Two WNY Congressional Districts Among ‘Worst For Black Americans’

A new report names two Western New York congressional districts among the top ten worst for black Americans.

New York’s 25th District which includes the city of Rochester and the 26th District which includes the city of Buffalo place second and ninth, respectively. Financial news and opinion website 247wallst.com conducted the study which created an index to measure socioeconomic disparities between black and white Americans based on U.S. Census data. It looked at seven factors including poverty rate, home ownership rate and unemployment.

Only Minnesota’s 5th District did worse in the study than NY-25. The website said segregation leads to disparate outcomes, and Rochester schools are highly segregated with only 10% white students in the district.

“Currently, over 94% of white adults in the congressional district have a high school diploma, compared to just 78.4% of black adults,” the report continues. “Education is closely linked to income, and more than one in every three black district residents live below the poverty line, compared to 8.2% of white residents”

Democrat Rep. Joe Morelle represents NY-25. He is currently serving his first full term.

24/7 Wall St editor Douglas McIntyre said there are a lot of contributing factors and the point of the study is not to place blame on a single person.

“One of the things we don’t want to do is put our fingers on the scales about that for two reasons. The first one is I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that but the second one is we in particularly don’t know the answer to that,” he said.

NY-26 also had a nearly 24 point chasm in poverty rates between white and black people who live in the district. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins’s office said he is well-aware of the data as there have been numerous reports over the years.

“Congressman Higgins has a clear understanding of the challenges Western New York faces and his work in Washington is centrally focused on fighting for opportunities to help our communities thrive and put people to work,” spokesperson Theresa Kennedy said.

She said there is no singular solution to the issue but Higgins has helped bring in significant federal dollars for workforce training in Buffalo and voted in favor of issues like raising the minimum wage and increased education funding.

Reed Asks AG Barr to Investigate Cop Dousing Incidents As Hate Crimes

From the Morning Memo:

A string of recent incidents in which civilians poured water on New York City police officers is getting some attention at the federal level.

This week, Southern Tier Republican Rep. Tom Reed wrote a latter to United States Attorney General William Barr asking him to investigate the actions as potential hate crimes and pursue criminal assault charges against the perpetrators.

“Make no mistake – these officers were attacked because of the badge and uniform they wear,” Reed wrote. “If our nation does not come together to confront the rhetoric of hate and the attacks on our law enforcement officers, the safety of our homes and communities will be in jeopardy.”

The congressman said criminals have been emboldened by rhetoric from Democratic lawmakers, recently enacted state laws requiring officers to issue tickets instead of make arrests for some offenses, and “some district attorneys’ refusal to prosecute certain low-level crimes.

“While we cannot control the extreme rhetoric of these politicians and the total disrespect local district attorneys have shown toward police by refusing to prosecute these crimes, the United States Justice Department does have the ability to investigate criminal hate crime charges,” Reed said.

He also expressed support for a proposed New York State law that would make it a Class E felony to throw or spray water or any other substance at an on-duty officer. He said, however, that bill is facing stiff opposition from Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Thursday!

Happening today:

At 10:45 a.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will join elected officials for a back-to-school backpack giveaway, 5100 Kings Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., The Riders Alliance will poll riders to create a “Riders Capital Plan.” Bowling Green, opposite MTA headquarters, 2 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will join students to discuss diversifying tech jobs. Hand in Hand program, WNY STEM Hub. 1140 Ellicott St., Buffalo.

At 12:15 p.m., Hochul will deliver remarks at Sen. Tim Kennedy’s senior grill and child wellness cookout. William-Emslie Family YMCA. 585 William St., Buffalo.

At 12:30 p.m., Mayor de Blasio will hold a media availability, M.S. 890, 21 Hinckley Place, Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement, New York City Bar Association, 42 W 44th St., New York City.

At 6 p.m., Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Senator Julia Salazar, and Senator Brian Kavanagh will host a town hall to recap the 2019 New York State Legislative Session. Bushwick Inlet Park Community Room, 86 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., Sens. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Shelley Mayer will hold a townhall meeting. Yonkers Riverfront Library, Second Floor, One Larkin Center, Yonkers.

Headlines:

An NYPD officer died Wednesday evening in Queens after shooting himself, the ninth officer to take their own life in New York City this year, the police department confirmed.

ThriveNYC pulled out of a mental health event after the pro-cop group Blue Lives Matter sponsored it.

The NYPD is getting closer to determining whether Officer Daniel Pantaleo should be fired.

With the one-year look back window now open under the Child Victims Act, 20 lawsuits alone were filed against the Diocese of Albany.

A lawsuit has been filed against Boy Scouts of America in the Capital Region. Filed under the lookback window within the Child Victims Act, three plaintiffs say they were abused by scoutmasters or leaders who were approved by Twin Rivers Council.

An autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein found he had several broken neck bones.

A bizarre painting of Bill Clinton in a blue dress was discovered in Epstein’s townhouse.

Guards at the federal jail facility where Epstein was housed let a serial bank robber go free by mistake.

A New York City Housing Authority complex in the Bronx has been running on generators for a month.

Since unveiling his NYC Care plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio has framed the program as a groundbreaking success, including out on the presidential campaign trail.

Wearing white clothes and with their children in tow, more than a thousand people lined the block around the Albany County Courthouse Wednesday to hear the opening arguments in a case challenging New York’s end to the religious exemption for vaccinations. Jackie Herig traveled from Long Island to attend.

Chris Cuomo’s “Fredo rant” in context: The Cuomo family has spent decades pushing back on anti-Italian stereotypes in the media and elsewhere.

Contractors who helped restore homes after Hurricane Sandy allege the Build It Back program owes them nearly $2 million.

Activists clashed Wednesday after disability advocates announced a lawsuit against the MTA, calling for the transit agency to bring back bus stops along 14th Street it removed for Select Bus Service.

In Albany, the Center for Law and Justice is taking a closer look at the relationship between residents and police in a report released Wednesday.

As the discussion around Interstate 81 and the viaduct in downtown Syracuse continues, there’s another part of the project making a little noise. Changes could raise the volume in some neighborhoods near the highway.

Law enforcement agencies have started to utilize drones more frequently as the technology continues evolving, but constant training is required.

Across the Rochester City School District, graduation rates are at a 10-year high. But Board of Education President Van White says this is not a time to celebrate, because while these numbers represent hope for families in Rochester, this is not “mission accomplished.”

A petition that would name the portion of Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower after former President Barack Obama has gained 140,000 signatures.

Levon Helm played at Woodstock 50 years ago. He passed away in 2012, but his legacy lives on in upstate New York.

After years of planning, the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival’s 50th anniversary is almost here. But, there remins some information to know before heading up to Bethel for the festivities.

A giant praying mantis was spotted on the 6 train, which understandably freaked straphangers out a bit.

In national news:

Alarm bells are ringing over a potential recession and global slowdown amid concerns about the effect of the U.S.-China trade war.

And the shocks surrounding the trade dispute are worldwide, as Germany appears to be close to officially dipping into a recession.

What’s the yield curve? Basically, it’s a sign that investors aren’t making long-term bets. Here’s an explainer.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will end his presidential campaign and run for U.S. Senate.

A suspect in a Philadelphia standoff that left six police officers wounded has surrendered.

President Trump is resisting efforts to have the U.S. support protesters in Hong Kong.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview that he hopes former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned amid multiple allegations of forcible touching, would run again.

Gun control groups are rallying in all 50 states to pressure Republican officials on the issue.

From the editorial pages:

The Daily News blames President Trump for a sputtering stock market that is stoking recession fears.

The Times Union writes the state should once again fund education programs for inmates, calling it both morally right and prudent, since it’s been shown to reduce recidivism.

The New York Post criticized MTA workers for taking an average of 54 days off last year, which led to increased overtime costs.

Newsday knocks the Trump administration’s move to limit social services for immigrants, saying it plays on stereotypes.

From the sports pages:

The Yankees have utterly crushed the lowly Baltimore Orioles this season.

Bad news for the Mets: Jeff McNeil is headed to the IL.

Here is the latest on the equal pay fight for the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

Extras

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s estate is being sued under the Child Victims Act.

The Child Victims Act went into effect Wednesday, opening the gates to a flood of child sexual abuse lawsuits, something survivors were previously blocked from filing. Coming to light today in one of those lawsuits: allegations against former Bishop Howard Hubbard.

Within the first 12 hours of the lookback window opening, there were 103 cases filed in Erie County alone, in addition to three cases in Niagara County and one in Cattaraugus County.

But while some have been busy meeting with attorneys and getting lawsuits ready, others can’t find lawyers to take their cases.

Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter had to take steps recently to correct a campaign finance violation.

Activists clashed Wednesday after disability advocates announced a lawsuit against the MTA, calling for the transit agency to bring back bus stops along 14th Street it removed for Select Bus Service.

For the first time in over a decade, there will be a challenger in the race for Onondaga County District Attorney. And now, that challenger is getting an endorsement that’s raising some eyebrows.

Niagara Falls is the latest municipality in Western New York to receive a downtown revitalization grant from the state.

Rep. Collins Solicits Campaign Contributions

It sure seems like Republican Congressman Chris Collins plans to seek his fifth term in 2020.

Collins has repeatedly said he doesn’t plan to announce his intentions for New York’s 27th District until later this year. However, he is actively fundraising.

The congressman sent out a letter soliciting contributions Wednesday. In it he referred to a recent poll in which he’s 20 points ahead of his “primary opponent” Chris Jacobs.

Of course, Jacobs and attorney Beth Parlato are the only Republicans who have officially announced there candidacy, so far. Technically Jacobs can’t be Collins primary opponent until the incumbent says he’s running.

He seemed to acknowledge that a few lines later in the letter.

“And should I choose to run, I will need your support,” he said. “This is going to be an expensive race.”

The letter is specifically focused on Jacobs who the congressman continues to call a “never-Trump” Republican. He said the poll also found likely GOP primary voters believe the current state Senator is the least likely to support President Trump’s agenda (mostly true although they also said he’s the second most likely to support the agenda).

Collins, who asked for contributions of $50, $100, $250 or more, recently admitted his ongoing federal litigation has made it difficult to fundraise but also promised he could self-fund a campaign if need be.

DOH Seeks Medicaid Coverage Approval For People Being Released By Jails, Prisons

State officials are beginning the process to apply for a Medicaid waiver in order to provide health care services to inmates about to be released from county jails and state prisons.

If approved, the services would begin a month before an inmate is released and would cover health conditions, including serious mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS, or opioid use disorder or multiple chronic physical or behavioral health conditions.

“For incarcerated individuals leaving prisons and jails, it is critical that they receive the healthcare services they need for a seamless transition to life outside the correctional facility,” said Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “Ensuring continuous healthcare coverage for criminal justice involved populations with serious health conditions will make our communities both healthier and safer.”

The public comment period of the waiver application to the U.S. Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services began on Wednesday. The proposal was initially contained in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 State of the State announcement.

Services provided if the waiver is approved would include Medicaid-covered benefits like care management, referals and appointments with health providers and linkages to social services and peer supports. In addition, a medication management plan and higher priority medications for chronic conditions.

For criminal justice reform supporters, providing health care services while an inmate is in the process of transitioning to leaving a jail or prison facility and provide them with “bridging care.”

“Approval of this Medicaid waiver would provide incarcerated individuals returning home from prison with a continuity of health care, breaking down a significant barrier to a successful reentry and helping to keep our communities healthy and safe.,” said Acting Corrections and Community Supervision Commissioner Anthony Annucci.

The DOH pointed to people who have been in prison and jail populations having higher rates of visits to emergency rooms and hospitals, saying it would offset any increase in Medicaid spending by reductions in the use of those services.

One in 70 people are hospitalized a week after they are released from a prison or jail, according to the National Institute of Health, while one in 12 people are hospitalized within three months — far higher rates than the average population.

Anti-Vaccine Protesters Converge In Albany As Court Challenge Continues

A challenge to a new state law ending the religious exemptions for vaccinations was heard in an Albany County court today, and anti-vaccine protesters were a visible presence.

Wearing white clothes and with their children in tow, more than a thousand people lined the block around the Albany County Courthouse Wednesday to hear the opening arguments in a case challenging New York’s end to the religious exemption for vaccinations. Jackie Herig traveled from Long Island to attend.

“I’m very hopeful,” Herig said during a demonstration outside of the governor’s office on the second floor of the Capitol. “We have Jesus on our side. So, there’s two things man can’t mess with. Mother nature and God. This is going to be one of those moments where we prevail.”

Others, like John Jackson, said his family would leave the state if the law remains in place.

“I would 100 percent move,” Jackson said. “We relocated here about a year and a half ago for work for my wife’s job. We would leave.”

The case is being argued by longtime legal activist Michael Sussman and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a prominent anti-vaccine advocate. In court, they argued that with the school year starting, parents who oppose vaccinations for their kids won’t be able to send them to school next month. Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz was skeptical of the argument.

“This was always about health,” Dinowitz said in an interview. “It’s never been about religion. And I would go further and say that for some people who claim the religious exemption, it’s not about that either. It’s about not getting their child vaccinated.”

Dinowitz was the lead sponsor of the legislation, which narrowly passed in the Assembly in May amid a measles outbreak in Brooklyn and Rockland County. He expects the law will be upheld.

“The exact same legislation in California was upheld,” Dinowitz said. “The courts have ruled consistently in favor of legislation like this because public health has to take precedents over other considerations.”

And despite the crowd converging in Albany, a Siena College poll has shown a different story: 84 percent of voters support ending religious exemptions for vaccinations.

Public health experts say vaccines are necessary for healthy people to create herd immunity.

Cuomo Says CVA Will End ‘Virtual Immunity’ For Child Abuse

The one-year look back for sexual abuse cases has opened today and thousands of lawsuits are being filed, creating a sea of civil cases that had been stymied by statute of limitation laws.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview earlier this morning said the opening of the window to file the cases, a key component of the Child Victims Act, will help bring a measure of “closure and resolution.”

“I think it will send a message to society, just because they’re a child and they don’t have an attorney and they can’t walk into court, they’re not as vulnerable as you think,” Cuomo said in an interview on Long Island News Radio.

“They have legal rights and if you abuse a child you’re going to have your day in court and you’re going to be called to answer for it. And I believe that can have a chilling effect on those people who abuse children. So, it’s basic justice and it’s right and it also causes us to acknowledge – which has been the theme of a lot of these issues – acknowledge the issue.”

The law approved this earlier this year could have major ramifications for a range of institutions, including the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America.

“We have a society where some people abuse children sexually and that’s been going on for decades with virtual immunity. No more,” Cuomo said.

The Child Victims Act was a long-sought measure for Albany, and had stalled for years in the state Senate under a GOP majority.

“The passage of the Child Victims Act was a long and tough fight for the survivors and advocates,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

“The start of the one-year window will help survivors seek justice that has been denied for far too long. I applaud Senator Brad Hoylman who has been a leader in the fight to pass the Child Victims Act and to ensure the ‘lookback window’ was included in the final legislation. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue to stand with the survivors of sexual abuse as they seek justice.”

Cuomo Plans Anti-Domestic Terrorism Legislation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview Wednesday announced plans to introduce legislation meant to combat domestic terrorism in New York.

The legislation is being proposed amid a renewed focus on hate crimes in the state and around the country. The alleged gunman who opened fire at a shopping center in El Paso this month is believed to have written an essay decrying non-white immigrants entering the country.

Cuomo said the measure would “redefine domestic terrorism.”

“Theres now a different type of domestic terrorism which is this hate-inspired mass murder,” Cuomo said in the interview with Long Island News radio, “which has nothing to do with a foreign entity.”

“Yes, it comes from the Middle East. It also comes from middle America,” he added. “These white surpemacist groups, these white nationalists groups, the Internet and then you put that together with an assault weapon, you have 22 dead within minutes.”

Since the El Paso shooting, as well as a shooting less than 24 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, Cuomo has pushed Democratic candidates for president to push for new gun control legislation that includes a ban on assault-style weapons and strengthened background checks as well as a national red flag law.

“It is a politically polarizing issue and it is the third rail for a lot of politicians and they don’t want to go near it and I understand,” Cuomo said.

The ‘Price Of Justice’

From the Morning Memo:

For years, as the state Legislature attempted to pass the Child Victims Act, many opponents pointed to the potential financial implications, not just for institutions like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church but New York in general.

When lawmakers finally passed the bill in January they listed the fiscal impact as “to be determined.” They are likely about to get a much better idea of exactly what that impact is with a one-year lookback window for civil lawsuits opening today.

Litigation that otherwise would have fallen outside the statute of limitations will be coming en masse.

“First and foremost, sometimes there’s a price on justice and I think bringing justice to these victims is the thing we should think about the most,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said.

Asked about how much it will cost taxpayers, the speaker said he would need to check with the Ways and Means Committee. Ultimately, it may be difficult to predict a hard number.

Attorneys across the state have indicated their plans to sue various school districts over the next weeks and months. Other organizations, like the church, provide things like health and refugee services that the state may need to pick up if they’re severely injured by the suits.

“If there’s a cost on the school districts or the state or whoever was responsible for these terrible acts against young people, that’s just a price of justice and that should be paid,” Heastie said.

He also didn’t have an immediate answer for how much this will cost the court system which is preparing for potentially thousands of new cases.