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>Is Brett Favre, the newest NY Jet, Moving to Ridgewood NJ?


August 10th, 2008 categories:News and Events

The Ridgewood Real Estate market is buzzing with a rumor that Green Bay Packer Legend Brett Favre, now with the NY Jets, is house hunting in Ridgewood NJ. Will he become the latest in a long line of famous Ridgewood residents or will this rumor prove false just like the “Johnny Damon is moving to Ridgewood” rumor of a few years back? At the time of this post, I can neither confirm or deny this rumor but it sure would make things in Ridgewood interesting – if it were true.

from the

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>Whole Foods Market® Voluntarily Recalls Fresh Ground Beef

>Multi-State Recall in Response to State, Federal Investigations of E. coli Outbreak

Austin, Texas. August 8, 2008. Today, Whole Foods Market announced a voluntary multi-state recall of the fresh ground beef it has sold between June 2 and August 6, 2008 because of a concern that it may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. Whole Foods Market is informed that the beef in question apparently came from Coleman Natural Beef whose Nebraska Beef processing plant was previously subject to a nationwide recall for E. coli 0157:H7 contamination. At the time of the previous recall, Whole Foods Market received assurances from Coleman Natural Beef that no product delivered to Whole Foods Market was linked to the recall. Those assurances are now in question and Whole Foods Market is actively investigating the issue. At this time, no Coleman Natural Beef fresh ground beef products from the Nebraska Beef processing facility are available in any Whole Foods Market stores.

“While Coleman Natural Beef is a relatively small supplier for Whole Foods Market, we are extremely disappointed that we must now question Coleman’s assurances,” said Edmund Lamacchia, global vice president of procurement.

Neither Coleman Natural Beef or Nebraska Beef are owned or operated by Whole Foods Market.
At this time, although the illnesses allegedly linked to Whole Foods Market are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, it is broadening the voluntary recall to the following states out of an abundance of caution: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D. C., Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Canada.

The recalls come as a result of investigations into confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The investigations include supermarkets Dorothy Lane and Kroger, as well as beef suppliers and processors such as Coleman Natural Beef and Nebraska Beef, and are still ongoing as state and federal agencies work to determine the source of the outbreak. As a precaution, on Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Whole Foods Market voluntarily pulled shipments of beef from this vendor from its stores nationwide.

Whole Foods Market asks customers who may have ground beef purchased during these dates (including in the freezer) to dispose of the product and return to the store with the packaging or receipt for a full refund.

“At Whole Foods Market, one of our top priorities is consumer safety, and we go to great lengths to ensure the safety and quality of our meats,” said Lamacchia. “We are currently cooperating with the USDA, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Montgomery County Health Department in Pennsylvania as part of a routine multi-state investigation into these confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 infection.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued warnings about the targeted beef. Whole Foods Market will continue to work with state and federal authorities as this investigation progresses, and looks forward to providing its customers with the high quality products that they have come to expect.
About Whole Foods Market®
Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market ( is the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America’s first national certified organic grocer. In fiscal year 2007, the company had sales of $6.6 billion and currently has more than 270 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The Whole Foods Market motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures the company’s mission to find success in customer satisfaction and wellness, employee excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Whole Foods Market, Fresh & WildTM, and Harry’s Farmers Market® are trademarks owned by Whole Foods Market IP, LP. Wild Oats® and Capers Community MarketTM are trademarks owned by Wild Marks, Inc. Whole Foods Market employs more than 53,000 Team Members and has been ranked for 11 consecutive years as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine.

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>Anne Donovan will lead Team USA

>By Jayda Evans

Seattle Times staff reporter

PALO ALTO, Calif. — For months, it seemed Anne Donovan had nothing better to do than voice her opinion about what other countries were doing.

Headlines were stripped across national magazines, newspapers and television programs. There was Donovan, full of American pride, explaining her feelings about Russia tapping Becky Hammon to be its point guard in the Beijing Olympics. The same Hammon that USA Basketball dubbed not qualified enough to leapfrog Sue Bird, Cappie Pondexter or Kara Lawson.

“Unpatriotic,” Donovan said. It wasn’t until July that Donovan got down to business with her own team. After three Olympics as a player (she did not compete in 1980 because of the U.S. boycott) and one as an assistant coach, Donovan will lead the women’s team in China. It’s a task made daunting by the evolution of the sport.

For one, there’s now the WNBA book-ending the Games. And secondly, other countries, namely Russia and Australia, don’t fear the Americans after defeating Team USA recently. Russia beat the Americans when it counted, at the 2006 World Championships, making Donovan the first coach since Theresa Grentz to lose in national team competition.

“The World Championships is a thorn in our side for sure, but there are other losses that are a thorn in our side,” Donovan said. “We haven’t been at full strength since 2004 and we’re out to prove something.”

True. Only Olympic gold is remembered. And Donovan knows. Her three gold medals are some of her most prized possessions, which is why she has begun to open up about her abrupt resignation from the Storm in November.

Some still believe it stems from player upheaval during the 2007 season. Other rumors pitted Donovan and current Storm CEO Karen Bryant against each other. But after just the second day with her Team USA, Donovan claims it was to focus on gold.

“I’m the only one coming in here completely fresh,” Donovan said, beaming a bright smile as she looked at her Team USA assistants Dawn Staley, Gail Goestenkors and Mike Thibault. Their “real” duties are coaching South Carolina, Texas and the Connecticut Sun, respectively.

“Gail and Dawn have been out recruiting and Mike is looking ragged,” Donovan joked. “For me, I have the energy that I have to pass on. At times, they’ve struggled with the schedules that they’ve been on for more than just the WNBA season.”

So, was it a hard decision to leave the Storm? “A very easy decision to make,” Donovan said. “I was as surprised at where her head was,” Bryant said of Donovan’s resignation, which included a stipulation that she could not coach in the WNBA during the 2008 season. “But I wanted to completely support her decision. It became very apparent to me early in our conversation that she was ready to move on. At that point, there was no point in me trying to convince her to stay.”

After taking some time to be with family, Donovan began immersing herself in a gold-medal-winning plan. She worked with the selection committee to pick the players to fit her style in international play, emphasizing defense. She scouted other countries. And she devised practice plans.

Along the way, Donovan made returns to Seattle. She was even given a standing ovation from most in attendance for the Storm’s win against Indiana on June 20. Donovan, 46, led Seattle to its only WNBA championship in 2004, but lost in the opening round of her following three playoff appearances.

Last week at Maples Pavilion on the Stanford campus, she was finally in a familiar place — squatting about 10 feet behind Bird, watching the beginnings of her plan unfold.

“Anne has done an unbelievable job,” Goestenkors said. “We’ve already watched video of when we were at our worst as a team defensively and when we were at our best, because I think it’s going to come down to defense. She talked to the team about the work ethic we’re going to have. She’s been working nonstop, but she’s very aware that the players are a little fatigued mentally and physically, having coached in the WNBA so long.”

Team USA had only three days to practice as a unit before traveling to Haining, China to play in the Diamond Ball Tournament this week.

Needing to help build chemistry fast, Donovan and her staff took the motivational part of training a bit further than usual. She helped developed a slogan, which Nike turned into a T-shirt that reads “Red, White and” on the front with “Blue Collar” on the back to keep the players thinking about hustle plays and defense. Not pretty layins and offense.

Plus, in a un-Donovan-esque move, the Olympic coach didn’t place a high importance on the team’s placing at the pre-Olympic tournament, despite them defeating Australia for the Diamond Ball title. The sole focus is Olympic gold.

There wasn’t a professional league for Donovan to aspire to as a youth playing basketball. Donovan, who finished her career at Old Dominion as the all-time leading scorer (2,719), rebounder (1,976) and shot-blocker (801), began representing her country at age 15.

A native of affluent Ridgewood, N.J., Donovan is relishing this moment.
“I have so much pride in this,” said Donovan, who won Olympic gold as a player in 1988 and 1984. “It’s such a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime experience. For me, there’s nothing like it.”

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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>Police look to convert two cars to run on propane

>Friday, August 8, 2008
Last updated: Friday August 8, 2008, EDT 7:02 AMRIDGEWOOD – Village officials hope to test the use of liquefied propane gas as an alternative fuel in at least two police cars.

“If it performs as advertised, it would save money, and the side benefit is that it would be great for the environment,” said Councilman Keith Killion.

“It would cost $6,000 to equip two cars, and the cost of propane is $2.50 per gallon with a 50-cent rebate per gallon,” Killion said. “We would compare the mileage and see how the cars run for the same amount of time on propane.”

Killion said the village can take advantage of $2,000 rebates for each of the Ford Crown Victorias. If the propane doesn’t save money, the driver can turn a switch to use gas.

Fluctuations in the price of gasoline have the village thinking of alternatives, he said.

“We have to do something with rising gas costs,” Killion said. “I don’t think it’s a tremendous amount of money to give it a shot.”

– Evonne Coutros

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>Ex-students charged in school burglary

>Wednesday, August 6,2008


An alert neighbor and a security camera played key roles in thwarting a burglary at Ridgewood High School, police said.

Two former students — Christopher Zeigler, 19, and Daniel Gillis, 18, both of Ridgewood — are with charged with burglary and theft in connection with the break-in last month, police said in a release.

A neighbor walking his dog just before midnight on July 25 told police he noticed a man in his early 20s walking away from the east side of the building. The man said he then spotted a computer in the bushes near an open window.

“He also noticed a second computer hanging from a window of the high school,” said Ridgewood Police Lt. William Amoruso.

Detective Douglas Williams and Officer Chris McDowell, resource officer for the village’s schools, later discovered a computer stuffed into a gym bag.

A custodian also told police he ran into Gillis in the school that night, and that the teen then took off, the lieutenant added

Finally, a surveillance camera in the school captured identifiable images of Zeigler, Amoruso said.

“The camera provided the information [McDowell] needed to bring this to a conclusion,” said Angelo DeSimone, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

RHS was open at the time, due to a performance at the Little Theatre that night, DeSimone said. Otherwise, authorities would have been alerted by the alarm system.

Ridgewood police arrested Zeigler early Thursday. A short time later, they had Gillis, Amoruso said.

“It just so happened that the defendants cooperated and we were able to close the case,” the lieutenant said.

Zeigler and Gillis are free released on their own recognizance pending a future Municipal Court date.

None of the computers was damaged during the burglary, DeSimone said.

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>Thousands in fines for Valley Hospital, neighborhood group

>Wednesday, August 6, 2008BY BOB GROVESSTAFF WRITERThe Ridgewood Planning Board is charging Valley Hospital and opponents of its expansion thousands of dollars for participating in special public meetings about the divisive issue.

A neighborhood group opposed to the plan has paid about $4,000 in fees. Valley’s final bill is still being tallied, said Barbara Carlton, board secretary.

The board initially charged Valley $5,000 and the neighborhood group $7,000 for six special meetings where the two groups presented their sides, Carlton said.

Those amounts had to be recalculated because of bookkeeping confusion over escrow accounts set up when Valley and the residents group applied to the planning board, Carlton said.

This is the first time the board has used an ordinance the Village Council passed in 2007 to charge applicants a $2,000 fee for each special meeting, Carlton said.

The fees pay for charges by the board attorney, engineer and other professionals, Carlton said.

Other expenses include the costs of a sound technician and space rental, if the meeting is held outside the village council chambers, she said. Planning board members are non-paid volunteers.

Valley is reviewing the fee assessment but feels it has been fair, said Megan Fraser, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

“We know that special meetings require additional resources,” Fraser said. “[We] believe that a special-meeting fee is a legitimate request when such a large application comes before the village.”

The residents, however, said they should have been charged less because their counterproposal to the planning board was much simpler than Valley’s and did not need as much discussion time, said Peter McKenna, a member of the group.

“Concerned Residents objected to the special-meeting fees because the meetings were really to discuss Valley’s proposal, and our proposal was barely mentioned,” McKenna said.

“If a citizen unrelated to Concerned Residents said they opposed [Valley’s proposal], the bill was getting charged to our escrow account,” he said.

The board’s reduction of the residents’ meeting fees included a $1,000 refund from board attorney Gail Price, “which was very nice,” McKenna said.

Many municipal boards in New Jersey have similar ordinances allowing them to charge for special meetings, Price said.

In general, the bill for a special meeting does not go to residents who are objecting to a proposal before a planning board, said William Neville, vice president of New Jersey Planning Officials, Inc. “The burden falls on the applicants,” Neville said.

The Planning Board has held several special meetings in the past year to consider Valley’s proposed $750 million plan, which would expand its size 67 percent by adding a parking deck and replace two older buildings with three new ones. Hospital officials say they need to build to survive.

Concerned Residents of Ridgewood, a grass-roots group of people who live near the hospital, opposes the plan for safety and aesthetic reasons. The group says the new buildings, which will be much higher and closer to the street, will be out of place in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Valley’s request to change the village master plan involved extensive testimony that required the planning board to schedule the special meetings, which were open to the public.

The next planning board meeting to discuss Valley is 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood.


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>Ridgewood Real Estate June Market Report – Average Sale Price and Days on Market


August 5th, 2008 categories:Ridgewood Sales and Stats

The average price of a home in Ridgewood NJ decreased from June to July of this year but fluctuations in Ridgewood Home Sales from month-to-month are very common given the small sample size (25 homes sold in July). For better gauge of Ridgewood Home Price Trends click here to view a Comparison of Ridgewood Home Sales year-over-year.

The average “Days on Market” or DOM for Ridgewood Homes rose in July. However, given that both months saw an average DOM under 55 days I take this as a positive sign. In many parts of the country homes are taking an average of 6 months or more to sell. 50 or 60 “days on market” is not a bad number by historical standards.

If you would like more information on Ridgewood Real Estate please call me at 201.906.3287 or simply leave a comment here.

– Information herein deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 8/4/2008 11:24:27 PM –
– Copyright: 2008 by New Jersey MLS, Inc. –


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>I Know What You Did Last Math Class


NYT May 4th 2008

ON school days at 2 p.m., Nicole Dobbins walks into her home office in Alpharetta, Ga., logs on to ParentConnect, and reads updated reports on her three children. Then she rushes up the block to meet the fourth and sixth graders’ buses.

But in the thump and tumble of backpacks and the gobbling of snacks, Mrs. Dobbins refrains from the traditional after-school interrogation: Did you cut math class? What did you get on your language arts test?

Thanks to ParentConnect, she already knows the answers. And her children know she knows. So she cuts to the chase: “Tell me about this grade,” she will say.

When her ninth grader gets home at 6 p.m., there may well be ParentConnect printouts on his bedroom desk with poor grades highlighted in yellow by his mother. She will expect an explanation. He will be braced for a punishment.

“He knows I’m going to look at ParentConnect every day and we will address it,” Mrs. Dobbins said.

A profusion of online programs that can track a student’s daily progress, including class attendance, missed assignments and grades on homework, quizzes and tests, is changing the nature of communication between parents and children, families and teachers. With names like Edline, ParentConnect, Pinnacle Internet Viewer and PowerSchool, the software is used by thousands of schools, kindergarten through 12th grade. PowerSchool alone is used by 10,100 schools in 49 states.

Although a few programs have been available for a decade, schools have been using them more in recent years as federal reporting requirements have expanded and home computers have become more common. Citing studies showing that parental involvement can have a positive effect on a child’s academic performance, educators praise the programs’ capacity to engage parents.

In rural, urban and suburban districts, they have become a new fact of life for thousands of families. At best, the programs can be the Internet’s bright light into the bottomless backpack, an antidote for freshman forgetfulness, an early warning system and a lie detector.

But sometimes there is collateral damage: exacerbated stress about daily grades and increased family tension.

“The good is very good,” said Nancy Larsen, headmaster of Fairfield Ludlowe High School in Connecticut, which uses Edline. “And the bad can become very ugly.”

At an age when teenagers increasingly want to manage their own lives, many parents use these programs to tighten the grip. College admission is so devastatingly competitive, parents say, they feel compelled to check online grades frequently. Parents hope to transform even modest dips before a child’s record is irrevocably scarred.

“I tell my son, ‘What you do as a freshman will matter to you as a senior,’ ” Mrs. Dobbins said. “ ‘It will haunt you or applaud you.’ ”

Depending on the software, parents can check pending assignments; incomplete assignments; whether a child has been late to class; discipline notices; and grades on homework, quizzes and tests as soon as they are posted. They can also receive e-mail alerts on their cellphones.

With some programs, not only is a student’s grade recalculated with every quiz, but parents can monitor the daily fluctuations of their child’s class ranking. The availability of so much up-to-the-minute information about a naturally evasive teenager can be intoxicating: one Kansas parent compared watching PowerSchool to tracking the stock market.

Kathleen DeBuys, a mother of four in Roswell, Ga., used to check her e-mail first thing in the morning: the ParentConnect alerts would fly in by 6 a.m. The subject line might read, “Claire has received a failing grade. …”

“And I’d freak out,” said Mrs. DeBuys, speaking of her oldest child, then a high school freshman. “I’d be waking her up, shouting: ‘Claire! What did you fail? What is wrong with you?’ She’d pull the pillow over her head and say, ‘Leave me alone!’ ”

Usually the explanation was benign: there was an inputting error, or Claire had missed the class because she had been sick or pulled out for a gifted-and-talented program. But the family’s morning was already flayed.

“It was horrible,” Mrs. DeBuys said.

Many students, in fact, like the programs, which let them monitor their records. Their biggest complaint is their parents’ unfettered access. “I don’t think kids have privacy,” said Emily Tarantino, 13, a middle-school student from Farmingdale, N.Y. “It’s not like anyone asked our opinion before they gave parents the passwords.”

In thousands of Facebook postings about the programs, teenagers bitterly denounce parental access as snooping. Emily Cochran, 18, a Pittsburgh senior, writes on Facebook about Edline, “It’s like having our parents or guardians stand over us and watch us all day at school, waiting for us to slip up.”

When teachers post scores before they return tests, parents may even see the grade before the students. On Facebook, in typical Internet shorthand, a teenager writes: “I walk into my house and I don’t even get a ‘hello son, howd your day go?’ I get yelled at bcuz I failed a test.”

Paradoxically, many parents who regularly check their children’s grades online fondly recall that during their own adolescence, subterfuge was a given. “I’ll admit it,” said Chris Tarantino, Emily’s mother. “I got satisfaction in fooling my parents.”

Programs like Edline do away with that sly pleasure. But Mrs. Tarantino, a PowerSchool fan, said the stakes had changed drastically. Academic pressure a generation ago was not nearly as all-consuming.

It is difficult to demonstrate conclusively what impact these programs have on school performance, because of all the variables. Anecdotally, principals report that the programs have motivated otherwise hard-to-reach parents and students. They have helped some middle-school boys, in particular, become better organized.

“Edline opens up communication between parents and teachers,” said Ron Jones, the principal at Huth Middle School, which has a 90 percent minority student population, in Matteson, Ill., a middle-class Chicago suburb. “It helps keep the children minding their p’s and q’s.”

The software can certainly be a boon to working parents. And divorced parents can log on without having to contact each other. A few years ago, India Harris, then a single mother and an Army staff sergeant from Omaha, monitored her son’s math grades while on duty in Iraq, and got him extra help.

In Noblesville, Ind., after a survey indicated that parents felt sufficiently informed by PowerSchool and subsequent e-mail exchanges with teachers, the middle-school principal canceled parent-teacher conferences this spring and gave the time back to classes.

Districts have different rules about who has access to which information. Parents then decide how much they want to know. Katie Mazzuckelli, a mother of twin seventh graders in Alpharetta, Ga., checks ParentConnect daily. “There are two types of parents,” she said. “They either do what I do and embrace it, or they say: ‘They’re in middle school and beyond, and they need to be independent. This is an invasion of their privacy.’ ”

Mrs. Dobbins of Alpharetta, a comfortable Atlanta suburb, checks ParentConnect even on weekends. Although there is only modest data on her fourth grader, she goes through the exercise to prepare the child for the scrutiny that her older children receive. She asks the sixth grader close questions about coming assignments.

And she reminds her high school freshman, whom she describes as a bright student with a tendency to coast, “ ‘My personal philosophy is that you need to be on your own, but if you fail to do your job, I will know about it,’ ” Mrs. Dobbins said.

When he does not turn in his homework, she makes sure it is done that night even if it is too late to get credit for it. “And through ParentConnect,” she said, “I’ll e-mail the teacher, ‘Please let me know if you don’t get it within the next day because that’s part of his punishment.’ ”

MRS. DOBBINS is unapologetic about her monitoring of her children’s schoolwork. “I know,” she said, “I’m the mom with big horns. But it’s been a fabulous parenting tool. I think every school should implement it, especially in high school, when kids don’t talk to parents and parents can’t talk to each teacher.”

The software, some educators say, can be misused as a surrogate for meaningful connection between families and schools. “Some teachers love it because it takes the burden of communication off them,” said Diana Brown, a high school English literature teacher in Georgia who still sends home the occasional handwritten note. “Their attitude is: ‘The parents should know what the kid’s grade is. It’s not my job to contact them.’ ”

Many parents may be confused by the complexity of scoring. Some bemoan that few teachers include comments or context. “There’s nothing telling you that your kid loves the class but isn’t a good test taker,” said Mary Kay Flett, a mother in Roswell, Ga.

Many districts do not educate parents about how to use the programs in a measured, judicious fashion with their children. That lapse is implicit in the angry, humorous and poignant Facebook postings. “My dad checks powerschool like 3 or 4 times a day,” writes one teenager. “Yeah he even came to my school once to tell me about it.”

From another teenager: “Before, the screaming and disappointment only had to be endured four times a year. Now it can happen every night.”

And this: “ive been grounded twice for the same grade … once when my mom found it on edline and again when I actually got the grade a week later.”

Some parents refuse to use the software, but many students check their grades to the point of obsession. Denise Pope, a Stanford lecturer who consults with secondary schools, worries that these programs can aggravate student anxiety. “When the focus is on the grade so much, you’re saying to kids, ‘It’s more important to get the grade, by hook or by crook, than learn the material,’ ” she said. “And that leads to the rise in rampant cheating.”

Some school districts are experimenting with restricting what information can be seen by parents of high school students. Other districts only post grades three weeks before the end of a marking period, to give students time to turn things around.

For many districts, the grade and attendance software is but a thread in a tapestry of programs, both online and off, to engage students as well as parents. Many teachers provide lively, interactive Web sites and online hours for help with homework.

The success of the online grading programs also depends on the willingness of teachers to update them accurately and to devote time to follow-up e-mail messages. “I’ve had teachers e-mail me, ‘There’s a test coming up, make sure they study certain things, make sure they have breakfast,’ ” Mrs. Tarantino said.

“Family involvement is not about serving parents,” said Joyce Epstein, director of the National Network of Partnership Schools. “It’s about mobilizing all the resources that support student success. These technologies can hurt or help, depending on how they are done. But the interpersonal connections of teachers, parents, students and counselors really are necessary to go beyond the impersonal technologies.”

One challenge she raises is equity. “Some parents do not have access to high-tech services,” said Dr. Epstein, a professor at Johns Hopkins. “Saying that those parents can use the computers at a local library is not equitable.”

These days, Mrs. DeBuys, the mother of Claire, now a graduating senior in Roswell, calls herself a “reformed ParentConnect parent.”

It took her several years to figure out how best to use the program. “You have to connect to it on your terms,” she said.

It can be hard to resist, she said. “It speaks to all your neuroses as a parent, all this need to control, that pressure to make sure everything is perfect,” she said. “How are these kids going to learn to be responsible adults?”

She has since turned off the reminders and the alerts. But she still checks ParentConnect a few times a week. To her freshman son she may say, “ ‘I notice you have three zeros for homework grades, so you need to talk to your teacher.’ ”

She laughed. “And in a perfect world,” she added, “he would.”

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>Brooklyn lawyer couple eyed in guardian scams


Monday, August 4th 2008, 10:18 PM

Prosecutors are investigating a politically connected Brooklyn lawyer and his wife for allegedly siphoning off “potentially millions” of dollars from unwitting clients, including crippled kids, sources said.

Steven Rondos, 43, and his lawyer wife, Camille Raia, 47, are suspected of stealing the money from so-called guardianship accounts set up for victims of medical malpractice and personal injury cases.

A source close to the case said many of the victims are children who suffered serious injuries in car crashes or other accidents. The couple manages accounts worth up to $50 million.

Rondos and Raia have an office in Bay Ridge and own a $1.4 million home in leafy Ridgewood, N.J. They have not been charged, and the Manhattan district attorney’s office refused to comment on the alleged scam, which sources said may have gone on for years.

Judges in several boroughs and counties have started removing Rondos and Raia from their positions of authority over the accounts.

“[Officials] are in the process of petitioning to remove Rondos,” said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the city Office of Court Administration.

Rondos and Raia did not return calls for comment.

The alleged scam started unfolding when officials at brokerage firm Smith Barney, which manages several of the accounts, noticed unusual withdrawals.

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>Hermance Says Credit Crunch Isn’t Worst He’s Seen

>By Linda Shen

Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) — Hudson City Bancorp Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ron Hermance, who built the company into the largest U.S. savings and loan amid a worldwide credit crunch, said the current crisis isn’t the worst he’s seen.

The subprime-induced slowdown has been amplified by 24-hour media coverage and the reach of the Internet, Hermance said in an interview. Delinquencies aren’t “anywhere near” the level that fueled the savings and loan collapse of the late 1980s and early 1990s, he said.

Back then, “Wall Street had real problems, and confidence was one of them,” Hermance said yesterday. “If you weren’t unemployed, you knew somebody that was.”

Hermance, 61, has more than quadrupled the stock price at Paramus, New Jersey-based Hudson City since taking over as CEO in 2002. Hudson City this year surpassed Washington Mutual Inc. as the biggest U.S. S&L by market value. It boosted profit as the world’s largest financial institutions reported more than $480 billion of writedowns and credit losses tied to subprime mortgages.

Hudson City rose 36 cents, or 2 percent, to $18.19 at 9:36 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. It rose 19 percent this year and has been the third-best performing stock tracked by the 88-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Financial Index.

Hermance said subprime lending “never appealed” to him. As other banks were buying out-of-market home-equity, car and construction loans, Hudson City built branches in areas ignored by rivals, he said.

Focus on Strength

“I kept thinking, indirect auto, indirect construction — not on my worst day would I have that idea,” Hermance said. “Focus on your strength. Don’t go out and try to broaden your base so much you get outside your competency level.”

Hudson City “might have a better handle of their own loan book than many of their competitors,” said Carlton Neel of Phoenix/Zweig Advisors LLC, which manages more than $1 billion, including Hudson City shares.

“We were looking for areas we could go that might be more immune to some of the things that we still saw as problematic in terms of the mortgage crisis and subprime,” Neel said. “Hudson City kind of piqued our interest.”

Hermance said in an interview with Bloomberg Television that Hudson City has “pristine credit quality,” and it would be too expensive for lenders to replicate their business. He said Hudson City spends 23 cents generating each $1 in revenue due to “an inborn efficiency.”

“To try and do the same thing we’re doing would cost people too much,” Hermance said. “It’s a model you have to fall in love with early rather than late.”

No Subprime Loans

Net income has climbed every year since Hudson City’s initial public offering in 1999. The 140-year-old lender, which has never made a subprime loan, posted second-quarter earnings last month that soared 52 percent, beating analyst estimates.

Hermance began his 34-year career in banking as a branch manager, working his way up to running originations at the now- defunct Home Federal Savings and Loan in East Rochester, New York. When he was writing loans, borrowers understood that they needed good credit, not just a down payment, Hermance said.

Hermance worked for lenders that have been swallowed by competitors KeyCorp and North Fork Bancorp, now Capital One Financial Corp. Born in Batavia, New York, he graduated in 1969 from St. John Fisher College. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.
Hermance says he’d like Hudson City to expand in New York and Connecticut and spread into Boston and Washington, D.C. For now, the company operates 123 branches in the New York City region, and is enjoying a period of growth as rival lenders must retrench.

“Even in a shrinking market we’re getting a bigger piece,” Hermance said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Linda Shen in New York at

Last Updated: August 5, 2008 10:23 EDT