Friday, May 24th

spiererDecember 3rd marked six months since anyone has seen or heard from Indiana University and Edgemont resident Lauren Spierer. The Bloomington, Indiana police appear no closer today to finding out what happened to Lauren than they did on June 4th.

Anyone who knows the case knows at least some elements to the story: 20 year-old Lauren Spierer went out on the night of June 3rd with some friends to local bars and clubs. She was last seen at around 4:30 am on June 4th around 11th and College Avenue. Somehow, Lauren got separated from her phone, keys and shoes that night—apparently the bar, Kilroys, where she spent some time that evening had a beach-like party. Losing her phone and keys may either be a key detail or a most unfortunate coincidence. That evening, after the bars had closed there was some back and forth between Lauren’s apartment at Smallwood Plaza in Bloomington and some boys she knew at another apartment complex close by.

After that, the details get sketchy. Some claimed Lauren was seen walking into the entrance of her apartment building. Someone says there was a fight with an unknown group of young men followed by a blackout from being punched or too many drinks. There was surveillance of a Silverado that was to have thought to have lead to something only to be quickly explained away. Still, no Lauren. She has a heart condition that without medication could fall into a fatal rhythm.

It was big news when Lauren first went missing. Lead by her parents Robert and Charlene Spierer, hundreds of people fanned out around the area and searched for the petite blond with blue eyes. News crews flooded Bloomington and several sent crews to Scarsdale: the parking lot outside Scarsdale Synagogue on the night of a June vigil looked like a media circus. The FBI, Indiana State Police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children all aided in the search. A local landfill was checked for 10 days in August. The Bloomington Police fielded over 2,400 tips on the case. Nothing. Not one sign that we know of Lauren.

After several media inquiries the Bloomington, Indiana Police department released a statement to coincide with the 6-month mark of her disappearance:

The Bloomington Police Department continues to actively investigate the disappearance of Lauren Spierer which occurred six months ago on June 3, 2011. The Department continues to receive tips from the public and from other law enforcement agencies with information about what they have heard or with names of individuals that should be considered as possibly being involved. Those tips are followed up by a team of investigators who have been assigned to the case since the beginning and Lauren’s case continues to be the priority assignment for them.

Despite the time that has passed since this investigation began, much has been done and much continues to be done on this case. The Bloomington Police Department remains as committed to this investigation as we were on June 3rd and our vigorous efforts will continue as we seek to provide answers to Lauren’s family and the Bloomington community.

Above the statement in all caps it states:

NO ADDITIONAL COMMENT WILL BE OFFERED OUTSIDE OF THE STATEMENT BELOW.

So they have nothing either.

Some believe that the young men that Spierer hung out with that night may be hiding something, or at least being less than forthcoming about the series of events on the night of Lauren’s disappearance.

Not charged with anything, the students Corey Rossman, Michael Beth, David Rohn and Jason ‘Jay’ Rosenbaum all headed home for the summer. They all retained attorneys, as is their right.

Details here

At the three-month mark, Charlene Spierer wrote and open letter to Lauren’s unknown assailant;

“This is no game. We are in this for the long haul. Do you think we are going to walk away without finding out the answers? Do you think we are going to rest until we find Lauren? We will not. You have no idea who you have taken from us. We will never give up,” she concluded in the letter.

In other instances she has made emotional pleas to parents whose children may be withholding key information about Lauren. She has also reached out to the college students asking what they would want their friends to do if this happened to them.

Still, nothing.

There are still signs about Lauren’s disappearance in shop windows around Scarsdale Village. Her pretty face, her blond hair, her diminutive frame, now almost appear like a memorial to her than a missing poster.

Some may shrug and say nothing good can happen at 4:30am and a 20-year-old shouldn’t be allowed into a bar to begin with. That may be so, but that is what happened and that is the reality for many college students across the country. It doesn’t make what happened to Lauren any less tragic or unlikely to happen to anyone else.

There have been several fundraisers and attempts to raise awareness to keep this case from entirely fading from the public eye. The next is a self-defense class at NYU on Saturday December 11th. To sign up, go to SafetyforSpierer@gmail.com, www.nyu.edu/ticketcentral , or go to 566 LaGuardia Place. All Proceeds go to find Lauren.

In a Facebook message thanking those who attended the “Support for Spierers” event the previous evening, Lauren’s parents concluded their post as they do many: We are just as determined to find Lauren today as we were on June 3. We will Never give up. Hoping today is the day...

gellerr150

Jen is a freelance journalist who has covered the economy and markets for over a decade at a major financial news outlet. She lives in Scarsdale with her husband and 2 children. Jen has yet to bake a successful batch of cookies.

 

greeburghshieldTo the Editor: Another Edgemont home was robbed last evening! Same story as last week! Same story these past three years! Yes an email was just sent out by Chief DeCarlo - after I called and got upset with him. Did anyone get notified! We are supposed to get an email chain from the GPD as well as to all the Civic association presidents etc.

How much more should we be paying to get more patrol cars in Edgemont - when we are clearly subsidizing and paying for patrol cars in all other neighborhoods of Greenburgh.

Mr. Feiner's board has been sitting on a proposal since July that would have given Edgemont 3 license plate scanners at important intersections - None of the Greenburgh board members live in Edgemont. Is that why the proposal hasn't been approved?

Does any one else feel outraged at what has become a take Edgemont to the cleaners drive. I am fed up of having to close, lock seal, alarm, every single door and window even during the summertime. Is this how we want to raise our kids - teach them to worry about being robbed!

I personally am tired of worrying that when we go out for dinner we might come home to a mess. Last evening I closed my garage door just to walk over to talk to my neighbor for 5 minutes, and I even worry when I drive our daughter to school. We have worked hard and deserve better.

I know we are all busy, but this is ridiculous and wouldn't be tolerated in any other community across the US. Why do we have such apathy towards getting more involved and demanding as a group what our hard earned income and taxes are paying into the Greenburgh money pit. Does any one of our Edgemont neighbors deserve to get robbed?

I sincerely appeal to all of you who love and are proud of Edgemont, our neighbors and community - to please let me know if you feel as outraged for being abandoned by the Town Board and GPD.

Over a year ago Mr. Feiner and the Police chief met twice with a large contingent of Indian families and promised steps based on suggestions made - Nothing has changed! Its still political big talk!

Robberies have been happening with regularity - but to dissipate the numbers they get classified into numerous sub categories with the result the numbers seem lower.

I am willing to put my time and effort towards organizing a group of us who will make a proactive effort to address this issue in a simple manner.

Please feel free to respond with suggestions.

With warmest regards for all of you,

Stay safe.
Mrinal Jhangiani

Update December 2nd. 2011

1. There was an attempted robbery last night on Sprain Valley Road, at a home that has been previously robbed six months ago. Its the holiday season and these perpetrators always get desperate.

2. We have also got word today that the Town has authorized the license plate scanners for Edgemont and they will be installed within the week!

We need to stay calm but vigilant and provide support to our patrolling police officers by informing them of any unusual behavior by a car or a driver. Don't feel awkward to speak up - Edgemont is our home and we need to keep our families comfortable and safe.

 

boardofed3-7bThe Scarsdale Board of Education invites Scarsdale residents to participate in the budget-planning process for the 2012-13 school year. We encourage you to advise us in conversations about financial and program projections and the decisions we face. Share your views with the Board about student needs, possible program initiatives, and how we might best balance sustaining the excellence of our schools with budget pressures and the challenge of controlling tax growth

Interested community members are invited to sign up for one of two meetings scheduled for January 2012:

  • Wednesday, January 11th, from 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. in Room 170-172, Scarsdale High School, Brewster Road side
  • Wednesday, January 18th, from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon at the Girl Scout House on Wayside Lane.

Note: Snow date for Budget Forums is Thursday, January 19th at 10:00 a.m. at the Girl Scout House on Wayside Lane or Thursday January 19th at 7:30 p.m. in Room 170-172, Scarsdale High School, Brewster Road side

Meetings will be open to the public; although advance registration is requested, it is not required. Please RSVP to the District office at 721-2410 or email lrehm@scarsdaleschools.org.

If you cannot attend either session, the Board will welcome your comments at a regular Board meeting, or in writing to 2 Brewster Road or to BoardofEd@scarsdaleschools.org. Let us hear from you.

 

 

edgemonthighIn June, 2011 New York State leaders enacted the law (generally known as a "two percent tax cap") that placed restrictions on how school districts and municipalities may increase their tax levies. The new law has left many school districts scrambling to figure out their best course of action. At the November 8th Edgemont BOE meeting, Superintendent Nancy Taddiken reported that it is likely that there will be a gap between what "we are allowed to raise by simple majority vote and what it will cost Edgemont to provide a budget that maintains all existing programs and personnel."

At the November 22nd BOE meeting, which was packed with parents, residents, and teachers, Ms. Taddiken reviewed the extensive list of possible cuts to the school programs if the BOE decides to stay within the tax cap. Among the possibilities are cuts in the teaching staff at all three schools, meaning larger classes across the grades, the reduction or elimination of day and overnight trips (such as sixth grade camp and ninth grade camp), and the reduction or elimination of consultants. There may also be fewer electives offered at the high school as well reductions in foreign languages choices (currently 4 languages are offered: Spanish, Latin, French and Italian), and a reduction in lab hours for the three lab sciences. Cuts may also occur in the sports area and in extracurriculars. Most parents in the audience were not pleased with any of these changes to student programs.

Some parents in the audience asked if the BOE was considering proposing a budget that exceeded the state cap in the hope that a super-majority (60%) of the voters approve it. The Board responded that this is under consideration as well. In the past few years, Edgemont voters have indeed approved the school budget by more than 60%. No one knows yet if any Westchester school will propose a budget increase above the NYS tax cap (a number that is reported as two percent, though there are allowable exclusions including increases in the state-mandated employer contribution rates for teacher and employee pensions that exceed two percentage points). This year, the budget development timeline has been accelerated requiring the district to submit their budget to the Office of the State Comptroller by March 1, 2012

Although Albany promised mandate relief for school districts when the tax cap became law, there has not been much in the way of relief. Nancie Ellis, an Edgemont resident and parent, said, "Edgemont shouldn't be confined to a 2% tax cap when they are forced to pay for unfunded state mandates which rise more than 2% each year. For example, the teacher pension fund cost has increased a tremendous amount this year. Eliminating certain mandates such as paying for busing to private schools could save the districts tens of thousands each year. This isn't a black and white issue. For the past 5 years, the town taxes have increased at a larger percentage than the school taxes. With everyone's taxes rising, people are making more certiorari claims, which lowered their taxes and raised the taxes for those not making the claims."

If Albany had given school districts mandate relief perhaps the schools could bring in lower tax increases without cutting staff and programs. But mandate relief will not happen in time for this upcoming budget season. Click here for an article on "Understanding New York State's Property Tax Levy Cap As It Relates to Public Schools"

Edgemont residents can learn more about the tax cap by attending BOE meetings (the next meeting is on Tuesday, December 13th at 8:15 pm in the high school LGI room). The board and administrators welcomes your views on budget cuts and on whether or not the school district should present a budget that supersedes the cap.

 

barzilaiOn a trip to Florida ten years ago, my sister and I spent some time visiting with my Grandpa Harry. As we walked around his condo complex, we couldn’t help but notice all the women calling after him.
“Harry, I need a jar opened.”

“Harry, I was hoping you could drive me to Publix later.”

“Harry, just the man I was hoping to see…”

Kind and quiet in a way that men aren’t these days, Harry was twice-widowed, living independently with a valid driver’s license. He was the Big Man on Campus.

My sister and I, worried about him being lonely and a bit stunned by all the female attention, suggested to him that maybe he should get a girlfriend.

He waved his hand off at us. “Eh…. Five or ten years ago, maybe. But now I’m just too old for that kind of business.”

He was 91 at the time. Clearly he felt that he would have been up to the task at age 86.

I thought about my grandfather a lot after attending the one-year anniversary celebration of At Home Scarsdale on Sunday, November 6th at the Scarsdale Woman’s Club.

At Home provides referrals to services providers, transportation to doctor appointments as well as social gatherings and events for senior citizens in our community. I was invited because of the work I do with the library.

The speaker was Edgemont resident Dr. Nir Barzilai, the Director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He ws invited by At Home coordinator Susan Gilbert. Barzilai is the head of the Longevity Project at Einstein. He took to the center of the room to talk about his study of centenarians (those who live to 100). If this sounds familiar, it may be because Barzilai's study was on the front cover of New York Magazine just two weeks ago for an article called “They’re Old, They’re Jewish and They Have DNA Like You Wouldn’t Believe.”

The amusing title pertains to the 540 Ashkenazi Jews he tracked all of whom have lived beyond the age of 95. In his presentation he focuses on Irving Kahn, an investment banker who, at the age of 105, still goes to work with his son and grandson at their offices in Manhattan every day. We also get a glimpse of his sister Helen, or “Happy” who died this past September at 109. Irving, Happy and their two other siblings all lived past the age of 100. In an obituary Happy was reported to reveal that the secret to her longevity was “chocolate truffles, hamburgers, Budweiser beer, cigarettes and New York night life. Strictly forbidden were vegetables, exercising, getting up early and complaining.”

Even if she had a dramatic flair, Barzilai’s study seems to corroborate Happy’s view. Indeed, the majority of those in the study were not incredibly healthy eaters and admitted to smoking at some point in their lives. Most didn’t claim to be terribly religious or spiritual. In fact, many just seemed to believe that their secret to living was, well, just living. Most, like the Kahns in the study, say that their family members also lived long lives. This leads Barzilai and his team to question if longevity is in the genes.

Why the Jews?

Of course that’s always been the question for the Jewish people. In this case, the answer is perhaps a bit more pedestrian than you’d expect: Barzilai explained that this group’s ancestry is fairly intact. While of course there is intermarriage, compared to other racial and ethnic groups there is less ‘cross-pollination’ so to speak. This is why Ashkenazi women often have to give what feels like a gallon of blood for genetic testing during their pregnancies. (At least that’s what it felt like to me). There is also a sizeable super-elderly population of this group in the area.

The Holocaust:

You can’t talk about this generation of Ashkenazi Jews without bringing up the Holocaust. While he didn’t offer the statistics of how many in the study lived in Eastern Europe during that time, Barzilai said that those who did live through Nazi Germany and the concentration camps -- statistically speaking, should not have survived until now. But they did. Again, this could be genetics. A tough gene perhaps?

On the whole, the group in the study is a healthy lot. They spend less time at the doctor’s office compared to the overall population. Barzilai showed that the health care costs for this group are considerably lower than those who live to the average age of 80. Many are in good health until the very end. That was the case with my grandfather. He was the picture of health until the very end. He had a fall, deteriorated quickly and six weeks later he was gone. He was about two months shy of his 95th birthday.

Barzilai is a dynamo. Witty and charming with a slight Israeli accent, the audience was rapt when he spoke. Not only did Barzilai want to look at these centenarians, but at their children- now in their 60s and 70s -- to see if, as he suspects, it may be in the genes.

He says that down the road, this study could lead to new drug therapies to keep people healthier longer and avoid or delay age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Of course we all want our loved ones to live as long as possible, yet a society where 100 is feasible for an ever-growing population presents some serious social and economic dilemmas.

But for many in this group, social or economic dilemmas are beside the point. … staying alive and healthy is key. These folks just keep going, because they just keep going. As my grandmother (on my father’s side) who turns 91 at the end of this month explains, “There is always a wedding or a new great-grandchild or someone’s birthday for me to look forward to.” That, and a healthy batch of Law & Order reruns seems to be her secret to longevity.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or if you fit the criteria and want to take part in it (65+ and the child of someone who lived to 95+ and are of Eastern European Jewish descent) check out the website superagers.com.

(Pictured at top: Dr. Nir Barzilai)

 

 

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