Michael Johnson

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Posts by Michael Johnson

Business Leaders Call For Minimum Wage Hike

Minimum wage advocates have some new allies in the business community. A group of business leaders and business owners from around the state have launched a new petition asking for the minimum wage to be brought up to eight-75 an hour. They are also calling for further increases tied to the cost of living, a measure known as indexing. Melanie Beam is the president of Capital District Local First and Britin Foster is the owner of All Good Bakers in Albany talk to Liz about the push.

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Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards

On Wednesday NYS GOP Chairman Ed Cox floated Greg Edwards as a possible challenger to Governor Cuomo in 2014. Edwards discusses that, and his problems with the Cuomo administration with Liz.

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Michael Rebell Discusses Lawsuit Over NYC School Funding

In mid-January, the Bloomberg administration failed to reach an agreement with New York cities biggest teachers union over a teacher evaluation system before a deadline put in place by Governor Cuomo. The result was the loss of roughly $250 million dollars in state funding. Governor Cuomo has insisted that he will not reinstate the funding – despite calls by some lawmakers to do so. But now attorney Michael Rebell has filed a lawsuit blocking the funding cuts. And he has a pretty good track record. He was the head attorney on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit that ordered the state government to provide billions more in funding for New York City. Rebell discusses the lawsuit with Liz.

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Comptroller Approves $500K Tappan Zee Bonds, Gives Thruway Authority A Talking To

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has approved the sale of the state Thruway Authority’s bond anticipation notes in the amount of $500 million, which are intended to be used for initial payments for a new Tappan Zee bridge, while also recognizing that the authority “has no definitive financing plan for the project or for its overall capital program.”

In a letter to Thruway Authority Executive Executive Director Tom Madison, which appears below, DiNapoli notes that authority officials have said that the financing plan depends on the size, terms and conditions of the federal loan the state is expecting to receive for this project.

But, the comptroller pointed out, a recent Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Inovation Act program guide lists a detailed financial plan as one of the requirements for receiving federal cash.

“The Authority has indicated that the U.S. Department of Transportation approval for a TIFIA loan is likely,” DiNapoli wrote. “However, there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the final outcome and timing of the decision, which is critical to determining the financing plan of the project as well as the Authority’s capital program. If a TIFIA loan is approved, the Authority has indicated it will take several months before the final loan terms can be agreed upon and the loan proceeds issued. The Authority intends to use these Notes as bridge financing in the interim.”

DiNapoli reminded Madison that his agency’s outside consultant, Navigant Capital Advisors, has criticized its reliance on short-term borrowing and cited a series of “kick-the-can” policies in a May 2012 report as contributing to the authority’s weak financial position.

Recall that not long after the Cuomo administration called off plans for a highly unpopular 45 percent Thruway toll hike for commercial vehicles, the authority announced it would be laying off 234 workers – a roughly 8 percent cut in its overall workforce.

DiNapoli stressed to Madison that the Thruway Authority has a “duty” to provide a “full, timely and public disclosure” about how this project – estimated to cost about $4 billion when all is said and done – will impact the public (mostly via tolls) ASAP.

Comptroller Twy Bonds letter by

Local Elected Leaders Raise Concerns Over Fracking

A decision on the future of high volume hydraulic fracturing is expected in the coming weeks. And many local officials in the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier are anxiously waiting for more details so they can figure out how big of an impact it will have on their budgets. Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman, Cooperstown Village Trustee James Dean, and Otsego Town Council Member Julie Huntsman discuss their concerns.

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Assemblyman Ortiz Previews Obesity Forum

The growing epidemic of childhood obesity has been well documented in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control the obesity rate has doubled in children in the past 30 years and tripled among adolescents. In 2010, roughly a third of all children or adolescents were considered overweight or obese. On Friday, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz will be a part of an Early Childhood Obesity Hispanic Leadership Summit in New York City. He discusses the issue with Liz.

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Assem. McLaughlin Discusses Bill Eliminating Message Of Necessity

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin’s Tuesday news conference calling for the elimination of the “message of necessity” was overshadowed by some offensive comments he made, suggesting facist leaders would have been “proud” of the way the NY SAFE Act was recently passed in the middle of the night with no debate and little time for lawmakers to read the bill. He discusses the comments and the bill he is pushing with Liz.

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Ed Cox Slams Cuomo Over Job Creation

Since taking office Governor Andrew Cuomo has been able to maintain high approval numbers, even with Republicans, in part because he has balanced the budget without raising taxes. But now state GOP Chair Ed Cox is attacking Cuomo for his failure to create jobs. He sits down with Liz to explain.

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House Ethics Report: ‘Substantial Reason’ To Believe Rep. Owens Broke Federal Law

The Office of Congressional Ethics has released a report, as required by law (see details here), detailing its investigation into Congressman Bill Owens.

Earlier today the OCE board voted 6-0 to continue their investigation into Owens. In their explanation they say there is “substantial reason” to believe that Owens violated federal law and House rules. Here’s an excerpt of the report.

The OCE Board recommends that the Committee on Ethics further review the first allegation as there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Owens accepted payment of travel expenses for an officially connected trip to Taiwan from an impermissible source, resulting in an impermissible gift, in violation of federal law and House rules.

Owens repaid more than $22,000 back in May when it was first reported by Politico that he had taken this trip to Taiwan and that it was organized by former US Senate Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm Park Strategies.

In the report, D’Amato and two of his associates at Park Strategies are listed as “non-cooperating” witnesses for declining “to provide documentmy or testimonial information in response to Requests for Information.”

The NRCC wasted no time attacking Owens.

“Instead of focusing on representing his constituents back home, Bill Owens took a $22,000 trip to Taiwan and stayed in a $500 per night hotel – all on the dime of Taiwan and its lobbyists. Not only was this behavior hopelessly out-of-touch, but it may have also been against the law. This is certainly not the kind of behavior that the people of the 21st District of New York are looking for in their Congressmanm,” said NRCC Spokesperson Ian Prior.

OCE Report On Rep. Bill Owens by


NY Times called Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s death a moment of “unalloyed sadness”.

In an interview to the Times in 2007, and released today, Koch said he never forgave the Cuomo family for the 1977 Mayoral campaign when Koch’s sexuality was called into question.

Before his death, Koch also worked with the Times to compile a series of op-ed’s and letters to the editor to remember him.

Koch had some memorable quotes in his time.

One of Koch’s biggest critics, Wayne Barrett, gives the former Mayor a “+”.

GOP Strategist Bill O’Reilly described Koch as “the man in the arena.”

Koch’s tombstone includes the final words of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded 11 years ago today.

Obama administration has changed its policy on contraception to allay some religious groups concerns.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is the latest cabinet member to announce that he is leaving the White House.

The country added more than 150 thousand jobs in January.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino compared Cuomo’s pension smoothing plan to crack cocaine?

Former Massachusetts US Senator Scott Brown has decided not to run for the seat vacated by new Secretary of State John Kerry.

Hillary Clinton received a warm send off on her last day as Secretary of State.

Buffalo News Reporter Bob McCarthy shares his thoughts on Carl Paladino’s potential run for school board.

A former NASA Scientist says 7 astronauts who died in the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy were never told that the ship was damaged even though NASA knew of potential damage.