Nick Reisman

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Warren County Urges Delay In Criminal Justice Measures

County officials in Warren County on Friday backed a resolution urging the delay of the implementation of changes to the state’s criminal justice laws that are set to take effect in the new years.

The county, located at the border of the Adirondack Park, is one of the first to pass a resolution raising formal concerns with the end of cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies as well as new discovery law requirements.

The resolution backed by the Board of Supervisors urged that “the fundamental responsibility of governments to protect the vulnerable in society demands that the shortcomings of these laws be remedied prior to their effective date” of Jan. 1.

Republican lawmakers around New York in recent weeks have held news conferences also urging the delay a delay of the measures taking effect.

Local prosecutors have also urged state lawmakers to back more funding for discovery law changes, which require a faster processing and turnover of evidence to the defense in criminal cases. Attorney General Letitia James has called the changes, in essence, an unfunded mandate for her office and district attorneys.

Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol on Thursday said the laws should take effect as planned, but did not rule out funding for areas that are in need, such as pre-trial services.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has defended the funding issues, pointing to the savings reaped for local governments by a decline in the number of people residing in local jails.

“New York State is creating a more equitable justice system as we eliminate cash bail for minor offenses, speed the time to trial, transform the discovery process, raise the age of criminal responsibility, decriminalize marijuana, and invest in indigent defense,” said Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the state Division of Budget.

“There is no question resources are available for the implementation of these critical reforms as the State invests more than $300 million to support them and local governments will recognize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings from a declining inmate population.”

R519 2019 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Lentol Bill Would Create Mental Health Community Clinics

Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Friday announced a measure that would create integrated mental health community clinics in the state.

The facilities would focus on issues like eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide prevention as well as other behavioral issues.

“While preventative and proactive care of physical health is important, the same must be said for mental health,” Lentol said. “New York State continues to fail individuals and families who suffer from brain disease that manifest as symptoms of mental illness. No matter the health care discussion, mental health always gets left behind.”

The proposal would require the state Department of Health to create the clinics and equip them with services to expand access to treatment.

“We must treat mental health as comprehensively as we do physical health,” he said. “Expanding access to mental health services is not only the right thing to do, but it is a public health emergency. New York State must provide comprehensive and accessible means of mental health treatment for those who need it.”

NYSUT Names New Director Of Legislation

From the Morning Memo:

The New York State United Teachers union is filling a key legislative role ahead of the 2020 session.

The union has named Alithia Rodriguez-Rolon its director of legislation, a role that will have her supervising and managing NYSUT’s team of representatives for the Legislature, analyze legislation and shape formal legislative positions for the group.

Rodriguez-Rolon has worked as a legislative representative since 2014, working as the director of state government affairs for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Before that, she lobbied on behalf of the state Department of Health and the New York State Nurses Association.

“Alithia is a fierce advocate for our public schools, colleges and hospitals,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta in a statement.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside her and NYSUT’s entire legislative team during the 2020 session to advocate for policies that benefit our students and their families and hard-working unionists across New York.”

Here And Now

Good morning! TGIF. Here’s the news.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned. Mayor de Blasio is in New York City with noting public scheduled.

At 10 a.m., Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Council Member Diana Ayala, and Dr. Cary Goodman, Executive Director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, will host a press conference on the Nike and MLB merchandise contract update. 850 River Avenue, the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Pam Helming along with local law enforcement leaders will urge for the halt of the implementation of the new criminal justice reform laws. Ontario County Office Building, First Floor Conference Room, 20 Ontario Street, Canandaigua.

At 12:15 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will discuss flood mitigation efforts. Irondequoit Public Library. 1290 Titus Avenue, Irondequoit.

At 1 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will tour Monroe County flood resiliency projects. Irondequoit Bay Marine Park. Culver Road, Irondequoit.

At 1:45 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will tour Wayne County flood resiliency projects. Ontario Wastewater Pump Station. 2200 Lake Road, Ontario.

At 2:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and NYPD union officials will speak out against bail law changes. PS 38, 421 Lincoln Ave., Staten Island.

At 6 p.m., New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks. New York Historical Society. 170 Central Park West, New York City.


Assemblyman Joe Lentol on Thursday did not rule out adding more money for local governments to implement criminal justice law changes.

One of the ripple effects of criminal justice law changes: Ending cash bail could have an adverse impact on animal shelters and potentially endanger their cruelty cases against abusers, the Albany DA warned.

Republicans in the state Senate, meanwhile, continued to press for the criminal justice law measures’ enactment to be delayed.

The inspector general’s office won’t say if Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie were interviewed as part of an investigation into a leak from a JCOPE meeting to the governor.

to be delayed.“>A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found support for minor parties to qualify ballot access, a result that comes as a commission considers raising the vote threshold for retention.

The Department of Education is investigating alleged anti-Semitism at New York University.

Gannett’s planned merger with GateHouse, creating the largest newspaper company in the country, is being met with increasing skepticism.

Mayor de Blasio sharply criticized the MTA over spending and mismanagement, calling on the agency to “clean up its own house.”

An MTA official invoked the Sept. 11 attacks when defending the plan to hire 500 new transit cops.

The mayor is back to reveling in the “town hall” format of interacting with the public, which he cut back on during his run for the presidency.

State officials knew for years former open government director Robert Freeman had harassed women, but did nothing to remove him.

In a move that could reverberate across the “gig” economy, Uber is being fined $649 million for declaring that its drivers are not employees.

The federal corruption trial of former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spot and his former top aide is getting underway.

The New York City Council has approved legislation meant to make Hart Island more accessible.

The New York City schools chancellor is boycotting his own parents advisory group amid a bitter internal battle.

A controversial push to desegregate public schools in Brooklyn has led to increased diversity, a report found.

Next summer’s racing season is still more than eight months away but New York State Racing Association leaders are already planning to stick with a shortened weekly schedule at Saratoga Race Course.

The New York State Nursing Association is responding to Albany Medical Center’s mandatory flu vaccination policy.

A new program is training New York City employees to help homeless New Yorkers get off the street.

Another racial incident has been reported at Syracuse University — the second in a week — according to a Facebook post by the university’s Department of Public Safety.

Monroe County Legislature Republicans are defending proposed changes to the county charter outlined in the CABLE Act, a day after the other side of the political aisle accused them of an attempted power grab.

Stockholders approved the sale of Empire Resorts on Wednesday to the company’s two largest shareholders, making the once public company now privately owned.

The New York City Council on Thursday approved a controversial plan to protect parts of Manhattan from future storms by building 2.5 miles of barriers along the East River.

Although he was nowhere to be seen after ignoring a subpoena, Rudy Giuliani’s name was invoked more than 50 times in nearly five-and-a-half hours of testimony in the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday.

Dozens of supporters of Poughkeepsie sisters Julissa Dawkins and Jamelia Barnett — seen in a viral police arrest video from March — lined the steps of the Dutchess County family courthouse, before the girls entered for a hearing on Wednesday in the criminal case against them.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is yet to sign off on a plan for south Troy meant to ease truck traffic congestion.

Westchester County is renting floor space so the D-league Westchester Knicks can still play in the county.

In national news:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility that President Trump committed bribery when linking military aide to Ukraine in exchange for investigations of Democrats.

Social media sites and YouTube are trying to keep the name of the alleged whistleblower off their sites, but it is not working out well so far.

President Trump denies knowing anything about a phone call in which he allegedly told EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland that he cared more about an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden than he did about Ukraine.

President Trump is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from prosecutors, a move that will determine whether the president can be criminally prosecuted while in office.

Investigators were searching the home of a 16-year-old suspect Thursday night after a deadly shooting at a Santa Clarita school.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for making sexist remarks as his presidential campaign begins to ramp up.

Ten Democrats are expected to meet next week on the presidential primary debate stage.

A new ad from a pro-Cory Booker super PAC says there is no need for more candidates in the presidential race.

From the editorial pages:

The Buffalo News credits help from Albany for the city of Buffalo’s surplus.

The Times Union says SUNY should consider alternative energies after a contract prevented it from using clean energy for dormitories.

Newsday says the public campaign financing commission has the opportunity to reshape New York’s campaign laws for the better.

From the sports pages:

The curse of the Knicks’ season is they can only beat one time, and it’s Kristap Porzingis’s Dallas Mavericks.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels has won the American League MVP.

Yeah, um, you can’t do this in football.

NY-17: Jones Releases First Campaign Video

Democratic House candidate Mondaire Jones on Thursday released the first video of his campaign that highlights his biography, his family’s struggles against racism and the history-making nature of his candidacy.

“My grandfather used to tell me a story about how when he would walk to school growing up in Virginia, there were white students who got to take the bus,” he said in the video.

“And they would spit on him through the school bus windows as he was walking the dirt path on his way to school. I was raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs, and we still needed food stamps to get by. I didn’t come from money. I’m black, I’m gay, and so I don’t see people like me in office very often.”

The video was produced by WIN Media, which has been behind ads for campaigns including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Rep. Lauren Underwood and congressional candidate Randy Bryce.

Jones’s video was released the same day Allison Fine, a former NARAL board chairwoman, announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the suburban district to replace Rep. Nita Lowey. Sen. David Carluccci and Assemblyman David Buchwald previously announced their campaigns.

Adoptees Will Have Access To Birth Certificates Under New Law

Adoptees will be able to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate when they turn 18 under a new law approved on Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure will provide New York adoptees the right to information about their birth and biological parents.

“Where you came from informs who you are, and every New Yorker deserves access to the same birth records – it’s a basic human right,” Cuomo said. “For too many years, adoptees have been wrongly denied access to this information and I am proud to sign this legislation into law and correct this inequity once and for all.”

The new law is meant to remove the restriction placed by government agencies on information made available to adopted people, which in turn would give them a better chance of identifying medical data that can detect and prevent diseases.

The measure was sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin and Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.

“I am so proud to have been the Senate sponsor of the Clean Bill of Adoptee Rights and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this historic piece of legislation,” Montgomery said. “This has been long overdue. We owe our success to the advocacy of thousands of adult adoptees who have fought tirelessly on this issue for over 20 years. The level of support I received for this legislation from adult adoptees all across the state and the nation was astounding. It is important that they have the right to seek answers about their health, their family history and their heritage.”

Democratic Party Chairman Says ‘Credible Parties’ Will Make Cut

“Credible” political parties will be able to meet a higher threshold for ballot access that could be set by a commission determining the future of how campaigns spend and receive money in New York, Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs in a radio interview on Thursday said.

Jacobs is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointee to the commission determining the guidelines for public campaign financing, and the commission may also take a broader purview of its role and raise the threshold number of votes needed in a gubernatorial race for ballot access.

The current threshold is 50,000 votes, which has been in place for nearly 90 years.

“We have to make sure that people who run for offices on these party lines are running from party lines that are actual credible parties that have some demonstrated level of support,” he said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, adding that “parties that are active, real parties” will be able to meet the new, higher threshold.

The potential for changing ballot qualifications has led to fresh concerns the commission is potentially targeting the Working Families Party, a progressive ballot line that has feuded with Cuomo. But Jacobs, a Cuomo ally, said he did not consider the WFP a “sham party” like the Independence Party, the Serve America Movement or Women’s Equality Party ballot lines.

“They take their real estate, let’s call it what it is, their lease on real estate on the ballot and they monetize it through transactional negotiations with the major parties because it creates a billboard effect,” Jacobs said.

NY-17: Fine Launches Bid For Lowey Seat

Allison Fine, a former national board chairwoman for NARAL Pro-Choice America, announced her bid for the Democratic nomination in the 17th congressional district.

Fine, the founder of the Network of Elected Women who has written about technology for social impact, is running for the seat being vacated next year by retiring Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey.

“I want to lead us into the next chapter for our country; one that is prosperous and fair,” she said.

“Our democracy and economy need fixing. We need to create something new and better. The work of rebuilding our country begins right here at home. And this is my home. I know the issues people in our community face because I face them too. My husband and I pay for our own insurance and have no pensions. We work to put our kids through college, take care of our aging parents, and pay our taxes and bills. This is what keeps me up at night—and I know I’m not alone.”

Fine said she wants to build on the work Lowey has done for the suburban New York City district.

“Every century, Americans remake our democracy,” she said. “This is that time again. It’s time for new voices, especially in Congress where women are greatly underrepresented.”

Former Justice Department official Mondaire Jones, Sen. David Carluccci and Assemblyman David Buchwald previously announced their campaigns.

IG Report Finds Persistent Pattern Of Sexual Harassment And Abuse By Ex-Open Government Official

For years, the state’s leading authority on open government laws would advise reporters, editors, students and members of the general public on how to file for public records and their rights to attend a public meeting while writing briefs asserting the right of the public to know what their government was up to.

But at the same time Robert Freeman was being praised as an ally and advocate for the press in New York, he was the subject of complaints by women, dating back to at least 2003, surrounding allegations that he would kiss women, download inappropriate images to his work computer and send emails to female students and journalists that made them deeply uncomfortable.

Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro on Thursday released a report detailing the numerous allegations against Freeman, the former executive director of the Committee on Open Government, who resigned earlier this year after a report at The Journal News in Westchester County complained about his inappropriate behavior, which state officials had known about for years.

The report details years of behavior — ranging from asking a woman for a kiss to sending emails telling a journalism student if he wanted to touch her — dating back to at least 2003.

Freeman had been the subject of formal and informal complaints over the years, and had been investigated by the New York Department of State. An editor at the Democrat and Chronicle sent a letter to Freeman admonishing him for having a conversation with a reporter that left the woman uncomfortable.

“Mr. Freeman habitually engaged in sexual harassment of multiple women over many years,” Tagliafierro said.

“Given the stature Freeman attained during his tenure as executive director, his role as the sole authority on government transparency, and the power dynamic he repeatedly promoted, many of the women who spoke with my office said they believed it would be futile to report his misconduct. However, there are now multiple pathways for reporting such behavior and my office stands ready to assist anyone who believes they have been victimized by state employees.”

Freeman occupied a unique position of trust for reporters navigating the state’s Freedom of Information Law and Open Meetings Law. He was often referred to as an unfettered expert open records laws and was a reliable person to contact for advice.

But after his firing in June, numerous allegations by women, both co-workers, students and journalists surfaced, according to the report.

Freeman was asked voluntarily to testify to the inspector general about the allegations. He declined.

dos-freeman-1789.040.2019-alb-report-11.14.19 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

New Campaign Disclosure Law Approved

From the Morning Memo:

A measure that requires campaign committees and candidates to include a “paid for by” disclaimer on print, digital, display and auditory ads was approved this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The bill in essence aligns New York’s paid campaign advertising disclosure rules with the federal government’s own regulations for ads.

At the same time, the law is meant to end the practice of anonymous mailings during political campaigns.

The legislation is meant to counteract anonymous political spending in New York races, especially on social media platforms, amid a broader concern over the use of sites like Facebook to inject misinformation into the political bloodstream, building on a 2018 law to tamp down on digital communications by independent expenditure groups.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Democrats who represent Hudson Valley districts.

“Voters deserve full transparency when it comes to political communications – and now, finally, they’ll get it,” said Skoufis, who has been targeted by anonymous political ads in the past.

“As someone who was previously targeted by anonymous campaign mailers and robocalls, I know first-hand the confusion caused by these deceptive practices, especially when messages come from seemingly legitimate sources with no ‘paid for by’ disclaimer. We all have a right to vote in honest and fair elections, and this new law is a significant step forward.”