Gotham Gazette

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Citizens Union

The Eye-Opener

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New York is the only state in the nation besides North Carolina that prosecutes 16 and 17 year olds in the adult criminal justice system.

The result? Over 45,000 16 and 17 year olds a year are arrested as adults. Many of them go into the adult prison system and advocates say their lives are then irreversibly changed by the experience — and not for the good.

Juvenile justice advocates think its time for New York to rethink its laws. Advocates, politicians, faith leaders, judges and the formerly incarcerated rallied outside the New York Metropolitan Corrections Center yesterday to kick off a campaign to change state law.

“We should be providing our youth the support and services they need to overcome challenges and be successful, not prosecuting and incarcerating them as adults,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, at the rally. “The time to end this cruel, wasteful and destructive practice is long overdue."

Advocates say that statistics shows 70 percent of those under 18 who are arrested are black and Latino. That group makes up 80 percent of teens who are incarcerated.


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Eliot Spitzer has thrown himself into a last-minute bid for comptroller leaving himself very little room for error in collecting — by midnight Thursday — the 3,750 signatures he needs to get on the ballot. 

Albany insiders who dealt with the former governor during his time there say the move is 100 percent indicative of the conflict loving adrenaline junky they worked and negotiated with for years. 

Associates of Spitzer have said he had been mulling a run for months, but made the final decision this past weekend. 

Those familiar with Spitzer from his time in Albany say he may have incorrectly read the tea leaves of Anthony Weiner's success in the polls and decided the time was right to challenge himself — while leaving organizing a campaign staff to the last minute. 

They say the move is similar to the way he jumped from the attorney general's office to the governorship where he tried to apply the same hardcharging techniques with horrible results. In some ways, the attorney general is a dream job: It calls for taking bad guys to court and putting out press releases. It's far different from dealing with the messy politics of the state Legislature. 


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The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has lifted the veil on how legislators make their outside income and, perhaps, where their loyalties lie. Legislators all make a salary of $79,500 a year for their work and are reimbursed for travel. Many also earn stipends for their positions on committees. 

The filings drawing the most interest from journalists and advocates are from legislative leaders who are also known to work for law firms — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Independent Democratic Conference head Jeff Klein. 

According to his filings, Silver makes at least $350,000 and up to $450,000 a year as council at Weiz & Luxenberg. Silver has long been criticized for acting in the interest of trial lawyers.

Silver was recently attacked for killing changes to the citys' scaffolding law that would have allowed juries to consider whether the action of workers had any impact on accidents. Current law puts the onus on the shoulders of the building owners and contractors. The changes were seen as detrimental to trial lawyers. 

Skelos pulls down $150,000 to $250,000  a year as council for Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. The law firm recently set up a lobbying branch

Klein earns between $50,000 and $75,000 a year in guaranteed payments from his law firm Klein Calderoni & Santucci LLP.  


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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nominees to head his Moreland Commission that will investigate corruption in Albany have already raised the hackles of some advocates and legislators.

Cuomo announced the formation of the commission this morning. The Daily News reported yesterday that the committee — which will have subpoena power — will be chaired by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and lawyer Milton Williams. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also leant his staffers and the power of his office to broaden the scope of the investigation. 

Rice, who ran for attorney general in 2010, has long been a Cuomo ally, which does nothing to allay the fears of some legislators that Cuomo will have undue control of what the commission will and won't look into. 

Furthermore, good government advocates worry that Rice is too close to the largest political donors in the state to cast a critical eye on their behavior.  Rice is in the middle of running for reelection and is one of the state's most prolific fundraisers.

"This isn't kind of message we were looking for," said one advocate who asked to remain anonymous. "We are talking about someone who is just as beholden to this system as anyone else in the state." 


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Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos took to the airwaves this morning to warn Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the Legislature has the ability to investigate the the executive branch.

“A legislative body can also do things we feel are appropriate,” Skelos told Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom.” “If this is just aimed at the Legislature, I think that would be inappropriate. Certainly, the governor runs for office. He’s raised close to $30 million in his campaign committee. … Everybody should be cautious here when they move forward.”

Good government groups and even Democratic Party loyalists like Bill Samuels have said they think whatever investigative body Cuomo creates should be allowed to look at all fundraising — including Cuomo's. Advocates point out that Cuomo is the master of the current fundraising system and any investigation should look into the major donors that have benefited him. 

As we reported last week, Cuomo's father Mario clashed with the Legislature when he tried to empanel a similar investigative body. The Legislature initially refused to fund the commission, and eventually got some say into what the commission actually investigated. 

Skelos previously warned Cuomo that the Legislature could look into his dealings and he reiterated it on The Capitol Pressroom.