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The City's plan for spending federal disaster recovery aid has been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first $1.7 billion in federal funding will be released this summer. Most of the funds, $648 million, will go to repairing homes and strengthening them against future flooding. There is also funding for low income rentals subsidies, city infrastructure and loans for businesses. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and HUD secretary Shaun Donovan are scheduled to announce the plan's approval today at City Hall. Those looking for grants will be able to apply by calling the city's 311 help line or by going to nyc.gov.
Other Stories We're Following
Peralta Won't Comment on Legal Fees (Crain's)
State Senator Huntley Sentenced to a Year For Corruption (NY Times)
In Wake of Scandals, Cuomo Defends His Ethics Agency (Capital Tonight)
Yesterday the names of 9 individuals caught on wiretap by Sen. Shirley Huntley were made public. Six of those individuals were sitting Democratic State Legislators. The list includes already-indicted Sens John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and their colleagues Sens. Jose Peralta, Velmanette Montgomery, Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Eric Adams. Two political operatives were also taped as well as Councilman Ruben Wills. Huntley, who was facing her own legal troubles, invited pols to her home under the ruse that she had a broken ankle and then recorded them. Taped parties reacted in different ways to finding out their names were on the list. Officials said eight one of the recorded parties are under investigation for wrongdoing. Sen. John Sampson was indicted earlier in the week on embezzelment charges and he is just the latest in a long line of state legislators facing federal indicments. Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to convene a Moreland Commission if legislators don't pass major elections and ethics reform.
Lawmakers Demand Edits to Lopez Sex-Scandal Report (NY Times)
Council OKs Paid Sick Leave (Gotham Gazette)
Albany Reporters Officially Protest Being Blocked From Hearing (Capital)
“I am confident that the authorities will find, if they have not already done so, that I have engaged in no wrongdoing whatsoever,” state Sen. Jose Peralta said in a statement in response to revelations that he was one of nine people wiretapped by convicted Sen. Shirley Huntley.
Sen. Eric Adams and Councilman Ruben Wills both made statements saying they were not being investigated or not aware of any investigations.
Peralta's statement does not make the same claim.
“I have not been contacted about any investigation. I believe deeply in transparency and the pursuit of justice — and that is why I committed 20 years of my life to law enforcement,” Adams said in a statement. “I am more than willing to help with any investigation.”
You can see video of Wills' statement here.
Sen. Shirley Huntley was having trouble with the FBI so she called up her colleagues and had them over to her house — to wiretap them.
According to court documents, Huntley was hoping to win favor with prosecutors when it came to her corruption case.
Today a judge unsealed Huntley's sentencing document unveiling a list of those she helped record for the FBI. They include several sitting Democratic Senators, a couple political consultants and a sitting Council member. Prosecutors have indicated that at least one of the people named on the list is not under investigation.
So who are these lawmakers and political operatives?
Lets start with the usual suspects: Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens.
With budget negotions in a bit of a tangle and new deals floated every day, one policy that hasn't recieved much attention is the DREAM Act that would give undocumented youth tuition assistance to attend college.
So far it seems that Speaker Sheldon Silver is fighting a losing battle to push for some sort of funding for the program to be included in the budget.
Sen. Jose Peralta has continually called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make The DREAM Act part of his budget and to lead on the issue but so far it hasn't worked.
Cuomo has been quiet on the issue and a spokesman told the Gazette last week that Cuomo supports the federal DREAM Act but is considering proposals on the state level.
The DREAM Act could be dealt with outside of the budget, but most insiders think that budget negotiations gives proponents the strongest hand to negotiate.
Sen. Jose Peralta wants action on legislation that would give young undocumented New Yorkers tuition assistance.
He is filing a motion to force the legislation out of committee in the Senate and has written Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to make the DREAM Act part of his budget.
"Under your stewardship, New York has blazed a trail on several of the great issues of our time," Peralta wrote in a letter to Cuomo today. "By passing the DREAM Act, we can take another such monumental step."
"The Fiscal Policy Institute has calculated that bachelor's degree holders pay an additional $3,900 in annual state taxes, meaning that TAP funding for the undocumented would more than pay for itself within six years on average," Peralta continued.
The Assembly has added $25 million for funding the DREAM Act to their budget plan. The deadline for a budget is April 1.