Vito Lopez Tag All blog entries tagged as Vito Lopez Tue, 08 Jul 2014 09:43:55 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 31 Jul 2013 20:39:33 +0000
Today's Lead: Federal, State Suits Filed Against Lopez, Silver

Two female Assembly staffers have filed federal and state lawsuits against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The women allege that Lopez repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances. In one case Lopez reportedly told a staffer she should have sex with a Cuomo administration official to get a housing bill passed. The lawsuits allege that Silver provided "assistance" to Lopez that allowed him to continue harassing the women. Silver came to a secret settlement with two other women who Lopez harassed and allowed Lopez to hire the two staffers who have since brought other sexual harassment claims and these two lawsuits. The incidents have shined a spotlight on the culture of sexual harassment in Albany. Lopez resigned his seat after intense pressure and facing a vote that would have expelled him. He is still likely to face over $300,000 in fines from the legislative ethics board. Silver has apologized for his handling of the incident but has brushed off calls for his resignation.

Other Stories We're Following

Council Bill Would Cut Down on Adult Day Care Centers (NY Times)

Report: Pot Arrests in New York Vary By Race (Democrat and Chronicle)

Finger-Pointing On Stalled BIlls (Albany Times Union)

Legislature Set For One of Least Productive Sessions In Recent History(Gotham Gazette)

Thompson Gets Detective Union Support (Gotham Gazette)

Assembly Republicans Demand Federal Investigation Into Silver (Gotham Gazette)

Legislature Likely to Delay Date For Primary Runoffs in Mayoral Race (NY Times)

Sharpton To Meet With Weiner (Daily News)

Catsimatidis Skipped Voting in Last 2 of 3 Mayoral Elections (Daily News)

Bloomberg: Lhota Not Only Candidate With Proven Leadership (Capitol Confidential)

Cuomo's Casino Bill Puts Pressure on Genting (Crain's)

Court Permits Hailing of Taxis Across City (NY Times)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Fri, 07 Jun 2013 12:10:01 +0000
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Silver and Lopez [DOCUMENT] Two female Assembly staffers have filed a lawsuit against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The lawsuit claims that Lopez sexually harassed both women and that Silver provided "assistance" that allowed the harassment to continue.

Silver's office reached a secret $103,000 settlement with two former Lopez staffers who accused him of sexual harassment but Silver did not stop Lopez from hiring more female staffers. The two women who Lopez fired have since come forward to detail their harassment and have now filed this suit. They are listed as current employees of the Assembly in the lawsuit.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a report last month that detailed a littany of alleged sexual misbehavior by Lopez but the panel did not look into Silver's role in keeping them out of public view.

Silver has apologized for his handling of the matter but has dismissed calls for his resignation. Calls to his office have not been returned. The incident has shined a spotlight on Albany's culture of sexual harassment.

Here is the lawsuit. Hat tip to Gannett reporter Jon Campbell (@joncampbellgan) for the document:

]]> (David Howard King) State Thu, 06 Jun 2013 21:00:29 +0000
Assembly Republicans Demand Federal Investigation Into Silver The New York Times reported yesterday that a group of Assembly Republicans headed have called on federal prosecutors to investigate the "scandalous and allegedly criminal enterprises conducted by the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and his staff."

The group wants an investigation into Silver's handling of sexual harassment cases over the years, including allegations against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The letter, addressed to U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian of the Northern District, alleges: "Silver’s chief legal counsel and his deputy legal counsel violated the state’s sexual harassment policy by refusing to follow the mandatory reporting requirements with the Assembly Ethics Committee even though Silver and his staff originally drafted this compulsory rule."

A spokesman for Silver didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the Gotham Gazette.

If Hartunian were to investigate, he wouldn't be the only U.S. attorney looking into Albany scandal. Preet Bharara, of the Southern District of New York, has more than a few Albany legislators running scared.

The letter comes as a Quinnipiac University poll finds that 51 percent of voters think Silver should step down.

Silver has apologized for his role in the Vito Lopez sexual harassment settlement and investigation but has dismissed calls for his resignation. Silver reached a secret financial settlement with two female staffers who made sexual-harassment complaints against Lopez last year. Two more women came forward later with similar complaints and eventually the Joint Commission on Public Ethics looked into the Lopez matter but not into Silver's handling of the case. The situations has shined a spotlight on Albany's culture of sexual harassment.

]]> (David Howard King) State Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:26:32 +0000
Today's Headlines: Silver Responds To Harassment Scandal

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is weathering criticism for his handling of recently-resigned Assemblyman Vito Lopez's harassment suit. In response, he's announced plans to create an independent investigator for sexual harassment complaints and mandatory reporting of them. Many are calling for the speaker's resignation, including one Assemblyman who threatened to leave the Democratic conference if he didn't step down. Silver has apologized for authorizing a secret settlement in Lopez's harassment suit, but says resignation is "ridiculous." The scandal may have weakened his bargaining power, but he has a strong grasp on power in the state. Gov. Cuomo has reportedly decided not to call a special election to replace Lopez to keep him from wielding influence over his successor. The governor also says the harassment scandal proves the need for passage of his women's agenda.

Other Stories We're Following

NYPD To Step Up Presence Following Anti-Gay Murder (Wall Street Journal)

Judge Criticizes ‘High Error Rate’ Of Police Stops (NY Times)

NYPD Messages To Muslim Informant: 'Get Pictures' (Associated Press)

Bronx Tour Company Drops Pitch To See Ghetto (City Room)

Sheriffs: Cuomo Asked For Silence On Gun Law (Albany Times Union)

Rockaway Beaches Readying To Open Saturday (Daily News)

Rival: Weiner Should Pay Election Costs For Vacated House Seat (NY Post)

Lawsuit Targets NYPD Sting Tactic 'Operation Lucky Bag' (Daily News)

City Issues $2,400 Fine For Airbnb Rental, Law Still Unclear (The Verge)

The Stop-And-Frisk Trials Of Pedro Serrano: NYPD Rat, NYPD Hero (New York Magazine)

City Cracks Down On Unlicensed Commuter Vans (NY 1)

Geography And Political Corruption (The Atlantic Cities)

]]> (Mike Muller) The Eye-Opener Tue, 21 May 2013 11:17:12 +0000
Two Slowest Legislative Sessions Since 1914 (So Far) Albany watchers thought last year's legislative session was slow. Not so fast! This year has been even slower.

Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group has provided us with a breakdown of bills passed this year and at this point last year. Keep in mind that Mahoney has previously noted that 2012 was a year "when they passed the fewest two-house bills since at least 1914."

Mahoney also notes, "Of course, the total number of bills is only one way to measure a session’s success. The session will ultimately be judged by what they do on the biggest issues, including their response to the crime wave rocking the Capitol."

Passed Senate: 295
2012 passed Senate through 5/19: 475

Passed Assembly: 235
2012 passed Assembly through 5/19: 366

Passed both houses: 66
2012 passed both houses through 5/19: 81

(5/19 was chosen since the legislature will presumably pass no bills between now and Sunday).

The Legislature could return to Albany and bring a flurry of bill-passing activity with it but signs aren't looking great for that at the moment. Looks like one of the first points of business for the Assembly will be to vote on expelling Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

]]> (David Howard King) State Fri, 17 May 2013 16:52:48 +0000
Cuomo and Republican Comments On Lopez Indicate Stalemate For Rest of Session

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the ugly sexual harassment scandal surrounding Assemblyman Vito Lopez is the perfect example of why legislators need to pass his 10-point women's agenda.

“I think it would be the height of hypocrisy for a body that just recognized the problem up close and personal within their own colleagues and to not take action,” Cuomo told reporters yesterday.

Cuomo has yet to issue a bill encapsulating all 10 points of the agenda, but it is known to include stiffer penalties for sexual harassment; anti-human trafficking measures; pay equality laws; and a more controversial provision that would encode a women's right to an abortion in state health law rather than in the criminal code.

Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters echoed Cuomo's sentiments earlier yesterday. "If anyone should be the poster boy for the women's agenda legislation Vito Lopez is it," Bartoletti said.

Bartoletti wants legislators back in Albany next week ready to pass the women's legislation as well as campaign finance reform. Otherwise she said all they will have from this session is "a legacy of scandal."

But Senate Republicans aren't interested in passing Cuomo's women's agenda or his other priority — public financing of campaigns.

A spokesman for the State Senate Republican's sent Nick Reisman of Capital Tonight a statement slamming Cuomo's comments about the women's agenda and simultaneously slapping down the push for public financing of campaigns.

"Out of one side of his mouth, Andrew Cuomo calls for Vito Lopez’s resignation. Out of the other, he calls for public financing for campaigns," the statement read. "The height of hypocrisy is for Andrew Cuomo to claim to support women’s rights while asking New York’s women to spend their tax dollars on reelecting serial sex abuser Vito Lopez and his enabler Sheldon Silver. If the governor were serious about protecting women, he would join us in calling for Silver to resign as speaker."

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans held a not-so public hearing to bash New York City style public financing of campaigns.

Groups that support public financing of campaigns point to recent cases of corruption and say that public financing would help reduce the influence of money in politics. Senate Republicans say that the public would be forced to finance the campaigns of crooked pols like Lopez.

Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos recently had an op-ed in the Times Union bashing public financing of campaigns. He has also been going out of his way to attack the abortion measure of the women's equality legislation.

Skelos recently issued a statement connecting the women's equality legislation to the murder conviction of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. “Today’s guilty verdict in the Kermit Gosnell trial in Pennsylvania highlights the potential danger in passing the so-called Reproductive Health Act," Skelos wrote.

Many in Albany worry that Senate Republicans want to be in Albany as little as possible for the rest of the year so they don't face pressure from Cuomo to pass ethics reform and other parts of his agenda.

It has been the slowest legislative year in recent record, according to Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Last year, legislators floated through the end of session after passing the budget. It appears the same may happen this year.

]]> (David Howard King) State Fri, 17 May 2013 11:41:48 +0000
Today's Headlines: Silver Moves to Oust Lopez

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he is moving to expel Assemblyman Vito Lopez last night. Silver, facing a firestorm of criticism for his office's handling of the Lopez sexual harassment scandal is looking to take decisive action as soon as Monday. Silver refused to expel Lopez last year as the scandal broke but stripped Lopez of his seniority and committee assignments. Now, with more criticism focused on his office following the release of the Joint Commission on Public Ethic's damning report, Silver says he plans to introduce a resolution that according to his spokesman Michael Whyland will be, "voted on Monday to ask the Ethics & Guidance Committee to consider the full JCOPE report and to recommend appropriate sanctions including expulsion of Assemblymember Lopez." Earlier Thursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the Assembly shouldconsider expelling Lopez. “The reaction from the legislature should be zero tolerance,” Cuomo said. “If he doesn't resign, he should be expelled.”

Other Stories We're Following

City to Sell Councilwoman's Debt to Collectors (Daily News)

Voting Machine Firm Offers City Help in Upcoming Election (Daily News)

Lopez's Girlfriend Sticks With Her man (Daily News)

De Blasio Offers Plan to Help Immigrants Assimilate (NY Times)

Quinn Attacks Thompson For D'Amato Cash (NY Times)

How Much Did Andrew Cuomo Make This Year? (Albany Times Union)

MTA Relying on Plywood, Sandbags For Hurricane Season (Daily News)

Suit Claims City's Gifted and Talented Selection Process is Flawed (Wall Street Journal)

Hakeem Jeffries Questions Eric Holder on Stop and Frisk (DNAinfo)

NYC Unemployment Rate Hits 4-Year Low (Crain's)

Rockaways A-Train Service to be Restored This Month (Crain's)

Squadron's Consultants Say He's Got The Money Edge In Public Advocate Race (Capital)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Fri, 17 May 2013 11:35:27 +0000
Under Pressure, Silver Moves to Expel Lopez

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has faced a chorus of calls for his resignation for his handling of the Assemblyman Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. Editorial boards, good government groups and Republican legislators have either demanded Silver step down or hold a leadership vote in the Assembly. A broader chorus is calling for Lopez's resignation.

Silver seems to be paying attention as his spokesman Michael Wyland issued a statement tonight saying that Silver, "intends to draft and introduce a resolution tomorrow, to be voted on Monday, to ask the Ethics & Guidance Committee to consider the full JCOPE report and to recommend appropriate sanctions including expulsion of Assemblymember Lopez."

Silver has called for Lopez to step down several times.

Earlier today Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters that if Lopez continues to refuse to resign, "I think the body should expel him. I think they should make a statement that says we do not tolerate this in our house."

Cuomo defended Silver. "I don’t see any comparison between what Vito Lopez and what Shelly Silver did,” Cuomo said. “There is a magnitude of difference," Cuomo said.

Silver already stripped Lopez of his seniority, committee posts, and has restricted his ability to have interns, so expulsion would seem to be the last remaining option to further punish Lopez in his current position. Lopez is already looking to get out of town permanently as he is running for City Council.

Whyland says in the statement that he expects Silver's resolution to move quickly, "Given that an exhaustive investigation has already occurred by two public agencies."

Reports by special investigator Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics detailed Lopez's persistent and vile harassment of four female staffers.

Stories include Lopez asking for the staffers to rub his tumors, kiss him, share a hotel room with him, write him letters, wear more revealing clothing.

Perhaps the most revolting incident involves Lopez demanding a woman massage his hand during a car ride. When the women told Lopez she was made uncomfortable by the situation because she had been raped in college, Lopez asked if she felt guilty because she hadn't pressed charges against her accuser and told her to continue massaging his hand while she cried.

According to JCOPE's report, after receiving two initial complaints against Lopez, Silver's staff placed two of Lopez's staffers in other positions in the Assembly. That allowed Lopez to hire two more women who later charged him with harassment. The second set of women filed complaints the day that Lopez finished settlement mandated sexual harassment training. Silver's staff kept the initial settlement secret and JCOPE's investigation seems to document that Silver's staff did so to avoid a scandal. So much for that idea.

]]> (David Howard King) State Fri, 17 May 2013 03:59:56 +0000
Today's Lead: Leaders Shielded Lopez

The state's ethics commission issued a report yesterday that not only detailed a torrent of inappropriate behavior by Assemblyman Vito Lopez but that tore into Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his staff for shielding the lawmaker. At one point after two women made sexual harassment complaints against Lopez the report states that Silver's office relocated the women to other positions which enabled Lopez to hire two more women who he also harassed. The report details Lopez asking a staffer to give him eye drops for pink eye, demanding staffers share hotels with them, forcing them to feel his tumors, looking for a large apartment in Albany to share with one of them and perhaps most shockingly Lopez demanded a female staffer continue massaging his hand after the woman told Lopez she was uncomfortable because she had been raped in college. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics' report was released after a special prosecutor found no criminal wrongdoing by Lopez or Silver. Lopez issued a statement saying he was under attack by people wishing to destroy him. JCOPE's report was released by the legislature after facing mounting pressure. Members of the legislature also tried to redact large swaths of the report relating to the performance of Assembly staffers during the matter. JCOPE, which has members appointed by Silver, did not authorize an investigation into the behavior of Silver and the Assembly in the matter. Yesterday, Silver's spokesman defended him in a statement and Silver renewed his call for Lopez to resign.

Other Stories We're Following

Weiner Said to be Struggling to Find Campaign Staff (NY Times)

State Reviewing Pay For Fast-Food Workers (NY Times)

Judge Blocks City Plan For New Taxis (NY Times)

D'Amato Puts Cash Behind Bill Thompson (NY Times)

Liu Returned $14G in Improper Campaign Funds (Daily News)

Judge Tosses Indictment of NYPD Cop in Shooting of Unarmed Teen (Daily News)

Judge Orders Hotel Shelters For Sandy Victims Stay Open (Wall Street Journal)

Labor Gridlocked in Mayor's Race (Crain's)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Thu, 16 May 2013 12:25:32 +0000
Silver Plays Defense, Renews Calls For Lopez to Resign

The Assembly and Speaker Sheldon Silver took a shellacking in reports today by Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan and the Joint Commission on Public ethics for their handling of sexual harassment charges against Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Donovan found that the secretive manner in which initial sexual harassment charges were handled against Lopez only "encouraged" the assemblyman to continue his pattern of harassment. According to JCOPE's report, two staffers who accused Lopez of harassment and filed complaints were moved off Lopez's payroll; Lopez then hired new female staffers and pressured them for intimate relationships.

Silver's office has undoubtedly been fielding a bevy of calls from reporters regarding the findings of both reports.

Silver's spokesman Michael Whyland issued a statement defending his boss saying, "A full review of the facts by both JCOPE and the Special Prosecutor has found that all actions by the Assembly were lawful and there was no basis for an ethics complaint against the Speaker or his staff."

Whyland also used the opportunity to reiterate that Silver has called for Lopez's resignation and still wants him to resign. "Given that the JCOPE investigation has found significant violations of the Public Officers Law by Assemblyman Lopez, Speaker Silver renews his call for him to resign," said Whyland in the statement.

Lopez is already looking for a different job — he is running for City Council.

]]> (David Howard King) City Wed, 15 May 2013 19:50:08 +0000
Judge: Wiretapped Legislators' Names Can Be Revealed A judge has ruled that the names of eight people who spoke on wiretaps with former state Sen. Shirley Huntley can be made public tomorrow.

Huntley, who pleaded guilty to funnelling tens of thousands of dollars in public money to a bogus charity that she operated, wore a wire for federal prosecutors for several months last year.

What makes Huntley's case so interesting is that prosecutors are arguing that the names should not be released because doing so could compromise ongoing investigations. Six of the eight people Huntley spoke to while wearing a wire are elected officials.

Judge Jack Weinstein wrote in his ruling that he isn't worried that revealing these names will ruin any cases.

"Every legislator who has conversed with this defendant will necessarily assume that he or she wasrecorded under the supervision of the FBI," he wrote. "There will be no surprises to the potentially accused by the revelations of their names. Interference with ongoing investigations will be of almost no significance."

Weinstein also wrote off concerns that revealing the names could taint elected officials before they are convicted of any crime.

"The argument that some may avoid lending their talents to public life in order to avoid its slurs has slight weight," he continued. "Since this country’s beginning, when Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr, and others began developing the art of American politics, anyone who entered the arena of government has understood that his or her good name may be unfairly sullied. Yet, the honor and excitement of serving the public has not inhibited our best people from entering the fray of politics."

Earlier this week, Sen. John Sampson was indicted on embezzelment charges and faces 120 years in prison. Sen. Malcolm Smith was arrested in a corruption scheme to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for NYC mayor in early April. Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was arrested for taking bribes for legislation only a few days later. Assemblyman Vito Lopez is being investigated for numerous accusations of sexual harassment. And Assemblyman William Boyland faces fresh charges in what seems to be a neverending line of indictments for the troubled legislator.

Come tomorrow we could get a better idea of who is going to soon join the list of legally troubled leigslators.

]]> (David Howard King) State Tue, 07 May 2013 21:08:12 +0000
Today's Headlines: #Sandy Victims Win Hotel Extension

A judge ruled on Wednesday for the city to extend its hotel program for displaced victims of Hurricane Sandy. The city had originally planned on kicking remaining 196 evacuess out of hotels on April 30 but an extensionwill give victims until May 15. Five Sandy evacuees filed a lawsuit to gain the extension on Monday. The city Department of Homeless Services provided hotel rooms to victims who did not qualify for the FEMA hotel program. The FEMA program had previously been extended untill May 29.

Other Stories We're Following

Vito Lopez is Formidable Candidate For Council Despite Scandal (Daily News)

Quinn Pushes NYPD Inspector Bill (NY Post)

Mayoral Candidates As Cause Celebrities (Wall Street Journal)

State Ethics Panel Will Lose Its Leader (Wall Street Journal)

Defense in Fraud trial Blames Failed Effort to Charge Liu (NY Times)

Subway Delays up in 2012 (NY Times)

FEMA Policy Bars Aid For Co-Ops Hit by Sandy (NY Times)

Cuomo Continues Push on Casinos (Albany Times Union)

City Seeks Developer For 1K Affordable Apartments (Crain's)

Thousands March in Manhattan For May Day Protest (DNAinfo)

Cuomo's Transparency Website Flush With New Info (Gotham Gazette)

Scandal-Plagued Councilman Won't Seek Reelection (Gotham Gazette)

Assembly Passes Gender Expression Protection Act (Gotham Gazette)

New Surveillance Tech For Statue Of Liberty (Slate)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Thu, 02 May 2013 11:34:51 +0000
State Ethics Panel Threatens to Release Vito Lopez Report The Joint Commission on Public Ethics released a statement threatening to make the findings of their investigation into disgraced Brooklyn powerbroker and Assemblyman Vito Lopez public.

JCOPE has been looking into the scandal involving sexual harassment allegations against Lopez that led Speaker Sheldon Silver to pay out a settlement to Lopez's accusers and eventually strip Lopez of his legislative perks. JCOPE finished its investigation and forwarded it to the Legislative Ethics Commission according to the law so that they can measure punishment for Lopez and possibly Silver.

But Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan requested earlier this year that the Legislative Ethics Commission refrain from releasing the report as he continues a criminal investigation into Lopez. But JCOPE isn't interested in waiting. JCOPE has been accused of being a toothless watchdog in the past weeks as legislative corruption scandals have bloomed.

The ethics panel says it will go ahead and release its findings if the Legislative Ethics Commission doesn't.

Here is JCOPE's statement:

In February, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics issued a Substantial Basis Investigation Report to the Legislative Ethics Commission for its review under Legislative Law §80. Pursuant to statutory mandate, if the Legislative Ethics Commission should fail to do so, the Joint Commission shall release the report in its entirety after the ongoing 90-day period provided for under law.

]]> (David Howard King) State Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:22:18 +0000
Today's Headlines: Albany Pols Spend Millions in Campaign Cash on Legal Fees

Corruption in Albany Means Tons of Cash For Legal Fees

State officials have spent nearly $7 million of campaign cash on legal fees related to criminal and ethics investigations into them since 2004 an analysis by The Daily News and the New York Public Interest Group finds. Senate Democrats have proposed a rule banning legislators from spending campaign cash on legal fees. The analysis found that lawmakers have spent $2 million of campaign cash on legal fees in the last two years alone. That spurt is boosterd by former Sen. Carl Kruger who spent $1.5 million of his campaign cash on legal fees. Kruger is currently serving seven years in prison after pleading guilting to a number of corruption charges. Other major spenders are former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, former Controller Alan Hevesi and Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Other Stories We're Following

Senate Blocks Drive For New Gun Control (NY Times)

Cuomo on Background Check Defeat: 'Sad Statement on Power of Extremists' (Gotham Gazette)

NY Politicians React to Failure of Background Checks For Gun Sales (Gotham Gazette)

Republicans Say Public Financing Could Taint Ballot (Albany Times Union)

In Poll New Yorkers Say Corruption is a Big Problem (City Room)

Why Weiner's Mayoral Bid is a Long Shot (City Room)

Innovative Bus System Could Alleviate Traffic In Queens (Daily News)

Poll: Voters Haven't Formed Opinions on Many Dem Mayoral Candidates (Wall Street Journal)

Cuomo Sent Letter of Support For Failed Federal Gun Legislation (Albany Times Union)

Brooklyn Borough President Endorses Quinn (Daily News)

City Dealing With Inflating Price of Employee Health Coverage (NY Post)

Albany Finds Relief From Scandal With Dark Humor (NY Times)

Some Testimony in Bias Case Undermines Bias Claim (NY Times)

National Chains Expected to Flood Meatpacking District as Rents Triple (DNAinfo)

Barclays Takes on Madison Square Garden (Crain's)

City's Contract Offer Infuriates Unions (Crain's)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Thu, 18 Apr 2013 11:59:46 +0000
Assemblyman Claims He Has Cooperated On Corruption Cases For Years Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro says he has been cooperating with federal and county prosecutors on public corruption cases for years.

Castro, a Democrat, announced today in a statement that he would be resigning from the Assembly after one of those cases was made public just hours ago with the arrest of fellow Assemblyman Eric Stevenson on federal charges that he accepted bribes.

Castro said in his statement that he had agreed to cooperate with the Bronx district attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York "in conjunction with various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption." He said he began to cooperate with the Bronx district attorney's office in 2009 following an indictment on a civil matter. Castro was elected in 2008.

Stevenson, also a Democrat from the Bronx, was arrested this morning on federal charges that he accepted bribes. Stevenson's lawyer told The Times he is still reviewing the charges against his client and "would have no comment until he had done so."

The federal complaint against Stevenson refers to an "Assemblyman 1," which news reports have identified as Castro.

The Bronx district attorney's office and federal prosecutors declined to comment.

Castro, who was elected in 2008, was a key figure in the push to pass the state DREAM Act that would have helped immigrants who are not legal residents to pay for college.

Here is Castro's full statement:

Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013.

On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct.

Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and, later, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, in conjunction with various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption. As one result of this cooperation, among other things, this morning a complaint was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and four others with various federal crimes. I continue to cooperate with State and Federal authorities in this prosecution and in other investigations.

I am very proud of my accomplishments and the many benefits that I have secured on behalf of my district over the last four years. These include helping thousands of constituents to apply for U.S. citizenship on a no-fee basis, and providing educational programs focusing on the Citizenship & Naturalization Exam; obtaining funding for technology purchases and initiatives for the schools in my district; sponsoring events for senior centers and youth programs in my district and beyond; and securing additional low cost housing units in the area. Most of all, I take pride in how our diverse population has united to transcend racial and ethnic differences and work together.

My district is comprised of hard working and honest people, devoted to their families and to their community. I deeply regret my misconduct while campaigning before I was elected to office. It is my sincere hope that my constituents remember me most for the good I have done as their representative, rather than for the poor example I set as a candidate.

Because of the sensitive nature of ongoing prosecutions and investigations, I must direct all further inquiries to my attorney, Michael C. Farkas, Esq.

]]> (David Howard King) State Thu, 04 Apr 2013 18:14:53 +0000
Today's Lead: Deal on Paid Sick Leave

Deal on Paid Sick Leave

The city is set force companies that employ over 15 people to give full-time employees 5 compensated days off a year. The news comes as Council Speaker Christine Quinn who has blocked a vote on paid sick leave for years reached a deal last night with labor and business leaders. The law wouldn't take effect until spring 2014 and for the first 8 months it would only apply to businesses with 20 or more employees. Political pressure mounted on mayoral candidate Quinn over the last few weeks as her opponents and advocates attacked her on her refusal to bring the issue to a vote. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is opposed to paid sick leave and like Quinn has said it will hurt business. The council will have to vote on the legislation and likely override a veto from Bloomberg. “We have a good, strong and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of everyday New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face,” Quinn said in a statement.

Other Stories We're Following

NY Assembly Passes State Budget (Daily News)

Pro-Cuomo Group Biggest Lobbying Spender (NY Times)

Bloomberg Not Keen on Any of His Possible Successors (NY Times)

Cuomo Cancels Fundraisers in Florida (Wall Street Journal)

Lobbying Spending in New York State Dropped in 2012 (Democrat and Chronicle)

State Minimum-Wage Increase Paired With Employment Tax Credit (NY Post)

State Appeals Ruling That Blocks Cuomo From Cutting School Aid to City(Daily News)

Bloomberg Expected to Accelerate Bike Lane Plans (Daily News)

Assemblyman Vito Lopez Faces New Health Crisis (Daily News)

New NYPD Dept. Chief Says Stop and Frisk Works (NY 1)

Fewer Students Suspended (Wall Street Journal)

]]> (David Howard King) City Fri, 29 Mar 2013 11:55:38 +0000
Today's Lead Story: City Jobless Rate Rises

City Jobless Rate Rises

The city's jobless rate rose above 9 percent in January despite the fact that the city started the year with more jobs than it has ever had before. The State Labor Department found that the city added85,000 jobs in 2012 and started 2013 with 3.94 million jobs. The Labor Department has concluded that the city's jobless rate rose no higher than 9.5 percent last year and was at 8.8 percent by the end of the year.

Other Stories We're Following

City Park Staff to be Bolstered (Wall Street Journal)

Amendments to State Gun Law Package in The Works (Albany Times Union)

Lawmakers See Path to Early State Budget (Capital Tonight)

In Challenge to Cuomo Assemblyman Proposes Local Approval of Casinos (Capital)

Top Senate Republican Vows to Block Fracking Moratorium (Lower Hudson Journal)

NYC Principal Had Been Demoted At Previous Job For Concerning Email (NY 1)

Housing Recovery Officials to Hold Sandy Relief Forums (NY 1)

Vito Lopez's Ogling of Teen Led to 911 Calls by Mother (Daily News)

Assembly Dems to Unveil Plan For $25 Million DREAM Act (Daily News)

GED Test Out in NY (Wall Street Journal)

MTA to Reopen Station at South Ferry (Wall Street Journal)

Opposition Emerges to Cuomo's Plan to Cut $120 From Disabled (NY Times)

City Says it Erred By Not Telling Parents About PCB Leak (NY Times)

Bronx Offers Case Study in Future of Voting Act (NY Times)

How NYC's Director Of Analytics Transformed Building Inspections (Slate)

Con Ed Begins Work On Spectra Pipeline in Chelsea (Chelsea Now)

]]> (David Howard King) City Fri, 08 Mar 2013 12:54:47 +0000
Today's Lead: Gun Rights Advocates Swarm Albany

Gun Advocates Swarm Capitol

The Capitol in Albany was swarmed by an estimated 5,000 gun advocates yesterday in a rally organized to protest Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York Safe Act. The SAFE Act that expanded the definition of assault weapons, banned clips with 7 or more bullets and increased penalties for illegal gun possesion was championed by Cuomo after the shootings in Newtown, Conn.The predominantly male audience carried signs that compared Cuomo to Hitler and chanted "Cuomo's got to go." Many protesters traveled for miles from across the state. Cuomo and legislative leaders have said they do not plan any major changes to the Safe Act besides a few technical corrections. However, one Republican Senator Kathy Marchione has introduced a bill that would repeal most of the SAFE act. The repeal is unlikely to ever come to a vote as Senate Republican leadership supports the SAFE act. The New York Rifle and Pistol Association which organized the protest is working on a legal challenge to the SAFE Act that it plans to file next week.

Other Stories We're Following

Fare Hikes on MTA Commuter Rails Take Effect Today (NY 1)

New State Education Standards Could Cost City Big (NY Times)

Liu Denounces Inquiry Into His Fundraising (NY Times)

Faltering Bronx School Nears the End (NY Times)

Shareholders Have Upbeat Take on Future of Lower Manhattan (Capital)

Assemblyman Reviewing Lopez/Silver Probe to Hold Fundraiser Featuring Silver (NY Post)

Carrion Jr. Plans to Keep Developers Donations Despite Ethics Probe(Daily News)

Quinn Takes Heat at Forum For Blocking Vote on Paid Sick Leave (Daily News)

Quinn May Lose Support Of Key Political Club (DNAinfo)

]]> (David Howard King) State Fri, 01 Mar 2013 11:24:54 +0000
Assemblyman Wants Silver Out as Speaker

Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz is circulating a letter to his colleagues asking them not to reelect Assemblyman Sheldon Silver as Speaker, a position Silver has held since 1994.

"Mr. Silver’s actions in covering the sexual improprieties of Assemblyman Vito Lopez with taxpayer dollars by means of the 'Miscellaneous Contractual Services' account go against everything that we should be united against in a bipartisan manner," Katz writes. "While we may disagree on how to govern, the people of the state of New York deserve to have an open, honest, and transparent government."

Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union recently documented how Silver and Assembly Democrats dodged any fallout from the Lopez scandal during the elections and actually added seats to their super-majority. It seems unlikely that Katz' effort will come to much but it keeps the scandal alive just a little bit longer. The matter is still reportedly being investigated by JCOPE.

Here is the full letter Katz is circulating among Assembly members:

To My Colleagues in the Assembly:

I write to voice my concern regarding our impending vote for leadership in the Assembly. In light of the events that have been revealed over the last six months, I believe that it hurts our credibility as an honest governing body with any sense of morality and decency to even consider nominating Assemblyman Sheldon Silver for the position of Speaker.

Mr. Silver’s actions in covering the sexual improprieties of Assemblyman Vito Lopez with taxpayer dollars by means of the “Miscellaneous Contractual Services” account go against everything that we should be united against in a bipartisan manner. While we may disagree on how to govern, the people of the state of New York deserve to have an open, honest, and transparent government.

If Assemblyman Sheldon Silver is re-elected as Speaker, then we are not only showing New York, but the rest of the nation, that we have no backbone, no moral compass, and no integrity when it comes to honest government. If Assemblyman Sheldon Silver is re-elected as Speaker, we are confirming New York’s worst fears that its elected officials are above the law. I believe we are better than this.

At its core, this is a moral issue – not partisan. There is common ground for all of us to responsibly occupy. The Speaker’s action to cover up numerous sexual indiscretions not only embarrasses the state and our government, but each one of us, as well. We cannot be expected to govern effectively and with the confidence of our constituents if Assemblyman Sheldon Silver is allowed to retain his position. His use of a taxpayer funded discretionary account to affect any sort of “out of court settlement” is unconscionable, and this stain will mar every decision we make on behalf of our constituents for the next two years.

The citizens of New York deserve better from their public servants. And as public servants, we deserve better leadership, so that we can better represent our constituents.

Collectively, I believe we are above the actions of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver. I hope you will join me in electing a new Speaker so that we can turn the page on a sordid chapter in our state’s history and work on fixing New York.

God Bless,

Assemblyman Steve Katz (AD94)

]]> (David Howard King) State Mon, 26 Nov 2012 20:02:18 +0000