Nick Reisman

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Posts by Nick Reisman

What’s With The Anti-Trumpaganda?

Monday seems to be a day of vitriol aimed at everyone’s favorite TV billionaire-cum-possible presidential contender.

As Donald Trump has a surprising rise in the polls, some conservative pundits and outfits are training their fire on his history of liberal statements and otherwise flamboyant personality.

First it was the conservative Club for Growth, which pointed to Trump’s past support for massive tax hikes. And now former White House aide and Bush advisor Karl Rove is lashing out — again.

As per The HuffPo:

“His full embrace of the birther issue means that he’s off there in the nutty right and is now an inconsequential candidate,” said Rove of Trump’s penchant for raising skepticism over whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. “I’m shocked, the guy is smarter than this.”

The criticism comes the Monday after a poll released Friday that shows Trump leading the GOP field among primary voters. Trump leads former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 26 percent to 17 percent, the Public Policy Polling Institute found. Trump appeared at a Tea Party rally on Sunday, where he blasted the Obama administration and played up his business acumen, but stopped short of announcing his candidacy.

Iannuzzi On Reserve Funds: Use ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

Districts that have extra cash lying around should use the funds to fill holes left by the cuts in state aid, state United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi said today.

There are clearly contracts being restructured around the state, that’s been going on for years. In some places that makes sense, in other places it would make no sense whatsoever. As far as reserves, look, if there are additional reserves those districts should be using them. This is a rainy day.

The 2011-12 state budget included a $1.2 billion cut to education aid at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Iannuzzi also said the impact of the cuts could mean up to 15,000 layoffs in school districts statewide.

School budgets are due to be voted on in May.

Cuomo has said schools should cut into their reserves, reduce bureaucratic waste and cap school superintendent pay in order to make up the difference and avoid large tax increases. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a study showing some districts have the reserves on hand, but only for one year.

Schneiderman: Study Fracking Or I’ll Sue

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed today to file a lawsuit against the federal government unless officials commit to a comprehensive safety review of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking.

“Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking’s potential dangers to their environment, health and communities, and I will use the full authority of my office, including aggressive legal action, to ensure the federal government is forced to address those concerns.”

Schneiderman sent a letter seeking a review of regulations on gas drilling as proposed by the Delaware River Basin Commision, an interstate federal body led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The attorney general said he is giving federal officials a month to agree to the study that would focus on the impact of hydrofracking in the Delaware River basin, which includes the New York City watershed and portions of Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Schoharie, Green, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties.

The process uses a cocktail of chemicals and water to access potentially lucrative natural gas underground. Business groups and some property owners believe natural gas drilling could be a boon to the economically troubled region, but environmentalists say it could be a potential hazard to drinking water.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is currently putting together its own study on hydrofracking, which is due out in July. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his DEC commissioner, Joseph Martens, have indicated they would wait for the state to finish its report before granting permits.

Canestrari: No Plans For Silver To Step Down

There are no plans for powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to retire in the near future, Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said this morning.

Speaking on The Capitol Pressroom radio show, Canestrari, D-Cohoes, said the departure of Silver’s budget aide Dean Fuleihan (who the Manhattan Democrat described as his “right arm”) was not an indication Silver would step down soon.

“Dean’s been there 32 years; he can’t stay there forever,” Canestrari said. “He’s 60 now, don’t tell anybody.”

“There’s a limit to how much you can do. But the institution survives, there’s a way moving forwarding,” he added. “We’re going to work extra hard.”

Silver has been speaker since 1994, making him one of the longest-serving speakers in the state’s history.

Canestrari added that the chamber would eventually act on a property tax cap, just not necessarily Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent ceiling proposal. The Republican-controlled Senate approved the governor’s bill and has indicated negotiations would only water down the measure. Cuomo says he’s open to negotiating.

“I am convinced we will do something on the property tax cap,” Canestrari said.

Waterston For Gay Marriage

Former Law and Order star and TD Ameritrade pitchman Sam Waterston is the latest celebrity to join the push for legalizing same-sex marriage in New York.

“Let’s make the system fair and end institutionalized bigotry,” said Waterston in the Human Rights Campaign YouTube video.

Also participating in the pro-gay marriage campaign is Waterston’s fellow L&0 universe star Christopher Meloni, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“We are on the brink of marriage equality in New York,” said HRC New York Senior Strategist Brian Ellner “We are excited to have Sam Waterston lend his voice to our New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, joining elected leaders, celebrities, and everyday New Yorkers in the fight for fairness.”

Siena: Most Using Refund To Pay Bills

In more tax news, those lucky enough to receive a tax return plan to use the cash to pay bills, according to a Siena College poll released today.

Forty-two percent of New Yorkers said they paid too much in taxes, while 43 percent said they paid the correct amount. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they received a refund, with 64 percent planning to use the money to pay bills, the survey found.

The poll also found that the majority of retirees, 59 percent rely on Social Security funds in their post-retirement life.The survey also found a bleak outlook most New Yorkers hold for their retirement.

And few New Yorkers are socking away money for retirement. The survey found 50 percent put money in a savings account, 47 percent put money in a 401k, 23 percent met with a financial advisor, 13 percent invested in real estate, and 10 percent started a business.

“One thing that young and old do agree on is that the retirement prospects are on the decline. Among those not currently retired, forty-five percent believe their quality of life in retirement will be worse than those that retired already and among those currently retired, sixty-three percent predict that people in their thirties or forties today will have a worse retirement quality of life than they now enjoy,” said Don Levy, the Siena poll’s director.

0411PlanningCrosstabs

DiNapoli: $13M In ‘Questionable’ Refunds Stopped

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office has stopped payment on $13.3 million in state tax refunds after finding some filers falsely claimed child tax credits or filed by dishonest preparers.

DiNapoli, whose tax filing was made available Friday, said in a statement that the state refunded $2.9 billion so far this year. Taxes are due at midnight tonight.

“Tax scams can be simple when taxpayers inflate expenses or hide income to avoid paying taxes,” DiNapoli said. “Other scams are sophisticated. Dishonest tax preparers cook up schemes to get bigger refunds for taxpayers and bigger fees for themselves, either with or without the taxpayer’s knowledge. Whatever the scam, we need to separate the honest mistakes from the fraud and make sure only legitimate tax refunds get paid. Tax cheats cannot be tolerated.”

DiNapoli’s office also said some filers misstated their correct income or filed with “questionable” social security numbers.

NTSB: Tour Bus Didn’t Hit Tractor Trailer

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into the tour bus accident that killed 15 people in the north Bronx last month, finding that the bus wasn’t struck by a tractor trailer before overturning.

Driver Ophadell Williams had claimed the bus was clipped by a tractor trailer prior to the accident. It was later discovered Williams’ license was revoked for speeding.

From the report:

The motorcoach driver stated that a truck-tractor semitrailer encroached into his lane, striking his vehicle. A truck driver subsequently identified himself as a witness to the accident. NTSB investigators interviewed the truck driver and conducted a focused examination of the combination vehicle, including taking dimensional measurements of the truck-tractor and semitrailer. No evidence was found that would correspond to a potential area of contact between the bus and the combination vehicle.

The accident resulted in a crackdown on tour bus operations across the state. Department of Transportation officials announced Thursday that 1,286 buses had been stopped in surprise inspections. In total, 124 drivers were cited and 96 buses were taken off the road.

Here’s the NTSB report:
New York Preliminary Report 041411

Fuschillo: Enlist Private Sector To Speed Up Projects

Languishing road and bridge projects could be sped up with help from a bill that would increase private sector participation, Long Island Republican Sen. Charles Fuschillo said today.

In a statement, Fuschillo said he was introducing legislation that would increase private-public partnerships by giving state agencies more flexibility in entering into contracts for road, bridge and tunnel projects. The proposal is meant to help a cash-strapped state with a sagging infrastructure get costly projects off the ground, he said.

“New York’s transportation infrastructure is at a crossroads,” Fuschillo said. “With a severely underfunded DOT capital plan and massive outstanding projects like the Tappan-Zee Bridge replacement, it is time for New York to explore effective and innovative ways to fund our transportation system.”

“Public-private partnerships are a proven tool we need to deliver vital projects on-time and under-budget.”

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River connecting Rockland and Westchester counties, was one of the first stops Gov. Andrew Cuomo made immediately after his election, saying the state has to do more to update its infrastructure.

The cost of replacing the aging bridge is estimated at $16 million billion.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was cool to the idea of public-private partnerships in January, saying that while they could be put to a good use, the programs need vigilant oversight.

Klein To Anton Glamb: Album Cover Not Cool

Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, is not cheering Brooklyn DJ Anton Glamb’s album cover that depicts two cans of the now-banned alcohol-caffeine brew Four Loko as the collapsing twin towers.

Though he’s probably giving the hipster-ish Glamb free publicity by complaining about the album, Klein said the album art is both “dumb and offensive.”

“Comparing the tragic events of 9-11 to our efforts to keep Four Loko and other high-alcohol, super-sweetened, alcopops out of the hands of minors is equal parts dumb and offensive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, it is in extremely poor taste to use an attack on our country that killed more than 3,000 New Yorkers as a parody. Frankly, I think this artist owes an apology to the families of those who lost their lives on that day.”

Klein, the chairman of the Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, held hearings in Albany this week on cracking down on so-called Alco-pops that he says are responsible for dozens of underage drinking deaths.