Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/donald-trump 2018-09-20T10:41:49+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Without the Federal Government But With New York, Puerto Rico Endures 2018-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-22T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7763:without-the-federal-government-but-with-new-york-puerto-rico-endures Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-puertorican-day.jpg" alt="gov puertorican day" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Loíza is a town on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, home to almost 30,000 American citizens. For 72 hours last September, as Hurricane Maria ravaged the island and other territories in the Caribbean, Loíza and all of its residents became isolated from the outside world when the three main roads that connect this medium-sized town to the rest of the island became impassable.&nbsp;</p> <p>The challenges that residents of Loíza faced and continue to deal with are not only emblematic of the lack of resources invested in rebuilding efforts and the crumbling economy hindering the island's recovery, but also of the resilience and resourcefulness of the Puerto Rican people.&nbsp;</p> <p>Last March, I returned to my native Puerto Rico to see the impact of the disaster firsthand. I visited six different towns across the island, including Loíza, and with a great deal of frustration and heartbreak, I confirmed what I had feared: the inadequate and anemic responses from the federal government and the island’s central administration have left almost 3 million Puerto Ricans on the island and their local governments to fend for themselves. &nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands, especially those in low-income communities, continue to suffer from unreliable electricity and water systems, food and resource shortages, and serious mental and physical health emergencies. Considering this, it should come as no surprise that the real number of storm-related fatalities is closer to 4,600 souls, according to a recent Harvard University&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMsa1803972" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, as opposed to the 64 official deaths counted by the U.S. government. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>While the trip was disheartening in many ways, it was also inspiring and hopeful. I met several mayors, nonprofit organizations, scholars, labor leaders, and dedicated individuals whose steadfast leadership in helping Puerto Rico recover has been nothing short of heroic. Together, they have slowly built an important grassroots recovery movement that has made significant progress despite minimal resources.&nbsp;</p> <p>For instance,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tallersalud.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Taller Salud</a>, a Loíza-based nonprofit organization seeking to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of low-income women and girls, saw its mission transform out of necessity, becoming a critical emergency response provider giving out life-saving assistance to thousands.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>To put it plainly, Puerto Ricans do not need or want charity. What they need is our support to further invest in those leaders and communities working tirelessly to implement innovative visions and projects locally. They want to maintain full agency over how their hometowns and infrastructure are rebuilt. We do not need to tell them or show them how to survive or thrive -- what we need to do is augment their ability to do what they have already been doing.</p> <p>Many states and cities across the mainland United States have stepped up to provide support in the face of the failed response by our federal government. I am proud to say that New York has done this and in spades.</p> <p>Our State and City governments, along with elected officials across all levels of government, local nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and many New Yorkers launched an extremely dynamic relief effort, which continues to this day. From millions of dollars in monetary donations, to collecting tons of essential items, to sending highly qualified emergency responders, medical staff, and expert personnel to help rebuild the island’s decayed infrastructure, New York has led by example as to how to coordinate a comprehensive relief response and empower the Puerto Rican people to take the lead in its recovery efforts.</p> <p>During a recent meeting of Governor Cuomo’s New York Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee, I joined my fellow committee members and Governor Cuomo’s administration to identify a list of priorities and recommendations to help facilitate Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/01-29-14_rivera-hs-_009.jpg" alt="01 29 14 rivera hs 009" width="92" height="92" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />My list of recommendations focuses on counseling and mental health services, access to higher education, employment assistance, accessibility of clean water, and promotion of green energy infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a result of the recent committee meeting, I penned a <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/gustavo-rivera/senator-rivera-and-members-senate-democratic-conference-call" target="_blank" rel="noopener">letter</a> with members of the Senate Democratic Conference urging SUNY and CUNY to extend their in-state tuition credit program. This program aims to ensure that Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Islands students who relocated to New York are able to continue their higher education for the next academic year. Last week, SUNY extended the program and CUNY is expected to do the same imminently.</p> <p>Puerto Ricans have not only seen their lives completely torn apart by a natural disaster, but also by the criminal inaction of our federal government. While the road to recovery will be long and filled with challenges, the spirit of my fellow Boricuas remains intact. At a time of such darkness, the clarity of their ideas and their commitment to rebuilding is worthy of support. The goal of the diaspora, and all who seek to help, must be to empower our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to transform and improve their neighborhoods and towns as they see fit. The storm and this administration have dealt a painful blow to Puerto Rico, but the island and Puerto Ricans endure.</p> <p>***<br /> Gustavo Rivera is a state senator representing part of the Bronx and a native of Puerto Rico. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/NYSenatorRivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@NYSenatorRivera</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/gov-puertorican-day.jpg" alt="gov puertorican day" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's office)</p> <hr /> <p>Loíza is a town on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, home to almost 30,000 American citizens. For 72 hours last September, as Hurricane Maria ravaged the island and other territories in the Caribbean, Loíza and all of its residents became isolated from the outside world when the three main roads that connect this medium-sized town to the rest of the island became impassable.&nbsp;</p> <p>The challenges that residents of Loíza faced and continue to deal with are not only emblematic of the lack of resources invested in rebuilding efforts and the crumbling economy hindering the island's recovery, but also of the resilience and resourcefulness of the Puerto Rican people.&nbsp;</p> <p>Last March, I returned to my native Puerto Rico to see the impact of the disaster firsthand. I visited six different towns across the island, including Loíza, and with a great deal of frustration and heartbreak, I confirmed what I had feared: the inadequate and anemic responses from the federal government and the island’s central administration have left almost 3 million Puerto Ricans on the island and their local governments to fend for themselves. &nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands, especially those in low-income communities, continue to suffer from unreliable electricity and water systems, food and resource shortages, and serious mental and physical health emergencies. Considering this, it should come as no surprise that the real number of storm-related fatalities is closer to 4,600 souls, according to a recent Harvard University&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMsa1803972" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a>, as opposed to the 64 official deaths counted by the U.S. government. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>While the trip was disheartening in many ways, it was also inspiring and hopeful. I met several mayors, nonprofit organizations, scholars, labor leaders, and dedicated individuals whose steadfast leadership in helping Puerto Rico recover has been nothing short of heroic. Together, they have slowly built an important grassroots recovery movement that has made significant progress despite minimal resources.&nbsp;</p> <p>For instance,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tallersalud.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Taller Salud</a>, a Loíza-based nonprofit organization seeking to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of low-income women and girls, saw its mission transform out of necessity, becoming a critical emergency response provider giving out life-saving assistance to thousands.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>To put it plainly, Puerto Ricans do not need or want charity. What they need is our support to further invest in those leaders and communities working tirelessly to implement innovative visions and projects locally. They want to maintain full agency over how their hometowns and infrastructure are rebuilt. We do not need to tell them or show them how to survive or thrive -- what we need to do is augment their ability to do what they have already been doing.</p> <p>Many states and cities across the mainland United States have stepped up to provide support in the face of the failed response by our federal government. I am proud to say that New York has done this and in spades.</p> <p>Our State and City governments, along with elected officials across all levels of government, local nonprofit organizations, civic leaders, and many New Yorkers launched an extremely dynamic relief effort, which continues to this day. From millions of dollars in monetary donations, to collecting tons of essential items, to sending highly qualified emergency responders, medical staff, and expert personnel to help rebuild the island’s decayed infrastructure, New York has led by example as to how to coordinate a comprehensive relief response and empower the Puerto Rican people to take the lead in its recovery efforts.</p> <p>During a recent meeting of Governor Cuomo’s New York Stands with Puerto Rico Rebuilding and Reconstructing Committee, I joined my fellow committee members and Governor Cuomo’s administration to identify a list of priorities and recommendations to help facilitate Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/01-29-14_rivera-hs-_009.jpg" alt="01 29 14 rivera hs 009" width="92" height="92" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />My list of recommendations focuses on counseling and mental health services, access to higher education, employment assistance, accessibility of clean water, and promotion of green energy infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a result of the recent committee meeting, I penned a <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/gustavo-rivera/senator-rivera-and-members-senate-democratic-conference-call" target="_blank" rel="noopener">letter</a> with members of the Senate Democratic Conference urging SUNY and CUNY to extend their in-state tuition credit program. This program aims to ensure that Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Islands students who relocated to New York are able to continue their higher education for the next academic year. Last week, SUNY extended the program and CUNY is expected to do the same imminently.</p> <p>Puerto Ricans have not only seen their lives completely torn apart by a natural disaster, but also by the criminal inaction of our federal government. While the road to recovery will be long and filled with challenges, the spirit of my fellow Boricuas remains intact. At a time of such darkness, the clarity of their ideas and their commitment to rebuilding is worthy of support. The goal of the diaspora, and all who seek to help, must be to empower our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to transform and improve their neighborhoods and towns as they see fit. The storm and this administration have dealt a painful blow to Puerto Rico, but the island and Puerto Ricans endure.</p> <p>***<br /> Gustavo Rivera is a state senator representing part of the Bronx and a native of Puerto Rico. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/NYSenatorRivera" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@NYSenatorRivera</a>.</p> <p>

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Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Joe Borelli 2018-05-07T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-07T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7659:max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-joe-borelli Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>May 7, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Joe Borelli<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/joe-borelli-podcast-map-277.jpg" alt="joe borelli podcast map 277" width="277" height="218" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Joseph Borelli is a City Council member, former state Assembly member, Staten Islander, conservative Republican, and outspoken Donald Trump supporter. On the podcast, Borelli discusses his district, his constituents and their concerns, the fact that he is a "proponent of secession" for Staten Island from the rest of New York City, his take on Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, President Trump, the media, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>, and this week's guest is <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JoeBorelliNYC</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/440622129&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/mxm-logo.jpg" alt="mxm logo" width="600" height="239" /></p> <p>Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits</p> <hr /> <p><strong>May 7, 2018 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Joe Borelli<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/joe-borelli-podcast-map-277.jpg" alt="joe borelli podcast map 277" width="277" height="218" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Joseph Borelli is a City Council member, former state Assembly member, Staten Islander, conservative Republican, and outspoken Donald Trump supporter. On the podcast, Borelli discusses his district, his constituents and their concerns, the fact that he is a "proponent of secession" for Staten Island from the rest of New York City, his take on Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, President Trump, the media, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>, and this week's guest is <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JoeBorelliNYC</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/440622129&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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Marc Molinaro and The Trump Question 2018-05-01T04:00:00+00:00 2018-05-01T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7649:marc-molinaro-and-the-trump-question Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/marc-molinaro-ggbreakfast.jpg" alt="marc molinaro ggbreakfast" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro, left, and Chris Gibson (photo: @marcmolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>The presumptive Republican nominee for governor of New York did not vote for the Republican president of the United States.</p> <p>One question Marc Molinaro was asked most often in the early weeks of his campaign to replace Governor Andrew Cuomo is whether he voted for Donald Trump in November 2016.</p> <p>“I did not, I voted for Chris Gibson,” Molinaro told reporters in Albany on April 2, the day of his official campaign launch, naming the former Congressional representative who is now chair of Molinaro’s gubernatorial campaign. It was the second time that day Molinaro, currently Dutchess County Executive, had been asked the question, the first coming in the village of Tivoli, where he grew up, became mayor at the age of 19, and held his first launch event. Both times he answered quickly, and briefly, ready to move on to the next question.</p> <p>A follow-up question, though: why didn’t you vote for Trump?</p> <p>“I had significant differences at the time, I didn't vote for him, I voted for Chris Gibson, who would have made a fine president,” Molinaro said in Tivoli. “And this is what I tell people, and I believe it, for those that admire [Trump], they believe he says it the way he sees it, and so do I, but when he doesn't do what is in the best interest of New Yorkers, and New York families, I’ll say it, and when America and the federal government does something in the best interest of New Yorkers I’ll say it too.”</p> <p>In several iterations of the same answer over the course of weeks, Molinaro has not explained the “significant differences” he had with Trump that led him to write in Gibson.</p> <p>Molinaro has mentioned two incidents where Trump has disappointed him since taking office -- the president’s response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the federal tax overhaul that severely limits state and local deductions -- but has not provided details of his issues with Trump during the campaign. A Molinaro campaign spokesperson said she thought he had been clear in his answers about Trump and did not provide more detail when Gotham Gazette inquired.</p> <p>The campaign spokesperson also declined to answer repeated questions about who Molinaro voted for during the Republican presidential primary in New York, in April 2016. Gibson, meanwhile, has been a fairly outspoken critic of Trump, though he said he did vote for the Republican nominee over Clinton because he thought Trump was more likely to clean up Washington, D.C. Gibson has <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Gibson-talks-book-Trump-12245370.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the Albany Times Union</a>, however, that Trump has not lived up to his promise to “drain the swamp.”</p> <p>In August 2017, Gibson condemned Trump’s “both sides” response to the Charlottesville rally and counter-protest, <a href="https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/opinion/valley-views/2017/08/17/chris-gibson-donald-trump-charlottesville-virginia-moral-clarity/575753001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing in the Poughkeepsie Journal</a>, “In moments like these, leadership can make all the difference. We were all counting on President Donald Trump to help us understand what happened, condemn by name the racist organizations involved, mourn the losses, and bring us together to heal. He utterly failed us.”</p> <p>Molinaro’s lukewarm approach to the president does not seem to have had an impact on his ability to garner the support of key New York Republican leaders in his bid to earn the party nomination and take on the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Cuomo is being challenged from the left by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, both painting themselves as essential anti-Trump forces.</p> <p>The Trump question could continue to prove tricky for Molinaro, who appears to want to discuss virtually anything else. There is no question that his Democratic opponent will attempt to tie him to the president and members of the media will want to know what he thinks of various Trump actions.</p> <p>On the day Molinaro entered the race, Cuomo said, "They want to run a Trump mini-me in New York -- good luck.”</p> <p>That same day, Geoff Berman, the executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, released a statement saying, “it's clear that the New York GOP is intent on pushing an ultra-conservative Trump agenda, and a candidate that has the same positions as Trump with a different hair color.”</p> <p>While he didn’t vote for Trump, Molinaro is loathe to explain why and hesitant to criticize the president. While Trump is deeply unpopular in New York overall, he retains strong support from Republicans in the state (Democrats hold a significant voter enrollment advantage across New York). Trump, a New York City businessman and television star, won 46 of 62 New York counties in his election against former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, though Clinton still won the state handily, 59 to 36.5 percent, thanks to dominating the population centers, including New York City.</p> <p>A <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/new-york-state/release-detail?ReleaseID=2519" target="_blank" rel="noopener">February Quinnipiac poll</a> showed Trump underwater in New York at 30 percent approval and 65 percent disapproval, though it was actually a slight increase in approval for the president. Within those numbers, though, Trump had a 79-15 percent approval rating among Republicans, and a 5-93 percent among Democrats.</p> <p>It looks as though Molinaro will not be forced into the difficult task of having to hug Trump in a Republican primary to then distance himself in a general election, where he almost certainly will need to win over many independents and some Democrats to win.</p> <p>The Dutchess County Executive, who has held a handful of different government positions over more than 20 years in elected office, appears to have secured both the Republican and Conservative Party nominations, and their ballot lines in November. Throughout the process of seeking the backing of different county chairs of each of the two parties, Molinaro has had to answer the Trump question in public and in private.</p> <p>Asked if he supports the president <a href="https://omny.fm/shows/the-joe-piscopo-show/9am-hour-4-23-18-marcus-molinaro-dutchess-county-e?t=21m32s" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on the Joe Piscopo Show</a> on AM970 radio, Molinaro said, “I support America, and when the president does something good, I’m going to stand up and say it. A lot of people say this about him and that is, he says it the way he sees it, well so do I. So when he does or says something that I can’t stand for, I have to say it as well. I did that when he spoke out, I think inappropriately, after Charlottesville. I didn’t vote for him last November, but my position is that we need America to succeed and we need New York to succeed.”</p> <p>He then pivoted to criticizing Cuomo, whom Molinaro has repeatedly said “displays the very attributes he demonizes,” as he tweeted recently about Cuomo and Trump, pulling up just shy of criticizing the president while still being able to take a shot at Cuomo as a hypocrite.</p> <p>Despite his coolness toward the bombastic president, the seemingly even-tempered Molinaro -- who is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">basing his run in part on the quality of his character</a>, his ethics, values, and willingness to work across the aisle -- has continued to gain support from Trump backers.</p> <p>“The bottom line is that I would have preferred him to vote for Donald Trump,” said Mike Long, state chair of the Conservative Party. “Marcus Molinaro’s positions on the issues are in sync with conservative Republicans, and therefore I overlooked it.”</p> <p>Long said he’s spoken with Molinaro about his lack of support for Trump. “What I found out was: number one, father of young children, he at the time, what was going on in the campaign, he wasn’t comfortable voting for Donald Trump, and he felt his vote in New York wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome here,” Long said in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“The meter is different, but on the issues they mostly see eye to eye,” Long said of Trump and Molinaro, who says that as governor he would lower taxes, rein in state spending, return more power to localities, clean up rampant corruption in state government, and improve management at the MTA. While he holds many conservative positions, Molinaro has also expressed some more moderate stances on immigration and campaign finance reform.</p> <p>“Marcus is refreshing, he’s energetic, and I think he can give New York a fresh start,” Long said. “Some people may be disappointed he didn’t vote for Trump, but they’re not going to vote for Cuomo.”</p> <p>New York City Council Member Joseph Borelli, a Republican from Staten Island, was an early endorser of Trump in the presidential race and continues to strongly back the president. He is also vehemently behind Molinaro for governor.</p> <p>“He is a pragmatic executive, willing to work with all sides, and has a reputation as a problem-solver,” Borelli said in a statement endorsing Molinaro. “Most importantly, he has good character and a strong moral compass that guides his decisions.”</p> <p>“New York City could benefit from someone like him at the helm of our state,” Borelli also said.</p> <p>On whether he thinks Trump will be involved in the race personally, Long said he doubts it. “I don’t see the president getting involved at any part of the campaign. I don’t see any need for that happening. The president has his hands full dealing with the anti-Trumpers around the country,” Long said.</p> <p>“Would he help Marcus? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think it’s necessary that the president get involved.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument</a>]</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/marc-molinaro-ggbreakfast.jpg" alt="marc molinaro ggbreakfast" width="600" height="314" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro, left, and Chris Gibson (photo: @marcmolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>The presumptive Republican nominee for governor of New York did not vote for the Republican president of the United States.</p> <p>One question Marc Molinaro was asked most often in the early weeks of his campaign to replace Governor Andrew Cuomo is whether he voted for Donald Trump in November 2016.</p> <p>“I did not, I voted for Chris Gibson,” Molinaro told reporters in Albany on April 2, the day of his official campaign launch, naming the former Congressional representative who is now chair of Molinaro’s gubernatorial campaign. It was the second time that day Molinaro, currently Dutchess County Executive, had been asked the question, the first coming in the village of Tivoli, where he grew up, became mayor at the age of 19, and held his first launch event. Both times he answered quickly, and briefly, ready to move on to the next question.</p> <p>A follow-up question, though: why didn’t you vote for Trump?</p> <p>“I had significant differences at the time, I didn't vote for him, I voted for Chris Gibson, who would have made a fine president,” Molinaro said in Tivoli. “And this is what I tell people, and I believe it, for those that admire [Trump], they believe he says it the way he sees it, and so do I, but when he doesn't do what is in the best interest of New Yorkers, and New York families, I’ll say it, and when America and the federal government does something in the best interest of New Yorkers I’ll say it too.”</p> <p>In several iterations of the same answer over the course of weeks, Molinaro has not explained the “significant differences” he had with Trump that led him to write in Gibson.</p> <p>Molinaro has mentioned two incidents where Trump has disappointed him since taking office -- the president’s response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the federal tax overhaul that severely limits state and local deductions -- but has not provided details of his issues with Trump during the campaign. A Molinaro campaign spokesperson said she thought he had been clear in his answers about Trump and did not provide more detail when Gotham Gazette inquired.</p> <p>The campaign spokesperson also declined to answer repeated questions about who Molinaro voted for during the Republican presidential primary in New York, in April 2016. Gibson, meanwhile, has been a fairly outspoken critic of Trump, though he said he did vote for the Republican nominee over Clinton because he thought Trump was more likely to clean up Washington, D.C. Gibson has <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Gibson-talks-book-Trump-12245370.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told the Albany Times Union</a>, however, that Trump has not lived up to his promise to “drain the swamp.”</p> <p>In August 2017, Gibson condemned Trump’s “both sides” response to the Charlottesville rally and counter-protest, <a href="https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/opinion/valley-views/2017/08/17/chris-gibson-donald-trump-charlottesville-virginia-moral-clarity/575753001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">writing in the Poughkeepsie Journal</a>, “In moments like these, leadership can make all the difference. We were all counting on President Donald Trump to help us understand what happened, condemn by name the racist organizations involved, mourn the losses, and bring us together to heal. He utterly failed us.”</p> <p>Molinaro’s lukewarm approach to the president does not seem to have had an impact on his ability to garner the support of key New York Republican leaders in his bid to earn the party nomination and take on the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Cuomo is being challenged from the left by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, both painting themselves as essential anti-Trump forces.</p> <p>The Trump question could continue to prove tricky for Molinaro, who appears to want to discuss virtually anything else. There is no question that his Democratic opponent will attempt to tie him to the president and members of the media will want to know what he thinks of various Trump actions.</p> <p>On the day Molinaro entered the race, Cuomo said, "They want to run a Trump mini-me in New York -- good luck.”</p> <p>That same day, Geoff Berman, the executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, released a statement saying, “it's clear that the New York GOP is intent on pushing an ultra-conservative Trump agenda, and a candidate that has the same positions as Trump with a different hair color.”</p> <p>While he didn’t vote for Trump, Molinaro is loathe to explain why and hesitant to criticize the president. While Trump is deeply unpopular in New York overall, he retains strong support from Republicans in the state (Democrats hold a significant voter enrollment advantage across New York). Trump, a New York City businessman and television star, won 46 of 62 New York counties in his election against former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, though Clinton still won the state handily, 59 to 36.5 percent, thanks to dominating the population centers, including New York City.</p> <p>A <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/new-york-state/release-detail?ReleaseID=2519" target="_blank" rel="noopener">February Quinnipiac poll</a> showed Trump underwater in New York at 30 percent approval and 65 percent disapproval, though it was actually a slight increase in approval for the president. Within those numbers, though, Trump had a 79-15 percent approval rating among Republicans, and a 5-93 percent among Democrats.</p> <p>It looks as though Molinaro will not be forced into the difficult task of having to hug Trump in a Republican primary to then distance himself in a general election, where he almost certainly will need to win over many independents and some Democrats to win.</p> <p>The Dutchess County Executive, who has held a handful of different government positions over more than 20 years in elected office, appears to have secured both the Republican and Conservative Party nominations, and their ballot lines in November. Throughout the process of seeking the backing of different county chairs of each of the two parties, Molinaro has had to answer the Trump question in public and in private.</p> <p>Asked if he supports the president <a href="https://omny.fm/shows/the-joe-piscopo-show/9am-hour-4-23-18-marcus-molinaro-dutchess-county-e?t=21m32s" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on the Joe Piscopo Show</a> on AM970 radio, Molinaro said, “I support America, and when the president does something good, I’m going to stand up and say it. A lot of people say this about him and that is, he says it the way he sees it, well so do I. So when he does or says something that I can’t stand for, I have to say it as well. I did that when he spoke out, I think inappropriately, after Charlottesville. I didn’t vote for him last November, but my position is that we need America to succeed and we need New York to succeed.”</p> <p>He then pivoted to criticizing Cuomo, whom Molinaro has repeatedly said “displays the very attributes he demonizes,” as he tweeted recently about Cuomo and Trump, pulling up just shy of criticizing the president while still being able to take a shot at Cuomo as a hypocrite.</p> <p>Despite his coolness toward the bombastic president, the seemingly even-tempered Molinaro -- who is <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">basing his run in part on the quality of his character</a>, his ethics, values, and willingness to work across the aisle -- has continued to gain support from Trump backers.</p> <p>“The bottom line is that I would have preferred him to vote for Donald Trump,” said Mike Long, state chair of the Conservative Party. “Marcus Molinaro’s positions on the issues are in sync with conservative Republicans, and therefore I overlooked it.”</p> <p>Long said he’s spoken with Molinaro about his lack of support for Trump. “What I found out was: number one, father of young children, he at the time, what was going on in the campaign, he wasn’t comfortable voting for Donald Trump, and he felt his vote in New York wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome here,” Long said in an interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>“The meter is different, but on the issues they mostly see eye to eye,” Long said of Trump and Molinaro, who says that as governor he would lower taxes, rein in state spending, return more power to localities, clean up rampant corruption in state government, and improve management at the MTA. While he holds many conservative positions, Molinaro has also expressed some more moderate stances on immigration and campaign finance reform.</p> <p>“Marcus is refreshing, he’s energetic, and I think he can give New York a fresh start,” Long said. “Some people may be disappointed he didn’t vote for Trump, but they’re not going to vote for Cuomo.”</p> <p>New York City Council Member Joseph Borelli, a Republican from Staten Island, was an early endorser of Trump in the presidential race and continues to strongly back the president. He is also vehemently behind Molinaro for governor.</p> <p>“He is a pragmatic executive, willing to work with all sides, and has a reputation as a problem-solver,” Borelli said in a statement endorsing Molinaro. “Most importantly, he has good character and a strong moral compass that guides his decisions.”</p> <p>“New York City could benefit from someone like him at the helm of our state,” Borelli also said.</p> <p>On whether he thinks Trump will be involved in the race personally, Long said he doubts it. “I don’t see the president getting involved at any part of the campaign. I don’t see any need for that happening. The president has his hands full dealing with the anti-Trumpers around the country,” Long said.</p> <p>“Would he help Marcus? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think it’s necessary that the president get involved.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;">[Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument</a>]</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
As Trump Pushes Deportations, Volunteers Intensify Immigrant-Accompaniment Program 2018-01-07T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7386:as-trump-pushes-deportations-volunteers-intensify-immigrant-accompaniment-program Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/jericho_walk_1.jpg" alt="jericho walk 1" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>A New Sanctuary Coalition "Jericho walk" (photo: Katrina Shakarian)</p> <hr /> <p>The day before Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers met Manuel, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, in back of the Dunkin Donuts at 321 Broadway in Manhattan, to accompany him to his immigration court hearing at 26 Federal Plaza.</p> <p>The volunteers were part of the New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program, which trains people to accompany undocumented immigrants on check-ins with<a href="https://www.ice.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)</a> and to<a href="https://www.justice.gov/eoir/new-york-city-immigration-court" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> immigration court hearings</a>. The program aims to support people caught in deportation proceedings by creating a community that is present with them and bearing witness to the process.</p> <p>“I think it’s really important that people that show up for a hearing or a check-in know that there are people supporting them,” said Denise Rickles, a retired teacher from Manhattan, who attended Manuel’s accompaniment. “I try to come once a week and I’ve been doing it for a number of months.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC</a>, founded in 2007, is an interfaith network of congregations, organizations, and individuals that stand in solidarity with the city's undocumented residents facing deportation. The coalition receives funding through Judson Memorial Church, its fiscal sponsor. In addition to organizing accompaniments, the coalition hosts immigration clinics and leads weekly prayer walks around Federal Plaza in protest of deportations.</p> <p>In 2017 -- as the national conversation around immigration and deportation reached fever pitch after the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, who has regularly demonized immigrants and promised crack downs on immigration -- the coalition organized about nine accompaniments a week, said Managing Organizer Sara Gozalo.</p> <p>Volunteers go on three types of accompaniments: ICE check-ins and court hearings for non-detained individuals at 26 Federal Plaza, and hearings for people who are detained at a location on Varick Street.</p> <p>“Advocacy without confrontation,” is how Gozalo described the program at a recent volunteer training in a hall of St. Boniface Church in Brooklyn, speaking to about 60 attendees. “Even if you feel like you’re not doing anything, your presence there means a lot. I promise you. It’s much harder to deport someone when people are watching.”</p> <p>Gozalo’s reassurance, and the support of the coalition’s volunteers, comes at a time of sweeping rhetoric from the White House and increased immigration enforcement by the federal government under President Donald Trump.</p> <p>Arrests by ICE are at a three-year high, although total<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> deportations</a> are actually down from fiscal year 2016. The discrepancy is due, in part, to the backlog of cases in federal immigration court. There are more than 650,000 pending cases nationally, about 85,000 of which are being heard in New York City courtrooms, according to data from the<a href="http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Transition Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University</a> (TRAC).</p> <p>While President Obama was not seen by many immigration advocates as adverse enough to deportations, one of Trump’s first acts as president was signing<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united"> an executive order</a> that sought to increase enforcement of federal immigration laws.</p> <p>ICE explicitly attributes its increase of administrative arrests to the direction set forth in Trump’s order. The agency made<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 143,470 administrative arrests in fiscal year 2017</a>, which it describes as the highest number of such arrests over the past three fiscal years. Fiscal year 2017 ended on September 30, and according to its latest<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Enforcement and Removal Operations Report</a>, the uptick in arrests began after Trump’s inauguration.</p> <p>On November 23, seven people followed Manuel out of the Dunkin Donuts and through security at the Worth Street entrance of 26 Federal Plaza. The group piled into an elevator and rode to the twelfth floor where Manuel was scheduled for a Master Calendar hearing -- a short and preliminary hearing at the very beginning of deportation proceedings, months and sometimes years before a final determination is made and enforced.</p> <p>On this day, Manuel, whose last name is being withheld at the request of New Sanctuary Coalition leadership, intended to bring his asylum application, completed with the help of the coalition, and those of his wife and children, to the attention of a judge.</p> <p>An undocumented immigrant detected by the federal government is served with a Notice to Appear in federal immigration court by the Department of Homeland Security. The Master Calendar hearing is that person's first appearance in front of a judge, during which they confirm having received the notice and acknowledge the government's case against them.</p> <p>During Master Calendar hearings, judges inform defendants that they can obtain legal counsel. However, since deportation proceedings are considered civil cases and not criminal, the right to counsel guaranteed by the<a href="https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/new-york-immigrant-family-unity-project-evaluation/legacy_downloads/new-york-immigrant-family-unity-project-evaluation.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> sixth amendment does not extend to immigrants facing deportation</a>. Many people end up facing government attorneys, litigating their status alone.</p> <p>On one side of the twelfth floor, the names of judges line a black bulletin board with the day’s caseloads and room numbers printed on white sheets of paper underneath. On the other side are the courtrooms, which on this day had waiting rooms so packed that appointment holders and their families overflowed into the grey and windowless hallway.</p> <p>At least 30 people lined the walls. One woman held a baby across her chest, others had toddlers in strollers, and some were grown children and teens plopped onto the floor with their backs against the wall. Sections of the hallway’s fluorescent lights had blown out, so most of the crowd waited in the dark.</p> <p>“The waiting is the worst part,” said Melvyn Stevens, a retiree from Manhattan on his sixth accompaniment with the coalition. “When I got up this morning I already had anxiety. It’s manageable, but given everything, it’s not a good environment. The building is made to make you feel small.”</p> <p>People showing up for ICE check-ins and hearings often do it alone and with little to no English language proficiency. So, coalition volunteers help them navigate their appointments.</p> <p>Upon arrival, the volunteer group leader confirms their appointment on the bulletin board, and helps them locate their courtroom. Others on the accompaniment offer small gestures like conversation during the wait, and making a run to the sixth floor cafeteria to buy them a bottle of water or a snack.</p> <p>The New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program is “very reassuring for people,” said Anne Pilsbury, director of Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) in Brooklyn. “[26 Federal Plaza] is a very confusing place and it’s hard to get information from anyone. The accompaniments humanize a very inhumane process.” &nbsp;</p> <p>CALA sends its overflow of asylum seekers to the New Sanctuary Coalition’s weekly immigration clinics for assistance completing applications.</p> <p>On accompaniments to Master Calendar hearings, such as Manuel’s, volunteers can sit in the courtroom during the hearing. When his case was called, volunteers in the room made their presence known to the judge by standing up when he walked to the respondent’s table, and sitting down when he did.</p> <p>This is different from accompaniments to ICE appointments, on which volunteers are not allowed in ICE’s waiting room on the ninth floor. Instead, the group waits in the sixth floor cafeteria, and one by one they take turns going to the ninth floor and briefly checking in on the person until they’re called into the appointment. If the outcome is detainment, the volunteers spring into action, contacting the detainee’s family, launching a letter writing campaign in their defense, and in some cases, rallying the press and other organizations in their support.</p> <p>Back in the courtroom, Manuel’s hearing was brief. His lawyer was not present. An in-house Spanish interpreter translated the judge’s every word, and in turn, Garcia’s responses were translated into English. He submitted a printed copy of his asylum application to the judge and now waits for a decision.</p> <p>According to<a href="http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> TRAC</a>, across the country in fiscal year 2017, “asylum grants increased, [but] denials grew faster.” Its report shows that roughly 60 percent of asylum applications were denied, making it the fifth year in a row that denial rates increased nationally.</p> <p>The same report cites an increase in the proportion of asylum seekers who go through the process without a lawyer. Ten years ago, only 13 percent of applicants were unrepresented, while in 2017 the figure shot up to 20 percent. Asylum seekers who are not represented by an attorney are denied 90 percent of the time.</p> <p>There aren’t enough immigration lawyers to keep up with demand, and some people can’t afford them even when they are available.</p> <p>Recently, in New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and the heavily Democratic City Council, under the leadership of former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, sought to bridge that gap and counter the Trump administration’s immigration policies, by allocating<a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/04/26/de-blasios-executive-budget-will-include-funds-for-immigrant-legal-services-111537" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $30 million</a> for immigrant legal services in the city’s budget for the current fiscal year.</p> <p>The money will pay for legal representation of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, at all stages of the process, whether they are applying for asylum, fighting deportation, or have been detained. De Blasio and the Council have expanded the counsel program, known as the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), over the past few years, with additional urgency since Trump’s election.</p> <p>Immigration proceedings are hardly straightforward. Someone can have one or multiple Master Calendar hearings over the course of several years. Eventually, a hearing for a final judgment does takes place, once a determination on asylum is made, or for those not seeking asylum, once they’ve made some other case for remaining in the United States.</p> <p>If a judge rules to deport, the case can be drawn out further, as people have the option to file several rounds of appeals.</p> <p>All the while, ICE has broad discretion over requiring check-ins. For some, check-ins start before or during the Master Calendar Hearing process. For others, there are no check-ins until a final judgement to deport is made.</p> <p>While a person cannot be deported before an order of removal is final, they can be detained. People in deportation proceedings who are convicted of crimes are generally detained. Those convicted of less serious crimes, however, may be given an opportunity to post bond, explained<a href="https://www.nycclawfirm.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Edward Cuccia</a>, the attorney representing<a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/17/queens-community-rallies-around-father-of-two-told-to-buy-plane-ticket-for-deportation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Riaz Talukder</a>, a beneficiary of the New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program.</p> <p>Talukder came to the United States from Bangladesh in the 1980s. Today, he is the sole breadwinner for his family of two American-born children and a wife, who is<a href="http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/11/20/riaz-talukder-stay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> battling thyroid cancer</a>.</p> <p>In 2010, he discovered there was an 11-year-old deportation order against him stemming from a failed application for asylum years before. That year, he was granted a stay of deportation, and has been checking in with ICE annually every since.</p> <p>During Obama’s presidency, such deferments of deportation were a courtesy to thousands of people like Talukder who had been living in the United States for many years, abiding by the law, forming families, and establishing their lives.</p> <p>Under Trump, the directive has changed. ICE officers are under tremendous precious to ratchet up numbers. There are no more courtesies, everybody is a priority, explained Cuccia, the lawyer.</p> <p>On November 20, Talukder showed up for his second appointment in four weeks. He was granted a<a href="https://www.nycclawfirm.com/single-post/2017/11/20/Riaz-Talukder-granted-6-months-temporary-stay" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> temporary stay of 6 more months</a>, an apparently lucky outcome.</p> <p>"There are a lot of factors determining decisions made by ICE,” said Cuccia.</p> <p>“Certainly, having a community presence with a client, even a small one, has the potential to influence the outcome positively. For my client, the volunteer accompaniment, the massive press response, and the overwhelming community support, was, in part, what resulted in a favorable decision at his last check-in,” he said.</p> <p>Similarly, organizers and volunteers at the New Sanctuary Coalition say that the vast majority of judges are happy to see community support in the courtroom. Some judges will acknowledge them during the hearing, and commit their presence to the record.</p> <p>“For our <em>friends</em>,” as the coalition refers to the undocumented immigrants they support, “often times, for the first time since they’ve entered the whole removal process, people are treating them with respect and dignity,” said Carol Scott, a self-defense instructor in Brooklyn who was the volunteer leader of Garcia’s accompaniment on the twenty-third.</p> <p>“We’ve had friends send notes after. One person who was in detention said, you didn’t send people, you sent seven angels,” said Scott. “So, the language is just beautiful. Not being alone in a hostile environment is a powerful balm to the soul.”</p> <p>Earlier in the day, while Manuel waited for his hearing, he was approached two times by people waiting for their own names to be called, inquiring about his entourage. At the end of &nbsp;each conversation, he handed them a New Sanctuary Coalition business card with a smile on his face.</p> <p>***<br />by Katrina Shakarian for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/jericho_walk_1.jpg" alt="jericho walk 1" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>A New Sanctuary Coalition "Jericho walk" (photo: Katrina Shakarian)</p> <hr /> <p>The day before Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers met Manuel, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, in back of the Dunkin Donuts at 321 Broadway in Manhattan, to accompany him to his immigration court hearing at 26 Federal Plaza.</p> <p>The volunteers were part of the New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program, which trains people to accompany undocumented immigrants on check-ins with<a href="https://www.ice.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)</a> and to<a href="https://www.justice.gov/eoir/new-york-city-immigration-court" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> immigration court hearings</a>. The program aims to support people caught in deportation proceedings by creating a community that is present with them and bearing witness to the process.</p> <p>“I think it’s really important that people that show up for a hearing or a check-in know that there are people supporting them,” said Denise Rickles, a retired teacher from Manhattan, who attended Manuel’s accompaniment. “I try to come once a week and I’ve been doing it for a number of months.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC</a>, founded in 2007, is an interfaith network of congregations, organizations, and individuals that stand in solidarity with the city's undocumented residents facing deportation. The coalition receives funding through Judson Memorial Church, its fiscal sponsor. In addition to organizing accompaniments, the coalition hosts immigration clinics and leads weekly prayer walks around Federal Plaza in protest of deportations.</p> <p>In 2017 -- as the national conversation around immigration and deportation reached fever pitch after the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, who has regularly demonized immigrants and promised crack downs on immigration -- the coalition organized about nine accompaniments a week, said Managing Organizer Sara Gozalo.</p> <p>Volunteers go on three types of accompaniments: ICE check-ins and court hearings for non-detained individuals at 26 Federal Plaza, and hearings for people who are detained at a location on Varick Street.</p> <p>“Advocacy without confrontation,” is how Gozalo described the program at a recent volunteer training in a hall of St. Boniface Church in Brooklyn, speaking to about 60 attendees. “Even if you feel like you’re not doing anything, your presence there means a lot. I promise you. It’s much harder to deport someone when people are watching.”</p> <p>Gozalo’s reassurance, and the support of the coalition’s volunteers, comes at a time of sweeping rhetoric from the White House and increased immigration enforcement by the federal government under President Donald Trump.</p> <p>Arrests by ICE are at a three-year high, although total<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> deportations</a> are actually down from fiscal year 2016. The discrepancy is due, in part, to the backlog of cases in federal immigration court. There are more than 650,000 pending cases nationally, about 85,000 of which are being heard in New York City courtrooms, according to data from the<a href="http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Transition Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University</a> (TRAC).</p> <p>While President Obama was not seen by many immigration advocates as adverse enough to deportations, one of Trump’s first acts as president was signing<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united"> an executive order</a> that sought to increase enforcement of federal immigration laws.</p> <p>ICE explicitly attributes its increase of administrative arrests to the direction set forth in Trump’s order. The agency made<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 143,470 administrative arrests in fiscal year 2017</a>, which it describes as the highest number of such arrests over the past three fiscal years. Fiscal year 2017 ended on September 30, and according to its latest<a href="https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2017#_ftn1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Enforcement and Removal Operations Report</a>, the uptick in arrests began after Trump’s inauguration.</p> <p>On November 23, seven people followed Manuel out of the Dunkin Donuts and through security at the Worth Street entrance of 26 Federal Plaza. The group piled into an elevator and rode to the twelfth floor where Manuel was scheduled for a Master Calendar hearing -- a short and preliminary hearing at the very beginning of deportation proceedings, months and sometimes years before a final determination is made and enforced.</p> <p>On this day, Manuel, whose last name is being withheld at the request of New Sanctuary Coalition leadership, intended to bring his asylum application, completed with the help of the coalition, and those of his wife and children, to the attention of a judge.</p> <p>An undocumented immigrant detected by the federal government is served with a Notice to Appear in federal immigration court by the Department of Homeland Security. The Master Calendar hearing is that person's first appearance in front of a judge, during which they confirm having received the notice and acknowledge the government's case against them.</p> <p>During Master Calendar hearings, judges inform defendants that they can obtain legal counsel. However, since deportation proceedings are considered civil cases and not criminal, the right to counsel guaranteed by the<a href="https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/new-york-immigrant-family-unity-project-evaluation/legacy_downloads/new-york-immigrant-family-unity-project-evaluation.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> sixth amendment does not extend to immigrants facing deportation</a>. Many people end up facing government attorneys, litigating their status alone.</p> <p>On one side of the twelfth floor, the names of judges line a black bulletin board with the day’s caseloads and room numbers printed on white sheets of paper underneath. On the other side are the courtrooms, which on this day had waiting rooms so packed that appointment holders and their families overflowed into the grey and windowless hallway.</p> <p>At least 30 people lined the walls. One woman held a baby across her chest, others had toddlers in strollers, and some were grown children and teens plopped onto the floor with their backs against the wall. Sections of the hallway’s fluorescent lights had blown out, so most of the crowd waited in the dark.</p> <p>“The waiting is the worst part,” said Melvyn Stevens, a retiree from Manhattan on his sixth accompaniment with the coalition. “When I got up this morning I already had anxiety. It’s manageable, but given everything, it’s not a good environment. The building is made to make you feel small.”</p> <p>People showing up for ICE check-ins and hearings often do it alone and with little to no English language proficiency. So, coalition volunteers help them navigate their appointments.</p> <p>Upon arrival, the volunteer group leader confirms their appointment on the bulletin board, and helps them locate their courtroom. Others on the accompaniment offer small gestures like conversation during the wait, and making a run to the sixth floor cafeteria to buy them a bottle of water or a snack.</p> <p>The New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program is “very reassuring for people,” said Anne Pilsbury, director of Central American Legal Assistance (CALA) in Brooklyn. “[26 Federal Plaza] is a very confusing place and it’s hard to get information from anyone. The accompaniments humanize a very inhumane process.” &nbsp;</p> <p>CALA sends its overflow of asylum seekers to the New Sanctuary Coalition’s weekly immigration clinics for assistance completing applications.</p> <p>On accompaniments to Master Calendar hearings, such as Manuel’s, volunteers can sit in the courtroom during the hearing. When his case was called, volunteers in the room made their presence known to the judge by standing up when he walked to the respondent’s table, and sitting down when he did.</p> <p>This is different from accompaniments to ICE appointments, on which volunteers are not allowed in ICE’s waiting room on the ninth floor. Instead, the group waits in the sixth floor cafeteria, and one by one they take turns going to the ninth floor and briefly checking in on the person until they’re called into the appointment. If the outcome is detainment, the volunteers spring into action, contacting the detainee’s family, launching a letter writing campaign in their defense, and in some cases, rallying the press and other organizations in their support.</p> <p>Back in the courtroom, Manuel’s hearing was brief. His lawyer was not present. An in-house Spanish interpreter translated the judge’s every word, and in turn, Garcia’s responses were translated into English. He submitted a printed copy of his asylum application to the judge and now waits for a decision.</p> <p>According to<a href="http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> TRAC</a>, across the country in fiscal year 2017, “asylum grants increased, [but] denials grew faster.” Its report shows that roughly 60 percent of asylum applications were denied, making it the fifth year in a row that denial rates increased nationally.</p> <p>The same report cites an increase in the proportion of asylum seekers who go through the process without a lawyer. Ten years ago, only 13 percent of applicants were unrepresented, while in 2017 the figure shot up to 20 percent. Asylum seekers who are not represented by an attorney are denied 90 percent of the time.</p> <p>There aren’t enough immigration lawyers to keep up with demand, and some people can’t afford them even when they are available.</p> <p>Recently, in New York City, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and the heavily Democratic City Council, under the leadership of former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, sought to bridge that gap and counter the Trump administration’s immigration policies, by allocating<a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/04/26/de-blasios-executive-budget-will-include-funds-for-immigrant-legal-services-111537" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $30 million</a> for immigrant legal services in the city’s budget for the current fiscal year.</p> <p>The money will pay for legal representation of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, at all stages of the process, whether they are applying for asylum, fighting deportation, or have been detained. De Blasio and the Council have expanded the counsel program, known as the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), over the past few years, with additional urgency since Trump’s election.</p> <p>Immigration proceedings are hardly straightforward. Someone can have one or multiple Master Calendar hearings over the course of several years. Eventually, a hearing for a final judgment does takes place, once a determination on asylum is made, or for those not seeking asylum, once they’ve made some other case for remaining in the United States.</p> <p>If a judge rules to deport, the case can be drawn out further, as people have the option to file several rounds of appeals.</p> <p>All the while, ICE has broad discretion over requiring check-ins. For some, check-ins start before or during the Master Calendar Hearing process. For others, there are no check-ins until a final judgement to deport is made.</p> <p>While a person cannot be deported before an order of removal is final, they can be detained. People in deportation proceedings who are convicted of crimes are generally detained. Those convicted of less serious crimes, however, may be given an opportunity to post bond, explained<a href="https://www.nycclawfirm.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Edward Cuccia</a>, the attorney representing<a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/17/queens-community-rallies-around-father-of-two-told-to-buy-plane-ticket-for-deportation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Riaz Talukder</a>, a beneficiary of the New Sanctuary Coalition’s accompaniment program.</p> <p>Talukder came to the United States from Bangladesh in the 1980s. Today, he is the sole breadwinner for his family of two American-born children and a wife, who is<a href="http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2017/11/20/riaz-talukder-stay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> battling thyroid cancer</a>.</p> <p>In 2010, he discovered there was an 11-year-old deportation order against him stemming from a failed application for asylum years before. That year, he was granted a stay of deportation, and has been checking in with ICE annually every since.</p> <p>During Obama’s presidency, such deferments of deportation were a courtesy to thousands of people like Talukder who had been living in the United States for many years, abiding by the law, forming families, and establishing their lives.</p> <p>Under Trump, the directive has changed. ICE officers are under tremendous precious to ratchet up numbers. There are no more courtesies, everybody is a priority, explained Cuccia, the lawyer.</p> <p>On November 20, Talukder showed up for his second appointment in four weeks. He was granted a<a href="https://www.nycclawfirm.com/single-post/2017/11/20/Riaz-Talukder-granted-6-months-temporary-stay" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> temporary stay of 6 more months</a>, an apparently lucky outcome.</p> <p>"There are a lot of factors determining decisions made by ICE,” said Cuccia.</p> <p>“Certainly, having a community presence with a client, even a small one, has the potential to influence the outcome positively. For my client, the volunteer accompaniment, the massive press response, and the overwhelming community support, was, in part, what resulted in a favorable decision at his last check-in,” he said.</p> <p>Similarly, organizers and volunteers at the New Sanctuary Coalition say that the vast majority of judges are happy to see community support in the courtroom. Some judges will acknowledge them during the hearing, and commit their presence to the record.</p> <p>“For our <em>friends</em>,” as the coalition refers to the undocumented immigrants they support, “often times, for the first time since they’ve entered the whole removal process, people are treating them with respect and dignity,” said Carol Scott, a self-defense instructor in Brooklyn who was the volunteer leader of Garcia’s accompaniment on the twenty-third.</p> <p>“We’ve had friends send notes after. One person who was in detention said, you didn’t send people, you sent seven angels,” said Scott. “So, the language is just beautiful. Not being alone in a hostile environment is a powerful balm to the soul.”</p> <p>Earlier in the day, while Manuel waited for his hearing, he was approached two times by people waiting for their own names to be called, inquiring about his entourage. At the end of &nbsp;each conversation, he handed them a New Sanctuary Coalition business card with a smile on his face.</p> <p>***<br />by Katrina Shakarian for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GothamGazette</a></p> Under Trump, A Potential Silver Lining for NYCHA 2017-08-24T02:36:23+00:00 2017-08-24T02:36:23+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7152:under-trump-a-potential-silver-lining-for-nycha Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/nycha_aerial.jpg" alt="nycha aerial" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>NYCHA and the city (photo: @ZodetN)</p> <hr /> <p>Since the January inauguration of Donald Trump as president, department heads and administrators throughout New York City government have been bracing for negative reverberations, with many expecting slashed federal spending and harmful policy rollbacks.</p> <p>At least one city agency sees a potential silver lining. Shola Olatoye, the chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – the authority tasked with running public housing serving about 400,000 city residents – has sent a letter to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a list of regulations that the agency finds unnecessarily cumbersome or counterproductive.</p> <p>The letter, dated June 14 of this year, was sent in response to a request for public comment by sent out by HUD as part of its efforts to comply with <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/30/presidential-executive-order-reducing-regulation-and-controlling" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Executive Order 13777</a>, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” – Trump’s seventh, signed on January 30 – which is probably best known for requiring that for every new regulation issued by a federal agency, two others must be identified for repeal. The order also requires that, in most cases, agencies cannot issue regulations estimated to increase costs without offsetting that cost with other regulatory savings.</p> <p>Olatoye mentioned that NYCHA was seeking federal regulatory rollbacks when asked about any potential positives for the authority under the Trump administration during <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7119-what-s-the-data-point-17-billion" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an episode of the “What’s the [Data] Point?” podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and Citizens Budget Commission. “I strongly believe the federal government has an obligation—legal obligation—to continue to fund it, support it, and invest in it. Full stop,” Olatoye said of public housing.</p> <p>“Can we use the, shall we say, bias of this administration towards the private sector, towards deregulation to help us? Absolutely, and we should. We have a three-page list of regulations that would allow us to move faster in the development process,” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7119-what-s-the-data-point-17-billion" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">she added</a>.</p> <p>The letter, addressed to HUD’s Office of General Counsel, states that NYCHA “believes that many of HUD’s regulations are essential for the federal government to provide safe, quality housing for low-income households,” but adds that “NYCHA believes that through regulatory modifications HUD can increase the effectiveness of [public housing authorities’] core functions.”</p> <p>The rationale is largely that red tape emanating from D.C. needlessly imposes onerous controls that raise costs and slows down NYCHA’s daily operations. For several specific regulations that NYCHA identifies, it states that required processes are either unnecessary or “less effective than local determinations.”</p> <p>The recommendations to HUD encompass three broad categories: to “align with private housing industry practices to increase efficiency and further public-private partnerships”; to “utilize state and local data and knowledge to ensure HUD is responsive to market changes and to increase accuracy of HUD expenditures”; and to “reduce duplicative requirements, simplify approval processes, and increase flexibility to increase [public housing authority] efficiency, shift decision-making to the local level, and reduce HUD’s monitoring.”</p> <p>Each of these is further broken down into particular areas, with lists and brief descriptions of specific active or forthcoming regulations that the agency wants reconsidered.</p> <p>For example, a subsection under the state and local data subheading asks HUD to modify 24 CFR § 888.113 (e) – a reference to <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?gp=&amp;SID=c2bff2d8a2f7080401e2b15427f96162&amp;mc=true&amp;tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24tab_02.tpl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Title 24</a> of the Code of Federal Regulations, which delineates HUD regulations. That section deals with allowable data sources to determine what constitutes a fair market rent in an area; NYCHA would like HUD to allow the evaluation to take into account data compiled locally by public housing authorities (PHA) to more accurately gauge market conditions. Current standards call for the usage of the American Community Survey and local survey data collected through mail and phone surveys.</p> <p>Many of the changes proposed by NYCHA would address grievances largely particular to a housing authority of its size and operational complexity (it is the largest PHA in North America, operating over 176,000 apartments in addition to managing the city’s Section 8 rental assistance voucher program). Like the market rent request, several would seek to transfer functions and processes to local control and move certain costs more in line with local standards.</p> <p>In all there are just over 20 different regulatory stipulations and notices that NYCHA is requesting be modified. A review of the public <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&amp;so=DESC&amp;sb=commentDueDate&amp;po=0&amp;dct=PS&amp;D=HUD-2017-0029" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">database</a> of comments submitted to HUD in relation to assessing regulations shows that the federal agency has received documentation from multiple public housing authorities, including the Philadelphia Housing Authority, San Diego Housing Commission, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, among multiple others. NYCHA’s submission appears to be one of the longest, at 12 pages.</p> <p>Brian Sullivan, a spokesperson for HUD, said the agency could not comment on whether any particular regulations have yet been identified as priorities for reexamination but that it was currently in the process of going through public comments and determining how to proceed.</p> <p>A recent New York magazine <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/ben-carson-hud-secretary.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">article</a> reported that the department under recently appointed HUD Secretary Ben Carson has shown itself willing to tear down much of its administrative apparatus. The department’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, also has a new administrator, Lynne Patton – a longtime confidant of the Trump family and event planner with the Trump organization – though it is not clear what role she would play in the regulatory review.</p> <p>See the full letter below:</p> <p> </p> <p>

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by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/nycha_aerial.jpg" alt="nycha aerial" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>NYCHA and the city (photo: @ZodetN)</p> <hr /> <p>Since the January inauguration of Donald Trump as president, department heads and administrators throughout New York City government have been bracing for negative reverberations, with many expecting slashed federal spending and harmful policy rollbacks.</p> <p>At least one city agency sees a potential silver lining. Shola Olatoye, the chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) – the authority tasked with running public housing serving about 400,000 city residents – has sent a letter to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a list of regulations that the agency finds unnecessarily cumbersome or counterproductive.</p> <p>The letter, dated June 14 of this year, was sent in response to a request for public comment by sent out by HUD as part of its efforts to comply with <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/30/presidential-executive-order-reducing-regulation-and-controlling" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Executive Order 13777</a>, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” – Trump’s seventh, signed on January 30 – which is probably best known for requiring that for every new regulation issued by a federal agency, two others must be identified for repeal. The order also requires that, in most cases, agencies cannot issue regulations estimated to increase costs without offsetting that cost with other regulatory savings.</p> <p>Olatoye mentioned that NYCHA was seeking federal regulatory rollbacks when asked about any potential positives for the authority under the Trump administration during <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7119-what-s-the-data-point-17-billion" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an episode of the “What’s the [Data] Point?” podcast</a> from Gotham Gazette and Citizens Budget Commission. “I strongly believe the federal government has an obligation—legal obligation—to continue to fund it, support it, and invest in it. Full stop,” Olatoye said of public housing.</p> <p>“Can we use the, shall we say, bias of this administration towards the private sector, towards deregulation to help us? Absolutely, and we should. We have a three-page list of regulations that would allow us to move faster in the development process,” <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7119-what-s-the-data-point-17-billion" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">she added</a>.</p> <p>The letter, addressed to HUD’s Office of General Counsel, states that NYCHA “believes that many of HUD’s regulations are essential for the federal government to provide safe, quality housing for low-income households,” but adds that “NYCHA believes that through regulatory modifications HUD can increase the effectiveness of [public housing authorities’] core functions.”</p> <p>The rationale is largely that red tape emanating from D.C. needlessly imposes onerous controls that raise costs and slows down NYCHA’s daily operations. For several specific regulations that NYCHA identifies, it states that required processes are either unnecessary or “less effective than local determinations.”</p> <p>The recommendations to HUD encompass three broad categories: to “align with private housing industry practices to increase efficiency and further public-private partnerships”; to “utilize state and local data and knowledge to ensure HUD is responsive to market changes and to increase accuracy of HUD expenditures”; and to “reduce duplicative requirements, simplify approval processes, and increase flexibility to increase [public housing authority] efficiency, shift decision-making to the local level, and reduce HUD’s monitoring.”</p> <p>Each of these is further broken down into particular areas, with lists and brief descriptions of specific active or forthcoming regulations that the agency wants reconsidered.</p> <p>For example, a subsection under the state and local data subheading asks HUD to modify 24 CFR § 888.113 (e) – a reference to <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?gp=&amp;SID=c2bff2d8a2f7080401e2b15427f96162&amp;mc=true&amp;tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title24/24tab_02.tpl" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Title 24</a> of the Code of Federal Regulations, which delineates HUD regulations. That section deals with allowable data sources to determine what constitutes a fair market rent in an area; NYCHA would like HUD to allow the evaluation to take into account data compiled locally by public housing authorities (PHA) to more accurately gauge market conditions. Current standards call for the usage of the American Community Survey and local survey data collected through mail and phone surveys.</p> <p>Many of the changes proposed by NYCHA would address grievances largely particular to a housing authority of its size and operational complexity (it is the largest PHA in North America, operating over 176,000 apartments in addition to managing the city’s Section 8 rental assistance voucher program). Like the market rent request, several would seek to transfer functions and processes to local control and move certain costs more in line with local standards.</p> <p>In all there are just over 20 different regulatory stipulations and notices that NYCHA is requesting be modified. A review of the public <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&amp;so=DESC&amp;sb=commentDueDate&amp;po=0&amp;dct=PS&amp;D=HUD-2017-0029" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">database</a> of comments submitted to HUD in relation to assessing regulations shows that the federal agency has received documentation from multiple public housing authorities, including the Philadelphia Housing Authority, San Diego Housing Commission, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, among multiple others. NYCHA’s submission appears to be one of the longest, at 12 pages.</p> <p>Brian Sullivan, a spokesperson for HUD, said the agency could not comment on whether any particular regulations have yet been identified as priorities for reexamination but that it was currently in the process of going through public comments and determining how to proceed.</p> <p>A recent New York magazine <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/ben-carson-hud-secretary.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">article</a> reported that the department under recently appointed HUD Secretary Ben Carson has shown itself willing to tear down much of its administrative apparatus. The department’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, also has a new administrator, Lynne Patton – a longtime confidant of the Trump family and event planner with the Trump organization – though it is not clear what role she would play in the regulatory review.</p> <p>See the full letter below:</p> <p> </p> <p>

***
by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Cuomo Refuses to Comply with Trump Election Commission Request 2017-06-30T00:00:00+00:00 2017-06-30T00:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7044:new-york-weighs-response-to-president-s-election-integrity-commission Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/new_yorkers_cast_their_votes_for_president_.jpg" alt="new yorkers cast their votes for president " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>New Yorkers cast their votes for President (photo:&nbsp;Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York has joined the ranks of states refusing to comply with a request for voter information sent yesterday by Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State and vice chair of the newly-created federal Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.</p> <p>“We will not be complying with this request and I encourage the Election Commission to work on issues of vital importance to voters, including ballot access, rather than focus on debunked theories of voter fraud,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Friday afternoon.</p> <p>The letter, which asks that each state provide the administration with available data including the names, addresses, social security numbers, voter registrations, and voting histories of every voter in the state, immediately prompted concern over voter suppression and privacy.</p> <p>N.Y.U. School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice put out a statement calling on states to carefully review their legal obligations before turning over the data. While voter data is technically public, accessing it generally requires adhering to special protocols and making payments, such as submitting requests in writing for specific data. In New York, accessing public voter data requires mailing a completed form to the state’s Board of Elections, leaving a record of who is requesting the information.</p> <p>In the statement, Mryna Pérez, the center’s deputy director, recommended that secretaries of state have “frank conversations with their lawyers about the privacy and other implications of complying with Kobach’s extensive request.”</p> <p>Several voting rights organizations have also condemned the request, including the League of Women Voters, whose president, Chris Carson, called it a “fishing expedition” and a “distraction from the real issue of voter suppression” in a statement.</p> <p>Activists worry that the data will be used to target voters based on their political affiliations as opposed to the stated purpose of investigating voter fraud. The commission was created by President Donald Trump to investigate non-citizens casting ballots following his widely discredited claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.</p> <p>As Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach ran a multi-year campaign and developed new computer systems to crack down on illegal voting, which ultimately resulted in only nine convictions, mostly of older Americans who had voted in two states or otherwise violated procedural laws. Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project once referred to Kobach as the “king of voter suppression” because of his efforts to limit voter registration in Kansas.</p> <p>New York joins California, Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in turning away Kobach’s request, which is not legally binding.</p> <p>

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by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/new_yorkers_cast_their_votes_for_president_.jpg" alt="new yorkers cast their votes for president " width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>New Yorkers cast their votes for President (photo:&nbsp;Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York has joined the ranks of states refusing to comply with a request for voter information sent yesterday by Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State and vice chair of the newly-created federal Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.</p> <p>“We will not be complying with this request and I encourage the Election Commission to work on issues of vital importance to voters, including ballot access, rather than focus on debunked theories of voter fraud,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Friday afternoon.</p> <p>The letter, which asks that each state provide the administration with available data including the names, addresses, social security numbers, voter registrations, and voting histories of every voter in the state, immediately prompted concern over voter suppression and privacy.</p> <p>N.Y.U. School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice put out a statement calling on states to carefully review their legal obligations before turning over the data. While voter data is technically public, accessing it generally requires adhering to special protocols and making payments, such as submitting requests in writing for specific data. In New York, accessing public voter data requires mailing a completed form to the state’s Board of Elections, leaving a record of who is requesting the information.</p> <p>In the statement, Mryna Pérez, the center’s deputy director, recommended that secretaries of state have “frank conversations with their lawyers about the privacy and other implications of complying with Kobach’s extensive request.”</p> <p>Several voting rights organizations have also condemned the request, including the League of Women Voters, whose president, Chris Carson, called it a “fishing expedition” and a “distraction from the real issue of voter suppression” in a statement.</p> <p>Activists worry that the data will be used to target voters based on their political affiliations as opposed to the stated purpose of investigating voter fraud. The commission was created by President Donald Trump to investigate non-citizens casting ballots following his widely discredited claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.</p> <p>As Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach ran a multi-year campaign and developed new computer systems to crack down on illegal voting, which ultimately resulted in only nine convictions, mostly of older Americans who had voted in two states or otherwise violated procedural laws. Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project once referred to Kobach as the “king of voter suppression” because of his efforts to limit voter registration in Kansas.</p> <p>New York joins California, Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in turning away Kobach’s request, which is not legally binding.</p> <p>

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by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Focused on Fighting Trump, is Schneiderman Looking Away from Albany Reform? 2017-06-27T04:00:00+00:00 2017-06-27T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7035:focused-on-fighting-trump-schneiderman-looks-away-from-albany-reform Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/ag_schneiderman_via_schneiderman.jpg" alt="ag schneiderman via schneiderman" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>AG Eric Schneiderman (photo: @Schneiderman)</p> <hr /> <p>New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has quickly become one of President Donald Trump’s leading opponents, using the levers of his office to litigate against Trump’s policies, and has put New York at the forefront of efforts to resist the new Republican administration’s agenda.</p> <p>Speaking at a Tuesday breakfast event hosted by the Association For A Better New York (ABNY), Schneiderman, a second-term Democrat, discussed his role in the Trump era, which has made his focus much more on Washington, D.C. than Albany, New York, the state capital where Schneiderman has worked as a state senator and sought reforms to the state’s election and government ethics laws.</p> <p>The focus of the ABNY event Tuesday morning was Schneiderman’s approach to Trump. The attorney general emphasized New York’s fundamental principle of openness and reiterated his pledge to fight President Trump’s travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries. “New York values of mutual respect, pluralism, and common sense are more important than ever,” he said to a room of around 250 people at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “As long as I am your Attorney General, I promise to do everything I can to stand up for those values and defend all the people I represent &nbsp;in the challenges we face together.”</p> <p>He also described his approach toward the legislation that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which may soon receive a vote in the U.S. Senate. “If the version of the health care bill proposed last week ever becomes law, I’ve promised to go to court to challenge it – and protect New Yorkers from these wrongheaded and unconstitutional provisions,” he said.</p> <p>In a lighthearted moment, Schneiderman described the experience of quarreling with Trump over the years, even before Trump ran for President. In 2013, Schneiderman filed suit against the real estate mogul for his fraudulent for-profit college Trump University. The president settled in 2016 for $25 million.</p> <p>Schneiderman noted he has learned to ignore Twitter, a favored Trump medium that the president has long-used to attack Schneiderman and others, and how Trump consistently pulls out all the stops against people when he feels threatened by them. Schneiderman read aloud a few insulting <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/482153112279724032" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tweets</a> that Trump has sent about him over the years. The attorney general also recalled when the New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, published a cover depicting Schneiderman as “Clockwork Eric,” likening him to the 1971 movie “A Clockwork Orange” character Alex DeLarge, who is a violent rapist. The paper published an accompanying <a href="http://observer.com/2014/02/the-politics-and-power-of-a-g-schneiderman/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feature</a> on Schneiderman that accused him of “political opportunism,” “vindictiveness,” and cast doubt on his investigation into Trump.</p> <p>When he did mention more local state affairs, Schneiderman cited passage of legislation to end the so-called gun show loophole and development of a drug tracking system, along with changing his office’s mentality. “Consistent with my goal of keeping New York competitive, we have shifted the culture of our office by making it clear that lawyers on my team don’t just get credit for catching bad guys; they also get credit for helping good guys,” said Schneiderman, who succeeded Governor Andrew Cuomo as attorney general.</p> <p>State government was a distant second to national matters as they relate to New York, in keeping with the event’s intended purpose. The media advisory announcing the event stated Schneiderman was expected to “discuss his work fighting Trump Administration policies that he believes threaten New Yorkers and the rule of law. Attorney General Schneiderman will detail his office’s efforts on both fronts and articulate his priorities for the future in the fight to defend New York.”</p> <p>While it made sense for Schneiderman to omit state government ethics and voting reform from his remarks, the attorney general was holding his first public speaking event since the end of the scheduled legislative session in Albany, which included none of the reforms Schneiderman has proposed. Tuesday’s event was representative of a shift in focus by Schneiderman away from state reforms and toward taking on federal government policies with the aim of fighting for New Yorkers against a new presidential administration and Republican-controlled Congress.&nbsp;</p> <p>A spokesperson for Attorney General Schneiderman disputed this observation. “He can walk and chew gum at the same time, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing,” wrote Amy Spitalnick, the Schneiderman spokesperson, in an email to Gotham Gazette. But, while Schneiderman does oversee a large and busy office, the attorney general has been quiet regarding state reforms in recent months as major decisions are made in the state capital. Schneiderman's office explained that representatives from the AG's office have met with legislative leaders, relevant committee chairs, and advocates about Schneiderman's proposals.</p> <p>A review of Schneiderman’s May and June <a href="https://ag.ny.gov/press-releases" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">press releases</a> show that as the legislative year in Albany headed toward underwhelmingly conclusion, the attorney general spoke out against President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords; filed suit against Trump regarding energy efficiency standards; challenged the EPA on toxic pesticides; criticized Secretary of Education Betsy Devos over discontinuing student loan forgiveness policies; announced opposition to potential regulatory rollback in Senate legislation; voiced concern over infringement upon New Yorker’s contraceptive rights by Trump administration policies; and reaffirmed New York’s commitment to protecting so-called sanctuary city statuses; along with other pushbacks against policies originating in Washington.</p> <p>Schneiderman’s main public efforts have been to, as he sees it, protect New Yorkers from the new president’s policies, many of which he believes threaten New Yorkers rights and needed services. Schneiderman was the subject of profiles in major outlets such as Politico and New York Magazine, both focused on his efforts against Trump. Meanwhile, Schneiderman hired Revolution Messaging, Senator Bernie Sanders’ digital consulting group in April , to work on his political team -- the AG is expected to seek a third term in 2018, but is also regarded as a certain gubernatorial candidate when Cuomo is no longer in the picture.</p> <p>But the attorney general’s office insists that Schneiderman has been attentive to Albany-related efforts. “Anyone who follows the AG’s work knows he’s been very engaged in the fight for voting and ethics reform, including proposing his own legislative packages on both issues,” the Spitalnick wrote. “That’s in addition to his push to strengthen tenant protections, protect cost-free access to birth control, and more.”</p> <p>While he has been quiet on both recently, Schneiderman has pushed election and government ethics reforms. In February, he introduced the New York Votes Act, a bill that would institute automatic and same-day voting registration along with early voting. On ethics reform for the scandal-plagued state government, in May 2015 Schneiderman introduced legislation that would give investigatory powers to the attorney general to prosecute corruption by officeholders, ban lawmakers from receiving outside income, and make campaign donation laws more restrictive. None of Schneiderman’s proposals on these two fronts have made it into law, opposed at various turns by the powers that be in Albany, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic majority in the Assembly, and the Republican-led majority in the Senate.</p> <p>Asked for recent examples of how Schneiderman has pushed his electoral and ethics proposals, or for any plans to get them moving, the AG’s office pointed to examples in the more distant past. Schneiderman does not appear to have held a public event, issued a press release, or written an op-ed on either voting or ethics reform since February, when he released his electoral reform package. The state budget was passed in early April and the scheduled legislative session ended last week, both without any of these reforms.</p> <p>Speaking with reporters following his Tuesday ABNY speech, the attorney general said the legislative session ending without ethics reform was a missed opportunity. “I think that it is essential that the state government show an ability to, and a willingness to, reform,” he said in response to a question from Gotham Gazette. “Otherwise, we're just going to have more scandals and a further erosion of public confidence.”</p> <p>“The willingness to get it done is there and I think there is an unfortunate tendency to cling to the status quo,” he added, though he did not cite evidence of the existence of any “willingness” and his spokesperson did not explain what he meant when asked in a follow-up email.</p> <p>Corruption has plagued New York’s capital for years, with legislator after legislator removed from office because of ethical scandal. Recently, former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted separately on public corruption charges. Not long after that, charges were announced against nine associates of and donors to Gov. Cuomo in a massive alleged bid-rigging scandal. In September 2016, Schneiderman’s office <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/nyregion/cuomo-former-aides-charges.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">brought charges </a>against two former Cuomo aides along with state official Alain Kaloyeros as part of that scandal. In March, Schneiderman’s office also <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/nyregion/robert-ortt-george-maziarz.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">charged</a> state Senator Robert Ortt and former state Senator George Maziarz for embezzling funds, though the charges against Ortt were dismissed by a judge on Tuesday.</p> <p>Despite months of inaction on election and ethics reforms in Albany, Schneiderman said Tuesday he is hopeful. “I do really believe that we are at a point where the public is demanding reform and there are enough legislators who get the need and are willing to get a step towards it,” he said in the gaggle. “So I think that's something which should be coming.”</p> <p> </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/ag_schneiderman_via_schneiderman.jpg" alt="ag schneiderman via schneiderman" width="640" height="427" /></p> <p>AG Eric Schneiderman (photo: @Schneiderman)</p> <hr /> <p>New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has quickly become one of President Donald Trump’s leading opponents, using the levers of his office to litigate against Trump’s policies, and has put New York at the forefront of efforts to resist the new Republican administration’s agenda.</p> <p>Speaking at a Tuesday breakfast event hosted by the Association For A Better New York (ABNY), Schneiderman, a second-term Democrat, discussed his role in the Trump era, which has made his focus much more on Washington, D.C. than Albany, New York, the state capital where Schneiderman has worked as a state senator and sought reforms to the state’s election and government ethics laws.</p> <p>The focus of the ABNY event Tuesday morning was Schneiderman’s approach to Trump. The attorney general emphasized New York’s fundamental principle of openness and reiterated his pledge to fight President Trump’s travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries. “New York values of mutual respect, pluralism, and common sense are more important than ever,” he said to a room of around 250 people at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “As long as I am your Attorney General, I promise to do everything I can to stand up for those values and defend all the people I represent &nbsp;in the challenges we face together.”</p> <p>He also described his approach toward the legislation that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which may soon receive a vote in the U.S. Senate. “If the version of the health care bill proposed last week ever becomes law, I’ve promised to go to court to challenge it – and protect New Yorkers from these wrongheaded and unconstitutional provisions,” he said.</p> <p>In a lighthearted moment, Schneiderman described the experience of quarreling with Trump over the years, even before Trump ran for President. In 2013, Schneiderman filed suit against the real estate mogul for his fraudulent for-profit college Trump University. The president settled in 2016 for $25 million.</p> <p>Schneiderman noted he has learned to ignore Twitter, a favored Trump medium that the president has long-used to attack Schneiderman and others, and how Trump consistently pulls out all the stops against people when he feels threatened by them. Schneiderman read aloud a few insulting <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/482153112279724032" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tweets</a> that Trump has sent about him over the years. The attorney general also recalled when the New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, published a cover depicting Schneiderman as “Clockwork Eric,” likening him to the 1971 movie “A Clockwork Orange” character Alex DeLarge, who is a violent rapist. The paper published an accompanying <a href="http://observer.com/2014/02/the-politics-and-power-of-a-g-schneiderman/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feature</a> on Schneiderman that accused him of “political opportunism,” “vindictiveness,” and cast doubt on his investigation into Trump.</p> <p>When he did mention more local state affairs, Schneiderman cited passage of legislation to end the so-called gun show loophole and development of a drug tracking system, along with changing his office’s mentality. “Consistent with my goal of keeping New York competitive, we have shifted the culture of our office by making it clear that lawyers on my team don’t just get credit for catching bad guys; they also get credit for helping good guys,” said Schneiderman, who succeeded Governor Andrew Cuomo as attorney general.</p> <p>State government was a distant second to national matters as they relate to New York, in keeping with the event’s intended purpose. The media advisory announcing the event stated Schneiderman was expected to “discuss his work fighting Trump Administration policies that he believes threaten New Yorkers and the rule of law. Attorney General Schneiderman will detail his office’s efforts on both fronts and articulate his priorities for the future in the fight to defend New York.”</p> <p>While it made sense for Schneiderman to omit state government ethics and voting reform from his remarks, the attorney general was holding his first public speaking event since the end of the scheduled legislative session in Albany, which included none of the reforms Schneiderman has proposed. Tuesday’s event was representative of a shift in focus by Schneiderman away from state reforms and toward taking on federal government policies with the aim of fighting for New Yorkers against a new presidential administration and Republican-controlled Congress.&nbsp;</p> <p>A spokesperson for Attorney General Schneiderman disputed this observation. “He can walk and chew gum at the same time, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing,” wrote Amy Spitalnick, the Schneiderman spokesperson, in an email to Gotham Gazette. But, while Schneiderman does oversee a large and busy office, the attorney general has been quiet regarding state reforms in recent months as major decisions are made in the state capital. Schneiderman's office explained that representatives from the AG's office have met with legislative leaders, relevant committee chairs, and advocates about Schneiderman's proposals.</p> <p>A review of Schneiderman’s May and June <a href="https://ag.ny.gov/press-releases" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">press releases</a> show that as the legislative year in Albany headed toward underwhelmingly conclusion, the attorney general spoke out against President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords; filed suit against Trump regarding energy efficiency standards; challenged the EPA on toxic pesticides; criticized Secretary of Education Betsy Devos over discontinuing student loan forgiveness policies; announced opposition to potential regulatory rollback in Senate legislation; voiced concern over infringement upon New Yorker’s contraceptive rights by Trump administration policies; and reaffirmed New York’s commitment to protecting so-called sanctuary city statuses; along with other pushbacks against policies originating in Washington.</p> <p>Schneiderman’s main public efforts have been to, as he sees it, protect New Yorkers from the new president’s policies, many of which he believes threaten New Yorkers rights and needed services. Schneiderman was the subject of profiles in major outlets such as Politico and New York Magazine, both focused on his efforts against Trump. Meanwhile, Schneiderman hired Revolution Messaging, Senator Bernie Sanders’ digital consulting group in April , to work on his political team -- the AG is expected to seek a third term in 2018, but is also regarded as a certain gubernatorial candidate when Cuomo is no longer in the picture.</p> <p>But the attorney general’s office insists that Schneiderman has been attentive to Albany-related efforts. “Anyone who follows the AG’s work knows he’s been very engaged in the fight for voting and ethics reform, including proposing his own legislative packages on both issues,” the Spitalnick wrote. “That’s in addition to his push to strengthen tenant protections, protect cost-free access to birth control, and more.”</p> <p>While he has been quiet on both recently, Schneiderman has pushed election and government ethics reforms. In February, he introduced the New York Votes Act, a bill that would institute automatic and same-day voting registration along with early voting. On ethics reform for the scandal-plagued state government, in May 2015 Schneiderman introduced legislation that would give investigatory powers to the attorney general to prosecute corruption by officeholders, ban lawmakers from receiving outside income, and make campaign donation laws more restrictive. None of Schneiderman’s proposals on these two fronts have made it into law, opposed at various turns by the powers that be in Albany, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic majority in the Assembly, and the Republican-led majority in the Senate.</p> <p>Asked for recent examples of how Schneiderman has pushed his electoral and ethics proposals, or for any plans to get them moving, the AG’s office pointed to examples in the more distant past. Schneiderman does not appear to have held a public event, issued a press release, or written an op-ed on either voting or ethics reform since February, when he released his electoral reform package. The state budget was passed in early April and the scheduled legislative session ended last week, both without any of these reforms.</p> <p>Speaking with reporters following his Tuesday ABNY speech, the attorney general said the legislative session ending without ethics reform was a missed opportunity. “I think that it is essential that the state government show an ability to, and a willingness to, reform,” he said in response to a question from Gotham Gazette. “Otherwise, we're just going to have more scandals and a further erosion of public confidence.”</p> <p>“The willingness to get it done is there and I think there is an unfortunate tendency to cling to the status quo,” he added, though he did not cite evidence of the existence of any “willingness” and his spokesperson did not explain what he meant when asked in a follow-up email.</p> <p>Corruption has plagued New York’s capital for years, with legislator after legislator removed from office because of ethical scandal. Recently, former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted separately on public corruption charges. Not long after that, charges were announced against nine associates of and donors to Gov. Cuomo in a massive alleged bid-rigging scandal. In September 2016, Schneiderman’s office <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/nyregion/cuomo-former-aides-charges.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">brought charges </a>against two former Cuomo aides along with state official Alain Kaloyeros as part of that scandal. In March, Schneiderman’s office also <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/nyregion/robert-ortt-george-maziarz.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">charged</a> state Senator Robert Ortt and former state Senator George Maziarz for embezzling funds, though the charges against Ortt were dismissed by a judge on Tuesday.</p> <p>Despite months of inaction on election and ethics reforms in Albany, Schneiderman said Tuesday he is hopeful. “I do really believe that we are at a point where the public is demanding reform and there are enough legislators who get the need and are willing to get a step towards it,” he said in the gaggle. “So I think that's something which should be coming.”</p> <p> </p> New York Must Take Action Against Corporate Backers of Hate 2017-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 2017-05-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6945:new-york-must-take-action-against-corporate-backers-of-hate Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/moya_profits_pain.jpg" alt="moya profits pain" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Moya, the author, speaks at a rally (photo: Make The Road New York)</p> <hr /> <p>Make the Road New York and the Center for Popular Democracy recently exposed President Trump’s corporate “<a href="http://www.backersofhate.org/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">backers of hate</a>,” companies that stand to profit off an agenda so steeped in hate, prejudice, and greed, you would have to be willfully blind not to see it.</p> <p>Nothing is more dangerous than business as usual when it is conducted in a moral vacuum, and these companies have been more than happy to go along for the ride: Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Blackrock, Boeing, IBM, Uber, and Disney all seem eager to cash in on the Trump agenda.</p> <p>Whether it's financing or investing in the detention centers necessary for Trump’s immigration crackdown, bidding on contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection, supporting Trump’s campaign and inauguration, or spearheading an anti-worker agenda, the corporations share one commonality: they enable the most destructive and hateful policies of this White House.</p> <p>Because Trump is great for business when that business is locking up people of color behind bars for petty crimes, and standing to gain from their imprisonment - as it is for JPMorgan Chase. A Trump White House is great for business when you stand to profit from breaking up unions, rolling back workers’ rights, and squeezing more from the middle-class. As for the overwhelming majority of Americans, those living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford their kid’s college education, or bracing for the sharp cuts to their health care, they are on the opposite side of that transaction; their pain is another’s profits.</p> <p><a href="http://www.backersofhate.org/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Backers of Hate campaign</a> urges these corporations to reverse course, until they are no longer accessory to the crimes against the disappearing middle class, against the Muslims targeted by Trump’s travel ban, and to the immigrants living in constant anxiety that today will be the last day they’ll see their family.</p> <p>And although these companies may not be swayed by the moral argument, they will listen when it comes to their almighty dollar. The Trump resistance must expand to include resisting his enablers. Consumers will need to apply the pressure where they can until condoning the Trump agenda is no longer a profitable business model.</p> <p>But they don’t need to fight goliath alone.</p> <p>As the finance capital of the world, New York not only has an obligation to pressure these companies, it has leverage. Our state pension fund is the third largest in the United States, with assets totaling $178.6 billion. In the weeks to come, I will introduce legislation in the state Assembly to divest that pension fund from companies guilty of the most egregious corporate complicity.</p> <p>New York needs to lead the effort and draw a line in the sand. If you choose to benefit from the broad net Trump has given immigration enforcement agencies, from the deregulation and right-to-work campaigns that will bleed the middle class, or from the environmental degradation that endangers all of our futures, you’ve chosen to build upon a morally dubious house of cards. If New York is to truly stand in resistance to the Trump agenda, it’s time to put its money where its mouth is and disassociate itself from the backers of hate.</p> <p>***<br />Francisco P. Moya is a New York State Assemblymember representing the 39th District in Queens and is the prime sponsor of the NYS Liberty Act and the NY DREAM Act. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/FranciscoPMoya" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@FranciscoPMoya</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/moya_profits_pain.jpg" alt="moya profits pain" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>Assemblymember Moya, the author, speaks at a rally (photo: Make The Road New York)</p> <hr /> <p>Make the Road New York and the Center for Popular Democracy recently exposed President Trump’s corporate “<a href="http://www.backersofhate.org/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">backers of hate</a>,” companies that stand to profit off an agenda so steeped in hate, prejudice, and greed, you would have to be willfully blind not to see it.</p> <p>Nothing is more dangerous than business as usual when it is conducted in a moral vacuum, and these companies have been more than happy to go along for the ride: Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Blackrock, Boeing, IBM, Uber, and Disney all seem eager to cash in on the Trump agenda.</p> <p>Whether it's financing or investing in the detention centers necessary for Trump’s immigration crackdown, bidding on contracts with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection, supporting Trump’s campaign and inauguration, or spearheading an anti-worker agenda, the corporations share one commonality: they enable the most destructive and hateful policies of this White House.</p> <p>Because Trump is great for business when that business is locking up people of color behind bars for petty crimes, and standing to gain from their imprisonment - as it is for JPMorgan Chase. A Trump White House is great for business when you stand to profit from breaking up unions, rolling back workers’ rights, and squeezing more from the middle-class. As for the overwhelming majority of Americans, those living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford their kid’s college education, or bracing for the sharp cuts to their health care, they are on the opposite side of that transaction; their pain is another’s profits.</p> <p><a href="http://www.backersofhate.org/en/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Backers of Hate campaign</a> urges these corporations to reverse course, until they are no longer accessory to the crimes against the disappearing middle class, against the Muslims targeted by Trump’s travel ban, and to the immigrants living in constant anxiety that today will be the last day they’ll see their family.</p> <p>And although these companies may not be swayed by the moral argument, they will listen when it comes to their almighty dollar. The Trump resistance must expand to include resisting his enablers. Consumers will need to apply the pressure where they can until condoning the Trump agenda is no longer a profitable business model.</p> <p>But they don’t need to fight goliath alone.</p> <p>As the finance capital of the world, New York not only has an obligation to pressure these companies, it has leverage. Our state pension fund is the third largest in the United States, with assets totaling $178.6 billion. In the weeks to come, I will introduce legislation in the state Assembly to divest that pension fund from companies guilty of the most egregious corporate complicity.</p> <p>New York needs to lead the effort and draw a line in the sand. If you choose to benefit from the broad net Trump has given immigration enforcement agencies, from the deregulation and right-to-work campaigns that will bleed the middle class, or from the environmental degradation that endangers all of our futures, you’ve chosen to build upon a morally dubious house of cards. If New York is to truly stand in resistance to the Trump agenda, it’s time to put its money where its mouth is and disassociate itself from the backers of hate.</p> <p>***<br />Francisco P. Moya is a New York State Assemblymember representing the 39th District in Queens and is the prime sponsor of the NYS Liberty Act and the NY DREAM Act. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/FranciscoPMoya" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@FranciscoPMoya</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
Calling Trump’s Big Lie What It Is 2017-05-02T04:00:00+00:00 2017-05-02T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6906:calling-trump-s-big-lie-what-it-is Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/nypd_via_nypdrecruit.jpg" alt="nypd via nypdrecruit" width="600" height="309" /></p> <p>(photo: @NYPDRecruit)</p> <hr /> <p>Upping the immigration deportation ante, a San Francisco federal judge found “irreparable harm” and ordered a national preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s threat of cutting off law enforcement funds to “sanctuary cities” that defiantly refused to comply with his deportation policy.</p> <p>Under the proposed Trump policy, cities would lose funding if undocumented and even legal immigrants are not reported to federal authorities for deportation after being charged with low-level criminal offenses, such as disorderly conduct, possessing small amounts of marijuana, or a variety of non-violent, “broken windows” offenses.</p> <p>Although federal law mandates deportation of noncitizens convicted of serious crimes, Trump’s executive order promulgates a simplistic view of “let’s kick them out” because all undocumented immigrants, non-citizen Muslims, or anyone overstaying a visa, “present a significant threat to national security and public safety and the presence of such individuals in the United States...are contrary to the national interest...[causing] immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”</p> <p>This Trumpian misinterpretation of constitutional law is a giant step backward reshaping the country’s immigration policy by diminishing civil liberties, due process, and constitutional protections, which for more than 100 years were guaranteed by our federal courts even to those who are illegally in the U.S.</p> <p>But threats have been elevated to the big lie.</p> <p>Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, in an over-the-top and uninformed response to the court’s decision to block defunding, shouted that it was an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”</p> <p>Spicer should read the Constitution -- federal judges are appointed pursuant to Article 3, by the President -- as should Trump.</p> <p>He accused “sanctuary cities” such as New York of "putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens" and says city officials who authored policies protecting people living in the country illegally "have the blood of dead Americans on their hands...a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country" that puts "thousands of innocent lives at risk."</p> <p>This is the big lie, but Spicer is not the only Trump perpetrator.</p> <p>On April 21, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared in an official DOJ memo that New York City “soft on crime” and it “continues to see gang murder after gang murder,” blaming the city for failing to turn over to federal immigration authorities for deportation a gang member who was released from Rikers Island after a conviction of a non-serious misdemeanor.</p> <p>The truth is New York City is a national success story of driving crime down over the past 20-plus years – especially violent crime. The president, a New Yorker, knows this. However, accepting this fact means superseding political grandstanding, and acknowledging that New York’s fight against violent and especially gang crimes have occurred with great success and has continued during Trump’s first 100 days.</p> <p>Since Trump’s inauguration, the NYPD and the city’s District Attorneys have prosecuted gangs and others violent criminals, refuting Session’s big “soft on crime” lie. (Sessions did walk back some of his criticisms after major blowback from NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill and others.)</p> <p>March 9, the Queens D.A. and NYPD arrested six members of the ABK street gang for plotting to kill two rival gang members and 11 individuals affiliated with the ABK for selling drugs in Queens neighborhoods.</p> <p>March 15, the Bronx D.A., NYPD, and federal law enforcement officials charged 49 members of two Bronx drug distribution organizations with narcotics, robbery, firearms offenses and murder.</p> <p>March 22, the Manhattan D.A. and NYPD charged six men, ages 19-22, as part of a firearm ring for trafficking 105 guns from South Carolina into New York City.</p> <p>March 28, the Staten Island D.A. and NYPD announced the “takedown” of a heroin distribution ring that operated on the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p>April 18, the Brooklyn D.A. announced four gang members were sentenced to 25 years to life for robbery and murder.</p> <p>Although the federal courts sent a clear message to Trump that airport detentions, religious profiling, and now defunding threats are unconstitutional, this president does not accept that our nation’s history of protecting individual freedoms no matter one’s race or religion – or how one entered the United States – that our country was not founded on threats, unlawful, odious executive orders, or the big lie.</p> <p>***<br />Arnold N. Kriss is a Manhattan attorney who formerly served as a Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Commissioner of Trials in the New York Police Department.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/nypd_via_nypdrecruit.jpg" alt="nypd via nypdrecruit" width="600" height="309" /></p> <p>(photo: @NYPDRecruit)</p> <hr /> <p>Upping the immigration deportation ante, a San Francisco federal judge found “irreparable harm” and ordered a national preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s threat of cutting off law enforcement funds to “sanctuary cities” that defiantly refused to comply with his deportation policy.</p> <p>Under the proposed Trump policy, cities would lose funding if undocumented and even legal immigrants are not reported to federal authorities for deportation after being charged with low-level criminal offenses, such as disorderly conduct, possessing small amounts of marijuana, or a variety of non-violent, “broken windows” offenses.</p> <p>Although federal law mandates deportation of noncitizens convicted of serious crimes, Trump’s executive order promulgates a simplistic view of “let’s kick them out” because all undocumented immigrants, non-citizen Muslims, or anyone overstaying a visa, “present a significant threat to national security and public safety and the presence of such individuals in the United States...are contrary to the national interest...[causing] immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”</p> <p>This Trumpian misinterpretation of constitutional law is a giant step backward reshaping the country’s immigration policy by diminishing civil liberties, due process, and constitutional protections, which for more than 100 years were guaranteed by our federal courts even to those who are illegally in the U.S.</p> <p>But threats have been elevated to the big lie.</p> <p>Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, in an over-the-top and uninformed response to the court’s decision to block defunding, shouted that it was an “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”</p> <p>Spicer should read the Constitution -- federal judges are appointed pursuant to Article 3, by the President -- as should Trump.</p> <p>He accused “sanctuary cities” such as New York of "putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens" and says city officials who authored policies protecting people living in the country illegally "have the blood of dead Americans on their hands...a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country" that puts "thousands of innocent lives at risk."</p> <p>This is the big lie, but Spicer is not the only Trump perpetrator.</p> <p>On April 21, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared in an official DOJ memo that New York City “soft on crime” and it “continues to see gang murder after gang murder,” blaming the city for failing to turn over to federal immigration authorities for deportation a gang member who was released from Rikers Island after a conviction of a non-serious misdemeanor.</p> <p>The truth is New York City is a national success story of driving crime down over the past 20-plus years – especially violent crime. The president, a New Yorker, knows this. However, accepting this fact means superseding political grandstanding, and acknowledging that New York’s fight against violent and especially gang crimes have occurred with great success and has continued during Trump’s first 100 days.</p> <p>Since Trump’s inauguration, the NYPD and the city’s District Attorneys have prosecuted gangs and others violent criminals, refuting Session’s big “soft on crime” lie. (Sessions did walk back some of his criticisms after major blowback from NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill and others.)</p> <p>March 9, the Queens D.A. and NYPD arrested six members of the ABK street gang for plotting to kill two rival gang members and 11 individuals affiliated with the ABK for selling drugs in Queens neighborhoods.</p> <p>March 15, the Bronx D.A., NYPD, and federal law enforcement officials charged 49 members of two Bronx drug distribution organizations with narcotics, robbery, firearms offenses and murder.</p> <p>March 22, the Manhattan D.A. and NYPD charged six men, ages 19-22, as part of a firearm ring for trafficking 105 guns from South Carolina into New York City.</p> <p>March 28, the Staten Island D.A. and NYPD announced the “takedown” of a heroin distribution ring that operated on the South Shore of Staten Island.</p> <p>April 18, the Brooklyn D.A. announced four gang members were sentenced to 25 years to life for robbery and murder.</p> <p>Although the federal courts sent a clear message to Trump that airport detentions, religious profiling, and now defunding threats are unconstitutional, this president does not accept that our nation’s history of protecting individual freedoms no matter one’s race or religion – or how one entered the United States – that our country was not founded on threats, unlawful, odious executive orders, or the big lie.</p> <p>***<br />Arnold N. Kriss is a Manhattan attorney who formerly served as a Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Commissioner of Trials in the New York Police Department.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
Trump’s Victory, De Blasio’s State of the City 2017-03-07T05:00:00+00:00 2017-03-07T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6794:trump-s-victory-de-blasio-s-state-of-the-city Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bdb_trump_tower.jpg" alt="bdb trump tower" width="600" height="412" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at Trump Tower (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Perhaps so as not to pour salt in the wound, Mayor Bill de Blasio took a few days to give his assessment of what went wrong for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. But, since he started to explain his take on how the Democrats blew it and the country wound up with Donald Trump as President, de Blasio has laid out in sharp terms what he believes should have been done differently.</p> <p>“I think the campaign became about the wrong thing,” de Blasio said during a February 10 taping of Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by former aides to President Barack Obama, “...[it] focused on what was wrong with Donald Trump -- his character, his personality -- and not what we needed to do for the American people and how we needed to change things, and didn’t reference that extraordinary progressive platform enough.”</p> <p>The mayor’s analysis, which he delivered almost jubilantly on the podcast and has given several times in recent months, appears to further validate his own 2013 victory and his philosophy around how Democrats must campaign throughout the country. It also seems to have served as definitional for him as he prepared his 2017 State of the City address, which he delivered on February 13, three days after taping the podcast in front of a live, friendly audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).</p> <p>“In the end,” de Blasio <a href="https://getcrookedmedia.com/here-have-a-podcast-78ee56b5a323#.a1csyyatv" target="_blank">said on Pod Save America</a>, “one thing you learn if you’re sort of listening to people, is everyone needs something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”</p> <p>A few nights later at the Apollo Theater, in front of another supportive crowd, de Blasio headlined his primetime State of the City speech with a pledge to create 100,000 “permanent good-paying jobs” over the next 10 years. These, the mayor promised, will be jobs mostly in growth sectors like life sciences and pay at least $50,000 annually. The mayor framed it as “the next front line in the battle” against inequality and the city’s affordability crisis.</p> <p>De Blasio outlined his approach to delivering on that promise to explain his administration is working to provide opportunity for people and, as he is also seeking re-election, giving them that “something to vote for.”</p> <p>“I'm going to talk to you about the things that we are going to do as a city government, the investments we're going to make, and the impact we expect it to have,” de Blasio said during his State of the City.</p> <p>Reading not from prepared remarks but from notes, de Blasio was at times repetitive, especially in hitting home that his activist, interventionist brand of government is doing what New Yorkers need.</p> <p>He explained his “deeply held belief that the simple role of government is to respond to people's everyday lives, to constantly show that we can be there for people, that we can do something to change their lives.”</p> <p>It was a speech, of course, but at times the mayor fell into the de Blasio pattern of telling instead of showing -- he was sure to say out loud what he wanted the emotional takeaways to be.</p> <p>Directly connecting his analysis of the 2016 presidential election and his mayoralty, de Blasio said, “I have to tell you that so much of what we've seen this last year, so much of what we're talking about in this city and this country honestly stems from the fact that for too long people felt their lives weren't seen, their pain wasn't responded to, their needs weren't met. They felt that here, they felt that all over the country. They felt that when they looked at Washington D.C., and a lot of people voted in 2016 based on a pain that was very economic, very real. Because they hadn't seen answers.”</p> <p>The same type of dissatisfaction with government, de Blasio was saying, propelled him into office in New York and Trump into the presidency.</p> <p>One year after voters chose Trump in a stunning upset, de Blasio will be back on the ballot. He has begun his 2017 campaign by rolling out endorsements from several labor unions and elected officials. At events in which he accepts those endorsements, whether union halls or a Bronx church, de Blasio has showcased what his administration has delivered for New Yorkers -- universal pre-kindergarten, more affordable housing, neighborhood policing along with lower crime, and more. He must now convince voters, at least the Democrats that make up his political base, that he not only heard them, but followed through on his 2013 pledge to create a more equal city.</p> <p>During his State of the City, before he turned to his new jobs push, de Blasio discussed the other side of the affordability coin: housing. He not only extolled the progress of his affordable housing plan, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units of rent-regulated apartments over ten years and is on track to do so, but explained anti-eviction measures the city is undertaking to keep people in their homes and, in many cases, out of a shelter system that is busting at the seams. (The city’s homelessness crisis is a source of vulnerability for de Blasio.)</p> <p>In the lead up to his speech, de Blasio had announced a deal with the City Council to fund a “right to counsel” in housing court, whereby qualifying tenants would receive free legal guidance or representation from the city.</p> <p>Explaining the policy during his State of the City, de Blasio carefully articulated to New Yorkers that his administration is both fighting for them and giving them that “something to vote for.”</p> <p>Describing the specifics of the policy, he provided the three instances where “you get a lawyer.”</p> <p>When he turned to jobs, he said, “If it's going to be your city, we have to help you keep climbing the economic ladder. We have to help you get more and more opportunity.”</p> <p>In the 2016 election analysis de Blasio had delivered just three nights before, he said that Hillary Clinton “had a working majority in...states that she lost, but people stayed home because it didn’t feel enough it was for them and about them.”</p> <p>During his State of the City, de Blasio read his playbook out loud, saying, “People have to see and feel every single day that their government is working for them, is on their side, find a way to make their lives better.”</p> <p>At a recent press conference, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor when he decided to eschew the traditional State of the City model of running through a lengthy list of proposals, plans, and goals in favor of focusing on one central theme, that of affordability.</p> <p>After saying that the State of the City is worked on year-round and tinkered with until the last minute, de Blasio said, “Really, over the few weeks leading up to this speech, I thought a lot about what I had heard from people all over the city and what I heard at town hall meetings.” Because of how much he hears about affordability, he said, “I felt that it would be smart to focus on it.”</p> <p>The mayor added that he felt he had given much public discussion to his policing and education agendas, among other well-worn topics, and, “When I thought about where we needed to add more to the public’s understanding of the direction we were taking, it seemed to me it was around affordability.”</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bdb_trump_tower.jpg" alt="bdb trump tower" width="600" height="412" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio at Trump Tower (photo: Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Perhaps so as not to pour salt in the wound, Mayor Bill de Blasio took a few days to give his assessment of what went wrong for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. But, since he started to explain his take on how the Democrats blew it and the country wound up with Donald Trump as President, de Blasio has laid out in sharp terms what he believes should have been done differently.</p> <p>“I think the campaign became about the wrong thing,” de Blasio said during a February 10 taping of Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by former aides to President Barack Obama, “...[it] focused on what was wrong with Donald Trump -- his character, his personality -- and not what we needed to do for the American people and how we needed to change things, and didn’t reference that extraordinary progressive platform enough.”</p> <p>The mayor’s analysis, which he delivered almost jubilantly on the podcast and has given several times in recent months, appears to further validate his own 2013 victory and his philosophy around how Democrats must campaign throughout the country. It also seems to have served as definitional for him as he prepared his 2017 State of the City address, which he delivered on February 13, three days after taping the podcast in front of a live, friendly audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).</p> <p>“In the end,” de Blasio <a href="https://getcrookedmedia.com/here-have-a-podcast-78ee56b5a323#.a1csyyatv" target="_blank">said on Pod Save America</a>, “one thing you learn if you’re sort of listening to people, is everyone needs something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”</p> <p>A few nights later at the Apollo Theater, in front of another supportive crowd, de Blasio headlined his primetime State of the City speech with a pledge to create 100,000 “permanent good-paying jobs” over the next 10 years. These, the mayor promised, will be jobs mostly in growth sectors like life sciences and pay at least $50,000 annually. The mayor framed it as “the next front line in the battle” against inequality and the city’s affordability crisis.</p> <p>De Blasio outlined his approach to delivering on that promise to explain his administration is working to provide opportunity for people and, as he is also seeking re-election, giving them that “something to vote for.”</p> <p>“I'm going to talk to you about the things that we are going to do as a city government, the investments we're going to make, and the impact we expect it to have,” de Blasio said during his State of the City.</p> <p>Reading not from prepared remarks but from notes, de Blasio was at times repetitive, especially in hitting home that his activist, interventionist brand of government is doing what New Yorkers need.</p> <p>He explained his “deeply held belief that the simple role of government is to respond to people's everyday lives, to constantly show that we can be there for people, that we can do something to change their lives.”</p> <p>It was a speech, of course, but at times the mayor fell into the de Blasio pattern of telling instead of showing -- he was sure to say out loud what he wanted the emotional takeaways to be.</p> <p>Directly connecting his analysis of the 2016 presidential election and his mayoralty, de Blasio said, “I have to tell you that so much of what we've seen this last year, so much of what we're talking about in this city and this country honestly stems from the fact that for too long people felt their lives weren't seen, their pain wasn't responded to, their needs weren't met. They felt that here, they felt that all over the country. They felt that when they looked at Washington D.C., and a lot of people voted in 2016 based on a pain that was very economic, very real. Because they hadn't seen answers.”</p> <p>The same type of dissatisfaction with government, de Blasio was saying, propelled him into office in New York and Trump into the presidency.</p> <p>One year after voters chose Trump in a stunning upset, de Blasio will be back on the ballot. He has begun his 2017 campaign by rolling out endorsements from several labor unions and elected officials. At events in which he accepts those endorsements, whether union halls or a Bronx church, de Blasio has showcased what his administration has delivered for New Yorkers -- universal pre-kindergarten, more affordable housing, neighborhood policing along with lower crime, and more. He must now convince voters, at least the Democrats that make up his political base, that he not only heard them, but followed through on his 2013 pledge to create a more equal city.</p> <p>During his State of the City, before he turned to his new jobs push, de Blasio discussed the other side of the affordability coin: housing. He not only extolled the progress of his affordable housing plan, which aims to build or preserve 200,000 units of rent-regulated apartments over ten years and is on track to do so, but explained anti-eviction measures the city is undertaking to keep people in their homes and, in many cases, out of a shelter system that is busting at the seams. (The city’s homelessness crisis is a source of vulnerability for de Blasio.)</p> <p>In the lead up to his speech, de Blasio had announced a deal with the City Council to fund a “right to counsel” in housing court, whereby qualifying tenants would receive free legal guidance or representation from the city.</p> <p>Explaining the policy during his State of the City, de Blasio carefully articulated to New Yorkers that his administration is both fighting for them and giving them that “something to vote for.”</p> <p>Describing the specifics of the policy, he provided the three instances where “you get a lawyer.”</p> <p>When he turned to jobs, he said, “If it's going to be your city, we have to help you keep climbing the economic ladder. We have to help you get more and more opportunity.”</p> <p>In the 2016 election analysis de Blasio had delivered just three nights before, he said that Hillary Clinton “had a working majority in...states that she lost, but people stayed home because it didn’t feel enough it was for them and about them.”</p> <p>During his State of the City, de Blasio read his playbook out loud, saying, “People have to see and feel every single day that their government is working for them, is on their side, find a way to make their lives better.”</p> <p>At a recent press conference, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor when he decided to eschew the traditional State of the City model of running through a lengthy list of proposals, plans, and goals in favor of focusing on one central theme, that of affordability.</p> <p>After saying that the State of the City is worked on year-round and tinkered with until the last minute, de Blasio said, “Really, over the few weeks leading up to this speech, I thought a lot about what I had heard from people all over the city and what I heard at town hall meetings.” Because of how much he hears about affordability, he said, “I felt that it would be smart to focus on it.”</p> <p>The mayor added that he felt he had given much public discussion to his policing and education agendas, among other well-worn topics, and, “When I thought about where we needed to add more to the public’s understanding of the direction we were taking, it seemed to me it was around affordability.”</p> <p>

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>