Andrew Cuomo

State On Increased Alert Following ‘Copycat’ School Threats

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, is addressing the issue of “copycats” following the high school shooting in Florida which resulted in the deaths of 17 people this week. This morning Cuomo said there were several situations in schools including two incidents the Southern Tier in which students threatened to bring in a gun.

One involved an issue between a student from Chautauqua Lake High School and a student from Ashville BOCES. Both were taken into custody.

In the second incident, a student at Randolph Academy who threatened to use a firearm on a teacher. He was taken into custody as well.

In both situations he said the schools acted appropriately, reaching out to authorities and entering lockdown protocols.

“God forbid we have another situation actually occur in this state so we’ll see how it goes. This may be just an immediate reaction to yesterday but we’re going to watch it for the next few days,” Cuomo said. “Hopefully it simmers down.”

The governor said the state is on higher alert right now. There is increased State Police presence around schools and they’re warning administrators to be vigilant too.

Although Cuomo was hesitant to use the term “copycat,” he issued a warning to students who may be thinking about acting out. In both Southern Tier incidents the students were of high school age.

“I also want students to know this is not a joke,” he said. “Any threat, we take very seriously. Whether or not you follow up on the threat, we take it very seriously and there are serious consequences to these kinds of threats, especially in this environment.”

The governor said he was shocked this morning by the situations. He believes things can go back to normal after a few days but he won’t say anything definitively.

“One must ask what is normal in this new world,” Cuomo said. “All of these things we never saw before and we now see them with a frequency that is alarming so I’ve learned the hard way, err on the side of caution whether it’s a storm or a flood or a threat of violence and that’s what we’re doing here.”

30-Day Amendment Outlines Congestion Plan For NYC

The additions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget popped online Thursday evening, with the clearest outline yet of a proposal to create a congestion pricing system in Manhattan.

The budget amendment would hand the issue to the state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles “to jointly perform a comprehensive study and make recommendations regarding the impact on congestion in the Borough of Manhattan from the operation of commuter, intercity, charter and sightseeing buses.”

The move is meant to bolster funding for the troubled subway system in New York City, but could face stiff resistance in the Legislature, especially from lawmakers outside of Manhattan and the surrounding suburbs.

Congestion pricing has been proposed — and blocked — several times over the decades in Albany. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was stymied in his effort to create a plan, which was ultimately blocked in the state Assembly.

Senate Republicans have expressed reservations with the proposals, while Assembly Democrats say the matter is under discussion, but are yet to embrace it or completely reject the idea.

Voters in New York City are opposed to the measure and Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed a tax hike on the wealthy to make long-term fixes to transit. The mayor, however, has not completely ruled out backing a congestion pricing plan.

Under the proposal outlined in the 30-day amendments, New York City would install and operate cameras below 60th Street in Manhattan in order to better enforce “block the box” traffic laws. Meanwhile, the Fix NYC recommendations would be adopted to install uniform standards and equipment in for-hire vehicles in order to collect a surcharge on rides.

Affordable Housing Groups Concerned Over Tax Credit Deferral

From the Morning Memo:

The deferral of a tax credit meant to spur affordable housing development as proposed in the state budget plan is raising alarm among housing groups.

In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the top legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly, a coalition of organizations, including the New York Housing Conference and New York State Association for Affordable Housing are urging a reconsideration of the provision.

“The proposed tax credit deferral will lead to less private investment in affordable housing and the development of fewer affordable housing units,” the letter states. “Accordingly, we respectfully urge you to reject the tax credit deferral proposal during budget negotiations and in the 2018-19 enacted state budget.”

The letters that deferring the credits would have an immediate impact on current projects in development as well those being planned. One developer estimates that it could decrease private funds by 10 percent or more. And it would lead to $500,000 in the loss of private funding for these projects.

This in turn would set off a scramble to find additional funding.

“Notably, the value of tax credits nationally were already declining due to the recent tax liability changes pursuant to the Federal tax law,” the letter states. “The proposed tax credit deferral would exacerbate that devaluation even further, since investors would not be able to use New York’s tax credits for three years, thereby making them a less attractive investment. Investors will reasonably invest in tax credits from other states that can be used or refunded in the ensuing tax year.”

Cuomo Says Nation Should Follow NY On SAFE Act

The rest of the country should take up legislation similar to the SAFE Act gun control measure approved in 2013 in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement said Thursday following of the deadliest mass shootings at a school since Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

“In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, New York did more than send our thoughts and prayers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We stepped up to pass the strongest gun safety legislation in the nation. The SAFE Act didn’t affect sportsmen, hunters or legal gun owners—but it reduced the risk to our children, to our families and to our communities. It banned assault weapons like AR-15s and kept guns out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill people. It’s far past time that the rest of the nation follows suit.”

The SAFE Act, a package of gun control provisions was passed in the Legislature about a month after the elementary school shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 students. The shooting in Florida killed 17 people on Wednesday.

The measure proved controversial for the governor’s popularity, especially among upstate voters and Second Amendment supporters.

Cuomo has previously urged Democrats in Congress to take a more truculent stance on the issue of gun control.

“How many more children must die before this nation acts?” Cuomo said. “How many more times must we grieve before politicians put the safety of their communities before the financial contributions of special interest groups?”

Cuomo Wants To Ban ‘Gay Panic’ And ‘Trans Panic’ Defenses

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to ban defenses in New York that are used to justify hate crimes against gay and transgender people, inserting the provisions into 30-day amendments due to be released on Thursday.

“As the federal government attempts to roll back progress we have made, this administration will continue to stand up for the LGBTQ community and ensure the civil rights of all New Yorkers remain protected,” Cuomo said. “With this action, New York will uphold our continued commitment to deliver equal rights, forbid discrimination of any kind, and remain true to the principles this state and nation were founded upon – fairness and justice for all.”

The measure would end “gay panic” and “tans panic” defenses based on a defense theory of a provocation, diminished capacity because of insanity due to knowledge or disclosure of sexual orientation or a theory of self-defense due to the discovery, knowledge or disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation or gender idnetity.

“There is never an excuse for violence and discrimination, especially with defenses as ridiculous and outdated as gay and trans panic,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “New Yorkers proudly stand with our LGBTQ community, and we will not tolerate the blatant hatred that is at the root of this alleged defense. I’m proud to be a member of an Administration that always has and always will fight for equal protections for everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

Q-Poll: Cuomo Falling Short On Mass Transit

Forty-nine percent of voters in New York disapproved of how Gov. Andrew Cuomo is handling mass transit in the state, while a plurality also disapproved of a proposed congestion pricing plan that is aimed at raising money for trains and buses in New York City, according to a Quinnipiac University poll on Thursday.

The poll found 62 percent of New York City voters disapprove of Cuomo’s handling of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with 32 percent approving. Among suburban voters, 54 percent also disapprove of the job Cuomo is doing with the MTA, the poll found.

Cuomo’s push for congestion pricing, which would create a toll structure in Manhattan to reduce traffic and bolster MTA finances, is opposed by a majority of New York City voters, 54 percent to 42 percent. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has not completely embraced the plan and has proposed a tax hike on the rich to help transit, which is likely dead on arrival in Albany.

“The consensus is someone has to pay the fare for bad mass transit, and at the moment, it’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo who’s getting his political ticket punched,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Meanwhile, 41 percent of voters do not back a proposal that would create a payroll tax in order to circumvent the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. The proposal unveiled this week would be voluntary and phased in over several years.

The poll of 1,038 registered voters was conducted Feb. 9 through Feb. 12 and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Cuomo: State Police Can Perform Background Checks On Appointees

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Wednesday said he would make the State Police available to elected officials who want a background check performed on appointees to determine whether they had been arrested or convicted of domestic violence.

The announcement comes as the White House continues to face questions over the appointment of Rob Porter, a key aide who had been accused by two of his ex-wives of domestic violence.

In Albany, an aide to Sen. Bill Larkin resigned this week after he was indicted on domestic violence charges.

“Our State and Nation have recently been shocked by the revelation of the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women,” Cuomo said.

“The exposure and courage of the women who have come forward must now serve as a catalyst for reform. I believe the State of New York should lead the way once again, and to that end have proposed an aggressive anti-sexual harassment agenda. It will now be considered by the legislature and has been included in the State Budget scheduled to be passed by April 1st. A component of this agenda, and a related issue, is the scourge of domestic violence that has also been the focus of much attention. We must take steps to ensure that domestic violence is taken seriously and is not sanctioned in any manner, shape, or form by New York State government.”

A Cuomo spokesman said the governor’s office “as a matter of policy” already conducts such background checks on appointees.

Budget Add Would Ban Sexual Contact Between Cops, Those In Custody

An addition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal announced Wednesday would ban sexual contact between police officers and those in custody.

The provision is being included in Cuomo’s 30-day budget amendments, due to be formally released on Thursday.

“There must be zero tolerance for sexual abuse and harassment across the board, and especially among those in positions of authority,” Governor Cuomo said. “This common sense reform closes an egregious loophole and helps protect against abuse in our justice system.”

The loophole in the law has been raised over the last several months after a Brooklyn woman alleged she was raped by two officers in exchange for being set free while she was being held on suspicion of possessing drugs.

Legislation has been proposed in both the state Senate and Assembly to ban sex between cops and those in custody in the current legislative session. Assemblyman Edward Braunstein spoke about his bill on the issue on Capital Tonight on Monday.

Surveying Local Jails, Cuomo Admin Says A Decade To Close Rikers Is ‘Unacceptable’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Wednesday released a report on troubled locally administered jails in New York and bashed a decade-long plan to close Rikers Island in New York City, calling the timeline “wholly unacceptable.”

The report by the Commission on Correction highlighted five of the “most problematic” facilities. Cuomo in his State of the State address last month announced proposals that sought to give more state oversight of the local facilities. The release of the report suggests the state may move to close Rikers ahead of schedule.

“There is no doubt that we will demand focus and an expeditious resolution to these systemic, unconscionable and illegal conditions,” said the governor’s counsel, Alphonso David.

“The current plan to close Rikers Island Jail on a 10-year timeline is wholly unacceptable and repugnant to federal and state constitutional principles. The governor, who has been fighting for meaningful criminal justice reform his entire career, has repeatedly said 10 years is too long because ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ The governor’s vision for New York as the progressive capital of the nation is not rhetorical, but rather results driven. A fair, safe, and humane criminal justice system is essential for our state, and we will make it such.”

Cuomo has been critical of the plan to close Rikers, a thorny problem that is in the lap of his rival and fellow Democrat, Mayor Bill de Blasio. The statement from the Cuomo administration came as de Blasio planned an announcement in New York City unveiled a plan to replace Rikers with community-based facilities.

“This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island,” de Blasio said. “In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that’s smaller, safer and fairer. I want to thank these representatives, who share our vision of a more rehabilitative and humane criminal justice system that brings staff and detainees closer to their communities.”

The report takes issue with Rikers, but also assesses problematic jails in Onondaga, Greene, Erie and Dutchess counties.

Problematic Jails Report 2 2018 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Q-Poll Has More Middling Results For Cuomo

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a 47 percent job approval from New York voters, with a negative 47 percent disapproval rating among voters in the upstate region.

The poll comes several days after Siena College poll found Cuomo’s numbers among voters when it came to both favorability and job approval slid since January.

The Quinnipiac poll last surveyed New York voters in July, finding little change between then and now, when he had a 46 percent to 38 percent job approval statewide.

This month, Cuomo’s approval rating among New York City voters stands at 53 percent to 27 percent, while suburban voters are more mixed, 47 percent to 37 percent. Half of the voters polled, 50 percent, say they are inclined to re-elect Cuomo.

But at the same time, fellow statewide Democrats do not fare well, either: 35 percent approve of the job Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is doing.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a 52 percent to 27 percent job approval, while Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has a similar 52 percent to 22 percent job approval rating. Gillibrand, Schneiderman, DiNapoli and Cuomo, are all running for re-election this year.

New York voters are also opposed to a Cuomo or Gillibrand run for the presidency. Voters oppose Cuomo running for president, 63 percent to 28 percent, while they also oppose a Gillibrand bid by a smaller margin, 58 percent to 28 percent.

Cuomo’s office in a rare on-the-record statement earlier this week dismissed the Siena College poll, insisting it was part of a national setback in polling for Democrats as aspects of the December tax law take effect and the impact of President Donald Trump on the nation’s politics.

The poll of registered voters was conducted between Feb. 9 and Feb. 12. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.