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State Government Editor of The Gotham Gazette
Changes are in store for the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices after the City Council secured veto-proof support for two controversial reform bills overnight, during which they alsoapproved a $70 billion budget and saved paid sick day legislation from a mayoral veto. All 51 members of the Council convened for a three-hour voting session at 11:26 p.m. The night's debate focused on the two bills would institute an independent inspector general for the Police Department and expand the city's ban on racial profiling aimed at decreasing what advocates say is a disproportionate number of young black and Latino men being stopped and frisked."If you have never been black, Muslim or Asian in the city of New York," Williams asked of the bill's detractors, "please listen to us."
Other Stories We're Following
New Poll of Democrats Suggests a Three-Way Tie (NY Times)
CIA Report Finds Concerns With Ties to NYPD (NY Times)
'Call a Moreland Commission and let god sort 'em out'--that seems to be the attitude of Gov. Andrew Cuomo when it comes to dealing with corruption in the legislature.
But John Kaheny of transparency-focused Reinvent Albany says there are some very obvious improvements that could be made to fight corruption right now, without even having to invoke the Moreland Act.
"There are huge opportunities to use technology to radically increase transparency and understanding of the various state spending that serve as quid pro quos," said Kaheny.
For one Kaheny says Cuomo could, "Put all discretionary fund requests, appropriations, and action online in an easy to understand dashboard like Recovery.gov."
Despite the many scandals involving legislators using state discretionary funds to enrich themselves there is no comprehensive list of projects with the names of their political sponor's attached.
Today the Supreme Court struck down what a number of observers call the "heart" of the Voting Rights Act. The move has shocked and angered a number of New York politicians who say the Act is essential to fair elections.
Chris Bragg of Crain's Insider Blog has a solid piece cataloging just how New York City will be impacted by the decision. In the long run the decision will change how district lines are drawn for city council and state legislature. The city will also be able to use lever voting machines without federal approval.
Here are a few statements:
From Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Robert Jackson and Fernando Cabrera:
It may surprise some but even after a legislative session marred by arrests and scandal and a Senate session that came to an odd end with two marathon session days, one of which ended at 6:30 a.m., at least one Senator says he would like to return to Albany to get more done.
"I believe the legislative session that ended at 6 AM Saturday morning should be categorized as a session that could have done so much more," said Addabbo in a statement.
Addabbo praised the legislature's action on the budget, gun control, the minimum wage increase, hurricane Sandy assistance and a bill allowing for a speed camera program near schools. But he noted, "certain targets were missed badly." "I don’t believe the session should have ended without addressing the need for stronger ethics and anti-corruption legislation," wrote Addabbo. "Campaign finance reform and hydrofracking were other issues we had the opportunity to work on, but didn't address. The State Legislature might have another shot at hitting these targets before the end of the year. I am hopeful we'll give it our best efforts for the sake of our people and their government."
Last-Ditch Effort For Campaign Finance Reform Fails in Senate
Senate Democrats tried to bring a campaign finance proposal to a votethrough a hostile amendment last night but the measure failed. Republicans ruled the amendment not germane but Democrats requested a vote of the entire chamber to rule on whether it was appropriate. Thirty legislators voted to support the amendment. Those legislators included the four members of the Independent Democratic Conference who have come under attack by advocates for not bringing campaign finance to a vote. Sen. Malcolm Smith who last caucused with the IDC voted against the amendment. Smith is currently under indictment for fraud and bribery. Sen. Ruben Diaz, who conferences with Democrats, also voted against the measure. All of the Republican conference voted against the amendment. Democrats had a press release ready blaming the Republican/IDC conference for the amendment's failure but all of the IDC did vote for the amendment.
Thompson to Unveil Plan for Housing Authority Today (NY 1)
Assemblyman Cut Off For Bringing up Lopez During Debate (Lower Hudson Journal)