NYSUT President: Don’t Arm Teachers

As President Donald Trump calls for specially trained teachers to carry firearms in schools to guard against another mass shooting, the proposal is being rejected by New York’s statewide teachers union.

“The simple answer is no. Arming teachers in schools seems misguided at best,” said New York State United Teachers union President Andy Pallotta. “How would it appear? You’re teaching, in front of a classroom and you have a holster with a gun in it. How does that make it a beautiful learning environment? I can’t understand that.”

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has renewed and heightened a national debate over gun control. Some are now calling for armed guards in schools even as a sheriff’s deputy stationed at the school resigned after it was revealed he took cover and did not respond to the shots being fired.

“I think each community would have to make a decision whether they would or wouldn’t want that to be part of their school environment,” Pallotta said. “Having more security in a school, we support that. We also know it didn’t work for the students, teachers and staff in Florida.”

Providing armed resources officers in schools would likely be an expensive program. Republican state lawmakers have called for more funding to add armed office in schools, an idea Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement he opposes.

“Instead, we should be addressing the root causes of gun violence by reducing the number of guns on our streets, limiting access to these deadly weapons and increasing mental health services to ensure the kind of healthy environment that will allow kids to grow and thrive.

Supporters of gun rights in New York say there should be someone stationed at schools to protect students and teachers.

“If you really want to protect the kids, protect the kids,” said Tom King of the New York Rifle And Pistol Association. “Put some type of armed professional in the school to prevent this from happening.”

But King is not pushing for armed teachers. Instead, he wants to see bolstered security, including metal detectors.

“I’m not advocating for teachers to have guns,” he said. “I’m advocating for someone in the schools to protect the kids. If a teacher wants to train for this or go for some type of special training to prepare for this, that’s fine. But that’s not what I’m advocating for.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo meanwhile has called the proposal to arm teachers “ludicrous.” This week Cuomo announced a multi-state coalition of northeast Democratic governors to crackdown on illegal weapons flowing into their states.

“The problem is I can’t protect the people of my state with just state laws because the guns come in from over the border,” Cuomo said.

Rep. Collins Dismisses Gun Control Debate Invitation From Erie County Executive

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, D, has invited Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, to participate in a moderated televised discussion about gun control. Poloncarz said he reached out to Collins after seeing the congressman’s February 15 interview with Spectrum News about the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school.

“I’m just certainly disappointed in the Democrats who rushed to the microphone in a disgusting way, frankly, instead of having a sit-down and a conversation of what we can do, but, you know, there’s only so much we can do,” Collins said at the time.

Poloncarz said he took the congressman’s call for a sit-down to heart and a day later the two of them had a roughly 20 minute conversation about the issue. He said as part of that conversation, he asked Collins if he’d be willing to take part in a moderated conversation so the general public could view it.

The Republican has been steadfast that he has no interest in holding a town hall style forum because he said opponents tend to shout and grandstand and those types of forums are not productive. Poloncarz said that while Collins was non-committal to this alternative, he took his response as a maybe.

The county executive reached out to the Western New York public broadcasting station, WNED, who said they would be willing to televise the discussion live.

“I sent a text message to Chris saying let’s do this. Let’s get this done. We sent the letter to his office by email and fax and I think we need to have a common sense conversation about what we can do in this country, which I believe is the passage of common sense gun laws,” Poloncarz said.

Collins’ office quickly dismissed the challenge and accused the county executive of doing exactly what he was upset with in the first place, politicizing the Parkland tragedy.

“It’s comical that Mark Poloncarz – who doesn’t actually have the courage of his convictions to run for federal office –  now wants to be a surrogate attack dog and exploit the Parkland tragedy for his own political gain.  We’re happy to have our own surrogate and co-equal member of county government, County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, educate Mark on the national democrat party’s failure to deliver gun control reform when they had full control of federal government in 2009.  Perhaps they’ll even invite Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who gleefully accepted the NRA’s endorsement in her failed run for federal office.  We look forward to Mark and Stefan’s town hall,” campaign spokesperson Chris Grant said.

Poloncarz, indeed, is not running for Collins’ congressional seat, despite some community efforts to draft him. He said that is proof that this is not an election year stunt.

Currently two Democratic candidates are vying for the 27th District and Poloncarz said he doesn’t think a debate would have an effect on the race.

“We are both leaders in the community and can have a frank, non-vitriolic discussion of the topic. I do not believe this will hurt or help his opponent, only reveal who the leaders are in our community,” he said.

Current Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray is the endorsed Democrat and favorite to challenge Collins this fall. He said he loved Poloncarz’s challenge to Collins and on Twitter he did the same.

“I challenge you to a debate on firearms. If you think I’m wrong, say it to my face, show the world how silly I am,” he wrote. “You can bring your gun if it will make you feel safe. Because I bet I could beat you on the range too. And at arm wrestling. And at Scrabble.”

Cuomo Pushes Congress To Act On SNAP

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Friday urged Congress to bolster funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks stricter eligibility requirements.

The president’s budget proposal also seeks to turn the program into a “Harvest Box” that would set aside non-perishable, less expensive food like canned goods, peanut butter and “shelf stable” milk.

“The Trump Administration’s Harvest Box proposal makes their priorities crystal clear by slashing critical assistance to families in need to fund tax cuts for corporations,” Cuomo said. “This is an unnecessary change to an effective, important program and I urge Congress to reverse this effort to take food away from New York’s hungry families.”

A presidential budget proposal is generally considered a blueprint document and is never enacted by Congress as its proposed.

SNAP as it’s known provides safety net support for more than 2.8 million people in New York or 1.6 million households. The Cuomo administration estimates that under the proposal 2.3 million residents in the state would seek their monthly assistance for food reduced.

Faso Says He’d Back Increasing Age For Gun Purchases

Republican Rep. John Faso in a radio interview on Friday said he would support legislation that would increase the age to purchase a firearm to 21 in the wake of a high school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people.

At the same time, Faso said in the interview on “Focus On The State Capitol” with Fred Dicker that he would support bolstering background checks and “hardening” schools to provide more security.

“Nothing here is perfect, but I do think given the emotional immaturity of many young men in particular at that point in their lives, 18, 19, 20, that that is a reasonable response to this,” Faso said. “I think we should make sure whatever we do is done with careful deliberation so that we understand the rights and liberties of individuals with public safety.”

It is illegal to sell a handgun to someone under the age of 21, but those over age 18 can purchase shotguns and rifles. The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool is 19.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, backed a proposal on Friday to increase the age of firearm purchases to 21 as well as school security measures and increased safeguards on background checks to bar mentally ill people from buying a gun.

Raising the age of firearm purchases is not a guarantee as some gun-rights supporters would raise questions over whether it’s fair to do so given the minimum age to serve in the military is 18. Republicans, who control the White House and both houses of Congress, have been traditionally opposed to gun control legislation.

Nevertheless, the outcry after the Florida shooting has pushed some GOP lawmakers to be open to new legislation. Faso, a freshman elected in 2016, is seeking re-election in the competitive 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

In the interview, Faso was skeptical outright bans on certain weapons would not work.

“There was already a ban on so-called assault weapons,” he said. “It was tried and was shown to not have been effective.”

NY Dems Fundraise Off Tenney’s Comment

tenneydemsRep. Claudia Tenney’s controversial remark about mass murderers has turned into a fundraising pitch for New York Democrats.

The state Democratic Committee on Friday released a fundraising email slamming the Republican lawmaker’s unsubstantiated claim that mass murderers in “many cases” turn out to be Democrats.

“Just days after the tragic Florida high school shooting, where over 30 people were killed or wounded, Tenney showed she is nothing but a puppet of the far right-wing, conjuring up crack pot conspiracy theories,” the email states, asking supporters to donate as little as $2.

Tenney on Thursday in her district declined to answer questions about the remark, which came in a radio interview with Fred Dicker earlier this week.

“It’s interesting that so many of the people who end up committing mass murders end up being Democrats,” she said during a discussion about a push for gun control following a shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people. “But the media doesn’t want to talk about that, either.”

Tenney in a statement suggested her comment was being taken out of context, insisting she was talking about the issues surrounding urban gun crimes.

NY-21 Race Shrinks After Ratigan’s Announcement

From the Morning Memo:

The crowded field of declared candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the 21st congressional district shrank in the last two days after the formal entrance of former cable news Dylan Ratigan.

On Thursday, Tanya Boone ended her bid for the sprawling North Country a seat.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of community support and am grateful to everyone who has joined me. I look forward to supporting someone that shares our values and commitment to help rural communities to win this seat,” Boone said in a statement.

“I am committed to staying in Granville and spending more time with my husband and son, parents and brothers, and to continue renovating my great great grandfather’s house.”

Later in the day, another Democrat, Sara Idleman, also announced she would leave the race and endorse Tedra Cobb.

The district has been considered a battleground race for Republican incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is seeking a third term. But the House seat has not been on the radar of national efforts to flip the seat to the Democratic column like those to the south, including the districts represented by Republican freshman Claudia Tenney and John Faso.

The Faso seat, too, has drawn immense interest from Democrats, attracting a field nearly as large as the primary for the 21st district. Democrat Anthony Brindisi has virtually a clear path to the nomination to take on Tenney in the fall.

The 21st district remains a conservative one, even as Democrats have been successful there in the past with Rep. Bill Owens after his victory in a bruising special election to replace Republican John McHugh.

Ratigan’s entrance into the race brings a combination of celebrity and money to the race for Democrats that could push into the top tier of campaigns to watch in the 2018 cycle.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events scheduled.

NYC First Lady McCray will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in a series of events related to the Power Rising Summit: Building an Agenda for Black Women.

President Donald Trump

At 8:15 a.m., the New York Law School hosts the 149th CityLaw Breakfast featuring NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, New York Law School, 185 W. Broadway, Events Center, second floor, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m. , the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce honors former Gov. David Paterson at its Black History Awards Breakfast, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42nd St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul highlights the Cuomo administration’s women’s agenda at the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum, SUNY New Paltz, Student Union Multi-Purpose Room, 1 Hawk Dr., New Paltz.

At 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Sen. Brian Benjamin and Republican state Senate candidate Julie Killian, WCNY.

Also at 11 a.m. – Rep. Nita Lowey, local law enforcement and students a hold roundtable discussion on gun violence and prevention, White Plains Public Library, 100 Martine Ave, second floor meeting room, White Plains.

At noon, Hochul and Assemblyman David Weprin address congregants, Jamaica Muslim Center, 85-37 168th St., Queens.

Also at noon, Community Access and advocates gather to mourn the death of those lost to fatal emotionally disturbed person encounters with the NYPD and call for meaningful change, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., McCray participates in a panel discussion, Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, 210 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA.

At 6 p.m., state Sen. José M. Serrano, Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and New York City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson host their African American History and Culture Celebration, Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Assemblymen Marcos Crespo, Luis Sepulveda and Victor Pichardo host the annual African-American Embrace Abrazo Afro-Americano celebration in recognition of the Black History Month, Maestro’s Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., Bronx.

Headlines…

The armed officer on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, officials announced.

The deputy knew the teen shooter, Nikolas Cruz, shared Instagram posts about shooting up a school back in 2016.

The deputy also “believed he did a good job” because he called in the location of the massacre and gave a description of Cruz’s location, a top union official said.

President Donald Trump called a CNN forum for survivors of last week’s mass shooting “Fake News” in an angry tweet last night.

The head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland and called out a number of Democrats by name – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo – for their “socialist,” anti-gun agendas.

LaPierre blasted “opportunists” he said are trying to “exploit tragedy for political gain,” adding: “What they want is more restrictions on the law-abiding. They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security.”

In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Cuomo urged the national Democratic Party to go all in on real gun control solutions – universal background checks, banning assault weapons and extended magazines, etc. – that can actually have a real impact.

Cuomo entered into a multi-state agreement with three other states in an effort to increase gun control, which will ultimately create a database to share information with Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns believes the pact might be too good to be true, because New York still hasn’t worked out all the kinks in its own gun control law, the SAFE Act.

Trump’s plan — coming from the NRA’s talking points – to “harden” schools and arm teachers received a failing grade from parents, educators, school safety experts and public officials.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called the proposal to arm teachers “the height of lunacy,” in a blistering series of Tweets yesterday afternoon.

The gun control side has developed a well-financed infrastructure that did not exist when schoolchildren were fatally shot at Sandy Hook. Within days of the Parkland shooting, one anti-gun group flooded Florida lawmakers with 2,500 calls and 1,700 emails opposing a bill allowing guns in schools.

David Hogg, a 17-year-old survivor of the Florida shooting, has received death threats amid right-wing conspiracy theories that he’s an anti-Trump “actor,” according to his mother.

Gun control is becoming a potent issue in the special election for a vacant state Senate seat in Westchester that could determine which party controls the fractured chamber.

Want an evening out in India with Donald Trump Jr.? Sorry, even if you have an extra $39,000 it’s probably too late to buy a “conversation and dinner” with the eldest son of the American president.

Even as he was managing Trump’s campaign for president, Paul Manafort lied to banks to secure millions of dollars in cash loans as part of a decade-long money laundering scheme, according to new charges unsealed by the special counsel.

KIPP, one of the country’s largest and most successful charter school chains, dismissed its co-founder, Michael Feinberg, after an investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student some two decades ago. Feinberg denies the accusation.

Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri was indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge, accused of photographing a nude or partially nude person without the person’s knowledge or consent in 2015, threatening his hold on the leadership of the state and creating chaos across Missouri’s political landscape in an election year.

New York state should have armed resource officers in every school, the state sheriff’s association said.

As NYC schools face more violent threats, principals and the NYPD have issued more emergency orders for students to stay put in classrooms and school buildings to be locked tight.

More >

Extras

Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed new charges against former Donald Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.

Trump met with various state and local officials to discuss school safety in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting last week, and blamed violent video games and movies for aggression among American youth.

The president also intensified his calls for arming highly trained teachers as part of an effort to fortify schools against shooting massacres like the one that occurred in Parkland, even as he denounced active shooter drills that try to prepare students to survive a rampage.

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre decried the “shameful politicization” of the Florida shooting during a speech at CPAC and pushed back against alleged detractors at the FBI, the media and Democrats – including Cuomo.

Local authorities were warned two and a half months prior to the massacre in a Florida high school that accused shooter Nikolas Cruz had “used a gun against people before.”

A Florida student told a local TV station that CNN gave him a scripted question to ask during the network’s town hall last night, and he decided not to participate. (The network denies this).

Republican Rep. Tom Reed said a ban on assault weapons is not the answer to preventing shooting rampages in America.

Long Island Reps. Pete King, a Republican; and Tom Suozzi, a Democrat; will rally next month with high school students to call for action to end gun violence and mass shootings.

Federal prosecutors rested their corruption case against Joe Percoco today, but first displayed a series of emails intended to show the power the former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo wielded at the highest levels of state governments.

Cuomo aide Andrew Ball, who was abruptly bumped from his preferred office in the governor’s chamber, testified today in the Percoco trial about the “rough and tumble” atmosphere.

AG Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the arrest of former NYC Council candidate Albert Alvarez for allegedly accepting straw donations and stealing thousands of dollars in public matching funds during his unsuccessful 2013 campaign.

Actor and comedian Chevy Chase chased down a pickup truck he says cut him off near the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge recently — and then got kicked to the ground.

The deputy director of the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF resigned, saying he did not want coverage of past mistakes he had made to damage the organization or other aid bodies.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is appointing a new deputy, J. Phillip Thompson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology urban planner and political scientist who worked in the mayoralty of David Dinkins.

New York City students will go through random security screenings and a refresher on how to handle violent threats after the Florida shooting, de Blasio said.

David Nocenti, former counsel to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and current executive director of the nonprofit Union Settlement, says prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims brought against government employees, as Cuomo has proposed, is probably illegal and also bad policy.

“Manifest,” a new NBC series about a missing flight, will be shooting scenes at Stewart International Airport and the production company is looking for extras.

Rob Walker, who served as chief deputy to former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, has been indicted on federal charges of obstructing justice and lying to FBI agents just weeks before the scheduled start of his former boss’ corruption trial.

New York state financial regulators say they plan to investigate claims that gay men have been denied life, disability and long-term care insurance policies after revealing they were taking HIV prevention medication.

The Democratic conference within the state Election Commissioners Association has thrown its support behind Cuomo’s push to allow early voting in New York.

Property data firm ATTOM Data Solutions has released their 2017 Year-End Report on foreclosure rates in the U.S., and though the numbers paint a pleasant picture of a twelve-year low, New York was one of seven states to show an increase — in fact its highest rate since 2006.

Cuomo Derides The Idea Of Arming Teachers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo mocked the idea of arming teachers in schools on Thursday, calling the proposal raised by President Donald Trump and others as “bizarre” and “ludicrous.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea,” Cuomo said sarcastically. “Let’s turn our schools into armed camps.”

“Now you’re a combination of teacher-police officer. I mean, it’s a ludicrous comment,” Cuomo said. “The NRA likes it because it means more guns and the NRA is in a business and the business is closed the business of selling guns. They love this arm the schools concept.”

Cuomo said he wants to see the federal government act on measures such as strengthening background checks and adding new reporting mechanisms that bar the mentally ill from obtaining firearms.

Speaking to reporters at an unrelated event in Poughkeepsie, Cuomo said he was doubtful the federal government would act on gun control in the wake of a high school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people.

Cuomo earlier in the day announced the formation of a multi-state coalition to crack down on illegal weapons that come into the state, a move he said was necessary amid congressional inaction on the issue.

“They just hope to get through the moment and hope Americans and New Yorkers have a short attention span,” Cuomo said.

The state’s sheriffs’ association has called for armed resource officers in schools to protect students and teachers, acknowledging that while expensive, the proposal could make the difference durnig an incident.

Job Growth Surges In New York City, Driving Rest Of State

Jobs in New York City have urged since the end of the recession, outpacing gains made nationally and in the rest of the state, according to a report released Thursday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

New York City’s boom is one of its largest expansions since World War II, with employment increasing by 18.9 percent between 2009 and 2017 — reaching 4.4 million jobs last year.

Overall, the city has been the key driving force behind job gains in the state, with nearly 75 percent of the increases made since the end of the last decade. Many of these jobs are in the financial and securities sector, but much of the growth has also been driven by health care, business services and tourism-related industries like restaurants.

The rest of the state is a different situation, however, especially in upstate New York. The report found the remaining jobs gains made since 2009 were largely seen in the immediate metropolitan suburban counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Orange.

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