Archive for June, 2012
Jun 14th - 2:19 pm
Sen. Tom Libous introduced a bill today aimed at preventing those on public assistance from using welfare to purchase cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets or casino gambling.
The bill would also prevent welfare recipients from using Electronic Benefit Transfer cards from making ATM withdrawals in certain places, such as liquor stores, casinos or strip clubs.
“Public assistance is designed to help needy families provide for their children until they can transition back to the workforce and become self-sufficient,” Libous said. “This common-sense legislation would protect hardworking taxpayers from abuse while ensuring that individuals receiving welfare benefits continue to get the temporary assistance they need and deserve.”
Senate Republicans say the measure is designed put New York in compliance with a federal law approved by President Obama earlier this year.
The law requires states by February 2014 to place limits on where EBT cards can be used. Failure to comply means the state will forfeit $120 million in federal TANF money.
There’s no Assembly measure for now, and given that there’s only four session days left (not counting today) it’s highly unlikely to be approved this month.
Jun 14th - 1:51 pm
The state Republican Party released a lengthy statement this afternoon slamming President Obama for his endless stream of fundraisers held in New York City and toss out some slightly moldy pop-culture references to The Devil Wears Prada and Sex And The City.
In a press release headlined “Carrie Bradshaw May Be Doing Fine, But New Yorkers Know The Obama Economy Is Not In Vogue” the guffaws are free-flowing.
“Late last week, as unemployment rose to 8.2%, Campaigner-in-Chief Barack Obama told us, ‘the private sector is doing fine.’ While Carrie Bradshaw may be ‘doing fine,’ New Yorkers know the failed economic policies of Barack Obama are not in vogue,” said Chairman Ed Cox. “Tonight, as the President hobnobs with Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour at an $80,000 plate fundraiser, 23 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work all together – reminding everyone how out of touch President Obama truly is.”
OK, I get it. But couldn’t they have made a nod to the SJP classic “Hocus Pocus” or at least made note that Matthew “Ferris Bueller” Broderick will also be in attendance for one of those fundraisers?
And, to be fair, Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney has been attending just as many, if not more, fundraisers in New York over the last month. In fact, Romney outraised Obama in May, a story that has, along with some poorly time gaffes, led to some Democratic nail-biting.
Jun 14th - 1:33 pm
Fresh off his I-STOP victory, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pushing a measure that would prohibit the use of “robosigning” of mortgages, a move that his office says will cut down on home-lending fraud.
The measure, known as the Foreclosure Fraud Prevention Act, would also impose criminal penalties that include jail time for those who engage in fraudulent borrowing. The bill also takes aim at managers who knowingly trolerate fraud within their company.
“For many middle class New Yorkers, their life savings is in their home. To take away people’s homes under fraudulent circumstances is a crime deserving of jail time,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “By treating foreclosure fraud as the serious crime that it is, we can deter future abuse and spare untold numbers of families the trauma of wrongful foreclosure. This legislation will ensure that employees involved in these fraudulent and abusive practices, and their supervisors who allow the misconduct to continue, will be held accountable for their crimes.”
Schneiderman has made mortgage and home ownership issues the signature issue of his first term as attorney general. After pushing for a better deal from major bank lenders as part of a nationwide settlement, Schneiderman was initially booted from a panel of state attorneys general. President Obama would later name him to lead a mortgage-fraud investigation panel after incorporating some of the attorney general’s concerns.
Earlier this year, Schneiderman secured $130 million and $15 million for New York from a national mortgage settlements.
Jun 14th - 12:37 pm
Congressman Chris Gibson raised more than $200k during the second quarter of this year, bringing his total cash on hand to more than a million dollars.
It’s a fairly substantial war chest for the incumbent Republican who saw his district change dramatically – it only retained about 44% of the population from his old district.
Gibson’s likely challenger, Kingston Lawyer Julian Schreibman has yet to file his campaign fundraising figures. Schreibman’s Democratic challenger, Ulster County Legislator Joel Tyner reported less than $9k cash on hand yesterday.
Jun 14th - 11:45 am
Democratic Congressional candidate Hakeem Jeffries reported raising $252.659 during the two-month reporting period, a figure that his campaign says is his “strongest fundraising period” so far.
“I am honored and humbled to have the support of hundreds of additional donors over these last two months,” said Jeffries. “Many have contributed $5 or less to support our campaign. We have talked to residents in every corner of the district to intimately understand the challenges facing neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. With the strong support and commitment of so many people, we will be able to effectively communicate our progressive message throughout the balance of this campaign.”
Jeffries says the latest haul reported this morning comes from 1,217 donors, with 947 of those giving $100 or less.
Jeffries, a state assemblyman, is locked in a fierce primary against Councilman Charles Barron, a rhetorical bomb-thrower who establishment types have raised increasing concerns about.
Jeffries has soaked up most of the labor endorsements in the district, but Barron received the backing of outgoing Rep. Ed Towns, a nod that some in the district say was done out of spite when the state lawmaker signaled he would challenge him in a primary.
Jun 14th - 11:34 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo would not confirm this morning whether the Department of Environmental Conservation would be moving toward letting some local governments allow the controversial natural gas extraction known as hydrofracking.
But he did tell Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show that the administration was taking a “nuanced” approach to the issue.
“The truth is nuanced and the truth is sophisticated and we’re accustomed to these blunt vehicles,” Cuomo said when asked if a New York Times story on the issue was accurate. “It’s all yes or it’s all no. The truth is very often in the middle and the truth can be subtle.”
And, in the case of local rule
Dicker pressed him to confirm or deny the story, but Cuomo wouldn’t budge.
“It’s not that simple,” the governor said. “I understand the extremes tend to run the dialogue.”
The process, which requires a mixture of sand, chemicals and water to extract underground gas reserves, is opposed by environmental groups because of its potential to harm the local water table. But hydrofracking also has the potential to stimulate the moribund upstate economy, especially in the state’s Southern Tier.
It’s a problematic issue for Cuomo, who is stuck between to different ends of the spectrum who either stridently oppose or support fracking.
Cuomo told Dicker it’s not about “threading the needle.”
“To the extent the conversation and not just the article you’re talking about, maybe there’s a subtle nuance here, of course that’s the case and I think we’ve brought that to a lot of other issues,” Cuomo said.
Asked what he though of presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s business experience, Cuomo said there was “no question” that Romney has political experience.
But indicated that conversation should be about the values of that experience.
“What are the values we are bringing to the economic discussion? I think that’s where the conversation is going to be in the campaign,” Cuomo said.
“So you don’t feel like making news on that?” Dicker said with a chuckle.
“Not especially,” Cuomo responded.
Cuomo again reiterated that he wants lawmakers to resolve differences on the Justice Center legislation, a bill he introduced that’s aimed at better reporting of abuse and neglect cases for the developmentally disabled and suggested that he would keep lawmakers in Albany if a deal hasn’t been reached.
“I don’t think in good conscience that the Legislature could end without addressing this issue,” he said.
It’s unlikely, meanwhile, that he would back a bill that would making cyber bullying a crime as some lawmakers want.
Negotiations remain underway on how much information from teacher evaluations should be disclosed to parents, though bills will have to be agreed to by Monday in order to pass by June 21. Cuomo vowed not to issue any messages of necessity.
“This weekend, Monday, we’re gonig to have to come to closure,” Cuomo said.
Jun 14th - 8:34 am
With less than two weeks remaining before the June 26 primary, the New York League of Conservation Voters has thrown its support behind Rep. Charlie Rangel as he fights for his political life in NY-13.
“With clean air, clean energy and green jobs under assault in Washington, we need strong and consistent environmental champions more than ever,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn.
“Charlie Rangel has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments and he has a strong plan for even more environmental progress to protect our families and make the transition to a clean-energy economy.”
“The environmental choice for the 13th District is clear: The New York League of Conservation Voters is proud to endorse Charlie Rangel for Congress.”
The League cited Rangel’s extensive record, which includes pushing key amendments to the Clean Air Act, two decades of support for a wind energy tax credit, and backing of stronger fuel efficiency standards.
Rangel also recently co-sponsored the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, which would require public disclosure of chemicals used in hydrofracking.
NYLCV has a history of supporting Rangel’s main primary rival, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, and even named him an “Eco Star of the Year” back in 2008 when he was still in the Assembly.
That was thanks in part to Espaillat’s support of two of Mayor Bloomberg’s key initiatives: Congestion pricing, which ended up dying at the hands of his Assembly Democratic colleagues, and construction of a marine transfer station on Manhattan’s Gansevoort Peninsula.
Espaillat’s willingness to carry the Gansevoort bill even though his district was nowhere near the site of the project at odds with his colleagues who represented the impacted area.
Despite Espaillat’s green history, however, the NYLCV eventually decided that Rangel’s “breadth and depth of commitment to the environment” merited this endorsement.
Because the primary is so close, it’s unclear how much the League will actually be able to do for the congressman in terms of fundraising, though an appeal will be sent to its members, according to a source with knowledge of the plan.
Starting this week, the NYLCV will send staff up to Harlem to work on Rangel’s campaign. A phone-banking and canvassing effort will start next week.
It’s also likely at least one mailer will be sent out by the NYLCV on Rangel’s behalf.
Jun 14th - 8:17 am
ICYMI: The debate over so-called cyberbullying – bullying via text or social media that has, in certain high-profile cases, driven some young people to take their own lives – has caused some soul-searching among legislators, some of whom have shared their own tales of torment back in their younger days.
I asked Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who has led the charge to criminalize cyberbullying, during a CapTon interview last night whether he ever experienced bullying, and if the memory of that is what’s driving his crusade.
“There was, you know, a schoolyard bully, I remember in middle school,” Klein replied. Picked on you and picked on you, and then finally you have that you’re going to meet after school.”
“…You have butterflies in your stomach all through lunch because you know the ultimate time is going to happen after school.”
“You had a fight, and you shook hands, and that was in. I remember the person. His name was John DiBenedictus. We became very good friends after that.”
“But now it’s completely different, the advent of the Internet and Facebook and everything else, which is a wonderful education tool, also can create torment, where kids are constantly taunted.”
(Apologies to Mr. DiBenedictus if I butchered the spelling of his last name).
So, did Klein win that schoolyard brawl?
Said the senator: “I think I did, but, you know, in those fights, it was usually a draw.”
A deal on combatting cyberbullying is reportedly near down at the Capitol, but it remains unclear whether the criminalization piece Klein has proposed will be included.
Jun 14th - 7:03 am
Happy Flag Day.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. In the late afternoon (somewhere between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.), he’ll join President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and NJ Gov. Chris Christie for a tour of Ground Zero.
The president, who’ll be spending the morning in Ohio – a key swing state – and first lady will then be attending two campaign events in Manhattan (one at actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s house, the other at the Plaza Hotel).
There’s nothing on Cuomo’s public schedule to indicate he will or won’t be at either one of those fundraisers.
At 1 p.m. in the LCA press room (LOB), town supervisors from upstate New York will hold a news conference to announce their support for responsible drilling for natural gas.
According to a press release, each of the participating officials comes from a municipality that has natural gas reserves and has recently approved a resolution in favor of responsible drilling.
New Yorkers Against Fracking also plan to be at the Capitol. They’ll be rallying outside Cuomo’s office at noon in light of yesterday’s NYT report that the governor plans to allow limited drilling in communities that express their support for it.
There will be anti-fracking rallies all over the state today.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous has proposed a bill that would bar welfare recipients from using their public-assistance money to buy alcohol or cigarettes or spend money on lottery tickets or in casinos.
The state is required by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to pass rules forbidding the spending of welfare cash on “sin” activities or risk losing $120 million in federal aid, Libous says.
State lawmakers spent much of Wednesday debating and passing one-house bills on everything from medical marijuana (the Assembly) to banning conjugal visits in prison (the Senate), none of which are expected to become law anytime soon.
A few deals did get done – or close to done – at the Capitol, however, including proposals to grant tax credits to beer brewers, ban commercial tanning for teens age 16 and under and combat cyberbullying.
Jun 14th - 6:25 am
Stephen Colbert panned the idea that daredevil Nik Wallenda’s historic tightrope walk across Niagara Falls tomorrow will serve as a “death-defying stimulus” plan for the beleaguered city of Niagara Falls.
Wallenda sold officials on both sides of the falls on the idea of his stunt by insisting that it would provide an economic shot in the arm for the countries at either end of his wire.
Colbert thinks the concept that people are going to see this one-day-only extravaganza and be spurred to make an investment in the city of Niagara Falls silly, though he didn’t quibble with the idea that tourists will be drawn to the area in the short term to witness Wallenda’s walk.