Bernadette Hogan

Video Producer for Capital Tonight. Email: Twitter: @bern_hogan

Posts by Bernadette Hogan

NYC Councilman Encourages 2020 Census Participation

From the Morning Memo:

Please participate in the 2020 census — even if you’re an undocumented immigrant, implores New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez in a statement Wednesday.

“New Yorkers and especially undocumented residents should not be afraid to participate in the 2020 Census,” Rodriguez said.

The data collected is vital to shaping future undertakings in the Big Apple, including: budget funding, resource allocation, emergency preparations, and gauging population growth and or decline, he said.

Rodriguez, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. in his teens, says those worried about a citizenship question included in the census have no reason to fear.

But anxiety over arrest, separation and even deportation exists for those whose friends and family members have undetermined citizenship statuses, or are undocumented themselves.

It’s also a response to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointment of Julie Menin, currently the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, as the City’s new director of the Census.

“Ms. Menin’s staff should reflect the diversity of our great City of New York and the 2020 Census outreach needs to be provided in the appropriate language for a neighborhood and/or resident. The information distribution needs to be disseminated widely so that it is accessible to all residents.”

Anxiety over the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census has tensed.

“It is essential that we ensure that all residents, regardless of immigration status, know their rights when participating in this historic survey that leads to better services for all New Yorkers,” Rodriguez said.

Should the question remain on the population count, speculation over inaccurate results or even an undercount looms.

Big Apple’s Economic Future Looks Strong…ish

From the Morning Memo:

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gives a big thumbs up to the Big Apple’s economy, albeit, erring on the side of caution.

In a report Wednesday, the comptroller’s office says the city is slated to end 2018 with an additional 72,000 jobs, a positive streak predicted to carry through the new year.

In 2017 alone, the city reached a record employment of 4.4 million, noting between 2009 and 2017, 715,000 jobs were added, an achievement dubbed the “largest and longest job expansion since World War II.”

October’s monthly unemployment rate hit 4 percent, a figure unmet in 42 years.

DiNapoli’s report says it’s all thanks to consumer confidence, steady tourism, rising property values and growing Wall Street profits.

“New York City’s economy is strong and continues to set new records,” DiNapoli said.

Despite growth, there’s worry over instability in the stock market reflected over the past several months.

The city also faces “significant budget gaps and risks in the coming years.”

Fiscal strain from agreements with labor unions made after the budget was adopted in June 2018 are a noted challenge, but not a permanent or unexpected obstacle.

“While the FY 2019 budget surplus is likely to grow, city officials will need to consider additional actions to narrow the budget gaps projected for fiscal years 2020 through 2022,” DiNapoli said.

“In addition, the city faces the prospects of future risks, which could make balancing the budget more difficult. While the economy is still strong, it appears more vulnerable than in recent years.”

The report exposes broad view tender spots, like the slowing global economy and pressure from federal trade agreements that would throw a wrench in the balancing the books. Also laying in wait are New York City-centric caveats, such as low pension fund earnings and an increasingly dependent NYCHA and Health and Hospitals Corp. that could call for a boost in city contributions.

Then there’s the white elephant in the room: the crumbling Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Wednesday morning on WAMC Radio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the wearisome task, even going so far as to admit a want to wipe hands clean of the transportation infrastructure burden.

It’s a problem that’s getting more expensive by the day.

July 2018 data determines the 2020 budget gap doubled to $510 million, and upped to $991 million by 2022.

“These estimates already assume fare and toll increases of 4 percent in 2019 and 2021.”

To read the full report, click here.

Pay Raises: ‘Let New Yorkers Have A Say’

Dissatisfaction with legislative pay raises is trending among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Hudson Valley state Sen. Sue Serino introduced a bill that would require voters to have a say in approving the pay commission’s recommendations.

“With New York politicians poised to become the highest paid in the nation, New Yorkers themselves deserve a say in the process, it’s that simple,” Serino said.

She voted against the pay commission’s creation in the 2018 state budget.

“Many public servants work tirelessly on behalf of their constituents, and their salaries should reflect that commitment and dedication, however, lawmakers’ salaries are paid for by the hardworking taxpayers of this state, and they are the ones who should decide whether a raise is warranted,” Serino said. “This bill would ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear.”

Should the commission’s recommendations be solidified into law come January 1st, Sen. Serino would have to decide whether she wants to retain her post, or give up involvement in her Dutchess County based real estate company.

The commission’s recommendations included boosting salaries for members of the state legislature, executive chamber and commissioners, also, capping outside income to 15 percent of salaries and a severely denuded stipend system.

The bill was introduced on December 14th, and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Responding to Schoharie Limo Crash, Bill Tightens Safety Regulations

New legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would change the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s requirements for retrofitted limousines.

Current law allows more lenient safety requirements for re-sold vehicles when compared to vehicles sold as new. Requirements for seat belts or exit areas are different, especially as some limousines purchased second hand may become altered or expanded to combat capacity limitations.

The bill is a direct response to October’s fatal limousine crash in Schoharie County along Route 30A that claimed 20 lives.

It has been recorded as the U.S.’s most deadly transportation accident within the past nine years.

The passengers were traveling in a rented, modified 2001 Ford Excursion. It had failed inspection barely a month prior.

By Republican Reps. John Faso and Elise Stefanik and Democratic Rep. John Faso introduced the legislation.

“NHTSA regulations are in place for a reason,” Faso said.

“Each time a new vehicle is sold, it must undergo a thorough safety examination. However, if the vehicle is substantively modified to add more seating, it is not subject to the same safety checks. It’s vital that vehicles which are significantly modified undergo a strict amount of scrutiny. The recent tragedy in Schoharie County which took the lives of 20 people must move the Congress to close this loophole and enact stricter rules on modified vehicles. While there were certainly other factors surrounding this crash which are the subject to federal and state investigation, as well as a criminal prosecution, making sure modified vehicles are safer is a critical step.”

Nauman Hussein, operator and son of Prestige Limousine owner Shahed Hussain, faces criminally negligent homicide charges and will be prosecuted by the Schoharie County DA.

A lawsuit has been filed against Prestige Limousine’s owners by the family of victim Amanda Rivenburg.

Today, the lawyer representing Rivenburg’s family announced the family intends to file a lawsuit against the State of New York on grounds of negligence.

The incident remains under investigation by both state and federal authorities.

NYGOP Names New NYC Finance Co-Chair

From the Morning Memo:

The New York Republican Committee named Anthony Kammas their New York City Finance Co-Chair.

“It’s my honor to serve the New York Republican Party in this capacity,” Kammas said.

“I have been incredibly impressed with the quality of the Party’s candidates and important issues they are advancing to make New York State a better place to live, work and raise a family. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I’m optimistic and excited for the challenge. Whether it’s in Albany or New York City, the far-left Democratic policing are failing, and we need to ensure we have the resources to get our message out.”

An insurance executive, Kammas is a founding partner of Skyline Risk Management Inc., an insurance company.

“We’re thrilled that Anthony has stepped forward to take on this important role,” said Chairman Ed Cox. “Throughout his distinguished career, Anthony has built a reputation and network that will be a tremendous asset to our operations. The New York Republican Party is working hard to expand our outreach, and creating a strong fundraising operation in New York City is essential to our success.”

The current New York City Finance Chair is John Meserve.

NY Farm Bureau Awaits Farm Bill Passage

From the Morning Memo:

Congress could make a decision on the Farm Bill before the new year.

The 2014 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30 amid congressional gridlock, but an temporary extender has held the legislation in place. This came much to the dismay of struggling farmers nationwide, from all sectors of agriculture, ranging from cattle to dairy to soybean production.

Disagreement around SNAP specifics, or the food stamp program, largely concerned differences in Republican and Democrat determinations on work requirements–not to mention, SNAP accounts for the most expensive portion of the bill. Decisions on crop insurance, subsidy eligibility and forest management similarly need smoothing out.

In a statement on Thursday, New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher:

“New York Farm Bureau is pleased that Congressional leaders have reached a consensus on the 2018 Farm Bill ahead of the current Farm Bill’s lapse at the end of this year. While we have yet to see specific details, we are hopeful that final passage of the legislation will give farmers some reassurance moving forward that critical risk management tools will be in place as they plan the best they can for next year.

“Improvements to the dairy safety net, the continuation of important conservation programs as well as support and research programs for New York’s specialty crop producers are much needed in this tough farm economy. The Farm Bill is an investment in our food system. It helps farm families weather some unpredictable conditions and provides consumers the reassurance that we will continue to have a strong, affordable food supply in this country. We encourage our Senators and Representatives to support the compromise legislation.”

New York farmers have been particularly concerned with tariff impositions, especially in light of the state’s close proximity to, and trade relationship with Canada.

Senate Democrats Take Aim at Parole Board

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Democrats held a forum on state Parole Board reforms in Manhattan, addressing a system that they argue, promulgates a culture of bias.

State Sen. Luis Sepulveda and Sen. Gustavo Rivera were joined by advocates for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons, calling for the passage of ‘critical reform bills’ and ‘internal changes’ to the current board. They argue too much emphasis is placed on punishment rather than rehabilitation efforts.

“We now need to pass measures that include dramatic reforms to the state parole board, solitary confinement, bail, speedy trial, and other criminal justice initiatives,” said Senator Sepulveda. “Too many lives, including family members of those incarcerated, have been harmed unnecessarily, and too much money has been wasted that could otherwise go to beneficial programs needed by our communities.”

Earlier this fall Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Sen. Sepulveda’s legislation requiring the state Parole Board to record and publish specific information about inmates including race and ethnicity, in decisions involving release or denial.

What’s more, Democrats argue understaffing is afoot, as the current board is made up of 12 Commissioners, but has the capacity for 19 members.

“We at the Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP) Campaign are pleased that the new incoming Senate Majority is prioritizing the critical issues associated with parole in New York State. While the Parole Board has recently taken steps in the right direction, more changes are urgently needed,” said David George, spokesman for RAPP, in an email. “The legislature and Governor must ensure that parole release is based on who a person is today, they must pass elder parole, and they must fully staff the Parole Board with Commissioners who believe in rehabilitation.”

Senate Republicans held two hearings over the summer on parole reforms, but also took aim at the restoration of parolees’ voting rights by Governor Cuomo last April.

Social Media and NYS Gun Laws

From the Morning Memo:

Don’t apply for a handgun permit if you’re not on board with the State Police poking around your social media accounts and Internet search history, says state Sen. Kevin Parker.

The Brooklyn Democrat is sponsoring legislation that would alter the Empire State’s current gun laws, impacting requirements for those applying for, or seeking to renew handgun, rifle and shotgun licenses.

It’s a potential solution to the nation’s latest horrific mass shootings and postal deliveries of explosive materials to elected officials.

“We are in a new age with new technology, and we need new rules so we need to begin a conversation about the way that we monitor social media, and use that in the context of giving out dangerous weapons that can hurt or kill people,” Parker said.

The State Police would be authorized to review up to three years worth of an applicant’s search engine history including Google, Yahoo and Bing, and grant access to social media account passwords on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

Parker says clear signs of disturbance and violent tendencies were shown on the social accounts of the perpetrators involved with the cases of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and mail bombs and foreknowledge on part of law enforcement could have mobilized preventative action.

For those concerned over privacy violations, as some may argue personal password information in the hands of state officials may go too far, Parker disagrees, arguing families who have been impacted by shootings may argue no measure goes too far.

“In the state of New York we stand up for the first amendment, the Second Amendment, but we also stand for safety, I don’t think anything proposed in this bill is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

The state Legislature passed the SAFE Act in 2013, a measure Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic officials alike have championed as one of, if not the toughest gun control laws in the nation. Parker’s legislation would firm up a portion of the background check aspect.

How the bill would be implemented is up to the State Police.

“You can’t ask for a weapon and then expect that you can use it whatever way you want to,” Parker said.

SD-39: Animal Rights Advocates Back Skoufis

Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis was endorsed by Voters for Animal Rights and the League of Humane voters in his state Senate campaign for the Hudson Valley’s 39th Senate district.

“I want to thank Voters for Animal Rights and the League of Humane Voters for their endorsements and their advocacy. The humane treatment of animals is an important issue and a reflection of who we are as a society. As State Senator, I will be committed to continuing to support legislation to promote better treatment of animals and prevent animal cruelty.”

Skoufis is looking to fill retiring Senator Bill Larkin’s seat, a post the Republican has held for over 25 years. He faces Republican Stony Point Councilman Tom Basile in the general election. Basile has been endorsed by Larkin.

SD-43: Jordan Endorsed by Detectives

The Republican candidate running for the seat state Senate District 43, Daphne Jordan, was endorsed by the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc.

Jordan is running to replace her boss, retiring Sen. Kathy Marchione in a Capital Region district.

“I am honored to receive the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc., endorsement and will always work with the courageous men and women of law enforcement who protect and serve. As Senator, I will work to support and strengthen law enforcement and ensure they have the resources needed to continue serving our communities and protect the security of all New Yorkers.”

The Detectives’ union represents 5,500 active and 12,000 retired NYPD detectives. Jordan faces Democrat Aaron Gladd in the general election on Tuesday.