State Category Blog entries categorized under State http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/categories/listings/state Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:10:01 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Blair Horner to Return to NYPIRG http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/28/blair-horner-to-return-to-nypirg- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/28/blair-horner-to-return-to-nypirg- What better way to celebrate the New York Public Interest Research Group's 40th anniversary than to have long-time good government gadfly Blair Horner return to deliver is one-of-a-kind anti-corruption quotes?

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Horner left NYPIRG two and a half years ago to work for The American Cancer Society. He returns to NYPIRG right in time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's anti-corruption Moreland Commission's first public meetings and the 2014 state-wide elections.

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I will continue to work with them on the state’s important health issues,” Horner said in a statement. “I look forward to working on many other looming issues as well. From release of the findings of the Moreland Act Commission, to next year’s vote on the constitutional amendment on redistricting, to the 2017 referendum on whether to convene a Constitutional Convention, New Yorkers have big decisions to make and I want to be deeply involved in those discussions. Being back in NYPIRG allows me to do just that.”

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Horner is known for blisteringly poignant and funny quotes about corruption and good government policy. Albany reporters can rest easy knowing Horner will be bringing his quotes back with him.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 28 Aug 2013 13:09:45 +0000
Today's Lead: Cuomo Received Developer Cash Before Signing Tax Breaks http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/15/todays-lead-cuomo-received-developer-cash-before-signing-tax-breaks- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/15/todays-lead-cuomo-received-developer-cash-before-signing-tax-breaks-

Cuomo's Developer Donations

The New York Daily News reported today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $76,000 in donations from real estate developers just weeks before signing legislation that gave tax breaks to their properties. Three partners at Fisher Brothers donated $25,000 each to Cuomo on Dec. 27 of last year. Cuomo signed legislation giving tax breaks to their properties at New York Curb Exchange and 86 Trinity Place on Jan. 30. The Daily News reported last week that Extell Development Co. gave Cuomo $100,000 a few days before he signed the bill that gives creates $35 million in tax breaks on their One57 luxury apartment tower. The Moreland Commission that Cuomo created to investigate corruption has subpoenaed the five companies that received tax breaks from the bill. Cuomo administration officials say that the bill was supported by the city and wasn't their focus. The News writes however that legislators claims they don't know who inserted the tax breaks for the five subpoenaed companies.


Other Stories We're Following

Will BOE Struggle Through Mayoral Election? (Talking Points Memo)

NYC Will Cease Loans to Top Employees For Second Homes (NY Times)

City Evaluates Local Colleges That Train Teachers (NY Times)

Taxi, Livery Owners Help Fill Candidates' Coffers (Wall Street Journal)

Recovery is Choppy in Breezy Point (Wall Street Journal)

Quinn's Job Training Program (Daily News)

Cuomo Received $76,000 From Investors Before Signing Property Tax Bill (Daily News)

DOE Raises Price of School Lunches For Some, Makes It Free For Others (NY 1)

NYPD: Six Sought In Alleged Chelsea Bias Attack (NY 1)

Diaz Says Albany Has Ethical Double Standard (Gotham Gazette)

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Thu, 15 Aug 2013 12:51:12 +0000
Diaz Says Albany Has Ethical Double Standard http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/14/diaz-says-albany-has-ethical-double-standard- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/14/diaz-says-albany-has-ethical-double-standard-

The Daily News recently highlighted a $100,000 donation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Extell Development that appears to have been made the same day as a piece of legisaltion that granted the company tax breaks was passed in the Assembly. The tax breaks applied to the One57 building at 157 W. Fifth St., and others.

The bill had been scheduled for a vote in June 2012. Cuomo's representatives have denied any connection between Cuomo's approval of the bill and the donations but Sen. Ruben Diaz sees things differently.

He used his newsletter to imagine what would happen if he was caught up in similar controversy.

My dear reader, can you imagine if I did that kind of thing? Can you
imagine if I, Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., received $100,000 from any developer right before I threw my support for a piece of legislation that benefited that developer?

Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think there would be full-scale
local, state, and federal investigations claiming that I had accepted a
bribe in exchange for a political favor? Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think that every single editorial board would be condemning me as corrupt? I can only imagine the torch and pitchfork crowds descending on my office.

This spring, as a number of minority legislators were busted in corruption cases and wiretapped by other minority legisaltors, some began to question whether minority legislators from the city were being singled out. The New York Times ran an article on the issue.

A number of legislators have recently mentioned an incident that took place during Gov. David Paterson's waning days in office. Paterson took tickets to The World Series from the Yankees and was subsequently fined $62,125 by The Public Integrity Commission — the ethics group that has now been replaced by Cuomo's Joint Public Commission On Public Ethics.

The scandal added to Paterson's many woes as he was trying to mount his campaign for governor. Paterson eventually dropped out and Cuomo — who had already announced his campaign — no longer had a primary against a black candidate as he did during his failed 2002 run for governor.

Some legislators point out that there have been a number of incidents that seem ethically dubious involving Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that have gone uninvestigated — incidents similar to the Yankee ticket scandal or perhaps worse.

No ethics group is investigating Silver's mishandling of sexual harassment charges or the fact that the Cuomo administration negotiated a deal to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo that included a 12-seat luxury suite. The Cuomo administration said the box will be used to promote Buffalo and some elected officials will pay to use the box.

But others criticized the deal.

“No government agency needs to lease a luxury suite to market upstate New York,” former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky told The New York Times at the time. “If they need to buy tickets, that’s fine, then they buy them on an as-needed basis. The cost of the luxury suite is being paid by the taxpayer, remember that.”

Now that Cuomo has freed the Moreland Commisison to investigate corruption and campaign finance, Diaz and other lawmakers wonder if it will truly analyze powerful leaders like Cuomo. The commission has subpoenad developers who have donated to Cuomo but Diaz remains skeptical:

Let’s see how bold and fearless the Moreland Act Commission is when it pursues compliance with the subpoenas it served on the One57 building management Let’s see how the Governor’s Commission investigates what appears to be corrupt and improper influence by luxury developers.

Let’s see if the Commission investigates the role and timing of the $100K donation to the Governor’s political campaign.

Will we see a quiet resolution of these subpoenas with no inquiry into the Extell donations to Governor Andrew Cuomo?

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:08:02 +0000
Silver Names Judge to State Ethics Panel http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/31/silver-names-judge-to-state-ethics-panel http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/31/silver-names-judge-to-state-ethics-panel Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has named Judge Renee R. Roth to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The move comes after the sudden resignation of another of Silver's appointees to the commission.

The ethics panel announced that Pat Bulgaro had submitted his resignation by letter during their meeting yesterday. The panel would not say when the letter was sent and Bulgaro did not give a reason for his departure.

Silver and his appointees on JCOPE have been the subject of intense scrutiny following the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. A number of good government groups and legislators called for JCOPE to investigate Silver's handling of the matter given the fact that Silver settled one complaint against Lopez in secret. Instead, it appears JCOPE looked only at Lopez's behavior.

Silver's appointees could have voted to block an investigation into their boss but JCOPE's actions are not subject to public meeting laws, so only JCOPE knows and they aren't talking.

Silver is supposed to file paperwork declaring any professional or personal relationship he might have with Roth.

Here is more on Roth's background from Silver's office:

A graduate of Fordham Law School and the City College of New York, Judge Roth began her career as a Law Assistant – Referee for Surrogate’s Court in King’s County and subsequently presided over the New York County Surrogate Court from 1983 to 2008.

Judge Roth is employed of Counsel for the law firm of McLaughlin & Stern, LLP. In addition, Judge Roth currently acts as a Judicial Hearing Officer for the New York State Supreme Court, and holds a long-time position as adjunct professor for Fordham University School of Law. Judge Roth is also the Chair of the Surrogate’s Court Advisory Committee of the Office of Court Administration.

She previously served as a member of the Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections; Trustee of St. Francis College; Member of Women’s Forum, Inc.; Member of New York Task Force on Permanency Planning for Children; Board Member of the National Association for the furtherance of Jewish Education; and President of City College Alumni Association.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 31 Jul 2013 20:39:33 +0000
Kellner Case Means More Trouble For Silver http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/24/kellner-case-means-more-trouble-for-silver http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/07/24/kellner-case-means-more-trouble-for-silver

Assemblyman Micha Kellner is the latest Albany legislator to have sexual harassment charges made public. The New York Times reported today that Kellner sent a series of flirtatious messages to a junior female staffer over an Internet game of Scrabble.

Kellner told the woman during a late-night exchange that he hired her because she was "cute." "I wouldn't mind falling asleep with you but not remotely," he told his employee. Kellner is currently running for City Council in the 5th district.

The Times' reporting has resulted in the resignation of Assembly Lawyer Bill Collins, who failed to pass on the charges to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Kellner apologized for the behavior and said that it happened before he was married.

Over four years ago, for a few weeks while I was still single, I exchanged instant messages with a female member of my staff that were flirtatious. It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now.

The revelation comes as Silver is still trying to manage fallout from his botched handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. Silver's office has a long history of improperly responding to sexual harassment claims and his conference has been grumbling.

Kellner was one of the early critics of Silver's handling of the Lopez case. A number of staffers and female legislators say there has long been a culture of sexual harassment in Albany.

Some legislators and staffers say they think Silver has avoided returning to Albany this summer to prevent legislators from gathering to discuss his ouster.

Some staffers say their bosses have definitely spent time talking about the generalties of how they would replace SIlver but without specifics about who would take the mantle. "It has become like a parlor game they play," said one staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The New York Post's Fred Dicker reported Monday that Assemblywoman Deborah Glick could be in line to replace Silver with the backing of a number of female legislators.

Glick took to Twitter to refute Dicker's story:

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 24 Jul 2013 15:14:29 +0000