Nick Reisman

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James Says New York Should Defend Census Count Against Alabama Challenge

New York should lead a legal defense of the U.S. Census counting non citizens in its upcoming count of the population next year, Attorney General Letitia James said on Monday.

The counting of non-citizens residing in the United States was challenged last May by the state of Alabama and a congressman from the state. The defendant in the case is formally the U.S. Department of Commerce, but New York is moving to intervene in the case.

New York is intervening under the pretense that President Donald Trump’s administration will not muster an adequate defense of the Census. Trump withdrew an effort to require a citizenship question on the Census, which advocates worried could lead to an undercount.

The state will lead a 26-member coalition that includes 15 states, the District of Columbia, three counties, six cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“No individual ceases to be a person because they lack documentation,” James said in a statement.

“The United States Constitution is crystal clear that every person residing in this country at the time of the decennial census — regardless of legal status — must be counted, and no matter what President Trump says, or Alabama does, that fact will never change. So we are intervening in this case and taking on the role of defendant because the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution deserve better than a halfhearted and inadequate defense. We will continue to lead this fight because, despite the Trump Administration’s previous racist and xenophobic attempts to tip the balance of power in the nation and Alabama’s endeavor to continue down that path, we will never stop fighting to ensure every person counts.”

Cuomo Signs Sweeping Sexual Harassment Legislation

A bill that makes sweeping changes to the state’s sexual harassment laws was approved on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The centerpiece of the legislation is a narrowed definition of sexual harassment in the workplace, replacing the “severe or pervasive” standard that advocates and lawmakers have argued is too broad and does not cover a range of conduct.

The legislation largely came about through the advocacy of a group of former state government staffers who are victims and survivors of sexual assault, abuse and harassment themselves. The Sexual Harassment Working Group this year successfully pushed for a series of public hearings on the issue, which also came amid a societal reckoning surrounding sexual misconduct.

“There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“By ending the absurd legal standard that sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be ‘severe or pervasive’ and making it easier for workplace sexual harassment claims to be brought forward, we are sending a strong message that time is up on sexual harassment in the workplace and setting the standard of equality for women.”

The new law also includes provisions that require non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language that allow workers to still file a harassment or discrimination complaint with a government agency and testify in a government investigation.

At the same time, the measure bars the use of mandatory arbitration to resolve discrimination and harassment cases in the workplace and sets in motion a study to build on recent sexual harassment prevention measures.

“No one should have to endure sexual harassment or mistreatment in the workplace,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “For too long, our state was held back from making real progress in the fight against sexual harassment.”

Adirondack Council Wants To Tackle Overuse Of Trails

The Adirondack Council is backing an effort to tackle overuse of the park’s popular high peaks hiking trails through new planning projects, better funding and a pilot program for permits.

The ideas were discussed at a forum held by the Department of Environmental Conservation amid concerns about the use of the hiking trails in the Adirondacks, including the central portion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

“Clear consensus emerged on the need for a comprehensive plan, the money to carry out the plan and a pilot program for permits,” said Julia Goren, Adirondack Vision Project Director for the Adirondack Council.

“A comprehensive plan is needed to address each of the challenges, goals, and strategies in a holistic manner. Planning was identified as a vital need in every topic discussed. Planning takes money, which was also at the top of stakeholder requests. Money has been in short supply for trail improvements or even basic maintenance. By far, the most popular single tool identified by the participants was a pilot program for permits.”

The state in recent years has sought to bring more tourists and travel to the Adirondack Park, promoting upstate attractions like the mountains in an advertising campaign. But the influx of hikers and tourists to the region have also led to overuse of the trails.

It’s a balance, however, for a region that is among the poorest and oldest in the state, and depends heavily on tourism, as well as the use of natural resources.

The Adirondack Council most recently found 130 miles of high peak trails that are in need of maintenance and reconstruction.

Cuomo Calls Ammo Database A ‘Complicated Issue’

From the Morning Memo:

A stalled provision of the SAFE Act that would create a database of ammunition purchases is a “complicated issue” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview late last week.

The database has been put on hold since 2015 through a two-way memorandum of understanding reached by Cuomo and Senate Republicans, who held majority control of the chamber at the time.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins last week called on the governor’s administration to follow through with the creation of the database as Cuomo has pushed a four-point national platform for gun control that includes a ban on assault-style weapons, expanded background checks and a mental health database as well as a red-flag law.

But Cuomo, speaking with NPR, said both legal and technological issues remain. And he challenged lawmakers to develop their own ideas.

“To stop ammunition purchases, it’s not just in a gun store or at a gun show, it’s also the internet because if you do background checks when people go to buy ammunition at a gun store then Joe just opened up an internet web, internet sale and everybody can buy, which many people do now, buy it over the internet,” Cuomo said.

“So it raised legal issues and technological issues. If anyone in the Legislature has a better way to do it, I haven’t seen the bill and that’s normally how they communicate. But if they have a better proposal and they have a Legislative proposal, I would love to see it.”

Cuomo last week urged Democratic candidates for president to make gun control a central focus of the presidential campaign after two mass shootings this month less than 24 hours apart killed dozens in Ohio and Texas.

Business Groups Urge Approval Of Regulatory Relief Bills

From the Morning Memo:

More than two dozen local and statewide business groups on Monday will urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to sign a pair of bills meant to spur regulatory relief in New York.

One bill, sponsored by Assemblyman John McDonald and Sen. Anna Kaplan, would provide a grace period for small businesses to correct and address first-time violations rather than face a fine. The bill would not cover violations for regulations that cover protections for public safety, health, the environment or civil rights laws.

The groups are also pushing for the approval of a bill that would require state agencies to assess how a proposed regulation would affect small businesses. The measure would require the consideration of how long it would take a business to comply with new regulations.

And state agencies would be required to consider the financial and legal impact for small businesses if the measure is approved.

The letter, backed by the New York chapter of the National Federation fo Independent Business, was signed by 25 business advocacy groups.

“New York’s tax burden is well known, but just as challenging for small, independent businesses that drive New York’s economy and define its communities is the state’s archaic, cumbersome, and often punitive regulatory environment. Small businesses consistently cite aggressive and arbitrary enforcement of newly enacted or poorly communicated regulations as a serious problem,” said Greg Biryla, NFIB’s New York state director.

“These bills are a positive step in a better direction that will encourage the state’s enforcement agencies to work with small businesses on compliance issues and give them some reprieve from onerous fines imposed for minor infractions.”

SmallBusinessRegReform JointSupportLettertoGovernor8919 FINAL by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Here And Now

Good morning! The weekend was gorgeous and, hopefully, the week will be as well.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with nothing public planned.

At 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver opening remarks at the opening of the Dunkirk Pier and Harbor, Dunkirk City Pier, 2 Central Ave., Dunkirk.

Also at 10 a.m., a coalition of elected officials and community leaders will call on the state to require an environmental review with public input at Atlantic Yards and withhold new development rights there. Carlton Avenue Bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

Headlines:

Sixteen Democratic candidates in all passed through Saturday’s gun safety forum hosted by former Mayor Bloomberg’s group, Everytown for Gun Safety. Mayor de Blasio’s late slot meant much of the crowd had cleared out, but he did his best to grab some attention.

Sen. Chuck Schumer proposed legislation that would require the FBI to regulate the sale of body armor in the U.S.

The one-year look-back window for victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse is set to open on Wednesday, a key provision of the Child Victims Act taking effect.

A statewide coalition of educational groups is calling on New York to spend more money on children’s formative years — including child care and social services.

The state’s top information technology official has quietly departed his post amid an inspector general investigation.

From a ban on undetectable knives to barring discrimination based on facial hair, August has brought a flurry of new laws for the state.

A fire fighting crew on Friday composed of state Department of Environmental Conservation employees and volunteers are traveling west to fight the fires for two weeks.

The Bronx borough president is proposing an online registry for gun criminals, similar to the one for sex offenders.

Sergeant, Station Commander Jeffrey Cicora passed away Saturday due to an illness from his service at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, according to the New York State Police.

Two mass shootings, less than 24 hours apart, highlighted more violence on display in the United States. UAlbany Professor Frankie Bailey studies the intersection of criminality and mass media. She says there is no simple answer as to why these events continue to occur in American society.

About 350 people will have their marijuana arrest and conviction records expunged based on a a class action settlement.

Nearly 90 percent of NYCHA apartments lost heat and hot water during the winter, a report found.

Regulators at the Department of Financial Services are investigating whether the NRA received illegal $14 million kickbacks for gun insurance.

The Buffalo News profiled newly minted New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, who is optimistic he can rebuild the GOP in a Democratic-dominated state.

A number of questions remain over the details of the state’s ban on plastic bags.

Ex-Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has been approved for a $35,000 payout after he challenged the circumstances surrounding how his tenure as mayor ended.

The New Rochelle Board of Education voted 8-1 against using armed police officers as security guards in schools.

Days after re-opening following months of flooding, Silk O’Loughlin’s was the site for a protest of the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014 Saturday.

Democrat Nate McMurray is giving it another go in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

The parent company of Resorts World Catskills in Monticello is considering bankruptcy for the resort as it weighs an uncertain financial future.

Sullivan County is responding to plans for the New York state Electric and Gas Corporation to raise rates and shut down a local office. Those comments from the legislature made their way to the state’s public service commission on Friday.

A judge put the brakes on New York City’s plan to essentially ban all cars from 14th Street.

A $2 billion, 15-turbine wind energy project is set to be developed within two years, but continues to draw opposition in the Hamptons.

More high-earning Millennials are leaving New York than any other state, a study found.

In national news:

Questions remain over the death of Jeffrey Epstein, who officials say died by suicide while in custody at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Epstein’s death has sparked an investigation and turned the spotlight on the rich and powerful he has associated with over the years.

One area investigators are turning to: The source and nature of Epstein’s opaque finances and vast fortune.

Despite having been on suicide watch due to a previous attempt, Epstein was not closely monitored when he died.

Epstein’s guards were working extreme overtime shifts.

Epstein’s death has also fueled conspiracy theories on social media, one of which was amplified by President Trump’s Twitter feed.

Some labor union leaders are parting with former Vice President Joe Biden’s claims over the Medicare for all proposal.

The news did not break with a bang, but slipped out quietly. A leading New York Democrat says an impeachment inquiry against President Trump is already underway.

Americans are struggling to debate about guns and race more than a week after two mass shootings killed dozens of people.

Sen. Kamala Harris says the immigration raids will distort the 2020 Census count.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Post criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to restore oversight and accountability powers to Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, which was part of a handshake agreement earlier this year.

The Daily News welcomed the new NYCHA chief to the job and said it’s time to get to work fixing the troubled housing authority.

The Times Union writes that infrastructure projects need to assess the effect they have on small businesses when the working is going on.

Fred LeBrun criticizes the Joint Commission on Public Ethics for pursuing an unregistered lobbying investigation against a rape survivor.

From the sports pages:

The Yankees beat the Jays, 1-0.

The Mets snapped a nine-game winning streak.

Tim Tebow is out for the season at the Syracuse Mets.

The Albany Empire has won the Arena Football League’s championship.

Extras

Mayor Bill de Blasio is back on the campaign trail this weekend in Iowa — this as his campaign faces questions over funding for these trips.

Immigration agents reportedly tried to gain access to a homeless shelter in Brooklyn earlier this week.

The Bronx borough president is proposing an online registry for gun criminals, similar to the one for sex offenders.

A prayer vigil is being held on the steps of Schenectady City Hall Friday evening, honoring the lives lost in recent mass shootings.

Hudson Valley Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney calling on Washington to get back to work to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act after last weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The International Joint Commission says Lake Ontario Water levels remain at record highs, but progress is being made.

There’s some excitement in the air in the town of Macedon, as Grammy winner Alicia Keys and her husband, producer Swiss Beatz, announced they’ll be developing a music and arts center in the community.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins may still be the favorite in a 2020 GOP primary for New York’s 27th Congressional District despite the cloud of a federal insider trading trial hanging over his office.

An immigration judge has once again denied bond for the former East High School student who made an online threat against the school.

Gillibrand Launches $1M Ad Campaign

The presidential campaign of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday announced a $1 million TV ad campaign to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire this weekend.

The ad comes as Gillibrand is pushing to move up in the crowded Democratic presidential primary field’s polls and qualify for the stage at the next presidential debate in September.

“My promise to the American people is that I will restore compassion, courage and humanity to the White House,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“Despite what we feel today, it’s not impossible to have affordable health care for all, to protect our environment, to keep our kids safe and to root out the corrupting influence of money in our politics. As our campaign gains momentum, I’m excited to share my message with Iowa caucus-goers and New Hampshire voters.”

The ad is largely light on specifics and does not mention President Donald Trump, while largely focusing on broad themes.

“Imagine an America where harmony displaces hate,” the ad’s narrator says. “That protects our planet, provides healthcare for everyone. An America where public places are safe spaces. Where morality overrides money. Power restored to the people.”

Cuomo Says Trump Has ‘Fomented’ Hate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an interview with Mike Lupica’s podcast said President Donald Trump has “fomented” and stirred up hatred in the United States.

“I believe he has incited that. This is a president who came to office who never really offered a positive agenda, Mike. He’s a builder; he’s a developer; he was going to spend $1 trillion. He hasn’t built anything. There has been nothing constructive, nothing positive – it’s negative,” Cuomo said.

“It’s always negative. His strategy – divide and conquer – the oldest political strategy, the oldest social strategy in the book, divide and conquer.”

Cuomo in the interview once again called on Democrats running for president to make gun control — including a platform that backs a ban on assault-style rifles and strengthened background checks — a centerpiece issue in the campaign following a pair of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso last weekend.

But Cuomo also pointed to Trump’s rhetoric, including his claim the U.S. was being “invaded” by immigrants.

“Well what do you do when you’re told you’re being invaded? You arm yourself against the invaders,” Cuomo said.

Ortiz Fires Staffer Accused Of Stealing $80K

Assemblyman Felix Oritz on Friday announced he has fired Maruf Alam, the staffer who is accused by federal law enforcement of stealing $80,000 from a campaign account.

“Given the circumstances and the seriousness of the charges brought by the United States Attorney, this employee is being terminated effective immediately,” Ortiz said in a statement.

“These are very serious charges. I am personally appalled, hurt and disappointed that an employee would violate my trust. My constituents come first and they deserve to know that public employees are always working on their behalf. I want to thank the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for their efforts and I look forward to working with them to ensure that justice is served.”

Alam was arrested on Thursday and accused of wire fraud. He has acted as a volunteer treasurer for two campaign accounts and was in charge of filing disclosure reports for the campaign committee account.