wharton, 1913

Thursday May 7th - Short Stories, Flannery O’Connor, 1950’s

 

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Keeler Library) Events Thu, 16 Jan 2020 07:38:00 -0500
WESTCHESTER COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PARTNERS WITH LEGAL AID SOCIETY ON FIRST OF ITS KIND LEGAL SERVICE SUPPORT PROGRAM https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/publicsafety/3336-westchester-county-department-of-corrections-partners-with-legal-aid-society-on-first-of-its-kind-legal-service-support-program3336-westchester-county-department-of-corrections-partners-with-legal-aid-society-on-first-of-its-kind-legal-service-support-program https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/publicsafety/3336-westchester-county-department-of-corrections-partners-with-legal-aid-society-on-first-of-its-kind-legal-service-support-program3336-westchester-county-department-of-corrections-partners-with-legal-aid-society-on-first-of-its-kind-legal-service-support-program

The Westchester County Department of Corrections (WCDOC) has partnered with the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County on an innovative program that will work collaboratively with detainees and sentenced persons on discharge planning for successful reentry.

County Executive George Latimer said: “This new program, along with all that our Corrections professionals have done in enhancing physical and mental health services, education, cognitive behavioral intervention therapy and addiction treatment, make our facility one of the most forward thinking correctional institutions in the Nation. I applaud the great work by Joe, Lou, and their team along with the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County.”

The relationship between WCDOC and the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County was fostered by the work of the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Incarceration Release Planning and Programs. WCDOC and the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County began working on the newly established Legal Aid office in January of 2019. This satellite office will provide legal services and assist in the discharge planning of incarcerated clients, represented by the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County. 

Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph K. Spano said:  “Today is another historic moment for our agency. This partnership provides another critical service to support the many evolving needs of the clients placed in our custody.”

Deputy Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester County Sherry Levin Wallach said: “The Legal Aid Society is proud to be able to offer our incarcerated clients better access to justice by establishing an office in the Westchester County Jail where clients can initiate meetings with attorneys and social work staff to not only discuss their pending matters, but also receive early assistance with re-entry planning. Thank you to the Westchester Department of Corrections for giving our clients this service and for its commitment to providing incarcerated people better opportunities for successful re-entry.”

WCDOC identified office space that met the confidentially requirements by Legal Aid, so that clients are able to discuss their criminal cases, while at the same time WCDOC strategically located the office within the WCDOC Education Center, so that other support services related to reentry can be offered in collaboration.

WCDOC Technical Service, with the assistance from Westchester County Department of Information Technology, worked with Legal Aid Information Technology Unit to set-up and establish technology resources, so that the attorneys and social workers assigned still had access to all client information seamlessly as if they were in their central office at Legal Aid in White Plains.

Lastly, WCDOC developed a scheduling process for custodial clients to request a meeting with Legal Aid.  WCDOC, with the assistance from the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, translated Legal Aid request forms to multiple languages for non-English readers. 

With the support of these other County Departments, WCDOC was able to leverage multiple County resources to allow for the logistics of this program to work – keeping costs minimal. Follow the principle of the Latimer Administration of utilization of shared services – either intra or inter-governmental.

First Deputy Commissioner Louis A. Molina said:  “Having Legal Aid Attorneys and Social Workers embedded in the jail to provide services to our shared clients is a pivotal moment and embodies how we are operationalizing criminal justice reform strategies in Westchester County.  Meaningful access to legal representation is a vital element to creating a dignity-based criminal justice system that promotes justice and hope for redemption.” 

To view the entire press conference click here.

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Westchester County) Public safety Thu, 16 Jan 2020 06:51:24 -0500
Assemblyman Byrne Moves Up in Ranks with the NYS Assembly https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3340-assemblyman-byrne-moves-up-in-ranks-with-the-nys-assembly3340-assemblyman-byrne-moves-up-in-ranks-with-the-nys-assembly https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3340-assemblyman-byrne-moves-up-in-ranks-with-the-nys-assembly3340-assemblyman-byrne-moves-up-in-ranks-with-the-nys-assembly

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski) is pleased to announce Assemblyman Kevin Byrne  (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) will be taking on two new positions as ranking minority member of the Health Committee and the new chairman of the Assembly Minority Conference Program Committee.

            “This new responsibility will allow me to utilize my experience and background in health care,” said Byrne. “I have long felt that our society needs to do more to empower New Yorkers to live longer, healthier more prosperous lives. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish this shared goal. Additionally, I am eager to take on the new role as chair of the Assembly Minority Conference’s Program Committee. With these two new leadership roles, I will be better positioned to assist the residents of the 94th Assembly District and New York state residents at large.”

            Byrne served the previous three years in the Assembly as an active member of the Health Committee and has a long history serving in health care. He spent approximately 10 years either working or volunteering as an EMT. He served as deputy district director to our nation’s first female physician member of Congress, Dr. Nan Hayworth. Byrne holds a master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in health care administration. He served several years as a regional director for the American Heart Association. Additionally, he worked in administration at CareMount Medical, a large regional private medical group in the greater Hudson Valley region, before being elected to serve in the Assembly.

            “Kevin’s expertise in health care spans nearly his entire career and his experience in both its administration and execution is comprehensive. For this reason, I am excited to announce his ascension to ranking minority member of the Health Committee,” said Leader Barclay. “With his background and work ethic, Assemblyman Byrne is an ideal candidate for these new leadership positions. I look forward to working with him to further our conference’s goals and make New York a better, healthier place to live.” 

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Office of Assemblyman Kevin Byrne) Politics Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:00:21 -0500
Save the Date: June 12 for Putnam Service Dog's 4th Annual Golf Tournament https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/charities/3342-save-the-date-june-12-for-putnam-service-dog-s-4th-annual-golf-tournament3342-save-the-date-june-12-for-putnam-service-dog-s-4th-annual-golf-tournament https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/charities/3342-save-the-date-june-12-for-putnam-service-dog-s-4th-annual-golf-tournament3342-save-the-date-june-12-for-putnam-service-dog-s-4th-annual-golf-tournament

Friday, June 12, 2020
PUTNAM SERVICE DOGS' 4th ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT
Putnam County Golf Course, Mahopac
Registration: 7-8:30am
Breakfast: 7:15-8:45am
Tee off: 9am
$175/golfer includes putting contest, unlimited range balls, tournament contests, 18 holes, cart, breakfast, lunch, wine & beer. 
ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO TOWARDS THE COST OF TRAINING OUR DOGS
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keytocomputing@gmail.com (Putnam Service Dogs) Charities Thu, 16 Jan 2020 03:38:16 -0500
Adult Trivia Night At Brewster Library https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3341-adult-trivia-night-at-brewster-library3341-adult-trivia-night-at-brewster-library https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3341-adult-trivia-night-at-brewster-library3341-adult-trivia-night-at-brewster-library

Adult Trivia Night At Brewster Public Library

Monday January 27th 7-8:30pm

The Brewster Public Library will hold an every month Trivia Night in our Main Room. Feel free to create a group on your own or come by yourself. A fun time will be had by all.

Register online at: brewsterlibrary.org or give us a call at

(845) 279-6421

For more information visit our social media pages at:

Twitter: @BrewsterLibrary

Facebook: Facebook.com/brewsterlibrary/

If you have any questions about this or other events happening at the Brewster Library contact:

Danielle Argentieri

Programs@brewsterlibrary.org or call

(845) 279-6421

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Brewster Public Library) Events Wed, 15 Jan 2020 07:33:00 -0500
On The Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment Opens Second Store/Showroom in Mount Kisco, NY, Westchester County https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3334-on-the-mend-medical-supplies-equipment-opens-second-store-showroom-in-mount-kisco-ny-westchester-county3334-on-the-mend-medical-supplies-equipment-opens-second-store-showroom-in-mount-kisco-ny-westchester-county https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/events/3334-on-the-mend-medical-supplies-equipment-opens-second-store-showroom-in-mount-kisco-ny-westchester-county3334-on-the-mend-medical-supplies-equipment-opens-second-store-showroom-in-mount-kisco-ny-westchester-county

"Free Hugs Just Ask!!" This is just one of the welcoming signs at On The Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment.

On The Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment is excited to announce their arrival and opening of a second retail store & showroom, located at 281 North Bedford Road, Mt. Kisco, NY. With the vision & creativity of the owners & business partners, Liam O’Keeffe & Bob Rainey the retail store is now open for business. On The Mend will serve, install and deliver to Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Fairfield, New Haven, Litchfield and Hartford Counties and surrounding areas.

The environment is warm, friendly & has incorporated a rehabilitative style of showroom. Customers are welcomed to demonstrate therapeutic beds, mobility chairs & scooters, reclining lift chairs and really get a feel for how these products will work in their homes. On The Mend proudly offers free home safety assessments, as well as bringing pieces of equipment to try in your own environment.

“Our company mission is to provide the medical equipment and supplies necessary to age in place, recover from injuries, surgeries and to live more independently with life changing illnesses. Our customers’ dignity is of paramount importance to the entire On The Mend team,” said Mr. O’Keeffe. Drawing off their experience at On The Mend in Southbury, CT, the longtime friends and business partners realized a true need for this service in Westchester County area and beyond. “Although we had been servicing the area from our Southbury location and central warehouse, we knew the Mt. Kisco location would be convenient for the area consumers” said, Bob Rainey.

On The Mend takes a lot of pride in their 5 star customer service and positive online reviews. “We are passionate about our customers, our partnerships, and the consumers. We are excited to meet the community and surrounding areas. We eat, breathe, and love this business! Please come meet the On The Mend team! We cannot wait to take care of your needs!!”  stated Marsi Beck, the Director of Community Outreach.

In addition to a 3000’ sq foot retail store & showroom, On The Mend proudly features:

  • Portable Oxygen Concentrators
  • Lift Chairs, fully reclining
  • Bathroom Safety, Commodes, Grab Bars  (Installation Services)
  • Fully Automatic Hospital Beds, many brands, functionality, sizes, configurations
  • Stair Lifts (Installation Services)
  • Ramps & Vehicle Lifts  (Installation Services)
  • Power Scooters, Chairs & Accessories
  • Sit To Stand Patient Lifts
  • CPAP Devices & Accessories
  • Aids to Daily Living
  • Orthopedic Braces
  • Compression Garments
  • Vionic, Dr. Comfort, Anodyne Shoes
  • Canes, Knee Walkers, Rollators, Walkers & Accessories
  • Power Scooters, Chairs & Accessories
  • Absorbency products/Incontinence product
  • Rentals and much, much more!!
 
For questions or further information please visit our website at onthemendmedical.com or call/email Marsi Beck (203-262-0383, 844-470-6363,  marsi@onthemendmedical.com).
 

On The Mend Medical Supplies & Equipment Opening D...

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commandercarey@gmail.com (On The Mend) Events Wed, 15 Jan 2020 06:30:49 -0500
Harckham Sponsored Bill for Removal of Prior Authorization For Opioid Treatment Becomes Law https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3333-harckham-sponsored-bill-for-removal-of-prior-authorization-for-opioid-treatment-becomes-law3333-harckham-sponsored-bill-for-removal-of-prior-authorization-for-opioid-treatment-becomes-law https://news.hamlethub.com/somers/politics/3333-harckham-sponsored-bill-for-removal-of-prior-authorization-for-opioid-treatment-becomes-law3333-harckham-sponsored-bill-for-removal-of-prior-authorization-for-opioid-treatment-becomes-law

A new law, introduced by New York State Senator Pete Harckham and signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, will prohibit insurance companies from requiring prior authorization for medications used in the treatment of substance use disorders. 

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) has long been established as the standard care for opioid and other substance abuse disorders. But MAT medications, like buprenorphine and methadone, which help reduce cravings, prevent overdoses and often block the effects of various substances, are often difficult to access.

“The current crisis of opioid use disorder will need to be addressed through a number of different initiatives, and doing away with prior authorization for medication assisted treatment is a big step forward,” said Harckham. “If we are serious about saving lives, and what we can do right now to save lives, then it was imperative that this law be enacted, and I thank the governor and many other supporters for recognizing this.”

Prior authorization from insurers to allow physicians to prescribe MAT drugs can take upwards of three days, and sometimes even longer. Meanwhile, individuals struggling with substance use begin experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms in as little as six to 12 hours. Without access to MAT, resolve weakens and people relapse; to dull withdrawal symptoms, they return to substance use.

Last month, a study by RTI International, a nonprofit that conducts research for government and commercial clients, showed that removing prior authorization from medications to treat opioid use disorders would result in an 80% decrease of mortality in New York, saving approximately 586 lives per year. In-patient admissions and emergency room visits would decrease as well, saving about $52 million in medical costs a year.

The Coalition of Medication-Assisted Treatment providers and Advocates of New York State (COMPA) acknowledged passage of the new law to expand access to MAT, and Allegra Schorr, the organization’s president, thanked Harckham and the legislation’s sponsors in the New York State Assembly, Linda Rosenthal, chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and Dan Quart “for their dedicated work on this effort, and ultimately for the progress we’ve made.”

As co-chair of the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction & Overdose Prevention, Harckham convened public hearings across New York, with testimony coming from doctors, advocates and experts, along substance users and family members grappling with the opioid crisis. In the 2019-2020 NYS Budget, Harckham was able to secure $100 million in funding to the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) for opioid treatment, recovery, prevention and education services. Harckham is the chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Dr. Joseph Baudille, President of the New York Chiropractic Council, said, “The New York Chiropractic Council applauds Senator Harckham and Governor Cuomo for enacting this important law to expedite Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in cases of acute suffering from opioid addiction and the suffering of withdrawal, as we work towards educating the public about non-pharmacological alternatives to the treatment of pain, as a long-term solution to this tragic health care crisis, first brought about by corporate drug peddlers.”

Harckham noted that a report from the Joint Senate Task Force on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention is forthcoming, and will include new legislation.

 State Senator Harckham represents New York's 40th District, which includes the towns of Beekman, Pawling and the village of Pawling in Dutchess County; the towns of Carmel, Patterson and Southeast, and the village of Brewster in Putnam County; and the city of Peekskill, the towns of Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers and Yorktown, the town/village of Mount Kisco, and the villages of Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Croton-on-Hudson, Pleasantville and Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County. 

 

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commandercarey@gmail.com (Office of Senator Harckham) Politics Wed, 15 Jan 2020 06:06:56 -0500