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New York Public Interest Research Group

New York Public Interest Research Group

  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, April 4

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    We're about two weeks from New York's April 19 presidential primary vote. The three remaining Republican candidates and two remaining Democrats have been campaigning in New York, which is more in play than it has been in several cycles. Hillary Clinton is set to hold events in New York City and Albany Monday, including a rally with Gov. Cuomo and a meeting with state Assembly Democrats, and while the candidates are

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  • Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most

    three men at a table

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


    "Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on NY1 on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."

    While the governor

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  • Cuomo's Public Schedules Offer Little Information

    cuomo reporters

    Cuomo gives a press briefing in Tarrytown (Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was facing pressure from the press, local officials, and the public to make his first appearance in Hoosick Falls, a small town near the Vermont border. Residents of the town were told in December that their drinking water was unsafe for consumption due to contamination from a toxic chemical that may lead to cancer. Cuomo, whose administration has been accused of mishandling reports about water contamination in the

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  • Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package

    cuomo sots scene

    Scene at Gov. Cuomo's State of the State (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    On Tuesday in Albany, the heads of three major good government groups gave their evaluation of the ethics proposals Gov. Andrew Cuomo included in his State of the State address and budget presentation last week. Susan Lerner of Common Cause, Dick Dadey of Citizens Union and Blair Horner of the New York Public

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  • Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform

    cuomo exec budget pres 2014

    Governor Cuomo presents his 2014-2015 Executive Budget


    In 1975 New York City was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, having balanced its budget for years with massive borrowing and shady accounting tricks. Banks were at the point where they would lend no more. Mayor Abe Beame had written the announcement of the city's default. City lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a petition for bankruptcy and police were prepared to serve

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

    nys

    (photo: nysenate.gov)


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

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

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  • Good Government Groups Want Legislators to Pledge to Fight for Reform

    pledge

    The pledge (photo via @CitizensUnionNY)


    Lawmakers returned to Albany for the first day of the 2016 legislative session in the wake of two seismic corruption convictions of their former house leaders. Waiting for them were representatives of three leading good government groups, asking New York state legislators to sign a pledge to fight for good government reform.

    On the first day of session since both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted on multiple federal corruption charges, good government groups unveiled a

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  • Good Government Groups Point to New Evidence of Need for Major Ethics Reform

    cuomo silver skelos 2011

    L-R: Silver, Cuomo & Skelos in 2011 (photo via the governor's office) 


    New York's leading good government groups gathered at Manhattan's Foley Square Wednesday to call on the New York State legislature and the governor to take immediate action to reform public ethics laws. The press conference, held in the shadows of a federal courthouse where one of New York’s most

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  • Rumored Scheme Brings Scrutiny to Bronx Political Machine

    diaz jr heastie crespo

    Diaz Jr., Heastie, Crespo (l-r) (photo: @rubendiazjr)


    By all reasonable indicators, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson should cruise to reelection this November despite his low conviction rate, notoriously slow pace in filing charges, and apparent lack of serious fundraising. But many are watching closely to see if Johnson drops off

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  • Republicans Face Moment of Truth After Conviction of Senate Deputy Leader

    Flanagan Libous

    Sen. Flanagan, standing, & former Sen. Libous (photo: Lori Van Buren)


    When Senator Tom Libous, deputy majority leader for the state Senate Republicans, was convicted last week it sent a shockwave through the capital. Sure, indictments and convictions of powerful sitting legislators are a dime a dozen these days thanks to the efforts of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but many in Albany felt Libous' case was different.

    Well-liked

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  • Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears

    john sampson

    Recently convicted former Sen. John Sampson (photo: @SampsonVictory)


    It would reason to think that the conviction of two legislative leaders would lead to a flurry of anti-corruption activity in any state capital. But in Albany, where the new normal appears to involve multiple convictions and indictments of sitting lawmakers every year, last week's crime blotter appears to have barely turned a head. The convictions of Republican Senate Deputy Leader Tom Libous and Democratic Sen. John Sampson, a former Majority Leader, on

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  • Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs

    Cuomo wage rally

    Cuomo at Wednesday's rally (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    On Wednesday, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo streamed live video of the wage board he convened as its members recommended a multi-year plan to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers across the state. As the meeting ended the same stream cut to a jubilant rally in New York City. In stark contrast to previous

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  • In End of Session 'Scorecard,' Plenty for Next Year's Albany Agenda

    Cuomo Heastie Flanagan

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • Albany Lawmakers Putter Past Deadlines, Surprising No One

    Cuomo Heastie

    Two of the 'three men' (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    Albany has a reputation for procrastination. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature seem to meet no sunsetting regulation that impacts millions of people, mandated federal action with millions of dollars at stake, or other serious deadline that is too important for them to skirt. State government loves to push issues right to the edge, pause, and then shove them over the cliff just when everyone is looking.

    It is a habit so ingrained in capital

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  • Does 2015 Offer Return of the Albany Big Ugly?

    Cuomo

    Cuomo had linked the EITC & DREAM Act (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Pop quiz: what do the DNA of felons, casinos, teacher performance, the drawing of legislative district lines, and pension reform have to do with one another? This isn't a trick question - in Albany all of these issues were crammed together by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders in 2012 to form the traditional Albany deal that has come to be known as "The Big Ugly." The only thing that stood out about it was that the 2012

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  • Mostly Questions and Criticism Ahead of Cuomo Email Summit

    Cuomo Indian Point

    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    On Friday - the Friday of Memorial Day weekend - Gov. Andrew Cuomo will host a summit on email retention policy. It is a much-anticipated meeting that a large number of key stakeholders don't see a need for, and it's unclear what attendance will look like in terms of representation from the major entities in state government being called together to agree on a uniform approach to keeping and deleting official emails.

  • Amid Further Ethics Scandal, What Can Cuomo Do Now?

    cuomo side

    Gov. Cuomo (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Last March Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Now, a little more than a year later, both legislative leaders have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of federal corruption. Surrounded by scandal, it isn't immediately clear what the governor can or will do next. One thing that is sure, though, is that the worse Albany looks, the worse Cuomo looks.

    After

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  • Left Out of Ethics Deal, LLC Loophole Faces Renewed Scrutiny

    Cuomo Heastie

    Gov. Cuomo & Speaker Heastie shake on an ethics deal (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The New York State Board of Elections opened up a floodgate in 1996, allowing cash to flow virtually unabated to political candidates. The BOE issued a ruling that allowed limited liability corporations, or LLCs, to be treated as individual donors and individuals to donate unlimited funds to candidates for state-level offices by creating multiple LLCs. Efforts to change the law in the Legislature have failed miserably and

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  • City Council Unveils 'Council 2.0' Digital Engagement Plan

    council tech plan alatriste

    Council members unveil Council 2.0 (photo: William Alatriste)


    NEW YORK - City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several council colleagues released today a civic technology plan aimed at making the legislative body more transparent while facilitating direct engagement with constituents.

    The "public technology plan," dubbed Council 2.0, is being touted as a new "roadmap to digital inclusion and open

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  • New York's Unique Campaign Finance Ecosystem

    mmv speech

    Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: Joyce Choi Li)


    New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has been the subject of much speculation of late. She is the most powerful member of the Council and influential in politics beyond the city. As a woman of Puerto Rican descent she represents a voting bloc that is woefully underrepresented in New York elected offices. She also maintains a busy travel schedule and ties to a wide swath of

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  • Albany Sunshine Week Looked Like an Eclipse to Advocates

    Cuomo Heastie ethics

    Cuomo and Heastie embrace over ethics deal (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The Cuomo administration and the state Legislature are doing battle on a variety of fronts, perhaps none more intense than that over ethics reform. Last week, the administration launched a two-pronged attack in response to criticism of its 90-day email deletion policy and over a push for increased financial disclosure by administration employees and their significant others.

    The pushback came during Sunshine Week, when

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