Albany

Monroe County Clerk: DMV To Issue Refunds To Vets

Veterans who received a special distinction on their license or non-driver’s identification card are eligible for a $12.50 refund, Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo announced on Friday.

Dinolfo, the president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, had pushed the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue the reimbursements to veterans who sought the special distinction on their state-issued cards.

“Veterans across New York State have earned the right to proudly display their service and status on their drivers’ licenses and non-driver identification cards at no additional cost. The refund of the State imposed fee is the right decision,” Dinolfo said in a statement. “I am proud that County Clerks throughout New York State worked together and I thank the State Legislature for passing and Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law.”

The reimbursement plan was approved at the end of the legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. The measure applies to any veteran who paid the fee for the distinctive mark after October 2012.

A previous measure approved last year suspended the fee for veterans to receive the special mark on identification cards or driver’s licenses.

Another $27K Spent For Moreland Commission Expenses

morelandThough shuttered for more than a year now, the legal bills for the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption continue to be come due.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Tuesday announce an additional $27,000 for the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman was approved. The law firm was retained by the Assembly to represent the chamber before the panel, which was convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013 to investigate corruption in state government.

A spokeswoman for DiNapoli’s office confirmed the payment was for expenses related to the defunct commission.

The panel was closed in April 2014 following an agreement in the state budget for new ethics and anti-corruption measures. The circumstances of the Moreland Commission’s closure, as well as the information generated by the panel, are now part of a review by the U.S. attorney’s office. More >

DOCCS Names New Superintendent At Troubled Fishkill Correctional

prisonThe Department of Corrections and Community Sueprvision on Tuesday named a new superintendent at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, a state prison in Dutchess County that’s under scrutiny following the death of an inmate that has been ruled a homicide allegedly by guards.

Robert Cunningham will take charge of the facility after leading the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County where he has been superintendent since July 2010.

Cunningham will replace William Connolly as superintendent following his resignation earlier this month.

Cunningham is expected to review “all safety concerns” at the prison as he takes on the new role.

“This review will include discussions with the New York State Correctional Officer and Police Benevolent Association and the Inmate Liaison Committee, which routinely meets with members of the facility’s Executive Team to present inmates’ concerns,” DOCCS said in a statement.

More >

Paterson’s Origin Story

From the Morning Memo:

Compliments of Caribbean News Now! comes a curious story about former Gov. David Paterson’s ancestry.

Apparently, the former governor made a recent trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad, flown in by the opposition People’s National Movement to attend a political rally. While on stage, Paterson justified his presence by saying that not only is New York home to the largest population of Trinidadians outside “T &T” as it’s known, but his family was originally from the area.

However, in a 2008 “New York Now” interview, Paterson said he traced his ancestry back to pre-Civil War African-American slaves in North and South Carolina on his mother’s side. His father was Afro-Jamaican, with roots in Carriacou, the largest island in the Grenada Grenadines.

A DNA test of the former governor’s blood, which was the focus of the extended TV interview with then-host Susan Arbetter, revealed that Paterson had white relatives on his father’s side from Scotland, Ireland and England. The test also found that at least one of the former governor’s progenitors was Jewish.

Also appearing at the PNM rally with Paterson was former Rep. Ed Towns, of Brooklyn.

Foreclosures Continue At High Rate, Report Finds

dinapoli1The aftershocks of the economic recession that officially ended five years ago continue in New York with a high rate of foreclosures, a report issued by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Monday found.

“The foreclosure crisis is far from resolved, and there are still too many people losing their homes,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “In many places the situation has continued to get worse. Foreclosed properties displace families and weigh heavily on local communities, reducing property values and eroding tax bases. We must continue efforts to help homeowners and stem the spread of foreclosure-induced blight.”

Foreclosures dipped somewhat last year, but continue at rates higher than pre-recession levels.

Between 2006 and 2009, foreclosure files jumped by more than 20,000 cases, from 26,706 to 47,664 — a 78 percent hike. More >

Good-Government Groups: Told You So

moneyFrom the Morning Memo:

For good-government advocates who have pushed for a statewide system of publicly financed campaigns, a report from the Board of Elections on last year’s comptroller race test case only confirmed their deepest concern.

The system, quite simply, was too small to succeed.

“The finding of the report is what critics of the deal had said a year or so ago,” said NYPIRG’s Blair Horner. “It was doomed to fail and that’s what the report basically says.” More >

A Tale of Two Outbreak Outlooks

zuckerFrom the Morning Memo:

The de Blasio administration has repeatedly sought to quell fears in NYC – especially the South Bronx – about Legionnaires disease, insisting the recent outbreak in the borough has been contained.

But the Cuomo administration, through it is now working with the mayor’s office to craft legislation to address water cooling towers – the main culprit in this outbreak, is not putting quite as positive a spin on the situation.

Speaking to NY1’s Zack Fink yesterday, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker declined to say definitively that the outbreak has indeed been contained, with the worst of this situation behind us, though he did acknowledge there haven’t been any new cases diagnosed in recent days. More >

Gillibrand: No Plans For President Or Governor

gillibrandFrom the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in an interview on NY1 Tuesday said she is sticking around in the Senate for now.

Gillibrand insisted in an interview on Inside City Hall her ambitious do not include running for president or governor here in New York.

“I don’t aspire to it,” she said of running for president. “I feel grateful I get to serve in the Senate.”

Still, Gillibrand has built a national profile in recent years, working on top-tier issues such as combating sexual assault in the military and allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly. More >

Emergency Regulations Expand Synthetic Pot Ban

marijuanaNew York state on Thursday moved to expand a prohibition on so-called synthetic marijuana that adds a new chemical compound that has been found to be selling in retail locations.

“These new regulations strengthen our ability to fight back against the individuals who are producing and selling these dangerous substances by expanding the list of banned chemical compounds,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement.

State officials moved to expand the ban after seeing an increase in hospital visits and calls to poison centers that were related to the drugs. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said there have been more than 2,300 emergency room visits related to synthetic compounds between June and the start of August. More >

State Leaders Agree: No Need For A Special Session

skelosFrom the Morning Memo:

Despite the string of arrests doing little to help Albany’s reputation for corruption, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the new state legislative leaders acknowledge there is little they can do to stem the arrests by passing new ethics and anti-corruption laws.

“The point is, is there any reason to believe there would be a different outcome?” Cuomo said.

The first six months of the year in Albany was marred by a seemingly unprecedented parade of arrests that saw the indictments of the speaker of the Assembly and majority leader of the state Senate, both of whom were forced to step down from their posts as they fight their corruption charges. More >