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Calls for Lopez's Resignation
August 24th, 2012

The New King’s Democrats, a group that has been battling Brooklyn political boss Vito Lopez for political power on the local level have called for the embattled Assemblyman to resign following his censure by the Assembly for sexual harassment. “Yet again, Vito Lopez has embarrassed Brooklyn and the Democratic Party. We have long been used to stories about his corruption, cronyism and nepotism,” said Alex Low, president of NKD. “Today’s news marks a new low. Vito’s time has come. We encourage other leaders to join us in demanding his resignation and calling for fresh leadership.”

The tide of calls for Lopez to resign seems to have started. Scott Stringer tweeted: “Assemblymember Vito Lopez has violated any trust that voters placed in him, and he should step down immediately.

Common Cause issued a statement , stating: “It is clear that Assembly Member Lopez should resign not only from the Assembly but also from his chairmanship of the Kings County Democratic Party.”

Here is Common Cause’s full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on August 24, 2012, 4:14 pm
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Williams and Cabrera Comment on Shootings
August 24th, 2012

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this mornings shooting and their families and friends. It was a terrible act of gun violence and thankfully many more people were not hurt in midtown Manhattan. But its not the only act of gun violence in our city this summer.
Just last night, a 13-year-old child was heading to the store in Brownsville when he was gunned down and killed. We should be outraged and frightened by each and every one of these incidents, and they should strengthen the resolve of every elected official to do whatever necessary to pass meaningful and common-sense gun control measures. We all need to find ways to end gun violence in our city. Whether its on 34th street in Midtown Manhattan, a playground in the Bronx or a school yard in Brooklyn.

Councilman Jumaane Williams and Fernando Cabrera want to remind New Yorker’s that gun violence is an everyday reality for a number of their constituents. The men co-chair the Council’s Gun Violence Taskforce and issued this statement in reaction to the shooting at the Empire State Building:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this mornings shooting and their families and friends. It was a terrible act of gun violence and thankfully many more people were not hurt in midtown Manhattan. But its not the only act of gun violence in our city this summer.

Just last night, a 13-year-old child was heading to the store in Brownsville when he was gunned down and killed. We should be outraged and frightened by each and every one of these incidents, and they should strengthen the resolve of every elected official to do whatever necessary to pass meaningful and common-sense gun control measures. We all need to find ways to end gun violence in our city. Whether its on 34th street in Midtown Manhattan, a playground in the Bronx or a school yard in Brooklyn.

By on August 24, 2012, 2:47 pm
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NY Pols React to Shooting at Empire State Building
August 24th, 2012

At least one person was killed and 10 people shot today when a gunman opened fire at the Empire State Building today. The incident will surely spark more debate about preventing gun violence in the wake of the shooting at a theater in Aurora Colorado and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. A number of New York’s elected officials have issued statements on the shooting.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

“Today’s shooting near the Empire State Building is a tragedy for New York City and our entire state. My administration, including members of the State Police, is actively monitoring the situation and working closely with city law enforcement agencies to ensure that the safety of New Yorkers and those visiting New York City comes first. I commend members of the New York Police Department, as well as the first responders and civilians, who acted bravely and took swift action to save the lives of others and prevent this tragedy from becoming much worse. Our state has no tolerance for senseless acts of violence that harm our people, and we will do everything possible to ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need so residents of the city and tourists can enjoy everything New York City has to offer without fearing for their own safety and security. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I send my condolences to the friends and family of the innocent victim who died in this attack, and wish those who were injured in today’s shooting a speedy recovery.”

“Today’s shooting near the Empire State Building is a tragedy for New York City and our entire state. My administration, including members of the State Police, is actively monitoring the situation and working closely with city law enforcement agencies to ensure that the safety of New Yorkers and those visiting New York City comes first. I commend members of the New York Police Department, as well as the first responders and civilians, who acted bravely and took swift action to save the lives of others and prevent this tragedy from becoming much worse. Our state has no tolerance for senseless acts of violence that harm our people, and we will do everything possible to ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need so residents of the city and tourists can enjoy everything New York City has to offer without fearing for their own safety and security. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I send my condolences to the friends and family of the innocent victim who died in this attack, and wish those who were injured in today’s shooting a speedy recovery.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims of todays tragic shootings and their families. For those of us in government, and in law enforcement, the news of yet another mass shooting so close on the heels of the massacres at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and in Aurora, Colorado, should make it crystal clear that our current laws have failed to protect the public from gun violence. We must redouble our efforts to protect public safety so that New Yorkers dont have to live in fear of the next deadly attack.

Rep. Charles Rangel:
“I am shaken by the news that a man randomly shot at innocent people at the Empire State Building, especially at an hour when many New Yorkers are starting their workday and hundreds of tourists are visiting. My thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and the families and friends who lost their loved ones. I hope that those who are wounded will heal quickly and recover from the psychological harm that they endured.
This year, our nation has been plagued by frequent and senseless gun violence that has taken the lives of so many people across the country. These arbitrary shootings are acts of terrorism that are paralyzing our communities. We must unite to focus our policies on enacting stricter gun control laws that will prevent potentially harmful individuals from accessing such deadly weapons. It is the only way to make certain that our communities safer.”
Sen. Michael Gianaris:
My prayers go out for the victims of this mornings horrific incident caused by yet another act of senseless gun violence. It is long past time to fix our gun laws to prevent future tragedies from occurring. To the victims families, stay strong and know our hearts are with you.
By on August 24, 2012, 1:31 pm
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Con Ed lockout on hold thanks to power of Cuomo, storms
July 26th, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has faced some criticism for not getting involved in the Con Edison labor dispute earlier — but better late than never.

With storms on the horizion, Cuomo announced today that he has convinced both sides to have “necessary personnel” return to work for the sake of public safety.

“At my request and in the interest of the safety of New Yorkers, Con Ed and Local 1-2 have agreed that the necessary personnel will immediately return to work to prepare for the possibility of an approaching storm and will remain on the job for the duration of any emergency and any following repairs,” Cuomo said in a statement.

This follows a letter he sent yesterday asking for the state to oversee meetings between labor and management.

By on July 26, 2012, 1:40 pm
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Sanders responds to Kelly's defense of stop-and-frisk
July 11th, 2012

Seventy seven people have been shot in the city between July 2nd through the 8th of this month. Addressing the violence, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters yesterday: “There doesnt seem to be any major community response. Many of them will speak out about stop-and-frisk [but are] shockingly silent when it comes to the level of violence right in their own communities.”

His statement has unsurprisingly raised the ire of a number of community leaders.

Count Councilman James Sanders as one of those outraged by Kelly’s comments.

Commissioner Kelly seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth asking why there is no outrage over existing gun violence and then championing a policy that has failed to prevent it. Put simply, if stop-and-frisk was working, gun violence would be going down, not up. Our communities would be safer, not more dangerous. And people would feel more willing to engage their local precincts in community action against violence criminals, not afraid for their own civil liberties when approached by police.

Sen. Eric Adams told the NY Post that Kelly “basically said black elected officials dont care about the safety of their community.

Here is Sanders’ full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 11, 2012, 3:27 pm
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NYC Jails Action Coalition Pushes Reform
July 9th, 2012

A recently formed coalition is calling for a reduction in the use of solitary confinement and what they refer to as a “culture of brutality” in the city’s jail system.

The New York City Jails Action Coalition, which formed in December of last year and is comprised of members of organizations that have worked on the issues for years, held its first protest outside the Board of Correction on 51 Chambers St. earlier today.

“The United Nations has likened solitary confinement to torture,” said member Richard Sawyer, referring to a statement by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that specifically called out the U.S.’s disproportionate use of punitive segregation.

The issue of solitary confinement has recently been discussed on a national level, and NYC JAC is using that momentum to promote their cause.

Sawyer specifically condemned the practice of putting someone in 10-day solitary confinement for “horseplay,” butDepartment of Correction spokeswoman Sharman Stein said the term trivialized the problem.

“The Department’s first responsibility is to protect everyone in its custody. When an inmate assaults another inmate or an employee, he cannot remain in his housing unit, nor should he,” read an official DOC statement. “There are consequences for harming others.”

NYC JAC and its member groups recommend the city adopt a policy similar to one in Mississippi, where punitive segregation is only used as a last resort. In Mississippi’s case, the policy change led to reduced violence a point the coalition emphasizes.

The coalition also alleges that the DOC condones brutal practices, and spends millions settling lawsuits from former inmates TheDOC has denied those allegations.

The New York City jails system is one of the largest in the U.S., with a daily population of 13,000as of 2010.

By on July 9, 2012, 6:12 pm
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Cuomo chides Senate Republicans on marijuana bill
June 20th, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the airwaves this morning to criticize Senate Republicans for not backing his plan to reduce charges for carrying small amounts of marijuana.

Cuomo has previously shied away from criticizing legislators he has to negotiate with, especially Senate Republicans, who brought his landmark same-sex marriage bill to a vote. Cuomo’s deal on redistricting also saved Senate Republicans major headaches if not their majority.

But Cuomo was clearly irked his marijuana bill met with resistance. Speaking to Fred Dicker on Talk 1300, Cuomo said he believed that the Conservative Party had influenced Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos into backing away from the bill.

“I think there’s no doubt that the state Senate heard the conservative wing of the party and they’re reacting to it,” Cuomo said. The governor also went further, saying that Conservative values don’t appeal to most New Yorkers. “To the extent the Republican Party is successful, it’s because they are moderate… There is just no place in this state for extreme conservative theory.”

Senate Republicans have been fairly clear that they plan to use their relationship with Cuomo as a campaign tool, while Senate Democrats want to try to put a wedge between Senate Republicans and mainstream Democratic values.

By on June 20, 2012, 1:35 pm
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NYCLU Unveils "Stop and Frisk Watch" App
June 6th, 2012

The New York Civil Liberties Union wants citizens to document police street stops using a new smartphone app.

The NYCLU unveiled its “Stop and Frisk Watch” app earlier today in front of police headquarters.

The app, available as on the Android platform, allows witnesses of police street stops to record them and send the clip to the NYCLU. It also tracks the locations of street stops.

“Its for bystanders,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Leiberman. “And hopefully this will help us shine some much needed light on police practices. Everybody in New York knows the numbers. But I think this will help us continue to put the human face on stop-and-frisk.

The police did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the app.

Critics of stop-and-frisk say the NYPD policy predominantly targets young black and Latino men. But police defend the tactic, saying it promotes public safety in the city’s communities. About 685,000 stops were made by the police last year.

Dawit Getachew, 26, an advocate for Copwatch and a Harlem resident who said he has been subjected to stop-and-frisk, was among the activists who showed up to lend their support for the app.

There are many instances that go unreported because people dont know what to do, so this is a huge opportunity for people to feel empowered to fight back,” he said of the app.

Steve Kohut, of Communities United for Police Reform, noted that the tool will help see the abuse, experience the abuse and now document the abuse so that the police can no longer deny it.

Lieberman said the NYCLU hopes the new app will connect directly with affected communities.

The app, designed by Jason Van Anden, also includes a survey for users who would like to report questionable NYPD action they see or experience and a Know Your Rights Card instructing those who are confronted by police officers about their rights.

By on June 6, 2012, 6:38 pm
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Reaction to Cuomo's marijuana bill
June 4th, 2012

When news broke today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted the Legislature to lower the penalty for possessing 25 grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation, the perception was that he was taking a shot at Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s stop-and-frisk program.

But Bloomberg announced his support for the measure along with a host of city-based legislators and groups.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly even attended Cuomo’s news conference to announce the plan.

“This is an issue that disproportionately affects young people they wind up with a permanent stain on their record for something that would otherwise be a violation,” Cuomo said. “The charge makes it more difficult for them to find a job. Together, we are making New York fairer and safer, and ensuring that every New Yorker has access to [a] justice system that doesnt discriminate based on age or color.”

The move seemed targeted at New York City — 94 percent of the more than 500,000 arrests for 25 grams or less of marijuana in the state took place in the five boroughs.

The New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program has been the target of massive criticism because it is said to disproportionately target and result in the convictions of black and Latino youth. Cuomo said that 82 percent of those arrested for carrying marijuana were black and Latino.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 4, 2012, 9:00 pm
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NYPD stop-and-frisk procedures modified
May 17th, 2012

 

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he has instituted a new procedure to regulate how street stop-and-frisk encounters by patrol officers are monitored and supervised.
In a letter sent earlier today to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Kelly said top-ranking officials in each police precinct will now be required to audit reports of street stops by officers. This is in addition to a review undertaken at weekly Compstat meetings by the chief of the department, he wrote.�
“I believe these measures will help us more closely monitor the daily street encounter activity of precinct personnel,” he wrote.�
He also said that the department has republished an order prohibiting racial profiling and has created a new training course that “provides personnel with an additional level of clarity in determining when and how to conduct a lawful stop.”
Quinn, who released Kelly’s letter, said in a statement that the changes announced were “an important step forward” but said more needs to be done to reduce the number of stops and “bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve.”�
A federal judge yesterday granted class-action status to a lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. The lawsuit alleges that the NYPD has systematically targeted blacks and Latinos and trampled on Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.Â�
Over 200,000 stops were made on city streets in the first three months of this year, an increase of over 2011.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he has instituted a new procedure to regulate how street stop-and-frisk encounters by patrol officers are monitored and supervised.

In a letter sent earlier today to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Kelly said top-ranking officials in each police precinct will now be required to audit reports of street stops by officers. This is in addition to a review undertaken at weekly Compstat meetings by the chief of the department, he wrote.

“I believe these measures will help us more closely monitor the daily street encounter activity of precinct personnel,” he wrote.

He also said that the department has republished an order prohibiting racial profiling and has created a new training course that “provides personnel with an additional level of clarity in determining when and how to conduct a lawful stop.”

Quinn, who released Kelly’s letter, said in a statement that the changes announced were “an important step forward” but said more needs to be done to reduce the number of stops and “bridge the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve.”

A federal judge yesterday granted class-action status to a lawsuit against the city’s stop-and-frisk practices. The lawsuit alleges that the NYPD has systematically targeted blacks and Latinos and trampled on Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.

Over 200,000 stops were made on city streets in the first three months of this year.

By on May 17, 2012, 12:58 pm
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Espada Found Guilty of Theft
May 14th, 2012

Former state Sen. Pedro Espada has been found guilty of embezzling from his Bronx health care network.

After finding Espada guilty of theft, the jury continued to deliberate other charges, including conspiracy and fraud.Espada’s son, who also worked at the Soundview network, is also on trial.

The senior Espada, who had long cast himself as an underdog fighter, had blamed his political foes for stirring up the allegations against him.

Common Cause is using today’s verdict to call for more aggressive ethics investigations from the state-level Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY, said in a statement thatEspada is “the poster child for corruption and the wholesale flaunting of our campaign finance and ethics laws.”

Espada was at the center of the 2009 state Senate coup that left the body paralyzed for a month. He was eventually named senate majority leader as part of a deal that allowed him to return to the Democrats.

A good number of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle refused to even speak to Espada while he carried the title. Before the coup, Espada had wracked up thousands of dollars in unpaid fines from the state and city board of elections. He also faced accusations he didn’t even live in his district.

In early 2009, just before the coup, Espada granted the Gazette a rare interview and took us on a tour of his alleged Bronx residence and one of the health clinics. At the time, Espada mocked and challenged then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to come after him.

After five years of investigating me in his own tenacious way he should have said, to remove the taint that he himself had helped develop over me, he should have said he investigated Soundview and regrettably several people did bad things but Sen. Espada is absolutely not guilty of any wrongdoing. If I had been, I would have been charged. I’m sure personally he regrets that because what goes around really does come back around.”

Espada lost his seat in a primary election to Gustavo Rivera in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 14, 2012, 5:03 pm
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Cuomo visits Westchester to call for agency for disabled
May 10th, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the College of New Rochelle in Westchester County today to push for legislation that would create a new agency to investigate reports of abuse of the disabled.

“This bill puts forth unprecedented reforms that will transform how New York state protects and cares for people with special needs and disabilities,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is exactly the type of agency that the patients and their family and friends deserve.”

Cuomo announced the legislation on Monday.

Last month, Cuomo told reporters he thought the legislative session would be relatively quiet. However, Cuomo has made it clear the new agency is a major legislative priority and that he will lobby legislators and the public on the issue until he is able to sign it into law.

Both legislative leaders have said they expect to be able to pass the law by the end of the session, which ends in June.

“This bill puts forth unprecedented reforms that will transform how New York State protects and cares for people with special needs and disabilities,” said Governor Cuomo. “This is exactly the type of agency that the patients and their family and friends deserve. I urge the Senate and Assembly to pass this bill so we can start implementing these reforms as soon as possible.”Cuomo said earlier this week that the legislation is a legislative priority for him and the leaders of both legislative houses said they thought they could pass the legislation by the end of the season. The legislation is designed to address what has been called a corrupt, abusive system by a number of observers. Earlier this year Cuomo told reporters that he expected a quiet legislative session because he had achieved the majority of his legislative agenda. But now Cuomo appears geared up to lobby and legislators and the public on the legislation until he is able to sign it into law.

Advocacy groups have generally been supportive of the legislation, though the father of a 13-year-old autistic boy smothered to death by a caretaker has criticized the legislation for not being more proactive. The boy’s father, Michael Carey, told The New York Times he felt the state should invest in cameras and training and limit caregiver overtime.

More about the Justice Center can be found at www.Justice4SpecialNeeds.com. A report by the governor’s special advisor on vulnerable persons is available here.

By on May 10, 2012, 3:33 pm
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What Does the State Budget Deal Mean For NYC?
March 27th, 2012

This is budget week in Albany and now we have an official acknowledgement that a deal has been reached. The budget deadline is at the end of the month but legislators really dealt with the hard stuff during December’s special session and the late night legislative spree earlier this month. So what does the budget have in store for the city?

  • The juvenile justice “Close to Home” initiative is of particular interest. NYC will be able to place and treat its juvenile delinquents in the five boroughs rather than sending them upstate.
  • Funding for the MTA capital plan, with $770 million coming directly from the state. “The five-year MTA capital plan contains $22.2 billion for projects critical to transit in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley, and that will produce tens of thousands of jobs. The first two years of the MTA capital plan were funded at $9.1 billion. The Budget will help allow the MTA to obtain the full $13.1 billion needed to achieve the five year capital plan and complete some of the largest construction projects in the history of New York.”
  • The Office of New Americans will be established to help immigrants better participate in “the state’s economy and civil life.”

Also Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going ahead with a controversial provision that will give him increased powers over state spending:

“To achieve greater efficiency in government operations and improve performance, the Budget enacts the Governor’s proposal to ensure fiscal flexibility in order to expedite government consolidation and streamlining. The interchangeability provisions give the state the authority to move certain funds between state agencies that will save money in back office functions such as business services, information technology and call centers. This will allow the state to move functions from one state agency to another to improve efficiency, ensure better performance, and reduce costs for taxpayers. The transfers will not be used to alter or shift programmatic functions of the agencies.”

Here is the full release from Cuomo’s office:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 27, 2012, 2:08 pm
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Deal on "Close to Home"
March 26th, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rev. Al Sharpton have issued a joint statement praising an apparent deal that would allow New York City the ability to control placement and treatment of its juvenile delinquents. For more on what exactly the legislation would do check out my recent story.

For too long, too many of our City’s young people have been shunted off upstate hundreds of miles from family, school and community and far from the support they need to get back on course. Today’s budget agreement includes a landmark overhaul of our juvenile justice system, paving the way for young people in the system to receive services close to their families and more easily transition back into their communities and productive lives.
We have been championing this kind of change together since our visit to the Finger Lakes Residential Center in December 2010, where the injustice and inadequacy of the status quo was on full display. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for making the Close to Home initiative a top priority for his administration. Building on the City’s legacy of juvenile justice reform reducing the use of detention and placement, increasing community-based alternatives and lowering recidivism rates, all the while making our City even safer Close to Home will address the needs of our young people and improve public safety.
In addition to the Governor, we thank Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for making this a reality; Assemblymembers Amy Paulin, Karim Camara and Joseph Lentol, who first introduced legislation and led the way in Albany on this critical issue; and Senators Diane Savino, Martin Golden, Andrew Lanza and Steve Saland, who provided thoughtful leadership during budget deliberations. We also thank Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council for their support of the initiative.

For too long, too many of our City’s young people have been shunted off upstate hundreds of miles from family, school and community and far from the support they need to get back on course. Today’s budget agreement includes a landmark overhaul of our juvenile justice system, paving the way for young people in the system to receive services close to their families and more easily transition back into their communities and productive lives.

We have been championing this kind of change together since our visit to the Finger Lakes Residential Center in December 2010, where the injustice and inadequacy of the status quo was on full display. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for making the Close to Home initiative a top priority for his administration. Building on the City’s legacy of juvenile justice reform reducing the use of detention and placement, increasing community-based alternatives and lowering recidivism rates, all the while making our City even safer Close to Home will address the needs of our young people and improve public safety.

In addition to the Governor, we thank Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for making this a reality; Assemblymembers Amy Paulin, Karim Camara and Joseph Lentol, who first introduced legislation and led the way in Albany on this critical issue; and Senators Diane Savino, Martin Golden, Andrew Lanza and Steve Saland, who provided thoughtful leadership during budget deliberations. We also thank Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council for their support of the initiative.

By on March 26, 2012, 1:57 pm
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Jumaane Williams Responds to Kelly
March 16th, 2012

City Councilman Jumaane Williams has responded to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s contentious appearance before the Council yesterday. Williams specifically addresses Kelly’s insistence that council members haven’t offered any alternatives to the stop and frisk programs they say harass their communities.

“What my colleagues, members of the media and observers witnessed yesterday was a NYPD Commissioner on the defensive, forced to defend the fiscal and environmental consequences of unjust policing practices like the department’s use of stop, question and frisk,” said Williams in a statement. “Faced with the legitimate concerns of council members, unfavorable polling data and statistics from his own department which call their policies into serious question, Commissioner Kelly alleged that there is no leadership coming from my colleagues or I on reducing violence in communities of more color. Read the rest of this entry »

By on March 16, 2012, 3:28 pm
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No Presser For Cuomo?
March 15th, 2012

After a typical Albany late night/early morning where a number of major pieces of legislation were rushed to the floor for a quick vote with little or no debate Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not seem to be in a rush to get in front of a gaggle of reporters.

Cuomo’s plan of attack includes two radio appearances–one with his favorite messenger–and a “video message” to New Yorker’s which I assume will be available here later today.

“Approximately 10:07 AM Governor Cuomo will be a guest on Live from the State Capitol with Fred Dicker. The show can be heard streaming live at www.talk1300.com.

Approximately 11:06 AM Governor Cuomo will be a guest on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter. The show can be heard streaming live at http://www.wcny.org/temp-stream.html.”

By on March 15, 2012, 10:46 am
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Waiting For a Deal
March 14th, 2012

Albany is in a holding pattern as legislators seem to be hammering out a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo that could wrap up redistricting, Tier 6, the DNA database and perhaps the budget. Senate Minority Leader John Sampson issued this statement decrying linking redistricting to other issues:

Rumors are swirling that, in true Albany fashion, the awful redistricting provisions have been tied to the creation of Tier VI. If this is true and both are allowed to move forward, we will be disenfranchising minorities while simultaneously eliminating retirement security for working families in a classic Albany backroom deal. Senate Democrats will not be party to these cynical maneuvers.

By on March 14, 2012, 5:15 pm
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Bronx "Close to Home" Forum Scheduled
February 29th, 2012

The fifth public hearing on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Close to Home Program” has been scheduled for April 2 from 6-8 p.m. in the Bronx at the Bronx Museum 1040 Grand Concourse. The Administration for Children’s Services is holding the series of five forums to get public input on taking New York City’s juvenile delinquents out of the state system and providing services to them near their homes in the city. You can read more about the initiative that is part of Cuomo’s proposed budget here.

By on February 29, 2012, 4:06 pm
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ACS Schedules Forums on "Close to Home"
February 27th, 2012

The Administration for Children’s Services has scheduled four of five community hearings on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Close to Home Initiative” that would take New York City’s juvenile delinquents out of the state detention system and allow the city to provide them with the placements they think are best for them and near their homes. As I wrote today, the initiative is part of Cuomo’s budget and has been something Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pressing for for years–as the state system is costly and known for violence and mismanagement.

ACS Commissioner Ronald Richter says that his agency and the State Office of Children and Family Services have been meeting almost weekly to set up the system that will see the state hand over control of the city’s juvenile delinquents. Under Cuomo’s initiative non-secure offenders will be transferred to the city in September and limited secure offenders would be transferred in April 2013.

“We have a number of reasons to be very encouraged by it,” Richter said of the “Close to Home Initiative,” “families haven’t had a chance to be involved in rehabilitation and it has long been a missing piece of the juvenile justice system. They don’t have a dont have parent their to help them figure out why they made these bad choices. It has been a real deficit in the juvenile justice system and they also haven’t had the opportunity for an accredited education. We are going to give them one and thats a big deal for us.”

Richter says he is excited to start the hearings so that he can hear from city residents about how to move forward.

“I’m hoping we will be attentive to appropriate cautionary notes. We will listen to the kids, parents and legislators to make sure we are reflective of their concerns. We cant just make a new juvenile justice system in September. Its wrong to suggest everything will be ideal on that day. We are always trying to improve.”

Here are the dates of the four scheduled hearings. Another hearing in the Bronx is expected to be set by the end of the week: Read the rest of this entry »

By on February 27, 2012, 4:57 pm
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Education,Eye on Albany,Gotham City | 6 Comments »

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Williams Criticizes Bloomberg's Defense of Browne
January 27th, 2012

“There is no logical basis for Mayor Bloomberg’s defense of Deputy Commissioner Browne’s job performance. Based on the facts, he cannot have been both honest and competent in his handling of “The Third Jihad” and its aftermath. He lied to the public on multiple occasions and his actions deepened the divide between the NYPD and the New York City community, which harms our ability to best police and protect our city.
If this was the first error in judgment Deputy Commissioner Browne had made, it would be excusable. Sadly, it is not, and the public record shows this without dispute. In just the last six months, he has been caught in lies ranging from phantom punches and elbows to fake excuses about pepper spraying at Occupy Wall Street. There is even evidence that suggests that Deputy Commissioner Browne may have lied under oath about his involvement in a 2004 Critical Mass ride. You can have your doubts about whether any one of these incidents has been truly justified, but you cannot look at the entirety of his record and claim that the man in charge of public information hasn’t been engaged in a campaign of overt misinformation or complete incompetency. This behavior would not be accepted by any other city agency, and it certainly should not be accepted by the NYPD or the city’s taxpayers that afford him his six-figure salary.
Police accountability seems to be treated as a dirty term, if not a non-starter, for Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, but the calls from New Yorkers get more intense every day. If they will not recognize the problems festering within the NYPD, then we need an independent oversight committee and/or the intervention of the Justice Department to do it for them. The City Council must also use whatever resources it has at its disposal to get real answers. As chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, I am eager to be a part of that effort which is greatly needed and long overdue.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams is blasting Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his defense of New York Police Department Commissioner Paul Browne’s job performance following revelations about the Third Jihad anti-Muslim propaganda video screened by the NYPD. Bloomberg described Browne as, ”honest and as competent as anybody in the business of representing the city and giving out information”.

Williams strongly disagrees with that assessment. He has called for Browne’s resignation and issued this statement:

“There is no logical basis for Mayor Bloomberg’s defense of Deputy Commissioner Browne’s job performance. Based on the facts, he cannot have been both honest and competent in his handling of “The Third Jihad” and its aftermath. He lied to the public on multiple occasions and his actions deepened the divide between the NYPD and the New York City community, which harms our ability to best police and protect our city.

If this was the first error in judgment Deputy Commissioner Browne had made, it would be excusable. Sadly, it is not, and the public record shows this without dispute. In just the last six months, he has been caught in lies ranging from phantom punches and elbows to fake excuses about pepper spraying at Occupy Wall Street. There is even evidence that suggests that Deputy Commissioner Browne may have lied under oath about his involvement in a 2004 Critical Mass ride. You can have your doubts about whether any one of these incidents has been truly justified, but you cannot look at the entirety of his record and claim that the man in charge of public information hasn’t been engaged in a campaign of overt misinformation or complete incompetency. This behavior would not be accepted by any other city agency, and it certainly should not be accepted by the NYPD or the city’s taxpayers that afford him his six-figure salary. Read the rest of this entry »

By on January 27, 2012, 12:52 pm
In category: City Hall,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety | 2 Comments »

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