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Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Andrea Stewart-Cousins

  • Amid Larger Moment, Will Albany Face Another Sexual Misconduct Reckoning?

    Cuomo Sheldon Silver Skelos Albany

    Gov. Cuomo, Sheldon Silver & Dean Skelos in 2012 (photo via The Governor's Office)


    As allegations of sexual harassment and assault against disgraced movie producer and major Democratic political donor Harvey Weinstein piled up earlier this month, women around the world took to social media to share stories of abusive behavior using the hashtag #MeToo.

    The light being shone on the predatory behavior of Weinstein and

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  • Mayoral Control Extended in Special Session with Usual Albany Process

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    Gov. Cuomo on Thursday (photo: Philip Kamrass/Governor’s Office)


    To prevent the impending lapse of mayoral control over New York City schools, the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a two-year extension Thursday as part of a larger omnibus bill, which included a pension enhancement for certain uniformed workers, special recognition for former Governor Mario Cuomo, and several benefits for upstate areas.

    A special session was called Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo specifically to address mayoral leadership over city schools, which was set

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  • As Session Nears End, Electoral Reforms Mostly Stalled & Cuomo Quiet

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    Gov. Cuomo votes (photo: The Governor's Office)


    Governor Andrew Cuomo’s prediction that there is insufficient political will at the New York State Legislature to pass any significant voting reform measures this year may be coming to fruition.

    During the final weeks before the end of the legislative session, this year June 21 -- when lawmakers leave the Capitol and

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  • As Legislative Leaders Warn of Con Con Dangers, Good Government Groups Come Out in Favor

    assembly chamber via wikicommons

    The Assembly (photo: wikicommons)


    While legislative leaders are declaring opposition to a New York State constitutional convention, government reform organizations are trending in the other direction, with some who were wary of the idea in previous years coming out in support or considering doing so.

    Leading up to the November 7 vote on whether to hold a convention, the debate is shaping up around fear of what could be taken away versus hope that the public can take a shot at democratic reform.

    Republican Senate

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  • Activists, Lawmakers Rally for Voting Reform at Capitol

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    Tuesday's rally (photo: @NYCVotes)


    A coalition of electoral reform activists were joined by Democratic state lawmakers during their annual pilgrimage to the New York State Capitol Tuesday to call for legislation that would remove barriers to the ballot and ensure that eligible New Yorkers are provided more opportunity to vote.

    “Vote Better NY” seeks common sense changes to New York's voting laws to ensure that more eligible New Yorkers make it to the polls. This year, the organization is advocating for a slew of bills, including early

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  • The 'Three Men in a Room' and Millions Outside

    Cuomo Heastie Flanagan 2015

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan in 2015 (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    It’s the last week of March, which means the final stretch of New York State budget negotiations, and all are watching the “three men in a room,” an adage that has come to symbolize Albany’s opaque government processes and concentration of power.

    Each March, for as long as anyone can remember, the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the majority leader of the Senate hold frequent, clandestine meetings to hammer out important policy decisions and

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  • Tensions High as State Legislature Returns to Session

    cuomo heastie flanagan

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan


    Several themes loomed as the New York State Legislature held its first day of its new session on Wednesday in Albany. The 2017 legislative calendar, and with it the 2017-2018 Legislature, began oaths of office and speeches by party leaders in both the state Senate and Assembly. The tone was set, priorities were announced or reaffirmed, tensions were evident, and the jog toward the next state budget -- due by April 1 -- began.

    The most important remarks were delivered by the two majority leaders: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie,

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  • New York Becomes 17th State to Call for Constitutional Overturn of Citizens United

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    Sen. Squadron and "Demand Democracy" ralliers (photo: @DanielSquadron)


    Amid increasing calls for New York to pass bold government ethics reform and minimize the role of money in elections, a bipartisan majority of state lawmakers has taken a symbolic but somewhat significant step in calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case.

    In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court

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  • Lobbying, in Albany, for Better Voting Laws

    vote better ny dalton political nyc votes

    Students in Albany to lobby for voting and registration reform (#VoteBetterNY)


    Before dawn on a cold and rainy May morning, about 175 New Yorkers gathered outside a building on Church Street, waiting to board a bus to Albany. Some had left their Staten Island and Queens homes as early as 4 a.m. to make departure on time, others had taken the day off work or school, all were there for the same reason: to meet with state lawmakers and convince them to modernize New York’s antiquated election laws.

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  • In Albany, Sunshine Week Starts with Darkness

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    Heastie, Cuomo, & Flanagan (l-r) in 2015 (photo via The Governor's Office) 


    The first Sunshine Week following the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos got off to an inauspicious start Monday as representatives of the state's major good government groups gathered in Albany to give their evaluation of the ethics reforms put forward in the one-house budgets released by the Assembly and Senate majorities over the weekend.

    "Unfortunately with a late Friday release what we're

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  • In Albany, Bharara Challenges Lawmakers to Act, Not Enable

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    Preet Bharara (photo: Buck Ennis)


    Asked how he can spur legislators to enact major ethics reforms during his visit to Albany on Monday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said he has a "particularly blunt incentive...the avoidance of prison." The reminder from Bharara comes as legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are quietly discussing possible ethics reforms behind closed doors--reforms none of them have appeared interested in discussing publicly since Cuomo outlined his platform in his State of the State address last month.

    Speaking before a captive audience, Bharara

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  • New York One Signature Away from Calling for Overturn of Citizens United

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    (photo: nysenate.gov)


    In a landmark year for corruption in the state legislature, 2015 saw the arrest and conviction of two of the most powerful political leaders in New York. A crescendo of voices across the state -- from good government watchdogs to lawmakers -- expressed outrage and demanded stronger ethics laws and campaign finance reforms. In one sense, Albany now has the opportunity to put its money where its mouth is -- and all it needs is one signature.  

    New York is one signatory away from becoming the 17th state in the country to

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