Introducing Aron Wieder’s Bloc Appeasement Puppet Band
‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite‘
Jeff P. Gillies and Michael N. Hull
Paul McCartney had a lead role in writing and performing 80 top 100 Billboard chart hits. In addition to his uncanny ability to write great songs, he knows how to play over 40 instruments. McCartney’s status as a musical mastermind is unquestioned and perhaps unsurpassed.
Rockland County has an unquestioned mastermind of its own who might be on par with McCartney, albeit in the very different field of political bandsmanship. Legislator Aron Wieder is the master conductor of a large number of bloc supported politicians and officials both inside and outside of Rockland. Although we aren’t sure if he plays any musical instruments, we know for certain Wieder is skilled in the orchestration of his band of ‘bloc appeasement political puppets.’
As the former Democratic Majority Leader in the Legislature, Wieder stepped down from that position to dedicate his time lobbying against a veto-empowered monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School District. Along with promoting the controversial “Jew in Rockland” video, he recently invited Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who celebrated Purim wearing ‘blackface‘ to a Rockland County press conference, where they accused Rocklanders of being anti-Semitic. As former President of the East Ramapo School Board, Wieder was once arrested for allegedly videotaping voters and blocking the entrance to a polling place during school board elections. Many public school advocates credit Wieder with being the main architect of the district’s destruction.
Even with all his talent, McCartney didn’t accomplish everything by himself and teamed up with three others to write some of the Beatles’ greatest hits. Likewise, Aron Weider has benefited greatly from the help of his friends particularly fellow Rockland County Legislators Philip Soskin and Ilan Schoenberger. Soskin is a longtime Rockland County Legislator representing Kaser, which holds the dubious distinction of being the poorest area in New York State. Soskin, who teams up with Wieder and Schoenberger to make up the “Three Amigos” of the County Legislature, has a penchant for rambling relentlessly in legislative sessions against a monitor with veto power in East Ramapo and has also rambled against a proposed illegal housing crackdown in Ramapo.
Schoenberger, as the ‘Lennon‘ to Wieder’s ‘McCartney‘ can legitimately lay claim to the ‘writing credits‘ of many of the financial, environmental and social problems plaguing the county. He is the legislator for New Square and has been in office for over twenty years showing obvious disdain in recent years towards County Executive Day. Schoenberger seemingly puts personal grudges in the way of helping accomplish anything positive for Rockland’s taxpayers. He admittedly created a crisis in which he was willing to risk bankrupting the entire county in order to continue funding non-profit agencies without contracts. Schoenberger ran for County Executive while receiving numerous contributions from the friends and employees of Richard Brega and his Brega Bus Company. He later tried to provide Brega with an additional $4 million dollars in taxpayer funds to wash buses on a daily basis supposedly to prevent them from spontaneously bursting into fire because of road dirt. Although Schoenberger lives in Wesley Hills, his district was absurdly gerrymandered to include New Square. This creative political design saved his seat in the legislature as he was handily defeated everywhere else by Michael Parietti, who ran on the highly successful and now highly influential Preserve Ramapo line; Schoenberger even lost Wesley Hills by a 3-1 vote margin. Alas, the power of New Square alone continues to keep him in office and so he strums along to its preferred tunes.
Rounding out the core band of ‘Fab Four‘ appeasement puppets, Wieder and Schoenberger are joined by Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and County Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe. St. Lawrence now spends his days avoiding questions about FBI raids and corruption, presumably looking over his shoulder all the while for an FBI agent carrying handcuffs. While Legislature Chairman Wolfe would probably much prefer to fly beneath the radar and not broadcast his allegiance to the bloc, his drumbeat record from the back of the band speaks loudly on its own. Wolfe appointed Wieder as the County Legislature’s Democratic Majority Leader and gave Wieder’s Ramapo comrades the two most powerful subcommittee guitars in the Legislature where they repeatedly play the ‘Ramapo riff.” Wolfe has refused to sing any song that may indicate whether or not he supports a monitor with veto power in East Ramapo. While he takes every chance to clash the cymbals against County Executive Ed Day, Wolfe takes no leadership role in creating any harmonic themes associated with the dangers of illegal housing and over-development in Ramapo. Wolfe could be the leader of the Bloc Appeasement Band if he would, while Schoenberger would be the leader if he could.
“It was three years ago today” is what we will all be saying on May 16, 2016 which will be the third anniversary of the FBI raid on Ramapo Town Hall. As you may recall, the focus of the investigation prompting that raid appears to be on the questionable means in which the Provident Bank Ballpark in Pomona was financed. Two weeks ago on a Thursday in March 2016, many felt it was a ‘Good Morning Good Morning‘ when we learned of significant federal law enforcement activity in Ramapo, Kiryas Joel and Brooklyn. Nearly 300 federal investigators raided properties and seized computers and documents that may provide evidence of large-scale fraud related to millions and millions of dollars in educational technology funding in yeshivas with similar raids occurring also in New Jersey.
As the raids commenced, Christopher St. Lawrence retreated further into hiding, and has continued to remain silent on the raids within his town. Two months ago, newly-elected Ramapo Town Councilman, felon, New Jersey resident, and St. Lawrence’s running mate, Samuel Tress, was arrested by the Rockland District Attorney’s office for voting to back a zoning change on a housing development in which he held a financial stake. Tress had earlier signed an affidavit stating he wouldn’t profit from his decisions as a Zoning Board of Appeals member. Perhaps Tress is the “Pete Best” of the Ramapo Town Board making this early departure as the FBI band may be about to strike up its own ‘March of the Ramapo Perps?’
The Ramapo planning and zoning boards have become locally famous for allowing real estate developers to get away with destroying the town’s suburban character, and it doesn’t look to be ‘Getting Better‘ anytime soon. The repeated failure of the town to enforce its building codes places families at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords and puts first responders directly in harm’s way. ‘A Day In The Life‘ of a volunteer firefighter can bring significant dangers, and it is merely a matter of time before a tragedy occurs. Through it all, Wieder and the Bloc Appeasement Puppet Band play on. While publicly crying anti-Semitism at the first sign of any minor criticism, Wieder remains silent on many of the publicized wrongdoings within the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. At the same time, he is extremely vocal whenever he sees an opportunity to further the agenda of his community. Unfortunately, Wieder has no understanding of his duty to represent the interests of all his constituents and to seek balance between their needs and the greater good of the county.
This comes as no surprise given that Wieder had fertile ground upon which to hone his skills in discriminatory representation. While serving as President of the East Ramapo School Board he was arrested for allegedly blocking the entrance to a polling place during a school board election. After his time on the school board, his success in furthering the narrow needs of his own community was rewarded by an ever-increasing voting block of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic followers with an election victory to the Rockland County legislature. The power of this voting block continues to grow exponentially along with the rise in its population. While the vast majority of the masses that enable this power elite live in what is called for Medicaid purposes ‘poverty,’ community leaders such as Village of New Square’s Skverer Rebbe David Twersky prosper greatly. One might even speculate that Twersky, who lives in a mansion overlooking the Hudson and not with his ‘poverty’ stricken followers in Ramapo, should be anointed as Legistator Wieder’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds?’
Once in office, Wieder made it a priority to meet with powerful Albany lawmakers in order to lobby against the appointment of monitor with veto power in the East Ramapo School District and, as we mentioned above, he went so far as to step down from his role as Majority Leader in the Rockland County Legislature in order to make sure his “Within East Ramapo, Without Veto Power” message was heard loud and clear in Albany, Despite years of fighting by parents, students, activists, and local government officials pleading for a monitor with veto power in the district, Wieder, ‘With a Little Help From His Friends,’ particularly the Bloc Appeasement Band follower, Republican Senator John Flanagan, has been able to stop this proposal from being brought to the New York State Senate floor for a vote.
Following reports from NY State education officials, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is very aware of the need for a monitor with veto power. But, after meeting with Wieder and his Ultra-Orthodox lobbyists, Flanagan will not let the vote see the light of day (the NYS Assembly passed the resolution supporting the monitor last year). And just recently, the Head of the Senate Education, Republican Carl Marcellino, stated his opinion that East Ramapo should “take care of its own problems”. Even though both of these Senators reside on Long Island, the bloc puppeteers have pressured them into prioritizing special interests of a religious sect over the educational rights of thousands of children.
Aside from the East Ramapo school issue, Wieder has had his say (or intentional lack thereof) in several other issues. He backed a proposal for a chicken slaughterhouse in a residential area in New Square, which clearly posed a potential health hazard to the many of his community’s silenced residents that would be living right next to it. He has been an opponent of cracking down on dangerous illegal housing even though much of it occurs in his own district. And perhaps most notably, he promoted the controversial “Jew in Rockland” video in which the producers referred to Rocklanders as Nazis. When critics complained, he invited Brooklyn Assemblyman ‘black faced’ Dov Hikind to come up to Rockland for a press conference on Rockland’s “festering culture of anti-Semitism.”
Many of the Hasidic community’s leaders feel brazen enough to continue to sit in silence as the town allows its developers and builders to disobey laws. The politicians have no fear of retribution as they are backed by a powerful voting bloc that offers them near immunity in elections. With leaders elected to represent only one segment of the population, that segment gets almost whatever it wants, such as a constant parade of zoning variances which has led to a rampant and unchecked over-development nightmare in many villages and towns in Rockland.
Although many taxpayers continue to hope they will be able to raise their families here more and more they are asking: Will I be able to live in Rockland ‘When I’m Sixty-four’? They are now feeling the intimidation of increasing real estate blockbusting. There are legitimate fears this tactic will create an early exodus in the secular community; unwanted solicitation and door knocking with ‘cash offers’ may eventually lead many a homeowner to decide ‘(S)He’s Leaving Home.’
Fighting an uphill battle against the Bloc Appeasement Band, County Executive Ed Day has been constantly ‘Fixing A Hole’ in Rockland County’s finances. All the while, the Ramapo Democrats in the legislature have been throwing every obstacle at their disposal in his way, in many cases purely out of spite. Fab Four member, Alden Wolfe, has taken a hard stand against Ed Day’s improvements and makes no attempt to hide his contempt for the County Executive, often letting his ego get in the way of real improvements.
Some may ask who plays the George Martin of this Bloc Appeasement Puppet Band? We would argue that all evidence points to Governor Andrew Cuomo and through him those, such as Hillary Clinton, who need his support in New York State in their own elections. Last year, we saw Cuomo veto the oversight of the Kiryas Joel annexation in Orange County and shortly thereafter, he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations. We are guessing that ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite‘ is really ‘being for the benefit of Mr. Coumo’. In the last election, Cuomo passed on a meeting with the parents of the East Ramapo School District, choosing instead to visit New Square and Kiryas Joel a few days prior to his re-election. We expect to see a repeat performance from him with Hillary Clinton in tow come the Presidential election race this Fall.
As the bloc’s power grows, it is increasingly difficult to keep track of their puppets and associated enablers who are often referenced in newspaper articles and on popular social media pages. So without further ado, we’d like to leave you to sort out the Bloc Appeasment Puppet Band’s other supporters and enablers for yourselves. We continue to expect that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will ride into Ramapo one day in very near future.
[Editor’s Note: The authors would like to acknowledge those who provided the concept for this article and who assisted with its construction and layout. We hope you enjoy the music!
Not all of the Bloc Appeasement Band Members and their support staff were mentioned in the article above but those of you who have followed the news in Rockland over the past several years will see many faces who have made the headlines. Among those you should be able to spot, in addition to the slaughtered chicken and other minor political musicians, are:
a) Legislator Aney Paul infamously silent on many issues including the chicken slaughterhouse. However, she does a tremendous job of keeping her constituents updated on her Facebook page with posts on “fluff” issues such as butterflies and strolls through the mall.
b) Legislator Toney Earl voted against the proposed “two-hat” rule. This would not he fruitful to him, because aside from being a legislator, he has a job with in Ramapo as Safety Manager for the Town. In a town completely overloaded with inappropriate zoning and building and fire code safety violations galore, we aren’t sure exactly what Earl has been doing during the work day. Our guess is not much, just as is the case with what he has accomplished as a legislator. Still, his loyalty to the bloc has served him well, most recently earning him the role of Majority Leader.
c) NY State Senator David Carlucci tends to throw in the towel and accept a bad deal instead of leading the fight for a good one for the East Ramapo School Monitor. With respect to the situation in East Ramapo, he has used politically correct terms such as: “tightening the controls,” “taking a bullet out of the chamber,” “having strings attached,” coordinating the resources,” “working together,” knowing where every penny is going,” “penning a letter to Nita Lowey to help us with the issue,” and “having ethics reform”.
d) Rockland Sheriff Louis Falco has insisted that the taxpayers of Rockland County provide stabling and expensive veterinary services to maintain a mounted patrol of horses at a time when senior citizens are being driven out of their homes by rising property taxes and medical costs in a county that is ranked as one of the most fiscally stressed in New York State. Rockland’s property taxes are the second highest in the United States, but Falco refused any cuts to his 2016 budget and specifically continues to lobby hard for the horses that Democrat Legislator Schoenberger once remarked were needed for “crowd control.” Sheriff Falco should consider sending the horses to a children’s petting zoo and giving the money saved back to Rockland’s seniors.
e) Rockland Family Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress appears extremely sympathetic to the “religious parent” in cases of Hasidic divorce and appears to have received questionable campaign donations. Recently, Legislator Charles Falciglia called for a criminal investigation into her campaign funding.
f) NY State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has been the key obstacle in allowing the East Ramapo monitor with veto power resolution to come to a vote on the Senate floor.
g) NY State Senator Carl Marcellino recently entered the spotlight when he awoke from what one might speculate to have been a food coma and declared that East Ramapo should work out its own issues. While we haven’t heard Marcellino’s name as much as Flanagan’s, we do know that the Nassau County District Attorney’s office has opened an investigation into whether he improperly billed taxpayers for nearly $20,000 in car expenses.
h) NY State Senator Walter Mosley (Brooklyn) abstained from the vote on a monitor with veto power about the same time he was photographed as the sole black guest at an Hasidic wedding in Ramapo.
i) Monroe Supervisor Harvey Doles the bloc supported, wacky Town Supervisor of Monroe in Orange County supported the 164-acre Kiryas Joel annexation of Monroe. Follow his antics on the United Monroe Facebook page.
j) Former NY State Senator Hillary Clinton who during her campaign for NY Senate, visited New Square leadership with her philandering spouse, courting the community’s vote. On the last day of the philanderer’s presidency, he pardoned the “New Square Four”; four felons who had swindled the government out of $40 million in student grants, small-business loans and housing subsidies. The meeting was brokered by former Rockland Democratic Committee Chair Paul Adler, who was subsequently convicted on corruption charges in February 2001 and lastly
k) Ramapo Board of Education President Yehuda Weissmandl, a Hasidic homebuilder. Weissmandl grew up in the Skverer Hasidic sect in New Square, where his father had been the village administrator. His community, he said, had to fight for everything it had; at times the local villages had seemed almost dictatorial. What had changed, he explained, was the demographic power of the Hasidic vote. The votes in the Hasidic villages are often 1,000 to one, Weissmandl said, because they understand that this interest can be secured by voting together. “Now that we elect—and we’ve been influencing—certain politicians to accommodate our needs, what used to be opposition has turned into hate. Because people can’t stand that this community has turned out to be what it has turned out to be,” Weissmandl says, speaking of the activists. “What they want is to see us gone. They want to see us gone because I have a yarmulke on my head.” Weissmandl appears to be the classic Nowhere Man described by the lyrics of this final song]