Michael Carey: OPWDD/State Police Agreement ‘A Good First Step’

Michael Carey, an outspoken advocate and driving force behind, “Jonathan’s Law,” said today that the joint agreement between the Office for Poeple With Developmental Disabilities and New York State Police is a good first step to minimize abuse in group homes across the state, but also says could go much further.

The agreement would make it easier for information of alleged abuse to reach the ears of law enforcement, however Carey says such a directive should be mandated.

“When the calls of abuse are reported by mandate reporters, anybody that witnesses abuse, most of these calls, go to the abuse hotline,” Carey said.

“We want those calls to immediately forwarded to law enforcement, not just the state police, but local law enforcement so whoever is the closest agency around. It’s critical that these are immediate and not two or three days later because evidence disappears, bruises disappear and employees are influenced because a fear of losing their jobs.”

Extras

NY’s already sky-high campaign contribution limits have jumped again.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is confident Rep. Michele Bachmann and supporters pushing a national act against marriage quality will fail.

Dan Collins misses the old Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani’s new 2012 timeline: The end of September.

Eliot Spitzer offers the Obama administration advice on how to fix the housing market and reduce the unemployment rate – all in one fell swoop.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is recommending that two presidents in the system take over responsibility for an additional school.

In defense of the not-so unfashionable WFP.

Following his “After ‘I Do’” symposium last night, Sen. Daniel Squadron launched a resource page for recently married LGBT couples.

Says the Syracuse Post-Standard: “Next time, Governor, please pay back the taxpayers for your aircraft ride home. Think of it as yet another way to “rein in spending.”

The Sabbath, according to Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The rained-out Black Eyed Peas Central Park concert has been rescheduled for Sept. 30 because will.i.am feels sorry that NYC is not LA.

Mayor Bloomberg knows a lot of musicians.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie is not, despite a report to the contrary, conducting focus groups with an eye toward joining the 2012 fray.

A new low of 26 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, according to Gallup.

A lot of job jumping is going on at the Capitol.

Bloomberg signed a bill into law that urges NYC agencies to buy local.

REBNY is not happy about the concrete workers contract deal.

For the record: I get my own coffee every single day. Carry my own bags, too.

Thanks Mayor Graham!

Cuomo: Overhaul Reporting Abuse Of Disabled

As The Times reported earlier (because NYT B.C. Danny Hakim is owning this story through and through) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced plans to overhaul the system for reporting abuse of the disabled.

The joint agreement between the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and State Police would establish consistent guidelines for reporting incidents of alleged abuse.

The plan will trickle down to the local level as well, with the 13 Developmental Disabilities Services Offices regional executive directors charged with working with local law enforcement to develop standard operating procedures, as well as designating a law enforcement liaison to work with staff.

“Government programs operate effectively and provide better services for taxpayers when they work together,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This cooperative agreement between OPWDD and the State Police will strengthen care and protections for individuals with developmental disabilities, and is another step forward in our comprehensive plan for a government which runs better in a cost-effective way.”

The new guidelines come as an investigation by the NYT looks into abuses at adult homes in the state.

Bloomberg L.P. Discrimination Suit Thrown Out

The US District Court has thrown out the discrimination lawsuit against Bloomberg L.P., the company founded by current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The suit, brought forth by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of more than 75 employees, accused the company of discriminating against pregnant women, or those who had recently returned from maternity leave. The suit accused the company of decreasing pay for the employees and demoting them or taking away responsibility.

But the judge ruled there was not substantial proof to back up the accusations presented, and dismissed the case.

07cv8383 EEOC v. Bloomberg

DiNapoli: Port Authority Not Watching Overtime (Update)

In what could be bad news for Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office revealed in an audit today that the PA has failed to curb excessive overtime.

The report from DiNapoli’s office comes as the Port Authority has proposed steep toll increases for its bridges and tunnels leading into New York City.

“Overtime flows like water at the Port Authority and management has no clear strategy to achieve its own benchmarks and goals for curbing costs,” DiNapoli said. “Every agency in this state is tightening its belt. Before the Port Authority asks for more money to fund its operations, the agency should take a long, hard look at whether its business model for managing overtime really makes sense.”

In 2010, the authority paid $85.7 million of overtime to 5,360 of its 6,977 employees, with the majority going to PATH train and public safety employees. Meanwhile, 24 employees in 2009 had their salaries effectively doubled thanks to their overtime pay.

The overtime came despite a 2010 directive from both New York and New Jersey that called for a 20-percent reduction in overtime costs at the authority.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declined to comment about Ward’s future leading the Port Authority. With the Sept. 11 anniversary less than a month away, it is unlikely Cuomo would seek a change at the top of the PA, however.

Update: PA spokesman Ron Marsico responds.

“The Port Authority just received this report and we take it very seriously. We will continue to cut costs and make sure we value every dollar as we work to meet the region’s needs.”

Bloomberg Names New DEP Commissioner

Mayor Bloomberg just announced his new head of the Department of Environmental Protection. Carter Strickland Jr. will replace former DEP commissioner Caswell Holloway, who has moved up to be the Deputy mayor for operations.

“Over the last two years, DEP has risen to new heights – cutting costs while becoming a more efficient and effective agency and helping to drive the Administration’s ambitious sustainability agenda,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
“Carter Strickland has been a key part of that success, and has been a highly effective leader in our efforts to create a greener, greater city since he joined our Administration four years ago. He has the right experience and qualities to be an extremely successful commissioner, with great vision and understanding of the challenges of delivering a vital public service to nine million New Yorkers every day, while protecting their environment and quality of life.”

Here’s Strickland’s background – from the press release:

Commissioner Strickland has nearly two decades of experience in environmental policy and law in the New York metropolitan region, most recently serving as Deputy Commissioner for Sustainability at the Department of Environmental Protection and previously as Senior Policy Advisor for Air and Water in the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability.

In the Mayor’s Office and at the Department of Environmental Protection, Commissioner Strickland has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the water, air and natural resource initiatives in PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive sustainability plan, and was a principal architect of the City’s Green Infrastructure Plan to capture more rain water to reduce combined sewer overflows and flooding through the installation blue roofs and green roofs, permeable concrete, tree pits and other green infrastructure.

He also has served as an Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau where he prosecuted violations of Federal and State environmental statutes. Commissioner Strickland’s appointment is effective immediately. The Mayor announced the appointment at the Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in Lefrak City, Queens, where he was joined by Deputy Mayor for Operations and former Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.

Memo: Layoff Threat Remains For Professors, Correction Officers Unions

In a memo lauding CSEA workers for approving their labor agreement, State Director of Operations Howard Glaser buries the lead when he says members of the NYSCOPBA and UUP have been “slow to engage” in negotiations for their contracts.

Glaser writes to department heads that the unions representing corrections officers and public university professors that it may prove impossible to avoid layoffs in those bargaining units.

“We will be providing further instruction regarding reductions in affected agencies with these units in the coming days,” Glaser writes.

The Public Employees Federation, a union of white-collar state workers, will vote on its contract by September. The union’s leadership, like CSEA, agreed to givebacks in its contract, including pay freezes and furloughs.

The memo from Glaser today could simply be an effort to spur UUP and NYSCOPBA into action. Correction officers have been particularly concerned with the plan to close state prison facilities, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced last month would impact communities across the state.

Glaser Memo

Park51 Developer Blasts Turner

Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the controversial Park51 project, knocked Republican House candidate Bob Turner for using the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” as an issue in the special election.

Gamal, interviewed on NY1′s Inside City Hall last night, said Turner’s re-airing of the issue is “pathetic.”

“Today a politician is entering a race with a misleading ad. We are not building a Ground Zero mosque. This is a man who wants to become a leader in a district? That’s pathetic,” Gamal said.

The Park51 issue morphed into a heated debate last summer, which intensified in the glare of 2010 campaign season.

“We’ve been dealing with a PR crisis for the last 12 months and our goal was we needed to get the facts out about what we were doing,” Gamal said.

Turner, a businessman, used his first television ad to criticize his Democratic opponent, Assemblyman David Weprin, for supporting the project being built near the World Trade Center site.

The Turner campaign has kept the pressure on Weprin, releasing a statement this morning in reaction to the news that the project applied to receive a $5 million federal grant.

Turner Spox Knocks Old Foe

It’s feeling a lot like 2010!

Republican political consultant Bill O’Reilly zeroed in today on Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s endorsement of David Weprin, knocking the Democrat as a “career politician,” and dusted off a few talking point attacks against his 2010 foe.

While this is a different campaign, it is in many ways old hat for O’Reilly. He ran Republican Harry Wilson’s failed comptroller bid last year. Wilson, the architect of the federal auto bailout, lost narrowly to DiNapoli.

But the campaign was lauded for its strong messaging and placing a close second in a state that’s becoming increasingly difficult for Republicans to win.

“Career politician Tom DiNapoli (D) says we need career politician David Weprin’s ‘financial and budgeting experience’ in Washington. Exactly what experience is he referring to – career politician Weprin’s Slush Fund Scandal in the City Council that he purports to know nothing about? His support of the biggest property tax hike in New York City history? Or his years of overspending that have killed job creation and business development in New York State to the point where we rank dead last among the states in business friendliness. The last thing – the absolute last thing — New York needs is another career politician in Congress.”

Steve Cohen: Air Cuomo Story Overreached

Steve Cohen, the former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, knocked the Associated Press stories about the governor’s state aircraft usage in a Talk 1300 radio interview today, calling the pieces misleading.

“I respect the reporters generally and the fact they ask hard questions, that’s their job,” Cohen told Fred Dicker in an interview this morning. “What I found curious about this is, if not frustrating, is there’s a broader context here. What is going on is not just a qualitative difference. The stories are just wrong, Fred.”

The AP — as LCA reporters have done for previous governors — filed a Freedom of Information Law request to take a look at Cuomo’s aircraft usage since taking office. The governor has used the aircraft with less frequency than his predecessors and the cost has been estimated to be only about $13,000.

The Times Union also came out with a piece Monday, calling attention to the heavily redacted documents, a rather odd move for an administration that has pledged unprecedented transparency. As Liz pointed out earlier this week, it’s also surprising that the Cuomo administration mishandled what has become a routine request.

Still, Cohen says the fact remains that Cuomo didn’t violate state law, nor did his use fall under the ill-defined “private gain” rule for aircraft usage.

“On that handful of occasions, he returned to his legal residence. It’s August, people are looking to write things,” he said. “This was one where the story overreached. And not just overreached, but confusing to misleading to the public at large.”

The AP stories did note that Cuomo had not violate the law and that the aircraft usage was low compared to previous state executives. However, the private gain definition remains murky at best, good-government advocates say.