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The city hopes to get more people engaged in this year's pivotal election with a new web app that aims to benefit both campaigns and voters.

The web app, named NYC Votes, will streamline campaign donations and also serve as a resource on candidates and the election.

NYC Votes Candidate Contribution ScreenAn early version of the software was demoed at a public hearing last night where developers showed a simple interface that included a step-by-step process for making donations.

The software draws from the city's campaign finance data and is expected to be released in two weeks. It will be available on most browser-enabled devices, including phones and tablets.

"We started from the premise of creating a much more seamless, end-to-end experience for participants in the voting process," said Art Chang, the chairman of the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee of the city's Campaign Finance Board, which held the hearing and is in charge of developing the software.

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Tagged in: elections voting

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Political observers are beginning to ask whether race or ethnicity are playing a role in the state's most recent corruption cases. All five lawmakers charged in the growing corruption probe are black or Latino. So, too, are the eight people recorded for the FBI by state Sen. Shirley Huntley.

At a forum on Friday night titled "Attack on Black Leaders: Corruption or Conspiracy?" state Sen. James Sanders of Queens raised questions about whether black leaders were being targeted. “Why aren’t we hearing about other people wired and looking at different communities? Why is it seemingly a focus on this community?”

But experts and lawmakers tell The Associated Press that the current batch of cases may involved people of color, but that has not been the case in the past.

“People are going to think what they think, but it’s important to understand that what is going on in Albany transcends race, gender or party,” Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told The AP. “While this current wave has involved mostly people of color, prior to this it captured people across the aisle who were not people of color.

Federal corruption cases between 2009 and 2011 involved were all white, and half were Republicans. The most recent cases involve Democrats.

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Tagged in: corruption elections

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NEW YORK — After almost four years of negotiations and months of political bickering, about one million working New Yorkers are a step closer to gaining paid sick days.

The City Council approved a bill today that will require many businesses to give sick workers time off. It passed 45 to 3.

The bill is much transformed from the one originally introduced in 2010 and kept from a vote by Speaker Christine Quinn until a near insurrection from her colleagues and criticism from advocates threatened to become a political liability as she seeks the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Under the bill approved by the Council, eligible workers would be guaranteed a minimum of five paid sick days. The bill also says that no one in New York can be fired for taking an unpaid sick day. Whereas the original bill would have forced businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days, the version passed today applies to those with 20 or more employees.

The law would go into effect in April of next year, with the possibility of expanding to businesses with 15 or more employees in late 2015, depending on the law's success. Full-time and part-time workers would be protected under the law, although it excludes interns and seasonal workers.

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City Councilman Ruben Wills' name appears on a list of wiretapped politicians in a sentencing memorandum for former state Sen. Shirley Huntley. Speaking at City Hall after the court document was unsealed today, Wills said his attorney assured him that he is not the focus of a corruption investgation. Here's a video of his comments.

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As Democratic mayoral candidates continue to court political leaders in the outer boroughs, former Comptroller Bill Thompson today secured an endorsement from one of the Bronx's most powerful Latino leaders.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. stood in front of City Hall alongside Thompson, touting the former comptroller's commitment to the Bronx and his track record with the community.

Díaz said Thompson has shown that when worked on "broader issues" that "there's been equity."

"There's a certain commitment," he said. "There's a heart that he has that says, 'I want to do for all New Yorkers.'"

Diaz said that he had been in talks with other Democratic candidates who vied for his endorsement, namely Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

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