Officer Is Killed in Brooklyn

Updated 2:05 p.m. | A New York City police officer was killed early Sunday morning on a quiet street in Brooklyn when he tried to arrest a man reported to have threatened his former girlfriend and was pushed over the front steps of a brownstone, breaking his neck in the fall.

Police officials said the officer, Alain Schaberger, 42, a 10-year veteran of the force, tumbled 9 feet to the basement well of the brownstone, landing on his head, and died shortly afterward at Lutheran Medical Center. Police officials identified the suspect as George Villanueva, 42, and said he had been the subject of about a dozen reports of domestic violence by the former girlfriend, who is 48 years old but was not further identified. Mr. Villanueva was last arrested Feb. 4 for violating an order of protection obtained by the woman.

Officer Schaberger, of the 84th precinct, was the first city police officer to die in the line of duty in almost two years. The last was Omar Edwards, who was mistakenly shot by another police officer on May 28, 2009, while trying to apprehend a suspect who had broken into his car.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, at a press conference at the hospital, said police received a 911 call at 4:22 AM from the woman at her home at 334 Bergen Street in Boerum Hill.

“He’s across the street and he’s going to kill me,” the woman told police.

Officer Schaberger and a second officer responded to the call and then brought the woman to a nearby brownstone at 45 St. Marks Place, where Mr. Villaneuva and his father live. The officers found Mr. Villanueva in his apartment and escorted him down the stairs. As they emerged from the front door, the woman got out of the police car and shouted, “That’s him!”

A struggle ensued and as the officers were trying to either handcuff him or subdue him with a Taser jolt — there were different reports — Mr. Villanueva shoved Officer Schaberger over the railing of the brownstone steps, according to the police. The brownstone has a stoop of four steps but there is another set stairs leading to a basement entrance.

“We have witnesses that say he was pushed with two hands from the steps over the railing,” Mr. Kelly said. “He falls and gashes the left side of his head and breaks his neck.”

The other officer, who was not identified, subdued Mr. Villanueva with a jolt of a Taser, police said. Officer Schaberger, his heart still pulsing, was taken by ambulance to the hospital but was pronounced dead there.

“What appears to be a routine assignment can become deadly very quickly,” Mr. Kelly said. “You don’t know what kind of physical situation you’re going to encounter.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who was at the press conference, said: “We had a police officer answering a domestic violence complaint, was pushed off a step, fell nine feet, hit his head and unfortunately died. It’s a dangerous job, our first responders.”

He pointed out that domestic violence complaints had declined in recent years. Police officials said the decline was 25 percent since 2002 and credited a program that requires officers to make follow-up visits to victims. The woman in the Sunday incident had received a follow-up visit Feb. 9, police officials said.

Officer Schaberger had graduated from the Police Academy July 2001. He had served in the Navy from 1991 to 1995. He was single and lived in Westchester.

One neighbor, Sabine Aronowsky, a 40-year-old student at Baruch College, said she was awoken by the commotion around 5 A.M., looked out her window and saw several police officers still trying to push Mr. Villanueva into the police car.

“They handled themselves very professionally,” she said.

Mr. Villanueva’s uncle, Ely Figueroa, 62, said he, Mr. Villaneuva’s father, Luis, and Mr. Villanueva had spent Saturday night watching boxing matches and sharing three cases of beer. He estimated that Mr. Villanueva had downed either six or nine beers, but said he did not appear drunk.

“He never said anything about being mad or wanting to hurt anybody,” Mr. Figueroa said. “He’s not a violent man.”

Mr. Figueroa said his nephew had not worked in recent months and “stayed around the house.” After several arrests, the uncle said, “he wanted to get straightened up.”

In the last six months alone, according to a law enforcement official, Mr,. Villanueva has been arrested at least three times on charges of domestic violence. On Nov. 3, he was arrested on a charge of punching his girlfriend in the face and head. On Dec. 7, he was accused of punching her so severely in that she required 10 stitches. On Feb. 4, he was arrested for a Jan. 18 incident in which he had been accused of punching her at a party. The girlfirend, whose name is being withheld, has two orders of protection, one valid through May 27, and the other through June 24, the official said.

Mr. Villanueva’s criminal record also includes robberies and burglaries, and was released from prison in 2005, the police said.

Jose Feliciano, 49, who lives at the Bergen Street building where the fight began, said that a woman who matched the description of Mr. Villanueva’s girlfriend had said that her boyfriend had hit her and that she recently had a lip stitched up.

“He’s a tough guy,” Mr. Feliciano said. His picture had been posted near the entrance of the building, he said. But she continued to date him.

“She tells me he beats on her,” and that she had him arrested before. But “she is in love with him.”

Al Baker, Joe Goldstein, Tim Stelloh and Karen Zraick contributed reporting.

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Urban Forager | Maple-Sugaring on Staten Island

Some may think maple-syrup-making can only happen in Vermont or Canada. But if last year’s little experiment sugaring in Brooklyn proved anything, it was that fine maple syrup could be made in New York City as well. I recently located a healthy sugar maple in the Stapleton section of Staten Island, and although it was already a little late in the season, I set up shop, hoping for a good run. Temperatures have to be just right for quality sap flow: more than 40 degrees in the daytime, dipping to freezing at night.

The sugar maple was in the back of my friends’ property, halfway up a hilly incline, and tapping it would require lugged boots and steady legs. Although I had spiles (something like spigots) with hooks from Vermont — and thoughts of using them to hang my bucket directly from the tree the old-fashioned way — my “Little House” dreams were dashed by the realities of urban tapping: a chain link fence. My tapping partner and I resorted to the tried-and-true do-it-yourself approach, involving steel pipes and PVC tubing from the local hardware store.

When I first began researching tree-tapping, I was concerned about harming the tree. I contacted Peter Smallidge, at Cornell University’s Sugar Maple Program, who informed me that it was perfectly safe as long as the sugar maple was mature and healthy — at least 10 inches in diameter with “big leafy crowns” — and the proper amount of taps were used, with the correct equipment (aluminum or steel pipes, no copper). After all, Native Americans, who referred to this time of year as “sugar month” or “maple moon,” used tomahawks to extract sap.

Our friends’ tree was a tall, twisted beauty that produces lush, dense leaves in the spring. With a 27-inch-diameter trunk, the tree could have taken three taps, but, just to be conservative, we decided on two. (According to the Cornell Sugar Maple Program, trees 10 to 17 inches in diameter can take one tap, 18 to 24 inches can take two, and larger than 25 inches can withstand three taps.)

It’s best to drill slightly upwards, so gravity can aid sap flow, and only about one to one-and-a-half inches into the tree. After choosing a good spot — over a large root about four feet high — we went to work. The industry standard is to use three-eighths-inch drill bits with three-eighths-inch pipes, but we opted to use smaller quarter-inch micro-spouts (just to be kinder to our sugar maple). [Note: I’ve read that it’s best to choose south-facing tap-points early in the season, while north-facing taps work best later, like now, but we only had east-facing access.]

We started drilling, and in a few seconds the sap began to flow down the tree in large, wet drips. Grabbing a quarter-inch steel pipe, I inserted it with a few light taps of a hammer until it was about an inch deep. While the sugary water began dripping down my fingers, I attached PVC tubing to the pipe, and directed the sap into a grounded bucket. We repeated the process with the second tap about a foot away. In a few moments, we had some lovely, sweet-smelling sap dripping into the bottom of our container.

Generally it takes about 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup; that’s a lot of boiling in a city kitchen (remember to open your windows). How much sap the maple yields really depends on the individual tree and the time of year. In a few days or so, weather permitting, we should be able to determine whether the Stapleton sugar maple is a significant producer, and test out just how sweet the sap is. I’m getting my pans and jars ready.

Equipment for Tapping:

– two 3/8” diameter or smaller pipes, 3” in length (aluminum or steel nipples only; avoid copper as it will harm the tree) for taps/spiles

– 3/8” drill bit

– ¾” diameter PVC tubing long enough to extend to grounded bucket

– hammer

– two 3-5 gallon galvanized steel buckets with tops, or aluminum foil to cover

– 5-gallon (or smaller) container for transporting sap from tree to your apartment

Ava Chin, the Urban Forager, is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at the College of Staten Island.

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Regulating Network Access With A Con Server

Businesses and organizations that need to regulate who can access its networking systems may consider using a con server. This one piece of equipment not only controls access but also performs a number of other functions such as record keeping, upgrading, troubleshooting and self monitoring of equipment and operations. It also eliminates the need for a full IT department while monitoring all computer systems around the clock. Furthermore, employees get access to the portion of the records and data they need to perform their jobs efficiently.

The server also has many other benefits such as keeping track of the serial traffic of every computer connected to the system. This creates a log that administrators can review in the case of a crash or other problem and find out which component of the system has failed. In addition, information is retrievable and saved. The system can continue to operate while the administrator executes troubleshooting functions. There is also no interruption in operations when upgrades are administered. Secretaries may still access customer information, salespeople may still review orders and managers may still review reports for budgets, expenses and sales.

However, should a problem arise, the con server will send an authorized email alert to the administrator or other authorized personnel. If the problem has not been identified before it has the chance to manifest, the administrator can fix it from a remote location if necessary. This saves the company the time and cost of using an onsite IT professional that will have to travel to the site, find the problem after getting into the system and fixing it or applying a patch.

Security may be a primary concern with many businesses with the potential of losing or having sensitive data stolen. However, these servers are typically protected with encrypted access via HTTP and SSL. There are also other ways to access the server in the event that the Internet is down, most often with a dial in connection. In either case, access must be authenticated with a password, so an unauthorized person cannot get access to any part of the system he or she should not access. Still, the interface is user-friendly enough for all levels of users.

A con server is especially good for those businesses that have expanded outside of a small in house operation. As a company expands, it will find its needs to remain connected to other entities such as agencies, branch offices, distant locations or suppliers that keep it running efficiently increased. The company will find that the server saves time and money by reducing downtime and any potential frustrations that can come with clients and employees dealing with a faulty system. At its best, a server can prevent many problems before they arise.

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Plan ahead before you go contracting.

Some people see the lifestyle that contractors lead, the freedom, the perks and not to mention the pay and think why don’t I give it a go too. It can be a great lifestyle, but need to plan properly to make it work. Remember that you are giving up security and regular pay cheques for a more uncertain life. Plus you have to pick up the responsibilities for your own tax affairs. So it’s all high pay and easy living. It’s takes drive, commitment and organisation to make it work.

If you decided to take the plunge, then good for you. It’s never too early to look into accounting services. After all the last thing you want to do is leave everything until the end of the tax year and have the HMRC on your back. A contractor accountant is a great partner to have. You have so much on your plate as it is, so any additional resource or partner to share the load is most welcome.

The benefits of a good contractor accountant are two fold. Firstly it saves you time having to organise your own tax affairs. Any one who has every done this will tell you it can take loads of time to comb through invoices and receipts to get your affairs in order. Secondly, not being a tax specialist yourself you won’t know the ins and outs of everything you can and can’t claim for. An inaccurate return means you might pay over the odds or incur a fine for not submitting legitimate expenses. By using a specialist provider of accounting services you can get you return sorted in a timely, accurate and orderly fashion. Which, once you start contracting, you will realise is a real blessing. So good luck as a freelancer and make sure you plan, plan and plan some more to make a success of it.

The Article is written by providing Contractor Limited Company and Contractor Tax Services.Visit for more information on Products & Services___________________________Copyright information This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety, including live links & this copyright statement must be included. Visit for more services!

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Odds Poor Use of Constitution Will limit Government

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are on the right track in wanting to link spending and regulation to Constitutional authority. It may take a Constitutional amendment to make their desired changes stick, however.

Our country’s Founders limited the scope of the federal government to the Departments of War and State for security, the Attorney General to maintain the Rule of Law, the Treasury Department for funding, and the Post Office. As such the federal budget stayed steady at 2-percent of the Gross Domestic Product (the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in any given year) from the time of George Washington’s first budget to about 1916. At that rate our budget today would be about $300 billion, instead it is $3,800 billion. The funding for the departments in the original constitution alone is now $1,300 billion.

What changed? Well, the Constitution and its’ interpretation.

The first Progressives passed the sixteenth amendment in 1913 instituting the federal income tax. Before that, revenue had been severely constrained with tariffs as the only significant source. Progressives further unbound spending and regulatory limits with Supreme Court findings that just about anything Congress wanted to do could be justified by the Interstate Commerce or General Welfare clauses of the Constitution. Broad interpretation of the Supremacy clause cemented federal power over the states. Unlimited federal power combined with unlimited federal taxing and borrowing power has led to unlimited debt and overbearing regulation.

These findings are far afield from original intent. James Madison, often called the father of the Constitution, in reference to a bill authorizing spending for roads and canals famously said, “The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers”. He vetoed the bill. Madison also said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” As Dr. Walter E. Williams of George Mason University recently penned, “Was Madison just plain constitutionally ignorant or has the Constitution been amended to permit such spending?” The obvious answer is no to both questions as these issues were left to each state to decide.

There are whole federal departments whose existence rests on those liberal interpretations of the Constitution. Frequently mentioned are the Departments of Energy, Education, Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration. Serious budget cutting will necessarily entail closing departments and re-defining the purpose of government. While any Congress has the power to close departments, any Congress has the power to re-instate them after the next election.

Where would this country be had it stayed with the original intent of the Constitution? With a lot less debt and a Congress that had to debate and vote on new regulations, rather than having federal departments write regulations that become law without a single elected official having to see them at all.

Congressional Republicans are stressing the Constitution, and they should be, however, A Constitutional amendment overruling these broad Supreme Court findings with narrow definitions of federal power may be the only long term solution to federal government over reaching. Congress will need 38 state governments to agree.

David T. Stevenson and Daniel G. Anderson
Caesar Rodney Institute

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