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November 22, 2019

Politics

County Executive George Latimer and Commissioner Mae Carpenter check on one of Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester’s homebound patients in White Plains.
U.S Rep. Eliot Engel
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino Jr.
Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey

Around The Towns: Dealing With Heat, Vaping, Pot, Greenhouse Gases

A patient from White Plains received a special visit to her home from Westchester County Executive George Latimer and county Commissioner of Senior Programs and Services Mae Carpenter during the recent heat wave.

While visiting Karen Tutnauer, both officials stressed the importance of checking in on elderly and ailing neighbors during times of excessive heat to ensure their safety. 

Tim Leddy, president and CEO of Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester, explained that heat-related illnesses -- such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke -- are a threat to the elderly as they are more likely to have chronic health conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate body temperature when the external temperature soars. Home care visits, Leddy noted, help ensure that seniors are not showing signs of dehydration and that they have sufficient cooling systems in the home.  For tips on preventing health-related illnesses and a list of cooling centers,  click here.

Engel Seeks E-Cigarette Ban In Schools

U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel has co-sponsored the bipartisan Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019, H.R. 4019, which would ban e-cigarette use in educational and child care facilities.

Adolescent use of e-cigarettes has spiked in recent years. From 2017 to 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 48 percent increase in e-cigarette use among middle schoolers and a 78 percent spike among high school students. That means an estimated 3.6 million teenagers used e-cigarettes in 2018. These increases have led the Surgeon General and the Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services to label this a public health epidemic.

Like conventional cigarettes, the nicotine in e-cigarettes can be deleterious for children, including hampering brain development and damaging lungs. Adolescent e-cigarette use increases the odds that children will become adult cigarette users.

In the classroom, e-cigarette use has been shown to negatively affect concentration and learning. 

“We are in the midst of an adolescent tobacco epidemic,” Engel said. “Too many children are being exposed to e-cigarettes in schools, threatening the progress we have made in reducing tobacco use. The bill we have introduced provides our teachers and school administrators with federal support to tackle this public health crisis and prevent another generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.”

County's Pot Policy Clarified

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced changes in the handling of low-level marijuana offenses in Westchester County. 

Under DA Scarpino’s policy, the possession of small amounts (two ounces or less) of marijuana do not result in a criminal conviction. This has not changed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that changes how the state prosecutes marijuana offenses. This New York State law which decriminalizes marijuana possession is still more restrictive than the District Attorney’s prosecution policy.

The differences are as follows: the DA’s Office will continue to decline to prosecute simple possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. Under state law, even possession of less than an ounce will be treated as a violation, resulting in a fine on conviction (not a criminal charge).

What has not changed: burning marijuana or holding it in public view will be prosecuted as a violation (Penal Law § 221.05) under both the DA’s policy and the new law. The state's decriminalization law goes into effect on Aug. 28. For more details, click here.

Peekskill Goes Green

Peekskill officials approved an Energy Performance Contract with Honeywell, a major step in the city’s commitment to going green and reducing greenhouse gases. The project initiatives will result in a reduction of 1,100 tons of carbon emissions per year, seven tons of sulfur oxide per year and three tons of nitrous oxide per year.

The $4.3 million project will result in energy and operational savings, with a total cost to the city of $184,000 over the 20-year term.

“This Council made a commitment to be better environmental stewards of our community and drive a green agenda that benefits our children and families, our taxpayers, and our planet,” said Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey. "This is a major step forward, which will reduce our emissions starting today, not months or years from now, but today. It will also allow us to move forward with a renewables agenda for years to come."

City upgrades and improvements for the Honeywell Energy Performance Contract include: LED lighting and controls, street light upgrades, boiler replacements at Peekskill’s Neighborhood Center and Water Plant (including oil-to-gas conversion at the Neighborhood Center), Paramount Theater heating and air conditioning upgrades, Building Management System upgrades, window replacements and other building improvements (including a cooling upgrade) for City Hall, pipe insulation, desktop computer power management, smart power strips, as well as fan motors for the Peekskill Police Station, City Court and Neighborhood Center.

“This is a giant step forward in going green without a huge expense to City taxpayers,” said Peekskill Deputy Mayor Kathleen Talbot.